There are some books I don't have time to read,
but friends and others bombard me with their books for me to
review in the newspapers. I am particularly interested in
reading fiction and literary criticism, philosophy and
sociology, history, languages and the like. I do not much care
for political commentaries. And yet I receive books in Thamil
and English on such subjects too. May I claim that I am a
discriminating reader? I have to choose therefore books to read
before I decide to write about them or review them. Ironically
some of these books are translations in Thamil of books either
originally written in Sinhala or English.
Take for instance, the two books in Thamil I
received from the Centre for Alternative Policies -"Sri Lanka's
National Ethnic Problems and Solutions" ( Ilankayin Deshiya
Inaththuva Prachanaikalum Athatkana Theervukalum) compiled by
Lionel Guruge and`A0 "Towards Peace" (Samaathana Valiyil).
Attractively produced these books could be illuminating to
readers who are not affected very badly by the political
situation in this country for nearly half a century. But aren't
we all suffering by the onslaughts of the perpetrators of the
'Unenlightened' lot amidst us despite the fact we live in a land
blessed by the Enlightened One. Thinking of the Lord Buddha, the
Enlightened One, whose preaching of the eightfold noble path and
the 'Panchaseela' which the majority of the people in our
country profess, I was gratified reading the same piece of
writing by the erudite and former diplomat, K.Godage in the
Midweek Magazine of The Island (May 25,2005).
Fine. Let's get back to the two books mentioned
above. First, let's take the one on National Ethnic Problems.
Two Books on Ethnic Problems
The book has 10 chapters with two notes by well
known media persons, Sunanda Deshapriya and Lionel Gorge.
Sunanda Deshapriya says that this book is
written in a language that could be clearly understood by
everybody of the complex problems confronting particularly the
Thamilians and how the Sinhalas belonging to the majority
community failed to meet and solve the problems of the
minorities. The need for sharing power is basic to solve
political problems and they are explained in this booklet. He
expects that this book would be useful to those who want to take
the peace moves forward.
Lionel Guruge in his introduction says that the
rulers have avoided for some tine granting the rights of the
Thamilians and their anti-democratic administrative machinery
had led the Thamilians lose confidence in democracy.
Incidentally the journalists and others who
write in Thamil in this country ape the Thamilnadu journalists
translating the word 'intellectuals' as 'Buddhi Jeevihal". This
is erroneous. I hate this usage. 'Buddhi Jeevihal' means 'those
living by their brains'. How absurd! So, what should be the
correct term for 'intellectuals' in Thamil?`A0 I prefer the term
"Aaivarivalarhal" as originally used by the Lankan Thamilian
intellectual, the late K.Kailasapathy.
Why bring in this nomenclature or language usage
problem here? It is because the compiler says that the book was
submitted to "Buddhi Jeevikal" And their advice was sought in
the compilation. And who were these 'intellectuals'?
Prof.Jayantha Seneviratne, Dr Jayadeva Uyangoda, Attorney Siral
Lakthilaka, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, Sarojini Sivachandran,
N.M.Ameen,Ravindra Chandralal, Sunila Abeysekera,
S.Sivagurunathan,M.K.Raghulan, Fathima Shiroz, Sasikumar, Sumika
There are 10 chapters in this book: The
Background to the Ethnic Problem, The Sinhala Only Act for the
Whole Nation, Special Provisions Act to use Thamil, 1985 Thimbu
Talks, The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, The
Constitutional Ordinance from 1997 to 2000, The Muslim factors,
The MOU between the Government and the Liberation Tigers, The
current clashes and the provisions for sharing of power.
Admittedly the book gives the pattern of Lankan
politics during the past 75 years in a chronological order in
simple language that is free from academic jargon.
The next book is by Dr.Paakiasothy (forgive me
if I haven't got the spelling of his name correct) Saravanamuttu.
