Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday, December 27, 2008

History of Sri Lanka part III

Colonial era (1517-1948)

Portuguese era

The first Europeans to visit Sri Lanka in modern times were the Portuguese Francisco de Almeida arrived in 1505, finding the island divided into seven warring kingdoms and unable to fend off intruders. The Portuguese founded a fort at the port city of Colombo in 1517 and gradually extended their control over the coastal areas. In 1592 the Sinhalese moved their capital to the inland city of Kandy, a location more secure against attack from invaders. Intermittent warfare continued through the 16th century.
Many lowland Sinhalese were forced to convert to Christianity while the coastal Moors were religiously persecuted and forced to retreat to the Central highlands. The Buddhist majority disliked Portuguese occupation and its influences and welcomed any power who might rescue them. In 1602, therefore, when the Dutch captain Joris Spilberg landed, the king at Kandy appealed to him for help.

Dutch era

It was in 1638 that the Dutch attacked in earnest, and not until 1656 that Colombo fell. By 1660 the Dutch controlled the whole island except the kingdom of Kandy. The Dutch persecuted the Catholics but left the Buddhists, Hindus and Moslems alone. However, they taxed the people far more heavily than the Portuguese had done. A mixed Dutch-Sinhalese people known as Burgher peoples are the legacy of Dutch rule.
In 1659, the British sea captain Robert Knox landed by chance on Sri Lanka and was captured by the king of Kandy. He escaped 19 years later and wrote an account of his stay. This helped to bring the island to the attention of the British.

British rule

During the Napoleonic Wars the United Kingdom, fearing that French control of the Netherlands might deliver Sri Lanka to the French, occupied the coastal areas of the island (which they called Ceylon) with little difficulty in 1796. In 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens the Dutch part of the island was formally ceded to Britain, and became a crown colony. In 1803 the British invaded the Kingdom of Kandy in the 1st Kandyan War, but were bloodily repulsed. In 1815 Kandy was occupied in the 2nd Kandyan War, finally ending Sri Lankan independence. Following the bloody suppression of the Uva Rebellion or 3rd Kandyan War in 1817–1818, a treaty in 1818 preserved the Kandyan monarchy (Nayaks of Kandy) as a British dependency.
The Kandyan peasantry were stripped of their lands by the Wastelands Ordinance, a modern enclosure movement and reduced to penury. The British found that the uplands of Sri Lanka were very suited to coffee, tea and rubber cultivation, and by the mid 19th century Ceylon tea had become a staple of the British market, bringing great wealth to a small class of white tea planters. To work the estates, the planters imported large numbers of Tamil workers as indentured labourers from south India, who soon made up 10% of the island's population. These workers had to work in slave-like conditions and to live in line rooms, not very different from cattle sheds.
The British colonialists favoured the semi-European Burghers, certain high-caste Sinhalese and the Tamils who were mainly concentrated to the north of the country, exacerbating divisions and enmities which have survived ever since. Nevertheless, the British also introduced democratic elements to Sri Lanka for the first time in its history. The Burghers were given some degree of self-government as early as 1833. It was not until 1909 that constitutional development began with a partly-elected assembly, and not until 1920 that elected members outnumbered official appointees. Universal suffrage was introduced in 1931, over the protests of the Sinhalese, Tamil and Burgher elite who objected to the common people being allowed to vote.
(source by : Wikipedia and Books)

Friday, December 19, 2008

History of Sri Lanka part II

Legendary and early history (500 - 250 BC)

