Wigneswaran pushes forward West’s Re- Colonizing game plan in calling for re-write of Sri Lanka’s History

C.V. Wigneswaran

– by Shenali D Waduge –

It has become a key political and imperial strategy of the West intent on de–stabilizing and breaking up Sri Lanka to attribute all ills of this country to the majority Sinhala Buddhists and vilify the ‘Mahavamsa’ the ancient Historical Chronicle (originally written in the 5th Century by Mahanama Mahathera) as the literary source of all ethnic and religious disharmony in the country, while forgetting that most of this country’s current ethnic and religious disputes have originated in events that took place commencing in 1505 with the entry of the Portuguese followed by their successors i.e. Dutch and British, and local surrogates pushing hard to make Sri Lanka a vassal state subservient to the dictates of European colonial interests. Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s demand that Mahavamsa be set aside and a new history of the country be re- written with foreign input is a silly puerile effort. At best it is an ill – informed move with hardly any chance of success in this modern Broadband cum Internet led era.

History stands witness. There is not a single shred of evidence to prove that wars were declared and people slaughtered, people forcefully converted, nations invaded and occupied because of Buddhism, Jainism or Hinduism. That however, cannot be said of Christianity/Catholicism or Islam. Much of the histories records of heinous crimes like the Inquisition, Crusades, Religious Holy Wars were tabulated not by Buddhists or Buddhist scholars but by Christian / Islamic scholars/writers themselves. The commentaries, spins and debates of these crimes and genocide are all available in major libraries and on the Internet. Therefore, a childish suggestion by a learned Chief Minister Wigneswaran to re-write history would mean that he may have to shut the Internet.  Even if a bon fire is made of the Mahavamsa, the bloodstained record of the crimes of the European imperialistic nations and their chief accomplice the Christian Churches cannot be simply erased from history.

Dark Past

People who should be afraid of history and who should fear history are those who have something to hide or whitewash. That is so because they do not wish to stand accountable for their crimes. The European Christians have much to hide. They have a dark shameful history that stands against them. A history that reveals conquests, plunder, dispossession of land of native people as part of public policy, systemic methods of developing local stooges and surrogates, weakening people, teaching distorted history to their children– all this took place over a period of 500 years.

If that was not enough damage, they devised Human Rights laws and concepts like ‘Rule of Law’  to cover their tracks and to punish only those that they deemed to be guilty absolving themselves of all crimes committed by them both in the present and in the past.

However, Christian crimes of the past in Ceylon have been in recorded in great detail not only by us – but also by their very own. For example, Portuguese Historians like Fernao de Queyroz, Friar Paulo da Trinidade, Joao Ribeiro, and Diogo de Couto, and Dutch Historians like Father Philippus Baldaeus have even given detailed information of the invasions and crimes committed by the Europeans in colonial Ceylon. Baldeus in particular went to Jaffna with an invading Dutch force and was the first European to document the life, language and culture of the people living in the north of the country.

Red Herring

Today, the allegations directed against the Mahavamsa and the denigrating propaganda is a mere red herring, a scapegoat of sorts simply to hide the real perpetrators of wrongs. If a handful of people are unhappy with the text of the Mahavamsa then in the same way the Buddhists have every right to question the religious texts of the Abrahamic religions which hurl abuse against non – believers, as well. But when that happens the immediate response is to cry foul and claim that the Buddhists are attempting to threaten peaceful co – existence and disrupt harmony. Is there an unwritten rule that only the followers of the Abrahamic religions have a God given right to throw barbs and openly humiliate the other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, calling into question their practices but not the other way around? We all know that Buddhism Bashing is a favourite pastime of the local sepoy press and their fellow travelers. A right of reply is usually denied to Buddhists by the mainstream English language press in Sri Lanka.

Today the white man is using the Hindu and Buddhist surrogates as their spokesmen and we see that very clearly in the manner the Chief Minister appears to be acting as a proxy of the West.

Sinhalese saved Tamils

Chief Minister Wigneswaran should read history and appreciate how King Senerath in the early 17th Century sent his General Attapattu with a Sinhala Army to protect the lives of the Tamil Hindus from the Portuguese in Jaffna and this Sinhala Buddhist General gallantly laid down his life fighting the Portuguese no different to how 5000 Sri Lankan soldiers sacrificed their lives to save 300,000 Tamil civilians from the LTTE for which not a single word of gratitude has come apart from a handful of Tamils.

