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Origin of the Sinhala race

by SK Vadivale - Daily News Point of View Tue Sep 23 2003

This is in response to the article that appeared in the Daily News of 10th April 2003 by Mr. Ranjith C. Dissanayake. Deputy President of the Eksath Sinhala Maha Sabhawa's suggestion that the history and origin of the Sinhala race be traced.

From the annals of history we learn that the port of Puhar along the Coromandel coast of Tamil Naadu, the port of Tutucurin along the Southern coast of Tamil Naadu and the port of Mantai (Mannar) along the North-Western coast of Lanka were internationally famous for the flourishing trade they were carrying on during the pre-christian and early Christian eras, with countries in the West viz.

Greece, Rome, Rgypt. Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Arabian lands and with countries in the Eastern seas viz Siam, Burma, Malaya, Java, China, Bali and Fiji. The Gulf of Mannar was in those early days famous for pearl fisheries. The above ports were manned exclusively by Tamils. They were mariners and navigators.

Tamil names of the commodities exported and imported are seen in the vocabularies of the Greek and English languages today. Coins of foreign countries have been found from time to time at Kantharodai, the earliest capital of the kings of Jaffna, and in other parts of Jaffna. Foreign coins may be seen at the National Museum in Jaffna.

The world-renowned Hindu Temple of the 13th century A.D. at Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, is today a destination for Buddhist pilgrims. The sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist art at Borobudur in Java, built by the Cholas in the 9th century A.D. during the rule of Java by the Sailendra Dynasty, stands magnificently, reminding visitors of the mighty Cholas. Although Indonesia has the highest Muslim population in the world, the Garuda (vahana of Lord Vishnu) is the emblem on the National Flag of Indonesia.

One of the most remarkable objects unearthed at Mannar was a model of a cart with its driver, which showed unmistakable signs of Babylonian art. There are in Sumeria to this day, ruins of Hindu kovils with the Ziggurats (kopurams), which confirm that Mesopotamia is the cradle of the Dravidians (Hindus), as quoted by S.F. De Silva retired Principal, Government Training College.

Jawaharlal Nehru ex-prime minister of India, in his "My discovery of India", writes. "There is no record anywhere, of Aryans having left the shores of India in search of adventure viz, commercial, cultural and expansionists. There are however, numerous records of the Cholas having braved the waves of the oceans and established cultural and commercial intercourse with foreign countries, and left their impressions in those countries.

That the Tamils were a maritime race is further proved by the fact that it was a Tamil. Vavooji Sithamparanathar, who had the courage to defy the British and own an ocean-going vessel. At time when the British, as rulers thought that it was their prerogative to own ocean-going vessels. Tamil-blood, promted Vavooji to own a ship, in defiance of his white master's arrogance.

The Hindu and Buddhist ruins we see today at Polonnaruwa are a legacy the Cholas who ruled Lanka from 1003 A.D. to 1075 A.D. have bequeathed to us. In no other part of Lanka do we see such extensive ruins, as we see at Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka is heavily indebted to the Cholas for their gift.

The eminent Sinhala civilian and historian, the late Dr. Paul E. Peiris, following his excavations of a part of the site of Kantharodai, the earliest capital of the kings of Jaffna, notes, "It stands to reason that a country which is only about 20 miles from South India, would have been seen by Indian fishermen every morning as they sailed out to catch fish.

I believe North Ceylon was a flourishing settlement long before Vijaya was born". In similar vein, are his remarks on the ancestral Hindu kovils of Ceylon, "Long before the arrival of Vijaya, there were in Lanka five recognized Iswerams of Siva, which claimed adoration and veneration of all India.

These were Thirukketheseeweram near Mantai (Mannar), Munneswram dominating Salawata (Chilaw), Thirukonesweram near the great bay of Kottiyar (Trincomalee). Nakulesweram, in close proximity to the Kankesanturai harbour and Chandresweram close to Hambantota harbour. The last mentioned kovil is unfortunately no more. It has gone to ruins due to lack of patronage and neglect. The situation of these temples close to ports, cannot be the result of accident or caprice but was probably determined by the concourse of a wealthy mercantile population whose religious wants called for attention".

Apart from the above-mentioned kovils, there are, in the deep South, a shrire for Lord Murukan at Kathirkamam and a shrine for Lord Vishnu at Devi Nuwara from ancient days. Buddhists and Hindus visit these kovils daily for worship.

