Towards a Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Sri Lanka (Part One)

Dismantling the Chauvinist Foundation of Sri Lankan State

By Arular Arudpragasam

The Impossible Idea of Unitary State

(July 14, Geneva, Sri Lanka Guardian) The achievement of the objective of a unitary polity encompassing the whole island of Sri Lanka has been the prime interest of various monarchs and rulers throughout history. This idea, in spite of its noble nature, has brought more misery and suffering to the people of the island than any actual benefit. The process of achieving a unitary state has always led to the alienation and suppression of section of people of the island, leading to perpetual war.

Very often the ambitions of the monarchs to wield power over the whole island brought in foreign powers causing great harm to the sovereign rights of the people of the island and eventually five hundred years of colonialism.

In latter days, the aspiration of seeing Sri Lanka under one umbrella was achieved under the British rule. Since the subjugation and annexation of the Kandyan Kingdom to the maritime areas in 1815, the whole island of Ceylon became one colonial outpost under the British Crown. This lasted until February 1948, when Ceylon became an independent nation and ever since has suffered a constitutional crisis unable to stabilise itself as a democratic polity.

Can this problem be resolved through dialogue between the various conflicting interests? Can stability be brought through external mediation? In spite of all earnest efforts, the attempts to find an answer to these questions and establish peace and harmony to the island, which gave meaning to the word serendipity, has not seen the light of the day for the last hundred years.

The idea of unitary state with a strong centre, under a supreme Parliament claiming to articulate the will of the entire people of Sri Lanka, though inspires a seeming rationality, both in the minds of natives and foreigners has cast a substantial section of the population outside the constitutional and political process. This has brought the Tamils to a state of revolt seeking self determination and independent statehood.

The unitarist idea was traditionally a dream of monarchs and colonisers. It became a dream to establish a Sinhala Buddhist hegemonic state in the independent Sri Lanka. Initially, this was to be established through the abuse of the parliamentary democracy and people’s earnest desire to establish a united country. This latter became a military project that is to be achieved through occupation and annexation.

The proposition of a unitary Sri Lanka has definitely favoured the fortunes of the more numerous community, the Sinhala Buddhists, said to number about 74% (69 at independence) of the whole population. The majoritarian democracy left behind by the British has facilitated the imposition of their will over the others. The repercussion of this, where the Parliament imposed permanent disabilities on the Tamil people and other minorities, Hence Tamil people rejected the idea of unitary state vehemently and demanded a different political arrangement for the articulation of their free will, so as to fulfil their desire for a democratic and just governance over their affairs.

The Jathiya and the Sinhalese.

To a Sinhalese, the word ‘Jathiya’ means the Sinhala Nation, its identity, and the expression of its collective will. The evolution of the concept of Sinhala Jathiya brought about with it’s the Sinhalese claim for the whole island along with the idea of unitary state of Sri Lanka to establish a Sinhala Buddhist country. This led to the domination of the whole island by the Sinhala Buddhists and the use of the Sinhala language and Buddhist Religion in all walks of state life. The others, as minorities and second class citizens, somehow have to find their way through the uncertainties and insecurity thus imposed while the Sinhalese made every effort to push their frontiers using every possibility available at the expense of other communities.

The identity of a Sinhalese has been cast in such a way during the last hundred years, drawing from historical myths and falsification and misrepresentation, providing a 'Jathiya' mind set, seeking continuity with past history of the island and the right of domination over the whole island as a historical birthright.

An average Sinhalese often alternates the meaning of such terms as ‘Jathiya’, Ratta (country) , Mathrubhumi ( motherland) between his exclusive claim over the whole island through his alliance to Sinhala Buddhist identity and the Sri Lankan Nation by which he carefully excludes the rights of Tamil people over their homeland. The subscription of average Sinhalese to the idea of exclusivity, relieves him from any compulsion and need to seek out and subscribe to a value system that accommodates the mutual rights of all people in a federally structured or any other type of polity.

This situation is no different from the situation that prevailed in Nazi Germany in the early thirties, and the term ‘Jathiya’ shares a common experience with the German word Volk during the time of Nazis. The term, which was a harmless word meaning people, was imbued by the Nazis with Aryan race myths and was turned into a most potent racist slogan which devastated Europe during World War II. The case in Sri Lanka is no different. The Sinhalese , using LTTE as pretext have over run a civilisation in the North East of the country.

The Aryan tag of the Sinhala race is more a work of the British who saw Sri Lanka as a jewel in their colonial possessions and who by seeking a kinship with the Sinhalese by identifying them as Aryans hoped for their permanent stay as rulers of Sri Lanka. In reality it was the Tamil Kingdom of Jaffna that carried the tag Aryan historically, as Arya Chakaravarthy and Sinhgai Aryan due to the Kalinga origin of its Royalty. The totemic symbol of lion too belonged to the earlier Kingdom of Jaffna that was swallowed by the sea during early part of Christian era. No Sinhalese kingdom ever had the totem of lion. The latter Kingdom of Jaffna had the cockrel as its totem which is to be found in every Sinhalese home that has a traditional lamp on top of which the cockerel stands proclaiming their once alliance to the Kingdom of Jaffna. Traditionally the Sinhalese have opposed the Aryan influences in their religion and culture.

