Feature Article

Tissamaharama Tamil Brahmi inscription ‘missing’

[TamilNet, Thursday, 21 October 2010, 19:34 GMT]
The third century BCE potsherd inscription in Tamil language and in Tamil Brahmi script found at Tissamaharama in Hambantota district by German excavators is now missing in Sri Lanka’s Archaeology Department, informed sources said. The inscription found sometimes back was not included in the excavation reports of the Archaeology Department. Photo and decipherment of the inscription was brought out by Iravatam Mahadevan in The Hindu in June this year, followed by TamilNet. Meanwhile, accusing TamilNet for false publications, Dr. Susantha Goonatilleke in an article posted by transcurrents.com and published by Daily Mirror said that TamilNet had recently published inscriptions claimed to be from the South of Sri Lanka, which nobody in the Archaeology Department had seen.

Tissamaharama
Inscribed potsherd from archaeological excavation at Tissamaharama, Hambantota District, Sri Lanka: From left to right the first letter is Li, second one is ra and the third one is ti. From right to left they are read as tiraLi. The fourth and fifth ones are symbols or graffiti marks. The sixth letter is mu and the seventh one is Ri. The last two are read from left to right as muRi. A little away is found a vertical line that perhaps marks the end of the legend. [Image courtesy: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka and the academics who sent it]


The article of Susantha Goonatilake, a Sinhalese sociologist, appeared in Daily Mirror with the title “Fictional LTTE archaeology continues” and posted in transcurrents.com run by D.B.S Jeyaraj titled as "Tamilnet site is best witness to the separatist project being lost".

Apart from the photograph appeared in The Hindu, TamilNet has brought out another photograph of the potsherd inscription and a drawing of it made by the German excavator and a staff member of the Archaeology Department. Their names could be found in the drawing. (See image above)

Godawaya
The Late Brahmi inscription found on a rock at the Buddhist temple at Godawaya. The marked part in the inscription gives the ancient name of the port, Goda-pavata Patana. [Image courtesy: archaeology.lk. Marking by TamilNet]
In another instance, TamilNet published a Brahmi inscription still found on a rock at Godawaya temple in Hambantota district and was published by Paranavitana long back, giving the name of the place in Dravidian mixed with Prakrit. (See image on the right)

Some years ago, M S Nagaraja Rao, former Director General of Archaeology of the Archaeological Survey of India is said to have misidentified a megalithic grey ware potsherd found in the island as Painted Gray Ware pottery of the Gangetic plains. It was prestigiously displayed by the Archaeology Department in its museum at Anuradhapura in the 1990s, as an evidence for the arrival of ‘Aryans’. Recently also Nagaraja Rao visited the island for a lecture at the National Museum Auditorium in Colombo.

Whether the Tamil Brahmi potsherd is missing just because it is Tamil Brahmi and whether there will be an open investigation on this, are questions asked in academic circles.

Another complaint of Dr. Susantha Goonatilleke is the news appeared in TamilNet on Sri Lanka Archaeology Department taking over Kanniyaa hot-water springs in Trincomalee, long considered to be a sacred place by the local Hindus who associate them with the Ravana myth.

Of course the Ravana story is a myth, but Mahavamsa is equally a myth, commented academic circles. Colombo that lures tourists from India and other countries in Southeast Asia by showing the Ravana myth in southern Sri Lanka erases it in the North and East only to replace it by the Mahavamsa myth, they pointed out.

Goonatilleke denies the existence of the Siva temple at Trincomalee for which there is a hymn in the Theavaaram of 7th century CE that gives the name of the place as Koa’na-maa-malai. Many medieval literature in Tamil, such as Koa’neasar Kalveddu and Thadcha’na Kailaasa Puraa’nam note that the temple was the predominant religious structure at Trincomalee at that time. For the Portuguese who destroyed it, both a Hindu and a Buddhist structure was a ‘Pagoda’. Goonatilleke says the temple that was destroyed by the Portuguese was Buddhist.

After the war, state sponsored vandals destroyed Saiva temples in worship in Trincomalee such as the historic Siva temple at Kangkuveali.

