Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The beginning 4

Continued from the previous post

Prof Indrapala continued

“on the basis of the present evidence we could say that it was only by about the tenth century that permanent settlements of Tamils began…These settlements were by no means extensive but their importance lies in the fact that they formed the nucleus of the later settlements that covered the greater part of northern Sri Lanka”

“… on the slender evidence at our disposal it would be rather far fetched to claim that there were permanent or widespread settlements of Tamil trading communities in the first millennium AD.”

“But evidence for extensive settlement bearing the signs of a date earlier than the tenth century is lacking”

“On the Tamil side the chronicles that are extant are those written nearly three centuries after the foundation of the Tamil kingdom in the island in the thirteenth century.

These are the Kailayamalai, Vaiyapatul, Vaiya, Yalpana vaipava malai, and the Mattakkalappu- manmiyam......With the possible exception of the Yalpana vaipava malai, the other works cannot be dated exactly. But, as we shall see presently, certain references in those works make it clear that these were all written after the fifteenth century........The Yalpana vaipava malai is a prose chronicle of the Jaffna kingdom, as stated in its preface, when the Dutch Commandant Ian Maccara (Mekkarun) was administering Jaffna (A.D. 1736).

The sections of these works dealing with the period prior to the thirteenth century, i.e., the period during which the earliest Tamil settlements were established- are full of legendary material and are wholly unreliable. The Tamil works of South India have no notable allusions to the activities of the Tamils in Ceylon.”

After this spree of negativity a glimmer of positivity,

"…only by about the tenth century that permanent settlement of the Tamils began and the Cola conquest of the Anuradhapura kingdom in the late tenth century seems to have given an impetus to the migration of Tamils into the island.” Indrapala Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon pp 54-55

As stated in an above quote,

“…These settlements were by no means extensive but their importance lies in the fact that they formed the nucleus of the later settlements that covered the greater part of northern Sri Lanka”

However these settlements “became fairly extensive early in the eleventh century”

Apparently this was the first phase of Tamil settlement in Sri Lanka and their location was

“…still outside the Jaffna district. Of the present day Tamil areas only the upper half of the Eastern Province and parts of the western coast had Tamil settlers in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The main stage in the process of Tamil settlement which led to the transformation of the present Northern Province into an exclusively Tamil speaking area had not yet been reached in the twelfth century. That stage was reached with the conquest of Magha and it is doubtful that the Tamil settlements of the period before the thirteenth century would have resulted in the division of the country into two linguistic regions”

“second and most important stage of the Tamil settlements are covered by the whole of the thirteenth century”

“no genuine traditions of the Tamil settlement or invasions were preserved by the Tamils until they established a stable kingdom in the thirteenth century”

Then finally the Kingdom!

"The invasion of Magha (of Kalinga) with the help of Tamil and Kerala mercenaries was far more violent than the earlier invasions. It’s chief importance lies in the fact that it resulted in the permanent dislodgement of the Sinhalese power from north Ceylon, the confiscation of lands and properties belonging to the Sinhalese by the Tamil and Kerala mercenaries and the consequent migration of the official class and several of the common people to the south western regions. These factors more than any other helped the transformation of northern (Sri Lanka) into a Tamil region and directly led to the foundation of a Tamil kingdom there. In the second phase, with the foundation of an independent Tamil Kingdom, a deliberate policy of settling Tamils in the Jaffna district and the Vanni regions was followed by the first rulers of the Tamil kingdom. This led to a migration of peaceful settlers from the Tamil country (in Southern India). It was this peaceful migration that was largely responsible for the Tamil settlement of the Jaffna district. It was a deliberate and organized process…” Indrapala Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon p. 62

The beginning 3

Continued from the previous post

Then in ‘Myths and Scholars III’ http://www.kalaya.org/i990421.html Prof Nalin again quotes Prof. Indrapala to deal with Mudaliyar Rasanayagam,

“Unlike the early works, Ancient Jaffna is the result of an attempt to trace the history of the Tamils of Ceylon from the earliest times to the sixteenth century. It has been based on a wider variety of sources and much effort has gone into it. For the first time the Sinhalese sources as well as the South Indian inscriptions were consulted. It marks a leap forward in the research into the history of the Tamils of Ceylon. But despite its distinct merits, Rasanayagam's work suffers from several serious defects. The work has been marred by an earnest attempt to prove the thesis that the Tamils were settled in Ceylon from pre-Christian times and that there was an independent kingdom in northern Ceylon which existed from about the fifteenth century B.C. to the seventeenth century A.D. In his attempt to prove this thesis, Rasanayagam has used methods which are questionable and materials that are totally unrelated to the history of the Tamils in Ceylon. These have been briefly pointed out in our work."

Professor K.M.de Silva’s ‘A history of Sri Lanka 2005 edition also quotes Prof. Indrapala extensively about the period before 1000 A.D.

‘Looking back on the whole body of evidence that is available …we have to conclude that there was no widespread Tamil settlement before the tenth century. The settlements at Pomparippu and the possible settlement at Kathirvelu (on the east coast) have to be treated as isolated earlier settlements”. Indrapala, Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon p.24

Prof. K. M. de Silva says in ‘A History…’,

“Sri Lanka’s close proximity to southern India has been the basis for the assumption that there were Tamil settlements on the island in the early years of its history. Certainly Tamil and other literary sources point to substantial urban and trading centers in south India in the third century B.C. Very probably there were trade relations between them and Sri Lanka and it is also highly probable that the island’s trade with the Mediterranean world could have been through these south Indian ports. By the third century B.C. Dravidian intrusion into the affairs of Sri Lanka became more marked. In 177 B.C. two south Indian adventurers usurped power at Anuradhapura and ruled for twenty two years, to be followed ten years later (in 145 B.C.) by another, Elara who maintained himself in power for a much longer period-for forty-four years, according to the Mahavamsa- and earned an enviable reputation for justice and impartial administration. These Dravidian attempts at establishing control over the Anuradhapura kingdom appear to have been motivated partly at least by the prospect of influence over its external trade.

