Early Inhabitants and the Rulers of the Island

November 8, 2017

During the early historic period (6th century BC to 3rd century AD), Lanka/ilankai (as first mentioned in the Ramayana) was a part of South India separated by a shallow sea and was only a walking distance before the sea levels rose.  Even today, one of the ancient bridges that was linking South India to Sri Lanka can be seen in the NASA shuttle images.  During that period, irrespective of whether they were Yakkhas, Nagas, or any others, all these tribes were Saivaite Dravidians (devotees of Lord Siva, Saivaism is a sect of Hinduism/Brahmanism prevalent in Sri Lanka before Buddhism).  The Naga tribe not only lived in both Sri Lanka and South India, but they were also moving back and forth between Sri Lanka and South India.  All the ancient rulers of Sri Lanka before the arrival of Buddhism were also Saivaites (followers of Saiva Siddhantam).  The Pali chronicles leave us in no doubt that the worship of Siva was prevalent in Anuradhapura and elsewhere in the island.  The numerous occurrences of the personal name Siva in the Pali chronicles and in the early Brahmi inscriptions also support this.  As per the Ramayana, even the Yaksha king Ravana was believed to be a Dravidian chieftain and a strong devotee of Lord Siva.

Brahmi script

During the early period (before Buddhism), the Island of Sri Lanka was not a Dhamma Deepa of Buddha but a Siva Bhoomi (Land of Siva).  As confirmed by Dr. Paul E. Pieris, in the ‘five corners’ of the island Lanka, there were five ancient historical Ishwaram temples of Lord Siva (Nuguleswaram, Munneswaram, Koneswaram, Tondeswaram, and Katheeswaram).  Sri Pada/Adam’s Peak was originally known as Sivanolipatha Malai (sacred footprint of Siva).  Even today, if they dig/excavate deep in any part of Sri Lanka, the archeology department could find statues of Lord Siva.  Some of those statues that were already found are kept in museums, while many got disappeared/lost.  There was NO Buddhism in Sri Lanka until Emperor Asoka’s missionary monks led by Mahinda Thero converted the Saivaite Dravidian/Tamil King Muta Siva’s second son Tissa (brother of Maha Siva) to Buddhism in the 2nd century BC (Tissa/Tisa is the Buddhist name, his real Saiva name is not known.  However, Thisan is a Sangam age Tamil name found in Keezhadi excavation).  For accepting Buddhism, Emperor Asoka (who assumed the title Devanampiya Piyadasi which means “Beloved-of-the-Gods”) gave king Tissa a similar title, Devanampiya.

The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity - The Tamils of Sri Lanka

Following King Devanampiya Tissa, a large number of Saivaite Dravidian tribes in the island embraced Asoka’s Buddhism, Aryanised/Prakritised their speech, learned to write using Asoka’s Bhrami script, adopted the Lion symbol (the Indian Lion which represents the accomplishment of Buddha) and the Dhamma Chakra (also called the Asoka Chakra), accepted the Asoka Buddhist culture and implemented Asoka’s technology to build Stupas, Chaityas, Viharas, Sangharama, and so on.  The authors of the early Brahmi inscriptions in the island, which are in the Pakrit language, were almost certainly Buddhist monks (even the Buddhist Sangha in Tamil Nadu had used the Pakrit/Pali language in preference to Tamil in their writings).  These inscriptions mainly record the donation of caves to the Buddhist Sangha.  The language of these inscriptions should not be assumed to be that of the common people.  Even though the written language started only after the invention of the Brahmi script, Tamil was a spoken language thousands of years before it was put to writing and is one of the ancient living languages in the world.  The word ‘Tamil’ occurs in Sangam poems/literature dating back to 300 BC to denote a language and an ethnic group.  About the same period, its derivate ‘Damila’ in the Prakrit language occurs in an early inscription from Amaravati and in the Pali chronicles of Sri Lanka as a section of the island’s population. (Refer Dr. K. IndrapalaThe Evolution of an Ethnic Identity: The Tamils of Sri Lanka, 2005, page 4).

