TAMIL CLAIMS TO LAND: FACT AND FICTION
By GAMINI IRIYAGOLLA
TAMIL CLAIMS TO LAND: FACT AND FICTION
Kings of Kandy Ruled Jaffna
Jaffnapatam and the Eastern Province
Tamils, Muslims and Catholics in Sinhalese Territory
Who are the Tamils?
State Land and the Peasantry
Church Support for Tamil Claims
The newspaper "Island" carried an article by me under the title "The Fiction
of Traditional Homelands and Land Use" in three instalments on 3rd, 4th and
6th August 1984. It contained excerpts from an 88 page memorandum given to
the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India and to Mr. J. R.
Jayewardene, President of Sri Lanka at New Delhi on the eve of their talks
on 30th June 1984 on the 'ethnic' problems of Sri Lanka. Some points were
amplified for the benefit of readers of the newspapers. After the
publication of the article, several individuals and groups suggested that it
be reprinted, so that the complex issues relating to the concept of, and
claims to, separate traditional homelands for the different communities in
the island of Sri Lanka might be better understood by more people. This
booklet is a response to these suggestions. I have changed the title, added
notes and made essential corrections to the article.
Most non-Tamil people in Sri Lanka are still not aware of the basis of the
claim of Tamil extremists for a separate state. The claim is not founded, as
many believe, on allegations of harassment and discrimination by the
Sinhalese majority, but on an audacious falsification of ancient and modern
Sri Lanka history. It may be briefly summarized as follows :
Tamils had a Sovereign State in the Island from pre-historic times. Even
after the advent of the Sinhalese [N-1], there were Tamil kings who ruled
the whole Island. Thereafter, for over a thousand years Tamil kings ruled
the whole island at times and Sinhalese kings ruled it at other times. Out
of this background of alternating fortunes, there emerged at the beginning
of the 13th century, a separate Tamil kingdom, the territory of which has
since been the exclusive homeland of Tamils [N-2]. The territory of this
Tamil State stretched from Chilaw in the north-west to the northern regions
and thence to the Kumbukkan Oya in the present Yala Sanctuary in the
south-east, to include the northern half of the modern Puttalam District,
the whole of the modern Northern Province and the whole of the modern
Eastern Province [N-3]- one third of the territory of Sri Lanka. The rest of
the island was "Sinhala land". Thus there were 2 countries in the island
till 1948. The Portuguese captured the Tamil State in 1619. Neither the
Sinhalese king nor the Sinhalese people offered any assistance to the Tamil
king Sangili against the Portuguese as it was the view of the Sinhalese that
they had nothing in common with the state of Tamil Eelam. The Tamils want
the Sinhalese people to reiterate that now [N-4]. The Portuguese, Dutch (who
captured the Tamil state in 1658) and the British (who seized the Dutch
possessions in 1796) governed the conquered Tamil territory (from Chilaw to
Kumbukkan Oya) as a separate state till 1833. In that year, following the
Colebrooke-Cameron recommendations and in violation of history, tradition
and psychology, the British brought the separate states together under one
administration to suit their convenience [N-5]. This unification laid the
foundation for the "Ethnic" conflict of the present time6. In 1948, the
British granted independence to the Sinhalese state, and handed over the
Tamil state to the Sinhalese who naturally converted it into a colony of
theirs and exploited both Tamils and their country as imperialists would.
Thus politically the Tamils are entitled to recover their independence. The
old sovereignty of Tamil Eelam was revived in law as well in 1972, when the
Queen of the United Kingdom ceased to be the repository of sovereignty and a
Sinhalese Republican Government was forced on the Tamil people [N-7]. All
the grievances the Tamil people now have are incidents of Sinhalese colonial
rule since 1948. These grievances are as follows:
* Within 6 months of the transfer of political power to the Sinhalese,
they enacted legislation depriving the Indian Tamils of citizenship and
the franchise [N-8].
* Lakhs and lakhs of Sinhalese people were planted in the homeland of the
Tamil nation once ruled by Tamil kings [N-9].
* In 1956, Sinhala was made the sole official language. The republican
constitution of 1972 gave the Sinhala only Act constitutional status.
The real intention of this SinhalaOnly Act was to keep Tamils out of
government services [N-10].
* Buddhism has been given pre-eminence in the constitution [N-11].
* The Tamils demanded balanced representation [N-12] before the British
withdrew but this was refused.
* S. J. V. Chelvanayakam toiled for 25 years through the Ilankai Tamil
Arasu Kadchi [N-13] to safeguard Tamil rights through federalism but
this was denied. He entered into agreements with the S.L.F.P. and the
U.N.P. to obtain regional autonomy but these were abrogated because of
The only alternative is to see that "Sinhalese Imperialism .... Quit our
homeland," the independent state of Tamil Eelam stretching from Pottuvil to
Puttalam will be established by peaceful means or by armed struggle [N-14].
Such is the falsified history based upon which a world-wide political and
propaganda campaign has been launched. Inspired by the same falsehoods that
are the foundation of the political claim, several hundred young people have
become terrorists in a racist cause. One would expect Sri Lanka historians
to discuss the alleged historical basis of Tamil claims, expose the
falsehoods and endorse the truths (if any). They have avoided the issue,
though some of them have become active in the politics of the problem which
are outside the area of their knowledge [N-15].
A teacher of history called C.R. de Silva, however, recently attempted a
discussion of historical writing in relation to "ethnicity" with bizarre
results [N-16]. De Silva completely ignored the alleged history which has
founded the present Tamil Eelam struggle and Tamil terrorism, though the
title of his essay was "Ethnicity, Prejudice and the Writing of History". He
compliments historians such as G. C. Mendis for "setting a fine example" of
freedom from prejudice [N-17]. He then gently chides Satchi Ponnambalam, a
reckless purveyor of Tamil communalist propaganda, for "breezily ignoring
the work of numerous historians who preceded him" in writing that
"Devanampiya Theesan, the Tamil Hindu king of Lanka at that time accepted
the missionaries from Asoka and became converted to Buddhism." [N-18] De
Silva not only implies that Ponnambalam is a historian but also fails to say
that to make Devanampiyatissa a Tamil is a plain and deliberate untruth
[N-19]. Then de Silva reaches the main point of his Mendis Memorial Lecture
" ...... numerous instances of distortions of history can be found among
Sinhalese writers as well. I have selected a recent article by Gamini
Iriyagolla-an article which argues against the theory of the traditional
homelands of the Tamils".De Silva then plucks out the following paragraph
[N-20] (completely out of context) from my article which is reprinted in
this booklet :
"Although for most of its duration as a political unit, the "Kingdom" or
principality of Jaffna was de jure part of the dominions of the Sinhalese
kings whether ruling at Gampola, Kotte, Sitawaka or Kandy, during the course
of its existence from the end of the 13th century to the beginning of the
17th century, there were periods in which the chieftain of this remote
province asserted his independence of the Sinhalese overlord. At the
beginning he was a feudatory of the South Indian Vijayanagara Empire. At
other times the incumbent chieftain acknowledged the suzerainty of the King
Our historian opens his attack by conceding that "It is possible that every
statement made by Iriyagolla in the above paragraphs is true". De Silva's
complaint is that I have distorted history by omitting important historical
facts which, if disclosed by me, would have shown that the Arychakravarti
who ruled Jaffna in the mid-14th century was much more powerful than I make
him out to be. His most damning criticism runs thus : "If the ruler of the
North was merely a Chieftain at least from 1357 to the early 1370s this
chieftain probably enjoyed suzerainty over the king of Gampola". In the note
to this sentence, de Silva states, "This was the conclusion of S.
Paranavithana, see University of Ceylon, History of Ceylon, op. cit. at pp.
644-645" (published in 1960). Here C.R. de Silva tampers with his evidence,
suppressing Paranavithana's conclusion based on the Medawala inscription of
28th November 1359 [N-22] and presented in his major article entitled "The
Arya Kingdom in North Ceylon" published in 1961 in the Journal of the Ceylon
Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series, Vol. VII part 2 pp.
174-224). What is suppressed reads as follows :
"A noteworthy point in the Madavala inscription is that Marttandam, the Arya
Chakravarti [N-22] is referred to as a perumal [N-23] only, while
Vikramabahu [N-24] is styled Chakravarti Svamin [N-25]. This indicates that
the Arya Chakravarti, though he was powerful enough to dictate terms to the
Gampola monarch, had not assumed regal titles. THE DE JURE RIGHT OF
VIKRAMABAHU TO THE SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE WHOLE ISLAND IS RECOGNIZED BY THE
TREATY". De Silva also says "However, what Iriyagolla does not mention is
that in the mid-fourteenth century 'the chieftain of this remote province'
was powerful enough to control the Western coast of Sri Lanka almost upto
the Kelani river, and to force Vikramabahu III (1357-74) king of Gampola to
accept his tax collectors in the Sinhalese king's domains". The source cited
for this proposition is the Rajavaliya edited by A. V. Suraweera [N-26].
This source yields the following information on this point. "Subsequently,
as there were no kings in (of) Lanka, the Minister Alakeswara lived in the
city of Raigama. King Parakrmabahu's nephew was at Gampola. The
Aryachakravarti king was at Jaffnapatam. When, of these kings, the
Aryachckravarti King's forces caused tribute to be brought by force from the
hill country, the low country and the nine ports, [N-27] one day Alakeswara
viewed his forces. . . . "
There is no mention here of Vikramabahu or of control of the western coast
or of acceptance by a king of Gampola of Aryachakravarti's tax collectors.
De Silva omits reference to the Medawala inscription, according to the
currently accepted reading of which, Vikramabahu III agreed to have the
Aryachakravarti's tax collectors [N-28] in some of the hill country
districts, if he mentioned this inscription at all, he would have had to
admit that according to it, in the mid-14th century, the Sinhalese king was
de jure suzerain over the Aryachakravarti (as I have said). The other
distortion of de Silva's is that 'Kotte was originally founded not as a
capital city but as a frontier fort to defend the South against inroads from
the North". The situation in which a fort is built for
purely defensive purposes is entirely different from that in which a fort is
built in order to launch an offensive. According to de Silva's source (the
Rajavaliya), Kotte was built (by Alakeshvara, whom our 'historian' fails to
mention) preparatory to launching an offensive against the Aryachakravarti.
