Most Sinhalese names of the Ceylonese colonial-era are mouth-filling. Here is an interesting name:
Sir Solomon Dias Abeywickrema Jayatilleke Senewiratna Rajakumaruna Kadukeralu Bandaranaike
I wonder whether the bearer of this name would have recited his name without forgetting a single one, and in the correct order.
Sir Solomon Dias Abeywickrema Jayatilleke Senewiratna Rajakumaruna Kadukeralu Bandaranaike, KCMG, Maha Mudaliyar, JP (May 22, 1862 – July 31, 1946) was a Ceylonese colonial-era headman. Appointed as Head Mudaliyar and the aide-de-camp to the British Governor of Ceylon, he was one of the most powerful personalities in British colonial Ceylon.
In 1898, Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, married Daisy Ezline Obeyesekere, daughter of Solomon Christoffel Obeyesekere, a member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon. His son, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, became the 4th Prime Minister of Ceylon after independence, and his granddaughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, became both Prime Minister and President of Sri Lanka. His grandson, Anura Bandaranaike, became Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
The incidents that happened over the last twelve days in Jaffna have been given ethnic and political hues by the media in Sri Lanka.
Pungudutivu (Tamil: புங்குடுதீவு) is an islet composed of a few villages, west of the Jaffna Peninsula in Sri Lanka. The Dutch colonial rulers named the islet as “Middleburg” during their occupation of Ceylon.
In 1990, when Pungudutivu came under the control of the LTTE, the rich and the educated inhabitants left the islet for safety and greener pastures. Some shifted to Colombo while others left Sri Lanka.
After the Government forces recaptured Pungudutivu from the LTTE, about one-third of its former inhabitants returned to the islet. Many found their abodes in a dilapidated state. As of now, this islet is a paradise for smugglers of Sri Lanka and South India. Many of them indulge in the lucrative trafficking of heroin.
On May 13, 2015, Sivayoganathan Vidhya, a 17-year-old Advance Level student of Pungudutivu Maha Vidyalayam did not return home after school. The worried family members contacted her school and her friends. They learned that Vidhya had not attended school that day.
The family members went to the police station to lodge a complaint. The police told the family to search for the girl on their own. A policeman in a nonchalant manner blurted out a pithy stock and irresponsible rejoinder, “Don’t worry. She must have eloped with her lover. She will return in a few days.“
The following morning, Vidhya’s brother went out searching for her. He followed the route she takes from school to her home. He found one of his sister’s slippers. From there, he followed the trail to a remote jungle area and found the mutilated corpse of his sister. It was a gruesome sight – her hands tied above her head with her school tie, her legs spread apart and tied to two trees, her mouth gagged with a piece of cloth.
Vidhya’s brother shouted and soon some residents gathered at the scene. Police arrived and sent the teenage girl’s corpse for postmortem examination.
According to the police reports, some time ago, S. Saraswathi, the mother of the rape victim had witnessed a robbery committed in a doctor’s house by three brothers. After that, she had appeared at the courts and testified against them. Suspecting that they might have committed the sordid crime to avenge her, the police arrested the three brothers as suspects.
Based on the statements of the three brothers, the police arrested five others on the following day. One of them worked in the Pradeshiya Sabha office in the area and the other four employed in Colombo.
On the day of the incident, the five suspects had arrived in Pungudutivu from Colombo. After the gang rape and murder of Vidhya, they left for Colombo. They came again to Pungudutivu and attended Vidhya’s funeral. After the funeral, before they could return to Colombo the police arrested them.
The nine apprehended suspects revealed that a person named Mahalingam Sivakumar alias Kumar was the leader of their gang that raped, tortured and murdered the teenager. Sivakumar, a resident of Pungudutivu, a heroin baron and one who engages in other illegal activities is a Swiss national of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. He had recently returned to Sri Lanka from Switzerland.
That night, residents of Pungudutivu seized Mahalingam Sivakumar and tied him to a pillar. After venting their rage by humiliating him, they handed him over to the police. Hitherto, the police had not received any complaints against Mahalingam Sivakumar.
The deputy minister of women’s affairs for the area intervened for the release of Mahalingam Sivakumar.
According to the media, Dr V.T. Tamilmaran, the Dean of the faculty of law at the Colombo University, is a relative of Mahalingam Sivakumar. Tamilmaran is one of those among the educated who left Pungudutivu earlier. Now, he aspires to contest the Pungudutivu electorate at the next election.
The website lankanews.com reports that according to information seeping from within the police itself, and according to the stories doing the rounds across the whole of the north, Dr Tamilmaran approached his friend, the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe in charge of the North. He told the DIG that Mahalingam had returned only recently to Sri Lanka from Switzerland. He stressed that Mahalingam was innocent. Some sources say that the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe had reportedly taken a bribe of four million rupees to release Mahalingam Sivakumar, the prime suspect.
Some media sources say that Mahalingam Sivakumar, the prime suspect was set free by the police.