However, after his conversion to Buddhism, Devanampiya Tissa’s proclamation that he was the Maharajah of Sri Lanka (with Asoka’s blessing and support) and his efforts to force the people of the country to accept Buddhism was rejected by the Vanni Chieftains (early historic Vanni Chieftaincies encompassed Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Puttalam and Kathiragama hinterlands).  They were strong devotees of Lord Siva who refused to accept Devanampiya Tissa as their overlord and resisted his effort to impose Buddhism on them.  Saivaite Dravidian rivalry against Buddhism began in 177 BC during the reign of his youngest brother Sura Tissa.  Two Saivaite Tamils, Sena and Kuttaka (Damila horse merchant’s sons, none of the Pali chronicles describe them as invaders) defeated Sura Tissa in battle and conquered Anuradhapura and ruled it for 22 years.  Anuradhapura was under Saivaite Tamil threat for the next 149 years ending in 88 BC. Eight Saivaite Tamil kings ruled Anuradhapura for a total of 82 years during that period.  The Mahavamsa does not call any of them invaders (other than Ellala). The history scholars who studied/analyzed the Pali chronicles and the historical records in Tamil Nadu for any reference to any invasion (either Chola or Pandyan) during the same period failed to find any evidence.  They feel that these rulers were native Saivaite Dravidian/Tamil Vanni chieftains who rebelled against the imposition of Buddhism.  However, the chieftain who ruled Jaffna/Nagadeepa accepted Devanampiya Tissa’s overlordship and converted to Buddhism.  Even though the Mahavamsa says that Ellalan was a Chola Prince, the folk drama popular among the native Tamils ‘Ellalan Koothu’says that he was the son of Sena, one of the first native Tamil rulers of Anuradhapura.  Even Dutugemunu had to conquer not just one Tamil Saivaite king (Ellala) but 32 Tamil chieftains around the Anuradhapura Kingdom.  Pandara Vanniyan was known as one of the last native Saivaite Tamil Vanni chieftains who challenged the British rule.  The Mahavamsa by trying to discredit those native Saivaite Tamils who rebelled against imposing Buddhism (by portraying them as foreign invaders) did only the opposite, it confirmed their existence as Tamil rulers/chieftains from ancient times.

During the 5th century A.D, Ven. Mahanama thero and a group of scholarly Buddhist monks of the Mahavihara in Anuradapura, observing two groups of people, the Tamil speaking Saivaites and their converts (Buddhists) speaking the new language (Prakrit), wrote the Pali chronicles with the motive of projecting the Theravada Buddhists as a separate ethnic group, ‘the Sinhalese’ (who will protect the Buddhist dharma in the island Dammadvipa/Sinhaladvipa – the ‘chosen land’ of Buddha where Theravada Buddhism will prevail for 5000 years).  The Tamil Saivaites who did not convert to Buddhism but was posing a threat to Buddhism were projected as ‘enemies or invaders’.  That is how the ‘Sinhalese’ originated and became the ‘guardians of Buddhism’ and the non-Buddhist (Saivaite Tamils) became ‘invaders’.  The Mahavamsa goes to the extent of openly declaring that killing is a virtue in defense of Buddhism in its description of the victory of the Buddhist prince Dutthagamini over the Saivaite king Ellala.

By trying to interpret the invasion theory that was mentioned in the Mahavamsa, the European (colonial) orientalist scholars (English/German) who translated the Mahavamsa in the 20th century AD made the antagonism even worse by generalizing all the Saivaite Tamil rulers as ‘invaders’.  European historical writings were based on an uncritical acceptance of the Pali chronicles and they were only interested in their Aryan cousins in this part of the world.  They did not make any attempt to study/analyze or translate the old Tamil texts.  Today the myth has become the truth and the Sinhalese believe it as gospel.  They are brainwashed right from birth to believe the myth that the whole of Sri Lanka is a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist country’ and the Tamils are ‘invaders’ who do not belong to Sri Lanka.

The first Tamil Nadu (Chola) invasion took place during the rule of Vankanasika Tissa (111 AD-114 AD) when Karikala Cholan invaded the Anuradhapura kingdom and took away a large number (12,000) of captives to work as slaves on the irrigation project he was building on the Kaveri River in South India.  While Mahanama Thero (King Dhatusena’s uncle and author of Mahavamsa) was whipping up Theravada Buddhist nationalism by portraying the Tamils as invaders and foreigners and portraying Dhatusena’s struggle to liberate Anuradhapura from 27 years of Tamil rule a heroic act, Dhatusena’s favorite son Moggallan fled to Tamil Nadu and returned with a huge Tamil army and defeated his half-Dravidian/Pallavastep-brother Kassapa in 491 AD.  The first Chola rule in the island of Sri Lanka began only in 993 AD when Raja Raja Cholan sent his Chola army, which conquered the Anuradhapura Kingdom.  After Raja Raja Cholan, his son Rajendra Cholan continued by adding the island as one of the provinces of the Chola Empire known as “Mummudi-Chola-Mandalam”.  Sri Lanka remained a Tamil Nadu (Chola) colony under the rule of Raja Raja Cholan and his son Rajendra Cholan for eight decades (993AD –1077AD).  It was Rajendra Cholan who later abandoned Anuradhapura and established the Polonnaruwa Kingdom. 

