Wigneswaran up against a wall of scholarly opposition
Posted on September 15th, 2020

By Rohana R. Wasala

It seems to me that the former NPC CM and present Jaffna District MP octagenarian C.V. Wigneswaran has taken to dispensing racist hatred in order to wipe out the Sinhalese race as a pest. It is funny, but regrettable that he indulges himself in this sort of thing. But since the Sinhalese are not what he pretends them to be, his blasts of unprovoked hate will only irk them a bit, but will certainly fail to cause them any harm if sense and sanity prevail. All his anti-Sinhalese Buddhist assertions that are made without any basis in fact are so silly and childish that I, a fellow Sri Lankan of his belonging to the Sinhalese majority, think that he should be causing much embarrassment to the sensible members of his own Tamil community. But we cannot ignore the fact that there certainly is method in Wigneswaran’s madness. Fraudulent and frivolous though his claims are,  in the interest of natural justice as well as authentic  knowledge about our true history, they should not be allowed to go unchallenged. 

That is why a prominent, internationally recognized Sri Lankan archaeologist, who has been conducting excavations for delving into our buried history and prehistory, over the past thirty years, promised, in the latest (September 7) episode of a series of NethFM Radio interviews (also subsequently broadcast on the You Tube) called ‘Unlimited History’ to disabuse Wigneswaran of his misconceptions in a proper scientific manner in the near future, despite the extreme pressure of work due to the project which the archaeology professor is currently engaged in. The scholar meant is Professor Raj Somadeva, who deems it his responsibility to give Wigneswaran an adequate answer. 

Wigneswaran told a Sunday Observer interviewer (September 6): ‘The genuine grievance of our people is the non-settlement of their political issues. Not the denial of economic sops! Economic sops would not solve the long term problems of our people. When we speak of the needs and aspirations of our people why do you Southerners view it as communal politics? When the Government wants to give priority to Sinhala and Buddhism why did you not identify that as communal or parochial politics?’ The pot calling the kettle black! I think Wigneswaran must be invited to confront his young co-ethnic Arun Siddharthan on a TV discussion for an answer. But he will not dare do that, not only because the young man who is the grandson of a toddy tapper by profession, as he proudly claims, but because he will have a hard time explaining to him why, he, as NPC Chief Minister he returned all the development funds the government sent for his province unutilized each year during the five years he held  that post, while the poor voters who elected him suffered without even the barest essential infrastructure and other needs after the devastation caused by the war.  I am not sure whether Wigneswaran deserves the honour of being challenged by a reputed archaeologist.

The following argument of the MP is from the same source: ‘If we do not have the right of which we are entitled to under the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Tamil speaking people of the North and the East would become Sinhalese within 15 or 20 years. Already the people from Negombo to Puttalam who were Tamil speaking when I was a child, have now become Sinhalese. The Tamils of Anuradhapura in the Old Town where I lived as a boy have become Sinhalese. Many people of recent Indian origin have become Sinhalese. The only way to preserve our individuality is to become entitled to the right of self-determination so that the people of the North and the East would look after themselves while being part of the Sri Lankan polity’. 

Could all the Tamil speaking people of the North and the East become Sinhalese within that short period if the few thousands of war-displaced Sinhalese are resettled in those areas (but there is still no talk of the issue being addressed)? Throughout history many Tamils who came from South India to Sri Lanka as traders, guests, invaders or mercenaries merged into the Sinhalese community; so did many Muslim men who arrived in Sri Lanka to do business. Many of the Tamils in Jaffna today are degraded descendants of the original Sinhalese who were living there when the first permanent Tamil settlements appeared in the north only in the 13th century, after the expulsion (in 1236) of the invaders led by Magha of Kalinga (not a Tamil), who, with his 24,000 strong army of Kerala and Tamil  mercenaries devastated (1215 CE) Polonnaruwa, the seat of the Sinhalas’ flourishing hydraulic civilization and ruled there for 21 years. Some of the fleeing soldiers settled down in the north without returning to India. What became of Magha is not known. There was no Tamil north before the Magha invasion which, though it was repulsed, permanently destabilized the island kingdom. 

