__________________________Jaffna Tamil

During the last two thousand years, Lanka has had many contacts with South India. This has been through religious exchanges, traders, merchants and invasions. To be precise sixteen such invasions. Their are many historians that claim that the majority of today's Tamil populace, are descendants of these sixteen invasions but they are in fact, descendants of other invader's, the Dutch and the British.

To get the best picture of event's, we must first talk about a phase during the Portuguese era.

According to Portuguese record's, after the conquest of Jaffna, the Nayakar King's of Madurai with Colonization in mind had sent ship's with nearly 2000 Tamil's to settle in Jaffna. Thank fully, these invader's were dealth with and in a few case's survived and returned back to India. These event's it is said were kept hidden from the ear's of the Madurai ruler's but assuming success and planing a second lot, it was then that the failure of their first mission was recited. Later during the Dutch period, to be precise around 1652-3. The Nayakar's got their chance.

After a devastating drought & in fighting amongst Nayakar Kings, we are told by many Dutch sources, that a slave could be bought for as low as a loaf of bread. If this is literally true or just terminology, is not the issue but certainly it shows the situation.

We are told by VOC record's and by Philip Bealdous, that with assitance of the Nayakar KIng's the first lot of 15,000 Tamil's were brought from Nagapattinam and settled into Jaffna. Throughout the next few year's a total of another 10,000. This is small, in comparrision to the Britisher's action's but it was the begining of the Tamil's in Jaffna.

It is possible that the majority of these NEW arrivals were in fact Muslims and not Tamil Hindus. In 1803, Robert Percival, says " That the majority in Jaffna town is Muslims, brought over and encourgaed by the Dutch VOC".

With the British;

The whole picture seems to start in 1803. Until recently, all that was known as the major event of this year was the invasion of the Kandian Capital by the Britisher North but in fact, this event was but fraction of the full extents of this period. Their were battles with Sinhalese forces, throughout the entire country and covering as far North as Cundikulam in Jaffna. Please See...The 'TRUE' events of 1803.

Then in 1815 after the betrayal of the Kandian Convention by the British, before the ink had time to dry, lead to the uprising in 1818. These so-called riots, were in fact a legitimate right of the Kandians, due to the betrayal of the treaty(It has been found that the signature's on the treaty are fake, thus answers the question; Why the British, massacred all except Molligoda of the signatories of the said treaty....Link).

The uprising was repressed by the British, on an inhuman scale.

Marshall Law was established in areas concerned and horrific laws were established e.g.;

  • Kill all Males, above the age of 18 years.
  • Destroy all trees that bare fruit and fields of grain.

In an horrific manner in Wellasa alone, in what is today Yala, an estimated 37,000 civilians were killed. The genocide of the Sinhala people during the early period of British rule, had lead to many sessions debating the rule of the British in the House of Commons. Though, instead of any change in behaviour, the British authorities carried out what is infamously called the Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms. These reforms included 32 Volumes of ideas and recommendations, on how to damage the Sinhala Nation and thus the Sinhala Buddhist. It was following these recommendations, that the Sinhala Kingdom was split into nine provinces.

For these reforms British Civil Servants carried out detailed report's of the entire country including Jaffna.

Their findings on Jaffna, it would seem:

  • Has NO cultivated lands.
  • NO large settled populations, expect for some around the Parish Church. The Parish Church records, of Jaffna reveal, that in fact these people were slaves. In the 1824 census, Jaffna had 15,200 slaves(Covia(Corruption of the word Govia), Nallua & Palla). See example(Link)
  • NO private property or any crown lands.

"All these remarks are very similar to the Portuguese."

It must said though, that the Portuguese do give an account of a population. According to the Portuguese, The population consisted of Sinhalese, Bedagaz(Vadegaz(Telegu)) and Muslims. These peoples apparently lived of the sea and game. The same is described, in the book of John Davey 1814. He clearly states the Aborigine Sinhalese(Aborigine is a Roman term, meaning the 'Original'.), naturlaized Malabars(In early times, Europeans generally called anyone from South India this) and Muslims are found in Jaffna.

So the question, does arise, what had happened to these peoples by 1833. Were they also effected by the British repression of 1803 & 1817-1818?

Further, according to the Jaffna Collector, it seems the small population on the coast, is but a migratory one, where they have their homes in South India but travel to Jaffna for the duration of their pearl fishing.

So in 1833, the Collector of Jaffna, reports NO large settled populations but by 1881 it seems a population of 265,000 had appeared with a overwhelming majority, Tamil.

Please see:

Census 1881-1981.

It was then under the recommendations of the Colbrooke Commission, more precisely Colonel Scheider, that the Tamil labourers brought for road and rail construction, not be sent back to India but settled in isolation of the Sinhalese in Jaffna.

Also Colebrooke points out his reasons, why Jaffna is most suitable; as it can be used to create an "Exclusive Malabar Region".

According to British administration reports though, already by early 1820's more 10,000 Tamils or Malabars(Called Malabar, as it was the first place that labourers were taken from.) had arrived in Ceylon.

