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“I did not say Mahanama Thero was a racist or the Mahavamasa was a racist doctrine”

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Hello Friends

The article by JL Devananda “Mahavamsa Mindset:Re-visiting Political Buddhism in Sri Lanka” that was posted on my blog some weeks ago evoked a passionate discussion although I did feel that some readers had missed the essence of what the writer was actually trying to say

Among the responses was an interesting and informative one by former Diplomat Bandu de Silva which was also published separately on my blog under the heading “Mahavamsa Mentality: Can the charge of Racism leveled against the Chronicle be sustained”?

Bandu de Silva’s article also had many responses and contributed further to the debate in these columns.

Now JL Devananda has written a lengthy, learned response to Bandu de Silva’s article and also to some of the arguments posted by commentators

I am posting Devananda’s response in two parts on this blog.
I do hope that the process of unlearning and re-learning will continue
Here is the first part DBS Jeyaraj


By J.L. Devananda

(A Response (Part 1): “Mahavamsa Mentality”; Can the charge of “Racism” leveled against the chronicle be sustained?)

First of all, let me thank Mr. D.B.S. Jeyaraj for publishing my article in his blog (http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1886) and Dr. Rajasingham Narendran for his response to my article on another website (http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2010/12/sinhala-mahavamsa-buddhism-revisited_29.html). Dr. Narendran has made a lot of effort to enlighten me by highlighting the positive aspects of the Mahavamsa. Of course, as Sri Lankans, we must appreciate the fact that the Mahavamsa is the greatest Epic Poem written in Pali in our country, but there is a saying, “no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides”. I remember the well respected Pali scholar (a Sinhalese), late Dr. E.W. Adikaram once said in an interview after the 1983 black July, the only way to have peace in Sri Lanka is by burning all the copies of the Mahavamsa. I am sure the Pali scholar must have perceived the negative side of it.

Let me also thank all the members who have commented (valuable feedback and constructive criticism) on my article and specially Mr. Bandu De Silva for his reply (http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1922) to what he calls as ‘Polemics’. Shakespeare once said, ‘A rose, by any other name, will smell as sweet’. We in Sri Lanka have had the benefit of several waves of cultural influences. It is necessary that we should assess them with a certain amount of objective impartiality and admit the contributions made to our country by others. Our culture in the past has been a synthesis of different cultures, and in evolving a new culture these influences have to be taken into consideration. If the so called ‘Polemics’ can help at least a few members of our community (Sri Lankans) to burn the veils that have shut them from appreciating the beauty of pluralism and multi-cultural diversity that exists in our country for thousands of years and the secularism Sri Lankans practiced in the past as we saw in Kandy where the Sinhalese accepting the Nayakkar dynasty of Madurai, South India (presently Tamil Nadu) as their Kings, then let it be called by whatever name.

I am sorry to say that in his reply titled “Can the charge of “Racism” levelled against the chronicle be sustained?” the learned gentleman Mr. Bandu de Silva has totally missed my point. If anyone has read my article carefully, s/he would have understood that, I did not accuse Ven. Mahanama thero as a racist or his poetic literature (Mahavamsa mythology) that he wrote for the ‘serene joy and emotion of the pious’ as a racist doctrine. I even mentioned that during the turbulent period when Buddhism was under threat, the Mahavamsa author Ven. Mahanama and the Mahavihara monks had a genuine reason (cannot be blamed) for the mythology. Also, my article was not a document/paper on deep analysis of Sri Lankan historiography (which many number of academics and scholars have already done) but only a political overview to highlight the belief system (Myths and fallacies) of the present day Sri Lankan society or rather the Sinhala-Buddhist majority due to the influence of Mahavansa, which has manifested into a prejudiced way of thinking known as the Mahavansa-mindset [Rata (Sinhala Country) – Jathiya (Sinhala Nation/Race) – Aagama (Sinhala Buddhist Religion]. The outcome of such a state of mind is the Sinhalese-Buddhist Nationalism spanning from Anagarika Dharampala’s Revivalist Movement to Sinhalese-Buddhist Ultra-Nationalism of Jathika Chinthanaya and presently the Hela/Sinhala Urumaya that has lead to Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism, one of the main causes for the unresolved ethnic crises in Sri Lanka that has resulted and continue to cause misery to our Sri Lankan nation. Even though Politics, History (academic), and Religion (spirituality) are three different disciplines, in Sri Lanka they are interlinked, and in order to understand the mindset of the present day population of Sri Lanka, we need to pay attention to all the three, the only reason that dragged me into Mahavamsa and Buddhism. Having said that, even I do not want to engage in any ‘Polemics’ but at the same time I also do not want to disappoint my readers who are expecting a reply. This is only a clarification and should not be misunderstood as a rebuttal.

Without altering or diluting the original content of my writing, let me elaborate further on the major issues that are raised here (which I think is worth replying) with more reasoning/clarification with references and additional examples wherever possible to support my views. Once again it is not a deep analysis because if I were to do a deep analysis, each statement/paragraph that I have written (my article) can be expanded into separate articles and that is beyond the scope of my intention of highlighting the present day Sinhala-Buddhist (Mahavansa) mindset.

…..they who know truth as truth and untruth as untruth arrive at truth….. Dhammapada

1. Is Mahavamsa the History of Sri Lanka?

History is basically the capacity of the society in remembering the past. The mode of exerting this capacity differs from society to society. Archeology (ancient artifacts, ruins, potsherds, burials, coins, stone inscriptions, cave writings, rock edits, writings on Ola leaves, etc), ancient literature, chronicles, cultural anthropology, folk stories, historical linguists, etc are some of the tools to understand the history of a society.

1.0 The Chronicles

The Mahavihara monks of Anuradapura maintained Pali chronicles in Sri Lanka which were intended primarily to record the activities of the Theravada Buddhists. There are two sets of Chronicles on which the historians of Sri Lanka have placed their reliance for the study of the Island’s story. The Dipavamsa (5th century A.D), the Mahavamsa (6th century A.D), and the Culavamsa (12th century A.D) were written in Pali, while the later chronicles the Pujavali (13th century A.D), the Rajaratnakara (16th century A.D), and the Rajavali (18thcentury A.D), generally considered to be less reliable as historical documents than even the earlier Pali chronicles were written in Elu/Helu (Sinhala-Prakrit). There is also a commentary to Mahavamsa written in Pali by an unknown Buddhist monk in the 13th century AD known as the ‘Tika’ or Vansatthappakasini to explain/interpret the verses in Mahavamsa. It is the Tika that talks about a mysterious “Sihala atthakatha” (Vamsa text known as original source) that has disappeared after the Mahavamsa was written, the main reason for calling the Pali chronicle of the Mahavihara as the chronicle of the Sinhalese. (What is believed to be “Sihala Attakatha” is nothing but the Indian Epics and Puranas written in Sanskrit).

The Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle of historical poem) was written not as a history of Sri Lanka (or Sinhalese) but as a history of the Mahavihara (Theravada Buddhists). The Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa speaks ONLY of Theravada Buddhists and NOT Sinhala Buddhists. The original Mahavamsa (Mahawansha), is a historical poem written in Pali, which covers a period starting from the arrival of Vijaya (543 BC) to the time of Mahasena’s rule (334-361 BC) written by the Venerable Mahanama Thero, an uncle of King Dhatusena.

To study the history of Sri Lanka (put it into context) and its people (Sinhalese/Tamils), its ancient religions (Buddhism/Hinduism), its languages/scripts and its culture we need to also study/understand the history of India (North and South) because the origin (roots) begin from there and both histories were always interconnected (umbilical cord) until independence.

1.1. Theravada Glorified

From the archeological/epigraphic evidence and the chronicles itself, it is clear that during the same period there also existed other religions such as Mahayana Buddhism, Saivism, Vaishnavism, Jainism, etc but they were all left out. It is also clear that, not only Yakkas, Nagas, Demadas and Kalingas, but also a few other tribes such as Kabojas/kambojas, Milekas, Muridis, Merayas and Jhavakas have also lived in the island during that period but right from Devanampiya Tissa to the end of Anuradapura period the Mahavamsa glorifies only the Theravada Buddhist kings, even though their ethnic background is never mentioned (an ethnic group or a dynasty called Hela/Sinhala is not at all mentioned accept twice in the beginning chapter about Vijaya/Lion myth). Only the non-Buddhist kings were identified in the Mahavamsa (even though not mentioned in any epigraphy) as Damelars (outsiders/invaders). Therefore the Pali chronicles on which the authoritative history of the island is still based cannot be considered as a complete history of Sri Lanka or the history of the Sinhalese, and is also not much helpful to understand the Tamil history of Sri Lanka. In that sense, the Archaeological explorations and epigraphy are much more important than the biased and distorted past records of the chronicles that refers to events which happened many centuries earlier, as an account of the history of the island. In other words, we have to look for other sources to understand the actual history of the country and its people. Unfortunately none others, not even India (North & South) maintained any such chronological record or any other organized system to preserve their historical records, but that does not mean that they did not have a history or they do not have any other historical evidences.

