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Home > Tamilnation Library> History > The Tamils in Early Ceylon - C. Sivaratnam
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:-
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.
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.