Even during the recent thirty year separatist war there were Tamils who changed their identity to Sinhalese, while living among the Sinhalese in the South for work as well as for protection from Prabhakaran or equally likely for avoiding detection by security forces for involvement in terrorist activities.  If the reverse of this happened, it would be natural too. But Tamil supremacist Wigneswaran’s fears of immediate bastardization of Tamils through admixture with the Sinhalese are not well founded.

In any case, the Sinhalese account for nearly 75 % of the Lankan population. It is a historical fact that Sri Lanka is the unique homeland of the Sinhalese who gave the island its name ‘Sinhale’, just like Tamil Nadu is the homeland of the Tamils. The Sinhalese do not demand or enjoy any special rights that the minorities do not enjoy because they are non-Sinhalese. Well over 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhists. It is the practice in secular democratic countries around the world including the USA, UK, Norway etc to give special recognition to the religion of the majority, while ensuring the same freedom of belief and worship for people of other religions without any discrimination. It is globally appreciated that no other religion is more tolerant towards other faiths than Buddhism. 

Wigneswaran falsely claims that Tamil is the oldest living language in the world. A glance at the Web is enough  for anyone to dispute this claim, because there are dozens of other candidates (than Tamil) for the title of ‘the oldest living language’ among the world’s over 7000 different languages. Whether Tamil is the world’s oldest language or not, it has no bearing on the fact the Sinhalese are descendants of the oldest humans who lived on this island. We have overwhelming written, epigraphical and archaeological evidence scattered across the length and breadth of the island to prove that Tamil speakers were definitely not the earliest inhabitants of the island. The first homo sapiens who lived there so many millennia ago were the ancestors of the Sinhalese. However, they could have been conquered by a north Indian prince as claimed by the Vijaya legend. But the main body of people were the indigenous tribes who in the course of time came to collectively constitute the Sivhela nation.  

Fresh archaeological evidence, unearthed, for example, at the Pahiyan Rock near Kalutara in the Western province, shows that the caves there provided shelter to humans who used bows and arrows tipped with polished bones to kill small arboreal mammals like monkeys for food some 48,000 years ago. The tribal people who lived there and in other parts of the island then and in the following millennia had to have communicated in their own indigenous language/s. These early forms of verbal communication, in the long course of unrecorded history, must have gradually evolved into Sinhala, ‘the language of ‘dipe danan’ ‘the islanders’ that the missionary Mahinda Thera used to address the courtiers and the commoners of Sinhaladweepa when he arrived from modern Sanchi in India in 236 BCE. This evolution had taken place only within the island, completely independent of Tamil or other foreign language. The system of vocal sounds in Sinhala is the most distinctive feature that separates it from Tamil and other Dravidian languages. For the Tripitaka of Theravada Buddhism to have been committed to writing on ola leaves in the 1st century BCE at Alu Vihara, Matale in central Sri Lanka, the Sinhala writing system had to have been advanced enough. 

Wigneswaran stated,a month or two ago, in a different context from the Sunday Observer interview referred to above, that there had existed a historical Tamil state in the north; he also stated that the Sinhalese language originated in the sixth or seventh century CE. That is, his opinion is that the Sinhalese language came into existence only after the birth of Christ. This only betrayed abysmal ignorance. Wigneswaran was immediately contradicted by archaeology professor Raj Somadeva alluded to at the beginning, an alumnus of Sweden’s top ranked Uppsala University (for research and education). Professor Raj Somadeva is the head of the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. He is a scholar who is engaged in archaeological excavation and exploration, devoting himself to efforts that even go beyond the demands of his profession, in order to divulge Sri Lanka’s ancient history. He has made many findings based on his own absolutely independent excavations and studies using his expert knowledge. Particularly, as a result of his research into a history that goes back far beyond the two thousand five hundred years of written history, the Ravana legend is being revealed to have an element of truth; it can no longer  be dismissed as mere fiction. Professor Somadeva who found the Sinhala antiquity of Sri Lanka has proved with evidence that the country was known as Sinhaladveepa in the past and that Tamils and other races arrived there for trade

