Clash of civilisations – A Response

Clash of civilisations – A Response

While I agree generally with Dr.Wickramabahu’s narration  of  early history of Ceylon, I disagree with certain of his assertions/concludions.

Chola, Chera and Pandyas are Thamil Kshasthiriya and not Aryan Kshasthriya. To claim otherwise is preposterous. I don’t know from where  Dr.Wickramabahu got this novel theory.

The term ‘Sihala’ meaning lion (Not Sinhala)  itself first appeared ONLY in the 5th Century AD Pali chronicles Dipavamsa/Mahavamsa and that also ONLY twice in the beginning chapters.

The Elara – Dutu Gemenu was not a tribal war, it was a war faught by Duttu Gemenu who was a Naga prince  to  regain the Anuradhapura throne  that belonged to  his ancestors on his father’s side. Dutu Gemenu’s father was Kakavanna Theesan (KavanTissa) whose father was Gotabhaya. Gotabhaya is the sone of  Maha Naga, brother of Devanampiya Theesan (Tissa) the first convert to Buddhism. And Devanampiya Theesan’s father was Muta Siva (BC307 – BC247) who ruled Anuradhapura. Therefore, Kakavanna Theesan was the great grandson of  Maga Naga who established  the kingdom in Mahagama in Rohana. Maha Naga’s older brother, Devanampiya Tissa, a contemporary of Emperor Asoka, was the first king of the Tissa dynasty.

It may be of interest and educational value to note that all kings from Muta Siva (307-247 B.C) right down to the beginning of the Christian era (a period of 300 years), were Nagas/Thamils and were of Hindu faith. Naga kings continued to rule from Anuradhapura till they lost their identity and became Sinhalese in the 8th century. As mentioned above the much adored and admired King Duttu Gemunu was a Naga prince  both from his father’s side Kahavanna Theesan  and his mother’s side Viharamadevi. Viharamadevi was the daughter of Kelani Tissa who ruled Kalyani (Keleniya) They were of course, Buddhist by faith. (Source : www.tamilcanadian,com)

During the war between Elara and Duttugemenu there were Buddhist Thamils/Nagas  fighting  on the side of  Duttugemenu and Hindu Thamils/Nagas fighting on the side of Elara. The Thamils/Nagas  who were Buddhists needed a separate identity  from Thamils/Nagas who were of Hindu faith. This was achieved by inventing the Sinhala language and script  by Buddhist monks.

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.

The ancient Sri Lankan heritage, the Vevas (tanks/reservoirs), Dagobas (dome enshrining sacred relics) and all other massive ancient structures were constructed by the Buddhist Nagas and Demelas (not Sinhalas). The development of wet rice cultivation, a rudimentary tank system, and iron technology were common features of development for both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

Dameda is the most mentioned ethnic group in the ancient epigraphy of Sri Lanka. These inscriptions refer to the Dameda Vishaka (Tamil merchant), the Dameda Samana (Tamil householder), and Dameda Navika (Tamil sailor). There are enough of ancient archaeological evidence in Sri Lanka such as Brahmi stone inscriptions, cave writings, etc where the terms ‘Dameda’, ‘Damela’, ‘Damila’, ‘Demel’ are mentioned as a group of people living in the island. During Sena I ((833-853) and Kassapa IV (899-914), there are definite epigraphic reference to Tamil villages and lands, Demel-Kaballa (Tamil allotment), Demelat-valademin (Tamil lands), Demel-gam-bim (Tamil villages & lands), Demal-Kinigam, Demelin-hetihaya, etc. The presence of Tamils in the island Sri Lanka in the early historic period is not denied even in the Pali chronicles.

The present day historian Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne says, “there is no mention of the word Sihala or Sinhala ethnicity in the thousand odd short inscriptions that come to us from this period, but on the contrary, a vast majority of the host of clan names and titles that we come across in these inscriptions only show affinities with the clans of the ancient Tamil country”.

Sinhala lan guage evolved  from a  mixture of  Elu (Hela), Thamill, Pali and Sanskrit languages during 8 century 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. Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada  and proto-Tamil. In the 10th century. Tamils changed the shape of their alphabets to the present square shape. There is remarkable semblance between Telugu script and Sinhalas script.

The new year celebrated on the 14th of April is common to both to Sinhalese and Thamils for the reason before conversion they were all Hindus. It is interesting to note that after the death of Vijaya there was an interregunnum of one year during which a Brahmin priest by the name Upatissa acted as the king.

The caste hierarchy is almost similar in both Sinhalese and Thamils. The Sinhala caste system is closer to the Jati system, than the Sanskrit Varna system. Quiet a few Sinhala castes are composed of South Indians & their descendants, who came over several centuries – sometimes for trade or as the soldiers of the presiding Sinhala, Pandya or Chola kings.The Karava, Salagama (aka Chaliya), Durawa castes were brought down by Portuguese and Dutch to work as cinnamon peelers, toddy tapping etc. Duravas descended from the Nadars of Thamil Nadu and Ezhavas of Kerala.

Thangavelu


Clash of civilisations

 http://www.slguardian.org/2016/05/clash-of-civilisations/

At the time of the supposed arrival of Aryan people from North India to this island between 6th and 3rd Century BC, those who lived here belong to the South Indian megalithic culture. It was a commune society based on small tank-villages.

by Vikramabahu Karunaratne

( May 24, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the Buddhist society everybody was equal before the state; and all property, in particular the land belonging to the state. Caste based on ethnic and racial differences was done away with. However in place of that, there developed the caste separation based on crafts and professions, associated with the agricultural society rooted in a centralized irrigation system. Cultured elites were paid officers of the state while the peasantry gave a share to the state coffers and also gave free labour for constructions and services of the state, during off season Elara Dutu Gemunu war; was it a tribal war or a war between two different civilizations Many different views are expressed. Some are scientific. Many are biased to fit chauvinist positions held by political leaders. We have to get the facts and figures correct and analyse the socio-economic development of the Lankan society.

