Jewels from the Christian World Civilization



Turks and Afghans




A.D. 1215-1527

The successive raids from Southern India, which had thrown Ceylon into confusion during the first twelve years of the thirteenth century, reached their climax in the irruption of the wicked Kalinga prince Magha, who, with an army of Keralas or Malabaris, overran the country, destroying all that lay in his way. He entered the capital, Polonnaruva, took its ruler, Parakkama Pandu, captive, and despoiled the city of its treasures. He then ascended the throne under the title of Kalinga Vijaya-Bahu, and ruled over the north central part of the Island for twenty-one years (a.d. 1213 to 1234).

His domination was characterised by wanton cruelty, and the Sinhalese chronicles give a heartrending account of the destruction of sacred edifices, the expulsion of priests, and other outrages, extending even to the destruction of the literature of the Island.

While Magha and his confederate, Jaya-Bahu, were thus oppressing the inhabitants of Polonnaruva and the neighboring districts, a few Sinhalese chieftains successfully defended the religion and liberties of the people in the less accessible highlands. At Subha-pabbata (now Yapavu in the North-Western Province) was the military commander Subha-senapati; at Gangadoni-pabbata in the Manimekhala district was Sankha, another military commander; in Rohana (Southern Ceylon) Bhuvaneka-Bahu bore sway; and Prince Vijaya-Bahu, leading a Sinhalese army from the Yanni district, drove the Tamils from the Maya, or central region of the Island, and, having built for himself a stronghold at Jambudoni (Dambadeniya), reigned there, contemporaneously with Magha, for four years, from about a.d. 1227 to 1231. His chief work was the restoration of the Buddhist church, the recovery of such literature as remained, and the revival of letters. He invited to his capital Vachissara, and all other learned Buddhist monks who had fled from the tyranny of Magha, brought the Tooth and Bowl relics of the Buddha from Kotmale, where they had been hidden, to his capital, and afterwards enshrined them with great ceremony on the top of the Beligala Rock. He convened a Council of Elders consisting of the well-known author Sangha-rakkhita, the two Theras named Medhankara, and other representatives of Buddhist fraternities, who sat in his own temple, Vijayarama, and, after rehearsing the Buddhist canon, issued an ecclesiastical rescript (Katikavata) for the guidance of the clergy. He also caused copies of important Buddhist works to be made, to replenish the temple libraries rifled by the invaders.

Vijaya-Bahu III had one daughter and two sons, Parakkama-Bahu and Bhuvaneka-Bahu. The first son, under the tutorship of the renowned Sangha-rakkhita Thera, made such progress in learning that he received the title Kalikala Sahichcha Sabbañña Pandita ('the Omniscient Pandit of the Kaliyuga epoch of Literature').

He succeeded his father on the throne at Dambadeniya as Parakkama-Bahu II, probably in a.d. 1231, while the usurpers Magha and Jaya-Bahu were ruling over Pihiti-rata at Polonnaruva. As soon as he ascended the throne he set himself to restore order in the kingdom. He appointed his younger brother, Bhuvaneka-Bahu, to the office of sub-king, and held a great festival in honor of the Tooth-relic. He then led a large army against the strongholds of the invaders and in the course of about three years succeeded in expelling them from Ceylon. With his nephew, Vira-Bahu, he repulsed a raid led by Chandrabhanu, a Javaka, or Malay chieftain, and, as soon as peace and order were restored to the land, turned his attention to the purification of the Buddhist church. He held a convocation of elders, and the canon was rehearsed, sinful priests were excommunicated, and a new rescript or Katikavata was issued for the use of the clergy. He gave every encouragement to art and learning, and it appears from the glowing accounts of him in the Dambadeni-asna and the Rajaratnakara that his own accomplishments were many. His Visuddhi-magga-sannaya and Vinaya-vinichchhaya-sannaya (Sinh. Vanavinisa-sanne) which he entitled Nissandeha are remarkable for their comprehensiveness, and his Kavsilumina is a masterpiece of Sinhalese poetry, which has furnished the author of the Sinhalese grammar, Sidatsangara, with an example establishing the existence in the Sinhalese language of the semi-nasal saññaka. His just rule and the facilities for study afforded by him, by Devapratiraja, his chief minister, and by his other ministers, resulted in the production of many important works. Dhammakitti Thera continued the compilation of the Mahavamsa under the title Chulavamsa, from the date on which Mahanama had relinquished it to the end of the reign of Parakkama-Bahu I (a.d. 1153-86), and was probably prevented only by death, or by political disorders, from continuing the chronicle to his own times (a.d. 1235-65). Among other contemporary writers may be mentioned Mayurapada Thera, the author of the well-known Pujavaliya, and of a medical work named Yogarnava, both in Sinhalese prose.

