Coming To Terms With The Tamils
Without prejudice to Mr. Susantha Goonatilake, I take this opportunity to refute the "misinformation-campaign" undertaken by the learned author, through his article "The Traditional Homelands Hoax," that appeared in "The Island" dated 16th July 1998. The content and the title of the article shocked and dumbfounded me, when I observed that the writer had transgressed beyond the limits of an academic discourse, into a partisan and communal political rhetoric. Also, I noticed that, he failed to consider the historically well founded genuine aspirations of the Tamils, but he went on to allege that, the Traditional homeland a hoax, thus disparaging the sanctity of the Tamils' national sentiments. Also, the author has strayed on several topics, other than his main contention of dealing with the article of Dr. S.K.Vadivale, an effusion that cannot be tolerated unchallenged, to stand on its tottering feet.
To begin with, he accepts that his earlier critical views on Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa, also his assumption that dominant North Indian cultural influences came only with the introduction of Buddhism in the time of Emperor Asoka, 3rd century BC, were all wrong. In any historical research, it is natural to change the views and assumptions, because up to now, we have no definite answer to so many unanswered questions in history. 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. "Our word history comes from the Greek word historia, which originally meant 'inquiry, investigation,' and only later came to be applied specifically to the investigation of the past." The Histories by Herodotus, Translated by Aub De Selincourt, revised by John Marincola, Introduction p. xiii.
Unfortunately, when the earlier views and the new findings, the author came across, were all based on speculative assumptions, with bits and pieces of informative diggings, might tend to lead to a new speculative assumption, in the end may lead to further the complexities of the issue. Therefore, it is difficult even to accept the changed idea of the writer whether it would be his conclusive view, in the years to come.
Furthermore, the writer of the articles deals with "Jaffna kingdom" that did not exist in any early Tamil annals, at any given historical period. However it is excusable even the Tamils use to write about the same non-existed kingdom due to the influence exerted by their history Guru's and to please their Patron-saints in the university, like Dr. K. Indrapala, for an academic appellation, he wrote his "Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon," subsequently published in the Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1969, New Series, Volume XIII, p. 43-63. As far as my research goes, there was only a Tamil kingdom, that had its capital after the Irama-Iravana war at Mantai, later at Skanderodai, Singainagar and finally at Nallur. Only, after the arrival of the Western colonialists, we come across Jaffna and the so called Jaffna kingdom. Irugalkulaprivena, the priestly author of Kokila Sandesa was the first to mention about Yapapatuna. Sapumal Kumaraya (ruled the Tamil kingdom from Nallur 1450-1467 and later as Bhuvanekabahu vi, 1469-1471) was the ruler at Nallur at that period and it is not clear whether the priestly author used Yapapatuna to mean the capital as well as the kingdom, ruled by Sapumal Kumaraya.
Moreover, he deals with the Tamil names and about the Koviar caste. I pity the writer's ignorance of the meaning of the Tamil words. The name Chunnagam is the corruption of the Tamil words Soozh + Nagam, means - Soozh (#o; - surrounded; Nagam- heavenly; a region surrounded with a heavenly environment.That is why the Tamil kings occupied the region and made Skantherodai, the main city in the region, their capital. Skantherodai means - Skanda's + Odai - the city where Lord Skanda's Odai was located, (Odai - a small rivulet; Valukkai Aru that flow into the sea, which was earlier a rivulet, but today, a narrow dry channel and during the rainy season rain water flow into the sea).
The name Koviar, derived from the Tamil word Koviyam, means - bonded-service. Earlier, they called Kovilar those people, who rendered their services in the temples. Later, this word became corrupted and people began to call them Koviar. The word Koviar has nothing to do with the Sinhalese word Goviya or Goiya. To write that Koviar were former Sinhalese, kept enslaved, is indeed a fanciful stretch of imagination at the expense of the Koviar caste.