The difficulty Sinhala people have in understanding and accommodating the Tamil aspirations is due to the overwhelming inculcation of Jathiya ideal as a unifying ideal of the Sinhala race. This might have been a necessary unifying slogan at the time of resistance against the colonial powers. The Sinhala Jathiya ideal has been articulated as the love of motherland (Mathrubhumi) or claim of whole country ‘Our country’ (Appe Ratta) and this expression of patriotism underlies their illegal claim for the whole island.

The articulation of the Sinhala Jathiya ideal as a patriotic mission of the Sinhala race transcends all party political divide and one could see the Sinhalese intellectuals, journalists, politicians, administrators and militarists are united in serving it and actively engaged in its sustenance, perpetuation and realisation. Every Sri Lankan government or leader has to subscribe to it and is under siege of its dictate and this inevitability has lead to the moral and intellectual degeneration that affects all walks of Sri Lankan life. This has led to the perpetual inability of the state to arrive at a just and peaceful solution to the ethnic problem.

The inability of Sinhala rulers to provide a peaceful and democratic government for the whole country and for the Tamil people and their virtual dependency on the military rule to handle the affairs of state in the Tamil North East, is the result of usurpation of the constitution and state of Sri Lanka by the Sinhala Jathiya ideal. The persistence with which it has opted to subordinate the democratic institutions of Parliament, Judiciary, Public Service, the Armed Services and the Police, and the immense suffering it has opted to inflict on the Tamil people in the name of unity, integrity and sovereignty, has left a sense of helplessness and despondence among the Tamil people. The militaristic ideas of peace that have found passionate acceptance among the Sinhala ruling classes, have come into existence through the continued denial of the democratic rights and aspirations of Tamil people.

In reality, as the ‘nation’ concept based on peoples sovereignty is only about 300 years old, so is the concept of Sinhala nation that evolved later. In spite of its historical projection that there has been a Sinhala nation on the island for the last 2500 years, the founder of the modern Sinhala nation concept is Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (frequently referred to as S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike; January 8, 1899 – September 26, 1959) who founded the Sinhala Maha Saba in 1935 that subsequently became the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (1951).

He Expalins his project in the following words.

“We saw differences amongst our own people – cast differences, up- country and low country distinctions, religious distinctions, various other distinctions, and we therefore felt we should achieve unity which is the goal of us all surely, the best method was to start from the lower rung: firstly unity among Sinhalese and secondly whilst we work for the unity among Sinhalese to work for the higher unity, the unity of all communities. My honourable friends who represent the Kandyan Provinces will bear witness to what I say, that the differences that existed between the two sections of the Sinhalese – the low country Sinhalese and the upcountry Sinhalese is fast disappearing, they will speak for me. Is it not desirable that is being achieved ?”

Speech delivered as minister in the State Council on Governors Reform Bill 21st March 1939. Towards a New era. Selected speeches of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike 1931-1959. Department of information Government of Ceylon.1961

Initially, SWRD supported a federal constitution for the three regions of Sri Lanka in 1929. He proposed separate governing arrangement for Low Country region, a Kandyan region, and a merged Tamil region in the North East. This division was accepted by the British as they held Durbars linking the Kandyan Provinces, Low Country provinces, and Tamil provinces bringing together these provinces after the present provincial divisions came into force between 1902 and 1914. This ideal of SWRD Bandaranaike which he prematurely abandoned has remained the solution to the political crisis in Sri Lanka.

The Buddhist dimension of the chauvinist agenda was not well factored into SWRD’s project of Sinhala Nation as he stood to recognise the rights of Tamil people while giving priority for the Sinhalese. Coming from a Christian Western educated background, his half hearted accommodation of the Buddhist factor cost him his life in the hands of a Buddhist monk in 1959. In subsequent years, especially under the rule of his wife Srimavo Bandaranaike, his project of synthesising the Sinhala Nation became a project for establishing the Sinhala Buddhist hegemony throughout Sri Lanka denying the Tamil people their rights. Subsequent governments competed with each in continuing this project for electoral reasons.

The Struggle to be the ‘Niyama Sinhalayo’ ( Real Sinhalese)

If the Sinhala race idea as well as the struggle to be Niyama Sinhalyo is an aspiration, then what is the real composition of the Sinhala race?. The fact the Sinhala race is in a transitional integrative state is reflected in the attempt of every Sinhalese to establish himself as a Niyama Sinhalayo leaving the others as not the real Sinhalese. This supports the view that the Sinhala race is a conglomeration of many races, aboriginal tribes, communities from India, especially Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, who lived as various principalities and were brought to Sri Lanka by various kings or came as soldiers, refugees, settlers, bandits, and merchants during various incursions into the island from India and other countries. They spoke in many different languages until very recently and this continued into the British period.

