Read as a book




A BOOK on Dutugemunu from the pen of Mr. John M. Senaveratna, who enjoys a deservedly high reputation as a writer on Ceylon History and allied topics, stands in no need of an introduction from anyone, least of all from me.

Mr. Senaveratna has been engaged in the study of Ceylon History from a time when such studies were sadly neglected, and were certainly not considered a means of gaining any material advantage. His writings have, in no small measure, contributed to the greater prestige which the study of Ceylon History enjoys today, and as Editor of that excellent journal, The Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register, he has made a notable contribution to research in that subject.

This vivid pen-picture of the greatest national hero of the Sinhalese should appeal to a wide of readers in Ceylon, for Dutugemunu holds a unique place in. the history of the Sinhalese people. He it was who led the Sinhalese out of a danger which, for the first time in their history, threatened their very existence as a free people. Having liberated his people from the yoke of alien rule, he devoted the remainder of his life to the glorification of his faith, and reared monuments which, at that time, were unsurpassed in magnitude and grandeur by any buildings of their type anywhere in the world.

His bravery in war and his piety in peace captured the imagination of a young and virile people, as the Sinhalese then were, and made such an impression on the national memory that the vicissitudes of twenty centuries have not succeeded in obliterating it. Tales of the brave deeds of Dutugemunu and his companions in arms were related from mouth to mouth, till they became folk-tales and the deeds themselves were magnified into heroic proportions. Certain folk-tale motives which go back to an immemorial antiquity were grafted on to the stories of Dutugemunu and his followers, and his reign has become the heroic age to which the Sinhalese of later times harked back. These folk-stories and the traditions handed down in the Buddhist Church about Dutugemunu form, as it were, the central theme of the national chronicle of the Sinhalese which, in the chapters dealing with this king, has a truly epic character.

Some of his successors excelled Dutugemunil in certain achievements for which he is still honoured. Vijayabahu I, who came more than a thousand years later, had far greater difficulties to overcome in wresting the sovereignty of Ceylon from the mighty Chola Empire. Mahasena was no doubt a greater builder, and Paräkramabähu perhaps earned greater military glory. But none of these has been able to oust Dutugemunu from the position of national hero, and while their names have been kept alive by the labours of scholars and historians, Dutugemunu ‘s is securely enshrined in the heart of every Sinhalese. Stories of Dutugemunu and his paladins are rearned by Sinhalese children at their mothers’ knees— or souit used to be till recently—and it would be difficult to find a peasant, however illiterate, to whom his name and something of his deeds are not known.

It is significant that the names and deeds of great Indian Kings like Samudragupta and Rajaraja, who flourished long after Dutugemunu, were entirely forgotten by the Indians, who now have to thank European scholars for the knowledge they have of these rulers, while Dutugemunu’s memory was preserved by the people of Ceylon for over 2,000 years.

Becoming an idol of the people has also its drawbacks.

As the ideal hero and patron of religion, the stories about Dutugemunu have taken so romantic a shape that many modern historians have treated them with a great deal of scepticism. But the monuments which he founded are still there, at least as ruins. Dutugemunu himself, his brother Saddhatissa, and two at least of his paladins can be recognized in contemporary inscriptions engraved on rock.  The historicity of the main  narrative is thus established  beyond doubt.

Mr. Senaveratna closely follows the chronicles in his treatment of the subject and has included in his account certain episodes which many a modem historian would have passed over in silence. The story of the Princess of Kelaniya, the future mother of Dutugamunu-being sacrificed to the angry Sea-gods, and the touching episode of Gemunu lying huddled together on his  bed,  to  indicate  the  inadequacy of his father’s domains, may  not,  for  instance,  be history, in the strict interpretation of that term, but  these and other similar stories have their own peculiar interest and will no doubt continue to delight the hearts of thousands of men and  women  for  long  ages  to come.

Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon

6th March, 1946.


THE Sinhalese, throughout the twenty-five centuries of the history, have never been content to lie or to remain under an alien yoke.

Their struggle against alien rule, in order to be masters in their own land, began over 2,000 years ago, under the banner of Dutugemunu, the greatest Sinhalese hero of all time. And the struggle has continued, at varying intervals since and against differing aggressors, right down to our own day.