When the Tesawalamai Code, or the customary laws were codified in 1707 by Claasz Issacs, at the instance of the Dutch Governor, Cornelis Jan Simons (1702-1706), Koviar, Chandar, Nalavar, Pallar and others were all termed as Kudimakkal or Adimaikal i.e., slaves to the so called high caste Tamils. According to the Yalpana Vaipava Malai, Kovilar the earlier slaves of the Kovil, originally servants of the temples. When the Portuguese destroyed and razed down more than 500 Hindu temples, after their capture of the Tamil Kingdom at Nallur, in 1621, the temple authorities began to sell their slaves to the affluent high caste Tamils and thus the Kovilar became Koviar.
After the Irama-Iravana war, the caste system was introduced in the midst of the Tamils. The fanciful stretch of imagination of Koviar, were the Sinhalese, enslaved by the Tamil King (Cankli), is a distortion of fact, to suite the communal grist to the mill and even a few Tamil historians has unwittingly fell victim to this malicious campaign.
After the issue of Koviar, Mr.Susantha Goonatilake drops several names of historians to conclude that the traditional Tamil Homeland is a hoax. Why ? May be the writer lay emphasis on these historians and drag them to proof his malicious contention that, the Tamils never had a homeland of their own and the issue cropped up only after the advent of Tamil militancy in the political landscape of the country, a biggest hoax ever imagined for the international consumption. I will deal with this subject, in the concluding paragraphs of this article.
The writer unashamedly goes on to state about ethnic cleansing and about his "out of the way support" to Professor Thurairajah, to make him the President of Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS), moreover he shed tears about the future of the Tamils, who are presently refugees in the Western countries.
The ethnic cleansing of the Tamils, started far back as 1815, by the Sinhalese chiefs, who were party to the infamous "Kandyan Convention," of 2 March 1815. According to Clause 3 of the Convention, "That all male persons, being or pretending to be relations of the late Raja Sri Wickrema Singhe, either by affinity or by blood and whether in ascending, descending or collateral line, are hereby declared enemies to the government and excluded and prohibited from entering those provinces on any pretense whatever, without a written permission for that purpose by the authority of the British Government, under the pains and penalties of martial law, which is hereby declared to be in force for that purpose; and all persons of the Malabar Caste (Tamils) now expelled from the said provinces, are under the same penalties, prohibited from returning, except with the permission before mention." (Emphasis added). The Sinhalese chiefs, Ehelepola Molligoda - first Adikara & Dissave of the 7 Korales, Pelime Talawe - 2nd Adikara & Dissave of Saffregam, Pelime Talawe - Dissave of the 4 Korales, Monarawila - Dissave of Uva, Ratawatte - Dissave of Matele, Moligoda - Dissave of the 3 Korales, Dulleywe - Dissave of Walapane, Millawa - Dissave of Wellase and Bintene, Gaagama - Dissave of Tamankada and Galagoda - Dissave of Nuwara Kalawiya, signed the convention, along with Robert Brownrigg (1812-1820), the British Governor. Several chiefs signed their names in Tamil and Rattwatte the great grandfather of President Chndrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, also signed his name in Tamil to get rid of the Tamils from the Kandyan kingdom. ("- an Indian officer of 'high standing' who serving under the King of Kandy and bearing the name Neela Perumal, was made high priest of the Temple of the God of Saman, and commanded to take the name of Nayaka Pandaram (Chief Record Keeper) in 1454. If this tradition has truth in it, we may surmise that the Indian name of Nayaka Pandaram came in time to adopt the form of Pandara Nayaka. By the time it has turned into the Sinhalese Bandaranaike." - Relative Merits by Yasmine Goonaratne, p.3.)
