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Why do the Sinhalese want the dry zone Tamil areas?

by A. J. N. Selvadurai

(December 24, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Historians now say, "the authentic history of the Sinhala people begins after the introduction of Buddhism." This then cancels out completely the Vijayan mythology of the origin of the Sinhala race as stated in the Mahawamsa, and makes the Tamil Buddhists of the 2nd Century BC as the original ancestors of the Sinhala people, who have always gloated over their ‘lion blood’ ancestry through their so-called eponymous hero Prince Viyaya.

The Sinhala people find it very difficult to accept this fact which makes it all the more difficult to reconcile the ethnic problem.

I asked a Sinhala academic for a ‘pukka’ Sinhala name other than the ubiquitous Portuguese names used by the Sinhalese. He was rather taken aback because he himself was a Perera, and was unable to give me an answer, as all non-Portuguese Sinhala names like Wijetunga, Goonesekera and Jayawardene are all modified Hindu Tamil names, by striking off the last letter. Common names used by the Sinhalese like Wijekoon, Illangakone, Jayakody, Ratwatte are all ‘pukka’ Tamil names.

Although the Sinhalese take pride in King Dutugemunu being their Sinhala hero as advertised by the dubious Mahawamsa, he was in fact a Tamil Buddhist and the son of King Kakkavanna Tissa — meaning Tissa of the black colour of a crow — and could not have been an Aryan as claimed by the Mahawamsa.

This battle between Dutugemunu and Elara was fought in the 2nd Century BC when most of the Tamil Buddhists of South India and North-East Sri Lanka were converting to their original Hinduism because — according to Dr. Ananda Guruge — of the "Ariyanisation" effects of Buddhism on the ancient Dravidian culture of the Tamils.

The Sinhalese have established themselves very well in the south of Sri Lanka and are a thriving Buddhist majority. Their ‘Sinhala only’ language policy eliminated the successful Tamil majority from the good life and the Sinhalese are now in a commanding position after over 25 years of ethic war with the Tamil minority. They don’t need the Tamils anymore.

Since they can do without the Tamil majority, it is not understood why the Sinhala people want to force the Tamils to be part of Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka, when the Tamils want to secede and mind their own business.

The Sinhala people have now shown the world that they are the dominant force in Sri Lanka — ‘the people of the lion’ — which comes down from their mythological "lion" ancestry which they want to believe, so that it will give them a sense of identity and power.

Having now tasted it, they would only stand to gain if they loosened their grip on the Tamil minority and arrange for suitable devolution to enable the poor war torn Tamils to aspire to be a free people which surely would remove any antagonism in due course and lead to good neighbourliness and happy dependence on each other as common occupants of the island of Sri Lanka.

All these years, from the time the British made the island into an unitary state in 1933, the Tamils living in the inhospitable and under-developed arid zone had to depend on the British goodwill and the employment opportunities provided for an English educated people. But the Sinhala Buddhist governments robbed them of this goodwill and forced Sinhala on them.

What they thought was "British Imperialism" was replaced by "Sinhala Imperialism" which was even harsher and even vindictive, because Tamils were successful in education and employment. Now that the imbalance in education and employment has been redressed there is no need to feel threatened by the Tamils. It would now seem easier to give in to the Tamils who have neither the desire nor the capability to be a threat to the Sinhala majority.

Once there is peace and the government shows interest in repairing the war damage and improving the infrastructure and the life of the people without forcing anything on their administration, the Tamils will only be too happy to engage themselves in the full life of the community, and rise up to join forces with the Sinhalese and add to the prosperity of the island.

We can then look forward to living in peace and with no threats from any outside power; it would be ‘like floating on a lotus blossom in nirvana.’

May the Triple Gem bless the people of Sri Lanka.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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