The last sentence quoted above from the Rajavaliya continues thus ".... one
day Alakeshvara viewed his forces and thinking it is not fitting to pay
tribute to a king, while there are such forces as these, built the fortress
of Jayawardane, constructed dams and moats, collected paddy, coconut and
salt to last several years and expelled the tax collectors placed by the
Aryachakravarti king at various places'. According to the Rajavaliya, the
Aryachakravarti imported mercenaries from the Chola country, [N-29] and sent
a force by land to Matale and another by sea to Dematagoda, via Panadura.
The Sinhalese army of the hill-country slaughtered the Tamils at Matale, the
survivors fleeing all the way to Jaffna. Alakeshvara routed the Tamils at
Dematagoda and destroyed their ships which lay off Panadura. 'The Kotagama
and Madawela inscriptions" writes Paranavithana 'are thus witnesses to the
utmost expansion of the Aryachakravartis of Jaffna".[N-30] De Silva could
also have cited de Queyroz whom historians of his school of history [N-31]
place a great value on : 'Of these (The 'kings' of Jaffnapatam) the first
that tried to free himself from the subjection to the king of Cota [N-32]
was Ariaxaca Varti [N-33] who being naturally proud and not brooking
haughtiness of the officers of that king, took the life of the one that
governed there, and the king of Ceylon preparing to punish him, they say, he
went to meet him at Ceytavaca [N-34] and took him some verses wherein he so
flattered him... that he left him completely vainglorious and satisfied
...he not only made him desist from war, but also obtained olas from him
(what we should call Provisions) and the title of king of Jaffnapatam which
his successors preserved paying in acknowledgment only some tribute, and
because this was the beginning of their greatness, his descendants from the
name Aria, were called Ariavance, [N-35] which means, the generation of Aira
There is no worse sin an academic could commit than to falsify the very
sources he claims to rely on. To do so in order deliberately to attempt
discredit another writer is still worse. Its commission in the particular
circumstances now prevailing in Sri Lanka is ominous. The question that begs
an explanation, before all else, is why a teacher of history should so risk
his standing with easily discoverable misdemeanors. One must conclude that
the motivation or inducement must have been very great indeed.
There is another point to be made. My article was published in the
newspapers as excerpts of a memorandum. This should have warned de Silva
that there was much else in the memorandum. Had he only inquired, as he
should have, he would have found that in the very next section of the
memorandum (which was, and still is, with the printer) the following account
was written by me , 'Ibn Batuta, the traveler from Tangier visited Ceylon in
1347 and found the contemporary Aryachakravarti the most powerful potentate
in the country. This was a period of confusion in the kingdom and the
Sinhalese king was too weak to control his chieftains. The Arya Chakravarti
pushed his authority to the South, controlled some of the West coast ports
and even levied taxes in his own right in places close to Kotte. The king
Wickramabahu III (seat at Gampola) was weak but he had a great Minister
Alakesvara whose seat of administration was Raigama ...... "
Our historian, after manipulating history, now strays into an area beyond
his competence and outside his subject - the Tamil claim for traditional
homelands. In the paragraph immediately following his juggling with my
writing, de Silva turns 'briefly to the concept of the 'traditional
homelands'. In one sentence, he transforms the concept into a "doctrine". In
the next paragraph it becomes a 'theory". This complex subject is disposed
of by this 'professional' historian in two paragraphs. He required only
three sentences to provide a footnote for future Tamil claims to the
Northern and Eastern Provinces created by the British in 1874 : 'The early
(1951) [N-37] version of the 'traditional homelands' theory has some support
from history. There is a (sic) little doubt that the Jaffna Peninsula and
most of the present Northern Province has (sic) been a Tamil majority area
since the 13th century. [N-38] Moreover there is evidence of large scale
Tamil settlements on the eastern coast about the same period and
subsequently. [N-39] There is therefore (sic) a region where Tamils have
predominated for a number of centuries.' C.R. de Silva is not a singular
phenomenon but a symptom of a much deeper disease that has afflicted certain
layers of Sri Lanka society for several generations. G.C. Mendis was one of
the earliest victims, who took to the study of history, misled generations
of students in schools and in the University, and inspired the
falsifications by Tamil politicians. Even Paranavithana had his own
obsessive hypotheses. [N-40] The time has come for an authentic history to
be written for the benefit of students and general readers of today and
1. Circa 6th century B.C.
2. The authority cited for this segment of 'history' is "the great work
of Sinhalese history - the Mahavansa" (The election manifesto of the
Tamil United Liberation Front, 1977). The Mahavansa however says none
of these things. According to this work the island was a Sinhalese
kingdom during the entire period referred to. It was ruled for most of
the period on the "one sovereignty" (literally "one umbrella")
principle. There was not one local Tamil ruler. Anuradhapura, the seat
of government (5th century B.C. to 11th century A.D.) was seized just
four times in the 16 centuries by invaders from South India who
temporarily held north-central and northern parts (the Province of
Rajarata) and driven out. The longest occupation was that of the Cholas
from 993 1070 A.D. The falsification of this history to one of
alternating fort was necessary to make the emergence of a Tamil kingdom
in the 13th century credible.
3. The source cited for inclusion of these regions in a 13th century
Tamil kingdom is Cleghorn's Minute. The Tamil extremists and their
supporters do not say what that Minute was nor when it was prepared.
This document was prepared in 1799 by Cleghorn, a British official,
describe the division by the Dutch of their coastal possessions for
judicial and administrative purposes after the Sinhalese - Dutch treaty
of 1766. It gives no indication of the hinterland ruled by the Dutch
and has no relation either to any political division of the 13th
century or to modern Northern and Eastern Provinces created by the
British in 1874. Tamil Eelamists are now generously prepared to give up
the Chilaw area.
4. Note that Tamil rancour is directed against the Sinhalese as a
people, not just against a Government. But funds generated by taxing
the Sinhalese poor have always been welcome for the education, economic
development etc. of the Tamils and have never been denied.
5. No lie could be so bold or so blatant. Portuguese, Dutch and the
British ruled all their coastal possessions (in the South and in the
North) as one political unit, under a Portuguese Captain - General, a
Dutch Governor and a British Governor, respectively, at Colombo. These
possessions called the "Maritime Provinces" by the British were a
single Crown Colony from 1801. It was the territory of the Sinhalese
kingdom Kandy, ceded in 1815, that was administered as a separate unit
called "the Kandyan Provinces" under a Board of Commissioners from 1815
to 1833. Consequent to the Rebellion of the Kandyan Sinhalese (1817/18)
which nearly drove the British out, the British amalgamated the
Maritime Provinces with the Kandyan Provinces in 1833 to strengthen the
British hold over the latter, in accordance with the
Colebrooke-Cameroon recommendations which are common knowledge. By a
Proclamation in 1833, the united territories were divided into 5
Provinces, parts of the Kandyan territory being included in Northern,
Eastern, Western and Southern Provinces. Only the Central Province was
constituted by wholly Kandyan districts.
6. Memorandum of the terrorist group called Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam to the Summit meeting of Non-Aligned Nations, March, 1983.
7. The alleged history has been accepted and the legal claim based
thereon has been upheld by international associations such as the
International Commission of Jurists. See "Report of Mission to Sri
Lanka", June 1983 on behalf of the I.C.J., reprinted August 1983. Most
people of Sri Lanka are quite unaware of these developments. The few
among the western educated minority who are aware suppress them but
hold seminars and publish writings advocating regional autonomy as an
alternative to the claim for a separate state. Acceptance of the main
case is implicit in the advocacy of a "viable alternative."
8. Before independence all residents of Ceylon, India and Pakistan were
British subjects. Citizenship of these states were a new status created
by new laws enacted for the purpose in each country. It was
acknowledged that each country had the right and duty to prescribe the
qualifications for citizenship. The Indians in Ceylon had only a
limited franchise even under British rule. They had to prove five
years' continuous residence at the time of registration as voters each
year, as well as an intention of living permanently in the country.
Under the citizenship laws of independent Ceylon, residents of Indian
and Pakistani origin had to prove only 7 years' continuous residence in
the country prior to 1.1.1946. (10 years for unmarried persons) and
thence to the date of application (the last date being 5th August
1951), absence from island for a period not exceeding 1 year on any one
occasion not being regarded as an interruption of residence. Most of
the Indians in Sri Lanka were a floating population and could not
satisfy these residential qualifications (In the period 1923-38, 3,
145, 850 immigrants arrived in Sri Lanka from India while 2, 821, 669
went back from this country to India - "Indians in Sri Lanka" by H.
Chattopadhyaya, Calcutta 1979, p. 1 13) Both in India and Ceylon
franchise is dependent on citizenship. A test of residence is applied
in India and many other countries, for the grant of citizenship. 9. See
text for the correct position.
10. Tamils can and do enter the public service and the judiciary
without knowing a word of Sinhalese. They are given generous terms to
acquire proficiency in the official language. See article 343 of the
Constitution of India ; "Official Language of the Union shall be Hindi
in the Devanagari script".
11. Article 5 of the Kandyan Convention (in the Statute Book from 1815
to date) under which the Sinhalese kingdom was ceded to the British in
1815 provides that "The Religion of the Boodhoo professed by the Chiefs
and the Inhabitants of these Provinces, is declared inviolable, and its
rites, Minister and Places of Worship are to be maintained and
protected" (i.e. by the State). Under English constitutional law, the
principles of which apply to this country in appropriate cases,
articles of cession are binding on the crown and its successors.
12. The demand for "balanced representation" as conceived by the Tamil
political leadership in the 1930s in collusion with British interests
was that in every legislature of independent Ceylon "if the Sinhalese
(Low-country and Kandyan) have 50 % voting strength, the minorities
(Ceylon Tamils, Europeans, Indian Tamils, Muslims) jointly should have
50 % and it would not be denied that, of the 50 % allowed to the
minorities jointly, the Tamils would be entitled to a large share. . .
" (Memorandum of the All-Ceylon Tamil Conference, 1937). "For all
intents and purposes the more vociferous leaders of communalism aim at
reducing the majority community to the position of a minority ...."
(Memorandum of the Ceylon National Congress, 1938).
13. "flankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi" means "Ceylon Tamil State Party". It
promised violence as far back as 1964. It was deliberately misnamed
"Federal Party" in English by Chelvanayakam to deceive non-Tamils -
"the party claiming in the Tamil language to represent the ideal of a
Ceylon Tamil State ... while in English it designated itself as the
Federal Freedom Party of the Tamil speaking peoples". (A. J. Wilson,
"Racial Strife in Sri Lanka : The Role of an Intermediary" published in
14. T.U.L.F. manifesto 1977 ; speech by the late S. Kathiravelupillai,
M.P. for Kopay at the Roman Catholic Centre for Society and Religion,
Colombo, May 1977. The irony is that "Eelam" means "Sinhala country".
