Can mono-ethnic Jaffna save the Tamils?
Posted on December 18th, 2013

By H.L.D. Mahindapala

It is just not possible to make a claim for statehood without first defining its physical borders. It is like making a claim for a piece of land: The claimant must have a deed which defines the boundaries. Consequently, all available evidence, including concoctions, is drawn specifically to outline the borders ” real or unreal ” as justification for the demand of a new State.

This explains why the Vaddukoddians went all out first to concoct geographical borders needed to give some shape and form to their phantom Eelam. This entity called Eelam could not exist even in the mind if there was no cartographic expression of it in a geographic space. In the absence of solid historical evidence, Tamil cartographers stretched their imagination to a past that never existed in history. When they finished drawing their map in 1976 at Vaddukoddai, it covered two-thirds of the Northern and eastern coastline of Sri Lanka which, if true, would have made the Sinhalese virtual prisoners of the maritime forces of the Tamil migrants who are supposed to have arrived first.

Take for instance the Port of Mahatitta (Mantota) in the North-western shore. It was the pivotal port for all trade with the Indians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Persians and all other sea-faring nations. It was never in the hands of the Sri Lankan Tamils in ancient and medieval times though the Dravidian invaders grabbed it from time to time ” all who were driven out by triumphant Sinhala-Buddhist kings. If they were an entrenched force in the Western coastline from time immemorial, as claimed in the Vaddukoddai Resolution, they would have been a formidable force for the invading Cholas and Pandyans. But the invaders fought on their own marching all the way to Anuradhapura. It was in the 16th century that the Tamils of the North had some say in the North-western coastline. By that time the Sinhala kingdoms had moved down South to make Colombo the Central Naval Base mainly for trade with the West.

The Tamil boast is that their suzerainty extended from Point Pedro to Panadura. What they refuse to accept is that the Tamil ships and ground forces that came down to Panadura were defeated roundly. Running back hurriedly to their safe havens in the North soon after they arrived in the South does not mean that they ruled from Point Pedro to Panadura. This is similar to the dubious claim of Velupillai Prabhakaran being the ruler of the North. Yes, he did run a fascist regime keeping every Tamil under his jackboots but only as a sub-ruler without parity of status, either domestically or internationally. Besides, he and his people were always under the shadow of the Sri Lankan State, dependent on it for essential supplies for survival.

If the two opposite sides of the coastline were in the hands of the Tamil settlers or kings, the Sinhala kingdoms would have been land-locked territories with the least amount of manoeuverability to sustain themselves as independent sovereignties. The Tamils could have controlled the interior with advantageous positions they held in the strategic coastal belt needed for the survival of Sinhala kingdoms. The Sinhala kingdoms did not survive only on its internal resources. It depended on external sea routes to import and export not only goods and services but also mercenaries who were vital for the defence of the Sinhala kingdoms. All these would have been in the hands of the Tamil migrants if they controlled the Northern and eastern coastline from time immemorial, as they claimed in the Vaddukoddai Resolution. There were, of course, short spells during which Sinhala kings did pay tribute to the Kings of Jaffna. But that was overshadowed by Sapumal Kumaraya ruling Jaffna for 17 years and leaving his imprint in the Nallur Kovil.

The Southern ports gained significance in the 15th century onwards when the Sinhala kingdoms came down South. Even then, they still retained the Northern and Eastern ports as an integral part of their kingdoms. Robert Knox who was captured in Trincomalee, was brought before the King of Kandy and not Jaffna. The Dutch dealt with the Kandyan kings to obtain facilities for their presence in eastern Sri Lanka and not Jaffna. Some potentates of Jaffna did gain the upper hand from time to time but not for long.

Mantota was a well-known sea port for East-West trade in ancient times but it was not in the hands of Tamils. The first Aryan settlers arrived in Tambapani in the North-West without any opposition from the Tamils, if they were in Sri Lanka. The first known opposition was from the indigenous people and not the Tamils. Even the first known Dravida opposition did not come from the Northern migrants but from kingdoms in South India.

