Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Adds video clip documenting Prof S Pathmanathan's position)

SL Archaeology must be reconfigured to respect Tamil parity on heritage: Ganesan

[TamilNet, Monday, 22 July 2019, 23:30 GMT]
The SL Archaeology Department is the evil of all heritage related tensions in the North and East, and thirty-two Sinhala only experts currently advise it. This ‘Sinhala’ Archaeology must be reconfigured, said SL Minister of ‘National Integration’ and Hindu Religious Affairs Mr. Mano Ganesan, in an exclusive interview to TamilNet on Monday. The conservation of the protected sites in the North-East, including the ancient traces of the Tamil Buddhist heritage, must be carried out with the advice of Tamil historians. Mr. Ganesan said he would be moving a cabinet paper to this effect. At least five Tamil experts must be assigned the specific task, he said. Ganesan also warned Tamils against falling prey to the heinous designs of the anti-Muslim extremist monks who want to set the Tamils against the Tamil-speaking Muslims.

The Tamil politician from the Western Province is the leader of the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) and the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA). Mr Mano Ganesan is collaborating with the UNP and is part of the cabinet led by Ranil Wickramasinghe.

During the war, Muslims were tricked into working against the Tamils, and this caused a bitter conflict. Now, some forces, particularly a section of the monks, want to use Tamils against Muslims. Tamils should be extremely careful about this trend, he cautioned.

Mano Ganesan urged the attention of Tamils also towards the attempts by a very few extremists to cause a rift between the Tamil Catholics and Saivites in Mannaar.

Furthermore, the SL Minister of Hindu affairs wanted a mega coalition of all Tamil parliamentarians to defend the heritage rights of the Tamils in the entire island.

Page 58, The Tamil Community, Author: Prof S Pathmanathan
Page 58, The Tamil Community, Author: Prof S Pathmanathan
When questioned about the contradicting sophisticated historical narratives provided by the Tamil and Sinhala academics in, “People of Sri Lanka”, a book published by his ministry, the SL Minister stated that the Tamil language was widely used in the ancient times in the island. He said the Tamil heritage could not be second to anything else on the island.

“In the Proto Historic period the Tamil speaking Nagas had ended the stone age and introduced a mode of production that provided the basis of a civilization that was characteristic of Sri Lanka,” states the book in its introduction, which was co-authored by Professor S. Pathmanathan and Professor Malani Endagama.

A chapter authored by Professor S. Pathmanathan was reiterating that Nagas were Tamil-speaking and that the languages of the pre-Buddhist peoples of the island were Tamil and Prakrit.

However, the chapter authored by Malani Endagama was featuring a concluding section suggesting the genocidal ‘Sri Lankan’ modus operandi of the so-called ‘reconciliation’, sophisticatedly denies parity to the nation of Eezham Tamils. The Sinhala author advises all the other communities to opt for a sophisticated self-subjugation and uphold the ‘foremostness’ of the Sinhala Buddhist heritage in the island.

Page 53, The Sinhala Community, Author: Prof Malani Endagama
Page 53, The Sinhala Community, Author: Prof Malani Endagama

Controversial paragraphs twisting historiography inserted into the introduction without being in agr
Controversial paragraphs twisting historiography inserted into the introduction without being in agr
Controversial paragraphs twisting historiography inserted into the introduction without the knowledge of the co-author, Prof S. Pathmanathan, in the introduction of the book
Mr Mano Ganesan was upholding the parity of status to Tamil heritage in the interview.

If any Sinhalese dare to call Tamils as invaders or late-comers, they should know that they could be called invaders according to what they regard as their history as well, Mr Ganesan said.

Sangamita and Mahinda, who were believed to be the emissaries who landed in the island bringing Buddhism had stayed in South India for two years studying Tamil as it was the language they needed to know before arriving in the island, he said.

Furthermore, no one could deny Tamils using Eezham (īḻam) as a term of their identity, he said.

Tamils have long used the Eezham identity to denote the entire island for centuries.

The term [Eezha-siroanma'ni] is found in the Tamil version of the ‘Sri Lankan’ national anthem, the SL Minister said.

It is not the historical narratives of the past, but the initiative taken at present, aimed at a better future that matters, he said.

All parties must give a fair chance to dialogue. If genuine attempts for dialogue repeatedly failed, one should not hesitate to resist the suppression, Ganesan said. The SL Minister said he was also prepared to walk out or resign upon such failures.

The conduct of the Buddhist monk from Maradana who has encroached into the premises of the Neeraaviyadi Pi'l'laiyaar temple in Mullaith-theevu intending to construct a Sinhala Buddhist vihara was unacceptable. “He must be evicted from there,” Ganesan said.

The SL Director of Archaeology, who was present at a recent meeting he had with the SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, admitted in front of the SL President himself that there were no archaeological artefacts inside the premises of the Pi'l'laiyaar temple at Neeraaviyadi. The findings were only on the opposite side, across the road. Thus, the temple premises could not be appropriated to erect a Buddhist vihara. “Certain monks in robe behave like gods”, he quipped.

Even the act of locating any ancient Buddhist artefact in the North and East doesn't accord anyone the right to erect Sinhala Buddhist structures at these localities, he observed.

The heritage of Tamil Buddhism has only been an issue for some academics. However, he was the first politician to articulate it in the politics of the island, Ganesan claimed.

While being wholeheartedly ready to co-exist with other communities, the Tamils must also be prepared to demand their rights.

The Tamil politicians and lawyers who contribute to sustain and safeguard the sitting government should also come forward to defend the Tamil culture and identity.

There must be a broader forum for all Tamil parliamentarians, and they should sit and converse shedding away party politics at least to defend the collective rights of Tamils as a people in the island, the SL minister reiterated in his interview.

When asked about the allegations that his ministry was trying to compromise the coordination of the Non-Governmental and Community Based Organisations at the district level in the North-East as reported by TamilNet earlier, the SL Minister said he was also objecting the move. He had opposed the approach by rejecting a cabinet paper, especially after the NGO organisations had brought the consequences to his attention, Ganesan said.

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External Links:
SL Ministry For Integration, Languages Social Progress and Hindu Religious Affairs: Access to the book: “People of Sri Lanka”


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