Prof. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar, in his Foreword to Rasanayagam's "Ancient
Jaffna writes .. "Ilam to us seems to be directly derived from the Pali
word Sihalam . . i.e. Sinhala.
15. K. M. de Silva, a professor of history is the chairman of a limited
liability company styled "International Centre for Ethnic Studies". It
is a recipient of foreign funds and promotes the idea of regional
autonomy for minorities.
16. "Ethnicity, Prejudice and the Writing of History", G. C. Mendis
Memorial Lecture, 1984.
17. G. C. Mendis was himself so biased by his foreign training and
outlook that he saw the 2500 year history of Sri Lanka as an extension
of the histories of foreign countries. The title of one of his works,
which has disoriented generation of students, including history
professors of today, is as follows :
"The Early History of Ceylon, or, the Indian Period of Ceylon History".
Mendis divides the island story into, not periods of Sri Lanka History,
but the North Indian Period (earliest times to 1017 A.D.), South Indian
period (1017 A.D, to 1505 A.D), Portuguese period, Dutch Period and
British period ! "The British period is the most important of all
periods of Ceylon History" ("Ceylon under the British").
18. Sri Lanka : The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle
published by the Tamil Information Centre, London.
19. The first "Damilas" named in the Chronicles are Sena and Guttaka.
Devanampiyatissa was the older brother of Dutugemunu's paternal great
great grandfather (Mahavansa Ch. XXII). Thus Dutugemunu's claim to the
throne. Ponnambalam is just malicious.
20. P. 20 of the main text, post.
21. The date is computed by Paranavithana in the JRASCB article cited.
22. "Aryachakravarti" was an Indian title and not a name.
23. i.e. lord.
24. Vickramabahu III (1357-74).
25. i.e. sovereign.
26. Rajavaliya means "Account of kings". Written in the 17th century,
its language is colloquial.
27. "Navathotamunen". This could also mean "new port".
28. It could bear a different meaning.
29. Rajavaliya cannot be correct about Chola mercenaries. Chola power
was at an end in the 13th century. Alakeshwara routed the
Aryachakravarti in the latter part of the 14th century.
30. JRASCB Vol. VII (New Series) Part 2 p. 213.
31. The G. C. Mendis - S. G. Perera school, to whom wars fought by the
Kandyan Sinhalese against invaders were "Kandyan Wars" not British wars
; 19th Century British Imperialism meant "Rise of the People" and a
"Period of Peace and Prosperity". K. M. de Silva has published (1981) a
History of Sri Lanka, the text of which runs to 560 pages. The 20
centuries to the end of the 15th century are dismissed in 92 pages. A
grossly inaccurate political map of "Sri Lanka in the Seventeenth
Century"shows a small kingdom of Kandy and a smaller kingdom of Jaffna
described as "Areas under the direct rule of the Native Kings". (The
natives were not friendly). Sinhalese literature and the Arts in the
19th and 20th centuries are discussed without any mention of Munidasa
Cumaratunga, the most distinguished literary figure of the period. 32.
35. Aryawansa, meaning, noble line.
36. "The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon" by Father Fernao de
Queyroz, S.J. (Goa 1667) translated by Fr. S. G. Perera S. J.
(1930) P-49. De Queyroz' account cannot be correct. The
Aryachakravartis brought their title from South India. Also incorrect
is de Queyroz' version that the Sinhalese prince Sapumal Kumaraya was
the first ruler of Jaffna. He was governor of Jaffna under
Parakramabahu VI for 17 to 20 years in the 15th century.
37. Thus it appears that till 1951 the Tamils did not think they had
38. A Northern Province was created for the first time in 1833 in the
scheme of administration designed to break up the Kandyan Sinhalese
Provinces. The present Anuradhapura District was part of it till 1874.
The present Polonnaruwa District was part of the Eastern Province from
1833-74. If the claim to the two provinces had been made by the Tamils
in, say, 1850, the whole of the present North Central Province would
have been included.
39. See text for historical data regarding the Eastern Province. De
Silva makes these statements without any supporting authority.
40. Such as his desire to impose a Malaysian history in the teeth of
TAMIL CLAIMS TO LAND: FACT AND FICTION
When the Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka in the early part of the 16th
century the seat of government of the island was at Kotte near Colombo. De
Queyroz, a much quoted contemporary Portuguese historian, writes in his
"Conquest of Ceylon" that "after the City of Cota (Kotte) became the
metropolis there were in the island 15 kinglets subject to the (Sinhalese)
King of Cota who therefore was considered to be Emperor, and the same title
is in these days (i.e. after the Portuguese occupation of Colombo) claimed
by the (Sinhalese) King of Candea. These Kinglets were of Dinavaca, Uva,
Valave, Putalao (Puttalam), Mantota (near Mannar), Tanagama, Muliauali,
Triquilimale, Cutiar (Koddlyar, the Bay of Trincomalee and its hinterland),
Batecalao (Batticaloa), Paneva (Panama), Vintena (Bintenna'), Orupula,
Mature, Candea and the point of the North, Jafnapatao (Jaffnapatam or
Jaffna). . "1 As we shall see, foreign writers such as de Queyroz who wrote
of the conditions of their times viewed local chieftains subordinate to the
suzerainty of the sovereign as "Kinglets" or "Kings" subject to an
Right up to modern times it was the Indian tradition for even owners of
large landholdings to call themselves 'Rajas" though they had no temporal
power at all. What is relevant for the present argument is that the
'Emperor" at Kotte was the suzerain of the entire country. Kandy (Candea) in
the central hills became the seat of government in the late 16th century,
after the death of King Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawaka who had succeeded the kings
at Kotte as the principal ruler in the island2.
Kings of Kandy Ruled Jaffna
The Dutch priest Baldaeus, who was with the Dutch forces which captured the
Portuguese coastal settlements with the assistance of and on behalf of the
Sinhalese King, wrote an authoritative work entitled "A true and exact
description of the Great Island of Ceylon" in 1672. He records that on 18th
August 1613 King Senerat 3 summoned his Councillors from the various parts
of his Kingdom to ensure the right of succession of his eldest son.4 The
councillors who attended included amongst many others, the "Kings" of
Cotiarum, Batecaloa, Panua, Palugam (which together encompass. the present
Eastern Province) and one Namacar, the envoy of the "King" of Jaffnapatam
(part of the present Northern Province).
The succession of the Crown Prince to Senerat being agreed to by the
Council, Senerat issued a proclamation when the Council reassembled on the
second day, part of which read as follows :
"Cenuwiraed (Senerat) by the Grace of God, Emperor of Ceylon, King of Candy,
Setevaca (Sitawaka), Trinquenemale (Trincomalee), Jaffnapatam, Settecorles
(Seven Korales), Manaer (Mannar), Chilaw, Chitaon Panua (Panama), Batecaloa
(Batticaloa), Palugam (Palukamam) and Jaele (Yala), Prince of Ove (Uva),
Denavaque (Denawaka), Pasdan Corle (Pasdum Korale), Velaren (Wellassa),
Cotamale (Kotmale), Mewatre (Miwatura), and Ventane (Bintenna), Duke of
Willagamme (Weligama on the Southern Coast), Gale (Gaile), Ody (Udunuwara)
and Jattenore (Yatinuwara), Count of Quartercorle (Four Korales), Harkepatte
(Harispattu), Odogodaskary (Udugoda Korale), Corwitty (Kuruwita) and
Bategedre (Batugedera),5 Peace to all whom it may concern.
'Whereas we lay sick in bed and not knowing the time of dissolution we have
therefore assembled together all our principal officers of state to consult
with them as to secure the tranquillity of our country and to the well-being
of our beloved son Comara Singa Astana6 (who did not eventually succeed
Senerat on the latter's death in 1635 but was passed over in favour of
youngest son Maha Astana who was crowned as Rajasinghe 11)".
After appointing regents to rule the country till Kumarasinghe came of age,
the Proclamation goes on thus "and we do further command all kings and
princes, all dukes, counts, ecclesiastics, nobles, governors, heads of all
lands and provinces, captains and presidents of all councils, admirals,
chancellors5 and all other persons ... of every province, town and village
jointly and severally that they acknowledge the aforesaid princes, (i.e.,
the regents) as guardians and rulers of our Empire until such time as the
hereditary prince shall come of age and for greater security we have jointly
with the crown prince and all the assembled kings, princes, nobles and
potentates affixed hereto our signature and confirmed it with our seal of
office... Thus declared at the Imperial Palace at Digelege7 this 19th day of
August 1613." It will be noted that one of the chieftains who bound himself
was the "King" of Jaffnapatam through his representative Namacar.
Although for most of its duration as a political unit the "Kingdom" or
principality of Jaffna was de jure part of the dominions of the Sinhalese
kings whether ruling at Gampola, Kotte, Sitawaka or Kandy,8 during the
course of its existence from the end of the 13th century to the beginning of
the 17th century, there were periods in which the chieftain of this remote
province asserted his independence of the Sinhalese overlord9.
Sometimes he pledged fealty to Portugal while acknowledging the Sinhalese
king as his overlord.10 This precarious existence of the "Kingdom of Jaffna"
ended in 1619 when a Portuguese general defeated the "Ringlet" Sangili (who
was de jure a chieftain of Rajasinghe 11 of Kandy) at Atchuvely in 1619.11
Sangili himself was a usurper. Jaffnapatam was thereafter a Portuguese
settlement for 40 years till it was captured by the Dutch in 1638. We are
here concerned with the boundaries of this "kingdom" of Jaffnapatam12 which
alone might be claimed as 'the traditional homeland of the Tamils' if such a
concept were to be acknowledged at all.
Jaffnapatam and the Eastern Province
Baidaeus, who accompanied the Dutch forces which took Jaffnapatam in 1658,
lived and worked there as a missionary for eight years till 1665. We are
fortunate to have his accurate and detailed description, complete with a
map. "Jaffnapatam" says Baldaeus 'is divided into four provinces and is very
The four provinces were :
* Beligamme (Weligama at The time Sinhalese place names were still in
use, now Valikamam),
* Tenmarache (Tenmaradchi),
* Waddemarache (Vadamaradchi) and
* Patchiarapalle (Pachchilaippali).