Parakkama-Bahu II

Parakkama-Bahu II had five sons, (1) Vijaya-Bahu, (2) Bhuvaneka- Bahu, (3) Tiloka-Malla, (4) Parakkama-Bahu, and (5) Jaya-Bahu, called Siri Vijaya-Bahu in the Rajdvaliya, and the nephew, Vira-Bahu, mentioned above. They were all skillful and experienced soldiers, and the eldest, Vijaya-Bahu, was entrusted with the government of the country while his royal father was devoting his time to literature.

This prince was a master of strategy and a great organiser. He placed his two youngest brothers, Parakkama-Bahu and Jaya-Bahu, with their father, sent Tiloka-Malla to command the Sinhalese army of the south, and placed Bhuvaneka-Bahu in the
fortress of Sundara Pabbata (Yapavu) in order that he might defend the northern districts of the Island. He himself, with his cousin Vira-Bahu, journeyed through the length and breadth of the country, put down evil-doers, and freed the Island of enemies, among those whom they vanquished being Chandrabhanu, who was making a second attempt to gain the sovereignty of Ceylon. After visiting many places of importance, including Vata-giri, Adam's Peak, Gampola, Kurunagala, and Yapavu, and restoring peace and prosperity to all, they remained for a time in Anuradhapura, where they restored the sacred buildings. They conciliated the Vanni princes, and went on to Polonnaruva, which they completely restored. Vijaya-Bahu then invited his father from Dambadeniya to Polonnaruva, and in 1779 A.B. (A.D. 1235) held in great splendor the second coronation festival, a record of which is contained in the Attanagaluvamsa and in the Mahavamsa. The Pujavaliya which is a contemporary work, gives the duration of Parakkama-Bahu's reign as thirty-three years, while the Mahavamsa gives it as thirty-five. According to the Nikayasahgraha and the Rajaratnakara he appears to have died in 1809 a.b. (a.d. 1265).

His eldest son, Vijaya-Bahu IV, also known as Bosat Vijaya-Bahu, then ascended the throne at Dambadeniya, but had reigned for barely two years (A.D. 1266-68) when he was slain at the instigation of an officer named Mitta, who attempted to usurp the throne, but was put to death by the troops, who placed the murdered king's brother, Bhuvaneka-Bahu I of Yapavu on the throne of Dambadeniya. He ruled for about eleven years (a.d. 1268-79), and was sedulous in promoting the interests of the Buddhist church. Shortly after his death Ceylon was visited by a famine. Aryachakravarti, who was then reigning in Jaffna, invaded the country, and succeeded in carrying away from Yapavu the Tooth-relic, which he delivered to his king, Kulashekhara, who has been identified with the Pandyan king, Maravarman Tribhuvana-chakravartin Kula-shekhara-deva (c. 1268-1308). For nearly a year after this incident the land was in confusion, until Parakkama-Bahu III, a son of Yijaya-Bahu IV, assumed sovereignty at Polonnaruva. He made peace with Kulashekhara, and recovered the Tooth-relic, which he afterwards deposited in a temple at Polonnaruva. He seems to have reigned for about seven years (a.d. 1281-88) before Bhuvaneka-Bahu II, son of Bhuvaneka-Bahu I, deposed him and reigned for two years at Kurunagala. According to the Daladasirita these two kings reigned contemporaneously at their respective capitals until the latter, for some reason or other, deposed the former, and brought the Tooth-relic from Polonnaruva to Kurunagala.