If the Jaffna Tamils preceded the Aryan settlers to make any part of Sri Lanka their home, there would have been clashes as it did when finally the Jaffna Tamil settlements began in 12th and 13th centuries. Yalapana-vaipava-malai, one of the early sketches of Jaffna history, records how the Sinhalese in the Jaffna kingdoms rebelled against the Tamil rulers. The clash of the two cultures would have been inevitable as the two sets of migrants met on Sri Lankan soil. More than any other argument, the absence of clashes between the Sinhala and Tamil migrants in the ancient and medieval periods, proved beyond doubt that they were transient traders, mercenaries and adventurers, and not settlers ready to fight for their land. Even the Dravida invaders had their feet firmly rooted in Dravida territory beyond the Palk Straits. The Tamil migrants neither had the will nor the resources to fight for territorial claims; nor were they driven by the ideology of a Sri Lankan homeland because they knew that their homeland was in South India. This is not to deny that there were pockets of Tamils in Sri Lanka in ancient and even in pre-historic times. The issue, however, is not who came first. That is a vexed issue with no historic relevance to claim any part of the land as theirs exclusively.
In the beginning, the Tamils were an itinerant population who had no intention of putting down new roots in Sri Lanka. This is the difference between the Aryan settlers and Tamil migrants. The Aryans were determined to make Sri Lanka their home from the time they set foot unlike the Tamil migrants whose proximity to S. India made it their homeland. The Aryans, who had come along from the North of India, severed the umbilical links and set out to carve out a new destiny in their new found land. Only they went all out to transform the virgin land into a new civilization, new culture and a new home for all those who wanted to be a part of their history.

History belongs to them because it was their creative energies that made history from Point Pedro to Dondra. No other history of any other migrant group can compete or rival the achievements of the Sinhala-Buddhist history-makers. They dominated the political landscape and wrote their indelible history in rocks ranging from pre-Christian era caves to latter day Sigiriya.
The sheer numerical weight of evidence dismisses the claim of ownership of Sri Lanka based on a Tamil potsherd here and an inscription there. The historical weight of thousands of lithic evidence alone go to marginalize bits and pieces of Tamil archaeology as valid products to prove ownership of history and the land in which it was made. Like all other migrants who settled down, the Tamils certainly have a claim to be a part of Sri Lankan history, but not to exclusive ownership of territory at the expense of excluding others.

It is puerile to push the dubious claim of having arrived first as a reason to own territory. Historians agree that it is the aboriginals who were here before the arrival of Sinhalese or Tamils. And as stated above, the fact that there wasn’t a sizable amount of Tamil settlers to put up a resistance against the coming of the new Aryan settlers who built a new Sinhala-Buddhist civilization, is proof enough to demolish the argument that the Tamils have a superior claim to own Sri Lanka, or parts of it, as their homeland. Furthermore, if the Tamils were here before the Sinhalese, how come they failed to build a Tamil civilization which would have been the logical and natural outcome of their presence? As original settlers they had a head start over the Sinhalese but they never made it their home as the Sinhalese did. They also have Mahalingams, Panchalingams, Nagalingams, Pothalingams and all the other conceivable lingams and yet failed to prove over millennia that they had the virile capability to produce even a numerically strong population for the creation of a credible and viable Tamil nation. If the Tamils came before the Sinhalese, how come they failed to populate the nation with Tamils? How come the Sinhalese who came later, according to them, beat them even in the department of procreation?

The stronger argument is to quote theoretical propositions which state that internal self-determination is for the people to pursue its political, economic, social and cultural development within the framework of an existing State. But this argument is vitiated by the fact that the majority of the Tamils live with the Sinhalese and not in the so-called Tamil homeland. This creates an instant and irreconcilable contradiction. If the Tamil enclave is for the pursuit of political, economic, social and cultural development, what is going to be the position of the majority of the Tamils left out of the so-called paradisiacal enclave for Tamils in the North? The East has been ruled out by the Supreme Court and that region doesn’t come into the picture. It is the North that is claimed as the heartland of Tamils. But Yalpana-vaipava-malai states that there was a strong presence of Sinhalese who were oppressed, persecuted and driven out.