In addition the "adjacent isles" as well as the island of Mannar (but no
part of modern mainland Mannar District) belonged to the kingdom
Jaffnapatam. The "Isles" are Ourature (Modern Kayts), Caradiva (modern Tamil
name Karaitivu), Pongardiva (now Pungidutivu), Analativa (Analaitivu),
Nindundiva (Delft), Paletiva (Paletivu) and "some other isles" i.e.,
Manditivu, Kachchativu, and other islets which are now part of the territory
of Sri Lanka. According to Baldaeus, the "Province" of Patchiarapalle
(modern Pachchilaippali) bordered on the Kingdom of Kandy ruled by
Rajasinghe II. The Vanni (save a trip along the northern and north west
coast) i.e., modern mainland Mannar District, most of Kilinochchi District,
Vavuniya District, as well as Mulativu District (all in the present Northern
Province) and the whole of the present Eastern Province were part of the
dominions of the Sinhala king. Jaffnapatam was little more than the Jaffna
Peninsula ("Jaffnapatam" being derived from the Sinhalese "Yapa Patuna",
Yapa - High ranking official, Patuna-entrepot) plus the adjacent islands and
the island of Mannar. The area of this territory is only 430 square miles.
The whole of the present Eastern Province was under the direct rule of the
Sinhalese Kings at Kandy, the "Kings" referred to by Baldaeus and de Queyroz
having been only Vanniyas (Chieftains) and Disaves (provincial governors).
Though the Portuguese and the Dutch built forts at Trincomalee, the huge bay
called Koddiar Bay was under the control of the King (Emperor) at Kandy.
Robert Knox and his party were captured at Koddiar Bay by King Rajasinghe's
men. De Queyroz states that Trincomalee, Koddiar, "Tambalagama" and
"Gantale" were some of the teritories of the Kingdom of Kandy.
Koddiar, Batticaloa and Puttalam were the main ports of the Sinhalese Kings
who ruled in Kandy when the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British were
successively in occupation of settlements on the northern, south western and
southern coasts. The Dutch Governor Ryckloff van Goens (Snr) reported in
December 1663 (at a time when the Dutch, having broken their treaty with
Rajasinghe II entered into in 1638, were attempting to establish title even
to Rajasinghe's dominions) that "The country between the Waluwe (Walawe
River in the modern Southern province) and Trinquemale (Trincomalee) mostly
stretches east and east north-east as far as Jale (Yala, now a wild life
sanctuary), turns to the north and north-west upto Trinquenemale. I have
been been able to visit this district as it is entirely inhabited by the
King's (i.e. Rajasinghe's) people."
Tamils, Muslims and Catholics in Sinhalese Territory
When the Portuguese persecuted the Arabs,13 Sinhalese Buddhist Kings invited
them to settle in their dominions. This was the origin of the large muslim
population in the Eastern Province at the present time. They also settled
down on invitation in the Central Province and even inthe North Central
Vanni (Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts) where traditional Sinhalese
villages now have as their neighbours traditional Muslim villages, all
dependent on agriculture under irrigation from village tanks. In 1762,
Pybus, the British Ambassador from Madras to the Court at Kandy, was
received by the King's officers at Mutur on the southern beach of Koddiar
(Trincomalee) Bay on 5th, May, conducted in State through modern
Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts to Kandy and taken back to
Mutur on 2nd July14
The district of Mutur had 64 villages under "3 Headmen who have the
management for the General to whose Government it belongs, who (i.e., the
General) resides at Candia (Kandy)" states Pybus in the diary of his
journey.14 The King's Disava (Provincial Administrator) is called "General"
by Pybus. He is called "King" by de Queyroz and by Baladeus. In 1766 the
Dutch Governor Falck, with an army behind him, forced King Kirti Sri
Rajasinghe of Kandy to sign a treaty ceding 15 to the Dutch a coastal strip
4 miles in breadth along the whole of the coastline of modern Eastern
Province (as well as part of the western coast). Kirt Sri later refused to
be bound by the treaty as it was signed under duress. But there could be no
better proof that the whole of the present Eastern Province was
acknowledgedly a Sinhalese domain till 1766, so that there is no question of
this Province ever having been part of an independent Tamil Ealam or of
"traditional homelands" of the Tamils. Tamils, Muslims, Mukkuvars
(fisherfolk from the Malabar or Kerala coast in India) and Sinhalese lived
under Sinhalese rule without discrimination. The private rights of each race
were governed by customary laws. It is an outrage that the historical
tolerance and hospitality of the Sinhalese are now exploited with the lie of
Tamil "traditional home-lands" to deprive the Sinhalese of benefits of
national investment on public land in a sparsely populated region which was,
till the Sinhalese ceded15 the coastal strip to the Dutch in 1766 and the
interior to the British in 1815, 16 part of the Sinhalese dominions.
When the Portugese persecuted the Muslims in the settlements occupied by the
former, the Sinhalese Buddhist Kings settled the latter in the modern
Eastern Province and the Central Province. When the Dutch persecuted the
Catholics, the Sinhalese Buddhist kings who had their seat at Kandy settled
them too within their dominions. This is how there is a large Catholic
settlement at Wahacotte, Matale District, in the heart of the country. In
1658 the Dutch issued a proclamation making the harbouring or giving of
protection to a Roman Catholic priest a capital offence. Father Joseph Vaz,
a hero of Roman Catholic history in this country, owed his life to the
intercession and protection of a Sinhalese Buddhist King.
According to Professor Sinnappa Arasaratnam the Dutch wished to conclude a
new treaty with the Sinhalese King Wimaladharmasuriya II (1687 - 1707), as
under their treaties with his predecessor Rajasinghe II (1635 - 1687) they
held the settlements captured from Portugese only as a form of security for
repayment to them of the expenses incurred in fighting the Portugese (which
was undertaken on behalf of the treaty which provided for continued
occupation of the former Portugese territories until their expenses were
paid, or, in the alternative, for the cession of the coastal strip between
the Walawe Ganga and the Kalu Ganga, the small island of Pulliyantivu on
which the Batticaloa Fort had been erected, and the inner bay of Trincomalee
harbour. King Wimaladharmasuriya II rejected these propsals. The Sinhalese
Kings throughout considered the Dutch as a security force employed for the
protection of the coastal belts of the island ("Wimaladharmasuriya II (1687
- 1707) and his relations with the Dutch" by S. Arasaratnam published in the
Ceylon Journal of Historical andn Social Studies VOL. 6 No. 1.)
Who are the Tamils?
The modern Nothern Province (3352 square miles) is also sparsely populated
with the exception of Jaffna Peninsula (approx. 430 square miles) even
today. We have seen that only Jaffna Peninsula could for historical or
demographic reasons be considered a traditional homeland of the modern Sri
Lanka Tamils if such a concept were to be entertained. Even here the history
of Tamil settlement is comparatively recent considering the antiquity of the
history of Sri Lanka. "The colonisation of Jaffna by the Tamils cannot be of
extreme antiquity" writes H.W. Codrington in his work "Ancient Land Tenure
and Revenue in Ceylon" (1938). "Such Sinhalese place names as exist, and
they are not a few, are not pre-medival, and the Vaipavanmalai (Yalpana
Vaipavanmalai composed in 1736 A.D., by Mailvagna Puravar, an inhabitant of
Jaffna Peninsula on the isntructions of the contemporary Dutch administrator
of Jaffna, and added to in British times) though unreliable as serious
history, records the presence of the Sinhalese in the peninsula in the 15th
Century". K. Balasingham, the eminent Tamil lawyer, politician and scholar
writes that "There is no proper history of Jaffna prior to the Arya
Chakravartis" (i.s., before the latter part of the 13th century).[N-17]
THERE IS A HISTORY BUT NOT OF THE TAMILS. EVEN C. RASANAYAGAM IN HIS HEAVILY
TAMIL-BIASED ("WHAT FEELINGS OF JUST PRIDE AND PATRIOTISM WOULD SWELL IN THE
HEART OF EVERY TRUE SON OF JAFFNA, IF HE COULD BUT PEEP INTO THE GLORIES OF
HER PAST!") "ANCIENT JAFFNA" (1926) ADMITS "THAT JAFFNA WA OCCUPIED BY THE
SINHALESE EARLIER THAN BY THE TAMILS IS SEEN NOT ONLY IN THE PLACE NAMES OF
JAFFNA BUT ALSO IN SOME OF THE HABITS AND CUSTOMS OF THE PEOPLE". The
evidence is that the people indentified in modern times as Sri Lanka Tamils
are mostly descendents of Malayalees from the Malabar or Kerala coast (Magha
of Kalinga-modern Orissa and part of Andhra Pradesh - invaded the country in
the 13th century with an army from Kerala), Tamils from the Coromandel coast
who came with the advent of the Arya Chakravarti chieftains from the 13th
Century onwards, Malays from the armies of the Javaka invader Chandrabhanu
(13th century), the Sinhalese who were original settlers as well as migrants
from the Vanni when the Dry Zone irrigation systems collapsed, the
comparatively few ancient Tamil invaders and nonmilitary immigrants who
would have been both original settlers in the Peninsula as well as
immigrants from the Vanni after the collapse of the irrigation systems,
Paravars (the Bharatha community) who came in Portugese and Dutch times as
pearl divers, soldiers and fishermen, Kalingas (from modern Orissa and
Andhra Pradesh), Mukkuvars from the Malabar coast, Arabs, Moors from South
India, and Portugese who were given land grants and settled in Jaffna from
1619 to 1658.18 Most of the descendents of old Tamil invaders and traders
who came from time to time from the 3rd Century B.C. to the 11th Century
A.D., must have settled down in areas now predominantly Sinhalese and got
absorbed into the modern Sinhalese population.19 They could not be among the
Tamil population of today.
The ancestry of the Sri Lanka Tamils of the present time therefore is not
clear. This has been an ambarassment to modern day Tamil historians, lawyers
and politicians. Hindu law has no application to Hindu Tamils (most of them
Saivite) in this country. The Tamils of the Northern Province are governed
with respect to certain subjects by customary rules of the licality known as
Thesavalamai (codified by the Dutch in 1707) i.e., customs of the region.
The Thesavalamai applied according to the codifiers to "the Malabar
Inhabitants of the Province of Jaffna". The Malabar coast is in Kerala. One
of the principal features of the Thesavalamai, the right of pre-emption
among co-owners, is derived from Muslim customary law personal to
Mohammedans in India and unknown to Hindu customary law (The three T.U.L.F.
leaders, all lawyers, attending the Round Table Conference did not know
The Tamils of the Eastern Province are not governed by the Thesavalamai.
