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Coming out of the unknown past/mystery

The Sri Lankan Tamils say that they are the decedents of the pre/proto-historic Nagas and Damilas who lived in the island even before the Sinhalese (Vijaya) arrived and the Muslims say that they are also in the island for more than thousand years and are the decedents of Arab traders (not South Indians Moors from Tamil Nadu/Kerala).
by Brian Aloysius

(April 14, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I had been reading the recent articles on Lankan history in the Sri Lankan news papers and websites. Even though history is a Social Science, none of these writers seem to be social scientists; some of them are natural science academics (mathematicians) and many others who write history are definitely not known to be attached to the discipline of history or had a formal training in historiography. The problem with natural scientists trying to write articles on Social Science (history) is that they use logic to arrive at conclusions. Logic is not a reliable tool for finding historical truth. History is a summary of what happened in the past (facts). Logical assumptions and hypothesis based on unobserved facts may lead to falsehood when it comes to disciplines such as history.

Prof. Nira Wickramasinghe, now holding the Chair of South Asian History at the University of Leiden made a sharp point in her slender book `History Writing`. Sri Lanka, she had remarked, was one of the few countries in which mainstream newspapers carried pieces on history by those without any credentials or formal training in the disciplines of history and historiography. This, she wrote, would never happen in India for instance, where any incursion into history in the quality press would have to be backed up with credentials in order to secure publication.

What most of these Sinhalese “history” writers are trying to portray is that the majority of the Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims are recent migrants from South India (Coromandal/Malabar coast) who came to the island only after the arrival of the European colonials, the Portuguese and the Dutch (Tamils as Tobacco cultivators and Muslims as traders) and therefore they do not have a continuous history in Sri Lanka where as Both Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims refute these arguments. The Sri Lankan Tamils say that they are the decedents of the pre/proto-historic Nagas and Damilas who lived in the island even before the Sinhalese (Vijaya) arrived and the Muslims say that they are also in the island for more than thousand years and are the decedents of Arab traders (not South Indians Moors from Tamil Nadu/Kerala).

On the other hand, the Tamil and Muslim “history” writers are trying to portray that a large part of the Sinhalese population (mostly the low-country from the South) are recent migrants from South India (Coromandal/Malabar coast) who came to the island only after the arrival of the European colonials (after 1505), the Portuguese and the Dutch, and assimilated with the local Sinhalese (Sinhalized). Further, they say that the Portuguese/Dutch brought a huge number of people from South India and settled in the Southern parts of Sri Lanka for Cinnamon plantation/peeling, for coffee plantation, for coconut plantation/toddy tapping, for fishing and pearl diving, etc. Within a few centuries they all assimilated with the Sinhalese and became Sinhala Buddhists/Catholics. They also say that the three low-country Sinhala castes (Karawa, Durawa, Salagama) are from those who came to Sri Lanka from South India after 1505 where as the Sinhalese refute these arguments. They say that they are the decedents of Aryans (Vijaya) and Yakka/Nagas.

On the other hand some Sinhalese “history” writers accept that a large number of South Indians (Tamils from Tamil Nadu, Malabars from Kerela, Telugus from Andra and Kalingas from Orissa) came to the Island of Sri Lanka throughout the ages as Invaders, Peaceful migrants, Warriors, Invitees in the form of Kings for the Sinhala throne, Queens, marriage partners, maids, craftsmen, solders, coolies, workers, etc who later settled in the Island and most of their descendants became Sinhala Buddhists during the course of time (Sinhalization). Similarly, many Sinhalese who lived in the North and East became Tamils (Tamilized).

From the above writings with their conclusions based mainly on logical assumptions, irrespective of the race/ethnic group to which we belong today, a large part of the people who call themselves as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims are those who came to the island after 1505 from South India and the worst part is, each one trying to put down the other by calling each other as recent migrants from South India even though, according to them, they all came from the same place during the same period.

Sri Lankan people are going through the same crisis some countries in Europe would have gone through some decades or centuries ago. With economic prosperity and development, religion, history, etc. have taken a back seat. Even India with its long Hindu history, culture

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