THE HYPOCRISY OF UTHR (J) REPORT - PART II
(1999 July 21)
The authors of the UTHR (J) reports always try to give the appearance of being objective. They mention of people studying various aspects of the problem with an objective mind. Are they in a position to demonstrate objectively the presence of anyone with an objective mind? This reference to objective minds is another strategy of some people to give the impression that they are the objective scientists, mathematicians or what not where as the others are those who resort to subjective methods. Let us see what these objective gentlemen have to say on the so-called Tamil traditional homeland. " The concept of a Tamil traditional homeland is another topic now being debated with much vigour. To us the present argument over history is largely meaningless. What is meaningful is to understand and remedy recent historical trends which created conditions for a section of the people to feel that North-East as their homeland. Anyone studying the modern history with an objective mind will easily understand how the Tamils began to feel and to cling on to the North-East as their homeland as a place where they could be free of violence to say the least."
To the objective mind of the authors North-East is a place where the Tamils could be free of violence. The minds must be so objective that they could imagine the British demarcated northern and eastern provinces as violence free regions when they themselves cannot think of going there. To day not more than 40% of the Tamils live in these two provinces of "violence free Tamil traditional homeland". Most of the Tamils, including the "objective minds", have now migrated to the western province as the fate of the broken palmayra awaits them in the "traditional homeland". If being free from violence is the "objective criterion" that can be formulated as a necessary condition, though perhaps not sufficient, then the other seven provinces rather than the north and the east satisfy this necessary condition as candidates for the Tamil traditional homeland. We may assume that being objective most of the objective minds are within the safety of the Kolomba municipality limits in the western province. The authors of the reports refer to the north and the eastern provinces demarcated by the British, that came into existence only in 1889, and not during the Mohenjadaro Harappa days or even during the reign of "Devanam Piyatheesam", as the North-East, as if it consists of one unit. This is another "objective strategy" adopted by the Tamil racists, assuming by usage of the term North-East, the region referred to will come to be recognised as one unit. Our authors adopt this technique while giving the impression that they are objective. It is unfortunate that even some Sinhala people, not the NGO variety, have also got into the habit of referring to these two provinces as the North-East.
Now what about the "traditional homeland"? The authors say that to them the present argument over history is largely meaningless. But what is the history of the concept of traditional homeland? The concept was first formulated, based on so-called history. Some Tamil racists have cooked up the concept of a "safe area without violence", without realising that even that is not valid, after the myths on the history were exploded. The history is not meaningless, as the history of the Tamil homeland concept reveals that it was through "historical facts" that the concept was presented first. When it is shown that an argument does not to hold water the Tamil racists cook up another argument.
Let me quote Prof. A. J. Wilson the only son-in-law of Mr. Chelvanayakam. In his biography "S. J. V. Chelvanayakam", which incidentally is one of the most outstanding books written on Tamil racism, Prof. Wilson says: " In January 1956, just three months before the general election that made him leader of the Tamil nation, (this nation is yet to come into existence - NdeS) he was emphatic that the Sinhalese, after independence, had 'proceeded to plunder Tamil lands by colonising the rich agricultural districts in Tamil provinces like Gal Oya and Kantalai (Gantalawa- NdeS) ....... which even Sinhala kings during the days of their most autocratic rule never dared to do. [...] THE TAMILS HELD THESE PROVINCES FOR THE LAST THREE THOUSAND YEARS AND NOW THE SINHALESE, NOT SATISFIED WITH THE SEVEN PROVINCES THEY OCCUPY, ARE TRYING TO USURP OUR LANDS AS WELL ...(page 21, quoted from the Times of Ceylon of 16 Jan. 1956) (emphasis by NdeS). Prof. Wilson continues: "Chelvanayakam thus provided a historical foundation for his theory of 'the traditional homelands'. It might be noted that he avoided such phrases as 'angkal nadu' (our land) or the usual 'angkal tai nadu' (our motherland) or the characteristic 'junpoothi' (fatherland); for whatever reason he used the safe term 'traditional homeland'. (page 21).
At the first convention of the so-called Federal party or the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, the Lanka Tamil Racist Party, held in Trincomalee in 1951, seven resolutions were adopted. On the fifth resolution, Prof. Wilson says: "The argument of FP speakers on public platforms was that the Tamil language could only progress and be preserved in an autonomous Tamil linguistic state. Herein lay Chelvanayakam's classic thesis that language and territory were one. This became clear in the fifth resolution which condemned 'the government's land development and colonisation policy as a threat to the very existence of the Tamil speaking nation." (page 75). Not that the objective minds were not aware of these facts when they said the history is meaningless. The Tamil racists have now developed the new concept of a violence free area simply because they can no more defend the thesis on the three thousand year history of the "Tamil homeland" traditional or otherwise. The concept of "Traditional homeland" was drilled into the minds of the innocent ordinary Tamils by the English educated Tamils who had their "traditional homes" in Kolomba. When the myth of the history on which the concept was based was exposed instead of giving up the concept altogether the minds that are supposed to be objective go on concocting other reasons, though not valid, to defend the concept so as to fool the Tamils for some more time. The mere fact that the Tamil racists have had to retreat from the historical basis of the so-called traditional homeland concept speaks volumes for their bankruptcy.
