The Tamils are an Ancient People..
Tamil is the oldest of the Dravidian languages. Along with Chinese, Greek, Sanskrit and others, it is one of the world’s classical languages. Tamil literature spans 3500 years. This language was the first to develop a distinct prose form of writing among the classical languages of the world. Tamil is the only language among the old languages that have a history of 2000 and more years which is in practical use. With a slight variation in scripts and usage, the language still thrives. The literature written in 200 BC is still learnt and used in their normal speeches. The Tamil Thirukkural is second only to the Bible in the number of published translations.
Local usages of Tamil vary. There are differences in its usage not only among countries but even within Tamil Nadu, a region of India where Tamil is the predominantly spoken language.
Tamil is one of the recognized languages for official correspondence in four countries viz, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. In both Canada and Myanmar, the Tamil speaking population is about one million. There are over 80 million Tamil speakers worldwide.
Tamil is a Dravidian language, like most south Indian languages. Other Dravidian languages include Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu.
“From their earliest origins in Crete, the first Sea People or Thirai Aavidar (Dravidians) crossed the Mediterranean Sea, the great Euphrates and Tigris rivers of Mesopotamia, the Arabian Seas and the Indus Rivers to create the world’s third oldest civilization of the Dravidian Indus valley of 3,000 BC. The Tamil Merchant Princes traded with Sumer and Egypt as verified by their 2,000 famous seals discovered in the archaeological sites, that continues to the present day.
It was the Indians (Tamils), in about the 1st century BC, who discovered and harnessed the trade winds (northeast & southwest monsoons), to reach the ports in the Arabian Gulf and the countries in the Far-East, long before the Roman sea-captain, Hippalus discovered the secret to sail to the country of the Indians.
Here again, as late as 69 AD, we find affluent ladies in the Roman empire adorned with pearls fished by the Parava Tamils of the fishery-coast of Tamil Nadu and Mannar. The Roman emperor lamented, due to the vanity of the ladies, the coffers of Rome were running dry as a result of the import of pearls and diaphanous textiles from South India…
Long before the ‘Silk Route’ was used, the enterprising Dravidian merchants were sailing around the Indian coast and to the Persian Gulf as early as 3500 BC. The Dravidians of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa had their harbour in the bay of Cambay and disposed of their merchandise in Mesopotamia.”…
Kappal Oddiya Thamilan
The Overseas Exploits of the Thamils & the Tragedy of Sri Lanka – G.K.Rajasuriyar
27 March 2002, Australia
Dedicated to all those who love Freedom and Peace
‘These things shall be- a loftier race Than e’er the world has known shall rise, With flame of freedom in their souls, And light of knowledge in their eyes’. John Addington Symonds
Foreword – Ranee Eliezer
Christy Rajasuriar’s “Kappal Oddiya Thamilan – is timely for today’s children and people in Eelam, for each of us who have been dispersed and displaced throughout the Diaspora, when the genocide of Tamils worsened after Black July in 1983. – it is timely for the millions who were forced to leave the Tamil countries since 1830s in search of jobs as administrators, railwaymen and plantation labourers in the mosquito-ridden equatorial jungles infested with wild animals, wherever the colonial rulers sent them.
History taught in schools was biased, naturally, depending on who the conquerors were. Tamils have a continuous 10,000-year-old history which will require 20 volumes of research and scholarship. Some of these have been attempted by the International Tamil Alliance of Research – new data keeps pouring in the Internet and electronic mail from 58 Chairs of Tamil Studies throughout the world.
From their earliest origins in Crete, the first Sea People or Thirai Aavidar (Dravidians) crossed the Mediterranean Sea, the great Euphrates and Tigris rivers of Mesopotamia, the Arabian Seas and the Indus Rivers to create the world’s third oldest civilization of the Dravidian Indus valley of 3,000 BC. The Tamil Merchant Princes traded with Sumer and Egypt as verified by their 2,000 famous seals discovered in the archaeological cites, that continues to the present day.
Christy highlights the first Eastern Colonial empire of Tamil Pandyas, Cheras, Cholas and Pallavas. The first sailors to cross the unknown perilous Indian ocean in 300 BC and controlled the shipping lanes of the mighty Indian ocean. Their role in the Indianization of South East Asia till 1500 AD is well documented by western scholars like George Coedes, Sir Ananda Cumarasamy and Chinese Buddhist pilgrims like Fah -Hian. By the 10th century AD, the Imperial Cholas were well established in the 14 Ports of Sumatra, Malaya, Java, Celebes, Bali, the rest of the East Indies, Philippines, Indo-China right up to Southern China. Their excellent harbours, customs and port facilities make fascinating reading in the Silappadiharam ‘The Epic of the Lay of the Anklets’. The Chola Empire lost out with the arrival of the Portuguese with their gun-ships and cannons.
Christy follows up on the decline of the Chola Empire by the 500 years of colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch and British in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). His emphasis on the Portuguese era in the 15th century is illuminating. The Portuguese were the first and greatest sailors from the West, in search of the gold and spices of India, they also took their missionary zeal of Roman Catholicism to save the “paganism” of the indigenous inhabitants, wherever they sailed. Some of their sadism rivalled that of the Spanish Inquisition. However, their strong faith of a loving, forgiving, personal God, has remained a bulwark among their converts.
Sailors and fishermen, their wives and children are the most fearless around the globe. I would like to pay a special tribute to our Tamil Roman Catholic wives and mothers in Ceylon who have stood up to any injustices by the Establishment. One memorable event was outside the Jaffna Kachcheri (Government Offices) in 1961. There was a weeklong silent vigil (Satyagraha) against an arrogant Sinhalese Army of Occupation sent by the Prime Minister Srimavo Bandaranayake. The young, restless and impulsive among the Tamil victimized began needling the gun-toting soldiers. A senseless blood-shed was averted by 20 white-clad Roman Catholic mothers, quietly going in front, kneeling and saying their rosaries. This inspired the rest of the terrified assembly to sing their hymns, lyrics and bajanais, to calm down the seething tempers. The courage of those white-clad mothers will live in my memory as long as I live.
The heroines of the Mothers’ Front who had the temerity to stand up to the repressive IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Forces) were mostly the Roman Catholic mums who lashed out at the fearsome IPKF commandos about some of their unspeakable crimes against defenceless, unarmed civilians. A few of the Indian hierarchy have remarked that they feared these mothers more than they did the Guerilla Freedom Fighters!
In the first half of this book, Christy confirms the many reliable sources of the Tamil population living for millenniums. Some Karava Tamils on the West coast of the Island through religious and political expediencies now try to pass off as Araya Singhalese and Kshatriyas (Warrior cast) from the North-Western State of Rajasthan, in India. Sinhalese majority of Governments have deliberately changed those once Tamil areas into Singhalese Provinces. Christy’s research indicates that the Land Titles of these Provinces are in the Tamil language.
The second half, deals with the “Tragedy of Sri Lanka”. It is the usual story of intruders and invaders throughout history who use repressive regimes to stay in power with programs of genocide. Pretending to be Democratic; they perpetuate autocratic, dictatorial and repressive feudalism. The Capitalistic West had aided these corrupt regimes with profiteering arms deals. A 15% commission on each deal is the norm that the Presidents to the peons and the Security Forces share in the trillions of dollars. It is this very lot, trying to sabotage the current peace process. Who needs peace, when it is more profitable to be at war?
We need to update our nautical skills and expertise and firmly believe in our motto ‘Thirai Kadal Odiyum Thiraiviam Thedu’ in the new Eelam being born. The rest of us in the Diaspora have had to cross many Seas and Oceans for survival. The Tamil Psyche will cross and re-cross these very waters but this time overhead by the faster air-ships in our efforts to help in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Motherland. We need, too, the support of an enlightened South who have suffered under self-serving leaders.
Thank you, Christy for your tribute to the ‘Kappal Oddiya Thamilan’.
Since publishing ‘The History of the Tamils & the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka’ in 1998, I decided to write the history of the overseas trade exploits undertaken by early Tamils which earned them the epithet, ‘Kappal Oddiya Thamilan’-the Tamils who sailed ships. With this in view, I collated data to include the tragedy of the foreign connections with special reference to the Kingdom of Jaffna.
In the present work is enshrined records of the commercial exploits of the Tamils, which was captured by the Tamil poetess Avaiyar who wrote in the 1st century ‘Thirai Kadal Odiyum Theraiviam Therdu’- ride the rough seas in quest of treasure. Historians agree that there would not have been a Greater India, if not for the enterprising spirit of the Tamils.
The greed of the conquerors of India, specially Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the East and the tragic impact that had encompassed these countries have been documented in the archives and libraries in Rome, Lisbon Goa, Hague, Colombo etc. Material has been taken from relevant publications and recorded herein with special reference to the tragedy which overcame the kingdoms of Jaffna , Kotte and Kandy.
A short reflection on the present conflict is also discussed with reference to the part played by the Maha Sangha to escalate the ethnic conflict.
I am grateful to Dr.Rajagopal Rajaratnam and S.Ganashemoorthy for presenting recent works of Fr.V.Pemiola S.J., of The History of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka during the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods.(1505 to 1855 AD). These publications contain translations of original official documents from the Archives and Libraries of Rome, Lisbon, Hague, Goa and Colombo, pertaining not only to the Catholic Church but also historical material hitherto unavailable.
My thanks are due to Mrs. Ranee Eliezer for the foreword and for her valuable suggestions, to Dr.Thedore Brito Babapulle for editing the script, to Stanley N. Rajasooriyar for supplying me with books from various libraries, to Scan Brito-Babapulle for obtaining a picture of the temple of Angkor-Vat of Cambodia and to many others who helped me in this project.
Lastly, my thanks are due to Ms.Shereen Reginald for processing the material and to my wife Celine, for her support and encouragement without which ‘ Kappal OOdiya Thamilan’, could not have sailed.
Chapter 1 – The Tamils and their Trade Exploits
Far from the distant past, long before the sea-route was discovered by the western mariner, the carriage of goods for trade between East and West was by long hazardous desert and mountain routes which is popularly referred to as the ‘Silk Route’.
|The Silk Route – First Century AD|
This overland journey entailed confrontation with roaming bandits who were adept in the art of ambushing the passage of caravans specially through Central Asia. Although there was an element of risk the caravans moved freight with armed escorts. As a result of this, the cost of merchandise began to rise no sooner it reached it’s destination.
Long before the ‘Silk Route’ was used, the enterprising Dravidian merchants were sailing around the Indian coast and to the Persian Gulf as early as 3500 BC. The Dravidians of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa had their harbour in the bay of Cambay and disposed of their merchandise in Mesopotamia. The merchandise in turn was carried in caravans overland to the port of Tyre and thence to Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, the port of Alexandria became the entrepot of the ancient western world. It was in the Gulf of Aden that the Egyptian, Greek, Arab, Indian etc., met to exchange their merchandise.
According to Srinivasa Iyengar he states that,
‘ Indian teak was found in the ruins of Ur (Mugheir), which was the capital of Sumeria in 4000 BC and the SINDHU or muslin is mentioned in an ancient Babylonian list of clothing. The occurrence of ‘ s’ in the word proves that this muslin did not go to Mesopotamia via Persia, for then ‘s’ would have become ‘h’ in Persian months, as the name of this country, derived from the name of the river Sind, became Hind. I, therefore, conclude that muslin went direct by sea from the Tamil coast to the Persian coast and the Babylonian word Sindhu for muslin is not derived from the river (as supposed so), but from the old Dravidian word, SINDI, which is still found in Tulu and Canaries, and means a piece of cloth’ and is represented by the Tamil word SINDU, a flag’. (ZHT,pp 39 & 39).
There is some evidence that the trade of south India extended to Egypt in the 3rd millennium BC. W.H. Schoff says, thousands of years before the emergence of the Greeks from savagery Egypt and the nations of Ancient India came into being, and a commercial system was developed for the interchange of products within those limits, having its centre of exchange near the head of the Persian Gulf. The people of that region, the various Arab tribes and more especially those ancestors of the Phoenicians, the mysterious Red Men, were active carriers or intermediaries.
The growth of civilization in India created an active merchant marine, trading to the Euphrates and Africa, and eastwards we know not to wither. The Arab merchants apparently tolerated the presence of Indian traders in Africa but reserved for themselves the commerce within the Red Sea, that lucrative commerce which supplied precious stones and spices and incense to the ever-increasing service of the gods of Egypt. This was their prerogative, jealously guarded, and upon this, they lived and prospered according to the prosperity of the Pharaohs. The muslins and spices of India they fetched themselves or received from Indian traders in their ports on either side of the Gulf of Aden, carrying them in turn over the highlands to the upper Nile, or through the Red Sea and across the desert to Tebus or Memphis’. (Periplus, p 3, ZHT,pp 39 & 39).
Hebrew Scriptures of the Jews have it that during the reign of King Solomon (970-930 BC), he sent ships which returned after three years bringing in ‘ gold from Ophir and from there they brought great cargoes of almug wood and precious stones. The king used the algum wood to make support for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians:( 1 King ch.10,11-12-ZNIV). Algum wood is identified with sandalwood which is a native tree of South India and the duration of three years of the return of king Solomon’s ships points to distant lands, perhaps, on the west coast of south India of present Crananore (Musiri).
The precious stones would have been of Indian and Ceylon origin. It is also stated Queen of Sheba presented to King Solomon, 120 talents of gold large quantities of spices and precious stones’.(ZNIV-2 chronicles ch:9 verse 9). The kingdom of Somalia of Queen of Sheba is identified with the mercantile kingdom that flourished in southwest Arabia during 900-450 BC. It profited from the sea trade of India and East Africa by transporting luxury commodities north to Damascus and Gaza on caravan routes through the Arabian desert’ (see notes ZNIV, p485).
The Roman Emperor Nero ruled from Rome between 54-29AD. During the latter part of his reign Paul the apostle was taken prisoner during his fourth missionary journey. Long before he was put to death in Rome, St. Paul wrote the 1st epistle to Timothy. In this epistle he exhorts the church in charge of Timothy saying; they also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God’ (ZNIV-1 Timothy ch;2 verse 9). Here again, as late as 69 AD, we find affluent ladies in the Roman empire adorned with pearls fished by the Parava Tamils of the fishery-coast of Tamil Nadu and Mannar. The Roman emperor lamented, due to the vanity of the ladies, the coffers of Rome was running dry as a result of the import of pearls and diaphanous textiles from south India. (ZHT).
It was the Indians (Tamils), in about the 1st century BC, who discovered and harnessed the trade winds (northeast & southwest monsoons), to reach the ports in the Arabian Gulf and the countries in the Far-East, long before the Roman sea-captain, Hippalus discovered the secret to sail to the country of the Indians. This secret was revealed to the Arabs in due course. This they kept it a secret until the Roman mariner learned of the sea-route to the East..
The Periplus mentions three seaports from which Kolandia were accustomed to set sail for Chryse. They were the ports of Kaveripatinam, Pondichery and Markanum. The Jatakas also mentions three ports on the west coast of India. They were Broach, Sopra and Cranganore (Musiri) and Tamluk in connection with voyages to Suvarnabhumi. (ZHS,p 20). The Kolandia was a sea-going vessel of the Tamils with two masts and capable of carrying large numbers of men and cargo. According to Hall, it is stated that The Karo-Bataks of Sumatra have such names as Cholas, Pandya, Pallava, and Malayala, all of which come from Dravidian India. The dynastic tradition of the kings of Funan (Cambodia), hark back to that of the Pallavas and Cholas of South India, when they ascribe their origins to the marriage of the legendary Brahman Kaundinya with the naga princess’. (ZHS,p 20).
From ancient times, we learn that the fortunes of South East Asia have been greatly influenced by two of the most populated countries of the world, India and China. From ancient times, these two countries living at two extremities vied to obtain the monopoly in the supply of the trade-in spices, sometimes with clever exchange of embassies and most of the time with gunboat diplomacy. The stake of India in the spice cauldron of the Far East was more of trade and adventure than the spreading of religion or culture.
Perhaps, they went hand in hand in spreading their popular religious persuasion of Buddhism to Tibet and eventually to China. Hence we see that during the last few centuries before Christ, India and China had a common religion and this led to cultural and trade links in the era of the Silk Route’ and more so during the discovery of the sea routes. Along with the Buddhist faith the Indians carried their art and culture to the lands of Malaya, Burma, Thailand, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Timor, Borneo, Cambodia etc.
The Great Vaishnavite temple of Angkor-Wat built by Suryavarman in 12 century Cambodia
The epics of India of the Ramayana and Mahabharata compiled in Sanskrit, went hand in hand in the propagation of Buddhism and its tenets were recorded in Sanskrit, although the said epics were a legend of Hindu India. According to Hall who states, ‘But notwithstanding the importance of Buddhism, as demonstrated by the prevalence of its art, it is an inescapable fact that most of the Indianized state speedily adopted the Saivite conception of royalty, with Brahmans as masters of ceremonies presiding over the cult of the royal linga; Siva, says Coedes, ‘became the guardian of the state and a Brahman the royal chaplain’ (ZHS, p19). This was without doubt the first stage of Indianization.
It consisted of individual or corporate enterprises, peaceful in nature, without a preconceived plan, rather than massive immigration which would have resulted in greater modification of the physical type of the Austro-Asiatic and Indonesian peoples than has occurred’. In the wake of the merchants ‘ came the cultivated elements, belonging to the first two castes.
We must assign a large role to these elements, without which we could not understand the birth of the civilizations of Father India, so profoundly impregnated with Indian religion and Sanskrit literature’. (ZIS, p 23). As in India, the Brahman successfully infiltrated into palaces of kings and rulers with their powers of magic. The impact of these powers on the rulers resulted in the Brahman being ‘summoned by the native chiefs to augment their power and prestige’.(ZIS p 23). This has been referred to as a ‘hypothesis’ by Codes.(ZIS p 23). This hypothesis has no basis in view of the fact, It will be seen that Buddhism works mentioned above were all texts on ritual and magic’. (ZCC p 71). This endeared the Brahman to the rulers of South East Asia to an extent that Indianization had begun aiding the much-needed impetus in trade. There is a saying in Tamil, `Thirai Kadal Odiyum Thiraviam Thedu’- ride the mighty sea in quest of treasure.
