Sri Lanka’s Postgratuate Institute of Archaeology (PGIAR), based in Colombo and exclusively staffed by Sinhalese, has recently undertaken a special project called “Yan Oya Middle Basin” research for the years 2011-2015, which will be focussing on a region that links the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country of Eezham Tamils in the island. Yan Oya is a river that originates in the North Central Province, follows the boundary of the Eastern Province and enters into the sea at Pul-moaddai that links the North and East. The selection of this location for intense archaeological research by an exclusive Sinhala team, go hand in hand with the accelerated Sinhala-Buddhicisation of the region, observers said, citing a State-sponsored Buddhist enclave coming up at Pulmoaddai in 500 acres of land.
The PGIAR team excavating a site at the Yan Oya Basin. The PGIAR that is supposed to have a ‘multicultural’ team of reasonable proportions, doesn’t have any Tamil staff or student. [Image courtesy: yanoyaarchaeology.com]
So far the archaeological research, titled as ‘mortuary archaeology’ in the Yan Oya basin, has unearthed many megalithic burials, which essentially belong to a South Indian cultural stratum. But as it typically happens in the island such researches carried out exclusively by the Sinhalese, including Buddhist monks, end up in twisting interpretation and in suppression of facts as it happened with the Tissamaharama Tamil-Brahmi potsherd found in a similar context.
Megalithic culture is a common cultural substratum for the Dravidian cultural formations in South India as well as the Eezham Tamil and Sinhala formations in the island.
But the Eezham Tamils do not have any belongingness of antiquity to the island, they are not a nation of their own, they don’t have any territoriality in the island and they were just invaders, mercenaries and traders, is the historiography promoted by the Sinhala State and its institutions.
In the recent decades, the discovery of widespread distribution of megalithic burials throughout the island and the absence of evidence for the arrival of any other culture at that period of time, have proved that the cultural stratum of South Indian genre was the sole basis for the protohistoric cultural formations in the island.
This has blasted the Mahavamsa-based, Sinhala-Buddhist historiography harping on ‘Aryan’ migration for the genesis of ‘Sinhalese’ in the island in the protohistoric times, differentiating them from the Tamils, who were portrayed as ‘invaders’.
Out of a common stock, Sinhala and Eezham Tamil identities evolved in parallel through long historical processes, such as language replacement associated with the arrival of Pali-Buddhism and developments such as the Tamil-speaking population in the North and East renouncing Buddhism etc., finally to culminate into two nations having their respective territories in the island.
Altering the millennia-old historical evolution by a few years of international Establishments-abetted war, mass killing, displacement, military occupation, subjugation, colonisation and other engineering, is the current experiment undertaken in the island. Obviously it is folly to expect the partners to accept the ‘experiment’ as genocide. The partners in the forefront are the Establishments in New Delhi and Washington.
A megalithic burial monument explored in the Yan Oya Basin. [Image courtesy: yanoyaarchaeology.com]
The role played by Sinhala archaeology in the process has been encapsulated by the phrase “the army and the archaeology department” by a British journalist writing a couple of years back.
But both the army and archaeology of the genocidal State getting patronage from the Establishments is practically what we see.
What is unashamedly conspicuous about the genocidal nature of the Sri Lankan State archaeology is that it is kept as an exclusive field for the Sinhalese, just like the military in Sri Lanka. PGIAR doesn’t have any Tamil staff or students. It is the same case with ‘national’ institutions such as the Archives. The Royal Asiatic Society (Sri Lanka Branch) is now a den of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinists. As a measure of hoodwink, the SL Department of Archaeology has recently recruited some Tamil graduates to subservient positions.
The whole idea is to take away all sense of cultural belongingness in Tamils towards their land – even if it is megalithic archaeology in the Tamil country that should be conducted only by the Sinhalese and interpreted only by them.
This is the worst part of the academic and cultural genocide.
A famous megalithic site Kantharoadai in Jaffna is now cordoned off, claiming that it belongs to the Sinhala-Buddhists.
Sinhala-Buddhism repeatedly proves that it doesn’t posses the capacity to concede sense of belongingness to any others in any part of the island.
Of all the regions in the island it is not without reason the PGIAR has opted for the Yan Oya project, 2011-2015. It is a territory where the Sri Lankan State is now spearheading accelerated Sinhala colonisation to delink the Tamil demographic contiguity of the North and East.
While the PGIAR ostensibly carries out ‘mortuary archaeology,’ in the Yan Oya basin, Sinhala-Buddhist monks are busy in appropriating hundreds of acres of land with the help of the occupying Sinhala military and SL Survey Department at Pul-moaddai and Thennai-maravadi at the lower basin of the river, in the coast and in the interior. The monks claim that there are Buddhist ruins. The megalithic culture unearthed by the PGIAR will have no meaning to Eezham Tamils and it will be interpreted only as Kantharoadai is being interpreted now.
Fortunately for the Maldives, the British who wanted to retain it for their geopolitical purposes, delinked it from its protectorate status under Colombo, before declaring independence to Ceylon in 1948. Otherwise, the Sinhala-Buddhism of the island would have by now deployed its army and archaeology in that archipelago too, reconstructing Buddhist enclaves claiming that once it belonged to the Sinhala-Buddhists.
Unless the territoriality of Eezham Tamils in the island is defined and recognized internationally, the multi-pronged genocide in the island could never be stopped. But worse than the institutions of the genocidal State are the donor governments, their academic institutions, and individual academics with vested interests, who work in collaboration and provide recognition to the brand of archaeology practised by one nation in the island that keeps the other nation’s belongingness to land and culture out.
Brahmi inscription of a Buddhist donor in Prakrit language found in the Yan Oya Basin. The title name of the donor is clearly written as Perumaka, which is a Tamil term (perumakan). This shows the language replacement that was taking place towards the end of the megalithic culture and with the arrival of Buddhism. The script of the inscription is akin to Tamil Brahmi. Also note the two graffiti symbols (double trident and double-tailed fish or tortoise) at the end of the inscription. They are popular symbols of the Indus seals and of the megalithic graffiti, showing the continuity how the megalithic population became Buddhist in the island. [Image courtesy: yanoyaarchaeology.com]