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The mere fact that Indian traders came so frequently to Ceylon that vessels were known to be often wrecked on the coasts, proves, without any other evidence, that many natives were in a far more advanced state that the present wild dwellers in the eastern forests, with whom no regular trade could be possible. Permanent trading centres must have been established at fixed and well-known points on the coast, near native settlements, at which the vessels called, and to which the articles produced in the country would be conveyed for barter with the adventurous merchants who came for them with the monsoon winds. All this must necessarily follow if such traders came to Ceylon; and that they did visit the island is confirmed by the presence of the natives of the Ganges valley as settlers in the fifth century B.C. It is impossible that these settlers were the first persons to visit Ceylon from Magadha. The Magadhese were a nation of traders (as the Ordinances of Manu tell us), and probably knew all the coasts of the Bay of Bengal. If they were acquainted with the voyage to Burma they would experience no greater difficulty in finding their way down the Indian coast to Ceylon. In the Sussondi Jātaka (No. 360) merchants are stated to have proceeded by water from Benares to Nāgadīpa, that is, northern Ceylon, in former times.
If some of the inhabitants were carrying on a trade with Indian merchants, and their rulers were considered by the Sinhalese sovereigns to be sufficiently civilised to associate with them, we may still surmise that a great number of the natives continued to gain a living wholly or partly as hunters, leading while in the forests the same wild life as their descendants of the present day.
The annalists evidently believed that no rice was grown in the country before Wijaya's time, since they specially explain that the rice which was cooked for travellers when they landed was procured from stores brought by ships that were wrecked on the coast. According to the custom or law regarding such matters in other countries, of which many examples might be quoted, these wrecked vessels would be looked upon as lawful prizes, either sent by their Gods for their special benefit, or rejected by the God who ruled over the waters.
I assume that as the newcomers from the Ganges valley, introducing various arts of their own country, settled down permanently, and exhibited a more stable form of civilisation than that of the aborigines, they must necessarily have intermarried with the more advanced natives. While they were being gradually absorbed by them—which would not occupy a long period after immigration, which was probably never extensive, from the Ganges valley ceased-they imparted to them their own culture, and to a great extent their language. But the physique, and colour, and hunting proclivities remained unchanged. Many of the villagers of the North-central and North-western Provinces merely require to be sent to live in the forests in order to become once more practically the same Forest Vaeddas who lived by hunting before the time of Wijaya. If these people were isolated in the forests for a very short period, I am sure that in most respects they would be indistinguishable from the Vaeddas, just as the Wanniyas resemble them. It would be an unavoidable result of the environment. They could make neither pottery, nor iron or stone implements 1; and dogs would be the only domestic animals that they could retain in the forests. All Sinhalese and Wanniya hunters lead the life of the Forest Vaeddas after they leave their villages on their hunting expeditions, carrying only a small bag of millet-flour, gourds for water, an axe, a knife, and usually, but not always, either a gun or bows and arrows. They all anticipate such a life with pleasure; they are still Vaeddas at heart. They dress almost like the Vaeddas, and get the same food in the very same manner.
This shows that the appliances of the Vaeddas are such as are best suited to their forest life, and that the absence of others is not a proof that they are the lowest savages. It only proves that they have practically all the implements that are necessary in these dense forests. I cannot imagine that any others but the knife would be of the least use to such hunters.
The omission to keep any record of time, whether days of the week, or months, or years, cannot be considered to be If the potters and smiths were excluded.
conclusive evidence of a primitive state. I found it equally
'When Atlas-born, the Pleiad stars arise
'Tis time to reap; and when at sunrise now
They sink beneath the West, 'tis time to plough.'
