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 

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History & Geography

  •  The Tamils in Early Ceylon,
    C. Sivaratnam, Colombo 1968. 180 pages

[see also generally The Tamil Heritage - History & Geography ]

From the Preface

This book is based on notes collected by a lay reader, who during the relaxed period after active medical service, has interested himself in the study of the antiquity of Ceylon Tamils.

Although the contents of this book are brought together from various historical sources, this monograph is not presented to the public as a "Book on History", fitting in with the considered opinion of Dr. G. C. Mendis that "A history is not an antiquarian study".

The word "History" is complicated in modern times with different definitions, and considered decades ago as a dull subject packed with details of dates, dynasties and dissensions among people, with hardly any reference to the underlying forces whose pressures affect men and their actions, has a more interesting aspect furnished paradoxically by it own deficiencies and uncertainties.

Gaps and problems of the origin of men and matters have attracted the present day scholars towards this field. It is their discussions ranging from varying interpretations to speculations which have modernised the science of history in relation to Ceylon, making it a lively and fascinating subject.

Dr. A. Briggs, Professor of History and Social studies, University of Sussex remarked aptly, (1957) that some people described this subject as a conjectural science. Legends are not discarded for the one reason that they serve a useful purpose in portraying the thoughts and cultural level of those to whom they-belonged. Observations of scholarly writers from the seventeenth century onwards are placed objectively in their appropriate positions without interfering with the author's right to draw his own inferences. Different versions of the same events are faithfully juxtaposed.

As to the second part of this book, the Tamils of Ceylon have left hardly any written record of their past to posterity. While the story of the Dravidian race hat now been to an extent reconstructed with the aid of the present' European sciences like Archaeology, Epigraphy, Ethnology, Philology etc., the Tamils of Ceylon have not so far received such attention.

The Yalpana Vaipava Malai (Y. V. M. - Garland of Jaffna History) composed in Tamil in 1736 by Mailvagana Pulavar of Mathagal, Jaffna, on the direction of the Dutch Governor of Jaffna, Jan Maccara, in spite of its shortcomings in some dates and events, is an oasis in the barren desert of Jaffna history.

Its translation into English in 1879 by C. Brito along with his own appendix, likened to a white string of pure pearls for simplicity of expression and nicety of description, has provided the writer with the background to. Part II of this work.

The above record is itself based on historical literature of earlier periods, such as:-

1. "Dakshina–Kailaya–Puranam", (a religious work), "Sekerajasekeram" (a book on medicine) and "Sekerajasekera Malai" (astrology), all of them published in the reign of the powerful king, Jayaveera Aryachakravarti (1371 – 80).

2. 'Pararajasekeram Ulu" composed during the period of the illustrious monarch, Pararajasekeram (1478 – 1519).

3. "Vaiyapadal" written by Vaiyapuri Aiyar during Sangili's reign (1510 – 65).

4. "Rasamurai", not extant now.

5. "Kailaya Malai" written in high Tamil in the reign of Ethirimanasingam, by Mutturasar of Uraiyur. (c.1591).

As the writer went on developing his narrative, it became clearer in his mind with every forward step taken, that the Ceylon Tamils have made a greater contribution to the development of Ceylon both physically and culturally than is generally realised.

There are two parts to this book.

Part 1. Tamils who have become Sinhalese.

Part 2. Tamils who have preserved their own cultural individuality.

Finally, the author expresses his grateful acknowledgment to the following, the eminent authors mentioned in the bibliography and index, the libraries of the Colombo Museum, the British Council of Colombo, and the Colombo Public Library, Advocate S. Canagarayar, and Professor K. Kularatnam are thanked for the loan of some valuable books.


Part I Tamils Absorbed into the Sinhalese Population.

Chapter I

(i) Dravidian elements in the foundation structure of the Sinhalese race.
(ii) Different names of Ceylon
(iii) Sri Vijaya Civilisation

Chapter II

Tamil inroads into Ceylon.

(i) Pre-Buddhist Kingdom.
(ii) Definition of "Malabars"
(iii) Aspects of migration
(iv) Pre-Christian invasions

Post - Christian wars

(i) Wytulian Tenets.
(ii) Age of Tamil mercenary soldiers.
(iii) New pattern of Tamil hegemony
(iv) Pandyan invasion and formation of a new Sinhalese war policy(v) The causes of Chola invasions and their influences on Ceylon - Siva devales.

Chapter III - Polonnaruva Era

(i) Polonnaruva
(ii) Kalingas
(iii) Introduction of the Kalingas into the dynasties of Ceylon
(iv) Parakramabahu I
(v) Parakramabahu's successors. Kalinga and Pandya factions
(vi) Invasions of the second Pandya and the Vijayanagara empires

Chapter IV

(i) Velaikkarars
(ii) Arrival of the Karava caste in Ceylon

Chapter V

Struggle of the Buddhist subjects with Kalinga Magha and the battle of Kalavava.

Chapter VI

New Chapter on Ceylon History.

(i) Jaffna wars with the newly emerging Sinhalese kingdoms. (about seven in number. 1276 - 1467)
(ii) Malayalam power in Rayigama and Gampola.
(iii) The rise of the Alagakkonars in Gampola.
(iv) Fall of Gampola
(v) Rise of the second Rayigama kingdom, furtherance of Hindu influences and the return of the Alagakkonars.