The Tamil spirit of that age and captured in verse compiled by Avaiyar reflected the Tamil spirit of adventure that brought glory to King and country. The huge vessels of the Pallava Kings of Southern India struck East-Wards on the monsoon and by 100 BC, Indians met Chinese in the Straits of Malacca. The Tamils plotted the course to the Straits of Malacca never to be forgotten. They found it easy thereafter to bead towards the rising sun from Kanchipuram in a direct course to the Straits of Malacca. Their return journey with the change of the monsoon they sailed with the setting sun on the Bay of Bengal. It is stated by historians, that ‘the Bay of Bengal was a playground of the Tamil sailors’.
a) King Solomon’s Mines
The Malay peninsula, referred to as the ‘ Golden Khersonese’ by Hall, was a prime target for the enterprising Tamil adventurer specially for its abundant gold from Mt. Ophir thirty miles from Malacca. Was this then the same ‘Ophir’ which is recorded in ancient Biblical Scriptures and which supplied gold to King Solomon of Israel?( 2 Chronicles,chp:8 verse 17). It is stated that the two of the most important Indianised states of Malaya were Langkasuka on the east coast, and Kedah on the west coast. `Langkasuka is a kingdom whose memory has been kept green in Malayan folklore as a kind of fairy country or Never, Never Land, and traditions long associated with Kedah’.(HM).
The Sinhalese chronicle Mahavamsa has it that during the reign of Duttugamani (101-70 BC), about a shipment of silver which was sent to Malaya from Ceylon. The silver was discovered by a merchant north-east of Kurunegala where the present Ridivihare (silver monastery) is located. (MV,p 188). The Mahavamsa reads as follows: In a southerly direction from the city, at a distance of eight yojanas, silver appeared in the Ambatthakola-cave. A merchant from the city, taking many waggons with him, in order to bring ginger and so forth from Malaya, he set out to Malaya’.(MV p 188). This attests to the fact that trade with Malaya was in vogue in the first century before Christ. Obviously, the silver would have been on its first leg of the voyage to the port on the river Kaveri in the Coromandel coast, perhaps Puhar, before being transhipped on boats of the Tamils to Malaya.
During the 3rd century AD, Kedah of Malaysia was the most important port of call of Tamil sailors who soon had a colony to protect their trade interests, for the collection of merchandise, storage and export to Tamil country. The find of Hindu and Buddhist shrines and artifacts prove their settlements, even long after they have been vandalized by the Malayans who were converts to Islam. That this was a great port of call for the Tamils in the 3rd and 4th centuries is also mentioned in the Tamil poem Pattinappalai of the Sangam Age. That this port was in constant trade with Kaverippumpattinam of the great Chola Kings cannot be disputed.
Duarte_Barbosa Duarte Barbosa, a Portuguese traveller of the early 16th century states of Malacca thus, ‘Many Moorish merchants reside in it, and also Gentiles particularly Chetis, who are natives of Cholmendal (Coromandel) and they are very rich and have many large ships, which they call jungos’. He states that merchants from different countries meet at Malacca with their goods for trade. He refers to the ships of other countries specially of China, but do not refer to them as ‘large ships’ of the Tamils. The Tamils navigated their ships to the numerous islands which are scattered around and to Timor for the white sandal and they carry for them, iron, hatchets, knives, swords, cloth of Palacate and Cambay, copper, quicksilver, vermilion, tin and lead, little beads from Cambay of all sorts’.
The foot-prints of the Tamils in far-flung countries of the East, has been documented by the countries where they have left indelible marks in the sky-line, of imposing Hindu and Buddhist temples, culture, religion and in certain places contributed in the development of their language, from ancient times. Dr.Hultzch, has published of a Tamil inscription which was found on a rock at TAKOPA WAT NAMUANG, in the Malayan peninsula, of present Malaysia at Manigavamam (old place name), which speaks of a temple of Vishnu built by the Tamils on the west coast.
This inscription also refers to the presence of a colony of men and Hindu colonists along with bow-men, apparently, soldiers placed there for the protection of their trade with Malaysia, (JRAS 1931 p.337;1914 p 397). This was discovered by Jameslow, a civil officer of Province Wellesley in the state of Kedah in 1827 AD. This period has been identified as the 8th century AD and may refer to the present Penang in Malaysia. An inscription in a temple near Tanjore of Tamil Nadu records a gift made to a temple in Malacca by the Queen of the Pallava Nirpalinga confirming that Tanjore was under the influence of the Pallavas in 855 AD. ‘It is stated that Kamaejra and Sopatama on the Coromandel coast were important, so is Puhar, the port of the Chola Kings who during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD controlled the carrying trade between the Malaya Peninsula and India:
This inscription found at Takuapa close to a Vishnuite temple and written in Tamil stating that an artificial lake named Avaninaranam was constructed by Nangur -Udaiyan an individual who possessed a fief at Nangur, a village in Tanjore. The inscription is dated 1088 AD when Tanjore was the capital of Raja Raja the Cholan. The other inscription found during the same period was at Laby Tuwa in Sumatra. These two inscriptions alluding to the commercial activities of guilds known in Southern India provide an interesting indication of the nature and geographic origin of the relations between India and Southeast Asia ‘.(Z1S, p 107).
b) The Sangam Age
The overseas trade which was in vogue in the 6th century BC and spilling into the Sangam Age of the Cholas, has been clearly outlined from a few lines of the Pattinappalai of the city of Puhar where a large colony of foreign merchants were present from different parts of the world:-
Like the large crowd gathered in a city of ancient renown on a festival day when people from many different places betake -themselves to it with their relatives; persons from many good countries speaking different tongues, had left their homes and come to reside (in Puhar) on terms of mutual friendship’.
From the same source we gather the articles of foreign trade in the following description:-
Under the guardianship of the gods of enduring glory, horses of noble gait had come by sea; bags full of black pepper had been brought in carts; gems and gold born of the northern mountains the pearl of the southern sea, the coral of the western sea; the products of the Ganges valley; the yield of the Kaveri, food-stuffs from Ceylon and goods from Kalagam (Malaysia). All these materials, precious and bulky alike, were heaped together in the broad streets overflowing with their riches’.
This was the scene in other parts of the Tamil country of Sera and Pandya, where guards of ‘Yavanas'(Roman and Greek foreigners) stand guard in the King’s palaces. The Perumbabarruppadai, a poem of the Sangam Age, has it that there were tall lighthouses on the coast summoning ships to their harbours for the night.
The early stages of the Christian era and the Sangam Age seem so close to each other in time and age in history. The author of the Periplus says that Roman merchants procured every year beautiful maidens for the harems of Indian Kings. The presence of large quantities of Roman coins found in Tamil lands in Tamil Nadu and in places in Kantherodai and Mantota of Mannar of Sri Lanka proves the presence of these Roman merchants and settlers in Tamil country.
As for India, a new and possibly dangerous sea power had arisen in the South, viz., the Cholas who by the middle of the 9th century had defeated the Pallavas and made themselves the masters of Southern India. Friendly relations were established with this power also, as is proved by the establishment by a Sri Vijayan King of a Buddhist temple in Nagapatnam, for the support of which the Chola King granted the revenues of an entire village’. (HM,p.81). It is stated that the pilot vessel of the Chola fleet was named `KADEL PURAR’, which spearheaded their exploits into the countries of the near and far east.
c) The Imperial Cholas
During the reign of Rajaraja the Great, the Chola King waged war in 1001 AD against Ceylon (Sri Lanka), ruled by Mahinda V and conquered the island and renamed it, ‘ Mummadi-Chola-Mandalam’.(HI.p,57). By this conquest, Rajaraja was able to grant Sinhalese villages to light oil lamps and the upkeep of his temple named Rajarajeswari’ in his capital Tanjore .(TS).
Raja Rajweswari’ temple, Tanjore built by Raja Raja Cholan – 10th Century AD
It was after this conquest that especially from the Chola country more Tamils swamped the island of Ceylon. (Sri Lanka). In the year 1005 AD, the large Leyden grant mentions that in the 21st year of Rajaraja’s reign he permitted the Lord of Kedah in Malaya Peninsula and Palembang, a village near Nagapatnam for the support of the Buddhist temple at that place, which had been constructed by former Lord of Kedah, Srimava Vijayottunga. (VR.ii Tanjore 890-A; I.A. xxii.45, vii.224; T& S.I.p 204; see HI).
In 1007 AD Rajaraja in an inscription in south Mysore, mentions his victory over 1200 ancient islands (Maldive Islands). It was during his reign that trade in the East intensified in countries in the Bay of Bengal, Sumatra. Malaya etc. The expansion of the trade in the East was carried out by his son Rajendra 1, who had taken many ancient islands. These lands taken over had colonies of Tamil soldiers stationed for protection of their trade. An important source of pepper was the ‘ pepper island’ (Pulau Lada ), of Langkawi where the Cholas capitalized in the trade of spices.
Langkawi (Pulau Lada) Pepper Island – Malaysia, presently a Tourist Resort
Most Malay states had a growing Tamil population many of whom were Tamil Moslem traders from the Coromandel coast.. As recorded in the Misa Melayu, the Tamil trader had one wife in India and one in Perak. It is stated that in several states, especially Kedah, the wealthy Indian community formed a powerful faction whose interests were not always in accord with those of the ruled.
In the year 1024 AD, Rajendra Chola 1, sent an overseas expedition to Malaya to strengthen the military occupation in the garrisons built for the protection of their trade; . ‘In the Leyden grant of Rajaraja Chola 1, speaks that a village was granted f14or the support of the Buddhist temple of Nagapatnam on the east coast of Tanjore district. The donor owner presumably by purchase was the ‘Lord of Kataha’ also called ‘Lord of Sri Vishaya country’ Srimara Vijayottunga, son of Chudamani of the Sailendra family. Sri Vishaya was the kingdom of Palembang. An inscription of AD 775 found at Vien-sa in the south bay of Bandon confirms that the King belonged to the Saliendra family. In the Chinese annals of Song, Palembang is called ‘San-to-tsi’. In 1003 and 1008 AD two embassies sent by Chulamani Sri Mara VI (Jayattounga) to China.(HI).
This shows that the reason Rajendra 1, about 1024 AD-1025 AD, quarreled with the ruler of Kedah and sent an expedition that defeated Samgrama – Vijayattounga’s successor and perhaps son of Srimara Vijajattounga. He was captured and his city seized; his treasure the (Vidyadhara) `taranam’ at the Gate of his city and two other doors with jewels were carried off’. This Chola King extended his trade protectorates to ‘Madamalingam (said to be Jaya in the Malaya Peninsula), Mappapalam `defended by the water’. Talai-Takkolam on the isthmus of Kra, Panna watered by the river on the east coast of Sumatra, Mayirvdingam by the sea a state-dependent on Palembang, llangasokam (Langasuka) a Malaya state tributary of Kedah. Ilamurideram (Lamuri) called by Marco Polo ‘Lambri’ in the far north of Sumatra where there are many places whose names begin with ‘Lam, eg., Lam Djamoe, Lam Baroe etc., and Mariekkaysurtm the Nicobar Islands and one or two other places:(4Lp 66 ). The dispute Rajendra Chola 1, had with the ruler of Kedah, was due to the dispute Of the carriage of goods by sea through the Malacca straits.
The Maharajah Samgrarna Vijayattounga who styled himself, King of the Ocean Lands, was short-circuited by the Tamil king’s expedition where he was captured and lost his kingdom of Sri Vijaya.(Z/S, pp 142 & 143). George Coedes, akKles to the raid by Rajentha Chola thus, Perhaps this raid has (left some traces in the memory of the Malays of the peninsula, for their annals tell how the king Raja Chaim (Suran) destroyed Ganganagara on the Dinding river, as well as a fort on the Lengiu, a tributary of the Johor River, and finally occupied Turnasik, the site of the future Singapore’. (ZIS, p 143).
The place Kadaram or Kidram or kt another for Lalagam, alt refers to the same place and it has been suWeeted by scholars that it is identified with Keever Mersa In the east coast of Sumatra not far from the powerful kingdom of Sri Vijaya at Pakernbang. The Chinese knew of it at that time by two. names San-fo-Tsi, equivalent of Sri Bhoja and Santu -Sai, the equivalent of Sri Vijaya. Hence the kingdom of Palembang has been known by two names viz., Sri Mu* or Sri Vljayain 1033 A0 Rajendra 1, sent an embassy to China which is noted in the Chinese tumais where his name is referred to as Lo-ch-into4o.chu4o. By this mission trade ties with the Chinese were on a firm footing. This mission would have entailed a convoy of shams carrying Tamil officials and presents to the Emperor of China in ships with two masts flying the Twit emblem of the Cholas at it’s masthead.
During the reign of Chola King Kullottunga 1, an inscription belonging to the year 1010 AD in Tamil characters was found at Loboe Toewa, Baros, in the island of Sumatra. It records a gift to a temple in that country by a body of persons who are referred to as `Fifteen-hundred’, perhaps a military garrison of Chola Tamils stationed for protection of trade interests.)JRAS.1931 April).(ZHS, p55 & TC, pp 318,319).
The Chola King Virarajendra sent an expedition to Kadaram (Sri Vijaya) in 1068 AD and conquered the country on behalf of one of its rulers. Having come to the throne he sought Chola protection. The King of Sri Vijaya sent an embassy to Kulottunga 1, 1090 AD and requested him to issue a copper-plate grant containing the names of the villagers granted by the Chola King as ‘pallic-candarn to two viharas built by the king of Kadaram at SolaKulavalli-pattinam, evidently another name for Nagapatnam.ln the Smaller Leyden Grant, for it is by this name that Kulottunga’s grant made on this occasion is generally known, the two viharas are called Rajendra-sola-perumballi and Rajarajap-perum-palli, Me latter having also Me alternative of Sri Sailendra-Cudamanivaram-Vihara’ (Cholas). The parasasti of Kulottunga’s inscriptions mention the fact that ‘at the gate of his palace stood rows of elephants showering jewels sent as tribute from the island kingdom of the wide ocean’.(TC, p 318).
In the travels of Far-hian and Sung-Yun, Buddhist pilgrims from China to India in the years 400 AD and 518 AD had this to say of the country of Java, in this country heretics and Brahmans flourish, but the law of the Buddha is not much-known n’.(TFH). The earliest of all Indianised settlements in Java was the kingdom of TARUMA in the west, a place well situated for the control of the Sunda straits and within easy reach of the Indianised states of southern Sumatra. Its ruler was a Brahamanist King Puranvarman of whom little is known apart from the fact that he built the two canals named after two Indian rivers, seven miles long in 21 days’.(HM).
This attests to the fact that the said ruler was a Hindu and a Tamil and had settled in a strategic position on the shores of TAIRUMA to control the Sunda straits. It is obvious he built the two canals 7 miles long to anchor all his merchant vessels as the northern tip of Sunda is affected by both the North -West and South-West monsoons. The first kingdom of Java was ruled by a Hindu-Indonesian court, which was the kingdom of Matram under King Sahjaya in 732 AD. The Hindu religion adopted by the court was `Sivaistic’. Hindu temples were built in the central town and commercial state like Sri Vijaya evolved due to the power wielded by the Hindu court over the Javanese farmers. From the 7th century AD, Sri Vijaya developed into the greatest maritime empire in South East Asia, straddling the crossroads of sea traffic between the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and China. It exerted firm maritime control over the straits of Malacca and South China sea, the whole western part of Indonesia, the greater part of the Malay Peninsula and West Java, and put claims on Sri Lanka.
Chola Empire at the height of its Power circa 1050 AD
This maritime power started to wane. King Chandrabhanu decided to resolve the claims of Sri Vijaya on the island of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan chronicle Mahavamsa (MV:83.38 Geiger), states that in 1251 AD the Javanese army under him landed on the island of Sri Lanka during the reign of Parakramabahu II, and occupied and plundered the island. He was however repulsed. A few years later King Chandrabahnu returned this time with South Indian allies. He established his headquarters on the Subha and demanded the relics of the Buddha as well as recognition of his authority. After a battle, he was defeated and had to flee leaving behind his harem and riches. Records from South India reveal that the King of Sri Vijaya was killed by one of his own allies, King Jatavarman Sundara Pandya from South India.(Pandya – Tamil). After the defeat in Sri Lanka, Sri Vijaya disappeared from the pages of history in 1273 AD under King Sukhodaya of Java.
About 1025 AD the Hindu Chola dynasty of Southern India took over most of Java. This was the period of the reign of Rajendra Chola-1012 to 1044 AD. In South Indian inscriptions by Robert Sewell, Jatavana Sundra Pandya in 1256 AD conquered Sri Lanka with the aid of Chandrabahnu. It is possible that he was killed by Sundra Pandya after the conquest.
Hindu India affected the people of Java in various ways. Brahmanism and Buddhism, the greatest two religions of the world nurtured in India flourished side by side in Java due to religious tolerance. Although there are many Hindu temples especially at Parambanam which were considered to be the greatest Hindu monuments of Java, the famous monument is the Buddhist stupa of Borobudur. ‘We talk of Sanchi as one of the most finished architectural achievements of Buddhist India, but in fact, the Sanchi stupas are to be considered primitive in comparison with the shrine of Borobudur.
The Borobudur is purely a Hindu Buddhist enterprise. It is amazing to find that away from their native land our ancestors could give such fine expression to their fancy and aesthetic culture. This beautiful and huge edifice stands today as a mark of the highest level of architectural perfection, reached by Hindu Buddhist genius’. (AC). It is said that to comprehend Indian art in India alone is half the a story. To comprehend it fully one must follow in the wake of Buddhism to Central Asia, China and Japan. It blooms like a lotus as it spread over Tibet, Burma, Thailand and watch with awe its creations in Cambodia and Java. As a scholar put it, ‘the Indians started with mountains, but finished off like jewelers’.
The island of Bali in the far-flung archipelago of the present country of Indonesia still carries the indelible hallmark of Hindu culture to a great extent even to this day. It is claimed that there are about 2,000 temples on an island only 87 by 56 miles.
Hindu temple of Bali, Indonesia ‘Pura Besakih’ of Mt. Agung
Bali had become, in fact, the most sought-out destination for tourists today. In the conducted tours of the Balinese, tourists are shown Hindu temples, the drama of the legends of Rama and Sita and of the epic Mahabaratha war. Although Indonesia proper came under the sway of Islam, it failed to take root in the island of Bali.
The writer was surprised to witness the drama of the legends of the Hindus, dramatised in this small island far away from the land of its birth. Even the names of the hotels bear the names of Rama and Sita-legendary names of Hindu India.
Epic of the Ramayana staged in Bali – Indonesia
The people are proud of their Hindu connection and worship in the many Hindu temples in the island, which was built by the Tamils between the 4th and 9th century AD. The caste system, which is inextricably interwoven into the Hindu religion, is most profound in the island, where Brahmins are held in high esteem as next to the gods they worship.
Although Saivaism held sway in Java, its decline came with the dominance of the Buddhist Sailendras over central Java. This change caused Saivaism to seek refuge in the eastern parts of the island with its centre in Malang and which subsequently formed the kingdom of Singosari. The monuments erected were dedicated to the cult of Agastya, the sage who Hinduized South India from about the 4th – 1st century BC.
