Ancient history of Sri Lanka

The Ancient history of Sri Lanka begins with the gradual onset of historical records in the final centuries BC, ending the prehistoric period. A traditional date is the landing of Vijaya, a semi-legendary king who arrived in Sri Lanka with 700 followers, dated to 543 BC, the earliest historical event mentioned in the Mahavamsa chronicle and the founding myth of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka.The account of the Mahavamsa becomes historical from the 3rd century BC, with the arrival of Buddhism under Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka. Epigraphic sources also appear with the presence of Buddhism, from about the 3rd century BC. The earliest historiographic litearature, such as the Mahavamsa, dates to the 6th century AD.The entire ancient period of Sri Lankan history is dominated by the Anuradhapura Kingdom. The medieval period in Sri Lanka is taken to begin with the fall of the Anuradhapura Kingdom in AD 1017.Contents [hide]1Pali Chronicl2Landing of Vijaya2.1Mahavamsa tradition2.2Place-names3Anuradhapura Kingdom3.1Arrival of Buddhism and the Sacred Tooth Relic3.2Invasions3.3Lambakanna3.4Demise4Technology4.1Kaboja or Kambojas4.2Dameda (=Damela) or Tamils (Dravidian group from southern India)4.3Mileka, Muridi, Merya and Jhavaka5See also6References7External links // [edit]Pali Chronicles Main articles: Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, and Culavamsa The Pali chronicles, the Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Thupavamsa[1] and the Culavamsa as well as a large collection of stone inscriptions,[2] the Indian Epigraphical records, the Burmese versions of the chronicles etc., provide an exceptional record for the history of Sri Lanka from about the 6th century B.C.The Mahavamsa, written around 400 AD by the monk Nagasena,[citation needed] using the Deepavamsa, the Attakatha and other written sources available to him, correlates well with Indian histories of the period. Emperor Asoka's reign is recorded in the Mahavamsa. The Mahavamsa account of the period prior to Asoka's coronation, (218 years after the Buddha's death) seems to be part legend.[edit]Landing of Vijaya Main article: Vijaya of Sri Lanka Sri Lankan written history begins with the arrival of Vijaya and his 700 followers. Vijaya is a semi-legendary figure. He is the first recorded king of Sri Lanka but is also a figure in medieval Sri Lankan Tamil literature. His reign is traditionally dated to 543 BC - 505 BC. The primary source for his life-story is the Mahavamsa. It is inevitably difficult, given the dearth of sources, to separate fact from legend in Vijaya's life, and as H. W. Codrington puts it, 'It is possible and even probable that Vijaya (`The Conqueror') himself is a composite character combining in his person...two conquests' of ancient Sri Lanka. Vijaya is a Kalinga (ancient Orissa) prince, the eldest son of King Sinhabahu ("Man with Lion arms") and his sister Queen Sinhasivali. Both these Sinhala leaders were born of a mythical union between a lion and a human princess. The Mahavamsa states that Vijaya landed on the same day as the death of the Buddha (See Geiger's preface to Mahavamsa). The story of Vijaya and Kuveni (the local reigning queen) is reminiscent of Greek legend, and may have a common source in ancient Proto-Indo-European folk tales.[3][edit]Mahavamsa traditionMahavamsa[4] attests that the ancestors of the Sinhalese came from Sihapura (Sinhapura) located in Lala Rattha (=Lata Rashtra). Prince Sihabahu had left his maternal grand father's kingdom in Vanga and founded a Sihapura in Lata Rashtra. He married Sihasivali and there were born Vijaya and Sumitta and thirty more sons to her. With time, Sihabahu consecrated Vijaya as prince-regent, but due to some misdemeanor of prince Vijaya, the king had to banish him and his 700 followers from Sinhapura. Story says that the king had caused their heads to be shaved (aradh-mundak) before putting them on a ship and driving them away into the sea. The exiles sailed past Bharukachcha and Soparaka and finally landed at Tambapanni (Ceylon) near Puttalam.[5] on the day of Parinibhana (decease) of the Buddha (542 BCE or 486 BCE). The exiles permanently settled on the island, married local wives and established their kingdom which, in succeeding generations, assumed the name as Sinhala, said to have been named after Sinhapura, the ancestral city of the exiles. The authorities such as Wilhelm Geiger, H. W. Codrington, Chatterji, Mendis, A. L. Bhasham, S. Parnavitana, K. M. De Silva, J. L. Kamboj etc assert that the early settlers of Sri Lanka came from the north-west part of India, while others like Muller, Majumdar, Siddhartha, Sabidullah etc hold that north-eastern India was the home of the earliest colonists.[6] The Encyclopedia Britannica asserts on Vijaya's arrival in Sri Lanka as follows: "Their landing in Sri Lanka at Tambapanni, near Puttalam, would indicate their arrival from western India. Some early tribal names occurring in Sri Lanka also suggest connections with north-western India and the Indus region. While considerable evidence points to western India as the home of the first immigrants, it seems probable that a subsequent wave arrived from the east around Bengal and Orissa" .