I refer to the article headlined “Wigneswaran and puppeteering with Ghosts, by Mr. Malinda Seneviratne, in the Daily Mirror of February 9, 2017.
I focus attention only on four (4) interconnected points of Mr.MS as follows: I quote-
(a) “The claim of traditional /historical homelands is a load of balderdash unsupported by any kind of evidence”
(b) “There are no archeological props, there is no subaltern history and even literary kind of evidence, is at best weak and easily debunked.”
(c) “Just the fact that they blur the truth with multi-ethnic talk….when asked about numbers and percentages, and it is actually sad”.
(d) “Almost half the Tamil population lives outside the “homeland” and the bottom falls out of the argument”.
I comment on above statements of Mr. MS, not as an ethnic Tamil, although I am a Hindu. My purpose is to present the facts objectively rather than view it with a racial bias.
Re- (a) above: I wish to ask Mr. MS whether there were any “Sinhalese traditional homelands” prior to the arrival of Vijaya (More correctly Vijay or Vijayan) from India in 500 B.C. and later during the introduction of Buddhism in 247 BC ?
Could Mr. MS give evidence of Sinhalese settlements prior to 500 BC?
Obviously not; because the Sinhalese race is said to be founded by Vijaya in 500 BC only, according to the historical chronicle Mahavamsa by Mahanama. In fact the founding of the race is a myth. Because, not a single race in the world have been founded by an individual. Can Mr. MS give the names of individuals, who founded the European, Slavonic, Chinese, Mongoloid, Japanese, Aryan and the Dravidian races, to mention a few? I bet not; because races evolve organically by people living together, with common customs, beliefs and dialects. Sinhalese are the only unique exception to this universal phenomena.
Who was Ravana’s (more correctly Ravanan) grandfather Pulasthi, who ruled from Pulasthinagar in the North (Name later changed to Polonnaruwa by Sinhala historians) and Ravana, later king of Lanka?
Were they Sinhalese rulers? Mr. MS, can you provide an answer?
I don’t think so. Because, the truth is the pre-Vijayan and later pre-Buddhistic inhabitants of Lanka were a mix of Dravidians, comprising Tamils, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalees. Can Mr.MS tell us who King Devanam Piyatissa (More correctly Devanambya Alwar Tissan) and his father Mutsiva (More correctly Muthusivan) were?
Were they Sinhalese rulers? What was the religion of King Devanam Piyatissa, before his conversion to Buddhism in 247 BC by Arahat Mahinda (Mahendra)? Surely, he must have had a religion.
Mr. M.S would, in his own words, have to “indulge in navel and toe gazing ” to these questions. The truth is King Ravana was a Tamil and a Hindu and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and received the boon of Lord Shiva by observance of “tapas”. He was a great practitioner of Ayurveda and during his time the great Indian Ayurvedic Scholar, Danwanthri attended a Conference on Ayurveda in Lanka. There is Brahmi rock inscriptions to support this. King Devanambya Alwar Tissan was not even a Tamil but a Telugu Hindu.
Re- (b ) Mr. MS “debunks” that there is no evidence of any historical kind”. He seems to be unaware of the architectural, epigraphical (Brahmi rock inscriptions) and literary , and place names etc, which establish the veracity of the fact the pre- historic population consisted of Hindu Dravidians, long before the emergence of a Sinhalese religio-linguistic identity.
There was no fully developed Sinhala language till about the 7th century A.D. Sinhala language was created , basing on Tamil Alphabatics and Grammar (Virasolium) and 90 % comprising modified Sanskrit and Tamil words. What more evidence is needed for Ravana, than the corroborative literary evidence of the Epic Ramayana authored by the great Sage Valmiki around 7000 years B.C, which refers to the King of Lanka, Ravana.
Other historical evidence in Lanka like the remnants of the “Adams Bridge” in the Palk Strait linking Lanka and India , place names as Seetha -Eliya, Ramboda (Correct name Ram Bhoda) and other temple architecture of the five (5) Iswarams, Thirukoneswaram of Trincomalee, Munneswaram of Chilaw, Thirukeetheeswaram of Mannar, Naguleswaram of Point Pedro and now defunct Thondeswaram, in Dondra, in the South.
Besides, the worship of Lord Shiva and Lord Murugan at the sacred temple at Kataragama (More correctly Kathirgamam) existed around 13, 000 years BC. Even the Sigiriya rock was in pre-historic times was called “ Shivagiri” mountain, which later was changed to Sigiriya. There are over hundreds of Brahmi Rock inscriptions (Prof. Dr. Paranavitarane refers to them) confirming the “Holy Yatra” made by several Saints, Sages, Munis and Yogis, including the Great Agastya, who came to the sacred Kataragama and worshipped Lord Murugan.