A Sanskrit inscription dated 760 AD records the foundation at Dinaya as a sanctuary of Agastya by a king named Gajayana. The decline of the Satiendra power over central Java has been relegated to the return of Saivism. During the rule of Rajendra the Cholan of South India who crippled the power of Sri Vijaya and its threat to the East Java kingdom. Siva temples were built in Matram with its galleries of reliefs illustrating the stories of the Ramayana of Hindu India. (ZHS,pp 58,59 &60).During this period the ports in the bay of Surabaya came into prominence with merchants of the East and also the resort of merchants from the West-Tamils, Sinhalese, Malabar, Chams, Mons, Khmers and Achinese.
The Indianisation of Cambodia commenced at the beginning of the Christian era and the Sangam Age. Elements of Indian (Tamil) culture was interwoven with Cambodian culture that lasted for over 1000 years. Brahmanical Hinduism found its way into the palace, courts and into the lives of ordinary people. This resulted in Cambodia to be a Tamil-seeming country. ‘In the 19th century, for example, Cambodian peasants still wore recognizable Indian costumes and in many ways behaved like Indians than they did like their closest neighbours the Vietnamese. Cambodians ate with spoons and fingers for-example, and carried goods on their heads; they wore turbans rather than straw hats, and skirts rather than trousers. Musical instruments, jewellery and manuscripts were also Indian styles.
It is possible also that cattle-raising in Cambodia had been introduced by Indians at a relatively early date. It is unknown to a great extent in the rest of the mainland of southeast Asia. During the first five hundred years of the Christian era, India provided Cambodia with a counting system, a pantheon, meters for poetry, a language (Sanskrit) to write’.(HC). According to Cambodian inscriptions of the 9th century, there is a smattering of TAMIL words among the Sanskrit script. In Angkor Wat, there is a 12th-century temple dedicated to Vishnu and said to be the largest religious building in the world. In the photograph on page 51 of Chandler’s book, hitherto mentioned earlier, are seen a few PALMYRA trees adjoining the temple, obviously planted by Tamils for their sustenance.
Trade between prehistoric India and Cambodia probably began long before India itself was sanskritized. In fact as Paul Mns has suggested, Cambodia and Southern India, as well as what is now Bengal, probably shared the culture of ‘Moon Asia’, which emphasised the role played by ancestral, tutelary deities in the agricultural cycle. These were often located for ritual purposes in stones that naturally resembled phalluses or carved to look like them. Sacrifice to the stones, it was thought ensured the fertility of the soil'(HC).
The myth of FUNAN, was found recorded in the first few centuries of the pre-Sangam Age, which is supplemented by archaeological findings of an ancient trading city near the modem Vietnamese village of Oc-Eo in the Mekong delta, which was excavated in the 20th century by Louis Mallevet. There were also found Roman coins of the 3rd century, Indian artifacts, including seals and jewellery. It is said that this was used by pilgrims and traders travelling between India and China in the 1st century AD. Hence Oc-Eo may have been the main gateway through which Indian influence extended into the heart of Cambodia. The people of Oc-Eo, were essentially a rice growing nation, who worshipped Siva. According to Chinese myth, Oc-Eo was governed by a Brahman called Kaundinya, who was crowned King, who changed all the rules according to the customs of India. He showed them the way to improve cultivation by building reservoirs and by sinking wells. In the chronicles of the Mahavamsa of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, it was the Brahmins too who were responsible in the irrigation works of the country.
George Coedes says , ‘According to a Cambodiyan dynastic legend preserved in an inscription of the 10th century (Inscription of Baksei Chamkrong), the origins of the kings of Cambodia go back to the union of the hermit Kambu Svayambhura, eponymic ancestor of the Kambujas, with the celestial nymph Mera, who was given to him by Siva. Her name was perhaps invented to explain that of the Khmers.
This legend, entirely different from that of the Nagi, shows a certain kinship with a genealogical myth of the Pallavas of Kanchi. (ZIS,p 66). According to ancient Tamil literature the ‘Pallavas were originally connected with Ceylon. A critical study of the Tamil poems, Manimekalai and Silappathikaram reveals that the destruction of the Chola capital, Phuar or Kaveipumpattinam by sea must have occurred before the close of the third quarter of the second century AD, and Killi Valavan or Nedumkilli the Chola king, then moved his capital to Uraiyur. According to Mudaliyar C.Rasanayagam, this Chola king had married a. Naga Princess daughter of Valaivanam, the Naga king of Manipallavan. Out of this union a son was born known as Tondaiman Ilantirayan.His father Killi Valavan, the king of Thondaimandalam had his capital at Kanchi. The new dynasty founded by him took its title from the second half of the word Manipallavan, the home of his Naga mother.
Thus the Pallavas who were a dynasty rather than a tribe or clan were descended on one side of the Chola family and on the other from the Naga rulers of what is now Jaffna peninsular in Ceylon’.(AC, pp 704 & 705). A later Pallava Prince married the Naga Princess of Kantharodai of the Jaffna Peninsular in North Ceylon. There are other theories of the Telugu origins of the Pallavas. The Mahavamsa has it that many monks from Pallava Bogga attended the consecration of king Duttugamani of Ceylon.( MV, p 194). The Pallavas came into ascendence about the 4th century AD with Kanchi as their capital and their dominion extended from the river Krishna to the South Penner.(river). They were master builders and sculptors of their age and their imprint and influence still linger in the countries of the East. The Mahayana Buddhism they propagated in the East percolated into the very fabric of the culture and the indigenous religious beliefs of kings and commoners alike.
During the reign of Bhavarman 1 , in the year 598 AD, he commanded the erection of a linga of Phnom Bantray Neang in Borth. He was responsible for a short Sanskrit inscription engraved telling the erection of other lingams along the Mekong river. His successor Mahendravarman speaks of the erection of lingas of the “mountain” Siva (Girisa), and erection of the images of the bull Nandin’.(ZIS,pp 67,68,69). According to Coedes, the major Hindu sects co-existed together in Cambodia as in India. The cult of Siva, especially in the form of a linga, enjoyed royal favour and almost elevated to the position of a state religion.(ZIS,p 73). By this time Buddhism took a back seat in the 5th and 6th century. The structure of the social fabric was matriarchal a system widespread in and around Indonesia. In Cambodia, it may have imported from India where it is apparent in the Sera kingdom among the Nayars and the Nambutiri Brahamans.
Inscriptions in Cambodia speak eloquently of the irrigated rice fields in the Mekong delta adjacent to Hindu temples. Funan’s culture however came specially from the Tamil country of South India. This was formed in the 1st century AD by Mon-Khmer peoples. OcEo in the Gulf of Thailand, was a major trade link between China and India. In the reign of Jayavarman ii ( this shows even the kings of Cambodia took on Tamil names), 802 to 850 AD in Angkor, he rejected Javanese suzerainty and instituted the cult of the god-king. ‘He and his successors, Rudravarman, Bharavarman, lsanavarman, came under the influence of Tamil Kings of South India. During this period they built temples known as ‘great temples of Angkor era’, to house their royal lingam and phallic emblems of the Hindu god Shiva. King Suryavarman II was a worshipper of Vishnu. He built the great Vaisunavite temple of ANGKOR WAT in the 12th century. This temple is the most beautiful of all Khmer monuments with it’s magnificent architecture.
From the 8th to the 12th century there was a surplus wealth as a result of the bumper harvest in agricultural produce, This was possible due to the expertise of the Tamils who were adept in the art of irrigation and building of reservoirs to supply water to the fields. This was so even in Sri Lanka where the Tamils built the ‘ Giant’s tank’ for irrigation in the Mannar district. ‘However, in the 12th century, due to the neglect of the irrigation systems, plague, malaria and internal rebellion and the introduction of Theravada Buddhism which preached that one could hope for spiritual development through meditation, made the people to lose their drive and thereby weakened the Angkor empire’. In any event, the cultural heritage of the Khmer dynasties remains intact in contemporary Cambodia. Many buildings like the royal palace in Phnom Penh, are decorated in the Khmer architectural style and used motifs as the garuda, a mythical bird in the Hindu religion. Their classical drama betrays vestiges of Indian traditional style and reflects the legendary times of ancient deities of Hinduism.
‘There is a popular legend in Cambodia, even to this day, of Perak Ko, Preak Kaev’, which was first published by a Frenchman in 1860 AD and a seven-volume version in verse was published in Phnom Penh in 1952 AD. The legend has it that the town Lovek was so large that no horse could gallop around it. Inside the town were two statues Preahko’ (sacred cow), and ‘Preah Kaev’ (sacred precious stones), and inside the bellies of these statues were sacred texts, in gold, where one could learn the secrets of knowledge of anything in the world. It is stated that the King of Siam wanted the statues. Hence he raised an army and advanced to fight the Cambodian King. According to legend, the Thai soldiers fired cannons charged with silver coins into the bamboo hedges grown as fortifications. Thereafter, the Thai army retreated and the Cambodians had to cut down the bamboo hedges to collect the silver coins. The Thai King returned one year later and as there were no bamboo fortifications they were able to carry away the statues to Siam. The legend concluded in attributing superior knowledge of the Thais after having access to the contents of the books of knowledge found in the statues. Apart from the legend, the basic fact lingers that the Indian heritage of the ‘sacred -cow’ and ‘precious-stone lingam’, had a lasting impression in the lives and culture of the Cambodian people’. (MP).
Tamil Sangam literature mentions the names of the earliest Chola (Cola) Kings. Scholars are now agreed that this literature belongs to the first centuries of the Christian era. The Sangam literature reveals the names of Kings, princes and the poets who extolled them. We also learn about the life and works of the people. Some of the Kings mentioned were men of distinction and acquired fame and the poets of that age were able to capture the truth in the manner of their expression in poetry. Two names of the Chola Kings stand out prominently from among them and their memories cherished in song and legend by posterity, with much reverence. The names of KARIKALAN and KOCCENGANAN, have been written into ancient history by the Tamils as the earliest known Kings who carved out a kingdom for the Cholas in Southern India.
It was during the period of the Sangam Age that rituals of Brahmanism had percolated into the Hindu religion in this early period and consequent to this intrusion the Chola Kings practised costly sacrifices. The daily rituals of the Brahmans in mentioned in the epic Manimekalai and a song by Avur Mual-kilar in the ‘Purananuru’, which eulogizes the Brahman Vinnandayan of Kaundinya-gottra’ who lived in Punjarrur in the Chola country, and gave an idea of the high position held in society by the prominent Srotriya families. Puram 166:
‘ Oh Scion of the celebrated race of wise men who laid low the strength of those that opposed Siva’s ancient lore, who saw through the sophistry of the false doctrines, and performing the truth and shunning error, completed the twenty-one ways of Vedic sacrifices! Worn by you on the occasion of the sacrifice, the skin of the grass-eating stag of the forest shines over the sacred cord on your shoulder. Your wives, suited to the station, gentle and of rare virtue, wearing the net-like garment laid down in the Sastra, (for such occasions) sparing of speech, with small foreheads, large hips, abundant tresses, are carrying out the duties set for them. From the forest and from the town, having seven pasus in their proper places, supplying ghee more freely than water, making offerings which numbers cannot reckon and spreading your fame to make the whole world jealous, at the rare culmination of the sacrifice, your exalted station gains a new splendour. May we ever witness it so. 1, for my part, shall go, eat, drink, ride and enjoy myself in my village by the cool Kaveri, which gets it’s flowery freshness when the thunder clouds roar on the golden peaks of the western mountains: may you, for your part, stand thus, stable without change, like the Himalaya which towers above the clouds and whose sides are covered with bamboo’.
This ode shows the dominance of Vedic ritualism and alludes to disputes with other religions like Buddhism and Jainism. It was this Brahmanical Hinduism which was carried with the Tamils wherever they sailed in the quest for treasure, to enrich king and country. This infusion of Hinduism was complemented by the stories of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and legendary episodes to the people of Burma, Thailand Sumatra, Malaysia, Cambodia and especially to the island of Bali.So much so these countries even in the 21st century betray vestiges of Tamil Hindu culture in their drama, names, habits and the temples built to their Hindu gods.
During the reign of Augustus, the Roman Empire was trading partners with India in luxury goods.
‘The growth of trade, though confined to land routs expanded to maritime trade of Egypt with Arabia. The Arabian connection in trade with India, soon led to trade with the Egyptians, which expanded in process of time to the Far-East. The discovery of the monsoons by Hipparachus of Alexandria led to the direct sea routes to India ousting the Arabs in their monopoly. The trade with India gradually developed into a barter of different goods between Egypt, Arabia and India. The most important commodity being cotton, (Periplus -p.59), and other silk.
It is stated that cotton was first introduced to the then known world by the Indians, which found its way to the distant Americas in the West and to the countries of Oceania. Ptolemy’s account shows that the Roman trade reached beyond India to Indo- China and Sumatra, and that the trade with India and China was highly developed. It was the Tamil sailors who taught the Romans the sea route to the East. Southern India obviously acted intermediary in the trade between China and the West. The carrying trade between the Malay peninsula and Sumatra in the East and the Malabar coast in the West was largely in the hands of the Tamils’. (Warmington pp,128 to 131).
Carrying of freight in the Indian ocean and the Arabian sea was carried in sea going vessels of the Cholas and they held an important share in the movement of goods. They controlled ‘the largest and most extensive Indian shipping of the Coromandel coast. In the harbours of the Chola country, says the author of the Periplus, are ships of several kinds which could carry goods to countries beyond the seas. It is stated that the Chola ship called ‘Colandia’ of the 1st century was a two masted ship which was used for the carriage of goods to distant lands’.
The poet Rudrangannanar described the ships moored in the harbour of Puhar (Pattinappalai 11.29-34), and larger ships that carried flags at their mast-heads which compares to big elephants. Navigation in the high seas and the dangers attendant on its foul weather are picturesquely described in the Manimekalai in a forcible simile in which the mad progress of Udayahumara in search Manimekalai is compared to that of a ship caught in a storm on the high seas:
‘The captain trembling, the tall mast in the centre broken at its base, the strong knots unloosed and the rope cut asunder by the wind, the hull damaged and the sails are noisy like the ship caught in a great storm and dashed about in all directions by the surging of the waves of the ocean’. (TC). ‘This coincidence of testimony drawn from the early literature of the Tamil country and the Periplus on the conditions of maritime trade in the Indian seas in the early centuries of the Christian era is indeed very remarkable in itself. When one considers this in the light of other evidence from Indo-China and the islands of the archipelago on the permeation of Indian influence in those lands from very early times, one can hardly fail to be struck by the correctness of the conclusions reached’. (Periplus.p.261).
‘The numerous migration from India into Indo-China, both before and after the Christian era, gave ample ground for the belief that ports of South India and Ceylon were in truth as the Periplus states, the centre of an active trade with the Far-East, employing large ships and in great numbers, than those coming from Egypt’. The Cholas sea-faring instinct’s echoed down the corridors of time from beyond the 1st century where they attempted voyages more daring in and around the 9th to the 12th century AD. It is stated that, there would not have been a greater India, if not for the enterprising spirit of the sailors of the Tamil country of Southern India.
Chapter 2 – The Tragedy of Sri Lanka
There are historical records gathering dust in the archives of many countries, where evidence of cruelty, treachery, torture, rape and slaughter had been perpetrated on a people and much bloodshed on the soil of such a small island which is known as the ‘Island-Paradise’ and the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, especially with the advent of the Europeans to Ceylon.
They came from distant lands from the West in sailboats by the hundreds, in quest of that elusive commodity called spices – of pepper and cinnamon – and the lure of pearls, gold and the gems of Ceylon. They called it an adventure, but the abject greed that overtook their good intentions made them commit the most heinous crimes against the people they came in contact with, all in the name of the wealth of the14 East and attended with such barbarity contrary to Christian teachings they set sail to propagate.
`Santiago Gate’ of Malacca built by the Portuguese in the 16th century
Before the 15th century, the supply of these hard-to-get goods was the absolute monopoly of the Moors and the Tamils, who dished out gruesome stories of the hazards in obtaining the goods. The Moors of the Middle-East, as middle-men, were fabulously wealthy from the trade in the east, as they were aware of the sea-routes to the very source and supply of the merchandise, This, they kept a secret.
Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese adventurer, with three sailing vessels, rounded the Cape in the year 1497 AD and discovered the open sea-route from Europe to India, Ceylon and subsequently to the Far-East.
Replica of a Portugese vessel of the 16th century
On August 26th, 1498, he sailed into the port of Calicut on the West coast of India. This successful intrusion into the maritime domain of the Tamils and the Moors triggered of bloodcurdling battles on the high seas and on land between the Arabs, Tamils and the Portuguese. The atrocities committed by the Portuguese were well documented in the ‘Tohofut-ul-mujahideen’ written by Sheik Zeen-ud-deen, which gives an account of the war with the Portuguese from 1498 to 1583 AD. The Portuguese too had their fair share where hundreds of their countrymen were slaughtered by the Sinhalese and Tamils, some thrown to be trampled by elephants, some beheaded, others impaled, and yet others drowned or tortured to death. Philip Baladaeus, a Dutch Missionary, records an incident where King Vimaladhrama I, meted out punishment as follows:
‘ The Sinhalese having got notice of their flight pursued them so closely, that many of them fell into their hands, especially of those detachments sent to Goa,and Halalwia, for provisions, fifty whereof they sent back with their ears, noses and privy parts cut-off in revenge for the ravishments committed upon their wives and daughters’.
Accordingly, Faria Y Souza states: ‘We had not grown odious to the Cingelas (Sinhalese) had we not proved them by our infamous proceedings. Not only the poor soldiers went out to rob, by those Portuguese, who were Lords of villages, added rape and adulteries which obliged the people to seek the company of beasts in the mountains, better than be subject to the more beastly villainies of men’. And then again the atrocities of Sri Vickrama Rajasinghe, the last King of Kandy ‘A thrill of horror has been imparted to all who have read the story of the atrocities perpetrated on the wife of Ehelapola the minister of the King of Kandy, who, on the occasion of her husband’s revolt in 1814 AD, compelled her to kill her own children by pounding them in a rice-mortar. But it ought to be known that this inhuman practice was taught to the Kandyans by the Portuguese’.
According to. Robert Knox : ‘When he got any victory over the Cingalese, he did exercise great cruelty. He would make the women beat their own children in mortars wherein they used to beat their corn’. The Portuguese in times of siege having drunk wine would partake of the salted-human remains of their own soldiers, due to the scarcity of food in their fortresses. Knox further adds: ‘His cruelty appears both in tortures and the painful deaths he inflicts, and in the extent of his punishments, viz., upon whole families for the miscarriage of one of them.
