Is There a Future for the Tamils?

by M.K. Eelaventhan, April 4, 2017

Is there a future for the Tamils?  It is a difficult and problematical question to answer. This question is not a question of today. This has been haunting the Tamils for a long period. Poet Bharathi was vexed over somebody saying that Tamil will gradually die. He added by saying it was unbecoming for a person to say it. But the same Bharathi in a deep and desperate way asked “Oh fate! Oh fate! What have you decided to do with the Tamil race?” Indirectly hinting that the future of Tamils is very bleak.

            Tamils are everywhere, but do not have a country of their own. Tamils are spread over 60 countries, but their identity is gradually getting faded. I am not a young man going around the world, but an old man totting around the globe. I have personally witnessed what is happening in these countries. I cannot mention all the countries I have visited, due to the space problem, but I intend mentioning a few countries. In South Africa and Fiji the identity of the people of Indian origin is still evident. They belong to the third or fourth generation. In Canada there is Guyanese of Indian origin who came roughly in 1827. But with the generation rolling down they have ceased to speak Tamil and their Tamil identity is getting lost. In South Africa, Mauritius and Fiji Islands only the older generation speak Tamil language, but the generations that followed have ceased to think they are Tamils. They have adapted the language of the countries they domiciled. Some of them are attempting to speak Tamil in some places Tamil classes are conducted, but the response is not encouraging. Some of them consciously or unconsciously continue to retain their Tamil names and traditions. When it comes to the question of religion, the majority of them still follow Saivaite/Hinduism. Tamil devotional songs written in English or in the language of the land of domicile. In reality though they sing in Tamil but it is transliteration. Some of them are converted to Christianity and Islam. This has made them to cease thinking they are Tamils.

The Tamils of Tamil Nadu and the Tamils of Tamil Eelam are gradually losing their identity. They are losing their identity without being conscious that they are doing so. The process is slow death. The Tamils in Tamil Eelam are conscious of their identity but still face the danger of extinction. To be slave is bad, but not to be conscious that you are slave is worse. The Tamils in Tamil Eelam are fighting for their survival as a distinct race. Only future events will tell us whether they will survive or vanish in the process. Though we are critical about people of Tamil Nadu of not being conscious of the dangers that they are facing, we are not here to belittle or decry them. During the Anti Hindu riots in 1965 several agitators committed suicide by self-immolation and by consuming poison. In two weeks of riots around 500 people were killed and large number of students were arrested.

During the final phase of Eelam war IV the Sri Lankan armed forces killed more than 70,000 Tamil people. Sri Lanka had the backing of more than 22 counties led by India. As a mark of protest, a total of 17 Tamil youths sacrificed their lives by self-immolation. The first to die was a young Journalist Muthukumar, we pay our humble homage to these youths who made their supreme sacrifice.

Tracing the history of the people of Tamil Nadu they were for centuries enslaved by Brahmanism and Sanskrit domination.
          Tamil language was corrupted by indiscriminate us of Sanskrit words in both written and spoken Tamil. Kings and poet carried Sanskrit names, and they felt proud of such foreign language names. Swamy Vethasalam a tri-linguist and a Tamil scholar rightly felt, if this state of affairs continued Tamils will loose their identity and Tamil language will lose its roots. Indiscriminate and excessive use of Sanskrit words led to the creation of Telugu, Kannadam, Tulu and Malayalam. Today the people speak this language think that they no kinship with the Tamils and worse they are antagonistic towards Tamils. Had the Tamils maintained the purity of their Tamil language this calamity could have been averted. It is in this context Swamy Vethasalam changed his Sanskrit name to Maraimali Adikal. Following his boldness revolution, many Tamils followed and changed their name into Tamil. The author of this article came under his influence and changed his name from Kanagendran to Eelaventhan. Sweet Tamil names like Nedunchelian, Nudumaran,Anbazhan, Arivazhan, Yalini, Elilini, Kayalvili and malarvili have come to stay Yet Tamil parents still have fancy for Sanskrit names with “hissing” sounds like Suresh and Surashini. Fifty years ago president of an Association was called Akrasanar, now he is addressed as Thalaivar in Tamil. The Secretary was addressed as Kariadarisi, now changed to Ceyalalar, Treasurer was called Pokkishar now he is called Porulalar. Then the patron was addressed Poshakar now Kaapalar.

