THE POLONNARUWA KINGS,
THE years following the deportation of Mahinda V. were filled with abortive risings by the Sinhala alternating with repression by the Cholas. At first the captive king's son Kassapa or Vikrama Bahu led the national resistance. On his death anarchy supervened, Sinhala adventurers and dispossessed Indian princes from the Pandyan country, and even one Jagatipala from Kanauj asserting authority over portions of the. Island. Finally the hopes of the Sinhala cented in the person of the young prince Kitti, who was born about AD. 1039. When fifteen years of age he defeated the last pretender, Lokissara, and on attaining his majority at sixteen assumed the rank of sub-king with the name of Vijaya Bahu . His attention now was given entirely to the liberation of his country. A first attempt to secure Polonnaruwa was made in or about A.D. 1066 but ended in failure, and Vijaya Bahu was compelled to fortify himself at Vatagiri (Wakirigala in Kogalla District} Rebellion as usual hampered the young prince, but at last an opportunity presented itself in the civil war, which raged in the Chola empire and ended with the accession of Kulottunga Chola I. in A.D. 1069/70. Vijaya Bahu was then at Mahanagakula on the lower Walawe Ganga, and dispatched two armies, one by the highway by the sea,' through the Eastern Province, and one to the west of the mountain system, while he himself advanced by Mahiyangana. Polonnaruwa fell, and Anuradhapura was entered in the prince's fifteenth year, about A.D. 1070. His coronation as monarch of Lanka was delayed by rebellion, and only took place in his eighteenth year, or A.D. 1072/3. Polonnaruwa now lost its Chola title and was styled Vijayarajapura. Vijaya Bahu married Lilavati, daughter of Jagatipala of Kanauj, whose, queen had escaped from captivity in the Chola country, and also Tilokasundari of the Kalinga royal race, while his sister Mitta espoused a Pandyan prince, who became the grandfather of Parakrama Bahu the Great. The king restored the Buddhist religion, renewing the priestly succession from Ramanna (Pegu), and caused a temple for the Tooth Relic to be built at the capital by his general Nuvaragiri.
|Fig 4.1 Moonstone, Polonnaruwa|
The mutilation of ambassadors sent by Vijaya Bahu to the West Chaiukya king Vilaramaditya VI. by the Cholas led to a declaration of war. Preparations were being made about A,D. 1084/5, when the Velakkara mercenaries, unwilling to fight their Tamil kinsmen, mutinied, and burnt the royal palace. The king fled to Wakirigala, but returning crushed the insurrection, the ringleaders being burnt at the funeral pyre of the royal generals whom they murdered. The Velakkilra force learnt the lesson, and at the end of the reign set up the fine Tamil stone inscription still extant at Polonnaruwa, in which is recorded their agreement to protect the Tooth Relic temple.
Almost the last act of this king was the construction of resting-places on the roads to Adam's Peak, and the grant of the village of Gilimale in Ratnapura District for the purpose of supplying food to pilgrims. This benefaction is recorded in a large rock inscription at Ambagamuwa, not far from Nawalapitiya, dated in the thirty-eighth year from his coronation as sole king. Vijaya Bahu reigned fifty-five years, and died at the age of seventy-two, about A.D. 1111.