According to Northern politics, the Tamils seek separatism/self-determination because they cannot find justice under the ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’ State. So in carving out a mono-ethnic enclave in the North, is the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) seeking to provide justice and dignity only for a selected minority in the North and not for the majority of the Tamils in the South? Besides, on what basis can they demand pluralism in the South when they are all for mono-ethnic extremism in the North? Alternatively, can any political pundit visualize a time when all the Tamils would migrate from the South and go in search of equality and dignity in the North?

They repeat ad nauseam their anti-Sinhala-Buddhist myths that they have been discriminated since independence. So far, despite repeated questioning, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, the legal fugleman for Tamil claims, M. Sumanthiran, and even the NGO braggart, ‘Paki’ SaravanaMUTTu, have not demonstrated in any way as to how they had been victims of discrimination administered by ‘the evil Sinhala-Buddhist State’ since independence. They are three outstanding examples of receiving and enjoying fully, the benefits of the ‘Sinhala-Buddhist welfare State’ in the South and shouting in the North that they have been victimized for being Tamils. SaravanaMUTTu, in particular, has enough human and financial resources to research the untold sufferings experienced by the three Tamils mentioned above at the hands of ‘the evil Sinhala-Buddhist State.’ His personal story of suffering as a victim of the Sinhala-Buddhist state could be a best seller. Why is he shying away from his duty to stand up for the victims of the Sinhala-Buddhist State?

If, however, he thinks that it is ‘a systemic failure’ why doesn’t he spell it out in detail for the public to evaluate the veracity of his claims? He can, for instance, conduct a survey of all the Tamil professionals in the Tamil diaspora and prove that it is the discriminatory policy of free education administered by the Sinhala-Buddhist State that had deprived them of using Tamil in the high level positions they occupy in Western countries. He can also add as a personal footnote to say that it is S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s Sinhala Only policy that makes him spin like a top on the dance floor with his daughter.

Their Vaddukoddian ideology and militarized violence that go to justify Tamil exclusivity has been detrimental to the larger interests of the majority of the Tamils. It took them only as far as Nandikadal. Their political strategy has been to blame the Sinhala-Buddhists for all their failures and missed opportunities that came their way.
The history of Jaffna is a tragic record of the Tamil casteist elite exploiting the Tamil masses for their glory. First the Vellahlas did it. And then Velupillai Prabhakaran, the first born child of the Vaddukoddai violence, followed the Vellahla-Vaddukoddai violence without any remorse.

Apart from sporadic lip service from time to time, the post-Nandikadal Tamil leadership has not taken any meaningful steps to accept the new realities and lead their people away from the Vaddukoddai ideology and its concomitant violence. First they relied on Prabhakaran to deliver their Pee-lam. Now they have turned to David Cameron, who in his youthful adoration of Margaret Thatcher, posted posters demanding that Mandela be hanged. Muthiah Muralitharan told him a few home truths. But it went in from one ear and came out of the other because there was no substance in between to retain the essence of Murali’s commonsense.

At least as a Christian, Cameron should know the Christian dictum which states that no man should put asunder what God has put together. But if you ask Fr. S.J. Emmanuel of Global Tamil Forum or Bishop Ryappah of Mannar, they will justify even hijacking the statue of Holy Mary to their Eelam in never-never-land.

What then is the future of all those Tamils who had managed to escape the watery graves in Nandikadal?

10 Responses to “Can mono-ethnic Jaffna save the Tamils?”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    REWRITING of Sri Lanka’s HISTORY by the Eelamists, whose Hopes for a Separate State has been Encouraged by the Northern PC Elections, has been RESURRECTED and is again in FULL SWING!

    Ravana,Vijaya, Tissa Hindu kings – TNA MP

    By Saman Indrajith
    December 17, 2013

    Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians yesterday said, in Parliament, that Sri Lanka was originally a Hindu nation and its national anthem should be sung in Tamil. If Lanka’s national anthem could not be sung in Tamil in the North, there was no point in singing it in Sinhala there.

