Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

The ‘Sinhala-Nationalist’s Burden’

Mr. Gomin Dayasiri’s article, titled ‘Tamil Grievances – Untouched & Unattended’ (Daily Mirror, 16 February 2010) reveals the Sinhala nationalist perspective concerning the kind of solution necessary for the resolution of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It is an important piece, written by a respected senior lawyer, a nationalist. The author points to some valuable propositions. But there are certain aspects of it which are disturbing. The fundamental appeal made by Mr. Dayasiri reflects, to a large extent, a kind of home-grown version of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘white man’s burden’.

Mr. Dayasiri argues that the ‘government had failed to attend to the legitimate grievances of the Tamils’ and reminds us that if it continues to fail in this regard, ‘photographs of Prabhakaran will appear on the cadjan walls in the backwoods of the peninsula’. Mr. Dayasiri is correct. Analyzing the message sent out by the majority in the North and the East, Mr. Dayasiri states that it is a ‘protest vote’, and that it ‘carries the sound of a siren; it is a wake up call for the government’. He reminds us of the important work done by the ‘nationalistic Manel Mal Movement’ and reminds the reader of the necessity, on the part of the Tamil people, to show flexibility in their interest in safeguarding the ‘territorial integrity of the country’. Towards the end, he points out that ‘the government must create a climate that the Tamils are confident they can live with dignity and comfort’. The author is spot on.

Appealing to the ‘Sinhala Nationalist’

However, there are other statements that are similarly clear, but disturbing; statements, I believe, which send wrong signals and would further polarize the Sinhala-Tamil divide in the country. In particular, what is worrying is this reference to ‘Sinhala nationalists’ and what the Tamil people should in turn consider the term ‘Sinhala nationalist’ to mean within the present context. Reference to ‘Sinhala nationalists’ could very easily be misunderstood by the Tamil people, just as much as the term ‘Tamil nationalist’ would, by the Sinhala people. Why this nationalism now, and what ‘special’ purpose does it serve in addressing the grievances of the Tamil people in particular?

Mr. Dayasiri appeals to the ‘Sinhala nationalists’ that they should ‘be in the forefront in the struggle to find solutions for the genuine Tamil grievances’. And in doing so, he points out the need to distinguish between the grievances of the ‘Tamil people’ and those of the ‘Tamil politicians’. This argument seems to proceed from the need to address what the author believes to be the genuine grievances of the Tamil people – security, land and water, development, resettlement, cultural advancement, employment on merit, etc.

Sinhala nationalist and the Sinhala people

There are some fundamental questions that arise here. Firstly, before a ‘Sinhala nationalist’ proceeds to find solutions to the grievances of the Tamil people, it would be reasonable to inquire whether the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ has been able to find solutions to the grievances of the Sinhala people. Here, I am stating the argument put forward by persons such as Mr. S.L. Gunasekara – i.e. that the Sinhala and Tamil people share common problems, nothing more, nothing less (an argument with which I do not agree).

Take the issue of employment opportunities based on merit, for instance. Where is the evidence that shows that a young and educated youth from the Sinhala community can readily and conveniently obtain employment based on merit alone? Has this problem been answered, or has the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ resolved this problem? Similarly, what of other problems faced by the Sinhala people, relating to land, water, development, etc. especially in the rural areas? Is one to believe that these problems have been resolved, or that the ‘Sinhala nationalists’ have been successful in providing solutions to the grievances of the Sinhala people? Has the ‘Sinhala-nationalist’ approach resolved the problems of the Sinhala people? And if not, would it not be reasonable for the Tamil people to be concerned about the intentions of an approaching ‘Sinhala nationalist’.

If the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ is to be in the forefront of resolving problems of the Tamil people, one should be able to point out that the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ has been at least successful in resolving the problems of the Sinhala people. If not, I do not see why there is particular emphasis on the ‘Sinhala nationalist’. I strongly believe that the better approach, and the more acceptable one, would have been to invite the ‘people’ – both Sinhala and Tamil – to join and work together in trying to address their respective grievances. I fail to fathom this implication that the Sinhala nationalist is well aware and sensitive and is better able to address grievances and find solutions to the problems of the Tamil people.

Tamil politicians and the Tamil people

Secondly, it is impractical and extremely difficult to distinguish between the grievances of the Tamil people and those of the Tamil politicians. If by ‘Tamil politicians’ Mr. Dayasiri is referring only to the Eelamist elements within the TNA, there would be no problem. Mr. Dayasiri’s constant reference to ‘Tamil politicians’ does not suggest that that is so. It is a mistake, in my view, to lump them together. If the Tamil people continue to vote for Tamil politicians, this only reflects the obvious, i.e. the Tamil people consider the Tamil politician to be their genuine representative, in Parliament or any other administrative body, be it the Sampanthan group or anyone else.

Genuine grievances: the territorial issue

It is here that Mr. Dayasiri avoids answering a very uncomfortable question that relates to the grievances of the Tamil people. This concerns the list of ‘grievances’ set out by the author, which I believe is not exhaustive by any means.

Firstly, are the grievances set out by Mr. Dayasiri the only grievances of the Tamil people? Or are they only the immediate concerns/grievances of the Tamil people? To approach the Tamil people, there first needs to be agreement on what the grievances are. And it is certainly unfair if a ‘Sinhala nationalist’ is to approach the Tamil people and having approached them find that there are more serious grievances that the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ has completely and conveniently ignored.

One such critical grievance relates to the notions of territory and power-sharing. It is simply impossible to evade answering this question of devolution of powers and the issue of the North and the East; because one needs to accept the fact that the issue of power-sharing is fundamental to the resolution of the problems of the Tamil people.

Consider for instance the political demands put forward by the EPDP of Minister Devananda. He is one Tamil politician who stood firm with the Government during the war; anti-LTTE, anti-secessionist, anti-Eelam, pro-Mahinda, and one could go on. What is his, or his party’s, official stance on the political solution required to end the ethnic conflict? The vision of the EPDP revolves around the necessity for peaceful co-existence, power-sharing, a merged North-East and internal autonomy to the Muslim people in the East. What is then the EPDP’s 3-stage solution? Very shortly, the three stages are as follows: 1) the immediate and full implementation of the 13th Amendment, 2) conferring additional powers to ensure greater authority to the North and East Provincial Councils and 3) maximum devolution to the regions.

What is the position of the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ with regard to these issues? Mr. Dayasiri attacks the 13th Amendment as a wholly unnecessary and irrelevant thing. Does the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ believe so too, about the 13th Amendment? If then, how is he going to provide any meaningful solution to the problems of the Tamil people who consider power-sharing to be so vital, so critical?

It is vital to remember that territorial integrity should be preserved at all times. But it is also true that territorial integrity can be preserved in numerous ways. And in a context where the LTTE has been defeated, the claim for devolution of powers that starts from the 13th Amendment is a demand that the Tamil people would always make. If the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ is unable to deal directly with this question, my submission is that it is far better for the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ not to shoulder the absolute burden of resolving the ‘genuine’ grievances of the Tamil people. Each and everybody should play a role, no doubt – but whether the role of the ‘Sinhala nationalist’ is to be in the forefront is to be doubted.

Conclusion

Approaching the Tamil people with a self-made list of grievances is the wrong place and the wrong way to start going about this business of resolving problems affecting the people of the Tamil community. And in particular, such noble deeds cannot be done with a ‘nationalist’ attitude that reflects the tone and tenor of Mr. Dayasiri’s article. Let us not forget the seriousness of the problems involved and seriousness of the response needed to resolve those problems. This response cannot be one that is imposed or even seen to be imposed upon the Tamil people.

  • longus

    After reading the lengthy master piece I would like to ask the following question from the writer:
    Please enumerate the so called Tamil Grievances that are unique to the Tamils in Sri Lanka

  • coco butter

    I think there’s enough Tamil ‘grievances’ listed here on groundviews. Some fully explained, analyzed, articulated, etc. etc.

    Someone should really dig into groundsviews online filing cabinet and start compiling them in some order. Because clearly a sinhalese ultra nationalist has at least put them in a list and wrote it down on a paper. Can a person of tamil origin settle the beef and let us know what exactly are the real greviences please?

    Thank you.

    Coco Butter

  • All I can say is the root cause of Tamil Grievances , singala natinalisam. which is trying to destroy tamils. Tamil nationalisam was born to defent the tamils aginst
    the singhala domination. That will happen again.

    Only way to stop this allow for tamil nationalisam its place to defend tamils.
    Becuase you can’t destroy sigala nationlist. Only this will create balance in this island.

    A political balance which should put tamils in equal statues with singalese
    allow them to have freedom without domination by singalese.

    Need to create a genuine win-win situation in sri lanka for tamil, singalese.
    But I firmly belive that is not going to happen ,Without the International community firmly backing the self rule and home land principle for tamils.

    This would put extrem presure on Rajapaksa government to to address the tamils issue.

  • Kalana Senaratne

    Dear Longus – thanks. The point was not to enumerate Tamil grievances. The question was whether the grievances listed by Mr. GD were the ‘only’ grievances of the Tamil people/politicians. How can I, a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’, be expected to know what those grievances exactly are? I have not lived in the North or the East, but have only visited the East in 2009. I am certainly not qualified in any case to answer that question. But take a look at the proposals put forward by Tamil politicians in the past, and what they are coming up with now. And you will see that there is an issue relating to power-sharing that needs to be resolved, amicably. Whether one calls it a ‘grievance’ or not, ‘unique’ or not, is not the main issue. Is this issue in the list of ‘grievances’ of the sinhala-nationalist, is the question.

  • Bardo Flanks

    I had – when my views were more extremist – supported Tamil secessionism with conditions. My simplistic solution involved herding off all the Tamils (at least the ones who wanted autonomy) to the Northern Province, completely cutting it off, and positioning Sri Lanka against it economically, socially and militarily. I wasn’t prepare to concede the East for economic and historical reasons.

    I now hesitantly support what seems to be the government’s strategy – or at least what Tamilnet says it is. They are supposedly trying to redistribute people of different ethnicities in all parts of the country, with the an immediate objective of making the North more multi-ethnic, and the long-term goal being Tamils or Muslims not being the majority in any province. This, hopefully, will be coupled with plans to remove all traces of real or perceived discrimination in all aspects of the society.

    Due care must be taken to ensure that this is a multi-lateral process so that we don’t see another uprising in the South. For example, affirmative action to increase the number of minorities in the armed forces and the government must be combined by similar requirements on the private sector (much of which is run by the Tamils and Muslims) so that Sinhalese youth have a better chance of employment. The development of the war-affected areas must be done in conjunction with similar levels of development in the rural Sinhalese areas. I’ve seen much resentment amongst the Sinhalese in border villages who observe all the aid only going to the Tamil majority districts. This resentment, which will be exacerbated by the removal GSP+ (which affects working class Sinhalese), will only make the matters worse.

    I don’t see how any Western liberal could disagree with this. The Tamil opposition to this scheme echoes of neo-Nazi opposition to race mixing or the justification for Apartheid. Similar things have been done all over the world as a solution to ethnic problems. The USA and Singapore are prime examples.

    The Tamil problem will exist for as long as they are the majority in the North. The financial, military and moral support from Tamil Nadu and the Tamil diaspora will continue to foster the conflict. The question is not about Tamil aspirations, and how best we could accommodate all the demands of Tamil nationalist politicians.

    So what if the Sri Lankan Tamils lose their identity in this process? Who cares if this results in the minorities being assimilated with the mainstream population, i.e. (I’m about to say the dreaded word) the Sinhalese. Does the same not happen to Tamils in their Western refuges?

    It’s not Sri Lanka’s duty to protect and promote Tamil culture and language. That’s what Tamil Nadu is for. If no one speaks Tamil in Sri Lanka there still would be about 7 million in Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, Sinhala is only spoken in Sri Lanka (a few Melbourne trains excluded). Académie Française is to do with the French language, not English. The British Council promotes English, not Gaeilge.

    Many of us (including myself) have Tamil ancestors. Many Sinhala family names are derived from Tamil. What is so bad about the minority learning the language of the majority and eventually assimilating, instead of everyone having to learn Tamil which makes everything more inefficient. Why does the UN not use all the hundreds of languages instead of a few working and official languages.

    This could be done. Take for example my friend Sujeewan. He calls himself Sujeev. I overheard him the other day taking to another Tamil friend in Sinhala, whereas I only ever speak to him in English. Apparently he had even attended a recent rally against the LTTE. This is what happens when you grow up among Sinhalese and attend a multi-ethnic school.

    The world is moving towards harmonisation and convergence. Why shouldn’t we? It’s not that we have a Tamil problem, Tamil is the problem. There are no racial differences between the two ethnicities, so let’s remove the cultural and linguistic differences.

    Republic of Sri Lanka (2050)
    Official Languages: Sinhalese, English
    Working Language: English
    Currency: Saarc Rupee, ASEAN AMU

    Admit it, it does look feasible.

  • yasela

    Lengthy text of the writer, gives the impression that Tamil’s burning issue is a territorial problem. In my point of view, it is, one of the proposed answer to the so called grievances of Tamils. So, my argument is writer has commenced the article from a wrong starting point. He has taken an answer as the question. First he has to address, what are the actual Tamil grievances. Then we can discuss whether power devolution is the correct answer to the problem. Through out the history, all Tamil politicians demanded the same request of power devolution neglecting the reality of innocent Tamils’ grievances.They have not committed iota of contribution to the harmony of two ethnic groups unlike their Muslim counterparts.

  • Rohana Arambewala

    I have yet again ask the same question I have asked many Tamil and Sinhala people who talks about Tamil grievances. It is easy to talk about problems but no one has yet listed the Tamil people’s grievances that is not common to Sinhala, Muslim, Burgher and Malays of Sri Lanka. To solve a problem, first you need to know the problem. Are these grievances common to all Tamil people or is it only for certain section of Sri Lanka? If it is common to all Tamils then what are these? Do these people know that millions of Sinhala people living in rural areas are discriminated and ignored by Sri Lankans and the international community?

    So, lets hear about these specific grievances first and then work through. I personally will come forward in support if anyone can identify specific grievances for Tamil people only due to so called Sinhala chauvinists.

  • Bardo Flanks, what you wish for sri lanka is what tamils fear.

    And this sor called slow genocide you propossing has it worked in other places you have tried ? like the East ?

    The problem is people like you iks you can’t live with not just Tamils, buit
    buggers, muslims and cristians. Are you going convert their religions as well ?

  • To those people who asking what grievances, here some of it.

    – 220,000 tamils havde been murdered by Sri Lankan government, we need justice

    -our land is occupied by sri lanka’s army and its tottaly destroyed, we need compensation an sigala force back in the barracks.

    -our rights have been violted by the Sri Lankan state, we wont that restored

    -we tamils were once sovereign nation, we lost that to european invader now to sri lanka, find a acceptable solution addres sovereignty issue. Allow tamils excerice their right to self rule in their traditional lands.

    IF you can’t do these then Prabaharan 2 will rise to the chalange. With even more hardline attitude. Yes the tamil diaspara will support it with whole heart.
    Even more then ever before.

  • The Tamil _Singhlaissue should not be viewed with anaacrimonious attitude but one of charity.Will the Singhalese accept to live as serf in Ceylon had the Indian rulers had not vacated the islnd? Waves of Indian invasaions ruled the island.despite the Singhlese being the majority thee is no symmetry betwen the two.The Singhalese cannot compete with the Tami l in any legal medical political exam. Even in Austrlaiian Tamils top the list.so a unitary system will be disadvantgeous to the Singhalese..It was said the British favored the Tamils.this is rather naive and too simplistic.In Classics Tamils dominated the civil Service. In Accounting there is one to dominate theTamils in Ceylon or the Brahmins in India.In Brahmins dominate the whole country.Therefore you must address the real wedge driving the ethnic imbroglio.Singhalese “nationalist ” is a misoner; both nationalists-Tamil and Sinhalese. Each is a nation by itself. Then there exist two nations. A “one Nation ‘ formula cannot solve it.A Tamil state en the North and a Kandyan state in the South and a state in the Ruhnua is the solution.The people of Ruhuna are neglected. .Regional devolurion is the solution. Don’t call it Tamil, Singhalese or Moslem..The language may be determined by the parents not by the state.If I am married to a Singhlese as aTamil I could opt for either Tamil lor Sinhalese.Decentrilisation is the best from a management perpective , anyone knows? there is no such thing as aTamil question: only a National question.
    Sam

  • Dhiraj

    I think it is blatantly unfair for less than 8% of the SL population to claim control of 30% of the landmass and 60% of the coastline of the island. That’s not a justifiable demand and Tamil politicians ought to have a reality check. The Tamil community at large needs to realise is that they are a minority in Sri Lanka; the days of ruling over the majority like in colonial times are long over. Jaffna Tamils are no longer the pre-eminent community in Sri Lanka and Tamils no longer dominate educational institutions far in excess of their % of the population. Like some Muslims in the subcontinent who dream of a return to Mughal rule where Muslims ruled over a Hindu majority, quite a few Sri Lankan Tamils dream of a return to a period where they were the dominant community.

    It seems many of the “grievances” that have been listed above and in Dayasiri’s article have been the result of the war. It looks like people are struggling to find genuine ‘Tamil grievances’ that would justify pregnant suicide bombers, attacks on Buddhist temples and pilgrims, ethnic cleansing of Muslims, massacres of non-Tamils, bomb attacks on buses, trains and planes, child soldiers etc etc

  • dalit Prawasi

    When you say Indians, it includes tamils. Indians outside India are colonial parasites of the British Indian Empire. Indian parasites please leave your hosts and go back to your respectve home lands.
    Tamis in Ceylon are no different to Tamils in Tamil Nadu, malaysia, Fiji, South Africa and the list goes on.
    These parasites have sucked enough during the last two centuries.

  • dalit Prawasi

    Well Indians all over the world have grievances. In Celon the majority should claim economic independence from the Indians that include tamils.
    Free dom for the locals of the Indian Empire!! Indians please leave Fiji, Kenya, South Africa, malasia, and othe colonies and leave the locals in peace. British are gone! Indians go!!

  • Kalana Senaratne

    @ Bardo Flanks,
    Thanks. Secularism is the best option. How nice it would be, if all races, religions, languages, ethnic groups could co-exist in harmony, under a single, secular, constitution – without having to worry about ‘territorial’ issues. But can it be achieved under the present political set-up?

    @ Yasela,
    Thank you. I do not know whether it’s a ‘burning’ issue for the Tamil ‘people’, as much as it is for the Tamil ‘politician’. But you prove my point to a certain extent when you say that the Tamil politicians have been consistently making the demand for power devolution. Who are they, ultimately? They are the representatives elected by the Tamil people. It would therefore be wrong to assume that the Tamil people are not concerned about devolution. If the Tamil people/politicians are comfortable with the resolution of the grievances set out by Mr. GD for example, there is simply no problem. But, Yasela, is there evidence to suggest that this would be the case? As regards your query about ‘grievances’, I have set out my position in my comment posted above (And also, NOTE, I have never said anywhere that the grievances set out by Mr. GD are ‘not’ grievances. They are.)

    Coco butter’s suggestion, in this regard, is good. But then, we would be writing up lists on Groundviews, and that wouldn’t really help resolve the conflict, would it.

  • @sKulanay

    The Singhalese cannot compete with the Tami l in any legal medical political exam.

    Typical. You really do believe that Tamils are genetically superior aren’t they. I wonder how the Western liberals who pity, support and accommodate these Tamils think about such blatant racialist chauvinism. I wonder how they would react if this bugger started saying that Aborogines are a breed of apes and that they should be culled or something. Perhaps you should request to join the local neo-nazi skinhead gang.

    The most ironic thing is that your appallingly poor style of writing, quite typical of diasporic keyboard warriors, suggests a sub-standard education. Could it perhaps be so that you have an inferior complex as a result of being under-privileged in terms of either money or brains, and your affected superiority helps you feel special and important?

    Even in Austrlaiian Tamils top the list.so a unitary system will be disadvantgeous to the Singhalese.

    I had previously debunked this outdated myth with statistics from the department of education which clearly show that Tamil students’ performance is the worst in the country at the Advanced Level examinations. I had demonstrated that Tamils are by far the biggest beneficiaries of the “district-quota” affirmative action policies, and that a Tamil student from the North with poor results can easily get into a medical course, when a Sinhalese student from Colombo with 3As would be denied that opportunity.

    I have, however, always believed that this is not because of any inferiority of Tamils, genetic or otherwise. Similar low levels of performance can be seen in other under-privileged areas in the country regardless of ethnicity. Tamils or Sinhalese, if given equal opportunities, will perform equally well.

    Waves of Indian invasaions ruled the island.despite the Singhlese being the majority thee is no symmetry betwen the two.

    Sinhalese are not a race. We didn’t spring up from the fountains in Yala and nor did we all come in a ship with Vijaya. We’re an ethnic group with many origins, and the only thing that makes us Sinhalese is our language, and some of us even don’t speak it that well. The Indian invaders you talk of may well be my ancestors.

    @xsrilankan

    So in your opinion, a Tamil student being taught English in England and growing up to be a good British citizen is a slow act of genocide. I suppose the Malaysian Tamils who speak Malay have already been “genocided”.

  • @xsrilankan

    In addition to what I said:

    Are you going convert their religions as well ?

    Good lord, no. I never proposed anything so draconian. All I suggested was a long term strategy to redistribute the ethnicities and let the slow, natural and inevitable process of assimilation take place. This works both ways, you know. Assimilation of Tamils will enrich the Sri Lankan nation linguistically, culturally and even genetically (for those inclined to racialism),

    My solution is quite scientific (i.e. inductive, not deductive), which means it had been tried successfully in so many countries with ethnic issues. It would be even easier because of our physical and cultural similarities. I look forward to a nation without minorities.

    Decentrilisation is the best from a management perpective , anyone knows?

    Absolutely not, and particularly so when a nation is growing, developing and evolving.

  • bramin

    Dalit seems to be an ignorant person. The Tamils in Srilanka came at the same time if not before the sinhales came from North eastern India. He calls the Indians outside India as parasites then the Sinhalese in Srilanka who are originally from India are also parasites, Is that what he is trying to say.

  • S’KULANAY

    ” Sinhalese students cannot compete with Tamil Students”

    In my thinking Tamils must be extra-ordinary.

    You must have some superior brain to have such superior intelligence.

    Would you please explain how you to achieved such extra-ordinary ability whch only the Tamils are endowed with.

  • claude

    hai, our tamil politetecions from 1958 asked for 50-50.but at that time primenester refused.fromtheir onwords every priminesters did the same.so we had to take arms.the beautyful sri lanka burned by former priminiesters and presidents.if thay had given 50-50 today their will be no problems.first every boady must ask this question.WHY TAMILS TOOK ARMS?????.the LTTE is not a terrorist.they are freedom firghtes to save our home land.all the governments did not like that tamils becoming favourebal. tamils are well educaterd.if tamils want to go to universty thay have to take 260% of marks but a sinhalis only 160%.wha like this.so only the govenment made this problem.before 1983 most of the tamils worked in governments in big possitions now their noboady.in port authorty DIRECTORS,CHAIRMENS,STAFF OFFICES all are tamils..now their is no boady.this politics in sri lanka now.now RAJAPAKSA family allover in sri lanka. do not know how many wifes have RJAPAKSA.

  • richard

    Very few Sinhalese would object if Tamils are demaindig Equality, some would even argue that they indeed enjoyed that equality and more prior to Prabakaran blowing up the 13 soldiers and ensuing riots. However if the Tamils are demanding supremacy i.e. 35% of the land for 12% of the population which translates to 4 times as much land per capita as what they are prepared to give the Sinhalese then they should realise they have a fight on their hands. The fact that they didnt realise this and are now crying about the 10K..20K…and now 40K! dead makes me question their “superior intelligence”.

    To me the only solution that would work is to give complete devolution, fiscal, teritorial and police powers to their ethnic proportion of the land. 7% of the total land around Jaffna to the Jaffna Tamils and 5% of the land around Batticaloa to the Batticaloa Tamils to run as their own mini states. In the interests of equality the landmass of the island must afterall belong equally to everybody.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Bramin,

    Interesting statement of yours
    “The Tamils in Srilanka came at the same time if not before the sinhales came from North eastern India.”

    Bramin are you sure of the Chronology?

    There is one unexplainable fact though

    In 1911 SL population was 4106400
    Indian origin Tamils 531000
    Population excluding Indian origin Tamils 3575400

    SL Tamils 528000 14.77%
    Sinhalese 2715500 75.95%
    Moors 233900 6.54%
    others 98000 2.74%

    The population growth rate between Sinhalese and Tamils have been close to each other fluctuating around 3% approx, from 1921 to 1971.

    If Tamils were in Lanka before the Sinhalese how did SL Tamils become a minority of such a magnitude ?

    Note: the reason for choosing the 1911 census was because that was the first census that enumerated SL Tamils and Indian origin Tamils separately

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Xsri lankan,

    “IF you can’t do these then Prabaharan 2 will rise to the chalange. With even more hardline attitude. Yes the tamil diaspara will support it with whole heart. Even more then ever before.”

    And who is going to do the fighting for you?

    If you had the courage to come and join the LTTE instead of hiding in safety (where ever you are now), while little children fought and got killed in your place, you would have not needed a Prabahkaran 2

    Prabahkaran was short of manpower not munitions.

    After being a coward and getting the Future generation of SL Tamils killed in vain, are you looking at destroying a third generation of SL Tamils?

    It is better that you stop sowing seeds of hatred, the harvest would not be what you expect.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Xsrilankan,

    “Tamil nationalisam was born to defent the tamils aginst the singhala domination. That will happen again.” so you wrote.

    The Sinhalese say that Sinhala Nationalism was born to defend the Sinhalese against Tamil domination of Govt Power before and immediately after Independence.

    Hence your attitude wont help reconciliation

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Bardo Flanks,

    I suppose you would think that the English made a big mistake; they should have settled the English people all over Wales and Scotland! Had they done it, there would be no need for power devolution etc!

    Once your plan has been materialised, there will Sinhala and Buddhism; there is no place for the Tamil language and none Buddhism, right.

    “Assimilation of Tamils will enrich the Sri Lankan nation linguistically, culturally and even genetically ”

    You think that, you have uttered a noble course to suit who? My dear Bardo, you have simply manifested your inherent insecurity I am very sorry to say. Would you care to elaborate the term assimilation? How would you see lingustic enrichment thrugh Tamil Assimilaton? Hasn’t that already happened? Don’t you know how the Tamil language enriched the Sinhala language?

    Please do not take the Tamils for fools; you will do this by force and not through consent; it is totally undemocratic and unjust. You are a glamorous Sinhala Buddhist Nationalist!

  • LankaLiar

    The first grievances Tamil has is Sin Ha Lease don’t know they have grievances . Truly they don’t. You have to be a Tamil to understand that. If a Tamil go to the police station to complain about something he will be treated like an animal it is also likely that he may or may not come home. There are laws to protect him from this behavior but they are ineffective or dormant when it is applied to the Tamil. So it is the proper implementation of such law that can to some extent alleviate the grievances of the Tamils. That is why Tamils felt that the implementation of the law should be given to the them- that is in effect a autonomy. As far as you are a Tamil no law no constitution no religion or civilization is going to be fair or protect you. That is the problem created by the Sin Ha Lease nationalist culture The solution is devolution. Does anyone here know many years ago under the British rule that every major school in the north and east had a resident Buddhist monk by invitation to teach Sin Ha Lease language and Buddhist religion even in Christian Hindu and Catholic schools when the official language was English and there was no state religion. Who changed all this ? Is it not the Sin Ha Lease nationalist. In short Sri Lanka is what it is today economically culturally politically is because of the so called Sin Ha Lease nationalism. A country so beautiful rich with culture and religions has been turned into a Land of Lies and thuggry . Don’t blame the Tamils for that , they have had enough of it. Prabaharan wanted to destroy Sri Lanka he is getting it done by the Sin Ha Lease, He did not know how easy it is.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Rohana Arambawela,

    It is easy to talk about problems but no one has yet listed the Tamil people’s grievances that is not common to Sinhala, Muslim, Burgher and Malays of Sri Lanka.