Parakkama-Bahu IV, called also Pandita Parakkama-Bahu II (c. A.D. 1291-1326), son of the preceding king, then ascended the throne at Kurunagala. The duration of his reign is not given in any known historical work, but it may be gathered from the colophon to the Daladasirita that he was reigning in a.d. 1325, and in the inscription at Kitsirimevan-Kalani-Vihara it is stated that Vilgammula Mahathera, who translated the Bodhivamsa into Sinhalese at the request of this king, was in a.b. 1876 (a.d. 1322, seven years after the compilation of the Daladasirita) still holding the position of Mahimi. The king's death seems to have taken place between a.d. 1325 and 1332, probably in 1326, after a reign of thirty-five years. He was a patron of learning, and during his reign many religious and historical works were composed. To the king himself is ascribed the authorship of the Sinhalese Jataka book, a monumental work, and the Daladasirita. The second section of the Chulavamsa, from Vijaya-Bahu II to Parakkama-Bahu IV (a.d. 1186-1326), also was probably compiled during this period.

Bhuvaneka-Bahu V

Of the next two kings, Bhuvaneka-Bahu III, called also Vanni Bhuvaneka-Bahu, and Vijaya-Bahu V, called in the Mahavamsa Jaya-Bahu, aud in Sinhalese works Savulu Vijaya-Bahu, hardly anything is known. They seem to have reigned in Kurunagala for about twenty years, one after the other, from A.D. 1326 to 1346.

Bhuvaneka-Bahu IV then ascended the throne. His capital was Gangashripura (Gampola). The Lankatilaka inscription (British Museum copy) of this king's minister, Senalankadhikara, gives A.D. 1342 as the date of his accession, but according to the Mahavamsa and other historical works he succeeded in A.B. 1890 (A.D. 1346). The difference of four years may be explained by assuming that the first was the year of his accession to the rank of subking, and the second that of his assumption of sovereign power. The Vagiri-devale inscription is dated in the tenth regnal year, so that Bhuvaneka-Bahu IV must have reigned for at least ten years, four years (1342-46) as Apa, and six years (1346-52) as king.

The next king was Parakkama-Bahu V, called in Sinhalese Savulu Parakum-raja, probably a son of Vijaya-Bahu V. From inscriptions and other sources it appears that he ruled at Gampola and Dadigama for at least eleven years—four years (1348-52) as Apa, and seven years (1352-59) as king. He was succeeded at Gampola by his nephew, Vikkama-Bahu III, who reigned, according to inscriptions, for about eighteen years. He was sub-king for about three years (a.d. 1356-59), and paramount sovereign for fifteen years (1359-74). During his reign Nichchanka Alagakkonara of Amaragiri, otherwise called Alakegvara, an intrepid warrior of the Girivamsa lineage, who was allied by marriage to Senalankadhikara Senevirat, a minister of Bhuvaneka-Bahu IV, came into prominence, rose to the rank of minister and Prabhu-raja, and dwelt in Peradeniya. With a view to checking the ever-growing domination of the Tamils under their ruler, Arya Chakravarti of Jaffna, he prepared for war, and built strong fortresses at Rayigama, and Kotte, near Colombo. In 1912 A.B. (a.d. 1368-69) he summoned a convocation of Buddhist priests under the presidency of the Elder Dhammakitti I, and inaugurated reforms in religion. Towards the end of Vikkama-Bahu's reign Alakechvara reviewed his army and, finding himself strong enough to cope with the Tamil king, defied him by hanging his tax-collectors. Arya Chakravarti replied by sending his army in two divisions, one by land and the other by sea, against the Sinhalese. Bhuvaneka-Bahu V, who had succeeded Vikkama-Bahu III on the throne of Gampola, was struck with panic, fled from Gampola, and took refuge in the fortress of Rayigama. In the battles which ensued Arya Chakravarti's power was crushed. Bhuvaneka-Bahu returned to Gampola, but his cowardly behaviour had made him so unpopular that he retired to Kotte, and left the management of public affairs in the hands of his powerful minister, Alakechvara, who in a.d. 1382 was still in power, and Alakechvara's brother, Atthanayaka, was also a minister of state (Attanagaluvamsa). Bhuvaneka-Bahu V seems to have ruled as Apa both at Gampola and at Kotte from a.d. 1359 to 1370, as Yuva-raja from a.d. 1370 to 1374, and as king from a.d. 1374 to 1390—about thirty years in all. The Mahavamsa gives the duration of his reign as twenty years.

