Sri Lanka: Deprivation of History

History is a subject that could not be completed. When historians, professors and those who have obtained doctorates on elaborative theses, what firmly expressed yesterday will be disproved by students today based on facts and artifacts discovered from recent excavations and relevant research findings.


by Dr.Sripali Vaiamon

( January 25, 2017, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) Professor Pathmasiri Kannangara contributing an article to one of the Sinhala periodicals in Canada, DASATHA, in August 2016 (with courtesy) strongly stated History was taken out from the curriculum in 1972.It was a subject so deeply and fondly offered to all the students in the island. This happened when Dr.Badurdeen Mohamud was holding the Portfolio of Education.

Prime Minister was –mother of Lanka- Mrs.Srimao Bandaranaika, the first woman Prime Minister in the world. She was overblown with economic upheaval where she had to order poor inhabitants in the country to satisfy with manioc yam and sweetpotatos for two days of the week, instead of their staple food, RICE. So that was her position at that time.

Professor had stressed it was till 1995 nothing substantial was substituted. That means students who were in schools and universities deprived of learning history of the country. What a deprivation! Further comments those who were left schools and universities are NOW in the range of 30-55 of age limits. Who are ignorant of history of their own country. The salient requirements of the country that they should know, what had been occurred during the past. Past events that were the history. The H I S T O RY means events of the past–What had happened in the past!. No body can obliterate it. It should be there as past records. Even if there were some short comings or misinformation there were competent historians in the country who were capable enough to ameliorate with facts and evidence with which people could be convinced. If evidence and facts were not available it could be furnished with appropriate reasons. That means those who came out from big colleges and Universities who are now in this age range have no knowledge on the country’s history. The main language of the country was the supreme historical substance. In our case it was SINHALA. Which is existing from over 1000 BC. First I came across it in the great Sanskrit Epic,MAHABARATHA. Second or the third Epic in the world. .First was GILGAMESH produced in ancient Babylonia. Mahabaratha or Ramayana was second or the Third. There is a controversy over the two productions. I came across the term Sinhala in the second book of Mahabaratha, Saba parva. Professor Van Beutenon who had translated from Sanskrit into English the first five books in the series which I borrowed from the Canadian Embassy. In the second book there was a poem (2-27-48 ) where a SINHALA deputation had gone to the Consecration ceremony of the king Udistara with gifts such as Pearls, Conches, Elephant tusks, sea beryls etc. (Subsequently Dr.Kishan Ganguly who has translated all the 18 books of the series pointed out there was the term Sinhala in five places.(Bk.1-ch 177 Bk.2-chs 33 &51, Bk 3 Ch57 and Bk7 Ch 20 ) According to Dr.Monier Monier Williams who produced the very first English Sanskrit Dictionary believed it has been compiled in 1200 BC. where as Internet established as 900 BC. There were several other sources believed it to be 1000 BC. Besides this there are ancient Sanskrit classics where the term SINHALA had been embodied. Mathsya Purana, Markandya Purana, Brahath Sanhitha, Bagawatha and Jaina Canonical works. I illustrated this clearly in my book of Sociology, ( P186 Pre historic Lanka to end of Terrorism- Published in 2012 by Trafford Publishing, America.

Dr.Mortimer Wheeler, an acknowledged historian and archaeologist referred to writing of history in an introduction to a comprehensive history book of an Indian author as thus: A dozen years ago it could have been written. Dozen years hence it will have to be rewritten. That means History is a subject that has to be revised wherever necessary in time to time. Or at least go through and amend where deemed necessary with further details. In our case it went into MAHAVANSA, which was a religious history book.

History is a subject that could not be completed. When historians, professors and those who have obtained doctorates on elaborative theses, what firmly expressed yesterday will be disproved by students today based on facts and artifacts discovered from recent excavations and relevant research findings.

Quality of a good historian, according to Professor Vaughen who was at Oxford University, is the principle of attraction to facts.