There are kovils from ancient days in Kandy, testifying to a high concentration of Hindus in the Central part of Lanka. The temple for Nath (Siva), according to H.W. Codrington, is over 600 years old. The other temples, being for Murukan, Vishnu and Goddess Pattini, Robert Knox was of the view that Maha Fsala Perahera in Kandy was celebrated from ancient times exclusively in honour of the Hindu deities. The Tooth Relic was taken in the Perahera for the first time during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Raja Singha at the request of the Siamese Monk Upali, to give a Buddhist touch to the festival. That practice was later stopped. These days only the empty casket is mounted on the elephant.

It may not be incorrect to assume that in the hoary past, Lanka was, from North to South, East to West and the Central highlands the homeland of Tamils of the Hindu faith. With the arrival of Arahat Mahinda, thousands of Tamils of the Hindu faith embraced Buddhism. Though 80 generations have rolled by, these converts have not given up their Tamil Hindu culture and practices. They still indulge in prayers and rituals.

As even as late as the 6th century A.D., there was no Sinhala language, the Great Chronicles were written in the Pali language. Monk Maha Nama hatched the Vijaya myth to dub the Buddhist converts as Aryans, projecting them as descendants of Bengalis.

Maha Nama did not know that the Bengalis were Mongoloid Dravidians. The average Sinhala man will decline to believe that prince Siddhartha, as a Nepalese, was not an Aryan. No king of Lanka during the 200 years history of Lanka, claimed that he was of Aryan Dynasty.

How then can the populace claim that they are Aryans? With the mixture of Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit languages, evolved that Sinhala language during 8 A.D. It was not Pali or Sanskrit, but the Tamil language that helped in the formation of the Sinhala alphabets. The alphabets of the Sinhala language are round in shape like the alphabets of the other Dravidian languages. Telugue, Malayalam, Kannadam and proto-Tamil. In the 10th century. Tamils changed the shape of their alphabets to the square shape.

According to Dr. C.E. Godakmubara, the Sinhala Grammar Sidathsangarawa was based on the Tamil Grammar Virasolium in the 11th A.D. The term 'Sihala (Lion in Pali) is seen for the first time in Sri Lankan sources in the Dipa Vamsa (4-5 A.D.) and in that chronicle, that term occurs only once, and in that cryptic verse it is stated that the Island was known as 'Sinhala' on account of the Lion - "Lanka Dipo Ayam ahu sihena sihalaitu". In the maha Vamsa the term 'Sihala' - occurs only twice. In the epic Ramayana 420 B.C., this island was known as Lanka much earlier.

Rev. S. Gnanapiragasam - "There are more than 4.000 Tamil words in the Sinhala vocabulary. If the Sinhala vocabulary is stripped of all the Tamil words there will be no Sinhala language."

There were no Sinhalese in Lanka or in any part of the world until the Dipa Vamsa for the first time, referred to the descendants of Tamil (Hindus) who embraced Buddhism in 246 B.C. as Sihala on account of the Lion (no relevance). There is no culture called Sinhala culture. It is the Tamil culture that is projected as Sinhala culture. The 14th day of April is observed as New Year, day only by the Tamils and Sinhala people throughout the world.

This fact is strong evidence that the Sinhala people inherited this practice from their Tamil ancestors who embraced Buddhism in 246 B.C. It is stupid to deny that fact. When there was no Sinhala language in Lanka or in any part of the world before 8th A.D., it is thuggery to claim that there were Sinhala people in Lanka prior to the 8th century A.D. Just as the descendants of Tamils who embraced Buddhism in 246 B.C. claim they are Arya Sinhalese; Tamils of the Western Coast, from Ragama to Kalpitiya, after adopting Sinhala as their mother tongue, (after the introduction of free education) claim thy are Arya Sinhalese. In Sri Lanka any person who adopts Sinhala as mother tongue ipso facto is an Aryan.

That is Sri Lankan logic, Yes, in Sri Lanka a leopard can change its spots. Wilhelm Geiger - "not what is said, what is left unsaid, is the besetting difference of Sinhala history".

SK Vadivale

Origin of Sinhala race - A Response

Island Letters Sat Oct 4 2003 - V. Dharmapala Senaratne

I refer to the article by Dr. S. K. Vadivale appearing in the press the other day under the caption ‘Origin of the Sinhala race’.

Although Dr. Vadivale pretends to be a linguist while he is not, I do not make any such claims. It is pitiable however that under such presences he presents fantasy as fact as to the origin of the Sinhala race and its language.

I say so for the following reasons, among others. In order to establish that ‘Mesopotamia is the cradle of the Dravidians (Hindus)’ he quotes the authority of S. F. de Silva, retired principal of Government Training College. What an authority indeed! It is on such authority that he has based his thesis!

