HELA NATION OF HELADIVA
Natural Law on Sovereignty
Indigenous cultures enjoy a timeless relationship with their land of evolution that uniquely characterises their culture. It is self-evident that an indigenous culture cannot thrive anywhere else in the world, except on its own land of evolution. Therefore, an indigenous culture has an unalienable, natural right of sovereignty to its land of evolution.
Our Hela culture evolved in Heladiva (Island of the Hela) and in no other place on Earth. As the indigenous culture of Heladiva, our Hela culture has the unalienable, natural right of sovereignty over all other non-indigenous cultures in Heladiva. Everyone who lives or visits Heladiva has a duty to respect and uphold the sovereignty of the Hela culture: its language, its values and its traditions.
How our sovereignty eroded over time...
In the distant past, militant dynasties from southern India (Tamil Nadu) threatened our sovereignty on many occasions. Sovereignty is paramount to the Hela. Whenever our sovereignty was threatened or temporarily lost, it was always restored by the great kings of Heladiva. In recent history, however, with the arrival of foreign traders to our shores, our sovereignty was threatened and systematically eroded.
Invasions of the traders
A map compiled by Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD, depicts the importance of Heladiva as a major ancient trading post; of gems, spices, rice and metals as well as being at the cross roads of east-west trade. In Ptolemy's map, Heladiva ('Taprobana') is depicted with an area many times more than the actual size of the Island. In the same map, the Indian subcontinent looks less significant in comparison.
Heladiva renowned in the past as the ‘granary of the east’. Historical records show that the Hela exported rice to China from the port in Puhul Motay (‘Pulmudday’). With trade on such a large scale, many people from distant nations arrived on our shores. E.g. Fa Hsien (Record of Buddhist Countries, AD 414) and Marco Polo (Il Milione, AD 1292).
In the 12th and 13th century AD, Arab traders had discovered the riches of Heladiva and traded goods at Kalani Thota on the Kalani river and called this trading post 'Kalambu'. Ibn Battuta, in the year 1340 AD describes 'Kalambu' as the ‘finest and largest city in 'Serendib’. The Arab traders brought with them their religion of Islam.
As the Hela Kings progressively moved the Island's capital south, infrastructure built by the Hela kings of the past was neglected, and soon fell into disrepair. As hardship increased due to an insufficient supply of water, the Hela abandoned their ancestral villages in the north and north-east. The vacuum thus created was soon filled by Tamil traders (from Tamil Nadu, southern India) who began settling on the north and north-east of the Island. Having difficulty with the pronunciation of Hela names for places, these non-indigenous people would soon add their distinctively Tamil pronunciation so that, for example, Wavu Nimava became ‘Vavuniya’, Mulla Doova became ‘Mulativu’, Bodi Wila became ‘Pottu vill’ and Kakulawa became ‘Kokilai’ to name but just a few. (See: Hela Place Names MAP).
In 1505, a Portuguese fleet commanded by Lourenco de Almeida landed on the Island. After their arrival in Kalani Thota ('Kalambu') the Portuguese recorded the name of the port city as ‘Colombo’ and referred to Heladiva as 'Ceilao', which is not dissimilar to the Arab word 'Serendib'. The Portuguese later introduced their religion of Roman Catholicism to Heladiva. Interestingly, the Portuguese sacked an illegal Tamil administration on the north of the Island (set up by descendants of the Tamil traders) and helped to uphold the sovereignty to the Island.
In 1658, the Dutch East India Company (VOC - Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) finally expelled the Portuguese with the help of the so called 'Treaty of Friendship' of 1638 with the Sinhela King Rajasingha I. The Dutch referred to their new business asset Heladiva, as ‘Zelon’. For the areas they occupied, the Dutch implemented a judicial system that interestingly had a different legal code for the Hela and each ethnic group on the Island. They also introduced their religion of Protestant Christianity.
The British in 1796 ousted the Dutch and started operations of the British East India Company. The British went one better than her European counterparts and referred to the Island as 'Ceylon' despite recording the name of the country as ‘Sinhelé’ in the 1815 treaty at the Great City of Kandy. (The British referred to the Hela as ‘Singhalese’, and later 'Ceylonese'). With the signing of the 1815 treaty, the entire Island fell into the hands of a foreign nation for the first time in its history, and with it the 2500 year old Sinhela royal dynasty came to an abrupt end.
The last Hela King Rajasingha II, and his royal palace in Maha Nuwara (Great City) - 'Kandy'.
Having established their dominance, the British East India Company began to plant the alien cash crops of Coffee and Tea. For profitability, these commodities required a cheap labour force. The Hela refused to work on these plantations as it was against their deep held values of humanity, wisdom and self-sufficiency. The Hela detested the mass growing of single crops that offered no benefit to them, their land or to their nutrition. So the British brought in indentured Tamil labour from Tamil Nadu (Southern, India - Circa 1839) to work on these plantations.
During the British occupation vast hectares of virgin land in the hill country were bought from the Hela on 99-year leases. Where the land was refused to be sold, the British declared these lands as Crown land. When the leases expired they were never renewed nor was the land given back to its rightful owners. The cash crop of tea not only changed the demography of the Island with a foreign labour force, it also changed the ecology of the central mountains that were hitherto preserved as rain-catchment areas (or the 'rain-sponge' of the Island) by royal patronage. The economy of the Island too, dramatically changed from 'self-sufficient-agrarian' to 'dependent-commercial'.