The Sinhalese language came into existence during the 14th century through the fusion of four languages Tamil, Hela, Pali and Sanskrit and subsequently Portuguese. There was no language known as Sinhalese language before this period. It did not exist neither in Polonaruwa or Anuradhapura. The Sinhala race integration in earnestness started only during early part of last century when British introduced the concept of communal representation to the State Council. As a political project, it came to be spearheaded by SWRD Bandaranaike at the expense of a Ceylonese nation based on plural foundation which the Tamils supported through the founding of Ceylon National Congress.

Though the Sinhala race idea originated in the minds of later day chauvinist visionaries, and in the minds of British rulers, the ground the situation still remains unintegrated. The place of birth, the name, the cast all can reveal a non Sinhalese origins of an individual Sinhalese giving raise to the identity crisis. The tragedy today is any Sinhalese who would support the Tamils would be doomed and would become an outcast to be named as non Niyama Sinhalayo (real Sinhalese). To be a Niyama Sinhalayo one has to identify and support the chauvinistic mission of Appe Anduwa ( Our government) Appe Ratta ( our country ) and ‘Okkama Appe’ ( everything is ours) and to be in loyal service to it. The moment a Sinhalese deviates and supports the Tamils he would be immediately castigated as a non Sinhalese, a traitor, a Parava from Tutucorin or a Malayalee, a Thelugu, or a Tamil from Jaffna.

When the North East Provincial Council was established in 1989, the EPRLF leader Pathmanaba brought two Sinhalese to be ministers of his cabinet both to be nominated after the resignation of two EPRLF members. The moment this news spread in Colombo, one was branded a Malayalee ( coming from Kerala in India) and the other a Parava (coming from Tutucorin in India). The one who was branded a Prava from Tutucorin who had dropped the Portuguese surname to become more of a ‘Niyama Sinhalayo’. The moment he heard that he is being branded a Parava he abandoned Trincomalee and returned to Colombo. The other which was branded a Malayalee was taken and produced in front of Srimavo Bandaranaike. She tested the person by speaking to him in difficult Sinhalese and making him recite Sinhala Kaviya in which he excelled, conferred him the title, Niyam Sinhalayo thus ‘Oya Niyama Singalek Ne? (You are a real Sinahese No’), a gleaning Minster returned to the Provincial Council in Trincoamlee.

The real story

In reality for a considerable period in history, the security and overloadship was in the hands of the Tamils and a substantial number of Tamils lived in the south as evidenced by names such as Yapa derived from Yapa Patuna or one who belongs to Jaffna has been the common reference to people who have come from Jaffna and settled in Sinhalese areas. Names that end in ‘kara’, such as Nanayakara, Kodikara, Panividakara is an indication of people who have been the officials of the Tamil rule. Sangakkara ( one who belongs to the Sanga) was the common name given to Buddhists in the Kingdom of Jaffna. Many names and name endings such as Seakra are easily discernible as Tamil names. Of recent, even names ending as Pulle has come to be considered as Sinhalese name.

A number of journalists, intellectuals, social workers have been castigated and stigmatised and cast aside for their Tamil sympathy. When a no confidence motion was brought against the opposition leader A. Amirthalingam in the parliament in July 1981, unprecedented in any democracy, a Sinhalese minister in the J.R.Jayawardena’s government with name Shelton Ranarajah, who was the Minister of Justice opposed the motion. That was the end of his political carrier and he ended being nicknamed Shelton Nadarajah.. In the current situation no Sinhalese leader could emerge conceding the Tamil demands, and no southern political party can bring itself to recognise that the north east has been under Tamil self rule without earning the wrath of southern chauvinists.

The Tamil component of the Sinhala race.

The Tamil migration and integration into the Sinhala race fold has been significant. All the Royal households of Sri Lanka have been Tamil or North Indian with significant Tamil component from the ancient times to the last King of Kandy. As Pandyan factor has been dominant in early rulership and the soldiery was often recruited in the Pandyan country in India and the Tamils were the main component of the armies. The Tamil has been the dominant language throughout Sri Lanka. This was so up to the Polanaru period until the thirteenth century when the Kingdom of Jaffna took over as the overload of all of Sri Lanka and Tamil settlements flourished throughout Sri Lanka. The Kingdom of Jaffna defended the sovereignty of Sri Lanka for three centuries especially from the Arabs who made a consorted effort to occupy Sri Lanka after occupying India.

This was followed by the hundred year war with the Portuguese in Defence of the soverignity of Sri Lanka, which made many Tamils to migrate from the North East into the Kandyan Kingdom. The original territory of Kandyan Kingdom was an area known as ‘Kanda Uda Pas Ratta’. With the Portuguese wars in the littoral, this territory became enlarged by the alliance of Tamil principalities and migration. As Portuguese demanded all to become Catholics many choose to migrate into the safety of the Kandyan kingdom which was being raised into Kingdom by the support of the Kingdom of Jaffna and subsequently the Nayakers. These Tamils subsequently became the Kandyan Sinhalese who were claimed as Sinhalese during the British period and later integrated themselves as Sinhalese in the Kandyan kingdom.