    Gomin Dayasri listed some in his above article: language, security, HSZs to name a few.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Bardo Flanks,

    sKulanay is arguing that the unitary state is disadvantageous to the Sinhalese because the Tamils are superior. That means if this superiority complex is encouraged, the Tamils will drop their demand for separate homeland! I’m ok with that!!

  • LankaLiar

    Wijayapala

    Wijaya pala the list grows and grows. One of the last ones that are not common to Sinhala, Muslim, Burgher and Malays
    1. getting kidnapped in White Vans
    2. illegal incarceration in concentration camps
    3. Forcibly collecting money from traders for War Veteruns.
    4. refusing to give the land
    5. occupying Tamil homes
    6. preventing people from voting
    7. Killing politicians
    8. summary execution
    9. Destroying churches and temples and erecting Buddhist temples
    u want more I can go on and on.
    tomorrow there will be more

    And if any one dares to create this list you know what will happen to them – white van ,concentration camp, vanishing act, don’t know what.

    Do you have a list of grievances that is common to Sinhala, Muslim, Burgher and Malays of Sri Lanka

    If no one has this list tell them not to speak about those grievances – according to your arguments.

  • samuthra

    There is lot of comments on this article and most of them are not quite related to this and the original article by Gomain Dayasri. I think we have moved away from the notion that Tamils have no grievances and many of them are common Sri Lankan problems. Unless you are a Tamil it is very difficult to understand and feel as they wouldn’t have experience the injustice, humiliation, right violation and indignity in the hands of the Sinhala dominated governance, military, police and justice system. Gomin Dayasri in his article has gone further in understanding the real issues concerning Tamil Speaking People whether it is from the North and East, Muslims or from upcountry. This administration and its propaganda machinery have and are still trumpeting that the war is to liberate the Tamils from the terror of LTTE and the whole operation was humanitarian. The municipal and presidential election has shown that this is not the case. One thing, the regime and Sinhalese in general forget is that the LTTE is created by Tamil speaking people to protect their rights against a majority which is determined to deny the minority its rights. So, Gomin Daysri’s look at the issues in a different angle other than terrorism or Tamil nationalism is refreshing. He has rightly identified the areas where there is an urgent need for all to pay attention.
    As a Tamil speaking person, I would like to add couple of more specific issues which may be broadly considered within the list, but is in the forefront of every Tamil Speaking person in Sri Lanka:
    • Tamils ( specially young person ) in custody or some form of detention without due process
    • Disappearance – account of relatives and friends , still missing
    • Paramilitary terror

    However, what he failed to understand is that Tamils want to manage their affairs within. In the past, rightly or wrongly, Tamils felt that only option for them left is separation. As the author pointed out if, very soon, Tamils are not allowed to manage their affairs in the key areas he outlined, the movement will spring from the grave with vengeance.
    What Tamils want is they should be able to manage their affairs within set boundaries. The boundaries are negotiable and not the management. This arrangement is whether 13th amendment, 13 plus or any other is not the issue. I tend to agree with Gomin that 13th amendment may not provide what we want here. But, what is not acceptable to Tamils is that decisions are taken from the centre which is dominated by the majority with no counter balance to ensure minority concerns or clearly understand the issues confronting the Tamil Speaking people.
    Look at the current situation ( within the current constitution ), the executive president elected by a large majority of Sinhala votes with Tamil speaking people voting against him and after April election reflecting a similar pattern in the parliament. In this scenario, how do you expect the president or the parliament to understand and take the necessary action to empower the Tamil speaking people. So, if the majority is not prepared to share power, (not half hearted like the 13th amendment or 13 plus) with water tight safe guards for the minorities, then I am afraid Tami Speaking people will feel alienated and marginalised as before. There are many examples in the world to this model. The latest and most recent is Northern Ireland where the power sharing agreement enable the two communities to share power so that either take advantage of the numerical advantage or position within the Govt.

    Gomin’s urging of the MR regime to address the issues urgently is with good intention. But, unless the Regime is prepared to share power with the minorities ( not with people like Douglas, Karuna and other thugs ), I can’t see how Tamils will feel they are part of united Sri Lanka,

  • ModVoice

    @ Bardo Flanks,
    I hope people like you are in the minority. So you want to see Sinhala only country? Some extremist monks thought this way and that is why Sri Lanka is where it is now. I would like to see a diverse country with multiculturalism than the model of assimilation you suggested. Look at India and how it has prospered because of cultural diversity.
    @ longus,
    All the people in the country have some common problems such as corruption, poverty, infrastructure development, etc but there are ethnic based problems as well that we can’t ignore. Language issues, power devolution to name a few. Sri Lanka should adopt a federal model. That is the best way to go about addressing the grievances of the Tamil speaking people. Thirty years of war and the majority people seem to not have learned a single lesson.

  • mzd

    Sinhala nationalist perspective,has been betrayed on many occasions when
    seen failed to yield results on governance.And also it’s noteworthy that sinhala nationalism has the tendency of hiding deep inside in it,the communalism which is a virus.Minorities have been living with this as far as all their memory goes.
    With mushrooming of smaller political parties,situation turned quite weird.Some made it a habit to enjoy provocative remarks just for some votes which later
    turned out going wholesale and on national scale when necessary.This took many labels and in very particular “patriotism”.Gullible voters(not citizens)
    enthusiastically swallowed it because,otherwise they will be somebody else.
    They choose the customers to sell their easy-selling very cheap product.Their customer base is easy targettable rural innocent therefore vulnerable masses.Is this mastery of politics? This is taking the people back to the stone age.The
    world is trying to move from nationalism to internationalism by breaking
    barriers.Countries opened their borders,abolished visas and let the people go
    between countries to work and live.West and East,one time adversaries are now
    living without fences.Are we going to take advantage or lose advantage? Are we
    not trying to keep our people away from realities just because we are not better
    connected to that part of the world? Stop challenges.Stop provocations.Stop
    hypocrisy.Stop manipulations.Stop triumphalism and stop communalism.
    Stopping communalism in all forms will be a turning point to achieve all other
    goals.

  • @ModVoice

    India is different. No ethnicity in India can claim to be the majority. Nevertheless, Hindi (along with English at upper levels) is the only working language in the central administration. Indian federalism is based on states that have been clearly demarcated and separately administrated for centuries. That’s not the case in Sri Lanka.

    I don’t believe in federalism and certainly will not allow any solution based on ethnic power devolution. Imagine the white minority in South Africa being able to run their own mini state. That’s what the Tamils want.

    I believe in race-mixing (I know it’s anathema to neo-nazis and oh-so-superior Tamils) and assimilation. I don’t think there are any racial differences between Tamils and Sinhalese, and that the differences are merely cultural and linguistic. I believe that the Sinhalese are the descendants of the original inhabitants of this island. I think many other ethnic groups have come to Sri Lanka over the millenia , and that they may have spoken different languages including Tamil prior to being Sinhalised. I believe that most of the Tamils who have lived here for a long enough time have already been assimilated into the Sinhalese ethnic group. I believe that many of the Northern Tamils are descendants of recent migrants from South India during the colonial rule.

    The solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict is race-mixing. We should force Sinhalese to go to the North and the Tamils to go to the South. People of all ethnicities should be evenly distributed throughout the country to prevent ethnic enclaves like Jaffna or ghettos like Wellawatte. This is something that’s been done in hundreds of countries including the United States and South Africa.

    I don’t believe in forcible assimilation, but I know that this is the eventual result of this slow process. I also believe that Sri Lanka should eventually join ASEAN (leave SAARC), and distance ourselves from India and Tamil Nadu as much as possible.

    Get this ModVoice. Tamils are not going to get their Apartheid dreamland. It’s over, wake up.

  • Dias

    Samuthra’s views are appreciated.

    The areas Mr. Dayasri has identified in his ‘todo’ list should not be construed as an all encompassing one that will solve all social, political and economic aspects of a conflict that has raged for over 62 years. What the list shows are immediate and short term issues that if attended will win the hearts of Tamils in the NE which woul greatly help in other future challenges of medium and long term nature. The list is an exceptional start-point if as you say the regime would pro-actively enage to work on these. Conflicts don’t ust happen they evolve over lengthy peiods and also takes time for systematic healing and correction. Sri Lanka lovers world over shoud cheer Mr. Dayasri’s initiative and press hard the Rajapaksa admininstration to make these realities. The degree of passion with which the Sinhalese people fight for the fundamental needs and rights of their minority citizens will determine how quickly the nation will arrive at a mutually amicable peace. Though a partial list, this is a great begin towards that goal.

  • Dias

    Bardo Flanks: “I wonder how the Western liberals who pity, support and accommodate these Tamils think about such blatant racialist chauvinism…”

    We think that Bado and @sKulanay are the opposite ends of the same stick – that is insensitive, disrespectful and intolerant of what Candidate Barrack Obama characterized as rhe greatest challenge of the 21st century in Nov 2008 in a town meeting at Google: “our inability accept others who are not like us”. (And also referenced to Tamils and Sinhalese to illustrate his point). You bardo and @sKulanay are who he talked about.

  • allen

    let US explain this pls !!!

    1942 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forcible relocation of over 112,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese people residing in the United States to internment camps.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dardo Flanks,

    “I don’t believe in forcible assimilation, but I know that this is the eventual result of this slow process. I also believe that Sri Lanka should eventually join ASEAN (leave SAARC), and distance ourselves from India and Tamil Nadu as much as possible.”

    Hmmm! You do not believe in forcible assimilation; how else then you would achieve your dream? Under the 1948 constitution, a common Sri Lankan identity could have been built. People could have lived wherever they wanted.

    However, the issue of language and religion you have not spoken about and there is a reason behind that! You know very well that, this so called assimilation would ensure that, the majority language and religion would prevail!

    I have not seen you mentioning that the government of Sri Lanka should create conditions for people to mix.

    I have not seen you expressing your opinions about equality in terms of Sinhala and Tamil languages.

    I have not seen you attacking the current constitution that projects Buddhism and Sinhala as superior.

    The Tamils are insecure and democratically insignificant to a greater extent; however, they demonstrated at the presidential election as to how they feel about things. Under these circumstances, how would you promote your assimilation? Why not the Tamils assimilate those Sinhalese who would prefer to live in the North and East?

    Did the British try to or force to assimilate the Wales and Scots? There union is strong because the respect that they give for diversity. Why can’t the Sri Lankan government accommodate the minorities respecting their rights? Why not implement the Tamil language provision nationwide and remove the language obstacle and see what happens.

    So, would you say it on record that, if the GOSL were to settle the Sinhalese within the North and East, it amounts to forcible assimilation? We all know that, GOSL have no colonisation programs for the none Sinhala. Even the IDPs are not settled in their own places but GOSL is busy devising plans for Sinhala colonisations within the North and East; would you call this unjust and undemocratic? Let us have on record your responses to the questions that I posed.

  • Heshan

    “the Sinhala and Tamil people share common problems, nothing more, nothing less (an argument with which I do not agree).”

    The above observation is true in one sense. Both the JVP (the original JVP) and the LTTE consisted largely of disgruntled youth who thought revolution, in the form of armed struggle, was the answer. Practically all of the top LTTE commanders, and even Prabhakaran himself, had witnessed some form of SLA brutality during their younger years. If the Government wishes to have a lasting peace, it must invest in the future of the youth. The most obvious starting point is in the sector of education. The entire curriculum needs to be modernized. Further, the staggering disparities between government schools and private/international schools need to be addressed. Despite proclaiming themselves saviors of the Sinhala nation, none of the Southern politicians would dare send their children to Sinhala-medium schools. The private sector should be able to compete in the market for university-level education. Having 5 or 6 universities which cater to less than 2% of the population will not produce even 25% of the intellectuals needed to compete with India and China in such lucrative fields as engineering and information technology. The youth are the future of the country. A proper education that encompasses modern ideas, as opposed to one steeped in the distortions of Mahavamsa and Daily Noise (News?), can create a new generation that does not need high security zones, checkpoints, and Lion flags to convince them of their power and importance.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Bardo Flanks,

    First you say:

    I don’t think there are any racial differences between Tamils and Sinhalese, and that the differences are merely cultural and linguistic.

    Makes sense, but then you say:

    I believe that the Sinhalese are the descendants of the original inhabitants of this island… I believe that many of the Northern Tamils are descendants of recent migrants from South India during the colonial rule.

    If there aren’t any racial differences, how can the Sinhalese and Tamils come from two different places?? Makes no sense!

    Sinhala language and Buddhism did not originate in SL. Buddhism originated in old Magadha and Sinhala language probably not too far from there. Both came to SL and were adopted by the majority of the native inhabitants, only to disappear in India.

    I agree that many people immigrated to SL over the centuries, but most of them probably came from Tamil Nadu. The ones who went to the South clearly assimilated and became Sinhala, in some cases entire caste groups becoming “Sinhalized.” In the N-E however, Tamil language was eventually adopted by the inhabitants much like Sinhala was before.

    In both Sinhala and SL Tamil, there are small traces of the original language which was neither Indo-Aryan nor Dravidian.

    The solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict is race-mixing.

    Although I fully support inter-ethnic marriage, I don’t see it as a solution. Didn’t you earlier say that we’re already the same race????

    Would you support race-mixing if the Sinhalese were the minority?

    distance ourselves from India and Tamil Nadu as much as possible.

    Why? What is wrong with India or Tamil Nadu? How do you propose to physically bring SL closer to SE Asia?

  • ModVoice

    Bardo mate,
    ” People of all ethnicities should be evenly distributed throughout the country to prevent ethnic enclaves like Jaffna or ghettos like Wellawatte. This is something that’s been done in hundreds of countries including the United States and South Africa.”

    How can it be possible to evenly distribute all ethnicities throughout the country when you have ethnic composition that is unequal (i.e. 75% Sinhalese vs. 25% Other)? So, ethnic enclaves aren’t preventable. I am not sure how it had helped the US, if you could further explain? If you are talking about Blacks then many of them have migrated to urban centers because these areas are quite diverse. Other regions of US are predominantly white and are still racist toward colored people, so no even distribution there.

    “I think many other ethnic groups have come to Sri Lanka over the millenia , and that they may have spoken different languages including Tamil prior to being Sinhalised. I believe that most of the Tamils who have lived here for a long enough time have already been assimilated into the Sinhalese ethnic group.”

    The same is true for Sinhalese who have lived in the Tamil dominated regions. They have been Tamilized and absorbed into the Tamil community. So your point is…? Since you say many Sinhalese had Tamil ancestors, can we suggest you to revert back to your ancestral mother tongue? Problem solved, isn’t it? *wink wink* No ethnic issue!

    So get this friend, if you couldn’t get rid of the Tamils in the 2000 year period then you wouldn’t be able to get rid of them in the next 2000 years as well. You might as well learn to live with them than trying to impose Sinhala.

    Federalism is good way to progress forward. It addresses many of the grievances they have. It had worked in India, Australia, US, and Canada then why not Sri Lanka?

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    Your notion

    “Sinhala language and Buddhism did not originate in SL. Buddhism originated in old Magadha and Sinhala language probably not too far from there. Both came to SL and were adopted by the majority of the native inhabitants, only to disappear in India.”……………………………………………………………………..

    is in my opinion only partially correct. There is no dispute that Buddhism did not originate in SL. But on what evidence do you say that Sinhala language did not originate in SL. It is evident that Sinhala language was enriched with Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Portuguese, Dutch, English and many other languages. However there is no evidence to the effect that it was originated from any of these languages or any other foreign language. That is only a popular notion among some people. The reason for some to say that Sihalese came from India and there language developed in somewhere there is base on the popular but false notion that Sinhalese are descendants of Vijaya the prince who came here from India. But this is a very unrealistic idea. There are more evidence to support the opposite, that is Sinhala language was developed in Sri Lanka, just as the Sinhalese nation.

    I will mention some arguments in brief;

    1. It is evident that Sri Lanka was inhabited from prehistoric era.

    2. There are enough facts to say that Sri Lanka was inhabited by civilized tribes called “Yaksas” and “Nagas” They have had kindoms here.

    3. The number of people who came to Sri Lanka afer Vijaya’s arrival until the King Deavanampiyathissa’s time is around 3000 people according to Mahawansha and other sources. (Around 2000 with Vijaya)

    4. There is no evidence and not probable to think that all the Yaksas and Nagas were massacred by he people who came from India.

    5. If the inhabitant were massacred, such early developments such as Wewas (Tanks) and cities couldn’t have been built by such a small group came from India.

    6. Sinhalese people are not similar to the arians in the other other regions of the world.

    7. There is no similar language in India.

    Therefore it is very reasonable to arrive at the conclusion that the people who came from India integrated into the original inhabitants that is Yaksas and Nagas and formed the Sinhalese nation. Further, a point which has been wrongly understood and conceived incorrectly from Mahawansha is that Mahawansha says Sinhalese are descendants of Vijaya. Mahawansha does not say so. What it says is Sinhala Dynasty is consists of the descendants of Sakya clan who are the relatives of Lord Buddha.

    According to Mahawansha, Buddakachchayana, who married king Panduwasdev (of Sri Lanka) was the grand daughter of Amithodana, one of the brothers of king Suddhodana. King Suddhodana is the father of Gauthama who later became Gauthama Buddha.

    Hence I think Sinhalese are the original inhabitants of this country and it is an incorrect notion to say that Snhalese and their language originated in India.

    On this basis, with some other evidence and thinking back, that some Sinhalese attribute there origin to the early kings like Bali, Tharu, Ravana etc, etc…

    Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Dear ModVoice,

    It had worked in India, Australia, US, and Canada then why not Sri Lanka?

    Probably because Sri Lanka is not India, Australia, US, or Canada. It is not a disparate collection of political entities to be brought together.

    Those who want Sri Lanka to adopt federalism should look at unitary states which made that conversion, not at federations which started as such.

  • ModVoice

    Thanks wijayapala for pointing that out. Well, I believe in some level of regional autonomy for North and East, like the countries that I have mentioned, decentralize power based on provinces/states. Maybe federalism wasn’t the correct idea I was looking for. A political solution would not be necessary if all citizens could be treated as equal regardless of ethnicity, however, that will not happen in Sri Lanka as seen for past 60+ years. Tamil people demanded equality through peaceful means and when that failed only they have taken up arms. I believe they are not in a position right now to demand anything as they no longer have the military power nor the political power (in terms of votes). It is up to the government to devise a political package that would address their long-term aspirations. By electing an ultra-nationalist, the Sinhalese people, however, have given nod to politics of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, like that suggested by Bardo Flanks, which wouldn’t lead to a reconciliation path.

  • ModVoice

    Off the Cuff,

    “If Tamils were in Lanka before the Sinhalese how did SL Tamils become a minority of such a magnitude ?”
    The Welsh are a minority in the UK. The aboriginals are a minority in AUS, CAN, etc. Just because they are a minority, does that mean they were not there before the Europeans? I don’t think numbers alone are indicative of who were there first. Likewise, one cannot conclude the same about SL Tamils.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Yapa,

    But on what evidence do you say that Sinhala language did not originate in SL.

    Sinhala belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages currently dominant in N. India. These languages in turn are believed to have originated in central Asia. The inscriptions that we have from Devanampiya Tissa’s time (the oldest evidence for Sinhala language) show a very similar prakrit as the temporary Asokan inscriptions in India with a few minor differences. This indicates a similar language family.

    Over the centuries Sinhala indeed was influenced by Pali, Sanskrit, and Tamil among other later languages, but it was also influenced by the original pre-Sinhala language which is currently lost. For example, body part words like kakula and oluwa and a few other words clearly are not shared by other Indo-Aryan languages past or present. Sinhala also has the ‘ae’ vowel formally adopted around the 7th century CE (which Sri Lankan Tamil sort of also has, unlike Indian Tamil).

    Aside from that, it is difficult to show what the unique aspects of Sinhala are, other than an evolution of the original Indo-Aryan prakrit.

    4. There is no evidence and not probable to think that all the Yaksas and Nagas were massacred by he people who came from India.

    Whether or not they were massacred, nearly all aspects of their pre-Sinhala culture have been lost. If they weren’t massacred, they adopted languages and religions originating in India.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I am confused as to when exactly the Sinhala language became a mature language as the Mahavamsa was written in the 6th century AD in Pali and not in Sinhala; why was that?

    A quote:
    Prof. J. B. Dissanayake in his book ‘Understanding the Sinhalese’ at page 118 states:
    “….Sinhala occupies a unique position among the languages of South Asia because of its close affinity, with two of the major linguistic families of the Indian sub continent Indo-Aryan and Dravidian…’ From this, one can conclude that Sinhala in written form could have been made by one or many, who knew both Dravidian and Aryan language. Thus early Dravidian Buddhist priests were scholars in Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit, to make Sinhala in spoken and written form possible.”

    Based on the above, one can conclude that the Tamil language did enrich the Sinhala language along with the other languages mentioned. I would further say that, the Tamil language as a spoken and written form in prevalence throughout Sri Lanka since ancient time. I agree that there might have been one or more local languages existed only in spoken form. However, I strongly believe that, the episode of Chola invasion and their subsequent rule resulted in fragmentation of local languages and cultures. Those who caught in the North and East became as Tamil speaking Hindus and the rest became Sinhala and Buddhists. I do not agree with Bardo that Sinhala has more indigenous blood than the Tamils. We also should pay attention to the fact that pre Chola time; there were Tamil Buddhists too in Sri Lanka. Moreover, the current form of Tamil scripts only came into being after 10 century AD; prior to that, they were rounded in shape in line with all other Dravidian language and the Sinhala alike!

  • wijayapala

    Hi ModVoice,

    I believe in some level of regional autonomy for North and East, like the countries that I have mentioned, decentralize power based on provinces/states.

    What exact powers should be decentralized, and where would these regions get the money to pay for them?

    A political solution would not be necessary if all citizens could be treated as equal regardless of ethnicity, however, that will not happen in Sri Lanka as seen for past 60+ years… It is up to the government to devise a political package that would address their long-term aspirations.

    But what are the Tamils’ long-term aspirations- living as equal citizens or having devolution of power?

    By electing an ultra-nationalist, the Sinhalese people, however, have given nod to politics of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism,

    Mahinda Rajapakse is a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist??

    S.Lanka monks complain of government pressure
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100219/wl_sthasia_afp/srilankapoliticsreligion_20100219111238

    Fundamentalism versus totalitarianism in Sri Lanka
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=31232

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    “……………..Whether or not they were massacred, nearly all aspects of their pre-Sinhala culture have been lost. If they weren’t massacred, they adopted languages and religions originating in India………………………”

    I don’t think such a statement is justifiable under any circumstances with any sensible theory.

    1. It is very unlikely that all the inhabitant natives of the island were massacred by an alien group comprising 700 men and I have mentioned some convincing facts against the above notion. I think there is little possibility or none, to this effect. Even if a group of people or a tribe is completely lost it doesn’t mean that its culture is totally vanishes. Mayan culture is still influencing the modern day people all over the world( 2012 movie).

    2. If they are not totally massacred, (which is almost an impossibility) it is clear that at least two cultures, that of the natives and the “foreigners” were in face to face in the island until they were integrated. It is very unrealistic to believe that the “whole lot” of natives fully adopted to the culture of a few foreigners rather the opposite is much more probable. Especially in the case of a language it is very unrealistic. Consider adopting to a language of 2000 people by at least a couple of a few thousand locals spread all over the island. I would say it is an impossibility. Also sudden adoption to a language is not a possibility as in the case of a religion. Almost the whole population of the Island embraced Buddhism, with the arrival of Arhath Mahinda thero, in a few years. But the process of adopting to a language takes a long time. After about 150 years of British rule with much persuasion, it is said that only 3% of the people of this country knew English language, that is also as a second language.

    You mentioned about inscriptions similar to prakrit belong to king Devanampiyatissa’s time. Inscriptions can be different from what people use in daily communication and also in the olden days writing was limited to a very few people. Even most of the early scripts of Sri Lanka were not in Sinhala but in Pali though the spoken language was Sinhala. There are many nations even today who speak their mother tongue but use the letters belong some other nation for writing.

    In view of above it should be mentioned that especially the second part of your statement, “If they weren’t massacred, they adopted languages and religions originating in India”, is erroneous and “unbelievable”.

    Thanks!

  • ModVoice

    Dear wijayapala,

    “S.Lanka monks complain of government pressure
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100219/wl_sthasia_afp/srilankapoliticsreligion_20100219111238

    If the government could get rid of these political monks, that is indeed a step in the right direction. Political monks have caused enough troubles from the start. A secular government is needed in a multi-ethnic society.
    However, do you disagree that rajapakse had appealed mostly to the sinhala buddhist elements in the society? There was clearly a strong ethnic divide in the last election. Sinhala buddhist nationalism had always been a part of Sri Lankan politics and that is the main cause behind the ethnic conflict.

    “But what are the Tamils’ long-term aspirations- living as equal citizens or having devolution of power?”
    My question is will they ever get equal status in the country? I know people will tell me that they already have equal status – that is pure ignorance on their behalf. Will the Tamil people have any influence on the policies being passed in the parliament, since their representation in the parliament is only small? Can they get government/civil services in Tamil? Is the education based on merit? This is only to name a few of their grievances. That is why I believe there needs to be certain amount of power devolution to manage their own affairs without the central government, somewhat like India. Furthermore, what guarantee is there that there will be no communal violence in the future? After all, there are still people like Bardos who wants Sinhala only country.

    “What exact powers should be decentralized, and where would these regions get the money to pay for them?”
    Well, police, courts, education maybe? The funding should be allocated by the central government. I am not well versed on politics but this is what I feel to the best of my knowledge. I am not sure of the cost and benefits of this system.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear ModVoice,

    You have not considered the Population growth rate which is around 3% for both communities

    This is what I stated in my post
    “The population growth rate between Sinhalese and Tamils have been close to each other fluctuating around 3% approx, from 1921 to 1971.”

    This is in response to yours of February 20, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear ModVoice,

    I believe that the Housing Policy of Singapore is designed to prevent ethnic enclaves.

    It maintains a quota system proportional to the ethnic proportions within the population

    In response to yours of February 20, 2010 @ 6:11 am

  • wijayapala

    Dear Yapa,

    It is very unrealistic to believe that the “whole lot” of natives fully adopted to the culture of a few foreigners rather the opposite is much more probable. Especially in the case of a language it is very unrealistic. Consider adopting to a language of 2000 people by at least a couple of a few thousand locals spread all over the island.

    How would you explain virtually all of Mexico and South America speaking Spanish or Portuguese, even though few of them are genetically Europeans?

    Even most of the early scripts of Sri Lanka were not in Sinhala but in Pali though the spoken language was Sinhala.

    Not true. The inscriptions were in an old form of Sinhala that resembled Pali but was not the same as Pali. Inscriptions that came later over the centuries show the gradual shift to what is spoken today, such as the incorporation of a few pre-Sinhala parts of the language.

    I agree though that the average Sri Lankan probably did not speak the same language of the Devanampiya-Tissa inscriptions, but over a number of centuries they clearly adopted of that language, or rather an evolved version of it.

    If you’d like to learn more about the evolution of Sinhala language from its Indian origins, I recommend “Historical Phonology of Sinhala” by Dr. W.S. Karunatillake. You can probably find it at Godage Books.

  • wijayapala

    Hi ModVoice,

    If the government could get rid of these political monks, that is indeed a step in the right direction.