The full story of that age-long struggle, beginning with Dutugemunu and ending with those who have ” fought ‘ and are ” fighting ” for the freedom of Lanka in our time, will be told in a series of Four Volumes dedicated to “LANKA ‘s HEROES AND PATRIOTS—MEN WHO FOUGHT FOR HER FREEDOM. “

This volume, dealing with Dutugemunu arrd the Struggle against the Tamils, is the first of this Freedom of Lanka Series.

All available information has been gathered, from published as well as unpublished sources, to make the story of that earliest struggle and of that great King’s life and times as complete as possible.

Attention is particularly drawn to the new information embodied, firstly about Dutugemunu ‘s consort—the Queen who never figured in recorded Sinhalese history—and, secondlÿ, about Dutugemunu ‘s son, Säli—the Prince who renounced a Throne for the love of a beautiful maiden of humble origin.

The rest of this Series, which is in the course of preparation, will be as follows

  • Vol. Il—The Struggle against the Portuguese
  • Vol. Ill—The Struggle against the Dutch
  • Vol. IV—The Struggle against British Domination

Colombo, 11th February, 1946.


Chapter                                                                          Page

I                   King Kelani Tissa of Kelaniya                              1

II                 King Kavantissa of Mahagama                            5

III                Princes Dutugamunu and Tissa                         11

IV                The Ten Sinhalese Giants                                    15

V                                 do                       do                                  22

VI                Prince Gamu and his Father                               29

VII              The War of the two Brothers                              36

VIII             War with the Tamils                                              43

IX                Rout of the Tamils                                                  50

X                 Fruits of Victory                                                      58

XI                Mirisavetiya Dagaba                                              66

XII               The Lova-maha-paya or the Brazen Palace      70

XIII             The Ruvanveli –seya or Maha Tupa                    76

XIV             Laying of the Foundation Stone                           83

XV              Design of the Maha Thupa                                     90

XVI             The Relic-Chamber of the Maha Thupa              96

XVII            Religious Zeal                                                           103

XVIII          Dutugamu’s Last Wish                                            108

XIX             Dutugamun’s Queen                                                113

XX               Prince Sali and the Chandala Maiden                 117



HISTORY tells us that, in the reign of King Devãnampiya Tissa (B.C. 307—267), his brother, Prince Mahä Näga, fled from Anurädhapura and founded a kingdom in Rohana, with his capital at Mahägama.

During Mahä Näga’s reign, which lasted many years, his son, Prince Yatthälaya Tissa, would appear to have made his way to the western coast ; and, founding a kingdom there, to have ruled that part of the country, with his capital at Kelaniya.

Yatthälaya Tissa is also reputed to have built Keianiya Vihära, and by its side a magnificent palace which served as his residence.

The Kelaniya Dägaba marks the site where Gautama Buddha is said to have been feasted by Mäniakkhika, the Näga King of Kelaniya.

Yatthälaya married the daughter of King Uttiya of Anurädhapura and had three sons, the Princes Tissa, Gothäbhaya and Ayya Uttika.

Of these Tissa (Kelani Tissa) succeeded him at Kelaniya. But his second son, Gothäbhaya, would seem to have gone to Rohana, and, upon his grandfather Mahä Näga’s death, to have succeeded the latter at Mahägama as the second King of the Rohana Dynasty.

On the death of Gothäbhaya, his son Kãkavanna Tissa (Kavan Tissa) succeeded him on the throne of Mahãgama.

The contemporary ruler at Kelaniya was Kelani Tissa.

These two—Käkavanna Tissa and Kelani Tissa Nephew and Uncle respectively paid annual tribute to Elara, King of Anuradhapura whom they thus acknowledged as Overload of Sri Lanka.

The story of the still closer union of these two Royal Sinhalese families of Mahâgama and Kelaniya must ‘now be told, in order to explain how the Sinhalese came to re-assert themselves in the country and eventually to throw off the off the Tamil yoke, against which the. spirit of the nation rebelled, even though Elära was known to be a just and humane ruler.

A Licentious Queen

Kelavi Tissa had a Queen Who was a licentious woman. She was in terms of improper intimacy with the King’s younger brother, Prince Ayya Uttika.

