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[Parakramabahu (1153-1186) holds the yoke of sovereignty which has only been upheld since by military power and force, rather than by the consent of the people]

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[Today, the easy co-existence of opposites symbolized by the ballot and bullet walking together]

The intellectual gaps that reinforce our intellectual poverty appear readily as we scrutinize the grand shift from a united and self-sufficient irrigation civilisation to an increasingly fragmented, defensive and dependent civilisation that began in the 13th century. Although this shift is symbolized by the phrase drift to the South West stability has eluded us and we continue to search for organizing principles, unifying reference points and order. In fact chronic long term instability has been the order of the Lankan nation for centuries.

Liyanagamage, while providing a valuable analysis of the Decline of Polonnaruva and Rise of Dambadeniya continues to stick to the grand theme of our historians, the story how unity and integrity was maintained by the kings, nobles, sangha and people acting in concert. The paradigmatic structural changes that came about with the loss of the centralized state to reiterate separation, difference and inequality within the Lankan polity are of less concern as we continue to emphasize these traditional positives.

However from our vantage point in 2011 we have seen the rapid dissolution of the State immediately after the work of Parakramabahu the Great in Polonnaruva and Parakramabahu VI of Kotte due to the absence of strong supporting fundamentals. The same can be said of the present State in that the British imposed a unified administration which has since then struggled to achieve a degree of political cohesion, peace and stability.

The flaw that seems to have dogged our history and historians is the uncritical continuation of the pre-Polonnaruva grand theme of unity into the post-Polonnaruva era thereby ignoring the underlying narrative of alienation.

Two historians who have taken a more independent stance are Martin Wickramasinghe and PB Rambukwelle. Their insights on the transformation of the Lankan polity from a state of shared sovereignty to vertical sovereignty, the weakening of the self sufficient village, the alienation of the elite from the people through the adoption of Sanskrit, Pali and Brahmin customs, regionalism and ascendancy of the govikula and an enduring need to maintain primordial racial, religious and caste based identities notwithstanding educational and economic empowerment give clear directions for future research. Such studies are essential to build an intellectual platform for a modern Sri Lanka that is able to negotiate both the grand theme of unity and the underlying narrative of alienation with equal sensitivity.

What we see today is a revival of this grand theme (capitalizing on the military success over the LTTE) to obliterate the underlying narrative. It is the responsibility of the intelligentsia to bring out unbiased historical data to point out how our society became split and divided into so many camps and how these divisions originated in history. We cannot continue to ignore and neglect the important second phase of our history post-Polonnaruva and pretend with child like innocence that the journey from Vijaya down to 2011 is one unbroken theme of unity against adversity.

The discontinuities after 1236 (the year that the second Dambadeniya King Parakramabahu II was enthroned) are so paradigmatic that there is a strong case to argue for the separate historical treatment of what we may refer to as the Second Sinhala Civilisation that grew around the drift to the South West in search of security and stability. We are direct heirs to this weakened Second Civilisation. The capitals were moved to cities of which only Kotte succeeded for 50 years in the 15th century to assume sovereignty over the entire island. Regionalism was more significant than centralized power. Ultimately it was Colombo, the capital of international commerce, a capital that no Sinhalese King could capture, that became the centre of a post British settlement, what we can refer to as the Colombo Consensus of liberal politics from 1931-71.

In the first phase of this DRIFT we moved from Dambadeniya to Yapahuwa to Kurunegala to Gampola to Raigama and then finally to Kotte. The stronghold of the Sinhalese was no longer Ruhuna or Dakkhinadesa developed by Parakramabahu the Great but the mountain fastness of Kanda Uda Rata, and it is to this that we turned after the protracted struggles against the Portugese ended up with the dissolution of both Kotte and Sitawaka.