The Pali chronicles, i.e., the Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Thupavamsa and the Chulavamsa as well as a large collection of stone inscriptions, the Indian Epigraphical records, the Burmese versions of the chronicles etc., provide an exceptional record for the history of Sri Lanka from about the 6th century B.C. The Mahavamsa, written circa 5th century A. D. by the monk Nagasena, using the Deepavamsa, the Attakatha and other written sources available to him, correlates well with the Indian history of the period, with King Asoka's dates of reign actually discovered through the Mahavamsa. The account of the period prior to Asoka's coronation (given in the Mahavamsa as 218 years after the Buddha's death) seems to be part legend. Thus the history begins with the arrival of Vijaya and his 700 followers. Vijaya, is a Kalinga(ancient Orissa) prince, the eldest son of King Sinhabahu (means:-"Man with Lion arms") and Queen Sinhasivali, who were siblings born by a mythical union between a lion and a human princess. The historian contrives the chronology to claim that Vijaya landed on the same day as the death of the Buddha (See Geiger's preface to Mahavamsa), giving added significance to Vijaya's arrival. The story of Vijaya and Kuveni (the local reigning queen) is reminiscent of Greek legend, and may have a common source in Indo-European folk tales. Vijaya landed near Mahathitha (Manthota or Mannar), and, according to the Mahavamsa, named the Island "Thambaparni" ('copper-colored palms), a name which entered into Ptolemy’s map of the ancient world. Tamirabharani is the old name for the second longest river (known as Malwatu Oya in Sinhala and Aruvi Aru in Tamil); it was a main supply route connecting the capital, Anuradhapura to Mahathitha (Mannar), used by Greek ships and Chinese ships travelling on the Silk Route. Mahathitha was an ancient port, inking the Indian coast and the Persian gulf with Sri Lanka, and frequented by seafaring people in pre-Vijayan times.
The present day Sihalese (and even some Tamils) are a mixture of the indegenous people and other groups that came to the island from various parts of India. The Sinhalese recognize the Vijayan Indo-Aryan influence/civilization and Buddism (that was already in existence prior to the arrival of Vijaya), that set them appart from other groups in neighbouring south India. One must take into consideration that Vijaya's subsequent queens were from Madurai, south India.

Feudal Sri Lanka (250 BC-1600 AD)
Anuradhapura dynasty
DEVANAMPIYA TISSA (250-210 BC). A Sinhalese King of Mauriya clan. His links with Emperor Asoka led to the introduction of Buddhism by Mahinda (son of Asoka) in 247? BC. Sangamitta, (sister of Mahinda) brought a Bodhi sapling via Jambukola(Sambiliturei). There is no evidence in the history of King Ashoka about his having had a son by the name of Mahinda (or by any other name) or a daughter by the name of Sangamitta (or by any other name). This king's reign was crucial to Theravada Buddhism, and for Sri Lanka.
ELARA 205-161 BC, a South Indian Tamil invader who ruled "Pihiti Rata", i.e., Sri Lanka north of the mahaweli, after killing King Asela. During Elara's time, KelaniTissa was a sub-king of Maya Rata (south-west) and KavanTissa was a regional sub-king of Ruhuna (South-east). Kavantissa built Tissa Maha Vihara, Dighavapi Tank and many shrines in Seruvila. DUTU GEMUNU (GAMINI) 161-137 BC – Eldest son of King Kavan Tissa, who was a young man 25 years of age, defeated the South Indian Tamil Invader Elara (over 64 years of age) in single combat, described in the Mahavamsa. Dutugamunu is depicted as a Sinhala "Asoka". The Ruwanwelisaya, built by this king is a dagaba of pyramid-like proportions. It was an engineering marvel.
Five Tamil Chiefs: PULAHATHA deposed by BAHIYA, deposed by PANAYAMARA, deposed by PILAYAMARA, murdered by DATHIYA 88 BC – deposed by Valagambahu, ending Tamil rule. VALAGAMBAHU I 89-77 BC – restored the Dutugamunu dynasty. The Mahavihara Theravada -Abhayagiri(pro-Mahayana) doctrinal disputes arose at this time. The Tripitaka was written in Pali at Aluvihara, Matale. CHORA NAGA (Mahanaga) 63-51 BC; poisoned by his consort Anula. Queen Anula 48-44 BC – Widow of Chora Naga and Kuda Tissa, first Queen of Lanka. She had many lovers who were poisoned by her. She was finally killed by: KUTTAKANNA TISSA. VASABHA 67-111 AD – Vallipuram gold plate; he fortified Anuradhapura and built eleven tanks; many edicts. GAJABAHU I 114-136 – invaded the Chola kingdom and brought back captives. He recovered the tooth relic of the Buddha.
MAHASENA 274-301 AD – The Theravada (Maha Vihara) was persecuted and Mahayana surfaced. Later the King returned to the Maha Vihara. Pandu 429 AD - first of seven Pandiyan rulers, ending with Pithya, 455; DHATUSENA 459-477 AD, his uncle, Mahanama wrote the Mahavamsa, he built "Kalaweva". His son KASHYAPA 477-495 AD, built the famous sigiriya rock palace. Some 700 rock graffiti give a glimpse of ancient Sinhala.
Polonnaruwa rule
VIJAYABAHU I 1055-1110 AD, recaptured the whole Island, and established Polonnaruwa as the new capital. King Vijaya Bahu married from the Kalinga (Orissa) Royal Family a second queen, and had a son Vikrama Bahu and a daughter Ratnavali. His sister, Mitta, married a Pandya Prince who had three sons, the eldest being Manabharana. He married Ratnavali. Their son was PARAKRAMA BAHU I 1153-1186 AD – Grandson of Vijaya Bahu I, Prince of Sinhala-Pandyan-Kalinga descent, son of Manabharana and Vijaya Bahu’s sister, Mitta. He was a very powerful king, noted for his engineering, naval power, art, culture, many Sinhala inscriptions, and even a Tamil edict in Uruthota (Kayts). The Chulavamsa was written by Dharmakirthi, updating the Mahavamsa to include Parakramabahu. It was a great age since the epic Anradhapura period.
(source by : Wikipedia)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

