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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Journey Down Memory Lane To Reach 'tamiz Izam'
R.Shanmugalingam

Chapter 15

The Sinhala actions are dictated by Mahavamsa for them and ‘makA vagncam’ for ‘tamizar.’ They have Sinhala Pali for ’tamiz pali.’ One such ‘tamiz pali’ to Sinhala Pali is the word ‘Veddha.’ The word ‘vEdar’ means hunter in ‘tamiz.’

It is also accepted that ‘Veddhas’ are forest dwellers and their culture is totally different from the so called civilized groups? Sinhala experts connect ‘Veddha’ with a Pali word ‘vyadha which is for hunter. I am no linguist nor an expert on ‘Veddhas’, and would keep away from academic exercise and debate, except make simple deductions from readily available information. A very interesting thing about ‘Veddhas’ is their names.

They take their mothers’ name, a convenient way to establish who the mother is, and is never in doubt. The other way about, although they carry a man’s name some among us behave like ‘bachelors’ children’ and raise questions of our paternity.

The’Veddhas’ essentially hunters were also involved in some form of agriculture. The practice of cut and burn known as "chena’ cultivation was a common practice. I do not know whether this wanton destruction of the environment and a resource that takes hundreds of years to re establish is still practiced. Recent reports, a carefully avoided situation by the Sinhala government using its long arm of the law by censuring news from ‘tamiz Izam.’

The military had knocked down acres and acres of Palmyra trees to fortify bunkers. I recall an article written in the National Geographic magazine some time back, by the then Director of Wild Life Mr. Lynn de Alwis. In the article he wrote that the elephants of Sri Lanka were not in any danger of extinction, since Sri Lanka is the land where majority are Buddhists, and as Buddhists their love of environment and compassion for animals help them to protect the environment and save lives. Buddhist compassion- my pes!-probably the majority of the Sinhala Buddhists have been given a wrong translation of the teachings of Buddha, or the Sinhala language suffers from a vocabulary crunch. Somebody said, "The highest form of compassion resides in affirming another’s right to exist."

What is happening in the land , that claims to have compassion for elephants? The irony is, the very essence of Buddha’s teachings is flouted to preserve the purity of Buddhism. What crap? ‘tamizar’ are not demanding to take over Colombo, Kandy, not even Madhawachi.

We want to be left alone in our homeland to determine our own destiny without a set of gun, mortar, gunship, and other weapons of destruction carrying hooligans to subdue us and then ride on our unwilling backs.

We want to first exist as a community and if we get the leadership we deserve, I am sure we have it now, we will progress by leaps and bounds without being dragged down with the Sinhalas by designing, cheating, murderous thugs who parade as Buddhist leaders.

How many of us know the subterfuge used to decimate the ‘Veddhas.’ I was in a position to visit Tissahamy’s hamlet with a couple from Australia and my family. I think this little hamlet was within the RVDB jurisdiction. There was an RVDB employee and I think he was called Tharumar. He had some official connection to the ‘Veddhas.’ He himself looked like a ‘Veddha’ except he had shorter hair and wore trouser and shirt. He spoke slowly, walked slowly and took things easy. The Australian couple was hitch-hiking and I gave them a ride from Haputale, and naturally they were our house guests for sometime. Since we have arranged with Tharumar to visit the ‘Veddha’ village, the couple was also thrilled about the visit. They had some idea of how aborigines lived and were not surprised at the squalid condition of the huts and land.

I was delighted to see the very tree described in Savage Sanctuary. I do not remember exactly how this tree was connected with Tissahamy, but I remember that the large hole in the tree was a hiding place for collected honey and meat preserved in honey. The cultures of all indigenous people, religious rituals or beliefs seem to have a common theme. They invoke the hunting spirits, elements, the protectors of the land/forest and the spirit of their forefathers. American Indians , at least how it is portrayed in some Westerns, have ritual dances such as rain dance, they talk to the spirits of their forefathers, and thank them for their generous gifts in the past and pray for a safe and bountiful future. There was no commercialism in their religion or killing and wars in the name of religion. If there were tribal or clan war it was to protect their abode or territory.

I have a theory and please do not defend or scoff at it. May be a wishful thinking. According to Mahavamsa compiled by Sinhala Buddhist monks like many other works with a religious bias, the arrival of the Sinhalas coincides with the death of Buddha to give license to take over Lanka. One has to doubt the veracity from other stories. This is not crucial to what is happening today.