The period of roughly 350 years from 1236 to 1594 (the crowning of Konappu Bandara as Vimaladharmasuriya I represents the first unstable phase of this Second Civilisation whilst the period of roughly 200 years from 1594 to 1815 represents the final consolidation of an insulated Sinhalese culture, religion and identity against a world which had now overtaken us by leaps and bounds. What we have today as Sinhalese and Buddhists is mostly what was salvaged in that period and we must decide what aspects of that legacy should be excised if we are to ever justify any relationship with the First Sinhala Civilisation.

In the tortuous journey from Polonnaruva to the relative safety of Kanda Uda Rata Jayawardanapura Kotte provided a brief respite of about 150 years. It is a matter for reflection that the ‘capitals’ since Polonnaruva were actually defensive forts purpose built for military purposes.

Kotte was born out of a need to re-establish control over the south western coastal belt from the tax collectors of the King of Jaffna who had become bold as to send them right into the Sinhalese heartland of Dakkhinadesa. With the King cloistered in Gampola his Chief Minister Nissanka Alagakonnara was equal to the task and he defeated the forces of Jaffna decisively and named the new fort, protected by marshes as Jayawardanapura. The name probably fitted for the long reign of Parakramabahu VI from 1411-1466 but with his death Jaffna revived once more and the Sinhalese were back in the familiar plight of disputed royal successions, regional politics and disunity. Whilst Kotte served the object of local domination as a royal capital to some extent it failed to survive in the new era of international politics with the Portugese breathing down its neck. Jayawardanapura turned out to be a misnomer with Kotte losing control of the Maritime Provinces and its last King Dharmapala (yet another misnomer) gifting the Kingdom to the King of Portugal. Sitawaka Rajasinha delivered the coup de grace by flattening the remains of Kotte using an army of elephants.

Perhaps the origins of our present political culture could be found in the character of our rulers in the last two Kingdoms of Kotte and Kandy. Our policies based on power rather than ideals were probably fine tuned within an increasingly unequal relationship with the Western Powers – Portugese, Dutch and British. As Alan Strathern remarked about the Portugese Period in his book Kingship and Conversion in 16th Century Sri Lanka (Cambridge 2010)

The whole system of political relationships was imbued with a more profound sense of contractualism. The ties of vassalage required constant attention and re-negotiation.

The dominant style of kingship was sena or the warrior mode exemplified by Mayadunne, Sitawaka Rajasinha, Wimaladharmasuriya I and Rajasinha II. This pattern has been revived with General Fonseka emerging as the opposition candidate at the 2010 Presidential Elections and ‘Ranaviru’ candidates coming forward to Local Government Elections. The appeal to military authority and discipline comes at a time of breakdown of law and order and a decline in the authority of the Police and civil administration. It is however important to appreciate that both military and civil authorities have their appropriate spheres of competence and operation. The idea that one can replace another is a dangerous fallacy.

The contributions of the British, both positive and negative must be evaluated against this drift and decline and not against the First Sinhala Civilisation we had left behind forever as we moved into the power politics of international trade, domination and exploitation. The principal fault line of the British lay in the haste with which they dismantled the old social system and established a modern political and judicial system and economy. The Lankans cut off from their old social norms were adrift in unchartered waters. They opted to be Englishmen in society and natives at home and in their temples. This separation came naturally to a people who had already laid the foundations of tokenism and lip service to Buddhist values within their own religious structure. Values would be preached but they would not be allowed to obstruct the new pursuit of self promotion and self advancement.

The challenge of modernity for the Second Sinhala Civilisation

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Residual Authenticity

There are three authentic Constitutional principles that bound our ancient society which can still be pressed into service despite the ravages of time. These are the fundamental checks and balances that operated to moderate the exercise of ancient sovereignty between village, sangha and king. They are,

  1. Gamani principle of the free and self sufficient community
  2. Asoka principle of righteous kingship
  3. Nalanda principle of honest and righteous collaboration

The people of this country have been and will always be the ultimate arbiters of these principles. From Dutugemunu to Parakramabahu these foundations shifted as time itself worked changes within ancient society. Ultimately what the people gave freely to Dutugemunu was taken by force by Parakramabahu.