    What do you propose? Mahinda apparently took the first step by eliminating the Buddha Sasana Ministry.

    There was clearly a strong ethnic divide in the last election.

    The question I have is whether Tamils voted because they saw Mahinda as a Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist, or because they themselves are Tamil nationalists.

    Sinhala buddhist nationalism had always been a part of Sri Lankan politics and that is the main cause behind the ethnic conflict.

    We’ll have to see what role “Sinhala Buddhism” plays in future politics. After the war began in 1983, I would argue that Tamil nationalism took on a life of its own.

    Will the Tamil people have any influence on the policies being passed in the parliament, since their representation in the parliament is only small?

    If Tamil influence is so negligible, then why is Mahinda speaking (or trying to speak) Tamil?

    Can they get government/civil services in Tamil?

    Most of the Tamil-speaking government servants are in the N-E, although there are many Tamil-speakers who live outside those regions. Here are two articles to look at:

    Non-Implementation of Tamil as an official language in provinces outside North and East
    Cabinet Approves Regulations for Speedy Implementation of Tamil as Official Language

    Furthermore, what guarantee is there that there will be no communal violence in the future?

    How will devolution guarantee no future communal violence, given that most Tamils live outside the N-E?

    The funding should be allocated by the central government.

    Wouldn’t this mean that the central government will retain control, since it controls the purse? And how much funding should it allocate- more or the same as the N-E’s contribution to the total economy?

  • Sony

    Dear Wijaypala

    Let me start by saying that I like you a lot. I have not written anything disputing anything that you have written here and elsewhere. Therefore, I do not know how to put this. This is my best effort that I can think of in a hurry.

    You said “How would you explain virtually all of Mexico and South America speaking Spanish or Portuguese, even though few of them are genetically Europeans?”

    It is the same reason why English is the language of USA instead of some native “American” language or languages. In the context of your conversation with Yapa however, this reason is irrelevant.

  • Burning_Issue

    The USSR tried to impose their language onto their annexed countries and communities. I do know people personally from Moldova whose names were purposing spelt differently by the Russians to make them sound like Russian. Even after over 75 years of subjugation and intimidation, the annexed countries managed to preserve their respective languages. As soon as the break-up of the USSR happened, those countries re-established their languages.

    I think that, if a language is mature enough and people have the means of preserving them, they would do. As for Mexico and America; the native languages were not developed or mature enough. Moreover, the Europeans did not tolerate the natives. Argentina for example, they killed off all the native Indians.

    In Sri Lanka, the Tamil language would always prevail come what may.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I too believe that, if the language policy is implemented with honesty, the ground situation would improve. There will be no need for the Tamils to cling onto the North & East.

    However, I do think that systematic Sinhala colonisations in N&E would further alienate the Tamils. I agree that, people should be able to live wherever they choose, but based on free will. It is the duty of the government to create conditions for that to happen. i note that, many Sinhala traders have already started venturing into N&E; this should be welcomed, but there should be a level playing field for all.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Sony,

    It is the same reason why English is the language of USA instead of some native “American” language or languages.

    It is not the same. Tens of thousands of Europeans- first British, then Irish and Germans, and then Italians and Eastern Europeans- emigrated to the US (and Canada) and remained there.

    Europeans also emigrated to some Latin American countries like Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, but the other Latin American countries for the most part received far less Europeans and still adopted Spanish.

    An understanding of cultural assimilation is necessary to understand Sri Lankan history, and to dispel the notion that Sinhalese are more Sri Lankan than Tamils. This false notion comes from the true FACTS that Sri Lanka is the only place in the world that has the Sinhala language, and it has the oldest continuing tradition of Buddhism in the world. These FACTS are the basis of Sinhala nationalism, not “Mahavamsa mythology” or ideas that Sinhalese came first.

  • wijayapala

    Burning Issue,

    I do think that systematic Sinhala colonisations in N&E would further alienate the Tamils.

    What evidence is there to show current colonisation in N&E?

    many Sinhala traders have already started venturing into N&E; this should be welcomed, but there should be a level playing field for all.

    Are there no Tamil traders in Colombo?

  • Bardo Flanks, [Edited out]

    [H]asn’t somebody else tried this before, some 60 odd years back in Europe? I mean the lies of Hitler and the downfall. Germans has become a developed and civilized society because they identified this and accepted the multi-ethnicity with its pros and contras. To think that you sound intelligent but write such garbage is painful. Can you imagine that we remove all the languages (no Tamil, no Sinhalese) other than English and all the religions and say SL (if not the whole world) is homogeneous and we have all the problems in this regard solved? haven’t you ever heard or thought that only the diversity in culture and language make our lives worth living. Understand the problem, we have around 18 million people from different ethnicity and we have to find a solution to live with each other as everybody profit from it. Other countries like Canada are good examples for a multi-ethnicity and still highly successful.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    Thanks for the information about “Historical Phonology of Sinhala” by Dr. W.S. Karunatillake.

    The present dialogue between us about the Sinhala languag, began with your post of February 20, 2010 @ 4:10 am,.

    The core of the dialogue was about the place of origin of the Sinhala language. Your stance was it did not originate in SL and I argued it is more probable the other way round.

    Keeping the original context in mind I would like to answer your queries in the last post addressed to me.
    …………………………………………
    My statement :-“It is very unrealistic to believe that the “whole lot” of natives fully adopted to the culture of a few foreigners rather the opposite is much more probable. Especially in the case of a language it is very unrealistic. Consider adopting to a language of 2000 people by at least a couple of a few thousand locals spread all over the island.”

    Your query:-How would you explain virtually all of Mexico and South America speaking Spanish or Portuguese, even though few of them are genetically Europeans?
    ………………………………..

    What I emphasized in my statement was that the general situation, that is comparatively small group of people adopting to the language of the a majority population, when they are integrated. You have cited an exception.

    I have no proper idea about what happened in the case given by you, but I think the explanation given by Burning_Issue has some relevance. I also can think of some other reasons but I think it is unnecessary in this case. If I put my idea/position with a better arrangement of wordings, I think your exception too would be covered under it and the exception will not be any more. I will put it this way

    …….Weaker group of people adopting to the language of a stronger group of people, when they are integrated.

    Even if there is an exceptions, ” an exception does not over-rule the law”.
    …………………………..

    My statement:- “Even most of the early scripts of Sri Lanka were not in Sinhala but in Pali though the spoken language was Sinhala.”

    Your query:- Not true. The inscriptions were in an old form of Sinhala that resembled Pali but was not the same as Pali. Inscriptions that came later over the centuries show the gradual shift to what is spoken today, such as the incorporation of a few pre-Sinhala parts of the language.
    ……………………………….

    Even if the early scripts of Sri Lanka are in Sinhala as you say, it does not dispute my original position, but it might strengthen my arguments to the effect that Sinhala was originated in Sri Lanka.

    However, I think early scripts like Dipawamsa, Chulawamsa, Mahawamsa, Thupawamsa, Wamsathappaksini, Dathuwamsa ect. etc. , written in Pali and Janakiharana by king Buddhadasa in Sanskrit, dispute your position.

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Vijyapala,

    “What evidence is there to show current colonisation in N&E?”

    I would say that, there is fear and a justifiable suspicion that, a major Sinhala colonisation program is under way. Are you denying that, no Buddha statues have been placed along the A9 road? What is stopping the SLA to vacate the high security zones; GR has said on record when he was interviewed by the BBC that the LTTE has been completely defeated; what is then preventing the areas to be freed for the people to re-establish themselves?

    You must understand me first that, I am not against Jaffna, for example, becoming a multicultural place, but it should occur through natural processes; there must be conditions for people to move freely. The Tamils went to other parts of the country with their own means; no one organised colonisation programs for them; it should be said.

    “Are there no Tamil traders in Colombo?”

    I do not think that you read my post properly! I welcomed the Sinhala traders venturing into Jaffna by their free will. The point about level playing field is to do with the SLA putting obstacles for the Tamils.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijyapala,

    I meant to say Buddha statues have been placed along the A9 road.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Yapa / Wijayapala,

    This may be interesting for you.

    “The closest relative of Sinhala is the language of the Maldives, Dhivehi.” (Wiki)

    “The notation used by the Island of Minicoy is purely Sinhalese containing a Duo decimal system up to a Hundred.” Ancient Jaffna, page 11 By C. Rasanayagam.

    Minicoy is off the western coast of India, NW of Sri Lanka. It was a Maldivian Island and is now Indian.

    More similarities are available in the book
    “The voyage of François Pyrard of Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas and Brazil”
    It is available in Google books too.

  • Belle

    It seems the Singapore housing policy of ethnic quotas is constantly being cited to support the dispersing of minorities throughout the country. Apparently, this ethnic quota system helps with racial harmony.

    Firstly, let’s get one thing clear: Singapore’s ethnic quotas in housing are ONLY applicable to government-built housing, i.e. flats built by the Housing Development Board. They house a majority of the population, but the government can only impose these quotas on public housing because they build, manage and run these estates. The ethnic quotas don’t apply to private housing: landed properties and condos. Try imposing these quotas on private real-estate developers!

    So if this is being suggested in Sri Lanka, then you must be prepared to live in government housing and all that this entails. HDB housing policy is the core of Singapore government’s social and cultural control of the population: it’s not only about ethnic quotas. Singles can’t buy these flats till they are 35, and even then they can only buy the far more highly priced resale flats. Before that, they have to partner with an elderly relative to buy the flat, and HDB officers come around to check that you are indeed living as a family unit. If you’re divorced and have given the flat over to your ex-partner and children, then you’re in a real bind with regard to getting a flat for yourself (because now you’re single).

    As for the implications of ethnic quotas, they affect the resale pricing of the flat. If you’re Chinese, and the Chinese-maximum quota has already been reached, then you’re forced to sell at a lower price to non-Chinese minorities. If you’re a minority, and the Chinese maximum hasn’t been reached in your block, you can make good money, but if you can only sell to minorities, you often have to sell below market value.

    Another implication of public housing–the government builds your social and cultural environment. In Singapore we have kindergartens, community centres etc in these public housing estates, and their activities will determine your lifestyle.

    Current research has found that the ethnic quota policy has not actually improved inter-racial integration. It is school and work that does that–not the housing. What it has done is dispersed the minorities from their enclaves–that is all it has achieved. In Bedok, a previously Malay-dominated area, the 58% that previously lived there has been brought down to 18%. In Bukit Merah, where 87% was Chinese-occupied, that has now been brought down to 84%. In Yishun, where there used to be 24% Indians, now there are only 11% Indians. The displacement caused by the policy is only incurred by the minorities. It is barely constitutional. The Singapore Constitution states that there should be no discrimination of Singaporeans on the basis of race (and other grounds) in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property. It further states that Singaporeans have the right to reside wherever they want. They take refuge in the fact that minorities can strictly speaking reside wherever they want, i.e. they can choose to live in private property.

    So go for it! Volunteer for social control of yourself and your family so that you can have the supreme satisfaction of seeing Tamils dispersed out of the North and East and their rights and culture further decimated. But don’t think that you can get ethnic quotas without being forced to live in public housing.

  • ModVoice

    Wijayapala,

    “The question I have is whether Tamils voted because they saw Mahinda as a Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist, or because they themselves are Tamil nationalists.”

    If it is the latter, why have they not opted to vote for a Tamil candidate? They wanted to show their dissatisfaction with Mahinda regime by voting the opposition.

    “How will devolution guarantee no future communal violence, given that most Tamils live outside the N-E?”

    It will not guarantee no communal violence. However, those residing outside N-E will have a relatively safe place to go to in case of such emergency, that is if the N-E could maintain some level of independence from the rest of the country.

    “Most of the Tamil-speaking government servants are in the N-E, although there are many Tamil-speakers who live outside those regions.”

    That is what I mean, no equality.

    “We’ll have to see what role “Sinhala Buddhism” plays in future politics. After the war began in 1983, I would argue that Tamil nationalism took on a life of its own.”

    I meant root cause of the conflict, starting from the distorted chronicle Mahavamsa that depicts Sinhalese as noble aryans who are the owners of the country and the Demala as invaders. Tamil nationalism is rather a reaction to this buddhist nationalism.
    Sinhala Buddhism isn’t going to go anywhere in the future. Politicians will use it to gain votes as long as there is the “son of the soil” feeling amongst the Sinhalese.

  • ModVoice

    “I believe that the Housing Policy of Singapore is designed to prevent ethnic enclaves.

    It maintains a quota system proportional to the ethnic proportions within the population.”

    Racial quota policy is a form of discrimination itself.
    In fact, I am not bothered about the colonisation schemes as long as it is reciprocated equally for the Tamils. If the Sinhalese want a piece of dry arid land off Jaffna then they are more than welcome. But there are few problems that would need to be addressed along with it:
    1) There needs to be more representation of minorities in the Parliament.
    2) There will be a threat of cultural identity loss for the minorities.
    3) Does having no ethnic enclaves equal to communal harmony? After all, ethnic riots took place in Colombo, didn’t it?

    I think it is better to follow Canada and India as examples, promoting diversity and democracy. As Belle said, maintaining the racial quota would require public housing. Ethnic enclave is usually referred to in the case immigrants cluttering together. It should be noted that Tamils and Sinhalese existed as distinct nations prior to the arrival of colonials, so it is best to leave it alone without making deliberate demographic changes.

  • Groundtruth

    This article, and much more the exchanges, are very elucidative of the intrinsic problems that lie at the heart of the imbroglio. According to some there are no problems and life must go on as before ! To get a fuller understanding it will facilitate better understanding of the nature of the problems that have been slowly but surely damaging lives of peoples especially in the north and east is to vsit the north and east and see at first hand the areas and speak to the people themselves -Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese- and also interact with their MPs (after the election perhaps) and examine constructive ways of peaceful co-existence in the future at least. The state has a primary duty towards all citizens.

    A new begining based on the universally accepted tenet like the UN Charter to which all nations are committed may be quite helpful.

  • yapa

    Correction

    Janakiharana was by king Kumaradasa, not by king Buddhadasa. Sorry for the mistake.

  • yapa

    Dear Off the Cuff;

    Thanks for the information.

    One of the most accepted theories about the Maldivians is that earliest settlers of the islands were Sinhalese Buddhists migrated from Sri Lanka. The similarities of Sinhala and Dhivehi languages are attributed to this fact. Until 12th century Maldivians were Buddhists and many Buddhist artifacts were unearthed in recent excavations of the islands. Now they are a mixed nation, with the migration of Indians and and Arabs.

    Thanks!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear ModVoice / Belle / GV Readers,

    A Govt Development is paid for by ALL the people of a Country. Hence there is a contribution towards its Funding by EVERY citizen of that country. In order to distribute the benefits accruing from such a development EQUITABLY among all her citizens, allocation from that development should NOT be restricted to ANY one community.

    The Sinhalese consists of over 70% of the population. Hence over 70% of ANY Govt Funded project is paid for by them. It is untenable for a Govt to exclude them from such a Project. It is also untenable for a Govt to exclude the other communities from the same project as they too contribute the same per capita funds a Sinhalese does towards the project.

    The above is the basis for my argument against “Exclusive Homelands” favouring any community. A Govt funded development should be accessible to all EQUITABLY irrespective of where it is located within the Boundaries of SL.

    In Singapore OVER 80% of Singaporeans live in Govt Funded Housing. According to the Global Property Guide 80% to 90% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats.

    The Ethnic communities are classified into Three groups, Malay, Chinese and Indian. There is no classification called Tamil. They fall into the Indian group. Hence the Non Indian Tamils have to compete with Indians to obtain places in sought after localities.

    There is also a scheme by which Private Developers can build according to their Own Designs. However these sales are also subject to the SAME Ethnic Quotas as Govt Funded Housing.

    The Traditional Tamil Homeland concept is divisive and has no place in ensuring an EQUITABLE distribution of Public resources among the citizenry.

    Please note that I have not limited the discussion to Housing, although the example of Singapore stated below, deals with housing policy. There is a noteworthy rule in the Policy that ensures that a housing unit will never be under utilized.

    This is what the Singapore Govt says about their policy

    The Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) is designed to promote racial integration and harmony. The policy also aims to prevent the formation of racial enclaves by ensuring a balanced ethnic mix among the various ethnic communities living in public housing estates.

    EIP is applicable to the purchase of new flats, resale flats, SERS (Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme) replacement flats and DBSS (Design, Build & Sell Scheme) flats as well as the allocation of rental flats in all HDB estates.

    Under the policy, maximum proportions are set for all ethnic groups (Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others) in each HDB block and neighbourhood.

    Sale of HDB flats to an ethnic group that has reached the block/neighbourhood limits will not be allowed. This is because by doing so the proportion will increase beyond the prescribed limit.

    Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS)

    Under DBSS, the developer tenders for the land and enjoys flexibility in designing, pricing and selling the flats subject to the relevant legislation and rules to preserve the character of public housing and ensure building quality and safety.

    Flats sold under DBSS come with a 99-year lease and will be offered to buyers under similar HDB eligibility conditions like flats developed by HDB. Upon completion of the building, the developer will hand over the entire development site to HDB for lease administration, and to the Town Council for maintenance of the common areas and car parks.

  • TamilVoice

    Cuff

    None are against the Government supporting/subsidizing settlements. Many are against the Government supporting only Sinhalese settlements in ethnically Tamil areas.

    Please name a single Tamil “settlement” the Government has subsidized in Wellawatte?

    If Sinhalese want to live in the North and East, let them do it on their own terms, without Government subsidies and Government protection.

  • Belle

    Off the Cuff,
    HDB home ownership is not based on equity in terms of your rights with regard to your payment of taxes. There are income bars on new HDB flats. Lower-income families thus have more access to HDB flats than others–so, in effect, the ones who pay less tax have more rights to own HDB homes. Those who own private housing cannot buy new HDB flats either. So much for your equity theory and equal rights about public housing in Singapore.

    The whole idea of public housing is to help lower-income people own homes, isn’t it? That is true equity–to even out the chances of the disadvantaged.

    As ModVoice says, racial quota policies are discrimination. It means that if you are of a minority race, you only have minimum right of access to government facilities. You are not talking about equity or equality–you are talking about access to rights depending on the proportion of one’s community, so the larger the community, the more rights you have. That is majority dominance. Singapore’s HDB housing policy is racially discriminatory though it is equitable in other respects–why should minorities not be allowed to live in ethnic enclaves when the majority race obviously live in enclaves?

    It is generally understood that equity involves making up for the disadvantages of any individual in the country, be it disadvantages due to income, race, gender or any other factor.Your argument uses the language of equality and equity to disguise majority race domination.

    As for DBSS flats, these are still considered to be public housing. Please look at how one DBSS developer describes their property:
    http://www.simlian.com.sg/reports/Simei%20DBSS%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

  • wijayapala

    Hi Yapa,

    What I emphasized in my statement was that the general situation, that is comparatively small group of people adopting to the language of the a majority population, when they are integrated. You have cited an exception.

    Actually it’s very difficult to trace the extinction of languages because the ones that disappear often did not leave any traces behind. The fact that there are no inscriptions prior to the 3rd century BCE Sinhala prakrit suggests that the pre-Sinhala Sri Lankans did not have a written language (or did not feel the need to inscribe it in stone). It would be harder to preserve a language that could not be written.

    …….Weaker group of people adopting to the language of a stronger group of people, when they are integrated.

    I don’t think that the pre-Sinhala Sri Lankans were necessarily “weaker” than the people who brought Sinhala to the island. They may have simply felt that the Sinhala language is more useful, just as certain people in Colombo 7 think that English is more useful than Sinhala.

    Karunatillake’s book suggests that this process of “Sinhalization” took decades, as Sinhala slowly incorporated a few aspects of the pre-Sinhala language and ultimately replaced it as the main spoken language.

    Even if the early scripts of Sri Lanka are in Sinhala as you say, it does not dispute my original position, but it might strengthen my arguments to the effect that Sinhala was originated in Sri Lanka.

    You did not address my point that the language of these earliest Sinhala inscriptions was very similar but not the same as the language of the Asokan inscriptions. This fact indicates that Sinhala originally came from N. India. If Sinhala originated in Sri Lanka, one would expect an entirely different language from that in N. India.

    Sinhala is commonly acknowledged by linguists as an Indo-Aryan language. Could you point out a scholar who claims that Sinhala is a unique language that does not belong to any family?

    However, I think early scripts like Dipawamsa, Chulawamsa, Mahawamsa, Thupawamsa, Wamsathappaksini, Dathuwamsa ect. etc. , written in Pali and Janakiharana by king Buddhadasa in Sanskrit, dispute your position.

    Sinhala Buddhist literature- mostly commentaries to the Tripitaka- prior to Dipavamsa (4th century CE) was written in Sinhala, not Pali. This includes the oldest Sinhala historical chronicles called “Sihala-attakattha-mahavamsa” which predated Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa/Culavamsa. Unfortunately, this literature has all been lost as everything was translated into Pali and the originals were not preserved.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue

    I would say that, there is fear and a justifiable suspicion that, a major Sinhala colonisation program is under way.

    The suspicion may be justifiable given history, but I asked for evidence. Somebody pointed out that Sinhala people don’t actually want to move to the N-E because the land is dry and arid and it is difficult to live there. In other words, a colonization scheme would require the govt to force Sinhala people to move- which is largely what JR Jayawardene did (the Eelam websites tend to ignore this minor fact).

    GR has said on record when he was interviewed by the BBC that the LTTE has been completely defeated; what is then preventing the areas to be freed for the people to re-establish themselves?

    Landmines and tons of weapons lying around.

    You must understand me first that, I am not against Jaffna, for example, becoming a multicultural place, but it should occur through natural processes; there must be conditions for people to move freely.

    I agree.

    I do not think that you read my post properly!

    Sorry.

  • wijayapala

    Hi ModVoice,

    If it is the latter, why have they not opted to vote for a Tamil candidate?

    You raise an interesting question- why would the Tamils vote for Fonseka who was very openly a Sinhala nationalist? I suspect that they voted against Mahinda for reasons other than (or beyond) simply perceiving him as a Sinhala nationalist.

    However, you made your point that bonafide Tamil nationalists would not have voted for Fonseka. I concede on that point.

    It will not guarantee no communal violence. However, those residing outside N-E will have a relatively safe place to go to in case of such emergency, that is if the N-E could maintain some level of independence from the rest of the country.

    Ok. I concede that point as well.

    I meant root cause of the conflict, starting from the distorted chronicle Mahavamsa that depicts Sinhalese as noble aryans who are the owners of the country and the Demala as invaders.

    I suspect that like most critics of the Mahavamsa, you have not read that text. Mahavamsa claims that the Sinhalese invaded the island and massacred the original inhabitants (which Yapa here disputes). It also states that Tamils arrived at roughly the same time to provide wives for the first Sinhala settlers, thus casting aspersions on the purity of the Sinhala “race” even from the earliest times. Vijaya, the first Sinhala king is more or less depicted as a coward (although a clever coward). Mahanama the author of Mahamvamsa was far more generous to the “Demala invader” Elara who was described as the paragon of honor.

    What is fascinating about the Mahavamsa is how the Sri Lankan Tamil historical chronicles used it as a model. Have you read Yalpana-vaipava-malai? It also has the Vijaya myth at the beginning, although it describes Vijaya in far more positive terms than the Mahavamsa does and claims that he was a Saiva, although it leaves out the part where the Sinhala settlers get their wives from Madurai. Mattakkalappup purva carittira the chronicle of Batticaloa also has the Vijaya myth, although it’s a bit closer to the Mahavamsa version.

    Sinhala Buddhism isn’t going to go anywhere in the future. Politicians will use it to gain votes as long as there is the “son of the soil” feeling amongst the Sinhalese

    This “son of the soil” feeling does not come from Mahavamsa. It comes from the fact that there is and has been no Sinhala civilization outside Sri Lanka- that Sri Lanka has been the only home of the Sinhalese.

    As the Mahavamsa itself demonstrates, Sinhala nationalism generally manifests only when there is a perceived threat. With the threat of the LTTE gone, it remains to be seen whether politicians can use the Sinhala nationalist card to win elections.

  • wijayapala

    Dear TamilVoice,

    Many are against the Government supporting only Sinhalese settlements in ethnically Tamil areas.

    What do you think about the government’s policy in the 1950s and 60s of colonizing Kilinochchi and Mullativu with people from the Jaffna islands?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear TamilVoice,

    Glad to see your response.

    I hope you have understood the paragraph from my earlier comment reproduced below. I do not advocate in-equal treatment of Tamils just because they are a minority. I advocate EQUAL treatment an EQUITABLE treatment of all citizens of SL. The access that the Tamils are provided to Govt resources should be EQUALY accessible to the Sinhalese, Muslims and other communities IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR SIZE all over Sri Lanka and vice versa.

    The Sinhalese consist of over 70% of the population. Hence over 70% of ANY Govt Funded project is paid for by them. It is untenable for a Govt to exclude them from such a Project. It is also untenable for a Govt to exclude the other communities from the same project as they too contribute the same per capita funds a Sinhalese does towards the project.

    Now to answer your question
    Please name a single Tamil “settlement” the Government has subsidized in Wellawatte?

    Much closer to Central Colombo and next door to Wellawatta is the location of a Govt funded Housing Project popularly known as the Bambalapitiya Flats. Members of ALL ethnicities (Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and others) are settled there.

    There were no protests by the Majority community to the Govt Funded Settlement of Tamils or Muslims and others amongst the Sinhalese majority. It is the same at Narahenpita, Moratuwa, Maradana etc. Hence I am afraid that I cannot name a Single Govt Housing Scheme in the SOUTH that is EXCLUSIVELY Sinhalese.

    Ethnic harmony will get a great fillip when the Tamil majority attitude is able to reciprocate what the Sinhalese majority has already done in the South.

    Please read the following comment for more information.

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/02/04/an-open-letter-to-the-remote-control-diaspora/comment-page-5/#comment-14589

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Wijayapala,

    Congratulations on a great post
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/02/17/the-%e2%80%98sinhala-nationalist%e2%80%99s-burden%e2%80%99/comment-page-2/#comment-15007

    Personally though, I believe that the “Sinhala nationalist card” will work in the immediate future, until the bad memory of the LTTE is overcome, mainly due to the fear factor it generates.

  • TamilVoice

    wijayapala

    I have never heard of such a policy. Does it have a famous name like the Sinhalese settlements “Gal Oya” and “Weli Oya?” Did the Government provide armed guards? Can you give a internet reference so we can enlighten ourselves about this policy which, for the time being, only you are aware of?

  • TamilVoice

    Cuff,

    Does the Government subsidize the tenant’s rent? What other amenities are provided to the tenants who live here, courtesy of the Government?

    Let us talk about 100% Sinhala colonization schemes in North and East. Government provides land, shelter, seed for planting, security, and money.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear TamilVoice,

    Sounds like you do not know of any Tamils who lived in the Bambalapitiya Govt constructed Flats to get the information First Hand. Have you ever visited the Hindu Kovil right opposite the flats? Never met another Tamil from the flats at the Kovil?

    The recipients of these Flats OWN them.
    Hope you understand what that means?
    The Flats were sold at Subsidised Prices.
    So what rent are you talking about?
    Do you have any idea of the Value of a Residential Flat of similar Sq Area in such a PRIME Location in Colombo 4?

    Why don’t you get to know a Tamil who Lives there and get the information First Hand? If you are in Wellawatte, the Flats and the Kovil are just a few minutes walk from where you are and the Priest at the Kovil is sure to know many Tamil Flat Owners.