The Pali chronicles were written long after the events described took place (some of them more than 1000 years). Therefore these cannot be considered as accurate records of the events. These were written by Theravada Buddhist priests who mainly tried to convey a religious message using the events to illustrate the importance of the Theravada Buddhist religion, hence a very biased version. The description of the events had a very heavy religious flavor and the history was modified to glorify those kings who patronized and supported Buddhism and those who did not were portrayed as “bad kings”, or “invaders”. There was also a tendency to remain silent on the issues which did not portray Buddhism in a favorable light.

1.2. Bias towards North India

It is also clear that the Mahavamsa is biased towards North India against the South. This may be because Buddhism and Pali came from there. It has been trying to minimize the South Indian component of the Lankan culture, adopting an anti-Tamil attitude and trying to maximize on an imaginary North Indian component of Lankan culture. Brahmanic revival, Bhakthi movement and extinction of Buddhism in India and the South Indian dynasties intervening in Sri Lanka may be the underlying reason for the formation of a Sinhala-Buddhist identity. To create the Sinhala-Buddhist society in the 5th century AD, the Mahavihara monks have imagined/visualized a mass ‘Aryan migration’ from North India during the proto-historic period. This myth created the foundation for the authoritative history of the island, conditioning the minds of the people from generation to generation and it still continues to the future generation. In reality, there is no objective evidence of an Aryan migration from North India; the ethnic structure in Sri Lanka is quite South Indian with close affinities to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Many renowned Historians, Archaeologists, Geologists, Epigraphists, Genealogists, Anthropologists, etymologists and Linguistic Scholars have engaged in research, on the ancient history of Sri Lanka for more than 30 years, conducting Archaeological excavations. The latest Archeological and Genealogical discoveries in Sri Lanka using modern technology show that not only the Flora and Fauna but the people of South India and Sri Lanka are of the same stock. This has been further established by findings relating to their culture, language and religion which show that the people of these two regions were closely connected. The recent excavations in Rajarata (Anuradapura) by Dr. Siran Deraniyagala and a team of archeologists discovered a very large number of inscribed potsherds with Brahmi writings going back to the 4th century BC, very clearly indicating that Anuradapura was settled by people who have adopted the South Indian Megalithic culture. Nevertheless, the modern archeologists and historians accept that the ancient people of Sri Lanka belonged to the Dravidian Language family and followed the Dravidian (Megalithic) culture. The findings also show that there was a strong similarity between the ancient people of Sri Lanka and those of South India. The geographical proximity of Sri Lanka and South India with 22 miles of shallow sea could have been the reason.

On the other hand, even the South Indian great Pali scholar Buddhaghosa who came to Sri Lanka from Tamil (Chola) country in the 5th Century AD and made a remarkable contribution to Buddhism was depicted (in the Mahavamsa) as a Brahmin from North India and born near Bodh Gaya showing a clear bias towards North Indians (Magadhi) against South. It also failed to mention the other South Indian Tamil Buddhist scholars such as Buddadatta and Dhammapala who worked with Buddhaghosa and contributed to the Pali canon.

1.3. Against Mahayana

The Mahavamsa is also highly biased towards Theravada against Mahayana. It failed to mention the influx of Mahāyana Buddhists from South India. All the kings who supported Mahayana were portrayed as the worst men possible. The biggest victim was Kassapa who was termed as a father-killer for a crime he probably never committed. There are still some Tamil Mahayana Buddhist establishments (Palli) in the east and possibly in the Jaffna peninsula. The best known was Velgam Vehera, which was renamed Rajaraja-perumpalli after the Cola emperor. Another was the Vikkirama-calamekan-perumpalli. The number of ancient Buddha statues found other than in Sri Lanka was in Tamil Nadu showing a strong presence of Buddhism.

1.4. Tamil Buddhist Epics

The well known Tamil Buddhist epics found were Manimekalai, Silappadhikaram, Valaiyapathi, Kundalakesi, and Jivaka Cintamani. The lost Tamil Buddhist works include the grammar Virasoliyam, the Abhidhamma work Siddhantattokai, the panegyric Tiruppadigam, and the biography Bimbisara Kada. Manimekalai, a purely Buddhist work of the 3rd Sangam period in Tamil literature is the most supreme and famous among the Buddhist work done in Tamil. It also talks about the Tamil Buddhists in the island/Nagadipa but, neither Manimekalai nor Silappathikaram is a historical work.

Commenting on the very great popularity of the story of Pattini in Sinhalese villages, Dr. Godakumbura writes: “Literature, dealing with Pattini and the origin of the worship, is very large, and most of it has come from Tamil sources.” He gives a fairly comprehensive list of Sinhalese writings based on the stories of Silappathikaram and Manimekalai.

The ancient Tamil literature and the excavations (archeological findings) in Jaffna proves the existence of Tamils including Tamil Buddhists (Theravada and Mahayana) but there is no evidence what so ever to prove the existence of a separate Tamil Kingdom in Jaffna before the 13th century AD and the same goes to the Sinhalese. The temptation to consider that everything Buddhist in Sri Lanka is necessarily Sinhalese has to be resisted, as it must be remembered that the Tamils, Andhras, and Kalingas, also were at one time Buddhists, and had a very large share in the dissemination of Buddhist culture in the countries of South-East Asia.

The history of Sri Lanka, from the 3rd century A.D. to the 9th century A.D, is permeated with the influence of Buddhism and Buddhist culture. This includes from early historical times, the intrusion of Pali and Sanskrit languages and their spread among the ancient Tamils of Sri Lanka and their Dravidian culture, as well as the origin of the new language from Sanskrit, Pali and Tamil languages known as Elu/Helu (Sihala Prakrit).

1.5. Nagas (Chera/Sera), Pandyans/Pandu and Cholas/Sola (Damelas)

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 artifacts, inscriptions literary work and the Pali chronicles. The Pali chronicle Mahavamsa projects the Non-Buddhists as Damelas (foreigners/invaders) but still it could not help linking the Pandyans of Tamil country even in the genesis of Sinhalese in Sri Lanka indicating the strong presence of Pandyans (Pandu) during that period. Let us not forget that the Nagas were not unique to Sri Lanka, in the early historic period, the Nagas not only occupied Nakanatu/Nagadipa in Sri Lanka but also Nagar-Kovil, Naga-Pattinam and a few other places in South India and as per Prof. Indrapala, both Nagas and Damelas were also moving back and forth between Sri Lanka and South India.

Today the Nayar (Nagar) from Chera (Kerala) are believed to be the descendants of Nagas. Dr. G. C. Mendis ‘Early History of Ceylon’, p. 23, Northern Ceylon is indicated as the Nagadipa which corresponds to Serentivu in Tamil.

“The Sera or Chera (presently Kerala) is the Dravidian equivalent of the Nagas. Chera Mandala has the same meaning as Naga Mandala” – ‘Anthropology in India’ (Bharatiya Vidiya Bhavan Publication).

The Arab traders/merchants who first landed in the North of the island called Serentivu/Serendipa as Serendip.

Let me give some examples of the Naga Kings who bore the Naga clan names,

The first Queen, Anula (47-41 BC) was the widow of Chora Naga and Kuda Tissa. She made Siva, the palace porter as her consort. Subsequently she poisoned Siva and lived with an Indian carpenter, Vatuka, a firewood carrier Dharubatissa, and a palace priest named Neeliya, all of whom she poisoned, till she finally ruled the country alone and continued to live an infamous life. She was burnt alive by Kuttakanna Tissa, the second son of Cula Maha Tissa, who found that he had the backing of all of the people of Lanka to put an end to such an ignominious sovereign. King Candamuka Siva (44-52 AD) the Son of Ila Naga married Damila Devi. Looking further, Khallata Naga (109BC) son of Saddha Tissa, Cora Naga (63BC) son of Valagamba and grandson of Saddha Tissa (incidentally he was the husband of Anula (48BC) whose first paramour was Siva), Ila Naga (36AD), Mahallaka Naga (136AD), grandson of Vasabha (67AD) and brother-in-law of Gajaba (114AD), Kudda Naga (188AD), grandson of Mahaliaka Naga, Siri Naga I (184AD), likewise grandson of Mahallaka Naga, Abhaya Naga (231AD), son of Siri Naga I, Siri Naga II (240 AD) grandson of Siri Naga I, Maha Naga (565AD) etc, and King Siva (515 AD) the Uncle of Kirti Sena.

The kings belonging to the Tissa and Lambakarana dynasties that ruled the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Anuradhapura were Prakrit speaking Nagas. Dutugemunu, the national hero of Sri Lanka, was a Naga king belonging to the Tissa dynasty. His mother Vihara Maha Devi was the daughter of the Naga king of Keleniya, and his father Kavan Tissa, was the great grandson of Maha Naga, who established a kingdom in Mahagama in Rohana. Maha Naga’s older brother, Devanampiya Tissa, a contemporary of Emperor Asoka, was the first king of the Tissa dynasty. Some of the Tissa kings who proudly bore Naga clan names were Khallata Naga (Dutugemunu’s nephew), Cora Naga, who was one of the many victims poisoned to death by the amorous Queen Anula, Mahadathika Maha Naga and Ila Naga. Yasa Lalaka Tissa was the last king of the first dynasty that ruled the Anurdhapura kingdom.

