Decline and fall of Jaffna into Nandikadal Lagoon
Posted on September 29th, 2012

H. L. D. Mahindapala

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ On January 30, 1908 Ponnambalam Arunachalam, M. A., Cantab, Ceylon Civil Service, Barrister-at-Law, Lincoln’s Inn, took the floor in the Legislative Council Chamber, the highest political institution of the day, to deliver a lecture on the Sketches of Ceylon History.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Governor Sir. Henry A. Blake, G. C. M. G., presided over this session in the Legislature as usual. The lecture was more than an overview of Ceylon history. In essence it was an exposition of the Sinhala-BuddhistƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ civilization andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ culture which wereƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ articulated for the first time in English at the highest politicalƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ levelƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ occupied byƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the English-speaking elite in colonial times.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the first decade of the 20th century the history of the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization was popular among the English-educated elite who were rediscovering the glories of ancient and medieval Sri Lanka that were buried under the jungle tide. Pioneering British archaeologists were surveying the land and documenting the new discoveries with professional pride. The translation of the Mahavamsa by GƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ . Turnour andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Mudliyar L.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ C. Wijesinha (1889) was a landmark event that opened up new vistas into a forgotten past.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Wilhelm Geiger, (1856 – 1943),ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ had started his explorations ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sinhala-Buddhist history, culture and Sinhalese languageƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in 1890s. Later he was to write: “On the whole Mahavamsa is aƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ trustworthy chronicle.” (Preface to Culture of Ceylon Mediaeval Times – Wilhelm Geiger). Based on the new historical findings Arunachalam told his elite audience: “..(P)erhaps no country in the world that has such a long continuous history and civilization.” This patriotic theme that ran through his entire speech wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ expressedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ with more than a touch ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ nationalƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ prideƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in his voice. His passion for the nation’s history rings even today as his words echo in the cold print tracing the past filled with the majesty ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ glorious achievements.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The latter-day revisionists, rewriting history toƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ promote their separatist agenda, labelled any return to the past with theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ scholarlyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ reverence that it deserved as the “Mahavamsa mentality”. The main aim of the revisionists was to denigrate the Mahavamsa and all the values that came with it. But in the words of Sir. Ponnambalam there was no such cynical connotation. His speech, in fact, laid the foundations for the school of history that looked upon the past as a guide for the future. The anti-Sinhala-Buddhist revisionists, for instance,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ painted Anagarika DharmapalaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ as “a Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist”ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ for reviving theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ values of theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ past essentially to alert his contemporariesƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to be aware of the forces of importedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Western culture and politics threatening the reveredƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ traditions.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ So is Sir. Ponnambalam also a “Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist” for acknowledging the historical values and realities of a glorious past?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ His was the voice of aƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ committedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Tamil scholar exploring the hidden truth buried inƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the past. The magnificent grandeur of the past was recalled and articulated with intellectual vigour by Sir. Ponnambalam to put the record straight, particularly in the eyes of the colonial masters.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was a valuable contribution at the time becauseƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ history wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the spear-head honed to targetƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ anti-colonial politics.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ItƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ also confirmed that politics and history are inseparable and that one tends to impact heavily on the other. The impact of Sir. Ponnambalam’s history was so influential on the first generation of English-speaking nationalists in the early part of the 20th century that in their frequent ideological battles against the colonial masters they were wont to orchestrate variations ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ his underlying nationalist theme. In his political vocabulary nationalism meant one nation derived essentially from the values of the Mahavamsa. In fact, in speaking on the theme of Our Political Needs, one of his analytical masterpieces delivered to Ceylon National Congress on April 2, 1917, he summed up the political aspirations of the time as follows: “…..(W)e in Ceylon desire that our Government shall be a Ceylonese Government, that our rulers shall identify themselves entirely with the Ceylonese interests and, in the striking words of the Mahavamsa, “be one with the people”. Ever since TurnourƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ -Wijesinha translated the Mahavamsa itƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ was accepted universallyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ as theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ irrefutable reference pointƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ by the distinguished elite of the nation,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  including the scholarly community of the British Raj.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sir. Ponnambalam’s speech in the Legislature was a defining moment: it defined the nation as it was structured in the past and as it ought to be structured in the future. Even when he spoke later on Our Political Needs — the best opportunity to define the political needs of the TamilsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ if they were conscious of Tamil nationalismƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  — he spoke as a representative of one nation without dividing it into ethnic enclaves. It was the Sir. Ponnambalam school of history that dominated the minds of the majority, from top to bottom. He, in fact, became the symbol of national unity though politics intervened and he parted company with the Ceylon National Congress — aƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  broad multi-ethnic coalition — of which he was the president.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Politically, the newly discovered treasures of the hidden past were grasped with passion and commitment by the rising elite who used theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ incontrovertible knowledge as a tool against imperialist masters. National leaders began to invoke the nation’s history as political evidence of their capacity to rule better than the colonial masters. Going back to the past was just not a politicalƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ exercise to prove that the Sri Lankans were equal to the English masters but superior. It was also the most effective political argument of the time. It was S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike who came out of Oxford saying that to be the equal of the colonial masters you have to be their superior. Whether in the Chamber of the Legislature, or the Royal Asiatic Society, or any other platform references to the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization had all the political undertones of emphasizing the superiority of the Orientals over that of the ruling Occidentals.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sir. Ponnambalam had earned the respect and admiration of his peers and the people as the leading light of the day guiding the nation not only to reclaim its lost past but also to create a future based on the cherished values of a history that shone in the eyes of those who could see it. He was lifting the veil that hid the past for the present to appreciate its value. Urging the nation to explore the “rich treasures of history, ethnology, folklore, botany, geology, zoology (which) await the explorer in every part of the Island” Sir. Ponnambalam said: “It would help also to recall to us and fix in our minds the great things done by our ancestors. Thus we may in time recover some of our lost originality and acquire that self-confidence which is indispensable to national progress and national success”.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ His speech was aimed at reclaiming the forgotten pastƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to reinforce the political powerƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ of the present. Deploring the cultural cringe of the Westernized Oriental Gentlemen (WOGs) Sir. Ponnambalam reminded the legislators : “At a time when the now great nations of the West were sunk in barbarism, or had not yet come into existence, Ceylon was the seat of ancient kingdom and religion, the nursery of art, and the center of Eastern commerce. Her stupendous religious edifices more than 2,000 years old and, in extent and architectural interest, second only to the structure of Egypt, and her vast irrigation works, attest the greatness and antiquity of her civilisation. Her rich products of nature and art, the beauty of her scenery, her fame as the home of a pure Buddhism, have made her from remote times the object of interest and admiration to contemporary nations. Merchants, sailors, and pilgrims have in diverse tongues left records of their visits, which confirm in a striking manner the ancient native chronicle which Ceylon in almost singular among Asiatic lands ……” The presiding Governor could not have missed the political message hidden in this evocation of a civilization that was equal to any other.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was, of course, a time when nationalism was expressed not in violent rebellion, or even in non-violent mass political movements, but in more subtle forms like reviving the memories of a monumental past that left its indelible legacy in the minds of a nation waking up from nearly five centuries of colonialism. Sir. Ponnambalam was proud that “officers of a public department (had) formed themselves into a Society for the promotion of historic study and research. They used to read together and discuss the Mahawamsa, the ancient chronicle of Ceylon…..” He also remarked in this speech: “It is refreshing to read a Royal College boy protesting in the College Magazine against the exclusion of Ceylon history and geography from the curriculum of our leading schools”.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sir. Ponnambalam’s lecture was a paean sung in praise of the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization. The tributes he paid to Dutugemunu and Sri Sangabo were effusive. When he came to the Tamil kingdom of Jaffna he spoke only of the military exploits of the Aryachakravartis. There were no tributes to the cultural achievements of the Tamils in his speech. Or even a reference to Yalpana Vaipava Malai — the first official history written by Mylvaganam Pulavar at the request of the Dutch Governor, Maccara,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ inƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the 18th century. Naturally, with his knowledge of Jaffna history and culture he had hardly anything to cite as great achievements of the Jaffna Tamils. His focus was on the richness of the Sinhala-Buddhist civilisation. He regarded the Mahavamsa as a treasure trove dazzling with historical insights that illuminated not only the past of Sri Lanka but also that of neighbouring India. He said: “…Mahanama, a literary artist, who lived a generation after Buddhagosa, wrote the Mahawamsa, which is really an epic poem of remarkable merit… Excavations by General Cunningham in the Topes (brick burial mounds) of Sanchi in Central India have furnished striking and unexpected confirmation of the Mahawamsa.“ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ananda Coomaraswamy, the great aesthetic savant, too paid his tribute the Sinhala art in his magisterial monograph, Medieval Sinhala Art.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Noting that “the Sinhalese upper classes are Anglicized in too high a degree” Wilhelm Geiger wrote: “Let us hope that the Sinhalese people will as such take heed to itself while yet there is time. I have learnt to appreciate and love it; for a generation and more I have loved its history, its culture, its language. May it never lose a just pride in its own way of being and in its past.” (p.88 — Wilhelm Geiger, His Life and Works, Heinz Bechert — Goethe-Institut, German Cultural Institute Colombo, 1995).ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ What is also noticeable of this period is that history, art and culture fired the imagination of the newly emerging bourgeoisie of all communities. In the absence of the mass politics the English-educated, propertied, semi-feudal, semi-capitalist class who were pitted against the British colonial masters derived their power from the glorious past with which they taunted their rulers. They were bonded together at the top by a common culture of their shared past. Though they had personal and political differences there were no irreconcilable ideological differences at the turn of the century. That came later, in the twenties and, more markedly and venomously, in the thirties.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The remarkable feature of Sir. Ponnambalam’s speech is that he claimed the glory of the past as a common heritage of all Ceylonese, as they were known at the time. The latter-day revisionists who have re-written politicized history to denigrate Sinhala-Buddhist civilization cannot dismiss the informed, accurate and balanced judgements passed by Sir. Ponnambalam as a product of the “Mahavamsa mentality.” In praising the Sinhala-Buddhist culture he did not feel that it was anti-Tamil or politically incorrect. On the contrary, referring to the veneration of King Elara’s tomb “by silencing the music, whatever procession they may be heading” he says: “Well, may the Sinhalese be proud of chivalry so rare and unprecedented”. He viewed Sri Lankan history as one unbroken continuity. It was not segmented into Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, or Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic. It was a holistic approach in which all were Ceylonese.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ He singled out the Mahawamsa as a unique document that belongs to the whole nation. And he ended his lecture with a plea to return to “the great ideals cherished by our ancestors” and “make ourselves worthy of our inheritance.” He said:: “Over the garden gate of my old college (Christ’s) at Cambridge — the college of Milton and Darwin — stands the motto of the noble founders, the Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. The motto is Souvent me souvient: “often it come to my mind”. “often I am reminded.” It is a perpetual reminder to successive generation of the member of her family and of her college, of her ancestors’ loyalty to duty, to king and country, and to high ideals. Well would it be for us Ceylonese if we too kept fresh in our hearts the great deeds done and great ideal cherished by our ancestors, and strove to make ourselves worthy of our inheritance.”

