The Documented History of Jaffna

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The Documented History of Jaffna - the Yalpana Vypava Malai, and the historical works that predated it:

The Deepavamsa, Mahavamsa and Chulavamsa which chronicle the early history of Sri Lanka make very little reference to the Northern region of the country. The  history of the Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni region was for the first time documented during the Dutch occupation of Sri Lanka, when Jan Maccara - Commandant of Jaffnapatam, commissioned Mylvagana Pulavar of Mathakal to set down the history, and oral traditions of the area. The outcome was the “Yalpana Vypava Malai”. 

"Wikipedia" the free encyclopedia states the following on the Vaipava Malai. “The author says that he referred the following books:

  • the Kailaya Malai, 
  • the Vaiyai Padal 
  • the Pararajasekaran Ula
It is said that these books are composed not earlier than the fourteenth Century A. D., contain folklore; legends and myths mixed with historical anecdotes. Today, except for the Kailaya Malai which has been printed, and a few manuscript copies of the Vaiya Padal, the other works are very rare and hardly procurable.”

It should be noted that Mylvaganam was a poet, and not a scholar who had been trained in the discipline of historical research. Hence the Vaipava Malai like the Mahawamsa, though containing many historical truths and  traditions cannot be accepted in its entirety. Not only are there chronological errors, especially when narrating the last phase of the Tamil kingdom,but there seems to be some confusion regarding historical personages being referred to therein. At times the author has even taken liberties with history, and has created his own stories in order to establish certain traditional beliefs.

  The Yalpana Vypava Malai which lay forgotten during the early British occupation was discovered and translated into English by C. Brito and first published in English in 1879. This was followed by some reprints in Tamil, the best known was a reprint in Tamil edited by Mudaliyar Kula Sabanathan which appeared in 1953.


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Sabapathy Like the Mahavamsa and the Deepavamsa for the Sinhala people the Vaipava Malai is the main publication which allows modern day historian to understand what is was like in the Kingdom of Jaffna and Vanni. I believe that to try and discredit Mylvaganam on the basis that he was not a trained historian is not correct.

However you have mentioned that the last days of the Kingdom of Jaffna have been distorted. Here you must mean the whole affair regarding King Sankili.

Can you please highlight what you belive the true account is and can we compare and see what "creative additions" have been introduced by Mylvaganam. It may be that the discrepancy was introduced during the translation?

Please respond!
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