Trilingual inscription from Sri Lanka

L.S.Cousins L.S.Cousins at NESSIE.MCC.AC.UK
Sun May 2 05:44:45 UTC 1999

nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> writes:

>The main reason for the conflict in Sri Lanka, as per him, are actually on
>religious lines - Buddhist Vs Hindu.
>He says the Sinhalese lose no opportunity in propogating Buddhism in Tamil
>areas - like building Buddhist temples in Hindu areas and offering more
>incentives for Buddhists etc, which ofcourse didn't go well with the Tamil
>Hindus, who're Saivites (their attachment to their faith need not be
>elaborated). Plus it is said that statues of the Buddha would miraculously
>appear in some Hindu area and be converted to a temple by the Sinhalese.

The problem with this is that it reifies the difference between Hinduism
and Buddhism on lines more appropriate to European religion.

Actually 'Hindu' temples are all over. I suspect that there is (or was) no
particular problem with either this or Buddhist monasteries. There is a lot
of objection to the use of American fundamentalist money to build churches
and schools etc. and 'purchase conversion'.

>He also points out that it is the industry displayed by the Tamils which
>turned the Sinhalese against them. At one point in time, he says the Tamils
>held all the key positions in the Government and in the discrimination by
>the Sinhalese which followed, Tamils were banned from learning English and
>going to college etc

Again, the problem was that Sinhalese wanted to see their own language
brought back to use in their own land. This was a very natural and
legitimate objective, but it brought very serious problems for the Tamils.
I think the first thing that is needed in such a case is to recognize that
the problems are real and difficult. If you sweep aside the difficulties,
you will end up looking for scapegoats.

>It seems to me that the primary causes may have been : 1. Historical
>hostility between Srilankan Buddhists and Tamil Hindus (Tamil Kings are have
>invaded Lanka and caused havoc many a time).

Again, I think this reification of the difference is a gross
oversimplification. I suspect that most Tamil rulers in ancient Ceylon
(i.e. before about 1,000 A.D.) and many since would have supported both
Buddhist and Shaiva, etc.  activities. Most Sinhalese kings certainly
offered worship to the gods.

Anyone who has spent time on the ground in the island will know that there
are all sorts of religious activities in which both Sinhalese and Tamils
participate together.

 Lance Cousins


Email: L.S.Cousins at

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