[7][8][edit]Place-names Main article: Sri Lankan place name etymology According to the Mahavamsa, Vijaya landed on Sri Lanka near Mahathitha (Manthota or Mannar[9]), and named the Island "Thambaparni" ('copper-colored palms). This name is attested in Ptolemy's map of the ancient world.Tamirabharani is the old name for the second longest river in Sri Lanka (known as Malwatu Oya in Sinhala and Aruvi Aru in Tamil). This river was a main supply route connecting the capital, Anuradhapura to Mahathitha (Mannar). The waterway was used by Greek and by Chinese ships travelling the southern Silk Route. Mahathitha was an ancient port linking Sri Lanka to India and the Persian gulf,[10]. The present day Sihalese (and many modern Tamils) are a mixture of the indegenous people and of other peoples who came to the island from various parts of India. The Sinhalese recognize the Vijayan Indo-Aryan culture and Buddism (already in existence prior to the arrival of Vijaya), as distinct from other groups in neighbouring south India.[edit]Anuradhapura Kingdom Main articles: Anuradhapura Kingdom and Anuradhapura[edit]Arrival of Buddhism and the Sacred Tooth RelicDevanampiya Tissa (250-210 BC), a Sinhalese King of the Mauriya clan. His links with Emperor Asoka led to the introduction of Buddhism by Mahinda (son of Asoka) in 247 BC. Sangamitta, (sister of Mahinda) brought a Bodhi sapling via Jambukola (Sambiliturei). There is no evidence in the history of King Ashoka about his having had a son by the name of Mahinda (or by any other name) or a daughter by the name of Sangamitta (or by any other name). This king's reign was crucial to Theravada Buddhism, and for Sri Lanka.[edit]InvasionsElara (205-161 BC), a South IndianTamil King who ruled "Pihiti Rata", i.e., Sri Lanka north of the mahaweli, after killing King Asela. During Elara's time, Kelani Tissa was a sub-king of Maya Rata (south-west) and Kavan Tissa was a regional sub-king of Ruhuna (south-east). Kavan Tissa built Tissa Maha Vihara, Dighavapi Tank and many shrines in Seruvila. Dutugemunu (161-137 BC) – Eldest son of King Kavan Tissa, who was a young man 25 years of age, defeated the South Indian Tamil Invader Elara (over 64 years of age) in single combat, described in the Mahavamsa. Dutugemunu is depicted as a Sinhala "Asoka". The Ruwanwelisaya, built by this king is a dagaba of pyramid-like proportions. It was an engineering marvel.Pulahatta (or Pulahatha) deposed by Bahiya, was deposed by Panaya Mara, deposed by Pilaya Mara, murdered by Dathiya 88 BC – deposed by Valagambahu, ending Tamil rule. Valagambahu I (89-77) BC – restored the Dutugamunu dynasty. The Mahavihara Theravada - Abhayagiri (pro-Mahayana) doctrinal disputes arose at this time. The Tripitaka was written in Pali at Aluvihara, Matale. Chora Naga (Mahanaga) (63-51) BC; poisoned by his consort Anula. Queen Anula (48-44 BC) – Widow of Chora Naga and Kuda Tissa, was the first Queen of Lanka. She had many lovers who were poisoned by her. She was finally killed by: Kuttakanna Tissa. Vasabha (67-111 AD) – Vallipuram gold plate; he fortified Anuradhapura and built eleven tanks; many edicts. Gajabahu I (114-136) – invaded the Chola kingdom and brought back captives. He recovered the tooth relic of the Buddha.Mahasena (274-301) – The Theravada (Maha Vihara) was persecuted and Mahayana surfaced. Later the King returned to the Maha Vihara. Pandu (429) - first of seven Pandiyan rulers, ending with Pithya, 455; Dhatusena (459-477), his uncle, Mahanama wrote the Mahavamsa, he built "Kalaweva". His son Kashyapa (477-495), built the famous sigiriya rock palace. Some 700 rock graffiti give a glimpse of ancient Sinhala.[edit]LambakannaManavamma (684-718) – seized the throne with Pallava help. Manavamma introduced Pallava patronage for three centuries. By the 9th century, with the Pandyan ascendancy in southern India, Anuradhapura was sacked. However, the Sinhalese invaded Pandya using a rival prince, and Madurai itself was sacked. Mahinda V (982-1029) – was the last Sinhala monarch of Anuradhapura. He fled to Ruhuna, where, in 1017, the Chola took him to prison and he died in India.[edit]Demise In 993, the Chola Emperor Rajaraja I invaded Sri Lanka, forcing the then Sri Lankan ruler Mahinda V to flee to the southern part of the country.[11] The Mahavamsa describes the rule of Mahinda V as weak, and the country was suffering from poverty by this time. It further mentions that his army rose against him due to lack of wages.[12] Taking advantage of this situation, Rajendra I son of Rajaraja I, launched a large invasion in 1017. Mahinda V was captured and taken to India, and the Cholas sacked the city of Anuradhapura.[11] They moved the capital to Polonnaruwa and subsequent Sri Lankan rulers who came into power after the Chola reign continued to use Polonnaruwa as the capital, thus ending the Anuradhapura Kingdom.[13]