Some other media sources say that on the instructions of the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe, arrangements were made for Sivakumar to escape while taking him to the hospital for treatment for the wounds he had incurred when the residents of Pungudutivu seized and humiliated him. Sivakumar then fled to Colombo.
The people of the North were shocked, provoked, furious and enraged over the escape of the prime suspect even after the residents of Pungudtivu helped the police by apprehending and entrusting him to their custody.
Mahalingam Sivakumar rented a room in a lodge in Wellawatte, Colombo. The lodge owner noticing the bruises on Sivakumar’s body informed the Wellawatte police. So, on May 19, 2015, the police arrested Sivakumar the second time inadvertently and not through efforts initiated by them. If the lodge owner had not informed the police, the rapist-murderer would have escaped from Sri Lanka.
Some media reported that on May 19, 2015, the residents who were in an explosive and justifiable rage, held Dr Tamilmaran, his London-based daughter who is in Sri Lanka on a holiday, and a few others as captives. They demanded that the police should apprehend the criminal Mahalingam Sivakumar immediately. About five and a half hours later, the police informed the people that Sivakumar was in the custody of the Wellewatte police. Though the people did not trust the information, they nevertheless released Dr Tamilmaran and others.
If we look at the other side of the story, Dr V.T. Tamilmaran, told Ceylon Today that Pungudutivu being his hometown, he had gone there to assess the situation over the brutal killing of Vidhya. He said:
“I am very much aware of the misconduct of one of the 10 suspects who returned from Switzerland. The suspect M. Kumar visited Pungudutivu on and off, and whenever he arrived there he created big problems for the people in the area. In fact, I sought Police assistance in arresting the suspect. However, the guy had managed to escape while he was in Police custody.”
Dr Tamilmaran also added that when he attended a meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, over the incident in Pungudutivu there were some men who were under the influence of liquor shouting in abusive language against him. He said that certain political elements were behind tarnishing his image following the recent speculation of his entry into politics. He also said that he was much disturbed over the incident in his village Pungudutivu, which had produced several eminent personalities in the field of education, and many leading businessmen in the country hailed from his village.
The news of the sordid crime spread among the people of the north like wildfire.
Students, teachers and staff of the nine schools in Poonguditheevu, the staff of the Department of Education, and the general public from all walks of life gathered on the grounds of the Maha Vidyalaya. There they staged a protest against the rape and killing of the 17-year-old student.
On May 21, 2015, the business community in the North staged a hartal to protest against the alleged rape and killing of the teenager. All shops in the North remained closed and people stayed away from their workplaces.
Protesters gathered in the vicinity of the Magistrate Court and the Police Station in Jaffna.
Out of anger and hate, people protested. Fearing the Police would let the suspects off the hook, the violent mob attempted to harm the eight arrested suspects while the police escorted them. The mob also attacked the police personnel who tried to save suspects from being assaulted.
When the protesters found that the main suspect Mahalingam Sivakumar was not brought to the court, the mob turned restive and pelted the court premises with stones.
The police responded by firing tear gas shells to disperse Jaffna mob. Around 130 suspects were remanded on charges of unlawful assembly and stoning the Jaffna Courts Complex.
On May 22, 2015, the Jaffna court issued an order banning all demonstrations in Jaffna. The order was issued to Janatha Balaya Organisation, Jaffna Women’s organization and Northern Provincial Councillor Anandi Shashidharan.
The media as usual focussed on the public protests rather than focussing on the reason behind it, namely rape.
There are suggestions that Mahalingam Sivakumar, the main suspect in the rape cum murder case, is well-connected as can be seen in the following photographs that I came across on Naangal Yaalpanam/Facebook.
The photo shown below circulated in the media of Mahalingam Sivakumar, posing with former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is morphed for political gains. In the original photograph, it was ‘Swiss Ranjan’ an opponent of the LTTE, now residing in Switzerland. .
There is always a blessing that springs out of any adversity. Sri Lankans are now reacting to this incident not as Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers, or Malays, but as one people of a country unified in its disgust and horror on learning about the raping of the 17-year-old Tamil maiden.
On Friday, May 22, 2015, Wijedasa Rajapakshe, incumbent Minister of Justice shamed a racist media person in public by retorting:
“… we’re not Tamil, Muslim or Sinhala, but simply human.”
Saint Joseph Vaz was born on April 21, 1651 in the village of Benaulim, Goa, India.
In 2012, Rev. Fr. Anthony Hemantha Peiris of the Diocese of Badulla, Sri Lanka, wrote the Lyrics in Sinhala and also composed the music of the hymn sung in the following video to commemorate the birth of the Saint of India and Sri Lanka.
Rev. Fr. Michael Rajendram Pillai of the Diocese of Galle translated the lyrics were Tamil.
The hymn is sung in both Sinhala and Tamil languages in the same Melody.
The above image of a snake makes regular rounds of the Internet every few months or so. Each time the incident was purported to have occurred in a different geographic locale.
Today, once again, I came across the same photograph of a distended snake with the caption: “ANACONDA EATS WOMAN ALIVE!”
