Trilingual inscription from Sri Lanka

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 1 12:24:00 UTC 1999

>It's said that Tamil population out there are of two kinds : 1. One
>which came in even before the Brits did and 2. Which were brought in
>by the Brits as cheap labour

Across the Palk Straits, the distance is a mere 18 miles. Greek
geographers call Ceylon as Tambapanni. Tamraparni is in South
Tamil Nadu. No distinction between India and Ceylon except the
recent centuries. Some  earliest South East Asian inscriptions bear
a Tamil stamp, Sri Mara (cf. J. Filliozat). Tamils were in Sri Lanka
as long as they lived in India. There, there are earliest Tamil
Brahmi  inscriptions with distinct marks for Tamil names, the 'n2'
endings, the letter 'zha' and so on and proto-sinhala inscriptions
mention the presence of Tamils.

A portion of the sangam poetry were penned by Tamils from Lanka.
Eg., Izhattup Puutam TEvanAr. Among the Tevaram corpus available
to us (many were lost in the last 1300 years), two decads are available on
Kediicaram and TirukONamalai. It is a tragic loss
that Tamil religions, both Saivism and Vaishnavism, destroyed
many, many Buddhist works. Luckily, Manimekalai and few poems
in Veerachoziyam survived. Kovai ciRRilakkiyam-s routinely talk
of going to Lanka. Izham means gold, toddy. Tamil literature
exists from 11th century onwards in Sri Lanka.

>The ones who came before claim to be of higher castes and look down upon
>the later arrivals. When the sectarian trouble erupted, it was the later
>arrivals who first got hit since they worked in predominantly Sinhalese
>areas and didn't receive much help from the higher castes.

  Even amidst the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka,
the Jaffna and Trincomalee Tamils, untouchable castes exist -
nalavat, paLLar, paRaiyar, ..

V. Iyer

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