Governor Frederick North in the very first years of the nineteenth century employed a pioneer corps consisting of South Indian immigrants and during the Kandyan rebellion of 1818, Governor Brownrigg relied on 6000 South Indian workers brought over to make up for the local labour shortage in the wake of the rebellion. Brownrigg’s successor Barnes employed South Indian labour (together with rajakariya labour) in the construction and upkeep of public works—mostly roads. Although this does not shedmore light on the place of recruitment, it illustrates that the early coffee planters could easily benefit from the existing practice of labour migration from South India when confronted with a local shortage of wage labour. This is even more noteworthy as the earliest coffee estates of the 1820s served primarily as a field of financial investment for high-ranking Government officials for whom Indian immigrant labour was easily obtainable.

The Tamil labourers brought over to Jaffna in the mid 1840's, is thus described by the GA of Jaffna, W.C. Twynam;

Miserable gangs of coolies....with one or two women to 50 to 100 men , strangers in a strange land , ill-fed, ill-clothed, eating any garbage they came across(more however from necessity than choice), travelling over jungle paths, sometimes with scarcely a drop of water to be found near them for miles, and others knee-deep the greater part of the way in water, with the country all round a swamp; working on estates just reclaimed from jungle , or on jungle about to be converted into estates, badly housed, and little understood by their employers.(CO 54/475)

Thus began the creation of the so called, Jaffna Tamil!



One of the most significant, yet hardly investigated or discussed facts about the changes in the ethnic population in the sparsely populated periphery is not one of spatial but sociological. It is a striking feature to observe, contrary to the popular and cultivated view held by both the Sinhalese and Tamils, that Tamils have been acculturated into the Sinhalese society, it is in fact quite the opposite. The Sinhalese peasants who remained behind in the isolated rural villages in the Dry Zone periphery were in fact increasingly getting assimilated into the Tamil community. Then Assistant Government Agent Mr Lushington lucidly elaborated this process in his 1898 Administration Report:

‘This part of the District (Kaddukulam West(Vavuniya)) is inhabited by Sinhalese villagers of Kandyan descent forming an outlying community which is, I fear rapidly dying out or becoming effaced.

This District is most interesting, being dotted over by numerous village tanks, some of which are restored and others abandoned„ The villagers retain many of the primitive customs of the Kandyans, but they are rapidly becoming ‘Tamilized’, which is a great pity. They inter- marry with Tamils and many of them speak Tamil as well as they speak Sinhalese. Even the Government School Master is Tamil and only that language is taught in the only school and unfortunately in some cases lands in Sinhalese villages have been bought out by the Tamils, who now own all the paddy lands of some villages. The Sinhalese have given up their patronymics and adopted the Tamil custom of perfexing father’s name instead of the usual patronymic and even the names of the villages are are assuming a Tamil dress.

This perhaps not to be wondered at when the interpreters of the court and the Kachcheri, the petition drawers and all through whom the villagers have access to Government officers, can speak nothing but Tamil....(Link)

This is also the first self admission by the British rulers that they were using the Tamils over the Sinhalese in government positions in these areas.


*According to the head of the Franciscan order 1600AD, father Francisco Negaro. Who is said to have studied the historical records available to him, states that; Prince Sapumal after ascendeding the throne of Kotte as King Buvanekabahu V, had decided to re-populate Yapanaya, as the majority of the area's were un-populated. It is said that, these settler's were from the Kotte Kingdom. Which certainly, doe's mean a Sinhala population.

*In the 1950's with re-colonisation plans of prime minister D S Senanayake. All districts were requested, to ascertain. who were willing to settle in what became Kilinochchi. When the representatives of Jaffna were asked, regarding this matter. It was a simple answer;

They stated 'Kilinochchi, was the South and no one of Jaffna were interested in the idea'. Today, though the South has become Colombo. In laymen terms, the Jaffna Tamil considered anything beyond the peninsular, the South.

After this, it was in fact 500 Sinhala families from Kotmale. That made the brave journey, to live their.

These records, will not be realised for another 30 years. What is the reason?

It must be said that, later these families were murdered by Tamil extremists! and then Kilinochchi, famously became the de facto capital of the LTTE terrorists.

*According to Portuguese sources, the largest temple to the Sinhalese Buddhist God Natha, was in fact at Chavakceriya(Javaka Ketceriya). Then it is reasonable to assume that a large Sinhalese population had existed their even during the 15th, 16th Centuries.

*Since the Vanniyas were installed by the Sinhalese king with Suriya Damana of the Ariya Vamsa family as the first to be assigned to the Jaffna Peninsula [see Royal Asiatic Society Journal, Sp. No 1996] they continued to show their allegiance to the Sinhalese. For example, when the Dutch prepared land Tomboes the Jaffna Vanniyas who claimed these lands by virtue of grants by the Sinhalese king protested and left the peninsula avowing not to return except with a Sinhalese army, which shows how close the relations between the Vanniyas and the Sinhalese were as against that with alien Ariyacakravarttis who were maintained in power by the Tanjore army. These are recorded facts of history.