    Are you trying to compare a Govt funded House in the Heart of Residential Colombo to land, shelter, seed for planting, security, and money for settling in a remote area of the East given mainly to Kandyan peasantry who received a heavy blow in 1818 and became landless due to a British Land Grab. Any idea who lives in those lands in the Hill Country now? Do you think that the Tamils of Indian origin are living in a “Tamil Homeland”? Over Half the Tamil population of SL lives in the Hill Country not in any so called “Homeland” and are accepted there by the Sinhalese.

    Govt Protection for the New Minority Dwellers was not needed in the South as these people were ACCEPTED in the South. In stark contrast, Govt protection was Required in the N-E. Shouldn’t you ask yourself why protection was needed? It was not to provide protection from wild animals.

    You seem to have no answer to the most important point I raised
    There were no protests by the Majority community to the Govt Funded Settlement of Tamils or Muslims and others amongst the Sinhalese majority.

    Ethnic harmony REQUIRES the Tamil majority to change its attitude and reciprocate what the Sinhalese majority has ALREADY DONE in the South.

    I cannot name a Single Govt Housing Scheme in the SOUTH that is EXCLUSIVELY Sinhalese, can you?

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijyapala,

    “Landmines and tons of weapons lying around.”

    With all due respect to you; I would take your point that the authorities need to be cautious about the Wanni areas. However, the Jaffna district has been under SLA control since 1995; even if they had planted landmines in order to keep the LTTE at bay, it should not take too long to clear them; I do not see any point in retaining the HSZs any longer. This adds to unnecessary speculations!

    The disadvantage of colonising the Sinhalese in clusters within the North & East would mean creating Sinhala/Tamil/Muslim exclusive neighbourhoods that would be counterproductive. I know that you asked for evidence, which I will provide in due course and they won’t be from Tamil sources.

    I have seen some Sinhala term Wellawattta as a Tamil Ghetto; it is because it is natural for the Tamils to feel secure living in clusters than surrounded by the Sinhala given the history. I remember during the 70s and 80s, the Indian communities in London congregated around Southall. The Jewish community was cantered around Finchley and Golders Green. The situation now is totally different; the credit for that should go to the British Authorities; as the minorities begin to feel at ease, they venture out to other areas even to rural areas. This is the challenge for the GOSL and the Sinhalese.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    Everything contained in my post of February 24, 2010 @ 12:30 am that comes below the Headings “This is what the Singapore Govt says about their policy” and “Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS)” are direct extracts from the relevant Singapore Govt websites. I did not use them without reading and understanding what the Singapore Govt said.

    According to the Global Property Guide 80% to 90% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats.
    This means mainly the SUPER RICH 10% to 15% lives in Privately owned Housing.

    Hence at least 85% of the Singapore population is subjected to the Ethnic Quota Policy (EIP). Why has it not generated a Tamilian protest response against a Govt Policy that you yourself state is discriminatory? Is it because you don’t have the freedom to protest or because it’s not perceived as discriminatory by Minority Singaporeans including the Tamils?

    Sri Lanka does not have such a quota system in place, yet there is violent Tamil protest on the question of the Right of a Non Tamil to live anywhere in SL.

    Regarding the funding of Govt projects this is what I said

    A Govt Development is paid for by ALL the people of a Country. Hence there is a contribution towards its Funding by EVERY citizen of that country. In order to distribute the benefits accruing from such a development EQUITABLY among all her citizens, allocation from that development should NOT be restricted to ANY one community.

    Sri Lankans pay Direct and indirect taxes. Hence even a beggar pays tax when he boards a bus as the tax costs of the operator is built into the fare. Hence there is no one that escapes taxation and 100% of the population pays tax.

    When the Govt funds a project it’s the Tax money that goes to pay for it even if it’s a loan. Hence each and every Sri Lankan pays for every Govt project. There are no exceptions. The total Govt tax revenue divided by the total population gives the per capita contribution towards Tax revenue. The larger an ethnic group is, the larger would be the contribution. This justifies the use of an ethnic quota, as then, the benefits get distributed in the proportion of the monetary contribution. I believe Singaporeans pay indirect tax. If so, the same argument applies.

    My argument is based on a per capita contribution which you seem to have misunderstood as evident from your statement “… ones who pay less tax have more rights to own HDB homes” . My argument has nothing to do with the amount of tax a person pays, it is based on whether or not a person pays any tax at all. If a person contributes towards Govt revenue, that person cannot be excluded from consideration in distributing the benefits, which accrue by investing that revenue.

    However I did not advocate a quota system (as in Singapore). Hence your statement that “You are not talking about equity or equality–you are talking about access to rights depending on the proportion of one’s community, so the larger the community, the more rights you have.” is a complete misinterpretation.

    What I said was that No Ethnic Community Should be LEFT OUT when distributing the benefits of a Govt Funded Project. You cannot expect the Sinhalese and the Muslims and others to foot the bill almost in totality of a Govt funded project and allow ONLY the Tamils to enjoy the benefits from it. This is what you are asking when you espouse an Exclusive Traditional Tamil Homeland. How equitable is that?

    Naturally such an injustice would breed Hatred, especially because the Tamils are accepted in the South.

    You state that “It is generally understood that equity involves making up for the disadvantages of any individual in the country, be it disadvantages due to income, race, gender or any other factor.

    This discussion is regarding Exclusive Tamil Homelands. None of the matters that you write in the above statement apply to Tamils as they have COMPLETE ACCESS to the whole of Lanka.

    The other communities are however disadvantaged even today by a Portuguese Law that applies to Jaffna called the Thesawalami Law. You are advocating the furtherance of that disadvantage be expanding it to what you call the “Exclusive Tamil Homelands”.

    The inability of the Majority of Tamils to live as equals with others is amply demonstrated by the Traditional Homeland Demand. It will surely be vehemently opposed by the Sinhala population as it will be perceived as unjustified since Tamils have been accepted in the South and the Hill country.

    Ethnic harmony requires the Tamil majority to change its attitude and reciprocate what the Sinhalese majority has ALREADY DONE in the South and the Hill Country.

  • TamilVoice

    Cuff,

    “The Flats were sold at Subsidised Prices.”

    Exactly my point. The Flats were “sold.” So it is not colonization. The Tamils had to pay with their own money. The price does not really matter. In the North and East, the Sinhalese settlers were given FREE land, FREE houses, and even money. Of course they needed protection. They were living on stolen land. Many of these Sinhalese settlers were prison convicts. Anyone can see the difference between Tamils buying houses in Colombo for a lower price, and Sinhalese prison convicts living on stolen land, courtesy of the Government.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    “The other communities are however disadvantaged even today by a Portuguese Law that applies to Jaffna called the Thesawalami Law. You are advocating the furtherance of that disadvantage be expanding it to what you call the “Exclusive Tamil Homelands”.”

    Just to clarify; Thesawalami Law (TW) was codified by the Dutch and not by the Portuguese. The Dutch simply formalised the local customs existed at that time when Jaffna district has no administrative connections with other parts. When the British amalgamated the sections as one those local customs were also adopted. They include Muslim Laws and Kandyan Laws as well. To start with, the Thesawalami was not introduced with an intention to disadvantage others as others were not in the picture at that time.

    However, the TW does not prevent a none Jaffna Tamil from buying a property in Jaffna; far from it! What it means is that, in an event of a death of a husband, relevant title of the estate does not pass to the wife concerned by default. In which situation, the estate must be offered for the relations first; however, an outsider can buy it provided he/she can pay above market price out bidding the relations. It is like any other sale; highest bidder gets the deal!

    This question was once posed to Gamini Dissanayaka and he referred that to Mr Sabaratnam, his press secretary. Mr. Sabaratnam explained the Law in detail and offered his land in jaffna to the gentlemen who posed the question, and no surprises that, there was no answer.

    Nevertheless, the law is unjust as a wife should be an equal partner in the institution of marriage; it is outdated and it should be ditched and all the subjects should be subject to one set of rules.

    One more point; the TW applies to all Jaffna Tamils regardless of wherever they live within Sri Lanka; so your argument is not valid!

  • belle

    Off the Cuff,
    “Everything contained in my post of February 24, 2010 @ 12:30 am that comes below the Headings “This is what the Singapore Govt says about their policy” and “Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS)” are direct extracts from the relevant Singapore Govt websites. I did not use them without reading and understanding what the Singapore Govt said.”

    You might want to look at this official HDB leaflet, where DBSS flats are listed as one of several “public housing options”:
    http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10297p.nsf/ImageView/Meeting_Needs/$file/Meeting_Needs_English.pdf

    So now, we have it–the government calls DBSS flats “public housing” and so do its developers. But I’m sure you’re right that DBSS is private housing–because you are the king of reading and understanding!

    As for your comment: “Hence at least 85% of the Singapore population is subjected to the Ethnic Quota Policy (EIP). Why has it not generated a Tamilian protest response against a Govt Policy that you yourself state is discriminatory? Is it because you don’t have the freedom to protest or because it’s not perceived as discriminatory by Minority Singaporeans including the Tamils?
    Sri Lanka does not have such a quota system in place, yet there is violent Tamil protest on the question of the Right of a Non Tamil to live anywhere in SL.”

    Sometimes, it helps to use plain common sense in understanding issues and problems. Singapore is so small that it is a city rather than a country. You want the minorities to carve out little parts of the island to govern themselves?

    Except for Malays, the rest of the groups here are of last-century immigrant ancestry. Even most of the Malays, though considered an indigenous community, are recent migrants from Malaysia and Indonesia. So unlike the Sri Lankan situation, there is no long history of settlement. It is Tamil history in Sri Lanka that surely (and appropriately) determines their feelings toward the land.

    Asie from the ethnic quotas issue in housing, the minorities in Singapore do have equal opportunities and their cultures are given respect. Equality is enshrined in our National Pledge. Singapore became a nation on the ticket of multiculturalism. English as the dominant language pulls all the ethnic groups together without unfairly empowering one group over others. So all of these determine our attitudes and our identity.

  • wijayapala

    Dear TamilVoice,

    I have never heard of such a policy.

    That’s probably because it was not featured on http://www.tamilnation.org or other Eelam websites. It has the danger of blowing apart all the conspiracy theories of successive Sinhalese governments plotting to eliminate the Tamils through colonization all the way back to independence.

    Armed guards- my understanding is that the JR government used colonization as a weapon against Tamils only after Tamil militancy appeared in the 1970s. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    I do not see any point in retaining the HSZs any longer.

    I completely agree with you. They should be dismantled. If the HSZs surround military bases that are near populated areas, then the bases themselves should be dismantled to benefit both the military and the people.

    the credit for that should go to the British Authorities; as the minorities begin to feel at ease, they venture out to other areas even to rural areas.

    You don’t think that some credit should also go to the 2nd generation of minorities, who were not as paranoid as the 1st generation and felt more comfortable mingling with the majority?

  • wijayapala

    OTC,

    The other communities are however disadvantaged even today by a Portuguese Law that applies to Jaffna called the Thesawalami Law.

    Can you provide a single example of a non-Tamil being barred from purchasing land in Jaffna because of Thesavalamai?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    My interest is the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) of Singapore that prevents Ethnic Enclaves. In SL, Tamils demand ethnic enclaves that go very much further than what the Singapore Govt prevents. They want EXCLUSIVE enclaves calling them “Traditional Tamil Homelands”.

    Like the Singapore Govt, I too believe that such Ethnic enclaves are divisive and are not conducive to National Integration and Ethnic Harmony. Hence I cited Singapore’s EIP as an example (February 21, 2010 @ 2:03 pm & February 24, 2010 @ 12:30 am) to strengthen my argument against the so called “Traditional Tamil Homelands”.

    This is how you tried to counter my argument
    you wrote:- “Firstly, let’s get one thing clear: Singapore’s ethnic quotas in housing are ONLY applicable to government-built housing, i.e. flats built by the Housing Development Board. ……the government can only impose these quotas on public housing because they build, manage and run these estates” (February 23, 2010 @ 9:13 am).

    You Capitalise and Emphasise that Ethnic Quota applies exclusively to Govt HDB built housing. You purposely OMITTED to mention that Private contractors also build condominiums that come under the Ethnic Quota Policy.

    You wrote “The ethnic quotas don’t apply to private housing: landed properties and condos. Try imposing these quotas on private real-estate developers! (February 23, 2010 @ 9:13 am).

    You hid the fact that such private housing, WHERE the quotas do not apply is just a minor 10% – 15% of the population who are mainly the “Super Rich”. It is so insignificant that it carries absolutely no weight to counter the argument against ethnic enclaves. The TRUTH is that 85% – 90% of Singaporeans are subject to the EIP.

    As the discussion progressed and more facts came to the surface it is now clear that the Singapore Govt while ENFORCING an Ethnic Quota system on the Common man EXEMPTS the SUPER RICH from such quotas.

    It also appears that private ownership of Land is very small in Singapore.

    While accepting to live under such a quota system without so much as a whimper, You roar like a Tigress demanding for Exclusive Homelands (ethnic enclaves) for the Tamils in SL.

    Links
    Ethnic Integration Policy
    http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10321p.nsf/w/BuyResaleFlatEIP?OpenDocument

    DBSS
    http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10330p.nsf/w/LandDevMangDBSS?OpenDocument

    Such condos built by Private Developers under the DBSS Scheme has more facilities than Govt HDB housing. This is what a private contractor says “The site is situated in the exclusive Simei Estate………Nonetheless, the design of flats comes with balcony, bay window, yard and interior finishes typical of private condominiums”.
    http://www.simlian.com.sg/reports/Simei%20DBSS%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    For the sake of clarity, I avoided cluttering up my previous post with a reply to your semantic attack. This is my reply to it.

    This is what I said on February 24, 2010 @ 12:30 am
    There is also a scheme by which Private Developers can build according to their Own Designs. However these sales are also subject to the SAME Ethnic Quotas as Govt Funded Housing.

    This is your response but looks like your Sarcasm boomerangs on you,
    “I’m sure you’re right that DBSS is private housing–because you are the king of reading and understanding! “

    Can you please point out where I have described DBSS housing as “Private Housing your Royal Highness?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Wijayapala

    No I cannot as I am not aware of the instances that came up. No one would unless it goes into public record.

    But the Law is in force and it has the potential to discriminate.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    It is accepted that Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language. That is a mixture of one early Indian language (Indic) and a Iranian language. How do we know that pre-Sinhala was not a language belong to “Indic group of languages”? I think it is reasonable to assume and a definite possibility that pre-Sinhala was a Indic language, rather than as an alien language to the region. Geographical proximity of two countries would not give a very big chance to develop entirely different two languages in India and Sri Lanka in early days.

    If pre- Sinhala was an Indic language, present Sinhala could be a combination of pre-Sinhala (Indo) + Aryan language. If this is the scenario Sinhala must be a evolution of pre- Sinhala language spoken by the natives of Sri Lanka. Some of the words found in Sinhala which are alien to other Indo- Aryan languages I think would support this notion. Further, this notion gives an explanation to what happened to pre- Sinhala language rather than merely saying it was lost without any traces, for no reason, within a period of a few centuries.

    If pre- Sinhala language is not an Indic language, to which group of languages do you include it?

    Thanks!

  • Belle

    Off the Cuff,
    It is very clear that DBSS is considered to be public housing (in both the government and developers’ official statements). You can talk till the cows come home, but it will still remain public housing.

    I stated clearly that the majority of Singaporeans live in public housing. I also raised the income aspects.

    I have also made clear why the minorities in Singapore don’t ask for “traditional homelands”—it’s because Singapore has not been their traditional homeland because we haven’t lived here that long. The youth today are largely third-generation Singaporeans.

  • yapa

    Dear Burning_Issue;

    “……………I have seen some Sinhala term Wellawattta as a Tamil Ghetto; it is because it is natural for the Tamils to feel secure living in clusters than surrounded by the Sinhala given the history………………………..”

    Is it the same reason why you live in clusters in Canada, Australia, Britain, etc. etc…….., surrounded by Canadians, Australians, Britishes etc. etc…..given their history?

    Any bad thing of yours is due to the wrongs of Sinhalese.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    “……………Actually it’s very difficult to trace the extinction of languages because the ones that disappear often did not leave any traces behind. The fact that there are no inscriptions prior to the 3rd century BCE Sinhala prakrit suggests that the pre-Sinhala Sri Lankans did not have a written language (or did not feel the need to inscribe it in stone). It would be harder to preserve a language that could not be written……………………………”

    How do you explain the score of dialects (do not have a written form) still existing in India?

    Thanks!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Belle,

    You accused me of stating that DBSS is “PRIVATE HOUSING” and I asked you to show where I did because you are LYING. Not only did you lie, you decided to be rude.

    All of us makes mistakes. Decency requires an apology when one discovers a honest mistake.

    You raised questions and each of them were answered. I did not see counter questions that I could not answer.

    Please answer the question posed instead of waiting for the cows to come home.

    As I stated before in response to your semantic attack, Can you please point out where I have described DBSS housing as “Private Housing” Your Royal Highness?

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Vijayapala,

    “You don’t think that some credit should also go to the 2nd generation of minorities, who were not as paranoid as the 1st generation and felt more comfortable mingling with the majority?”

    Yes, point taken. One has to say that combination of things made that a reality. However, one has to recognise the change in terms of race relations that has taken place in Britain over last two decades. I am sure the minorities played their part but the British Institutions handled this admirably indeed.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear yapa,

    “Is it the same reason why you live in clusters in Canada, Australia, Britain, etc. etc…….., surrounded by Canadians, Australians, Britishes etc. etc…..given their history?”

    When a community suddenly migrates to another country, it tends cluster. It was the same situation in the US when Irish, Italian, and Latino communities migrated to the US. It is the human nature as they feel secure living among their own. Britain is different; it has had Sri Lankan Tamils in numbers from the 1950s located in all parts of the country. Even when the Tamils refugees arrived in large numbers, they did not cluster in certain areas. I cannot speak for Canada and Australia but am sure that, once they feel at ease with life in those countries, they will venture out. However, Colombo is totally different. I was in Negomboo waiting to leave after a holiday when the 1983 atrocities took place; I listened to the speech that JRJ made about 3 days after the events; boy-or-boy, wish you were a Tamil; it would have sent shivers through your spine!

    ” Any bad thing of yours is due to the wrongs of Sinhalese.”

    I understand your frustration. Colombo 6 & 7 always had big Tamil concentrations even pre 1983. However, pre 1983, the Sri Lankan Tamils were living in all parts of Sri Lanka either in civil service or in business. But, since 1983 and subsequent civil war resulted in Tamils mainly concentrated in particular areas in Colombo. I hope that this situation will change and all communities can live anywhere without fearing for their safety.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue.

    You are right about the Dutch. I stand corrected, thank you.

    But the Information that I have about Thesawalamei is very contradictory regarding its application.

    However one aspect of what Mr. C. V. Vivekananthan says about the Thesawalamai Pre-emption Ordinance is probably what gave rise to this general thinking of non Tamils about an exclusion from Land ownership to them. Though he talks about a Sinhalese co owner (which would be rare).

    Hope you can shed more light on this subject or provide an authoritative reference on it.

    The Electronic Journal of Comparative Law has the following statement regarding Thesawalamei

    “The law—the Thesawalamei, which today applies to Tamils settled in the North of Sri Lanka.”

    Mr. C. V. Vivekananthan states that

    It is a personal law applicable to ‘Tamils with Ceylon domicile and a Jaffna inhabitancy’. It is not applicable by ‘reason of descent and religion to the whole Tamil population of Ceylon but an exceptional custom in force in the province of Jaffna, now the Northern Province and in force there, primarily, and mainly at any rate, only among Tamils who can be said to be inhabitants of that province’.

    It is also a regional or municipal law in that it applies to all lands situated in the Northern Province irrespective of whether the land is owned by a Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim, Burgher or by persons of any other race.

    A careful reading of the provisions of the Thesawalamai Pre-emption Ordinance shows that the co-owners or the would be heirs of the intending vendor of an undivided allotment of land, whether a Sinhalese or otherwise will have preferential right to purchase that share. If the co-owner is a Sinhalese, then, he will have the preferential right to purchase that share over others.

  • Bardo Flanks

    With the ongoing Singapore comparison, I think what is important are the overall objectives of the housing policies (i.e. prevent ethnic enclaves and ghettos, assimilation), and how successful the Singaporean government has been in achieving these. The idea is not that we need similar government housing in Sri Lanka, but whether such a government sponsored nation-wide ethnic dispersion scheme would help solve some of the problems we have.

    It’s been argued by some that the Tamil settlements in Wellawatte and other areas were not subsidised by the government, and therefore government assistance for Sinhalese to migrate to the North and East would be unfair. I disagree.

    Wellawatte is not the only area where Tamils live and there are Tamil people in every province and every district in Sri Lanka. They are not being harassed, killed or otherwise impeded from (except in the minds of Tamilnet spoonfed diaspora keyboard warriors suffering from recurrent 1983 nightmares) having a normal sort of a life. Of course there were checkpoints and police registrations for temporary visitors, but these are no longer needed.

    On the other hand, Sinhalese and Muslims had suffered large scale ethnic cleansing in the past at the hands of Tamils in the North, and their safety is not guaranteed in light of the racist hate campaign against “encroachers and colonisers” whipped up by the Tamil media and politicians. These migrants are at risk and require government assistance and protection. While some Tamils may want to keep the North ethnically pure, similar to Apartheid era South Africa or a neo-Nazi Aryan only colony, all Sri Lankans and the international community have a duty to ensure that people of all ethnicities are allowed to live in the presently holy Tamizh-only North.

    Similarly, although there aren’t any Sinhalese only provinces or districts in Sri Lanka, areas without a large Tamil/Muslim presence should be identified, and the minorities should be helped to migrate to, work and do business in these areas.

  • wijayapala

    OTC,

    But the Law is in force and it has the potential to discriminate.

    If you cannot provide even one example of any non-Tamil being barred from purchasing land in Jaffna **in the last 200 years** (interestingly even the LTTE never invoked Thesavalamai when they expelled the Muslims in 1990), then no the Law is NOT in force.

    Anyone who is really concerned about Thesavalamai as a source of injustice only has to travel to Jaffna and try to buy some land. If Thesavalamai is invoked to prevent this sale, then this can be publicized and the first step toward correcting this injustice can be taken.

    If however the purpose in bringing up Thesavalamai is to bash Tamils and has absolutely nothing to do with correcting real injustice (not theoretical or “potential” injustice), then this should be acknowledged.

  • wijayapala

    Dear yapa,

    How do we know that pre-Sinhala was not a language belong to “Indic group of languages”?

    What do you mean by “Indic group?” The two primary language families found in the Indian Subcontinent are Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. Tamil has been influenced by Sanskrit- an Indo-Aryan language- but it is still basically a Dravidian language having a unique vocabulary and grammar. Likewise Sinhala was influenced by Tamil but is basically an Indo-Aryan language.

    The fact that Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language indicates that its root origin comes from outside SL.

    Unfortunately we have little information about the pre-Sinhala language except for the few words preserved in modern Sinhala. Perhaps their language evolved from the prehistoric people who lived in Sri Lanka 30,000 years ago, long before Sinhala prakrit came to SL. Whatever the case, it no longer exists.

    If pre- Sinhala was an Indic language, present Sinhala could be a combination of pre-Sinhala (Indo) + Aryan language. If this is the scenario Sinhala must be a evolution of pre- Sinhala language spoken by the natives of Sri Lanka.

    It is far more likely that modern Sinhala is an evolution of the original prakrit that came from India around 300 BCE, than an evolution of the pre-Sinhala language. We cannot say that English is the evolution of French because English has a few French words.

  • wijayapala

    How do you explain the score of dialects (do not have a written form) still existing in India?

    Such as?

  • TamilVoice

    wijayapala

    Actually tamilnation.org used census data from the government to back up its claim of state-sponsored (Sinhalese) colonization. In particular, it used census data from the East to demonstrate the massive demographic changes in that area. So however much it exaggerated claims about colonization, the basic premise of state-sponsored colonization is still justified. What is debatable, what is at issue, is not whether Event A occurred, but the extent to which it did so.

  • Off the Cuff

    TamilVoice,

    “Of course they needed protection. They were living on stolen land.” You wrote on February 24, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Stolen from WHOM?
    The Owner was the Govt and the Govt stole from itself?

    What you are really saying is the Govt had to protect the New Settlers from Tamil Thugs intent on Murdering and Pillaging from the Sinhalese Settlers.

    It is OK to Plant 500,000 Tamils in the Hill Country and COMPLETELY alter the Demography of the Sinhalese Hinterland after grabbing Land from the Sinhalese and making them Landless.

    But it is not OK when the Govt tries to provide relief to the Victims of a Land Grab, after a century of abject poverty by allocating Land from Govt Funded Development Schemes in the East and helping them to resettle?

    The people of the Upcountry Sinhalese Hinterland have accepted the Foreign Tamils who now live on ancestral Sinhalese Land amongst the Sinhalese.

    The Tamils are unable to reciprocate, why?

    You try to equate a house in Residential Colombo worth about 20,000,000 today, given for about Rs 250,000 on rent purchase for less than Rs 200 a month, to Tamils which could have never been possible if the Majority Sinhalese objected to such allocations raising the same objections that you raise, to the comparatively paltry assistance given by the Govt for the settlers to restart their lively hood after a century of abject poverty.

    Just goes to show the difference in attitudes between the Sinhalese majority who have accepted the Minorities and the Tamils who are unable to reciprocate.

  • Off the Cuff

    wijayapala,

    Please read my post to Burning_Issue February 26, 2010 @ 2:33 am

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Wijayapala / Yapa,

    What about the numbering system. Does it give any clue?

  • TamilVoice

    Cuff,

    “Stolen from WHOM?
    The Owner was the Govt and the Govt stole from itself?”

    After chasing away Tamils from the land, and building high security camps, your Government brings in Sinhalese. Let us see how this process works.

    Batticaloa District Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian S.Jeyananthamoorthy in a letter addressed to the President of Sri lanka Mahinda Rajapakse condemned the move by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) to employ Sinhala prisoners at Maangkea’ni cashew plantation owned by Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation(SLCC).

    Mr.Jeyananthamoorthy pointed out in his letter that the move to bring on Sinhala convicts will result in Sinhala colonization in future and exarcerbate ethnic conflict in the area.

    The full text of the letter follows:

    “The cashew plantation located in Maangkea’ni, Batticaloa District has been long abandoned and is in an unusable state. There is a very large SLA camp constructed at that site and as a result the entire plantation has been destroyed. Those previously employed in the plantation are languishing without any income for the past many years.

    “I now understand that steps are being taken to revamp the entire Cashew plantation at this location.

    “Though it is not an appropriate step to be taken under the existing conditions, SLCC has decided to reactivate cashew cultivation in that location. At the same time I learn that the cashew corporation has entered into a contract with the Prisons department to employ Sinhala convicts at this location. I also learn that this scheme is being implemented by your advisor and parliamentarian Basil Rajapakse.

    “In Vaakarai region, there are still a large number of former employees of Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation. Apart from this, when such an employment scheme is implemented, priority should be given to the youths residing in the region. To bring in Sinhala prisoners to be employed here, without taking into consideration these factors is an undemocratic act and should be condemned.

    “Moreover I suspect that there are some ulterior motives behind bringing in Snhala convicts here under the guise of providing employment.

    “This move could be a prelude to permanently keep these convicted prisoners here in order to create Sinhala colonization. In addition, allowing these convicts to move around freely in this Tamil area will instill fear among the Tamil population and may lead to ethnic conflicts in the future

  • yapa

    Dear Off the Cuff;

    Thanks for the very important information. C. Rasanayagam’s book seems to be very important and interesting. As you have pointed out the number system given in the book could lead us to a new area. I think this is a very good point for research. Thanks again for the valuable information.

  • TamilVoice

    Cuff,

    “It is OK to Plant 500,000 Tamils in the Hill Country and COMPLETELY alter the Demography of the Sinhalese Hinterland after grabbing Land from the Sinhalese and making them Landless.”