The Portuguese converted the ruling families of the North East into Catholics and took them first to Goa. They also converted many Tamils from Tutucorin into Catholicism who were pursued by the Hindu Vjayanagr Empire. Settling them in the North led to war with the King of Jaffna which was an ally of Vijayanagar. Subsequently they were given Portuguese surnames to hide their identity and were settled in the south. They were bound by the agreement the Portuguese had with the King of Kotte to bring down the Kingdom of Jaffna in return for their settlement which they still seem to carry on. One could often see the Silvas, Pereras, Fernandos, Fonsekas as the ‘Freemasons of Sinhala Chauvinism, as their plight is such, the moment they deviate from this mission they will be branded non Sinhalese. Even if one is the Chief Justice but with a Portuguese surname, there is no escapee but be loyal and serve Sinhala chauvinism in spite of its fascist foundation.

The predicament

The emergence of Sinhala Jathiya mindset and the chauvinist agenda of establishing a Sinhala hegemonistic state over all of Sri Lanka has led to the current situation. No leader or political party can survive if they support the Tamils and their right over their homeland. From this difficulty emerges the pathetic struggle of the Sinhalese leadership to find a solution to the Tamil problem without abandoning the Sinhala chauvinist agenda. This attempt has gone on for nearly eighty years. This Sinhalese leadership cannot bring them to apply the inclusive political system in neighbouring India even if they appreciate it.

The fundamental cause of the inability of the Sinhalese leadership to find a just solution to the Tamil problem becomes clear when seen in the background of this predicament. Hence their search for a solution to the Tamil problem ends as a futile exercise as they continue to search for a solution while adhering to a cause that denies and negates the Tamil people their rights. They have approached every subject of statecraft and resolution of the ethnic problem since independence in 1948, as if the Sinhalese own the whole island.

The historical foundations of Tamil rights

There is little evidence, the real history of Sri Lanka was anything like what is stated in Mahavamsa, a purano historical work which is the Bible of Sinhala chauvinism. Though this has been crowned the authentic chronicle, it is now accepted Mahavamsa is only tradition of writing history peculiar to the monks written with the motivation of advancing their interests, and it has been rewritten form time to time and every time it is rewritten it is changed to suit the times with scheming additions and subtractions from beginning to the end, and the last version was written in 18th century Kandy with substantial changes and additions.

Up to the 14th century no language by the name Sinhala language existed in Sri Lanka and idea of Sinhala Nation could not have existed in Sri Lanka before this period. On the basis of this, it can be inferred, the so called 2500 year history of Sinhala race and Sinhala Buddhism is nothing but a myth cooked up in the minds of the Sinhalese and British historical prevaricators who lived in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Much of what has been twisted as history of the Sinhalese and achievement of civilisation is nothing else but the early history of the Tamils and others.

The Roman historian Ptolemy, who lived in the 3rd century, calls the name of Anuradhapuram by its original Tamil name, Anoor (a village full of cows). The Chinese pilgrim who lived in Anuradhapuram in the 5th century, Fa Hsian, talks of the many nations that lived in Anuradhapuram and that the king was a Hindu. No mention of any Sinhala language or Sinhala race. Robert Knox who visited Anuradhapuram in the 18th century narrates that the Tamils were the rulers and inhabitants of Anuradhapuram.

Tamil rule has prevailed in Anuradhapuram before and after the Chola rule of the 10th century. Only Tamil Buddhism has existed in Anuradhapuram as Sinhala language or Sinhala race did not exist in Anuradahpuram or Polanaru.( Can any Sinhalese scholar prove otherwise?). In those times, Tamil was written in the Vatteluthu from which the current Sinhalese script was derived. This script was brought from South India to write Tamil and other languages that existed in Anoor. The same script was used to write Pali, Sanskrit and Eelu. The Sinhala language has not come into existence at that time. The tradition of writing Tamil in Vatteluthu, which is now called Sinhalese script, was prevalent in Sri Lanka until the 19th century Kandyan period.

The Tamil Buddhist literature which were in various Buddhist monasteries were written in the Vatteluthu were lost to the Tamils as latter day Tamil scholars failed to identify them as Tamil works. Similarly, the inscriptions written in Vatteluthu too were mistaken as Sinhalese and disregarded by Tamil scholars.

Mahavamsa was first translated into Sinhalese only in the 20th century. This was originally written in Tamil language. There are correlations that it started as Vamsa history of the Pandya lineage that ruled over Anoor in the beginning. Many versions of Mahavamsa existed and one of them was translated into English in the 19th century. Mahavamsa was translated into English before it was translated into Sinhalese.

English historians who wrote on Sri Lankan history are also responsible for the misrepresentation of Sri Lankan history as Sinhalese history. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the English historians rewrote the world history claiming that, it was barbarism that founded and established the world civilisations. This believe exists among barbaric races even today. The newly founded Sinhala race too was identified as a barbaric race or Aryan. Continuing what was written by the English, the Sinhalese historians twisted and misrepresented and misappropriated the civilisational achievements of the ancient Sri Lanka as the history of the newly conceived Aryan Sinhala race.

