Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Tamil Social Formation in Sri Lanka: A Historical Outline - Dr. P.Raghupathy (4)

South Indian and Sri Lankan Polity, the Chola Empire and the Emergence of the Kingdom of Jaffna .
10th - 13th Century A.D.

The rulers of the ancient Tamil country often fought with the rulers of Sri Lanka in a similar way they fought among themselves. On many occasions, adventurous South Indian chieftains and princes conquered Sri Lanka, but ruled as Sri Lankan Kings. This pattern continued to late medieval times till the advent of the British. The last King of Kandy was neither Tamil nor Sinhalese but of Telugu origin - a survivor of the legacy of the Vijayanagar empire. Apart from these dynastic conflicts, the Chola empire was the most influential factor in formulating the Tamil homeland. By the beginning of this millennium, from a powerful basis of hydraulic developments, the Chola empire emerged in South India. Trade aspirations, particularly gaining control over the trans-oceanic Arab-Chinese trade inevitably activated the maritime expeditions of the empire. Sri Lanka faced its first colonial experience under the Cholas.

The dryzone of Sri Lanka and its hydraulic pattern declined. The capital Anuradhapura was abandoned. Mass migrations took place which considerably changed the demography of the North and the East of the Island. In Jaffna, Kantarotai was replaced by Nallur. As a sequence of these developments, the kingdom of Jaffna emerged in the latter 'half of the 13th Century AD. when both the Sinhalese and South Indian hegemony declined. In short, a Tamil strain in Jaffna which was far anterior going back to protohistoric times was given a fresh impetus by the Chola empire in carving out a homeland of specific dimensions for the Tamils in the north and the east.

The Kingdom of Jaffna - Direct Predecessor to the Concept of Tamil Homeland

The kingdom of Jaffna is the direct predecessor to the present day concept of Tamil homeland. The kingdom was, T amilSaiviteand its demographical extensions were well illustrated in the Jaffna-centric historiographical literatures which arose in these times. The demography according to these literatures cover a territory from Kutiraimalai in the west coast (Puttalam district) to Verukal in the eastern coast (eastern province) encompassing more or less the present northern and eastern provinces. The kingdom was dominated by clans and feudal chieftains who had migrated from the various parts of South India, especially from Tamilnadu. On many occasions, new settlements were created by them. The kingdom was partially agrarian and partially mercantile. A kingdom exclusively for the Tamil homeland became thus possible only when there were no big powers in southern Sri Lanka and in the Tamil South India. The political reality when the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka was that there were three kingdoms i.e,. the Kingdom of Kotte, Kandy and Jaffna.

Comments on "Tamil Social Formation in Sri Lanka: A Historical Outline - Dr. P.Raghupathy (4)"


post a comment