On many occasions I have passed the ruins of King Panduwasdeva's palace, including the Ek Tam Ge, where Ummada Chitra was imprisoned to prevent her bearing a son. Astrologers had predicted that the son would kill her seven brothers and capture the throne of Lanka.
The love story of Chitra surpassed that of Romeo and Juliet more so as it did not begin and end in one generation.
But many are the tales woven around her that it would be interesting to delve into history and find out who was Pandukabhaya's father.
The first issue which has to be dealt with is whether the widely held belief that a union between Ummada Chitra and Diga Gamini (Gamini from Diga Gama or village) resulted in the birth of Pandukabhaya is true.
Historian, Prof. Mendis Rohanadeera thinks not. According to him that is the story given in the Mahawansa but there is another version.
The queen of Panduwasdeva and mother of Chitra, Badrachchana was the grand-daughter of Amithodana Sakya, who was the brother of King Suddodana, the King of Kapilawasthupura and a descendant of King Jayasena. At this stage it is relevant to look into the family tree of the Sakya clan.
Queen Badrachchana and her brothers had arrived in Sri Lanka and built their own settlements - Vijitha built Vijithagrama, Anuradha Anuradhagrama, Diga Digagrama and Rohana Rohanagrama.
Later, Gamini, Diga's son, was sent to King Panduwasadeva and Queen Badrachchana (whose nephew he was) to perform royal service.
A union is said to have taken place between Diga Gamini and his cousin Chitra who was imprisoned in a one-bedroomed chamber with the entrance from the King's bedroom. Princess Chitra and her retinue were confined to prevent any liaison which would result in the birth of a son. Anyone visiting Pandugasnuwara even today can see the partly restored palace and Chitra's chamber which was known as the Ek Tam Ge.
The imprisonment of Chitra followed a prediction at her birth that the Princess would bear a child who would kill his seven uncles and become the King of Lanka.
When Chitra's brothers came to know of the prediction they wanted their sister done away with. However kind-hearted King Panduwasdeva disagreed and planned the one bedroom chamber after Princess Chitra came of age. However, destiny had other plans.
According to Prof. Rohanadeera ancient chronicles state that the entrance from the King's bedchamber to the Ek Tam Ge was guarded by a close associate of the King - Chitre and his friend Kalavela, who were of the Gothric clan. They were part of the original settlers-or Kuveni's descendants or aborigines- who had been conquered by Vijaya.
When the aborigines were defeated by Vijaya and his troops 70 years earlier they had fled to the hills awaiting a chance for revenge.
After the conquest of the locals, Vijaya built his settlements, and Badrachchana's brothers their own, in different areas. Constant quarrels between the two forces were the norm. The locals or Yakkas were caught in between and lived in hiding in Dimbulagala and Ritigala.
In the second generation, Princess Chitra's personal servant, Chethiya, was also of the fierce Yaksha clan.
Since their defeat at the hands of Vijaya, the Yakkas had been searching for ways to become rulers once again. When they heard of the prediction made by the royal astrologers, they set about making plans that Chitra's son should have Gothric paternity. Kalawela and Chitre, entered into palace service at about the time Diga's son Gamini did.
The story goes that Diga Gamini may have gained access to Chitra's chamber by ordering Chitre or Kalawela to let him pass. Meanwhile, Munidasa Cumaratunge's theory was that Gothric leader Chitre may have had a relationship with the Princess who then begot a son belonging both to the Gothric clan as well as to royalty.
According to Prof. Rohanadeera this has to be looked at in the light of the aborigines being the people who smuggled out the boy Prince and smuggled in a baby girl born to the Yakkas, thus ensuring that both babies were saved. Thereafter, it was the aborigines who brought up Prince Pandukabhaya.
Cumaratunge also expounds the theory that the Princess got the name Chitra because she was Chitre's consort.
Cumaratunge's theory cannot be cast aside, as it has credence.
To cover up the relationship between the Princess and a Yakka, a story about a liaison with cousin Diga Gamini was spun. Other stories are that the King's sons on hearing that Chitra had conceived a child, ordered that Chitre and Kalawela be put to death for not having carried out their duties of guarding the Princess. It could also mean that Chitre was put to death because of his connection with Chitra. But the truth lies buried in the dim mists of time.
The story continues that Chitre and Kalawela were reborn as Yakkas, who protected the young Prince.
At the time the infant Prince was being smuggled out and a Yakka girl smuggled in, the King's sons had wanted to examine the parcel being taken out of the palace. To protect the baby Prince, Chitre and Kalawela, using their inherited magical powers, had turned themselves into pigs and crossed the path of the Princes. They had then given chase to the pigs, while baby Pandukabhaya disappeared among the ordinary people.
Thus was born a Prince claiming bloodlines to the Vijaya dynasty, Gothric heritage and the Sakyan dynasty of India, ideally suited to be the king of Sri Lanka.
The Sakya connection given in the Mahawansa was forgotten for 1500 years, until the 10th century. Various inscriptions were discovered in Ruhuna, Ratagamuwa and Pissomulle near Kirinda. The writings of Mihindu Epa, son of Kassapa the 5th state, "I am of Sinhala origin descended from Pandu Aba who comes from the great Suddodana's purest clan. These inscriptions indicate that the Sinhala people originated from Pandukabhaya.
Pandukabhaya took water from the Abhaya Wewa which he constructed and consecrated himself. He planned the city of Anuradhapura. He also introduced the local government system to Sri Lanka and ordered different areas to barter trade with each other.
During his time there were the Jains, the Veddhas with their own King and the Kumbandans. He gave them a place to live and carry out their customs.
When he came of age and planned to attack his uncles, the eldest of them sent him a message not to wage war but to rule the area from Dimbulagala to the deep south of Ruhuna. After Panduwasdeva's death, the eldest uncle was ruling the country from Upatissagama, a little north of Anuradhapura, which was a Grama planned by Anuradha, a Vijaya Chieftain. Anuradhapura was later developed as a city by Pandukabhaya.
Pandukabhaya was succeeded by his son Mutasiva, and he, by his son King Devanampiyatissa. King Devanampiyatissa's grand son was King Dutugemunu.
Weaving the various strands together will it be incorrect to conclude that the Sinhala race began with Pandukabhaya?
Consultant Psychologist; Attorney
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