And this is done by cutting and pulling away from the flesh by pincers, burning them with hot irons, sometimes he commands them to hang their own hands abut their necks, and to make them eat their own flesh, and mothers to eat their own children; and so lead them through the city in public view to terrify all, to the place of execution, the dogs following to eat them. For the dogs are so accustomed to it, that they, seeing a prisoner-led away, follow after’. When Don Juan seized the throne of Kandy, he ascended the throne under the title of Wimaladharma Suriya I .
To secure the support of the Buddhist priests he abjured Christianity and produced a tooth-relic alleged to be the original tooth-relic, and gained the support of the people. The Portuguese took measures to depose him and sent one Jerome Azavada who was famous for his cruelty. It is recorded that: ‘He beheaded mothers, after forcing them to cast their babes betwixt mill-stones punning on the name of the tribe of Gallas or Chalias, and it’s a resemblance to the Portuguese word for cocks, gallos, he caused his soldiers to take up children on the point of their spears and bade them hark how the young cocks crow! He caused many men to be cast off the bridge at Malwane for the troops to see the crocodiles devour them, and these creatures grew so used to the food, that at a whistle they would lift their heads above the water’.
Whenever the Moors sailed, the Portuguese followed their course and accidentally put into the port of Galle in 1505, when Lorenzo de Almeyda was pursuing the vessels of the Moors off the coast of the islands of the Maldives. The Moors, to shake off such hot pursuits used alternate sea routes via the Maldive Islands to Malacca and Sumatra. Twelve years later, Lopo Soarez Albergario appeared in person before Colombo in the year 1527 with a convoy of seventeen vessels. Their entry into the East changed the atmosphere of maritime commerce and plunged the history of the countries they set foot with slaughter, torture and misery which the East had never seen the likes of it before. The instructions from Lisbon was, `to begin by preaching, but, that failing, to proceed to the decision of the sword. When the Portuguese set foot on the island of Ceylon and saw the spices of pepper and cinnamon, pearls and beautiful gems of all colours, they were astonished at the magnitude of their discovery that they soon forgot the crucifix they were Carrying and used the sword to fill their pockets.
As D.G.Hall Professor Emeritus of the History of South-Eastasia, University of London had this to say, ‘…and as the ideas of commerce and colonization gained ground, so the medieval crusading ideal weakened’, then again,’ Happily it was possible to serve God and Mammon at the same time, for by striking at Arab trade in the Indian ocean Portugal aimed a blow at the Ottoman empire, which drew the major part of its revenues from the spice monopoly’.( ZHS, p 197).
They filled their pockets, but that was not so easy as they had to contend with the ruling Kings and the people. When subtle diplomacy failed, they took to the sword and the musket as they were determined to exploit the natural wealth of the island, first for the betterment of themselves and for their country. History has recorded the fact that it was the greed of the Portuguese soldiers who siphoned off much of the wealth into their pockets, so much so, the finances of Lisbon were ruined and hence they lost the monopoly of the wealth of the East. It is said,
‘Astonished at the magnitude of their enterprise, and the glory of their discoveries and conquests in India, the rapidity and success of which secured for Portugal an unprecedented renown, we are ill-prepared to hear of the rapacity, bigotry and cruelty which characterized every stage of their progress in the East’.
The second wave of misfortune to visit the island came in the year 1602 AD, with the coming of the first Dutch ship’ La Brebis’, commanded by Admiral Spielberg who put into the port of Batticaloa. This intrusion by another European power led to a triangular battle with the Portuguese on the one hand and with King Wimaladhrama Suriya I , alias Kunappo Bandara, alias Don Juan Dharmapala, King of Kandy.
The first casualty was an officer of Spillberg, Sibalt de Weert, over the release of goods seized from the Portuguese at Galle and the insult against the Empress Dona Catherina. The King having resented at this wanted the officer arrested, but the attendant of the King clove the head of the officer and massacred the crew of the boat on the beach. The King proceeded to Kandy and anticipating a breach with the Dutch sent a message to the ships of de Weert:, ‘ He who drinks wine, comes to mischief. God is just. If you seek peace, let it be peace, if war, war be it’.
Chapter 3 – The Kingdom of Jaffna
The island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), was infested with the influx of foreigners, and the Indian Ocean made a happy hunting ground to marauding merchants of fortune, missionaries, swashbuckling pirates and free lance adventurers. These were the dark clouds hanging over the island in the 16th century.
Although Ceylon was plunged into protracted wars with the Tamils of the Cholas, Chera and Pandya dynasties before the 16th century, the political position of Ceylon at the time of the first European visitation by the Portuguese in 1517 AD, was clearly marked and documented by the Portuguese as recorded by Sir James Emerson Tennent in his book, Ceylon an account of the island Physical & Topographical- Longmans & Robertson-1859 AD. Referring to the political condition of Ceylon he states: ‘Seaports on all parts of the country were virtually in the hands of the Moors.
I. The North was in possession of the Malabars (Tamils), whose seat of government was at Jaffna-patanam.
II And the great regions (since known as the Vanni), and Neurerakalawa were formed into petty fiefs, each governed by a Vanniya, calling himself a vassal but virtually uncontrolled by any paramount authority.
III In the South, the nominal sovereign, Dharma Parakrama Bahu IX had his capital at Cotte, near Colombo whilst minor Kings held mimic courts at Badulla, Gampola, Peradeniya, Kandy and Mahagama and caused repeated commotions by their intrigues and insurrections’.
Hence the position Of Ceylon politically when the Portuguese conquered the island in 1517 AD were as follows:
1. The North, Jaffna-pattanam ruled by King Sangili alias Segarajasegeram from 1478 to 1519 AD.
2. Kotte ruled by Dharma Parakramabahu IX from 1506 to 1528 AD.
3. Kandian kingdom ruled by King Jayavira from 1511 to 1552 AD.
The Portuguese Captain Joao Riberio came to Ceylon as a soldier and remained in the island till 1658 AD. In that year the last of the possessions of Ceylon was surrendered to the Dutch. Captain Joao Riberio wrote in his book, ‘The Historic Tragedy of the island of CEILAO’ and translated by P E. Pieris thus :
‘In his will Don Joao Paria Pandar, he declared that he had no son to succeed him in his kingdoms, and therefore he appointed the King of Portugal his universal heir to all of them and thus he became absolute lord of all the territories situated within the island, only the kingdom of Candia and Uva belonging to Dona Catherina, while the Kingdom of Jaffnapatnam had its own native King .(p 23- AES-1999 New Delhi.
It is interesting to note that King Senaratne of Kandy summoned all the rulers of the country to an assembly in the year 1612 AD, to Kandy, and it is stated that King Edirmanasingha alias Pararajasekeram of Jaffnapatnam sent his ambassador on 8th of March 1612 ( EMC,p 687-Philip Baldaeus). This was repeated in the following year on 18th of August 1613 during the occasion of the death of Queen Dona Catherina, where an ambassador of the King of Jaffna was present as recorded by Philip Baldaeus. Further this missionary cum historian states, ‘Mannar derives its name from the Malabar (Tamil) language, from the word MAN, ie., SAND, and AARU a river, signifying as much as a ‘ sand-river; it being observable, that both Cingalese and Malabar languages are spoken in the isle of Ceylon. The first is used beyond Negombo, viz., at Colombo, Cathure, Barberyn, Alican, Gale, Beligama, Mature, Dondra. But in all other parts of this island opposite to the coast of Coromandel, and all along the bay, they speak the Malabar Tongue (Tamil); whence it seems very probable that the tract of land ( as the inhabitants of Jafffnapatanam themselves believe), was first of all peopled by those of COROMANDEL; who brought their language along with them; it being certain that in the island countries about Kandy, Vintane, Ballaney etc., they speak only Cingalese'(Sinhala).(EMC, p 792 ).
It was only in the year 1617 AD, that the Portuguese took forcible possession of Jaffnapatnam having deposed King Sangili Kumara, as he slaughtered 600 of the new converts to Christianity. It is stated that his eldest son embraced the new faith and was put to death and the second fled to Goa to escape his father’s resentment. In consequence of the slaughter and the subsequent assistance given to the Sinhalese Chiefs in their opposition to the Portuguese, the city was sacked and King Sangili Kumara captured and carried to Goa and executed. As stated by Tennent:
‘True to their hereditary instincts, the Malabars in 1622 AD, fitted out an expedition to recover their ancient possession of Jaffnapatanam and the peninsula, but the vigour of the Portuguese governor Oliveria, defeated the attempt’.(p.13).
With the granting of independence, to Ceylon.,(Sri Lanka), by the British in 1948, the Sinhalese and Tamil politicians presumed that they had gained freedom from foreign rule after 431 years. Consequent to the granting of independence it was seen that freedom was only for the Sinhalese and not for the Tamils. The majority of Sinhalese saw to it at every turn to suppress the hopes and aspirations of the Tamils. This finally culminated in ethnic hatred which was festering in the minds of the Sinhalese, to burst its communal ranks with the calculated, sinister and pre-meditated communal riots of July 1983.
Since 1983 over 70,000 lost their lives which culminated in Tamils being reduced to refugees in their own country. The cloak and dagger treachery adopted by the Sinhala government with the advice of the Buddhist clergy, since so-called independence, forced the Tamils to take up to arms. The grave error made by the Tamil leaders prior to granting of Independence, for a utopian dream of a unitary state, with the Sinhalese politicians and chartered by the sinister designs of the Maha Sanga will not be made by the Tamils again, where some have chosen to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage in sharing with the affairs of state with the Sinhalese government.
Even as late as 1788 AD, in respect of a demand for a separate state for the Tamils, Sir Hugh Cleghorn a British administrator in the Colonial Office said:
“TWO DIFFERENT NATIONS, from the very ancient period, have divided the island, first the Sinhalese, with the SOUTHERN and WESTERN parts from the river Wallouve to that of CHILLAW; and secondly the Malabars, (Tamils), in the NORTHERN and EASTERN districts which extend from the west coast of the island, from PUTTALAM to MANNAR in the west, southwards up to the limits of KUMANA or the river KUKBUKKAN OYA, that separated Batticaloa from the southern Sinhalese districts of Matara'(p,49-Sri Lanka, the Fractured Island-Mohan Ram).”
In this connection it is interesting to read page 229 of CCB, Vol:III, containing a report by Roman Catholic Bishop C.Bonnand dated 20th July 1854 AD addressed to Pope Pius IX arising of the dispute that had arisen about the boundaries of the two Vicariates of North and South of Ceylon. This reads as follows,
‘… while the conversion of the inhabitants of the Vicariates of Jaffnapatnam is difficult because from the Mission of Chilaw as far as Jaffnapatnam the inhabitants are Tamils by race and Hindu by religion’.Hence it would be seen that the division of the country for Catholic administration was based ‘according to people and languages instead according to territory’.(CCB,p 168,VoLIII). The division was, The Sacred congregation may propose that Colombo be in one part, and Kandy and Negombo in the other, that is, drawing the line of division from Negombo in the West to Batticaloa in the East, both towns included in the Northern region. It would be seen according to the above report there were Tamil Catholics in Marawila, Bolawatte, Katuneriya, Ninamaddama and Sindatri in the year 1854′.(CCB,p236,Vol:111). This does not include the Tamil Hindus who were domiciled in the said area.
‘ A garden situated at Charlieparmundel in the district of Calpentyn belonging to the society of the Roman Catholic Missionaries and surveyed by me on the request of the Reverend Constancio Gomes.
Bounded on the North by the garden and Wasti(waste) Ground of Nachemutto Motayen and by the garden of Nayacadoo Police Vidane Manoel Pille, on the South by the garden waste ground and Paddi fulo of Sinnrambi Cangani Thinavepille. On the east by the lake and on the west the sand waste ground. Containing 38 acres, 3 roods and 20 20/25 sq. perches.
Surveyed 15 December 1829
signed R. Vare Gruster, District Surveyor
Surveyor Generals office, Colombo, 20th Jan:1830 (‘CCB,p267, Vol:iii).
The above testifies to the fact that Tamils were domiciled in the said areas and that the instrument of the title-deeds of the estate of Charleparmundel is in Tamil and was read in 27 May 1854′.(CCB,pp 267 & 268, Vol:lll). There is also proof that properties in Chilaw, Mundel and further down south at Kalalgoda, north of Hendala, in the western province have their title-deeds written in Tamil by Tamil Notaries, which proves that the civil administration of these areas was by the Kings of Jaffnapattinam.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many such properties where the title-deeds have been written in Tamil which proves that these lands were ruled by the Tamils from ancient times. A diligent search of the Land Registry offices would unearth this fact much to the embarrassment to the Government in power. The above-known facts justify the position that these were the lands of the Tamils and their homeland which have been subsequently colonized by governments on the west coast from time to time by foisting draconian laws and forced the Tamils to the Sinhala way of life. These Tamils now speak Sinhala and have adopted the customs, dress of the Sinhalese, but nothing has changed the fact that the title-deeds to their properties and those of the Sinhalese are in Tamil.
There is no way that the Tamils and Sinhalese could ever live in harmony. Perhaps, only by levitation! The die has been cast, the honeymoon has ended, and the twain shall never meet. What we need today, is the return to the status quo of the political position of the Tamil kingdom of 1617 AD, when it was ruled by King Sangili Kumara from Jaffnapatnam. Hence, all that land North of Kelaniya to Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa and the to Mahiyangana and further down the southern coastal belt to Kataragama is the land of the Tamils. To this end, the struggle would continue to retain what rightfully belongs to the Tamils.
Chapter 4 – Western Connections of Jaffna Pattinam
Portugal is like a sparkling gem set upon the western facet of neighbouring Spain and washed by the blue Atlantic ocean. Its geographical location is ideal, with 550 km of coastline and hemmed between Spain and the ocean. It had no hope beyond the Pyrenees mountains except the mysterious ocean for its succor and aspirations. Portugal was the gate-way, to the new world of the Americas, the Caribbean and to the distant lands of Africa, the Malabar and the Coromandel coasts of India, Ceylon and the countries of the Far-East.
The Portuguese were daring seafarers and explorers nonpareil. History is replete with the adventures of their sailors who brought fame to their God and country. In the 15th and 16th centuries, they reached the highest pinnacle of world fame by their skillful navigation. During this period when the rest of Europe was busy developing their borders, Portugal was importing spices from Malabar and Coromandel coasts (India), silver from Japan, pearls from Persia, Kayalpattinam (South India), pearls and gems from Ceylon.
In 1434 AD, inspired by Henry the Navigator, an expedition of the West Coast of Africa was undertaken, where they were met by their arch-rivals the Moors in bloody battles in the Atlantic Ocean. These confrontations with the Moors led the Portuguese to discover many strategic positions down the west coast of Africa. Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and eventually sailed and landed in Calicut on the West Coast of India in the year 1498. Here too they found that the Moors held the monopoly of trade in the Indian Ocean.
In 1505 AD, Lawrence de Almedia set off from Cochin having heard that the Moors were taking a alternate course via the Maldive Islands to carry their goods to the Red sea and Europe, thus avoiding confrontation with the Portuguese. While heading towards the Maldive Islands, the Portuguese fleet ran into rough weather and was driven towards Galle in the island of Ceylon. Having obtained fresh provisions they sailed up to Colombo and anchored off Colombo on the 15th day of November 1505 AD. Lawrence de Almedia had the opportunity to be presented before Vira Parakarama Bahu VIII, the Sinhalese King of Kotte who entertained the foreigners in a cordial manner. A Catholic chapel was built at the bay of Colombo and dedicated to St. Lawrence and the arms of Portugal engraved on a rock close to the chapel.
When Don Lawrence de Almedia returned to Cochin there was much rejoicing and jubilation at the chance discovery of the island of Ceylon, which they believed was a veritable ‘ King Solomon’s mines’. This was mildly reflected in a communication dated 25th September 1507 AD, sent by the King Manoel of Portugal to Pope Julius ii as follows. ‘ There was a large hall, at the end of which the king’s throne shaped like an altar, was set in great splendour. On that throne the king according to the fashion of the country sat wearing on his head horns resembling a diadem, and adorned with most precious stones, as are found in the island…. p5 Vol: i, by Fr.V.Pemiola S.J)
The Sinhalese king, Bhuvenaka Bahu VII, ruled from Kotte from 1521 to 1550 AD, while his arch-rival brother Mayadunne ruled the kingdom of Sittavaca. In the letter written by the former to King Joao III, king of Portugal dated `Kotte 1541′ refers to a Brahman who he was sending as his ambassador with a letter explaining his plight as a result of internecine wars with his brother Mayadunne which precludes him from sending his yearly tribute of 52,363 kgs of cinnamon. It is interesting to note that the said Brahman was Sri Radaraksa Pandita or Pandither, who was a Tamil and signed in Grantha Tamil the language in vogue in South India preceding the arrival of the Portuguese.(CC,p15 Vol:i). According to G.C.Mendis in his ‘The Early History of Ceylon’ states at page 73 as follows.
‘ The influence of Hinduism also grew at this time. Some of the Sinhalese kings not only supported Brahman priests, but also employed a special ‘purohita'(priests assistant) to carry out the various religious rites in the palace’
It is recorded that the said Brahman priest subsequently came under the influence of the Catholic religion and that at his baptism in 1551 at the college of St.Paul in Goa, took the name of the then Viceroy, Dom Alfonso de Noronha.
Chapter 5 – The Tamil Seaports of the West Coast of Sri Lanka
King Bhuvanaka Bahu VII ruled the kingdom of Kotte. There were nine ports of call for the import and export trade. These ports were all situated on the western seaboard of his kingdom. The nine ports of his kingdom were Kalpitiya, Chilaw, Kammala, Negombo, Colombo, Beruwela, Galle, Weligama and Matara. During his reign, there was smuggling in boys and girls, among other goods, to the Malabar coast. On a complaint made by the king, the King of Portugal Joao III, in a directive dated 13th March 1543 AD made the following decree.
To all who will see this document of mine, I make known that I have been informed that many ships and `champagnes ‘(small boats), which leave Ceilao, carry many boys and girls kidnapped in the country from their parents, and many slaves snatched from their owners, and many cinnamon and other goods smuggled out. Desirous to remedy this as demanded by the service of God and my own, I order that in future all the ships and `Campanas’, which are ready to set out from those ports, shall first notify the King of Ceilao so that he may arrange to have them searched to see if they are taking any of the things stated above; and they shall obtain a certificate from the king or official appointed by him, stating that the search has taken place. If they do not obtain such a certificate, they shall forfeit all the cargo in favour of the ‘Misericordia’ of Cochin’.(CC,p29,Vol:l). This proves that Sinhalese boys and girls have been kidnapped and smuggled across to Cochin, a seaport in the Tamil kingdom of Sera.