A few known names of the Naga poets of Sri Lanka who contributed to ancient Tamil literature are Elaththu Pootha Thevanar (whose compositions are included in anthologies known as Nattrinai, Kurunthokai and Puranaanooru), Mudingarayar, Musiri Asiriyar, Neelakandanar and Ela Nakar.

On the other hand, the old Tamil names found in South India – Sri Lanka region are very similar to those Prakrit names (do not end with an ‘N’ or an ‘M’). For example, some of the names of ancient Sri Lankan Tamil kings (mentioned in Mahavamsa) were Sena, Guttika, Elara, Pulahatha, Bahiya, Panayamara, Parinda, Dathiya, and so on. Similarly in South India, the names of the ancient Tamil kings, for example some Chola kings were Kulothunga Chola, Vikrma Chola, Aditya Chola, and so on. Some Pandya kings were Kulasekara Pandya, Vira Wickrama Pandya, Parakrama Pandya, Sundara Pandya, and so on. Some Chera kings were Kulashekhara Varma, Rajashekhara Varma, Rama Varma Kulashekhara, Goda Ravi Varma, Bhaskara Ravi Varma, Vira Kerala, Rajasimha, and so on.

Neither the epigraphy nor the Pali chronicles mention the ethnic background of the Buddhist kings of Sri Lanka. 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.

This only proves that the present day Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils originate from both Prakrit speaking Nagas, Tamil speaking Damelas (Pandyans & Chola), and all the other tribes that lived in the island other than the Veddas.

According to historians, it was only during the 9th century AD, the term Nagas totally disappeared from the stone inscriptions and the two major ethnic groups Hela/Sihala and Demela clearly appeared. Historians believe that the Nagas were assimilated into the two major ethnic groups Hela/Sihala and Demela. The Archeologist/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.” As per Prof. K. Indrapala, ‘The Sinhalese and Tamils of Sri Lanka are descended from the common ancestors who lived in the country in prehistoric and proto-historic times and have a shared history going back to over two thousand years’. If we agree with these historians, 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.

Analyzing the Sinhala writings called Vittipota, W.A. De Silva states that from very early times the island was colonized by people from all parts of India. Therefore those inhabiting this country should not say that they belong to some one particular family or race.

The Sinhalese argue that they are unique to Sri Lanka (there is no other Sinhala Nadu) and therefore Sri Lanka is a Sinhala country. We should not forget that the Arab/Muslim traders married local (Sinhala/Tamil) women and therefore their decedents share the same ancient ancestry of the Sinhalese/Tamils. Since the Malay and Portuguese did not bring their womenfolk but married local women, even the Malays and Burghers also share the same ancestry. The fact is, as a race, not only the Sinhalese but also the Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lankan Muslims, Burghers, Malays and Veddas are all unique to Sri Lanka, they have no other place on earth, the only difference is they adopted a single language where as the Sinhalese adopted Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil, Vedda, a very few words from unknown origin and later Portuguese, Dutch, English and developed a new language (due to their heavy mixing).

1.6. Ancient Sri Lankan heritage

The ancient Sri Lankan heritage, the Vevas (tanks/reservoirs), Dagobas (dome enshrining sacred relics) and all other massive ancient structures were constructed by the Buddhist Nagas and Demelas (not Sinhalas). The development of wet rice cultivation, a rudimentary tank system, and iron technology were common features of development for both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. The tanks and fields, which were the main support of the kings and their armies and a large body of priests and monks, were damaged frequently either by wars between rival kings of the island supported by their sponsors in the Chola or the Pandyan country or through natural forces as well as sheer neglect. Repairs to these tanks and the maintenance of irrigation and cultivation could not be affected without the aid of specially trained men from the Tamil country. Sir James Emerson Tennent, Colonial Secretary to the British Government of Ceylon (1845-1850) tells us even during his time, the expertise/services from Tamil country had to be obtained for repairing tanks in the North Central Province.

1.7. Tamil Names Twisted


The Mahavamsa written a millanium 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. Let me mention an example,

The Deepavamsa does not say king Panduvasudeva, it says Panduvasa. As per B.C. Law,

“It may as well be a Pali or Prakrit equivalent of Pandya Vasa meaning one from the Pandyan country i.e., A Pandya by his nationality”. (B. C. Law, ibid. p. 52).

How Pandu-Vasa in Deepavamsa became Pandu-Vasudeva in Mahavamsa is a mystery. (Vasudeva must have been adopted from the Indian epic Gita). The name Panduka is apparently of the same import. After the death of Panduvasa (Panduvasudeva) his eldest son Abhaya became the lawful king. Panduvasudeva’s mother is said to have been the daughter of the Mada king (‘Mada-Sanskrit Madura was the capital city of the Pandyans). Their son was named Panduka Abhaya, the name being a combination of the names of Panduvasa and Abhaya, the best example of a Naga-Pandya mix. Pandukka Abhaya gives his son a Tamil Saiva name Mutasiva (elder Siva). We are not told whom he married, but his second son Tissa succeeds him. His real Saiva name is not known. (Devanampiya is a title given to him by Emperor Asoka for accepting Buddhism, it is not a Tamil name). B. C. Law has pointed out that the name of neither Devanampiya Tissa nor of Dutugemunu, the two heroes of the Mahavamsa, is found in the early inscriptions. (B. C. Law, ibid. pp. 65-66).

True to the tradition of the early Buddhist writers in Sri Lanka who had twisted Tamil words sometimes out of recognition in transforming Dravidian names into Pali or Prakrit forms, Dr. Paranavitane, the first Sinhalese Archaeological Commissioner of Sri Lanka continued the same tradition.

1.9. Earlier Language and Script

The Hindu/Brahmanic scriptures Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, etc and the Indian epics Mahabaratha, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, etc were all written in Sanskrit (the sacred language of the Hindus). Similarly, the Buddhist scriptures and the Sri Lankan chronicles were written in Pali/Magadhi Prakrit (the sacred language of the Buddhists). Even the Tamil Theravada Buddhist monks of South India (Chola Sangha) have used Pali language in preference to Tamil in their writings.

One of the most significant areas in which the North Indian influence made a lasting impact in South India and Sri Lanka was the language. As trade between the Northern and Southern regions of India (including Sri Lanka) began to develop actively in the 1st millennium BC, the Prakrit became the lingua franca of this trade. Going by the earliest inscriptions in South India, it would appear that Prakrit had a greater impact in Andhra, Karnataka and Northern Tamil Nadu. But in Southern Tamil Nadu almost all the earliest stone inscriptions are in Old Tamil, some of them showing influence of Prakrith. It was the only region in South Asia where inscriptions were in a language not belonging to the Indo-Aryan sub-family.

The Sanskrit/Indo-Aryan Prakrit language is found in the Brahmi inscriptions in the 3rd century BC. Brahmi was used to write the early dialects of Prakrit. Its usage was mostly restricted to inscriptions on stones/rocks, caves, buildings and graves. Even though Brahmi script had been used throughout South Asia, it had regional variations. In addition, South Indian Brahmi needed special characters to write some special letters of Dravidian, especially Tamil.

Ancient Brahmi inscriptions of Lanka had been written in Prakrit language like other contemporary inscriptions of South Asia, excluding ancient Tamil country, but they have so many words which are not found in Prakrit or Sanskrit in other parts of South Asia. Early Brahmi inscriptions of Lanka have all the symbols of south Indian Brahmi. Paranavitana, believing the Mahavamsa version of the story, was very ingenuous in trying to argue that the early Brahmi script of Lanka was following the north Indian version of Brahmi, but a considerable number of them appear to be Tamil terms and they could be easily explained as Tamil terms, drawing comparable material from ancient Tamil Sangam literature as well as ancient Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.

Iravatham Mahadevan has published ‘Early Tamil Epigraphy’, which has been included in the prestigious Harvard Oriental Series, where he points out the occurrence of all the special sounds of early Tamil Brahmi letters among early Lankan Brahmi inscriptions.

In the 19th century AD, Wilhelm Geiger who translated the Mahavamsa studied the language of the inscriptions/island at various time intervals and gave some name labels. He labeled the earliest Prakrit/Sanskrit language spoken in the island as Prakrit-Sinhala but a somewhat developed Elu/Helu/Sihala language was found for the first time only on the 8th century AD Sigiri mirror wall and not before that. Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil and a very few words from unknown origin appear to have influenced the formation/evolution of the Elu/Helu language.

1.10. Outdated History

The 1965 PhD Student Mr. K. Indrapala

It is surprising that, like many pseudo-scholars, even Mr. Bandu de Silva says, Indrapala has had no reasons to alter the pronouncements he made in his 1965 PhD though he came under heavy ethnic pressure to rewrite history as the facts had not changed.

