Pure Tamils and ‘Sinhalized-Tamils’ in Sri Lanka: a theory

C. Wijeyawickrema

“Sinhala [language]’s survival as a clearly Indo-Aryan language can be considered a minor miracle of linguistic and cultural history”
James W. Gair, Studies in South Asian Linguistics: Sinhala and other South Asian languages, 1998, Chapter 14: How Dravidanized was Sinhala phonology? Pages 185-199).


In his opinion page letter (Island, 1/14/08) the American-living anthropology professor H. L. Seneviratne (HLS) stated that (1) Sinhalese are a “variety” of Tamils and (2) that Sinhala language is Tamil in its grammatical and syntactic structure with a 20% Tamil vocabulary. On opinion number 2, no one denies Tamil influence on the Sinhala language. The traditional question has been the extent of this influence.

There about 30 Tamil words in Sinhala. This is not even half the number of Portuguese and Dutch words, respectively, in use in Sinhala. If 30 words are 20% then Sinhala has a total of how many words? Does borrowing words make the borrower the lender? Over 50% of English common words came from non-Anglo Saxon stock (The mother tongue English and how it got that way, Bill Bryson, 1990).

The disunity and jealousies amongst the Kandy chiefs was the reason to have a Tamil king in the first place. Just like Muttu Coomaraswamy’s dress impressed the Queen Victoria, those Kandy chiefs must have taken Tamil tuition to impress their Tamil king and his queens. When Karawa and Govigama English-educated were fighting between them for the new Colombo seat, a Tamil got elected. I give these examples to show that as a professor HLS should not have cited such high-class behavior to support his theory. Could he give examples from folk songs or from Pal Kavi? Sinhala language belongs to villagers and not to feudal or Colombo chiefs.

In 1932, the late Theodore G. Perera (TGP) published a book titled, “the Sinhalese Grammar” to dispel the theory in vogue at that time that the source of Sinhala language was Tamil. He presented evidence to show its Indo-Aryan origin. In more recent times, at least two American linguists studied Sinhala in depth and one of them, James Gair considered it a linguistic miracle that Sinhala language thrived despite a massive Tamil onslaught.

HLS’ opinion number 1 is too simplistic and provocatively Eelam-oriented. It goes beyond the usual India-based explanations on Sri Lankan history given by the English-educated, Western-oriented ruling elites in the colonial Ceylon. Thus the late professor G. C. Mendis, a Christian, divided the pre-1505 history of Ceylon into four periods of North and South Indian history. Michael Roberts’ doctoral research-based book on the history of the Karawa caste in Ceylon showed how more recent South Indian migrants settled down on the western coastal areas later became the Karawa and Durawa castes. When the last Tamil king of Kandy was captured in 1815, the two natives present at the scene happened to be ancestors of SWRD and JRJ who had non-Sinhala origins.

Sinhalese must have had a lot of Tamil and even Portuguese blood in them. The mother of either the king Vijayabaahu I or the Paraakramabaahu, the great, was a Tamil. The word “urumaya” of JHU is a Tamil word. But a blanket extension of this Tamil influence to theorize without facts that the Sinhala-Buddhist heritage was actually a Sinhalized-Tamil heritage is unprofessional and unreasonable. England was populated by Germanic tribes (the Frisians, the Saxons, the Jutes and the Angles) beginning in the 5th century A.D., but Englishmen today do not become Germans (map on page 6 in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal, 1995).

The purpose of this reply is to present to the reader information available out there which does not support HLS’ theory. In fact the new information uncovered by researchers about the Sinhala language could provide a basis for a new paradigm. Instead of the blind belief that everything came “from India to Sri Lanka” it is perhaps time to ask whether it was possible that Sinhala went “from Sri Lanka to India or even to Asia/Europe?” The origin of Sinhala could be Indo-European or older, and not Indo-Aryan. Such questions got buried under an anti-Mahavamsa movement deployed in the guise of a theory of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism as fodder for international consumption.


Anti-Mahavamsa movement in Sri Lanka

The humiliation of native Sinhala-Buddhist culture began after1505, until a resistance movement slowly emerged by way of revival of Buddhism in the 1840s-1880s of which the Great Panadura Debate in 1873 was a climax event. An anthropology guru of HLS, Gananath Obeysekara, called this “Protestant Buddhism.” The behavior of Christian colonial masters and their local supporters, the Christian-born/converted local elites, adversely affected the Sinhala-Buddhist heritage in the island, but one cannot say there was an organized anti-Mahavamsa movement in Ceylon at that time. White rulers and white archeologists did not have any reason to distort island’s history. But with the introduction of universal franchise and the territorial representation to the State Council in 1931, replacing communal representation which began in 1832, the majority Sinhala-Buddhists gained voting strength after 450 years of discrimination and oppression.