The ancient history of Anuradhapuram as it is called in Tamil, was the history of the Pandyan dynasty. Latter in the10th century, it came under the rule of Cholas. From the 13th century till the 16th it was under the overloadship of Kingdom of Jaffna. Then it became part of Kandyan Kingdom as an independent principality peopled by Tamils.

Parakrama Bahus were Tamils and continuation of the Pandyan Dynasty that ruled Sri Lanka. Till the end, up to the final surrender of the Kandyan kingdom in 1815, the sovereign right over all of Sri Lanka was held by the Tamils. The right of overloadship over all of Sri Lanka held by the Kingdom of Jaffna and the Kandyan Kingdom ruled by a Tamil dynasty, directly went into hands of Portuguese and British in the 17th and 19th centuries.

The Mahavamsa that came to be rewritten in the 18th century Kandy succeeded in misrepresenting the Tamil foundations if Sri Lankan civilisation as Sinhalese. The start of the historical misrepresentation begins with the arrival Siamese Buddhist sects that were brought from Siam, present day Thailand, 250 years ago. The need to bring them from there arose, as Buddhism has died out in Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese were Hindus and Catholic converts during this period. According to a Sinhalese historian Kirtsiri Malalgoda only three people knew Pali, all of them layman.

Though, these Buddhist monks were brought to Kandy by the Tamil King Kithisri, they chose to conspire against the King of Kandy, with the intention of crowning a Thai prince who was brought to Sri Lanka dressed as a Buddhist monk. The conspiracy was uncovered and a number of the Buddhist monks were beheaded. Among those beheaded was the Buddhist monk who re-fabricated and re-wrote Mahavamsa. It is after this incident, the anti Tamil orientation and mission of these alien Buddhist sects begin. Even today many of these traitors are loyal to the King of Thailand and promote a yellow Buddhism which has no claim of continuity with earlier Buddhist traditions which were mainly Tamil Buddhist sects patronised by Tamil Kings.

Subsequently, these heretical Buddhist sects joined hands with the British, betrayed the Kandyan sovereign and enslaved the Kandyan Kingdom and availed the concessions given by the British in return for their collaboration. With this, they succeed in selling to the British the fabricated Mahavamsa as the ancient chronicle of Sri Lanka, translated the Mahavamsa and turned it into the history of Sri Lanka. On that basis they created the illusion the whole of Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhala Buddhists and drove the Sinhalese into madness of today. This led to the current antagonism between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities. The entire body of claims of Sinhala chauvinism and the Sinhalese and their entire historical perception all their inflated claims are based on this cooked up and concocted historical work called Mahavamsa.

The Yellow Conspiracy

As the Siamese Buddhist sects were limited to the Kandyan Kingdom and the low laying arrears were under the Dutch rule and the higher ordination was limited to high Goigama cast, the Low country notables, in the end of the nineteenth century, went ot Burma and brought Burmese monks and established the Burmese Amarapura Sect in the low country which admitted monks from Salagama, Karava and Durva casts to be ordained as monks.

Buddhism on the Indian subcontinent was divided as northern Buddhism and southern Buddhism. While earlier tradition of Buddhism in Sri Lanka belonged to southern tradition of Buddhism linked to Buddhism in Tamil Nadu and Andhra, the present Buddhism has come from Thailand and Burma which subscribe to northern tradition of Buddhism. Sri Lanka in earlier period had little to do with northern Buddhism which was prevalent among the yellow races. Though it is claimed Buddhism is being revived in Sri Lanka, this too is a fraudulent claim as what is being introduced is totally a new form of yellow Buddhism originating from Siam and Burma that did not exist Sri Lanka in earlier times.

Today. though a fraudulent claim is made that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, in reality it is not. The religious fellowship of the Sinhalese people was mainly Hinduism during this period when yellow Buddhism was introduced two hundred and fifty years ago. One way of knowing the religious spread of the Sinhalese is to look into the content of the Sinhalese literature of this period.

Hugh Neville was an English civil servant who worked in Sri Lanka in various capacities between 1869 and 1886. He collected all the manuscripts available among the people of Sri Lanka in Sinhalese and Tamil during his period, a total of 2227 works. Of this, the works that are identified as Sinhala verse (poetical ) literature was separated and listed by Hugh Neville. The list and the abstracts and part translations have been listed and printed by P E P Deraniyagala who was the Director of National Museums of Ceylon. into three volumes as Sinhala Verse in 1954.

Of the 822 works listed only about 32 could be called Sinhala Buddhist literature. The remaining 790 works belong to what should be categorised as Sinhala Hindu literature. This gives an indication as to what was the religious persuasion of the Sinhala people during this period as late as middle of the 19th century. ( The entire list is available and can be posted through the email).