The Second Civilisation that was founded by the Sinhala Vanni Chiefs Vijayabahu III and his son Parakramabahu II was therefore based on a lesser and relative freedom. Military force or sena became an indispensable fourth element of Sinhalese sovereignty reflecting the new state of collective insecurity. It created a survival oriented society that valued conformity above individualism or individual freedom. This society was dominated by a new Political Elite who subscribed nominally to the values of the First Civilization but institutionalized an ethic of dualism and separation, making a radical departure from our Axial Age heritage of transcendental humanism. It also drew a sharper distinction between mainstream society and the marginalized lower strata outside the govikula. Both then and now, the defection of these segments to Christianity is an irreconcilable thorn in the flesh among the majority Buddhists. Realpolitik in this Post Polonnaruva age would depend less on values and more on superior force and the force of superior ideas. But these ideas would only be a cover for the power of money.

It is only left to the people again to recover what they lost.

  • Ward

    Thank you for the interesting way of looking at our history.

    But I cannot see why people always bring the diaspora as a part of the problem. Is it because the envoys are lying to the world and the diaspora is pointing it out ?

    If the government serves all its citizens justice, won’t the diaspora shut up or they will not be listened to?

  • Suren Raghavan

    Thank you
    After a long time a refreshing alternative analysis.
    Many issues that should be in the centre of our social debate.
    I wonder how the Tamil/Hindu identity emerges between the end of the 1st and beginning of the 2nd such ‘civilization’ waves.

    The academic/intellectual challenge will be to separate the mytho-history as constructed and historicized by the Vamsa literature as against the an alternative, perhaps cross discipline analysis

    • Off the Cuff

      “The academic/intellectual challenge will be to separate the mytho-history as constructed and historicized by the Vamsa literature as against the an alternative, perhaps cross discipline analysis”

      Why just the Vamsa literature? Is it unique in this respect?

      Don’t we use Dasharajnaya, Ramayanaya, Mahabaratha and Bhagavad Gita when discussing Tamil and Sinhala History? Do they not contain Mytho history?

      The British historian Jane Russell states that `Ceylon Tamils had no written document on the lines of the Mahawamsa to authenticate their singular and separate historical authority,… a fact which (they) found very irksome`. The many stone inscriptions and Buddhist ruins attesting to this irksome history were also very inconvenient. Thus arose the early campaigns of G. G. Ponnambalam against the `mahavamsa mindset`, which later developed into the extensive territorial claims regarding which K.M. de Silva says `in less than a decade of its enunciation in 1949, [this] theory became an indispensable and integral part of the political ideology of the Tamil advocates of regional autonomy and separatism`. (Dr S. Rasalingam)

      Ancient history is not a clinical record. It is a literary work reflecting the literary style of the day. It is a view as seen from the writer’s perspective. Historical events may have different interpretations depending on who writes them. I believe that this is true of any written work on History.

      Yalpana Vaipava Malai provides the earliest doccumented History of Jaffna by a Tamil author. It is based on Vaiya Padal, Kailaya Malai, Pararajasekaran Ula and Raja Murai, The oldest of which would not predate the 14 the century (Ancient Jaffna, by C Rasanayagam)

      Lacking a record of History to rival the Mahawamsa, Thupawamsa and the Dipawamsa some Tamil people try to discredit the Vamsa texts.

      The fact that ALL the statements made in Kailaya Malai including those that will be proved hereafter to be misconceptions, were bodily taken and introduced into the Vaipava Malai…. states Rasanayagam.

      Some of the Historians of Jaffna that have time to time appeared within the last 35 years have so well succeded in mutilating, altering and amending the Vaipava Malai according to their whims and fancies, that there are now but a few who acknowledge its historical value. On the contrary, the belief seems to be gaining ground that it is only a compendium of ancient folklore, old women’s tales and mythicle anecdotes says Rasanayagam.