The head of the centre has a Thamil name, but understandably he
doesn't know Thamil - so it was gratifying to see his views
translated into Thamil. Dr P S writes in English. He used to be
a political commentator for the "Sunday Leader" and he also has
deep interest in the arts and literature. There are 13 articles
by him written after February 2, 2002, the date of signing of an
agreement between the SLG and the Liberation Tigers.
S.Sivagurunathan, a tri-lingual translator working for the CPA
rightly says that this book would help to carry forward the
peace moves between the warring factions taking into
consideration various factors.
To obtain these books please contact by
telephone: 2565304 -6
Common Mother Tongue
The next book has a longish title: " The
Discovery of the Common Mother Tongue of Briton, Lanka & Babylon
(What they didn't teach at any University). And the author is
Who is the writer of this fascinating book/ the
Abubucker Gammahelagedera Mohamedali Abdul Wahid
when had worked as Consultant to the Ministry of Transport
writes articles to local and foreign journals, and way back in
1987 "The Island" has serialized his treatise submitted for
membership to the Chartered Institute for Transport, London. He
was awarded a Colombo plan scholarship to the Philippines and a
World Bank Scholarship to England and extended to Germany,
France and Switzerland and many more feathers to his credit.
Written History is against all of us
What he says about History should be borne in
mind especially when we are all now suffering for ages now on
account of myths, exaggeration and half truths in the name of
'recorded history of Sri Lanka'. Facts are interpreted and
distorted and there are missing pages in Lankan history and a
whole lot of generations during the past half century got into
their psyche that all other communities in this country other
than the major community are 'aliens', not knowing or willing to
admit that a greater percentage of our major communities come
from the southern part of India and from Orissa bordering the
Andhra Pradesh in India. We are an admixture nation of the same
ethnic community although our languages might be different.
My assumption, although I cannot substantiate
them, is that there were a lot of Thamilians who were originally
Sinhala or Sanskrit or Pali speaking and a lot of Sinhalas were
originally Thamil speaking. Many Thamilians used Pali and became
Buddhist monks in South, they wrote Grammar works in Sinhala.
The composition of our major communities includes descendants
from Thamilians, Andhras, Kannadigas and Malayalees. If you look
at the Sinhala script, it looks like the alphabets in Kannada.
If we trace our food habits, customs, art forms we could trace
the Kerala influence. The eastern Thamilians have a lot of
affinity with the Malayalees. And the speech patterns of the
northern Thamilians are akin to the Malayalam nuances.
Writer Wahid says"
* History should be on facts, truths and
* History should not be based on fictitious
fables, half truths, hearsay, stories, imagination or wishful
thinking of interested parties.
* History should conform to: the laws of nature,
the laws of gravity and the laws of science.
The book has 6 chapters: Common Words of
Britain, Lanka and Babylon; Babylon in Lanka; Places in Lanka
bear Babylonian Names; Riddle of the Lost Language of Lanka;
Language Studies; and Myths & Legends: and who were the
Celts.`A0 The book also gives other names for Briton and Sri
Lanka. There are two appendixes: The First Human Rights Law and
the Official titles for Sri Lanka.
The author names "SABRIL" as the common mother
tongue of Briton, Lanka and Babylon. 3000 common words are
Oldest language of the world
A.M. A. Wahid writes: "The Sumer-Akkadians of
Babylonia were the first in the world to keep records of their
languages and also their other achievements in Cuneiform script
on clay books. The Cuneiform script itself was invented in Sumer
in C 3000 B C ( or 5000 years ago) and was the first script ever
invented on earth."
Honestly, I cannot give you a critical
assessment of the book as I am neither a historian nor
knowledgeable in linguistics. It is our learned academics and
scholars in languages and literature who could pass judgment on
the book. As for me I enjoyed reading it to gather some
information which I did not know previously.
This book was published in 2003 and neither the
name of the publisher nor is the address of the writer given in
the book. Perhaps telephone contact number could be of help:
This columnist contact number 2587617or