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But then came theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ decisive turning point in modern history. It came in the third decade of the 20th century with a full frontal attack on the Mahavamsa and the Sinhala-Buddhist civilization. The third decade headed by G. G. Ponnambalam, turned Jaffna into a den of corrosive communalism. The universalism of Sir Ponnambalam in the first decade and the idealism of the Tamil Youth Congress in the second decade were overtaken by the racist parochialism of peninsular politics led by G. G. Ponnambalam in the third decade.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was the beginning ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the politicization ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  history.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This agendaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ turned JaffnaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ away fromƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ communal amity and unity thatƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ had prevailed over millenia andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ embraced by Sir. Ponnambalam.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the first decade of the 20th century under Sir. Ponnambalam Sinhala-Buddhist history was elevated to the highest pinnacle. In the second decade the Tamil Youth Congress, guided by Gandhian idealism, campaigned for a united Sri Lanka rejecting casteism and racism — the two main objectives of English-educated Tamil youth coming out of missionary schools. It was the most powerful, open-minded, liberal movement of Jaffna that lasted for brief while — till the mid-thirties. After the death of the Tamil Youth Congress no “ism” — socialism, liberalism, Stalinism,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Trotskyism, Maoism, Castroism, you name it — ever raised its head again in Jaffna to confront the ingrained force of Vellahlaism that morphed into racism. Even Gandhism was snuffed out by the rising tide of mono-ethnic extremism whipped up by G. G. Ponnambalam.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When G. G. Ponnambalam entered the political arenaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ as a nobodyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in the thirties he was confronted by the Tamil Youth Movement. He had no viable or credible ideology, or political stature, to combat the Gandhian ideals of the Youth Movement that was dead against racism and casteism. Their idealism demanding total swaraj — like the Gandhian movement in India — for the whole nation, without any divisions into communal enclaves,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the dynamic political force in the peninsula. This ideal also led them to boycott the first general elections under the Donoughmore Commission which did not grant independence. Unable to face the power of the Youth Movement G. G. Ponnambalam was forced out of Jaffna to fight for a seat in Mannar in the first elections under the Donoughmore Constitution. Besides, this new comer could not compete within Jaffna with the “turbanedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ headsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ” (Jane Russell) ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ aristocratic Sir. Ponnambalam and his son, Mahadeva,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ who were the respected and politicallyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ accepted familyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in Jaffna. Despite their personal and political differences the old guard, in their own way, were inclined to work cooperatively with their Sinhala counterpart.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But the broader vision of the first two decades changed in the third decade when northern politics took a convulsive reversal into intransigent communalism. It was U-turn from which Jaffna never recovered to regain the aspirations of communal harmony and a united Sri Lanka led by the Tamil Youth movementƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ and Sir. Ponnambalam. G. G. Ponnambalam stood doggedly for the narrow politics of Tamil communalism. He was the first to spark off the wild fire of communalism when in Nawalapitiya (1937) he targeted the Mahavamsa and the history of the nation which was embraced and praised by his namesake in the first and second decades. The two Ponnambalams had two different takes on the history of Sri Lanka and that made all the difference to the politics of the nation.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The history of G. G. Ponnambalam overturned the history of Sir.Ponnambalam and dragged Jaffna all the way to Nandikadal.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The anti-Sinhala-Buddhist communalism ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ G. G. Ponnambalam grew over the years into a formidable force. He targeted the core Sinhala-Buddhist history and values to downgrade the history of the Mahavamsa and elevate the fictitious history of the north. This line of attack was a prime necessityƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ for theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ survival and growth of Ponnambalam’s divisive communal politics. Numerically, politically and culturally it was the Sinhalese who stood in the way ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ponnambalam’sƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ leadership, who had come to believe under the patronage of the colonial masters, particularly the British, that they were the subaltern rulers of the nation. They were ensconced comfortably in the key branches of the Legislature, Executive, the Judiciary and also professionally in the private sector. TheyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ stood out in every sphere asƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the most privileged community in Sri Lanka. The only missing link to their overall dominance was political power. Consequently, their political thrust was to grab a disproportionate share ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ political power at the centre.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This ambition to grab power for a minority of 12%ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ at the core of Ponnambalam’s political cry demandingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ “50 – 50”, meaning 50% share of power to the 25% minority under the hegemony of the Jaffna Tamils. Though it was meant to be for the 25% minorities, which included the Tamil-speaking Muslims and Indian Tamils, it was primarily a cry of the Jaffna Tamils, raised by the Jaffna Tamils for the benefit of the Jaffna Tamils.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But given the historical heritage and rights of the Sinhala-Buddhist majority,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ both of whichƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ are acceptedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ byƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the majorities in other nation-states, and given the fact that there was no rational basis on which Ponnambalam could mount an argument to undermine the legitimate claims of the majority he picked on the history of the Sinhala-Buddhist to denigrate its past andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ advanceƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ a specious claim for the Tamils as if they were the great makers and breakers of Sri Lankan history from the year dot.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The communal cry was also a response to his own problems. When he entered northern politics for the first time he had two fights on his hands: one internal and the other external. Internally, G. G. Ponnambalam, the “pygmy politician” (Morning Star), first was faced with competition from the established aristocracy of the Jaffna. There is no doubt that he had to find a new route to beat the old establishment which was more inclined to acknowledge the Mahawamsa and liberal politics.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ a time when the returnees from Western universities were influenced mainly by left-wing theories of Marxism. It wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ also a time when the Western politicalƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  milieuƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ was divided between Marxism and the extreme racism of Nazism. While Philip Gunawardena went in search of Trotsky when he was in the Wisconsin University, USA — there were rumours that he met Trotsky who was then hiding from Stalin in Mexico though this was not confirmed — Dr. Colvin R. de Silva visited Moscow and wrote a rather critical piece in the Daily News about Stalinism. Ponnambalam, however, was attracted to Hitler’s racist ideology and he visited Germany in the company of right-wing fascists in UK. When he attacked the Mahavamsa and the Sinhalese in Nawalapitiya it was not just an idiosyncratic or accidental aberration. It was a deliberate tactic he adopted, imitating Hitler’s anti-Semitic racism which had swept the fascist corporal of World War I into power and sustained him in power, mainly with his racist slogans.