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Tamils in Sri Lanka

A Comprehensive History (C. 300 B.C. - C. 2000 A.D.)


By Dr Murugar Gunasingam


ISBN-10: 1500488097

ISBN-13: 978-1500488093

ASIN: B00KAU5PK0 (Kindle)


Tamils in Sri Lanka - A Comprehensive History


This book is a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils, their territories, their politics, religion, language, socio-economics, art, literature and culture.


Until the publication of this book, based on historical evidence, the Tamils' struggle for freedom has not been understood in its true light by those engaged in research, the majority of academics, politicians and ordinary people.


The existing primary sources were not sufficient to write such an historical work. The author, in order to gather incontrovertible evidence, visited various archives, libraries, state institutions and university research centres located in the countries that are closely related to the history of Sri Lankan Tamils. These include India, Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States of America. This invaluable material has been compiled for the first time in this book.


Dr Murugar Gunasingam


Dr Murugar Gunasingam has written four research books including the critically acclaimed 'Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: A Study of its Origins' and 'Tamils in Sri Lanka: A Comprehensive History (C. 300 B.C. - C. 2000 AD)'. Gunasingam gained a Ph.D in History from the University of Sydney, under the Australian Post-graduate Scholarship Award. He also received a Masters degree from the University of London.


Gunasingam currently works as a research fellow at the South Asian Studies Centre, Sydney. He has also served Charles Stuart University, the University of Western Sydney and the University of Jaffna throughout his career.




This book by the Australian Tamil academic sets out to provide a comprehensive history of the Tamils of Sri Lanka from 300 BC to 2000 AD. Philip Guedella, the British history writer has said that "Historians repeat each other". Dr Gunasingam has avoided this by using primary sources of information as far as possible, instead of repeating what other historians have already written.


To obtain this primary source information, Dr Gunasingam spent nearly a year travelling to many countries such as USA, UK, Holland, France, Portugal, India and Sri Lanka. He visited leading Libraries, Universities and archival collections and obtained microfilms and microfiches of colonial records relevant to the history of the Tamils of Sri Lanka. The net result is a book which contains a wealth of primary source information, much of which has never been published previously.


Eric Hobsbawm, was one of the world's leading historians of the twentieth century. He was President of Birkbeck College, which is a constituent college of the University of London, until he died at the age of 95 years, two years ago. In his autobiography, written about ten years ago, he says "Historians should not write only for other historians". He goes on to say that "Understanding history is as important for citizens as for experts". Dr Gunasingam's work exemplifies these dicta. The book can be read at two levels. For ordinary readers it can be read as the simple story of the history of Tamils of Sri Lanka. On the other hand, it is a valuable source book for any historian or student of history who wants to further study the many questions that are raised in the book. There are a total of about 1300 cross references on page after page where Dr Gunasingam refers to matters which require further investigation and study.


Dr Gunasingam has repeatedly stated in his book - that there are many unknown chapters in the history of the Tamils of Sri Lanka that require further research and study by present and future generations of historians and archaeologists. This book, written in clear English, is commended as a valuable addition to the bookshelf of all those who are interested in this subject.

















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