The game of the yellow Buddhism is not conversion like Christianity or Islam but gradual subjugation and subordination of the religious Hindu believe system of the Sinhalese people which predates Buddhism as well as Brahminical Hinduism in Sri Lanka, originating in the ancient pristine Dravidian religious traditions of Ravana. The ancient believe system of the Sri Lankan people which is still alive but submerged and has nothing to do with Buddhism . The British during their takeover of the Kandyan kingdom, recognised the Sinhalese Hindu traditions by their recognition of ‘ Buddhist and Devals’ separately in their agreements but today such separate identity has been obliterated and denied by the fraudulent claim that all Sinhalese are Buddhists. If there is any greater denial of identity of any people in Sri Lanka, it is the denial of the identity of Sinhala Hindus.

The Yellow Buddhism of recent arrival is the source of current conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. From their aspiration of turning Sri Lanka into a country of Theravada Buddhism, these yellow Buddhist sects have chosen to totally misrepresent the true history and the religious tradition of Sri Lanka with their agenda of subordination and subjugating Sri Lanka to their scheme. The calculated misrepresentation and claims of these sects totally ignore the Tamil Buddhist traditions that prevailed in much of Sri Lanka. ( Can any Buddhist scholar or a monk prove a race called Sinhala race speaking the Sinhala language lived around any of the Buddhist ruins in the North East including Digavapi, leaving the cooked up Mahavamsa aside?)

Not only these foreign Buddhist sects, stand to violate the religious believe system of Tamil and Sinhalese people, by subjugating the religious traditions of Sri Lanka and enraging the Guardian Gods of Lanka, they also violate other sovereign traditions. By betraying and destroying the last sovereign of Sri Lanka and occupying the vacant place of the sovereign, they continue to undermine the sovereignty of Sri Lanka with their scheme of theocratic state, preventing the emergence of a plural democratic Sri Lanka, eventually, perhaps, turning Sri Lanka into another Burma, a country under perpetual siege.

Even on such important tradition as sacred tooth which was always kept as a symbol of sovereignty and always placed in the seat of sovereignty which is Colombo today, they have chosen to violate ancient traditions. Then holding the scared tooth in Kandy symbolises the existence of duel sovereignty where these alien Buddhist sects have risen as parallel centre of sovereignty and power to hold the other, secular authority in servitude and prevent the emergence of a truly united and plural Sri Lanka and has been the cause of strife and discord that characterises the Sri Lankan polity.

The Buddhist Ruins of North East

These Buddhist ruins in the Noth East are part of the Tamil Buddhist heritage and the Tamil people are not in a rush go after the conspiratorial yellow Buddhism and they will take their own time and revive their Buddhist traditions and renovate their ruins. Until then, these Buddhist ruins are best left alone. It is time the Sinhalese people behave in such a way the world do not look at them as some sort of a mentally sick race. During the 60 years of Sinhala rule, through their misrule Sinhalese have only demonstrated that they have never ruled the whole of Sri Lanka, which is a fact, and the just rule of Sir Lanka continue to remain credited to Tamil rule of Sri Lanka.

Who is the Niyama Sinhalayo anyway?

Some of the virulent Sinhala chauvinist champions of modern era like K M P Rajaratna, Cyril Mathew, S L Gunasekara had a Tamil, lower cast or non Buddhist background. The reason for this is the belief that in order to fulfil their political aspirations they have to show they are more Sinhala Buddhist than real Sinhala Buddhists. The result is Sri Lanka is trapped in a cycle of pretension where every one tries to demonstrate he is more of Niyama Sinhalayo than the other while nobody seems to know who this Niyama Sinhalyo is. There is nothing wrong with founding this new race but unfortunately the common objective of this race integration is the obliteration of the Tamils and grabbing the whole of Sri Lanka for the Sinhala race.

According Sinhalese historical work ‘Janavisthare’ , the race which is today called Sinhala race was living as 16 separate races speaking 16 separate languages. It is only after this, it gradually fused into the present Sinhala race. Many races that crept into Sri Lanka after the colonial period too have fused to become Sinhalese. This includes Malays, Malayalees, Portuguese, Portuguese crossbreds, Paravas of Tutucorin and many others. The strict cast system followed by the Tamils too made many low casts to become Buddhists and Sinhalese and Tamil Buddhists and elite Tamils from the North East too became Kandyan Vellalas and subsequently Sinhalese after their migration into the Kandyan Kingdom due to Portuguese oppression in the littoral.

But who is the Niyamo Sinhalayo anyway ?. For long, the racial mix-up of Lanka consisted of crossbreds as many of the racial elements who came to Sri Lanka from the time of Vijaya, as soldiers, refugees and merchants including the Muslims, only the male component arrived in Sri Lanka. In early times these newcomers either married into Tamil women or local aboriginals or in latter days to Sinhalese women and produced new off springs. Many such half cast races as well as Tamils and other tribes have merged as Sinhala race.