After the Tamil war the Prabhu-raja, Nchchanka Alakechvara, and his brother, Atthanayaka, lived for a while at Rayigama, but afterwards the Prahhu-raja settled for the remainder of his life at Kotte, the city which he had himself built, where Bhuvaneka-Bahu V also held his court, for the reason already explained. At Rayigama, the family seat of the clan, the Prabhu-raja's son, Kumara Alakegvara, probably assumed the reins of government in the usual course, and shortly afterwards, perhaps on the death of the Prabhu-raja and his son (c. a.d. 1381-86), his sister's son, Yira Alakechvara, became governor of Rayigama, and another nephew, Vira-Bahu, who had distinguished himself as a soldier, succeeded him as Apa of Bhuvaneka-Bahu V, and lived at Gampola, but Yira Alakechvara, being the elder of the two nephews, challenged Vira-Bahu's right to the throne of Kotte, and a civil war ensued, in which Yira Alakechvara was vanquished and driven from the country. It may be added that Senalankadhikara Senevirat, of the Mehenavara clan, a close relation of the royal family, probably married the Prabhu-raja' sister. The two nephews were the issue of this marriage, and hence are referred to as scions of the Mehenavara clan, and Vira-Bahu is styled saleko (Sinh. suhurubadu) of Bhuvaneka-Bahu V. It is this last reference that lends some color to the statement in the Mahavamsa and in the Rajaratnahara that Michchanka Alagakkonara became King Bhuvaneka-Bahu CV, but contemporary records, which are to be preferred, controvert this statement. On the death of this king, Vira-Bahu II ascended the throne of Gampola and Kotte, and reigned for about six years, from a.d. 1390 to 1396. Under his patronage another convocation of Buddhist priests, presided over by the Mahathera Dhammakitti II, author of the Nikayasangraha and other treatises, was held in a.d. 1395. Vira-Bahu had two sons, Vijaya Apa and Tunayesaya, but neither his fate nor theirs is known.

Chinese Invasion

Vira Alakechvara, probably called also Vijaya-Bahu VI, having been defeated by his younger brother, Vira-Bahu II, fled into Southern India, but returned in about a.d. 1397 with a large army, and, having ousted his brother from Kotte, ascended the throne there, and reigned for twelve years, from A.D. 1397 to 1409. At this period the kings of Kotte, owing, probably, to the great military achievements of the late Prabhu-raja, were recognised as paramount sovereigns of the Island, and it is possible that Vira Alakechvara, like many another Sinhalese sovereign, took the biruda Vira-Vijaya-Bahu, but the evidence at our disposal is insufficient to prove that he assumed this name, and neither the inscriptions nor the Sinhalese works of the period throw much light on the matter.

In A.D. 1405 the Chinese eunuch Tcheng Houo arrived in Ceylon, apparently for the purpose of carrying away the Tooth-relic, but his designs were frustrated and he was plundered by Alagakkonara, who may be identified with Vira Alakechvara. Four years later, in A.D. 1409, he came again, this time with an army, and succeeded in capturing the king, with his queen and family. He returned to China with his captives in A.D. 1411, and from 1409 to about 1414 Ceylon was without a king; but according to Saddharma-ratnakara, a grandson of Senalankadhikara Senevirad, Parakkama-Bahu by name, who held the rank of Apa, ruled the Island during the interregnum. If this was so Parakkama-Bahu was a member of the Alakechvara family, perhaps a son of the captive king, or of his brother, Vira-Bahu II. He may therefore be identified with the ruler appointed by the Chinese as their vassal, and also with the Alakechvaraya of the Rajavaliya, who made several attempts to kill the young Lambakanna prince, a grandson of Parakkama-Bahu V, whom Visidagama had arranged to place on the throne as Parakkama-Bahu VI. Vira Alakechvara and the other captives were released about a.d. 1411-12 by the Chinese, but on the night after their return to Ceylon Vira Alakechvara is said to have been murdered in his capital.

