Search for a Tamil Homeland - Wg. Cdr. Mark Seneviratne Retd

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THE CLAIM FOR A TAMIL HOMELAND - The claim for a Tamil Homeland in Sri Lanka is one that has been voiced in Sri Lanka as well as abroad, by Tamils including politicians and revolutionaries.


<ul><li><p>SEARCH FOR A TAMIL HOMELAND</p><p>Wg. Cdr. Mark Seneviratne Retd.</p><p>SWASTIKA (Pvt) LTD329 Dam Street,</p><p>Colombo 12.Sri Lanka</p><p>1995</p></li><li><p>PREFACE</p><p>The claim for a Tamil Homeland in Sri Lanka is one that hasbeen voiced in Sri Lanka as well as abroad, by Tamils includingpoliticians and revolutionaries. lt has, as would be expected, beencontested by mainly Sinhalese, in letters to editors, newspaperfeatures and in books. I have seen some ol those books and thearguments they contain refuting the claim for a Tamil homeland.</p><p>In those books however, there is one factor which seems tohave been overlooked much of the time. lt is the aspect of themilitary. From the thirteenth century ( the period when the Tamilhomeland is claimed to have originated ) up to the 18th century, it hadin fact been more the military than politics that had occupied centrestage in the affairs of not only Sri Lanka and India, but also of somecountries in other parts of the world. As such at times, what was akingdom today became a vassal State tomorrow. Weaker King-doms, countries and territories were at times captured by strongerones and used very much like bufferzones to protectthe flanks of thestronger ones, similar to lsrael using the Gaza, the West Bank andthe Golan Heights.</p><p>Sd Lanka which most of the time was the weaker kingdom,when compared with the South Indian kingdoms of Pandya,Cholaand Chera, was not only subject to conquest but also to militaryexploitation and manipulation. Because ol allthat, it is necessary toexamine the military conditions in Sri Lanka; its neighbouring king-doms and in India itself during the thirteenth century and after, for aneffective search for a kingdom of Sri Lanka Tamils on which the claimfor a Tamil homeland is based.</p><p>That is what I have endeavoured to do-and fortunately for memy military background and knowledge has been useful in appreci-ating and analysing military conditions and the military intentions ofkings of those days.</p><p>01</p></li><li><p>. </p><p>: THE CALL OF LANKA</p><p>by Rev. W.S. SeniorBut most shall he sing of LankaIn the brave new days that come,When the races allhave blended,And the voice of strife is dumb;When we leap to a single bugle,March to a single drum;</p><p>And the palace gleams once more,One man from shore to shore,The stranger become a brother,The task of tutor o' er;When the ruin'd city rises,And the palace gleams once more.</p><p>Rev. W.S. Senior came to Sri Lanka in 1909. He died inEngland in 1938, but according to his wish his ashes were buriedamidst the Haputale mountains in Sri Lanka._ </p><p>Rev Senior was Vice principal of Trinity College Kandy,Registrar.of the colombo University and Vicar oi cnristbnurch atGalle Face, Colombo.</p><p>0z</p></li><li><p>THE CLAIM FOR A TAMIL HOMELANDSri Lanka</p><p>On 22nd May 1972, when Ceylon became a Republic hername was changed to Sri Lanka. In ancient times however Sri Lankahad been known by different names at different times. She wascalled Taprobane by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The reasonfor their calling the country by that name is however not definite.Some historians are of the opinon that Taprobane is derived fromTambapani, which was the name given by Vijaya the Indian princewho made Sri Lanka his home in 543 B C. Professor Heinz Bechertin his biography of Wilhelm Geiger, the German who translated andedited the Sri Lanka chronicles, the MAHAVAMSA and theCHULAVAMSA writes, " The first accounts of the lsland of Ceylonreached the Greeks before Alexander's Indian campaign. Thbycalled the island, Taprobane which derives from the SanskritTamrapani."