On the other hand, the arch-enemies of the Cholas were the Pandyans/Pandu of Madhura in Tamil Nadu who were the close allies of the Royal house of Sri Lanka from the beginning of Sri Lanka’s history.  It was the Pandyans/Pandu kings who ruled Sri Lanka most of the time.  They were not invaders but invitees.  Even in the Vijay story, the Pali chronicle says, Ling Vijaya and his men took wives from the Pandyan/Pandu Capital “Dakshina Madura” which means southern Madura.  From King Pandu Vasudeva to Parakrma Bahu, most of the Saivaite as well as Buddhist Kings and their Queens of Sri Lanka were from the Tamil Pandya dynasty.  The Deepavamsa calls King Pandu Vasudeva(504-474 BC) as Pandu Vasa (a Pali or Prakrit equivalent of Pandya Vasa meaning one from the Pandyan country i.e., a Pandya by his nationality).  It was the tradition of the early Buddhist writers in Sri Lanka to twist the Dravidian/Tamil names (of kings and places) sometimes out of recognition in transforming them into Pali or Prakrit (later Sinhala) forms.  After the death of Pandu Vasudeva (Pandu Vasa) his eldest son Abhaya (Prakritised form of Apayan in Tamil means ‘he who averts fear’)became the lawful king.  Abhaya’s son, King Panduka Abhaya aka Apaya Pandyan received help from his ancestral city of Madhura in planning the city of Anuradhpura.  King Panduka Abhaya gave his son a Saivaite Tamil name Muta Siva (elder Siva) and King Muta Siva’s son was Devanampiya Tissa who promoted Emperor Asoka’s Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka.  The Mahavamsa calls them either North Indians (maybe because Buddhism came from there) or invaders from Tamil Nadu.  If you study/analyse the Pali chronicles, most of the BAHU kings of Sri Lanka have Pandyan connections or rather they are all of Pandyan descent.  Whenever the Pandyan/Bahu kings of Sri Lanka such as King Parakramabahu were waging a war against the invading Cholas, it was a Pandya – Chola war which present day historians have misinterpreted as a Sinhala – Tamil war.

Today the names of the old Pandyan kings (such as Kula Sekara, Chandra Sekara, Vira Wickrama, Parakrama and so on) are adopted by the Sinhalese (not Tamils) and they have succeeded in misrepresenting the Pandyan/Tamil foundations of Sri Lankan civilization as Sinhalese.  Most of the rulers of the island Sri Lanka were either native Tamils/Vanni chieftains, or Dravidians tribes (Nagas), or Pandyans/Pandu or Cholas or at least half Tamil.  Even the Pali chronicles do not call any of them Sinhala Kings.  By quoting from Lord Valentia’s Travels and from an article of Joinville which was published by the Royal Asiatic Society of Ceylon, Mudaliyar Simon Cassie Chitty wrote in 1838, “The Singhalese, though forming a distinct nation, and differing in their religion, language and manners from Tamils, had no kings of their own race, but of the latter, and according to Lord Valentia and Joinville ‘a Singhalese cannot be a king of Ceylon; that is every person born of a Singhalese father or mother is excluded from the throne’.”  Even though the Saivaite Tamils were living in many parts of the country such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa (a capital built by the Cholas), Padaviya, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Tissamaharama (where Tamil Brahmi potsherd inscriptions were found) and so on, it was only after the 12th century CE that the island became more divided politically and geographically between the two languages/religions with the Jaffna kingdom being established in the North East, closer to the Tamil mainland.

Further reading:

  1. Sinhalisation of the North-East
  2. Mahaweli & Demographic Change
  3. The Legacy of Indian Migration to European Colonies

Posted November 13th, 2017.

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November 18th, 2017

  1. Thank you very much Mr. P. Sivakumar and Sangam.org for this bold and thought provoking article.“European historical writings were based on an uncritical acceptance of the Pali chronicles and they were only interested in their Aryan cousins in this part of the world. “This pathological lying inflicted by these colonial masters and their henchmen for their love of the so called Aryan cousins is indisputably the most sinister contributing factor in this inhuman tragedy of Tamil people in this so called thrice blessed land of Sri Lanka in such modern and civilized times of ours.I was surprised to see this piece given below about dark-skinned female Tamil pickers.

