Friday, July 6, 2018

Whither Sri Lanka?

logoThe problem of quite a number in this country of their inability to cope with different Religions and different races in this Multicultural and Multi religious society is mainly due to the lack of knowledge of the history of origins of both the Sinhalese and also the Tamils. The Sinhalese believe, as mentioned in the Mahawamsa, authored by Priest Mahinda also not a Sinhalese, that the Sinhalese commenced occupation of the country, with the advent of Prince Vijaya and his retinue of seven hundred men. However Prince Vijaya was not a Sinhalese. Then how one could conclude that the progeny is Sinhalese is a point to ponder. Besides the Sinhalese of  today are not a pure race, but a mixture of nationalities that have assimilated over a period of time to the country’s population to call themselves as the Sinhalese. More than half the number, bear Portuguese names. While the Tamils too are migrants from South India as probably the land mass would have been connected then. Therefore to determine as to who came first is like the, hen and chick situation, which came first.  
Long before the advent of the Portuguese, Dutch and the English, the country was inhabited by the Tamils and the Sinhalese and both Tamil Kings and Sinhalese Kings have ruled parts of the country including the Nayakkars from India, the last King of Kandy. The majority of the Population has been this mixed race of the Sinhalese living in the South West and the Tamils Living in the NortEast have been a sizable minority. Then with trade some Moors also have settled down and married in to both the Sinhalese and the Tamils, to constitute a small segment of the county’s population as Muslims. In the early years under the Kings, a feudal system of governance has been in force, where there was no employment or unemployment in the present sense. All were vassals ruled by the Kings, assisted by a few families of the Aristocracy. There were no qualified doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Lawyers, School Principals, teachers, nurses, clerks, peons  or any other  employment in that system. The system had Vedamahaththayas to look after the sick, a family tradition. The Engineers were self-made individuals who were responsible for the construction of the old edifices like Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and the Irrigation network of canals for Agriculture. It was a very simple social structure where none had wealth to flaunt unlike today. The King owned all the land and doled out to the subjects to whom it was deserving according to performance of duty.
It was the British who changed everything by introducing a form of Governance. Along with the change they introduced a system of Education where the Christian Church played a significant role to churn the public to take up office to man the new system. Whereas, earlier there was only Pirivena Education that produced Sinhala Pali scholars and Buddhist Priests to propagate Buddhism. The Christian schools that were established by the British Christian Missionaries at the beginning, encouraged the Natives to convert to Christianity to enter such schools. The education enabled the natives to secure govt jobs after completing their education. Hence many Buddhists from the middle classes converted themselves to become Christians in order to receive an education and the qualification to secure employment. There were many Catholics in the coastal areas by then, who had already converted,  that enabled them to get an education. However the requirement to convert was relaxed and some Buddhists too managed to secure an education and then qualify and was able to secure employment in the new system.  It must be noted that none without qualification had been absorbed to the system, be they Sinhalese or Tamil as the British were handling the Management.
The reason why many Tamils constituted the Administrative Service at that time, was because they took to education in more numbers than the Sinhalese did, with an early start. The majority Sinhalese were quite content of their life styles that they preferred the Laisser-faire living to working for a salary. It was only much later the Sinhalese realized that a job and a salary provided means for a better living standard, that they also sought education. Here it must be remembered that the masses were emancipated by the British first, although the Socialists believe it was Bandaranaike who emancipated the masses, from being mere vassals in the country to become Professionals and Academics in society, long before Independence through an education system the British introduced. It was only afterwards that Henry Steel Olcott established Buddhist schools for the Buddhists of the Island, the facility to receive an education. This was the new beginning for all who enjoy today of being a somebody in society, from being nobodies then. 

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