Thursday, July 3, 2008

History of Tamils in Malaya:Long before Migration During British Colonization

Truths that never written in our history texts book.

Malaysian Indians are a group of Malaysians largely descended from those who migrated from southern India during the British colonization of Malaya. Prior to British colonization, Tamils had been conspicuous in the archipelago much earlier, especially since the period of the powerful South India kingdom of the Cholas in the 11th century. By that time, Tamils were among the most important trading peoples of maritime Asia.


Chola territories during Rajendra Chola I, c. 1030

Here is evidence of the existence of Indianized kingdoms such as Gangga Negara, Old Kedah, Srivijaya since approximately 1500 years ago. Early contact between the kingdoms of Tamilakkam and the Malay peninsula had been very close during the regimes of the Pallava Kings (from the 4th to the 9th Century C.E.) and Chola kings (from the 9th to the 13th Century C.E.). The trade relations the Tamil merchants had with the ports of Malaya led to the emergence of Indianized kingdoms like Kadaram (Old Kedah) and Langkasugam. Furthermore, Chola king Rajendra Chola I sent an expedition to Kadaram (Sri Vijaya) during the 11th century conquering that country on behalf of one of its rulers who sought his protection and to have established him on the throne. The Cholas had a powerful merchant and naval fleet in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Three kinds of craft are distinguished by the author of the Periplus – light coasting boats for local traffic, larger vessels of a more complicated structure and greater carrying capacity, and lastly the big ocean-going vessels that made the voyages to Malaya, Sumatra, and the Ganges.

Inscriptions and place names

A good number of Tamil inscriptions as well as Hindu and Buddhist icons emanating from South India have been found in Southeast Asia (and even in parts of south China). On the Malay Peninsula, inscriptions have been found at Takuapa, not far from the Vishnuite statues of Khao Phra Narai in Southern Thailand. It is a short inscription indicating that an artificial lake named Avani-naranam was dug by nangur-Udaiyan which is the name of an individual who possessed a military fief at Nangur, being famous for his abilities as a warrior, and that the lake was placed under the protection of the members of the Manikkiramam (which according to K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, was a merchant guild) living in the military camp.[4]

An inscription dated 779 A.D. has been found in Ligor, Malaya peninsula. This refers to the trade relationship between the Tamil country and Malaya.[5] In ancient Kedah there is an inscription found by Dr. Quaritch Wales. It is an inscribed stone bar, rectangular in shape, bears the ye-dharmma formula in South Indian characters of the fourth century A.D., thus proclaiming the Buddhist character of the shrine near the find-spot (site I) of which only the basement survives. The inscriptions are on three faces in Pallava script, or Vatteluttu rounded writing of the sixth century A.D.[6] In another area in Kedah there was another inscription found in Sanskrit dated 1086 A.D. has been found. This was left by Kulothunka Chola I (of the Chola empire, Tamil country). This too shows the commercial contacts the Chola Empire had with Malaya.[5]

All these inscriptions, both Tamil and Sanskrit ones, relate to the activities of the people and rulers of the Tamil country of South India. The Tamil inscriptions are at least 4 centuries posterior to the Sanskrit inscriptions, from which the early Tamils themselves were patronizers of the Sanskrit language.[5]

Some malays call Indians "keling' which is malayanised name for Kalinga-ancient andra kingdom.In Sejarah Melayu,annals of malay history,India is called "benua keling".It is said that,a malay warrior,Hang Tuah,visited india, presumably Kingdom of Vijayanagar,a Telugu kingdom which was ruling entire south india in 15th century.Sejarah Melayu also traces the ancestry of their sultans to "BENUA KELING". The word "Keling" is highly pejorative and extremely offensive to Indians,but this is because of status of Indians in Malaysia today,being a poorer community(compared to malays and Chinese) with high crime rate.

Tamil words in Malay

A very essential cultural element needed to carry out commercial transactions is a common language understood by all parties involved in early trade. Historians such as J.V. Sebastian, K.T. Thirunavukkarasu, and A.W. Hamilton record that Tamil was the common language of commerce in Malaysia and Indonesia during historical times. The maritime Tamil significance in Sumatran and Malay Peninsula trading continued for centuries and borrowings into Malay from Tamil increased between the 15th and 19th centuries due to their commercial activities. In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company was obliged to use Tamil as part of its correspondence. In Malacca and other seaports up to the 19th century, Malay terminology pertaining to book-keeping and accountancy was still largely Tamil.

Borrowings from Tamil include such everyday words as:.

Tamil Malay English
akka kakak elder sister
kadai kedai shop
kappal kapal ship
katikam ketika minute
muthu mutiara pearl
nagaram negara country
purva purba ancient
raja raja king
suniyam sunyi empty/silence
tali tali string
udayam udaya rise
vakai bagai kind

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