This land doesn’t belong to me or to you
By M.S.Shah Jahan
By M.S.Shah Jahan
It was mid 1975. He was my neighbour — a popular guitarist in the city and a Malay Muslim married to a Burgher woman. He came to say good-bye to me on the eve of his migration to Australia.
While I was wondering to myself what this senior musician in his evening of life could do down under, he, finally, at the door, shaking my hand said, "This country will never come right." I was thunder struck.
Jawaharlal Nehru and Lee Kwan Yew
It was a few days after the UNP came to power in 1977. He and I were waiting at Galle Road, watching the convoy of buses, taking Tamil residents of Colombo South to the harbour to be put on a ship to "Eelam." After a year or so he, a young Tamil Christian of Indian origin with a good education, also came to bid good-bye. He said he was migrating to Canada. "It is better to be a second class citizen in a first class country, than a third class citizen in a third class country," he said. It was like a phrase quoted in the UN. I was speechless.
In January 2008, my Londoner friend cum relative whose father was buried in Colombo, angrily said, "if I were off loaded I would have held up the aircraft informing my lawyer" and he poured out more. Also he joked about the comedy staged in the Rupavahini studio by a minister. In brief he tried to convince me, yours is a third class country led by third class leaders. I kept mum.
A third class country
Is ours really a third class country? Before Independence we were only next to Japan in economic strength while Nippon was a super power in the east battling with the British and invading China. Our rupee against the Japanese yen in the last 25 years has weakened by 10 times. Why?
Wasn’t it Lee Kwan Yew’s promise ‘to make Singapore another Ceylon’ when he faced his first general election in 1959? Today he says ‘no country should follow Sri Lanka’s model.’ The Lion city now belongs to the first world and probably in a few decades would become the first in the world.
But did anyone ever give thought to why a Chinese populated state has an Islamic symbol of crescent and five stars on its national flag and sings the national anthem "Majulah Singapura" — "Onward Singapore" in Malay language by law, although there exist authorised translations of the lyrics in English, Mandarin and Tamil?
Well, this land belonged to the Sultan of Johore. Malay states of Indonesia and Malayasia, getting together, could have ousted the democratically elected Singapore’s Chinese government and placed it under Malay military rule. But Singapore was already facing a communist insurgency instigated by rebel Maoists. Therefore it was ignored.
Battered Korea was much way behind us after the Korean War in 1950. Today our youths scramble to get jobs there, and it is said, for the Eastern youths Korean jobs cost Rs.275, 000, as Lord Skanda granted 500 numbers to the CM who passed 100 to "the Sultan." This is how democracy works. Let the East develop. Let every one prosper too. Besides, with a highland VIP for "English jobs," 10 Northern youths were said to be snake bitten even after offering each 15 cans of melamine free milk. Alas!
Neighbouring Maldives was junior to us in tourism until the 1983 riots. Today we have put up an advertising board in Hullulle airport asking tourists to visit the "Paradise." The whole world is in India from Rolls-Royce motor cars to Rolex watches. For the price we pay here for over 2000 cc vehicles one can buy a Rolls Royce in India. It is said ¼ of world’s most expensive watches are now sold there.
Why is Sri Lanka so antiquated?
"The question of domination by the Sinhalese would never arise," said the ‘Father of the Nation,’ Don Stephen Senanayake addressing Jaffna Tamil businessmen in 1937. Of course this is the ultimate cause for all the backwardness of this country from the time of the Elara –Duttugamunu conflict.
Well, recently a venerable made a statement that ‘even the one who came from India was a Sinhalese.’ If we go by Mahavamsa, he is right as Vijaya was the son of Sinhabahu whose father was the legendary Lion who kidnapped the beautiful Suppadevi, Princess of Vanga (today’s Orissa) and fathered twins — a son and a daughter who were named as "Sinhabahu," since he had Lion’s hands and legs, and "Sinhasivali."
But Prof. Wijeyanayake from London wrote in the Sunday Observer of November 17,1996: "The origin of the Sinhala race is in Lanka. There is no scientific evidence of Indians originating in India who speak Sinhalese." If so where is the root of the so-called ‘only organic race of Sri Lanka’? It is true the Sinhala language; a blend of Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil and Malayalam was not spoken in any part of India.