The Sinhalese chiefs, by placing their hands in the infamous convention, ceded the sovereignty of the last kingdom of Ceylon, also heralded the first ethnic cleansing campaign, by being party to rid the Tamils from the Kandyan kingdom. Subsequently, after the independence, disfranchising 800,000 Tamils of the Indian origin, thus made them stateless and voteless, moreover, up to date, several thousands of these Tamils are still lingering by this despicable act, originated by D.S.Senanayake, who clung on to power with the consent and blessings of the British colonial masters. I need not go into the other details of colonizing in the Tamil areas, also about the racial riots of 1956, 1958, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1983, as these are all public secrets, a design organized to chase the Tamils from the Sinhalese dominated areas. The riots are described as a radicalized state terrorism, rather than a racially motivated uprising by the Sinhalese against the minority ethnic group - the Tamils. Faceless and headless racial violence with impunity, organized by the ruling elite of that particular period in power resulted in the death of a few thousands Tamils, and several thousands displaced. It is a pity that Mr. Susantha Goonatilake overlooked all these dark patches in our country's history, before harping on to the so called ethnic cleansing, initiated by the Tamil militant organizations. We Tamils, very strongly condemned the Sinhalese political leaders, who were behind the killings and displacement of the Tamils, but also we very strongly condemn the LTTE for chasing from the Northern province, the Muslims, our brethren, who lived with us for two thousand years and more, also our Sinhala brethren, who earlier constituted part of our society. I still remember the owners of Ananda Bakery, Point Pedro, Matara Bakery, Chunnagam and the City Bakery, Jaffna, and my motor-car mechanics, Simon and Peter of Chunnagam, who lived within our midst for three to four generations, before leaving to down South..
As a citizen of Sri Lanka, I feel strongly that, the country needs the support and services of academics like Mr. Susantha Goonatilake, to cause peace and harmony and restore the country to normalcy, where the citizens would in the future, lead a fearless and peaceful life. Even though, I was able to perceive a degree of good intention in the article, but I must state that, the writer has failed to come to terms with the Tamils, by writing about a politically sensitive subject, that had hurt our ego and ethos. Remember - try not to integrate the country based on our differences, but on our shared values, creating a mutually acceptable common identity.
As Tamils, we use to refrain from making specific critical comments about our Sinhala brethren, that might hurt their sentiments. We would have appreciated if Mr.Susantha Goonatilake confined his comments to the relevant matters, other than going on a hunting expedition. His contention of supporting Professor Thurairajah "out of the Way" is nothing but an action that came out of his own conviction born out of his compunction. By this episode, what is he trying to express to the Tamils in general? Does he expect the Tamils to put behind the nightmarish holocaust of 1983?
How is he expecting the Tamils and Sinhalese to live in harmony, when a state sponsored 'sectarian war without witness,' is on, against the Tamils? How does he expect to create a cordial environment at the back drop of the government's intransigence to continue with incessant belligerent military campaigns, to cause so called peace? Doesn't this reflect the chauvinistic megalomania of the government, to subdue and subjugate the Tamils? When the majority community fails to recognize the genuine aspirations of the Tamils, since from the independence, do they expect the Tamils to remain muted second class citizens for ever? Name one Sinhala leader, who has come forward to argue the case of the Tamils and boldly said that the emotive claims of the Tamil nationalism needs a careful consideration and the Tamils must have their rightful place, to govern themselves, within the framework of a unified country?
When the secularist nature of the constitution was changed unconstitutionally, adopting a steam-roller majority in 1972, and introduced an autochthonous constitution, without heeding to the Tamils' aspirations, on that day, we felt that the majority community has divorced its rights to hold proxy, on behalf of the Tamils. When J.R.Jayewardene legalized the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), this draconian piece of legislation was not merely against the Tamil militants or the so called Tamil terrorists alone, but the legislation, mooted to suppress the entire Tamils in the country. Every Tamil man, woman, children and those yet to born come under, scrutiny and are considered suspects by the security forces and government.