In August 2012, someone using this photograph, claimed a serpent ate a man in Qujing, China.
In January 2013, the snake swallowed another person in Jakarta, Indonesia,
In February 2013, it gobbled a man whole in Panama.
In June 2013, it devoured a woman near Durban North, South Africa.
In October 2013, the snake gulped down a 4-year-old child in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.
In November 2013, the python made its way to Attapady, Kerala, India to swallow a drunkard lying beside the liquor shop.
Now, you be the judge.
The Python reticulatus also known as the (Asiatic) reticulated python, is a species found in Southeast Asia. The specific name, reticulatus, is Latin meaning “net-like”, or reticulated, and is a reference to the complex color pattern. They are the world’s longest snakes and longest reptile, but are not the most heavily built. Adult pythons can grow to 22.8 feet (6.95 metres) in length, and grow to an average length of 10–20 feet (3–6 metres). They are nonvenomous constrictors and not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, reports of attacks are rare. It is not found in countries such as South Africa.
The Boa constrictor
The Boa constrictor is a species of large, heavy-bodied snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in North, Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. It has varied colour and pattern and are distinctive. Ten subspecies are currently recognized.
The anaconda is a large snake found in tropical South America. Although the name applies to a group of snakes, it is often used to refer only to one species in particular, the common or green anaconda, Eunectes murinus. It is one of the largest snakes in the world.
Although the name refers to a snake found only in South America, the name commonly used in Brazil is sucuri, sucuriju or sucuriuba.
Peter Martyr d’Anghiera suggested the South American names anacauchoa and anacaona. Henry Walter Bates questioned the idea of the origin of the South American names. Bates in his travels in South America, failed to find any similar name in use.
Some researchers believe the word anaconda is derived from the name of a snake from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1684 Andreas Cleyer described its habit. Cleyer described a gigantic snake that crushed large animals by coiling and crushing their bones.
Henry Yule in his Hobson-Jobson noted the word anaconda became more popular due to a piece of fiction by a certain R. Edwin published in 1768 in the Scots Magazine. Edwin described an anaconda crushing and killing a tyger when in fact tigers never occurred in Sri Lanka. Yule and Frank Wall noted that the snake was in fact a python. They suggested a word of Tamil origin anai-kondra (Tamil: ஆனை கொன்றா) meaning elephant killer.
A more-likely Sinhalese origin was suggested by Donald Ferguson. He said the word Henakandaya (Sinhalese: හෙනකන්දය; hena = lightning or large, kanda = stem or trunk) was used in Sri Lanka for the small whip snake (Ahaetulla pulverulenta).
On March 5, 2010, Juan Maria Bordaberry was sentenced to 30 years in prison (the maximum allowed under Uruguayan law) for murder. He was the second former Uruguayan dictator sentenced to a long prison term.
On July 17, 2011, Bordaberry died, aged 83, at his home. He had been suffering from respiratory problems and other illnesses. His remains are buried at Parque Martinelli de Carrasco.
José Mujica, the current president of Uruguay adopts a ruling style closer to center-left administrations of Lula in Brazil and Bachelet in Chile, unlike the harder-left leaders such as the late Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, former president of Venezuela .
In 2012, José Mujica was lauded for a speech at the United Nations’ Rio+20 global sustainability conference in which he called for a fight against the hyper-consumption that is destroying the environment:
“The cause is the model of civilization that we have created. And the thing we have to re-examine is our way of life.“
Again in 2012, Mujica announced that the presidential palace would be included among the state shelters for the homeless.
In 2013 Mujica’s government pushed the world’s most progressive cannabis legalization bill through the Uruguayan Congress. He says:
“This is not about being free and open. It’s a logical step. We want to take users away from clandestine business.“
Guerilla warfare of Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara inspired the Tupamaros in Uruguay. Other Guerrilla outfits around the world while being inspired by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, emulated the Tupamaros of Uruguay.
To a certain extent, the Tupamaros of Uruguay became the role model for urban guerrillas in India and in Sri Lanka.
In India the various Naxalite groups that are mostly associated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the Kashmiri ultras funded by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, and many other worldwide terror outfits have been inspired by the Tupamaros of Uruguay.
In Sri Lanka, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil insurgent outfits such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), considered the Tupamaros as their role model.
The Naxalites of India
In India, various Communist guerrilla groups, under the generic term “Naxalites”, were influenced by the Uruguayan Tupamaros.
The first Naxal movement led by Kanu Sanyal, an Indian communist politician, originated in the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967.
On May 18, 1967, Jangal Santhal, president of the Siliguri Kishan Sabha declared his support for the movement initiated by Kanu Sanyal. The members of the Sabha readily consented to adopt armed struggle for redistribution of land to the landless.
Through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Kanu Sanyal’s Naxalite ideology spread to less developed regions of rural eastern and southern India, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Today it has the following of displaced tribal people fighting against exploitation of their land by major Indian corporations and corrupt local officials.