The • King, apprised of the fact or rather suspecting the truth, •resolved publicly to disgrace his brother.

Accordingly, first summoning to his presence a Rodiya (a man of the lowest caste), he instructed the latter how to answer a certain question when publicly interrogated before an assembly of Ministers the next day. Then he dismissed the man upon his agreeing to carry out the Royal behest,

On the following day, before an assembly composed of the King’s Ministers and retinue, Prince Ayya Uttika himself being present, the Rodiyau was brought-and the king asked him :

‘ Tell me, thou base-born one, is there anybody yho can be of lower caste than thou

And the Rodiya replied as instructed :

‘ Yes, Your Majesty. A younger, brother who lives iq the same house with the elder brother is of lower caste than I am.”

Ayya Uttika realised that his secret had been discovered. Filled with shame at the Rodiya’s words and dreading the wrath of the King, he fled from Kelaniya with all haste, and remained concealed in the village of Udu-gampola (not far from the modern Henaratgoda).

From his place of concealment Ayya Uttika was anxious to correspond with the Queen, but it was by no means an easy thing to do. The Queen herself, being suspect, was more or less under watch, and the venture was attended with danger.

In his desperation, Ayya Uttika resolved upon a bold undertaking. Getting one of his attendants to shave off the hair of his head, like a monk, and to wear the yellow robe of a bhikkhu, he handed the man a letter, written on Ola, and instructed him thus

‘ Take this letter and go to the Kelaniya Vihära. When the Elder of the Vihära with his fellow-monk’ proceed, as they usually do, to the Alms-Hall of the Palace for their forenoon-repast, go thou in their midst, take a back seat, and eat. At the appointed hour the King and Queen will come to the Hall for the distribution of food. And, when the meal is over, it is usual for them to go seven paces outside the Hall for the purpose of escorting the Elder when he departs after his repast. Do thou then find a convenient opportunity for dropping this letter near the Queen’.

With these instructions the Prince sent the man away.

Murder of the Maha Thera

The man did as he was directed, and when the Queen passed by him, he dropped the letter in front of her.

As the Queen stooped to pick it up, the King, who was in front and whose attention had been attracted by the sound of the falÍ of the letter behind him, turned back. Seeing the missive in the Queen ‘s. hand, he snatched it from her and read it through.

The letter confirmed his worst suspicions of her. But he was for a few minutes puzzled by the hand-writing, which he identified as that of the Elder’s.

Blinded by uncontrollable anger, he hastily assumed that the High Priest, namely, ” the Maha Thera, was the culprit who had written the letter. And he there and then ordered that the Elder should forthwith be put into a cauldron of oil and boiled, and that the corpse be thrown into the sea.

No one dared disobey. The fell deed was done in a few hours, the Elder’s dead body being cast into the sea along with the corpses of the Queen and the letter-bearer, both of whom had instantly been executed.

The Elder was, of course, entirely innocent of blame, Prince Ayya Uttika, as a boy, had been his pupil learning to read write Sinhalese under his tutelage, and the pupil had naturally imitated his teacher ‘s hand-writing.

The King, in his blind rage, had not stopped to reflect, with the result that a foul murder was committed.

The event evoked- profound indignation throughout the country. The King himself, when he Subsequently learnt of the High Priest ‘s innocence, was stricken with deep but unavailing remorse.

A few days later the sea rose in mighty flood and devastated a great part of the land.

And popular feeling, connecting the calamity with the murder of the innocent Elder, attributed the visitation to the anger of the Gods, in particular of the wrath of the God of the Sea, for it was into the sea that the Elder’s corpse had been thrown.

And the people clamoured at the Palace gates, that the King should forthwith make a suitable offering to the Sea-God, in order to placate the latter’s wrath and so save the country from further destruction.



KING Kelani Tissa was constrained to obey, and he decided to offer his young daughter, the beautiful Princess Devi, as a sacrifice to the angry God.

He ordered her to wash her hair, to take a bath, to dress herself in a silken cloth which had never before been used, and to put on her jewels.

He then had a boat brought and had it gaily decorated. Then, commanding the Princess to take her place inside, he had it covered up and fastened above it an inscription which read .