The British soon implemented their 'divide and conquer' policy favouring the ethnic Tamil community with many privileges over and above the indigenous Hela, and this resulted in much discontent among the Hela. The British continued with a racially discriminatory Dutch law (‘Thesawalama Law’) that was a gross violation of the sovereignty of the Hela. This ‘apartheid' type law (that can still be enforced today for the benefit of ethnic Tamil community) deprives the indigenous Hela from purchasing land in the northern province of their own Island. It violates international law and norms including the laws of England and the Netherlands.
During British rule, the sovereignty of 2500 year old Buddhist tradition declined. Thanks to noblemen like Anagarika Dharmapala and Olcott, Buddhism regained much of its following but sovereignty for the Buddhist tradition was never completely restored. The head of state in Heladiva remains to be affirmed as the 'defender of the faith' (as it is in England and many other countries).
Great efforts, however, were made by Hela scholars like Kumaratunga Munidasa and Arisen Ahubudu (in subsequent years) to uphold the Hela language. Their significant efforts and prodigious literary contributions to Hela culture remains as a priceless treasure.
In 1948 a so-called ‘independence’ was given with the Soulbury constitution authored by the British. This constitution grossly violated the sovereignty of the indigenous Hela by stipulating that no one culture or religion in ‘Ceylon’ could have precedence over another. So the Hela Culture with legitimate sovereignty became just another culture in an Island call ‘Ceylon’.
In recent times, our sovereignty and territorial integrity was tested severely by groups of militant Tamils who were resourced by several foreign powers for their Geo-political gain. This armed conflict (1983-2009) was waged as a 'freedom struggle for Tamil self-determination'. To have described the conflict in this way was grossly erroneous.
A freedom struggle for Tamil self-determination can only be waged in Tamil Nadu (in the Tamil country), and not in Heladiva or anywhere else in the entire world. One can only legitimately free one's own motherland. This misunderstanding of the natural law of sovereignty cost countless lives, and it served only to further the Geo-political interests of the foreign powers involved.
Why our sovereignty was never re-established...
With over 400 years of European occupation, many of the Hela adopted European ways and manners. When the British left, they handed the administration of our Island to a social elite whose values and attitudes reflected the British and not the majority indigenous Hela. To many of this elite, Hela values and traditions were somewhat alien concepts. They were mostly interested in preserving the status quo. So, the eroded Hela sovereignty was never re-established.
"I thought of the way in which all native ways of courtesy and beauty are daily more and more despised, and free and easy European manners assumed by the well-to-do English speaking native; and I know to be a part of what is happening all the world over, the continued continual destruction of national character and individuality and art by the ceaseless pressure of what in bitter unconscious irony is called the civilising factor; the deadening of a new and dull ideal of prosperity…. The losing of old virtues in the half eager, half sullen assumption of other ways and manners."
- "Borrowed Plumes" by Ananda. K.Coomaraswamy quoting an essay by Fiona Mcleod Ceylon Daily News, 3 April 1963.
Following independence, ethnic Tamils and the Moors (Muslims) were allowed to establish racially based political parties in Heladiva. Their leaders when elected to parliament have on occasions refused to take the oath for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Their constant demands that violate the sovereignty of the indigenous Hela culture have been entertained for personal and political gain.
In 1972, the SLFP coalition government gave a new name to our Island: ‘Sri Lanka’, which is an Indian literary description for Heladiva meaning 'resplendent'. This suited the SLFP because the country and their party now had the same name. This self-serving act served to further erode our Hela sovereignty .
The British left us with their adversarial 'parliamentary system of democracy', which has served only to divide the Hela Nation between two major political parties. Without the vote of ethnic minority communities (especially that of the largest ethnic community - the Tamils) these parties have been unable to form government. Repeatedly making promises to gain power, all political parties that have gained power have failed both the Hela majority and the ethnic minorities, deceiving them all.
The failure of successive governments to restore Hela sovereignty as well as their past failures to govern equitably in a socially just manner gave ammunition for ethnic extremist groups to leverage popular discontent and start an armed conflict. The conflict was fueled and escalated by foreign powers for their Geo-politcal gain and as a result it lasted almost 30 years. Thanks to our sons and daughters of the armed forces, territorial integrity of Heladiva was restored and peace and harmony prevails today.
Sovereignty for the Hela Nation, however, remains a goal to be achieved.
It is time to restore sovereignty to the indigenous Hela Nation
We the Hela of Heladiva
We the Hela are the indigenous people of the Island presently known as Sri Lanka. The ancient word Hela means 'pristine' or 'the pristine people'. The meaning does not convey a sense of racial superiority. On the contrary, it refers to the positive human qualities of 'unpolluted', 'incorruptible', 'authentic' and 'genuine'.
We the Hela have lived on our Island Heladiva for many millennia. Our uninterrupted history on the Island is to be found in our oral tradition, written texts, ancient monuments and archeological evidence. Our history includes many royal dynasties on the Island: the first that began with King Manu (Manu royal dynasty) and the last that began with King Vijaya (Sinhela royal dynasty).
We the Hela have an uninterrupted and inalienable relationship with our Island of evolution, Heladiva.
Our Hela culture is sovereign on our Island of Heladiva.