Dr. Vadivale wants us to believe that ‘Sri Lanka is heavily indebted to the Cholas who ruled our Lanka from 1003 AD to 1075 AD for their gift of Hindu and Buddhist ruins we see today at Polonnaruwa’. This is again undoubtedly fantasy. The carnage that was unleashed in Polonnaruwa by the Cholas is well documented and does not need repetition or emphasis here for it known better to others than Dr. Vadivale. So, it is correct to say that Cholas ruined that city.

Dr. Vadivale adds, ‘As even as late as the 6th century AD, there was no Sinhala language’. According to well established evidence, the Sinhala language has its origin in the pre-Christian era and it is unfortunate that Dr. Vadivale is ignorant of this fact. This assertion of his is absurd as the statement ‘It was the Tamil language that helped in the formation of Sinhala alphabets’. He thus displays himself to be an ignoramus as to Brahamin scripture and rock inscriptions in Sri Lanka which clearly indicate a smooth evolution of the Sinhala alphabet into the modern day letters.

His reference to Rev. Gnanapragasam and Wilhelm Geiger to prove his point is a clear case of the devil quoting scriptures. Gnanapragasam read a paper on "Dravidian element in Sinhala" at a meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society held in 1934. It was later published in the Society’s journal.

Geiger who has been a world renowned linguist thereafter countered the thesis of Gnanapragasam who is neither a linguist, historian, archaeologist nor an intellectual of any sort according to Geiger himself. Geiger’s research paper titled ‘The linguistic character of Sinhalese’ was published in the same journal in the year 1937. Will Dr. Vadivale please read that?

Dr. Vadivale adds, ‘There is no culture called Sinhala culture. It is Tamil culture that is projected as Sinhala culture’. My foot! What an absurd statement.

Immediately thereafter, he proceeds to declare that ‘April 14 is observed as New Year only by Tamil and Sinhala people throughout the world’. This could possibly be the falsehood of the century deserving a slot in the Guinness Book of Records.

The word ‘Sankranthi’ associated with the Sinhala New Year comes from Sanskrit. In Thailand even today the same word is spoken as ‘Songkraan’ in their terminology for the New Year it being a national event celebrated from the beginning of the Buddhist era. I have witnessed it personally in that country though it could well be news to ignorant Dr. Vadivale.

V. Dharmapala Senaratne
Gothatuwa New Town, Sri Lanka

Origin of the Sinhala race

Daily News - Wed Oct 29 2003

I refer to the several letters appearing in your columns on the above subject. According to late Gamini Iriyagolla, (Civil Servant, scholar, Lawyer, Patriot and one who was deeply involved in the so-called "ethnic issue" and presented irrefutable historical facts and startling arguments to explode, among others, the myth of the "traditional Tamil homeland" concept), "There is a history but not of the Tamils.... Even C. Rasanayagam, in his heavily Tamil-biased "Ancient Jaffna" (1926), admits, "that Jaffna was occupied by the Sinhalese earlier than by the Tamils is seen not only in the place names of Jaffna but also is some of the habits and customs of the people..."

According to H.W. Codrington, in his book "Ancient Land Tenure and Land Revenue in Ceylon" - 1938, "The colonization of Jaffna by the Tamils cannot be of extreme antiquity". "Such place names as exist, and they are not a few, are not pre-medieval,..... records the presence of Sinhalese in the peninsula in the 15th century."

In the several letters and the subsequent booklet he (Mr. Iriyagolla) had published on this issue, he says that the Tamils who are mostly descendants of Malayalese, is a racial group composed of different ethnic entities and speaking a common language, such as Tamils from Coromandel coast, Paravars who came during the Portuguese and Dutch periods as pearl divers, soldiers and fishermen, Kalingas from Orissa and Anthra Pradesh, Mukkuwas from Malabar coast, Arabs and other Muslims from South India and Portuguese who were given land grants and settled in Jaffna between 1619 and 1658. To this list must be added Tamils brought by the Dutch for tobacco cultivation in Jaffna. Such a diverse group, though welded together by a common religion and language, has no "historic" or "Traditional homelands".

To get over this embarrassing impasse, the crafty Tamil leaders struggling for top places in Sri Lanka had to invent a spurious claim to convince their followers. Hence the blatant falsification of historical facts, which, alack and alas, received State support when the teaching of our glorious history was treacherously withdrawn.

If in deed the Tamils had a "glorious past", as proclaimed by racist Tamils, they should be able to produce proof at least of one single irrigation system they had built in or outside Jaffna; not the ones their invading brethren had destroyed from time to time.

And, if in fact Tamils were the original inhabitants, how come they all chose to live in a barren, harsh and inhospitable area, leaving the fertile land to "Sinhala Kallathonis"?


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