Chapter VII

(i) Vijayabahu VI
(ii) Parentage of Parakramabahu VI.
(iii) Chinese incursions and the extinction of the Rayigama kingdom.
(iv) Conquest of the Jaffna kingdom by Kotte
(v) Reconquest of Jaffna by the Aryachakravarti
(vi) Amity between the Sinhalese and the Jaffna people.

Chapter VIII


(i) Parakramabahu VI's reign.
(ii) Social and cultural environment of the court of Kotte
(iii) Chola line of Sinhalese kings of Kotte
(iv) Discussion on Pandarams and Perumals
(v) Partition of Kotte
(vi) Portuguese and Moors
(vii) Malabars and Moors
(viii) Colombo
(ix) Civil war and foreign pressures
(x) Peria Pandaram (Don Juan Dharmapala)
(xi) Rajasingha vs. Konappu Bandara.
(xii) Konappu Bandara becomes King Vimaladharma I, the founder of the second kingdom of Kandy.

Chapter IX

The Kandyan kingdom.

(i) Nayakkar kings.
(ii) Origin in India of the Nayakkars.
(i) Profession of Buddhism
(ii) Possession of royal blood

Chapter X

Low Country and Kandyan Sinhalese

(i) Low Country Sinhalese

(a) Portuguese culture and Catholicism

(ii) Kandyan Sinhalese.

(a) Dravidian influences in Kandy.
(b) Music and dance in Ceylon

(iii) Rise of the Kandyan aristocracy.
(iv) Pilima Talawe and' Sri Wickramarajasingha.
(v) Ehelepola and Sri Wickramarajasingha
(vi) Nallathangal Nadagam
(vii)The last days of Sri Wickramarajasingha and extinction of the Sinhalese power.

Epilogue to Part I

PART II Tamils who, had preserved their own individuality and cultural independenceup to this date. (Main source:- Garland of the history of Jaffna - Yalpana Vaipava Malai (Y. V. M. ) Brito's English translation Tamil, with his appendix Pages 1 - 58).

Chapter I

(i) Geographical and social connections of Jaffna with South India. (ii) Pre - Historical establishment of Mahatit-tha, Nagas.
(iii) Tamil.

Chapter II 

Kulakoddan, Koneswaram, Kantalai, Tambalakamam and the arrival of the first batch of Vanniars. (439 A. D.)

Chapter III

(i) Keerimalai.
(ii) Beginnings of the Jaffna kingdom and the 1st Kalinga Dynasty. (iii) Ugra-Singkan (about 8th century), Kantherodai (Kadiramalai), Singai-Nagar
(iv) Marutha-pira-vika-valli and Ma-vidda-puram
(v) Ma-vidda-puram, Kandasamy Koyil and Kankesanthurai (803 A. D.)
(vi) Jayatunga Vararasa Singkan.
(vii) Yalpanam. Vayapadal - Additional settlement of occupational groups
(viii) A long night of 356 years in Jaffna history
(ix) Singai-Nagar of resounding waters. Tondaimannaru.
(x) Parakramabahu the Great (1153 -1186: 33 years)

(a) Strife for Kingship
(b) Parentage and patronage of Hinduism.

Chapter IV

The greater Hindu kingdom of Jaffna

(i) Kalinga Magha
(ii) Ceremonial arrival

Chapter V

(i) Colonisation of Yalpanam by the Jaffna Tamils.
(ii) Later settlements.
(iii) Genealogy of one of the colonists, Thaninayaka Mudali of Delft.

Chapter VI.

Propagation of Saivaism in Yalpanam by the first Singai-Aryan.

(i) Kailayanathar and Kailayanayaki Amman Koyil (C 1215).
(ii) (Kailasanather Sivalingam Koyil becomes Kailasanathar Pillayar Koyil.
(iii) The first Kumbha -Abishekam of Kailasa nathar Koyil by Kulangai Singai - Aryan. founder of the greater Hindu kingdom of Jaffna (1215).
(iv) Nallur Kandasamy Koyil (1215 or 1450).

Chapter VII

(i) Who are the Aryachakravatis ?
(ii) The second Kalinga kingdom and a list of Aryachakravarti kings of Jaffna
(iii) Impressions of foreign travellers of this period.
( v) Declining period of Jaffna kingdom.

Chapter VIII


(i) The origin of caste in India.
(ii) Caste among the South Dravidians.
(iii) Different castes of Jaffna.
(iv) "Sirai" or slaves.
(v) Caste in retrospect.

Chapter IX

Regional Tamil people.

(i) Vanniars.
(ii) Mullaitivu people.
(iii) Batticaloa people.
(iv) Sonakars of Jaffna,
(v) Colombo Chettis.
(vi) Madapallis.
(vii) Kareara community or Kurukulams of Jaffna
(viii) Mukkuvars.
(ix) Thimilars.

Chapter X

(i) Life of the Yalpana people 300 years ago.
(ii) Yalpana people, a hundred years ago.

Epilogue to Part II.

(i) Sri-La Sri Arumuga Navalar.
(ii) Sir P. Ramanathan.




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