      The racist program of the Arasu Kadchi had, already in 1949, stated an exclusive claim to the North and East of Sri Lanka as `traditional homelands` of the Tamils. Even though the name `Tamil`, `Dameda`, or `Dravida`, had not even been used until about the `cankam period`, circa 1st century CE,, the Arasu Kadchi writers claimed that the `original inhabitants` of Sri Lanka prior to the arrival of Vijaya were Tamils. Thus Ravana was claimed to be a Tamil king, and Kuveni was conscripted as a Tamil princes deceived and discriminated by Vijaya, the first Sinhala. The stage was set for the `struggle` to drive out the Sinhalese, the Muslims and other `invaders` from `The Tamil homeland`. (Dr S. Rasalingam)

      Sri Lanka was called Lanka, Tambapanni, Sinhalé etc., in ancient times. The Tamil name Cinkalam is used in early Tamil literary works. The name Lanka, used in the Epic chronicles, was adopted in to Prakrit with the addition of a leading vowel which could be “a, e, (h)e, or i”. Thus the form Lanka ? Helanka appears in Sinhala Prakrit (language of the common people) as the abbreviated form Hela. Sinhala Prakrit itself became known as “Elu”, or “Hela-basa”. Similarly, the name Lanka ? Ilankai was adapted during the Cankam period into Dravidian languages, giving its Tamil form Ilankai, ??????. This is further clarified by noting that eighteen countries are mentioned in early Tamil literature, clearly distinguishing “cinkalam” from “Tamlaak(h)am”, viz., cimka?am, conaakam, c? vakam, c??am, tu?uvam, kutakam, konkanam, kanna-tam, kollam, telin(g)kam, kalin(g)kam, va?kam, ka?- kam, makatam, ka??ram, kavu?am, koklam, tamilakam The early Pali writings of Sri Lanka also mention similar names for kingdoms located in the subcontinent. The origins of the Sinhala language are probably linked to the Asokan (northern) Brahmi and Pali, while Tamil is linked to southern Brahmi. However, the two forms of Brahmi, and their Prakrit forms are themselves very close. Even the word “Dameda”, or “Damila” (Dravidian) probably signified a geographic location (southern), i.e., south of the Vindyah mountains, as viewed by the northern Sanskrit writers. The Tamil or Sinhala ethnic identity probably did not evolve until the early sangam period (this view seems to be held by I. Mahadevan). The existence of place-names like Nagarjuna kanda (????, hill) in South India, and Sinhala-prakrit artifacts imply that there was considerable cultural exchange across the Palk straits (Raama sagara-cheriya,). Jayakumar, and also Mahadevan have discussed consequent 2nd BCE Sinhala influences extending into South India itself.

      It should be noted that race or ethnicity , as understood today was of little consequence in ancient times, when it was the caste that was most important. The Brahma was believed to have created “castes” and not ethnicities. Thus kings always married other “Kshatriyas”, irrespective of ethnicity.

      The pre-Buddhist people of Lanka may have been even Kirats-Yakkas, or other unknown groups. Asokan Brahmi (Sinhala Prakrit) script has been found in the 3rd century BCE stone inscriptions of Sri Lanka. The study of toponyms also shows the cultural closeness of these two language groups, immensely influenced by Sanskrit (in this document we use the name ‘Sanskrit’ to include all proto-forms related to the language of the Rig Veda, and not just the systematized form). The North and East of Sri Lanka were populated by people who were largely Sinhala-speaking Buddhists till about the 12th century. The place names in the whole country were mostly Sinhala names. South Indian invasions led to a gradual modification of the original place names which acquired a Tamil garb, as stated by many scholars like Paul E. Peries, Horsburg, J. P. Lewis, S. Paranavitana, Dr. K. Inthirapala, Ven. E. Medhananda and others. K. Velu Pillai in Yalpana Vaibhava Kaumudi devotes a whole chapter to Sinhala place names in Jaffna(source; Dr. Chandre Dharma-wardana. Traditional Sinhala place names in Sri Lanka and their Tamilized forms)

      Hence by all means separate the Mytho-history from fact. But do it to ALL Historical Texts that has any relevance to Lanka, the Tamils, Muslims, Sinhalese and the other races that inhabit and lay claim to it.