This is how Professor Somadeva responded to Wigneswaran then, drawing upon his archaeological  explorations: Firstly, it must be said that his statement is a completely baseless fabrication. I say so based on my academic background. According to the oldest available literary sources with which we can interact, the language known as Sinhala or Sihala was in circulation in Sri Lanka even at the time of the arrival of Mahinda Thera. It is recorded in the sources that Mahinda Thera preached the Dhamma in the language of the ‘dipe danan’ (people of the island). We can understand what this language was from taking into account the fact that erudite monks compiled a series of books or atthakatas (commentaries) to elucidate abstruse points in the Dhamma. These commentaries were called ‘Sihalatthakata’s. In some instances, the Sihalatthakata tradition has been referred to as ‘porana atthakatas’ (ancient commentaries). These commentaries were called Sihalatthakata because they were written in Sinhala. It is easy to understand that books written to explain difficult matters in the Dhamma to the male and female lay Buddhists (upasaka upasikas) were composed in Sinhala, because it was the language of the islanders.

Wigneswaran has stated that Tamils have lived in this country from pre-Buddhist times. Here we must be clear about what is meant by the term ‘Dravida’. It is the same as what is meant by the term ‘Dravidian’ in English. It denotes a language family, not any racial identity. The Dravidian language family is an extensive one. It includes many languages. Tamil is only one of them. Professor Somadeva describes a gold foil document found in the Jaffna peninsula: What is shown here is the oldest metal foil with writing (found in Sri Lanka). It is a gold foil. It was discovered at Vallipuram in the Jaffna peninsula. This gold sheet record in Brahmi script was written during the reign of king Vasabha (69-111 CE). It was made to record (for posterity) that the minister Irshigiri who was in charge of Nagadeepa built a vihara named Piyagunkatissa there.”  Professor Somadeva authoritatively establishes with archaeological evidence that the history of ancient Sinhalese goes back to the era of Ravana. A social media comment about him runs as follows: Many who fought for Kuragala were inspired by a sense of nationalism. But it may be stated confidently that the most crucial attacker in the Kuragala controversy was Professor Somadeva. His Kuragala report is an academic contribution that no person or group could reject. It is not a figment of his imagination. It is a document written after deep study.  Savants of our time like Professor Raj Somadeva provide proper guidance for  the Sinhalese who strive to protect the country and the nation out of mere emotional impulse to launch into an intelligent and comprehensive struggle.”

Professor Somadeva made this remark about Wigneswaran’s ‘federal’ idea: Although any other matter may be changed or interpreted to suit (the whims of) an individual or group, subjecting history to the influence (of such distortions ) could generate unexpected long-term complications. Very recently, I read in a newspaper a statement made by a certain politician. I understand that the statements relevant to your questions to me are parts of the same agenda. Everyone has a right to hold and defend personal opinions. This applies in respect of the federal idea, as well. However, it is my view that intelligent politicians must understand that  history cannot be federalized”. (I found much of this information from internet sources.)

Postscript 

Professor Somadeva answered Wigneswaran from a program recorded at a rock surface in the wilderness close to Wattegama Viharaya about 20 km from the main Monaragala town in what was the ancient Ruhuna. The program was broadcast on NethFM Radio and on You Tube today (September 15). Some students from the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology (University of Kelaniya) taking part in excavations in progress under the supervision of the professor in the area and some local villagers were among the audience. They were in the process of identifying and copying some ancient rock inscriptions in the place. The scenic rocky place is overlooking a vast plain covered with jungle surrounded by mountains. There are a large number of ancient ruins and inscriptions scattered in the locality, according to Dr Somadeva. In the vicinity of the place where they were sitting, there were ruins of what they thought was an ancient Buddhist monastery complex. 

