Unbiased look at SL history | Daily News

Unbiased look at SL history

In light of the recently unearthed evidence, Lankan history has to be rewritten. Particularly the early period needs to be understood by non-partisan historians and rabid politicians. This I say after reading a book in Tamil on the History of Lankan Tamils by the eminent historian Prof S Pathmanathan. The Tamil title of the book is Ilankaith Thamilar Varalaaru. This massive 550-page hardcover book is published by the Hindu Cultural Affairs Department under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and is priced at Rs 2500/- The book covers the period 250 BC- 300 AD when the Tamils and Nagas lived in East Sri Lanka.

In his preface to the book written in English he clearly delineates four main sources of the early history of the country.

1. The Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa and other Pali Chronicles,

2. The monuments and other remains of the Early Iron Age Culture,

3. The Brahmi inscriptions written in hybrid Prakrit

4. The Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions that have remained unidentified until the dawn of the 21st century

The documentary evidence is in three languages: Pali, Prakrit and Tamil.

He rightly says: “The study of the Proto-History and Early History of the island is heavily dependent on archaeological sources.”

Prof S Pathmanathan adds:

“The fourth category of sources is the Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions, which were contemporaneous with the Prakrit inscriptions. These inscriptions, which were recently identified, are concentrated for the most part in the northern and eastern parts of the island. They are also found in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Hambantota and Puttalam districts. As sources of historical information, they are of the utmost importance.”

“A large proportion of the Nagas had become Buddhists. It is noteworthy that the Nagas were responsible for the links between the culture of the Early Iron Age and that which is discerned from the Brahmi inscriptions.”

The main revelation of the respected scholar who relies on fieldwork rather than mere theorising is:

“The fourth category of source materials for the study of the history and culture of this period consists of a vast number of Tamil Brahmi inscriptions that have been identified in recent years. Although words and expressions inscribed characters on stone pillars, images and other such items. This is rather surprising because Tamil Brahmi inscriptions in considerable numbers are found at museums in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Colombo. They are found on some of the items exhibited there.”

I will stop here. Lankan ancient history must be reviewed impartially taking into account all evidence that is being unearthed to bring about the real understanding of us Lankan, irrespective of ethnicities and move towards reconciliation.

Reviewed by KS Sivakumaran