“ Dëvi, the daughter of King Kelani Tissa, Given as an Offering to the Sea ”.

Then he sent the boat out to sea.

But the floods did not abate. And the tales of distress of whole families homeless and fleeing from the approach of the waters continued hourly to increase.

The King made up his mind to visit the scene of destruction himself. Mounting his State-Elephant and followed by his retinue, he rode out in the direction of the modern village of Vattala, till he reached a place almost midway between Vattala and the Hendala of today.

There, as the result of an earthquake at the moment or some other natural cause, the earth suddenly gaped open just beneath the elephant ‘s feet. And King and elephant were swallowed up in the pit, over which the turbulent waters soon flowed rapidly on.

The King’s body was never recovered. He and his elephant disappeared without leaving a trace, and his death marked the end of the Kelaniya kingdom.

When the floods eventually subsided, the place where the King disappeared from view was indicated by a huge hole or chasm which was afterwards filled up.


A village sprang up on the spot in later times, bearing the significant name of Etu-bun-vala (“Hole where the elephant was swallowed up”), and by this name the place is still known today, over two thousand years later.

The overflow of the sea on this occasion would appear to have submerged several hundred villages and hamlets lying on the western coast. The only old seaport town which escaped on this coast is said to be Katupiti Madampe.

Meanwhile the boat with Princess Devi in it sped swiftly along, being driven by the wind southwards, till it neared the coast of Mahägama, the capital of Kävan Tissa ‘s kingdom of Rohana.
       Fishermen who supplied this King with fish happened to be out at sea at the time, and, seeing the gaily decorated boat with its solitary occupant—a maiden of rare beauty whom they took for some unearthly being—they rowed back in haste to the shore, and went and informed the King at once of what they had seen.

Kävan Tissa summoned his retainers and proceeded to the shore immediately. There he gave directions to the fishermen that they should bring to land the boat, which could be seen tossing on the sea a little distance away.

This was done without delay. And Kävan Tissa, when he read the inscription, knew that this was a King’s daughter. He helped her to land, and, after welcoming her cordially,

led her in procession to Mahägama, his capital. Shortly afterwards he made her his Queen.

Since the spot where Devi landed was close to a monastery known as Lanka Vihära, she is known in history by the name of Vihära Devi.

Buddhism in Rohana

Kävan Tissa, as a devout Buddhist, proved to be a great patron of that religion. And in this he was greatly assisted by Vihära Devi, whose devotion in its cause excelled even that of her husband.

The two did much to spread and establish this faith in the Rohana kingdom, and numerous were the Vihäras, which they founded and endowed. Of these the most important were the following :-

  1. Äkäsa-cetiya (Ahas-seya), situated on a rock near the Situlpav Vihära,
  2. Bisövalu,
  3. Dematahal,
  4. Dora,
  5. Gamitthaväli,
  6. Giriuturuvara,
  7. Kalumuhudu,
  8. Rotagala,
  9. Kutali,
  10. Luterahalpav,
  11. Mahagam-tota,
  12. Niyangam,
  13. Patungalu,
  14. Ratkarav,
  15. Sandagiri,
  16. Seruvila Dâgaba,
  17. Sïlapassaya Parivena,
  18. Situlpav Vihära (Cittalapabbata), fifteen miles north-east of Tissa Mahä Vihära, near the modern Katagamuva ; and
  19. Tissa Mahä Vihära (Tissamahäräma) on the left hand bank of the Mägama river.

The Royal pair did not rest content with merely building religious edifices. They endowed them generously, and, apart from other services, made lavish gifts daily to the priesthood.

Vihära Devi specially distinguished herself in this respect. Her ministrations benefited principally the monks of the Tissamahäräma, who took their midday meal regularly at the Royal Palace and to whom she frequently gave gifts of sweet perfumes, flowers, medicines and clothing.

Vihara Devi ‘s Longings

In time Queen Vihãra Devi became great with child, and she was seized with those curious and intense longings or desires which not infrequently come to women in that condition. Her cravings were extraordinary.

First, runs the legend, she desired to lie on a magnificent bed and to have a huge honeycomb, the honey whereof she should distribute to a large number of bhikkhus and should enjoy the remainder herself.

