Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Revisiting Sinhala nationalist mindset

[TamilNet, Monday, 16 August 2010, 00:15 GMT]
As long as Sinhala nationalist mindset deny the antiquity and right of Eezham Tamil nation in the island and unable to come out with appropriate political models, no ‘reconciliation’ will be possible and there will be only subjugation. The Tamils don’t deny the Sinhala nation in the island but they are not reciprocated. It has become a must that the national question be decided with secession for any genuine reconciliation at least in the future. The ‘kohomba kankariya’ model of the past envisaged by some academics, who want to be ‘Tamil and Sri Lankan,’ will not work under current norms of Sinhala nationalism. If the current subjugation of Tamils continues there won’t be anyone in the island in future even to read what these academics have written in Tamil, says an academic of Tamil studies in Jaffna.

To understand the nationalist mindset of even seemingly liberal Sinhalese, the academic in Jaffna cited the following paragraph written by a Sinhala journalist who recently visited Jaffna.

“Sri Lankans in the North have undergone language and cultural replacement by acquiring the Tamil language, dress, Hinduism and cultural behaviour because of their contact with South Indian colonialism from 992 AD onwards”, says Sinhala journalist Dushy Ranetunge, ‘Revisiting Jaffna’.

“The place names, the numerous Bo-Trees and ancient Buddhist remains indicate that the people of Jaffna were Buddhists from about 400BC till approximately 992 AD, but despite them acquiring the Tamil language, culture and Hinduism, even today, they continue to perform some of their religious rituals under Bo-trees as they did so many generations ago”.

“In Jaffna there are to the present day over a thousand “Sinhalese” place names, which survive in a Tamil garb, such as Aliyawala(i), kodigama(m), Weligama(m) etc”.

“This indicates that rather than wholesale displacement of the population, there has been a gradual Tamilisation. Recent DNA testing has also indicated that Sri Lankan Tamils are genetically closer to the Sinhalese than they are to South Indian Tamils”, Dushy Ranetunge further said.

Dushy Ranetunge's article was ironically titled "Sinhala nationalist mind set seems incapable of comprehending what Tamils are articulating".

Dushy Ranetunge can write a thesis on how the Indus Civilisation itself is Sinhala-Budhhist, since the worship of the Bo-tree is seen in its seals, commented the Jaffna academic. “If it was the wish of the Eezham Tamils to accept and denounce Buddhism at particular stages of their historical discourse why should there be any qualms about it? Pakistan has so many Budhhist sites. Will Dushy tell them to become Buddhists again?”

Sometimes back a Sinhala engineer-turned academic and his academic wife who came to Jaffna were telling the Jaffna university students about ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’ past of Jaffna, told the academic in Jaffna. Even before the Mu’l’livaaykkal war this engineer-turned academic was advocating for settling Sinhala soldiers and their families in the ‘conquered’ land of the Tamils.

If these journalists and academics genuinely dig into their own past and if they seriously investigate into the etymology of what they think as Sinhala place names of their own core Sinhala land, they could find out what ‘language replacement’ they had gone through to become Sinhalicised and what distant influences and fascinations caused that language replacement, the Jaffna academic said.

“It is repulsive to see these people mutilating and desecrating the names of places which people of the land coined through their long interaction with their environment, such as Aazhiya-va’lai, meaning the coastal enclave. Have they ever thought how did Sinhala get the word Weli for sand?“

“Have they ever tried to comprehend how the names are pronounced and spelt in Tamil and what they really mean? Which language is the place name Ko’la Patuna (Kozhu-pattinam, meaning the port-town at the point) found in the garb of Pali in the chronicles, where the Asokan Budhist emissaries landed in the island, and then who might have been living there at that time?”

Have they ever tried testing their DNA with the people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and then compare it with the ‘Aryans’ of their imagination, the academic asked.

“But this bunch of people are not genuinely interested in History. By hook or by crook, by war or by peace, by threat or by sugar-coated approaches, Eezham Tamils have to be subjugated, made to feel inferior in culture to the Sinhalese and be Sinhalicised for the ultimate conquest of Sinhala nationalism of the island. They can rather tell their intentions plainly without victimising history”, the Jaffna academic commented.

“They will have a free go as Tamils are gagged and as there are ‘counterinsurgency’ media at their disposal to engineer deceptive ‘reconciliation’ for the ultimate conquest”.

Some Tamil academics cite folk discourses of past in the island such as the Kohomba Kankariya in which a Tamil folk practice has been adapted as a Sinhalese one, and try to justify the possibility of being a Tamil and a Sri Lankan at the same time. The present avatar of the Sinhala nationalism seems to be having no effect on the edification of their academic fallacies, was the comment of the Jaffna academic.


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