  2. Ever since I read this, I have recurring doubts wondering whether my own mother, grandmother and even my family are not Tamils.
    But I definitely know that I must be a deep Tamil from looking at my skin colour of course. “As I gaze out the window, a thick mist has descended with the lights inside the carriage burning brightly, I can see hundreds of dark-skinned female Tamil pickers in colourful saris sprinkled across the plantations, like misshapen snooker balls on unfastened green felt. “Read more: http://www.traveller.com.au/sri-lanka-by-train-a-journey-on-a-charmingly-decrepit-railway-115lto#ixzz4ym3LbFnA
  3. Anpu’s bapNovember 19th, 2017yes please give us references. If we copy and paste without knowing references, Sinhalese make fun of us
  4. EllaalanNovember 19th, 2017This article is nonsense and full of false conjecture. I am disappointed to see this published on this website. Completely unscientific. My website sinhalisation.com has a more accurate synopsis of the ancient history of the North-East complete with references.
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    • Anuradhapura – 269 BC – AD 993
    • The kingdom of Anuradhapura that spanned over the vast plains of Rajarata came into existence in the fourth century BC. Anuradhapura grew into a powerful kingdom under the rule of Pandukabhaya. According to traditional history he is accepted as the founder of Anuradhapura. During the region of King Devanampiya Tissa, a descendant of Pandukabhaya, Buddhism was introduced in 247 BC by Arahat Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka of India. The fact that this kingdom lasted nearly 1,500 years in a unique event in the history of the Island. It is also a very rare event in world history. Anuradhapura, the seat of government (5th century BC to 11th century AD) was seized just four times in the 16 centuries by invaders from South India who temporarily held north-central and northern parts (the Province of Rajarata) and driven out. The longest occupation was that of the Cholas from 993 to 1070 AD. The first extensive Sinhalese settlements were along rivers in the dry northern zone of the island. Because early agricultural activity– primarily the cultivation of wet rice– was dependent on unreliable monsoon rains, the Sinhalese constructed canals, channels, water-storage tanks, and reservoirs to provide an elaborate irrigation system to counter the risks posed by periodic drought. Such early attempts at engineering reveal the brilliant understanding these ancient people had of hydraulic principles and trigonometry. The discovery of the principle of the valve tower, or valve pit, for regulating the escape of water is credited to Sinhalese ingenuity more than 2,000 years ago. By the first century AD, several large-scale irrigation works had been completed.

The mastery of hydraulic engineering and irrigated agriculture facilitated the concentration of large numbers of people in the northern dry zone, where early settlements appeared to be under the control of semi-independent rulers. In time, the mechanisms for political control became more refined, and the city-state of Anuradhapura emerged and attempted to gain sovereignty over the entire island. The state-sponsored flowering of Buddhist art and architecture and the construction of complex and extensive hydraulic works exemplify what is known as Sri Lanka’s classical age, which roughly parallels the period between the rise and fall of Anuradhapura (from ca. 200 BC to ca. AD 993).

From the beginning of the Christian era and up to the end of the 4th century AD Sri Lanka was governed by an unbroken dynasty called Lambakarna, which paid great attention to the development of irrigation. Three members of the Lambakanna Lemeni,(having ears with long Lobes’) branch of the royal family conspired against the reigning King Vijaya, slew him, and set the eldest, Sangha Tissa, on the throne.

A great king of this dynasty King Mahasen (3rd century AD) started the construction of large ‘tanks’ (reservoirs) which in turn fed smaller reservoirs. Another great ‘tank’ builder was Dhatusena, who was put to death by his son Kasyapa, who made Sigiriya a royal city with his fortress capital on the summit of the rock.

The Sinhalese kingdom at Anuradhapura was in many ways typical of other ancient hydraulic societies because it lacked a rigid, authoritarian and heavily bureaucratic structure. Theorists have attributed Anuradhapura’s decentralized character to its feudal basis, which was, however, a feudalism unlike that found in Europe. The institution of caste formed the basis of social stratification in ancient Sinhalese society and determined a person’s social obligation, and position within the hierarchy.

The caste system in Sri Lanka developed its own characteristics. Although it shared an occupational role with its Indian prototype, caste in Sri Lanka developed neither the exclusive Brahmanical social hierarchy nor, to any significant degree, the concept of defilement by contact with impure persons or substances that was central to the Indian caste system. The claims of the Kshatriya (warrior caste) to royalty were a moderating influence on caste, but more profound was the influence of Buddhism, which lessened the severity of the institution. The monarch theoretically held absolute powers but was nevertheless expected to conform to the rules of dharma, or universal laws governing human existence and conduct.

The king was traditionally entitled to land revenue equivalent to one-sixth of the produce in his domain. Furthermore, his subjects owed him a kind of caste-based compulsory labor (rajakariya in Sinhala) as a condition for holding land and were required to provide labor for road construction, irrigation projects, and other public works. During the later colonial period, the Europeans exploited the institution of rajakariya, which was destined to become an important moral and economic issue in the nineteenth century.

Social divisions arose over the centuries between those engaged in agriculture and those engaged in non-agricultural occupations. The Govi (cultivators) belonged to the highest Sinhalese caste (Goyigama) and remained so in the late twentieth century. All Sri Lankan heads of state have, since independence, belonged to the Goyigama caste, as do about half of all Sinhalese. The importance of cultivation on the island is also reflected in the caste structure of the Hindu Tamils, among whom the Vellala (cultivator) is the highest caste.

King Pandukabhaya – 437 BC to 367 BC

King Pandukabhaya is Unmada Chithra’s son. He could take the throne from his uncles and got all the tribes and royalists under his throne. He built the first reservoir called “Abhayavapi” and shrines for “Chithraraja” and “Kalawela” who were his protectors. He was married to the princess “Swarnapali”, his sister in low and ruled the country for great 70 years. Then his son King “Mutasiwa” becomes the ruler of the country and he rules the country for peaceful 60 years (367 BC – 307 BC ). Well known “Mahamewna Uyana” is an initiative of King “Mutasiwa”. Next king was Mutasiwa’s son “Dewanampiyatissa”.