Does Mr.Susantha Goonatilake expect the Tamil youths, who are not militants, to continue to live in a country, where they are continuously harassed and threatened? Up to date, after the capture of the Jaffna peninsula in 1995, more than one thousand Tamil youths have simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Tamils are rudely awaken in the midst of the night in Colombo, arrested and incarcerated in police cells, for being Tamils. Did any one raised their voice against such oppressive actions? The threat continues to looms, therefore they have no choice other than to flee.
Has Mr.Susantha Goonatilake ever visited an army camp in the North or Eastern provinces and witnessed the inhuman treatments, the innocent Tamil youths receive, simply because they are teenage Tamils? Let him stop making perfunctory statements about the Tamil youths, instead strive to create a conducive climate for them to return.
Also, it surprised me to read the concocted story about "Jaffna man." Indeed, a stretch of uncanny imagination. What is he trying to proof?. Is he trying to play to the gallery? He has failed to reveal the source and authenticity of his information, instead introduced a vindictive story, amounts to fooling the Tamils, and the entire country. I know that, after the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF), the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) donated to the University of Jaffna, the body of 25 year old, Amirthalingam Thileepan, who died on 26 September 1987, after staging an unsuccessful fast unto death campaign, at the premises of Nallur Kandasamy Temple. Later, we learnt that the IPKF tampered with the body, subsequently we learnt that the body was safe, trust it is still there. Yes, Thileepan's body could be termed "Jaffna Man," but it is too weird to concoct a story, to score a point against the Tamils.
Today, the name of the country has been changed into 'Sri' + Lanka, with a Sanskrit honorific Sri to denote, diffusing radiance, beauty and grace conjoined, prosperity, sacred, holy, etc., anyhow, Lanka, the name applied to the country, the very name does not have any remotest connection with its people, or the languages they speak. The name "Lanka," as called in the Sanskrit version of Iramayana, came into existence as the kingdom of the Asura (Sura means those Alcoholics and Asura means Teetotaler in Tamil and therefore honorific Asura denotes a teetotaler and vegetarian) king Iravana, a Tamil king. His kingdom was known as "Ilankai" (means - as it radiates, when you pronounce the name in Tamil, there is no need to adopt any honorific, because the name itself depicts the holiness of the land it indicates), but before 22 May 1972, it was Ceylon and during the prehistoric period was called Elam, (the eternal country), Ilam (Ilam is the Tamil word for gold and toddy) and presently Eelam. The pronunciation of the proper name depends on the proclivity of one's tongue.
Kautliyas Arthasastra, indicated the country Parasamudra (the land beyond the Ocean), but several other chronologists called the country with variety of names, such as Palaesimoundoun (Palaiya+Sila+Mandalam - Palaiya -old; Sila - virtuous; Mandalam - region / country; the old virtuous country), Simoundou (Sila + Mandalam - the Virtuous country) etc., are few of those such names. Subsequently, the Greek Geographer Eratosthenes, in his map of the world (200 BC) called the country, "the southern limit of the known world" by the Greek word Taprobane. Our historians followed it up to call the country with the proper name Taprobane, whereas the word denoted an 'appropriated name' to the Greeks. "That this island was the celebrated Tapobrana seems manifest, for this word in Greek means 'unknown dwelling,' or 'hidden land,' known only for its fertility and it is not a proper name, but appropriated as (in the case of) Sicily and Cyprus, to which also they give this name-." The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon by Father Fernao De Queyroz, Translated by Father S.G.Perera, Vol. 1 Bk. 1, p. 3. This indicates the ignorance of our historians, to call the country with the proper name of Taprobane, that was earlier an appropriated name by which, the Greeks indicated not only our country, but also Sicily, Cyprus and several other unknown countries.
In the "Ancient Jaffna," Mudaliyar C.Rasanayagam, pp. 293-298, translated verses, 1 to 7, from the special preface of Segarajasekaram, the reputed Tamil astrological work, to explain the origin the Arya Chakaravarties (Arya Emperors) of the Tamil kingdom. Initially, Irama established a temple for the worship of Lord Shiva and involuntarily gave the God and the sacred place, his own name, Irama + Eeswaram = Irameswaram, and colonized the place with 512 Brahmins of Pasupata sect, (a sect of Brahmins from Banares), well versed in the Vedic studies and worldly knowledge. Irama directed those Brahmins to officiate at the temple and invested two of them with the authority of sovereignty.