Apart from this there is evidence from archeological investigations conducted at Pomparippu in the north west of the island in 1956 and 1957 of a culture which bears some resemblance to the south Indian megalithic culture(on the Pomparippu excavations and their significance see S.P.F. Senaratne, Prehistoric Archaesology in Ceylon;pp.29-31;Indrapala, ‘Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon’, pp. 15-33) the similarities are most noticeable in the Adichchanallur site just across the water from Pomparippu(Since the Adichchanallur finds have been dated at around 300 BC, the same date is tentatively assigned to the Pomparippu complex which is regarded as being roughly contemporary with them.) There are striking similarities in the style of urn burials and the characteristics of the pottery and the associated objects found at these two sites.

The settlement at Pomparippu and a possible one at Katiraveli in the east of the Island need to be treated as isolated occurrences, not as evidence of widespread Tamil settlements. (Indrapala, Early Tamil Settlements in Ceylon’, pp.23ff;Kiribamune, Tamils in Ancient and Medieval Sri Lanka’, pp. 9-23. See also P. Raghupathy, Early Settlements in Jaffna, pp.179-87.)These two settlements could be dated between the second century B.C. and the third century B.C. For many centuries thereafter there is no inscriptional or other archeological evidence, or literary evidence of Tamil settlements in the country. There were of course, Tamil mercenaries who were brought to the island occasionally from about the fifth century A.D, but more particularly from the seventh century AD onwards. Their presence in the early stages was for short periods and served a political purpose. They fought on behalf of aspirants to the throne and on behalf of rulers whose position was insecure. Thus, Sri Lanka from very early in its recorded history had seen groups of persons from southern India enter the island as traders, occasionally as invaders and as mercenaries but their presence was of peripheral significance in the early demography of the island.

To be continued

The beginning 2

Continued from the previous post

"In the first place, he has argued that the island of Ceylon as well as the language spoken there were known in ancient times as Ilam and that the name of the language was later corrupted to Elu. These factors, in his opinion, "should lead one to conclude prima facie that, at the earliest times, Ilam was occupied , at least in the main, by a Tamil speaking people”. This argument is far from logical. Presumably it rests on the fact Ilam is now used only in Tamil as a name for Ceylon. But the origin of this name, far from indicating that the island was occupied by Tamil speaking people in ancient times, shows that the people from whose name Ilam is derived were Sinhalese. The earliest occurrence of this name is in the Brahmi inscriptions of South India. In these inscriptions, from Tirupparankunram and Sittannavasal, occurs the Prakrit form of this name, namely Ila. Evidently it is from this Prakrit form that the Tamil Ilam is derived. It could be shown that Ila is derived from Sinhala through the Pali Sihala, or more probably through another Prakrit form Sihila………. Thus, Ilam could be derived from the name Sihala and would therefore, mean the land of the Sinhalese rather than indicate that Ceylon was originally settled by the Tamils. Gnanapragasar's arguments, on this score, will become groundless. The derivation of Ilam from Sinhala is accepted by leading Tamil scholars. (S. Vaiyapuri Pillai, Madras Tamil Lexicon p 382 & S. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar in the Preface to S. Rasanayagam's Ancient Jaffna)"

"Secondly, Gnanapragasar has argued that the original inhabitants of Ceylon came from South India and that these pre-Aryan aborigines were Dravidians who seem to have spoken a Tamil dialect. He bases this on the assumption that the pre Aryan inhabitants of India represent an earlier wave of immigrants from the Mediterranean area and that no trace of any language other than Tamil is found in India till the arrival of the Indo-Aryans. Although the pre-historic relations between India and Ceylon are undeniable, the rest of his arguments are based on mere assumptions. It is not true to say that all the non-Aryan inhabitants of India were necessarily Dravidian. There were others as well, chief among whom were the Munda speaking people. The chronology of the Dravidian migration to India is itself an unsettled question."

"His third argument is that 'hundreds of Tamil place-names in Ceylon are pre-Sinhalese. He has given a few examples of elements of present-day Sinhalese place-names and what have been considered by him to be their Tamil origins. It is clear that this argument is based on superficial similarities and not on any historical study of the development or evolution of these names. This could be seen in the two sets of elements as well as from their phonological development. He has claimed, for instance, that the Sinhalese element dena, meaning 'low-lying land or valley', is derived from Tamil tinai, meaning corn. But dena and its more common variant deniya are derived from Sanskrit droni (=valley), through the Pali doni and medieval Sinhalese dona and deni.

The fourth argument that Sinhalese is based on Tamil and that, therefore, 'the original inhabitants of Ceylon' spoke Tamil is unconvincing. Gnanapragasar arrives at this conclusion by adopting unscientific methods in his linguistic research. One can only quote the views of Wilhelm Geiger on this matter:- 'Gnanapragasar's methods are not at all Indian; they are simply a relapse into the old practice of comparing two or more words of the most distant languages merely on the basis of similar sounds without any consideration for chronology, for phonological principles, or for the historical development of words and forms.' ".

To be continued...