King Dewanampiyatissa – 307 BC to 267 BC

This is the greatest time period in Sri Lanka’s history because of the arrival of Buddhism. He had an early friendship with King “Ashoka” who ruled a province in India, and king Ashoka sent Buddhism to SriLanka as a gift. For this purpose he sent his son “Mahinda” thera and another five monks called “Ittiya” “Uththiya” “Sambala” “Baddhasala” and “Sumana” samanera. According to “Mahavansa” story, King “Dewanampiyatissa” was out for hunting and he has met Mahinda thera and others near “Mhintale”. Then the king and his followers have been converted to Buddhism.

After the conversion to Buddhism, lots of temples, dagoba’s were built. The first dageba of the country is “Thuparamaya” which was built by king Dewanampiyatissa enshrined Lord Buddha’s collarbone. Another temple constructed by him is the ancient temple “Isuruminiya”. The next important incident is the arrival of “Sri Maha Bodhiya” which is a sapling from the original Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha became enlightened. It was brought by Theri “Sangamiththa”, daughter of King Ashoka from India and it was planted in 288 BC, in Anuradhapura by king Dewanampiyatissa. It is the known oldest tree in the world.
After king Dewanampiyatissa, the rulers of Anuradhapura kingdom were his three brothers “Utthiya” (10 years), “Mahasiva” (10 years), “Suratissa” (10 years). Then two Tamil horse sellers (“Sena” and “Gutthika”)who came from India have taken the throne by killing king Suratissa and have ruled Anuradhapura for 22 years. King Suratissa’s brother “Asela” has then killed two Tamil rulers and ruled the kingdom for 10 years. “Elara” who is another Tamil from India has come here and taken the throne from king Asela and has been the ruler for 40 years.

Sub Kingdom – Magama

According to the story King Dewanampiyatissa’s wife tried to kill his brother “Mahanaga” by poisoning him because she wanted her son to be the king after Dewanampiyatissa. But the plan didn’t work and Mahanaga have left Anuradhapura and gone to “Magama” (Ruhunu area). That’s the begining of another kingdom in the country. Next king of Magama kingdom was Mahanaga’s son “Yatalatissa”. After him the throne of Magama goes to his son “Gotabaya” and then to gotabaya’s son “Kavantissa”.

king Yatalatissa’s other son “Kelanitissa” has built another sub kingdom at Kelaniya and that’s the beginning of another sub kingdom. At that time there have been a situation like Tsunami and according to the story, this was due to killing a Thera by the king. The only solution to placate the situation was sending a person from royal family to the sea. The famous princess “Viharamaha Devi” is the daughter of king Kelanitissa. Then princess Devi volunteered for that and she was placed in a golden boat and set out to see to placate it. Therefore she is considered as a brave women of the nation. Fortunately the boat came to Magama coast and king Kavantissa’s people found it with the princess.

King Dutugemunu – From 161 BC to 137 BC

Then a conversion point of Sri Lankan history occurs with the war of prince “Dutugemunu”, son of king Kavantissa and Viharamaha Devi, against Tamil king Elara. Prince Dutugemunu was very motivative to defeat Tamils and to take the throne back to Sinhalese but his father Kavantissa prevented him from it wisely until he and the country get enough strength for a war. Once he flee away to Kothmale because of the unsatisfactory with his father.

After king Kavantissa’s death prince Dutugemunu came back to Magama and went to war having his mother Viharamaha Devi and some Theros at the war front. He was able to defeat the enemy king Elara and to unite the country once again. He is said to be a great king because not only he united the country but served country and Buddhism well. He constructed many temples including “Ruwanweli Maha Seya” and “Mirisaweriya”.

King Dutugemunu had a son called “Saliya” and he he felt in love with “Ashokamala” who was a low cast lady but an unbelievable beauty. Prince Saliya did not mind her cast and he married her rejecting even the crown. This Saliya – Ashokamala story is a very famous love story and Prince Saliya is said to be a true lover who rejected the crown because of his true love. The belief is that the statue at Isurumuniya called “Isurumuni pem yuwala” represents Saliya and Ashokamala.

Thereafter the throne of Sri Lanka was passed to king Dutugemunu’s brother king Saddhatissa (137 BC to 119 BC), after him. He completed the construction of Ruwanveli Maha Seya after king Dutugemunu’s death as Dutugemunu couldn’t complete it.

Then king Saddhatissa’s eldest son “Thullathanatissa” (119 BC) got the throne and then his brother “Lajjitissa”(118 BC – 109 BC) got it by killing King Thullathanatissa. Then the throne is passed to his brother “Bhallatanaga” (109 BC – 104 BC). After King Bhallatanaga’s death his brother “Walagamba” (youngest son of king Saddhatissa) became the ruler and he married king Bhallatanaga’s wife “Anula” and she became the chief queen taking his previous queen Soma’s place.

