Posted on December 5th, 2023


The Tamil Separatist Movement inspected the Buddhist ruins in the north and east during the 30 year Eelam war when the north and east were not accessible to the Buddhists.  Tamil Separatist Movement wanted to wipe out all signs of a Buddhist civilization in the north and east. But it was not possible to get rid of all the Buddhist ruins, there were too many. Therefore Tamil Separatist Movement   decided to convert the Buddhist ruins into Hindu kovils.

Most Buddhist ruins in the north and east were converted to   Hindu kovils by the simple process of installing a trident among the Buddhist ruins.  The trident is a   symbol of Hinduism and in this case was considered a substitute for a whole Hindu temple.  Ellawela Medhananda found the trident planted in many of the Buddhist ruins he looked at in the north and east.

In Kurundi, due to its importance, the Tamil Separatist Movement decided to penetrate deep into the heart of the monastery. They climbed the hill, removed the Buddha statue and turned the Pilimage into a Hindu shrine, with the Korawkgala substituting for a lingam. They gave the bogus kovil a name Adhi Sivan Ayyanar Kovil. They said that there had never been a Buddhist stupa at Kurundi.  Kurundi only had a Hindu temple. When a yupa gala was found, they said that it was a lingam.

However, Kurundi   continued to be regarded as a Buddhist monastery. The bogus Hindu kovil was ignored.  It was necessary therefore to draw attention to the bogus Kovil. That is why the Tamil protestors barged into Kurundi, with a media team and performed Pongal and recited Hindu chants.

The next move was to get Kurundi declared a ‘contested site’. A contested site” is one which is claimed by two rival religions. The aggressive demonstrations at the Kurundi stupa, and the lawsuits in Mullaitivu Magistrate courts were intended to create a situation where Kurundi emerged as a contested site”.

Neighboring India has successfully dealt with two such contested sites, Thalaivetti Muniyappan temple in Madras and the Babri Mosque in Ayodhaya.

In 2022 The Madras High Court ruled that Thalaivetti Muniyappan temple in Periyeri Village of Salem District in Tamil Nadu was a Buddhist temple. . The case was filed in 2011 by P. Ranganathan and the Buddha Trust. They wanted the Archaeological Survey of India to inspect the statue in the    temple.

 In 2017, the court directed the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department to inspect the temple and file a report. The Archaeological Department reported back that the statue in the temple was a Buddha statue. Accordingly, Madras High Court ruled that the site was a Buddhist temple.

Court banned pooja and other Hindu rituals in the temple. Archaeology Department was ordered to put up a notice saying it was a Buddhist temple .Court allowed the public to continue visiting the place, but no Hindu prayers and rituals will be allowed there.

In Ayodhaya, both Muslims and Hindus claimed the 16th-century Babri Mosque. The matter went to court and Supreme Court decided in 2019 that it was a Hindu site, not a Muslim one. Hindus were jubilant. The Muslim litigant, the Sunni Waqf Board, refused to appeal, saying it respected the verdict.

In Sri Lanka the Tamil Separatist Movement faced two obstacles. Tamil Separatist Movement had to first establish that there actually was an ancient kovil at Kurundi and then announce that this ancient kovil” was now under attack.

They arranged for the foreign media to carry articles on the subject. The Madras based Hindu” newspaper carried the following account by Meera Srinivasan on September 9th, 2023. Meera said that Kurundi has now turned into a site of fierce contestation.

Certainly a Buddhist stupa had been found at Kurundi, and the place was an archaeology reserve since 1833, but the place had an ancient Hindu kovil as well. Tamils in the area   had been worshippin the trident in the kovil as their ancestors had done.

  Meera said, when the Kurundi excavation started, Tamils from the surrounding Thannimurippu area ,  who  had for years gone to offer prayers to Aadi Aiyanar (their local Siva deity), have been prevented from doing so by Sinhalese mobs led by Buddhist monks,.  The latest episode was in August 2023, during a special Pongal prayer ceremony.

Bhaskaran Susilathevi, a resident of Thannimurippu, intimately familiar with the terrain around the Siva temple, found that a Buddhist vihara has been built there.  We are not allowed to go to our temple She said. They wish to pray again at their favourite hilltop temple, concluded Meera.

World Socialist Website has hosted an essay on Kurundi by Wasantha Rupasinghe  and P.T.Sampanthar. The  Head quarters of the World Socialist Website  is in Oak ParkMichigan, USA.  Rupasinghe  and Sampanthar said that in 2018 a group of Buddhist monks visited the site claiming it was the location of an ancient Buddhist shrine. Their actions were backed by the government’s heavily-politicized Archaeological Department, the media and the security forces stationed in the area.