At the time the Portuguese first visited Ceylon, the north of Ceylon contained the kingdom of Jaffnapattinam ruled by Sangili alias Segarajasegaram, the illegitimate son of King Pararajasekeran,and a usurper to the throne. He ruled the kingdom from 1519 to 1561 AD. According to the Yalpana Vipava Malai, a Tamil chronicle, the massacre of the Christians in the village of Pattim, Mannar took place in the month of Adi (July-August) of the cyclic year Khara which falls in 1513-1532 AD. This appears to be incorrect. King Manoel was king of Portugal till about 1539 AD. Thereafter King Joao III, was king. If the massacre took place during their reign, it would have been conveyed to them.
According to Father V.Perniola, who had access to original documents from the archives and libraries of Rome, Lisbon and Goa, states in his book at the footnote at page 51, Vol: i of his book The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka-The Portuguese Period’is as follows:
‘ King Chekarasa Sekaran or Sangili had put to death the Christians of Mannar. The inhabitants of Mannar seem to have been baptized in October 1544 and put to death in November of the same year. Xavier alludes to this killing in such a matter of fact way as to imply that by the beginning of December 1544 everyone knew about it’.
St.Francis Xavier, who was responsible for the conversions of the Kadeas in the village of Pattim, Mannar, by his letter dated Cochin 18th December 1544 states that he was proceeding to meet Governor Martin Afonso de Soyza of Goa to urge him to punish King Sangili of Jaffnapattinam, for the massacre of the Christians.(CC,p51,Vol: l).
The rightful heir to the throne, Paranirupasingham fled to the opposite coast of Kayalpattinam of South India with his retinue for fear of his half brother Sangili who had murdered two other princes to wrest the throne from his father.(CC,p 54,Vol: i). In the meantime, Sangili had murdered the first converts to the Catholic religion in Mannar which was part of his kingdom in the year 1544 AD. Father Francis Xavier SJ returned to Mannar and thence to Neduntivu (Delft) and proceeded to Nagapattinam to take an expedition against King Sangili. In the meantime, a Portuguese vessel coming from Pegu (Burma) laden with rich cargo ran aground off the coast of Jaffnapattinam. Sangili seized all the cargo on board.
In a letter written from Sao Thome (Madras) dated 28th March 1546 AD by Miguel Ferreira to Loao de Castro Governor of India informing him that he met heir apparent to the throne of Jaffnapattinam in Kayalpattinam (South India), and that the prince together with his children, grandchildren and his kith and kin would be baptized as Catholics if he was made king.(CC,p 150,vol: i). The prince also stated that Joao Fernandez Corea, Captain of the fishery-coast (see map) had invited him to go onboard a vessel but had done nothing even after receiving from him a diamond as a gift. The prince also informed him that Martin Alfonso de Souza had also invited him to go onboard a ship and had taken him up to Neduntievu and from there he sent him back, after taking from him some pearls and that now he had nothing else to offer. He also alleged that Souza had taken a tribute of 5000 silver coins from Sangili and this prevented him from putting him on the throne.(CC,p 147 Vol: i).
Of Gay Kings & Priests
It is rather a matter of historical fact that King Bhuvanaka Bahu III of Kotte wrote several letters, which were in Portuguese ending as follows: Please accept as true this document which I have written-Svasti Sri’. This last sentence was written in Tamil. This points to the fact that the language of the court in Kotte was Tamil.(CC,pp,185,186,251,260,262, Vol: i) In a letter by the Portuguese of Ceylon to Joao de Casto dated Ceylon, 27th November 1547 AD the Governor of Goa speaks of the ‘ abominable crime’ of the king of Ceylon. The sin of sodomy is so prevalent in this kingdom of Cota that it almost frightens us to live here. And if one of the prominent men of the kingdom is reproached for not being ashamed of such an ugly vice, they reply that they do everything that they see their king doing, for this is the custom’.(CC,p 239, Vol: i). A more direct accusation is found against King Bhunanaka
Bahu viii on page 38, para 3 (CC,p 38, vol: i), which reads as follows: For, this king was by nature courteous, benign, affable, dutiful and liberal and endowed with every other moral virtue, with the exception of chastity, since he was a slave to the unspeakable and abominable crime which had been introduced into the island by his predecessors, the Jangatres.’ This according to the footnote is referred to, an elder in the community of the monks’.(CC.p.38, vol: i).
Chapter 6 – Dispersion of Tamils to the West Coast of Sri Lanka
The Parava community of the fishery-coast in and around Punnaikayal, of Tamil Nadu (see map), were baptized by St. Francis Xavier and subsequently they were shipped to Colombo and dispersed among the Catholic community of the coastal regions from Puttalam to Galle. The king of Madampe, Vidiya Bandara ordered the Parava community living in his kingdom to ‘ shave their beards and apply ashes on their foreheads and become pagans again. They courageously replied that they were ready to have their heads cut off but that they would never consent to do what they were asked. Then the king agreed not to kill them, but imposed on them a fine of about three hundred `pardaos’ as a penalty for their not complying with his orders’.(CC,p 346,vol: i). The Paravas (Tamil) community of the fishery-coast of South India and situated in and around the Punney Kayal , were fishermen by caste.
They were adept in fishing for pearl oysters and chanks off the fishery-coast and during the season converged in and around the village of Murungan, in the Mannar district of Sri Lanka for the pearl fisheries. The Caraiyar or Karavas also of the fishing caste community in South India, subsequently found their way to the coastal regions of the island of Ceylon and came under the religious spell of the Catholic priests of the Franciscans, Jesuits, etc. In the year 1556 AD, no less than 70,000 of these Karavas living in the seaports of the island embraced the Catholic faith. These Tamil Karavas or fishermen were living in Kalpitiya, Chilaw, Kammala, Negombo, Colombo, Beruwela, Galle, Weligama, and Matara.(CC,p 18 vol: i). ‘ The first to receive baptism was their Captain, whom they call Patangati, which means that he is, as it were their king.(CC,p 347,vol: i). It is interesting to read the translation of the original Portuguese document concerning the PARAVAS (TAMILS) in Moratuwa in 1613 AD.
13. The Fathers left Colombo for Moroto, which is a town in the direction of Galle, three Chingala leagues, which are six Portuguese leagues, from the city. There we have a church, which stands among cool and dense woods. They arrived on a Saturday, and on a Sunday they said mass, all the people coming to it with great devotion.
14. All here are Pareas (Paravas), which is the same as fishermen, among whom I saw a wedding, the ceremonies of which being novel, I shall describe them. The company consists of all the friends and relations, and to decline is the greatest affront. The wedded pair come walking on white cloths, with which the ground is successively carpeted. The nearest relatives hold above them clothes of the same kinds in the fashion of a canopy, thus protecting them from the sun. The bride is carried in the arms of the nearest relative, and, when this one tires, another takes his place. The symbols that they carry are the white discs and candles lighted in the daytime and certain shell which they keep playing on in place of bagpipes. All these are royal symbols, which the former kings conceded to this race of people, that being strangers they should inhabit the coasts of Ceilao (Ceylon), and one but they or those to whom they give leave can use them. They fish only in the ocean, and not in the river, although it is nearer than the sea. And not even in winter, in spite of the pressing need in which they may be, do they fish in the river as they consider it a degradation. And certainly, what causes wonder in this and in other people of this kind is, that however wretched, miserable and poor they may be, they have some points of honour that they would rather die than go contrary to’. (CC,p 375 & 376, vol: ii).
They say that comment is free but facts are sacred, is true in the lives of these Tamil Karavas who were domiciled by Sinhala kings from the time of Parakramabahu VI (1410 AD), and more so during the Portuguese occupation, where 70,000 Tamil Karawas living on the nine sea ports from Puttalam to Matara were baptised as Catholics.(CC,p 347 vol: i). These Karavas who are numerous still carry on the nuptial ceremonies as described above, with variations, The only apparent factor that has changed is that they now speak in Sinhala, their adopted language, instead of their original mother tongue Tamil. The Karavas (Tamils), who are now a multitude, and perhaps 20% of the total Scintilla population, could claim Tamil lineage if by some quirk of fate Tamil language emerges as a predominant factor in the politics of the country.(Sir Lanka). It is an accepted fact, that history repeats itself in the affairs of a country from age to age and, it appears that the way has been paved by the power-hungry politicians to hasten the process of political change of musical chairs!
Karavas were also brought into the island by the Singhalese King Parakramabahu VI, in the year 1410 AD to fight the Mukuwas in Chilaw over fishing rights. The Karavas hailed from the eastern seaboard of the Tamil kingdom of the Cholas and reputed to be good fighters. They too were settled by the said king on the western coast of Ceylon from Puttalam to Matara. These Karavas hailed from the Coramandel coast of the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu. After defeating the Mukuvas in the seaport of Puttalam, these Karavas were settled by the king on the west coast of Ceylon at Puttalam, Chilaw, Negombo, Mutuwal, Moratuwa, Panadura, Kalutara and further down south. He gave them gems and married them to Sinhalese goigama maidens to secure their permanent services.(see map),(TS, p 108). These Karavas belong to three main classes:
Kurukulasuriyas, Arasa or Mahinda Kurukulasuriya and Varna Kurukulasuriyas
These are the house-names of the three different classes. The Sinhalese never mention their house-name (ge-names) e.g., Kingsley Mendis. It may well be Kurukulasuriya Aratchilage Kingsley Mendis. This would reveal the true Tamil Hindu extraction. (Karavas of Ceylon Society & Culture -M.D.Raghavan, K.V.G.de Silva, Colombo).
Over the last five centuries, these Tamil Karavas living on the west coast of Sri Lanka would have multiplied into about three million souls who are now Sinhala, their adopted language, but carry the ‘house-names’ surreptitiously which would otherwise betray their Tamil connections.
a) Sangili, the Valiant
In September 1560 AD an expedition to capture Jaffna and dethrone King Sangili, left Goa under the command of Dom Constantino de Braganza, viceroy of Goa and was joined by bishop D.Jorge Themudo, of Cochin under whose jurisdiction the Catholics of Ceylon came under. On the 20th of November of the said year the fleet anchored in front of Jaffna. An altar was set up on an islet that was there and a very devout mass to Our Lady was said, and a general absolution was given to the soldiers before the battle of Jaffna. Having landed on the mainland the soldiers went on a rampage among the villagers seeking food and treating them as if they were a conquered people. On the same day there descended a huge army of Sangili, King of Jaffnapattinam, and all the soldiers were put to the sword and five Franciscans killed while Bishop Don Jorge Temudo miraculously escaped on foot and boarded a Portuguese vessel. Two of the Fathers who were preaching in the neighbouring villages were led before king Sangili who got them stripped and whipped with canes till they were bathed in blood.
The king, though he acknowledged that they were good men .Yet he ordered the heads of both of them to be cut off because they spoke against the pagodas.(Hindu temples). ‘ The place where these servants of God were martyred and where formerly stood the royal palace, is called COPAI’ (Kopay).(CC,p 367, vol: i) . All those who escaped the wrath of Sangili escaped in their boats to the island of Mannar, where there was already a church dedicated to the Mother of God by the earlier converts. In Mannar, they built a strong fort that housed the priests and soldiers. As the Nautique of Tanjore of South India was constantly attacking the Christian converts of the fishery-coast they too escaped to the island of Mannar, which was occupied by the Portuguese, in August 1560 AD. These Christians belonged to the castes of the Paravas and of the Kadeyars, Both belong to the fishing community.
A few days later the Viceroy came with a fleet from Mannar and attacked the capital Jaffnapattinam and captured it with a loss of about ten Portuguese soldiers. They could not hold the capital Jaffna as the people turned against them and Sangili attacked with an army and chased the Portuguese from their capital. Some fled to their vessels and sailed back to Mannar. Subsequently, the Portuguese entered Jaffnapattinam as traders and after some time with the permission of the king to build some houses they surreptitiously built a fortress in the jungle. While king Sangili, was hunting in the jungle he was astonished to see a fortress. This led to an all-out war where the inmates of the fort were all massacred. According to the Yaripana Vipava Malai, the king fell into a trap sprung by Paranirupasingham the lawful heir to the throne who sided with the Portuguese and entrapped Sangili with the assistance of Kaka Vannian. The King Sangili was decapitated at the threshold of the Nallur Kandasamy temple. This battle was fought in Nallur the capital of the king.(YVM,p 45).
In the fishery-coast of Punniyerkayal the Christians were constantly attacked by Viswanathan of the Vijayanagar empire, who burnt the churches and killed the Christians. In retaliation, the Portuguese sacked the Hindu temple at Truchendur a place holy to the Hindus. Anticipating a massive reprisal, the Portuguese summoned the Christian Paravas and put to sea in 400 boats.(CC,p 119 & 120,vol: ii). These refugees after a difficult sea journey arrived in Mannar. Hardly as these Christians left the shores of the fisher-coast, the Vijayanagar army finding the village empty went on a spree in burning the houses and destroying all Christian places of worship. The mass exodus to Mannar took place in September 1591 AD.
After the death of Sangili Kumara, the Portuguese put one Puviraja Pandaram alias Pararajasekeran on the throne as their vassal. He, like his predecessor, was scheming to overthrow the foreign yoke. King Puviraja Pandaram chose to attack Mannar during the season of the pearl fisheries where all the Portuguese would be supervising the pearl fisheries on the mainland from Mantota, Aripu, Ponparepoemalle all the way to Calpentyn island.
The king came with an army and landed at Erukkilampiddy, on the east coast of Mannar before sunrise, Seeing the Portuguese close by, he gave orders to attack the fort, while he was having his morning meals in a hut. The Portuguese on seeing the enemy on both flanks attacked them with fury. During the course of the battle, the Tamil soldiers found themselves in a position where they were attacking their own men from either side. The Portuguese started to beat their drums and reinforcements arrived and the Tamil soldiers were pushed back towards the coast and they had no other alternative but to jump into their boats and made their escape in spite of the high tide. As the sea was rough some of their boats sank and the men stranded on the shores were killed. They had even to rescue king Puviraja Pandaram from the coast of Erukkilampiddy. It is stated that the king lost two thousand men in the war which they had to abort due to bad planning.(CC,120,121,vol: ii).
Soon after the attack of Mannar the Portuguese obtained fresh reinforcements from Goa and Cochin and invaded Jaffna under the command of Andre Furtado de Medonca. The occupying Portuguese forces then put on the throne prince Edirmanasinghe who took on the name of Pararasekeran. Although a stooge of the Portuguese, he carried on an undercover campaign against the Catholic missionaries and did not look with favour on converts. In the days of this king, the Portuguese commenced building Christian communities and churches. Although the king was a Hindu he had no other alternative but to allow conversions as they were responsible in putting him on the throne.
b) Our Lady of Victory
A native Christian named Antino Fernandez erected a straw hut on the spot where the invading forces landed when they conquered the Jaffna kingdom in 1591 AD. This hut became a church with Father Fra Pedro de Christo in charge. He dedicated the church in the name of Our Lady of Victory, as a memorial to the conquest of Jaffna. This church was built about 1553 AD. In 1602 AD with the blessings of the king the church was burnt to the ground when Father Fra Francisco de Orient was away in Kayts to build St. John’s church. When the Father complained to the king about the destruction of the church he showed grief and the day after he accompanied his men and appeared at the burnt church and supervised the rebuilding of a new church, fearing reprisals from the Viceroy of India. After twelve years the Portuguese built a church of stone and lime and named it Our Lady of Miracles, on account of the many miracles wrought when the statue was being made in the house of the craftsman.
The church was erected by Father Fra Pedro Betancor. The new church was built on the spot where a mosque was situated. The Portuguese saw that the location of the mosque was an ideal place for a church and burnt it down. When the Moors complained to the King he pacified the Moors, who then built a mosque elsewhere. Father Fra Pedro was friendly with the king who helped him in his work. The king even gave funds to their work and promised them assistance when needed.’
In fulfillment of this promise, besides other arms, the king gave them the island of Tanadiva (Kayts), which he had donated to Father Fra Niculu de Cruz, for the support of the same church and for the upkeep of the boy’s school we have there. Father Pedro was helped not only by the king but also by other native chiefs, his friends, such as Sangili Kumara, who for the same purpose donated the village of Visavil and Laur (Ilaur), which formed part of his patrimony. The Naique of Tanjore gave him another village on the gulf. With this royal help, the church and other buildings were built with solid enclosures. The foundation stone to this church of Our Lady of Miracles was laid on the 8th day of May 1614 AD, on which day was the feast of the glorious Ascension of Christ. This church is situated down Bankshall street, Jaffna,(CC,p313 vol: II), even to this day.
c) Betrayal of Portuguese
‘ On the 2nd of August 1622, two queens, both sisters and wives of the deceased King Para Raxa Sagra (Pararajasekeran) were baptized, also one of his daughters about twelve years old, and a large number of people. They were received at our church of Our Lady of Miracles when Father Fra Antonio de S.Maria was rector there. The two queens and daughter were baptized and were given the names of Dona Clara da Silva and Don Antonio; the child was called Dona Catherina. Their godfather was Filipe de Oliveria’.(CC,p 59 vol:lll).
About April 1617 AD, Sangili Kumara a nephew of King Pararajasekeran, usurped the throne of Jaffna, by killing the governor and many other aspirants of the royal house. The rightful heir to the throne a son of Pararajasekeran became a catholic in Goa in the year 1633 AD and took the name of Fra Constantino de Christo, and he renounced his claims to the kingdom of Jaffna. King Sangili Kumara did not get the support of the Portuguese. He then sought assistance from his kindred from the Naique of Tanjore,(South India), but this too ended in failure. Eventually, the Portuguese invaded Jaffna and annexed it in 1619 AD. With the fall of Jaffna, the Portuguese removed the children of Sangili Kumara and their kinsmen and sent them to Goa.
The boys are being educated in the seminary of the Three Kings. One of the daughters is staying in the convent of Serra (St.Thomas, Madras) and receives a pension. She would like to become a nun in the convent of Santa Monica (Goa), for which the king gave his permission and also authorized that she be given a dowry so that the nuns may receive her. The same should be done to the second daughter as soon as she comes of age, for not only is the embracing of this life more respectable since she is of royal blood, but also because the King would be free if she were not to marry, lest her descendants should claim a right to the throne of Jaffnapatao’. .The above is a letter sent by the Viceroy of Goa to King Philip iii of Lisbon dated ‘Goa, 13 December 1634’.(CC,p 223,224, vol: Ill). Sister Maria da Visitacao, daughter of the King of Jaffna, was elected the thirty-third prioress of the monastery of St. Monica in Goa in January 1682, she died in April of the same year.