Dr.Siran Deraniagala, former Director General of Archaeology, Harvard Fellow in Pre-history, who carried out excavations at Anuradhapura a few years back arrived at a conclusion with the findings yielded that there had been a civilization 3 to 400 years prior to the advent of Aryan Vijaya from Gujarath with his entourage believed to be 700 males. C 14 process proved that the inhabitants of early Anuradhapura were associated with iron technology, paddy cultivation and horse breeding. The artifacts found had inscribed with some kind of Brahmi characters. That means even writing ability must have been there to a certain degree. Our prestigious chronicle, Mahavansa which impressed us to believe that Vijaya was the progenitor of the Sinhala race was nullified with the findings of Dr.Deraniyagala’s excavation. The term Sinhala, as Seehala occurred in the Deepavansa,-Lankadeepo aium ahu seehena Seehalayithi.

Our veteran archaeologist Dr Paranavithana meticulously defined in his Seegiri Gee foot notes as thus;Sinhala is Sanskrit, Sainhala is Prakrit, Sihala is Pali. The term Illu,Hela was available in several places of Seegiri Gee.As such Hela Mahapandu,Arisen Ahubudu and Professor.J.B.Dissanayake adopted SIHALA as the original term for our language. Also they projected Sihala as an adoption of the combination of Siv + Hela .Ancient major tribes Naga Deva Yakka and Raksa, who were in the country. When you say Naga please do not misunderstand that they were snakes, no a human clan by the name naga. For an example Muchalinda Na Raja was a human king of the naga clan.

I can remember there were so many protests for taking history out of the curriculum. This had been done by the World Bank. If there was something redundant, unwanted or wanted, They would have ordered to replenish as they provided funds for education.

I can remember there was a very strong appeal from one Mr.Rangith C.Dissanayake, Deputy President, Eksath Sinhala Mahasabawa, Kandy. This had initiated nearly 50 years back I ‘ll quote his winding up para only….We appeal to all concerned, all patriots of the governing party…insist upon and compel the authorities concerned to take immediate action to re introduce the subject of history, as a special, separate and single subject into school educational curriculum and arrange to teach same in all schools, be the Govt; private or international as a compulsory subject from grade 5 onward, as was done in our schools prior to 1972,the ACCHARU SOCIAL SERVICE SUBJECTS must be completely and totally separated from history.

( Mahavansa recorded Vijaya and entourage arrived on the day of the Buddha’s demise. Rajavaliya, an another commendable historical document reveals that they arrived seven days after the Buddha’s Parinirvana. Which one is correct? Laymen can’t decide. These matters although not much significant have to be rectified, for the sake of general public as well as particularly younger generation. The year has taken by Mahavansa as 543 BC. That was the year according to Mahavansa the Parinirvana had taken place. This is again quite different from the years elicited by other authorities. This I have illustrated in my book, ‘Views on Buddhism,Vol 1. p.22 and 23.This is also a matter that has to be finalized by World Buddhist Forum and a panel consists of erudite scholars and archaeologists).

Theravada, Heenayana had a conflict until 1950.This was rectified by the World Buddhist Forum and now there is no controversy. Now it is known as Theravada only.

Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where there is a documented history spanning over two and half millennia, according to our historians. Deepavansa and Mahavansa are the two cryptic chronicles compiled in the 4th and the 5th centuries respectively. But some of the prominent events depicted are minus evidence.

Mahavansa elaborates Prince Vijaya and entourage was banished and shipped at Vanga, Is it present Bangaladesh? which is in the East of India, and on the way according to Mahavansa they anchored at Supparaka, a few hundred kilo meters below Mombai. Deepavansa, the earliest extant attempt at recording historical traditions in the country, says they touched Barukachcha. Which is also in the western coast of India. Compilers were most probably not acquainted with geography of the Indian sea coasts. If they were shipped from Bangaladesh, it is not possible for them to touch down at the ports referred above.

(Indian historian Dr.A.L.Basham,categorically states Vijaya was a trader and came from Sihor in the Kathiawar District of Gujarath and never from Vanga in the eastern coast. According to Kautilliya Trade transactions had been taken place in Gujarath and Lanka. The port they had used was Manthai, the present Manner. Our veteran historian Prof.Paranavithana totally agreed with him.)