</p><p>Prince Vijaya was the son of king Sinhabahu of Sinhapura,and thence the name Sinhalese. In the 6th century BC, Sinhapurahad been located in the present Indian State of Gujerat.</p><p>The Arabs, who in those ancient times visited Sri Lanka for'trade purposes, referred to the country as Serendib. The Sinhaleseof those days called it Sinhaladipa - "Dipa" in Sinhalese meaing anisland. Very much later, in the 16th century, Sri Lanka was colonisedby the Portugese. The words Sinhala or Sihala would not .rollsmoothly along their tongues and so the Portugese found the nameCeilao an easier one to pronounce. The Dutch who captured thecountry from the Poftugese, called her Ceilan or Ceylan. Towardsthe end of the 18th century, the British defeated the Dutch in SriLanka and thereafter continued to colonise the country for 1 50 years.It was they who named it Ceylon, the anglicised version of Sinhala,or Ceilao or Ceilan.</p><p>Reverend James Cordiner, Chaplain to the British Garrison inColombo, the Sri Lankan capital city, wrote in his bookA DESCRIP-TION OF CEYLON, " The island which forms the subject of thepresent work, is the Taprobane of the Greeks ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . That of</p><p>03</p></li><li><p>zeilan or ceylon by which it is know, is derived most probably fromsinhal the lion, the name by which the natives of the island are stilldenominated as cingalese from the Indian word sing, a Lion. Fromsinhal or sinhal-Dwipa, the Lion island, may have beLn derived thesielendiba of cosmos Indopleutes, who wrote in the seventh cen-tury, and the serendib of the Arabians, by which name it is called byall the nations which profess the religion of Mahomet ".</p><p>sir James Emmerson Tennent who had been a GovernmentAgent in the British administration of sri Lanka stated in his book,cEYLON, " Taprobane the name by which the island was f irst knownto the Macedonians, is derivable from pali "Tambapani ' , </p><p>. . . . . . . . . . . .1nlatertimes Taprobane was exchanged for simundu, palai- simundu,under which names it is described by ptolemy, the author ofPeriplus... . . . . . . . and sarike he regards merery as a ieaman,s corrup-tion of ' Sinhala or Sihala' Sinhala with the suffix 'diva, or'Dwipa' and ' seren-diva', whence the 'serendib, of the Arabiannavigators and their romances; and this in latertimes was contractedinto Zeilan by the Portugese, ceyran by the Dutch, and ceylon by theEnglish".</p><p>.Liberation Tigers Of Tamit Eetam ( LTTE )</p><p>Sri Lanka. a 25,000 square-mile island in the Indian Oceanand lying a mere twenty miles south-east of rndia, is popurated by amajority of sinhalese and a minority of ( around 17y)Tamil people.Today this little island remains plagued by a vicious irregular warwaged against the government by a group of terrorism- prone Tamilrebels who call themselves the Liberation Tigers of ramil Eelam,commonly referred to as the LTTE. They are based in the north of thecountrywhere the major population is Tlmil. Fewer numbers of themare in east where the Tamils are in minority to the sinhalese and theMuslims combined, The Tigers, as the LTTE are nicknamed, claimas their primary objective, " the liberation of the North and East fromthe rest of the country because those two areas comprise Eelam orthe Tamil Homeland". lronically though, while the LTiE refer only tothe north and east of sri Lanka as Eelam , the ancient south lndianTamils called the whole of Sri Lanka llam ( now spelt Eelam )</p><p>04</p></li><li><p>EelamDr. Kartigesu Indrapalan a Tamil Professor of History in the</p><p>University of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, explained the word llam(Eelam) ds, ".. . . . . . . . . . . . .presumab|y i t rests on the fact that l lam is nowused only in Tamil as a name for Ceylon. But the origin of the name,far from indicating that the island was occupied by Tamil speakingpeople in ancient times, show that the people f rbm whose name llamis derived were Sinhalese." Similarly that eminent Tamil pol i t i icanand historian, C Suntheral ingam was of the opinion that Lanka andthe Sinhalese have a common origin in the Tamil name Eylom(Eelam).