Monday, October 26, 2009

History 2

“History of period A, written in period B, and read in period C will "reveal" the conditions in periods B and C, as well as the characters of the writer relative to the reader” –

Prof N de S, On History I

I don’t exactly see how a history of period A written in period B and read in period C could possibly reveal conditions in period C unless what Prof N de S meant was that the reactions in period C to the history of period A written in period B will reveal the conditions in period C.

However what’s incontestable is that the history of period A written in period B and read in period C will indeed reveal the conditions of period B to the reader in period C even if the writer in period B was full of sinister agendas and couldn’t be trusted an inch about what he writes about period A.

This is so because the writer in period B has the readership of period B at the forefront of his mind when he writes this history of period A and if the readership of period B sees that a natural extrapolation of this history does not lead to period B, this fabled readership of period B would tend to turn to the front cover of the history book to see if the book was a parallel world fantasy and then if the front cover doesn’t identify the book as belonging to the parallel world subgenre in the fantasy genre, this reader of period B would turn to the back cover of the book to check if the writer has recently checked out of an institution for the psychiatrically challenged.

There I hope you are happy now. I have broken all kinds of writing standards and produced a sentence in which the start of the sentence has only a long distance relationship with the end of the sentence. Still I think it is fairly clear. The key word here is extrapolation. An extrapolation of a history of period A written in period B will naturally arrive at period B. It is like a National Law. This is what’s meant by relativity of knowledge.

This is why a history of period A written in period B ends up revealing to the reader of period C much more accurate info about period B than period A.

Now if a writer in period B writes a history of period A, the natural extrapolation of which does not lead to period B this suggests a level of psychological manipulation so mind blowing that the only thing left to do is to try dramatic reconstruction and role play, well known educational and analytical tools used in primary education and crime detection.

And I do have other evidence to back my theory. May I refer you to my er brilliant post above where I show that while staying within the knowledge system of Prof NdeS (an ethnic group called Tamil came into existence only during the Brit era, a Tamil consciousness had failed to emerge until recently, etc.) you can’t accuse Pulavar and other scholars of the 15th 16th centuries of racial bias because a racial consciousness and identity is a prerequisite for race bias. There are other ‘evidence’ to back my theory.

Among them

1) Pulavar was not an imported Vellala laborer

2) Pulavar’s twist on the Vijaya legend was not done with malicious intent

3) The folly of approaching historical sources with the same attitude that one shows a lying spouse/partner (If he lied to me about this how can I ever trust anything he says again?)

I will elaborate on these very soon. I beg of you to wait patiently.

History 1

Apparently in Western Physics there is a concept called advanced potential associated with Quantum Field Theory and in (The Beginning of the Problem) Prof Nalin draws a brilliant parallel showing how various scholars trying to interpret certain aspects of Sri Lanka’s history have all unknowingly helped to embody this concept. The interpretations that have helped to illustrate the concept of advanced potential are

1) The Sinhalese asking questions on the origin of the Sinhalese ages before a people called Sinhalese had come into existence

2) Chelvanayakam forming the Lanka Tamil State party in 1949 in order to address certain grievances that transpired after 1956

Do you know that in a single masterful stroke Prof Nalin himself has added an item to this list? That item is……...

3) Mailvahanam Pulavar and other ‘Tamil scholars of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries wanting to cook up a history of the Tamils going back to the Vijaya period’ even before a race called Tamil had come into existence.

For in Prof Nalin says this

“……Ekala Me Kalapaye jana wargayakata ho jathiyakata ho pewathiye Sinhala jathiya pamanaki. Demala adi jana warga Brithaneenge nirmana wiya”

“…..during that era the only ethnic group or race in this region was Sinhalese. Ethnic groups/races such as Tamil were a creation of the British.”

His position is that although there were Tamil speaking people in that time, they didn’t possess an awareness of themselves as belonging to a race or an ethnic group called Tamil. There was no racial identity. In (Myths and Scholars Part vi), Prof Nalin elaborates

“…… plausible answer may be that the Tamils until recently did not possess the consciousness of a Tamil people as such. It is true that there have been the Pandya, Chola and other empires but at no time in the history there has been a Tamil kingdom as such. Even the Vassal State in Jaffna was referred to as the Arya Chakravarthi kingdom and not a Tamil kingdom. It appears that in the history, whether in India or outside, until recently, a Tamil consciousness has failed to emerge and….”


