“Ethnicisation” of History Writing in South Asia/Sri Lanka - Part 2

A Few Comments on J.L. Devananda’s Response

by Bandu de Silva

Nagas – who were they?

(February 21, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The introduction of the ‘Nagas’ by Mr. Devananda is once again done on the basis of advancing a common Tamil racial marker/identity theory. Comments such as (see below), once again demonstrates Mr. Devananda’s unscientific approach to analysing historical sources.

“…The evidence of the presence of Nagas in Sri Lanka during the early historic period and how they freely assimilated with the Pandu (Pandyans) through marriage is fully corroborated by the ancient artefacts, inscriptions literary work and the Pali chronicles…”

“…Since we cannot identify the ethnicity of them from the names, if not for the Mahavamsa, we would have never come to know that these non-Buddhist kings (such as Sena, Guttika, Elara) were Tamils. Similarly, some or most of the Theravada Buddhist kings of Sri Lanka (whose ethnicity is not known) also would have been Tamils but we will never know…”

Who the Nagas were, what language they spoke, or their propensity to integrate and assimilate is a question no Historian can answer with any verifiable epigraphic or archaeological evidence. Though there have been some studies on Nagas by some Indian scholars, tentative opinions vary from identifying them as a Mongolian people to a Mediterranean people. One may ask whether they were not Phoenicians whom the Achaemenid Emperors of Persia (6th – 4th century BC) employed for purpose of commerce in the Indian ocean region. Yet others may ask whether they were not representatives of Pharaohs, people associated with great wealth whose head-gear had a cobra mounted on it.

What can be construed from all these disjointed accounts is that ‘Nagas’ had been a culture if not a people which had been widespread in the southern sea board areas stretching from the Arabian Sea to Myanmar, generally associated with maritime activity and wealth – an entity even more nebulous than the so called ‘Aryans’ but who unlike other ruling dynasties in Deccan with foreign origin like Satavahanas, early Pallavas, Sakas and Kushans held no great political power. But that some political powers like the Colas sought matrimonial alliances with them (This too is based entirely on uncorroborated Tamil literary evidence) suggests that these others could have been attracted by their wealth). A late Tamil work, Pattupattu- Perumbanarruppadai is quoted showing the poet singing praise to a Teraiyar younger (Ilam) who is claimed to be an illegitimate son of a Cola king and a ‘Naga’ princess. Some scholars have also tried to associate the ‘Nagas’ with the southern part of Teligu country (identified as Andhra). Based on early literary evidence, Mr.Rasanayagam has also tried to work out an ingenious theory of origin of Pallavas from Cola –Naga union (Indian Antiquary, III,p.75). That is something like building up the origin of Sinhalese from Mahavamsa story of Panduvasudeva-Baddhakaccana. But to many it remains an enigma whether ‘Naga’ represent a ‘culture’, a ‘cult’, and not a clan (Subramanian, N.K.), [with even lesser evidence to claim as a ‘people’ ,like in the case suggested for the ‘Simhala’ by Sitrampalam, Devananda and others]. If Mr. Devananda could claim ‘Naga’ connections and a heritage for the Tamil identity, do not the Sinhalese have a greater claim because it was their rulers who provide better evidence later as quoted in inscriptions proudly displaying the suffix “Naga” attached to their names (e.g. Naka-Maharaja) and point to these people holding political power in the island. As can be inferred from Mahavamsa and the inscriptions, if mere names of kings be the guide, Dutugemunu was then a full blooded Naga from both paternal and maternal sides (Mudliyar Rasanayagam agreed) while his adversary Elara is claimed to be a Cola [Tamil and not a ‘Naga’]! (more later on that).

Pandu Connection 

The Pandu connection in the Mahavamsa is another regularly used point to authenticate a primordial Tamil Identity claim to the “who came first” thesis. Lost in this mêlée of assigning identity are points raised by Indologists like Prof. Asko Parapola, who in his paper Pandaih and Sita – On the Historical Background on the Sanskrit Epics made the following observations,

“…These Iranians brought with them their own traditions, such as polyandric marriage, circular yurt-like houses, and funeral customs including exposure and megalithic burial. The newcomers were so fair skinned that the local population called them ‘pale’ (Pandu), using a word taken over from Dravidian languages then still spoken in these regions besides Indo-Aryan. While they adopted the local Black-and-Red Ware pottery, the invaders essentially continued living as before in Central India and the Deccan, spreading also further south and adopting there the local Dravidian speech. Around 600 B.C., some megalithic raiders became maritime in Gujarat and colonized the coasts of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu”. 