In any historical research, it is natural to change the views and assumptions, because up to now, we have no definite answers to so many unanswered questions in the fields of Archaeology, history, anthropology, epigraphy and etymology in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, daily we stumble across several new findings and they contribute to new historical vistas. Therefore, based on new facts, one’s earlier conclusion has to be compromised to adopt changes. History is a continuous process of investigation without any end in sight.

For example, for the last 40 years, the Sinhalese Pseudo-historians and bogus scholars (charlatans) had been using the Tamil PhD student Mr. Karthigesu Indrapala’s 1965 PhD thesis which was not in favour of the Tamils as a guide in all their arguments/writings. When the well renowned and recognized former History professor of the Jaffna University, the same Prof. Karthigesu Indrapala retired from his profession after 30 years of research as a Senior Archaeologist/Historian/epigraphist and a University Don. Prof. K. Indrapala published a book in 2005; 40 years after his 1965 PhD thesis where he says his PhD dissertation is completely out of date that even he does not have a copy of his 1965 PhD thesis what he wrote 40 years ago as a PhD student. It is absolutely natural that people change their opinions upon new findings (not ethnic pressure) but the bogus scholars (charlatans) want to still continue to quote the obsolete theories what Indrapala himself has abandoned.

This is what Prof K. Indrapala says about his 1965 thesis:

I was planning my postgraduate research, the late Prof. W.J.F. LaBrooy, my revered teacher and, at that time, Head of the department of History at the University, advised me to research into the early history of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for my doctoral dissertation, as he considered this aspect to be a serious gap in the known history of the Island.

The thesis was completed with the material that was available in the early 1960s.

As long as excavation work remains undone, I pointed out; much that is relevant to our study will be wanting… Even the inscriptions and literary works that we have used have proved to be inadequate in the reconstruction of a satisfactory history of the settlements and in the solution of many important problems.

The thesis was presented as the first major attempt to bring together all available evidence on the subject. THE FACT THAT IT WAS IN NO WAY A COMPLETE STUDY WAS ADMITTED. In view of these limitations and difficulties, while we may claim to have added something to our knowledge of the history of the Tamils of Ceylon, the account presented here is inevitably incomplete and not always definite. We have often been led to state our conclusions in hypothetical terms.


More importantly, significant developments, both in terms of archaeological research and changing historical perspectives, have taken place in the last four decades.

Nilakanta Sastri

Another Historian that the Sinhalese Pseudo-scholars 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.

Dr. Paranavithana

Dr. Senerath Paranavitana, an Archaeological Commissioner, was a dominating figure in archaeology, epigraphy, and ancient history of Lanka for more than fifty years during the last century. For him, the Mahavamsa was like a holy book. Instead of giving primacy to archaeology and epigraphy, and supplementing his findings with material from the Mahavamsa, he was trying his best to interpret archaeology and epigraphy in the light of the Mahavamsa. His research was one sided (biased), beginning with the conclusion (Mahavamsa), he was only finding evidence to prove his conclusion. If the archaeological/epigraphical findings did not match the conclusion (Mahavamsa) he redefined/misinterpreted them using his own theories, assumptions, hypothesis and analogies to prove that the Mahavamsa was right.

On his retirement as Archaeological Commissioner, he was appointed as Professor of Archaeology in the University of Ceylon (the only university in Lanka at that time) for a short period. The University of Ceylon had a project for publishing an authoritative history of the country and Prof. Paranavitana functioned as its editor. He was adopting the Mahavamsa as his guide, especially for the early period of Lankan history. He himself admitted that he had rejected some portions of a Tamil contributor to the volume on the ancient period of Lankan history, because those portions didn’t fit into what he considered Lankan history (Mahavamsa).

Prof. Paranavitana was a non-Buddhist but today we have people like Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero, the former leader of Jathika Hela Urumaya doing archaeological research especially in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Tamil ancient inscriptions, Hindu deity statues, and other artefacts found in favour of Tamils, suddenly disappearing is not a surprise.

2. The British and the Mahavamsa

It was only in the 19th century AD, the British re-discovered the Mahavamsa.

The first printed edition and English translation of the Mahavansha was published in 1837 by George Turnour, an historian and officer of the Ceylon Civil Service. A German translation of Mahavansha was completed by Wilhelm Geiger in 1912. This was then translated into English by Mabel Haynes Bode, and the English translation was revised by Geiger. English historians who wrote on Sri Lankan history are also responsible for the misrepresentation of Sri Lankan history as Sinhalese history.

Prof. K. Indrapala says in his book, ‘The evolution of an Ethnic Identity: The Tamils in Sri Lanka C. 300 BCE to C. 1200 CE’, it was in the nineteenth century, under the British rule, that the British officials adopted a keen interest in the history of the island. The European discovery of the Pali chronicles, the publication of early translations of the Mahavamsa and the acquisition of information relating to the ancient ruins lead to the first serious British attempt to write the early history of Sri Lanka in the middle of the nineteenth century.

2.1. Aryans and Dravidians

The colonial Orientalist ‘scholars’, who were enthusiastic to invent Indo-Aryan cousins in this part of the world, created enough myths in that process for Brahmanism in India and Sinhala-Buddhist elitism in Sri Lanka. It was in these early colonial writings, largely based on the uncritical acceptance of the local chronicles, that a new perspective of the ancient history of the island began to develop. The view that the Sinhalese were the ‘proper inhabitants’ of the island in ancient times and that the Tamils were invaders came to dominate colonial historical writings. In addition, since the Sinhala language was more of Indo-Aryan in nature, the British declared that the Sinhalese were Aryans from North India and the Tamils were Dravidians from South India. In recent years, several anthropologists and historians have shown how this perspective came to be developed in the colonial writings. It was only in the 19th century AD, the Sinhalese started to believe the myth that they are Aryans from North India and the proper inhabitants of Sri Lanka where as the Tamils are Dravidians and outsiders.

It is important to note that the Aryan theory was not merely something imposed from above by Orientalist ‘scholars’. It was eagerly welcomed by most Sinhala scholars who found the Aryan theory flattering in that it elevated them to the ranks of the kinsmen of their rulers. The combined result of the forces at work was the mischievous oversimplification of Sri Lankan History that the Sinhalese are Indo-Aryans who came from North India in the 6th century BC and the Dravidian Tamils are later migrants who came as invaders, traders and mercenaries to snatch a part of the promised land of the Sinhalese away. Influenced by the colonial historiography, the Sinhalese declared that they were indigenous to the island (first arrivals/natives), and that the Tamils were invaders (came later) from South India. The above facts and the non-existence of Tamil Buddhists during the colonial period (due to the aftermath of the 10th century Chola invasion) led the 19th century European Pali ‘scholars’ to assume and subsequently the present day Sri Lankans to believe that the ancient Buddhists and the Buddhists Kings of Sri Lanka were none other than Sinhalese. In Sri Lanka, any person who adopts Sinhala as mother tongue ipso facto is an Aryan. Most of the Sinhalese cannot even think/believe that there were Tamil Buddhists in the early period. If there were Buddhist remains in any part of Sri Lanka, by default it belonged to Sinhalese (only) and if there were Hindu remains it belonged to Tamils (only) whereas the Sinhalese worship most of the Hindu Gods.

2.2. Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism

The most influential figure in this field was the great German indologist, Max Muller. According to Prof. Leslie Gunawardana, scholars in late 19th century Sri Lanka took up Max Muller’s theories and injected a RACIALIST content into Sinhala nationalist thinking. One such scholar was Anagarika Dharmapala (Aka Don David Hewavitarana). Through publications such as the ‘Sinhala Bauddhaya’, ‘Sinhala Jatiya’, and the ‘Mahabodhi Journal’ during the period 1909 to 1915, he propagated the Mahavamsa as the Orthodox Theravada Buddhist doctrine of the Sinhala Buddhists. He called the Sinhala Buddhists as the only unique race (Arya-Sinhala) with a pure Aryan blood.

Today, the Maha Sangha and the Sinhala-Buddhist monks are NOT the disciples of Buddha; they are the disciples of Anagarika Dharmapala who believed in the Mahavamsa as an Orthodox Theravada Buddhist doctrine of the Sinhala Buddhists. In 1908, Dharmapala declared that Buddhism was “completely identified with the racial individuality of the people.” As Peter Schalk states: “This is probably one of the most conflict creating public statements made in the 20th century. It is also a statement that is detrimental nationally and internationally to the reputation of Buddhism. He stated explicitly that Lanka belongs to the Buddhist Sinhalese and for the Tamils there is South India.”

2.3. Buddhist monks and Politics

In 1946, the faculty at the Vidyālankara monastery approved without dissent a resolution declaring that monks should become politically active. The Vidhylankara monks moved the Dharmapalite revolution from nonsectarian social action in the villages to a political ideology that fused language, religion, and state. The radical monks formed the Lankā Eksat Bhiksu Mandalaya, the United Bhikku Organization of Śri Lankā. The seeds of a highly politicized Sinhalese Buddhism were now sown. As Seneviratne states, “By the mid 1950s it turned into a hegemonic Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism.”

