Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search

Home > Tamilnation Library > Eelam Section > The untold story of ancient Tamils in Sri Lanka  by Chelvadurai Manogaran


* indicates link to Amazon.com bookshop on line

[see also The Tamil Heritage..]

Review by Professor Bertram Bastiampillai:  

"In a slim volume, Chelvadurai Manogaran, former Professor of  Geography and International Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside,  endeavours to argue that the Tamils in the northern and eastern  province of Sri Lanka have a legitimate claim to the right of self  determination. Manogaran has written a book on *Ethnic Conflict and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka in 1987 and co-edited a book with Professor Bryan  Pfaffenberger, *The Sri Lankan Tamils : Ethnicity and Identity published in 1994.

He is no newcomer to handling the ethnic problem in a study and the  conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the  Sri Lankan government's forces, about which he has comments to offer.

He traces briefly the antecedents of the Sinhala - Tamil problem and  enumerates some of the handicaps suffered by the Tamils in a section  on the "Majoritarian System of Government and Minority Rights." As he  asserts the "Purposes of the monograph is to show that Sri Lankan  Tamils have a long history of settlement, dating back to proto-historic  times..."

 He refutes the view that the Tamils were late arrivals and bases his  contention on the similarity of the language and scripts used by  ancient South Indian Tamils and found in Sinhala writing. He cites the  example of the use of the script in the Kuchaveli rock inscription in east  Sri Lanka, and demonstrates that the scripts of the Sinhalese and  Dravidian languages like Telungu are alike indicating relationship.

Additionally, Manogaran advances the idea that along with Tamil  immigration to the island agricultural technology was transferred  from South India to Sri Lanka. His evidence, as he states, is based on  epigraphic records and ancient inscription which testify to a peaceful co- existence to the Tamils with the Sinhalese. He claims that the term Sinhalese  is not applicable to the early period of the island's history and the  term Sinhala is even not mentioned in ancient inscriptions. On the  contrary, according to the author, inscriptions reveal clear Tamil presence in  the island in ancient times.

Manogaran furthermore devotes a few pages of his concise essay to the  Nagas of Sri Lanka. They are considered to be a discrete group but  like the Tamil speaking Dravidians of South India had continued to worship  Siva. They constructed Siva temples but were also instrumental in the  spread of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He draws his evidence from the Tamil  epic Manimekalai, and the Mahavamsa when discussing the Buddha's  second visit to the island.

He concludes the final part of this account with a discussion on the  contribution of the Eelam Tamils to the development of Tamil  literature in the Sangam period. Manogaran states that "Tamil speaking people  formed the backbone of the island's society" until the 4th century  AD, "When their identity began to be gradually submerged in Sinhalese -  Buddhist society". The author also speaks of the paucity of written history on  Sri Lankan Tamils and their tradition quoting Professor K. Kanapathi  Pillai.

According to Manogaran there is an unwillingness on the part of the  Sinhalese scholars, especially later, to acknowledge the Tamil  presence despite evidence of an early settlement of the island by Dravadian  speaking people who had migrated from south India from prehistoric  years. He submits that only from the fourth century AD that the chronicles  began to portray the Tamils as enemies of the Sri Lanka state. It was felt  that the existence of Sri Lanka's Sinhalese Buddhist society began to  be felt to be under the constant threat of racial and cultural  assimilation from Dravadian South India, emphasis Manogaran. Hence  the animosity toward Tamil Hindus, he posits.

The extended essay by Chelvadurai Manogaran is bound to excite  interest as well as controversy. The author's views will be challenged and  criticized by some and there can be debate and discussion. But, as a  daily newspaper quoting Amartya Sen, warned "Do not mix myth with history",  and one should be wary about accepting what is conveyed as historical  facts in any controversy. Dr. Deraniyagala has correctly  indicated 

"that the picture of our country's early civilization is beginning to  drastically change as a result of tests and excavations carried out  here in recent years."

And history may need to rewritten in the light of new evidence and argument. Much about Tamils needs to be unraveled and examined according to the author who is convinced and tries to convince that Tamils had been in the island from early years living peacefully with the Sinhalese. Animosity against them arose later, affirms Managoran who dedicates the little monograph "Toward hope for peace in Sri Lanka.""



Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home