About Wigneswaran’s assertion that Tamils were the earliest inhabitants of the island, Dr Somadeva refuted this claim by referring to the use in archaeology and anthropology of information found through modern genetic methods to analyse fossilized specimens such as human bones for tracing the routes along which human populations spread radiating from Africa. It has been established that Tamils had reached the region today known as Pakistan in prehistoric times, only to be gradually pushed downwards to south India, where they are today. This happened when white skinned peoples from the Caucasus region (including Turkey, Iran, etc)  overran northern India and established their power there. As Dr Shiran Deraniyagala has shown through his excavations at Pahiyangala caves, that place had been inhabited by early humans over 48,000 years ago! However, this does not mean that the indigenous population had remained pure free from admixture with tribes travelling from India, because 9000 years ago India and Lanka formed a continuous landmass.  Genetic hybridity of races was the norm.

To say that one language is older than another, one should be equipped with knowledge derived from various related disciplines such as philology and linguistics (which Wigneswaran did not possess). In the case of the relative histories of Sinhala and Tamil in Sri Lanka, although the early Sinhala language inscriptions written in the Brahmi script are found, there are no Tamil words in such inscriptions, which suggests that Sinhala has a longer history in the island than Tamil. Dr Shiran Deraniyagala developed the the idea for his Harvard University PhD thesis that the indigenous community divided into two branches as Veddah and Yaksha about 10,000 years ago. This means that the Veddas and Sinhalas share a common ancestor, and Tamils were not the earliest inhabitants of the island of Sinhale. 

The hour or so long three-part You Tube video (Unlimited History – Episode 24), is worth watching.

2 Responses to “Wigneswaran up against a wall of scholarly opposition”

  1. aloy Says:

    Professor Raj Somadeva’s videos are a treat to watch. He proves his point logically and conclusively with accurate data and credible records. We owe gratitude to him for his tireless effort to sort out facts from fiction without support from the authorities. With respect to our country, Sri Lanka (which literally means a glorified mound of earth) his findings may lead to a new way of Environmental Impact Assessment. He explains how our ancestors and even present day generations in villages live in perfect harmony and happily in their villages without destroying the ecosystem.
    His point that the people who live with nature in villages are wiser can be proved from three recent findings: It is now common knowledge that oil palm plantations depletes the water in the soil and dry up the land and nearby steams. Also some villages are complaining that after replacing rubber trees with imported eucalyptus trees the streams in the vicinity do not have the base flow and they go dry almost immediately after the rains cease. Couple of days ago there was this Sirasa TV news item with pictures (which I believe is a very important one) that a village tank has gone dry after a metal quarry owner removed vegetation along with top soil on a hillock nearby and started blasting the rock.What can be the cause for these three: to my mind this is due to non consulting the proper stake holders, one of them is the villagers who have lived there from a very long time. The first two are due to the introduction of plant species alien to the ecosystem and the other is due removal of top soil layer and the plants that helped to draw water from deep down (perhaps from water holding layers several hundred feet below) by capillary action of soils combined with some property of roots of the naturally existing trees and plants. The blasting also would have closed the naturally formed paths (ulpath, which actually is an appropriate sinhala name for English word ‘path’) thereby closing the water flow to the nearby tank. By extension of this little examples we can say that our central hills and the natural vegetation is crucial in maintaining the base flow of rivers and stream by keeping the soil wet and helping the capillary action to play its role. It is obvious to me that the flow in these streams and waterfalls are much more than the rainfall on their catchment area receive.
    I am no stranger to river flow calculations that is used for flood control using various parameters like soil profile (which have been assigned with a thing called curve numbers in the US and probably in Colombo’s MCDUP. They all consider flow down wards only (in their famous software packages like HEC-RAS, Mike 22 etc. that consider only gravity flow).

    I believe it is time that the EIA guys think about the other aspects that are being discovered by Raj Somadeva et al.