During the 1970s, the original Naxal movement got fragmented into various factions due to internal conflicts among their leaders. In 1980, about 30 Naxalite groups were active in India, with a combined membership of 30,000 cadres.
Terrorists of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, two terrorist groups involved in guerilla warfare against the governments were very much influenced by the Cuban revolutionists and the Uruguayan Tupamaros.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) of Sri Lanka
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front) (JVP), a Marxist-Leninist communist political party was led by Rohana Wijeweera (born Patabendi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera).
The JVP involved in two armed insurrections against the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) government in 1971 and against the United National Party (UNP) government in 1987-89.
After 1989, the JVP entered the mainstream of democratic politics. They became popular to a certain extent and participated in the 1994 parliamentary election.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was a separatist militant organization based in northern Sri Lanka formed in May 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The LTTE waged a secessionist nationalist campaign to create an independent and autonomous country for the Tamil people in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Their pursuit to create a mono ethnic Tamil Eelam evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009).
The LTTE had a well-developed militia and were the first militant group to acquire air power. They carried out many high-profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians. The LTTE was the only militant group to assassinate two world leaders: former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993.
The LTTE movement is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries, including India. However, it had and still has the support amongst many Tamil political parties in Tamil Nadu in India.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the founder of the LTTE, was killed on May 18, 2009, by the Sri Lankan army.
Eventually, the LTTE militants were defeated by the Sri Lankan Military in 2009.
Though the Tupamaros movement in Uruguay, the JVP and LTTE movements in Sri Lanka were annihilated by outright military action in both countries, they all have set a standard for an intelligent violence unequaled in modern times. Though there is no doubt about the flair, bravery and genius of those insurgents, there lingers doubts about their politics. The German strategist, Von Clausewitz, much admired by Lenin, wrote:
“War is only the violent extension of politics; if the politics are wrong to start with, the war will probably go the same way.”
As commanded by queen Bhaddakaccānā, Ummada Citta’s woman-attendant placed the infant boy in a basket and carried him to Dvaramandalaka, the village situated near the Cetiya mountain (Mihintale), east of Anuradhagama.
Some brothers of Ummada Citta, on a hunting spree in the Tumbara forest, saw the woman-attendant carrying the basket.
One of them asked her: “Where are you going? What are you carrying in the basket?”
She answered: “I am going to Dvramandalaka. I am taking sweet cake for my daughter.”
The prince then said: “Take the cake out and show it to us.”
Just then, the two dead attendants of Dighagamani, Citta the herdsman and Kalavela the slave, who as yakkas were protecting the infant, caused a great boar to appear. The princes pursued the boar. The attendant immediately hastened from there with the child and hurried towards the Dvaramandalaka.
She handed over Pandukabhaya and a thousand pieces of money to a herdsman who was secretly entrusted by queen Bhaddakaccānā to take care of her grandson.
On that very day, the herdsman’s wife bore him a son, and he declared that his wife had given birth to twins. He brought up and protected Pandukabhaya along with his own son.
Pandukabhaya practised diving deep in the pond and secretively hid in the hollow of a large tree standing in the middle of it. When he had stayed long enough in the hollow of the tree completely hidden from his playmates, he would come out and be again among them. When his friends asked him where he had been, he would mislead them with evasive words.
When Pandukabhaya was seven years old, his uncles came to know that he was alive. They found out where he lived and the pond where he used to play with his friends. They ordered their men to kill him, and his playmates.
One day, Pandukabhaya seated on the edge of the pond while his friends were playing in the pond saw the enforcers approaching. He dived deep into the water with his clothes on and reached the hollow tree. The assassins unable to find out who their victim counted the number of boys in the pond and the clothes lying nearby. When the count tallied they killed all the boys. They then went to their masters and declared that they killed all the boys.
Pandukabhaya’s foster-father comforted him for the loss of his playmates.
When Pandukabhaya was twelve years old, his uncles again came to know that he was alive. Once again, they charged their assassins to kill him.
One day, a group of Dvaramandalaka herdsmen caught a deer and sent Pandukabhaya to the village to bring fire from there. He went home. Feeling tired and footsore, he sent his foster-father’s son with the fire to the herdsmen.
The assassins surrounded the herdsmen and the twelve-year-old boy with the fire who they assumed to be Pandukabhaya and killed them all. They then went to their masters and declared that they killed the boy and all the herdsmen of the Dvaramandalaka village.
Then, when Pandukabhaya was sixteen years old, his uncles once again discovered that he was still alive and plotted to kill him. On knowing this, his mother, Citta, sent him a thousand pieces of money and a squad of armed men to accompany him to a safe place.
Pandukabhaya’s foster-father told him his mother’s message, and giving him a slave and the thousand pieces of money, sent him to seek out the Brahmin named Pandula, a rich man, well-versed in the vedic lieterature, who dwelt in Pandulagamaka village, in the southern district.