When the Legislative Council debated the motion presented by a Hindu Tamil (P. Ramanathan) to make Vesak a public holiday in the colonial Ceylon (1885), with the backing of an American Olcott, the Sinhala representative A. L. de Alwis, a Christian, opposed it. The Governor Gordon who was for the motion said he was embarrassed by de Alwis’ behavior. Colombo ruling families opposed the grant universal franchise, free education, labour rights and other welfare measures, but 1931 was the end of 100 years of communal governance. Those who held power under colonial patronage began to orient and emerge themselves as an anti-Mahavamsa movement in the soon-to-be-freed colony. The constitutional coup of the English-educated locals and the governor Manning in 1923-24 and the Christian GG Ponnambalam’s demands were the early tips of this iceberg. A long-awaited reaction to this arose in the 1960s as Buddhist National Force (BJB) spearheaded by the late L. H. Metthananda who focused on an official church document titled “Catholic Action.” By the early 1970s traces of a theory of Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism began to appear, first in the writings of Mrs. Vishaakaa Kumaari Jayawardhana (daughter of an English mother). It spread like wild fire all over the world after the government blunder in1983 when the president of the country told the people to defend themselves. Thus, Prabakaran and his web sites could talk about the Mahavamsa mentality.

Eelam politics and Boston-area professors

As a follower of HLS’ political anthropology works in print, I am not surprised by his new theory. HLS, his principal guru S. J. Tambiah, the late political science professor A. J. Wilson, history professors C. R. de Silva and Michael Roberts (Australia), (K. Indrapaala is a recent addition), could be grouped as a network of Boston area professors who “suppressed” historical facts in their professorial public writings. For example, SJT in his Buddhism betrayed book mentioned in detail the1967 Dodampe mudalali coup and 1968 Colvin-Leslie Kollupitiya march against the Tamil Language Reasonable Use Regulations, but ignored completely the real coup by the Chritian-Tamil police and navy officers in 1962 and the infamous Imbulgoda march by JRJ in 1958 against the Reasonable Use of Tamil Language Bill. To give another example, in his book “the work of kings” (which he dedicated to his guru SJT) HLS alleged that the mess of ethnic clash in Sri Lanka was due to the actions of two solitary monks, Vens. Yakkaduwe Pragnaraama, and Walpola Raahula. HLS thanked WR for help given in writing his book, but did not give WR an opportunity to respond to his “research” opinions. The Boston group was influential enough to convince the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a resolution against the government of Sri Lanka for allegedly oppressing the Tamils (Massachusetts House Journal for 1979, page 977 reads: … “Resolution memorializing the President and the Congress to protest and utilize the powers of their offices to rectify the gross injustices which have been inhumanely inflicted on the Tamils of Sri Lanka”).

Colombo black-whites (coconuts- white inside, brown outside)

The most culpable conduct of these professors and their Colombo contacts was their hiding of the fact that the problem in Sri Lanka was a problem of mismanagement by the Colombo ruling families, who created and later benefited from a clash between Tamil and Sinhala languages. If in India, Gandhi was for a unifying language despite Hindi was spoken by 30-40% of the people, making Sinhala the unifying language could not be a disaster for Tamil-speaking people in the island. By 1948 there were two countries in Ceylon—the English-speaking Colombo country and the Sinhala-Tamil-speaking village country. The ruling elites and their officer agents made sure the continued existence of this division by converting English versus Swabhasa clash into a Sinhala-Tamil conflict. Ironically, Col. Karuna finally exposed this game by a simple demand—Give us what Colombo gets. He did not ask for a homeland. The late Kumar Ponnambalam, a Christian, on the other hand felt that Tamils have “aspirations.” The destruction of Sri Lanka since 1948 could be explained not by a Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism paradigm but by a Colombo black-white paradigm. Because the professors, officers, peace mudalalis, UN agency officers, foreign ambassadors in Colombo and the human rights INGOs are predominantly, if not 100%, Christians they failed to understand that a Sinhala Buddhist cannot be a violator of human rights. Unlike faith-based Christian and Islam where human life is uni-directional (linear) in Buddhism life is cyclical and everything is impermanent (sabbe sankaara aniccaa). This was the basis for a harmony of different faiths at the Buddhist village level. This was why 50% of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka lives among Buddhists.