They are subject to the Roman-Dutch law. The Mukkuvars of the Eastern
Province are governed by their own Mukkuva law. Whether they are Malaalees
who later adopted the Tamil language or were originally Tamils is a moot
point. Some Paravars are Tamil speaking, while others are Sinhalese speaking
and even bilingual. That the descendants of such disparate forebears have
welded themselves by the unifying force of Saivism and the Tamil language
into a racial group wiht a distinct and distinguished culture, though
divided by caste, is a remarkable cultural achievement. But such a racial
group has no "historic or "traditional" homelands. This is why when its
leaders struggled for places at the top of Lanka society they had to find an
absurd claim for their followers.
The cry of "traditional homelands" is dangerous as well as absurd. The
hillcountry districts of Ceylon have been peopled by the Sinhalese for
centuries. The seat of the last kings was Kandy in these territories. From
the 16th Century to the 19th, the Kings fought the Portugese, the Dutch and
the British for the independence of the country. The British administered
the coastal possessions (including Jaffna) taken from the Dutch in 1796 and
ceded to them by the Treaty of Amiens, as a Crown Colony from 1801, calling
them "the Maritime Provinces". In 1815, after obtaining the cession of the
Kandyan Kingdom they administered the Maritime Provinces as one unit and the
Kandyan Provinces as a separte unit in terms of the treaty of cession which
is still on the statute book.
The territory which comprised the "Kingdom of Jaffna" was naver administered
as a separate political entity by the British, the Dutch or the Portugese.
The Kandyan Provinces and the Maritime Provinces were brought under one
administration in 1833 consequent to the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms and the
entire island was divided in that year into 5 provinces. The Sinhalese of
the Kandyan Provinces have been designated Kandyan Sinhalese from 1815 to
date. If any peasantry could be described as "down trodden" it is admittedly
the Kandyan peasantry. The Kandyan rebellion of 1818 which nearly drove the
British out of the island was put down with a ferocity unparalled in British
colonialist annals. The country was pillaged, villages were burnt down,
males over 14 years of age were murdered as a matter of policy, and fields
devastated. The Chieftains were executed and exiled and families which
betrayed the Rebellion were elevated to positions of social and economic
power to keep the country safe for the British. ("The rich Province of
Dumbara... will not be reduced to good order till severe examples are made
in it affecting both lives and Property...". Governor Brownrigg to Lord
Bathurst, Secretary of State, 19.2.1818). The Kandyan population was subject
to deliberate neglect through the whole period of British rule, in pursuance
of a strategy never to permit another formidable rising. Table I illustrates
the political debilitation of the Kandyans in the early 20th century, when
"racial" or "communal" representation was a recognized principle20.
TABLE - 1
REPRESENTATION OF TERRITORIAL ELECTORATES IN THE LEGISLATIVE CONCIL 1921 -
Total Total No.
Electorate Pop. In Majority race & Of voters Name & race of
1921 No. on Ltd. Member elected
Central Kandyan Wijekone
Province 717,739 Sinhalese 2,427 Low-Country
Low-Country James Peiris
Colombo Town 244,163 Sinhalese 4,325 Low-Country
Eastern Ceylon E.R.
Province 192,821 Tamils101,880 806 Thambimuttu
North-Central Kandyan S.D.
Province 96,525 Sinhalese 385 Krishnaratne
66,912 Ceylon Tamil
North-Western Kandyan C.E. Corea
Province 492,181 Sinhalese 4,813 Low-Country
Province 374,829 Ceylon Tamils 13,937 W.Duraisamy
Ceylon 352,322 Tamil
Sabaragamuwa Kandyan Boteju
Province 471,814 Sinhalese 1,344 Low-Country
Southern Low-Country Kannangara
Province 671,234 Sinhalese 4,123 Low-Country
Uva Province 233,864 Sinhalese 633 Kotalawela
Western Low-country A' Div. W.M. Rajapakse
Province 1,246,847 Sinhalese 6,785 Low-Country
B' Div. E.W. Perera
The result of those policies is that even today the Kandyan peasantry are
indigent, landless and exploited. In the 19th century, when it was realised
by the British that the hill-country lands could be most suitable for
exploitation by British capital, these lands, the "traditional homelands" of
the Kandyan Sinhalese, were expropriated and transferred to British
plantation companies and individual capitalists. Nearly one million acres
were given to British capitalists in the period 1836-86. Thousands of South
Indian Tamils were brought in and settled on these homelands to provide
labor for British capital. What if the Kandyan Sinhalese now demand the
expulsion of the Tamils of recent Indian origin from the hill country
districts on the gound that their traditional homelands have been violated?
But neither the Kandyan Sinhalese nor the Low country Sinhalese have raised
this issue of "traditional homelands", which is peculiar to the Tamils
By contrast this is how the Tamils formulate their fantastic demand: "The
aggression against Tamil Eelam by planned colonisation by Sinhalese
governments has been drastic and grave. Beginningn with the government of
the United National Party and those of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (a
coalition formed in 1955 and not the M.E.P. of today) and Sri Lanka Freedom
Party that followed, in turn put into operation (sic) planned and
state-aided colonisation schemes by which lakhs and lakhs of Sinhalese
people were planted in the homeland of the Tamil nation ..... Sinhalese
people were put in occupation', at state expense, of extensive tracts of the
Eastern Province [N-22] at Pattipola Aru (i.e. Gal Oya), Allai Kantalai 23
(both in Trincomalee District), Padavikulam known only as Padaviya never by
this Tamilised form), etc...... the Eastern Province where when the British
left in 1948, there were hardly a 10,000 Sinhalese, is now flooded with some
180,000 Sinhalese people....The Tamil nation is .....being thus destroyed in
its own homeland all over Tamil Eelam. The nation realises the need to
liberate this land24 to save itself from annihilation...."
State Land and the Peasantry
If schemes of devolution of power are considered without reference to
issues, and, if under any such scheme, control of public land in sparsely
populated areas is devolved on a Tamil administration the result would be a
disaster. In India, the States Reorganization Commission realized as far
bacj as 1955 that the concept of communal or historic "homelands" was a
threat to the integrity of the country. In its report published on 10th
October, 1955 the Commission firmly rejected this concept as it "offended
against" the very basis of the Indian Constitution. The theory of "one
language, one state" was also rejected. Premier Rajiv Gandhi and his
advisers would no doubt appreciate how much more dangerous, more absurd and
less valid such claimsmare in the Sri Lanka situation.
It would be relevant to observe at this stage the population figures for the
modern Northern and Eastern Provinces at the time of attainment of
independence. The result of the first post-war Census in 1946 revealed that
there were just 13,746 persons living in the 534 square miles of Jaffna
District situated in the mainland south of the Peninsula. Mannar District,
exclusive of Mannar Island, was 887 square miles in extent but had only
15,124 people. The population of Vavuniya, which had within its 1946
boundaries 1466 square miles, was 23,246. The whole of the mainland Northern
Province (the Northern Vanni of the Sinhalese dominions) had a population of
52,116 souls (0.78% of the population of the country) yielding a density of
18 persons per square mile [N-25]. How could any policy or proposal which
has as one of its objectives the exclusion of the majority community from
lands developed in this area with public funds (of which naturally the
biggest share comes from the majority) be anything but a subversion of the
integrity of the country? Under secret agreements entered into by successive
governments, in and since 1957 with racist Tamil parties to woo their
support, the Sinhalese peasantry have actually been excluded from all
benefits under major projects in this area since 1957. This has been the
case though every such project has been the restoration of an old irrigation
work constructed by a Sinhalese King (and the development of land rendered
irrigable by such restoration).
Trincomalee District is no different. There was in 1946, a population of
36,323 in the approximately 1,000 square miles situated outside Trincomalee
town. Batticaloa, the other district in the Eastern Province (where most of
the lands developed later under the massive Gal Oya project is situated),
had an area of 2,792 square miles and a Sri Lanka Tamil population of
101,061. The 85,375 Sri Lanka Muslims were descendants of the Arabs settled
in the territory by the Sinhalese King to save them from persecution by the
Portugese in the western coastal areas. By contrast, Nuwara Eliya District
in the Central Province in the heartland of the Kandyan Provinces, had a
population of 268,121 in an area of 473 square miles, yielding a density of
567 persons per square mile ! As a result of British sponsored immigration
of Tamils from South india and illicit immigration, Indian Tamils
outnumbered the Sinhalese 153,694 (57.3%) to 101,270 (37.8%). Between 1921
and 1946 the Indian Tamils had increased their numbers by 51.3%. In Kandy
District in the Central Province, the population was 711,449 in an area of
913 square miles (a density of 779 persons to the square mile). The Kandyan
Sinhalese were 47.7% of the population while the Indian Tamils were 29.2%.
Table II gives a fair idea of pressure of population on land in the various
areas of our predominantly agricultural country. How much a Sinhala majority
country Sri Lanka is may be judged from Table III.
District Land (Square population Other than Estate
miles) per sq. mile
Colombo1 248 6,848 25.2
Gampaha1 538 2,583 72.1
Kalutara 620 1,334 73.2
Kandy 913 1,233 75.3
Matale 767 466 80.9
Nuwara Eliya 474 1,101 32.9
Galle 646 1,261 76.8
Matara 481 1,339 85.8
Hambantota 1,001 424 89.9
Jaffna2 430 1,718 65.5
Kilinochchi3 452 203 83.3
Mannar 758 141 85.8
Vavuniya 1,020 94 82.7
Mullaitivu 610 127 90.6
Batticaloa 951 348 75.9
Ampara 1,152 337 86.2
Trincomalee 1,010 254 66.1
Kurunegala 1,842 658 95.5
Puttlam 1,149 429 86.9
Anuradhapura 2,752 214 92.7
Polonnaruwa 1,314 200 91.4
Badulla 1,088 591 66.9
Moneragala 2,754 102 94.8
Ratnapura 1,250 637 79.1
Kegalle 642 1,063 83.0
1 - Approximate: Gampaha, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi districts were created
betwen the Census of 1971 and 1981.