Irama instructed Lakshman to crown Vibishnan, as the King of Southern Lanka, the Assura kingdom, and ordered him to return to Lanka. He ruled Southern Lanka from Lankapuri, the royal city planned and constructed by the divine architect Visvakarma, which was later identified as Kalyani, the ancient name for Kelaniya. Kubera, the estranged brother of Iravana, the first king, who made Lankapuri, the capital of his Southern Lankan kingdom.
Irama, in recognition of the independent nature of the Tamils and their kingdom, sovereignty, and the distinct indigenous national trait, invested a Brahmin to rule the Tamil kingdom, that stretched far to the north and east, along the Island's littoral regions. In sublimate to the Tamils' antiquity, Irama granted the Tamil King, garland made out of the sweet smelling Tulasi (Holy Basil), the title of the spotless Vedic Aryan-emperor, the beautiful white parasol, the victorious flag symbolizing a single conch, recumbent bull, crescent and the sun. The kings who reigned the Tamil kingdom up to it's fall to the first Western colonialists - Portuguese in 1621, claimed that they were the descendants of the Brahman kings of Rameswaram, initially enthroned by Irama - the Arya Chakkaravrthies and later Singhai Arya Chakkaravrthies- Arya emperors of the Tamil kingdom and Setu Kavalar (the Protectors of Setu - Rameswaram). Bertolacci, a historian of the early nineteenth century, says that, Matota was the capital of a kingdom founded by the Brahmins, who had almost all the northern part of Ceylon including Jaffna Patam. This was the first introduction of the Aryan culture and customs in the midst of the Tamils who inhabited the entire country, during the pre-Vijaya period.
According to historians, Irama - Iravana war took place during the southward thrust of the Aryans towards the Southern Indian peninsula. They calculated that, this thrust happened somewhere between the years 1,100 BC to 800 BC. Ramayana, a chronicle deals with the Aryanisation of the South of India and Ceylon, also provides lucidly, the hoary past and the contemporary prehistory of Ceylon. The episode narrated in the Irama - Iravana legendary war, confirmed the pioneering effort to Aryanise Ceylon by the North Indians. Ramayana clearly indicates that Iravana, the Tamil king ruled the Southern Lanka and there existed another kingdom for the Tamils with Mantai as its capital city. One cannot simply dismiss the prehistory of Lanka, to suit the whims and fancies of the politicians. History has to begin from somewhere? Everybody poses the question "When did history began?" Easiest reply could be "in the beginning" and Moses who wrote "Genesis," means 'origin' or 'beginning' and it explains that, in the beginning, God created the universe and the man. The book describes the divine theory of the beginning of the human history.
Holy Bible relates about "Elam." According to Genesis 10; 'The Descendants of Noah;' line 1, "These are the families of Shem, Ham and Japheth, who were the three sons of Noah, for sons were born to them after the flood." In the line 5, "Their descendants became the maritime nations in various lands, each with a separate language." It further states in line 20, "These then, were the descendants of Ham, spread abroad in many lands and nations, with many languages. In the line 21, the Bible speaks of Elam as follows: "Eber descended Shem, the oldest brother of Japeth." In the line 22, "Here is a list of Shem's other descendants: Elam, Asshur, Arpachsad, Lud, Aram." Line 32 concludes with, "All of the men listed above descended from Noah, through many generations, living in the various nations that developed after the flood."