</p><p>Acording to the Tamil lexicon the word llam is illustrated as :-l lam &lt; Pali - Sihala &gt; Sinhala</p><p>which means that l lam in Pali is equal to Sihala in Sinhalese.</p><p>Thus even though the LTTE state that Eelam refers only tonorth and east Sri Lanka, Eelam should evidently refer to the wholeof Sri Lanka, and which in fact should be the homeland of theSinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and others of this country.</p><p>The Concept Of A Tamil HomelandAccording to the generally accepted description of a Home-</p><p>land, it is a country where a group of people have been born, livedand conducted theirown affairs independently, through generations.A homeland as we know it, does not however mean a mere part ofa country where a group who constitute a majority within that partonly, have been born and l ived through generations. l f i t did, thenTexas would be the homeland of the Texans and the hill country of.Sri Lanka where the majority are Kandyans, would be the homelandof the Kandyans. That ofcourse, is not so. The homeland of theTexans is the United States of America while the homeland of theKandyans is Sri Lanka.</p><p>Similarlythe homeland of the Tamils of Sri Lanka whethertheylive in the north, east or in any other part of the country should be Sri</p><p>05</p></li><li><p>Lanka itself. But the LTTE do not agree. They instead insist that thelorth and east of Sri Lanka taken together, had been a separateTamil kingdom continuously, if not f rom ancient times, at leasi sincethe thirteenth century, and that because of it, today the north andeast constitute the homeland of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Whatspecifically is the claim of the LTTE?</p><p>The LTTE Claim</p><p>The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as well as those ofsimilar thinking describe their claim for a Tamil Homeland as, " Forover a thousand years as the result of a struggle for supremacybetween the Tamil kings and the Sinhalese kings.... . . . . . . . . . . . theentire island was under the sway of the Tamil kings at times and thesinhalese kings at other times. From this backgrounci of alternatingfortunes emerged at the begining of the 13th century, a clear andstable political fact. At this time the territory stretching in the westernseaboard from chillaw through Puttalam to Mannar and hence. tothe Northern regions that extended southwards up to Kumana to theNorth bank of the river Kumbukkan oya were firmly established asthe exclusive homeland of the Tami| i . . . . . . . . . . . The portugese sub-dued the State of Tamil Eelam and continued to govern it as aseparate State. So did the Dutch who captured it from thePoftugese.... . . . . . . . this'Tamil State was captured f rom the Dutch bythe British who continued to retain its separate status till 1g33,when.... . . , . . . . . the Brit ish brought together under one authority theState of Ee|am.... . . . . . . . . . . . and the Kandyan kingdom.... . . . . . . . alo.ngwith the Sinhalese kingdom of Kotte ".1</p><p>It could be taken from that claim that the first concept theLTTE endeavourto projeit is that, even priorto the 13th century, thewhole of Sri Lanka was ruled more or less alternatively, by Tamilkings and sinhalese kings. lt would perhaps be best that this andother claims for a Tamil homeland by the LTTE and others of similarthought, be confirmed, or in the alternative shown as baseless, bysearching through history for such Tamil kingdoms which gave riseto Tamil Homelands claims of today.</p><p>(1) See Map "A" on page06</p></li><li><p>MAP'A"</p><p>N</p><p>ir,$</p><p>fent l f i omgtApDc(Arwt:-SSllP </p><p>- </p><p> ?cottMc.gP- EagTerr ptuttrtcC.</p><p>N</p><p>b..</p><p>\.,, l</p><p>-/t</p><p>a</p><p>\</p><p>si.