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International - October 19, 2017

A historical note on India – Sri Lanka relations

BY ANWARUL HODA

Sri Lanka is an island country spread in 25, 330 sq.mi. It is located in the southeast of India. The country is culturally rich and home to several ethnicities and languages. Majority of Lankan population practice Buddhism which traveled from India in very early period of Buddhism.

The country island has a very extensive historical record of civilisational existence in the prehistoric era. The country also finds mention in Hindu mythological book Ramayana. Historical records also suggest that the country island had an association with Israeli King Solomon whose region dated during 970–931 BCE.

 

In modern-day Sri Lanka is a diverse country in terms of religious existence. Buddhism a major religion with 70 percent of Sri Lankan population following the Buddha. Hinduism is the second major religion is mostly practiced by Tamil settlers which predate before the Buddhism advent to the country. Muslims and Christians too have significant representation.

The cultural Buddhism heritage is deeply rooted in Lankan society. In fact, it has the longest continuous history of Buddhism in comparison to any predominately Buddhist nation. The unbroken lineage of Buddhist monks since its introduction in the 2nd century BCE is exceptionally unique. The first Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pali Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist Council which held in Sri Lanka in 29 BC, probably 450 years after Buddha’s demise.

However, it said that during periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic lineage was revived through contact with Thailand and Burma. The Sri Lankan constitution gives special recognition to Buddhism which requires Lankans to protect and foster the teachings of Buddha.

India and Sri Lanka shares historical association of togetherness and the ancient Adam’s bridge is an important living evidence which signifies the prehistoric relationship between the country. Also, a significant Indian Tamil population resides in Sri Lanka. They settled in country island centuries ago and over the period of time they assimilated into the major Buddhist culture which itself migrated from the northern part of India.

The relationship between the two countries, however, were in chaos and conflict during the civil war in Sri Lanka. India first time involved in Sri Lankan civil war in the 1980s with arms and military forces which thousands of lives. India was then critically opposed by Lankan civilians and government. The armed struggle also took away the life of Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

However, relationship normalised after 1992 and in recent years, the alignment has gradually Improved. At the highest political level close contacts has been observed, which improvising trade, investment, and cooperation in the fields of development.

 

This article is first in series of India-Sri Lanka relationship evaluation

 

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