2 - Jaffna Peninsula
3 - Formerly mainland Jaffna
1981 CENSUS OF POPULATION
District Total No. Buddhist Hindu Muslim Roman Other
ers Sinhala Sri LankaIndian Sri Lanka Burgher Malay Others
Of Persons Catholic Christians
Tamil Tamil Moor
Sri Lanka 14,850,001 10,292,586 2,295,858 1,134,5561,009,577 102,159
265 10,985,66 1,871,535825,233 1,056,972 38,236 43,37829,931
Colombo 1,693,322 1,201,775 129,664 168,956 155,168 38,853
06 1,322,658 165,952 21,504 140,461 18,997 20,0418,709
Kalutara 827,189 698,789 36,902 62,781 26,254 2,249
722,075 8,601 33,510 61,706 330 712 255
Kandy 1,126,296 837,684 134,347 125,646 18,984 7,261
74 844,325 55,675 104,840 112,052 2,402 2,648 4,354
Matale 357,441 281,179 41,337 26,603 7,196 1,066 60
285,514 20,936 24,084 25,836 250 514 307
Nuwara Eliya522,219 184,796 290,345 15,791 25,805 5,054
187,280 70,471 247,131 14,668 602 1,113 954
Galle 814,579 766,840 14,753 26,359 3,247 1,283
97 768,928 6,093 11,069 25,896 216 158 2,219
Matara 644,231 609,131 15,366 16,853 1,916 755
609,367 3,918 13,931 16,457 254 61 243
Hambantota 424,102 412,510 1,535 9,333 448 148
412,965 1,553 308 4,732 63 4,380 101
Jaffna 831,112 4,068 708,004 14,169 95,566 9,144
4,615 792,246 20,001 13,757 350 46 97
Mannar 106,940 3,224 28,500 30,079 44,003 995
8,710 54,106 14,072 28,464 41 23 1,524
Vavuniya 95,904 15,807 66,424 6,764 6,183 704 22
15,876 54,541 18,592 6,640 21 31 203
Batticaloa 330,899 8,864 219,343 79,662 19,113 3,612
10,646 234,348 3,868 79,317 2,300 49 371
Ampara 388,786 144,778 74,328 161,754 5,516 2,149
146,371 78,315 1,410 161,481 643 179 387
Trincomalee 256,790 83,143 81,684 75,761 14,169 1,194
86,341 86,743 6,767 74,403 1,211 735 590
Kurunegala 1,212,755 1,095,710 13,373 64,213 35,608 3,310
1,128,548 13,438 6,427 61,342 605 1,201 1,194
Puttalam 493,344 234,519 20,458 50,246 185,559 2,146
407,453 33,218 2,964 47,959 444 882 424
Anuradhapura587,822 530,383 5,985 43,801 6,443 776
536,899 7,113 785 41,833 280 266 646
Polonnaruwa 262,753 236,126 5,245 17,621 3,154 255
238,803 5,875 205 17,091 57 132 590
Badulla 642,893 439,141 160,695 28,759 11,072 2,916
440,245 36,585 135,795 26,808 641 1,300 1,519
Moneragala 297,743 259,665 12,845 5,750 1,140 268 75
259,825 5,023 9,164 5,322 80 152 177
Ratnapura 796,468 673,200 95,004 15,441 10,587 1,977
674,657 17,979 88,429 13,531 450 410 1,012
Kegalle 682,411 581,723 52,575 36,548 8,031 3,284
588,675 14,095 43,879 34,832 164 251 515
Gampaha 1,389,490 988,543 26,480 47,850 312,818 12,317
82 1,280,942 45,807 5,732 38,607 7,742 8,077 2,583
Mullaitivu 77,512 988 60,666 3,816 11,597 440 05
3,948 58,904 10,766 3,777 93 17 07
In 1840 the British enacted legislation that enabled them to appropriate as
Crown Land "all forest, waste and unoccupied land". Hena land or land
cultivated regularly, but at intervals, which belonged to every village
community was included in the definition of forest and waste. The Kandyan
peasantry lost most of the land hitherto available to them for expansion,
for use as sources of water, for conservation of hill sides and for
carefully planned hena cultivation. In the sparsely populated Eastern,
North-Central and Northern provinces the principal effect was to nationalise
hundreds of thousands of acres of land and make them available for future
development on a planned basis, though this was hardly the intention.
These latter areas were in the dry zone where a remarkable irrigation
civilization flourished under Sinhalese kings (invaders from South India
destroyed irrigation works though I do not believe this caused a collapse of
the irrigation systems - the invasions being sporadic, the longest
occupation lasting only 77 years from 993 to 1070 A.D.). This agro-economic
system failed due to reaons I have set out in a technical note in 1978, in
"Truth about the Mahaweli". The lands reverted to forest and not till the
British Governor Sir Henry Ward's efforts in the 19th Century was the
restoration of the irrigation systems seriously considered.
The Land Commission of 1927 adopted the concept that the Crown, the biggest
landowner, held these lands in trusteeship for all the people. It also
recommended a systematic programme of land use planning that included
"mapping out" of village lands and of vast extents in forest for village
expansion on the one hand and for agriculture development by settlement
(colonisation) of peasant farmers on the other. Forest land was to be
rendered scientifically cultivable by the restoration of the irrigation
works of the ancient Sinhalese. Sri Lanka was to be the granary of the East
once again. D.S. Senanayake, a member of the Commission, later Minister of
Agriculture and Lands (1931-47), inspired by outstanding British public
servants such as C.V. Brayne (who experimented with a "peasant propretor
system" in the Eastern Province), and fired a by sense of patriotism that
was truly national, dedicated himself to the upliftment of a miserable
peasantry by the development of "colonisation schemes" which were large
scale projects benefiting the agricultural population in general (without
heed to race, religion or caste) and village expansion schemes which, as the
term implies, were to benefit only the particular villages in which
development was undertaken.27
There was an overall social policy of building up a strong, independent
farming society and racial considerations were not contemplated; so much so
that not till the nineteen forties were the special circumstances of misery
historically imposed on the Kandyan peasantry given particular
The British plantation interests, however, were, opposed to the expenditure
of public funds on projects that would benefit the indigenous peasantry.
They would rather have priority in public investment continue to be given to
the plantation and mercantile sectors. Mr. D.S. Senanayake had a struggle
before he succeeded in obtaining public funds for irrigation developement.
The contention was not whether the Sinhalese or the Tamils were to be
benefit but whether investment on a big scale should be made on the
peasantry of the country instead of on foreign plantation interests.28
The Land Development Ordinance enacted as a consequence of the
recommendations of the Land Commission 1929 was pposed by the European
Association, the Tamil members of the State Council and by Indian interests,
though the final reading of the bill in 1934 went through without a
division. C.V. Brayne, the first Land Commissioner commented thus on this
bill in his last Administration Report (1934): "The most important problem
before the Government of Ceylon concerns THE WELFARE OF THE PEASANTS, their
establishment upon the land, the developement of markets for their produce,
the improvement of their methods of production and the raising of their
standard of living.
"As far as the development of Crown land is concerned, provision for the
peasants' needs in all future alienations is now secured. The new bill is in
this respect their Magna Carta...Could the wide available spaces of the Dry
Zone be thrown upon to this teemiing population and developed successfully
in small farms, annually tilled with the plough and harrow, it would be a
great step forward in a general raising of the standard of living of the
peasantry of the whole Island".
This Englishman had no means of anticipating the extremes to which Tamil
communalism could go or the support that communalism could receive from
local non-Tamil groups aligned to other interests and from thoroughly
irresponsible foreign elements. When the Tamil political leaders in alliance
with the European interests (which were a power in the country in the
1930's) opposed the grant of independence, they (the Tamils) made wild
charges of preference by the Sinhala Ministers towards the Sinhalese in the
allocation of public revenus.
The All Ceylon Tamil Congress furnished the British with "data" purporting
to support thsi charge. According to these, between the beginning of the
century and 1931 i.e., when the colonial regime was all powerful, nearly 8
million rupees, or 50% of the total expenditure on major irrigation works,
were invested in the "Tamil" areas i.e., the Northern and Eastern Provinces
which had a population of about 10% of the total population of the Island;
but, when a high degree of self-rule was granted in 1931 and Sinhalese
Ministers elected on universal adult suffrage had power, only about 2
million rupees out of total expenditure of 11.5 million rupees i.e. about
19% were spent on major construction works in the Northern and Eastern
provinces. In the period 1931 - 1943, most of the acreage rendered irrigable
was in the Central and North Central provinces where the Sinhalese were in a
This was serious discrimination, the result of self-rulw. Aprt from the
patent absurdity of these charges, the fact that 8,000 acres in the Northern
Province and 20,000 acres in the Eastern Province provided with irrigation
had not yet been cultivated was suppressed. The complaint illustrates the
aberration or racist attitudes as well as the loyalty of the Tamil
leadership to the imperialist regime. What about the present situation? Of
the 513,144 acres of paddy land under major irrigation in the country in the
Maha season 1979/80, 20% was in the Districts of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar,
Mullaitivu and Batticaloa and farmed, except in Batticaloa, exclusively by
Sri Lanka Tamils. The population of Sri Lanka Tamils in these districts was
only 8% of the total population of the country. By comparison, Kurunegala
and Kandy Districts with a Sinhalese population that was 13.3% of the total
national population had only 6% of the total acreage under major irrigation.
37% of the paddy acreage in the "Tamil" districts named above was served by
major works whereas in Kurunegala District the proportion was 17.5% and in
Kandy 20%. Mannar and Vavuniya combined, with a population (of all races) of
202,844 have 32,000 acres under major works, while Kurunegala District
(population 1,212,755) has only 30,510 acres in major schemes out of a total
paddy acreage of 174,224; approximately 75,000 acres in the latter District
are uncultivated in the Yala season every year for lack of water.
Every ancient major irrigation work in the Northern and Eastern Provinces,
is according to R.L. Brohier, 29 the work of Sinhalese Kings and Sinhalese
engineers. All the irrigation development in these districts except Gal Oya
was based on the restoration of ancient works. According to the Tamil
demand, when a work of the Sinhalese is restored as a national investment,
Tamils only must get the benefits; and so it has happened in the Northern
and Eastern Provinces for the 27 years past, as a result of secret
agreements. In 1962, when 245 allotments were to be alienated in Morawewa
Scheme in Trincomalee District, rules were bent to restrict the area of
selection to that District only and to exclude land hungry Sinhalese even in
that District. The result was that there were only 225 applicant for 245
allotments developed and irrigated at high cost. There is no landlessness
amongst the Tamil agriculturusts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces,
except in the Peninsula of Jaffna, even today.
High cost major schemes in this poor country cannot be reduced to village
projects in allocating benefits. This is a waste of public funds and an
injustice to the entire nation. Articulate Tamils make frenzied allegations
of Sinhalese aggression by colonisation; and encourage organized illegal
settlement by Indians on state land held in trusteeship for the nation.
Various othe rlocal andn foreign interests support this subversion of a
"Third World" country.