With the church organization run like a corporate business, and the last Pope’s desire to “convert Asia into Christianity in the 21st century,” I am pointing out the behavior of Christian politicians, the powerful and the Colombo ruling families. I am not blaming in this essay the average Sinhala or Tamil Catholic or Christians who have suffered along with the Sinhala Buddhists in the Non-Colombo country of the island. For example, the Marxists brains at least from 1935 to 1964 were active in anti-Mahavamsa affairs irrespective of their ethnicity. A section of the JVP is still struggling to overcome its anti-Mahavamsa mind set.


Types of evidence against HLS’ theory

1. Ven. Ellawala Medhananda’s research

The history of Sri Lanka and its North and East that the Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero has painstakingly constructed after forty years of archaeological field work (Our heritage of the North and East of Sri Lanka, 2003) is radically different from a Tamil rooted ethnic origin of its settlers. The scripts found on hundreds of rock caves that he was able to trace and record did not support a Tamil theory. Some donors of these cave dwellings (to Buddhist priests) had Tamil names. If all donors at that time had a common Tamil origin, then all of them must have had Tamil-based names. These cave donations span from the 3rd century B.C to 5th century A.D.

The oldest Brahmi scripts were found in Anuradhapura (5th century B.C.) which was not Tamil Brahmi. Recently, Brahmi scripts were found in Tamil Nad at Adichanallur near Tirunelveli ( It would be interesting to see if they are older than what was found at Anuradhapura. The Indian archaeologists expect that the carbon-14 dating would take Adichanallur ruins to 7th or 8th century B.C. HLS’ theory may have to wait until these results are out and analysed.

2. Theodore Perera and Sinhala (1932)

The second source is the Sinhala Grammar book written by Theodore G. Perera (TGP), published by M.D. Gunasena Co. Ltd. in 1932. This work was supported by the Maha Mudaliyar J. P. Obeyesekere who later had a Tamil daughter-in-law. In a chapter titled, “History of the Sinhalese language” TGP summarized facts known by him at that time.

TGP mentioned the purpose of his book was to dispel the theories in vogue at that time that Sinhala was a derivative of Tamil. At that time no one dared to say that the Sinhalayas were former Tamils! While admitting the influence of Tamil on Sinhala, TGP provided evidence to show the dissimilar origins of Tamil and Sinhala. For example, he supplied a table with 16 Sinhala words comparing them with Sanskrit, Maagadhi (Pali), Greek, Latin and English (example: nama (Sinhala)-naaman (Sanskrit), naama (M), onoma (G), nomen (L), name (E), peyar (in Tamil). Only word that matched was ata (eight) which is ettu in Tamil. The archaeological commissioner of Ceylon at that time, Dr. Goldschmidt concluded “Sinhalese is now proved to be a thorough Aryan dialect, having its nearest relations in some of the dialects used in Asoka’s inscriptions.” TGP felt that Sinhalese is decidedly an Aryan language not only on the side of its vocabulary, but in its orthography, grammar, rhetoric and prosody.

TGP thought that by the time of the arrival of Ven. Mahinda (son of King Ashoka) Sri Lanka had a language based on some north Indian language which he called Sinhala. This language was also taken to the Maldives and Lakadive Islands (the language of the Maldives Islands (Divehi) is a Sinhala dialect). TGP said that the commentaries to the Pali Tripitaka were first written in Sinhala at the time of Ven. Mahinda, which (commentaries) were later translated to into Pali by the Ven. Buddhaghosha.

TGP pointed out that the Thonigala inscription (B.C. 161-137 or B.C. 88-76) used the same Brahmi script found in the Ashoka inscriptions in India. He thought these Brahmi letters as well as the Devanaagari and other north Indian language letters were based on Semitic-Phoenician letters. If Tamil was the source language of Sinhala then Sri Lankan inscriptions should have had Tamil scripts. “For a number of centuries the Sinhalese language did not seem to have had any connection whatever with Tamil.” Only after the eleventh century A.D. one could see the first traces of Tamil words appearing in Sinhala inscriptions or books. The first Sinhalese grammar written in the middle of the thirteenth century A.D. was mainly based on Pali and Sanskrit grammars. Therefore, under an Indo-Aryan language framework similarities one finds between Sinhala and Tamil could possibly be due to the fact that both languages borrowed them from Sanskrit.