The Holy Bible speaks of new nations that emerged after the Great Flood. According to the Bible, the Great Flood occurred in the year 2370 BC, as indicated by its detailed chronology. It was one of the greatest cataclysm in the human history, even down to the present time. Bible describes the horror of the flood, as "all the tall mountains that were under the whole heavens came to be covered." (Genesis 7:19). Bible, states that numerous new nations emerged after the Great Flood and one such new nation is Elam. The country was named after one of the descendant of Noah, namely Elam. From this account, it becomes clear that Elam emerged as one of the maritime nations after the Great Flood that occurred in the year 2370 BC.
At this opportune time, it is appropriate to remind that, the Megalithic culture of South India has close similarities with the Megalithic culture of the Mediterranean region, which might have arrived in South India from the Western Asia, through migration from those regions and through subsequent contacts. The same Megalithic culture prevailed in Ceylon in the early period, before the Irama-Iravana war.
S.U.Deraniyagala, in his Prehistory of Sri Lanka, Vol. II, p 482, refers about the formation of the new geographical entity as follows: "According to Cooray, (1967: 242), during the Miocene, at ca. 20 my (million years), an arm of the Tethys Sea extended down along India's west coast, while a long narrow tongue gradually encroached on the land surface bridging India and Lanka. The gulf apparently severed the extreme portion of the mainland and turned Lanka, probably for the first time, into an island." Also, P.E.P. Deraniyagala, describes about the emergence of the new geographical entity, Ceylon, "The presence of Jurassic deposits both in the North-western Ceylon and in the Ramnad district of India (Roy 1964) shows that the two were once connected, but since this Island lacks many of the consecutive deposits, it appears to have broken off from the mainland during this period. The countries became reattached by early Miocene times, but shortly afterwards they broke away again, and several such unions and separations have occurred." (in his lecture delivered at the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, on 28th May 1965, subsequently reproduced in the Society's journal of 1965, New Series, Vol. IX, Part 2,) Many other geological surveys go to proof that, earlier Ceylon was a constituent part of mainland India and it became an isolated landmass after 'geological movements, such as faulting, tilting, and dislocations, that occurred during the last few geological periods, are among the more important factors that have influenced the evolution.'
Dipavamsa, An ancient Buddhist historical record, (Hermann Oldenberg, who translated it "places the closing date of the Dipavamsa in its extant form between the beginning of the fourth and the first third of the fifth century AD. - On the Chronicles of Ceylon by B.C.Law, pp.1-2) and Mahavamsa or The Great Chronicle of Ceylon, "compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious," ( When fixing the time of the writing of Mahavamsa, Wilhelm Geiger concludes, 'at the beginning of the sixth century after Christ, about this time the Mahavamsa was composed.' Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of Ceylon, Translated by Wilhelm Geiger, in his introduction to his translation, p. xii) the two important Buddhist chronicles failed to record anything about the origin of the Island. "The chronicles of Ceylon have nothing to say about the Uttarapatha background of the ancient history of Ceylon," On the chronicles of Ceylon, by B.C.Law, p. 49. In the Rajavaliya or A historical narratives of the Sinhalese kings from Vijaya to Vimala Dharma Surya II, (This is the latest known traditional history of the kings of ancient India and Ceylon which as a whole may be treated as the work of a single individual. The fact that its account closes with the reign of Vimala Dharma Surya (A.D. 1697-1701) has led Wilhelm Geiger to take it to be a compilation of the beginning of the eighteenth century On the Chronicles by B.C.Law, pp. 27-28) deals with the subsequent floods that affected the country. But unfortunately in p 27, "In the Dvapara age of the world, on account of the wickedness of Irvana, his fortress, 25 palaces, and 400,000 streets situated between Mannar and Tuttukudiya were submerged by the sea," Rajavaliya edited by B.Gunasekera. Earlier, in p 16, Rajavaliya states, "After the war of Ravana, and before the attainment of Buddhahood by our Buddha, the teacher of the three worlds, Lanka had been the abode of the demons for the space of 1,884 years." (Siddhartha Gautama - 563-483 BC, Lord Buddha - attained Buddha-hood, while meditating under a Bodhi or Pipal tree (Ficus Religiosa) at Gaya, in what is now the Indian state of Bihar in 528 BC," - New Age Encyclopedia. )
According to the statement in Rajavaliya, page 27, we could conclude that, Irama-Iravana war occurred in the Dvapara Yuga or Duvapara Yuga. This is an anachronism. The Irama-Iravana war must have occurred in the Kali Yuga and the Yugas are calculated as follows:- In the Hindu scriptures, the age of the world is called Kalpa and now the world is in its eighth Kalpa. It is subdivided into Yugas. The Yugas are four in numbers and their duration is first computed as the 'years of the God,' subsequently calculated that, a year of the God is 360 years of that of men. Therefore, the ages of the world, according to the years of the men, are as follows:
1. Krita Yuga
= 4,800 X 360
= 1,728,000 years.