    I have never heard of displaced Kandyan Sinhalese refugees. You have also forgotten that the British brought these Indian Tamils because the Kandyans
    refused to work on the plantations. This was not about stealing land like you claim.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    ……………..“How do you explain the score of dialects (do not have a written form) still existing in India?”

    Such as?……………………………

    Some of the Indian friends of mine about 10 years back told me that there are many tribal dialects in India which do not have written forms, however, now I am not in a position to provide the details. However, given below is an evidence that there are languages which have no alphabets, but still surviving.

    “Nowadays, alphabet is used all over the world. There are more than ¾ of the world’s languages use alphabet, and about 60% of the world’s population speaks languages that have a written alphabet.” (ezinearticles.com)

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    ………………What do you mean by “Indic group?”

    My post itself contains the definition (or what I meant). It is reproduced below for your reference pl.

    “It is accepted that Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language. That is a mixture of one early Indian language (Indic) and a Iranian language.”

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    If you want to know more about what “Indic” is please read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Aryan_languages

    This is the definition given there.

    “# ^ Note that, unlike the generic adjective “Indian”, “Indic” is the term used in the context of Indo-European linguistics, and is not strictly a geographical term; non-Indo-European languages spoken in India are not included in the term, while the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni, on the other hand, probably testifies to speakers of an Indic language that never settled on the Indian subcontinent”

    Please especially note the following part,

    …….and is not strictly a geographical term; non-Indo-European languages spoken in India are not included in the term, while the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni, on the other hand, probably testifies to speakers of an Indic language that never settled on the Indian subcontinent”
    …………………

    This clearly shows that the prehistoric Sinhala (Hela) cold be an Ino-Aryan Language. In that case your argument,

    “…….The fact that Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language indicates that its root origin comes from outside SL. ….”

    is incorrect.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    In the light of the above definition, your statement,

    ……………“It is far more likely that modern Sinhala is an evolution of the original prakrit that came from India around 300 BCE, than an evolution of the pre-Sinhala language. We cannot say that English is the evolution of French because English has a few French words……………..

    too does not hold firm.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    There are two main theories about the origin of Sinhalese people.
    Most popular one is the Mahavansha version that, Sinhalese are the descendants of prince Vijaya who is from an Indo Aryan race. I think this th principal reason why we would like to be called Aryans. We also would like to call we have adopted their language, totally annihilating the languages spoken by the whole population of natives.

    The second theory is that we are the descendants of Yakas and Nagas who were the original inhabitants of ancient Lanka, having an iota of mix with the people of Vijaya and some later on followers. Th e members of “Hela Hawla”, Munidasa Kumaratunga , Arisen Ahubudhu and others held and popularised this theory.

    Note:

    Really there is another notion, according to the Jathaka Story Book recently printed by Buddhist Cultural Centre in Nedimala. 448th Jathaka story (last story of the book) of this book, Magandhi(Anupama) Jathakaya reveals about the origin of Sinhalese race. According to this a son of a trader from India, who was a past birth of Lord Buddha (a Bodhisathwa) was the earliest ancestor of the Sinhala nation. This story has many similarities to Vijaya’s story. According to this story too Sinhalese are relatives of the Lord Buddha.

    Who says History is irrelevant and unimportant? At least it is interesting!

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off The Cuff,
    Mr. T. Sabaratnam wrote on Bottomline:
    http://www.thebottomline.lk/2009/06/03/as_i_see_it_col.htm

    “Neomal also mentioned about the belief held by the Sinhalese that they cannot buy land in the Jaffna peninsula. They believe that Thesavalamai law forbids the sale of land to the Sinhalese. That was the result of the wrong Sinhala extremist propaganda.:
    A Sinhala journalist asked this question from Mahawali and Lands Minister Gamini Dissanayake about 25 years ago. I was also there to cover the press conference for the Daily News. The minister turned to me and asked me to explain the actual situation.
    The following is the summary of my answer:
    “Sri Lanka has a highly complex mixture of Roman- Dutch Law, English Common Law and customary or personal laws. When the Portuguese landed in Sri Lanka they found the western and southern portion of the country was ruled by the Kotte Kingdom; the northeastern portion by the Jaffna Kingdom and the hill country by the Kandyan kingdom.
    The Portuguese who brought Kotte and Jaffna kingdoms under their control allowed the people of those regions to continue their administration. But the Dutch who introduced their system of courts introduced the Roman- Dutch Law wherever the local customs were not clear. Thus the Roman- Dutch Law became the general law of Sri Lanka. But the Dutch permitted Thesavalamai to continue and codified it in 1707.
    The British who succeeded the Dutch introduced their own system of courts allowing the existing legal systems to continue and introduced the English common law through statues. Thus English Law forms the statutory law of the country. The British too permitted Thesavalamai to continue and allowed the Muslims to continue to be governed by their laws and customs. Following the conquest of the Kandyan Kingdom the British allowed the people of Kandyan origin to follow their customs and practices.
    Thus Kandyan Law, Muslim Law and Thesavalamai are still followed in Sri Lanka. They are mainly concerned about marriage and property.
    The Kandyan Law which applies to people of Kandyan origin relates to marriage, divorce, and interstate succession. Kandyans are free to choose to follow the Kandyan or general law.
    Muslim Laws apply to all Muslims in Sri Lanka. When a Muslim marries another Muslim, the bride and the groom are governed by the Muslim Law. Marriage, divorce and other related issues involving Muslims are governed by the Marriage and Divorce (Muslim) Act, no.13 of 1951, and any subsequent amendments.
    The Thesawalamai is based on the ancient customs of the Tamils of the Northern Jaffna province. It applies to Tamil inhabitants of the Jaffna Peninsula. It relates to property and interstate succession resulting from marriage. It is intended to protect and conserve the ancestral family property. Anyone who wants to sell his inherited property should give his parents, brothers and sisters the option to buy it. If they are not willing to buy it or are unwilling to pay the current market price the seller is free to sell it to those outside the family.
    Then the buyer can be other Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims or even foreigners. So I offered to sell my property with the consent of my brother and sister to the reporter who asked the question or to any other Sinhalese. There were no takers. Neomal, the offer is open to you also.”
    Since I gave that explanation an important change had occurred. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1988 in the case Sivagnanalingam v. Suntheralingam that Thesavalamai is a personal law and applies to the Tamils of Jaffna origin wherever they live in Sri Lanka. According to that decision if I possess an ancestral property in Wellawatte I must give the first option to my sister and brother before I sell it to others. So, Neomal please erase that misconception from your mind.”

  • yapa

    Correction

    NOT 448th Jathaka story, BUT 548th.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    again for the valuable information.
    TamilVoice

    …………….”I have never heard of displaced Kandyan Sinhalese refugees. You have also forgotten that the British brought these Indian Tamils because the Kandyans
    refused to work on the plantations. This was not about stealing land like you claim.”

    Do you think Sinhalese should have worked under British invaders as labourers who took their lands by force? If I take your land by force and ask you to work in the same land as a labourer will you work willingly under me?

    Anyway you are correct when you say that “This was not about stealing land like you claim”, yes it was not about stealing, but robbery, daylight robbery. I don’t understand why and how you justify acquiring of lands by force belong to the people of this country by alien British invaders? But when some Sinhalese put a step towards north or east you are screeching “Sinhalese are colonising Tamils homelands………..etc. etc. Please try to see objectively.

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off The Cuff,

    Please refer to the following link:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=oUkZAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=thesawalamai&source=bl&ots=IO0hJb3MSg&sig=OZZPowhBN1HVmQysfqshKvVPL18&hl=en&ei=ouyHS_iwJcTT8Qazy5DIDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCMQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    This document was published by one S. Katiresu in the year 1907.
    In Chapter VII, page 46, regarding Pre-emption:

    “The Thesawalame imposes a pre-emptionary restriction on the sale of lands in the province of Jaffna, which restriction would affect the rights of any person who assumed to buy lands there, whether he be English, Moor, Jaffna Tamil not resident in the province of Jaffna”

    This as it was originally codified by the Dutch; the important thing to note here is that, at that time, Jaffna was being administrated separately; such provisions did seem unfair. Please note that, the Sinhala were not mentioned in the groups of peoples; this was due to no Sinhala in significance were living in Jaffna at that time.

    “When any person had sold a piece of land, garden &c. to a stranger without having given previous notice thereof to his heirs or partners, and to such of his neighbours whose grounds are adjacent to his land and who might have the same in mortgage should they have been mortgaged, such heirs, partners, and neighbours were at liberty, to claim or demand the preference of becoming the proprietors of such lands”

    I would like to distinguish the concerned parties:
    1. The Heirs
    2. Partners
    3. Neighbours without part ownership
    4. Neighbours with part ownership

    So, at some point, the law permitted the parties mentioned above to stake a claim of the land concerned. Again, we need to pay attention to the administrative nature of Jaffna region at that time. The British amalgamated the whole Sri Lanka into one only in 1838.

    “The several forms of giving the notice previous to the sale had fallen into desuetude and custom grew up which was called “publication and schedule”. This custom had no statutory authority, but in 1842 it was recognised by Ord. No. 1. of that year. This custom was intern abolished by the Ord. No. 4 of 1895. Though the Ord. No. 4 of 1895 abolishes publication and schedule of intended sale, yet a co-owner desiring to his share of the land is bound to give reasonable notice to the other co-owner according to the periods of time specified in T. Vii. 1”

    Here, the author stipulates that, many provisions of the old custom were abolished in the year 1895 but for the parties who hold joint ownership. This provision would hold true in any court even today, and one would not need Thesawalami to define!

    This is why I focused my answer to you originally on the title of diseased estate, which does not pass by default to the wife; in which case, the wife cannot sell the estate without giving first refusal to the heirs. However, the heirs wishing to purchase the estate must meet the market conditions; an outsider (could be anyone) can buy the estate out bidding the heirs.

    The Sinhala Nationalists have been misquoting this old custom in order to drive hatred in the Sinhala public. It is amassing as to how many educated Sinhala fall victim of this falsification.

    We should also pay attention to the evolution of the Thesawalami Law through Case Law. Mr. T. Sabaretnam states:

    “The Supreme Court had ruled in 1988 in the case Sivagnanalingam v. Suntheralingam that Thesavalamai is a personal law and applies to the Tamils of Jaffna origin wherever they live in Sri Lanka.”

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off The Cuff,

    Please click on this link should the long one fails:

    http://tinyurl.com/yentphw

  • wijayapala

    OTC,

    Please read my post to Burning_Issue February 26, 2010 @ 2:33 am

    Thank you. There was nothing there to show that Thesavalamai is in force.

    Burning_Issue’s response appears to explain why Thesavalamai has never been used against non-Tamils. Unless it can be demonstrated otherwise, this anti-Tamil myth deserves an honored place in the dustbin.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    However, one has to recognise the change in terms of race relations that has taken place in Britain over last two decades.

    Having experienced the customs process at Heathrow Airport, no I’m afraid I don’t agree that race relations in the UK have changed since colonial times.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    Thank you for the information about the case. It allowed me to trace the actual Supreme Court Judgment.

    The case was heard by SHARVANANDA, C. J., ATUKORALE, J. AND L. H. DE ALWIS, J.

    Here is the link for your reference you may need it one day.
    http://www.commonlii.org/lk/cases/LKSC/1988/9.html

    As you say Thesavalamai is a personal law and applies to the Tamils of Jaffna origin wherever they live in Sri Lanka

    Thesawalami is a personnel law but it does not apply to ALL Tamils of Jaffna origin. It applies only to Tamils of Jaffna origin who are Permanent Inhabitants of Jaffna. They can be resident outside Jaffna but they should not have given up their connection with their Jaffna inhabitency. It applies to ALL immovable and movable property where ever the property is located. Hence any property outside Jaffna is also covered as you stated.

    The only aspect that I see is the ability to use the priority right of purchase to frustrate a buyer and to jack up the price. This is specially effective when many such priority rights relations exist. Other than that, it does not prevent the purchase by an outsider.

    Thank you once again for helping to clear up a vexed issue.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Yapa,

    There are two main theories about the origin of Sinhalese people.

    In a sense, both theories are correct. The mistake is assuming that the origins of the Sinhala language and the Sinhala people are the same.

    Vijaya story is probably a myth; we have no evidence outside of Mahavamsa to verify it, and you rightly point out that it bears a similarity to the Jataka describing the merchants who got stranded on an island inhabited by female demons. However, the North Indian origins of Sinhala *language* are unmistakeable.

    According to one study, modern Sinhalese are genetically closest to South Indians (actually they are closest to Sri Lankan Tamils, and both are close to South Indians). Interestingly the same study shows that they are far from the Bengalis, who were supposed to be Vijaya’s relatives, and very far from the Veddahs who are believed to be the descendants of the pre-Sinhala people.

    http://www.chandrage.com/personal/sbarrkum/newsgroups/genetic.txt

    Hence my theory that most of our ancestors came from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka, where they adopted Sinhala language which in turn came from N. India 300 BCE.

    …….and is not strictly a geographical term; non-Indo-European languages spoken in India are not included in the term, while the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni, on the other hand, probably testifies to speakers of an Indic language that never settled on the Indian subcontinent”

    I’m afraid I don’t follow how this proves that the prehistoric SL language was Indo-Aryan. If 300 BCE Sinhala prakrit originated in India, as the epigraphical evidence demonstrates (making it an “Indic language”), then Sinhala clearly came from outside SL.

  • wijayapala

    However, given below is an evidence that there are languages which have no alphabets, but still surviving.

    These languages have survived probably because they were isolated from other languages having an alphabet. Others haven’t been so lucky:

    Off the Coast of India, Another Language Dies
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1964610,00.html#ixzz0ggDZCqe0

    “Andamanese evolved in isolation for millenniums until the 1850s, when the colonial British began to settle the Andamans. Since then, the population has plummeted, from at least 5,000 to just 52 people now lumped together in a sprawl of cottages on one island. For most of those left, especially children, specific tribal tongues have given way to a pidgin Andamani dialect of Hindi.”

    “There’s a consensus [among linguists] that we are seeing an unprecedented pace of language extinction. And it is accelerating,” says David Harrison, a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and co-founder of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Of the world’s roughly 7,000 spoken languages, over half are spoken by only 0.2% of all the people on earth. Nearly 80% of the world’s population speaks just 83 languages, a proportion that is growing as globalization and urbanization encourage migrants and rural outliers to learn the dominant tongue in lieu of their own. Every 14 days, estimates Harrison’s institute, a language dies.”

    “Boa Sr once lamented to Abbi that she had forgotten so many of the tales of her long-deceased elders. Says Abbi: “She forgot these stories because she had no one to tell them to.”

  • wijayapala

    TamilVoice,

    What happened to tamilnation.org anyway? Was it shut down by Sinhala racists?

    Actually tamilnation.org used census data from the government to back up its claim of state-sponsored (Sinhalese) colonization. In particular, it used census data from the East to demonstrate the massive demographic changes in that area.

    My original question was why nobody ever mentioned the state-sponsored (Tamil) colonization of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. You didn’t answer that point.

    You also did not answer my other point that demographic shifts were *intentionally* used against Tamils only after the war began. Since you did not dispute that point, I presume that you accept it.

  • Sony

    Dear Wijepala

    (I apologize for not responding sooner.)

    Think of this hypothetical scenario.

    When Europeans arrived in India, Indians had no steel (they were using wooden swords) no horses, no guns and more importantly no anti-bodies for European germs. (The first three disadvantages can be overcome in time if you have enough people.) But suppose that 90% of the Indians died within a very short period of time due to European deceases. As a result vast areas of India were empty and waves and waves of Europeans arrived to fill the vacuum. What do you think the official language of India would be?

    Of course this has not happened and despite a ~500 year rule by Europeans, official language of India is not an European language.

    However, this is exactly what happened in Americas. Two good references are:
    “Guns, Germs and Steel – The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond and “1491 – New revelations of the Americas before Columbus” by Charles Mann.

    Sony

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    ……….”If 300 BCE Sinhala prakrit originated in India, as the epigraphical evidence demonstrates (making it an “Indic language”), then Sinhala clearly came from outside SL…………………….”

    I never had a dispute about the written form of Sinhala language. It must have been originated from prakrit and and developed with the influence of Buddhist doctrines/literature and Sanskrit literature of India. This theory is most probable wrt the written Sinhala, than the notion that it totally evolved in Sri Lanka. I also accept that more evidence are in favour of this theory. However, wrt the Spoken Sinhala I suppose evidence favour otherwise or rather, there are evidence which cannot be explained by the previous theory. I was talking about only this from the very beginning, and my reference to the written form was only came as an interim issue within the discussion.

    If clearly mentioned I was arguing that

    1. Origin of the Sinhalese is mainly from the native people who were here when Vijaya and his men came to the island.

    2. Spoken Sinhala language today is an evolution of Elu (Hela) language of the native with the enrichment of many other languages.

    Again the main dispute was about the (2). above.

    Your position was that Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language and therefore it should come outside Sri Lanka.

    I have disputed this version with

    1. Adopting majority’s language by a small group of people.

    2. No reason given for disappearance of the language of the native people.

    2. On the basis of time taken for such a change.

    3. Non availability of a similar language India.

    4. Very high possibility of Hela native language being an Indic or Indo-Aryan language.

    5. Very low possibility of native language belonging to any other language group other than Indic or Indo-Aryan group,considering the geographical factors.

    6. If above (5) is correct, there is no contradiction in evolving the Indo-Aryan Sinhala language from the native language of Hela.

    6. Prevalence of unique words in Sinhala, not common in other Indo-Aryan languages.

    Further,

    7. Sony’s and burning issues explanations after your post on February 21, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

    8. Similarities found in Sinhala and the language of the Veddas clan.

    9. Similarities found in Maldivian language Dhivehi and Sinhala and Buddhist artifacts found there suggests and also it is an accepted fact that early settlers of these islands were Sinhalese. Their alphabet, “Tāna” is related to aArabic suggests that early Sinhalese settlers didn’t have a written language when they migrated to these islands. Therefore it is reasonable to think that Indo-Aryan language Dhivehi is an evolution of pr-Sinhala used by the natives of Lanka and consequently suggests that Sinhala is an evolution of the pre-Sinhala language of natives.

    10. The link given by Off the Cuff and the information given by him in his post,

    ““The notation used by the Island of Minicoy is purely Sinhalese containing a Duo decimal system up to a Hundred.” Ancient Jaffna, page 11 By C. Rasanayagam.

    Minicoy is off the western coast of India, NW of Sri Lanka. It was a Maldivian Island and is now Indian.”

    Please read “Ancient Jaffna, page 11 By C. Rasanayagam.” in the link given by Off the Cuff.

    How can your theory explain these simple facts? However, my notion explains all these puzzles.

    A good theory should be able to explain phenomena pertaining to that theory.

    Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Hi Sony, thank you for the message

    As a result vast areas of India were empty and waves and waves of Europeans arrived to fill the vacuum. What do you think the official language of India would be?

    I agree with you, and it is possible that something like this happened in Sri Lanka to explain how Sinhala (and Tamil) became dominant.

    However, I think it is also possible that the pre-Sinhala people did not die out or were not exterminated, but simply adopted Sinhala over a period of centuries and forgot their original language.

  • wijayapala

    Hi yapa,

    However, wrt the Spoken Sinhala I suppose evidence favour otherwise or rather, there are evidence which cannot be explained by the previous theory.

    But what is this evidence?

    *Modern* spoken Sinhala shows a direct link with written Sinhala of the past, going all the way back to the prakrit inscriptions. It shares similar vocabulary and grammar.

    1. Origin of the Sinhalese is mainly from the native people who were here when Vijaya and his men came to the island.

    Genetically, this is probably not true. We modern Sinhalese are basically South Indians speaking a language deriving mostly from N. India.

    2. Spoken Sinhala language today is an evolution of Elu (Hela) language of the native with the enrichment of many other languages.

    Elu was pre-Sanskritized (pre-12th century CE) Sinhala that evolved from Sinhala prakrit. It was an Indo-Aryan language with a clear connection with N. India.

    2. No reason given for disappearance of the language of the native people.

    I provided the example of the Andamese language going extinct just last week.

    3. Non availability of a similar language India.

    2000 years ago there were similar languages in India.

    4. Very high possibility of Hela native language being an Indic or Indo-Aryan language.

    If Hela/Elu is an Indo-Aryan language, then it had to have originated in India not SL. And this point contradicts your point #3.

    6. Prevalence of unique words in Sinhala, not common in other Indo-Aryan languages.

    This does not demonstrate a non-Indo-Aryan origin. Sinhala has Tamil words but that does not make Sinhala a Dravidian language.

    Your argument is difficult to follow, sometimes you say that Elu was an Indo-Aryan language and other times you say that it is not an Indo-Aryan language. If you claim that Elu was Indo-Aryan, then necessarily you are arguing that Sinhala originated in India.

    8. Similarities found in Sinhala and the language of the Veddas clan.

    The Veddas speak a pidgin form of Sinhala (and Tamil, in Tamil areas) the same way that the Andamese today speak pidgin Hindi. Their original language is lost.

    9. Similarities found in Maldivian language Dhivehi and Sinhala and Buddhist artifacts found there suggests and also it is an accepted fact that early settlers of these islands were Sinhalese. Their alphabet, “Tāna” is related to aArabic suggests that early Sinhalese settlers didn’t have a written language when they migrated to these islands.

    Or, the early Sinhala settlers did have a written script that was replaced by Tana later.

    The notation used by the Island of Minicoy is purely Sinhalese containing a Duo decimal system up to a Hundred.

    Yes, Minicoy and rest of Maldives had Sinhala-speaking settlers. How does this prove that the origin of Sinhala is Sri Lanka and not India?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    Your post of February 27, 2010 @ 12:33 am, was not visible on GV when I posted my reply of February 27, 2010 @ 1:52 am.

    Checked the Google link but there is no preview available.

    I hope the actual SC judgment I posted will be of help to you. It helped me to clear up the issues as it gives clear reasons for the Judgment.

    What I noticed in reading through this judgment is that the Petitioner lost in the lower courts and the Court of Appeal. If he gave up at that point and did not go to the SC the Thesawalami Law even today would be misinterpreted.

    This shows the importance of fighting for rights and taking it to the Highest Court. I firmly believe that this is something that the Tamils should do, to get their Constitutional Rights guaranteed in the Constitution implemented.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    “4. Very high possibility of Hela native language being an Indic or Indo-Aryan language.”

    If Hela/Elu is an Indo-Aryan language, then it had to have originated in India not SL. And this point contradicts your point #3.
    ……………………

    An Indo-Aryan language not necessarily to be originated in India. It can originate outside of India. This is the main point I wanted to make you understand. Please read the following again.

    “# ^ Note that, unlike the generic adjective “Indian”, “Indic” is the term used in the context of Indo-European linguistics, and is not strictly a geographical term; non-Indo-European languages spoken in India are not included in the term, while the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni, on the other hand, probably testifies to speakers of an Indic language that never settled on the Indian subcontinent”

    What is the probable group of languages pre Sinhala belong to, if it does not belong to Indic /Indo-Aryan group?

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “Having experienced the customs process at Heathrow Airport, no I’m afraid I don’t agree that race relations in the UK have changed since colonial times.”

    I am very sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at the Heathrow airport. These days, the customs and immigrations departments employ peoples from many ethnic minorities. I had a very bad experience at the Luton airport; this happened after having been commuting weekly for over year to and from Geneva. The Immigration officer who suspected my passport, not an Englishmen/women but who looked as if she is a Pakistani or Indian origin! My passport was examined studiously by two officers, and one of them was unpleasant to me. I filed a complaint copying to my MP; the situation was investigated and I could not follow it through as I was away from the country.

    This is another subject; I do not want to divert from the current discussions; there will be another time for this.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    I thank you for viewing this objectively. The Thesawalami is an ancient custom of people of Jaffna origin; whether it is codified in the country’s law or not, the people would follow it as it is a custom. In most cases it will pass unnoticed; however, there will be situations where family disputes can break down the customary processes; here the courts can play a role in resolving the issues as defined by the custom.

    This should not disadvantage others whatsoever; if there ever be a conflict between Thesawalami and statute law, the statute must prevail. Here I must stress that, the women rights must be confirmed to the statute law.

    “This shows the importance of fighting for rights and taking it to the Highest Court. I firmly believe that this is something that the Tamils should do, to get their Constitutional Rights guaranteed in the Constitution implemented.”

    I note your good intention here. If Sri Lankan judiciary is allowed to function without interferences from the state, it is comparable to any first world judiciary!
    On the other hand, if a common Sri Lankan identity is promoted with Tamils exercising their language nationally, there will be no place for separatism. On the other hand, if the Sinhala Buddhist identity is promoted as superior; the constitution is made to reflect this; Sinhala Buddhism is institutionalised in all government department, the Tamils will have futile times exercising their rights through the court system when it comes to their civil and language issues.

    “I hope the actual SC judgment I posted will be of help to you. It helped me to clear up the issues as it gives clear reasons for the Judgment.”

    Yes, thank you; I have saved it in my repository and will refer to it in the future.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    Please try the following link:

    http://tinyurl.com/yz3jntg

    I tested it and it wokes fine.

  • ModVoice

    @ Wijayapala

    “What do you propose? Mahinda apparently took the first step by eliminating the Buddha Sasana Ministry.”

    If they could just practice what Buddhism preaches, it would be adequate.

    “Wouldn’t this mean that the central government will retain control, since it controls the purse? And how much funding should it allocate- more or the same as the N-E’s contribution to the total economy?”

    Good point. I would say proportionate to what it contributes toward the economy but then there are parts of the country that may not be gifted with all the resources. A good point to ponder about.

    “I suspect that like most critics of the Mahavamsa, you have not read that text.”

    I admit I haven’t read any of those three chronicles you have mentioned.

    “This “son of the soil” feeling does not come from Mahavamsa. It comes from the fact that there is and has been no Sinhala civilization outside Sri Lanka- that Sri Lanka has been the only home of the Sinhalese.”

    Makes sense – quite evident from the comments here.

    “As the Mahavamsa itself demonstrates, Sinhala nationalism generally manifests only when there is a perceived threat. With the threat of the LTTE gone, it remains to be seen whether politicians can use the Sinhala nationalist card to win elections.”

    What was the perceived threat in 1956 when Sinhala Only policy was passed?
    Was LTTE the real threat or something else?

    @ Bardo, Off the Cuff

    With respect to ethnic enclaves, I do not believe the North and East of Sri Lanka should be called an ethnic enclave. The people there have been living in a historically defined area that was separately administered over time i.e. the Jaffna Kingdom. Can you call Tamil Nadu or Kerala an ethnic enclave in India? Ethnic enclave is suitable when we talk about immigrants settling in clusters in their new environment.

  • wijayapala

    Yapa,

    An Indo-Aryan language not necessarily to be originated in India. It can originate outside of India.

    The ancestor of all Indo-Aryan languages- from English through Bengali- came from somewhere in Central Asia probably not too far from Iran. This ancestor language had no name because it existed in prehistoric times and probably had no formal rules. The oldest evidence we have for this language is the language of the Rg Veda, which came to India from Central Asia 3000-4000 years ago. The old Indo-Aryan language also traveled west to Europe.

    This is what wikipedia meant by “an Indo-Aryan language not necessarily to be originated in India.” It did NOT mean that Indo-Aryan languages magically appeared outside India.

    After the nameless Indo-Aryan language came to India, slowly it evolved and developed formal rules, and the first prakrits and later Sanskrit appeared. One of these prakrits was ancient Sinhala, which came to Sri Lanka around 300 BCE, slowly adopted parts of the pre-Sinhala language and other languages like Tamil and Sanskrit, and evolved to modern times.