In (Myths and Scholars Part vi) with brilliant and incisive wit that one doesn’t encounter all that often in this country, Prof Nalin De Silva dissects the scholars belonging to the ‘advanced potential’ school of thought.

“How did the Sinhala nation come into existence? Some people who think that the nations were the creations of the capitalist system and the modern nations appeared only with the formation of the nation-states would not agree with the term nation used here. These are people who look at the world through the European eyes and according to some of them a nation can come into existence only after the capitalist system has developed to a certain extent. However the Stalin's definition of a nation is not contradicted by the Sinhala nation at the time of Pandukhabhaya and all that we would say in this connection is that there is no co-consistency within the European system of knowledge on nations. What is most interesting here is that the Sinhala nation had asked this question of origin some two thousand years ago, at least during the time of the Deepavansaya. This implies that a community whether one call it a nation race or tribe and identifying themselves as Sinhala had existed prior to the time of Deepavansaya. The existence of a people called Sinhala is pre-requisite for anybody other than a "scholar" to inquire into the origin of the Sinhala people. The Deepavansaya refers to other sources and it is well established that, contrary to the theory (myth) propagated by the "scholar" vice chancellor Prof. Ranaweera A. L. H. Gunawardena, the community and not only the kith and kin of the king had been interested in the origin of the Sinhala people. According to the logic of these "scholars" it is possible for one to ask questions on the origin of a people even before the people had come into existence. This can be compared with the formation of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (Lanka Tamil State Party) by Mr. S. J. V. Chelvanayakam in 1949 in order to fight for certain things that were supposed to have happened after 1956.”

A shining paragraph with which I agree 100%. This is truly inspired writing which in turn has inspired me to make the following statements.

The existence of a people called Tamil is pre-requisite for anybody other than Prof Nalin De Silva for members of that people to want to cook up a history of the Tamils going back to the Vijaya period.

According to the logic of Prof Nalin De Silva it is possible for one Mailvahanam Pulavar to want to cook up a history of the Tamils going back to the Vijaya period even before a people/race/ethnic group called Tamils had come into existence.

According to the logic of Prof NdeS it is possible for M Pulavar and Tamil scholars of 15th and 16th centuries to cook up a history with a racist bias even before a race consciousness had dawned in them

All this rhetoric is fine. Only it doesn’t bring us any closer to the truth does it? What was the truth? Before the British came did Tamil speaking people have a sense of belonging to a single race? I don’t know. Can’t even begin to think on that due to insufficient knowledge. What I do know is that if one accepts Prof Nalin’s claim in (Myths and Scholars iii) that

“after the Arya chakravarthi kingdom was formed Tamil ‘scholars’ of the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries wanted to cook up a history of the Tamils going back to the Vijaya period”

then no other answer except ‘yes’ to the above question is possible.

However I do not subscribe to the ‘Pulaver cooked up history’ school of thought. And I will tell you why very soon.

(To be continued soon)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I want you to write a history with a twist Pulavar!

Well as you know I posted that first post “Inconsistent bits in Professor Nalin’s history of Tamils in the kalaya forum and now the discussion is progressing. I thought of posting my latest reply here because as before I don’t want to deprive my own blog of the pulsating, throbbing, virile, witty style which is all mine.

“Dutch had the burden of keeping the imported Vellalas in Jaffna. That is why they wanted to make a story for Vellalas to buy. We have to assume Pulavar's motive for writing this book is genuine (which is doubtful as he was employed by the Dutch for some purpose. What is the motive behind inviting Pulavar to write a history? Are we to propose that Dutch came here to explore the history of Sri Lanka?) to reason that it should have been consistent with the demography at the time of writing. His interpretation of Vijaya and the origin of Sinhalas are inconsistent with other historical evidence. He does write about Hindu kovils made by Vijaya around the country at the time even Hindu culture was yet to born. It seems that he had a different motive than being honest.”

Dasun, whatever a writer’s motives are it’s next to impossible to write a history which is not consistent with the writer’s current frame of reality. We are all very much creatures of our present and when we write about history we tend to take our present as a solid point of reference and explain how our present came to be. What all historians do whatever their motive is to try to answer the question, what went on before NOW? What are the events and incidents that led to the NOW? No historian can help it.