His successor was his brother Jaya Bahu (1108-1145/6), the sub-king, who had been promoted to this office on the death of his elder brother Vira Bahu apparently towards the end of the reign. As a Tamil inscription at Polonnaruwa equates the thirty-eighth year of Jaya Bahu with the fifteenth of Gaja Bahu, it is probable that this king was Vijaya's half brother. The coronation of Jaya Bahu was carried out by the Pandyan faction in the royal family, who took advantage of the absence of Vikrama Bahu of the Kalinga party as governor of Ruhuna, and the office of sub-king at the same time was conferred on Manabharana or Vira Bahu one of the three sons of the Pandyan prince and Vijaya Bahu's sister Mitta; by this ; appointment they `transgressed the ancient customs,' the office by right belonging to the king's own brother or the late king's son. Jaya Bahu's kingship seems to have been strictly legal, as Vikrama Bahu, though he deprived him of power, never assumed the crown himself, and documents were dated in Jaya Bahu's regnal years. even at Polonnaruwa. The Pandyan party at once proceeded to attack Vikrama Bahu, but were beaten; the prince went to the capital, and Jaya Bahu retired to Ruhuna, where he lived as nominal sovereign and subsequently died in obscurity. *
The country was now divided into four parts. The `King's Country,' with its capital at Polonnaruwa was held by Vikrama Bahu (1111-1132); he seized the lands dedicated to Buddha and oppressed the priests,, who removed the Tooth and Bowl Relies to ituhuna. The `Southern Country' was ruled by Manabharana, while Ruhuna was divided between the other two brothers, Siri Vallabha having Dolosdahas-rata, roughly the Southern Province, and Kitti Sirimegha Atadahas-rata or the modern Uva and most of the Eastern Province.
Manabharana's famous son Parakrama Bahu was born at Punkhagama in the `Southern Country,' and after his father's death retired with his mother to Mahinagakula in the dominions of his uncle, Sri Vallabha, who now ruled the whole of Ruhuna on his surviving brother succeeding to Manabharana's principality. On the death of Vikrama Bahu, after a rule of twenty-one years, and the accession of his son, Gaja Bahu II. 1131-1153), Sri Vallabha and Kitti Sirimegha attacked the `King's Country,' but failed in their enterprise. Parakrama Bahu had now grown up and went to the country of his birth, where he lived at his uncle's court. His ambitious spirit made him restless and discontented with the prospect of ruling a petty principality. Accordingly one night he left the court and went to Batalagoda, where the general in command was killed, and thence through Hiniyala to Buddhagama (Menikdena Nuwara in Matale District), where he intrigued with Gaja Bahu's general at Kalavewa. His uncle, fearing complications with the Court of Polonnaruwa, sent troops to bring him back, but the prince, making a detour through Bogambara and Ranamure in the Laggala country of Matale East and through Ambana, finally crossed the frontier and so came to Polonnaruwa: here he lived with Gaja Bahu, and spent his time in spying out the country, and intriguing with his host's subjects. Later he returned to his uncle, and succeeded him on his death.
As ruling prince he did much to improve his dominions by the construction of irrigation works, particularly on the Deduru Oya, and by the organization of the military and civil government. Having consolidated his position. he attacked Gaja Bahu, first annexing Dumbara and the adjoining hill country. In the campaign which followed most of the fighting took place in. the present Matale District. Finally Polonnaruwa was stormed and Gaja Bahu himself captured. Manabharana, who had succeeded his father Siri Vallabha in Ruhuna, now came to the rescue, defeated Parakrama Bahu's army and set Gaja Bahu at liberty. But the king had found a worse master in Manabharana, and appealed to Parakrama Bahu for help. War ensued, and Gaja Bahu, again at liberty, fled, while his officers fought with his deliverer. Ultimately he abdicated in favour of Parakrama Bahu, and died at Kantalai after a reign of twenty-two years. His ministers, however, sent for Manabharana, while Parakrama hurried to Polonnaruwa and was crowned. A campaign of varying fortune ensued, ending in the defeat of Manabharana, who fled to his own country and died. Parakrama Bahu thereupon was crowned a second time.
Parakrama Bahu the Great (A.D. 1153-1186) was now sole monarch of Lanka, but his rule was not acceptable to all. In his fourth year (A.D. 1156/7) Sugala Devi, mother of Manahbarana, raised the standard of revolt in Ruhuna. The campaign against the rebels was protracted ; in the early part of it the Tooth and Bowl Relics were recovered and dispatched to Polonnaruwa. The rebels gradually were driven to the south of the island by the royal army operating in Uva, and their defeat was ensured by the arrival of other forces from Sabaragamuwa and the western sea coast. Sugala Devi herself was captured and the revolt collapsed. Ruhuna for the moment was quiet, but rose again in the king's eighth year or A.D. 1160/1.