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Scapegoating the Jews was a marketable ideology in the anti-Jewish Christian culture. Christian Churches have been blaming the Jews as Christ-killers in their liturgy from day one. All the ills of post-World War I too were blamed on the demonized Jews. Ponnambalam’s demagoguery was a repetition of Hitler’s racism. It was a wild card that paid him dividends in confronting both the internal and external forces ranged against him. Racism made him a star in the Jaffna firmament, displacingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ “the turbaned aristocracy”. His ruthless politics of scapegoating the Sinhalese became a permanent fixture in the peninsular political agenda ever since then.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Mono-ethnic extremism TamilƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ turned out to be “the insane fury” thatƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ gripped the peninsular political culture and made them prisoners of their own venomousƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ideology.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In the endƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ G. G. Ponnambalam’s school of narrowƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ communalƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ history triumphed over Sir. Ponnambalam’s school of liberal history only to go down ignominiously in Nandkadal Lagoon.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ After G.G. Ponnambalam came the deluge of unstoppable racism. His arrogant personality, flamboyant style, inflated rhetoric expressed in stilted English (he was more fluent in English than in Tamil), his rabid casteism, his virulent racism, his ambition to oust the old guard and be the sole representative of the Jaffna Tamils — a common political malaise with the peninsular politicians — turned him into an unprincipled “political opportunist” and a “thief” (S.J.V. Chelvanayakam). Like the leading Tamil politicians Ponnambalam never had sympathy with the down-trodden low-caste Tamils whom he despised and treated like pariahs. He was primarily responsible for driving Jaffna away from multi-cultural pluralism into the cul-de-sac of communalism. His Nazi-style politics qualifies him to be categorized as the father of virulent Tamil racism. His junior, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam took Jaffna politics to the next level of racist extremism in the forties when he launched the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (Tamil State Party) in December 1949 — long before “1956” and all that.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The line of succession from G. G. Ponnambalam to Velupillai Chelvanayakam to Velupillai Prabhakaran makes it absolutely clear that Jaffna politics declined from (1) 50 – 50 to (2) federalism, and (3) toƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ separatism — all which were marked with racist violence. Step by step, from decade to decade, Jaffna Tamil politics, led by the most privileged caste/class, descended from one stage of racism to another until it hit rock bottom in the Vadukoddai Resolution (May 1976). In Vadukoddai the entire Tamil leadership abandoned the non-violent democratic mainstream by legitimizing violence to achieve its political goals — the first community to declare war on the others. It was a needless war thatƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  did not benefit anyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ community, least of the Tamils who had to face the brunt of violence launched byƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ their “liberators”, both Indians and Tigers.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ G. G. Ponnambalam began his career in the thirties by launching a three-pronged attack on the Sinhalese: 1. denigration of Sinhala-Buddhist history 2. cry of discrimination and 3. demanding 50% of the share of power for the minorities which, in effect, meant 50% of power to be wielded by the Jaffna Tamils. His rise to dominance in Jaffna also marks the beginning of the end of the harmonious communal relations that existed for millennia. Despite all the various political differences between the north and the south no one had launched such a venomousƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ racist attack on a neighbouring community as Ponnambalam.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ His cry for 50 – 50 was mathematically and politically indefensible. This demand was a disproportionate to theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ TamilƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ demographics. But that has been the perennial curse of peninsular politics: their demands have been consistently disproportionate to their size, their history, their culture. Consequently, their demands invariably cut in to deny the aspirations and the rights of the other communities. Their intransigent and arrogant politics rejected all offers of compromise and demanded their disproportionate pounds of flesh irrespective of the consequences to the other communities. Their mono-ethnic extremism also ran counter to multi-cultural, pluralistic and democratic co-existence.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ponnambalam had no rational,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ or liberal ideology with which to fight for his “rapacious” (S.W. R. D. Bandaranaike) claims. In the absence of a rational or intellectual ideology he raised the emotional communal cry — the only weapon available to him to beat his opponents inside and outside the peninsula. Peninsular politics in the post-Ponnambalam period was destined to end in violence because mono-ethnic extremism, driven by intransigence and arrogant leadership, could notƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ co-exist peacefullyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in a democratic, pluralistic society. The only way out for mono-ethnic extremism was violence. And it exploded inƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ all its fury with the declaration of war in the Vadukoddai Resolution. It was the Jaffna Tamil leadership that went for a military solution when non-violent compromises were available as seen in theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ political behaviourƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ of the other two Tamil-speaking communities who resolved their differences through political bargaining and negotiations. The Ponnambalams and Chelvanayakams, on the contrary, deliberately chose rabidƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ aggressiveƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ communalism which paved the path to violence. In the end it was the Tamil people who had to pay with their lives for the folly of theirƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ narrow-minded leaders.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The seeds of communalism sowed by Ponnambalam in the mid-thirties were reaped in the 1947 general election. Ponnambalam’s Ceylon Tamil Congress wiped out the old guard and emerged as the new leaders of Jaffna. Jane Russell sums up the rise of Ponnambalam quite aptly. She wrote: “A Mahadeva and S. Natesan, the last of the Ponnambalam-Ramanathan dynasty, had been ignominiously defeated and the new guard of the Tamil Congress had been swept to power as the representatives of the Ceylon Tamil community, with the brilliant and shamelessly Machiavellian G. G. Ponnambalam at their head and the dour. sensitive Chelvanayagam as guardian of the communalist wing.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ “It was one of the ironies of history that precisely at the moment when independence had been finally conceded to Ceylon, the goal for which Ponnambalam Arunachalam and, to a lesser extent his brother, Ponnambalam Ramanathan, had worked so assiduously in the early years of the twentieth century, their political heirs — A. Mahadeva and S. Natesan — should have been toppled from the leadership of the Ceylon Tamil community. For almost one hundred and twenty years this family had been the spokesmen of the Ceylon Tamils. Now the circle of destiny, had completed its revolution. In place of the patrician nobility who had led the Ceylon Tamils for more than six generations there were two newcomers, G. G. Ponnambalam and S.J.V.Chelvanayagam.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ “Ceylon Tamil politics, so long dominated by the feudal principle, had at last succumbed to the “bourgeois revolution”. It was a class of self-made men who had overthrown “the turbaned heads” of Jaffna. The Jaffnese nobility — A. Mahadeva, S. Natesan and S. Rajaratnam — whose forebears had once been the acknowledged leaders of the entire English-educated elite in Ceylon, and considered “the ornament and glory of Ceylon”, were now left like fallen idols for the historians to consign to the obscurity of history”(pp. 326 – 327, Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution, 1931- 1947, Jane Russell, Tisara Press, 1982).