    What is the probable group of languages pre Sinhala belong to, if it does not belong to Indic /Indo-Aryan group?

    That is unknown. We know too little of the language to associate it with other languages. It may not even belong to a family as we know it.

    If I were to make a pure guess, the pre-Sinhala people may have been similar to the people of the Andamans and the aboriginal people of SE Asia. I read somewhere that Balangoda Man was genetically similar to similar fossils in Malaysia. They were in SL long before Indo-Aryan came to India.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    If Sri Lankan judiciary is allowed to function without interferences from the state, it is comparable to any first world judiciary!

    Agree with the above.
    However we have had very independent Chief Justices that have not been subservient to the Govt in power. The Fact that though the SL President is the appointing authority, he becomes powerless to give any orders to the CJ subsequently, encourages this.

    A good case to study is the Amirthalingam Sedition Case.

    Regarding the Constitutional place afforded to Buddhism, It seems to be misunderstood by most. The Constitution guarantees equality of religion.

    Article 9 of the constitution is a watered down remnant of clause 5 of the Kandyan Convention that the British Signed which in affect recognized Buddhism as the “State Religion” by declaring Buddhism Inviolable which gave it the foremost place and provided it with State Protection from the British since 1815.

    But Article 9 has the following safeguard instead of the word inviolable
    “while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 4(1)(e)”
    10 and 4(1)(e) deals with Religious Freedom.

    Hence it is not possible to maintain the “foremost place” for Buddhism UNLESS other religions are ASSURED of the rights granted to them by the same clause.

    Right up to Independence, under the Kandyan Convention that the British Signed, Buddhism became the defacto State Religion but under the current Constitution it is not so.

    References

    Kandyan Convention

    5. The religion of the Buddha is declared inviolable and its rights to be maintained and protected.

    Current Constitution of SL

    9. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

    10. Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

    Freedom of Speech, assembly, association, movement, &c.

    14. (1) Every citizen is entitled to –

    (e) the freedom, either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching;

  • Sony

    Dear Wijepala

    “… However, I think it is also possible that the pre-Sinhala people did not die out or were not exterminated, but simply adopted Sinhala over a period of centuries and forgot their original language.”

    I think this is the more plausible explanation in the Sri Lanka case. It would be very hard to believe that the natives did not have antibodies for new Indian germs, if there were any. One advantage the newcomers probably had was that they were farmers and the locals were (mainly) hunter gathers. But this advantage alone is not strong enough to wipe out the locals. It is also possible that there were more locals than the newcomers. Chronicle writers assigned a low number (700) for the number of newcomers. Within two generations, a local prince named Pandukabaya defeated the foreign royal house. Chronicles also indicate that there was a long lasting peace after this battle by assigning 70 years for Pandukabaya, 60 years for Mutasiva and 40 years for Devanampiya Tissa.

    I would not disregard these stories just because the chronicles were written ~800 years later. It is possible that Venerable Mahanama relied on existing written documents and tradition. (Bible, Euclid’s Elements, Homer’s Odyssey are few historic books written this way. As a matter of fact there is recent scientific research verifying the events written in the Odyssey. This kind of research is not done in Sri Lanka.)

    According to Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel)there are 6000 languages in the world today. 1000 of them are in New Guinea. Perhaps, Sinhala contains words from 1000 languages. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part. I have no knowledge of the origins of the Sinhala language.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Sony, I appreciate your responses and interest in the topic,

    One advantage the newcomers probably had was that they were farmers and the locals were (mainly) hunter gathers.

    It is also possible that the locals were divided between farmers and hunters, and that the farmers identified with the newcomers and adopted their culture (language and religion). Meanwhile, the hunters remained on the outside and maintained their separate ways, to an extent (rejecting Buddhism, but adopting a pidgin form of Sinhala language) to become the modern Veddas.

    I came across another genetic study, by S.B. Ellepola. He studied the Veddas and found that they inherited some genetic characteristics from the Sinhalese and other characteristics from another source. Another scholar named Kennedy examined the Balangoda Man fossil and found that it resembled the Veddas the most. Many of the physical traits that separated the Veddas from the Sinhalese and Indians were found in Balangoda Man. Ellepola concluded that the modern Veddas are a mix between the Sinhalese and Balangoda Man’s people.

    Ellepola also compared Veddas with other aboriginal people. He found that Veddas were closest with Malaysian aborigines, although the similarity between Veddas and Sinhalese was closer.

    Chronicles also indicate that there was a long lasting peace after this battle by assigning 70 years for Pandukabaya, 60 years for Mutasiva and 40 years for Devanampiya Tissa.

    I think this chronology is flawed. How could Pandukabaya have ruled for 70 years and his son Mutasiva for 60 years? Pandukabaya would have been 90-100 years old when he died. For Mutasiva to become king and rule for 60 years, Pandukabaya would have had to be 50 years old, and even there Mutasiva would have lived to 100-110 years!!

    I think the hamadurus who wrote Mahavamsa fudged these numbers a little to match Buddha’s Paranibbana with Vijaya coming to SL. Anyway I like the Panduabaya story.

  • wijayapala

    Dear ModVoice,

    If they could just practice what Buddhism preaches, it would be adequate.

    Who’s “they?”

    I would say proportionate to what it contributes toward the economy but then there are parts of the country that may not be gifted with all the resources. A good point to ponder about.

    Sadly, very few federalists have pondered this or most other aspects of devolution. They seem to think that all problems in SL will magically disappear if SL grafts Swiss or Canadian federalism into the constitution. In that sense, they aren’t very different from those villagers who follow astrology and fear the evil eye.

    What was the perceived threat in 1956 when Sinhala Only policy was passed?

    English or Anglophile domination. Post-independence SL was a classic case of Samuel Huntington’s “torn country,” divided between the pro-Western elite and the masses who are alienated from the West (and thus the elites as well).

    SWRD Bandaranaike- who did not represent the masses by any stretch of the imagination- defined his Sinhala nationalist movement in the early 20th century as representing five classes: the Buddhist clergy, the Sinhala vernacular teachers, the Ayurvedic healers, the urban workers, and the farmers.

    For the first four classes, there was a dominant colonial counterpart who marginalized the Sinhala counterpart. The Christian missionary displaced the Sangha (whom up through the mid-19th century was a very passive and tolerant entity, much unlike what evolved later in the 20th century), English teachers displaced Sinhala teachers, Western medicine displaced Ayurveda, all in the 19th century.

    In the early 20th century, the native Sinhala worker was displaced by imported S. Indian labor which worked for lower wages and thus served as a “scab” against the rising labor movement (which explains why the early labor movement under A.E. Goonesinha was so racist). The farmer was the only class that did not have a colonial counterpart, but they formed the bulk of the population and their lack of English proficiency disconnected them from the post-independence UNP governments.

    If you want to understand Sinhala society, you have to see it in terms of the English-speaking Sinhalese vs the non-English-speaking Sinhalese. This key difference has been far more relevant than divisions based on region, caste, or even religion. The English-speakers were dominant and the non-English-speakers were on the outside; it was very common that the English-speakers did not know a word of Sinhala. SWRD himself firmly belonged to the English-speaking class although he learned to speak Sinhala (he could not read or write Sinhala though).

    I do not believe the North and East of Sri Lanka should be called an ethnic enclave. The people there have been living in a historically defined area that was separately administered over time i.e. the Jaffna Kingdom.

    As mentioned previously, the Jaffna Kingdom never controlled the East at all (although it did exert control over a large part of the western coast), and the East was not always separately administered.

    Precolonial history is a rather poor basis for Tamil nationalism. You’re better off sticking with your previous argument that the Tamils feel safer in a Tamil homeland. I wasn’t able to dispute that point.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    Just leave the Buddhism, Sinhala, and the Sri Lankan constitution apart for a minute; are you seriously inferring that, the Kandyan Convention that was signed by the British in return for the assistance given to them in defeating the King, was binding the entire regions? Since, it was conspicuous that the Northern region for example had been a separate kingdom for numerous centuries.

    In all seriousness, the Kandyan Convention was only meant for that region; It is the work of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists to associate it to the entire nation; please do not fall for that. We cannot build a Sri Lanka for all on this basis; Sinhala Buddhists need not feel insecure; Buddhism will get its due place in Sri Lanka if it is left alone!

  • Sony

    Dear Wijayapala

    I tend to agree with your theory that Chronicle writers tried to align the Parinibbana with the arrival of Vijaya. Unfortunately, the chronicle date of Parinibbana has been discarded by many historians according to the given source. Some recent opinions put Parinibbana about 100 years later. If this is true, then Rev. Mahanama could have easily assigned much more realistic numbers such as 35 for Pandukabaya, 30 for Mutasiva, and 20 for Devanampiyathissa and still match the Parinibbana with the arrival of Vijaya. 🙂

    Source: India, a History by John Keay

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue

    In all seriousness, the Kandyan Convention was only meant for that region; It is the work of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists to associate it to the entire nation; please do not fall for that.

    Actually the Convention does not specify that its terms applied solely to the Kandyan region. The fact remains that there were plenty of Buddhists who lived outside Kandy; 20th century Sinhala Buddhist nationalism had its roots in the low country, not Kandy.

    You’re missing the larger picture that for literally the past 2000 years, protection of Buddhism was the key indicator for legitimacy among the Sinhala Buddhists who comprised most of the population. The kings themselves did not have to be Sinhala or even Buddhist, but they still had to play that role. The kings of Kandy were considered legitimate even by people who lived in British-occupied areas. That is why the Kandyan Convention, which resulted in the *entire* island passing to the British, would not have been possible without that condition.

    We cannot build a Sri Lanka for all on this basis; Sinhala Buddhists need not feel insecure; Buddhism will get its due place in Sri Lanka if it is left alone!

    Your concern is touching, but history suggests otherwise. Buddhism originated not in Sri Lanka but in India. In fact, at the time that Buddhism came to SL, it was virtually the state religion of India under Asoka Maurya.

    So ultimately what happened to Buddhism in India? Did it get its “due place?”

    In answering those questions, you’ll understand a little more the “insecurity” of the Sinhala Buddhists.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “In answering those questions, you’ll understand a little more the “insecurity” of the Sinhala Buddhists.”

    I do totally understand the feeling of Insecurity of the Sinhala Buddhists though I do not believe, even for a sec, that their security is challenged in any stretch of my imagination. This state of insecurity has been drummed into them for political expediency. Do you think that there is some sort of conspiracy to wipe out the Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka? Are the Tamils conspiring to harm the Sinhalese? Tamils being one of the minority communities naturally feel insecure and the history is on their side!

    The Sri Lanka needs the Sinhalese to be strong and secure then only we can expect tangible peace in the country.

    If the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka is to be protected, Sri Lanka needs the Sinhala Buddhists to accommodate the minorities with absolute equality without fearing for their security.

    “Actually the Convention does not specify that its terms applied solely to the Kandyan region. The fact remains that there were plenty of Buddhists who lived outside Kandy; 20th century Sinhala Buddhist nationalism had its roots in the low country, not Kandy.”

    Let me confess first that, I am not an expert on Kandyan Convention, but find it inconceivable to believe that the Convention was binding the entire regions, when Sri Lanka minus Kandyan Kingdom was being administrated in two sections over 291 years by the Portuguese and the Dutch respectively. In turn, the British perpetuated the same for about 19 years before when the Kandyan Convention was signed and it is nonsensical to assert that they agreed to bind the entire regions to the Convention; this is beyond my capacity to comprehend.

    The Kadyan Convention was proclaimed in 1815. The British amalgamated all administrative regions into one in 1838. How could one claim that the Kandyan Convention was binding the entire regions?

    Yes, I take your point that there were plenty of Buddhists who lived outside of Kandy; so were the Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. The Jaffna Kingdom/ region was almost exclusively comprised of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. What aspects of the Kanyan Convention attributable to the Northern Region?

    I list below the provisions of Kandyan Convention: Source: by Aryadasa Ratnasinghe – Daily News, Sat Mar 2, 2002

    1. Sri Wickrema Rajasinha, the Malabari king to forfeit all claims to the throne of Kandy.
    2. The king is declared fallen and deposed and the hereditary claim of his dynasty, abolished and extinguished.
    3. All his male relatives are banished from the island.
    4. The dominion is vested in the sovereign of the British Empire, to be exercised through colonial governors, except in the case of the Adikarams, Disavas, Mohottalas, Korales, Vidanes and other subordinate officers reserving the rights, privileges and powers within their respective ranks.
    5. The religion of the Buddha is declared inviolable and its rights to be maintained and protected.
    6. All forms of physical torture and mutilations are abolished.
    7. The Governor alone can sentence a person to death and all capital publishments to take place in the presence of accredited agents of the government.
    8. All civil and criminal justice over Kandyan to be administered according to the established norms and customs of the country, the government reserving to itself the rights of interposition when and where necessary.
    9. Over non-Kandyans the position to remain according to British law.
    10. The proclamation annexing the Three and Four Korales and Sabaragamuwa is repealed.
    11. The dues and revenues to be collected for the King of England as well as for the maintenance of internal establishments in the island.
    12. The Governor alone would facilitate trade and commerce.”

    Please note the clause number 9; “Over non-Kandyans the position to remain according to British law.” What does this mean? In my view, the Non-Kandyans means all who weren’t the subjects of the Kandyan Kingdom. This is the basis of my assertion.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “So ultimately what happened to Buddhism in India? Did it get its “due place?””

    So, do you believe that, if there is no state protection of Buddhism, it will be harmed in Sri Lanka? I hope that this is not your view but the position of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists!

    In your view, what will it take to the Sinhala Buddhist to feel secure? What is expected of the minorities?

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    Your notion about Sinhala language is that it evolved from Prakrit which came from India. The language of Magadha kingdom was known as Prakrit. However, there is another meaning for the term Prakrit which different from the above meaning. I think this second meaning is the one that matters when talking about evolution of languages.
    According to Vishwanath Wajirasena, who has written an essay on “Tamil Literature”
    in the book ” Vishva Sahithya” published by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Department, the meaning of Prakrit in this sense is ” Taken place automatically” or “originated itself”. This is what he has written in Sinhala

    “Sinhala prakrutha bhashawak lesa handunwathi.Dhamilayada prakrutha Bhashawaki. Mehidee ma “prakrutha” shaubdaya yodanne Maghada Deshaye “prakrutha” namin pewathi bhasha hendineemata yedoo abhidhanayak washayen nowa “nisarga sidda” woo hewath “ibe hatagath” yana theruma yatatheya. Hela bas ara yam tharamakata nisarga siddada Dhamila bhashawath e tharamatama nisarga sddhaya.”

    According to this Sinhala is a language originated itself/taken place itself. In this meaning Prakrit Sinhala, that is the early form of Sinhala is a language originated itself in Sri Lanka. Please read the following link (Wikipedia), it also support the above notion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prakrit

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    I would like to quote the following: Source: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lkawgw/sinhalarace.htm

    “Origin of the Sinhala race – Wed Island Oct 29 2003
    This has relevance to Mr. D. Senaratne’s contribution in The Island of 04.10.2003.
    No one needs to have specialist qualification to arrive at rational and logical conclusions from the works of research workers. There are many instances of doubt cast on the early conclusions on archaeological and historical inscriptions found in Ceylon or Sri Lanka.
    Most of the controversial issues in relation to the Tamil, Sinhala race and language can be solved if we understand and accept that Sinhalese are as much Dravidians as the Tamils themselves.
    Pioneer priests who introduced Buddhism in Ceylon were Dravidians, who were born Hindus. That is why Asian Buddhists adopted Hindu gods in their worship pattern.
    What percentage of Sri Lankan Buddhists appreciate the fact the sage Mahinda who introduced Buddhism in Ceylon is a Dravidian and not a relation of King Asoka.
    Sinhala scholar Mudliyar Gunawardena at a lecture delivered at Ananda College on 28.09.1918 had stated “….the science of exmination of the structure of a sentence is called its grammar. The grammar of the Sinhala language is Dravidian…”
    Prof. J. B. Dissanayake in his book “Understanding the Sinhalese” at page 118 states “….Sinhala occupies a unique position among the languages of South Asia because of its close affinity, with two of the major linguistic families of the Indian sub continent Indo-Aryan and Dravidian…” From this, one can conclude that Sinhala in written form could have been made by one or many, who knew both Dravidian and Aryan language. Thus early Dravidian Buddhist priests were scholars in Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit, to make Sinhala in spoken and written form possible.
    Sinhala language is classified as a modern Indo-Aryan language. All modern Indo-Aryan languages date after 10th century A.D. Earliest Sinhala classics Amavatura and Buthsarana date after 12th century A.D.
    Sinhala scripts resemble those of Malayalam and Tamil. There is a claim that a Malayali without prior knowledge in Sinhala is able to read many words from a Sinhala daily. In Malayalam about 491 scripts are possible and Sinhala about 471. Two languages with largest number of scripts? Vowels in Malayalam are called Isuwarangal and in Sinhala Isuvara. In Malayalam and Sinhala consonants are called Viyanchana.
    After 6th century A.D. all Buddhists in Ceylon were called Sinhala in spite of many of them non-Sinhala speaking.
    This tradition continued even up to 15th century A.D. Robert Knox time and long after. A separate essay is necessary on how this situation arose. Following are some points of interest!
    1. About 45 A.D. envoys from Ceylon to King’s Court in Rome spoke Tamil.
    2. Galle trilingual slab dates back to 8th Century A.D. It is in Chinese, Persian and Tamil. Sinhala was not developed in written form at that time hence its absence. It refers to China’s gold offerings to Thevanag Nayaner, God of Devinuwara.
    3. Arab settlers came to Ceylon about 7th century A.D. Their descendants are now called Muslims and Moors. They learned Tamil because that would have been the language in use.
    4. Examination of Sigiri Epigraphy reveals the scripts in many instances are of Tamil Malayalam and Sinhala, some in mixed form.
    5. Royal edicts of Vijayabahu (A.D. 1056-1111) were in Sinhala and Tamil.
    6. Kandyan Convention was signed in 1815. Examination of the scripts of the signature of Kandyan chiefs reveal a mixture of Malayalam, Sinhala and Tamil.
    7. It was held that learning and understanding of Buddhist Pali scriptures were made easier if one had a sound knowledge of Tamil and Sanskrit.
    All these contribute to the conclusion that Sinhalese are as much Dravidians as the Tamils themselves and Sinhala race and language was still developing upto 10th century A.D.
    Sri Lankan
    Colombo”

    Many of the points mentioned here back what Wijayapala has been saying. However, the point about as to when exactly the Sinhala language became a mature language needs to be debated. There is no doubt that the Sinhala Grammar is dravadian!

  • yapa

    Dear Sony;

    I would like to draw your attention to the facts given in my post on March 3, 2010 @ 9:22 pm, addressed to Wijayapala.

    Thanks!

  • ModVoice

    “Sadly, very few federalists have pondered this or most other aspects of devolution. They seem to think that all problems in SL will magically disappear if SL grafts Swiss or Canadian federalism into the constitution. In that sense, they aren’t very different from those villagers who follow astrology and fear the evil eye.”

    So what do you propose, Wijayapala? What do you think about Rajapakse’s “home grown” solution – that is village level powers?

    “Who’s “they?” ”

    I was referring to the political monks.

    “Precolonial history is a rather poor basis for Tamil nationalism.”

    I agree. I don’t think Tamil nationalism picked up until Sinhala Only policy and “reverse discrimination” that the Sinhalese claim, so it is not purely based on precolonial history. Tamil people probably knew that having an Eelam that primarily consists of the relatively dry North and some portions of the East, as per precolonial history, is not a smart idea.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning Issue,

    This state of insecurity has been drummed into them for political expediency.

    So you believe that the Sinhalese are such a stupid people, that they believe anything the politicians tell them no matter how far removed it is from reality?

    So, do you believe that, if there is no state protection of Buddhism, it will be harmed in Sri Lanka? I hope that this is not your view but the position of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists!

    What I think hardly matters. Most Sinhala Buddhists probably would not consider the government to be legitimate if it did not assume the historic role of protecting Buddhism. If a particular government did not perform well, the opposition would rally the people around the fact that the government did not assume the role of protecting Buddhism and was allowing the country to slide.

    Buddhism worldwide generally thrived where it was sponsored by the ruling power. Conversely, it failed where it was not sponsored. Buddhism began to decline in SL after the collapse of the Rajarata civilization in the 13th century CE. From this period up to the rise of Kandy around the 18th century, Buddhist scholarship was virtually nonexistent. Ironically, it was very likely that the Sinhalese would have converted to Islam if the anti-Muslim Portuguese did not show up.

    You did not answer my point about Buddhism disappearing in India, and I provided an explanation above.

    If you want to believe that most Sinhala people are Sinhala nationalists, you are free to do so but that really won’t change anything. If you want to persuade Sinhala people, you’ll have to use history and not simply offer your opinion.

    Sri Lanka needs the Sinhala Buddhists to accommodate the minorities with absolute equality without fearing for their security.

    Your use of the term “minority” merits analysis. The Sinhalese see themselves as a “minority” in that there are no Sinhalese outside Sri Lanka in significant numbers. There aren’t 70 million Sinhalese in a next-door “Sinhala Nadu” or 1.5 billion Sinhalese worldwide from Morocco through Indonesia.

    The above fact was hammered home by the history of the war itself. The LTTE was able to become a powerful organization because it had not only sanctuary in Tamil Nadu but access to the financial resources of the Tamil Nadu state govt. as well. Even recently, with the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, a lot of noise was generated in Tamil Nadu for the GOSL to stop the war.

    If things were reversed and the Sinhalese were getting killed, who would speak up for them?

    Stephen Cohen labeled this phenomenon as “paired-minority conflict” arguing that a perception by both parties of a conflict as being minorities often leads to a protracted, long-lasting conflict. He was talking about India and Pakistan, but brought up Sri Lanka as an example.

    Having said that, I think that most Sinhalese have a flawed, paranoid perception of Tamils that needs to be corrected. For example, although it is true that there are more Tamils worldwide than Sinhalese, the Tamils are hardly united and do not act with a common purpose. For all the noise generated in Tamil Nadu towards the end of the war, the Indian Tamils voted to keep the incumbent DMK-Congress in power. The vast majority of Indian Tamils are utterly ignorant about SL, but Sinhalese don’t know that.

    In sum, the Sinhala problem is the perception of Tamils, not the demand for state protection of Buddhism which had no impact at all on Hindus, Christians, and Muslims in Sri Lanka.

    I am not an expert on Kandyan Convention, but find it inconceivable to believe that the Convention was binding the entire regions

    And most Sinhalese find it “inconceivable” that the clause on protecting Buddhism excluded the Buddhists outside Kandy. The entire legitimacy of the Kandyan kingdom rested on protecting Buddhism.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Sony,

    Unfortunately, the chronicle date of Parinibbana has been discarded by many historians according to the given source. Some recent opinions put Parinibbana about 100 years later.

    I don’t agree with these recent opinions. Separate from the Mahavamsa tradition, Paranibbana was dated to the 6th century BCE by Pali literature which accurately dated Emperor Asoka to the 3rd century BCE. The “recent opinions” are based on scholars relying on Chinese literature which knocks off 100 years by making Kalasoka of the 2nd Buddhist Council as the same as Emperor Asoka (3rd Council). The Chinese literature is less reliable than the Pali because it originated at a later date.

    Chronologically speaking, the Mahavamsa is highly accurate all the way back to King Devanampiya-Tissa who is described as a contemporary of Emperor Asoka. Greek inscriptions confirm that Emperor Asoka lived in the 3rd century BCE, with only a 60-year margin of error (very good considering that the Mahavamsa spans 2300 years!).

  • wijayapala

    Dear Yapa,

    It seems that I may have been wrong about the Vedda language, apparently it exists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedda_language

    “According to De Silva and Dharmadasa, when the colonization of island by various Indian settlers using common Prakrits in use in India began in 5th century BCE, some elements of the Vedda coalesced with the settlers and lost their language through language replacement.[19] Where as more conservative elements maintaining a hunter gatherer lifestyle moved into the central highlands known in early literature as Malaya Rata. Most Indian settlers colonized the North, Northwestern, Eastern and South Eastern lowlands of the country leaving the heavily forested central high lands to the ancestors of Veddas, specifically Rajarata and Ruhuna.[19] With the collapse of the lowland dry zone civilization starting in the 9th century, descendants of the Indian settlers who had begun to speak Sinhalese moved in the central highlands. The trade and other connections made by the speakers of completely different languages such as Sinhalese and Vedda language(s) unknown genetic affinities gave rise to a period of use of a Pidgin of the languages. [19] There were borrowings of limited number of terms related trade and eventually daily life by the elites of the Vedda from Sinhalese that was eventually adopted the rest of the Veddas.”

    The language of Magadha kingdom was known as Prakrit.

    No, the language of Magadha was Pali (also called Magadhi). Prakrit was not a language but a group of similar languages, of which Pali and ancient Sinhala were two.

    According to this Sinhala is a language originated itself/taken place itself. In this meaning Prakrit Sinhala, that is the early form of Sinhala is a language originated itself in Sri Lanka.

    I agree that Sinhala prakrit is unique to Sri Lanka, but the basic fact that it is a prakrit proves that its origin traces to India.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    Thanks for your detailed reply; may be that I need to understand more about the Insecurity of the Sinhala Buddhists! I have read some materials regarding the Sinhala Buddhist Insecurity; I knew that it is a contributory issue, but did not realize that it is the fundamental issue. I debated about this in other forums; many Sinhalese did not want to even entertain the notion that they are Insecure thus jettisoning the need for a debate. I am glad that you have identified this as fundamental to peace in Sri Lanka.

    “So you believe that the Sinhalese are such a stupid people, that they believe anything the politicians tell them no matter how far removed it is from reality?”

    No; far from it; I do not regard the Sinhala people as stupid. However, when people feel insecure about their very existence, they tend to do irrational things!

    “ Most Sinhala Buddhists probably would not consider the government to be legitimate if it did not assume the historic role of protecting Buddhism.”

    When you say most Sinhala Buddhists, what would be the percentage? I think that, the Sinhala Buddhists amount to 65% of the entire population; out of which, what is the percentage that would feel that it is the duty of the state to protect Buddhism?

    “ If a particular government did not perform well, the opposition would rally the people around the fact that the government did not assume the role of protecting Buddhism and was allowing the country to slide.”

    You asked me before that whether I believe the Sinhala Buddhist are such a stupid people or not! While I insist that I do not think that they are stupid, but it is inexplicable that, the politicians have been able to buy their votes so cheaply through such methods for over 60 years. For example, the British public ditched Churchill at the post war election in favour of Social Justice and elected a Labour Government. In Sri Lanka, the people can be so easily fooled along the lines of ethnicity; that goes for all communities. The Tamil politicians fooled the Tamils too.

    “Buddhism worldwide generally thrived where it was sponsored by the ruling power. Conversely, it failed where it was not sponsored.”

    I concur with you on this; the history stands as evidence. However, we need to pay attention to the periods in which such events took place. Let’s be fair; these days, I see in two ways Buddhism can decline in Sri Lanka: 1. Encroachment of Christian Missionaries; 2. A natural disaster the likes of the mighty Tsunami. The second point is beyond any human intervention. The first point has direct correlation to the religious freedom and democracy. People should be free to do whatever they want. In the UK, the Anglicanism is in a state of decline. If anything, the Catholism is in the increase as a result of new immigrants from Eastern Europe. But the state cannot protect the Church of England by any means as it is contradictory to the principles of democracy. This is where, the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists have a quandary as they cannot be democrats!

    “Buddhism began to decline in SL after the collapse of the Rajarata civilization in the 13th century CE. From this period up to the rise of Kandy around the 18th century, Buddhist scholarship was virtually nonexistent. Ironically, it was very likely that the Sinhalese would have converted to Islam if the anti-Muslim Portuguese did not show up.”