Pandula honoured Pandukabhaya as his guest. He tutored him the knowledge needed by a reigning prince. With assistance from Pandula’s son Canda (or Candena cassa puttena who belonged to the sippam samapitam), Pandukabhaya mastered ‘the art’ in a short time.
Pandula then gave him a hundred thousand pieces of money and asked him to enrol soldiers. When five hundred men had been enrolled, Pandula appointed his son Canda as Pandukabhaya’s chaplain.
Before sending Pandukabhaya with his soldiers in search of his quest, Pandula gave him money and told him that he should consecrate the woman as his queen at whose touch leaves turn to gold.
By the time Pandukabhaya reached Pana, a city near the Kasa-mountain (Probably near the modern Kahagalagama ‘village of the Kaha mountain ‘, about 18 miles SE from Anuradhapura, and 10 miles WNW from the mountain Ritigala), he had gathered seven hundred more followers on the way and gathered provision for all. From there he and his one thousand two hundred soldiers marched to the mountain called Girikanda.
The Veddhas or Wanniya-laeto (‘forest-dwellers’) of the wanni (dry monsoon forest) are Sri Lanka’s indigenous inhabitants. According to scholars, the Veddhas of today perpetuate a direct line of descent from the island’s original Neolithic community that dates back to at least 16,000 BC.
For the past eighteen centuries or more the indigenous Veddha communities have been forced to retreat deeper into the ever-shrinking forests pummeled by successive waves of immigration and colonization that began with the arrival of the north Indians in the 5th century BC.
According to their culture the Veddhas revere and venerate their ancestors. At present, the surviving dwindling Veddha communities still live in the dry monsoon forests with their uncanny knowledge of their jungle habitat. They still retain the memory of their prehistoric culture and preserve their cultural identity and traditional lifestyle, despite facing the many challenges and relentless pressure from the surrounding dominant Sinhala and Tamil communities.
In the North Central and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka, a few Veddhas have been absorbed into the mainstream Sinhala communities and on the East Coast into the Tamil communities.
Ancient chronicles such as the Mahavamsa, relate the origin of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka to the arrival of Prince Vijaya from an area either in the northeast or northwest India, and his later affiliation with people from south India. Students of Indian history argue that the lore of Vijaya should be interpreted to favour either one or the other of the northern origins, or a mixture of people from both areas.
W. S. Karunatillake (late), Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, a Sinhala linguist, supported the hypothesis that the Sinhalese people originated in Eastern India because over 50% Sinhala words resemble words in the Bengali language. Even so, the question: “Did Vijaya and his companions migrate to Sri Lanka from Singhpur, Kalinga in northeast India, or from Sihor, Gujarat in northwest India?” still remains unresolved.
Some scholars identify the Lála country, where Sinhabahu founded Sinhapur, with the modern Rarh region of West Bengal, India that is still called Lala/Larh. Sanskrit texts refer to it as Lata-desa. Al-Biruni, a historian, chronologist and linguist of the medieval Islamic era calls it Lardesh in the extreme hilly west of Bengal where the Hooghly district and modern Singur is located. However, some scholars identify the region as modern Gujarat.
References weigh more in favor of Vijaya’s origin to lower Indus, and Sihor, which was officially known as Sinhapur in Kathiawar peninsula in ancient times. Also, the only home to Asiatic lions (locally referred as ‘Sinh‘ or ‘Sinha‘) is Gir Forest in Kathiawar peninsula in Gujarat and the approach to core Gir territory is just a few miles away from Sihor. In fact, to date, lions are sighted in rural areas adjoining Sihor.
According to the history chronicled in the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya and his wayward followers before landing at Tambapanni, first disembarked at the haven called Suppäraka, now identified with modern Sapporo, in the Thana district north of Mumbai. If Lála country was in northeast India, how could Vijaya and his companions dispatched from there, land at the port of Suppäraka in northwest India?
If we presume that the story of Vijaya narrated in the Mahavasa is historically correct, then, Prince Vijaya and his followers would have set sail from northwest India from a coastal harbour in Gujarat. Their contribution to the modern Sinhalese must have been erased by the long-standing interrelationship with people from Tamil Nadu for over 2,000 years.
According to the Mahavamsa, the population of Sri Lanka is heterogeneous – composed of diverse ethnic groups from India.
So far, most studies on the genetic affinities of the Sinhalese have been contradictory. Some investigators suggest a predominantly Bengali contribution and a minor Tamil and North Western Indian contribution, while others point towards a predominantly Tamil origin followed by a significant Bengali contribution with no North Western Indian contribution.
However, it is emphatically proved that the ancient ancestors of the current Sinhalese people came originally from northeast or northwest India as shown by genetic, linguistic and religious connections. After their arrival in Sri Lanka, the ancients intermarried to a minor extent with the indigenous Veddhas. Population genetic studies on the Sinhalese undertaken by various investigators show that they certainly intermarried extensively with Tamils of Southern India than with the Veddhas.