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In short, JaffnaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  had gone through the full circle and under G.G. Ponnambalam returnedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to itsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ roots of hating the “asangha” (the outsider). The venomous racist politics of Jaffna was self-destructive. It did not pay any dividends to the Jaffnaites. It is as if the course of Jaffna history had returned to fulfil the predictionƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ of Supaththida-muniƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ who told the reigning king: “The sovereignty will never again come back to your descendants.” (p. 29 — Yalpana Vaipava Malai, translated by C. Brito, Asian Educational Services, 1999.)

17 Responses to “Decline and fall of Jaffna into Nandikadal Lagoon”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Jaffna Tamils lost their social culture since they started supporting political murders. Prabhakaran led LTTE was intensely fascinated by death and dead bodies. Tamil Diaspora is yet to reform and still suffering from victim-hood mentality.

  2. Dham Says:

    It was similar kind of politics on both side. Only difference being while Sinhalse never supported killings (e.g. JVP, Premadsas), Tamils unfortunately were not wise enough in supporting Prabhakaran. Sinhala governement( as they called) provided free education for them to migrate and fuel this stupid war.

  3. Muhandiram Says:

    The past is past.and don’t make divisions among Sri lankans.we should respect each other.and all community leaders should work together to make trust each-other.when it come to every individual,they need equal rights,in every aspects of their life.and it should be guaranteed by constitution.all politicians should work for unite the country,not to make divisions,based on color,creed etc.most of the Sri lankans are peaceful,loving people.I personally like all inhabittands of Sri Lankan.(I like hardworking sweepers to helping nurse, etc).if we don’t discontinue the racism,communalism etc.we will endup in killing our own brothers,sisters etc.

  4. Lorenzo Says:


    LTTE and AQ terrorists are crying which is very promising.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    TamilNut has gone totally mad.

    “[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 September 2012, 22:47 GMT]

    Following persistent Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks on TamilNet in late February that coincided with the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, the site was once again intensively attacked this week by sources originating from various countries. Most of the co-ordinated attacks on 26 September originated from India, Malaysia, Israel and Germany.”

    TamilNut is trying to be SELF IMPORTANT by faking “attacks”!

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    India has invited the TNA to discuss a “political solution”.

    India, as the country that SPAWNED Tamil terrorism in Sri Lanka, is STILL INTERFERING in Sri Lanka’s internal politics and governance.

    In RESPONSE, the GoSL should host two separate conferences in Sri Lanka with Muslim Separatists groups in Kashmir, and the Maoist Naxalites, to EXPLORE “pilitical solutions” to their grievances … all with the INTENTION of “HELPING” India, of course.

    We will then see how much India will like Sri Lanka’s INTEFERENCE in India’s intternal matters, then.

    Idia just does not seem to UNDERSTAND the “PRINCIPLE of NON-INTERFERENCE” in other sovereign countries.

    It appears that, the LESSON must be TAUGHT in SOME way.

    Sri Lanka Tamil party will participate in PSC for a political solution only if India can guarantee an outcome

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Sept 30, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s major Tamil political party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says the party would participate in the proposed parliamentary select committee (PSC) on finding a political settlement if the Indian government could guarantee that an agreement would be reached at the committee.

    TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran has said the TNA has already explained the current situation to the Indian High Commission, the all-party parliamentary group from India that visited the country a few months back, and the Indian Foreign Minister.

    He has stressed that there must be a guarantee of an agreement that could be reached at the end of the process if the Indian government wanted the TNA to take part in the PSC.

    “What we say is that there needs to be a guarantee of an outcome. If the Indian government could convince the government (Sri Lankan) and the political parties to reach a political solution, the TNA could participate in talks,” Premachandran has said.

    He has explained that there have been many committee reports in the past years on proposals for a political solution that have been discarded without consideration.

    The Indian government has invited the TNA for talks in New Delhi on October 9th to discuss the reconciliation process and a political solution to the ethnic issue.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    WTF! First our Maldivian Muslim cousins destroy Buddhist structures in the Maldives.

    Now, our Bangladeshi Muslim cousins are destroying Buddhist temples in Bangladesh!

    Don’t these Crazy Wahhabi Muslim fanatics ever CALM DOWN & GET RATIONAL before they go on rampage?

    Bangladesh: Muslims torch Buddhist temples, homes

    September 28, 2012, 13 hrs ago

    COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims angry over an alleged derogatory photo of the Islamic holy book Quran on Facebook set fires in at least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes near the southern border with Myanmar, authorities said Sunday.

    The violence began late Saturday and continued until early Sunday, said Nojibul Islam, a police chief in the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar.

    He said the situation was under control Sunday afternoon after extra security officials were deployed and the government banned public gatherings in the troubled area.