    Yes, I agree that, if the Portuguese had not shown up, the Muslims would have taken over whole of Colombo and beyond. The Portuguese did untold damages to Hindu landmark temples as well; many ancient Hindu places of worships were ruthlessly destroyed; I am sure same goes for Buddhist places too.

    Are the Sinhaelse worried about Buddhism or them as a group of people? Buddhist is an internationally renowned faith; there is no dander whatsoever that it will be extinct.

    “You did not answer my point about Buddhism disappearing in India, and I provided an explanation above.”

    I agree with you on this that Buddhism almost but disappeared from India; this happened during the ancient times. If this did not happen, Buddhism would not be in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia and beyond.

    “If you want to believe that most Sinhala people are Sinhala nationalists, you are free to do so but that really won’t change anything. If you want to persuade Sinhala people, you’ll have to use history and not simply offer your opinion.”

    I do not believe that, the most Sinhalese are nationalists. On one-to-one bases, the Sinhalese the best people one can meet, but collectively, on the national question, they are intolerant. I hope that I summed it correctly.

    “ The Sinhalese see themselves as a “minority” in that there are no Sinhalese outside Sri Lanka in significant numbers. There aren’t 70 million Sinhalese in a next-door “Sinhala Nadu” or 1.5 billion Sinhalese worldwide from Morocco through Indonesia.”

    You hit the nail on the head as to the basis of the Sinhala Insecurity. This is why, I always argued that, the Tamils must disassociate themselves from Tamil Nadu; The Sri Lankan Tamils are much better off living with the Sinhala than have any sort of affinity with the Tamil Nadu. Ok, we speak the same language, and almost the same culture but so are the Sinhalese. We, Tamils, must jointly build Sri Lanka with the Sinhalese and be Sri Lankans and not Indians.

    “The LTTE was able to become a powerful organization because it had not only sanctuary in Tamil Nadu but access to the financial resources of the Tamil Nadu state govt. as well. Even recently, with the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, a lot of noise was generated in Tamil Nadu for the GOSL to stop the war.”

    In all seriousness, it was Indra Gandhi’s foreign policy that actively supported the Tamil militancy. If the central government had been anti Tamil militants at that time, it would not have allowed it full stop. The Tamil militancy used the political conditions at that time, and used whatever apparatuses that were supporting them. You must agree that there were many such Tamil militant groups; eventually, one, the LTTE, came to the prominence and outlasted the rest because of one individual. The Valuplillai Prabhakaran; he was inimitable such that there will not be another one like him for many centuries to come. I say this on the basis that, he never deviated from his conviction and fought and died for it. He did everything that was possible in order to achieve his aims. This does not mean that I agreed with his methods and the path he took the Tamil nationalism. It was because of him, the Tamil nationalism lasted in that fashion for over 30 years and in the end the Tamils have lost far more than otherwise. All other Tamil militant leaders could have been bought at a price! M.G. Ramachandren was a factor too; it was during his tenure that the Tamil Nadu was very supportive towards the Tamil course. However, for an Indian, all non-Indians are foreigners and Sri Lankan Tamils are not exempted.

    “Having said that, I think that most Sinhalese have a flawed, paranoid perception of Tamils that needs to be corrected. For example, although it is true that there are more Tamils worldwide than Sinhalese, the Tamils are hardly united and do not act with a common purpose. For all the noise generated in Tamil Nadu towards the end of the war, the Indian Tamils voted to keep the incumbent DMK-Congress in power. The vast majority of Indian Tamils are utterly ignorant about SL, but Sinhalese don’t know that.”

    You are spot on about the Tamils; they are not even united within Sri Lanka let alone around the world. TULF united the Tamils under SJVC and Amirthlingham perpetuated it for a while until they all got killed by the LTTE. The Unison that was fronted by the LTTE, the TNA was/is a shambles. The Sinhalese need not to fear Tamils, but can greatly benefit from their ability to create wealth.

    “In sum, the Sinhala problem is the perception of Tamils, not the demand for state protection of Buddhism which had no impact at all on Hindus, Christians, and Muslims in Sri Lanka.”

    I have an issue with the state patronage of Buddhism that codified in the constitution. On the strength of this, some Sinhala Buddhist nationalists plant Buddha statues wherever they like. It is not about protecting Buddhism but about willfully and arrogantly impose that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist state and no one can ask questions about it. This is undemocratic and unjust and must be curtailed.

    “And most Sinhalese find it “inconceivable” that the clause on protecting Buddhism excluded the Buddhists outside Kandy. The entire legitimacy of the Kandyan kingdom rested on protecting Buddhism.”

    I am sorry Wijayapala, to me, it is perfectly logical that the Convention excluded the non-Kandyans. However, it was one thing that, the Convention is expected to include all Buddhists regardless of wherever they lived within Sri Lanka, but it was quite another to expect it to bind all Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike whether one liked it or not. It was/is totally unreasonable and unethical. I do not know when and how the Sinhala Buddhists can be made to feel secure so that all can live in peace!

  • Sony

    Hi Yapa

    I do enjoy your discussion with Wijayapala. I have very little (I mean hardly any – OK no) knowledge of the languages. I thought of buying the book suggested by Wijayapala but it is out of print.

    All I know about “Prakrit” is what my mother used to tell me. That is, to have a “Prakurthi Manasak”. She hated “Vikurthi adahas” I had when I was young. 🙂

    So I searched “Prakurthi Manasa” on the web. I found the following site which gives the meaning “natural form” to Prakrit as you suggested.

    http://www.mayuveda.com/Prakriti-Vikruti-concept-ev.asp

  • Sony

    Dear Wijayapala and Yapa

    After thinking more about my mother’s “Prakurthi Manasa” and arguments made by both of you I came up with my own theory which favors Yapa’s position.

    I know that “Sanskrutha” was the learned man’s language in ancient India. Therefore, any other language, that is a commoner’s language is normally formed or “Prakurthi”. I also know that Gauthama Buddha used commoner’s language. He spent quite a bit of time in Maghada, the most powerful kingdom of his domain at the time. That means he was using the commoner’s (prakurthi) language Pali as he was preaching against the “learned” Brahmanas.

    In Newton’s time the learned man’s language was Latin and therefore, all scientific papers were written in Latin, not English.

    If this theory is true then Sinhala being a common man’s language is another prakurhi language. This does not necessarily have to come form India.

  • Sony

    Dear Wijayapala

    “… I don’t agree with these recent opinions. Separate from the Mahavamsa tradition, Paranibbana was dated to the 6th century BCE by Pali literature which accurately dated Emperor Asoka to the 3rd century BCE. The “recent opinions” are based on scholars relying on Chinese literature which knocks off 100 years by making Kalasoka of the 2nd Buddhist Council as the same as Emperor Asoka (3rd Council). The Chinese literature is less reliable than the Pali because it originated at a later date.

    Chronologically speaking, the Mahavamsa is highly accurate all the way back to King Devanampiya-Tissa who is described as a contemporary of Emperor Asoka. Greek inscriptions confirm that Emperor Asoka lived in the 3rd century BCE, with only a 60-year margin of error (very good considering that the Mahavamsa spans 2300 years!).”

    This is very interesting. You may be right. I read only one history book about India. Could you please direct me to the source where these research findings can be found. I appreciate it.

    History is a very hard subject. For example, consider the JR era. If you read “A History of Sri Lanka” by K. M. De Silva, you will get the feeling that JR is just another leader, not a bad leader. If you read, “Sri Lanka in the Modern Age – A History of Contested Identities” by Nira Wickramasinghe or “Recolonization – Foreign Funded NGOs in Sri Lanka” by Susantha Goonathilaka you get a totally different picture of JR, a bad one. In a thousand years time people in Sri Lanka could be debating which interpretation of JR that they should believe.

    Thirty years ago, a nobel price winning Physicist and his up and coming Geologist son (Luiz and Walter Alvarez) declared that Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) extinction was caused by an asteroid impact 65 million years ago. (Read “Night comes to Cretaceous” by James Lawrence Powell to get a good account of their research.) A counter argument was proposed almost immediately that the KT extinction was caused by volcanic activity in India or by both. Many geologists, paleontologists, geochemists, climate modelers, geophysicists, sedimentologists etc. gathered evidence for the past 30 years. A team of 41 scientists looked at all the gathered data and came to the conclusion that the asteroid impact theory is the correct one. (See Science Magazine March 5, 2010) The abstract can be found at 
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;327/5970/1214?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=kt+extinction&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=date&resourcetype=HWCIT

    In my humble opinion, Sri Lankan historians should work with experts from other disciplines to form consensus. I have not seen anything in print, like the kind of research done in western countries. I may be ignorant about the research done in Sri Lanka. In that case, I am sure someone would point out where I can find such research.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    many Sinhalese did not want to even entertain the notion that they are Insecure

    Usually the people with the greatest sense of insecurity have the greatest denial about it.

    I would like to be clear about something: being insecure is NO EXCUSE to treat other people poorly. None of what I wrote above excuses any of the atrocities committed by Sinhalese against Tamils and others AT ALL. Also there is no excuse for Sinhalese to be IGNORANT and even worse APATHETIC about the current plight of Tamils especially the IDPs.

    What I am talking about is simply Sinhalese insecurity and why it is there. The solution for this insecurity is for Sinhalese to become smarter and not so clueless about the world and other people. Since I am Sinhala, this is my task to do.

    When you say most Sinhala Buddhists, what would be the percentage?

    About 70% of the total population is Buddhist, might be more now with the reduced population in the N-E.

    Even if only half that number believed that Buddhism must be protected in Sri Lanka, they hold this view much more strongly than those who don’t.

    While I insist that I do not think that they are stupid, but it is inexplicable that, the politicians have been able to buy their votes so cheaply through such methods for over 60 years.

    Think of it this way- what choice did they have (even with the recent race between Fonseka and Mahinda)?

    SWRD Bandaranaike was the first and only politician to win solely on the Sinhala Buddhist plank. Afterwards, left vs. right politics became prominent. SLFP promised the sun and the moon to the poor people. After they ruined the economy, the UNP would win the next election.

    Sinhalese are not stupid when it comes to basic facts like there are no Sinhalese outside Sri Lanka, but they are stupid when it comes to understanding other people and cultures.

    I have an issue with the state patronage of Buddhism that codified in the constitution. On the strength of this, some Sinhala Buddhist nationalists plant Buddha statues wherever they like.

    They don’t plant the Buddha statues because of the Constitution. If the Tamils were Buddhists, these guys would find some other “non-Tamil” symbol to plant in the N-E.

    Take Thesavalamai for example. Some Sinhalese believe that it is discrimination against non-Tamils. However, there hasn’t been a single case where non-Tamils were barred from purchasing property in Jaffna because of Thesavalamai, so this is just hype. It would be extremely foolish to argue that Tamils are anti-Sinhala because of Thesavalamai. I feel the same way about the argument that protecting Buddhism in the Constitution has led to anti-Tamil policies.

    Are the Sinhaelse worried about Buddhism or them as a group of people?

    A lot of Sinhalese don’t see a difference, because Buddhism in SL is the oldest continuing tradition of Buddhism in the world. Theravada Buddhism is found in a few other countries. But the Sinhalese as a people are only in SL.

    On one-to-one bases, the Sinhalese the best people one can meet, but collectively, on the national question, they are intolerant.

    The truth is that whatever Sinhalese do on the collective level reflects what they hide inside as individuals. We need to accept this and stop hiding. I suspect Tamils are the same, but no need to digress.

    All other Tamil militant leaders could have been bought at a price!

    What about Padmanabha?

    I do not know when and how the Sinhala Buddhists can be made to feel secure so that all can live in peace!

    We need to empathize with the suffering of others. That is the solution. We probably will always feel insecure but we can do it without harming others.

  • wijayapala

    Sony,

    Everything you said about Sanskrit being a “learned man’s” language and prakrit and Sinhala being common man language is correct.

    But how does that show that the oldest form of Sinhala did not necessarily come from India?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning _Issue / Wijayapala

    Just checked back on this thread after some time. Great to observe the obvious moderation in your discussion . I agree with most of what both of you say and will try to enrich it as time permits as Burning_Issue has a problem with the clause in the Constitution about Religion. In understanding the Sinhalese it would be helpful to look at the difficulties they faced in the pre independence and immediate post independence era. The Tamil peasantry also had similar problems during that time.

    Dear Wijayapala / Yapa / Sony,

    Great discussion. Very educative.
    Enjoyed it immensely.
    Thank you

  • Sony

    Dear Wijayapala

    Prakurthi means naturally (normally) formed. In the context of languages this word is used to categorize ANY language other than Sanskrutha which was probably gods given.

    The early Sinhala, being a prakurthi language in the above sense, which could have been the language of the natives prior to the arrival of Indians*, does not necessarily have to come from India.

    My theory, in mathematical parlance, is a conjecture. It may be true or it may not be true.

    Footnote:
    * The arrival of Indians is a very significant event. The written history of Sri Lanka begins with this event. That is why I suggested in an earlier conversation that locals were most probably hunter gatherers as opposed to farmers. Arrival of the indians probably brought the farming, the next level of advancement, to Sri Lanka and most of the natives quickly adopted it. (If those locals were anything like the Sri Lankans of nowadays then this cannot be a surprise.)

    Ellawala Medhananda Thera (EMT) has written a book titled “The Sinhala Buddhist Heritage in the East and the North of Shri Lanka”. He has travelled extensively and looked at many cave shrines. He has noted that there were some (prior) paintings underneath some of the Buddhist paintings . Therefore, it is possible that the arrival and the quick spread of the Buddhism may have erased any trace of early culture or “covered up” as EMT has observed. The current Sri Lankan research (I have seen) is all concentrated on prehistory, a.k.a. Balangoda man’s time. No one is looking at the immediate history prior to the arrival of the Indians.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala/Sony;

    I think following passage could shed some light to the discussion about Sinhala language. It gives some of the unique features found in Sinhala, out of other Indo-Aryan languages.

    “Sinhala differs from the other Indo-Aryan languages in
    that is has a series of prenasalized stops which are distinguished from the
    combination of a nasal followed by a stop. In addition, Sinhala has signs for
    both a short and long low front vowel, similar to the one in the English word
    ‘hat.’ Because of these extra letters, the encoding for Sinhala does not
    follow the pattern established for the other Indic scripts (e.g., Devanagari),
    but does use the same ordering patterns, making use of phonetic order,
    matra-reordering, and use of the virama to indicate conjunct consonant
    clusters.”

    source: unicode.org/reports/tr2.html

    Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    Hi Sony,

    Prakurthi means naturally (normally) formed. In the context of languages this word is used to categorize ANY language other than Sanskrutha which was probably gods given.

    The prakrit languages developed naturally/normally from an Indo-Aryan base, which earlier had come to India from Central Asia.

    It is possible that this base language, rather than a developed prakrit language, had come to Sri Lanka and then developed into a prakrit in Sri Lanka. However, that would not change the fact that the base language originated from outside SL.

    Mathematically-speaking, how would you explain the similarities between the inscriptions of ancient Sinhala prakrit in SL and Pali/Magadhi in N. India? (the link I provided is somewhat misleading, as I think it shows Elu language between 7th and 12th centuries CE, not the oldest Elu).

  • wijayapala

    That is why I suggested in an earlier conversation that locals were most probably hunter gatherers as opposed to farmers. Arrival of the indians probably brought the farming, the next level of advancement, to Sri Lanka and most of the natives quickly adopted it.

    I disagree- farming was practiced widely among numerous prehistoric people. Actually Deraniyagala claims that there is archeological evidence that agriculture was practiced in SL at least as far back as 1000 BCE, several hundred years before the Buddha and King Pandukabhaya.

    He has noted that there were some (prior) paintings underneath some of the Buddhist paintings .

    Unfortunately, we do not know what was under those paintings, so it is difficult to tell what they were. Maybe there were previous Buddhist paintings, and somebody felt that they could be improved? I am certain though that there cannot be paintings in SL older than 2000 years.

    I am familiar with Ellawala hamuduru’s work. My main critique is that in trying to trace the Sinhala Buddhist heritage in NE, he ignores the context of the Tamil heritage in the same area even though they most probably influenced each other. It is as if he wants to believe that there were no Tamils around at all. For example, he lists Kantarodai as “Sinhala Buddhist” but there are no associated inscriptions to tell whether the stupas were built by Sinhala or Tamil Buddhists.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala/Sony;

    Following articles say that Brahmi epigraphy found in Sri Lanka may be older than Asokan epigraphy.

    1. The earliest contact of the Hindukush region with Aramaic script took place in the 6th century BCE with the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire as far as the Indus valley under Darius the Great. The development of the script between the 6th and the 3rd centuries BCE are obscure. There are some claims dating fragments of Brāhmī epigraphy found in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, as far back as the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, taken as evidence for the early spread of Buddhism.[4] But evidence of pre-Mauryan Brahmi inscriptions remains inconclusive, restricted to pottery fragments with possible individual glyphs. The earliest complete inscriptions remain the 3rd century BCE Ashokan ones, and arguably the Bhattiprolu script which may slightly predate Ashoka.[citation needed] Many early remains show regional variation thought to have developed after a period of unity across India during the Ashokan period.
    [edit] Pre-Ashokan epigraphy
    Main article: Tamil Brahmi

    Recent claims for earlier dates include fragments of pottery from the trading town of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, which have been dated to between the 6th and the early 4th centuries BCE;[4] Bhattiprolu;[5] and on pieces of pottery in Adichanallur, Tamil Nadu, which have been radio-carbon dated to the 6th century BCE.[6]
    (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmi)

    2. Researchers from Cambridge University dated these to 500-600 BC. Techniques used for the dating included radiocarbon and thermo luminescent techniques. The dates have been accepted by foreign experts. The letters in the writings were almost identical to the Asokan script used 200 years later in India.

    This means that Sri Lanka had writing well before Maurya period in India. Siran Deraniyagala says this has pushed the lower boundary of writing in Sri Lanka by at least two centuries, to the time of the Buddha.
    (Source:www.dailynews.lk/2009/07/16/fea24.asp)

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear wijayapala;

    “It is possible that this base language, rather than a developed prakrit language, had come to Sri Lanka and then developed into a prakrit in Sri Lanka. However, that would not change the fact that the base language originated from outside SL.”

    In the above statement there are two possibilities.

    1. Prakrit Sinhala developed here.

    2. Base language had come to Sri Lanka and then developed into a prakrit in Sri Lanka.

    (a). We have given enough evidence to support the above notion(1).

    (b). You have not contradicted our facts/possibilities or have not substantiate your notion (2).

    Please give the reasons for the elimination of our notion and the reasons for opting for less supported your notion in the above statement.

    Here are another examples for unreasoned conclusions.

    1. My Query:- “If pre- Sinhala was an Indic language, present Sinhala could be a combination of pre-Sinhala (Indo) + Aryan language. If this is the scenario Sinhala must be a evolution of pre- Sinhala language spoken by the natives of Sri Lanka.”

    Your Answer:- It is far more likely that modern Sinhala is an evolution of the original prakrit that came from India around 300 BCE, than an evolution of the pre-Sinhala language. We cannot say that English is the evolution of French because English has a few French words.

    2. I agree that Sinhala prakrit is unique to Sri Lanka, but the basic fact that it is a prakrit proves that its origin traces to India.

    I think the mission of a discussion is to arrive at a objective conclusion. Most of the time we arrive at conclusions on the basis of “Balance of Probability”. For this, “evidence” is very very vital.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    One more addition to unreasoned conclusions;

    My Query:- …..“4. There is no evidence and not probable to think that all the Yaksas and Nagas were massacred by he people who came from India.”

    Your Answer:- Whether or not they were massacred, nearly all aspects of their pre-Sinhala culture have been lost. If they weren’t massacred, they adopted languages and religions originating in India.

    Thanks!

  • Sony

    Hi Wijaypala and Yapa

    Thank you very much for the new* information about Sinhala and the latest research.

    Apparently, I was trying to give an entirely new meaning to the word “Prakurthi” than the established definition. This was a very bad move on my part as that only brings confusion to a conversation. I should have known better. Mathematicians I know do accept the definitions and respect the conventions.

    So let me try another way to give my (naive) theory another shot.

    Both of you agree that there were people in Sri Lanka prior to the arrival of indians and prior to the arrival of Aryans (in India), hence prior to the arrival of any Indo-Aryan language. I suppose you agree that these people did communicate with each other using a language. This is the language I termed as one of the “Prakurthi” languages. Since Prakrit has an established meaning lets call this the “local” language. (So, it may not have arrived from India.)

    When Inidans arrived, they brought with them their language, perhaps a superior one.

    Therefore, IMHO, both of you are probably correct. Sinhala could be a hybrid of the local language and the Indo-Aryan language. Perhaps, Indo-aryan part dominates much more than the local part.

    It is like meeting of the rivers. Mississippi and Missouri are two long rivers that meet. The end result is know as Mississippi as Missouri flows in to it. But Mississippi contains the waters of Missouri. A closer example would be Ganga and Yamuna.

    Footnote
    * All this information is new to me. I have already stated that I am ignorant of the languages. I am glad to hear that there is actual collaborative research done on the immediate history prior to the arrival of Indians. It would be nice if this new research is available in print written by the experts who are involved in this research.

  • Burning_Issue
  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    Thanks for your reply; I will write tomorrow time permitting.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    Let’s examine the two conditions that you have referred to

    5. The religion of the Buddha is declared inviolable and its rights to be maintained and protected.

    9. Over non-Kandyans the position to remain according to British law.

    Due to the Treaty the British Govt became the custodian of the Tooth Relic and the Temple of the Tooth

    Item 5 does not define any boundaries where it’s confined to. Hence it would not be possible for the British to violate it in Colombo and hold it inviolate in Kandy.

    Non Kandyans who were British subjects would also be in the same position irrespective of item 9

  • Rukmankan Sivaloganathan

    Dear Wijayapala, Burning Issue, Yapa, Off the Cuff and others.

    I just managed to sit down and read all the comments on this article and I must congratulate you all on your moderation and on the quality of the information produced in the debate. I say this because debates of this nature are rarely moderate; in fact they’re often characterised by the inability of most participants to accept their mistakes and erroneous notions, let alone name calling and and petty comments.

    I really have nothing more to add to this debate that one of you have not covered so I will just say ‘well done’ and exit. 🙂

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “What I am talking about is simply Sinhalese insecurity and why it is there. The solution for this insecurity is for Sinhalese to become smarter and not so clueless about the world and other people. Since I am Sinhala, this is my task to do.”

    I think that the change of mind sets must occur from all angles; however, the Sinhalese being the majority that can lead the rest in the right direction. It must be absolutely clear to the Sinhalese that there is no one out there to harm them in any shape or form.

    “Even if only half that number believed that Buddhism must be protected in Sri Lanka, they hold this view much more strongly than those who don’t.”

    It is the same everywhere; narrow views are louder than wisdom.

    “SWRD Bandaranaike was the first and only politician to win solely on the Sinhala Buddhist plank. Afterwards, left vs. right politics became prominent. SLFP promised the sun and the moon to the poor people. After they ruined the economy, the UNP would win the next election.”

    It must be said that race cards have been played whenever any sort of deals made with the Tamil politicians. JRJ’s Kandyan march and JVP and JHU agitating against any form of devolution of power etc should be noted. Mrs. Banda’s government introducing many discriminatory policies pandering to Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism should also be noted. Though the parties did not win on Sinhala Buddhist Plank, they would not deviate from Sinhala Buddhist agenda!

    “They don’t plant the Buddha statues because of the Constitution. If the Tamils were Buddhists, these guys would find some other “non-Tamil” symbol to plant in the N-E.”

    I agree with you that they would find a way to plant something; however, my main point is that, they are able to check against the constitution. The recent Trinco episode tells us that, planting a Buddha statue cannot be challenged by the local authorities as it is deemed as constitutional; this is my point. It is not a small issue; this is fundamental to the heart of the matter and directly contradictory to the principle of secularism. On one hand, one cannot expect the state to foster a particular religion and by the other hand expect it to treat everyone equally!

    “Take Thesavalamai for example. Some Sinhalese believe that it is discrimination against non-Tamils. However, there hasn’t been a single case where non-Tamils were barred from purchasing property in Jaffna because of Thesavalamai, so this is just hype. It would be extremely foolish to argue that Tamils are anti-Sinhala because of Thesavalamai. I feel the same way about the argument that protecting Buddhism in the Constitution has led to anti-Tamil policies.”

    There is a big difference between Thesawalamai and Buddhism in Constitution. May be it is to do with lack of clarity legally as to its purpose. A dispute pertinent to Thesawalami can be resolved through the court system; there is codified common law; there is case law; above all, it has been proved that, no other parties have been disadvantaged. By contract, the Buddhism in constitution is empowering the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists to violate rules governing local governments. The state is powerless or careless to prevent people planting Buddha statues anywhere they wished; this is critical to my point. Planting Buddha statues arrogantly in areas where none Buddhists live is an act of provocation and directly affecting the people concerned unlike Thesawalami.
    I believe that a secular Sri Lanka will empower Buddhism to thrive; there may be situations where Tamils will become Buddhists as it is attractive to many as a phenomenon.

  • yapa

    Dear Rukmankan Sivaloganathan;

    Thank you very much for encouraging comment. Such appreciations are rare gifts
    that motivate people for the whole life. Thanks again.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Rukmankan Sivaloganathan,

    I cannot add anything to what Yapa says

    Thank you

  • wijayapala

    Hi Yapa,

    This means that Sri Lanka had writing well before Maurya period in India. Siran Deraniyagala says this has pushed the lower boundary of writing in Sri Lanka by at least two centuries, to the time of the Buddha.

    Nevertheless, the first full inscription (consisting of a sentence rather than single words) in SL dates to King Uttiya who followed Devanampiya-Tissa. There are also Brahmi potsherd inscriptions in India predating the Maurya period which are similar to those found in SL, but all of these consist of a single word or letter (usually denoting ownership, not a full statement.

    Please give the reasons for the elimination of our notion and the reasons for opting for less supported your notion in the above statement.

    I don’t disagree that Sinhala prakrit developed in Sri Lanka. My basic argument is that the base of Sinhala prakrit- its vocabulary and grammar, and even the script as well- originated in India. Prakrit adopted unique characteristics when it came to SL, but the root of the language itself did not originate in SL.

    If Sinhala appeared in ancient SL independently of India, then we would expect it to be completely different from Indian languages (the same way that ancient Tamil can be distinguished from the prakrits of N. India and SL).

    Earlier I asked how you could mathematically explain the similarities between Elu and Pali/Sanskrit. You did not reply. Therefore you have not convincingly disproved my argument that the root of Sinhala came from India, and not SL.

    I have not come across a modern scholar claiming that Sinhala originated in SL independently from India. Some links that you have provided have supported my argument:

    Siri Gunasinghe says that Sinhala derives from a Prakrit spoken by Sinhala **colonisers**.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Sony,

    Sinhala could be a hybrid of the local language and the Indo-Aryan language. Perhaps, Indo-aryan part dominates much more than the local part.

    Sinhala is indeed a hybrid language, also including Sanskrit, Pali, and most recently Portuguese, Dutch, and English influences. I think we are on the same page.

    My argument is basically the same as what you say in your 2nd sentence. We cannot say that Sinhala is a Latin language simply because it has some Portuguese words. Similarly, we cannot argue that Sinhala originated independently from India simply because it has a some words and sounds not found in India.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    It must be absolutely clear to the Sinhalese that there is no one out there to harm them in any shape or form.

    With the exception of Christian fundamentalists, I would agree with you and I certainly know that Tamils are no threat to us. I believe that the greatest threat to Sinhala Buddhist culture comes from fellow Sinhala Buddhists.