For the most part, according to the Mahavamsa, the modern Sinhalese are related to the Tamils as far back as 543 BC, with some elements of ancestry connected later with Bengalis, Gujaratis, Punjabis and Indian Moors. This is also supported by a genetic distance study, which showed low differences in genetic distance between the Sinhalese and the Tamil, Keralite and Bengali volunteers.
Because Sri Lanka lies on important sea trade routes, it has from ancient times received a constant influx of people from India and from various parts of the world, especially from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Europe, and the far-east. However, the genetic studies on the Sinhalese do not seem to show any ancestry from China or Southeast Asia.
In the 1995 study, “Genetic affinities of Sri Lankan populations” by Dr. Gautam K. Kshatriya (Source: National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Munirka, New Delhi, India) published in Hum Biol. 1995 Dec;67(6):843-66, the author says:
Mythological and historical sketches of the Sri Lankan population indicate that it is heterogeneous and composed of diverse ethnic groups. Ancient chronicles of Sri Lanka relate the origin of the Sinhalese to the legend of Prince Vijaya, who arrived on the northwest coast of the island in 543 B.C. from northeast or northwest India. … Taking into consideration mythological, historical, and linguistic records of Sri Lanka, I attempt to study the degree of gene diversity and genetic admixture among the population groups of Sri Lanka along with the populations of southern, northeastern, and northwestern India, the Middle East, and Europe.
The genetic distance analysis was conducted using 43 alleles controlled by 15 codominant loci in 8 populations and 40 alleles controlled by 13 codominant loci in 11 populations. Both analyses give a similar picture, indicating that present-day Sinhalese and Tamils of Sri Lanka are closer to Indian Tamils and South Indian Muslims. They are farthest from Veddahs and quite distant from Gujaratis and Punjabis of northwest India and Bengalis of northeast India. Veddhas, are distinct because they are confined to inhospitable dry zones and are hardly influenced by their neighbors.
The study of genetic admixture revealed that the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka have a higher contribution from the Tamils of southern India (69.86% +/- 0.61) compared with the Bengalis of northeast India (25.41% +/- 0.51), whereas the Tamils of Sri Lanka have received a higher contribution from the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka (55.20% +/- 9.47) compared with the Tamils of India (16.63% +/- 8.73).
In the 2009 study, “Prevalence of genetic thrombophilic polymorphisms in the Sri Lankan population–implications for association study design and clinical genetic testing services” by V.H. Dissanayake, L.Y. Weerasekera, G.G. Gammulla, and R.W. Jayasekara (Source: Human Genetics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka.) first published electronically on July 8, 2009, is consistent with the notion that Sinhalese are closely related to other Sri Lankans. The frequencies of the alleles observed were very similar between Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, and Moors and they were also similar to those in some ethnic groups from southern India. Excerpts from the Abstract:
“We investigated the prevalence of genotypes/alleles of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and haplotypes defined by them in three genes in which variations are associated with venous thromboembolism in 80 Sinhalese, 80 Sri Lankan Tamils and 80 Moors in the Sri Lankan population and compared the SNP data with that of other populations in Southern India and haplotype data with that of HapMap populations. … The frequencies observed were similar to data from other South Indian populations; […]”
Both the above studies present almost a similar picture. Genetic distance analysis, despite the limitations imposed by the data, shows that modern Sinhalese and Tamils of Sri Lanka are closer to the Tamils and Keralites of south India and the upper caste groups of Bengal. They are farthest from Veddahs and quite distant from Gujaratis and Punjabis of northwest India.
Similarly, the Tamils of Sri Lanka are closer to the Sinhalese because they were always and are near to each other historically, linguistically, and culturally.
When the brothers of Bhaddakaccānā heard of their sister’s safe landing at Gonagamaka, they, except one, urged by their mother, departed to join their sister on the island. The six brothers were Rama, Uruvela, Anuradha, Vijita, Dighayu and Rohana. The seventh brother, Gamani, stayed at home.
After their arrival they visited their brother-in-law, king Panduvāsudeva, and their sister Bhaddakaccānā. They were hospitably received by the king and they having the king’s leave, went about the island and settled in different parts of the island.
Queen Bhaddakaccānā bore Panduvāsudeva ten sons and one daughter: the eldest of all named Abhaya, and the youngest child, a daughter, named Citta. King Panduvāsudeva consecrated his eldest son Abhaya as vice-regent.
When Citta the youngest child was born wise Brahmins well-versed in sacred texts foretold that her son would kill all his uncles. So, her brothers resolved to kill her, but her eldest brother, Abhaya, restrained them and saved her.
Citta grew up into a beautiful woman. People of the kingdom added an epithet “Ummada” to her name and called her “Ummada Citta”, because the mere sight of her beauty drove men mad.
In due course of time, they lodged her in a chamber built on a single pillar, with an only entrance through the king’s bedroom. They placed a woman-attendant within, and a hundred soldiers without.
When Dighagamani, the son of prince Dighayu, heard about his beautiful cousin Ummada Citta, he travelled to Upatissagama to see her. King Panduvāsudeva appointed him, his wife’s nephew, to serve the royal court together with his son Abhaya, the vice-regent.