At the time of the supposed arrival of Aryan people from North India to this island between 6th and 3rd Century BC, those who lived here belong to the South Indian megalithic culture. It was a commune society based on small tank-villages.

This was an intrusive culture thought to have originated, on the basis of recent discoveries, in the Nubian region which came into South India sometime after 1000 BC. It was metal used with implements chiefly of iron. A settlement had four distinct areas: a habitation area, a cemetery, a tank and fields. Dravidians who built the fabulous cities of Mohenjo-daro Harappa and taught the Nomadic Aryan invaders how to irrigate with dams and canals, had shifted to the South. The South Indian megalithic culture may have had descended from them.

Indigenous civilization

With the advent of Aryan people, there were in the island two or three distinct racial elements. Before 250 BC, before Mauryan Dynasty, Aryans could not have come in great numbers. Nor did they add much to the indigenous civilization. They also knew agriculture and may have started their traditional subsistence village societies based more on animal husbandry. They did not have proper kingship and their village communes were led by ‘Gaminis’. Aryans unlike the indigenous islanders at the time of intrusions were war-like people and were better equipped with military technology.

Theirs was a patriarchic society as opposed to the mother god culture of Dravidian people.

However, the real dawn of civilization came with the introduction of Buddhism. Recorded history started with the elite acquiring a literate culture. Spread of Buddhism among the Sinhala Kshasthriya and other elite castes had a social significance. It means the development of the society from both small-tank village and dam-river valley culture to an organised large-tank culture. Large tank irrigation systems necessitated a centralised society with a finer organising of labour. This could be achieved only by abandoning the strict semi-racial caste divisions of the old Brahaministic society, in place of a social division based more on the services of an irrigation system. Asoka’s version of Theravada Buddhism provided the ideology for this change. Thus Buddhism became the religion of the elite of the centralised agricultural society, where water management and maintenance of dams and canals was done by the state.

Dravidian language

By studying early cave inscriptions, it is claimed that the language of the people at the time of Devanampiyathissa was a variation of Magadha Prakrutha, spoken language understood by both the elite and the lower masses. It is most probable that the Sinhala language developed from the spoken language of the common folk, along the Pali Sanskrit line and departed from the rest of Dravidian languages due to the continuous influence of Buddhism.

Clearly before Buddhism got rooted here, there was no difference between Lankan and Pandean kingdoms. Both were ruled by Aryan Kshasthriya elites though people belonged to Dravidian race. There was close kinship between the two royal houses.

In the Buddhist society everybody was equal before the state; and all property, in particular the land belonging to the state. Caste based on ethnic and racial differences was done away with. However in place of that, there developed the caste separation based on crafts and professions, associated with the agricultural society rooted in a centralized irrigation system.

Cultured elites were paid officers of the state while the peasantry gave a share to the state coffers and also gave free labour for constructions and services of the state, during off season. The first and second Dravidian invasions came in 3rd Century B. C. Sinhala elite were displaced and majority of them were forced to take refuge in the South. In the meantime, the Dravidian elite at Anuradhapura attempted to re-organise the society in the form that existed in South India at that time. With their irrigation know how, small tanks and dams were improved at the expense of the centralized irrigation system.

This would have made them popular among the lower classes while the surplus depreciated. Buddhism was left out as it went against the structure of the society.

Prince Gamini was a prominent village leader of the Sinhalese people that eked out an existence in Ruhunu. He mobilized, this defeated and driven out people to win back the control of the irrigated land that their fore-fathers helped to develop around Anuradhapura. His victory created a fully developed centralized irrigation based agricultural society, with Buddhism as its ideology. The Buddhist monk Mahanama who wrote Mahavamsa, devotes most of it to this epic story of how Sinhala elite brought all people inhabited this island under its domination and established itself at the apex of an Asiatic state structure. So historically it is a clash of two socio-e-conomic formations: Asiatic centralized state structure and village commune based state structure.

Salagamas

Salagama (AKA Chaliya) is a caste of cinnamon peelers in the Southern coastal areas of Sri Lanka. They were also associated with cinnamon cultivation & in Kandy, with weaving. Noted cricketer Lasith Malinga is a Salagama.

Chaliya or Saliya is a caste of weavers in Northern Kerala & Southern Karnataka. It seems possible that the Sinhala kings sought skilled weavers to setup shop at various periods. Saliyas from Kerala & Karnataka moved in waves. And some of them moved onto cinnamon peeling.

Duravas

Durava or Chanda is a toddy tapping caste, that initially moved to the Southern Coast of Srilanka. Their hereditary role is coconut or palm tree climbing. It is believed that they descended from the Nadars of Tamil Nadu & the Ezhavas of Kerala. Many of them also functioned as mercenaries & soldiers for the Sinhala kings.

Its worth noting that the term “Chanda” is very similar to “Sanar”, another name for the Nadar community in Tamil Nadu. The Duravas take great pains to deny their connections with South India & with toddy tapping, which in their eyes is a demeaning profession.

According to the Durava revisionists, their ancestors took up toddy tapping only because they owned the land themselves. Or, they did it for their Durava brethren that owned large coconut groves. Toddy tappers, them – Oh, sacrilege! They also claim that they are a community devoted to martial arts, which was well connected with the aristocracy. Their role as soldiers for the Sinhala kings probably explains their contacts with the royals.

Karavas – The Negombo Story

Along the Eastern sea-board of India, predominantly in the states of Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh, a community of fisher-folks called “Karayar” live. A long time back, they moved to the South-Western coast of Srilanka.

About editor 1219 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist

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