History of Sri Lanka part I

Pre –History about Sri Lanka
Traditionally, the recorded History of Sri Lanka boasts of 25 chronicled centuries. However, the inhabitation of the country goes back much further, to the Balangoda People , about 32,000 - 3000 BC. Most of Sri Lanka's History is based on the Book called “Mahawamsa”, However, there have been instances where historic rock inscriptions have been contrary to the Mahawamsa.
The island is estimated to have been colonised by the Balangoda People (named after the area where their remains were discovered) about 34,000 years ago. They have been identified as a group of Mesolithic hunter gatherers who lived in caves. Several of these caves including the well known “Batadombalena” and the “Fa-Hien Rock” (cave) have yielded many artifacts that points to them being the first inhabitants of the island.
The [Sandakelum people] appear to have been responsible for creating Horton Plains, in the central hills, by burning the trees in order to catch game. However, discovery of Oats and Barley on the plains dating to about 15,000 BC suggest they may have engaged in agriculture.
Several minute granite tools of about 4 centimeters in length, earthenware and remnants of charred timber, and clay burial pots that date back to the Stone Age Mesolithic Man who lived 8000 years ago have been discovered during recent excavations around a cave at Varana Raja Maha vihara & also in Kalatuwawa area.
Cinnamon, which is native to Sri Lanka, was in use in Ancient Egypt in about 1500 BC, suggesting that there were trading links with the island. It is possible that Biblical Tarshish was located on the island (James Emerson Tennent identified it with Galle)
The Iron age in Sri Lanka begins about 1000 BC. A large settlement appears to have been founded before 900 BC at the site of Anuradhapura and signs of an Iron Age culture have also been found. The size of the settlement was about 15 hectares at that date, but it expanded to 50 ha, to 'town' size within a couple of centuries. A similar site has been discovered at Aligala in Sigiriya.
It is suspected that the hunter gatherer people known as the Wanniyala-Aetto or Veddas, who still live in the Central, Uva and North-Eastern parts of the island, are relatively direct descendants of the first inhabitants (Balangoda man). They may have migrted to the island from the main land around the time humans spread from Africa to other parts of the world.
In the 6th century BC, Sri Lankans developed a unique hydraulic civilization, producing the largest reservoirs and dams up until the 20th century, enormous pyramid-like Stupa (Dagaba) architecture, within a culture nourished by Buddhism. It was forced to deal with South Indian invasions in the tenth century and European expansions in the sixteenth century).
In the 5th century B.C., Indo-Aryan emigrated from India, mixed with the Hela people and later Buddhism was established and helped develop the Sinhalese culture in Sri Lanka. According to Buddist scriptures the Buddha is said to have visited the island on three occasions to see the Naga Kings, thought to be Tamil speakers and who at one time time ruled various kingdoms throughout all of North and South India before being driven out by the Aryan invaders. Prior to this period in time. More than 70% of Sinhalese populace considers itself to be Buddhist. Along with the Sinhalese, there is a Tamil Hindu population on this island.
The earliest chronicles the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa say that, before the migration of Vijaya, tribes of Yakkhas (demon worshippers), Nagas (cobra worshippers) and devas (god worshippers) inhabited the island.
Pottery has been found at Anuradhapura, bearing Brahmi script and non-Brahmi writing, dating back to 600 BC. One of the oldest examples of the script.
(source by : books & Wikipedia)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Colombo stocks starts week on low sentiment
Colombo stocks starts week on low sentiment 2008-12-15 11:15:05 Colombo stocks on Monday morning started on a damp note when both All Share Index (ASI) and the Milanka down with stock analysts saying that there will not be any upward momentum on the indices today. “Almost all stocks are down with Dialog being mainly responsible for dragging the market down,” a stock analyst said, speaking about the mid-morning situation. Dialog was 25 cents down to Rs 6 in morning trade. The stock market was also watching the outcome of John Keells Holdings subsidiary, Lanka Marine Services case with its final judgment by the Supreme Court due this morning. The ASI was down by 20.71 points to 1,540.65 and the Milanka was at 1,699.14 down by 39.82 during mid – morning while the turnover was at Rs 30 million.
(Source by : Times)