The European sea farers that came to explore the ‘new world’ they found throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America were all ‘Soldiers of Christ’. These ‘soldiers’ under the directions of their Kings and the Church destroyed both Buddhist and Hindu temples wherever they found them without exception and killed all those who resisted including Buddhist monks. To this day the people of Sri Lanka lament the manner in which the Portuguese destroyed the historic Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara in 1578.

Christianity was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese and imposed by force using violence and built Churches over destroyed sites. If Buddhist temples along the maritime coast are not older than 150 years it is because the Portuguese destroyed them with the blessings of the Roman Catholic King of Portugal, his Viceroy in Goa, the Pope in the Vatican and Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.

List of destroyed Buddhist and Hindu Temples by the Portuguese

Details of these temples being destroyed and Churches built on top of them were written not only by Buddhists but by the Portuguese themselves. De Quieroz’s works give lists of temples upon which Churches were built in Sri Lanka and there is no better reconciliation than returning these former Buddhist owned lands that were taken by force then destroying ancient old temples and building Churches on top of them. These were all deliberate acts as State/Religious policy. Not even an apology has come thus far. Fellippe de Oliveria, the Portuguese conqueror of Jaffna was reputed for having destroyed 500 Temples commencing in 1619.

What Wigneswaran should be doing is to reclaim the historical heritage that was forcefully taken over by foreign invaders and on top of which Churches now stand.

To this list includes the following:

  • Madhu Church in Mannar where once stood the Ninth century Pattini Devales for Kannagi, famous heroine of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
  • Kochikade Church in Colombo which was also usurped.
  • The 1000 pillared temples in Devundara in South and Trincomalee in East, Saman Devale temple in Ratnapura, Kelaniya Temple were all ransacked and burnt

It was not only temples/kovils that were ransacked and burnt – Buddhist schools and mini universities (Sunethra Devi Pirivena in Kotte, Vidagama Pirivena in Raigama, Tottagamuwe Pirivena in Hikkaduwa) were also targets and even Buddhist scholar monks were killed. History stands witness to these crimes as tabulated by their own foreign historians.

To be added to this list are Nallur Kandasamy Kovil, Kailasanathar Temple, Munneswaran Temple, Chilapam, Vishnu Temple, Tirukethieswaram Temple, Mathoddam, Tiru Konesar Temple and Thirukonamalai temple. Compulsory proselytizing meant 6000 Tamil Hindus were converted by the Jesuits. The Saraswathy Mahal – the oldest museum and library was also burnt down by the foreigners. Would Wigneswaran wish to erase these hard facts from history simply because he now wishes to function as a proxy and modern version of the permanently enslaved Indian sepoy serving western imperial interests in a contemporary setting replicating the past?

The Rajavaliya, a Sri Lanka historical chronicle describes the arrival of the Portuguese and the welcome accorded to the visitors according to traditional Buddhist customs but the Portuguese came with a 3 pronged purpose – Commerce, Conquest and Conversion.

It is very unfortunate that the minorities whom the Sinhalese Buddhists saved from being wiped out by these foreign invaders are today working with foreign governments/organizations against the descendants of these Sinhalese Buddhists.

Magnanimous gesture of King Senerath

It was the Sinhalese King Senerath who saved the Muslims from slaughter by the Portuguese under Captain – General Constantin de Saa Noronha in 1626 and re-settled them in the East, and even the Catholics who were targets of the Dutch were also given safe haven in the Kandyan Kingdom by King Rajasinghe the Second. Today, these minorities have all banded together against the Sinhalese Buddhists with only a handful of the latter coming forward to protect not only their ethnic/racial cultural heritage but their country as well.

Papal Bulls were declared by the Pope in 1452, 1455, 1456 mandating the conversion of Sinhalese and Tamils. The Catholics of the Negombo, Chilaw, Mannar fishing communities all descend as a result of these mass conversions of mostly Tamils for the colonials found it easier to convert them than the Sinhalese Buddhists.

Many of these converts through education were taught to renounce and mentally hate the country and the heritage to which they were born – it was from these brainwashed that the colonial rulers picked their ‘soldiers’ who were later known as ‘sepoys’ or lascarines fighting against their own people on behalf of the white rulers. There are plenty of modern day sepoys/lascarines amongst us being nurtured in virtually the same manner as some of their forbears during colonial rule.