After one year king Walagamba had to leave the capital and hide because he was defeated by five tamils called “Pulahattha” “Bahiya” “Panaya Mara” “Piliya Mara” “Datika”. They ruled the country from 104 BC to 88 BC. When the king and his family including queens Soma and Anula, Anula’s son “Tissa” and Soma’s son “Naga”, were followed by tamils, Queen Soma got down from the cart for others and the nations sake. Therefore she is considered as a great lady of the nation like Viharamaha Devi.

King Walagamba – 88 BC to 76 BC

Finally king Walagamba could defeat the Tamils and get the throne back from them. When he was followed by Tamils, a Niganta called “Giri” has shouted out insulting the King and the Sinhala nation and after return of the king he killed that Niganta and constructed a monastary called “Abayagiriya” in that place for monks.

King Walagamba hid in Dambulla caves for his protection and he got help to be protected from the monks who were meditating at those caves. Today those caves have become a temple called “Rangiri Dambulu Viharaya”. There is a water spring on the roof of a cave which never get dry and water drops are collected to a copper bowl.

The next ruler was King Ballatanaga and Queen Anula’s son tissa, taking the name “Mahachuli Mahatissa” (76 BC – 62 BC). Then king walagamba and Queen Soma’s son “Naga” (Choranaga) – 62 BC to 50 BC became the king. He got the name “Choranaga” because he lived as a rebel and that was due to passing the throne to Mahachuli Mahatissa, not to him, from his father. He ruled the country for 12 years and he was poisoned and killed.

There are two beliefs about the killer. One is his wife Anula and the other one is king’s chef who was motivated by Mahachuli Mahatissa’s second son (he was a monk at Maha Viharaya). This monk has done many things against “Choranaga” by spreading false propaganda. After Choranaga’s death, Mahachuli Mahatissa’s eldest son “Kudatissa” (50 BC – 47 BC) became the king because Choranaga had no children. King Kudatissa also was poisoned and then the ruler was a minister called “Siva” marrying Choranaga’s wife Anula. Like this, another three person “Vatuka” “Daruhatikatissa” “Vasuki” became the husband of Anula and the king as well with in a year.

Queen Anula – 46 BC to 42 BC

After Vasuki’s death,Queen Anula became the owner of the throne and she was the first Queen of the country. She ruled the country for 4 years and she was killed by Mahachuli Mahatissa’s second son (the monk stated above) “Kutakannatissa” (42 BC – 20 BC)and his reign was 22 years.

The next king was his brother (Mahachuli Mahatissa’s youngest son) “Bhatikabhaya” (20 BC – 08 AD)and he ruled the country for peaceful 28 years. The belief is that he was a one of 3 kings who visited for the birth of Jesus from east (notice the transition from BC to AD). The the crown goes to his son “Mahadatika Mahanaga” (9 AD – 21 AD) and then his son “Amandagamini Abhaya” (21 AD – 30 AD) rules the country.

King Amandagamini was killed by his brother “Kanirajanutissa” (30 AD – 33 AD) and Amandagamini’s wife, son “Chulabhaya” and daughter “Sinhawalli” had flew away to Tivakka village. After few years Chulabhaya (33 AD – 35 AD)could get the crown from king Kanirajanutissa.

Queen Sinhawalli – 35 AD

Then king Chulabhaya’s younger sister Sinhawalli became the Queen. She was the second queen of Sri Lanka. After a year she is married to her brother – in law “Ilanaga” (35 AD – 44 AD) and gave the crown to him. King Ilanaga was defeated by a Lambakarna monarchs has flew away to Chola in India with sinhawalli. However he has come back and taken the crown back. Then his son “Chandramukasiva” (44 AD – 52 AD) has taken the crown.

After him, his son “Yasalalakatissa” (52 AD – 60 AD) became the king and then somehow the crown passed to his door keeper “Subharaja” (60 AD – 66 AD).

King Vasabha – 66 AD to 110 AD

Vasabha had a relation with Lambakarna monarchs and his uncle was a minister of King Subharaja. He was angry with his uncle because he had married Vasabhas girl friend “Meththa” by force. However uncle also wanted to kill Vasabha and as a trick he informed the king that, a person named Vasabha. Then the king began to kill all the people who has that name. Oneday Vasabha was cheated by his uncle to take him to the king but Meththa informed Vasabha about the trap and later Vasabha killed both the king and his uncle. Then he became the king and Meththa became the queen.

Next king was king Vasabhas son “Vankanasikatissa” (110 AD – 113 AD). In the reign of king Vankanasikatissa, a Tamil king who came from Chola kidnapped 12000 Sinhalese and took them to his country. His son king “Gajabahu” (113AD – 134 AD) brought them back and another 12000 Tamils too. The next king was king Gajabahus son “Mahallaka Naga” (134 AD – 140 AD) and then his son “Bathiyatissa” (140 AD – 164 AD)and he constructed the “Kiripalu Vehera”.