Now English dominates

The influence of Sanskrit on Tamil was pervasive at one time. The impact of English is also having a debilitating effect on Tamil. Instead of addressing our parents and close relations as Appa and Amma or Mom and Dad or uncle or aunt. This is a clear evidence of degradation setting even in our family circle.
Hindi has been declared the official language of India. This has resulted in the penetration of Hindi terms like aahaswani, and Thuratharsan. Temple pooja and ceremonies are conducted in Sanskrit in the premise that the omnipotent and omniscient gods cannot understand Tamil and, therefore confer no blessings. The marriages too are conducted in Sanskrit. Whether the Brahmin priest is blessing the couple or cursing them is questionable, though lately changes are taking place for good. Some temple ceremonies are conducted in Tamil and some marriages too, including of this author. Any ceremonies conducted in an alien language should be considered the worst form of self-deception.

  1. K. Shanmugam Chety, former Minister of Finance in the Delhi government and later Vice-Chancellor of the Annamalai University said of the degeneration of the Tamil in the following words: “For the Tamils, Hindi is the official language, English is the International language. Sanskrit is the language of religion, Telugu is the language of music, and what place does Tamil occupy in Tamil Nadu? The position of the Tamils in Sri Lanka is virtually the same having Sinhala as the official language. Thus the Tamils are an enslaved race in both these countries.

Tamils are being deprived of their homeland in Sri Lanka
            Today what is haunting the Tamils is not the language issue, but the state sponsored Sinhalese colonization in the North and East by the successive Sinhala Governments. Sinhala colonization has made inroads into our territory. This has changed the demographic features and weakened the electoral strength of our Tamil homeland. We are now an uprooted race in our own homeland. Our very existence is called to question. The Mahinda Rajapaksha’s regime and Mithiri’s regimes has aggravated the issue. They have openly said that they do not accept that Tamils are a nation and that North & East is their homeland, they have the right of self-determination. What it means there is militarization, colonization and Sinhalaization of the Tamil territory. The Tamils are driven from their homes and farms. Their lands are grabbed forcefully build army and navy. It is in this context Gajendrakumar, ex MP has said that territory is fundamental to the existence of the Tamil Nation. But, the racist Sri Lanka is keen on Sinhala colonization to destroy that existence. In 1963 a Sinhala majority Amparai district was carved out of southern part of Batticaloa. This was made possible by the Gal Oya colonization scheme launched right after independence. Again in 1975 a majority Sinhala electoral district of Seruwila was newly created in the Trincomalee, thanks to Allai-Kantalai Sinhala colonization scheme. Colonization of Manal Aru [Weli Oya] with Sinhalese severed the contiguity between the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Tholkaaphiyam speaks of Tamil Homeland;
When we speak about homeland it will be interesting to note what is happening in Tamil Nadu. According to Tholkaapiyam the borders of Tamil Nadu consisted of Kanyakumari in the South and Thiruvengadam in the North. Poet Bharathi of the 20th century also confirm these borders. When Tamil Nadu was created Thiruvengadam was lost to us. Not only we have lost the Northern border, the famous Thirupathi temple was also lost in the process. Had the temple be in the hands of the Tamils the daily earnings from the temple would have enriched Tamil Nadu. Loss of territory is having an adverse effect on entire Tamils. The people occupy the border of thiruvengadam speak the Telugu language and are antagonistic towards Tamils. There was danger of Chennai [Madras] also being lost to us, but thanks to Rajaji it was saved for the Tamils. Kanniyakumari, Devipuram and Peermedu in the southern border of Tamil Nadu were also lost except Kanniyakumari. The letter was saved by the valiant battle launched by Nesamani and others. Mr. Kamaraj a great man in his own ways the least worried about losing Devipuram and Peermedu to Kerala. Typical of him he said whether Kanniyakumari is in Tamil Nadu or in Kerala it is still in India. There were Tamils who wanted Thirunveli as the border of Tamil Nadu. They were also sarcastic to comment Kumari meaning a young damsel as a source of danger and irritation to the Tamils. In this context let us express our gratitude to the great leaders who secured Kanniyakumari to us. Incidentally Thiruvananthapuram a pure Tamil village and birthplace of Prof. Suntharampillai was annexed to Kerala.