During the reign of king Sangili Kumara all descendants of the royal families of Jaffna through fear of the king and the designs of the Portuguese , took refuge in the jungles of the Vanni.
d) Tamil- Muslims
The anti-Muslim riots of 1915 of Mawanella, the riots of Hultsdorf, Galle, Beruwela and now a repeat performance at Mawavnella have been labelled as a ‘Muslim ethnic problem’. This is far from the truth. If one traces the history of the Muslims in Sri Lanka it would be seen that they all hailed from Keelaikarai, Kayalpattinam, etc., of the ‘fishery-coast’ of South India. (Tamil Nadu). They were all Tamils and Hindus and belonged to the ‘Parava’ community in the fishing industry diving for chanks and pearls off the coast of Kayalpattinam in South India and also involved in the pearl fisheries in the Gulf of Mannar of Sri Lanka.
‘ It cannot be denied that the Surfis were responsible for the spread of Muslim culture among the masses in various parts of India. The concept of equality and brotherhood of men preached by the Surfis attracted the lower classes of the Hindus who were not allowed to read the scriptures or enter the temples.'(p 423, History of India-V.D.Mahajan). These Tamil Muslims subsequently embraced Islam and migrated as traders to Puttalam, Chilaw, Mannar, Mawavanella, etc., in quest of greener pastures in Ceylon. The attacks on the Muslims by the Sinhalese is based on ‘the have’s and the have nots’ and not that they are Muslims. Like the Jews who were hounded and massacred by Hitler’s Germany as they had the economy of the country in their hands, so also the Sinhala government of Sri Lanka continues a systematic attack on the Tamil-Muslims, from time to time, to de-stabilize the economy of the Tamil-Muslims with the sinister purpose of shifting their trade to the Sinhalese.
The Mawanella debacle against the Tamil-Muslims, and often engineered by the state, should come as a ‘wake-up call’ for the Tamil-Muslims of Sri Lanka. Let there be no mistake about this. They should realize that they are first Tamils by nationality and that their ploy by taking shelter under ‘Muslims’ as a thin veil to save their skins when there is anti-Tamil riots in the country has been exposed.
Chapter 7 – Dutch Invasion (1658 – 1795 AD)
Rajasinghe II (1635-1687 AD), King of Kandy by his letter to the Governor Charles Reynier dated 9th September 1636, addressed to his headquarters at Paliacotta, North of modern Madras, imploring the Dutch to assist him in expelling the Portuguese out of the island. The King promised in return to permit the Dutch to erect a fortress either at Kottiar or Trincomalee. This letter was handed over to a Brahman, a Tamil Hindu, who lived in secret for six months among the Portuguese at Jaffna till an opportunity arose to cross over to the coast on the opposite side of the Coromandel coast. After crossing by boat he travelled by road to Paliacotta, where he delivered the letter to Governor Charles Reyniers. In reply to the King’s letter the governor by his letter dated 20th October 1637, stated that he was delighted by the king’s letter and that he was prepared to render all assistance against their common enemy. He requested to allow the Dutch to export cinnamon for the exchange of muskets, gunpowder, ammunitions and other arms.
King Rajasinghe by his letter dated 23rd November 1637 and written from Binntenne, in the Uva district, to Adam Westerworld the Dutch Admiral of the East Indies, promising the Dutch all the cinnamon that can be had and to hasten the attack on the Portuguese fort at Batticoloa.
On 2nd of April 1638, commander Koster sailed into Trincomalee harbour with three vessels, the Texel, Amsterdam and Dolphin and anchored in the harbour.
On 22nd of April 1638, Admiral Adam Westerworld left Goa for Batticoloa with the ships Maestricht, Harderwick, Rotterdam, Vere and the yacht Enchuyfen with 800 men on board. On the 10th of May of the same year, the vessels sailed into Batticoloa and the day following the men landed ashore and built fortifications to lay siege on the Portuguese fort. On the 18th of May 1638, the Dutch pounded the Portuguese with their cannons. The Portuguese finding the attack too much to their liking hoisted the white flag and sent two envoys to surrender. Having surrendered the fort the entire Portuguese force was all transported in a Dutch vessel to Nagapatnam of South India. On 23rd May 1638, a treaty was signed between King Rajasinghe II and Admiral Westerworld of the Dutch East Indies. Subsequent to signing the treaty the king delivered 400 bales of cinnamon, 87 quintals of wax, and 3059 pounds of pepper to the Admiral. The king also sent two of his men as ambassadors to Batavia in the company of the Admiral.
On 22nd of February 1658, the island of Mannar was surrendered to the Dutch. The Dutch army marched through the Vanni and reached the banks of the river at Elephant Pass. Having crossed the river they marched through Chavakacheri, Navatkuli and at a castle near a church at Chundikuli met with resistance. Having defeated the Portuguese the army advanced towards the fort, fighting from street to street. The fort was besieged and due to lack of water and provisions, the Portuguese surrendered after three and a half months with a loss of 1600 men. On the 23rd of June, Philip Baladaeus, the Dutch missionary had a thanksgiving service which was continued every year.
Soon after, while Baladaeus was preaching in the church in the city of Jaffna the natives ( not without the consent of king Rajasinghe) plotted the murder of all Dutch officers in the castle. The Dutch officers who were outside the church noticed some Portuguese soldiers who had surrendered when the city was captured, on the other side of the church with their hands on their swords. The Dutch soldiers suspecting an insurrection arrested the Portuguese soldiers. The traitors were all rounded up and confessed to the plot, some were hanged, others were beheaded and some were laid upon the wheel. The chief conspirators, a certain inhabitant of Mannar, one Don Louys and another Portuguese, these three were laid upon the wheel or cross, and after they had received a stroke with an axe in the neck and on the breast, had the entrails taken out and the heart laid upon the mouth’.(EMC,p 798). The heads of the ringleaders were fixed upon poles and exhibited in the market place. According to Philip Baladaeus, ‘not long after most of the traitors having confessed their crimes, some were condemned to be hanged and some to be beheaded’.(EMC, vol: p 798 & 803).
Manipay and the Madappalis
Some of the conspirators hailed from the village of Manipay of Jaffna and Baladaeus states,
‘ This place (Manipay), is inhabited by several of the family of Madappalis who was concerned in the plot with Don Louys’.(EMC, vol: iii,p803). These Madappalis are descendants of the Kings of Jaffna some of whom were baptized into the Roman Catholic religion by the missionaries and hence owed allegiance to the Portuguese. According to the Yalpana Vipava Malai, a Tamil chronicle, the title ‘Madappalis’ was originally conferred to the stepbrother of Sangili the usurper, to appease the disappointed heir to the throne of Jaffna. This title connotes that they were the rulers of 500 villages, a settlement enforced on the legitimate aspirant to the throne, by Sangili.(YVM,p 47).
The seven sons of Prince Paranirupasingham alias Pararajasekeran, the legitimate heir apparent to the throne of Jaffna, were given the title of ‘Raja’ or ‘Kumara’ Madapallis and made chiefs of seven districts in Jaffna. During the Dutch period, certain persons purchased the title of `Madappalis’ for large sums of money from the Dutch, and these persons were known as’ Sangu Madapallis’. Mudaliyar C.Rasanayagam in his book’ Ancient Jaffna’ states, ‘ The Vaiyapadel says that Madapallis were migrants and colonists. As the Kings of Jaffna were Kalingas, their descendants too were called Madapallis and given the epithet ‘Raja’ or Kumara’ in order to distinguish them from the rest. Although the princes of Jaffna took their wives from Vellala families and their daughters too were often married among the Vellalas, the Madapallis on account of their royal origins considered themselves higher than the Vellalas’. The Dutch Governor Van Rhee of Ceylon, had this to say in 1697 of the Madapallis. ‘ I think it necessary to state that a bitter and irreconcilable hatred has always existed in Jaffnapattinam between the caste of the Vellalas and the Madapallis so that they may not be elevated in rank and the offices of honour one above the other. For these reasons, the two writers of the commander are taken from these two castes so that one of them is a Vellala and the other a Madapalli’.(AJ,p 390).
According to J.P.Lewis (ex Ceylon Civil Service), in his book, A Manual of the Vanni Districts, Ceylon’ states, ‘It will be seen from the list that some castes have quite disappeared since 1817, and others have much diminished in numbers. The Madapalli people, though they numbered 150 in 1817, are now only represented by one solitary person’.(MVD,p 83). His computation of the Madapallis is that in 1817 there were 92 Madapallis while in 1890, only one remained in Vavuniya, in 1817 there were 60 Madapallis and in 1890 there were none in Mullaitivu. There is no record to substantiate as to when and how many of the Madapallis migrated to the Vanni. But according to the census taken by the British government, there were 152 Madapallis in the Vanni..(see EMC, vol: p 798 & 803).
During the Portuguese occupation, the Madapallis fled Manipay to the Vanni in fear of persecution by the Dutch who were governing Ceylon at that time, due to their collusion with the Portuguese to overthrow the Dutch in the kingdom of Jaffnapattinam, in 1658. However, it would appear in 1890 according to the census there was only one Madapalli in Vavuniya and none in Muffaitevu. The only logical inference is that the Dutch government of Ceylon would have softened its stance where they were concerned and hence the Madapallis trekked back to their original home in Manipay. During the Dutch period, a few of the Madapallis renounced Hinduism and embraced the Dutch Reformed religion and became Christians. The publication of the book, ‘Maniampathier Santhathimurai- A Genealogy of the Residents of Manipay & Related Inhabitancies’ by Srimath T.Vinasithamby, (MS), compiled in 1902 AD, contains the genealogy of over seventy families some of whom were the descendants of the Kings of Jaffna, known as Madappali, and referred to by Philip Baladaeus, the Dutch missionary of 1672 AD.(EMC).
Chapter 8 – Vanni: the Adanka Pattu
The chequered history of the Vanni during the ancient Kings of Ceylon and the period of foreign occupation could be better understood in the words of Tennent. Of its history, no satisfactory record survives, beyond the ascertained fact that, after the withdrawal of the Sinhalese sovereigns from their Northern Capitals in the fourteenth century, and the abandonment of their deserted country to the Malabars, the latter disorganized and distracted in turn by the ruin they themselves had made, were broken up into small principalities under semi-independent chiefs, and of these the Vanni was one of the last that survived the general decay.’
Be that as it may, the wilds of the Vanni were never tamed by either the Tamil or Sinhalese Kings. It was a buffer-state to both these kingdoms from time immemorial and it was referred to as the ‘ ADANKAPATTU’, the rebellious state. The Vanni was colonized by Tamil colonists from Southern India by the Kings of Jaffnapattinam. They consisted of all castes from Vellalas. During times of war, whether caused by internal dissension or external threats, the Kings of Jaffna found the Vanni as a safe haven of refuge. They hid their crown jewels in the wilds of the Vanni when there were any signs of war. A relic of the past has been recorded by Lewis as follows:
The division of” Cheddikulam’ is said to have been colonized previously to this in Kaliyuga 3348 by a Chetty from Madura, who with some Parava pearl fishers had been wrecked on the coast of Ceylon’.(MVD,p 12). It is also stated that the Portuguese occupied Cheddikulam and that some of the old maps has-the place marked as ‘Parangicheddikulam’. According to the Yalpana Vaipava Malai, Kulakkodan Maharajah of Kaveri came to Ceylon in 436 AD, on a pilgrimage to Trincomalee and Tampalakaman and repaired the temple at the latter place.
He then cultivated seven large tracts of land and planted all kinds of fruits and established fertile fields. Having done this he got down Vanniyas from the coast of South India and placed them in charge of these cultivations to upkeep the temples from the income from these fields and the fruit groves. As waring Turkey was the ‘sick man of Europe’, so too were the Vanniyars a thorn on the side of the Kings of Jaffna and Kandy. During the reign of Varotaya Singhai Ariyan alias Segarajasegaren (1302 AD), as the Vanniyars were inciting the Sinhalese subjects in the Jaffnapattinam to rise in revolt, the Tamil King Segarajasekeran succeeded in reducing them to subjection ‘rapine and plunder’.The Sinhalese King declined to assist the Vanniyars in their campaign against the King of Jaffnapattinam. The Vannis then made peace with their neighbours but had to pay tribute to the King of Jaffnapattinam.
With the capture of the kingdom by the Portuguese, the Vanni was under their control and ‘Parangichetticulam’ of the Vanni may have been the fort of the Portuguese. With the arrival of the Dutch on the scene, they were only able to exact a yearly tribute of 42 elephants. About the year 1782, the continued conflicts came to an end when the Dutch once and for all defeated the Vanniyars. Every foreign power found the Vanniyars a formidable foe and this could be explained in the words of Lewi, It is characteristic of the spirit of this people that the Dutch met nowhere a more determined resistance than from one of the native princesses, the Vannichi Maria Sembatte, whom they were obliged to carry away as a prisoner, and to detain in captivity in the fort of Colombo’.(MVD,p 17 & 18 ).
The Vanniyars, thence commenced to live a wild and marauding life and carried on predatory warfare against the Dutch in Mannar and Trincomalee and even penetrated to the Jaffna Peninsula. The Dutch had to build forts along the river to keep them at bay. Even with the advent of the British Pandara Vanniyan started a revolt to expel them from his district with the assistance of the Kandyans. He attacked the government house in Mullaitivu and drove out the garrison which was under the command of one Captain Drieberg and seized the fort. The victory of the Vanniyars was short-lived. Three detachments from Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee were despatched and the Vanniyars were defeated in the Mannar district.. Although Pandara Vanniyan was active again his grandiose scheme to rule the Vanni faded away.
Even today the spirit of the Vanniyars is more apparent in the fight for the freedom of the Tamil people. Here again one sees that the Vanni has answered the call of the Tamil people in their quest for liberty and freedom from the Sinhalese. It is also stated that the Vanniyars had sent some of their people to the French at Pondichery in South India promising to assist their missionaries and the Christians to overthrow the Dutch.
Chapter 9 – Fall of Colombo and Dutch Plakkart
The Dutch forces captured Colombo on the 12th of May 1656 and consolidated their positions on the maritime provinces of the western seaboard of Ceylon. The fort of Jaffna fell to the Dutch when the Portuguese were virtually starved into submission on the 22nd of May 1658.
With the fall of Jaffna, the Catholic priests fled to Puttalam which was in the territory of the King of Kandy, Rajasinghe II. During this period the Catholics were without priests and the practice of the rituals of the church was unheard of and there was a proclivity of the faithful to fall to the inroads of the new Dutch Reformed religion It was during this period Father Joseph Vaz fired with religious zeal left Mangalore to Jaffna. His journey was fraught with many a mishap.
He eventually landed in Mannar and dressed like a beggar entered Jaffna, where he was fed by devout Catholics. Sick unto death due to lack of food and the inherent danger of falling into the hands of the Dutch, he was secretly shifted to the village of Sillalai, 10 miles from Jaffna where in a chapel built by the Portuguese he instructed the villagers in the Christian doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.. To counter the work of the Catholics, the Dutch appointed one Hendrick Adrian ven Rheede as High Commissioner of Bengal, Coromandel, Ceylon etc.
He ordered all Catholic priests to leave his domain, but this fell on deaf ears. Infuriated by the temerity of the priests, Rheede ordered all Catholics to attend Christmas mass to be dealt with severely. ‘Those infernal wolves, divided into three squads, made for the houses where the flock of Christ was gathered in adoration before the Lamb in the cave called Bethlehem. They came upon them by surprise and gave vent to their greed and anger. Without any consideration, they stripped naked all, even the women who had put on their best dresses for the feast. They seized and flogged them without regard to age or sex’.(CCD, p 56, vol: i). Father Vaz escaped the onslaught and fled to Puttalam in 1692. He was followed by Father Braganza, who too, could not withstand the persecution by the Dutch.
They both began to do mission work with renewed zeal among the inhabitants of whom the majority were ‘Mukuvas’ who were of low caste and hailed from South India.(Malabar). With the issue of the ‘Plakkaat’ by Ryclof van Goens in 1659 enforcing that the Dutch language be used instead of Portuguese, and the subsequent order of 1682 prohibiting the practice and preaching of the Catholic religion Father Vaz entered Kandy to perform his missionary work. Here he was captured and put into prison. An influential person in the court of Kandy saw to it that he was released from prison and allowed to practice his religion south of the Mahaveli Ganga, on the orders of King Rajasinhe II. Father Joseph Vaz, (Brahmin), was appointed Vicar General for Ceylon for his devoted work in propagating the faith for ten years in the realm of the Kandyan kingdom that included Trincomalee, Batticaloa. Kottiar, Vanny and Puttalam. Sixty years later the Dutch predators put a stop to the Portuguese missionary work.
‘ During the reign of Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe of Kandy in 1746 he seized the missionaries, confiscated their property, ill-treated them in various ways, and finally expelled them from his realms with orders under pain of death not to return to his domains’.(CCD, p 4 vol: III). The Dutch were behind the actions of the King having bribed his ministers and the Buddhist clergy. The missionaries sought shelter in the land of the Vanny. With the death of the King, his brother Kirti Sri Rajasinghe came on the throne. The Portuguese missionaries saw a ray of hope with the new king. A Moor physician, Gopala Mudaliyar was bribed with ten gold coins who spoke to the king and obtained permission for Fathers Mathias Rodrigues and Alexander Manuel to enter his territories and carry on with their work of the mission. The gold coins that were mentioned by the Dutch had the name of a South Indian temple on one side of the coin and an image of God Vishnu on the other weighing 3.4 grams.(CCD, p 10,vol:111). Having entered Kandy they obtained the services of the King’s father NARENAPPA NAYAKKAR, having bribed him with thirty gold coins, to speak to the son to obtain permission to preach in the Kandyan kingdom.
During this period the Christians in Vanny were persecuted by the ruler of the Vanny. He issued an order that the Catholics should confine their religious practices only in the village of MADHU, where Father Pedro Eerrao had built a church. Madhu church has been a sanctuary for all refugees from that time onwards. This shrine is considered the Lourdes of Sri Lanka.
Chapter 10 – Tamil from Putalam to Galle
It is interesting to note that Tamil was taught from Puttalam to Galle. The foregoing is taken from page 131, vol: iii of CCD. ‘ Some country schoolmasters and the ‘tomboy register of births & deaths) holders reported that the following Church members had gone over to the Roman Catholic church and had their marriages solemnized by Roman Catholic priest, ie., Joseph Pieris ‘Pattangatyn’ namely Joan Fernando, Simon Fernando, Lourenz Fernando, Anthony Pieris, Julian Fernando, Johanna Fernando, Manuel Zoysa (all of Negombo), Francisco Pieris, and Don Diego (both of Hunupitiya), Sattabigey Saloman Fernando(former assistant master of Maggona), and Angela Fernando’. The above persons are all Karava Tamils who hailed from the fishery-coast of Kayalpattinam of South India and migrated from time to time by the ingenuity of the Portuguese to propagate Tamils of Catholic persuasion in the western coastal regions of Ceylon.