    “Sri Lanka is a Hindu country. Ravana ruled this land. He was a Hindu king. The Mahavamsa confirms these facts. Therefore, Hindus’ rights should be protected. Ravana is a Siva follower,” Batticaloa TNA MP S Yogeshwaran said.

    Participating in the third reading stage debate, on budget 2014, under the expenditure heads of 23 ministries and Secretariat for Special Functions (Senior Ministers), MP Yogeshwaran said: “Vijaya too was a Tamil King. King Devanampiyatissa, too, converted to Hinduism. He also gave Hindu names to his children. Pandukabhaya, too, was a Hindu king who had followed Shaivism.”

    Batticaloa District TNA MP P. Ariyanethran said that there was no need to sing the national anthem in Tamil areas if it was not sung in Tamil. The North does not have the need of a national anthem sung in the Sinhala language, he said.

    Public Relations Affairs Minister Mervyn Silva, responding to the demands of the TNA MPs, said: “Maha Ravana was a great Sinhala King. Sinhala kings brought princesses from India and married them. For the use of those women, brought down from India, the kings built kovils. So you cannot point out to these Kovils and say that Lanka was ruled by Hindu kings. This is not a Hindu land. God Kataragama was born in the Sakya clan. Do not misinterpret the history of this country.”

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Seethawaka Rajadhaniya has always fascinated me. I have tried to retrace its structures on the ground without much success. This book “Seethawaka Urumaya” sheds some light on this kingdom that resisted the Portuguese colonialists at a critical period of Sri Lanka’s history.

    The Heritage of Seethawaka By Philip Gunawardena: Essential read for history students

    Reviewed by Piyadasa PITIGALA
    August 23, 2009

    Philip Gunawardena nicknamed ‘The Lion of Boralugoda’ was also well known as the ‘father of socialism’ in our country. However, only a few know that he has been an accomplished writer as well. When he was a member of the British Communist Party he served as a sub-editor of the journal ‘Daily Worker’ in England.

    When his elder brother Harry Gunawardena contested Avissawella seat at the 1931 State Council elections Philip Gunawardena sent stirring pamphlets in Sinhala from England in support of his election campaign. In the 1940s while in prison Philip Gunawardena translated ‘The State and the Revolution’ by V. I. Lenin into Sinhala.

    Philip Gunawardena has done extensive research on the Seethawaka regime. He made use of local and foreign historical references, local beliefs, folklore and practices coming down to his day for the purpose. Before his death Philip Gunawardena had handed over all his research material to Ven. Horathapola Palitha Thera to edit them and publish as a book. Ven. Horathapola Palitha Thera, fulfilling his request, published the book ‘Seethawaka Urumaya’ posthumously in 1973 in Sinhala based on research and instructions of Philip Gunawardena.

    ‘Seethawaka Urumaya’ has been translated into English as ‘The Heritage of Seethawaka’ by former High Court Judge and Writer W. T. A. Leslie Fernando.

    In his preface Philip Gunawardena emphasizes that it is the bounden duty of historians to interpret history based on factual data and sources. He confesses that he is not a historian and he has only tried to present a critical analysis of the Seethawaka period. He adds that the Seethawaka period should be treated as a separate era in Sri Lanka.

    Philip Gunawardena explains that in time of stress and great need when the necessity for a redeemer is felt in a country unique men are born to meet the situation. He adds that is how Napoleon appeared in France and Subash Chandrabose in India. He illustrates that similarly in the 16th century Seethawaka emerged as a separate Kingdom with two formidable rulers Mayadunne and Rajasinghe I to save the country at a crucial period (Chapter 1). Like Kings Dutugemunu, Wijayabahu I and Parakaramabahu the Great saved the country in the past, Philip Gunawardena affirms that Mayadunne and Rajasinghe redeemed the country in the Seethawaka Period.

    Philip Gunawardena highlights that King Rajasinghe I got down Sikh generals and engineers from Punjab to create a well-trained and disciplined army and build fortresses to meet the challenge of the Portuguese.

