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Helping rebuild LTTE by fictional archaeology

The Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA) with its total membership of approximately 50,000 professionals issued a unanimous statement rejecting the 13th Amendment imposed on Sri Lanka with Indian arms first smuggled into Jaffna in 1973.

The over 30 years LTTE war began, like Hitler, with fictional history making false territorial claims of a self-declared fictional Tamil homeland in the North and East. Such untenable ideological claims are still being advocated by academics in the North and constitute the ideological preparation for the next separatist war. They are a very different breed of professionals who create racist fiction.

Around 1982/83, the Archaeological Department excavations in the North were abandoned under LTTE threats. A new fictional archaeology was now created under the LTTE, different from recorded history – by inscription, artefact and accepted written documents. Some examples are very instructive.

In 1917, a Royal Asiatic Society (RASSL) team led by Paul Pieris and Rasanayagam (author of Ancient Jaffna) found extensive Buddhist remains in Kandarodai (ancient Kadurugoda), similar to remains elsewhere in Sri Lanka. Some of the artefacts had Sinhalese script. This was consonant with the list of Northern places of Buddhist worship given in the 16/17 century Nam Potha, a Sinhala text which also gave other places of Peninsula Viharas Hunugama (Chunnakam); Weligama (Welikamam). Paul Peiris discovered a Stupa in Chunnakam remains of which was still visible in the late 1960s when I worked as an engineer at the KKS cement factory. And Kandarodai (Kadurugoda) was later subjected to preliminary excavation in the 60s. And when the Jaffna rains came in September to December, I would go there with my friend Ponnambalam, an art teacher and buy from the small children there ancient Sinhalese coins which had surfaced. Most significantly, a KKS factory worker brought me a pot of 100 unused Sahasmalla/Leelavati 12th century coins he had dug up in Welikamam.


Jaffna Fort

Sinhala Buddhist heritage

The initial Kandarodai (Kadurugoda) finds of the RASSL became the core of the Jaffna Archaeology Museum. But during the LTTE period, Jaffna academics changed these museum objects of the 1917 RASSL expedition as "Tamil Buddhist” unconnected with the rest of Sri Lanka pushing their separatist agenda into the past.

Some of the LTTE changes to the museum exhibit labels were laughable if not for their sinister motives. Thus under the caption “Headless Buddha (2nd century)” the LTTE inspired changes stated “This (Headless Buddha) statue found at Kantharodai is another example of Tamil Buddhism”. And another exhibit titled “Feet of Buddha” was explained as “Some state these (are) footprints of Vishnu. The Buddha along with Jesus Christ is sometimes considered an incarnation of Vishnu”. This was an attempt to bring the Christian led separatist movement in line with the Hindus and rally them against the Sinhala Buddhist heritage. Geobbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief would have been proud.

But these the Buddha footprints were similar to hundreds found all over the country. And this is the first time we hear Jesus Christ considered an incarnation of Vishnu! A true contribution of Jaffna University to Christian studies! Amen! And Praise be to the Lord.

But the LTTE site TamilNet gives evidence of a still continuing manufacture of false LTTE archaeology. It asserts: “Ancient remains of Buddhism in Tamil land are not a cultural property of today’s genocidal Sinhala-Buddhism… The signboards in the archaeological site give a Sinhala name Kadurugoda for the site. … The Archaeology Department has also translated the name Chu'n'naakam of the nearby town, from Tamil into Sinhala Hu’nugama, even though the latter was never in usage”. The ideologues who wrote this were completely unaware of the Sinhalese names in the 16th/17th century text. Or of the Portuguese records that although Jaffna Peninsula was ruled by a Tamil gain the bulk of the population till the Dutch brought in tobacco plantation workers from South India were probably Sinhalese.

And when after the war, real archaeology was resumed, Jaffna “academics” were aghast. Their resentment at both local and international professional archaeology in the areas once held by the LTTE was obvious. More importantly, there was a gross ignorance by our national archaeologists of these machinations (till I pointed out the misinformation put out in the LTTE publications).

Jaffna academics

Thus TamilNet opposed archaeology saying “N/E archaeology should be less ‘a priority than restoring sovereignty of Eezham Tamils’. … Unless Tamils … are vested with sovereignty heritage studies are meaningless and dangerous to the people concerned a Jaffna academic said”. TamilNet adds “Why should Archaeology Department conduct excavation, it is (not) the utmost priority now, asked a senior academic in Jaffna.” The Jaffna academics quoted are not identified – but more of that later.

Worse, in the manner of Hitler building up fictitious racial ideology and objecting to real research, TamilNet opposes objective archaeology. It stated “Sri Lanka conceives archaeology as a weapon of structural genocide in the island”. TamilNet even opposes the restoration of the Dutch Fort in Jaffna saying there is “much resentment in Jaffna over priority given to archaeology and renovation of Fort”. In the same Hitler doublespeak, it adds: “Heritage studies … are a prerogative of free people of that land. Otherwise it will continue to be ‘colonial’… academic circles in Jaffna commented”…"The North and East of the island of Sri Lanka should first be subjected to ‘archaeological’ investigation … before its ‘resettlement’, is a demand ….. For the cultural genocide of Eezham Tamils … Eezham Tamil nationalism is a necessary reality". Geobbels would indeed be happy.

TamilNet goes further in its ignorance: “The Theravada Buddhist Sanghas of Sri Lanka are now claiming that the Mahayana remains at Kuchchave’li and at Thiriyaay were exclusive to the Sinhalese". Now, it has been very well known for several decades that there was a lively Mahayana tradition in Sri Lanka (my wife wrote her Ph.D. at London University on it). In fact Amoghavajra, the renowned monk on whom the Chinese wrote 10 biographies took 500 tantric texts in the eighth century from Abayagiri to the Tang Dynasty capital.