Trincomalee is the key to the Indian Ocean:

In this context it is not out of place to mention the importance of Trincomalee described as the best natural harbour in the world.  “The man who holds Trincomalee holds the key to the Indian Ocean” was pronounced by no lesser person than Lord Wellington. Prime Minister of Britain in the 19th century.“

Saint Thirugnana Sampanthar of the seventh century speaks of the glory of Koneswaram temple and describes Trincomalee as a densely populated area. With the passage of 13th centuries Tamils have virtually lost Trincomalee to Sinhala colonization. This is a warning that land is a must for the survival of a race.

What is in store for the land of the singing fish? Batticaloa
            Maddakalappu [Batticaloa] is a beautiful land with a fertile soil where harvest takes place thrice a year. It is also called the land of the singing fish. For some of the explainable reason music emanates from the lake. It is believed the music originates from fish; it is also called the land of honey, Vipulaanda Adikal renowned for his Tamil scholarship was the first head of the Tamil department of Annamalai University. He hails from Kaaraitheevu in Batticaloa and his Yarl Nool is a magnum opus, if it is not for this book the revival of Tamil music may not have taken place. Tamils are eternally indebted to him. Karaitheevu is being gradually gobbled up by Sinhala colonization. This is also the birth place of Pavalar Periathamby Pillai. Let us remember the poet Laureate Kasi Ananthan’s birth place also Batticaloa.

Lord Ketheeswara in Maathottam-Mannar
            Mannar is an important port city. It is also noted for its pearl industry. The historic temple Ketheeswaram is situated here. Thiru Gnana Sampanthar of the 7th century speaks of this deity as remover of evils. Unfortunately for us not only Tamils but the deity we worship who is expected to remove evils is being subject to evils is being subject to evils perpetuated by Sinhala regime. If all the mighty are subject to Sinhala imperialism how the Tamils could be saved. Kathirkaamak Kanthan is now addressed as Katharagama Theiyo in Sinhala. All five renowned Hindu shrines that existed long before the advent of Buddhism in Ceylon – Thiruketheswaram, Muneeswaram, Naguleswaram Thirukoneswaram and Thondeswaram are all now under the control of Sinhala Buddhist oppressors. The first three are under the direct control of the occupying armed forces of Sri Lanka state that are made up of entirely of Sinhala Buddhists except for a handful of Christians and Muslims.

This virus has spread to the Murugandi temple in Vanni. Hindu temples in the North and East are virtually being monopolized by the Sinhala regime. The Nallur Kandasamy temple and the Nainatheevu Amman Kovil are in danger of Sinhala Buddhist invasion. In Mathakal which is under Sinhala army occupation a large Buddhist vihara has been erected. History is being rewritten for political convenience of the ruling party and ruling Sinhala race. If we are not wide awake to the issues we may not be able to save even Jaffna. Eternal vigilance is the price we have to pay for freedom.

A calculated move to erase Tamils from Mullaitheevu
            In addition to what I have stated there was a calculated move to erase the Tamils from Mullaitheevu, Manal Aaaru or Weli Oya ad renamed in Sinhala is the river that enriched the soil of Mullaitheevu. Rapid and blatant Sinhala colonization has changed the demographic composition of the district and its link with Trincomalee. Vanni was an independent Kingdom and was ruled by Pandara Vanniyan Following the British conquest in 1803, the conquest by the Sinhalese should be considered the second conquest. Jaffna the cultural capital is also in danger of being overrun by the Sinhalese.

The Sinhala government backed by the military is aiming at the cultural and political conquest of Jaffna. Historic monuments are being destroyed and Buddhist temples are being built. They are also forcing Sinhala down the throats of unwilling Tamils. The Sinhalese claim that they are the special custodians of Buddhism. In reality Buddhism is one of the noblest philosophies in the world had ever witnessed. Buddha was the greatest rationalist ever born but in Sri Lanka the worst form of violence is committed. What we see is the very negation of Buddhism.

