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Where did Prince Vijaya land?


I refer to the letter of Dr. A. T. W. Gunarathne under the above caption (D.N. June 18). The historical evidence given by Parker in determining the landing place of 'Vijaya' as the mouth of 'Kirindioya' quoted by Dr. Gunarathne in his letter under reference cannot be upheld in view of the following reasons.


1. The reference quoted from 'Deepavamsa' that the Prince Vijaya built the city of Thambapani 'in the South, on the bank of a river' does not indicate that the location of 'Thambapanni' was on the bank of a river in the present southern province.


Undoubtedly 'Deepavamsa' would have been compilated in the capital city of Anuradhapura and during the period the area to the south of Anuradhapura including the present north western province had been considered as south. The area of Tissamaharama was included within the country known as 'Rohana'.


2. There is no reliable historical evidence to establish that Vijaya came to Lanka during the north east monsoon. If this idea has been conceived merely on the historical record that 'the ship was driven by the violence of the wind', it could be applicable to the north west monsoon too.


3. As the exact landing place of vijaya was not known to the authors of Deepavampsa and Mahavamsa in a period as early as 4th and 5th century. A.D. the question arises as to what source of information helped the author of 'Rajawaliya' who lived in the 17th century A.D. to learn that the prince Vijaya and his followers decided to land from the coast of Rohana having seen a large rock, the 'Adam's Peak' as a land mark.


4. Mahavamsa does not mention that the king Vijaya's successor 'Panduvasudeva' landed at the port of 'Gonagama'. It was Bhaddakachchana, the Sakkaya princess who departed from 'Ganges Valley' and arrived at the port of 'Gonagamaka' with her brothers and found settlements in the eastern Lanka. The 'Gonagamaka' has identified as the present Trincomalee harbour. Therefore the understanding of Parker that the 'Gonagamaka' is the mouth of Mahakandara river is incorrect.


Moreover the Pali word 'Mahakandara Nadi' cannot be the Pali translation of 'Kirindioya.' The following information would be helpful in finding the probable area of Landing of Vijaya.


(i) The Vijaya legend symbolically represents the story of migration of the original Sinhalese, from 'Sinhapura' of the western region of 'Aryavartha' passing 'Bharukachcha' and 'Supparaka' on the western sea board of India.

(ii) As they have sailed southward alone the western sea board of India they should have arrived at a harbour in north-western sea coast of Lanka.


(iii) Their original settlements would have been established along the coastal belt from Negombo to Mannar where the pearl fishery was the main attraction and their generations would have gradually advanced towards Anuradhapura along Kalaoya and Malwatuoya.


(iv) The author of 'Mahavamsa' has mentioned the location of certain villages founded by the Ministers of Vijaya eg: Anuradhagama was built by a man of that name near the 'Kadamba river' the Chaplain Upatissa built 'Upatissagama' on the bank of the Gambhira river, to the north of Anuradhapura, three other Ministers built each for himself, Ujjeni, Uruvela and the city of Vijitha. 'Kadamba' river is the ancient name for present Malwatuoya, which flows by the ruins of Anuradhapura.


According to the Mahavamsa the 'Gambhiranadi' flows '1 Yojana (i.e. 7-8 miles) north of Anuradhapura. Sir Emerson Tennant refers to a traditional belief that the ruins which lie not far from Kalaveva about 24 miles from Anuradhapura is those of ancient 'Vijithagama'. Geiger believes that the tradition is right. A site near the mouth of Kala Oya in the north western coast has been identified by Geiger as the location of Uruvela. All these colonies had been situated within the triangle of Mannar,

Negombo and Anuradhapura.


(v) These settlements would have been founded encircling the town of their leader 'Vijaya'.

W. P. W. WEERAWARDENA-Colombo 5 Daily News 2002


Descendants of the eighteen families which accompanied the bo-sapling


The article on the above subject by Dr. H. S. S. Nissanka (DN June 12 and 14) has left out important historical data related to the subject.


Mahavamsa, the most reliable and the oldest source of our recorded history, mentions (ch. XIX, 1-6) a list of people from India who accompanied the sacred Bo-sapling to Sri Lanka. Leading that list are eighteen persons of 'royal families'. In the Mauryan empire (321-185 B.C.), from where they came, there was in existence only the Aryan caste system, which had a rigid class distinction according to the following order of importance: 1) kshatriyas (royalty), 2) brahmins (priests), 3) vaishyas (traders) and 4) shudras (cultivators). (A History of India by Dr. Romia Thapar, Vol. I, Penguin Books, New Delhi 1990).


Thus the 'royalty' as mentioned in the Mahavamsa as having accompanied and protected the Bo-sapling on its way to Anuradhapura, were none other than the kshatriyas, even though the Mauryan royal dynasty (above caste system) was a mixture of vaishyas and kshatriyas.


King Devanampiya Tissa was a full blooded Kshatriya, claiming direct descent from the Gokkaka dynasty, to which the Buddha belonged; so were most of the Maha Wamsa kings of the early part of Sri Lanka history. All the high positions of sub-kings, ministers, generals, and high priests in Sri Lanka were entrusted then to the Kshatriya Surya Wamsa, the king's own, trustworthy people. King Devanampiya Tissa had people of his lineage, the Kshatriyas of Kajaragama and Candanagama, present at the Bo-tree planting ceremony at Anuradhapura (Mv. ch.XIX, 53-55). The king married a Kshatriya queen and also went through a second consecration ceremony as the king of Sri Lanka, according to the Kshatriya rites and customs.