Or other Indologists like Michel Danino,

“…The Pandyan kings were great champions of the Vedic religion from very early times … According to the Sinnamanur plates, one of the early Pandyan kings performed a thousand velvi or yagas Vedic sacrifices … The Pandyas patronised all the six systems or schools of Hinduism ... Their religion was not one of narrow sectarian nature but broad-based with Vedic roots. They were free from linguistic or regional bias and took pride in saying that they considered Tamil and Sanskritic studies as complementary and equally valuable”.

How do these observations feed into such a “narrow” interpretation of “ethnic identity” in the early period? Doesn’t this show that in the 1st millennium BC, modern definitions of “ethnic identity” had no meaning!

The chronicles are bashed as biased but when some favourable information with regards to the Tamils crop up “…if not for the Mahavamsa, we would have never come to know that these non-Buddhist kings … were Tamils”, suddenly the Mahavamsa for Mr. Devananda becomes the euphemistic ‘Talagoya’; the ‘Kabaragoya’ is good enough for eating and becomes a ‘Talagoya’ as the Sinhala saying goes!

‘Damila’ –a Nomenclature applied to Foreigner

S.J. Tambiah tells us in his ‘Buddhism Betrayed’ that the word ‘Damila’ was used loosely to refer to foreigners and that Magha of Kalinga too was referred to as a Tamil/Dravidian speaking. Perhaps, the Tamil identity was conferred on adventurers like Sena and Guttika, and Elara because they came with Tamil/Dravidian speaking mercenaries who were readily available in South India.

One can see some truth in this assertion when one sees that Elara is not referred to as a Damila in the Dipavamsa, but as a person named Elara (Elaro nama namena…khattiyo). Mahavamsa adds that he was “Uju-jatiko” (There is disagreement over the rendering of “Uju-jatiko”, Geiger translating it as a “straight forward person” but others interpreting it as a reference to his place of origin or tribe) and came from Cola rattha (Cola country).

Like Velupillai arguing “Isi” in the name “Isigiraya” in the Vallipuram inscription I could propose, however fantastic it might seem, that Elara could have been a Parthian adventurer who hailed from ancient “Uja” the Persian name for Suza, the Capital of Parthians, which earlier the Achaemenid rulers used as a provincial capital and Alexander turned into his headquarters. Parthian presence in Sri Lanka is attested by a numismatic find of the Parthian ruler, Mitradatus.II (ca. 123- 87) (Bopearachchi) which is shortly after Elara’s time. The Persian legend about the 9mythical ] hero Anosharvan is an exact precursor of the Elara legend of the ‘Bell of Justice’ which in every detail fits into this proposition. My speculation on this is as good as any other if one enters the field of speculation as Mr. Devananda has resorted to on many occasions.

Tamil Buddhist Epics

The discussion under this theme has no relevance to the issue unless the objective was once again to show that a place called Nagadipa existed, and there were Tamil Buddhists there. Yes, there were Tamil Buddhists in South India too. That is how there are Cave inscriptions at Madura referring to donations to the Sangha though their donors are not identified by ethnicity. The reference in Manimekalai (a Tamil text of the late Sangam period provisionally dated as being from the 6th century) to Nagadipa only confirms the story in the Sri Lankan chronicles which are at least a few centuries earlier in date. Here is also confirmation of Buddha’s visit there. If Manimekalai did not get its story from Sri Lankan chronicles, the prospect of both sets of work drawing from a common source needs examination. The conclusion to be drawn is that the Sri Lankan chronicles were not alone in speaking of Buddha’s visit to Nagadipa, but that there was parallel South Indian story connecting Buddha with the Island. Should one reject the Manimekalai references also as mythology like the Sri Lankan chronicles?

A general overview of these specific points demonstrates the many instances Mr. Devananda has deviated from the expected practice of a scholarly approach towards a Mahavamsa critique, to perennial issues, in an attempt to substantiate his continuous Tamil presence theory. It should be added that in many instances, dare I say, the research is shoddy and in places attaches a disproportionate level of importance on subjective lines of speculation. The reality is, none of Mr. Devananda’s primary beliefs on the ethnicity and linguistic identity of an overwhelming majority of the people on the Island at the time, is supported by the available archeological and epigraphic evidence for this period.