Now let us look into the entire episode portrayed by Rev.Mahanama of Deegasanda Pirivena,

Compiler of Mahavansa clicked the idea to build up the entire Suppadevi yarn from Ghata Jathakaya, where a demon kept a damsel in a cave. Could it be biologically possible for a woman and a lion to have copulation and procreate human children as depicted in Mahavansa? According to Babylonian legends in one of their ancient walls there had been a bas-relief depicting a lion having copulation with a woman. Sailors who sailed from those regions up to Java via Lanka used to sojourn at Manthai and until traders collect commodities they may have related yarns. This also may have been elaborated which picked up by primitive people and brought forward generation after generation, which inspired Compiler of Mahavansa
to build up his yarn.

If someone deliberate how the lion kept Suppadevi in a cave and daily close the door which was a massive stone, only the lion could moves it. Could anyone believes how on earth a woman could live in such a cave until she gave birth to two children and survived till the son grew up to carry the mother and her sister on his shoulders and moved the stone door and vacated the cave? Where on earth they pass urine and excreta. Was it inside the cave itself. There was no reference for washing. They would have been lived like animals. What a stinky story, our adventurous priest had built up without proper deliberation. How could we relate this unbelievable yarn to our civilized children? It’s O Key for adults to gain an unwholesome satisfaction. You must not called it a History book. It is just a story book with myths and legends.

(To build up this fictitious story he has borrowed material from Janaka Jathakaya referred to a ship wreck with 700 passengers and Valahassa Jathakaya related about a shipwreck in the area where Vijaye landed. Nalapana Jathakaya gives a story where the retinue of the Bodhisattva visited a pond to quench their thirst but an ogre captured them. When the Bodhisattva visited and found that their footprints in the pond were in one direction only, he realized what had befallen. He cut a reef, knocked off the knots and drank water without stepping into the pond. Then Yakkini appeared. He pulled out the sward. Yakkini got frightened when he threatened and she agreed to release all the captives. Identical yarn is engulfed in the Vijaya story. So the entire Vijaya episode was built on these and it is just a yarn. According to science human woman and animal lion cannot procreate human children. So this event has to be totally rejected. It was not an natural and acceptable event of the past. Not an historical information. Besides Mahavansa depicts how Lord Buddha visited thrice our little Island.)

There is no record in the TRIPITAKA to this effect. Sinhala and Buddhist scholars like Sir Baron Jayatilake, Dr. G.P.Mallalasekara have commented on this. I have clarified this in several articles, published in Sri Lanka Guardian, a periodical in Canada.

Compiler of Mahavansa at the end of 37 chapters have embodied apologetically “I am compiling this for the emotion and serene joy of the pious” Moreover in the Vijaya story when he met Kuveni she has revealed that they have a king called MAHAKALASENA and he had the king dom at SIRASAWASTHU. With all that the monk who compiled has started the list of KINGS in Lanka with Vijaya (foreigner) where as Mahakalasena should have been the first king.(Incidently YAKKA does not mean DEVILS as kattandiyas depicting in Thoil ceremony.Yakka was human being who bears that name. Other than that not an evil sprit.) Perhaps when Secretary of State, Mr John.Kerry visited our Kelaniya temple recently may have seen our forefathers in frescos with two protruded teeth from either side of the mouth and would have arrived at a conclusion to say our forefathers may have been devils!.

It was in1837,George Turner ,CCS, who managed to trace a Tika from a temple at Mulkirigala and with the help of Buddhist monks translated accurately highlighting the apology the compiler priest stated at the end of every chapter. That itself was quite sufficient to provide a correct decision on MAHAVANSA’s depictions. Mahawansa was a Buddhist history book but not a general history book of Lanka where all the historical records were embodied. Even the Buddhist events were not highlighted with evidence..The foot print on Samanola was copied from Afganistan. The country which was earlier known as Bacteria, a Buddhist country. They who constructed both feet with so many symbols and Dr.Waldheim spent 25 years to study the purported meanings of those symbols. But he was not fully successful. The very first Buddha statue was built by them at Kabul or Gandhara.. The Gigantic Buddha statues were carved by them in the Bhamian range which were demolished recently by radical Muslims.