The never do well rascal Vijayan from North India, according to Sinhala history, was shipped with 700 of his ‘buddies’ or gang members. They needed that many numbers those days to gain recognition. Today it can be a one man gang so long as he has access to an AK 47, few hand grenades, couple of hand guns and enough ammunition, then he can terrorize a whole community. So the Ruler or King, the father of the vagabond Vijayan, expelled his son with his followers. He drifted to the shores of Lanka. There were two tribes in Lanka at that time, the Nagas and the Yakkas. The Yakkas were called by the Sinhalas as demons and evil people. Vijayan and his followers were captured and imprisoned. Kuveni the Yakka princess or ‘head honcho’ was attracted to the vagabond and on condition of marriage, she released Vijayan and his followers. Vijayan was made The Prince Vijayan, and he in keeping with Royal protocol kept at the usual distance.

This was too much for a gangster, he one day slit open Kuveni’s throat and opened the way for him to become number one instead of number two. Sinhala Buddhist monks had to give some respectability to the vagabond demon issues. Children out of this wedlock carried a stigma of low birth and rowdy parent The monks concocted another lie that, ‘tamiz’ women were brought from India to meet the needs of the horny urchins. I am not surprised that ‘tamiz’ women were brought because long after Vijayan, colonial masters shipped a large number of ‘tamizan and tamizacci’.

It was not for the same purpose as in the Vijayan story, but as expatriate labor in the newly started sugar, coffee, rubber, coconut plantations all over the world where’re there was a need. Conditions changed after the independence of India and Ceylon, etc. Some of us in the recent past went as expatriate contract officers to other countries with a contract that guaranteed passage back to the place of recruitment. Unfortunately, no such agreement could be even thought of under a Master, Subject context. So most of our ancestors were forced to stay behind.In some places like Burma they tried to shed their Indian identity and don a Burmese appearance. Difference in physical characteristics do not permit a harmonious blend between the hosts and the guests. We have to salvage their identity if they want.

There is no need to debate on the Vijayan ‘tamiz’ women story, to continue with my theory. Vijayan had two kids according to the monks. It is easy to imply that the 700 good for nothings were at least good at the thing that comes naturally. Even by a conservative estimate, there must have been at least 1402 original demon vagabond genes carrying Lankans, the precursor to the Sinhala race according to those Sinhala chroniclers.. Naturally through the process of evolution, like all others, there are very good people among the Sinhalas.

I had the good fortune figuratively speaking, rubbing shoulders with Sinhala men and women-therefore no need to raise your eye brows. I did not say figure rubbing, who were second to none for their respect, love, compassion, and understanding of other people. The part that hurts most is to find that the original genes some times produce throw backs who confuse the Sinhalas most of whom still smart under the inaccurate chronicling of their ancestry. I could sense a fear or discomfort among peers in our work environment. They see ‘tamizar’ as superior people and want to destroy them wherever they are. Now it is in Sri Lanka, and who knows where else later? I do not simply bring to attention some problem without solution.

There are two solutions to the Sinhala inferiority complex problem:

1. The original gene responsible for the throw back characteristic must be isolated and removed. Is this possible? No, but it is probable. Probabilities are of no immediate use to us. So we go to the second solution.

2. Throw away Mahavamsa and get a good translation of the Buddha’s teachings.

If there is one code of conduct or ethics for the human race, I will recommend two teachings. One Thirukkural and the other teachings of the Buddha, without any religious connotation. Just plain code of conduct. I think I am in practice a Buddhist but ashamed to identify with the Sri Lankan Sinhala variety. Sinhala Buddhism has the Hindu alliance in a big way very alien to ‘tamiz’ way of thinking which is enshrined in the works of Thiruvalluvar.

In order to forestall being misunderstood, let me reiterate that I have based my theory urged by undoubtedly a wishful thinking encouraged by the Mahavamsa style of chronicling Sinhala origin and history. All blames are therefore bequeathed to the Sinhala Buddhist Monks. They tried to justify the take over of Lanka from her rightful owners with a pack of lies, which are haunting and misleading the Sinhala people.

Today the government is using the endangered indigenous people of Lanka the "veddhas’ as a tourist attraction. This scant regard for human dignity is a concern for ‘tamizar’ because part of this population is within ‘tamiz Izam’. Immediate solution has to be found for the Sinhala ‘tamiz’ conflict as time passes, more and more of the back-bone of ‘tamiz’ economic asset the Palmyra, ‘tamiz’ identity, and ‘tamizar’ themselves will be endangered in the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean" which is in peril of self destruction.

Next, traditional festivals, animal sacrifice, appeasing the deities with such rituals as ‘kuLittik kagnci’, ‘karakam, kAvadi, paravyk kavadi,’ etc. in ‘tamiz Izam.’

continued

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