Citta saw Dighagamani in the place from her window, and, her heart on fire with love, she asked her serving-woman who he was.
Her attendant, who was already in a league with the prince, told her that he was prince Dighagamani, the son of her uncle Dighayu.
Citta confided to her attendant her love for the prince. That night, Dighagamani entered Citta’s bedroom by fastening a hook-ladder to the window of her heavily guarded bedroom. They had intercourse until day break. From that day onwards Dighagamani came to Citta’s bedroom covertly at night. Their affair was not discovered for many days.
After some time, Citta became pregnant, and her attendant told her mother, queen Bhaddakaccānā about the clandestine affair. After questioning her daughter, the queen told her husband. The king took counsel with his sons and said: “We must acknowledge Dighagamani as one of us, and let us give Citta in marriage to him.”
His sons, except Abhaya, said: “We accept your proposal on one condition. If it is a son that would be born to Citta, we will kill the baby.”
King Panduvāsudeva gave his daughter Citta in marriage to Dighagamani.
When the time of her delivery was getting nearer, the nine brothers of Citta killed the two attendants on Dighagamani, a herdsman named Citta and a slave named Kalavela, since these two were accomplices to the clandestine love affair and would not fall in with their design to kill the baby boy who might be born. The two attendants of Dighagamani, After being killed, were reborn as yakkas and both kept guard over the child in the mother’s womb.
Fearing the fate that would befall on her son, Citta through her attendant found a woman who, like her, was near her period of delivery.
A few days later, Citta bore a son, and that woman bore a daughter. Citta gave a thousand pieces of money and her own son to that woman and laid that woman’s infant daughter beside her.
Citta’s brothers were happy when they heard that their sister had given birth to a daughter instead of a son.
Citta and her mother, queen Bhaddakaccānā, named the new-born baby boy Pandukabhaya by joining the names of his grandfather, king Panduväsudeva, and his eldest uncle, Prince Abhaya.
King Panduväsudeva died in 414 BC, after his grandson Pandukabhaya was born.
Prince Abhaya, the eldest son of King Panduväsudeva, was solemnly consecrated as king.
During the last years of his life Vijaya lamented that he had no male heir of royal blood to succeed him to the throne. He wished to bring his twin-brother Sumitta from Sinhapura and handover his kingdom to him. Consulting his ministers Vijaya sent a letter to Sumitta. After some time Vijaya died.
After Vijaya’s death which ended the Kingdom of Tambapanni, his chief minister a Brahmin chaplain named Upatissa became regent. While the wait was on for the coming of prince Sumitta, Upatissa ruled the kingless kingdom for a year from Upatissagama (or Upatissa Nuwara) founded by him in 505 BC on the bank of river Gambhīra, about 8 miles north of Anuradhagama.
Other noteworthy establishments around Tambapanni were Anuradhagama and Vijitagama.
Anuradha, a minister of Vijaya, founded Anuradhagama (‘Anuradha’s village’) near the Kadamba river, the present Malwatu Oya. In later years, it became the capital of Rajarata for over a thousand years under the name Anuradhapura (Anuradha’s city).
Vijitha, one of Vijaya’s chief followers, founded Vijithagama also known as Vijitha Nagara or Vijithapura, a fortress-city. Historians believe that the city may have been an important trade center during the early stages of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, connecting several trade routes.
When Vijaya’s letter arrived at Sinhapura, Sumitta after the death of his father king Sinhabahu was already enthroned as king of his country. Sumitta had three sons by the princess of Madda. When he had heard the letter he was unwilling to leave his native land. So, he spoke to his three sons: “I am old, dear ones; one of you must depart for the greatly favoured and beauteous island of Tambapanni belonging to my brother, and there, after his death, assume, the sovereignty of that fair kingdom.”
Sumitta’s youngest son Panduvāsudeva consented to sail to Tambapanni. After being empowered by his father for the success of his journey, Panduvāsudeva took with him thirty-two sons of ministers and sailed with them in the disguise of mendicant monks. They landed at the mouth of the Mahakandara river.
Sri Lanka’s foremost historian and pre-eminent archaeologist Dr. Senarath Paranavithana, in his essay “Aryan settlements and early kings” published in the Concise History of Ceylon wrote: “Panduvasdeva with thirty two followers, it is said, arrived in Ceylon in the guise of mendicant monks. They landed at the mouth of the Mahakandara River at the port of Gokanna, the modern Trincomalee according to the commentator of the chronicle (Mahavamsa).”
When people saw these mendicant monks they received them with due respect. Panduvāsudeva after inquiring about the capital, reached the city of Upatissagama, with his 32 followers.
The ministers at Upatissagama saw the mendicant monks arrive there, after questioning they recognized them, as prince Panduvāsudeva and his retinue from Sinhapura. The ministers entrusted Panduvāsudeva with the sovereignty of the kingdom left by Vijaya. Since Panduvāsudeva lacked a consort he was not solemn consecrated as their ruler.