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    Dear Ward

    Diaspora as such is not the issue – but the negatives. We need the moderate faction to come to the fore

    Dear Suren

    Prof Gananath Obeysekere has pointed out that sinhalese language and culture do not have words and concepts that correspond to
    2. race

    I can get hold of the ref and the exact quote later. However it is very clear that the ancient civilization having been directly influenced by Buddhist philosophy did not subscribe to a notion of fixed identity or a fixed race. The sinhala term jathi is a reference to birth and not race. The closest approximation to nation that the sinhalese know is “sasana” – also according to Prof Gananath.

    I would not be surprised if Tamil culture has this same balanced.

    Between the first and second civilizations Jaffna and parts of vanni drifted away from centralized rule and became a part of the Vijayanagar Empire of S India for a time. the muslim invasions in mainland india saw a flood of south indian immigrants in the period of 13th and 14th centuries and many of the brahmins were naturalized as sinhalese and as bandaras… this was a period of inter-mingling. It is also reported that the first arab traders took sinhalese wives. The reality has many cross connections and is also well integrated. As you may have heard there is a saying that history is made in bed!

    • Ward

      ”this was a period of inter-mingling” !

      Then came along some politicians to magnify differences to earn votes from which claws we’re unable to get out of !!

      • Off the Cuff

        Racism or Cast

        The Tamil Vellalas realized that they would loose their dominant position if universal franchise was upheld. GGP began a full campaign against Universal Franchise and the historical position of the Sinhalese. Jane Russell writes (page 131): “The Ceylon Tamils had no written document on the lines of the Mahavamsa to authenticate their singular and separate historical authority in Sri Lanka, a fact which Ceylon Tamil communalists found very irksome”. Because of this, Tamil writers,and budding politicians like Ponnambalam began to attack the Mahavamsa. He went to political meeting claiming that the Tamils have always ruled the Sinhalese, and that the Sinhalese were “a race of hybrids” and an offshoot of the Tamils. The Dutugamunu-Elara story was used by “Ceylon Tamil agitators ? (as) an historical justification for the sense of grievance which they were so carefully nursing, and it was used to suggest that Sinhalese perfidy in the name of Sinhalese Buddhism would be the accepted practice in the future as well as in the past” (Russell, p. 154). Meanwhile, the Tamils continued to insist that they are effectively a majority community (Morning Star, January 2, 1934). The famous Peradeniya historian, Prof. K. M. de Silva has cited this fact as a main cause of the failure of the Ceylon National Congress and the concept of a united Sri Lanka (University of Ceylon History of Ceylon , p401).
        At a meeting in Navalapitiya in 1939, Ponnambalam attacked the Mahavamsa and the Sinhalese in such extreme terms that the people attacked him, and the first Sinhala-Tamil riots began, with clashes in Navalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya and even in Jaffna (reported in full in the newspaper, Hindu Organ November 1, 1939. This paper is said to be available at the Jaffna University Library). The British government rapidly put down the clashes and so they did not become extensive as in the post-1950s clashes.
        Here is the view of another Tamil
        Contrary what some observers propagate, the ethnic problem didn’t start in 1956. The concept of Tamil Elam was inaugurated by Sir Ponnambalam Arunchalam as far back in 1923. In 1931 a highly disproportionate 50:50 representation was sought to represent people on an ethnic basis which was actually 70:30. Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kachchi (Lanka Tamil Kingdom Party) was formed in 1949. It has changed its English name from Federal Party to Tamil National Alliance over the years; however, the Tamil meaning remains same