The Dutch by a special order dated 9th April 1774 of Colombo, made the Catholic priests by a deed of allegiance to the Dutch Company, before the Commander or the Chief of their respective districts or before the`dessave’ in Colombo and this declaration was preserved in at the Colombo secretariat.(CCD, pp 302,303 vol: III). Thirty-nine Catholic priests of Jaffna and Kalpitiya down the coast to Galle made the declaration in Tamil. On 5th October 1767, on a complaint lodged by Joan de Silva, the Tamil Roman Catholic schoolmaster at Colombo said that he was obstructed in his teaching duties by those of the Reformed religion.(CCD, p 328,vol:III).
By a `Plakkaat, the Dutch published in 1778 in Tamil, conditions under which persons could marry whether they belonged to the Catholic church or the Reformed Church and attaching certain penalties for failure to abide by the order. This was a general restriction for marriages and the birth of persons in so far as the issue of a certificate was concerned at baptism, and solemnization of weddings as stipulated in the order.
Chapter 11 – British Occupation (1793 – 1948 AD)
With the fall of Trincomalee; Mannar, Galle, Colombo and Jaffna to the British, Governor Sir Robert Brownrigg declared war on the Kandyan kingdom on January 10th, 1815 AD. The Kandyan kingdom was ruled by a Tamil from Pandya, of Tamil Nadu, by the name of Kannusamy alias Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. When John D’Oyly entered the city of Kandy with the British troops, Kandy was in flames. The city was deserted except for a few stray dogs who greeted the conquerors.
With the fall of the Kandyan kingdom and the subsequent capture of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, Britain became the undisputed owners of the island of Ceylon.
On 2nd of March 1815 AD, the Kandyan Convention was held and a treaty was signed whereby the said kingdom was surrendered to the British Crown. This unique treaty was not signed by the deposed King. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe but by members of his court and other dignitaries of the Kandyan kingdom.
As it was reported that the treaty was signed in Tamil, I was eager to obtain a copy of the treaty. The Public Record Office of The National Archives of the U.K. was contacted, who in return requested me to contact the Director of National Archives of Sri Lanka. Through a personal friend of mine, the archives were contacted but they refused to give a copy, perhaps due to obvious reasons. However, I obtained a paper cutting from a Sri Lankan newspaper where K.D.G.Wimalaratne, the then Assistant Director of the Sri Lankan Archives had published an article under the heading, ‘When we signed away our sovereignty.The relevant para is reproduced as follows:
Who were the signatories to the Convention? Governor Brownrigg signed first on behalf of the King of Britain. On behalf of the people the following chiefs signed in the order mentioned below.
1. EHELEPOLA in Tamil
2. MOLLIGODA,first Adigar and Dissawe of seven Korales in Sinhalese.
3. PILIMATALAWE,second Adigar and Dissawe of Sabragamuwa in Tamil.
4. PILIMATALAWE, Dissawe of four Korales in Tamil
5. MONORAWILA, Dissawe of Uva in Sinhalese
6. RATWATTE, Dissawe of Matale in Tamil
7. MOLLIGODA, Dissawe of the three Korales in Sinhalese and Tamil
8. DULL EWE, Dissawe of Walpane in Sinhalese and Tamil
9. MILLEWE, Dissawe of Wellesse and Bintenne in Sinhalese and Tamil
10. GALAGAMA,Dissawe of Tamankaduwa in Sinhalese
11. GALAGODA,Dissawe of Nuwara-Kalawiya in Sinhalese’.
There were 12 signatories to the Kandyan Convention of 2nd March 1815 AD and signed in the following languages:
a. One signature in English (Brownrigg – Governor).
b. Four signed in Tamil.
c. Three signed in Tamil and Sinhalese.
d. Four signed in Sinhalese.
Of the four who signed in Tamil one was RATWATTE Disawe of Matale. To subscribe a signature to such an important document in Tamil would give one the impression that either he was a Portuguese married to a Tamil, a Tamil, or of Tamil extraction. The Ratwatte’s of Sri Lanka are well known by their fair complexion, perhaps the mingling of foreign blood. The present President Chandrika Bandaranaike belongs to the Ratwatte clan. As reported in the Sunday Leader newspaper of 18.10.98 the present Bandaranaike’s trace their ancestry to a SUSANNE SCHARFF daughter of Lieutenant Jan Christoffel Scharff, who served in the Dutch East India Company and hailed from Sangerhausen, Upper Saxony Thuringia, Germany. He married one Elizabeth de Saram in Colombo on 21st March 1734. An extract of the said Newspaper is given below:
‘Our prime minister’s (S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike) direct male ancestor, of whose connection some members of his family used to take pride (see Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon edited by Arnold Wright, (1907) p,525) was NILAPERUMAL, a Tamil from south India who arrived in Ceylon in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. He was described as a ‘high priest’ of a temple in Ceylon. He was the first kapurala in his family of the Nawagomuwe dewale, with the fortunes of which the Bandaranayakes were long associated. Kalukapuge was a name which the family used to effect in the past. It is the Sinhalese version of the Nilaperumalge, the ge name of the Bandaranayakes’.
The Kandyan treaty or the Kandyan Convention consisted of 12 articles transferring the sovereignty of the Kandyan kingdom to Britian. It guaranteed to preserve the political and religious institutions of the island of Ceylon.
It is rather intriguing to note on page 392 of Pundit Dr.Nandasena Wijesekera’s book, ‘The Sinhalese’ the following is recorded. ‘…. TIGER flag represented the WELLASSEY DISSAWE and also HATH KORALE’ (ZS). It is not a coincidence that the districts of Welassey and Hath Korales flew the ‘Tiger’ flag as the residents were Tamils and owed their allegiance to their original home of the Cholas of South India. The fact that Tamils lived in the said districts cannot be disputed. No Sinhalese will ever dare fly the Tiger flag unless he is a Tamil. The residents of ‘Wellassey’ and ‘Hath Korales’ flew the Tiger flag during the reign of the Tamil King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1815 AD, were undoubtedly Tamils. Since 1815 due to political expediency and compulsion of successive Sinhala governments by draconian laws, these Tamils adopted the Sinhala language. This pattern was seen on the west coast of the island from Puttalam right down to the southern extremity of the country. A search in the land registry of these districts would reveal that the title deeds have been written in Tamil. This goes to prove that the civil administration of these districts was in Tamil and ruled by Tamil kings.
It is a tragedy that the cloning of ‘ Nilaperumal’ of Malabar (Tamil) with ‘ Sussane Scharf ‘ of Germany has resulted in the massacre of thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka. This unholy alliance which has come to us like the ‘hound of the Baskervilles’, in a vicious circle, and spawned by the abject greed of the ‘ Pandaram Nayakers’ (Bandaranaikes), to cling on to political power at the cost of human life. Sacrificing birds, animals and human life is a national trait of the Sinhala Buddhists to achieve their diabolical ends. The practice of magic came into the teachings of Buddhism during the reign of King Sena 1, in 887 AD.(CV, ch;84;7-17). According to B.C.Law, on the chronicles of Ceylon states, Paritta Texts were also worked on ritual and magic’.(ZCC,9 71). They say that old habits die hard!
The Sri Lankan map on the opposite page shows the location of the eleven signatories to the Kandyan Convention. They were rulers of the revenue districts for the sole purpose of maintaining law and order and for collecting revenue for the king. These appointments were made at the express command of king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe alias Kannusamy. The two districts viz Hath Korale on the west of the country and the other Wellassey on the southeast of the country was strategically important to the King of Kandy. Through these districts, the king had access to the seaports of Batticaloa on the east coast and Chilaw on the west coast for trade and commerce.
During the reign of Tamil King Elara (145 BC), of Ceylon who ruled from Polonnaruwa, Maiyangane was his military outpost. King Elara was a prince from the house of the Imperial Cholas of South India. During his reign, he settled men from the kingdom of the Cholas in and around Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, etc. These Tamils went on pilgrimages to the Hindu kovil at Katargamam on the Southern extremity of the country. There were Tamil Brahmans officiating as priests at this temple. They lived with their families and a whole colony of Tamils sprang up at Kataragama. Kataragama was and is part of the Tamil homeland and the southern boundary of the district of Wellassey. On the west coast of the country is the famous Muneswaram Hindi Temple and its environ which also became a stronghold of the Tamils. This was home for hordes of Tamils from south India. This falls within the district of ‘Hath Korale’ which was under the control of the king of Kandy. Both districts ‘Hath Korale’ and ‘Wellassay’ flew the TIGER flag an emblem of the Imperial Cholas and now of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Dutch in a campaign of internal persecution and saw to it that the Catholic church and its adherents and priests were given a hard time with a view to giving it a body blow so that their faith was obliterated from the island. All this was not to be.
A glimmer of hope was seen in the intrusion of another foreign country that had the same greed to convert the riches of the island to itself. With the fall of Trincomalee on the 20th of August 1795 and Colombo on 16th February 1796 to the British, the Catholic church was given freedom of worship by a proclamation dated 3rd August 1796. This freedom of worship was extended to all other religions practiced on the island whether Christian or pagan.
The Portuguese were directly responsible for the mass exodus of Tamils of the Karava and Parava castes from the fishery-coast of Punniyakayal, of South India to the west coast of Ceylon.(CC, p 346,347,vol:l). They were all Catholics by conversion. Their intention was to have a Catholic community living on the fringe of the location where there were spices. Their intentions were that this would expose them to learn the methods adopted by the natives in their cultivation and harvesting. They felt that these expatriates were under their power and more amenable to their control to obtain an optimum benefit in financial returns and a bulwark against the pagans.
The Roman Catholic Portuguese did more damage to the country by the destruction of many places of worship revered by those of the Hindu and Buddhist fraternity, whom they called pagans. The cruelty and torture perpetrated by them have been well documented. One cannot comprehend how nations professing Christ as their Saviour, who taught all men to ‘love his neighbour’, killed each other and the local population which such impunity at the sight of the treasures of the island. They came with the sword in one hand and the Bible in the other, and when they saw the riches of the island they jettisoned the Bible to fill their pockets with the aid of the sword. Even in this day and age, we find them following the age-old practice of fostering those who have taken up the sword to kill his neighbour rather than loving his fellowmen. They have all contravened God’s first commandment Thou shall not kill’.
Chapter 12 – ‘Yellow Robes’ and the Temples of Doom
‘The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is WAR. Both bring temporary prosperity, both bring permanent RUIN. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists’ – Ernest Hemingway
The Sinhala chronicles of the Mahavamsa, Culavamsa, Dipawansa, etc., a record among other things, primarily financial assistance bestowed by the monarchy to the Buddhist Sangha from time to time. With the inception of the Sangha in the island of Ceylon, the Buddhist priests who were mendicants in so far as their food and garments were concerned relied on the benevolence first of the ruling King and the people at large, in keeping with the teachings of the Hindu philosopher and teacher called Siddhartha Gautama who became the renowned Buddha.
In the epigraphical survey undertaken by Dr. Muller, Professor of Oriental Philology at the University of Berne, H.C.P.Bell Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon, etc., there is evidence even to this day that the alms, caves, lands etc., were bestowed by the Kings of Ceylon on the Sangha. This has been engraved on rock stones which were lying scattered at Jetavanarama in Anuradhapura, Vessagiri inscriptions, slab-inscriptions of Kassapa v, Mihintale rock-inscriptions of Mahinda iv etc. (EZ). This was the plight of the Buddhist clergy from the beginning of Buddhism on the island.
The Sangha was surviving on the acts of charity both by king and people. They were dedicated men with a mission of preaching to mankind the path to nirvana or enlightenment, as preached by Buddha. Hence they were mendicants when it came to food and clothing. As for shelter, the country was replete with stone caves which they found adequate to carry on their meditation without impinging on the comfort and riches of the villages or towns. This was in keeping with the volt-face of Gautama Buddha, who abandoned the palace, his wife and child to seek an end to suffering and pain in the woods of Uruwela.
King Devanampiyatissa is credited with the receipt of envoys also with the gift of the true doctrine’ from Dharma Asoka of Pataliputta in the year 247 BC,(MV, p 78 & 79). From 247 BC up to 568 AD of the inception of the reign of King Aggabodhi, the Sangha were pampered by a total of 79 ruling kings with lands to build temples and lands, to obtain produce for the upkeep of the temples and monasteries for a period of 815 years.
It was during the reign of Aggabodhi I (568-601 AD), to the present era where the King allowed his Chief Buddhist Priest Dathasiva to run the country by influencing the reigning Monarch.(CV,cht:42,line22 & cht:57,lines 23 & 39) This is the beginning of the political influence of the Bhikkus’. A positive reference to the political influence appears in chapter 57 of the Sinhala chronicle Culavamsa as follows. Since the time of King Mana (676-711 AD), the sovereigns of Lanka act according to the counsel of the Bhikkus, who hold the leading position’. (CV,cht:57,p23-39). Since the 7th century, the Bhikkus have become landed proprietors and affluent enough to dole out the necessities of life to the villagers in and around their temple dwellings. From mendicants to feudal lords, they have imposed their power on the masses of the Buddhist people living around them. Hence there was a subtle shift of the balance of power from loyalties to the King to the Bhikkus. This had political ramifications to the ruling King and this shift had flowed like a fount since the 7th century to this day.
The Senior High Priests of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters jointly control about 15,000 Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka comprising of about 14 million Sinhala Buddhists. These High Priests vehemently object to any proposals brought forward by any political party to grant any concessions to the minority Tamils. Instead, they have challenged the incumbent President of the country that they would supply 20,000 youth to intensify the war against the Tamil Tigers. It is apparent that there is not a single person belonging to the families of the parliamentarians of Sri Lanka or any Buddhist Priest in the war front to fight the so-called ‘Tamil Tigers’. These warmongers in ‘yellow robes’ instead of exploring peaceful means, as their Lord Buddha expounded, are instrumental for the death of hundreds by sending smoke signals from their temples. The rest of the Buddhist world who attribute mildness and meekness to Buddhism, are shocked and appalled at the Sri Lankan Buddhist priests who are openly desecrating the Triple Gem’ of the Buddha, Dhamma, and the Sangha.
Today, in Sri Lanka religion has become the ‘opium of the people’ .The Bhikkus are seen leading political rallies and demonstrations and meddling in the governance of the country. The Bhikkus have become Priest-Kings’ in the country and dictate to the ruling government of the day of how the country should be run, especially where the minority Tamils are concerned. This unBuddhistic attitude of the Bhikkus towards the Tamils comes down to us from the time before the Sinhala chronicles were written down from the so-called ‘atha kathas'(true stories). It is alleged that Buddhist temples have become ‘temples-of-doom’, where they are used as mustering points for cajoling sons of poor villagers in the South of the country, to serve in the armed services to fight the Tamil Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Instead of preaching the way of peace and advocating against hurting or killing fellow human beings, as their Lord Buddha professed, the National Sangha Council are sounding war drums and sacrificing innocent village youth as cannon fodder to achieve the unachievable. The history of the present conflict has shown that soldiers are being returned to their villages in body-bags, others missing in action and thousands sans hands, sans legs and sans everything.
This is reminiscent of the role played by Kings and priests in the history of the western world, where the masses suffered as a result of the power struggle between priests and kings where murder and mayhem was the order of the day. In the spirit of its times Denis Diderot wrote, ‘Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest’. This sadly captures the tragedy of our times.
Does this not mean anything to those who have propagated this war, whether Priests, Press or People in high places? Perhaps they are thinking in terms of ‘Billeta Thenava’-human sacrifice, to achieve their evil designs. Billions of dollars loaned by the World Banks for irrigation works have been channelled to prosecute the war efforts and that too on their very own people.(BD, p 68 & 69).
Dr. Olga Mendis (OAM), in her book, ‘The story of the Sri Lankans (SS,p472), states,’ ‘The Indian High Commissioner had informed Delhi that the Mossad was training in Sri Lanka. This is incorrect. The training was by Shin Bet the Israeli Internal Security Services. Israel sold sophisticated firearms such as Uzis, mini Uzis, and Dvroa Fast Attack craft to the Navy’. The Doctor should read the book ‘ By Way of Deception’ by Victor Ostrovsky where he writes his foreword, ‘Revealing the facts as I know them from my vantage point of four years inside Mossad was by no means an easy task’. Here is a Mossad officer who had defected to Canada speaking the truth about the working system of the Mossad. He says I was elated when I was chosen and granted the privilege to join what I considered to be the elite team of the Mossad’. But he further adds, out of love for Israel as a free and just country that I am laying my life on the line by so doing, facing up to those who took upon themselves to turn the Zionist dream into the present-day nightmare’.(SS).
The Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan Security forces have found a place in his book. Victor says at page 67, ‘Amy Yaar made the connection then tied the country in militarily by supplying it with substantial equipment including PT.boats for coastal patrol. At the same time, Yaar and the company were supplying the warring Tamils with anti-P.T., boat equipment to use in fighting the government forces. The Israelis also train elite forces for both sides, without either side knowing about the other, and helped Sri Lanka cheat the World Bank and other investors out of millions of dollars to pay for all the arms they were buying from them’. He states that it was Mossad’s man “Amy Yaar”, ‘who dreamed up the great “Mahaveli Project” to divert the Mahaveli river from it’s natural course to dry areas on the other side of the country. The claim was that this would double the country’s hydro-electric power and open up 750,000 acres of newly irrigated land. Besides the World Bank, Sweden, Japan, Germany, the European economic community and the United States all invested in the $2.5 Billion (US) project’. Victor the Mossad Officer states that he ‘was assigned to escort J.R.Jayawardene’s daughter-in-law a woman named Penny- on a secret visit to Israel. She knew me as “Simon”. We took her wherever she wanted to go. We were talking in general terms, but she insisted on telling me about the project and how money for it was financing equipment for the army. She was complaining they weren’t getting on with it. The project was invented to get money from the World Bank to pay for those weapons’. Really, Doctor, heal the nation of Sri Lanka ‘by way of deception’.
The common man is none the wiser to the fact that aid sent for the social upliftment by the world has been frittered away on the war by the jingoism of the government of the day. They do not hear the sound of distant guns nor the blitzkrieg by air and sea to decimate a people across the Vanni, but they see and hear the whining sound of ambulances all day long bringing the dead and dying and the injured from the theatres of war, which should have never been enacted. Perhaps, they hear the cry of those who are howling to high heavens on the loss of their dear ones swelling the numbers in the ‘Association of Relatives of Servicemen Missing in Action’. They just don’t care, as they have not lost anyone of their OWN in the battlefront but console themselves that it is a necessary evil to offer as sacrifice those who are expendable in the diabolical misadventure which has petered out to be a damp squib. No wonder as Alex Perry of Travel Watch, Time Asia put it, ‘Sri Lanka offers BEACHES, BUDDHAS AND BOMBS :(Tuesday, May 15, 2001,vol:157 No:20).