*NewDon Philip Nella Mapana, Wannia of Pannegama.1746.

*The Portuguese state quite clearly that Jaffna was under the rule of King Rajasinhe I - 1593 and how would the eelamists explian this? As according to eelamists, in 1593, this was still in independant Tamil Kingdom. Also after his passing away, it is reported that both in Candia(Kandy) & Jaffna, that their was havoc amongst the populace.

*The Dutch National Archives, state that the boundary between their territory of Jaffna and the Sinhala Kings, was Alimankada(Elephant Pass).

....Exclusive map(1695)....During the 17th century the Company was engaged in a war of attrition with the king of Kandy, who had close ties with Ceylon's Buddhist population. There was a narrow tongue of land at Elephant Pass a fort was built to guard the border with the king's territory. Elephants captured on Ceylon were herded past here to Jaffna to be sold in India, hence the name Elephant Pass.'....The fort, as drawn on a Dutch map 1751.

*One of the most Important aspects of Civilization is Stories. Stories which have been passed down from one generation to another. How many Sinhala villages, know stories of Kings and Queens and of the many Warriors of the nation. How many can point to a ancient ruin and can say without a breath 'O this King, built it'. This is a sign of Civilization!

Tamil's on the other hand, have 'NO' such memories of this country. The furthest that they have, is to the Dutch but that is but a few.

Many would find it hard to beilve that their were Wewa's in the Northern province and that Mannar was in fact a Green Paradise.

....Yes, a Green Paradise...It must be said that, it is unfortunate that becuase of the war of attrition with Kandy and the Dutch. The Dutch VOC's policy of bringing in Tamil administrator's to Ceylon, rather than hire Sinhalese, has attributed to the use of Tamil words, such as Kolom. Unfortunately this ugly act is withnessed even in Anuradhapura. Where Aba wewa is today called the Basawak Kolom.

Today though 'NO' Tamil has any knowledge of this fact, even though this map is from 1719(Dutch Archives). This only goes to show that, these Tamil's, could not have been in these regions prior to 1815.

Why 1815?

Because, only after the Britishers destruction of these Wewa's, could the Tamil's have come their. That is why...They have 'NO' knowledge of these! If they did...I think we all would have it very loud vocals by now!

This is also another evidence, that these area's were indeed apart of the Sinhala Kingdom but would have certainly have had large Sinhala population's. The Wewa is Universally excepted, as a Sinhala culture & creation. In fact, even has late as the 1970's. Tamil's who worked in the Irrigational Dept. had 'NO' knowledge of how they worked!

*According to VOC record 3693, resolution 2 August 1785, the rents of Ritna Singa(Ratna Sinha) were as high as 50,000 rixdollars, which was more than half of the total of the rents of Jaffna.

*Dutch VOC records shows clear details of the Tamil's that were brought over to Jaffna eg in 1653 alone 15000, were transported from Nagapatinam in India to Jaffna.

*Recently, we have come across details concerning the existence of Malabar village. This is according to Robert Knox, 1690;

Was a very small village, with a prince. So small a populace that, one can only see it once you are extremely close.

His book details, makes it clear that it is a region on the West coast and that it is a small area with a small populace.

*NewEven the extremely pro-Tamil historian Dr. Kartigesu Indrapala says; with the evidence of place names, also go to show that it was not with the Jaffna peninsula that the South Indians had first contacts but with the North Western coast. He showed by the way place names in the Jaffna peninsula had been transformed into Tamil that Jaffna peninsula was Tamilised in more recent times and the places had still not shed their original Sinhalese identity.

*Even under the long Cola occupation in the 11th Century Jaffna, it does not appear to have occupied an important place in their administrative province [Nadu] to which the island had been reduced. Remnants of Cola influence are seen not in the peninsulas but elsewhere, especially, at Polonnaruva where Shiva temples, Hindu bronze sculptures and a few Tamil lithic records have been discovered. Surprisingly Tamil inscriptions are so rare in the whole island compared to the nearly a century old Cola occupation and the conversion of the island into a province [nadu] of their empire. How is it that there are no Tamil inscriptions in the Jaffna peninsula except the one in the Jaffna Fort which refers to the reign of Rajendra Cola which has been transported from another place, and another in Hammenheil in Kayts which has been brought from Mantai. [Epigrahia Tamilica, Vol. I, Part 1, 1972.]; and the fragments of four inscriptions which had been deliberately damaged and used in Hindu kovils or were in private property. [Paul E. Pieris]. This is surprising considering that Jaffna peninsula is claimed to be the centre of Tamil culture.




Kilinochchi recaptured in 13th Century too!

“Kingdom of Jaffna”

Jaffna Peninsula was originally inhabited by the Sinhalese people from the 6th Century BC up to the Portuguese Period. Rev. S. Gnana Praksar


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