Today, the search for Niyama Sinhalyo extends to the Malays of Chandrabhanu who settled in Galle and Hambanthote areas, the Pandyans of south, the Malayalees of the Kingdom of Kotte, the Parava soldiery of Parakrama Bahus, Portuguese crossbreds and Parava converts of Tutucorin who settled in the western littoral, the Tamils of Kingdom of Jaffna who took refuge on the hills, the Yapas, the Sekaras, the Tamil Karavs, the Durvas, Salagamas and other coolie labourers and soldiers brought from Tamil country in India and settled in the low country, the Vanniyas and Mukurs of North Central and North Western region, The Gopi Kudi or the Goi Gama of Gopala Mthaliyar, the remnants of the Nayaker dynasty that ruled the Kandyan Kingdom for more than two hundred years and other Thelungans, the Vellalas and Muthaliyars of the North East who settled in the Kandyan Kingdom now hiding behind the tag of Goigama. The Niyama Sinhalayo cannot come from the Low Country as all Low County Sinhalese are treated as outcasts and not of Niyama Sinhalyo origin by the Kandyan Sinhalese in spite of SWRD’s project of unifying Sinhala race. Or is he from Mahiangana area belonging to the Veddha clan? The Niyamo Sihhalayo is still not found and the search goes on.


Some years ago when I was with a Tamil minister of the Sri Lankan government, a Sinhalese Catholic MP belonging to the opposition UNP entered the room. This MP was parading himself as a champion of Tamil people though not the rights of Tamil people. While he was talking, he received a telephone call from a Buddhist monk. After hearing a few words from the monk he became shell shocked. “ No..No.. who told you Hamathuruni, no I never told such think…. Tamil people rights… no no no what Hamathrini, will I ever say such thing…. no no not true… I am coming… I am coming straight away no.. no…not true will I ever say such a thing.. I will come and explain it you …I am coming Hamathruni…”. Apart from his shivering and dithering, if one has to explain his state, the joker was on his knees pissing while speaking to this Buddhist monk on the phone.

What the MPs of Sri Lankan parliament fear most is the call from the incumbent monk of his constituency. The parliament of Sri Lanka is under siege of Sinhala chauvinist agenda and no MPs will risk offending these monks and no solution to the ethnic problem will come out of this parliament.

As long as the Sri Lankan state and Sinhalese polity is under the siege of the Sinhala chauvinist agenda there can be little hope of return of peace to Sri Lanka. The courage needed to dismantle the Sinhala chauvinist foundation of the Sri Lankan state and anchor it on a secular foundation requires tenacity, inner strength and intellectual acumen of a different kind. What is needed today is not the demonstration of championship of Sinhala chauvinism. If unity and integrity of Sri Lanka has to be secured, a political culture of a different kind has to emerge on the political horizon that will comprehend the three different platforms of a united Sri Lanka, that of Tamileelam, Sinhala Ratta and Sri Lanka. If one cannot find the courage to do this, he should have the courage, at least, look at neighbouring India.

The experience of implementing the Thirteenth Amendment is a case in point. When letters were sent to the Colombo government from Trincomalee, the officials of the Central government instead of responding to the letters choose to bin the letters and there were no replies. Every official has to do their patriotic duty of sabotaging the devolution process and serve the chauvinist agenda.

In recent times many of foreign elements who infiltrated into Sri Lanka during the colonial period and rose as collaborator layers under foreign rule have established in the political life of the south clinking to the chauvinist agenda. These elements have no choice but to remain prisoners of Sinhala chauvinism and pretend they are the true defenders of Sinhala chauvinism. The sick patriotism of many of these layers can be seen as necessary exhibition of patriotism whereby these aliens integrate as Sinhalese into the Sri Lankan society.

The Portuguese elements are still active in securing the whole Sri Lanka for the rulers of Colombo as they promised to the King of Kotte. Many of these foreign elements who have now merged as Sinhalese are ignorant of history of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Tamil sovereignty has a long history rulership in Sri Lanka and is known for the just rule of Sri Lanka. What is needed of the southern polity is to bring itself to recognise the rights of Tamil people over their homeland and the political traditions that have prevailed in these areas and in a dignified and honourable manner, provide for the Tamil rule over the Tamil homeland, assure their share in the central organ, and seek genuine peace with the Tamils. Tamils are quiet capable providing a just rule to the minorities within their homeland as well as re-establish their heritage of rulership over their homeland.

LTTE’s reign has to be brought to an end as it emerged as a major obstacle to achievement of statehood aspiration of the Tamil people within the framework of a united Sri Lanka or outside it. The Sri Lankan government which mostly supplied the low level manpower for the war, would have fought this war even if it has not wanted to fight. Victory over LTTE in no way can be interpreted as an opportunity for the free run of the chauvinist agenda over the Tamil homeland. If one has to table the share of cost of war that led to the final victory over the LTTE, 30% can go to the Sri Lankan state and Armed Forces, another 30% to other Tamil groups who fought this war with LTTE for over 23 years at the great expanse and sacrifice. Another 30% to India that supplied and provided for the war victory. Another 10% to other countries.

This war would have come to an end in 1991 if Colombo government has chosen to cooperate with India and India was allowed to stay on for another one year after 1990 and the ethnic problem too would have been resolved. Instead, the southern chauvinists choose to sabotage Indian efforts, prop up LTTE to wage war with India that ended in the killing of Rajiv Ghandi and the Sri Lankan Army was busy supplying weapons to LTTE bringing an end to the North East Provincial Council. The folly of southern chauvinists provided for the continuation of the war for another 19 years and there is no solution to the ethnic problem yet, only talk of 13th Amendment.