2.9 Downgrading and upgrading historians

One frequent strategy adopted by polemists is to down-class those who support an alternate view while building up others who supports one’s own point of view.

The theme running through Mr. Devananda’s thesis is quite simple to understand. It is not to dissimilar to other more vocal Pro-Eelam writers and earlier scholars who are now afflicted by the ethno-centricism, shades of which can also be unfortunately adduced in Dr. K. Indrapala’s new book The Evolution of a Tamil Identity. Mr. Devananda’s presentation is more focused towards the current debate, arising after the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. In fact, his writing became more intense after that as far as I am aware. That is the impression one gets looking at the inventory of his writing on online websites.

Let us look at what he says about the Sri Lankan Tamils and other Historians in general. Those who gave favourable accounts with regard to the antiquity of the Sri Lankan Tamil identity are acceptable but not those who exposed the truth or an alternate view, e.g. the exposure by Dr. R.A.L.H. Gunawardana – who is often quoted by Dr. Indrapala and now by Mr. Devananda in support of a chronology that equates Sri Lankan Tamil identity evolution with that of the Sinhala identity – of the absurdity of the interpretation of Eelam-oriented scholars like Dr. K. Velupillai’s take on the Vallipuram Gold Plate inscription, does not find a place in the quotations of Mr. Devananda and others who refer to his work. Gunawardana was not only a critic of ethnocentric writing by Tamil scholars, but equally of those he considered to fit that description amongst the Sinhalese, like Prof. K.N.O. Dharmadasa. For example, he looks at both together in his pamphlet “History writing in an ethnic environment”.

Dr. Karthigesu Indrapala

The [Tamil] historian, Dr. K. Indrapala presented a problem to the Pro-Eelam Historians of the early era because his findings did not support the theory of a continued Tamil presence before the 13th century – the foundation of the then and present day Tamil homeland concept. So his writing had to be attacked. He did not change his views when he was the Foundation Professor of History of the Jaffna University for many years as Mr. Devananda points out. It is no secret that Dr. Indrapala had to eventually run away from Jaffna when the intensity of the pressures from the separatist project became unbearable, precipitating him to leave and melt away down-under.

As a result, the role played by emotional estrangement – a 30 year self-induced exile, cannot be so easily dismissed as not having contributed in part, when in 2005, Dr. Indrapala released his new book The Evolution of a Tamil Identity, which appeared to support in part the conventional Pro-Eelam perspective of Sri Lankan Tamil History. Mr. Devananda has tried to white-wash him now though others attacked him mercilessly. So for Mr. Devananda, as for others, he is a “reformed Tamil scholar” now serving the Eelam cause.
Mr. Devananda resurrects him even beyond the point that Dr. Indrapala himself has gone. He uses Dr. Indrapala’s own recanting. Such childish explanations about the inadequacy – no! Total rejection of his own PhD research by the author himself – is something that one cannot expect of a historian of any standing, not to speak of a backbone. It is a different matter if new evidence has surfaced through the finds of new archival sources or archaeological evidence or even change in methodology. But none of these things have happened in this case.

Then the shame is that Dr. Indrapala says, as per Mr. Devananda, that he does not even possess a copy of his PhD Thesis! That speaks of both the pressures and his transmogrification under physical and psychological threat. The story would have been complete if he said that his PhD thesis is not even found in the archives of the institution in London where he submitted it –The University of London – though he himself may not have had a hand in spiriting it away. That is the level to which “Eelam Tamil” scholarship has descended in the pursuit of the Eelam goal!

One may question how Dr. Indrapala could still flaunt his Doctorate from the University of London, as he has done in the cover of the very book where he, according to Mr. Devananda, admits that the research was not only inadequate but definitively ‘wrong’?

However it must be said in fairness to Dr. Indrapala, a quality that earned him the respect of many a serious scholar, he has resisted attempts to lend support in an official capacity to a “historical homeland theory” based on the continuity of a Tamil presence on the island prior to the mid 13th century to the foundation of a Pandyan potentate in the Jaffna peninsula, who was incidentally retained in power by an army from Tanjore.
That is the truth. When the Portuguese conquered the Peninsula the foreign army left to a man and the peninsula was denuded of people. It was only after importation of several thousand slaves that the peninsula once again became even more over-populated for a Dutch Governor to remark that “Jaffna was so full of people that they were on each others way on which account the country was too small to feed …”. (Memoir of Rycloff Van Geons, 26, Dec.1663, Tr. Reimers)