Isn’t this evidence enough to prove the existence of a mix of Dravidian Hindu inhabitants in Lanka during the period of the Ramayana and beyond? The existence of pre- Vijayan and pre-Buddhistic Hindu temples, millennia before the arrival of so-called Vijay and Arahat Mahinda, proves that the Tamils and other Dravidian Hindu races, was the majority population of Lanka.
Re- (c) about “numbers and percentages” of race break-down of population of the post-Christian era. With the conversion of King Devanam Piyatissa and large numbers of the subjects of his kingdom to Buddhism in 247 B.C, which comprised Tamils and other Dravidian races, the Hindu Tamils and others became a minority.
Although they were converted to Buddhism, they continued with their Hindu customs, religious practices and worship of Hindu deities. Some followed the strict adherence to the Precepts of Buddhism, and opposed the ritual worship of Hinduism.
This led to the Schism in Buddhism, not only in Lanka, it started in North India, and the dichotomy of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism came about. The Abhayagiri and Mahavihare became the centres of the respective schools of Buddhism.
Can Mr. MS deny this development? Thus the ancestral progenitors of present day Sinhalese are the converted Tamil Buddhists. With the creation of a separate language, by modification of Sanskrit and Tamil words (about 90%) and a sprinkling of Pali, Portuguese and English words, the Sinhala language was born.
Since the beginning of the Christian era, a period of over 1,000 years, by reproductive natural increase, the Sinhalese became, percentage-wise, the majority. These are the truths, which are unpleasant and unacceptable, to the Sinhalese psyche.
"The British were not that stupid to demarcate territorial lines for efficient rule without a rational basis. They were based on the rationale of a de-facto reality. Wasn’t the same British, who gave a Unitary State and Constitution for their centralised government, when in reality, there was never a centralised Lanka"
Today, the residual Tamil population, a significant minority, is deemed as outsiders, who came from South India. Whereas, the prehistoric history, as averred above, establish the fact of they being the primordial inhabitants of Lanka. Of course, there must have been an inflow of Tamils during the Chola invasion and rule, which lasted for 44 years and in modern times the British bringing in the Tamils from South India to work on their plantations.
The Tamils and other Dravidians did not come from India. They came along with the land mass called “Illankai” in Tamil, when the Continental land mass connected to South India, called the “Commorikandam” in Tamil and the geological name “Demuria”, which sank and dismembered in the great Ocean Storm (Tsunami?) around 9,000 years BC.
The name Lanka was derived from the Tamil name “Illankai” by deletion of the first two letters and the last letter.
Re- (d) that” half the Tamil population lives outside the “homelands”- the bottom falls out of the argument”. This is a lame argument to deny the existence of an identifiable territorial region as “homeland” of the Tamils. The “homeland” does not disappear, merely because half the population is outside the region. This is due to two reasons:
(1) Job opportunities
North East is the least developed region. Metropolitan Colombo district is the most developed and where job opportunities are.
So, the drift to Colombo is natural. They are settled and live in the Colombo District. Does this mean they have severed their connection with the place of birth? No. They have family connections with their “homeland”.
The other reason is their” homeland” was engulfed in a fratricidal war, terrorism and instability, constant aerial bombings, break-down of civilian life, lack of amenities, food, medicines, schooling , fear of child abductions, which perforce made them seek a safe and secure life in the South.
These two combined factors make up the reason d’etre for their living outside their Homeland. It is precisely for this that, a once and for all solution, is needed to settle the so-called “Tamil” problem.
If the Tamils are given the necessary political power to govern themselves, under a federal framework, development would result in job opportunities, and peace and stability will attract a backward inflow to the Homeland, not only from Colombo, even from abroad.
Living out of their homeland is not abandonment of their place of birth- the homeland. By extension of this irrational argument, thousands of Sinhalese settled down in the Western countries cannot call their place of birth, Lanka, as their motherland.
Mr. MS also refers to “arbitrary lines of territorial demarcations made by the colonial Rulers ,the British.”
The British were not that stupid to demarcate territorial lines for efficient rule without a rational basis. They were based on the rationale of a de-facto reality. Wasn’t the same British, who gave a Unitary State and Constitution for their centralised government, when in reality, there was never a centralised Lanka, prior to the advent of the first colonial power, the Portuguese.
There existed only three independent and sovereign kingdoms- the Kotte Kingdom, the Kandyan Kingdom and the Jaffna Kingdom. Can this historical truth be denied by those who prattle about historical evidence of various kinds?
The Sinhala Government and their chauvinists, gleefully accept the British unitary State and Constitution, and insist on this, but not their regional lines of demarcation of the North and East. I think I have adequately dealt with the matters referred to by Mr. MS and he is welcome to counter my views, if I am wrong, and enlighten me.