    He said at least 20 people were injured in the attacks that followed the posting of a Facebook photo of a burned copy of the Quran. The rioters blamed the photo on a local Buddhist boy, though it was not immediately clear if the boy actually posted the photo.

    Bangladesh’s popular English-language Daily Star newspaper quoted the boy as saying that the photo was mistakenly tagged on his Facebook profile. The newspaper reported that soon after the violence broke out, the boy’s Facebook account was closed and police escorted him and his mother to safety.

    Joinul Bari, chief government administrator in Cox’s Bazar district, said authorities detained the boy’s parents and were investigating.

    Buddhists make up less than 1 percent of Muslim-majority Bangladesh’s 150 million people.

    The Bangladeshi violence follows protests that erupted in Muslim countries over the past month after a low-budget film, “Innocence of Muslims,” produced by a U.S. citizen denigrated the Prophet Muhammad by portraying Islam’s holiest figure as a fraud, womanizer and child molester.

    Some two dozen demonstrators were killed in protests that attacked symbols of U.S. and the West, including diplomatic compounds.

  8. M.S.MUDALI Says:

    Jaffna was populated by Oriyans and Sinhalese.

    Jaffna kings were Keralites and not Tamils.

    Mahindapala knockong the wrong trees.

    He better check the first census of Simon Cassie Chetty and try to know the history of MADAPALLY(magadhapaali),

    Kalinga Maagha invaded Lanka to suppot Pallavas,

  9. lingamAndy Says:

    Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, M. A., Ceylon National Congress — a broad multi-ethnic coalition — of which he was the president.
    Than Our Sinhal rasist head of state form UNP & SLFP ethenic party than Tamil rasist in their part form ITAK, TC !

    Now we all in Nandikadal !!!

  10. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    South Indian settlements were widespread in the western region and in the north-eastern coastal belt of Sri Lanka during the early period of the Christian era. They enjoyed political authority both in Anuradhapura kingdom and in other regions and played a significant role in the trade between South India and Sri Lanka.
    The development of the Dravidic tribes gave rise to Kingdoms like Pallava, Pandiya, Chola, Chera and Vijayanagara. Chola Empire was encompassed the entire region up to the Ganges in Northern India, the Maldives to the south to Malaya and Sumathra in the east.The political socio-economic and cultural impact and influence of these Dravidian Kingdoms had a lasting political socio-economic and cultural impact and influence on Sri Lanka and in the region to a very great extent.
    Mercenaries from South India settled in and around Anuradhapura from 400 CE to 700 CE when rulers of Sri Lanka brought mercenaries from South India to fight on their behalf.During the latter part of this period the Northern Sri Lanka was used as the staging post for attacks on Anuradhapura by Indian Kingdoms including Sirinaga, Manavamma and Pandyan king Sri Mara Sri Vallabhaon who attacked and took control of Northern Sri Lanka before proceeding to Anuradhapura. South Indians migrated to the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka from Anuradhapura when the kings of the second Lambakanna dynasty curbed the influence South Indians enjoyed in the Anuradhapura kingdom. In 900s CE South Indian in and around Anuradhapura had increased heavily that a levy of a separate impost had to be imposed on them.
    Magha of Kalinga of Orissa invaded the Rajarata Kingdom in 1215 CE with his South Indian troops and destroyed the economic underpinnings of the old hydraulic civilization that had been weakened by earlier Chola onslaughts. Magha of Kalinga’s invasion prompted majority of the Sinhalese of Jaffna Peninsula to move southwards. Jaffna Peninsula under Magha of Kalinga’s rule was the worst marauding regime that had existed in Sri Lanka. In 1247 CE Chandrabhanu – a Java King from the Malacca Straits region – invaded Sri Lanka with the aid of Indian armies from the Malayan peninsula and inflicted heavy damages on the Magha of Kalinga domain. Although Chandrabhanu’s invasion was repulsed in 1263 CE he managed to capture Jaffna Peninsula that were then under Magha of Kalinga.
    Chandrabhanu attacked Dambadeniya in 1258 CE which was ruled by Parakramabahu II (1236-1270 CE) but was repelled with the help of Pandyans who had developed a cordial relationship with Parakramabahu II. Pandyans allowed Chandrabhanu to continue his rule of the Jaffna Kingdom as he agreed to be a tributary to them. Place names like Chavakachcheri (Javakachcheri) denote the settlements created by Chandrabhanu.The Pandyan invasions during Chandrabhanu’s and his son’s periods brought in a fresh influx of South Indian immigrants with all their slaves and dependents who mostly settled in places like Thirunelveli, Mailiddi, Tellipalai, Inuvil, Puloli, Pachchilaippalli, Tholpuram, Koyilakandi, Irupaalai, Neduntivu and Pallavarayankaddu.
    Chandrabhanu recruited an army from South India and attacked Dambadeniya again. Parakramabahu II appealed to the Pandyan King Virapandya for help. The Pandyan king Virapandya invaded Jaffna, defeated Chandrabhanu and appointed Chandrabhanu’s son Tambralinga to the throne. But soon Tambralinga attacked Dambadeniya. The Pandyan King sent an army led by Kulasekaran who defeated Tambralinga in 1262 and appointed Kulasekaran as the King of Jaffna. Kulasekaran took the throne name Pararajasekeran and the title Ariyachakravarthi and ruled from 1262 to 1284 CE.
    Kulasekaran was succeeded by his son Kulothungan who took the throne name Segarajasekeran and ruled from 1284 to 1292 CE. Kulothungan repelled an invasion by Yapahuva king Bhuvanekabahu who tried to seize the pearl fishery in Mannar. Kulothungan’s son Vikrama succeeded him and ruled under the throne name Pararajasekeran II and ruled from 1292 to 1302 CE. Vickrama repelled insurgency by Sinhalese living in Jaffna led by Punchi Banda by beheading 17 leaders of the insurgency including Punchi Banda and arresting several others.
    Varothayan who ruled the Jaffna Kingdom under the throne name Segarajasekaran III from 1302 to 1325 CE settled the dispute between the Sinhalese and Tamils of Jaffna Peninsula by addressing the grievance of the Sinhalese. Varothayan restored the privileges of Sinhalese. Parakramabahu IV who ascended the throne in 1302, the same year Varothayan became king ruled from Kurunegala. Varothayan accumulated wealth by raiding Anuradhapura, exacting tributary payment from many minor rulers in Vanni and north central and northwestern parts of Sri Lanka and from the pearl fishery, which he dominated and fostered. In 1323 Madurai came under the Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Varothayan helped the Pandyan king during their struggle against Malik Kafur. Malik Kafur captured and looted Pandyan King’s capital Madurai in April 1311 CE and subsequently Sultans of Delhi raided Madurai.
    Marthandar Perumal, succeeded his father Varothayan in 1325 CE and ruled from 1325 to 1348 CE under the throne name Pararajasekeran III continued his father’s policy of expansion. Iban Battuda, the Muslim traveller, who had been earlier in the Delhi Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s court and had traveled through Madurai to Sri Lanka, has recorded with astonishment Marthandar Perumal’s immense wealth, the hundreds of ships that crowded the harbour and the mighty navy he had at his command. Marthandar Perumalcontrolled the northern trade routes to India and China.
    During that time Bhuvanekabahu IV who ruled from 1341 to 1351 CE shifted the capital to Gampola from Kurunegala.
    Before the early 1400s CE rise of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Yadava Empire of Devagiri, the Kakatiya Kingdom of Warangal, the Pandyan Empire of Madurai, and the tiny kingdom of Kampili had been repeatedly invaded by the Sultans of Delhi, and by 1336 CE they had all been defeated by Alla-ud-din Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultans of Delhi. When the Pandyan empire in Tamil Nadu collapsed as a result of the Muhammad bin Tughlaq dynasty waves of immigrants from Tamil Nadu moved to Jaffna peninsula and Vanni.
    Marthandar Perumal’s son Gunapushanan ruled the Jaffna Kingdom from 1348 to 1371 CE under the name Segarajasekeran IV. In 1353, Gunapushanam, invaded Gampola and captured Four Korales and other northern portions of the Gampola Kingdom and had effective control over the north-west coast of Sri Lanka up to Puttalam. The King Vikramabahu III who was in power in Gampola. fled but later agreed to be a tribute-paying subordinate. Vikramabahu III’s minister Alakesvara led the resistance to Gunapushanan’s army. Alakesvara was a descendent of Nissanka Alagakkonara who came to Sri Lanka from Kanchipuram following the invasion of Delhi Sultans and embraced Buddhism and served in the courts of the Sinhalese kings.
    Though abandoned by the King Vikramabahu III, Alakesvara stayed back and took over the resistance to the Gunapushanan’s army. Alakesvara raised an army, built forts including the one at Sri Jayavardhanapura, Kotte.
    The Vijayanagar Dynasty started in Kannada speaking Mysore grew into a powerful empire within five decades and its rulers captured Madurai from the Muslim Delhi Sultan in 1371 CE and annexed it to its vast kingdom that embraced the most of the South India.
    Gunapushanan died in 1371 CE and Virothayar who assumed the throne name Pararajasekeran IV succeeded him. Upon succeeding Gunapushanan, Virothayar had to face the threats from the Vijayanagara Dynasty and from Alakesvara. The king, Bhuvanekabahu V, who succeeded Vikramabahu III in 1371 was the King at Gampola at that time Alakesvara wielded actual power.
    Alakesvara provoked the Virothayar by arresting and killing his tax collectors and by attacking the Virothayar’s army posts in Gampola and Kotte. Enraged Virothayar sent the army overland to Matale and the navy to Panadura but both army and navy were defeated Alakesvara.
    Virothayar was also embroiled the Vijayanagara Dynasty who demanded tribute from the Jaffna Kingdom to which Virothayar agreed.
    Jayaviran ascended the throne upon the death of his father Virothayar in 1380 CE and assumed the throne name Segarajasekeran V. In the meantime Bhuvanekabahu V attempted to take control of the pearl fishery and Jayaviran sent a large army to Gampola and the navy to Kotte. The army marched to Gampola and camped there. The navy landed troops at Panadura and the soldiers proceeded to Sri Jayavardhanapura and set up guard points around it. The king, Bhuvanekabahu V fled and it was left to Viravahu, son-in-law of Alakesvara to defeat the Jayaviran’s army. Viravahu captured the crown and proclaimed himself the ruler. Gunaviran who ruled Jaffna Kingdom from 1410 to 1446 CE ascended the throne in 1410 CE as Pararajasekeran V. in 1411 CE Parakramabahu VI was crowned the King of Kotte. Parakramabahu VI sent his adopted son Senpaga Perumal (aka Sapumal Kumaraya) to capture the Jaffna Kingdom. Senpaga Perumal accomplished his task in many stages. Initially, Senpaga Perumal conquered the Vanni chieftains, the tributaries to the Jaffna Kingdom. Then Senpaga Perumal tried to march to Jaffna but Kanagasuriyar who succeeded Gunaviran in 1446 CE and ruled under the name Segarajasekeran VI repelled Senpaga Perumal. Senpaga Perumal mounted a second invasion in 1450 CE which succeeded. Kanagasuriyar fled to South India with his family.
    Harihara II, the second son of Bukka Raya I of Vijayanagara Dynasty consolidated the Dynasty beyond the Krishna River and brought the whole of South India under the Vijayanagara rule. The next ruler, Deva Raya I, emerged successful against the Gajapatis of Orissa and undertook important works of fortification and irrigation. Deva Raya II (aka Gajabetekara) succeeded to the throne in 1424 CE and was the most capable of the Sangama dynasty rulers. He quelled rebelling feudal lords as well as the Zamorin of Calicut and Quilon in the south. Deva Raya II invaded Sri Lanka. The administration of most parts of South India was done by Telugu speaking officials during the rule of Vijayanagara Kingdom and migration of immigrants from Tamil Nadu into the Jaffna peninsula and Vanni increased during the Vijayanagara Kingdom.