    I believe that a secular Sri Lanka will empower Buddhism to thrive;

    Could you show me a single “secular” country where Buddhism has been empowered or thrives?

    there may be situations where Tamils will become Buddhists as it is attractive to many as a phenomenon.

    For this to happen, more of us (Sinhala Buddhists) will have to adopt an open-minded attitude and to stop the false belief that Buddhism is our exclusive domain.

    This will be a difficult mentality to overcome, given that there aren’t many other Buddhists in the rest of the region.

    The recent Trinco episode tells us that, planting a Buddha statue cannot be challenged by the local authorities as **it is deemed as constitutional**;

    I have never heard of the local authorities unable to challenge planting Buddha statues because of the Constitution. Instead I’ve heard that the people planting the statues have politician friends who are covering them. Could you please direct me to where I can learn more about how constitutional interpretation has led to Buddha statues?

    In SL, anyone having political connections can get away with anything. I heard that the Mahanayakes called off their conference after being threatened by the President’s thug squad. If I knew the right people, I could go around smearing excreta on Buddha’s face and nobody could stop me (unless they had better connections than I). The President himself never let the Constitution get in his way too much.

  • wijayapala

    Rukmankan Sivaloganathan,

    Me too. So far we haven’t discussed Tamil language very much; I don’t want to give the impression that this is a “Sinhala-Only” conversation.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I loath religious prominence in public places; I would have reacted the same way, if a Hindu Kovil is erected without due permission. Recently, there was an issue in Britain, a Hindu fundamentalist group wanted to cremate dead bodies in open air in accordance with Hindu ritual practices; the court barred the request. I hold these fundamentalists in the same vain as the Islamic Fundamentalists.

    The contentious Buddha Statue in Trincomalee was planted overnight; it must have been well planned in connivance with the security forces; no due permission obtained. In normal circumstances, the local authority should have the powers to deal with such issues; if no permission taken, the cause of action should have been to remove the statue. It must be noted that, the statue was not planted for the purposes of worship; it was planted to provoke a reaction and to manifest that the Sri Lanka is a Buddhist state; no one can challenge this!

    I quote a letter from the following website:

    http://helahanda.com/Reports/Trincomalee%20Buddha%20statue.htm

    “That being so, article nine in this said Constitution states,

    “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and
    accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the
    Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all the religions the rights granted by
    articles 10 and 14(1)(e).”

    Giving protection to a Buddha statue is acting in accordance with article
    nine of the Constitution, as it does not affect the rights granted to other
    religions by article 10 and 14 (1) (e). Why then was Rear Admiral Sarath
    Weerasekera recalled to Colombo to give explanations for his actions?”

    Once a Buddha statue is planted somewhere and whether there was a due permission exist or not; its validity is checked against the constitution should one were to challenge any attempt to remove such erections.

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108506.htm

    “At the end of the reporting period, the Buddha statue erected on public land in Trincomalee remained at the contested site. In May 2005 the killing of a Sinhala youth by an LTTE-led strike protesting the statue prompted the Trincomalee magistrate to issue an order to remove the statue. The order was suspended by the court of appeals of Colombo. In 2006 an unidentified gunman shot and killed the organizer of the LTTE-sponsored strike over the Buddha statue.”

    The Court of Appeal ruled on the basis of the complainant’s argument that:

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=15188
    “The petitioner prayed in his petition that the order made by the Trincomalee Magistrate is contrary to the law and against Buddhism. He pleaded in his petition to nullify the order of the Magistrate, legal sources said.”

    At one point, the Attorney General ruled that, the Buddha Statue in Trincomalee was illegal and instructed the District Judge to move for it’s removal; he then had to withdraw his request. Please explain to me as to why this had happened.

    Whether, the chauvinists do such things with political backing or not, it sends a strong message to the minorities that, the Sinhala Buddhists own this country; when it comes to Sinhala Buddhism in Sri Lanka there will be no compromises, and the state is powerless to act otherwise!

    “Could you show me a single “secular” country where Buddhism has been empowered or thrives?”

    The Constitution of Japan:
    CHAPTER III: RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE
    Article 20:

    “Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority. 2) No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious acts, celebration, rite or practice. 3) The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity.”

    One can regard Japan as completely secular country with Buddhism is one of two main religions. What danger it Buddhism facing in Japan?

    In Sri Lanka; we have both agreed that, the Sinhala Buddhists are insecure, and this is why, they want the state protection. I still do not know your own view on this as it appears that, you know that, Buddhism in Constitution is none negotiable and you have decided that some sort of balance should be found. As far as I am concerned, all Sri Lankans cannot be equal on this basis as the Constitution is the final stop.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off The Cuff,

    ‘Non Kandyans who were British subjects would also be in the same position irrespective of item 9”

    I completely disagree with you on this. The British sighed the convention with the Kandyan Chieftans and not with an all Ceylon entity. I have provided my arguments to Wijayapala; the clause 9 is there to ensure that, the non-Kandyans were subject to British Law. Peace in Sri Lanka cannot be found with the state of insecurity of the Sinhala Buddhists.

    Many argued (including Dyan Jayatilleka) that the LTTE was the main obstacle to finding peace in Sri Lanka; it transpires that, it is the Sinhala Buddhists’ Insecurity that prevents real peace in Sri Lanka. As it stands now, there will never be real religious freedom in Sri Lanka, can it?

    Please refer to my post to Wijayapala, where I quoted the Article 20 of Japanese Constitution.

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    I do not consider David Frawley to be an authority of history to accept his pronouncement. In any case, I believe that Indo-Aryan (and Dravidian) was more of a language family than a particular race or civilization.

    I loath religious prominence in public places;

    Then you must be pretty miserable during Christmas as it is celebrated in the West.

    I would have reacted the same way, if a Hindu Kovil is erected without due permission. Recently, there was an issue in Britain, a Hindu fundamentalist group wanted to cremate dead bodies in open air in accordance with Hindu ritual practices; the court barred the request. I hold these fundamentalists in the same vain as the Islamic Fundamentalists.

    I do not feel the same way. If somebody constructed a Hindu Kovil in southern SL illegally, I probably would try to find a way to accommodate the Hindus in some way. Only if it greatly inconvenienced the locals would I tear it down, but then I would try to find a place nearby where it wouldn’t be an inconvenience.

    Similarly, I hope that there are no restrictions against Hindus cremating their dead as per their rites in SL. If there is a restriction, then I would support a court case to overturn it.

    The contentious Buddha Statue in Trincomalee was planted overnight;

    My understanding of the Buddha statue episode in Trincomalee was that it was a response to the LTTE’s growing control in that area, sort of a rallying call for the Sinhalese living there rather than anything having to do with religion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Buddha hasn’t been illegally planted in other places in the N-E since then, and especially since the destruction of the LTTE.

    Anyway thank you for the helahanda letter. I believe that “Anil” invoked the Constitution in this way only after the Buddha statue was planted, although I could be wrong.

    At one point, the Attorney General ruled that, the Buddha Statue in Trincomalee was illegal and instructed the District Judge to move for it’s removal; he then had to withdraw his request. Please explain to me as to why this had happened.

    I don’t know, but if I were to guess I would say that political interference played a far greater role than the Constitution.

    Thank you for showing me the Japanese Constitution. When the average Sri Lankan has the equivalent GDP per capita as his Japanese counterpart, or when Buddhists comprise 90% of the 125 million population as in Japan, then it may be time to secularize the SL Constitution.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    As a Buddhist I do not agree on the placement of Buddha statues on roadsides where the respect due to a Great Teacher cannot be given to him.

    In interpreting the Kandyan Convention we cannot lose site of the fact that it extended and covered the totality of the East and the Sabaragamuwa in the West. Even the annexation of Sabaragamuwa by the British was rescinded.

    The convention transformed the British Government to be the protector of Buddhism and the custodian of the Tooth Relic and the Temple of the Tooth. This is the identicle possition that the British Govt was placed in within the UK with respect to Christianity.

    Since we are talking of a religion which knows no borders and not of things like land or marriage customs etc,. I have difficulty in reconciling how such a Govt, while being the protector that guarantees “Inviolability” within the Kandyan Kingdom could act otherwise outside it when the Populace is overwhelmingly Buddhist even in the North Central region.

    The word “INVIOLATE” has deeper ramifications than what is now currently embedded within the Constitution.

    I largely agree with your views expressed in your post of March 11, 2010 @ 10:25 pm to Wijeyapala but have certain reservations regarding idealism and practicality. I will give my views in a separate post.

  • yapa

    I think the original point of debate was to find whether the Sinhala language was developed from the language used by the natives of Lanka when prince Vijaya came to sri Lanka or from the language of the subsequent migrants of Indian immigrants (and not from the the roots of the language used by the natives.)

    This position is amply evident from the follwing quotes taken from the discussion.

    1. ………..“4. There is no evidence and not probable to think that all the Yaksas and Nagas were massacred by he people who came from India.”

    Whether or not they were massacred, nearly all aspects of their pre-Sinhala culture have been lost. If they weren’t massacred, they adopted languages and religions originating in India………………… (Wijayapala + yapa)

    2. …………..2. If they are not totally massacred, (which is almost an impossibility) it is clear that at least two cultures, that of the natives and the “foreigners” were in face to face in the island until they were integrated. It is very unrealistic to believe that the “whole lot” of natives fully adopted to the culture of a few foreigners rather the opposite is much more probable. Especially in the case of a language it is very unrealistic. Consider adopting to a language of 2000 people by at least a couple of a few thousand locals spread all over the island. I would say it is an impossibility. Also sudden adoption to a language is not a possibility as in the case of a religion. Almost the whole population of the Island embraced Buddhism, with the arrival of Arhath Mahinda thero, in a few years. But the process of adopting to a language takes a long time. After about 150 years of British rule with much persuasion, it is said that only 3% of the people of this country knew English language, that is also as a second language………….. (yapa)

    3…………….“It is very unrealistic to believe that the “whole lot” of natives fully adopted to the culture of a few foreigners rather the opposite is much more probable. Especially in the case of a language it is very unrealistic. Consider adopting to a language of 2000 people by at least a couple of a few thousand locals spread all over the island.”
    How would you explain virtually all of Mexico and South America speaking Spanish or Portuguese, even though few of them are genetically Europeans?…………….(y+W)

    Many more can be cited to the above effect.

    If our mission is to find the original root of any language (keep aside Sinhala) it might end up in Ethiopia, really not in India. I think we were not talking in that general form and our discussion was limited to see whether the native language used in Lanka (when Vijaya came) was continued (as I said) or completely lost (as you said). If the scope or the topic was an open one, at the very beginning I would have said it would have originated in Africa, rather than in Sri Lanka and the discussion wouldn’t have prolonged this much.

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “I do not consider David Frawley to be an authority of history to accept his pronouncement. In any case, I believe that Indo-Aryan (and Dravidian) was more of a language family than a particular race or civilization.”

    I also believe that all Indic languages including the Sinhala originated primarily from two sources: Sanskrit and Dravidian. The Aryan theory I doubt very much; there are numerous materials about this theory in circulation; it is very difficult to conclude one way or the other!

    “Then you must be pretty miserable during Christmas as it is celebrated in the West.”

     Please do not get me wrong; religious and traditional celebrations are very important. Though I am not religious, I recognise the importance of such events. I immensely enjoyed my childhood particularly during the Thaipongal, Devali, and National Day (14th of April) celebrations. It is a time when one gets together with family and friends. I always wanted to be in Kandy when the Kandyan Perahara takes place, which I have not managed yet.

    Having said that; I do not like to be reminded of religious symbols on a daily basis. I loath religious events broadcast over loud speakers. I am a Hindu; born and bred around a popular Hindu Kovil in Jaffna; I do not like the Chariot Festival being paraded along a public road. There should be a place for everything; this is me.

    “I do not feel the same way. If somebody constructed a Hindu Kovil in southern SL illegally, I probably would try to find a way to accommodate the Hindus in some way. Only if it greatly inconvenienced the locals would I tear it down, but then I would try to find a place nearby where it wouldn’t be an inconvenience.”

    I am sorry Wijayapala; there are bylaws for a purpose, by which, one has to obtain permission before one can erect a temple or a structure. This is so, that, the authorities can assess the implications of such a request. If need be, the authorities can bring the communities together in a state of consensus for such a structure to be erected. It should not be left to individuals to make a judgement as it were.

    “Similarly, I hope that there are no restrictions against Hindus cremating their dead as per their rites in SL. If there is a restriction, then I would support a court case to overturn it.”

    Buddhists and Hindus have been living in Sri Lanka from pre-Christian era; the relevant customs have been practiced ever since. Open air cremation has been exercised throughout that period; thus a custom. By contrast, in the UK, it is not their custom. Moreover, there will be environmental issues in conjunction with rural and urban management issues. Hindus in the UK have been happily cremating their dead relatives for over half of a century; the Crematoriums around the country allow accommodation of Hindu ritual practices within the compounds. What else one wants? If one feels very strongly about open air cremation, one should actually live in a country where one can do such things.

    “My understanding of the Buddha statue episode in Trincomalee was that it was a response to the LTTE’s growing control in that area, sort of a rallying call for the Sinhalese living there rather than anything having to do with religion.”

    Rallying call for the Sinhalese and Buddha statues go hand-in-hand! So that the Security forces protecting one community against the other! How can one expect harmony amongst the peoples of Sri Lanka?

    “Correct me if I’m wrong, but Buddha hasn’t been illegally planted in other places in the N-E since then, and especially since the destruction of the LTTE.”

    I will come back to you on this; I hear stories about Buddha statues being planted along the A9 highway; I need credible information about it before writing on these forums.

    “I don’t know, but if I were to guess I would say that political interference played a far greater role than the Constitution.”

    There is no doubt that the Constitution played a part. If it not that important, the clause can be removed, but it is there for a purpose!

    “Thank you for showing me the Japanese Constitution. When the average Sri Lankan has the equivalent GDP per capita as his Japanese counterpart, or when Buddhists comprise 90% of the 125 million population as in Japan, then it may be time to secularize the SL Constitution.”

    Japanese Religious percentages:

    Shintonism 83.9%
    Buddhism 71.4%
    Christianity 2%
    Others 7.8%

    The above is based on 2005 numbers

    The total exceeds 100%; this is because many belong to both Shintonism and Buddhism. As per you, in Sri Lanka the Buddhists amount to 70%, and what is then preventing Sri Lanka becoming a true Secular country?

    Sri Lanka could have achieved greater heights than Singapore, if a nation had been built based on 1948 constitution! I do not believe that, Sri Lanka can progress with emphasis being placed on super-ordination and sub-ordination. It should be based on a common Sri Lankan identity, and this is only possible with a secular and just constitution.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    “As a Buddhist I do not agree on the placement of Buddha statues on roadsides where the respect due to a Great Teacher cannot be given to him.”

    I agree with you fully on this. Why is it that, one only sees such things in third world countries? It seems that too much religious interferences and economic developments cannot go hand-in-hand!

    “In interpreting the Kandyan Convention we cannot lose site of the fact that it extended and covered the totality of the East and the Sabaragamuwa in the West. Even the annexation of Sabaragamuwa by the British was rescinded.”

    I broadly agree with the above; I have read somewhere that, the Sinhala version of the convention also included Hinduism; correct me if I am wrong.

    “The convention transformed the British Government to be the protector of Buddhism and the custodian of the Tooth Relic and the Temple of the Tooth. This is the identicle possition that the British Govt was placed in within the UK with respect to Christianity.”

    In Britain, it is to do with Church of England, the Anglicanism, it was due to Henry the eighth denouncing Catholism due to him divorcing and marring again and again. It was because of the rivalry between the churches and many battles fought, the English Monarch became the protector of that faith. Ever since the parliament became supreme, such responsibilities of the Monarch became a mere formality. There is no written constitution in Britain; even Prince Charles said some time back; he wish to be a defender of faiths and not a single faith!

    We are have been talking about a convention that was signed in the year of 1815 at the fall of a small kingdom within the territory of Lanka; how significant that is to protect Buddhism! To conclude that the convention was binding the entire Ceylon considering the clearly demarcated boundaries of different kingdoms is preposterous.

    “Since we are talking of a religion which knows no borders and not of things like land or marriage customs etc,. I have difficulty in reconciling how such a Govt, while being the protector that guarantees “Inviolability” within the Kandyan Kingdom could act otherwise outside it when the Populace is overwhelmingly Buddhist even in the North Central region.”

    They did not have to include the clause 9! This was done to avoid any ambiguity I would say. However, how would you justify subjecting the entire Sri Lanka to Buddhism even though the North & East were principally populated by Hindus, Muslims, and Christians?

    “The word “INVIOLATE” has deeper ramifications than what is now currently embedded within the Constitution.”

    I do agree with you on the point that you are making. However, in all seriousness, the British signed this document with their tongue in cheek; they knew that they could not uphold such undertakings. Sri Lanka is no longer under a colonial power; why then, it is still required to have such a provision in the constitution?

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    I still do not know your own view on this as it appears that, you know that, Buddhism in Constitution is none negotiable and you have decided that some sort of balance should be found. As far as I am concerned, all Sri Lankans cannot be equal on this basis as the Constitution is the final stop.

    I neglected to mention in my previous message that from the above, I believe that you understand my position (that I am looking for “balance,” a rather cogent term you used). Also, even though I do not agree with your last statement, I do not wish to trivialize it or imply that it is a marginal issue.

    As it stands now, there will never be real religious freedom in Sri Lanka, can it?

    How is there no religious freedom? What are Hindus, Christians, or Muslims forbidden from doing in SL?

    I also believe that all Indic languages including the Sinhala originated primarily from two sources: Sanskrit and Dravidian. The Aryan theory I doubt very much

    “Dravidian” refers to a family of languages (like “Indo-Aryan”) including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Tulu. I use that term to also describe the language spoken before the above 5 languages appeared.

    Sanskrit on the other hand is not a language family but a specific language that appeared around the same time as prakrit. As Sony pointed out, Sanskrit was the intellectual language while prakrit was common man’s language.

    Frawley and other Hindu enthusiasts claim that Indo-Aryan (and Sanskrit) originated in India and migrated to other places. Whether or not this is true, this does not contradict my point that the ancestor of modern Sinhala came from India and not Sri Lanka.

    I do not like the Chariot Festival being paraded along a public road.

    Really? I would like to see it, even in places in the South where there are no Hindus!

    I think the primary difference between us is that you are not religious, whereas I consider myself to be religious. Perhaps that is why I have a higher tolerance for religion in public places (as long as a particular religion is not excluded).

    Rallying call for the Sinhalese and Buddha statues go hand-in-hand! So that the Security forces protecting one community against the other!

    In this case, there wasn’t anyone else but the security forces to protect the non-Tamils from the LTTE.

    I hear stories about Buddha statues being planted along the A9 highway;

    I have heard the same stories, from Tamilnet. Until this adversely affects non-Buddhists, I will have a hard time taking this seriously.

    It should be based on a common Sri Lankan identity, and this is only possible with a secular and just constitution.

    The “ethnic conflict” in SL arose not around religion but language. The Tamils were denied the right to have their language acknowledged in an equal way as the Sinhala language. I accept that and believe that this is the primary injustice to be rectified. On the other hand, I do not see how the religious freedoms of non-Buddhists were affected by the Constitution “protecting” Buddhism.

    Why is it that, one only sees such things in third world countries?

    You clearly have never been to Middle America (although you could make a strong argument that it belongs to the 3rd world).

    the British signed this document with their tongue in cheek; they knew that they could not uphold such undertakings. Sri Lanka is no longer under a colonial power; why then, it is still required to have such a provision in the constitution?

    You are absolutely correct what you said about the British- they failed to honor that clause which led to the 1817-8 Uva uprising. Most Sinhala Buddhists believe that honoring Buddhism in the Constitution is the most telling sign that the colonial era is over.

    You answered my question about a secular country where Buddhism has thrived, although you did not answer my point that Japanese individuals have enough wealth that they can support Buddhist institutions on their own without needing state patronage. There is another key difference- SL is the only Buddhist-majority country in S. Asia, whereas you cannot say the same about E. Asia.

    In response to your opinion that Buddhism can survive in SL without state support, again most Buddhists will ask how it disappeared utterly in India where it originated- **why couldn’t the same thing happen in SL as in the neighboring country?**.

  • yapa

    Dear Wijayapala;

    You have raised following queries in your last post.
    ______________
    Earlier I asked how you could mathematically explain the similarities between Elu and Pali/Sanskrit. You did not reply. Therefore you have not convincingly disproved my argument that the root of Sinhala came from India, and not SL.

    I have not come across a modern scholar claiming that Sinhala originated in SL independently from India. Some links that you have provided have supported my argument:
    _______________

    I think following part taken from the original essay of the given link will provide some answers. Please read.
    _____________

    Indrapala reiterates like others before him, including Senarat Paranavitana, that the main population source of the island was its original, Mesolithic inhabitants and not any massive population movement from elsewhere. He suggests that there is evidence of the Mesolithic peoples using different languages in the early phases. He notes the generally agreed beginning of the Tamil language before the Common (or Christian) Era (BCE) based on classical Tamil literature and contemporary inscriptions. The Sinhala language would emerge later in the Common Era, not from an immigrant population of Sinhala speakers but through a process of ‘language replacement’ involving transformation of one of the indigenous languages (presumably Elu) following its exposure to North Indian languages, Prakrit and Pali, as well as Tamil and even Munda, the Austroasiatic language from the Southeast Asian region. The emergence of the Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu languages in the SISL region went through a similar process.

    http://transcurrents.com/

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Topic of the Article:

    Hybrid Histories of South India and Sri Lanka

    by Rajan Philips

    Thanks!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “I neglected to mention in my previous message that from the above, I believe that you understand my position (that I am looking for “balance,” a rather cogent term you used). Also, even though I do not agree with your last statement, I do not wish to trivialize it or imply that it is a marginal issue.”

    I do understand that, the feeling of Insecurity is well entrenched among the Sinhala Buddhists; owing to this, eschewing such a constitutional protection of Buddhism will be chaotic and political suicide for those who attempt it! With this status-quo intact; striking a balance spiritually, politically, and communally will be troublesome. Personally I cannot see it workable unless the minorities have been completely subjugated. The Sri Lankans will be classed into Super-ordinates and Sub-ordinates; there will be sub divisions within. One can argue that there will be always divisions in any society. Yes, that is so, but such divisions are seen within social hierarchies. The state must position itself above all this; this is my point.

    “How is there no religious freedom? What are Hindus, Christians, or Muslims forbidden from doing in SL?”

    As I said before, the state and parliament must be supreme that purport to govern with absolute equality for all citizens of a nation. In Sri Lanka, Buddhism and Sinhala are inextricably linked. All Buddhists are Sinhala and a non-Sinhala to become a Buddhist is unthinkable; given such a situation, protection of Buddhism enshrined in the Constitution sends a signal to all none Buddhists that they are aliens of the nation. I have already highlighted that the planting of Buddha statue in Trinco; this will not be the last time this sort of thing will happen I can assure you that.

    One has to ask, why there is constitutional protection for Buddhism? If, as you say that, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims and not forbidden to do anything; then what will Buddhism loose if there isn’t any constitutional protection exists? Is there a fundamental weakness in Buddhism that is not seen in other religions?

    “Sanskrit on the other hand is not a language family but a specific language that appeared around the same time as prakrit. As Sony pointed out, Sanskrit was the intellectual language while prakrit was common man’s language.”

    Yes, I completely agree; I need to find a different term to describe the so called Indo-Aryan family of languages! I do not subscribe to Indo-Aryan concept.

    “I think the primary difference between us is that you are not religious, whereas I consider myself to be religious. Perhaps that is why I have a higher tolerance for religion in public places (as long as a particular religion is not excluded).”

    “Anything of too much is good for nothing” I think that this is the case in Sri Lanka; everywhere one goes, one is smothered by prominence of religious symbols; I think that it is totally unnecessary.

    “In this case, there wasn’t anyone else but the security forces to protect the non-Tamils from the LTTE.”

    The LTTE had been blamed for all the ills in Sri Lanka; understandably so; however, I was living in Jaffna during the 1970s; there was no LTTE; the Tamils were as passive as one can be, but I witnessed atrocities committed by the police against the Tamils. Anyway, only time will tell how things will develop.

    “I have heard the same stories, from Tamilnet. Until this adversely affects non-Buddhists, I will have a hard time taking this seriously.”

    So, you do not deny that Buddha statues are being planted in North & East; whether they were adversely affecting the non-Buddhists is the question, right?

    ‘The “ethnic conflict” in SL arose not around religion but language. The Tamils were denied the right to have their language acknowledged in an equal way as the Sinhala language. I accept that and believe that this is the primary injustice to be rectified. On the other hand, I do not see how the religious freedoms of non-Buddhists were affected by the Constitution “protecting” Buddhism.”

    I agree with you that the Sri Lankan conflict arose around language. But the Issue is that, all Buddhists are Sinhalese; both Sinhala and Buddhism have prominence in the Sri Lankan constitution, which implicates the Buddhist religion. One cannot separate Sinhala language and Buddhism, and the state is expected by the Constitution to protect Buddhism thus implied to protect the Sinhala Buddhists.

    “You answered my question about a secular country where Buddhism has thrived, although you did not answer my point that Japanese individuals have enough wealth that they can support Buddhist institutions on their own without needing state patronage.”

    I would like to do a little research on the Japanese GDP and per capita income immediately after the WW11. How it was beneficial to build a Japanese nation on the basis on Japanese identity rather than on Buddhist identity? Whether, Japanese per capita income rose significantly as a result of working together as Japanese rather than a fragmented Japanese society based on religions!

    “There is another key difference- SL is the only Buddhist-majority country in S. Asia, whereas you cannot say the same about E. Asia.”

    So it will remain a Buddhist-majority country come what may.

    “In response to your opinion that Buddhism can survive in SL without state support, again most Buddhists will ask how it disappeared utterly in India where it originated- **why couldn’t the same thing happen in SL as in the neighboring country?**.”

    My response to the above is based on my practical experience. I live in a village in England; once I asked one of the prominent villagers; would it bother him that there was a big development afoot in his neighbouring land, which would substantially devalue his property. He answered to me; life is all about changes; one cannot put a stop to changes taking place in the village. I sat up and took a note of that.

    In my view, if changes were to occur, they would; once can put a stop to it for a while, which will only defer the change for a little while, but it will happen anyway. I am not saying that Buddhism will disappear from Sri Lanka; the future Sri Lankans would view this differently thus the current Sinhala Buddhist society is only deferring whatever changes may happen in the future. In my view, Buddhism in Sri Lanka is strong, and it will survive come what may, but Sri Lanka must not fail as country because of this!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    I believe that the following statement of yours is not accurate as I know of Tamils who are Buddhists.

    “All Buddhists are Sinhala and a non-Sinhala to become a Buddhist is unthinkable;”

    Buddhism is not owned by the Sinhalese though their are radicals who seem to think so. There are many who consider the term Sinhala Buddhist a slur. I definitely would not want to be called one.

    We have no control over our ethnicity but we have control over our religious beliefs.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    “I believe that the following statement of yours is not accurate as I know of Tamils who are Buddhists.”

    This is news to me; however, if that is the case, I am pleased that Buddhism is appealing to non-Sinhala in Sri Lanka. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

  • Heshan

    News to me, also. There may be Tamil Buddhists but the number is so small as to be statistically insignificant. Any argument asserting a strong correlation between Tamils and Buddhism is therefore about as stable as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning Issue,

    Have a look through these Matrimonial adds for more confirmation.

    http://www.tamilmatrimony.com/matrimonials/Religion/7/Buddhist.html

    Heshan,

    Hope you will find a good bride.
    She /(He) might provide some support to your leaning …. and give it some stability.
    Good Luck