    It is timely that the Seethawaka Urumaya Foundation has taken steps to translate the book “Seethawaka Urumaya” in Sinhala into English. That would illuminate and bring international fame to a significant period in our history that was earlier considered as a dark period. W. T. A. Leslie Fernando – former High Court Judge who has been entrusted the translation has fulfilled the task well. Indrani Meegama has edited the work giving a new colour to the book and illustrating it with pictures relevant to the Seethawaka period.

    At a time when some politicians expound false theories about our history like stories about Pasdun Korale, a politician of the recent past Philip Gunawardena has expounded true facts on the Seethawaka period based on his research. The book is neatly printed in glossy paper by Visidunu Prakashakayo and is reasonably priced at Rs. 200. The book would be appreciated not only by the students of history but also all the patriotic people in Sri Lanka.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    “Ravana, Vijaya, Tissa Hindu kings”

    May be BUT they were NOT Tamils!!!

    That is the important thing.

    So it is CUSTOMERY for Hindus to go abducting other Hindu’s wives, killing and hunting, etc.

    What a BARBARIC lot!

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Valla-alla-la are TOBACCO SLAVES brought down by the Dutch in the 17th century.

    Then the cancer grew on others’ land – PARASITES!

  5. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    I fully agree that the concept of Eelam can only be destroyed if the geographic area drawn out for Eelam be eliminated. and the only way to eliminate the concept of Eelam is for the Sinhalese population be relocated in these areas making it more Sinhalese and more Buddhist. At the same time Tamils should be relocated to Sinhalese majority areas.

    Here in the US before the massive arrival of illegal Mexicans the US population however diverse were never concentrated in geographic areas. Italians, Irish, blacks, Germans, French etc. were equally spread out across the land. Now due to the lax immigration policies the US is experiencing Spanish only areas of the land and a movement called “La Raza” or “the Race” wants to reclaim all lands lost to the US under Mexican American war of 1849 where the US won and expropriated lands that now make up much of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, to California.

    If Sri Lanka is to avoid such a fate then Tamils and Sinhalese should share the land in roughly equal proportions.

  6. Nanda Says:

    There is no “Hinduism” anywhere in the world before 1700.
    “Hinduism” is a new religion created by borrowing ideas from Buddhism.
    It is an acceptable rubbsish religion created by getting rid of “killing fileds” concept of olden Brahminism and adoptation of Buddhist concepts into it.

  7. SA Kumar Says:

    Ravana, Vijaya, Tissa Hindu kings”-May be BUT they were NOT Tamils!!!- Correct they all are Eelavar (Hela) may have been spoken Tamil or Sinhala or any sign old language!

    We are Elaver who speck Tamil ,hence we are not Tamilar !

    In Hela Lanka Two faith fight each other for last 2,500 years & will for another 3,000 years until faith exist disappear !

  8. helaya Says:

    By having 13th amendment activated they put the stepping stone for ELAM. Foolish rulers in SL never understand this. When they have chance they should abrogate this stupid amendment showed upon SL by Indian bastards.

  9. SA Kumar Says:

    By having 13th amendment activated they put the stepping stone for ELAM- No, it will unit mother Lanka !

    13A &6A should implement fully parallel ! than We have put separation night mare for ever like in India ( state & 16A) !

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    INDEED, Bureaucracy, Inefficiency and Waste of Public Funds EXPLODES under the Provincial Council System. The ONLY beneficiaries are the Provincial Councillors profiting from their stranglehold on the citizens of their feudal fiefdoms.

    ‘Country bogged down in PC quagmire’
    December 19, 2013

    Chief Government Whip Water Supply and Drainage Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday (19) that the country was bogged down in a quagmire because of the Provincial Council system introduced by the UNP.

    He said the provincial council system had created a lot of administrative problems. “While 400 schools under the purview of the Education Minister, 9,000 schools are under the Provincial Councils,” he said The Provincial Council system was being continued by the government without change owing to political imperatives, the Minsiter added.

    Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said the Provincial Council education ministers, too, could be summoned to the Education Ministry’s Consultative Committees as a solution to such administrative problems. (SI)

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