        Ceylon Tamil political divisions in the north ran along caste lines but ‘low’ caste Tamils were not organised. While ‘high caste’ Tamils voted for and contested from Tamil race centric parties, others were less attracted to these parties. Even before Independence, at the 1957 general election, ACTC won all the seats in Jaffna District except the Kytes electorate where the majority belonged to ‘low castes’. Tamil electorates in the north were impenetrable for mainstream political parties. SWRDB’s plan was to win the support of ‘low caste’ Tamils and create a favourable support base in the north or to create a rift between the two caste groups and manipulate both. Although it was not an easy task of amassing enough support for a seat under the first-past-the-post system, SWRDB was determined to make use of the caste divisions to advance mainstream politics in the north.

        This strategy was since used by all leaders of the country with sufficient political and military success.

        As a UN member Sri Lanka upheld equal rights to all individuals and caste stood in the way of equal rights to all persons. Going by this commitment on 12 April 1957 the Social Disabilities Act No. 21 was passed in parliament. Tamil children of ‘lower castes’ could attend school regularly only after this act. People of ‘lower castes’ could participate in religious rites in Kovils without any disturbance from ‘high caste’ individuals. A reawakening happened in the north among previously marginalised Tamils.

        Christian groups spearheaded the movement to petition court on any alleged discrimination they came to know. However, it didn’t go down well among the Vellalar ‘high caste’ people. A number of ‘high caste’ Tamils were humiliatingly punished for caste discrimination. Resentment grew against the government. Tamil politicians sensed the double danger of dismantling the caste system and mainstream political parties penetrating into the Tamil community. They took up a racial slogan that pit Tamils against Sinhalese. It worked well in the short run as racial sentiments and fears were drummed up. In the short term it unified Tamils across the caste/region/class divide. Large scale protests, satyagrahas and demonstrations broke out. Ministers were mobbed, Sinhala letters were tarred over a petty issue (having a Sinhala letter instead of English letters in vehicle registration numbers) and a civil disobedience campaign was launched by Tamil race based political parties (Tamil Kachchi and Tamil Congress).

        All this happened in 1957 more than a year after the Official Language Act was passed (within 24 hours) and implemented.

        However, it was blamed for the trouble in 1957. Further agitations continued.

        In 1957 Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam (the leader of the Tamil Kachchi) came to a secret pact widely known as the B-C Pact. People, the parliament and even the Cabinet were not informed of let alone sanctioned it. It wasn’t approved by the parliament and therefore lacked legal binding on the parties. ( External Link )

        Strangely no resolution of the language issue is found in the B-C pact. Instead it was more about devolving regional power! This is clear proof that it was the Prevention of Social Disability Act and not the Official Language Act that triggered Tamil resistance although the latter was cited as the root cause. The proposed solution had nothing to do with the Official Language Act. By gaining regional control, Tamil race based parties would make the provisions of the Prevention of Social Disability Act powerless and continue to rule over ‘low caste’ Tamils. (Thomas Johnpulle)

    • oopla

      Bandara – Pandarams in the Tamil areas. To this day pandarams are non Brahmins who conduct theoir own poojas etc and have their own temples.

  • Ward

    ”Values would be preached but they would not be allowed to obstruct the new pursuit of self promotion and self advancement” :

    Who is going to bell the cat??

  • Alfred Stenson

    It is impossible for me to tell you how impressed I am by this essay. It clearly illuminates many things that I had previously only intuitively grasped.

    Special thanks for calling my attention to Professor Gananath Obeysekere’s observation that the Sinhalese language had no word or concept for “identity” and “race”. I would love to know what other alienating elements are missing from the Sinhala lexicon. I am sure there are many since I have discovered a few on my own, all of which are profound in their significance.

