Imatges de pÓgina

after the Angles, a leading branch of the Saxons, so the natives of this Island, as well as their language, received the appellation of Sinhala, from the Sinha (lion) race of kings who commenced to govern Lanka at the period above given. That upon the arrival of Wijeya he found in this Island a native tongue (we say “native" in order to distinguish it from the language which afterwards received the appellation of the invaders) there can exist, perhaps, but little doubt.

With a view, therefore, to ascertain the correctness of the above hypothesis, it is necessary to consider several questions, all which are intimately connected with each other, and which we have reduced to the following order: 1st, Whether the Island itself was inhabited before the æra to which we have alluded? 2ndly, If so, whether the aborigines became totally extinct upon Wijeya's arrival ? 3dly, If the language of the conqueror be either purely or in part the basis of the present Singhalese? and, 4thly, Whether the language now denominated the Singhalese, was the language of the original inhabitants of Lanka?

To the consideration of each of these questions, we shall now apply ourselves; and

1st, Whether the Island itself was inhabited before the Wijeyan eru

Sir William Jones, the eminent Orientalist, states, that Rama conquered Silan, 1810 B. C. If this were so, doubtless this Island was peopled at a very early period of the world. But the evidence relied on by Sir William Jones was, probably, that of the Ramayana,* an epic poem embodying the Hindu Mythology-a book which is of no authority t except

kamayana, or The adventures of Rama, is an epic poem io seven books, with potes in the Déva Nagara character. There are several works bearing the same title, and the appellation of Baharatta ; but the one written by Valmic is the most esteemed. •

# The following occurs in the Kaviasàkera : 6990 32C on... Dorcodgo)... godde.60...996 Çachisicogen so far as the matters therein stated are supported by extrinsic testimony. This account is, therefore, only rendered probable, by considering the age at which the Ramayana was written," and by coupling that circumstance with the existence of the Island itself to which allusion is made.

There is, however, one reason, and, we confess, a strong one, to induce us to believe that this Island was inhabited, if not at the time to which the Ramayana refers, at a later period—at all events before the arrival in it of Wijeya, 543 B. C.

Situated at no great distance from the Indian Peninsula, probably joined to it by an isthmus which has been washed away; and invited by the advantages which it possessed, amongst which were its Elephants and Pearls, not to mention the fertility of its soil, the salubrity of its climate, and the richness of its natural productions; it is but reasonable to suppose that the Indians (unquestionably a very ancient race of people) had settled in Ceylon before the period referred to; if indeed their settlement was not coëval with their occupation of India.

The same eminent scholar to whom we have already referred, in his Essay “On the history, Civil and Natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences and literature of the borderers, mountaineers, and islanders of Asia," states the result of his valuable investigations in the following terms:

“ We come back to the Indian islands and hasten to those which lie to the south-east of Silan or Taprobane; for Silan itself, as we know from the language, letters, religion, and old monuments of its various inhabitants, was peopled by the Hindu race, and formerly, perhaps, extended much farther to the west and south, so as to include Lanca or the Equinoctial point of the Indian Astronomers.” †

වත. . O wise! know ye that all vain talk, including the nonsense of the Ramayana and Bàralha is compounded of two ingredients.

* The precise date is perhaps not known; according to native chronicles: it was composed 2387 B. C., but at all events before the Wijeyan æra

† Sir W. Jones's works, vol. I. p. 120.

Our own history of the Island, though presenting a void before the arrival of Wijeya, and also enveloped in the clouds of fable, may yet be relied upon as to the naked fact that “Lanka was conquered by Wijeya” at the date above given, if not at a considerably subsequent period.

That erudite Pali scholar, the Hon'ble G. Turnour Esq. of the Ceylon Civil Service, in his Introduction to the Mahawanso, p. xliv. in referring to a period immediately preceding the epoch above given, says

“It would appear that the prevailing religion in Lanka, at that period, was the Demon or Yakko worship. Budhists have thence thought it proper to represent that the inhabitants were Yakhos or Demons themselves, and possessed of supernatural powers. Divested of the false colouring which is imparted to the whole of the early portion of the history of Lanka in the Mahawanso, by this fiction, the facts embodied in the narrative are perfectly consistent, and sustained by external evidence, as well as by surviving remnants of antiquity. No train of events can possibly bear a greater semblance of probability than that Wijeyo, at his landing, should have connected himself with the daughter of some Provincial Chieftain or Prince; by whose means he succeeded in overcoming the ruling powers of this Island; and that he should have repudiated her, and allied himself with the Sovereigns of Southern India, after his power was fully established in the Island.”