Secondly, she longed to drink the water that was used to cleanse evil spirits and this water had to be brought from Anuradhapura.

And, thirdly, she desired to adorn herself with garlands of un-faded lotus-blossoms brought from the lotus-marshes of Anurädhapura.

The Queen communicated her longings to the King, who, in turn, consulted the Court Soothsayers as to what they meant or portended.

The Astrologers, after due reflection, declared from the nature of the cravings that they foretokened the birth of a noble son who would in time war with and vanquish the Tamils, and who, after making of Lanka one United Kingdom, would add lustre to the cause of Religion.

Pleased on the one hand by what the Soothsayers had had to say, and anxious on the other to satisfy the Queen ‘s wishes, the King had proclamation made instantly that whoever should point out such a giant honeycomb would be handsomely rewarded.

The two sons of a blind cripple, hearing of the proclamation, determined to earn the Royal reward. Going forth to make diligent search, one of them discovered in a wood a hollow bamboo filled with honeycomb.

The other, however, was more fortunate. He found a boat, entirely filled with honey, lying overturned at a certain place, not far from the sea, in a kadamba (Lat. nauclea cadamba) thicket.

Information of the find was at once sent to Kävan Tissa, who, bringing Vihära Devi with him, visited the spot. There, in a beautiful pavilion, which he had had constructed quickly, he gave the honey to the Queen, who ate it in the manner she wished.

Thenceforth the place where the honeycomb was discovered was named Mïgamuva (” village of the honeycomb ” ), and as such it is still known today among the Sinhalese. It is the modern Negombo.

Velusumana ‘s Exploit

To satisfy the two remaining longings of o the Queen, Velusumana, King Kävan Tissa ‘s chief warrior, undertook the journey to Anurädhapura.

There, concealing his identity, he became friendly with the groom or keeper of King Elära ‘s state-horse, rendering him numerous little services till he had gained his complete confidence.

Then, one day, making up his mind to bring his mission to a close, Velusumana went out early in the morning. After gathering lotus flowers from the lotus marshes of the capital, he brought these to the bank of the Kadamba River (modern Malvatte Oya).

Leaving the flowers as well as his own trusty sword there in a suitable spot on the river bank, he returned to the Royal Stables. Finding the groom away, he led out the State horse—its name was Väha—and mounted it.

Then, openly making himself known, he rode swiftly to the river bank. There, from the spot where he had earlier deposited them, he took the lotus flowers, and, with sword in hand, he dashed forth in the direction of the southern gate of Anurädhapura.

The news of Velusumana ‘s exploit was at once communicated to King Elãra. The latter forthwith ordered NandaSärathi, his chief warrior, to mount the next best horse in the Royal Stables and to pursue the impudent Sinhalese who had dared thus to beard the Tamil ” lion ” in his very den. ‘

Nanda-Sãrathi was quick to obey. Leaping on the back of a horse named Sirigutta, second only to Vãha iñ speed, he set off in pursuit.

Velusumana, the moment he found himself clear of the city, concealed himself in a small thicket, just where the road passe& through a narrow belt of thin jungle. There he remained, sword in hand, waiting for the pursuer who, he knew, was coming hard in his wake.

Thf cloud of dust which Velusumana had raised as he careered along had scarcely cleared, when Nanda-Särathi came swiftly along. And as he just neared the thicket, Velusumana, from his hiding place, sitting on his horse ‘s back, held out his sword.

Nanda-Särathi was literally cut in two, and his horse dashed along for some distance with a corpse for a rider.

Velusumana then alighted, and, cutting off the head of the Tamil warrior from the severed trunk, brought it along with the sword in due course to Mahãgama.

On the way Nanda-Särathi ‘s horse, Sirigutta, was captured, and Velusumana led this animal along with him as he rode into the capital.

Thus were Queen Vihära Devi ‘s longings completely satisfied. And rich and many were the gifts showered by Kävan Tissa upon his brave warrior for the service he thus rendered.



In due time Queen Vihära Devi bore a noble son, endowed with all the auspicious marks which, according to Eastern belief, signify or indicate an exceptionally fortunate or illustrious being destined to achieve greatness and fame in life.

And popular superstition attributed special significance to two events which occurred on the day of the Prince’s birth.