2. Treta Yuga
= 3,600 X 360
= 1,296,000 years.
3. Dwapara Yuga
= 2,400 X 360
= 864,000 years.
4. Kali Yuga
= 1,200 X 360
= 432,000 years.
Years of men in the 8th Kalpa
= 4,320,000 years.
According to the Hinduttuva books, already five thousand and odd years had elapsed in the Kali Yuga - which is said to be the period of degeneration of virtues, and by the end of the Kali Yuga, according to Hinduttuva eschatologists, the world would be *doomed for ever," i.e. , all living beings would perish. Therefore, Rajavaliya's contention of Irama-Iravana war happening in the Dwapara Yuga is not in conformity with the Hinduttuva calendar and historical analysis.
When commenting about the Ceylon chronicles, B.C. Law, in his On the Chronicles of Ceylon" writes that "The chronology must begin from a certain definite date, which, in the case of Ceylon chronicles, is the year of Buddha's demise, making the starting point of the Buddha Era (Buddhavassa)"
"A happy coincidence is imagined and availed of to build a systematic chronology of the kings of Ceylon, the coincidence of the of the day of Buddha's demise with that of the landing of the exiled prince Vijaya on the island of Lanka. A prediction is put into the mouth of the Buddha to raise the importance of his appearance on the Island as the founder of the first Aryan race," p. 47.
It is unfortunate that, up to now, no efforts taken, regarding the study of the prehistorical geography of the country, which would have discerned the geographical pattern at a particular past period. When the island became a distinct geographical entity, those survivors of the cataclysm that forced the separation, must have been the original inhabitants of the new country. That is how, during the Ramayana period, there existed two kingdoms. Ramayana allegorically represented the first attempt by the Aryans to conquer the Southern peninsula of India and Ceylon, but Irama was not described anywhere, as founding the Aryan race and regime, either in the South India, or in Ceylon. King Iravana and his clan strongly resisted the Aryanisation of the country. Iravana, a strong Saivaite, believed in monotheism according to the edict of the religion, therefore resisted the introduction of Hinduism, a new brand of polytheistic religion, by the Aryan invaders. This goes to prove that the Aryanisation in the country started in the first millennium BC, and not as described by Deranaiyagala, recorded in his Prehistory of Ceylon, Vol. II, pp. 739-749.
Manimekhalai, A Tamil classical work, written by the Tamil poet Satthanar in the second century AD, deals with the conflict over the gem-set throne and how Lord Buddha visited Nagadipa to settle the growing strife between the two warring Naga princes. The name Nagadipais only found in the Pali chronicles and not in any Tamil ones, but Nagadipa is identified as Manipallavam in this particular classical work, a large island in the northern sea. It must be remembered that, earlier a major section of the Tamils in Ceylon, also in the South India, embraced Buddhism. During that period, Kanchipuram in the Tamil Nadu, was the great center of Buddhism. Cilapathikaram, Manimekhalai, the Tamil poetical works, expounded the cause of the Theravada Buddhism, Dharma and Buddhist philosophy. During the existence of the Buddhist center at Kanchipuram, Tamil Buddhist clergies propagated the doctrine far as China, Korea and Japan. A few clergies to mention are:
1. Buddha-datta Maha Thero, lived in the fifth century, a Tamil from the Chola country.
2. Dinaga, a distinguish disciple of Vasubanda, a celeberated Buddhist logician, a student at Nalanda and later, lived at Kanchi Bodhirama, a Tamil Brahmin, later he went to China to preach the Doctrine.