TGP showed the evolution of the Sinhala hodiya using six rock inscriptions. (hodiya is chart of phonemes, alphabet is a list of symbols for writing). He concluded that despite the fact that Sanskrit was in use from an earlier time and that Pali was introduced with Buddhism in 307 B.C., Sanskrit or Maagadhi (Pali) sounds were not used in the inscriptions written in 200 B.C. Until 100 A.D. they were not used with Sinhala. All this leads us to understand that Sinhala is a language first developed in the island.

3. James Gair and Sinhala
As the map reproduced on page 187 of Gair’s book indicates Sinhala, Tamil, Persian and a few dialects found above the Telegu language region in India do not have an aspiration (mahappraana- eg., t as in ata (eight) versus th as in Gothaabaya) contrast. The rest of India has some form of aspiration recognition. Germanic languages also do not have an aspiration contrast but at least they have certain aspiration sounds as in the case of the difference between the two words pin and spin. In pin p is an aspiration. Sinhala has no aspiration whatsoever, in speech or writing (those like Gothaabaya are Sanskrit). Therfore, in pronouncing the English word pin as well as the Sinhala word piti we say it as in the word pitisara (rural).
Gair also pointed out the overwhelming left-branching syntactic character, in particular, the exclusive or overwhelmingly dominant use of preposed relativized clause structures found in Sinhala and Tamil, not found in the rest of India.

Unlike Tamil which has only consonant p, since the 13th century A.D., Sinhala has had p, b, d and g. Thus in Tamil balla (dog) is valla and sudu (white) is suthu. If Tamil was the source language how did this happen?

On page 189 of his book Gair reproduced a list comparing Sinhala with Tamil and other Indo Aryan (IA) languages. Thus:

1. Sinhala has fewer phonemes (about 30) than in IA (though more than in Tamil)
2. In Sinhala, the volume of opposition of cerebrality (i.e., retroflexion) is less than in the rest of IA
3. The absence of dipthongs in Sinhala, unlike in eastern IA
4. The absence of nasalized vowel phonemes
5. The partial neutralization of s and h in Sinhala, because of the change s > h “already at work in
Sinhalese prakrit”(eg., handa > sanda (moon)
6. The opposition of long and short vowels, common in Tamil, less so in IA
7. The loss of aspiration in Sinhala commonly retained in IA

4. The Rigveda and Sinhala

The word vatura (water) is not only closely cognate to the Germanic words and Hittite “water,” but it represents a form which is impossible to explain on the basis of Sanskrit or Indo-Aryan etymologies (The Rigveda” a historical analysis by Shrikant. G. Talageri, 2000, New Delhi). This means that Sinhala could be an Indo-European language and not an Indo-Aryan one.

Talageri’s original purpose was to demonstrate that Indo-Aryan languages (Sanskrit and Paali etc.) evolved in India and went westward to Asia. Under the prevailing European-white-based scholarship, Sinhala came out of this I-A branch of parent I-E. But when Talageri stumbled on vatura (or eliya (light) which Geiger dismissed as insignificant) and other unique Sinhala words such as oluva, bella, kalava and kakula, as an impartial scholar he had to adjust or re-examine his own thesis. The new question is was it possible that Sinhala was indigenous to Sri Lanka and went north (to western India) and west (to Iran, Asia Minor and Europe)?

As the paragraphs quoted verbatim below from Talageri indicates, Geiger could not come out of his western or Asia Minor (religious heartland called the Levant) thought box. Our own S. Paranavithana thought of a Sinhlala link with western India but he could not think that perhaps the direction could have been not from Punjaab or the Lata region (Gujarat) to Sri Lanka but from Sri Lanka to India.

“The Sinhalese language of Sri Lanka is generally accepted as a regular, if long separated and isolated, member of the “Indoaryan” branch of Indo-European languages; and no linguist studying Sinhalese appears, so far, to have suggested any other status for the language.
However, apart from the fact that Sinhalese has been heavily influenced not only by Sanskrit and (due to the predominance of Buddhism in Sri Lanka) Pali, but also by Dravidian and the near-extinct Vedda, the language contains many features which are not easily explainable on the basis of Indoaryan.

Wilhelm Geiger, in his preface to his study of Sinhalese, points out that the phonology of the language “is full of intricacies… We sometimes meet with a long vowel when we expect a short one and vice versa”, and, further: “In morphology there are formations, chiefly in the verbal inflexion, which seem to be peculiar to Sinhalese and to have no parallels in other Indo-Aryan dialects… and I must frankly avow that I am unable to solve all the riddles arising out of the grammar of the Sinhalese language.”