It should be noted that none of those European Orientalist ‘scholars’ who translated and brought to light (or rather misinterpreted) the Sanskrit texts and Pali canon/chronicles ever attempted to do the same to the ancient Tamil texts and the writings on ola/palmaryh leaves which are believed to be destroyed when the Jaffna library was burnt. Some of them which were translated by Arumuga Navalar, Thamotharam Pillai and Saminathaiyar still wait for a comprehensive translation. The partiality in historiography by the British colonial rulers brought in new social gaps, confrontations and competition. With that started the Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism spanning from Anagarika Dharampala’s revivalist movement through 1956 “silent revolution to Jathika Chinthanaya and Sinhala Urumaya in the 1990s is interpreted as a teleological linear history, at the end, intending the ethnic crisis at present.

2.4. History further Twisted

Continuing what was written by the English, the Sinhalese historians twisted and misrepresented and misappropriated the civilization achievements of the ancient Sri Lanka as the history of the newly conceived Aryan Sinhala race.

MAHAVANSAYA – Sinhala version was edited by Ven. Hikkaduwe Sumangala thero (aka Don Niculas Gunawardhana). Ven. Hikkaduwe Sumangala along with Don Andris de Silva Batuvantudave have amended, modified, added and edited the Mahavamsa to suit the Sinhala race.

In the Trustworthiness of the Mahavamsa by Wilhelm Geiger the author says, I do not consider the final chapter 101 which has been added by Sumangala and Batuwantudawa, the authors of the edition princeps.

2.5. Sinhalese Confused

Most probably due to misinformation or lack of clear information, during the last few decades, the Sinhala Buddhists Nationalists were concocting many different versions of their history, some of them contradicting each other.

There is one group that totally believes in the Mahavamsa, that about two thousand five hundred years ago, Vijay and 700 men (Aryans) came from North India, took Tamil Pandya wives (Dravidians) from South India and formed the Sinhala race.

Another group, the followers of Anagarika Dhammapala believes the same but without the Tamil connection, that is, the Sinhalese are pure North Indian Aryans and did not mix with anybody.

Then there is another group known as the Jaathika Chinthanaya (national consciousness) movement founded by Gunadasa Amarasekera (Sinhala writer/poet and dentist) that believes, about two thousand five hundred years ago, Vijaya Singh and his clan (Aryans) came from North India and landed in Hela Diva and mixed with the Hela tribes that lived in Sri Lanka and formed a Sinhala Nation under king Pandukabhaya. From that cross breeding the name Sinhala came to all the progeny of these immigrants (Singh + Hela = Sinhala), and the Sinhala race/nation already existed during king Tissa’s period when Mahinda Thero brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka and during King Devanampiya Tissa’s period the Sinhalese became Buddhists and the Sinhala-Buddhist society was established.

Today, another group of Sinhalese-Buddhists by the name Hela Havula (Sinhalese literary organization founded by Munidasa Cumaratunga) have created a new theory (Siv + Hela = Sinhala) linking Ravana to the Sinhalas and totally contradicting the Mahavamsa to say that the Sinhalas are the original natives of Sri Lanka (even before Ravana) from the four tribes known as Siv-hela (Deva, Naga, Yakka, & Rakhsasa) and not migrants from India as mentioned in the Mahavamsa. Their theory is purely based on the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabaratha. Some of them even want to add the Mahayana Buddhist text Lankavatara Sutta which is based on Ramayana to Sinhala-Buddhism.

None of the above versions have any archeological/epigraphic evidence in Sri Lanka or India and the present day historians do not accept any of the above as true. Till now, the actual history of Sri Lanka (Sinhalese and Tamils) is not likely to be concluded and we still have to wait for more archeological discoveries for any breakthrough.

To be continued ……“Neither Epigraphy nor Pali chronicles say Dutugemunu was a Sinhala”

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  1. Pingback: dbsjeyaraj.com » “Neither Epigraphy nor Pali chronicles say Dutugemunu was a Sinhala”

  2. Dear JL Devanandha,There is no INdo-Aryan language family,or Dravidian Language family.It was all started by German researchers may be started in 16th centuary as,”COMPARATIVE LINGUISTIC STUDIES” it has a genetic coordination,contributed to racial divisions all over the world(study the Ruwana problem).There was “SWASTIKA” in Hinduism,but never represented Race.It evolved into racial(aryan) by Darwinism!.The impact of Industrial revolution for material productions and monetary systems evolved from that,on this researches influence still now.
    Sanskrit and Tamil had no script form until recently in history(starting of millennium).They were all written by more or less with “SAME KIND OF SCRIPTS” at starting perion.They differed according to their “SOUND”.So telugu and Kanada adopted more sanskrit?(evolved) words because of their sound.Due to the geographic proximities and Buddhist influence Singhala adopted less sanskrit words(scripts?) than Telugu and Kanada but more Pali words due to its “SOUND”!.Tamil also would have adopted more Pali words if,Buddhism was continued its presence.

  3. Is there an easy way to find who is who in a country by way of DNA analysis? For example a significant percentage of world population has been found to carry genes of Genghis Khan the great worrier King of a bygone era, when the might was the right.

    Now that we have the DNA of VP and Mahinda Mama both, we could very easily find how much is common to both of them. My uneducated guess is that both carry significant proportion of north Indian genes; I am only considering the skin color here.

    However much the falsehood is found to be written in Mahawamsa and debunked by Tamil scholars, the inhumane terror unleashed on all Sri Lankans, by Sri Lankan Tamils; will stay as a worst example in human history. And the separatist Tamil barbarism is good enough reason to keep a very close watch on all potential racist murderers specifically in Sri Lanka; and in the wider world in general.

  4. We Sri Lankans, Tamils and Sinhalese are brothers for many centuries until we were posioned by some politicians and clergy. Our Buddhism, whether it was Therawada or Mahayana, teaches non-violent. But both ethnic groups were trying to settle their account by violence.

    Karma is the only principle that we must accept and adore

  5. It is very good researched article, and throws light with historical facts, Mr. Devananda should be applauded for bringing out the factual history of the races of Sri Lanka.. More should be done on it, and the Govt should endeavour to have a seperate research dept in the University of Peradeniya of eminent Scholars to research deeply into the subject of the races of Sri Lanka for posterity and not leave it in the hands of Monks like Mettananda Thero whose works are valueless due to one track mind, and are largely focussed on supremacy of the JHU and its secretary Pattali C. Ranawake whose first name is of tamil origin.


  6. @ Abey
    I have written a blog article relevant to the issue which you have mentioned. However it has written in Sinhala Language.
    For the enlightenment of the readers i would publish the relevant research articles which i have referenced in writing the particular blog article.

    Kirk, R. L. (1972). The Legend of Prince Vijaya-A Study of Sinhalese Origins. AM. J. PHYS.A NTHRO, 45, 91-100.

    Kshatria, G. K. (1995). Genetic Affinities of Sri Lankan Population. 67, 6, 843-866.

    N.Saha (1988). Blood genetic markers in Sri Lankan populations- reappraisal of the legend of prince Vijaya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 76, 217-225.

    Paphia, S. S., Mastana, S. S., & Jayasekara, R. (1996). Genetic variations in Sri Lanka. Human Biology, 68(5), 707-737.

  7. @ Abey
    I have written a blog article relevant to the issue which you have mentioned. However it has written in Sinhala Language.
    For the enlightenment of the readers i would publish the relevant research articles which i have referenced in writing the particular blog article.




    Kirk, R. L. (1972). The Legend of Prince Vijaya-A Study of Sinhalese Origins. AM. J. PHYS.A NTHRO, 45, 91-100.

    Kshatria, G. K. (1995). Genetic Affinities of Sri Lankan Population. 67, 6, 843-866.

    N.Saha (1988). Blood genetic markers in Sri Lankan populations- reappraisal of the legend of prince Vijaya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 76, 217-225.

    Paphia, S. S., Mastana, S. S., & Jayasekara, R. (1996). Genetic variations in Sri Lanka. Human Biology, 68(5), 707-737.

  8. @Abey 

    Talking about the DNA of Mahinda Mama,
    Do you know about ‘Rajapakses’ from Welimda’? Sometime ago ‘ Kopay Kathirvetpillai’ made references to them in the Parliament. He claimed that just after the 1915 Sinhala/Muslim riots, the Governor General of Ceylon imposed a fine on all Sinhalese for the damage caused by them during the riots. ‘Rajapakses’ from Welimada apparently made an appeal that they be exempted from this tax as they proved that they were (originally) Tamils and not Sinhalese. 

    Let be rephrase what you said,The inhumane terror unleashed on all Sri Lankan Tamils during 1956, 1958, 1977, 1980, 1983 will stay as the worst example in human history. And the Sinhalese barbarism is good enough reason to keep a very close watch on all potential racist murderers specifically in Sri Lanka; and in the wider world in general.

