A PROBLEM OF HISTORY- RE VISITED - II
(1998 December 02)
People of Mr. Naganathan's ilk are not sure of what they are talking about. According to some like Gnanapragasar
the Nagas were Tamils and had lived in this country from time immemorial. Some think that the Sinhala people came
in the 6th century B.C. and conquered the Island from those original Tamils. There is no historical evidence for
this what so ever as Dr. Indrapalan has shown in his Ph. D. thesis. Mr. Naganathan, it appears that, subscribes
to what may be called the residual Naga theory. However it is not clear what he is really implying. It could mean
that some Nagas were absorbed into the Sinhala nation, but the others remained as Nagas, or it may be that of the
tribes Yaksha, Naga, Deva, Rakshasas, the tribes other than the Nagas, together with the Aryans who came around
the 6th century B.C. went into form the Sinhala nation but the Nagas continued as Nagas. But Mr. Naganathan cannot
present a consistent picture.
For example as I have already mentioned ( A PROBLEM OF HISTORY - RE VISITED - I ) he talks of Saddhatissa and his son Khallatanaga and the rest to establish his residual Naga theory. As I have shown, the fact that Saddhatissa had a son called Khallatanaga proves neither that there were Tamils then nor that the father, the son or both were Nagas. Mr. Naganathan also appears to believe that Saddhatissa was Sinhala. Is he trying to imply that the mother of Khallatanaga was a Naga? Even if it was the case it does not make Khallatanaga a Tamil king. I will come to a more general version of this problem later.
Mr. Naganathan's next version tells us that the 'Sri Lankan Tamils, by and large, are not
aliens but natives of the soil, being as much mutual descendants of the indigenous Hela
(Eela) people, with the difference that the one were acculturated and adopted a Prakrit of
Sanskrit as language and Buddhism as religion, and the other Tamil and Saivism,
respectively.' He proceeds: 'Having said this, I must allow for the fact that the early "Tamils" in Sri Lanka were (as in S. India) profoundly Jain and Buddhist. Hence, as I pointed out previously, they would have gone to form the non- Tweedledum Tweedledee population of Buddhist residents of the country, who were not Sinhala -speaking.'
This is not a bad hypotheses if not for the fact that there is no evidence to substantiate it. The all-important question is what is the culture and the history that these non-Sinhala Buddhists have created in this country say from the time of Sena Guttika? Dr. Indrapalan has conclusively shown that there were no Tamil settlements, whether Buddhist, Jaina or any other, in this country before the tenth century and he categorically states that the early history is that of the Sinhala people. Archaeologists and Historians such as Drs. Paranavithana and Nilakanta Sastri are of the same view. When confronted with facts all that Mr. Naganathan can do is to respond with statements like "Dr. Indrapalan can go and fly a kite." Mr. Naganathan in order to refute Dr. Indrapalan says in his own style that there are several 'noble' families including that of his mother's who "trace their descent to Cholan chiefs who arrived with the expansion of the Chola empire."
In fact as I have said on many occasions there would not have been even Senas and Guttikas if not for the Mahavansaya, which happens to be the only source of relief for people of Mr. Naganathan's ilk. Not only that there were no Tamils in Sri Lanka in early times there is no evidence to show that the Tamils in South India then were predominantly Buddhists or Jains. This is what Dr. Nilakanta Sastri has to say on this matter in his 'A History of South India' (second edition). "The exact contents of these inscriptions still remain obscure, but a few facts emerge from tentative studies of them. We can say, for instance, that among the donors of monuments were a husbandman (kutumbika) of Ceylon ( Ila), besides a woman, merchants (vanikar), and members of the Karani caste. ........... Yet it seems easy to exaggerate their social and religious significance; there is no evidence that the Tamil people in general had accepted Jainism or Buddhism in this early period; and the evidence from the literature of the succeeding age, that of the Sangam, shows the Vedic religion of sacrifice and some forms of popular Hinduism entrenched in the affections of the people and their rulers." (Pg.87)
It should be remembered that Ila is derived from Sihala (References in TULF, BUDGET AND THE ORIGINAL PEOPLE ) and that the kutumbika had gone to South India from the Sihaladeepa. I must also add that the Sangam period according to Dr. Nilakanta Sastri is the first three or four centuries A.D. (Pg. 110). On the question of the ancestors of Mr. Naganathan all I can do is to quote Dr. Nilakanta Sastri, so that the readers can come to their own judgement. " The rise of the imperial Cholas of the line of Vijayalaya may be dated from the middle of the ninth century A.D. As they emerged from their obscurity, (after the Sangam period- my emphasis) they soon displaced the remnants of Pallava power to the north of their capital Tanjore, and subdued the Pandya and Chera countries in the south and invaded Ceylon." (Pg.5). Mr. Naganathan's claim, that his mother's family descended from a Chola chief who arrived with the expansion of the Chola empire, is not in contradiction with the conclusion of Dr. Indrapalan, that there were no Tamil settlements in Sri Lanka before the tenth century. However, Dr. Nilakanta Sastri says that the Cholas invaded Sri Lanka and this means that the Chola chiefs would have arrived in this country as invaders.