A ship filled with vessels of gold and other precious merchandise was reported to have drifted to or been wrecked on the coast near Mahägama.

And a Chaddanta she-elephant (i.e. of the six-tusked race ” ), of noblest breed, brought forth a young elephant in a grove of kadol trees near the capital and went her way.

A fisherman named Kandula saw the little baby-elephant standing in the jungle on the shore opposite the watering-place, and he straightway told the King about it.

The King sent his elephant-trainer to bring the young elephant along. And he reared the little thing, naming it Kandula, as it had been found by the fisherman Kandula.

The day came, in due course, when there was held, according to a custom still observed by the Sinhalese, what is known as the Name-giving Festival.

At this festival the young Prince ceremoniously received the name of Gämani-Abhaya, contracted later into Gämani or Gemunu.. Two years after Gemunu ‘s birth, Vihära Devi had another son, and he was named Tissa.

Both boys were brought up with the utmost care and solitude, the parents observing every one of the many ceremonies customarily held by the Sinhalese to mark the various stages in the early life of their children.

For instance, the Bat-Kavana-Mangalya ( ” Rice-feeding Feast ” ) was helda festival to celebrate the day on which the two boys ate their first meal of rice out of a golden spoon. And the occasion was marked, among other things, by a great alms-giving to the bhikkhus.

Vihära Devi would appear to have given birth to a daughter as well, the Princess Soma Devi.

This girl, when she came of age, was given in marriage to a Prince named Abhaya, who was ruler or governor of the Giri district.

The Dhätuvansa tells us that Abhaya built a dägaba in his part of the hill region and called it the Somavati Dägaba, after his wife Soma Devi.

Its site is unknown. The old chronicler does not mention its size, but he states that it had the usual three basal platforms and was hemispherical in shape.

The Princes and the Oaths

When the two Princes were twelve and ten years old respectively, the King held another alms-giving, and a goodly number of monks assembled at the Palace.

When they had finished their meal, the King had a little of the rice remaining over placed in a dish and set before them. The boys were then asked each to eat a handful in token of a vow to the following effect :

Never in all our lives will we turn away from the Bhikkhus, the guardian-spirits of our House. “

Alms-rice such as this was held to be a very sacred thing. And the Princes, in solemnly uttering the words, ratified as it were the oath by eating each a handful of the rice.

In similar manner the Princes were requested to swear again:

We two brothers will forever be without enmity, one towards the other “.

And right gladly they took the vow.

But, we are told, when the Princes were once again, for the third time, asked to swear:

‘ Never will we fight with the Tamils, ” they both promptly and indignantly declined.

Tissa is related to have dashed the food away with his hand. And Gemunu, likewise flinging away his handful of rice, went forthwith to his room, and, drawing in his hands and feet, he lay upon his bed.

Mother and Son

Vihära Devi, the Queen-mother, followed Gemunu to his room, and, seeing him huddled up in his bed, caressed him fondly and asked

Why dost thou not lie easily upon thy bed, with limbs outstretched, my son ?

Mother, you ask me a difficult thing “, was Gemunu ‘s answer.   ” Over there, beyond the Mahaveliganga, are the Tamils, and here on this side is the shallow sea. How then can I lie with outstretched limbs ?

The Queen went away without another word, and related the incident to the King.

Kävan Tissa brooded over his son’s words. He could not help being pleasedthough he took care to conceal

his pleasureat the thought of having so martial a son, who gave such early indication of his desire (with which he, the King, secretly sympathised) to fight the hated Tamil oppressor then supreme in the land.

During the next four years, the King and Queen interested themselves specially in the education of the two Princes, and in training them in martial exercises so as to fit them for eventual kingly rule.

Kävan Tissa realised that the expulsion of the Tamils  was a task beyond his strength and not possible in any case in his life-time. He was getting on in years, and his army was still too weak to permit of his successfully undertaking. the heavy task.

But he could help towards that end, and he resolved to make all necessary preparations so that, when the time was propitious, Prince Gemunu, his son, with a force strong and adequately equipped, might drive out the Tamil invader from the land and establish undisputed Sinhalese sovereignty throughout the whole of Lanka.