  9. Good Day
    Greeting s from Dubai

    We must appreciate both the authors for their efforts in these rather very lengthy essays. But what is the point we’re trying to prove here…

    Going by the fairy tale as most of us ordinary folks tend to believe, “North Indian Prince Vijaya landed in Thambapanni , got married to native Princess Kuveni which lead to the birth of Sinhala civilization. Later he dropped Kuweni and remarried to a princess from south Indian Dynasty. Kuweni and fellow tribes were abandoned and evolved to this day as Veddhas.

    Can our erudite panel enlighten me on these doubts?

    1.In Ptolemy’s world map – (AD 90 – AD 168) – Ancient Sri Lanka was recorded as Taprobane which derived from word Tambapanni – Copper coloured beach. If that’s a fact, in which ancient language the word Tambapanni originated from! I have checked this with my colleagues from Tamil, Malayalam, Telengu and Kannda.. None of the modern south Indians languages associate with the word Thamba as to copper colour. It is more North Indian than southern dialects. In Sinhalese we still use Thamba for copper coloured objects. Also his map illustrates Anuradhapura and the location very accurately as Anuragramme.

    2.Sri Lanka’s ancient names – I could be wrong here; I tend to believe most of ancient names mentioned below derived from Sinhalese words or have to do with Sinhala language. if the Tamils had ruled in those periods, why we cannot find any Tamil origin names to associate with Sri Lanka in ancient maritime routes?
    Sihala=Sin ha le= Cilao=Ceilon=Seylan=Ceylan=Ceylon
    Sinhala deepa= Serendipa = Serendip
    Lanka/ Ilanakai =Sri Lanka
    The Ancient name for Sri Lanka,
    Ceylon (English) 1796 AD
    Ceilon (Dutch) 1656 AD
    Cilao (Portuguese) 1505 AD
    Pa-outchow (Chinese) 1407 AD
    Ilankai (Thamil) 1284 AD
    Serendib (Arabic) 0622 AD
    Lakdiva (Sinhala) 0307 BC
    Taprobane (Greek) 0336 BC
    Sihala (Pali) 0543 BC
    Lanka (Sanskrit) 5114 BC

    3.Chinese voyager – Zhen he’s visits to Sri Lanka ( 13th Century)
    Why it is not mentioned any of his landings in Mahawamse chronicle! It is said one of Sri Lankan king was taken as hostage for his hostile approach towards Chinese emperor. Is Mahawmse tend to glorify only the achievement of Sinhalese not the setbacks?

    Galle Trilingual Inscription-
    Why this inscription only in Chinese, Arabic & Tamil not in Sinhalese which have been the rulers as Mahawamse portrayed?
    Zhen He’s voyagers – National Geographic Channel – As per Dr David Zuzuki- ancient SL (13th Century) were ruled by Tamil kings..

    4.Veddha Language
    If Vaddhas are the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka and If Tamils ruled the Lanka in ancient times, why the Tribal language of Veddha is to associate more with Sinahalese than Tamil? so is it Kuweni’s language has evolved to modern day Veddha Language!

    5.Maldivain Language
    In current Maldivian language, the dialects are very common with Sinhalease language .i have no sound data to prove the Sinhala influence in Maldives but I tend to believe possible Sinhalese migration to Maldives in ancient SL.
    Maldives was a Buddhist kingdom though they are predominantly Islamic in modern Era,

    6. Tanks & Stupas – Central & North/Esat in SL
    If Tamils were to first colonized Lanka and construct irrigation systems and Bhuddisht Stupas..
    Why we can’t find significant ruins of Tanks & Stupas in Tamil Nadu or Southern India as such in Sri Lanka.
    I could be wrong here, but I believe all south Indian UNESCO sites are to associate with Hinduism.

    For a layman like me, this subject is taking us no where! Seems like yet another Chicken and the Egg story,
    it’s generating more questions than answers. After following the topic since the beginning, I am quite confused to absorb the truth.

  10. You jeyaRaj: It would be better if you keep your esteemed opinions to yourself and shut up.
    And, go get a life.

  11. Chaminda Prasanna ,
    Your have been made confused like all Srilankan Sinhala mahavamsa mindset propaganda done by organised liers like Anagarika Dharmapala etc to claim the island of srilanka as Sinhala Buddhist country the associates who formed in 1956 with bhikkus they were the originatoers the assination of SWRD cant you read and understand what realy happened even in modern time.

  12. A lot of research and scholarship has gone into these two articles but the depth of these writings are unappreciated by the hoi polloi. As DBSJ once before said ,JL Devananda is casting pearls before swine

  13. Dear ,Chaminda Prasanna,
    “my colleagues from Tamil, Malayalam, Telengu and Kannda.. None of the modern south Indians languages associate with the word Thamba as to copper colour” Did you think, analyse or even tell us who ? or what profesrion they are and or they are sckolers in their language. or history, and why are they living or working in Dubai. I have an uncle who is and was a coppor smith ( who makes copper ware like kuthu villakku,kudam,thambalam, panner chembu,etc) he learned his trade from his ancisters (family business) His name is Thambapillai. his great grand fathers name and professon also same as his.I am sure if any one of the Tamil pundit could enligitin us.

  14. Thampalam means a Copper ware used in auspious occasions to serve goodies and offerings to god at Temples,made of copper and copper ware is the one traditionaly given as presents to relatives and ,temples etc.

  15. #9 Chaminda

    During 5CBC, copper was not invented, there was nothing called Thamba at that time. Thambapanni has nothing to do with copper. Tambapanni – Copper coloured beach is an interpretation/misinterpretion by the modern people. Tambapanni = Taprobane is also a modern interpretation. 
    Sihala=Sin ha le= Cilao=Ceilon=Seylan=Ceylan=Ceylon is also a latest interpretation and we cannot rely on it. Regarding  Sinhala deepa= Serendipa = Serendip the author has given a clear meaning, please read the article. 

    Regarding Veddha language, the Veddhas in Sinhala areas like Mahiangana are today mixed with Sinhalese and today their language is not pure, where as the Veddhas in Tamil areas like Batticaloa are mixed with the Tamils and their language is closer to Tamil. Please do some research and you will understand. 

    The development of hydraulic technology and the building of huge reservoirs started in South India and of course most of the major reservoirs are still in use. Regarding Tanks & Stupas, read what the author has written.

    Do not read only the topic, read the article and you will be able to clear all your confusion

  16. Nadaraja,

    Some of the earliest metal implements made my man were of copper. Such as the copper axehead found with the “ice man” in Italy. He lived around 15,000 BC. Bronze is made by mixing copper and tin and it was bronze that was used by the greeks during the classical period around 700bc. After the bronze age came the iron age and Sri Lanka was in the iron age in 500bc when our historical record began. Iron implements have been found in all the megalythic sites both in Sri Lanka and South India.

    Jataka stories which came down from the time of the Budda are full of stories with references to copper bowls. So whats this talk about copper not being known in the 5th Century BC?

  17. Dear DBJ. I appreciale your blog. I tend to think that these discussions though sometimes intellectually stimulating actually do not contribute to promoting racial harmony which is the need of the hour. Whether Lord Buddha came to Sri Lanka or not should irrelevant to Buddhists. Important thing is that Dhamma is here for anybody who seeks Nirvana. There is no Sinhala Buddhist Dhamma. So why get involved in side issues. Let us concentrate on practicing Dhamma. Practice metta and Karuna in promoting harmony between all Sri Lankans. We are here now. Let us live in peace. Let our children and grand children live in peace.

  18. There is a river in Tamil Nadu by the name Thamiraparani, which means copper-coloured river.  It originates in Thirunelveli district and falls in Bay of Bengal in Gulf of Mannar. I read somewhere it is Sri Lanka might have got the name as it is exactly opposite to the shore this river falls. Could this explain the megalithic pots found in Thirunelvely district and Sri Lanka?
    – Freevoice

  19. Thanks Mr Devananda.
    I have been trying to learn the story of original peoples in the island now called Srilanka, my readings were spotty, you filled all the blanks. You did your best, not to be taken as personal insult to any community.
    What our ancestor were probably thinking, how they behaved & why ,from the evidence we can gather.
    It will be helpful for our own worldview & direction may decide to take for our own destiny & for the future generation.

  20. There is a river in Tamil Nadu by the name Thamiraparani, which means copper-coloured river. It originates in Thirunelveli district and falls in Bay of Bengal in Gulf of Mannar. I read somewhere it is Sri Lanka might have got the name, “Thamiraparani”(called Tabrobane by Greeks who had trade connections with Tamil Nadu and Mathoddam in Mannar) as it is exactly opposite to the shore this river falls. Could this explain the megalithic pots found in Thirunelvely district and Sri Lanka?
    – Freevoice

  21. 9. Chaminda Prasanna

    The present name Sri Lanka is its Sanskrit name, meaning `the resplendent island`. The closest Sinhala name is Sihale, used just once in the Dipavamsa and twice in the Mahavamsa.