    Senpaga Perumal ascended the throne in the name Sri Sanghabodhi Bhuvanekabahu rebuilt the Nallur temple, and built palaces and houses in Panadra Vallavu and Sankili Thoppu area and promoted Hindu worship. Jaffna Peninsula was again occupied by Sinhalese under Senpaga Perumal.
    The conquest of Jaffna ended 1467 CE when Senpaga Perumal appointed Vijayavahu as the king of the Jaffna Kingdom abd hurriedly returned to Kotte in when he heard about Parakramabahu VI’s death and about the coronation of Parakramabahu VI’s grandson Jeyaweera. Senpaga Perumal before he returned to Kotte.In Jaffna, Kanagasuriyar and his two sons, Pararajasekeran and Segarajasekeran, returned with their army, killed Vijayavahu and regained their lost kingdom. Pararajasekeran played a vital role in winning the battle. Kanagasuriyar ruled until his death 1468. Kanagasuriyar’s elder son Pararajasekeran ruled from 1468 to 1519. Pararajasekeran beautified the Nallur, renovated several Temples including Sattanathar, Veyilukantha Pillaiyar, Kailasanathar, and Veeramakali Amman. Pararajasekeran’s younger brother Segarajasekeran established schools and villages and wrote a book on astrology and a book on medicine. The famous Sanskrit work Megathoothu written by Kalidasa was translated into Tamil during this period by their brother-in-law Arasakesari.
    In Kotte Senpaga Perumal defeated Jeyaweera in 1469 and ascended the throne under the name Bhuvanekabahu VI. Senpaga Perumal’s son ascended the throne under the name Panditha Parakramabahu VII succeeded him but was killed by his uncle Ambulugala Raja who adopted the name Vira Parakramabahu VIII. Ambulugala Raja was succeeded by his son ascended the throne under the name Dharma Parakramabahu IX. His brother Vijayabahu VI ruled a portion of the kingdom as his co-ruler. They were in power when the Portuguese arrived in 1505.
    Pararajasekeran had two principal wives and a number of concubines. His first wife, Rajalaksmi, had two sons, Singhabahu and Pandaram. Pararasasegaram second wife was Valliammal, bore him Paranirupasingham. Another concubine bore him a son named Sankili and a daughter named Paravai. Following tradition Pararajasekeran named the eldest son Sinhabahu as his successor but he died of poisoning. Pararajasekeran then appointed his second son Pandaram as the crown prince but was stabbed and killed while he was walking. Sankili took over the kingdom and ascended the throne in 1519 under the name Sankili Segarajasekeran. Sankili wielded real power behind the throne and resisted all contacts with the Portuguese and even massacred about 700 Parava Catholics in the island of Mannar who were brought from India to Mannar by the Portuguese to take over the lucrative pearl fisheries. Sankili was removed from power due to a local uprising that led his son Puviraja Pandaram take nominal power. Puviraja Pandaram lost power to Kasi Nainar and Periyapillai. Periyapillai with the help of Tanjore Nayak help mounted an attack on the Portuguese fort in the Mannar to regain territory lost during Sankili’s rule but he was defeated. After the death or abdication of Periyapillai in 1582, Puviraja Pandarm was nominated as the king for the second time. During his second tenure Puviraja Pandaram attempted to wrest the control of the Pearl rich Mannar Island from the Portuguese by attacking the fort by sea and land. Puviraja Pandaram was defeated in both attempts.
    Puviraja Pandaram was killed in 1591 during the second Portuguese expedition led by André Furtado de Mendonçaled by André Furtado de Mendonça in 1591.
    Puviraja Pandaram’s son Ethirimanna Singam was injured in the battle and was saved by a Portuguese captain Simão Pinhão. Eventually Ethirimanna Singam was installed as client monarch under the conditions that Catholic missionary activity to be freely allowed and the Elephant export monopoly to be handed over to the Portuguese as well as the tribute to paid by the Kingdom was increased.
    Ethirimanna Singam who became the king under the name Parasasekaran VII interrupted the Catholic missionary activities and the Portuguese monopoly on Elephant exports. Ethirimanna Singam carried out an undercover campaign against the Catholic missionaries and did not look with favor on converts. Ethirimanna Singam interfered with the passage and shipping of Elephants of the Portuguese government through his territories thereby securing advantageous terms for his Elephants. By 1595 the King of Portugal had issued an order to remove Ethirimanna Singam but colonial authorities in Goa did not oblige as Ethirimanna Singam was not overly disruptive to Portuguese colonial interests.
    Ethirimanna Singam helped Kandyan Kings Vimaladharmasuriya I and Senarat to secure help from South India to resist the Portuguese.
    With the death of Ethirimanna Singam in 1617, there were three claimants to the throne. One was Sankilikumaran (Sankili II), a nephew of the king. The other the claimants were Ethirimanna Singam’s young son and a group of proPortuguese Mudaliyars. Eventually Sankili II became the king under the name Segarasasekaran VIII through a palace massacre. As Sankili II was not able to get the Portuguese authorities in Mannar or Colombo to agree to his over rule and regency due to opposition for him from the pro Portuguese Mudaliyars, Sankili II invited the Tanjore Nayaks to send military help. Sankili II also allowed corsairs from Malabar to use a base in Neduntivu that posed a threat to Portuguese shipping through Palk Straight. The last king of the Jaffna Kingdom Sankili II was defeated by the by Phillippe de Oliveira led Portuguese forces in 1619 and was taken to Goa and hanged.