No amount of whitewashing the dark history that covers invasions, plunder, mass murder of even Buddhist monks, genocide, slavery, starvation, torture, inhuman punishment, savagery documented by their own officials, writers and Governments can wipe out that dark past. Re -writing history would mean that every single book written by hundreds of authors which are now online would need to be systematically removed. Homes would need to be invaded and the rare collections of books documenting these atrocities would need to be confiscated – this is exactly what Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebels did during Nazi rule and it is also exactly what the Allied Forces did to the Germans immediately after World War 2.

Double Standards

What is unfortunate is the double standards at play. While Buddhism and Buddhists  bashing is free for all but when Buddhists attempt to remind those flogging them about their dark past the immediate response is to be branded as chauvinists, rabble rousers and upsetting harmony and peaceful coexistence. Not a word gets said about the wrong doings of the others.

Does Wigneswaran wish to change the fact that Jaffna was made Catholic en masse but reverted to Hinduism after Dutch arrival in 1658?    

As for conversion of Tamil Hindus it is recorded thus

  • Conversion of Jaffna Tamil Hindus by Franciscans alone (Jesuits) – 52,000 (Prof. Tikiri Abeysinghe)
  • Over 70,000 adult Christians and children under 25 parishes run by Franciscans alone in Jaffna in 1634 – ‘taking that figure as a rough basis for the calculation of the total number of Christians in Jaffna under the care of the 42 parishes one gets the figure 115,000’. (Friar Paulo da Trinidade)
  • ‘Nearly all natives (in Jaffna) are Christians (Antonio Bocarro’s report – 1634)
  • Jaffna was ‘wholly Christian’ (Fernao de Queiros – renowned Portuguese chronicle of Ceylon) 

South Indian mercenaries (referred to as Badagas) were used by the Portuguese and are no different to the sepoys/lascarine terminology used for those working for the enemy. In all probability the LTTE used these mercenaries which is why we continue to question how legal are some of the Tamils presently living in Sri Lanka.

Wigneswaran may also like to note that according to Fernao de Queiros the people of Jaffna had been ‘reduced to the utmost misery’ under Portuguese rule – Does he want to remove this truth from history as well? The village of Puthur which had 100 households was left with only 14 by 1645. 

It is also pertinent to recall the Battle of Danture where a desperate battle was fought in 1593 led by Konappu Bandara  (later to become Wimala Dharmasuriya the first) to deny the Portuguese attempt to capture Kandy heartland and rule using Dona Catherina (12 years) through a marriage to a Portuguese aristocrat. Had this union occurred under Roman law ‘cujus region, illius religio’ would have taken place – he who rules the land determines the religion.

The sad tragedy today is that the Sinhalese Buddhists who protected the minorities of Sri Lanka from invading forces and even lost their lives in pursuit of this protection have to face the hard reality that a quite a number in the minority groups have banded together in unfortunate campaigns against the Sinhalese Buddhists under heavy lobbying by foreign western interests, in a bid to lay the blame for every issue at the doorstep of the former.  

Sinhala Buddhist – Tamil Hindu Unity

What we need to tell Wigneswaran and his ilk is that the aforesaid examples of Sinhala Buddhist – Tamil Hindu unity that existed prior to 1505 and even in the Kandyan Kingdom was heavily undermined by the divide and rule policy of the European colonial empires that ruled this country for nearly 450 years and had as the corner stone of their imperial policy the conversion of both the Tamil Hindus and Sinhala Buddhists into Christianity. 

Look at what happened in Goa. All the Hindus in Goa were forcibly converted into Christianity under threat of punishment through the Portuguese inquisition. The Kingdoms of Sitawaka and Kandy fought against these invaders and that is why three religions Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are to this day extant in Sri Lanka. We could have become another Philippines or an East Timor if there was no resistance from the Sinhalese.  The foundation for enduring peace and stability in Sri Lanka is Sinhala Buddhist – Tamil Hindu Unity.

Re – writing history will not work to the advantage of the Tamil Hindus, Sinhala Buddhists or Muslims. Only those who wish to hide their criminal past in this country will stand to profit from it. Do not become a pawn in the hands of western countries or the Christian Church. They have no love for either the Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims. What the West has done in the Middle East they will soon engineer in Sri Lanka if we are not alert or foolish enough to fall for their traps.   

In any case re- writing history is a futile exercise as we can all access the Internet today and learn much more on any historical aspect than was possible to our forefathers.