The authors of the reports ask but do not answer the question as to "how then was it possible for a movement of the nature of the LTTE to come to dominance, recruit children in their thousands and send them on a suicidal course with impunity?" Then they add: "Indeed, external conditions (such as state oppression and security) were creating conditions for a national struggle. But the causes for the form it took and how it transformed the whole society and its values need to be sought in internal factors governing modern Tamil society". The authors do not forget to identify the state as the external condition responsible for the creation of a LTTE. However they have not been able to explain what the internal conditions are. It is not a question of external conditions but solely one of internal factors. The external conditions have been created in order to hide the internal factors. The authors of the reports fail to identify the internal factors as the Tamil racists have hidden them. Those who are responsible the creation of the LTTE are the English educated Tamils who invented the so-called grievances based on a mythical history. They had brainwashed the generation of Prabhakaran to believe that the ancient Tamil kingdom of three thousand years was not given back to them at the independence and it was their duty to win it back from the Sinhala leaders who governed them. Any attempt to give the rightful place to the Sinhala people, their language, their history and their culture was construed as an attack on the Tamils and was interpreted as the establishment of the Sinhala hegemony over the Tamil community. Prabhakaran who was brought up on this diet of myths has now taken up arms to "liberate" the Tamil people. Why the LTTE has been so bloodthirsty has still to be explained and I shall leave it to pundits like Prof. Bruce Kafra who explained the activities of the JVP in terms of the paintings of the devils in the Buddhist temples.
The authors compare the history of the Tamils to that of the English when they are confronted with the question of absence of facts to justify the fancy theories that have been created by the Tamil racists on the ancient Tamil kingdoms. They say: "Dr. de Silva is quick to take issue with any scholar who suggests that these events of circa 100 BC were part of a feudal power game that were given an ideological twist by the Buddhist clerics who recorded them about 700 years later, so as to enhance the legitimacy of the royal line to which they were allied. More particularly, he fervently rejects any suggestion of diversity of pluralism in this country in early provenance of his monolithic Sinhalese - Buddhist unitary state." Now first things first. It is unfortunate that the authors refer to the Bhikkus as Buddhist clerics. Clerics is clearly a western concept and the Bhikkus cannot be considered as Buddhist clerics. As in every thing else, here again the authors try to look at the world from the western Christian point of view. It is true that the Mahavansaya was written about 600 to 700 years after Devanampiyathissa, Dutugemunu and Elara. However the Mahavansaya is not an invention of a Bhikku, as in an overwhelming number of cases it corroborates with the historical and archaeological facts. As I have said on number of occasions the king Dharmasoka of India who was king Devanampiyathissa's contemporary was identified thanks to Mahavansaya. It is definitely not in the tradition of Yalpana Vaipava Malai that is not corroborated by any historical evidence. The Mahavansaya was based on the Deepavansaya, which in turn has depended on other texts mentioned therein and of course on the oral tradition. The oral tradition in India and Sri Lanka and probably elsewhere is not something that can be ignored as there were methods developed to retain the contents from one generation to another. The Vedas were handed down from one generation to another originally through the oral tradition. So was the Buddha Dhamma. The Dhamma until it was written in Sri Lanka during the time of Valagamba was handed over from the guru to the shishya and that has not done any harm. It is not difficult to test for the internal consistencies of what was passed down through generations. In the case of history there is the added advantage of comparing the contents of these chronicles with the historical and archaeological facts.
I maintain that Elara was an invader. Let us assume that he was not an invader. Then who and what was he? What did he do before he became the ruler of Anuradhapura? Who were his parents? If Dutugemunu Elara episode was only a feudal power game what feudal house (shall we say Manor house?) did Elara represent? One might say that the author of the Mahavansaya hid those facts. If he wanted to hide them he could have easily erased Elara completely out of history altogether. Is there any record other than that of the chronicles that talks of an Elara? Perhaps the author of the Mahavansaya was not Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinistic enough. He goes on to praise Elara for some of his deeds. If Elara was a feudal power of the country he should have been permanently settled in Anuradhapura or somewhere else. But as we all know, by now, Dr. Karthigesu Indrapala in his thesis is very clear on this. There were no permanent Tamil settlements in this country before the 11th century and Elara had fought with Dutugemunu long before that. Can the authors or anybody else establish that these people from Sena Guththika to Magha who are identified as invaders, were not invaders? It is not my monolithic Sinhala Buddhist unitary state that I am talking about but a Sinhala Buddhist unitary state that is co-consistent with historical and archaeological evidences.