The following sections from the Mahawamsa further affirms the king's preference to the kshatriya Surya Wamsa at the Bo-tree planting ceremony: ch. XIX, 28-32 and ch. XIX, 35-43). The above status quo is supported by Sir James Emerson Tenant, KCS. LLD., the Colonial Secretary of the then British Ceylon, when he mentions as follows an extraordinary finding he made in the 19th century: "Before leaving (Anuradhapura) for Ario (aripu), the priest of the Great temple waited upon me, bringing with them a youth, a lineal representative of an ancestor who accompanied the Bo Tree in its voyage from Magadha to Ceylon in 289 B.C. The Chiefship of the district has been ever since in the same family, and the boy who bears the title of Suriya - Kumara Sinha, 'Prince of the Lion and the Sun', can boast an unbroken descent compared with whose antiquity the most renowned peerages of Europe are but creations of yesterdays." (Ceylon, An Account of the Island, Physical, Historical and Topographical, 2nd Ed., Vol 2, 1859, p. 625)


The royal succession in Sri Lanka had remained unbroken in the Kshatriya Surya Wamsa right to the end. Even Kurunegala, Gampola, Kotte and early Kandyan kings were connected to the Karavas by virtue of their kshatriya Surya Wamsa origins. Marriages with the Kaurava Kshatriya Kirawella family, the last kings of Sri Lanka, too had been Karavas. Dr. Nissanka never mentions even once about the pivotal role played by the Kshatriyas Surya Wamsa in relation to the arrival of the sacred Bo-sapling or the Bo-sapling planting ceremony at Anuradhapura. he had made no attempt to find people claiming to be descendants of those Kshatriyas. For instance, there are several Karava families claiming to be descended from those who accompanied the Bo-sapling.


The Karava in Sri Lanka are the only people in the island who have been maintaining a steadfast, time-honoured tradition of their Kshatriya Surya Wamsa lineage right throughout the history of Sri Lanka. Many eminent scholars and historians have supported such tradition. Their traditions, customs, practices, insignia, banners and folklore speak of their Kshatriya Surya Wamsa claim. Some karava families at Kalutara have names beginning with Bodhi Baduge, while the majority of Karava people at Chilaw, have the prefix: Mihindu kulasuriya (Mihindu: king or royalty; kula: class; suriya: solar dynasty). They have their own traditions and folklore to claim their descendence from the eighteen members of the royalty mentioned in the Mahavamsa, as having accompanied and protected the sacred Bo-sapling on that historic occasion. My own family has up to 1932 nine generations bearing the name Mihindu-kulasuriya, as mentioned in the genealogical records of prominent citizens of Pitipane Vidiya Chilaw, published in the "Catholic Chilaw' (1932) by Mudliar E. Aloysius Fernando. Those authentic church records are preserved due to research done by the renowned scholar, historian, and linguist, former Bishop of Chilaw Edmund Peries, O.M.I. There are many different versions of the arrival of the sacred Bo-sapling at Anuradhapura in 246 B.C., as given in the Mahavamsa, Samanthapasadika, Pali Mahabodhi Vamsaya and Bodhi Vamsaya. Dr. Nissanka makes use of the most unreliable one of them all, the Bodhivamsa, which is an adulterated version of our history.


The following points show why Dr. Nissanka's article deserves the learned reader's scrutiny and objective analysis:


I) Nowhere in the Mahavamsa, which is the oldest chronicle we have, does one find the word 'deva kula' mentioned. The name kshatriyas, so often mentioned in the Mahavamsa and inscriptions, have no place in Dr. Nissanka's theory. According to him, the protection and the management of the sacred Bo sapling at Anuradhapura were in the hands of some families around


Anuradhapura, described by him as belonging to 'deva kula'. But Dr. Ananda Guruge (Notes to chapter XIX, p. 847) in his translation of the Mahavamsa, describes 'dave keula' as follows: 'In deva kula the word deva is evidently to be taken in the sense of 'king', and merely as synonymous of khattiya (kshatriya). Kula means... the individual belonging to a class or craft'.

Thus we find that the inhabitants of those villages around Anuradhapura, who eke out a living by cultivation, cannot be descendants of the deva kula or kshatriyas, who consider cultivation as below their kshatriya status.


2) Dr. Nissanka says that the protection of the Bodhi tree was assigned to Prince Bodhigupta. He might as well say that the Suriyagupta was assigned with the job of looking at the sun, Senanayake's job was commanding the army, and Basnayake's job was driving buses. There are several villages in Sri Lanka, having names such as Boange, Bogamuwa, Bowatte, Bovatenne, etymologically connected with the name Bodhi Tree. Are we to believe that those living in such villages are descendants of those who looked after the sacred Bo-sapling at Anuradhapura?


3) There were no Lambakarnas in the Mauyrian kingdom or Sri Lanka at the time the Bodhi Tree was brought to the island. Therefore, Lambakaranas had nothing to do with the Bodhi Tree, or the ancestors of Bulankulames or Senanayakes.


4) Dr. Nissanka again speculates: "the clan of Mahaya living in the nine Viharagams in Anuradhapura have a great claim to be recognised as the clan with the oldest recorded history in the world, going back to 2300 years'. The sweeping socio-economic revolution and the malaria epidemic in the Anuradhapura region in the recent past history of Sri Lanka would not have left them still living in their original habitation.