    To the Tamils, the country had various appellations. Its earliest name, among the aboriginal Tamils, was Tamaraparani, the name of a river in Tamil Nadu, south India. The island is referred to by this Tamil name in Emperor Asoka`s 3rd Century BC Rock Edict in Girnar, western India. Tamaraparani became Taprobane to the Greek travellers at the time of Alexander the Great.

    The early Indian Sanskrit works refer to the island as Lanka, its name in the Sanskrit language. The name Tamaraparani fell into disuse by the 1st Century AD and a new Tamil name, Ilankai, came into use. The island is referred to by that name in the Tamil classical Sangam literature (lst-4th Century AD). And so it continued until the 1970s.

  22. An appeal by the most patriotic Sinhala-Buddhists to all the people of Buddha’s chosen land (Hela-Diva).

    It was a well known fact that the sole objective of some of the Sinhala and English blogs were to attack the Sinhalese Buddhist culture and its leaders by promoting the LTTE. We want to end these anti-patriotic blogs soon. So it is a really good step taken by the most patriotic Sinhalese Buddhists by requesting our beloved President to block ten such blog sites immediately as they are a serious threat to the Sinhalese Buddhist nation.

  23. Devananda’s mythology and twisting continues……

    To Devnanda, all those who maintain an opinion that this different to him/her are myth believers. He/she perhaps doesn’t realise when he/she points a finger at someone how many of his own fingers point at him.

    Realising the extremely strong connection between Sinhalese and Buddhism and Buddhist civilisation’s dominant influence in the history of the land, he vainly tries to break it by introducing a concept of Tamil Buddhists. However he cannot explain how Buddhism dissapeared among Tamils when the overwhelming majority of the country’s inhabitants were Buddhists. If a 10th century Chola invasion can wipe out Buddhism only among Tamils, then 450 years of European occupation would have totally wiped out both Buddhism and Hinduism in the country. Therefore this Chola invasion cannot be accepted as a reason non existence of Tamil Buddhists. It is much more logical to say that Buddhism has never been a dominant religion among Tamils. The overwhelmingly dominant religion among Tamils was Hinduism while the people who adopted Buddhism became Sinhala. Accordingly, it is more logical to state that the widespread Buddhist archealogical sites found in all parts of the country (including the North & the East) indicates the presence of Sinhala people in all parts of the country in large numbers. Some of the Tamilised Sinhala names in the North & East villages, castes & individual names also attest to this notion.

    Devananda fails to explain why Tamils of Sri Lanka are more closely linked with the language, culture & religion to South Indian Tamils while Sinhalese culture has a different ancestry. This points to the possibility of present day Tamils of Sri Lanka being decendants of a later induction from South India (who migrated after the formation of Sinhala nation), while early Tamil settlers most likely may have assimilated in to the indegenious nation of Sinhala.

    It is also now the common knowledge that all invasions prior to Portugese came from South India. Sinhalese readily identify themselves with the forces and kings (Dutugemunu, Vijayaba, Walagamba, Datusena etc) who faught against those Demala invaders while present day Tamils do not. There is also no record of significant Tamil participation in those liberation wars against South Indian invaders. This again stregthens the notion that present day Sri Lankan Tamils are largely came to the island with the invaders and not before. It explains why no Tamil kingdom existed in Sri Lanka until 13th century.

    While above few points were mentioned to illustrate the total lack of objectivity in Devananda’s utterences, who were the earliest settlers of this island is of no use in today’s context. All people who genuinely feel, & accept this country as their motherland have an equal claim to this country.

    However, a question persists in Sinhala minds as to whether Tamils identify themselves more with Tamilnadu (as they did with the invaders in the past) or Sri Lanka. This notion has been strengthened by post independant Tamil exclusivist campaign to dismember Sri Lanka liveraging the kinship of Tamilnadu. It is up to Tamils to prove that the Sinhala suspicion is misplaced.

  24. Good Day

    Greetings from Dubai

    Thanks for your constructive comments; though we can’t prove preciously certain points without solid facts some of you have really enlightened me.

    We must respect our common history regardless to point who was the first to colonize SL whether be Sinhalese or Tamil, same as all of you around the globe… I was curious to know our beginning!

    Never intended to prove who’s right or wrong or superior to each other…

    By living in this prosperous City for 15 years, I know how dividends of peace could transform a desert barren country to one of the wealthiest in the world. In Dubai It’s not oil, simply the harmony between Locals and Expats from 100+ countries made Dubai what it is today … I strongly believe if Unity between our races could prevail just one generation, it will take Sri Lanka to a rapid development beyond our imagination. Choice is ours!

    Thanks again JL Devananda for you long researched article..

  25. One small burning question for all tamil chuvanists who claim Tamils lived here for 2000+ years.

    Why there are no tamil writings on the mirror wall of Sigiriya out of 1300+ writings?

  26. *** Independence day thought for the day ***

    Can we all agree that although pinning down the history of this land is important to all of us it also has the potential to divide us for eternity. The only way out of it as I see is for us to try and separate any idea of ownership stemming from our own personal idea of history.

    It is important for all human beings to feel a sense of belonging to a place and a landscape. I feel this too as I know my own family has a long history in my village from the vedda days according to some records and it fills me with wonder to think that may be 400 years ago my ancestor, perhaps little more than a hunter gatherer probably sat on the same rock and gazed aross the paddy fields at those misty, densely wooded mountains that I myself have grown to love and admire so much.

    We also need to understand that the Jaffna man is similarly emotionally bound with his landscape and environment just as we are with ours. And more importantly we need to realise that his attachment to Jaffna is stronger than our attachment to Jaffna and this is from where the whole yearning for self government arises from. It is insulting to tell him that his home for generations is really ours and that his real home is Tamil Nadu, a geography and a landscape that is probably as alien to him as it is to us. It is insulting to him when he is prevented from visiting areas he knew intimately which could be now classed as a HSZ. It would be even more insulting to him if say a Sinhalese friend from the south is to visit him and through his contacts with the army he gets the opportunity to visit such a place close to his heart that he is otherwise prevented from.

    Which is why I find myself in favour of maximum devolution of a proportionate portion of the county’s landmass to the Jaffna and Batticaloa Tamils. Forget about the merged Northern and Eastern province. That claim has its roots in Tamil supremacism, just like the claim that the Tamil homeland is in Tamil Nadu is based on Sinhala supremacism.

    If we are Hindus and Buddhist we need to apreciate the rold of time and its role in changing everything. The county has gone through many phases.. The stone age, magalythinc age, The North Indian invasions, Anuradhapura period, Tamil invasions, Polonnaruwa Period, Kotte Period, Portugese Invasion, Dutch Invasion, British Invasion, Democracy and now Rajapaksa rule. Every phase being different from the previous ones, so there is no point in harking back to a previous age where we imagine all was well and everyone was happy. So why cant we accept that the present age is the multicultural age where all the cultures have to live in equality? The equality I mean here is where each culture has control over their own teritory and future in a completely fair and equal manner. This may not be easy as our populations is very mixed but I cannot see any harm in the the Tamils and Moslems controlling proportionately sized ethnic enclaves where they control fiscal and police powers. It is not a fair and equal country where a Tamil or Moslem would feel that they will never be able to become President, a power ful cabinet minister, a general, a senior civil servant etc. It is however ironic that all these opportunities (except perhaps head of state) were there prior to the war. But I cannot see tamils in a position of inflence (and hence as completely equal citizens) under the current regime and atmosphere for a while longer. I hope I am wrong.

    Thank you for this comment……..DBSJ

  27. #26 Padda

    “Why there are no tamil writings on the mirror wall of Sigiriya out of 1300+ writings”

    Tamils were bored with their old language & relegion, got excited with a new scripts & new relegion ( nothing wroing with it), they must have been really excited when they were writting on the wall of Sigiriya, soon became your ancestors.
    A few guys went back home & only to be scolded by their spouses, remain to be Tamils.

    This is my shallow answer to yourshallow question.

  28. #26 Padda

    A small perpective to my shallow reply above, my illinformed resaersch shows that the Island now called Srilanka had population less than 50, 000, 2000 years ago ,of those may be 25000 adults, 12500 male adults ( decided the fate of their neighbor as it happens today), inelligent people without much infromation or travel as we have today.

  29. #26Padda

    The writings on the Sigiriya mirror wall in the 8th century AD is neither Sinhala not Tamil. It was written in Elu and Elu later became Helu and Helu later became known as Sinhala.

    Elu is a combination of Sanskrit (Prakrit), Pali, Tamil and a very few unknown words. The Tamils and all others contributed for the evolution of Elu which later became Sinhala.

  30. I want to add one more reference to your list Chandima Prasanna. That is the Chinese traveler Faxian’s “A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms.” His travel occurred in 4th century AD. Chapter 37 of his journal is titled “To Champa and Tamalipiti, Stay and Labours There for Three Years. Take Ship to Singhala.”