History reminds us that when there is conflict of interest between religion and the state, in so far as power over the people, has brought those countries concerned to decay and destruction. It is harkening to reflect on what has been said by J.Gerson Da China in his book ‘ Memoir on the history of the tooth-relic of Ceylon’, that” Notwithstanding the sublimity of his doctrine, however, the religion of Buddha is vague after all, and could not be better symbolized by it’s followers than by the Chakra or wheel; for Gautama ignored the beginning and was equally uncertain of the future. Fair, humane and lovely as maybe it’s outward forms, it’s inherent principles confessing no supreme God, it’s moral code void of all authorities, denying the true dignity and freedom of the human agent, and investing moral sentiments and relations with a kind of physical outsideness, it has left the countries it has overrun a prey at once to superstition, political misrule, and spiritual lethargy.
Chapter 13 – The Backyard of India
If those who are steering the affairs of Lanka have an ounce of political wisdom they could perceive the clouds of war fast approaching from China which is playing Russian roulette patiently on the political chess-board in the Indian Ocean. One could see China which has for many years wormed its way into the body politics of countries in and around this region in Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. It is known by western security analysts that China is dredging a port in the Pakistani coastal city of Gwadar at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, to enable larger vessels to be anchored. This project has given China unique docking facilities for her naval vessels and a ring-side presence in the Indian Ocean.
The presence of China in the ports of Bangladesh and their recent ‘war-games’ in the Bay of Bengal will come as a wake-up call for India. It will be, not before long when the Indian presence in Sri Lanka will be more felt to neutralize the move of China. This may affect their position regarding the internal conflict in Sri Lanka.
China’s presence in the Indian Ocean would put her arch-enemy India in a quandary. Sri Lanka is China’s ideal choice to encompass the Indian sub-continent and hence she has done everything possible to have Lanka her closest ally by supplying military hardware and personnel to prosecute the present war in Lanka. Right now India has played her cards well by allowing Uncle Sam to invest in her country to such an extent where the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton had declared that India is its best ally in the East. It has to be so, as she is a bulwark against Chinese expansionism and a lucrative partner in trade. As far as Lanka is concerned, Uncle Sam is aware that India would clean up her backyard.
The suicidal attacks on the American pride of the ‘Twin Towers’ and the Pentagon by alleged cohorts of the Taliban on Black-September, has changed the course of world history with far-flung economic consequences not only to America but also to the rest of the free world. Consequent to the terrorist attacks, America has taken a stern attitude towards the Taliban, centered around the elusive Osama Bin Laden and his second in Command Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, an Egyptian by nationality who had been condemned to death in absentia for the mass murders of foreign tourists in Egypt. Both men and their associates, derelicts and renegades, are now on the run from impending justice. The latter has been reported to have been killed by the bombings of Kandhar. Only time could tell whether America and her allies could match the strategies of Osama Bin Ladan and his associates to evade being captured. Even if they are eventually brought to justice, the ghost of Osama Bin Ladan and his Al Qaeda bases would haunt the world for many years to come.
Notwithstanding American political and trade ties with India, affairs in Lanka are a different kettle of fish involving Tamil Nadu’s 65 million Tamils who have their brethren especially in the North, and East. Kandy the one-time hill capital of Sri Lanka, and the tea plantations of the country. Their blood bonds are strong coming down from many centuries to present times. It is not beyond the realms of possibility or prophecy to foretell that a tragic situation would befall Lanka once again, as recorded in the Culawamsa (Cpt;80:58 to 80 ), where Magha alias Ariya Chakravathi alias Kulasekera Singai Ariyan, a prince of the Chola dynasty ruled Ceylon for 21 years in the 13th century from the kingdom of Jaffnapattinam, if a solution is not found to the present conflict.
The grandiose scheme of the ‘Sethu Samuthram’ of India would be a reality soon judging from the mood of the parliament. This was thought of half a century ago whereby India stands to gain from shortening the sea voyage from Vishakapattinam, their naval base, to her seaports on the south and west of the country, especially with the ongoing conflict with Pakistan and the increase of a Chinese naval presence in Pakistan. At present, her merchant navy circumnavigates Sri Lanka to reach her seaports on the south and west of her country.
The scheme to build a bridge across the Gulf of Mannar over the legendary Adams-bridge to connect the northeastern town of Talaimannar to Rameswaram, a distance of 18 nautical miles, is apparently to counter the Indian vision of the ‘ Sethu Samuithram’ project to deepen the Pamban -Pass at the western seaboard of Rameswaram. The scheme thought of by the present Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremasinghe, is that South India could use a land route to Sri Lanka to make use of the seaport of Colombo to haul container cargo consigned to south India. Although the scheme was thought of with all good intentions, it appears rather a negative proposal as South India (Tamil Nadu), has up-to-date container handling facilities in the port of Tuticorin barely 180 km south of Rameswaram. With the completion of the Sethu Samuthram project, the port of Tuticorin would become prominent and container cargo destined to Colombo would be discharged in the port of Tuticorin as transshipment cargo.
The scheme would generate a robust tourist industry especially to the reputed temples, churches and other places of worship of both countries. Whether India would like to have an umbilical road link to Sri Lanka is much in doubt due to political ramifications. India may like to have the sea between the two countries rather than to bridge the Gulf of Mannar. The Central government of India would like to see Tamil Nadu a dormant partner rather than play a dominant part which would alter the balance of power in the body politics of the subcontinent.
However, if India has other designs in the region and agrees to the scheme then one could see the skyline of the towns of Talaimannar and Mannar change from obscurity to boomtowns. They say that history repeats itself, where Mantota (Mahattitha), of the Mahavamsa and Silappadhigaram, would become an entrepot as in the days of the kings of Jaffna.
If India is to play an effective role in the Indian Ocean, she has to increase her naval deployment in the region. To achieve this she has to safeguard her long coastline, especially the south, to effectively neutralize any foreign invasions. At present, her security is hampered due to the inability to patrol her southern and western territorial waters caused by the shallow waters of the Pamban-Pass. To reach the southern and western regions, her navy has to skirt around Sri Lanka and thereby lose valuable time in a given emergency. The dredging of the sea bed of the Pamban -Pass ‘Sethu Samuthiram’, will enable her navy and merchant navy to ply via Pt. Calimere on her east coast to Cape Comarin and other ports of the west. This will also enhance the cargo handling capacity of the ports of Tuticorin and Cochin where the former would become the world’s largest container terminal in South East Asia. The previous Sri Lankan Government has communicated her objection to the project because of the threat to marine life in the territorial waters along the Pamban -Pass to the Gulf of Mannar.
When the scheme comes into reality, perhaps in the not too distant future the seaports of the north, northwest and east of Sri Lanka would rise into prominence as during the rule of the King’s of Jaffna pattinam. This would make the rest of the ports in Lanka a ‘backwater’ in the backyard of Mother India.
There is concurrence, especially among certain members in the parliament of Tamil Nadu and some stalwarts in the Centre, that her problems in her backyard could be solved like a hen tucking a wayward chick under her wings. This thought maybe in the ‘RAW’, yet it may take place in an ultimate scenario.
It is said that it rains both on the good and evil. The evil that has been galvanized by the Sinhala government against the Tamils has turned into showers of blessings. Although the Tamils have been swamped by tears, torture, massacre and loss of lives they have now risen to prominence like a meteor from the obscurity of the rustling palmyra palms of Jaffna to be the world’s greatest Freedom Fighters. They have been driven to the sea for survival, which in years gone by earned them the epithet, ‘KAPPAL ODDIYA THAMILAN’. It is said that their merchant navy is more in numerical strength than any other shipping organization in Lanka and their sea-tiger fast attack crafts deadlier than those of the Lankan navy.
Although it has not been admitted by the Sinhala government, 30% of the foreign earnings come from expatriate Tamils living all over the world, thanks to the powers that be. Like the Jews, the Tamils will return to their homeland with much wealth and technology to build Tamil Eelam from the ashes of those who have sacrificed their lives for freedom.
‘Where every prospect pleaseth, but man alone is vile’. This was written by a foreigner about Sri Lanka, who did not want to mince his words. How true his words have proved even to this day and age where thousands of men, women and children are being slaughtered in the name of Sinhala jingoism riding on the backs of ‘yellow robes’. That serene and enchanted island which we knew Lanka to be, today is far from being the ‘Island Paradise’ and ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, and has become the ‘Sickman’ of the Indian Ocean, and an eternal thorn in the side of India. Let those who persist in prolonging and sustaining the cruel war hearken to the words engraved on rock stones by Buddhist Kings of Lanka, ‘become a crow or dog and will be boiled in the eight great hells’. (EZ,p 82,vol:iv).
If peace is to prevail in Lanka, the intransigence of the Maha Sangha should be tempered down by the state so that their ambit of power does not impinge on the affairs of governing the country. The Maha Sangha should meditate on matters pertaining to the ‘triple Gem’ of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. If the swan song of the Buddha ‘Let all beings be happy’, then let the Sangha take the initiative in calling upon the government to solve the ethnic problem, where the hope and aspirations of the Tamils are secured and guaranteed for ‘as long as the Moon and Stars endure’.(EZ).
The Maha Sangha and the majority of the Sinhalese are of the deluded notion that granting concessions to the Tamils would put them in a compromising position in so far as governing the country. In this regard, they are inclined to be bordering the realms of hysteria, in that the Tamils would join their blood brothers across the Palk -Strait and thereby render their religion exposed to Hinduism, which was responsible for booting out Buddhism from the land of its birth, and leave their language in dire straits and the Sinhalese reduced to a minority. Their slogan is ‘Sri Lanka for the Sinhalese only and the Tamils should be driven to Tamil Nadu’.
The Press, Priests and People are invoking a mythical story of a battle between an old Tamil King Elara and a Sinhalese King Dutugamunu, spun into the Sinhala chronicles, recorded by designing Buddhist priests of ancient times from ‘atha kathas”(true-stories) to whip up feelings and bolster the flagellant Sinhala psyche.
The unholy alliance of the National Sangha Council by its actions is hastening the achievement of a Tamil State of Eelam. It is an irony, that the very people who are fighting against a negotiated settlement in the present crisis and by their militancy, are unwittingly paving the way for the Tamils to govern.
With the dawn of 5th December 2001, a ray of hope has warmed the hearts of many in Lanka, whether Tamils or Sinhalese, with the welcome change in the political horizon of the country. The United National Party under the wing of Ranil Wickremasinghe has come to power after a lapse of about a decade of despotic rule under the so-called Sri Lanka Freedom Party which offered FREEDOM only to the Sinhalese and brickbats, bullets and death for the minority Tamils. The UNP has taken up the challenge to bring a peaceful solution to the much-vexed problem of the hopes and aspirations of the Tamils, with the blessings of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, is the only panacea for the immediate future. This is a golden opportunity for the government to extricate itself from the quagmire of narrow politics and embrace the cause of the Tamils and live in harmony for the prosperity of the country.
The historical agreement reached between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of 22nd February 2002 is another golden mile-stone in the persistent pursuit for that elusive peace necessary to find a negotiable solution to the ongoing ethnic conflict. There are some against the peace deal and are howling at the caravan of peace. Be that as it may, the dogs of war will bark but the caravan must move on. .
However, it takes no prophet to tell and is also the candid opinion of some sane Sinhalese with the pronouncement in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly that eventually, the Sun will rise on Tamil Eelam. Whether the Sangha or the Sinhala state like it or not, the handwriting is on the wall’ of the liberation of the Tamil people from oppression, tyranny and carnage.
Since writing ‘ Kappal Oddiya Thamilan’, I was fortunate to receive a photocopy of the signatories to the `Kandyan Convention’ of 2nd March 1815 AD which is carried overleaf. This is mentioned in chapter 11 of the book. The photocopy should be read in conjunction with pars 5 of page 49 of the book.
It is not surprising that the majority of the eleven signatories to the convention, were against the rule of Sri Vickrama Rajasinghe alias Kannusamy the last king of the kingdom of Kandy, covertly or openly conspired in the downfall and the subsequent capture of the monarch chose to subscribe their signature in Tamil. There were a few who opted to sign both .in Tamil and Sinhalese. Yet a few contended to sign only in Sinhalese.
The dignitaries who placed their signature to the convention only in Tamil were Ehelepola, Pilimatalawe second Adigar and Dissawe of Sabergamuwa, Pilimatalawe Dissawe of the four Korales and Ratwatte Dissawe of Matale. It is seen that Ratwatte Dissawe of Matale has signed as ‘RAVATHAI’ in Tamil in 1815 AD.(see photocopy). If the Ratwatte of today claim ancestry to the ‘RAVATHAI’ the change is due to political expediency to a Sinhala phonetic Ratwatte.
It is an accepted historical fact that the language of the court of Kandy was Tamil. But it is intriguing to note that even after the King was deposed they chose to subscribe their signature in Tamil as they were Tamils.
Abbreviations & References used in this book
1. AC- Ancient India, V.D.Mahajan,S.C.Chand & Co,New Delhi-1993
2. AJ- Ancient Jaffna, Mudaliyar C.Rasanayagam, AES,New Delhi-1993
3. BD-By Way of Deception, Clare Hoy & Victor Ostrovsky, Stoddart, 1990
4. CC -The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Vol: & iii -Fr.V.Perniola S.J.,Colombo1989
5. CCD -The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka,Vol: & Fr.V.Perniola S.J., Colombo-1983
6. CCB-The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Vol: & Fr.V.Perniola S.J., Colombo-1992
7. CT-Ceylon an Account of the Island Physical & Topographical, Longmans & Robertson-1859, Sir James Tennent, K.C.S.,LLD.
8. CV-Culavamsa, Wilhelm Geiger,AES,New Delhi-1992.
9. EHC-The Early History of Ceylon, G.C.Mendis, AES, New Delhi-1992
10. EMC -A Description of East India Coasts of Malabar & Coromandel – Ceylon, Philip Baladeus, AES New Delhi-1996
11. EZ -Epigraphia Zeylanica, D.M.de Silva Wickremasinghe, Vol: i, iii, iv, AES, New Delhi-1994
12. FI -Sri Lanka the Fractured Island, Mohan Ram
13. HC -History of Cambodia, David Chandler
14. HI-The Historical Inscriptions of South India, Robert Sewel, AES, New Delhi -1983
15. HM-The History of Malaysia & Her ghbours,F.J.Moorehead-1952
16. HT-The Historical Tragedy of the Island of Ceylon, P.E.Pieris, AES, New Delhi-1999
17. KC – Khymer, Lost Empire of Cambodiya, T.Zephir, Thames & Hudson, London, 1998
18. MP-Manuel Pratique Pour Cambodignes,Saigon-1876
19. MVD-A Manual of the Vanni Districts, Ceylon, J.P.Lewis, C.C.S., Navrang1993
20. MS-Maniampathier Santhathimurai, Srimath T.Vinasithamby, Lake HouseCbo-1991
21. MV-The Mahavamsa, Wilhelm Geiger, AES, New Delhi-1993
22. TC-The Colas, K.S.Nila Kanta Sastri University, Madras-1984
23. TFH-Travels of Fah Hian, Samuel Beale, AES, New Delhi-1996
24. TR-Memoir on the History of the Tooth-relic of Ceylon, J.Gerson Da Cunha, London-1875; AES, New Delhi-1996
25. TS-The History of the Tamils & the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka, G.K.Rajasuriar, Australia-1998
26. YVM- The Yalpana Vaipava Malai or The history of the Kingdom of Jaffna, C.Britto, Colombo-1879
27. ZCC-On the Chronicles of Ceylon by B.C.Law-Aes.Delhi,1947/94
28. ZS-The Sinhalese-Nanda Wijesekera-Gunasena- Colombo,1990
29. ZNIV-The NIV study Bible-Zonderman-USA-1995
30. ZHT- History of the Tamils – P.T. Srinivasa lyengar-AES,1995
31. ZIS- The Indianized States of South East Asia- by George Coedes-Hawaii1962
32. ZHS- A History of South East Asia by D.G.E.Hall-London,1961
About the Author
G.K.Rajasuriar (Christy), hails from Manipay, a one-time sanctuary of the `Madappalis’, where the descendants of the Kings of Jaffna found a safe haven from the botched attempts to re-capture power first from the Portuguese and then from the Dutch, since the fall of the Kingdom of Jaffna.
He had his initial education in several Colleges south of the country and finishing up at Hartley College, Point Pedro and Alexandra College of Colombo 7. An excellent sportsman having won the Senior Athletic Championship Cup in 1948 while at Hartley. He was awarded College colours for his performance in athletics. He represented his alma mater, Hartley, in soccer and in cricket.
He joined the Customs Department as a Customs Officer, in the then Her Majesty’s Customs of Ceylon in 1951, and served in various sections of the service. In 1982 he was sent to the Royal Customs Training College of Malacca, sponsored by the Division of Narcotic Drugs Control of the United Nations, for training in rummaging of ocean-going vessels, motor vehicles, aircraft’s, etc, for drugs, narcotics and smuggled goods. Subsequently, he obtained further specialized training in the Customs of Hongkong, Singapore and Australia in sea surveillance to combat smuggling. He rose to the position of Assistant Collector of Customs of the Customs Marine Division, which he set up for the Sri Lanka Customs in the year 1979. He was reputed in the art of combating smuggling activities in the country, especially off-shore and high sea operations. He was a recipient of a record number of high commendations for his detection on land and sea. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1979 for the district of Colombo.
Due to political instability in the country, he migrated with his family to Australia in 1988. In his retirement, he published his first book ‘Smugglers’ World’ in 1991 which contains his memoirs as a Customs Officer. As President of the Tamil Senior Citizens Fellowship of Victoria in 1996, he was instrumental in publishing the `Yalpana Vaipava Malai’, a Tamil chronicle of the history of Jaffna, into English.
As a student of Sri Lankan and Tamil Nadu history, he travelled to Tamil Nadu and Kerala and visited the Saraswathy Mahal Library and Art Centre of Tanjore and the Museum in Chennai to learn the ancient history of the Tamils. Subsequently, he published the book The History of the Tamils and the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka’ in 1998. The present volume `Kappal Oddiya Thamilan’, portrays the adventurous spirit of the master sailors of the Tamils in quest for trade by peaceful methods rather than by the sword. This volume is a result of the writer’s dedication to the Tamil community to which he belongs.
Copyright – G. K. Rajasuriar & Tamil Writers Guild with permission of Tamilnation
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