In his twelfth year (A.D. 1164/5) Parakrama Bahu went to war with the king of Ramanna (Pegu), disputes having arisen on the subject of the elephant trade and the treatment of the Sinhala ambassadors; the crowning offence Was the seizure of a princess sent from Lanka to Cambodia. A fleet was collected at the port of Paluvak-tota, perhaps Palvakki on the coast north of Trincomalee; it set sail in the south-west monsoon and the sailors stormed the city of Kusumiya (Cosmin on the Pegu River). There the army remained f or five months, when, the king of Ramanna having been slain, peace was restored. The grant of land given to the general Kit Nuvaragiri (Kitti Nagaragiri), is recorded in a rock inscription at Devanagala in Kegalla District.
|Fig 4.2 A 12th-century statue, often referred to as "The Sage", but popularly believed to represent Parakrama Bahu I|
|Fig 4.3Lankatilaka Vihara, Polonnaruwa|
The king further enlarged and fortified Polonnaruwa, and adorned the city with numerous palaces and pleasure gardens. He also paid attention to irrigation, opening the Akasaganga (`Heavenly Ganges') channel, the presen Angamedilla Ela, from the Ambanganga, and forming or improving the ` Sea of Parakrama,' which included Topa vewa, as well as many other tanks throughout the country Hereafter we hear little of irrigation : foreign distur bances, and, to a much greater degree, the appearance of malaria account for the collapse of the old works.
The internal peace of the kingdom seems only to have been disturbed by a rebellion in the neighbourhood of Mahatittha (Mantota) in Parakrama's sixteenth yeas (A.D. 1168/9). The king died after ruling thirty-three years, about A.D. 1186. His reign is considered to mark the zenith of Sinhala greatness. Brilliant undoubtedly it was, but the constant wars, in particular that of the Pandyan succession, and the numerous buildings impoverished the country, which never recovered. A few years after his death Nissanka Malla claims to have relieved the people from the heavy taxation imposed by his predecessor. A witness to the poverty of the time is the complete disappearance of the larger gold coinage. It is to be noted that Parakrama Bahu, strong as he was, employed Tamil soldiers.
Parakrama was succeeded by his sister's son, Pandita Vijaya Bahu, a learned man who himself wrote a Pali letter to the king of Ramanna. After a reign of one year he was killed in an intrigue with a cowherd's daughter by one, Mahinda, who was immediately put to death by Vijaya Bahu's sub-king, Nissanka Malla.
Nissanka Malla (A.D. 1187-1196) ruled for nine years. He was born at Sinhapura in Kalinga in A.D. 1157/8, and was son-in-law or nephew to Parakrama Bahu I., who brought him from his native country to Lanka. He is the first of the pure Kalinga dynasty, and in his inscriptions which abound in Polonnaruwa is careful to inculcate the right of that family to the throne of Lanka, basing this claim on the ancestry of Vijaya, the first king. His documents are bombastic in the extreme, and he seems to have taken to himself the credit for many buildings erected by Parakrama Bahu. He even claims to have reconciled the three sects of Buddhist priests, and to have invaded the Pandyan coimtry thrice. What is certain is that he built the Ruwanweli Dagaba (the present Rankot Vehera) at Polonnaruwa, and also a new Tooth Relic temple, the construction of which is said to have taken sixty hours. He also embellished the cave temple of Dambulla. The Circular Relic House (Wata Da-ge) attributed to. him is really Parakrama's Tooth Relic shrine, Ponverted by him to other purposes. He was succeeded by his son Vira Bahu, who only survived the night.