SLAF rattack LTTE positions

The Sri Lankan Air Force carried out two successive air raids on LTTE positions in Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu this afternoon using MI-24 helicopters.
An Air Force spokesperson said that MI-24 helicopter gun ships raided an LTTE-built earth bund located 1Km northeast of Pudukudiirippukulam in Kilinochchi district around 3.45pm today. The Air attack was launched in support of ground troops of 57 Division heading towards Kilinochchi.
Meanwhile, another air raid was launched targeting an LTTE gathering point observed in the general area of Mullaveli in the Mullaittivu district around 6.00 pm yesterday. The air attack was launched in support of troops of 59 Division advancing towards Mullaittivu.
(source:Ministry of Defence) 15/12/2008


The City Of Gods
Devinwara, the city of gods in Sinhala language is important for many reasons. First for its historical importance, and second for its religious importance, and third for its geographical importance. While some of the ruins in this area gives evidence to prove its historical importance, Devalaya or the Temple stands as a monument to prove its religious importance, and the Light House which stands about a quarter kilometer by the sea coast shows its geographical importance. It is the southern most point in the naval route of Indian Ocean.

Devinuwara, according to many historical evidences, had been a city respected and worshipped by Buddhist for its power of gods. ‘Devinuwara’, in Sinhalese language means – ‘Devi’ means gods and ‘nuwara’ means city, which means ‘City of Gods’. Beginning of this city can be traced back to around 660 AD. Buddhist as well as other community people visits this place at least once a year, during the annual festival season which occur in June, to receive the blessings of the gods. Basnayaka Nilame or the Chief Incumbent who is elected by the important people from the district manages this Devalaya or the Temple, which is under the state control.

The Dondra Point is situated in the southern most point of Sri Lanka facing the Indian Ocean which is the main sea route between west and east. And the Northern most point is Point Pedro situated in Northern Province. The Dondra Point is important for its sea route.
(Source by: books)