Mr. Naganathan and people of his ilk try to create the impression that since some of the Sinhala kings either had names ending with Siva or Naga while some others had connections to dynasties in Pandya and Kalinga countries, Tamil/ Dravida kings have ruled Sri Lanka together with Sinhala kings intermittently. Even if one assumes that there have been Tamil/Dravida persons occupying the throne it does not make the kingdom a Tamil kingdom. The present ruling family in England, the Windsors, have all sorts of connections with the other, let us say Royal or Ksathriya, families in Europe. In fact it is said that Ms. Diana Spencer was one of the few English to be married to an heir to the throne in the Windsor family. But that did not make the Windsors Germans, French, Greeks or any other nationality. They were and are considered as English kings and queens for the simple reason that they are the kings and queens of the English people. In other words they sat on the English throne. The person who sits on the English throne is an English king or queen irrespective of his or her ancestral connections. The Royals and the Ksathriyas, whether they are from the west or the east have had a tradition of getting wives and husbands from similar families irrespective of the country of origin.
Parakramabahus and Nissankamallas may have had Pandya and Kalinga connections. That is irrelevant as far as the throne is considered. They sat on the Sinhala throne as Sinhala kings. It was Parakramabahu in one of his battles asked for a Sinhala sword while Nissankamalla famous for his inscriptions had a stone inscription in Sinhala erected in Rameswaram in respect of his visit to South India. (P. B. Rambukwella: Commentary on Sinhala Kingship, Pg. 79).It is not the dynasty that matters but the throne. In any case, for the information of Mr. Naganathan and the rest, Kalinga, which came under the Asokan empire, is roughly, present Orissa and was not a Dravida country.
Even the Vaduga kings, originally from present Andra Pradesh, sat on the Sinhala throne, and yes, as Buddhists whether Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe looked like Tweedledum and Tweedledee or not. In fact even George III had to undertake the task of protecting Buddhism through what is known as the Kandyan Convention before he could make any claim whatsoever to the Sinhala throne or the kingdom of Sinhale. Of course the English, being the perfect gentlemen they are, had no respect for the convention.
Now let us look at the early history of the Tamils in general. What I give below is only a summary and I may give more details in some of the future articles depending on the availability of space and time. There are some people who think that the pre-Aryan history in India (and Sri Lanka) is Dravidian. This is far from truth. The tribes, who lived in this part of the world before the Aryans arrived were not Dravidian. In fact the Dravidians have come to India (South) later than the Aryans.
I quote again from 'A History of South India'. " It must be admitted that much of this evidence on which the old approach to the Dravidian problem was based is vague and circumstantial, and furnishes no reliable framework. Not so the recent and very plausible attempt of Fuerer-Haimendorf to equate the Dravidian-speakers with the iron using Megalithic folk who came to South India from the west by sea, perhaps leaving colonies along the coast in the course of their migration -which may account for the Megaliths near Karachi and Brahui in Baluchistan. He thinks that an immigration of Dravidian speakers about 500 B.C. would allow sufficient time for the development of the early Tamil literature of the Sangam." (Pg. 62).
However Dr. Nilakanta Sastri does not agree with Fuerer Haimendorf and he suggests that the Dravidians arrived in South India more or less at the same time as the Aryans came to North India. But he himself says that " it is evident that starting somewhere about 1000 B.C. the movement of the Aryans into the South proceeded more or less steadily and peacefully, and had reached its completion sometime before the establishment of the Mauryan empire which included in its fold all India except the extreme South." (Pg.67).
Now Dr. Paranavithana in his book 'Sinhalayo' states: "The culture represented by the megalithic monuments cannot have developed from that of the Stone Age, for the two were not separated from each other by an appreciable interval of time. Therefore, it has been inferred that the Dravidian people, the bearers of the megalithic culture, came to South India from elsewhere. Megaliths with the same characteristics as are distinctive of the South Indian monuments, have been found in Western Asia. It has therefore been suggested that the Dravidian people migrated to South India from a region, still undetermined, in Western Asia, and that they sojourned for some time in the region around Karacci in Sindh, where groups of megaliths similar to those in South India have been reported.