</p></li><li><p>rSEARCH FOR A TAMIL KTNGDOM PRIOR TO THE 13TH CENTURY</p><p>Three Sri Lankan Teruitorial Divisions</p><p>In ancienttimes Sri Lanka had been divided intothree Sinhaleseareas which were Pihitirata, Mayarata, and Ruhunarata, while thesparsely populated central hill-country in the south centre of theisland was called Malayarata. 1 Pihitiratawasthe northern Sinhalesekingdom and contained the area north of the Mahawelli river and theDeduru Oya river. In it was included the Jaffna peninsula, which attimes was referred to as Yapapatuna or Nagadipa. Apart fromJaffna, Pihitirata also encompassed the East of which Trincomaleewas part.</p><p>Mayarata had the river Deduru Oya as its northern boundary,the river Kaluganga as its southern border and the sea as its westernlimit. The central hills formed its eastern border. Ruhunarata con-sisted of the land between the river Mahawelli and the river Kaluganga,while the central hills formed its left border and the east coast, itsright border. Batticaloa and Ampara were part of Ruhunarata.</p><p>All three areas were ruled by Sinhalese kings and princes,sometimes of the same royalfamily, They were often referred to, inthe Sri Lankan chronicles, as well as in other history books asKingdoms, which evidently had been a casual description by histo-rians, even in later times than the chronicles,</p><p>Sir Emmerson Tennent wrote in his book CEYLON, " Leavingno issue to inherit the throne, ( prince Vijaya) was succeeded by hisnephew ( in 504 BC) ,who selected a relation of Gotama Buddha forhis queen lt was at that period that Ceylon was resolvedinto three geographicaldivisions, which down to a very late period,are habitually referred to by the native historians. All to the north ofthe Mahawelliganga was comprised of the denomination Pihitirata,or the Raja-rata, from its containing the ancient capital and theresidence of royalty;south of this was Rohano or Ruhunu..a portion of this division near Tangalle still retains the name Roona.The third was Maya.-rata which lay .. . . . . . . . . . . . and Kalu-ganga as i tssouthern l imit".</p><p>(1) See Map "B" O4Page .g</p><p>08</p></li><li><p>aMAP "B' ANCIEilIT I)IYIEIONSOF</p><p>CEYLON----SouadarladPihilafrlauo endlahuaa... ... Soundirrtcs d1oulhern(ounlry in Trolllh</p><p>. Ccnlury,",1.::::::a </p><p>\</p><p>P I H I TIn.o rTHE ntlc oufl7nf</p><p>rEsteuilcoarTu,</p><p>soatHERrtcoatTe,</p><p>E,STEnir.2nuradhapara CO U NTEV</p><p>zr r l</p><p>\\\</p><p>ia\l\\</p><p>tI.\</p><p>Udandora</p><p>'17</p><p>t - - r 'at t . . : t </p><p>-</p><p>\)</p><p>i , tF</p><p>o Q'o</p></li><li><p>Pihitirata herd precedence over the other two divisions be-causethe kng of sri Lanka ruled from there. Normally the eldest boygf ,. sinhalese royar famiry was crowned king, wnire nis young",,brothdr, or at times his eldest son, became heir to the throne. Thecrown Prince was referred to as Adipada or as yuvaraja and he wasgenerally granted rule over Ruhunarata or Mayarata.Sinhalese Crown prince as Governor of Jaffna</p><p>Whenever royal or other important activity took place inl"llne' the crown prince wourd be assigned by tne king to jou"rnJaffna. Yapapatuna which was the Tamit name for Jaffria wis saidto have meant, " town of the crown prince". The first king to appointthe crown prince to Jaffna was king Devanampiyatissa ie+z ti zozBC) during whose reign Buddhism was introduced to sri Lanka fromIndia. At that time all movements to and from lndia, related to tnutevent, had been through Jaff na. For instance, KingDevanampiyatissa's Embassy to the court of the Mauryan EmperorAsoka in lndia, left from Jaffna.</p><p>Devanampiyatissa's Embassy was despatched to seek Em-peror Asoka' assistance to introduce and disseminate Buddhism insri Lanka, Asoka did indeed send his own son Mahinda for the</p><p>' purpose. A short while later, EmperorAsoka also sent saplings fromthe Bodhitree underwhich the Buddha had attained Nirvana]Thesehe.sent through his daughter sanghamitta. Devanampiyatissa rrim-self went to Jaffna to receive the saplings.</p><p>The port in Jaffna through which ail those m...</p></li></ul>