Next kings of Sri Lanka were king Bathiyatissas son “Kanittatissa” (164 AD – 182 AD), his son “Bujjanaga” (182 AD – 185 AD), his son “Kunchanaga” (185 AD – 186 AD), his brother “Sirinaga” (186 AD – 205 AD), his son “Voharikatissa” (205 AD – 227 AD), his son “Abhayanaga” (227 AD – 235 AD), his son “Srinaga” (235 AD – 237 AD), his son “Vijalinda” (237 AD) and his son “Sangatissa” (238 AD – 242 AD).

King Sirisangabo – 242 AD – 244 AD

Then a great king became a ruler of the country named Sirisangabo. He flew away to the forest after the arrival of king “Gotabhaya” (244 AD – 257 AD). King Gotabhaya took the crown from king Sirisangabo and he ordered to take the head of king Sirisangabo whos was living in the forest, to verify that he is dead. Then people began to cut off so many heads and take them to the king pretending as the head of Sirisangabo. After hearing this, king Sirisangabo cut his own neck and told a farmer to take it to the king Gotabhaya. He is considered as the future Buddha and he full filed the “Dana Paramitha” by this . Then king Gotabhaya built a temple at this place and it is Aththanagalla Viharaya.

King Gotabhayas two sons “Detutissa” and “Mahasen” had a Mahayana monk called “Sangamithra” as their teacher and that monk was against Theravada Buddhism. Therefore he taught Mahayana Buddhism to little princes against Theravada Buddhism. After king Gotabhayas death, his elder son “Detutissa” (257 AD – 276 AD) and during his reign monk Sangamithra left Sri Lanka and lived in India hoping to come back in prince Mahasens reign.

King Mahasen – 276 AD – 303 AD

Prince Mahasen became the king after king Detutissa’s death. Then the Mahayana monk Sangamithra came back and started to spread Mahayana Buddhism against Theravada. King Mahasen ordered to stop alms giving to Mahaviharaya which is a Theravada monastery and he sponsored to Abayagiriya. He constructed another monastery called “Jetavana” and offered it to Mahayana monks.

However he removed those restrictions on Mahaviharaya and constructed a huge number of reservoirs to make the country prosperous. The most famous reservoir is “Minneriya” which caused king Mahasen to be named as “Minneriya Dewiyo”.

King Kithsirimewan – 304 AD to 331 AD

Next king was the son of king Mahasen, king “Kithsirimewan” or “Keerthisri Meghawarna”. This reign is very important to Sri Lanka and Buddhism because the arrival of “Dalada” (tooth relic of Lord Buddha)happened in this reign. This tooth relic was with the Kalinga king in India and it was sent to Sri Lanka for its protection from enemy attacks and therefore Kalinga kings daughter “Hemamala” and nephew “Dantha” came to Sri Lanka with the tooth relic.

The tooth relic was enshrined in Anuradhapura for centuries and it was moved from place to place with the Capital because it was believed whoever has the possession of the tooth relic will claim the throne in the kingdom.

Then his brother “jettatissa” (331 AD – 340 AD) became the king and then his son “Buddhadasa” (340 AD to 368 AD) who was a great patron of medicine, became the owner of the throne. Next king was his son “Upatissa” (368 AD – 410 AD) and he constructed “Thopa” water tank and “Palawatu” temple.

King Mahanama – 410 AD to 432 AD

After king Upatissa, his brother “Mahanama” becomes the king and he rules the country for peaceful 22 years. He had a daughter called “Sanga”. After the queens death he married another Tamil queen and from her he had a son called “Sotthisena”. Tamil queen wanted her son to be the king but king Mahanama wished Sanga to be the queen after him. However king died suddenly and Tamil queen was able make her son Sotthisena (01 day) the king but he was poisoned by the ministers and Sanga’s husband “Chatthagahaka” (432 AD)became the king.

Then a minister called “Mitsen” became the king in the same year and six Tamils named “Pandu” “Parinda” “Kudaparinda” “Tiritara” “Datiya” “Petiya” (432 AD – 459 AD)took the throne by defeating Mitsen.

King Dhatusena – From 459 AD to 477 AD

Then king “Dhatusena” from maurya monarchs was able to defeat Tamils and to get back the throne. He was a great king and very famous constructions of the king are “Kala” water tank and “Aukana” Buddha statue. Kala water tank is a huge reservoir and Aukana statue is established near the dam of Kala tank and the belief is that the statue was built to protect the tank.

King Dhatusena had two sons named “Mugalan” from his chief queen and “Kashyapa” from another queen. Therefore the heir of the crown was prince Mugalan. But prince Kashyapa got the crown by killing his father by putting inside a niche of Kala wewa dam and plastering over.