It is not the fault of the Sinhala people if the Tamils cannot establish that there were permanent Tamil settlements in the country and they should not blame the Sinhala chronicles and the "Budddhist clerics". The authors add: " A corollary to this type of reasoning is that the Tamils can have no grievances or legitimate political claims because they were invaders or destroyers. Legitimate rights are historical rights." Now it is clear that the authors do not know what a corollary is. I have not deduced that the Tamils have no grievances because they are invaders. Nothing is further from the truth. The invaders from Sena Guththika to Magha were defeated by Sinhala kings and if they were not killed would have most probably gone back to where they came from. Up to the 11th century we can safely say those who came from abroad whether India, present Malaysia or any other country and "settled down" here were Sinhalised within a generation or two. They could not have settled down as Tamils or Malays or any other. The present day Tamils, most of whom are descendants of people who were brought to this country by the Dutch and the British or who like the Coomaraswamys and Ponnambalams are descendants of those who came here during the same time have no grievances not because they were invaders but simply due to the fact that there are no grievances. The so-called grievances have been created by the Tamil racists in order to deprive the Sinhala people their language their history and their culture being given the rightful place. For example when Sinhala was made the only official language the Tamil racists pronounced that it would make the Tamils in Sri Lanka second class citizens. They ignored the fact judging by that criterion all the Tamils in the entire world were second class citizens as then Tamil was not the official language in anyone of the countries. Even today Tamil has been made an official language only in Sri Lanka and by the standards set up by the Tamil racists Tamils are first class citizens only in this country. The Tamil racists depend on a mythical history to claim that Sinhala hegemony has been established and to state that the Tamils have been here for three thousand years.
The authors of the report have said that a key feature of my reasoning is 'argument from silence' meaning that the absence of records lead to the contrary. The absence of any record of Tamil settlements in Sri Lanka leads to the conclusion that there were no Tamil settlements in this country before the 11th century. Now the authors would like to conclude from the absence of records that there were Tamil settlements in this country. In other words absence of records means the presence of records or the suggestion that there would have been records that are missing now. All I have to say is that with that type of logic anything is possible. The authors then go on to make a ludicrous comparison with the English history. " Nothing survives of anything that was written in or about Britain on or before the Roman conquest in 55 BC. ..... We know nothing that is recognisably English from before the 10th century AD. But no one suggests that modern Englishmen in England should be looked upon as invaders." I thought the people who authored the UTHR (J) reports were university teachers. Now it seems that by records they mean only written records. If that were the case the work of the archaeologists and historians would be simplified. They have to look at only the written records. In history records mean not only written records but archaeological and other historical records as well. In England there have been many invasions not only the Roman but Iberian, Celtic, Viking, Saxon, and finally the Norman. After the Norman invasion English history began as a nation in 1066 AD. However it was not until 1559 that England became a truly independent country with the final Elizabethan breach from Rome. It is true that English history is very complex and many invasions have contributed to the formation of the English nation. What is important here is not the absence of any written records in English before the 10th century or even after. On the language itself the following quotation from the "Illustrated English History" by Trevelyan tells briefly how it was evolved over the years. "The Wessex had been the court language in Alfred's time, but the Norman Conquest had relegated it for ever to the cottage and plough-furrow. It was the speech of the East Midlands that became the ancestor of modern English, triumphing over the other dialects partly because it was spoken in London, Oxford and Cambridge; partly because it was employed by Chaucer.......and by Wycliffe.....Then in the latter fifteenth century came Caxton's printing press at Westminster, under the patronage of the Yorkist kings......In this way a standard of English was being formed for all those who could read and for all even beyond Trent and Avon... . "
Now what is significant is that the history of the English is there for any body to see even though the English language came into existence not more than six centuries ago. The Stonehenge and the other archaeological records are there to construct this history and there is a continuity of some kind of identity through the evolution that has taken place. Where is the record of a Tamil history going back to three thousand years in this country or anywhere else for that matter. I am not asking for written records but for historical and archaeological records that can be interpreted with some consistency. Yes, in the absence of records we have to conclude that there is no history other than the mythical history in the Yalpana Vaipava Malai tradition. One final word on the Dhammadeepa concept. The authors have tried to compare that with a "New Jerusalam" conceived among the English gentry around 1650. This again is misleading. The 1650 concept after the civil war in 1642 is described by Trevelyan: "Not content with rendering the Royalist gentry irreconcilable, the Long Parliament, with almost incredible folly, proceeded to pass lifelong imprisonment of Baptists ...". The Dhammadeepa concept only states that the kings would protect the Buddha Sasana from the invaders and others . It does not say that there is no religious freedom for the Non Buddhists in the country. In fact as we have mentioned on number of occasions the Sinhala Buddhist kings have protected not only the Buddha Sasana from the invaders but the Catholics and Muslims as well. It is unfortunate the authors have resorted to these comparisons to discredit the Sinhala Buddhist culture in this country. The UTHR(J) authors while being against the LTTE after 1986, and approving them prior to that, try to create the impression that they are impartial unbiased objective intellectuals. However the fact is that as a friend of mine suggested UTHR(J) could be renamed UTTR, University Teachers for Tamil Racism.