With objective archaeology now emerging, Jaffna academics became hysterical. "Ever heard of ‘archaeology’ being first priority in a conquered territory… writes an academic from Jaffna on Colombo’s heritage genocide. Colombo’s use of archaeology against Tamils is not new…. “TamilNet wrote.“What is the point now in engaging in one-sided ‘archaeology’ rather than coming out with political formulas to resolve the national question, if the intention is not genocide? This is a heritage genocide”. But the new excavations were done by the archaeology Department with Jaffna academics and their students by the side.

But the hidden Jaffna academic cat seems to come out in further TamilNet outbursts. “Dr. S.K. Sitrampalam, the Vice President of Ilankai Thamizh Arasuk Katchi (ITAK), the main constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)…[is] the retired Senior Professor of Archaeology of the University of Jaffna …said that the Mullivaaykkaal (LTTE) war was like Kurukshetra (the war of the Mahabharata epic) and Tamils should never forget it”.

TNA are the once LTTE surrogates contesting the new Northern Province Council elections and they are clearly preparing for the next war. This Prof Sitrampalam, Professor of Archaeology ominously adds bearing his Tiger claw: “What was refused to Pirapaharan cannot be given to others is the position of Mahinda Rajapaksa."

Ancient sites

There are other side stories present as in the Kanniya hot wells of Trincomallee which was once under the LTTE who issued tickets to people wanting to bathe there. The pro-LTTE elements in the Pradeshiya Sabha, TamilNet reported had put a board claiming that the hot wells were built by Ravana the Dravidian hero of the Ramayana. Ravana was invented incidentally in the last century as a hero in South India in its anti-North Indian separatist phase for a Dravidistan.

This was to be parallel to the Muslim demand for Pakistan. After coming under central government control, the Government Agent (GA) of Trincomalee TamilNet reported had “stopped the Trincomalee Pradeshiya Sabha PS from maintaining the Kanniya Hot Wells” and handed it to the Department of Archaeology. “The GA also directed his men to remove the name board by stating that the ancient King Raava'nan (Ravana) founded the hot wells”.

TamilNet said that “The GA told that the name board put by the PS had given 'wrong historical information' … and directed the Trincomalee PS to stop collecting money from the public for maintaining the hot wells … as the PS has no legal status except the Department of Archaeology…..". TamilNet added that “some Buddhist priests, claimed that the bricks found at the site belonged to the Anuradhapura period”.


Kanniya hot wells,Trincomallee

Although objecting to excavation of very ancient sites, Jaffna academics regret the removal of more recent LTTE landmarks.

TamilNet asks: “Why should monuments built by Tamils … remembering their (LTTE) struggle be destroyed, asks an academic in Jaffna, responding to the destruction of the memorial for Thileepan (LTTE) who fasted unto death …” . The Jaffna academic and TamilNet position on archaeology is simple. It makes the political statement: "If the intention is the preservation of cultural heritage the best way to do it is recognising the territoriality of Eezham Tamils in their homeland”. Ideologues of Hitler’s lebensraum would of course have seen their mirror image here.

Cultural institutions

But to the LTTE academics, it is not only the objective archaeology of Sri Lanka that is at fault but seemingly the whole world who are interested in real facts. It makes the ominous statement the "Sri Lankan state is not the only culprit to this cultural genocide… All countries that have been giving funds, training and scholarships to Sri Lanka and the UN agencies have to be equally indicted”. These LTTE remnants call upon stopping archaeology by stating: “These Western countries and the UN agencies should refrain from aiding the cultural genocide of Colombo, by stopping all funding to cultural institutions in the island.”

TamilNet mentions that “Western donors are funding Colombo’s cultural monster … Until the national question of Eezham Tamils in the North and East is politically resolved, no funding should be given to Colombo’s cultural agenda in Tamil homeland, …Western academic and cultural institutions have a responsible role to play in influencing their governments against abetting cultural genocide.”

Within the last few months, professionals of the Archaeology Department led by Drs Siran Deraniyagala and Nimal Perera and with Jaffna academics at hand have made scientific excavations at Kandarodai.

They have shown that Kandarodai history is no different from that of Anuradapura or other sites around the country. And in the Trincomalee hot wells site, new excavations have now revealed Buddhist remains at the site indistinguishable from other sites in the country. (And no ghost of Ravana). The extensive coin collection of art teacher Ponnambalam, the most comprehensive for the whole of Jaffna Peninsula was donated by him decades ago to Kelaniya University for a paltry Rs 5,000 (my wife then a Kelaniya University teacher facilitating). And my collection of 100 mint condition Sahasmalla/Leelavati coins was donated to my alma mater in memory of that excellent Royal Primary teacher HP Jayawardana. Both collections, very expensive if sold in the open market, cannot now be traced. Rats of course exist not only in Northern educational establishments but also in the South.

And in Jaffna University? When the IPKF forces landed by helicopter in its premises in the 1987 period, they found an excavated skeleton named by local archaeologists "Jaffna man". The IPKF, as moronic as TamilNet archaeologists today desecrated it to pieces. And today? There is today a plaque in Jaffna University stating that everybody in its premises should subscribe to the traditional homelands fiction (or words to that effect). The war according to Jaffna University is not yet over. And FLICT, a German NGO is busy funding a "history" project to continue the LTTE narrative.

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