The Jaffna Public Library was once burned, this may be repeated:
            The Jaffna library described as one of the best in south Asia was burned in 1981. The burning was supervised by two ministers Gamini Dissanayaka and Cyril Mathew. In the reason part the Sinhala mob entered the library and ransacked the books. It was pathetic to see what happened inside the library. The memorial built for Thanthai Chelva was damaged. Sinhala hoodlums are settled near the Jaffna railway station.  The Sinhala government claims that the particular site belongs to the Sinhalese. JAFFNA Government Agent provided food and other amenities on the orders of the government. She looks a helpless creature unable to assert. Maniyam Thottam at Colombuthurai in Jafna is also being settled with Sinhalese.  Navatkuli 5 miles from Jaffna town is being occupied by the Sinhala hoodlums with the blessings of the government. The all powerful former Executive President Mahinda Rajapaksha said that this settlement took place without his knowledge and that it was purposely done to embarrass him., but he did nothing to undo it.

Increase in Sinhala population will have an adverse effect in our representation. 
What the government did in the East-Ampari and Trincomalee – they are duplicating the same thing in the North. This coldly calculated move to colonize the North is to deprive us of our homeland. When the Sinhala armed forces and the Sinhalese families are settled in large numbers will change demographic features and the electoral pattern of our homeland. The number of Tamil representatives will gradually decrease and Sinhala representation will increase. If we are lethargic and indifferent on this crucial issue we will be committing political suicide.

Dr Neelan Thiruchelvam on Sinhala colonization in the Eastern province.
            It is not out of place to quote what Neerlan Thiruchelvam said at Oxford University in February 1986. “In 1675 the Dutch Governor Van Goens [Sr] confirmed that the Northern and Eastern districts were inhabited by Tamils. At the 1827 census taken by the British there were no Sinhalese [who at that time were counted as Buddhists] in the Batticaloa district. There were 19,005 Hindus and 8,288 Moors [Muslims] in the Trincomalee district there were only 250 Buddhists. The Tamils comprised 81.8 per cent and the Muslims 16.9 per cent.”

British census figures indicate that in 1881 there were 5,012 Sinhalese in the Batticaloa district out of a population of 105,358, or 4.8 per cent of the population. In 1891 the Sinhalese were 5.2 per cent, in 1901 5.2 per cent, in 1911 3.7 per cent, in 1921 4.6 per cent and in 1946 two years before independence 5.8 per cent. In contrast, the Tamils in 1881 constituted 57.9 per cent, in 1891 56.7 per cent, in 1901 55.0 per cent.

In the Trincomalee district the Sinhalese numbered 4.21 per cent in 1881, 4.3 in 1891, and 4.2 per cent in 1901, 3.8 per cent in 1911, 4.4 per cent in 1921, and 15.3 per cent in 1946. The total Sinhalese population here never exceeded 12,000 during the British period. It is equally noteworthy that in 1946 out of 279,000 in the whole of the Eastern Province, no more than 23,000 were Sinhalese. The demographic changes took place after independence when the state apparatus came to be controlled by Sinhalese chauvinist politicians and bureaucrats. The Tamils and Muslims were not given equal consideration. These Sinhalese colonists now constituted 21.8 per cent of the population. One way out of the problem would be an exchange of populations, but “the land, the race and the faith” led by section of the Sinhala Buddhist clergy, late PM,Srimavo Bandaranayake and the United National Party would not countenance an amicable arrangement of that kind.

Should the Eastern Province be divided in to two or three parts to allow Tamils their one unit homeland?. Such an adjustment can only be temporary. President Jayawardene is right when he says that United Nations troops would have to be called in to guard the borders, but whether member states will be willing to send peacekeeping force while the Sinhalese leadership retains its unreasonable stance is another matter. The chances are that an irredentist Tamil movement will take control of the new state of Eelam. Because the Sinhalese are driven in terms of caste, religion, region and politics Eelam will have a similar relationship to the Sinhalese [in this connection alone] as Israel to its divided Arab neighbours. The people of Eelam will be more united in the pursuit of their goal.