The following passage from Major Forbes' “ Eleven years in Ceylon,” throws still further light on this subject. He says (see vol. II. p. 83), “ To brighten the fame or palliate the aggressions of a conqueror, whose race gave a new name to Lanka, the Cinghalese have denounced the yakkos whom he attacked as identical with demons which they worshipped. These writers, however, do not conceal the fact, that, in the contentions for sovereign power that arose amongst the immediate successors of Vijeya, the assistance of the yakkos was eagerly sought for and duly rewarded.”

* We are fully impressed with the belief, almost amounting to a conviction in our minds, that the date of Wijeyo's arrival in Lanka “is antedated by a considerable term, for the purpose of supporting a pretended revelation or command of Budha.”– Vide Turpour's reasons for this belief in his Introduction to the Mahawanso, p. xliii.

Hence it will be perceived, that nearly all the writers on the early history of Ceylon are agreed, that this Island was inhabited before the Wijeyan æra.

* li ihese pages were autended suiciy iof the curopean, it would indeed geem highly preposterous to notice here a very strong belief entertained by the majority of the Budhist Schoolmen, out of respect for every thing which bas emanated from their forefathers, that the Yakhos, to whom we have alluded, were no other than demons.' But, since it is hoped that our labours may prove as acceptable to the Native as to the European, the following remarks, exclusively intended for the former, may not be out of place here.

It is then said by the natives, that these inhabitants were yakbos or devils. Now, the authority for such a belief is not contained in any Budhistical Scriptures, (in which case we could not legitimately confute the doctrine without establishing the unsoundness of their faith), but is to be found in the native historical records.

Mahanámo, the compiler of the Mahawanso says, (see Turnour's translation), that on the arrival of Wijeya, Lanka was the abode of Yakhos or devils. Now, assuming this to be his opinion,- for we cannot of course receive it as a faci- let us inquire if he be borne out in that opinion by the circumstances related of these Yakhos.

We may, in the first place, refer our readers to the absurdity involved in the considerations—that one of the Yakhos, (supposing them a race other than human,) could by her connexion with Wijeya bear him children, a son, Jiwahatto, and a daughter, Disala'-that the last was married to the former '--that they settled in the neighbourbood of mount Sumanta' (Adam's Peak), became numerous by their sons and daughters '_' were under the protection of Wijeya'-' and retained the attributes of the Yakhos.' Further, could they have been 'inhuman beings' in whose "vestments Wijeya and his followers dressed themselves'? Still supposing that they were 'inhuman invisible beings' (according to the historian), how, we inquire, came one of their number, Kuane, to be *80 terrifird as to implore of Wijeya that her life might be spared'? * to render unto him the favors of her ser '? and to partake of the residue of the meal bestowed on her by the Prince'? Even a Budhist, dispas

Without dwelling farther upon this part of the subject, to shew that the facts related of these Yakhos indubitably prove them to have been no spiritual beings; we may, in addition to the testimony contained upon this point in the several passages already selected from Turnour and Forbes, refer our readers to the opinion of the Rev. B. Clough (vide his Dictionary, vol. II. p. 2), who says, “ By these sanguinary demons we are unquestionably to understand the ancient Hindoo inhabitants, who first peopled the Island from the nearest shores of the Indian peninsula, and who professed the Brahminical religion, the cruel practices, and sacrificial rites of which, were sufficient to entail upon them the stigma of Rhakshos * from a Teacher who held the effusion of blood in perfect abhorrence.” sionately considering the subject, must admit that it is impossible, consistentiy with the doctrines of the creed common to him and the historian, to believe that Kuáne, who was a Yakkinni, and therefore was invisible and possessed of supernatural powers, was terrified; or, that a Yakkinni named Chetiya (the widow of Jutindaro a Yakbo), seeing Mahindo approach from behind. lost her presence of mind through fear,' unless he be prepared to divest the Yakkinni is either case of the spiritual character given her by the historian. We say it is impossible to believe that these were Yakkos, because, apart from other facts, "the fear " attributed to two of them, as above shewn, proves them to have been human beings. For, in the creed of the Budhist, a Yakho has no fear. Without multiplying authorities upon a matter on which we apprebend no difference or opinion, we may give the following passage from the Oumandawa.

The Pundit (Mahusada) then inquired of those who were there assembled, are mother's hearts tender towards children? Is the mother she who has the child in her arms ? or is it she who has let go her hands ?' They replied,

Lord, we do not know.' He then said, “Thou art a she-demon (Yakkinoi), thou hast taken the boy for the purpose of eating him.' She inquired • Lord, how bast thou koowo the fact ?' He replied, “ Because thou dost not wink-thou art fearless—and possessest no affections: for these reasons do I know it'-and inquired of her, “What art thou ?' She answered, 'Lord, I am a Yakkinoi.' "Why hast thou seized (the child)?' inquired the Pandit. • For the purpose of eating him, my Lord'-confessed the Yakkinni.

• Rhaksho'-is another term for Yaksha, derived from the 'to worship;' although some writeis derive the name from o ses to eat.'

« AnteriorContinua »