Dr. Indrapala could not out right contradict what he proclaimed in his PhD Thesis, because for one, nothing had substantially changed since his early work. So he had to work on the idea of Megalithic culture which he earlier dismissed stating that the people to whom the urn burials of the North West of the island belonged probably assimilated into the Sinhalese milieu. No new evidence has surfaced to change that observation. So with the support of historians like Sudarshan Seneviratne, who specialises on the “connectivity” theory, he formulated the “South India-Sri Lanka Region” (SISLR) model within which to place Sri Lankan [Tamil] history.
That helped him undermine the Sri Lankan contribution to the culture, technology and religion by submerging even the distinguishing features of Sri Lankan culture, technology in a wider deluge of the South Indian regional context. This has had the cascading effect of giving “piggy back” to South India even over the famous hydrological civilisation which has amazed the world. For transmogrified Dr. Indrapala, the inspiration, if not the well-springs had to come from no where else but South India. That is the anti-thesis of the North India-bias of the Mahavamsa and Mahavamsa historians which both Dr. Indrapala and Mr. Devananda are now attacking. Dr. Indrapala quotes that the world’s largest man-made reservoir is the ‘Grand Anicut’ in Kallanai (Tamil Nadu)!
Dr. Indrapala referred to Sinhalese prisoners being employed in building Cauvery dam in times of yore but not with the idea of giving credit to the contribution of these Sinhalese. (In contrast, Note the acknowledgement of the 13th century Kashmiri chronicle, Rajataranagani to the contribution of Sinhalese engineers).
No one has studied the similarity between irrigation works in Myanmar and Sri Lanka except the Cambridge scholar, Dr. Mrs. Stragaart, who made some brief references in her research before coming to that conclusion. (She was in touch with me during her research).
The oceanic factor is completely ignored in the Megalithic construct as in post historical developments. That is while archaeologists now find that pre-historic man had travelled across the seas from North Africa to the Grecian archipelago. (Boston University/American School of Classical Studies, Athens/Ministry of Culture, Athens).
But, our present writer, Mr. Devananda, uses Emerson Tennent’s statement that Tank builders were brought from South India by the British to restore the old irrigation tanks as evidence to demonstrate a Tamil Hand in the hydrological civilisation of Sri Lanka! This is an example of the polemical points scoring contained in Mr. Devananda’s further clarification. Why go to Tennent, or quote him where it suits? Why not quote his other more sweeping statement as well in respect of the first millennium of historical time?
“…….That the Malabars were never identified with any plan for promoting the prosperity and embellishment of Ceylon, or with any undertaking for the permanent improvement of the island…..Unlike the Gangetic race who were the earliest colonists, and with whom originated every project for enriching and adorning the country, the Malabars aspired not to beautify or enrich, but to impoverish and deface …….. ” – Tennent: Ceylon, Vol I , p.340, Tisara)
Why not read the Administration Reports of the 19th century Government Agent of Trincomalee to understand what exploiters these so called “tank menders were”. For example, it is recorded they came in the season every year offering their services to repair the breaches in village tanks and the unsuspecting jungle folk fell into their traps to find the “repaired” breaches being washed away again with the first shower! They got the villagers to cut a few branches and place them in the breaches over which the “menders” a few sods of earth and collected whatever little belongings the poor folk had. So it was not a case of transfer of technology in the 19th century but sheer exploitations of unsuspecting innocent villagers as the British Government Agents noted.
Nilakanta Sastri
Nilakanta Sastri, the venerated South Indian historian is not left out. Let Mr. Devananda himself speak:
“Another Historian that the Sinhalese Pseudo-scholars (I must be one of these pseudo-historians because I quoted him) always quote is Nilakanta Sastri of Tamil Nadu. Nilakanta Sastri's historical research was over 50 years old. According to historians/scholars in Tamil Nadu, Nilakanta Sastri's Tamil proficiency was not good and he relied on others for understanding Tamil literary works. Thus he was not able to analyze the changing meaning of words over time. They say, the professional historiography in Tamil Nadu practiced during K. A. Nilakanta Sastri's period there was rarely any interrogation of sources”.
The only thing to do now with the writings of this great authority, who stood as a colossus among Indian historians, is to burn his volumes on Colas, Pandyas and Cheras and the History of South India (Oxford) run into Fourth Edition (1975) and 18th Impression in 2000 and other writings. Burn them! But will the South Indians agree? This is what historian Champakalakshmi wrote in the Introduction to the work A History of South India, 8th Impression, 2000:

“In contemporary historiographical assessment, Sastri’s work has been termed as traditional/conventional... New and hitherto un-trodden avenues of research have been opened up by the new approaches, creating an awareness and interest lacking in those ‘conventional’ works., which either imitated Sastri’s narrative method without his masterly technique and interpretative acumen or chose to confine them to dynastic history, administrative history, …and descriptive at history… the merits of conventional history are best illustrated by Sastri’s which is a basic text, as it contains several unassailable interpretative historical statements and a firm chronological base for an incredibly long span of peninsular history from the beginnings to the 17th century, which has stood the in depth researches … This would also explain why Sastri’s work remains basic to the ways in which further research based on the new understanding of south India’s contribution to the pan-Indian historical process….” .

I prefer to accept this Indian historian’s assessment in preference to Mr. Devananda’s.

Dr. Paranavitana 

Dr. Paranavitana was reserved for special treatment. None of the Tamil or Sinhalese scholars opened their mouth when he was alive/active. Dr. James Rutnam, though no accredited historian, spoke at the Jaffna Archaeological Society of the difficulty of countering Dr. Paranavitana because of his oceanic knowledge of Indian literature. Prof. A.L. Basham whom I associated closely told me the same thing at the ANU, adding that the academia had great respect for this scholar/archaeologist that one would not want to contradict him. That was commenting on the inter-linear inscriptions. Even the great authority, Nilakanta Sastri, was not spared by Paranavitana over the latter’s Malay origin thesis of Kalinga dynasty. Prof. Casparis in his Paranavitana commemoration article at the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka acknowledged Paranavitana’s intuition on this issue.

Why should Paranavitana treat the Mahavamsa “like a holy book”, as Mr. Devananda says, when he had nothing to gain. He was an archaeologist first. He was Sinhalese alright, but no Sinhalese Buddhist. Paranavitana even went to the extent of saying that “Abhiseka Jina” referred to in Mahavamsa was Jesus Christ! As government epigraphist, he could not have survived under H.W. Codrington as Archaeological Commissioner, if he showed any religious bias, especially, a Buddhist bias, even if he was not a Buddhist. He would not have got his foreign scholarships, anyway. So he had to remain Christian under the circumstances at the time!

But the accusation that he was trying his best to interpret archaeology and epigraphy in the light of the Mahavamsa can be examined. Isn’t that what all archaeologists from the time of H.C.P. Bell and others did? Why not, when such an excellent account of the builders/repairers of monuments/tanks was found in the chronicles, and were proved accurate by inscriptional evidence? That made Sri Lankan archaeology easier and make rapid progress in the early phase. Hugh Nevil, the British Civil Servant, who conducted excavations at Anuradhapura, in controversy with Bell over the identification of Abhayagiriya wrote “I know my Mahavamsa”. He conducted excavations with Mahavamsa in one hand and the spade in the other. He was proved right on the Abhayagiriya issue. He was the one who wrote that the Govt. Medical Officer was sleeping over Elara’s Tomb but Dr. James Rutnam and others accused Paranavitana for saying that! (Rutnum: Jaffna Archaeological Society lecture on Elara’s Tomb).

But Paranavitana is acceptable to Mr. Devananda and other critics when he says something acceptable to the Tamils. There are far too many occasions when his writing is accepted. Only a few will be quoted here.
He is quoted extensively by Mr. Devananda for saying that Buddha did not visit the Island. This is something that not only Paranavitana but many scholars have questioned. I myself do not subscribe to it though I am no accredited historian.

Mr. Devananda also accepts Paranavitana’s view as an argument when he says, “…The Archaeologist/Historian Dr. Parnawitharana says, “We know next to nothing about the pre-historic autochthonous people of Sri Lanka. They could have been the ancestors of the present day Sinhalese and Tamils”. He uses this to argue that “…the people who call them Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils today originate from the same stock. What is seen from the evidences is that the Tamil identity of Sri Lanka was not only parallel to the Sinhala identity but also parallel to that of the Tamils of Tamil Nadu. It is not merely an extension of the Tamil identity of Tamil Nadu. The Sri Lankan Tamil social formation is an evolution and is a result of people interacting with the land of Sri Lanka throughout its phases of history”.