In the meantime, Sakka Pandu, a Sakya king, who lived on the farther side of the river Ganges, in India, had seven sons and a daughter named Bhaddakaccānā. The princess was beautiful as if made of gold. The soothsayers had predicted that an auspicious journey would come her way that would result in a royal consecration. Seven kings competed in wooing princess Bhaddakaccānā. They sent precious gifts to king Sakka Pandu.
These seven rivals appeared so likely to fight among themselves, for the hand of the gorgeous princess. Unable to decide between her suitors, king Pandu after placing his daughter on a ship, together with thirty-two women-companions launched the vessel upon the Ganges, saying: “Whosoever can, let him take my daughter.”
None of the wooers was able to overtake her ship that sailed swiftly down the Ganges river and reached the ocean.
After a few days of sailing on the ocean, their vessel reached the haven called Gonagamaka (present Trincomalee harbour) on the east coast of the island where they landed, dressed as nuns.
In due course, princess Bhaddakaccānā and her companions reached Upatissagama, where prince Panduvāsudeva, who had heard the saying of a soothsayer, awaited their arrival.
Panduvāsudeva’s ministers, full of pious understanding, consecrated him as their king. He married princess Bhaddakaccānā and gave her women-companions to his
followers who had come with him from Sinhapura.
Panduvāsudeva reigned for thirty years from 444 BC to 414 BC.
Vijaya’s ministers were quite intrepid in founding their own villages around Tambapanni. After they had founded settlements, the ministers spoke to prince Vijaya.
“Sire, please consent to be consecrated as the ruler of this land,” they said.
In spite of their request, the prince refused the consecration for want of a maiden hailing from a noble house to be consecrated as his consort at the same time.
The ministers, sent emissaries entrusted with many precious gifts, jewels, pearls, and other valuables, to the city of “Then Madurai” (the modern-day city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu), in the Pandya kingdom of the Tamils in southern India, to woo the daughter of the Pandya king for their lord, and the daughters of others for his ministers and retainers whose wives got separated from them during their voyage from the Lála country.
Since then, there are several recorded instances of intermarriage between ruling families of Sri Lanka and the major royal South Indian Dynasties, in particular, the Pandya, Chola, and the Chera.
The messengers from Tambapanni, on reaching Then Madurai laid the gifts and letter of request before the Pandya king. After consulting his ministers, the king agreed to send his daughter to the island of Tambapanni to become the consort of Vijaya. So, he proclaimed with the beat of drums:
“Those citizens who are willing to let their daughter depart to the island of Tambapanni shall provide their daughters with a double store of clothing and place them at the doors of their houses. By this sign we will know that we may take their daughters to ourselves.”
The Pandya king thus obtained a hundred maidens. After compensating the families of the maidens, he sent his daughter, bedecked with all her ornaments and all that was needful for the voyage, the maidens whom he had fitted out according to their rank, elephants, horses, waggons, an so forth as dowry. He also sent craftsmen and a thousand families belonging to the eighteen trade guilds.
This multitude from Then Madurai disembarked at the port of Mahatittha (Mantota or Manthotam).
When Vijaya heard that the princess from the Pandya kingdom had arrived at the port of Mahatittha with her retinue he said to Kuveni: “Go thou now, dear one, leaving the two children behind; men are ever in fear of superhuman beings.”
When Kuveni heard this, seized with mortal fear of the yakshas she started wailing.
Vijaya then told her, “Delay not! I will give you a thousand (pieces of money).”
Kuveni implored again and again, but Vijaya did not relent. Outraged, Kuveni scorned Vijaya with words of wrath and cursed him and his city of Tambapanni. She then departed from the city with her son Jivahata and daughter Disala, for Lankapura, the capital of the yakshas, knowing very well that evil would befall her.
On reaching Lankapura, she left the children outside the city in the forest glades and went alone into the city. The yakshas in the city on recognizing her took her for a spy, and a violent yaksha killed Kuveni with a single blow of his fist.
A yaksha, an uncle of Kuveni on her mother’s side, saw the children waiting in the glades for the return of their mother. On learning that they were Kuveni’s children, he said: “Your mother has been slain, and if the other yakshas see you they will kill you also. So, go away immediately from here!”
They children trekked towards Sumanaküta (Adam’s Peak in the Ratnapura District). When they grew up Jivahata took his sister Disala for his wife. Their offsprings are the Veddhas of Sri Lanka.
The envoys of the Pandya king delivered their princess, the maidens, and the dowry to Vijaya. The prince offered his hospitality and bestowed honours on the envoys of the Pandya king. He distributed the maidens to his ministers and retainers according to their rank.
The ministers solemnly consecrated Vijaya as their king and the Pandya princess as their queen. King Vijaya bestowed wealth on his ministers. Every year he sent a valuable pearl to his father-in-law, the Pandya king.
Vijaya forsook his former evil way of life. He reigned Tambapanni for thirty-eight years from 543 BC – 505 BC, in peace and righteousness.