Monday, October 26, 2009

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)

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