Aryan culture had been introduced to South India before the arrival of the Dravidians; and three kingdoms, Pandya, Cola and Cera, had been founded somewhat earlier than the establishment of a kingdom of Indo-Aryan culture in Ceylon. The invading Dravidians, apparently, imposed their dominion on these kingdoms which had been founded before their advent, and continued their names." (Pg. 8).
Though there may be disagreements over the period, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Dravidians arrived in South India after the Aryans. It was the Aryan kingdoms Pandya, Cola and Cera which became Dravidian most probably around the time of the Mauryan empire. Dravidianisation of South India has come after its Aryanisation and no wander that the people stuck to most of the gods in the Vedic religions even after Dravidianisation.
In Sri Lanka the same process could have taken place. However, it did not happen that way and the man responsible for the turn of events was none other than Dutugemunu. With the findings from the recent excavations in Anuradhapura by Dr. Shiran Deraniyagala, there cannot be any doubt as to the arrival of the Aryans in this country somewhere around the 6th century B.C. A Sinhala civilisation based on the Aryan culture as well as the culture of the Yakshas and Nagas was established and during the time of king Devanampiya Tissa the Sinhala people became Buddhists. Soon after, the first wave of Dravidians arrived in this country. As Dr. Paranavithana has mentioned in his 'Sinhalayo' the Dravidians were almost succesful.
"The few megalithic monuments and urn-burials discovered in Ceylon are obviously an overflow from South India. The archaeological evidence is supported by literary sources. The Dravidian peoples influenced the course of the Island's history about the same time they gained mastery over the South Indian kingdoms, or shortly afterwards. Within three or four decades from the death of Devanampiya Tissa, Dravidian invaders made an attempt to impose their dominion over Ceylon, and almost succeeded. The first Dravidian attack on Ceylon recorded in the Chronicles is said to have been led by Sena and Guttika, described as merchant mariners who dealt in horses. They appear to have come direct from the Sindhu region, which was noted in ancient days for its fine breed of horses". (Pg.9).
Mr. Naganathan seems to believe that it is necessary to have Dravidians in advance in a country so that a Dravidian invader can rule that country after conquering. The Dravidianisation of India itself proves the fallacy of that argument. If it is generalised to any conqueror then it would have been necessary to have a Portuguese population in advance, in this country for the Portuguese conquerors to rule the coastal areas for more than hundred years.
Leaving aside that type of argument it is clear that from the time of Suratissa (247-237 B.C.) to Valagamba (89-77 B.C.) there have been at least three attempts to Dravidianise this country and during a period of 148 years Sena Guttika (22 yrs.), Elara (44 yrs.) and the five Dravida kings(14 yrs.) have ruled Anuradhapura for 80 years. We must not forget that Bhalluka's ( who came after Elara ) was another attempt. That was one of the most crucial periods in this country. The Sinhala civilisation (Aryanised Yaksha Naga) had to struggle very hard not to allow Sri Lanka taking the same path as South India and end up as a Dravidian country. It should be emphasised that after the victory of Valagamba there were no invasions for a period of about 520 years as Mr. Rambukwella and others have pointed out
As Dr. Paranavithana and others have observed the Dravidians have come to South India through Sindhu region. It is probable that not only Sena Guttika but even Elara, Bhalluka and the five Dravida kings came from the same region. They would have been part of waves of Dravidian arrivals in South India and Sri Lanka. The fact that there were no invasions after the victory of Valagamba could imply that these Dravidian arrivals stopped by that time and also the Dravidian states in formation in South India were not strong enough to invade Sri Lanka. The next stage begins after the formation of the Dravidian states and it is believed that the Seven Dravida kings who invaded in 431 A.C. were Kalabhras.
The histories of South India and Sri Lanka are undoubtedly interconnected. Both South India and Sri Lanka were Aryanised. Then South India was Dravidianised. But the Sinhala Buddhist consciousness imparted by the king Dutugemunu and the others was able to resist the Dravidianisation process in Sri Lanka not only up to the time of five Dravida kings who would have come directly from Sindhu region as those Dravidians who came to South India, but even after the formation of the Dravidian states in South India. Whether we like it or not we have to admit that fact. However much Mr. Naganathan and the others of his ilk may try to Dravidianise a non- Dravida history they will not succeed.