Some historians quote the origin of the Sinhala language from the 4-5th century. Rev. S. Gnanapiragasam said — "There are more than 4,000 Tamil words in the Sinhala vocabulary. If the Sinhala vocabulary is stripped of all the Tamil words there will be no Sinhala language." One thing is certain that the Sinhala language and the Sinhala race never travelled together hand in hand.
Besides, in Lanka there is no lion in the forests only tigers, and if professor Wijeyanayake is also sticking to the lion story, who was the woman enticed? If not where was the origin of the Sinhalese under his theory? What is the venerable’s answer to him?
Further, it is said that rebel Vijaya cohabited with a non-human Yakkini Princess Kuveni who bore him a son and a daughter. Later he deserted her to the central mountain part of Lanka, and her children are said to have given rise to the Vedda community. Prince Vijaya then got down a ‘Panduva’ (Pandya in Tamil) Princess from Madurai, Tamilnadu for him and she was accompanied by many maidens who were taken by his ministers and retainers.
Mahavamsa says Lord Buddha visited Lanka and converted the Yakkos in Mahiyangana to Buddhism and Vijaya arrived in Tambapanni on the day that the Tathagata lay down between the two twinlike sal-trees to pass into nibbana. Doesn’t that mean that the Yakkos were the first Buddhists of this island and not the Sinhalese?
As Vijaya had no sons his brother Sumitta’s son Prince "Panduvasdev" from India succeeded to the kingdom of Lanka and subsequently married an Indian Princess Buddhakachchana, daughter of a King named Panda, from an ancient Royal family, a cousin of the Buddha.
Birth of the Sinhala Race
If so, does the birth of the Sinhala race start from Panduvasdev with his North Indian Princess who were maternal grand parents of Prince Pandukabhaya fondly known as "Aba" — an illicit child of Princess Unmada Chitra and Deega Gamini — on whose life story a movie is currently running in the country?
According to a chronicle, "the great Raja Raja Cholan I, and his great son Rajendra Cholan I, defeated all of the Sinhalese kings and sub-kings who ruled over Sinhala kingdoms on the island and brought the entire island under South Indian Tamil control. The Sinhala king Mahinda V and his family were captured and taken to Chola Naadu. Tamils ruled the entire island for the next 37 years (1018-1055)."
Jawaharlal Nehru, in his "My discovery of India," writes "there are numerous records of the Cholas having braved the waves of the oceans and established cultural and commercial intercourse with foreign countries, and left their impressions in those countries. Will the minister, who is ignorant of Indian and Ceylon history, who said "Tamils were allowed to take refuge when the Moguls were invading them in India," take note?
When the late G.G. Ponnambalam claimed in his inflammatory speech, attacking the Sinhalese and the Mahavamsa in Nawalapitiya in 1939 that most of the Sinhala kings, including Vijaya, Kasyapa, and Parakramabahu, were Tamils, it led to the first Sinhala -Tamil riots, which engulfed Nawalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya, and even Jaffna.
A true Buddhist must keep in mind that Lord Buddha was born a Hindu. All those Indian kings who came here according to the Mahavamsa were of Hindu faith. In brief Hinduism is the mother of Buddhism. Therefore it is the duty of Buddhists to respect Hindus and Hinduism.
As far as Muslims are concerned, the Middle Easterners visited the region before the advent of Islam. Yemen was one of the oldest centres of civilisation in the Near East and between the 12th century BC and the 6th century AD it was part of kingdoms that controlled the lucrative spice trade in this region.
When the world is about to learn that white Americans may not defeat a black-and-white American with an "Arab" name for an epic making victory, Lanka is still embroiled in communalism without change. "Love the country and obey the law" has no place here. The result is; "Jack fell down and broke his crown. And Jill came tumbling after."
This land of Tambapanni belongs to Kuveni and her people, not to me or to you — descendents of "Indian visitors." [courtesy: The Morning Leader.lk]