Early nineteensixtees there had been several petitions from Muslims, Christians and Tamils as there are nothing historical about them in the Lankan history although Muslims came to the Island prior to the dawn of Islam in the 7th century. Tamils came in the 13th century and brought Hinduism. Christianity came along with Portuguese in 1505, Protestantism came along with Dutch and there were several other denominations but you can’t expect these things to go into MAHAVANSA which was compiled in the 5th century. But they are in other local history books.
Even if there were thousands other reasons, we had well qualified historians in the country and by 1972 it was not that difficult to furnish with facts and evidence to refurbish and present it as a complete and accurate historical volume with comprehensive details and approvable excuses for the inhabitants in the country to follow the history without a break.. Where ever evidence was absent acceptable reasons would have been provided without hurting the susceptibilities of the pious people of the country. It was the year where Lanka became Sri Lanka. Namo Namo matha substituted to Sri Lanka Matha, New Constitution was introduced as DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRILANKA. However our Tamil brothers refused to accept and hitherto they use ILLANGAI.That is not how citizens in a country should maintain THE UNITY. Internet on the 24th Jan.’17 revealed in a monastery in Sri Lanka a 7 year old Muslim boy has been ordained to be along with many Sinhala, Tamil and Veddah boys which is a precedent for religious harmony and national unity.

Even if there were thousands other reasons, we had well qualified historians in the country and by 1972 it was not that difficult to furnish with facts and evidence to refurbish and present it as a complete and accurate historical volume with comprehensive details and approvable excuses for the inhabitants in the country to follow the history without a break.. Where ever evidence was absent acceptable reasons would have been provided without hurting the susceptibilities of the pious people of the country. It was the year where Lanka became Sri Lanka. Namo Namo matha substituted to Sri Lanka Matha, New Constitution was introduced as DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRILANKA. However our Tamil brothers refused to accept and hitherto they use ILLANGAI.That is not how citizens in a country should maintain THE UNITY. Internet on the 24th Jan.’17 revealed in a monastery in Sri Lanka a 7 year old Muslim boy has been ordained to be along with many Sinhala, Tamil and Veddah boys which is a precedent for religious harmony and national unity.

Sinhala veteran Mr.Munidaasa Cumaratunga contributing an article to PRABHASODHAYA in 1936 explicitly stated our country and the language were both known as SINHALA from ancient time but now it is being used only for the language.

(With courtesy- Lanka Web, may I add a few lines from one of our brilliant writers-Shenali D Waduge who has touched, American Leader’s speech,…..Sri Lankan’s present leaders have much to take from President Trump’s Inaugural speech…..We want to see our leaders put out island first and assure to protect its HISTORICAL past and identity while not carving into the whims and fancies of external parties out to cut a proud nation to pieces, We do not vote for leaders willing to follow the policy of appeasement.)

My colleague Palitha perera,emailed me along with the above article…..Congratulations US President Donald Trump for an inspiring & patriotic inaugural address & … again from Shenali -where he(Trump) touched that what truly matters is not which party controls our Government, but whether our government is controlled by our people .Jan.20..1917 will be remembered as the day American people became the rulers of their nation again…In taking the tone of the American people, we must realize the fact that Sri Lanka was never Sri Lanka until 1972 and Ceylon was never Ceylon until the Colonial rulers name it so and island nation was for thousands of years known as SINHALA./ SINHALADWEEPA.

I too can remember very well President said something like this if I quote, ”We are now one nation, and their pains are our pains, their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success, we share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny! Let our President follow him and repeat something like this! Jayawewa!

NB-I am not agreeable with the pronunciation MAHAVAMSA as we could clearly pronounce the term MAHAVANSA as Sinhalese.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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