The small cranial capacity of the Vaeddas is not a proof of their low intellectual status. Dr. Virchow has shown that the size of the brain in four Tamil skulls is practically identical with theirs, and he states that other South-Indian skulls are similar. No one, I presume, will venture to maintain that the Tamils, or rather the Dravidians, are not a highly intellectual race, to whom India possibly owes a part of its present culture. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Caldwell, the greatest authority on the subject, said in the Preface to his Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, 'It is impossible for any European who has acquired a competent knowledge of any of the Dravidian languages-say Tamil-to regard otherwise than with respect the intellectual capacity of a people amongst whom so wonderful an organ of thought has been developed' (2nd ed., p. ix). M. de Quatrefages also remarked that 'the development of the intellectual faculties of man is to a great extent independent of the capacity of the cranium, and the volume of the brain.'1 As to the opinion which is sometimes expressed regarding the intellectual effect of variously proportioned brains, there is nothing to show that the Vaedda cranium is inferior in mental power to that of other dolichocephalic people. As a matter of fact, it is open to doubt if the mere proportions of the cranium are more than insignificant factors in the case. Bra1 The Human Species, p. 384.
chycephalic races are not necessarily of greater mental power than dolichocephalic races. Thus the Lapps are at the limit of brachycephaly, with a cranial index of 85; and Mongols, Turks, Javanese, North Americans and even Andaman Islanders have a higher index than Parisians.1
In dealing with the position of the Vaeddas, we are faced with this difficulty-that a portion of the race was relatively civilised in ancient times, while certain members of it are found at the present day almost in the state occupied by some of the most primitive peoples. We must adopt a theory which will include all the facts of the case; and not one which ignores some of the most important and significant and incontrovertible historical details and traditions. We cannot select the smallest and wildest group of Vaeddas, and because of their simple life as hunters place the whole race in the position which they continue to occupy, not because, like the aborigines of Australia and the Andamans, they are intellectually incapable of rising above it, which the example of the others has completely disproved, but partly by accident and partly of their own free choice.
My conclusion therefore is that whether there has been any retrogression of the present Forest Vaeddas from a certain low state of civilisation or not, in very early times a great part of the race had reached a much more advanced state of culture than the wilder members of it, whose more or less isolated life either as hunters, or as hunters-and-villagers, did not in many cases induce them to feel any desire to participate in it. This more civilised portion has absorbed the Gangetic settlers, and acquired their status and language, and with some intermixture of Dravidian blood, or in many instances without it, has become the existing Kandian Sinhalese race.
The ancestors of the present few hunting Vaeddas-who now most probably number much less than one hundred-either abandoned, some centuries after Christ, a form of village life in which they were partly or chiefly hunters, and reverted to the forest life of their forefathers; or, like some of the wild hunting tribes of the South Indian hills, remained, at least until very 1 Topinard, quoting Broca and Hamy, in Anthropology, pp. 241, 242.
recent years, in nearly the original condition of the first comers to Ceylon, apparently simply because they preferred the free untrammelled life in the woods, and found their accustomed habits and household articles suited to all the requirements of a hunter's existence in the forests of Ceylon. The evidence afforded by the caves appears to me to be in favour of the former theory, which is also supported by the loss of their original language and their adoption of the Sinhalese tongue.
The majority, however, of those who did not coalesce with the Gangetic settlers and their descendants, or accept their mode of life and culture, have, in comparatively modern times,1 and in certain instances partly through compulsion—since portions of the forests in which they were accustomed to hunt have been cut down in order to permit rice and millet cultivation-to some extent adopted the more civilised existence of their neighbours. Many keep buffaloes, and all but those few who live only by hunting and fishing, grow millet and other plants suited to their jungle clearings. An exceptional few in favourable sites for it even cultivate rice, and, as some of them informed me, in recent years have settled down permanently and have planted such fruit trees as Coconuts, Areka-nuts, and Plantains about their houses.
No arguments of the supporters of the hypothesis that the Vaeddas are, at the best, on a level with the Andamanese and Australians' (which must imply an incapacity for intellectual development), can lay aside the examples which have been given of their high status in former times. Historical facts such as these must necessarily supersede any theories that are not in accordance with them; if the theories do not agree with the facts, so much the worse for the theories.
1 As an example, I may note that according to Sir Emerson Tennent a number of Forest (or, as he terms them, Rock) Vaeddas settled down in hamlets between 1840 and 1850, at one of which there were twentyfive families. He adds, it may thus be said that the distinction of the Rock Vaeddas has ceased to exist in that part of the country; all having more or less adopted the customs and habits of villagers.' (Ceylon, 2nd ed., Vol. ii, p. 447.)