However, not having any particular reason to suspect that Sinhalese could be anything but an “Indoaryan” language descended from Sanskrit, Geiger does not carry out any detailed research to ascertain whether or not Sinhalese is indeed in a class with the “other Indo-Aryan dialects”. In fact, referring to an attempt by an earlier scholar, Gnana Prakasar, to connect the Sinhalese word eLi (light) with the Greek hElios (sun), Geiger rejects the suggestion as “the old practice of comparing two or more words of the most distant languages merely on the basis of similar sounds, without any consideration for chronology, for phonological principles, or for the historical development of words and forms…”

However, there are words in Sinhalese, of which we can cite only one here, which cannot be so easily dismissed: the Sinhalese word watura, “water”, is not only closely cognate to the Germanic words (which includes English “water”) and Hittite water, but it represents a form which is impossible to explain on the basis of Sanskrit or Indoaryan etymologies. Geiger himself, elsewhere, rejects an attempt by an earlier scholar, Wickremasinghe, to derive the word from Sanskrit vartarUka as “improbable”; and although he accepts the suggestion of another scholar, B. Gunasekara, that the “original meaning is ‘spread, extension, flood’ (M. vithar)… Pk. vitthAra, Sk. vistAra,” he notes that “vocalism a.u. in vatura is irregular, cf. vitura”.

M.W.S. de Silva, in his detailed study of Sinhalese, points out that “Indo-Aryan (or Indic) research began with an effort devoted primarily to classifying Indian languages and tracing their phonological antecedents historically back to Vedic and Classical Sanskrit… Early Sinhalese studies have followed the same tradition.” However, Sinhalese “presents a linguistic make-up which, for various reasons, distinguishes itself from the related languages in North India… there are features in Sinhalese which are not known in any other Indo-Aryan language, but these features, which make the story of Sinhalese all the more exciting, had not received much attention in the earlier studies.”
He also points out: “Another area of uncertainty is the source of the small but high-frequency segment of the Sinhalese vocabulary, especially words for parts of the body and the like: eg. oluva ‘head’, bella ‘neck’, kakula ‘leg’, kalava ‘thigh’, etc. which are neither Sanskritic nor Tamil in origin. The native grammarians of the past have recognized that there are three categories of words - (a) loanwords, (b) historically derived words and (c) indigenous words… No serious enquiry has been made into these so-called indigenous words”.

In his preface, de Silva notes that “there is a growing awareness of the significance of Sinhalese as a test case for the prevailing linguistic theories; more than one linguist has commented on the oddities that Sinhalese presents and the fact… that Sinhalese is ‘unlike any language I have seen’.” Further, he quotes Geiger: “It is extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible, to assign it a definite place among the modern Indo-Aryan dialects.”

But, it does not strike de Silva, any more than Geiger, that the reason for all this confusion among linguists could be their failure to recognize the possibility that Sinhalese is not an Indoaryan language (in the sense in which the term is used) at all, but a descendant of another branch of Indo-European languages.

From the historical point of view, “a vast body of material has been gathered together by way of lithic and other records to portray the continuous history of Sinhalese from as early as the third century BC.”163 in Sri Lanka, and “attempts have been made to trace the origins of the earliest Sinhalese people and their language either to the eastern parts of North India or to the western parts”.

But de Silva quotes Geiger as well as S. Paranavitana, and agrees with their view that “the band of immigrants who gave their name Simhala to the composite people, their language and the island, seems to have come from northwestern India… their original habitat was on the upper reaches of the Indus river… in what is now the borderland between Pakistan and Afghanistan”, and quotes Paranavitana’s summary of the evidence, and his conclusion: “All this evidence goes to establish that the original Sinhalese migrated to Gujarat from the lands of the Upper Indus, and were settled in LATa for some time before they colonised Ceylon.”

A thorough examination, with an open mind, of the vocabulary and grammar of Sinhalese, will establish that Sinhalese represents a remnant of an archaic branch of Indo-European languages [not Indo-Aryan]”.

5. Jayantha Ahangama’s silent service

JA was working at his father’s printing press in the 1960s before he came to study computer science in America. Unlike the new generation of computer science Ph.Ds, JA was well versed in the Sinhala grammar. He found Sinhala Hodiya as a highly scientific sound system arranged according to the movement of lips and tongue from front to back in the mouth.