|Fig 4.4Galpota, or "Stonebook", which is eight metres long and 4.25 metres wide, bears inscriptions of Nissanka Malla's invasion of India and his relations with other countries.|
With Parakrama Bahu I. we once more gain an insight into the government of the country. While still only ruler of the `Southern Country,' he reorganized the administrative system of his principality, and it is probable that he introduced the reforms then made into the government of the whole Island on his securing the crown. The sub-king's country before his time was ruled by two ministers, the `Adigars of Lanka,' who, doubtless as in the last days of Kandyan rule, divided the supervision of the whole realm between them. Parakrama, with the object of obtaining a better revenue, separated `all the land of great value,' in all probability the royal villages which in later days always contained the most fertile lands, and placed it under a third minister, perhaps the one known in the fourteenth century as the `Adigar in charge of the palace.' We also hear of twelve governors of provinces, of eighty-four rulers of smaller districts, and of chiefs in charge of the borders, all with military and probably also with civil jurisdiction. The Nikaya Sangraha attributes to Parakrama the creation or rather the reorganization of the great offices of State, as well as of the various departments, to which the villages throughout the kingdom were attached. It seems possible that he abolished the practical autonomy of the `sub-king's' country ` and of Ruhuna, establishing instead a centralized form of government for the whole Island.
In the last chapter we heard of the Council. Luckily the inscriptions on the pillars of Nissanka Malla's `Council Chamber' at Polonnaruwa supply us with definite information as to its constituent members. These were the Yuvaraja, otherwise known as Mapa, or sub-king; the Epas or princes; the Senevirad or commander-in-chief, often a member of the royal family; the C Principal Chiefs' or Adigars, and the Chief Secretary with his subordinates, who all sat on the king's right hand; on his left were the governors of provinces ; the chiefs of districts ; and the principal merchants, doubtless under official head the Situ-na. But we are still without knowledge as to the powers of this body.
The traditional `fourfold army `in India was composed of elephants, horses, chariots, and foot soldiers. In Lanka in the period before the twelfth century we find the king in battle usually mounted on an elephant. His royal parasol was the rallying point of the army, and, as in South India, the king's flight or death entailed the rout of his host; an instance of this is seen in the account of Kassapa I.'s defeat by his brother. Occasionally princes were mounted on horses, but these were always a luxury in the south, being imported at heavy cost. In the twelfth century there is no indication of the existence of organized units of elephants, chariots, or cavalry in Lanka; indeed the thickly wooded nature of the country, in which the operations took place, renders it very doubtful whether they could have been used to any extent. This is noteworthy, as during the Portuguese period in the low country elephants were employed in siege operations as well as in the van of the army. In the period under consideration a division consisted of infantry with the accompanying baggage train; the generals were carried in palanquins and were distinguished by their parasols. The bulk of the troops presumably then, as certainly in later days, consisted of local levies and was stiffened by various select corps, such as the `moonlight archers,' recruited for night work, and the regiment of mace-bearers. These may he the `eight bodies of skilled foot soldiers,' said to have been organized by Parakrama Bahu I. In the opinion of foreigners the efficiency of the troops was low, and Marco Polo (lib. iii. cap. 14) states that in his day, at the end of the thirteenth century, the authorities employed `Saracens' or Muhammadan mercenaries. Under Parakrama Bahu I. the Lanka records mention by name the Canarese, the Keralas, and the Tamils; the Velakkara force had continued to exist since the days of Vijaya Bahu I. In the thirteenth century Rajputs are mentioned.
|Fig 4.5 Sinhasana Throne of Nissanka Malla, Polonnaruwa|
Temporary fortresses played a great part in the civil wars of the twelfth century. Such a stronghold consisked of a stockade `not to be shaken by elephants,' furnished with a gate and surrounded by a ditch strewn with thorns; the approaches through the surrounding forest were blocked by barricades of trees. In one instance a gang of housebreakers armed with sharp-edged deer horns was dispatched to effect an entry into a fort of this kind. In a stronghold of exceptional strength, described at length in the Mahavansa, a central tower of four stories was surrounded by two concentric stockades, between which lay a ditch twenty to thirty eubits wide, strewn with thorns and spikes. This ditch was some 700 feet round, Beyond the outer stockade lay another similar ditch, and beyond this a row of spikes and a thorn fence with a deeper ditch outside. The whole was surrounded by an open space cleared in the forest. The approaches were defended by concealed pits dug in the paths, commanded by archers in ambush. In the attack on this fortress we read of stones hurled from engines, of reeds fired and thrown among the enemy, and of fire-darts.