King Kashyapa – 477 AD to 495 AD

After killing king Dhatusena, prince Kashyapa became the king and he constructed a fortress on a rock called Sigiriya. This was for his protection from his brother Mugalan. The Sigiri fortress, which is considered as the 8th wonder of the world, is a wonderful creation of ancient Sri Lankans. It has many pathways, water gardens and sanitary systems too. It is amazing to think how they provided water supply to top of the rock.

However king Kashyapa was defeated by king Mugalan (495 AD – 512 AD). After king Mugalan his son “Kumaradasa” (512 AD – 520 AD) became the king and then the throne goes to his son “Keertisena” (520 AD – 521 AD). Then his uncle “Siva” (521 AD) killed him and took the throne.

Then king Mugalan’s nephew “Upatissa” (521 AD – 522 AD) killed king Siva and took the throne. The next king was his nephew “Silakala” (522 AD – 535 AD) and then his son “Dhatapabhuti” (535 AD). Then his nephew “Chulamoggallana” (535 AD – 555 AD) killed him and took the throne and then his son “Kuda Kithwsirimewan” (555 AD – 573 AD) became the king.

Next king was “Mahanaga” (573 AD – 575 AD)from Maurya Vansa and then his nephew “Akbo” (575 AD – 608 AD) became the king. Then his nephew “Kuda Akbo” (608 AD – 618 AD) owned the throne and then the throne is passed to his brother “Sangatissa” (618 AD). Then the minister “Moggallana” (618 AD – 623 AD) killed king Sangatissa and became the king. Then prince “Silameghawanna” (623 AD – 632 AD) became the king after killing Moggallana.

Then Silameghawanna’s son “Sirisangabo” (632 AD) became the king and king “Detutis” (632 AD – 633 AD) took the throne by force. king Sirisangabo got help from abroad and was be able to take the throne back (633 AD – 643 AD). Next king was a minister called “Datopatissa” (643 AD – 650 AD) and then king Sirisangabo’s brother “Kassapa” (650 AD – 659 AD) became the king. Then a king called “Dappula” (659 AD) from Okkaka Vansa got the throne and then king Datopatissa’s brother “Aggabodhi” (667 AD – 683 AD) became the king. Next two kings were king “Datta” (683 AD – 684 AD) from Okkaka Vansa and king “Hatthadasa” (684 AD).

After king Hatthadasa, king Kassapa’s son “Manawamma” (684 AD – 718 AD) became the king. Next kings were his son “Akbo” (718 AD – 724 AD), his brother “Kasubu” (724 AD – 730 AD), his brother “Mahinda” (730 AD – 733 AD), king Kasubu’s son “Akbo” (733 AD – 772 AD) and king Mahinda’s son “Kuda Akbo” (772 AD – 777 AD). Then king Akbo’s son “Mahinda” (777 AD – 797 AD) took the throne by force and then his son “Udaya” (797 AD – 801 AD) became the king. Next kings were his son “Mahinda” (801 AD – 804 AD), his brother “Akbo” (804 AD – 815 AD), his brother “Dappula” (815 AD – 831 AD), his son “Aggabodhi” (831 AD – 833 AD), his brother “Sena” (833 AD – 853 AD), his brother “Sena II” (853 AD – 887 AD), his brother “Udaya” (887 AD – 898 AD), his brother “Kassapa” (898 AD – 914 AD) and his son “Kassapa” (914 AD – 923 AD).

Then king Kassapa’s son “Dappula” (923 AD – 924 AD) became the king. Next kings were his brother “Kuda Dappula” (924 AD – 935 AD), king Kassapa’s brother “udaya” (935 AD – 938 AD), king “Sena” (938 AD – 946 AD), his brother “Udaya” (946 AD – 954 AD) and king Kassapa’s son “Sena” (954 AD – 956 AD). Then his brother “Mahinda” (956 AD – 972 AD) became the king and he used to rule the country from Urathota with Tamils.

King Salamewan – From 972 AD to 982 AD

King Mahinda’s son Salamewan became the king and he refused the alliance with Tamils and again the kingdom became a free kingdom. Then his brother “Mahinda” (993 AD – 1007 AD). After him, there was a Chola reign till 1019 AD and then king Mahinda’s son “Vickramabahu” (1019 AD – 1031 AD) became the king by defeating all the Tamils.

Next kings were king “Mahalana Kitti” (1031 AD – 1034 AD), king “Vickrama Pandu” (1034 AD – 1035 AD), king “Jagatipala” (1035 AD – 1039 AD) and king Vickrama Pandu’s son “Parackrama Pandu” (1039 AD). At this reign a Chola king called “Lokissara” (1039 AD – 1045 AD) again came to Sri Lanka and started to Vanish temples, cities and all other constructions of Sinhalese. The Chola reign lasted till 1055 AD. King “Vijayabahu” defeated these Chola rulers and united the country again. Another important thing is he moved the capita from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa.

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About editor 3016 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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