The Lambakanna prince, although he had been elected to the throne, could not venture within reach of Parakkama-Bahu Apa, but he established himself at Rayigama, and was at war with the Apa until 1414, when he ascended the throne at Kotte as Parakkama-Bahu VI. These vicissitudes of the early years of his reign explain discrepancies between the various authorities as to the date of his accession. He reigned for nearly fifty-seven years from his election as king in A.D. 1409 until his death in A.D. 1466. His long reign, during which Totagamuve Shri Rahula Thera and his learned colleagues and pupils flourished, was a period of great literary activity and brilliancy, Shri Rahula, who was the abbot of Vijaya-Bahu Parivena, and belonged to the Uttaramulanikaya, was the greatest scholar of the age, and was patronized and encouraged by the king, himself the author of a metrical vocabulary of Elu words, entitled Ruvanmal-nighantu. Sri Rahula's devotion to the royal family is exhibited in many affectionate references to members of it in his writings. He was an accomplished linguist, being master of six languages, and was also a poet of the first rank.

The king had two sons and one daughter, the Princess Ulukudaya Devi. His elder son was Senanayaka Sapumal Kumara, who invaded the kingdom of Jaffna, killed its Tamil king, Arya Chakravarti, and established himself as its ruler. The second son was the Prince of Ambulugala, who led a punitive expedition into the Kanda Uda-rata (the Kandyan district), which was then a subordinate principality, subdued its refractory ruler, and appointed another, a solar prince of the Gampola royal family, to rule over the district.

On the death of the king in A.D. 1466 his grandson, Jaya-Bahu II, called also Jaya Vira Parakkama-Bahu, son of Ulukudaya Devi, ascended the throne in Kotte, but did not long retain the sceptre, for in A.D. 1468 Prince Sapumal, the rightful heir, came from Jaffna with a large army, put his nephew to death, and ascended the throne under the title of Bhuvaneka-Bahu VI. His brother, the Prince of Ambulugala, quelled a rebellion in the south raised by Shrivardhana Pratiraja and Kuragama Himi. The Kalyani Upasampada ordination was held in this king's reign, and is recorded in the Kalyani Inscription.

Arrival of the Portuguese

Bhuvaneka-Bahu VI died in A.D. 1476 after a reign of seven years, and was succeeded by his adopted son, Parakkama-Bahu VII, called also Pandita Parakkama-Bahu, who reigned for about eight years (a.d. 1476-84). The Prince of Ambulugala then rose against him, defeated his army, and slew his principal officers in battle, and, entering Kotte, slew him at midnight. The next morning the prince ascended the throne under the title of Vira Parakkama-Bahu, or Parakkama-Bahu VIII. He had one daughter and six sons, namely, (1) Dhamma Parakkama-Bahu, (2) Shri Rajasimha, (3) Sakkayudha, (4) Rayigam Bandara, (5) Taniyan Vallabha, and (6) Sakalakala Vallabha. Of these the second and third lived at Manikkadavara, as associated husbands of a Kiravalle princess; the fourth at Rayigama; and of the fifth and sixth, who were sons by a second wife, the former lived at Madampe, where his daughter had two sons, Vidiya-Kumara and Tammita-Bandara by a Malabar prince, and the latter settled at Udugampola. All these princes played an important part in the history of the Island.

Parakkama-Bahu VIII reigned for about twenty years, from A.D. 1485 to 1505, and at his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Dhamma Parakkama-Bahu, or Parakkama-Bahu IX, who reigned for about twenty-two years, from a.d. 1505 to 1527. It was in his reign, in September 1506, that the Portuguese, under Dom Lourenzo de Almeida, son of the viceroy, Francisco de Almeida, first reached Colombo. On hearing of their arrival the king summoned to his presence his brothers and took counsel with them, and on the advice of his brother Sakkayudha, who had secretly seen the strangers, he entered with the Portuguese into a treaty of friendship and commerce, undertaking to pay tribute in cinnamon and elephants to the King of Portugal, who, in return, was to protect Ceylon from all enemies.