Have Thamilians lived in early Lanka?

| by K. S. Sivakumaran

( February 15, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Since I am not a historian nor an archaeologist I can only report what I had read recently in a book titled Thamil Cultural Connections across the World. The book discusses the Archaeological evidence from outside Thamilnadu up to 1600 CE. Dr V Selvakumar is the writer. Thanjavoor University in Thamilnadu has published this book.
There is little evidence that the Thamil – speaking Dravidians were living in Lanka at earlier times. But a few archaeological findings exist. However a lot of Lankan Thamilians believe that Raakshatha king with 10 heads-Raavanaa- was a Hindu and a bhakthian of Lord Siva worshiped by Saiva Siddhanthis as the prima inter pares in the Hindu pantheon of Gods and Goddesses.
The academic in his account designs his chapters in an unorthodox way and that draws attention from the reader. The new thing he has employed is to include DNA studies as part of his research.
There are six chapters and a conclusion with additional information under the Appendix 1 Thamil Diaspora before 1600 C E. References and Bibliography also find a place. This is how the Chapters go:
Chapter 1- DNA Studies and Prehistoric Human Migrations in South Asia
Chapter 2- The Indus Valley Civilisation
Chapter 3 – Cultures contemporary to and Post-Dating the Harappans (ca.5000 BCE to 300 BCE)
Chapter 4 –The Early Historic Period
Chapter 5 –The Early Medieval Period
Chapter 6 –The Late Medieval Period
The author acknowledge that the “evidence and interpretations presented in this book are not final and we need to do more research to understand the Thamil culture is chronology and impact across he world.”
I am particularly interested in bringing before our readers what he has said between pages 101 and 105 because they speak about Sri Lanka.
As he rightly says our country is closely associated with the Thamil country from prehistoric times. “The megalithic burials, similar to South India with black-and-red ware and graffiti, are found in Sri Lanka. He cites the pottery at Gedige in Anuradhapura, Pomparippu, Kantharoadai and Ibbankattuva. Mahavamsa has references to the Thamil regions and Thamils: Anuradhapura, Tissamaharagama, and Maanthai.
What he says the obvious is also true. Says he: “The history of Sri Lanka is highly politicised due to the ethnic conflicts induced by colonialism and the development of nation states in the post 18th century period. The period that we deal with had different political milieu and there existed connections between the Paandiyan kingdom of Mathurai, and the Sri Lankan kingdom. Sena and Kuttaka are considered to have conquered Sri Lanka.”
Dr V Selvakumar refers to Yaalpaanam (Jaffna), Maanthai, Anuradhapura, and Tissamaharama for his elucidation. Citing Lankan archaeologist Ponnampalam Raghupathy, the author informs that there are several archaeological sites in the Yaalpaanam peninsula. Quoting Lankan archaeologist Prof Pushparatnam, Selvakumar informs that in Kantharodai, a coin of the Sangam Cheras has been reported. Coins datable to pre-6th century CE have been found at Pallikadu, Mannithalai, Vira Pandiyan Munai and Kantharodai as found by another Lankan historian, Prof Sittampalam. Thamil- Brahmi inscriptions on pottery had been found around Poonagari. Anuradhapura site has been extensively excavated and researched. It is unfortunate that not even one site of Sangam Age has been excavated to such an extent in Thamilnadu, except perhaps Arikamedu. Anuradhapura is a world heritage site…. Paandian coins have been found in Anuradhapura. There are references to Tamils in the Lankan Brahmi inscriptions according to Prof S Pathmanathan. The names such as Parumaka, Paratava found in the Sri Lankan inscriptions suggest that Tamil people were active in the Jaffna region and some of the Tamils at that time were also Buddhist… there are Sinhala- Brahmi inscriptions on pottery at the sites of Alahankulam, Arikamedu and Kanchipuram in Thamilnadu. Anuradhapura is considered to have produced evidence of Brahmi predating the reign of Asoka, around 400 B C.”
“Several coins of Tamil dynasties have been found in Sri Lanka. A coin with the name “Utitiran’ has been identified from Southern Sri Lanka”
What we can learn from these notes is that all Lankans (irrespective of what language they spoke) have had some connections with the people of Thamilnadu even long before Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. We may also assume we all belong to the same ethnic group although we may speak different tongues and have slight variations in adapting ourselves to the environment depending on which region we chose to live.
So the Thamilians might have been living in Lanka here and there even earlier.
History lends itself to interpretations, but it should represent concrete evidences and facts and statistics.
Assumptions and fanciful thinking do not do well for harmonious living.
What we need now is not to live in the past, but to live in the present utilizing pragmatic ways so that the future becomes safely assured.

 The writer can be reached at sivakumaran.ks@gmail.com

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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