According to Mailvahanam Pulavar writes that under Jaffna rulers, Tamil families were brought from South India and settled in Jaffna. He writes that the Sinhala population was resisting the Arya Chakravarthi rule and getting themselves hanged, exiled or leaving in large numbers unable to take the harassment. He writes that the climax of this ruler- subject incompatibility came under Sankili who unleashed his rage against the many Sinhala Buddhists still living in Jaffna chasing them beyond the border, killing them, laying waste to their places of worship so that they took refugee in Wanni and Upcountry and nevermore came back to Jaffna. Isn’t it a simple thing to deduce from this the ethnic composition of Pulavar’s 1736 Jaffna?

However since you insist, let us examine the possibility that out of non genuine motives Pulavar wrote his history to be consistent not with his actual current reality but with a fabricated current reality. Then something along the lines of the following conversation would have taken place between Pulavar and the Dutch Governor.

Dutch Governor - Pulavar

Pulavar - My Lord?

Dutch Governor - I want you to write a history Pulavar

Pulavar - Of Yalpanam my Lord? I’ve always wanted to my Lord. I shall start right away (backing out of the presence)

Dutch Governor - Not so fast Pulavar!

Pulavar (stopping at once) - My Lord?

Dutch Governor - I want you to write this history with a twist!

Pulavar - A twist my Lord? I am afraid I don’t quite….

Dutch Governor - When you write this history I want you to imagine that at present the majority in Jaffna is Tamil and that there are next to no Sinhalese and then show with your ‘history’ how that transpired .

Pulavar - But they are here my Lord and they are more than us!

Dutch Governor (Chuckling evilly) - Not for long Pulavar not for long !

Pulavar (whispering conspiratorially) – What are you going to do with them your Lordship? (in a hopeful voice) Kill them?

Dutch Governor – Something much better and much less messy Pulavar! We or rather you or rather these hoards of Vellala laborers we have been bringing from South India since 1650 are going to absorb them!

Pulavar - Your Lordship!!!

Dutch Governor - You see Pulavar we want these Vellala hoards to make Jaffna their home and we want to do everything possible to make these Vellalas feel at home and when they read this ‘history’ they must feel that Jaffna is theirs and the Sinhalese have nothing to do with it and….

Pulavar (visibly upset) - But but my Lord these laborers, these plowers and tillers of the land, they can’t read!

Dutch Governor(Chuckling evilly and rubbing his hands together) - Oh they will read Pulavar. Not only read they will do greater things and this ‘history’ my dear Pulavar is really for them because when they can finally read your ‘history’ I don’t want them to get the slightest inkling that it was their coming which caused a Tamil majority Jaffna. I want them to go on believing that Jaffna was always theirs. These Vellala labors Pulavar even though you call them plowers and tillers of the land in your superior Brahmin fashion are the future. The future!

Pulavar - They are the future? No my Lord. We are the future. We Brahmins. We have always been the future!

Dutch Governor- I think you forget yourself Pulavar! A little more respect please! You are not the future by the way. You too will get absorbed and disappear. And Pulavar please write that history exactly according to my brief. Or else…..

Pulavar - Or else?

Dutch Governor - Or else you can forget about sending your son to the William of Orange Royal Dutch Academy in the Dutch Republic! Among other things!

Are you really suggesting something like the above took place? Let’s not become ridiculous here.

If the Dutch were manipulative to that extent, can you explain why the following scene didn’t take place.

Back Ground - The Dutch governor has been reading the first draft of Pulavar’s ‘history’

Dutch Governor – Pulavar! What is this shit? This won’t do!

Pulavar- Shit my Lord?

Dutch Governor- Here you have written that it was some king of Ceylon who gifted the Jaffna kingdom to its first ruler. Are you mad to suggest that statehood and power only flowed to this kingdom from the crown of Ceylon? No you must write it to suggest that this was a sovereign State since time out of mind. And why have you written this nonsense about Jaffna rulers bringing over families from South India and colonizing Jaffna and then treating the Sinhalese natives and settlers alike and then persecuting the Sinhalese and driving them out? Why do you have to write about the Sinhalese at all Pulavar. They…were…never…here. Get that into your thick skull! The Sinhalese had nothing to do with Jaffna remember it was you people from the start. Go back man and bring back a more sensible ‘ history’

Can you tell me why the above scene did not take place if Pulavar and the Dutch Governor were so evil?

…..To be continued soon…..

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