Church Support for Tamil Claims
This subversive attitude is supported by some Roman Catholic authorities
(not at all by Roman Catholics at large) presumably in accordance with some
political strategy. "The policy of colonisation or settlement of families in
the North Central and Eastern regions of the country continued during the
decades from 1931 onwards. This benefited mainly the Sinhala people from the
more densely populated south. The Tamils feared that this policy would
convert their traditional homelands to ones with an increasing Sinhala
proportions in Amparai andn Trincolamee". (Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I.
Director of the Centre for Society and Religion, "Catastrophe July 1983"
Note that "Traditional Homelands" of the Tamils are recognized and it is
specifically suggested that colonisation from 1931 onwards (unfairly)
benefited mainly the Sinhala people.
The organized encroachment on State land with a view to settlement of
stateless persons to pre-empt planned development of these areas by the
government and populating the borderland of "Tamil Eelam" are presented by
Fr. Balasuriya in these terms: "In any case a consequence of this violence
(in 1977, 1981, 1983) has been that several tens of thousands of Tamils of
recent Indian origin.... have gone to more hospitable surroundings in the
North and East or to India.
"The very migration to the North has created further problems ...... as
Sinhala people may resent their presence or be wary of the agencies set up
to receive and support them". He goes on to support another totally false
claim; "It is claimed that 180,000 plantation workers have been uprooted due
to communal violence in 1983. They have fled mainly to the North and East of
Sri Lanka (contrast, tens of thousands' mentioned earlier". This is an
immense human trageyd unparalleled in recent centuries".
The good Father is not mearly taking a "line" but also attempting to justify
the illegal activities and the immoral foreign funding of the agencies
organising settlements as several of these are Roman Catholic though
unsupported by the Roman Catholic public in Sri Lanka. These settlements
also provide training grounds for young Tamil terrorists whom the Father
calls "freedom fighters", the term the terrorists apply to themselves.
Encouragement of illegal settlement and of terrorism by certain interests
only add to problems and are a distraction from the main issue in this
country which is the raising of the standard of living of the millions who
live in poverty. The debates and seminars concern only a minority of the
NOTES TO THE TEXT
1. De Queyroz, op. Cit. P. 32. See also pp. 101 and 528. "Rata",
"Rajja", "Rajya" could mean in Sinhalese, "state", "country",
"province" or "district". The "kinglets" were chieftains. See note 30
2. De Queyroz, op. cit. P. 469: "On the death of Raju (1593) whom the
whole of Ceylon including Jafanapatao and the furthest of the Highlands
3. King of Kandy, 1604 - 1635. He was taken ill in 1613 and did not
expect to survive. See n. 11 below for reference to Baldaeus' work.
5. Baldaeus gives the Europeanisedforms of Sinhalese titles.
7. Diyatilaka. For the full text, see Baldaeus, op. Cit. Ch. 14.
8. See Paranavithana, de Queyroz and Baldaeus, op. Cit. And the
9. See Introduction.
10. De Queyroz, op. Cit. P. 371. The terms the "King" of Jaffnapatam
settled with the Portugese viceroy in 1561 were written in Portugese
and Sinhalese !
11. Phillipus Baldaeus, "A true and Exact Description of the Great
Island of Ceylon", translated into English by Pieter Brohier published
as Vol. VIII of the Ceylon Historical Journal. For the Portugese
conquest of Jaffna, see p. 316.
12. Historians are confused and in turn confuse others about the
"Kingdom" of Jaffna.
According to G.C. Mendis, "The Tamil Kingdom came into existence
with the rule of Magha of Kalinga (who invaded Sri Lanka about
1215 A.D.), and Parakrama Bahu II (1236 - 1270) never ruled over
the modern (i.e. post 1874) Northern Province which continued to
be occupied by the successors of Magha. Mendis forgets that Magha
was not a Tamil but a Kalinga (Kalinga is modern Orissa) and that
his army was Kerala (Malayalee). Magha and his forces were crushed
in a battle near kalawewa about 1250 A.D.
The Chulavansa is emphatic that after Parakrama Bahu II defeated
Magha of Kalinga and the Malay invader Chandrabhanu, he united the
country under one sovereignty. Prasasti' (valedictiry)
inscriptions of two Pandyan kings of South India refer to
victories in Sri Lanka about this period. In order to explain
these our historians guess that a separate kingdom must have been
established in the northern extremity of the Island (which is not
the whole of the present Northern Province). If the Pandyan
valedictory inscriptions are accepted, the whole of the
sub-continentnof India, China, Malaya, Burma and Sri Lanka were
totally sonquered !
K.M. de Silva states, without any supporting source:
"Parakramabahu's forces defeated Chandrabhanu who fled to the
Jaffna, then under Magha. There he succeeded in securing the
throne for himself (how de did so we do not know for certain) and
was the ruler in Jaffna at the time of the Pandyan invasion". (A
History of Sri Lanka, p.67). Further guesswork follows, presented
Paranavithana makes a Malayan out of Magha of Orissa, makes him
the founder of a kingdom in the North which passes afterwards by
marriage to a line of Chieftains called Arya Chakravartis of
Gujerati origin. This is also guesswork fortified by a strong bias
towards Malayan connections with Sri Lanka, unsupported by facts.
Nilakantha Sastri, the authority on South Indian history,
effectively demolishes Paranavithana's attempts to turn hypotheses
into history where the Malay connections are concerned. As for the
Arya Chakravarti rulers of Jaffna, Nilakanta Sastri says
".....Paranavithana quotes Queyroz to give a Gujerat origin for
the Arya Chakravarti of Jaffna, but we have contemporary Tamil
accounts directly deriving them from the rulers of Kalinga
(Orissa) in India". ("Ceylon and Sri Vijaya", JRASCB, New Series
Vol. VIII Part 2, p. 138, 1962). If this be correct the Arya
Chakravartis were not of Tamil or other Dravidian origin.
Chapter V Book V of the University of Ceylon History of Ceylon on
"The Northern Kingdom" is written by S. Natesan who condesses that
"our main source for the history of this kingdom upto the end of
the 15th centurt is the Yalpana Vaipava-malai". (U.C.H.C. Vol. 1
Part II p. 692).
The Yalpana Vaipava-malai was composed in 1736 by a Tamil resident
of Jaffna on the instructions of Class Isaakz, the Dutch Dissava
of the district. It is regarded by historians as being completely
unreliable as a history and could be dismissed as fiction or
legend. Yet the very historians who so evaluate it, use it as a
source. As a result Chapter V of Book V of the U.C.H.C. is mostly
fiction. It would appear that confusion is amongst the historians
rather than in history.
13. The Portugese expelled the Moors' from their terrotories in
1626. Senerat, King of Kandy settled them in his kingdom. 4000
were settled in Batticaloa alone by the "Idolatrous King" (de
Queyroz, op. Cit., p. 745).
14. "Diary of Mr. Pybus's Journey to and from the city of Candia,
the capital of the Island of Ceylon and place of Residence of the
Emperor". Edited by R. Raven - Hart and published under the title
"The Pybus Embassy to Kandy, 1762", Colombo 1958.
15. I read the Treaty in the original Sinhalese after the text of this
article was published. There was no cession. Possession only of the
coastal strip was handed over to the Dutch East India Company. All
taxes collected within the territory handed over were to be remitted to
the King of Kandy, who retained sovereignty over it. See Appendix B.
16. Under the Kandyan Convention, 2nd March 1815. See also Appendix A.
17. K. Balasingham, "The Laws of Ceylon" Vol. I the Law of Persons,
1929, p. 165.
18. Yet C.R. de Silva's assertion that "By 1645 Portugese settlers had
become the chief village holders in Jaffna" ("The Portugese in Ceylon
1617 - 1638 - p. 217) cannot be accepted without evidence more
convincing than his single footnote.
19. The Sinhalese of tiday appear to consist of an amalgam of the first
Aryan colonists who came in the 6th century B.C., Tamil immigrants
peaceful and warlike (from ancient times to the Chola invasion of the
10th century), Kalingas from modern Orissa, Malays who came with
Chandrabhanu, Malayalees whose arrivals are referred to in the Vitti
Pot or Books of Events, South Indians who came to the south western and
central parts of the country as mercenaries, traders, artisans, as well
as retainers of the Nayakkar Kings of Kandy, some Portuguese and a
scattering of even other Europeans, However, the modern Sinhalese and
Tamils are two groups distinct from each other with respect to
languafe, script, religion and numbers.
20. Even when representation was on a communal basis, the Kandyan
Sinhalese were not represented as the franchise was limited to the
affluent. The majority of whom are Sinhalese. The real national issues
relate to the betterment of the poor of all races. The Tamil communal
issue is really a competition between the privileged few of all races
as to how privileges should be shared, and completely ignores the real
issues. It, therefore, in the final analysis, cynically disregards the
poverty of the masses in general. The protagonists and their supporters
must be judged accordingly.
21. The Sinhalese view is that the entire country is the homeland of
all. The statements by foreign reporters that the Sinhalese Buddhists
regard the country as their exclusive homeland are false and perverse.
Whether these are founded on ignorance or inspired by inducement could
be determined by further investigation. At the same time, the Sinhalese
view is that, if a label is to attached to the country, Sri Lanka would
be called a "Sinhalese Buddhist" land just as much as a "West European"
country would be described as "Christian" or "Catholic".
22. Part of the Sinhalese dominions till the cession to the British in
23. Identified by even in the time of British occupation by the
Sinhalese name "Gantalawa".
24. Which was Sinhalese territory in which non-Sinhalese people were
given hospitality and equality of treatment.
25. A vast territory so thinly populated must be regarded as
depopulated or unpopulated. It cannot be regarded as being populated by
a majority of such and such people. The density of population in the
present Northern and Eastern provinces was even less in the 19th
century (See Table II). The movement (of Tamils) towards the Vanni
(from Jaffna Peninsula) is a 20th century phenomenon, caused both by
the increasing pressure on land in the heavily populated villages (in
the Peninsula) and the government's initiatives in the reclamation of
tanks and in land colonization (Professor Sinnappah Arasaratnam,
"Historical Foundation of the Economy of the Tamils of North Sri
Lanka", Chelvanayakam Memorial Lectures 1982). Every major tank
restored was, of course, a work of a Sinhalese King (R.L. Brohier,
"Ancient Irrigation Works of Ceylon 1934 - 1935").
26. George W. Spencer, "The Politics of Expansion - The Chola Conquest
of Sri Lanka and Sri Vijaya", Madras, 1981.