In 2018, they began construction of a Buddhist temple at the site, and continued to do so in defiance of a court order ordering an end to the construction. Buddhist monks and a large number of devotees” held a religious ceremony at the Kurundi site, continued  Rupasinghe  and Sampanthar.  

Scores of Buddhist devotees were transported in buses to the site where a group of Hindus were holding the Pongal festival at the adjacent Hindu temple. Galgamuwe Santhabodhi, the so-called chief prelate of the Buddhist temple at the site, attempted to stop the Hindu event, provoking a heated argument, with violent clashes only prevented by police intervention.

Santhabodhi had issued the highly provocative claim that Tamil extremists are planning to establish a Hindu Kovil” at the site and getting ready to start a separatist struggle in this country based on Kurundi Buddhist temple, concluded Rupasinghe and Sampanthar.

The next pair of writers, Harindra B. Dassanayake and Rajni Gamage looked to see whether Kurundi was actually Kurundi. Was it really the one built by Kallatanaga as mentioned in the Mahavamsa, they asked, because there is a lack of a clear, uncomplicated historical narrative on Kurundi. No archaeological evidence has yet proven that the Kurundi vihara discussed in the historical texts is the current location, they said. This can be easily dismissed. Kurundi excavations brought up an inscription which showed that Kurundi was Kurundi.

Tamil Separatist Movement decided to solve the problem of Kurundi by moving Kurundi out of Mullaitivu. The Tamil north and east meet at Mullaitivu and Kurundi is in a strategic location there. Better remove Kurundi stupa to Vavuniya.  The area in which Kurundi vihara is sited, need not be the ancient Kurundi, said the obliging Dassanayake and Gamage.According to the Tamil Separatist Movement,    the real Kurundi is found at Karikattumulai in Vavuniya district, they said.

Dassanayake and Gamage allege that Kurundi has not received proper archaeological examination. It is important to conduct proper archaeological surveys first, they said… Reconstruction work in the guise of ‘restoration’ in the absence of proper archaeological knowledge of the site cannot be accepted, they preached. Excavations and conservation are needed before so-called ‘restoration’ without sufficient evidence.

The various names of Sinhala and Tamil origin with which the monastery and the surrounding area are referred to  show that this is not exclusively Sinhala,   continued Dassanayake and Gamage. The names used at Kurundi are Kurundi vihara, Kurunthoor, Kurunthumalai, Kurundavásoka-vihára, Piyankallu, and Piyangala. This is a howler. The Tamil names are Tamilised versions of the Sinhala name. These writers do not seem to know that Piyankallu, and Piyangala are Sinhala names.

Dassanayake and Gamage hint at possible ethnic riots over Kurundi. For power-hungry extremists, ‘Buddhists awake! – Save Kurundi!’ may suddenly become a launching pad, they warned. Unless carefully handled, that day would not be far away concluded Dassanayake and Gamage.

Other agencies also joined in on the matter. University Teachers Association of University of Jaffna said in a media statement in 2023 that it openly condemned the illegal nature of the archaeological excavation carried out in Kurunthurmalai with the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist agenda and issued rulings that are considered fair.

Another lot said that the Department of Archeology has been trying to build a Buddhist Temple in Kurunthoormalai allegedly in violation of the court order. The Archaeology Department Director had repeatedly violated three court orders previously issued and tried to build a Buddhist vihara illegally.

Virakesari newspaper   discussed Kurundi at least twice. It published pieces on January 25, 2021 and March 2nd 2021. In addition to the basic information on the Kurundi matter, they added a few howlers. The paper said that Kurundi had a Pallava style temple during Chola period!! Kalinga Magha had also set up a kovil at   Kurundi. Since there are Buddhist ruins also there, we can treat this as a Hindu Buddhist religious site said Virakesari generously.

Pulendran Nesan   interviewed Kurundi residents and wrote a piece which was translated into Sinhala and  published in Kurundi Vihara vamsaya ( p 249-).Nesan said there were no permanent Tamil  settlements near Kurundi, but there were Tamil settlements nearby  at Kumalamunai and Mulliyavala.

He had conducted interviews with a few inhabitants there. They had complained against Kurundi stupa.  It had not been there before. .Baskaran Susila Devi (56 yrs) said that from the time she was small they had worshipped at    Kurundi kovil. Baskaran Divyaraja, her son, said they visited the temple before going hunting.  He said there was only a foot path to get  there.    (Continued)

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