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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Tamil National Forum

Selected Writings - Dr. Adrian Wijemanne

Foreword to Sri Lanka: Witness to History

30 December 2004

CLIO, the muse of history, is a demanding mistress. She has proved vulnerable to the subjective biases of many who try to reveal her "true" import. Some historians claim the "benefit of hindsight" is a great advantage. Too often it only permits the introduction of the theories in vogue at the time. Others who take the very long view of historical evolution press historical events into the framework of their choice ignoring all that inconveniently refuses to fit. The subjective hazard is one that besets all historians and is sot easily dispelled. Here, however, in Mr.Sivanayagam's splendid book is melding of history and autobiography. Even so, subjective bias cannot be oided entirely but it is greatly minimized by being a record of "felt history" one may call it that.

History touches peoples' lives at whatever remove. Ancient history has ing for the Sinhala people and they run the double jeopardy of doubtful authenticity due to the long lapse of time and the great changes that time wrought in the standards to which historical writing is held. History is "red in tooth and claw" is that which is immediately experienced and recorded and explained by reference to the framework which the victim of history finds just and valid. In this book the accepted framework is the cause Tamil nationalism and its evolution in the last half century.

Ethnic nationalism is the single pervading feature of 20th century history. Coming to early fruition in the break up of Norway and Sweden followed by Irish independence from the mother country (Great Britain) of the greatest empire of the time, it runs its course throughout the century. Its salience was temporarily obscured by the emergence of internationalist philosophies such as Marxism-Leninism and Maoism which portended a threat of world domination. But surely and steadily underneath that misleading carapace ethnic nationalism grew and strengthened and bided its time. By the final quarter of the century its time had come. In Vietnam it reached its full flower. The world has not been the same since.

Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka is but another instance of it, and, perhaps one of the most formidable. The state adversary it faces is but a weak and fumbling foe dependent on outside help and so vulnerable to international pressures of all kinds. The Sinhala nationalism that is just stirring is backward-looking and medievalist in its thinking and programmes and as such is out of sync with the modern world. Mr.Sivanayagam's experiences and this book in which they are so eloquently recorded have the great advantages of personal acquaintance of the events whereof he writes and also of alignment with one of the great transforming movements of the contemporary world. It is a combination which makes for a riveting read and one which will reward an audience even wider than that which adheres to the Tamil national cause.

One must hope that Mr.Sivanayagam will not lay down his pen and will continue to dazzle us with this brilliant exposition of the great cause to which he is committed.



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