    Faxian, very clearly identifies Sri Lanka to be the land of Sinhalese, not just in the title but also in the body. Among other things in Chapters 38 and 39, he describes cremation of an arahat. This is several centuries before the Mahathera Mahanama ever started compiling Mahawamsa. Furthermore, this independent third party conformation nobody can deny.

    The other hilarious point Mr. “J. L. Devananda” brings is that Sinhalese claim that they don’t use the term Sinhala as prefix to identify the a Sinhala man since that is implied, but they have medicine and tiles etc etc with a Sinhala identifier. It seems that Mr. Devanada is out of touch with his own arguments. For the record, Mr. Devanadan, the reference Sinhala rice, tiles, medicine is to emphasize that they are indigenous, not foreign. A decent knowledge of Sinhala vernacular and current social conditions is required to understand what they mean. Let’s take the case of tiles. The most common tile we use in Sri Lanka for a while was the square corrugate tiles and that is a western style. As a result, the old tiles became a kind of rarity and they are no longer synonymous with the word tile. Therefore, we need to use the prefix “Sinhala” is we want to emphasize that fact. Same goes to rice and medicine. However, no Sinhala man will refer a Sinhalese Chandima as Sinhala Chandima, unless there is a specific reason. I strongly suggest Mr. Devanada to educate himself about the Sinhala society if he wants to talk about it.

  31. 31. Sam Perera

    Here we go again.
    In this era of scanners and ebooks, it would be appropriate to check the source, and append the said quotation if possible, rather than repeating what someone had stated in some other site.

    Faxian was about 77 years old when he returned to China, His Reords of the Buddhists Kingdoms was the first eyewitness account of the Buddhist practices and pilgrimage sites in Central and South Asia wtitten in Chinese.
    The chinese monk FÅ-HI|EN travelled to India and Ceylon during AD 399-414 as part of his voyage and the book FÅ -HIEN’S RECORD on BUDDISTIC KINGDOMS was translated by JAMES LEGGE and published in Oxford in 1886.(well after Mahanama and when Ceylon was part of the English colonies) so the word Singala or cremation of an arahat means nothing. It does not refute JLD’s point .

  32. #31

    *******I want to add one more reference to your list Chandima Prasanna. That is the Chinese traveler Faxian’s “A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms.” His travel occurred in 4th century AD. Chapter 37 of his journal is titled “To Champa and Tamalipiti, Stay and Labours There for Three Years. Take Ship to Singhala.” Faxian, very clearly identifies Sri Lanka to be the land of Sinhalese, not just in the title but also in the body. Among other things in Chapters 38 and 39, he describes cremation of an arahat. This is several centuries before the Mahathera Mahanama ever started compiling Mahawamsa. Furthermore, this independent third party conformation nobody can deny.*******

    During the 4th century AD Sri Lanka was Never known as Singhala or Ceylon. If you read chapter xxxvii second paragraph, James Legge says he came to the country of Singhala [4] and if you read the footnote [4] he explains why he used the word Singhala. Faxian never used the word Singhala but James Legge has picked up this word and its meaning from the Mahavamsa which was written after this period. Please read the English version translated with additional notes added by James Legge “A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms” at http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/rbddh10.pdf

    Then he goes on to explain about indigenous terms attached with Sinhala. What Devananda was asking is where were all those indigenous stuff before the 12th century AD? Why the word Sinhala is not mentioned anywhere? Why Sinhala new year was not mentioned anywhere? There was NO Sinhala before the 12th CAD and there was NO Hela before the 9th CAD. Of course, the tribes who lived in Sri Lanka (Prakrit speaking Nagas and Tamil speaking Demelas and others) only became Hela and later Sinhala but not before the 9th CAD.

  33. Hela,

    Sri Lanka not a Sinhala country

    Ven. Ellawala thero’s comments about Sri Lanka being referred to as a Sinhala country is interesting.

    But the interpretation of what was meant by the term Sinhala , then and now, should be made clear. Today the word Sinhala has a ethno-linguistic meaning, similar to the word Tamil .

    But in the past, and for much of our history, the word Sinhala had a completely different meaning, similar to Chola, Pandya, Kerala, Kalinga, Sinhala etc. referring more in terms of a royal house/kingdom.

    Under this royal umbrella, the people would have identified themselves under various tribes, clans and castes. For example, the people who built Buddhist structures in Tissamaharama would not have identified themselves as Sinhalese , but as Nagas or some other tribe, as Magama and Kelaniya were known ancient Naga settlements. Tissa we are told is more a Naga name than a Sinhala one.

    The Mahavamsa refers to the Nagas defending the Western gateway into Anuradhapura and sitting on a throne, equal in size to that of the Sinhala king.

    Dutugemunu carried the royal standard of a lion, but this lion flag did not signify an ethno-linguistic race, but the Royal house, under which various tribes would have united. This, perhaps, enabled a Tamil Buddhist, Velu, also known as Velu-Sumana to fight under the lion flag, together with many other tribes such as the Nagas.

    This concept also enabled Sinhalese generals to fight in Elara s army and for Sinhalese people in Anuradhapura to love and respect Elara as a just ruler.

    Of course, they were not Sinhalese people in today s sense, but various tribal inhabitants of Lanka, identifying themselves under the royal patronage of Elara and Dutu Gemunu.

    This concept also enabled foreigners from South India and Catholics to sit on our throne as the Sinhala king, enabling present day tribalists to misinterpret the meaning of Sinhala and to celebrate these foreigners and Catholics as champions of the Sinhalese ethno-linguistic identity.

    So we have a Tamil Perumal who becomes a Sinhalese Sapumal, a Sinhala champion who invaded Jaffna and built the magnificent Nallur Kandasamy Kovil in Jaffna.
    A Buddhist monk even wrote Sandeshayas to his glory. Even to this day the Kattiam at the Nallur Kandasamy kovil mentions his name as Sri Sangabo, Buvanekabahu .

    Don Juan of Austria, a baptised Catholic, is also celebrated as the Sinhala champion, Vimala Dharmasuriya I of Kandy. He was married to the Catholic, Donna Catherina, the Queen of Kandy and the mother of Rajasimha II, another champion of the Sinhalese , who besieged Portuguese Colombo. His brother Prince Kumarasimha was also known as Xavier Kumara Banda, a baptised Catholic.
    Significantly, the Mahavamsa refers to Lanka rather than Sinhale . Hela or Sinhaladvipa terms which are given disproportionate publicity for mischievous reasons, by present day tribalists , who are trying to give a particular tribe in Sri Lanka some kind of pre-eminence.
    This same evolution of the word Sinhala from a royal/kingdom identity to a narrow ethno-linguistic identity has taken place with our flag.

    The lion flag is the royal standard of the Sinhala royal identity and not of any ethno-linguistic Sinhala tribe. The kings of Sri Lanka carried this lion standard and they and the Lion flag, commanded the loyalty of all the many races and inhabitants of Lanka.

    But since the demise of the Kandyan kingdom and the rise of tribal nationalism in Sri Lanka, the relatively new concept of the Sinhala ethno-linguistic identity has taken sole possession of the lion flag as their own flag, excluding all the other peoples the lion flag represented previously as the flag of the royal house.

    So today we have to accommodate the other inhabitants of Sri Lanka, outside the lion flag in terms of a green and an orange strip.

    From the time of Dutugemunu to Sri Vickrema Rajasinha, the lion flag also represented other minoriities by a green and an orange strip.

    The evolution of the identity of the lion flag is the tragedy of Sri Lanka, of alienating some inhabitants of Lanka based on the new European concept of ethno-linguistic nationalism. Europe has defeated its demons and moved on, while we are still stuck in old outdated nationalist concepts of a colonial era.

    The concept that from the moment that Vijaya landed, we were one cohesive group of inhabitants identifying ourselves as of the Sinhalese tribe, living in Sinhale or Sinhaladvipa is a mirage, far away from reality.

    Being an island, Sri Lanka had a constant stream of settlers, from various nationalities and tribes, enriching our culture and nation. DNA testing may prove that most of us, including our present political and military leadership are of South East Asian, South Indian and European descent.

    The passport that Rev. Ellawala carries identifies him of not as being of Sinhale, Hela or any other classification based on a particular tribe, but as a citizen of Sri Lanka, a republic, which functions on the foundations of equality and citizenship and not of any particular tribe.
    The constitution of Sri Lanka and parliament functions on this basis.

    The concepts of Hela, Sinhale, etc. as narrowly interpreted by present day ethno-linguistic tribalists never existed in our 2500 year old history. Those who advance such misguided theories share the limelight with the likes of the KKK, the British National Party, the National Front and even Adolf Hitler.

    Germany for Germans and the Jews for the gas chamber? No no we are more respectable, so we will let the Jews live among us, as equals, but remember, Germany for Germans.
    It is incredible that at a time that we are fighting to defeat Tamil Eelam, some others are advancing perceptions of a Sinhala Eelam, Sinhale Ueber Alles .

    For those who are confused let me gently remind them that we are not living in Hela or Sinhale, but in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, constituted under law under the concept of equality and citizenship.

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