3. According to Hiuen Tsang, Acariya Dhammapala, authored Sasna Vamsa, son of a high official of the king of Kanchi, a Tamil.
4. Acariya Buddhagosa, "the voice of Lord Buddha," from Kanchi, a Tamil.
The purpose of short listing the above Tamil Buddhist clergies, who contributed towards the propagation of the Doctrine, is an attempt to show that earlier, the Tamils were also Buddhists. Therefore, it is not necessary that the 'Buddhist- finds' in the Skanderodai are built or constructed by the Sinhalese kings. When thera Mahinda came to the Island with the sole intention to proselytize the Naga king Devanampiya Tissa and his people, a section of the Tamils, who lived in the country came unto the three refuges and the precepts of duty. (Saranesu ca silesu thitha.) Subsequently, the new converts to the religion felt of their 'foreigness' in the midst of the Tamils, majority of whom continued to practice Saivasim or Hinduism. This feeling of foreigness isolated them from the other Tamils and gradually assimilated themselves into the Buddhist sects. Historians with vested interests, even priestly authors, purposely withheld the conversion to Buddhism by a section of the Tamils lived in the country. Normally Tamils consider ethnic and religious identities as two different entities, but the collective ethno+religious identity is normally a self-ascription.
The Tamils, the indigenous people of the country, earlier lived in the entire country, but after several cataclysm (that occurred after the Irama -Iravana war, during the time of Kelani Tissa in 250 BC, the flood of 1480, when the isthmus of Pamban breached, the great cyclone of 1627, where in many places the sea engulfed the land areas in the North, the flood of 1726, followed by two years of famine, the violent cyclone of 1802, and 1884, followed by the flood of 1918, and 1957,) caused the Tamils to confine to live in the North and Eastern provinces, that includes all the contiguous areas goes to constitute the Tamil homeland. The Tamils and the Tamil speaking people predominantly live in these areas for centuries. Therefore, the claim of a traditional homeland, is a demand based on well-founded historical evidences.
Earlier, there was no universally accepted definition available to define the indigenous peoples of a country, later the United Nations Organization adopted an acceptable working definition. The definition, developed by one of the United Nations' Special Reporter in 1982, on the problem of discrimination against the Indigenous populations, on behalf of the United Nations' Sub-Commission on the Prevention and Protection of the Minorities, turned out to be an acceptable definition.
"Indigenous communities, peoples and nations, are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies, that developed their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies, now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present a non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations, their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as their basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems." -- United Nations, Document No. E/CN.4,Sub.2/1986/7 Add.4, Para 379.
I hereby refer to the Declaration of principles, adopted at the Fourth General Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, in Panama, September 1984, E/CN.4/Sub.2/AC.4/1985/WP.5.
Principle 1. All indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. Because of this right, they may freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and religious and cultural development.
Principle 2. All states within which an indigenous peoples live shall recognize the population, territory and institutions of the indigenous people.
Principle 3. The culture of the indigenous peoples are part of the cultural heritage of mankind.
Principle 4. The tradition and customs of indigenous people must be respected by the States, and recognized as fundamental source of law.
I hope and trust that, the above internationally accepted definition regarding the indigenous nature of the Tamil ethnic group is enough to ascertain the Traditional Tamil Homeland demand. Trust that our Sinhala brethren accept our distinct position and take appropriate steps to keep the Tamils and Sinhalese united, within a united country by providing the legitimate share of the Tamils, within a mutually acceptable framework and keep the country intact and integrated for ever.