  • Ethirveerasingam

    Thank you. As others have said, it is refreshing to read a novel approach to understand the past and view the present. Buddhism as a philosophy without one or more supreme beings that can protect and reward is coming to term with other religions around it. Protecting the philosophy has replaced the teaching of it. Numbers and one person one vote and concepts of sovereignty has replaced justice.
    It will be great if some one can use the approach that Sajewa had used to present the actions of Tamil kings, Kingdoms, the Tamils during the same era as the Sinhala kings of the past and how the colonial intervention with their religion and political ideas have changed the Tamils as a people less in numbers.
    The out come of such discussions may expose the fundamental causes of the conflict and pave a way for hereto unmentioned parametres for a political solution where none exists at this moment.

  • Lankan Observer

    The position argued here strikes me as frighteningly consistent with earlier nationalist accounts of the post-Polonnaruva ‘dissolution’ of the Sinhala state. This radical historical rupture coincides – no surprise, given the ethnic sentiments that informed nationalist historiography – with Cola incursions, and the subsequent establishment of agents of the Cola state in Lanka. The unstated presupposition is that south India, ‘Hindu’ forms of polity were inimical to the making of Buddhists states in Sri Lanka. While I commend the present author for drawing our attention to a vastly understudied period of Sri Lankan history, I fear that his invocation of the old ‘model’ of Sinhala-Buddhist kingship (village / sangha / king) and their ethical corollaries as the ‘gold standard’ of political practice in Sri Lanka simply reinforces the idea that a return to the pre-Polonnaruva golden age is the answer to all of Sri Lanka’s problems. How is this any different than what nationalist historians have been arguing all along? Historians of medieval India have productively begun to give up the idea of the medieval state as a monolithic bureaucratic structure hanging above society, and instead look for interactions between state, society, and region. This, I think, would be a good strategy for Lankan medievalists, too. The post-Polonnaruva period (up until the arrival of the Portuguese)—with its increased circulation between south India and Sri Lanka, rise of regionally based courts, and changes in the social composition of nobility—then begins to look less retrograde (as this article suggests), but actually quite politically dynamic.

  • sajeeva samaranayake

    We need to look a little bit harder at the golden age theory – not to debunk it – why should we? – but to draw out some more critical elements that supported the praxis of that age.

    Look at what off the cuff stated above –

    “It should be noted that race or ethnicity , as understood today was of little consequence in ancient times, when it was the caste that was most important. The Brahma was believed to have created “castes” and not ethnicities. Thus kings always married other “Kshatriyas”, irrespective of ethnicity”

    When you tread this path you might see that ancient people were (fortunately) less sophisticated and less scholarly in terms of their religious beliefs and these probably had a more direct practical relevance for them. One of our great Persian scholars Lanerolle states that people were defined in the pre-Vijayan period by their common beliefs and common mode of life and this was generally shaped by their religious/existential inquiries as to the meaning of life.

    The 4 major tribes before Mahindagamanaya were sakya, deva, yaksha and naga and apart from the yakshas the other three were Persian in origin. Buddhism unified them and this was perhaps the dependent origination of sinhalese ethnicity. The sinhabahu story was an ingenious concoction to highlight an aryan connection but Vijaya’s queen came from Madurai in South India (just as the wives of nayakkars came in the 18th century). The end of Polonnaruva also perhaps marked the end of the Persian Buddhist influence…. There is an effort to downplay the dravidian influence in much of our history – but it is possible that the dravidians also had teir origins in Persia!

    Those who regrouped at Dambadeniya and Yapahuwa were probably more sinhalese than Buddhist – more elitist than democratic – more pseudo than real – more native than cosmopolitan – and more ready to embrace Gods than their ancestors. Ethnicity today is the creation and result of a long drawn out epoch of political instability.

    We cannot go backward – and i would simply maintain that the A pura and P oruva periods had a balance – of male and female forces; of spiritual and material influences. The second civilization proved unable to work through the new influences and mould them in a creative way…