  11. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    At the risk of losing the monumental support of the anti-Muslim Congress sympathizers, Mahatma Gandhi said ‘ No cabinet worthy of being representative of a large mass of mankind can afford to take any step merely because it is likely to win the hasty applause of an unthinking public. In the midst of insanity, should not our best representatives retain sanity and bravely prevent a wreck of the ship of state under their care?’

    Can anyone doubt that if this glorious principle of statesmanship had been applied to Sri Lanka, several riots and 30 years of blood bath could have been avoided?

    The authoritarian instinct of rulers which led them to believe that physically humiliating their opponents would bring them round. It brings those who ought to be statesmen down to the level of village thugs. The public emotions engendered in the process, and the actions of party members and hangers-on, tended to drive things out of control. In turn, the victims developed the same mindset: – viz. “The only thing that would work with the other side is a good whacking”. In the heat of the events, the elite, who ought to have understood the long term damage, were unable to command the conviction to condemn violence by their own side.

    This tendency among the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans was evident through the 1970s and had attained a certain fixity after July 1983. There was a lack of conviction about condemning the barbarous massacre of Buddhist pilgrims in Anuradhapura, in 1985.

    A classic example now fading from living memory is the attack on the strikers of June 05, 1947, on the eve of independence.

    The primary issue was the Left protest against the Soulbury Constitution for Independent Ceylon, for its failure to guarantee workers’ rights. Associated with it was the interdiction of T.B. Illangaratne, president, and 19 others of the Government Clerical Services Union for having held a meeting on Galle Face Green, in contravention of Public Service Regulations. 50,000 public servants prepared for trade union action.

    At this point there was a development of considerable historical interest. The State Council headed by D.S. Senanayake, the prime minister-in-making, hurriedly passed the Public Security Ordinance, taking barely 90 minutes over it. Perhaps the rulers in 1947 also thought it useful to have such an act on the statute book before independence, since, one is not surprised by such laws under colonial rule, while it would be awkward to present such legislation after independence. Interestingly, however, the most oppressive piece of legislation ever passed in Parliament – the one to make Tamil plantation workers non-citizens – could not have been passed under colonial rule!

    Following the passage of the PSO, the strikers made their way to the venue of the public meeting in Ralahamigewatte, Kolonnawa, marching through Dematagoda. The procession was blocked by the Police. Dr. N.M. Perera, the LSSP leader, went forward to Police Superintendent Robins, to explain to him that the meeting was authorized. He fell on the ground after being struck on the head by a baton, and had to run away to save himself. The Police fired 19 rounds of bullets into the strikers, killing one and injuring 19 others, 5 of them seriously.

    There were indeed many deficiencies in the Police of those times. But despite their prejudices and class affiliations, the Police as an institution had one saving grace. They were conscious of the Law as the standard and the ideal of enforcing it impartially. They were also sensitive to being seen falling short on professional standards. This in consequence had the merit of enabling the public to challenge them on the basis of the Law as the standard. But on the other hand the situation becomes quite hopeless when the Police acknowledge no standards, and for the most part become sycophants of the rulers.

    Another event in the episode of the police action in 1947 foreshadowed the future. The body of the innocent clerk Velupillai Kandasamy, who was killed by police firing, was dispatched to his family in Jaffna by the mail train. G.G. Ponnambalam, famed criminal lawyer and leader of the Tamil Congress, stood by the coffin when it was placed on the platform of Jaffna railway station. He told the crowd that had come for the occasion that Kandasamy was killed by the Sinhalese government. It was still British rule and it had not entered into the minds of the crowd that Kandasamy’s death had anything to do with his being Tamil.

    The event was reflected upon many years later by a witness to it. This was in October 1986 when crowds filed past the corpses of nine Sinhalese soldiers killed in an encounter in the Mannar District and the two captured alive. They were exhibited near Nallur Kanthaswamy Kovil. The body of LTTE leader Victor killed in the same incident was carried from place to place in Jaffna while Kittu, the LTTE’s Jaffna leader, basked in Victor’s glory. From the time Kandasamy’s body was brought to Jaffna, Tamil politics has been ‘corpse politics’ – politics for death and destruction and not for life!