While working on a self-imposed project to convert the Pali Tripitaka into Sinhala and English in order to place it on the internet for analysis and research, JA uncovered some innocent errors that crept into the English transliteration pioneered by the late Rhys Davids in the early 1900s. Thus, in Rhys Davids English translation, Namo Thassa (as in tharu, stars) became Namo Tassa (as in takaran, tin sheet). JA solved this problem borrowing three letters from the Old English. In the process he also made Sinhala language Internet compatible in the most efficient and effective manner.

With electricity replacing paper as the medium of writing and storing data (filing cabinets versus removable disks of the size of a finger) fourteen European languages including the Icelandic formulated an internet’s Brahmin club placing them at the front end of the Unicode (Latin -1). JA invented a system called Romanized Sinhala to take Sinhala into this club as its 15th member. The club uses Latin letters and because Sinhala is also using Latin letters borrowed from the Old English for this purpose we also call it “Latin Sinhala.”

He has been doing this work single-handedly and without any support, encouragement or any appreciation by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). On the Internet use of Sinhala he is without doubt a modern-day Munidasa Kumaratunga facing road blocks from vested interests in the computer domain ( )

In English a letter is just a letter. This is why the spelling bee contest is possible among the English-speaking. Thus u is used in put and but with different sound effect. This is not so in Sinhala. This is why school children play with English letters as if they are words! The four English letters I-O-C-A for them could convey the sound Ayyo Seeye (Oh! Grandfather, as if he narrowly escaped a hit by a fast moving car when he was crossing the road carelessly). JA capitalized on this unique ability of native Sinhala speakers in inventing a Romanized Sinhala or Latin Sinhala.

JA used his American-living friends as a laboratory in perfecting his new invention. A Sinhalaya cannot pronounce the word “bicycle” the way an Englishman pronounces it unless of course the Sinhalaya goes to a Colombo elocution class. The American companies using Indians for telephone customer services do this by giving them intensive accent training. The most revealing difference between Tamil and other Indian languages on the one hand and Sinhala on the other is the inability of Sinhalayas to use retroflex consonant “na” (as in tana kola (grass, not breast) and “la” (as in mala (dead, not flower). Yes, they are in written Sinhala but we cannot curl our tongue and say them as Indians do. As such, the ta vargaya in the hodiya is muurdhaja group in Indic. Thus pronouncing the word bicycle the way an Englishman does is not a problem for a Tamil but impossible to the Sinhalese. Also, we do not use mahapparana (aspirants) at all while North Indians do it without any extra effort.

JA suggests an outside-the-box thinking on Sinhala and to question the west-worshipping thinking of English-educated professors. Encouraged by new discoveries by Talageri and his own ‘field work’ JA proposes a new theory. In his book Talageri suggests that Indo-European languages went from India to Asia Minor. Then he stumbled on to the word vatura in Sinhala and the other unusual words such as oluva (head), bella (neck), kakula (leg) and kalava (thigh). These words are not found in Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil or any other language. So, JA asks, is it not possible that a Sinhala language went north and west from ancient Sri Lanka? After all the Yavanas mentioned in the Mahavamsa are present-day Iranians. He disagrees with TGP’s suggestion in 1932 that Sinhala had more affinity with the Semitic and Phoenician script. He says Semitic and Phoenician scripts which write from right to left does not have all the sounds that the Sinhala and Brahmi scripts shared in common.

Malayalam is a new language and the remarkable similarity between Sinhala and Malayalam letters makes one wonder if Sinhala letters influenced Malayalam letters. The reason for this is the possibility that Sinhala could be even older than Sanskrit or Pali. The Sinhala words vatura (water) and hakuru (jaggery) are found in Germanic languages and not in Indo-Aryan languages.

If one looks at the oldest world maps available, in one map (Map 2 above, by Eratosthenes, 276-194 B. C.) the British Isles and Sri Lanka take a prominent place. So much detail of the latter is shown in Ptolemy’s map (Map 1, by Ptolemy, 150 A.D.). As a tropical resplendent island located on the path of seasonal Monsoon winds, compared to the dry and barren South India, people who lived in Lanka for example, during the Raavana time, could have had contacts with lands now known as Iran and Europe. Why would King Ashoka send both his son and daughter to Sri Lanka, unless it was the most important land outside India at that time? It is like who the president of Sri Lanka sends to Somaliya and USA as his ambassadors.

Denis Fernando in an essay “Indian ocean should be named the Asiatic ocean,” (Island, 2/23/07) presents a post-colonial approach to world history and geography by a Sri Lankan researcher. Perhaps, HLS unintentionally contributed to this new way of thinking by his politically-loaded new theory of Sinhalized-Tamils. I hope this topic would generate research interest among both Sinhala and Tamil students/scholars.

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