Tamil people are not looking for charity or benevolence from anyone or patronisation from anyone. They know their resources and capabilities and what they are asking for is to bring an end to the chauvinist scheme of swallowing their homeland and in a dignified and honourable manner, handover Tamil homeland to Tamil majority rule, end the oppression and misrule of their homeland by the Sinhalese.

Running to China, Pakistan offering this and that and scheming to hand over North East to foreign powers or trying to assimilate the Tamils with the Sinhalese by settling the Sinhalese in the North East or mixed marriages will not be the way forward for permanent peace. How shallow these ideas can be when it come to a settlement to the ethnic conflict? One should recall the folly of the King of Kotte, who wanted to throw off the yoke of Kingdom of Jaffna, in 1515, invited the Portuguese handing over the sovereignty through a fraudulent claim that he is the Overlord of Lanka and setting the Portuguese on the Kingdom of Jaffna. The clever scheme of King of Kotte eventually brought 500 years of colonialism to Sri Lanka.

The Tamil people have enough resources to develop their own areas. Overplay of development card will not mislead the Tamil people. It will soon show itself as dishonest and deceptive exercise. Tamil people are quiet capable taking care of the development of their homeland. Handing over the Tamil homeland to Tamil majority rule should take precedence over everything else.

What the world is looking for from the southern politicians is a demonstration of a different kind of strength and will. Prepare the south and hand over Tamil homeland to Tamil rule. The British have already put great efforts to demarcate the North East provinces as Tamil provinces though the historical claim of the Tamils could be much larger area than the current North East. If this is not going to be forthcoming, to know what will eventually happen to Sri Lanka, without running from pillar to post, one only has to look at a map. History will repeat itself and Tamil rule will dawn not just over the North East but over all of Sri Lanka when nearly half of present day Sinhalese will proclaim they are Tamils or Malayalees.

The author is the Director General of the programme Global Sustainability Initiative and he can reached through email by:
-Sri Lanka Guardian
kahagalle said...

The writer’s illustrious comments are catered towards the LTTE sentiments. We do not want that kind of politics any more. As an educated person he should advocate means of co-existence of all nations in this tiny island. We know some of these Vallala people left the country in the hands of Prbhakaran to do the dirty work with the intentions of raking the plums when the Ealam was established. This kind of thinking should stop. All the detailed illustrations are created to justify LTTE actions. At no place the writer has blamed the LTTE for creating this mayhem for severe detrimental affect on Tamil people. He also has not shown any conciliatory tone on Sinhalese people for all the pain and suffering inflicted on them by these LTTE maniacs.

jean-pierre said...

I see that even in the 21st century, and after the failure of the racist Eelam project, we still have extreme racists among the Tamils. I cannot believe that an educated man can write this kind of drivel. He seems to not to see the beam in his eye - or is it the kettle calling the pot black? Is it necessary to list the well known racism of the Tamils as an antedote to the racism of the sinhalese.

Unknown said...

It is crystal clear that the irresponibility and ill-treatment of the past and the pesensnt governments to the tamil minority lead to the extent of separation of the north and east under the leadership of Prabakaran.Ordinary sinhalese are not responsible for what the elected government failed to do not only for tamils but also for vast majority of sinhalese.sinhalese and tamils could and can live together.It is politics which devided the nation.If each and every body is treated equally by the government A separatate country would not be needed any more.but how far it will be done lies in the hans of the government.devolution of power to tamils will not solve the problem but agrrevate the same.just because just because being born as a tamil tamils do not have their problems unsolved but unequality of managemant has caused the problem even in civil society of sinhalese majority.

Jeyam said...

Dear Editor,

Arular has reminded us what happened to mother Sri Lanka and i believe that he tried to give what would be a best solution to peaceful SriLanka in future. main idea is how we can think out of box to lead a sustainable approach by implementing the co feredalism set up within united SriLanka.

Are we going to waste this good opportunity again ? i would suggest to think in a smart way to propose co federation system . actually , decentralization of power would reduce the vilent in future in North and East as well in South also .
Historically , armed struggle immerged in south then consolidated in NE. i would say south also under oppression . real implementaion of political solution through decentralization will enhance the development in south . it is good time to think > Jeyam

Unknown said...

Mr Nadesan,
I strongly beleive that sinhalese and tamils can could ,can and will be able to live long as they wish if no polititical influence is trust upon them.Even the tamil political leaders who just wanted to be in power should be responsible hor not treacting tamils responsibly.political leadrship has so far failed to address the main issues of vast majority of ordinary citizens.It is they who should take the resposibility.for their filure branding sinhalese as racist is not fair .Not only tamils even sinhalese have their problems unsolved due to no right political vision in Sri lanka

Unknown said...

well in another 500 years we will see a Mr nadesan writing on how the Canada and now UK are a part of Tamil country and kingdom.... I want be suprised if by then even the white people there are made to feel like the minority... Well atleast they will be reaping what they sawed

Unknown said...