That sounds like a very plausible theory if it wasn’t for the fact that in the early 1600 A.C., the Vellalar and their retinue, along with the Malavars, and Chetties of the Jaffna peninsula (groups that have been shown to have emigrated into the island no later than the 12th century), not to speak of the Sinhala speaking population in Jaffna who according to Queyroz’s notes, was sizeable, accounted for well over 80% of the “Malabarish” speaking population. (More on that later) So one must naturally ask, what happened to the “parallel” Tamil Identity formation group in Jaffna, and Sri Lanka in general? Where were they?

Furthermore, no one also ever examined if the term “Dameda” could have been derived from a completely different source. (See under “Dameda” as Persian subjects and also the explanation that “Trimira’ which Nilakanta Sastri took to mean “Damila’ (Trimira= Drimira= Dmila) has since been interpreted as a people in Bengal) .

R.A.L.H. Gunawardana and Sudarshan Seneviratne

These are two scholars whom the Pro-Eelam scholars often parade just as Mr. Devananda speaks of Sinhala scholars parading Dr. Indrapala (Pre-2005 scholar) and Nilakantha Sastri to support their thesis. They are selected not because of their scholarship but because they are Sinhalese. This is the characteristics of ‘polemists’. But, they ignore Gunawardana’s criticism of interpreting history to suit ethnic ideals. The Tamil scholarship’s interpretation of the Vallipuram Gold Plate inscription is one such case in point, where K. Velupillai agued that “the name of [Minister] ‘Isagiraya’ mentioned in the inscription was nothing but the composition of three words, namely, ‘Isa’ – ‘gi’ (Eelam) – ‘raya’ (King or ruler)”. This is even worse than the Mahavamsa fantasy of deriving the name ‘Simhala’ from a lion (beast) father!

Mr. Devananda even quotes Prof. R.A.L.H. Gunawardana who says that the Sinhala identity commenced after the advent of colonizers! If this is correct, even scholars can go nuts at times!

Dr. Indrapala has made profuse use of writings of these two scholars to advance his South India-Sri Lanka (SI SL) cultural zone model. (Indrapala: pp.84, 91). The following quote from Seneviratne which forms the matrix to the chapter: ”The Early Iron AGE: The Beginnings of Civilisation”( p.73) in Indrapala’s new book (2005) does not take into the same scholar’s views expressed in 2008 where he stated “The identification of Early Iron Age Megalithic monuments has been seen as evidence for a pan-Dravidian ‘racial’ migratory movement and homeland in South Asia........The Megalithic burials in South Asia represent one of the most racialized monuments in South Asia.” (Henry M Jackson Lecture at Whitman College, U.S.A.,2008- See more under 2.6 – “Megalithic Misconception”).

Dr. B.C. Law

He is another authority quoted by Mr. Devananda to deconstruct the chronicles, albeit by misquoting him. See discussion under 1.3.5. A point to be noted is the importance attached to this historian of the first part of the last century while downgrading the erudite Indian historian Nilakanta Sastri’s writings and Dr. K. Indrapala’s Thesis as “out of date history”. That fits into the Sinhalese adage “Kanta hitunama ‘Kabaragoyath’ penne ‘Talagoya’ wagey” (When one feels like eating even the [poisonous] water monitor it appears like the [relished] ‘iguana’). How well it fits scholastic circles represented by the likes of Mr. Devananda!

2.10 Twisting Names

Anyway, it is better than some have done in scanning the names of Sinhalese rulers. Mr. Devananda himself says Mahanama has twisted Tamil names of rulers. He says, “The Mahavamsa written a millenium after the events took place and a century after Deepavamsa, has added mythical/supernatural stories and legends (from Indian epics, not from mysterious Sihalattha katha) that are not known to Deepavamsa and at the same time some names/stories were twisted”. This is an idea taken from Dr. B.C. Law.

This is only a ruse to pave the way for changing Sinhala names to Tamil names, a process which has been going on for a considerable time with inputs from names like G.G. Ponnambalam, Sachi Ponnambaam, now joined by Mr. Devananda. The twisting of conventional names to Tamil was done earlier by G.G. Ponnambalam for political purpose. (Russell) (See also 3.3 “Vellalars and Sinhala Nationalism”). Others have carried it further, for example, converting the name, Devanampiyatissa, to “Deva-nambiya-tissan”. Looks like etymology has gone to seed [or nuts!] as the British scholar Civil Servant, L.B.J. Turner would have said!

To be continued....

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