Copyright :Gamini Iriyagolla (1984,1985)
Published By:The Institute of Public Affairs, 43/89 Poorvarama Road, Kirullapona, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka
Author is not responsible for the contents of this page.



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:

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 of Portugal.

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 [N-36]".

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 tomorrow.




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 "Emperor".

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 thickly inhabited."

The four provinces were :

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 this).

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.

Dangerous Cry

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.


ElectorateTotal Pop. In 1921Majority race & No. Total No. Of voters on Ltd. FranchiseName & race of Member elected
Central Province717,739Kandyan Sinhalese 316,1422,427 A.C.G. Wijekone Low-Country Sinhalese
Colombo Town244,163Low-Country Sinhalese 110,470 4,325James Peiris Low-Country Sinhalese
Eastern Province192,821Ceylon Tamils101,880 806E.R. Thambimuttu Ceylon Tamil
North-Central Province96,525Kandyan Sinhalese 66,912 385S.D. Krishnaratne Ceylon Tamil
North-Western Province 492,181Kandyan Sinhalese 254,984 4,813C.E. Corea Low-Country Sinhalese
Northern Province Ceylon374,829Ceylon Tamils 352,322 13,937W.Duraisamy Tamil
Sabaragamuwa Province471,814Kandyan Sinhalese 302,900 1,344Rev. W.E. Boteju Low-Country Sinhalese
Southern Province 671,234Low-Country Sinhalese 630,851 4,123C.W.W. Kannangara Low-Country Sinhalese (1923)
Uva Province233,864Kandyan Sinhalese 124,983 633D.H. Kotalawela Low-Country Sinhalese
Western Province1,246,847Low-country Sinhalese A' Div. 6,785 W.M. Rajapakse Low-Country Sinhalese
B' Div. 9,526E.W. Perera Low-Country Sinhalese

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 [N-21].

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.


DistrictLand (Square miles) Density of population
per sq. mile (1981)
Rural Population
Other than Estate %
Nuwara Eliya4741,10132.9
Jaffna2 4301,71865.5
Kilinochchi3 45220383.3
Puttlam 1,14942986.9
Kegalle 6421,06383.0

1 - Approximate: Gampaha, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi districts were created betwen the Census of 1971 and 1981.
2 - Jaffna Peninsula
3 - Formerly mainland Jaffna



Religion Ethnicity
DistrictTotal No. Of PersonsBuddhistHindu MuslimRoman CatholicOther ChristiansOthers SinhalaSri Lanka TamilIndian TamilSri Lanka Moor BurgherMalayOthers
Sri Lanka14,850,00110,292,5862,295,858 1,134,5561,009,577102,15915,265 10,985,661,871,535825,2331,056,972 38,23643,37829,931
Colombo1,693,3221,201,775129,664168,956 155,16838,8533,9061,322,658165,952 21,504140,46118,99720,0418,709
Kalutara827,189698,78936,90262,781 26,2542,249214722,0758,601 33,51061,706330712255
Kandy1,126,296837,684134,347125,646 18,9847,2612,374844,32555,675 104,840112,0522,4022,6484,354
Matale357,441281,17941,33726,603 7,1961,06660285,51420,93624,084 25,836250514307
Nuwara Eliya522,219184,796290,34515,791 25,8055,054428187,28070,471247,131 14,6686021,113954
Galle814,579766,84014,75326,359 3,2471,2832,097768,9286,09311,069 25,8962161582,219
Matara644,231609,13115,36616,853 1,916755210609,3673,91813,931 16,45725461243
Hambantota424,102412,5101,5359,333 448148128412,9651,553308 4,732634,380101
Jaffna831,1124,068708,00414,169 95,5669,1441614,615792,24620,001 13,7573504697
Mannar106,9403,22428,50030,079 44,0039951398,71054,10614,072 28,46441231,524
Vavuniya95,90415,80766,4246,764 6,1837042215,87654,54118,592 6,6402131203
Batticaloa330,8998,864219,34379,662 19,1133,61230510,646234,348 3,86879,3172,30049371
Ampara388,786144,77874,328161,754 5,5162,149261146,37178,3151,410 161,481643179387
Trincomalee256,79083,14381,68475,761 14,1691,19483986,34186,7436,767 74,4031,211735590
Kurunegala1,212,7551,095,71013,37364,213 35,6083,3105411,128,54813,438 6,42761,3426051,2011,194
Puttalam493,344234,51920,45850,246 185,5592,146416407,45333,2182,964 47,959444882424
Anuradhapura587,822530,3835,98543,801 6,443776434536,8997,113785 41,833280266646
Polonnaruwa262,753236,1265,24517,621 3,154255352238,8035,875205 17,09157132590
Badulla642,893439,141160,69528,759 11,0722,916310440,24536,585135,795 26,8086411,3001,519
Moneragala297,743259,66512,8455,750 1,14026875259,8255,0239,164 5,32280152177
Ratnapura796,468673,20095,00415,441 10,5871,977259674,65717,97988,429 13,5314504101,012
Kegalle682,411581,72352,57536,548 8,0313,284247588,67514,09543,879 34,832164251515
Gampaha1,389,490988,54326,48047,850 312,81812,3171,4821,280,94245,807 5,73238,6077,7428,0772,583
Mullaitivu77,51298860,6663,816 11,597440053,94858,904 10,7663,777931707

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 consideration.

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 majority.

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" page 20).

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 privileged.



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 dispens villages.

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 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 parties:

It is agreed by the two parties to restore peace and friendship between themselves:

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.

First Article

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.

Second Article

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.

Third Article

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.

Fourth Article

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.

Fifth Article

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 Third Article.

Seventh Article

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 administrator.

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 itself.

14. A few miles north of Negombo.

15. Walawe Ganga.

16. Traditional unit of measurement of distance equal to about 3 kilometres.