Tamil widows are on the increase: 
According to the Minister of Rehabilitation the number of Tamil widows has exceeded 89,000. Out of this 41,000 widows are under the age of 40 and on the average of 3 children per family. But the Government says it cannot rehabilitate them, meet their basic needs like food clothing and shelter. The children are unable to attend any schools, because all the schools have been destroyed. He adds that the money received from foreign government is necessary to build military structures and homes for the military.

Land is a must for the survival of an Ethnic group
            Ethnic group or a racial group may lose everything, but still may survive. There are ethnic groups that have lost their language rights, job opportunities, and educational facilities but still they have survived. But if a racial group loses land their survival is a big question. Land is necessary not only for the self-expression of an ethnic group, but also necessary for its physical survival. Tomorrow, call it a miracle President Mithiri may concede language rights, job opportunities, and educational facilities, but that will not serve any meaningful purpose. What is the use of gaining the world and losing the soul says the Bible. President Mithiripala has clearly pronounced that he will not accept Tamils as an entity of a homeland for the Tamils. Nor will he accept the self-determination for the Tamils. With regret he says all problems will be solved within a unitary frame work. He is not prepared to consider federal structure. With this mindset, is there any possibility of justice for the Tamils?. 3 times they are post pond the meeting with the TNA. Mr.Mithiri & Ranil play the same Game.

For nearly 80 years all the agreements reached between the Sinhalese and Tamils leaders were nullified before the ink was dry. Commencing Sinhala/Tamil pact- Mahendra pact of 1926, Bandaranayake-Chelva pact of 1957, Dudly – Chelva pact of 1965  Srimavo and Chelva agreements in the early 1970s Thimbu talks in early 1980s Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, Chandrika’s draft constitution of 1994 promising union of State. Ceasefire agreement signed between Veluppillai Pirabaharan and Ranil Wickremasinghe on February 22, 2002. All these pacts, accord and promises were thrown to the winds in an un-ceremonial manner. Late Dr. N. M. Perera and Dr. Colvin R de Silva with Marxists orientation and considered progressive among the Sinhalese promised many things and did opposite of what they said. It is in this background we have come to the parting of ways with the Sinhalese.

What was Pirabaharan’s appeal to the Tamil Diaspora? 
For more than 60 years we have suffered under the Sinhala regime. In this context we have to learn a lesson from The Jews. For nearly 1800 years they were stateless having driven out of Israel. Hitler killed 6 million in gas chambers; the Jews leaders without undue publicity purchased lands from the Arabs and created Israel in 1949. A barren land was converted in to a modern state. Seawater was desalinated and vegetables were grown in Plutonian bags. The area is smaller than Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.

The number of Jews in Israel is lesser than the Jews in America, yet because they have a state for themselves. The industries and media controlled by the Jews. What is the message Israel conveying to us? It is not the size of the country that counts; it is not the strength of the population that counts; it is the will and determination of the people counts to shape the destiny of a nation. Singapore is smaller than Jaffna but it is a mini-power in south Asia. There are 192 nations in the UN of them the majority are tiny little nations, but world power respects them, because they are independent and sovereign

Like the Jews, let us create land banks and save the land of the Tamils
            Faith can move mountains say the Bible, so let us have faith in ourselves and act in the living present we must learn to bury our petty difference, and raise our voice to influence the world opinion. Time is running out, like the Jews let us open land banks to purchase lands snatched away by the Sinhalese. Without waiting for the time and tide to move in our favour, let us act without undue delay, any procrastination will only result in a post-mortem of how the Tamils perished. Pirabaharan’s appeal on the Maveerar Day in 2008 was a direct appeal to the Diaspora Tamils, especially the Tamil youths to come to the rescue.  If we really value of what Prabaharan said let us not waste time on petty quarrels.

Former Member of Parliament [Sri Lanka]
Member of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam
Representing Canada.
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Ontario, M1M 3T8
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