Last week an eye opening article was published by a female writer in a website on the reality of Sinhalese. This article should open the eyes of all Sinhalese. Last Sunday the world celebrated International Mother Language Day. Sinhala is the mother language of Sinhalese. Tamil is the mother language of Tamils and Muslims speak Tamil, Arabic and Sinhala. Almost all speak English.

There is a part in this article which was hidden until last week. During the past centuries this fact was hidden under the carpet. This part matters more than anything else for Sinhalese in order to open their tightly shut eyes. According to the article published by Ms. Shenali Waduge, there are 76 million Tamils living in all parts of the world with 72 million Tamils living in Tamil Nadu alone while only 2.2 million Tamils live in Sri Lanka. Of the 1.8 billion Muslims the world over, 1.9 million Muslims live in Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese are just over 15 million. Now anyone can compare the size of 15 million with 76 million and 1.8 billion.

How many Sinhalese know this bitter truth? Did we hear this bitter truth even once in the past? Who spoke about this truth in the past at least during election periods? At least now Sri Lankan Sinhalese should open our eyes and demand protection in order to prevent becoming a minority and restricted to a small piece of land similar to Gaza Strip. Unfortunately the majority of Sinhalese do not desire to look for their real origin of them and blindly believe biased individuals and documents. No one can believe that Mahavamsa is an unbiased historical document. It had been written supporting whatever existing rulers in the past centuries. Rarely in history, was the bitter truth recorded in official documents.

Origin of Sinhalese

First of all we, the Sinhalese need to identify their origin accurately without trying their best to connect it to another country and its people. We have to stop believing some inaccurate belief on the origin of Sinhalese that support another country. Otherwise the Sinhalese will be extinct within a very short time forever from this tiny island. First of all we have to put a full stop to treating writing and speaking about the rights of Sinhalese as an offence. There is nothing called hate speech because all have the right to fight for their rights. Only Sinhalese cannot be deprived from this right in the name of ‘hate speech’ or whatever rules and regulations brought forward by NGOs during the past, especially during the Yahapalana regime.

Several different indigenous clans lived in the island of Sri Lanka during the pre-Vijaya era (before 505 BCE). These clans of Sri Lanka and the Kingdom of Lanka were mentioned in the great epics of Mahabaratha, Mahavamsa, Manimekalai, Ramayana and Sangam. It is believed that four main clans lived in Sri Lanka before Vijaya invaded the island. The four clans are Yaksha (Yakku), Naga, Deva, and Raksha (Rakus).

It is believed that these names were attributed metaphorically to indicate their profession: Yaksha people were believed to inhabit in the mountains where they had used monsoon wind to mould iron, Raksha people were supposed to be farmers who used the steel products of the Yaksha people in their farming endeavours (the name Raksha is derived from the two syllables ra + kus, in Sinhalese kus means “stomach”; rakus literally means the people who fulfill hunger or the people who provide rice, the staple food of the Sinhalese people), the Naga people were believed to be traders, the Deva people were the rulers, the people who used to be the link between the Raksha people and Yaksha people. The Nagas were serpent-worshippers and the Yakkas were spirit worshippers.

Even today, the Sri Lankan culture has some elements that originated from the culture of the Yakkas and Nagas. The majority of the native population comprise of farmers and cattle herders. They had knowledge about healing arts (current traditional Sinhala Ayurvedic system and not Indian Ayurveda) and built irrigation systems and temples. There were hospitals and even quarantine centres in Sri Lanka by that time.

The era before the arrival of Vijaya was not well documented so much is not known about the previous native rulers of Sri Lanka. Ravana the King is considered the most famous and most powerful native King who ever reigned in Sri Lanka. The native rulers of Sri Lanka were later supplanted by the Indian rulers who invaded Sri Lanka came from Kalinga and South India. But very clearly it was King Ravana who ruled Sri Lanka before the arrival of Indians.

The Veddha community are the indigenous people still living in Sri Lanka. The Vedda minority in Sri Lanka faces the threat of becoming completely assimilated. Most speak Sinhala instead of their indigenous languages which are nearing extinction. It has been revealed that the Vedda were probably the earliest inhabitants of Sri Lanka and have lived on the island before the arrival of other ethnic groups from India. The Ratnapura District, which is part of the Sabaragamuwa Province, is known to have been inhabited by the Veddas in the distant past. This has been shown by scholars. The very name Sabaragamuwa is believed to have meant the village of the Sabaras or “forest barbarians”. Place-names such as Vedda-gala (Vedda Rock), Vedda-ela (Vedda Canal) and Vedi-Kanda (Vedda Mountain) in the Ratnapura District also bear testimony to this.

Historical evidence

Most of the races in the world have their own country with historical evidence to prove that they lived in that specific country before the arrival of others. This historical evidence matters a lot when it comes to claiming the right for a country. The historical evidence contains physical places, objects etc. But some ethnic groups which do not have a country or scientific evidence to present to claim land use other tactics to achieve their targets. They even destroy the historical evidence that stands against their fabricated claims.

The Sinhalese should do a few certain things in order to ensure the continuation of Sinhala race and the Sinhala language. First of all we need to treat Sinhala with respect. To do that we need to respect the people who speak in Sinhala. But unfortunately today we can get things done from the State sector and the private sector easily and smoothly only if we speak in English and most of the time most of the State and private institutions simply ignore the people who speak in Sinhala. Broken Sinhala is also much respected than correct Sinhala. But this is not so when people speak in any other language. This is a surprising fact.

The other most important factor is that we have to educate our children from kindergarten about the true history of the Sinhalese and make sure that all Sinhala children know the real history and glorious past of the Sinhalese who existed long before the arrival of Vijaya. Our children should learn that they have a glorious history and heritage to protect.

It is very pathetic to see while all the other ethnicities are busy protecting and promoting their own races, languages, heritage etc while Sinhalese are busy degrading their own race, language and heritage. They pretend that they are westerners or Indians. They are digging their own grave while all the other ethnicities are busy protecting themselves and further expanding their communities. Some brainless sections try to apply pressure on the Sinhalese stating that Sinhalese should have more children while doing everything to degrade the Sinhalese. Some others are busy cultivating hatred towards other ethnicities and creating disharmony among different communities.

But they do nothing to protect and promote the Sinhala race and Sinhala language at all other than telling fellow Sinhalese to have more children. Some ‘Kalu Suddas’ have undertaken the job of eradicating their own race by eradicating the subject of ‘history’ and related topics from school syllabi.

The Government should make sure that the Sinhala language has the same treatment, recognition and respect that Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean etc. languages have in specific countries. Otherwise no one will be interested in learning Sinhala, using it and especially respecting the language and language users.

If Sinhalese are not interested in protecting the continuation of their race, language and heritage, no one else will be interested in doing so. We cannot expect any other ethnicity or country to come forward and stand by Sinhalese. Which ambassador or High Commissioner came forward and spoke the rights of Sinhalese so far? Which country in the world has stood by Sinhalese so far? It is because of the number is only 15 million and the geographical area (Sri Lanka) is restricted? This is the bitter truth hidden until last week from the day on which the first page of the Mahavamsa was written.

Nadira Gunatilleke