    After all we are supposed to have the lowest gravitational field of the world (according to NASA) and perhaps our ancestors knew about it and found a way to pumped water by about three hundred feet or so from the plains to the top of Sigiriya rock without using any pump. Perhaps more blood also would have flowed to their heads under less gravity to discover things earlier than others. It has now been proved that our ancestor discovered the bow and arrow 48000 years ago before all others.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Pig the Pigneshwaran is an ungrateful parasite who used our free education system in so called terribly discriminatory Sri Lanka to get to traitor’s highest position in its profession. We all know, including the pig, the
    first lot of tamils by dutch rascals to work in tobacco plantations in the N&E. Their ancestors job was to work in tobacco farms. That’s the reason we don’t see any Anuradhapuras or Polonnaruwas in the N&E. Then the
    oldest building in the N&E is the old dutch fort in Jaffna. Do we need to say any more about the pig’s absurd
    claims then?

    The second lot of tamils were brought by the british to work in tea plantations in the up country. Third lot is the
    kallathonis who crossed the 16 miles of sea in the 60s to save their lives from the severe famine in tn. Grateful?
    What? We are natives with 1000s of years of bogus history. You can find all the evidence in www. and books.
    Not an ancient tamil brick older than 400 years to substantiate the bogus claim. The reason for all these? These
    ungrateful, never enough, never happy, never a good word traitor foreigners know Sinhalese are divided thanks
    to anti Buddhist, anti Sri Lanka, anti Sinhalese, minority worshiping, Mother Lanka dismembering, murderous (Sinhalese Buddhists only of course) GooandPee aka UNPatriotic_rats thieves. So the bogus claims go on and on
    in order to get their exclusively them only drealam while living all over the country enjoying more benefits than
    the native Sinhalese.

    The second reason is these traitor foreigners are all followers of mythical gods (21st century, still people believe
    in myths) and they don’t believe lying is a sin. So it’s okay to carry on lying in their books.
    For anyone who think lying isn’t a sin:
    All the crimes (sins) any two legged creature can do anywhere under the sun:
    1 killing (animals includes? only in Buddhism of course giving them also right to life)
    2 stealing
    3 sexual misconduct
    4 lying
    5 alcohol/drug abuse

    The above five is the basis for penal code in every country under the sun while refrain from them is Buddhism’s
    Five Precepts. People who sin, pay for them in the animal kingdom for the next 100s of 1000s of lifetimes
    before being ‘promoted’ to be a two legged creature again (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution?). So Pig the
    Pigneshwaran going to find itself in a more than two legged existence next lives!

    We all saw how these traitor foreigners aspire for a greater drealam and mussisthan during the 2019 Presidential
    elections (drealam map). While fastest breeding religion mussies multiplying like xxxx pigneshwaran’s gang also
    at it like there is no tomorrow. Patriotic Sirima B negotiated with indian premier at the time, Shasthri, to send
    650,000+ estate tamils who volunteered to go back to tn. While the repatriation going on, Sirima lost the
    elections and anti Buddhist, anti Sinhalese, anti Sri Lanka, murderous (Sinhalese Buddhists only of course)
    thambi mudiyanselage jr@ got into the driving seat promising ata atak (in the end the traitor could give only 2).

    Soon after the elections thambi mudiyanselage jr@ gave citizenship to all 650,000+ estate tamils for their votes. Today, they must be numbering 3-4 milions and aspire for a greater drealam. Thanks GooandPee. Forever Buddhist-murdering, Buddhism destroying, anti Sri Lanka, anti Sinhalese, minority worshiping, Mother Lanka dismembering murderous GooandPee thieves. Hope the traitor R@s will never ever come back.

    Meanwhile, the traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist bay gal karaya mega thief mega thakkadiya
    Batlande wa(n)dakaya Pol Pot r@ni_leech wickrama Sinhala killer who spearheaded most of the destruction
    during the past 40 years getting no trouble from the Sinhala modayas since they still can’t understand how the traitor chief wearing bogus pirith nools and dismembered Mother Lanka, Buddhism and Sinhlaese Buddhists.
    Don’t worry, traitor low life wa(n)dakaya will get its ditta damma vedaniya kamma slowly. It will rot in hell for a very long time for the murders (Sinhalese Buddhists only), robberies (mega only), treacheries (mega only), lies (mega only)! Batalande wa(n)dakaya YAMA PALLA IN CHIEF.

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