Goonatilleke says there was no Tamil Buddhism in the North and East and everything was part and parcel of Sinhala Buddhism. His highlight about Kantharoadai in Jaffna, one of the earliest urban centres of the island arose from the basis of Megalithic Culture of South India, is the Kadurugoda Vihara mentioned in the medieval Sinhala literature Nam Potha.

Ironically the Nam Potha cited by him very clearly says that the said Vihara, and many other such places, were in Dema’la Patanama (The city or country of the Tamils).

Buddhist archaeological sites in the North and East and Hindu archaeological sites in the rest of the island, as far south as in the Dondra Head, cannot be contested and that is not the issue. By a deeply entrenched attitude, clearly demonstrated by the majority of the people in the island, the Tamil North and East and the Sinhala South have become two separate nations is the issue and is the reality. People like Dr. Goonatilleke only reflect it, commented an academic in Jaffna.

‘Temporal and spiritual conquest’ was the model set for colonialism in the last 500 years. Dehumanising the people of a land and deny them their ownership are prerequisites and that is what the Sinhala nation is doing to the Tamil nation. When there is Army and Archaeology it is a clear case of genocide, the academic further said.

Goonatilleke says that the Colombo government should stop Jaffna university academics studying their own region.

But, what the Army and Archaeology Department of Colombo are doing in the Tamil land have already been brought out to the outside world by Jeremy Page in The Times, to the chagrin of many a colonial Sinhala academics.

During the height of the war, Dr. Goonatilleke wrote that Colombo government should permanently settle the Army along with their families in the ‘conquered’ land of Tamils and that’s what Colombo is doing now. (See related article at the end, titled 'Vision' of a Sinhala sociologist)

Tamils are not historical owners of any part of the island; they were intruders into the ‘promised land’ of Sinhala-Buddhists and now as Mahinda Rajapaksa has ‘liberated’ the North and East the Sinhala-Buddhists are free to colonise it, is the picture given in the South.

After the war there were many Sinhalese on missionary visits to Jaffna to tell the youth that how once they were Sinhala Buddhists who have now become ‘degrading’ Tamil Saivites – a small twist of the kaleidoscope to show in the North.

Modern missionaries of Sinhala-Buddhist colonialism, armed with ‘Army and Archaeology’ and people like Goonatilleke are small fry, said the Jaffna university academic.

The naked genocide and colonialism committed on the Eezham Tamil nation and the dehumanisation process that is taking place are neither recognized nor stopped by the international community or its international organizations. The powers that dominate them and dehumanise entire humanity are a party to what is happening in the island and they are the real culprits, the academic said, adding that in this respect there is an unholy alliance between Brahmanism and Buddhism of the Establishments in New Delhi and in Colombo in their long-term agenda to subjugate Tamils.

The Sinhala-Buddhist missionaries have now gone beyond the island, into Tamil Nadu, seeking background support.

While Dr. Goonatilleke denies archaeological Buddhist heritage in the North and East to Eezham Tamils of that land, Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne of the University of Sri Jayawardenapura, delivering keynote address at the Mahabodhi Society in Chennai said, “As we are nearing 2600 Buddha Jayanthi, as a Sinhala Buddhist, this is my humble dream for the future: Tamil Buddhist temples should come up in Sri Lanka; Tamil children should embrace Buddhist monkhood; Buddhism must be taught in Tamil; preaching and worshipping Buddhism in Tamil; Tamil Bikkus should have Sinhala followers and Tamil Bhikkus must visit Sinhala homes. That togetherness should be there.”

If needed for socio-political purposes Tamil Nadu can rediscover its own Buddhism without polluting its culture by genocidal Sinhala-Buddhism, the Jaffna academic said.

Tamils becoming Buddhists is not the answer as one could see how the Orientalist-rediscovered Buddhism in the island of Sri Lanka turned genocidal, the academic said.

The Dravidian Movement of Tamil Nadu, which once was the vanguard of secularism of modern Tamil culture, taking it above religions, stopped at only attacking the Brahmins and now it worships the Mammon god. Only a true secularisation of Tamil culture on either side of the Palk Strait would strengthen the Tamil geopolitics against erring Establishments and would arrest genocide and colonialism, the academic further said.


Chronology:


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External Links:
Daily Mirror: Fictional LTTE archaeology continues

 

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