    Not long afterwards, the same Tamil Congress leader G.G. Ponnambalam who said Kandasamy had been killed by the Sinhalese government joined the same UNP government of D.S. Senanayake’s to become a cabinet minister. He also lent his support to the deplorable Acts which rendered the Tamil plantation workers (of recent Indian origin) without representation. This caused a split in his party, with the faction led by Chelvanayakam, Vanniasingam and Naganathan, continuing to oppose the Acts and forming in 1949 the Federal Party. Mr. I.R. Ariyaratnam, a Left party leader in Jaffna, later asked Ponnambalam why he had after initial opposition supported the Citizenship Bills upon being made cabinet minister? Ponnambalam replied, “India is a big country 50 times our size. Her prime minister, Nehru, does not care for these Tamils of recent Indian origin. Why should I bother about them?” It was again a mindset, educated and brilliant in a way, but tragically deficient in foresight and moral sense.

    The events of those two years in the late 40s which were centred about the country’s independence in 1948, contained many presentiments for what followed in the next half-century. While having the forms of democracy and legality, it was a political culture that was manipulative with few stabilizing higher values.

  12. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Dear Ananda
    British created death cult of Wahhabism aka pseudo Salafism is a religion of tolerance ?
    Buddhist Temples have survived in Islamic countries for centuries…but they could not survive under the death cult of Wahhabism. Even Islamic religious sites could not not survive the death cult of Wahhabism which is now protected by the USA, UK and Saudi Wahhabia.
    The death cult of Wahhabi have just been revved up by the USA and their Saudi “Friends”, help to keep the “war on terror” to continue and billions of dollars are flowing into the Zionist war profiteers.
    It is not Iran that should be bombed…in Iran there are still Jews living there and praying in their Synagogues…In Saudi Arabia there is no Church, Synagogues, Buddhist nor Hindu Temple is allowed…Shia are persecuted and Islamic heritage has been destroyed there….
    Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi respected Christian and Jewish religious sites in Libya but USA-UK-French-Saudi-Qatari financed terrorists destroyed them recently.
    The Gulf Cooperation Council – a club for Wahhabi Sunni Arab monarchs — the institutional home of the counter-revolution, directed against not only Iran but also against the forces for change in the region.
    It is a fact…Americans and British are protecting Wahhabi extremists…In Syria Christians and their Churches were safe before the Westerners began sending their Wahhabi Fanatics killing innocent Syrian civilians.

  13. Ananda-USA Says:

    Dear Nalliah Thayabharan,

    You said:

    “Buddhist Temples have survived in Islamic countries for centuries…but they could not survive under the death cult of Wahhabism. Even Islamic religious sites could not not survive the death cult of Wahhabism which is now protected by the USA, UK and Saudi Wahhabia.
    The death cult of Wahhabi have just been revved up by the USA and their Saudi “Friends”, help to keep the “war on terror” to continue and billions of dollars are flowing into the Zionist war profiteers.
    It is not Iran that should be bombed…in Iran there are still Jews living there and praying in their Synagogues…In Saudi Arabia there is no Church, Synagogues, Buddhist nor Hindu Temple is allowed…Shia are persecuted and Islamic heritage has been destroyed there….
    Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi respected Christian and Jewish religious sites in Libya but USA-UK-French-Saudi-Qatari financed terrorists destroyed them recently.
    The Gulf Cooperation Council – a club for Wahhabi Sunni Arab monarchs — the institutional home of the counter-revolution, directed against not only Iran but also against the forces for change in the region.
    It is a fact…Americans and British are protecting Wahhabi extremists…In Syria Christians and their Churches were safe before the Westerners began sending their Wahhabi Fanatics killing innocent Syrian civilians.”

    I could not have summarized better the overall role of the Myopic West in hoisting Wahabism on the world in pursuit of their long-term economic, and short-term political, agendas.

    But never fear, the day is soon coming when this love affair between the West and the Wahabi fanatics will end, as Western countries complete their shift away from fossil fuels towards nuclear and renewable energy sources.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    Reading through the summarized history of Lanka, the gravest threat to the integrity of Sri Lanka came from Invaders & Invasions from foreign areas nearest to Lanka. The huge numbers available for Invasions came mainly from the Tamil Nadu area and some from the rest of South India.

    Today, Illegal migrants, Tamil or otherwise, are a type of Invasion. All Illegal Migrants must be deported. No country in the west tolerates Illegal Migrants and neither should Sri Lanka. India allows various “prior to Partition area people” cross back into India, but such a Partition did not happened in Sri Lanka, and must never happen in Sri Lanka. Fortunately, Lanka is an island and islands have clear cut borders.

    If such a Partition did happen in Sri Lanka in 1948 at Independence, then the South of Lanka as we know would have disappeared by now under a deluge of migrants (illegal) from South India, predominantly Tamil Nadu. At present, there are millions of Tamils who are dispossessed through Caste related poverty etc., wanting to flee Tamil Nadu.

    One wonders whether every citizen over 18 yrs of age in Sri Lanka should be a trained in the defence of Sri Lanka, as is done in Switzerland.

  15. Fran Diaz Says:

    Tamil people in Sri Lanka have to decide where their loyalties are, whether to Sri Lanka or to Tamil Nadu. If clear about that one fact, then the road to Peace & Prosperity is clear too.

  16. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Dear M.S.Mudali
    Many castes in Jaffna Penisula can be found in South India except Nazhavar, Koviyar and Madappalli. Ancient Kalinga territory did bleed into both today’s Andhra Pradesh and Orissa and it was a maritime power. They exported people and both Hindu and Buddhist ideas all over southeast Asia. Since Indians are called as
    Klings in Malaysia. A lot dynasties in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka claimed to be Kalinga and Kashtriya dynasties including the later Arya Chakaravarthis of Jaffna.
    Vellalar are Tamil speaking people who are a land owning feudal agrarian community. Some of the Vellalar in the Medieval period were sages such as Naayanmaar and religious scholars like Chekkilaar. Out of the 63 Naayanmaar, 13 were Vellalar. Several castes used many made up stories to upgrade them in the caste hierarchy in Jaffana peninsula. This is how 65% Tamil speaking Sri Lankans ended up being Vellalar where as in Tamil Nadu Vellalar never make up more than 10% of a local population except in Kongu Nadu. This is a never-ending game throughout South Asia in every ethnic group. Even after converting themselves as Muslims doesn’t prevent people from inventing stories about their past. In Afghanistan and Pakistan Pashtun tribes claim Semitic Arab origin to elevate them in the tribal hierarchy. Jaffna peninsula was a virgin territory for a lot of adventurers from India of `lowly’ origin who rose up in the hierarchy by hard work and cleverly masking their past. If each and every high caste Vellalar families do an unbiased genealogical study they will find adventurers from India of `lowly’ origin .

  17. Lorenzo Says:


    Wrong. There were no Tamils in SL until the Portuguese came. They brought Dalits to SL.

    Dalits became Valla-alla-la when they crossed the sea because there was no Tamil in SL to ENFORCE the real caste.
    If you compare the dialect, style of talk, color and manners, SL Valla-alla-las are similar to TN Dalits and certainly not close to TN Valla-alla-las.

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