27. The areas taken up for development were malaria infested forests.
Those who now claim on a racist basis the benefits of the herioc
pioneering seem to have no idea of the sufferings of the pioneers.
Peasant farmers and officials were reluctant to risk their lives and
fortunes in these areas. Tamils in particular were quite unwilling to
leave the Jaffna Peninsula and risk malaria and privation in settlement
projects till about 30 years ago. Even today peasant holdings are let
or sold to richer entrepreneurs.
28. The Tamil leadership then and now had and have no serious objection
to foreign imperialist rule and therefore have not been able to
apreciate the principles that should govern the development of our
major resources, land and water.
29. R.L. Brohier, "Ancient Irrigation Works of Ceylon", 2 Vols. 1934 -
The following extract from Appendix H at pp. 618-619 of Paul E. Peiris'
"Sinhale and the Patriots" furnishes further evidence that the whole of the
modern Eastern Province and at least part of the modern Northern Province
belonged to the Sinhalese domains even at the beginning of the 19th Century:
"Among the Johnston Mss. No. 43 at the Colombo Museum is this fragment on a
sheet with the watermark 1808 .....
The Taxes which the Courtiers are to contribute after the Singalese New Year
to the King consists of the following in cash (by which is not calculated
goods of Gold and Silver, Stones, Cloths, Chinaware, etc.) To wit
The Dessave of the 3 and 4 Corles 12,000 laryns
7 Corles 12,000 laryns
Oewa 12,500 laryns
Mau(ta)le 4,000 laryns
Saffregam 5,000 laryns
Oedoepalate 400 laryns
The Ratterale of Yattinoewere 400 laryns
Oeodenoewere 500 laryns
Toenpaneha 300 laryns
Haresiejepattoo 400 laryns
Doembere 500 laryns
Hewahette 600 laryns
The Dessave of Putlam 5,000 laryns
Baticaloa 6,000 laryns
Wanny Noewerekalawe 1,000 laryns
Each laryn at the rate of 24 stivers.
The Dessaves of Tamblegam, Cottiar, Tammankaduve, Trincomale, Poentje
collampattoo, Wellasse, Bintenne and Panauwe each to contribute a proportion
according to their Revenue.
>From the villages which are given free to the offer houses the King receives
nothing nor from the Inhabitants. The revenues of the Royal dispens villages
goes to the King's Treasury excepting those of the dispens villages
belonging to the Queens which remain for themselves.
The courtiers cannot make use of any honour when they pass the King's
The offer houses of Katteregam and Saffregam were erected by the King's
Doettoegammoenuu. The offer house at Calanie is built by the King
Jataaletissa and that at Moel Kirrigalle by the King Wallekanbahoe. The
above four offer houses in this Island of Ceylon are governed by the Idols
Wisnoe, Saman, Katteregam and Tjakkeredieuwe Raja.
The priests in Candy live as follows. Early in the morning they take for
their nourishment a little Conje made of rice and coconut milk. About ten
o'clock they go out with a metal bason and a fan to cover their faces, to
prevent anything improper falling in their sight, a begging, and on
receiving some prepared meal they returned home and eat it about 12 o'clock,
and this is all the nourishment they take for a whole day. In the evening
they commonly use a little sugar".
THE FIRST SEVEN ARTICLES OF THE TREATY OF PEACE BETWEEN THE KING OF KANDY
AND THE DUTCH, 1766.
The ordinance sent to you the Resident-General at Batavia, great in wisdom,
boundless most trustworthy and pure in loyalty, shows as follows:
The terms of treaty drawn up by the Governor, on the occasion when nobles
were despatched to Colombo to bring about a settlement between the two
parties as the conflict resulting from the break in good relations which had
prevailed for a long time between the Great Court and the Company had caused
much harm and loss to both parties over a period of several years, having
been approved, confusion has been resolved and peace prevails. The nobles
now coming are sent to acquaint you with several particulars thereof. It
would be good if you would make an appropriate response after making
inquiries from these persons who are coming.
May the mutual confidence and friendship prevailing between the Great Court
and the Company be kept unbroken as long as the sun and the moon endure.
The Ordinance upon which the charter was despatched from Senkhandashila
Shriwardenapura this eleventh day of waning moon in the month of Medin in
the year one thousand six hundred and eighty eight - and that order - is the
same (being) the Message of His Imperial Majesty King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe,
Lord of Sri Lanka.
Know all men: The Lords of the States-General of the Free United Provinces
of Holland and the illustrious, powerful Company of Hollanders in the East
for the one part: the illustrious powerful, noble king of kings, His
Imperial Majesty Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, Emperor of Lanka and the leading
very honourable members of the council of Ministers of the Great Court for
the other part; terminating the hostilities between the two powerful
It is agreed by the two parties to restore peace and friendship between
With a view to the permanent establishment of the new treaty of peace and to
securing the inviolability of friendly relations, the Articles hereunder
detailed were proposed with the mutual consent of the two parties, and
adopted by the authorized officers of the two parties, and adopted by the
authorized officers of the two parties, to wit, by His Excellency the
Governor and Director Heer Iman Willem Flack and by the honourable judicial
functionaries in the island of Lanka, in the honoured name of lords of the
illustrious and powerful States-General of the Free United Provinces,
(acting) by the illustrious and powerful company: and by very honourable
members of the Council of Ministers of the Great Court, specially deputed
for this purpose, on behalf of His Imperial Majesty, the powerful and
illustrious Emperor of Lanka, to wit, their lordships Migastenne Wijayaratne
Wasala Mudiyanse, the Disave of Kiri Oruwe Bogambara Kuruwa, of the Maha
Madige, of Tavankada, of Nuwara Kalaviya and of Matale: Pilimatalawe
Wijayasundara Rajapaksha Pandita Mudiyanse, Disave of Sabaragamuwa including
Gilimale Bambarabotuwa, Patharata Bulathgama, and the Three Korales, who is
also the Wannaku Nilame, of the Treasury and Haluwadana Nilame: Angammana
Divakara Rajapaksha Wasala Mudiyanse, Disave of Udapalatha including
Dolosbage; Meewature Wijayakoon Maha Mudiyanse, the Chief Security Mora
Gammana Wijayakoon Mudiyanse, Head of the Kuruwa, and the Madige of the Four
Korales and Muhandiram of the Nanayakkara Lekam Department.
His Imperial Majesty the emperor of Lanka, the noble members of the council
of Ministers and other subjects on the one part; the lords of the noble,
powerful and illustrious States-General of the Free United Provinces of
Holand and the most powerful Dutch Company and its subjects on the other;
there shall be uninterrupted confidence and friendship between these two
parties in the future.
His Imperial Majesty the Emperor and the principal honourable members of the
Great Council of Minister of the Great Court of His Imperial Majesty
recognize the lords of the illustrious and most powerful States-General of
the United Provinces of Holland and the powerful Dutch company as the sole
and independent noble lords of those districts of this island of Lanka which
the company possessed before the war, which is now ended, to wit, Yapa
Pattanama and the districts included therein; the Disava of Colombo; the
Galle Korale; the Matara Disava; Puliyanduwa; Trincomalee; and the lands
included in these places. Moreover, the Supreme Lord and the Principal
Officers of the Great court relinquish the government they had over, or
their claims to, the districts mentioned above.
Apart from these, the entire sea board round the island of Lanka not
possessed by the Company before the war now being ended will be wholly given
up to the exalted owbership of the company by the Principal Officers of the
Great Court. That is to say, from Kammala in the West to the governing
limits of Yapa Pattanama, in the East from all governing limits of Japa
Pattanama to the Walagiyaganga; Moreover, the sea board thus given up is a
distance of one Sinhalese Gauwwa more or less, provided (however) that the
demarcation (of the boundary) may be suitably carried out according to the
rivers and mountains that fall into line.
Commissioners from both sides will be appointed for the purpose of defining
more accurately, the boundaries of the districts given up. Further, the
survey will commence from the actual sea shore, exclusing Navikara,
Karaduwa, Puliyanduwa, and other similar islands. Moreover the company
hereby undertakes to pay to His Majesty annually so much income as is
derived from the sea board now given up to the Company in order to
compensate his Majesty for losses incurred - to ensure that the dues and
revenues should not accure to the company. With this object in view, the
Commissioners appointed to define the boundaries will make the necessary
arrangements regarding the collection of revenue.
On the other hand, the illustrious company recognize the supreme rule of His
Majesty in the other districts of this island of Lanka not subject (to these
provisions) and accepts the noble Kingdom. Sixth Article
The several districts which the illustrious company has taken by force of
arms in this war will be restored to the Dominions (of His Majesty) by the
Company from its love of peace and unsullied good will, excepting places,
district and sundry coastline within two hours, peyas' (Sinhalese hours)
walk from the sea ahore, to which the company is entitled in terms of the
All servants subjects, high and low, of His Majesty are allowed to remove as
much salt as they deem necessary from the levayas and other salterns on the
east (coast) and from Chilaw and Puttlam on the west (coast) without any
payment to the Company or anybody elase on its behalf.
1. Translated from the Sinhalese text copied from Dutch Records Colombo, and
printed in Vol. XVI (Old Series) of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
(Ceylon Branch) p. 62 at seq. According to a note appended to the Dutch
translation, the original document was engraved on a gold plate, shaped like
an ola and bore the (Sinhalese) royal sign manual. The dating is according
to the Sinhalese Saka Era. The year according to the Christian Era was 1762.
2. Dutch East India Company.
3. The Governor's Terms.
4. Provinces are called Rajja'.
5. Kuruwa' was the Elephant Department.
6. Madige' was Transport or Bullock Department.
7. Probably Tamankaduwa, approximately the area of the present Polonnaruwa
District. Part of the Eastern Province from 1833 to 1874.
8. Approximately area of the present Anuradhapura District. Part of the
Northern Province from 1833 to 1874. In 1874 North-Central Province was
created for the area covered now by Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Districts.
9. The island of Mannar.
10. Kalpitiya is a headland located on the west of Puttlam lagoon. Puttlam
itself was a major port of the Kings of Kandy.
11. Province, District. "Disava" is also the designation of the
12. Korale is an administrative division smaller than a disavani.
13. The Dutch had a fort at Trincomalee on the Northern shore of Codiar Bay
but were not rulers of the area. Codiar Bay and the hinterland were part of
the Kandyan Kingdom. After the Treaty the Dutch had a fort at Kodiyar
14. A few miles north of Negombo.
15. Walawe Ganga.
16. Traditional unit of measurement of distance equal to about 3 kilometres.