|Fig 4.6 Polonnaruwa with inset showing Jetavanarama Area|
Permanent fortifications were to be found only in the case of cities. At Polonnaruwa in the twelfth century and at Kurunegala and Vatagiri in the thirteenth, we hear of ramparts, watch-towers, gates and gate-houses. In the next century Kotte had its great moat and its ramparts with watch-towers, defended with spikes and calthrops. The Tamil soldiers, who came against this fortress, were provided with wicker screens as a protection against poisoned darts, and with mantlets, apparently for regular siege operations. Minor permanent defences were the watch-stations at strategic positions on the highways, usually at the boundary of a district. These simply consisted of a' thorn-gate,' a movable screen hung on a door frame, set in the path and sometimes furnished with wing walls. These watch-stations or `gravets' continued in use until 1815.
For general history see Mhv. and Puj., and for the interregnum during the Chola occupation, S. 1.1 ii. No. 9; iii. i. Nos. 28, 29; J.R.A.S. 1913, pp. 519 if.
Vijaya Bahu 1. The Ambagamuwa inscription (E..Z. ii. No. 35) makes his father to be King Abha Salamevan; it is probable that Moggallana was nominal king, as an Abha Salamevan is required between Mahinda V. (Siri Sanga Bo) and Vijaya Bahu (also Siri Sanga Bo), and as Vikrama Bahu refused the crown. If this be so Vijaya Bahu's title of Yuvaraja is explained. Moggallana may have died before his son's coronation. For Mahanagakula on the Wa]awo see Milnavulu Sandesaya (J.R.A.S. 1905). For Vijayarajapura seethe Velakkara inscription (A. 8., 1911-12, p. 111 ; J.R.A.S., C B. xxix. No. 77, p. 266), and the Kapurn Vedu Oya record (op. cit.); the first mentioned record gives the king's age, the first nakshatra occurring on the actual day of his birth. The building of the Tooth Relic House at ` Kandavura,' i.e. Polonnaruwa, is recorded in the Dalada Pujavaliya.
Jaga Bahu See `Dimbulagala,' by H. C. P. Bell, C.A. x. pt. i. pp. 10 if. For Tamil records of his reign see A.S. 1911-12, pp. 113 ff.
Parakrama Bahu I. For the campaigns before his accession see "Notes on Ceylon Topography" (op. cit.). The irrigation works mentioned in Mhv. lxviii. are on the Deduru Oya and its neighbourhood, and not in Sabaragamuwa as supposed by Wijesinha. For Sugala Devi's rebellion and the recovery of the Tooth Relic in the king's fourth year see Dalada Pujavaliya and CA. ix. pt. iv. Pp. 183 if.; the Tooth Relic, when in Ruhuna, was kept at Udundora Amaragiri, which is known from a Sinhala verse to be the old name of Monaragala; the Pali name Uruvela of Mhv. lxxiv. and lxxix. is rendered in Puj. by `Etumala-vewa,' the modem Etimole. For Kusumiya see Hobson Jobson, s.v. Cosmin; the grant to the successful general is given in the Report on the Kegalla District, P. 75. For the war of the Pandyan succession see the Chola inscriptions, A.R.E. No. 20 of 1899, ib. 1899-1900, para. 38, ib. 1905-6, p. 70; S. 1.1. iii. 1. Nos. 86, 87, 88; Ep. Ind. vii. p. 169; for the Pallavarayanpettai inscription relating Lankapura's fate, dated 8 Rajadhiraja II. (1170-1), see A.R.E. 1924, No. 433. The Nissankesvara temple is mentioned in E.Z. i. No. 9; ii. No. 17. The Convocation in A.B. 1708 is also recorded in Dalada Pujdvaliya. As to Parakrama Bahu's buildings at Polonnaruwa the arrangement in Mhv. lxxviii. is topographical, running from south to north. A similarly logical arrangement appears in chap. lxxix., vv. 14-60 dealing with the king's country, vv. 61-70 with the sub-king's country, and vv. 7 1-85 with Ruhuna. I identify the Sea of Parakrama' with the chain of tanks along the Angamedilla Ela; there still exist pillars on the embankments giving the length of Padi (Padawiya), Kanadiyadora (Maha Kanadarawa) and Kale (Kalavewa) tanks, by which famous names the king designated those tanks of the chain. There was another `Sea of Parakrama' in the sub-king's country, made before Parakrama became king (Mhv. lxviii.). The same does not necessarily imply any great size, as the Kandy lake was known officially as the Kiri Muhuda or `Sea of milk.'
The appearance of malaria may be referred to in Plancius' map of 1592, in which the following entry in Portuguese occurs `Kingdom of Jala deserted and depopulated for 306 years by reason of unhealthiness.' This `kingdom' is Yala in the south-east of the Island.
Nissanka Malla. The date of his birth, A.B. 1700, is given in the Galpota inscription (1&Z. ii. No. 17). If this date can be interpreted as that of his arrival in Lanka, the difficulty of his claim to have reconciled the priesthood, which took place in 1708, is removed. His claim of descent from Vijaya was due to the confusion of SinhaBahu's capital with the Sinhapura', in Kalinga. and to the introduction of Kalinga into Vijaya's pedigree. Sahasa Malla. For the date of his accession see E.Z. ii, No. 98, and Fleet, `The Buddhavarsa,' J.R.A.S. 1909, p. 323. For the chronology of the period see C.A. iv. pp. 33, 35, and x. p. 98, and for the system of government Mhv. lxxix., A.S. 1900, p. 9 (A.I.C. 146), and J.R.A.S., C.B. xxix. No. 77, p. 304.
On military matters the following references to the Mhv. may be of use: xxxix. 25 if. ; xliv. 19; 1. 25; lxix; lxx. 82, 100, 159, 168-169; lxxii. 266 if.; lxxiv. 32, 73; lxxv. 33; lxxvi. 48. For the skilled foot soldiers see N.S. p. 20, where it is mistranslated (viyat pat ata ganaya). In three passages of the Mhv. a division is described as: sayogga-bala-vahana. A chariot is ratha. Vahana in the case of the gods is a `vehicle' or rather a `mount,' an animal. Here we may translate: carts, men, and animals for use as mounts and for transport. `Yana is translated by Wijesinha as `chariot,' `waggon' in Mhv. lxx. 85, 122, but chap. xc. 5-8, distinctly proves that the conveyance was a palanquin (andoli) in this case at least. In Mhv lxix. the leather doublet is called camma-vamma (Sinh. yam) and the coat of mail kavaca (Sinh kavada); the Sinhala name for chain armour (delu, Skt. jalaka) appears in the fifteenth century Ruwanmala, which also mentions the helmet. For the `many hued' armour see N.S. p. 26.
The great fort is described in Mhv. lxxii. 266 if. For the fortifications of Polonnaruwa see Mhv. lxx. 190; lxxiii. 57 if. for Kurunegala and Vatagiri see Puj. (manuscript) ; for Kotte, N.S. p. 25. For the `thorn-gates' see the name Kantakadvara-vataka in Mhv. lxxiv. 85; also Knox, bk. ii. chap. vi. The word `gravet' comes through the Dutch from the Portuguese `gara-veto,' and this directly from the Sinhala kadawata.'