When Gemunu was sixteen years old, his father provided  him with a separate establishment. And in a very short time there gathered round him that famous band of Sinhalese warriorsthe ten Paladins or Giantswhose renown for strength, valour and daring excelled even that of Prince Gemunu, and whose names, among the most glorious in Ceylon History, are still today, over two thousand years. later, household words among the Sinhalese throughout the length and breadth of Lanka.

The story of how these giant warriors came to be selected originally for service under Prince Gemunu is of extraordinary interest and may now be related with some detail.



  1. Nandhimitta

FIRST of all, there was Nandhimitta. Even as a child he was remarkable for his extraordinary strength.

He was a nephew (sister’s son) of Mitta, a Sinhalese General in King Elära ‘s army, and lived in his uncle’s nindagama of Kadaroda (Pali, Khandaraji), a village south of the city of Anurädhapura and lying near the Citta mountain.

At birth he was named Mitta after his uncle, but soon received another name as the result of the following incident

His mother, when leaving the house to go to the well to fetch water, used to bind the boy fast with a rope or leathern thong slung about his body, the other end of the strap being securely fastened to a great grinding-stone in the kitchen, in order to prevent the child from straying outside.

One day, when the mother was away, the boy, creeping about on the ground, dragged the heavy stone after him, and, in crossing over the threshold, broke the rope asunder. Henceforth he was called Nandhi-Mitta ( ” Mitta of the rope or leathern thong ” ).

When he was grown up Nandhimitta used to go daily to the city (Anurädhapura), where he served under his uncle. And he was accustomed, before returning home in the evening, to offer flowers and light some lamps at the sacred Bo-tree and the Thupärãma.

Elära’s Tamil subjects, however, who were numerous in the city and who did not share, at least to the same extent, his spirit of tolerance and benevolence towards Buddhism, desecrated at that time thüpas and other memorials sacred to that religion.

And Nandhimitta’s offerings, along with those of others, were regularly found thrown aside, trampled or otherwise irreverently treated.

Nandhimitta, incensed beyond words, resolved to kill as many Tamils as he could.

Each Died a Fearful Death

With this grim determination he strode into Anurädhapura every night, and many were the victims on whom he employed his fierce strength and slew.

Each ‘died a fearful death. For Nandhimitta tore asunder every Tamil whom he met, treading one leg down with his foot while he grasped the other with his hand, and then he would cast the mangled remains out over the city walls.

The resulting steady diminution in the ranks of the Tamil warriors soon alarmed the Ministers, who made prompt and vehement representations to the King.

“Take him with his prey,” commanded Elära, and a close watch was set in order to capture alive this ” scourge of the Tamils”.

Nandhimitta was detected flagrante delicto, literally “red-handed but they were unable to seize him. Killing several of his would-be captors and scattering the rest in precipitate flight, he returned to his village. There he reflected in this wise :

“ It is impossible for me to kill all the Tamils of this place. Even if I do so, it is but the destruction of men and brings no glory to the religion. In Rohana there are still Princes who have faith in Buddhism. There will I serve the King. And when I have helped the Princes to overcome all the Tamils and to secure for them the Overlordship of Lanka, I shall make the doctrine of the Buddha to shine forth brightly. “

Accordingly, fired with this new resolve, Nandhimitta left Kadaroda, and, journeying night and day, arrived at Mahägama. He betook himself at once to Prince Gemunu and sought service under him.

Gemunu, after consulting his mother, Queen Vihära Devi, received him with pleasure. Henceforth, loaded with high honours and presents, Nandhimitta continued to dwell with the Prince.

  1. Suranimila

At that time, under King Kävan Tissa’s orders, a strong guard was kept continually at all the fords of the Mahaveliganga in order to hold the Tamils in check.

And the guard near Kasä-tota (Kacchaka f(Td) was given in charge of Prince Dïghäbhaya, a son of the King by a Tesser wife. To form the guard, the Prince commanded each.noble family within a distance of two yojanas round (a yojana=about 8 miles) to send at least one son thither.

Within the district of Kotthivala (Sinh. Kotavädanavva), in the village of Khandaka-vitthika (Sinh. Kadavitiya, Raj. Godigamuva) lived the chief of a clan, the Headman named Samgha, who had seven sons. To him, too, Prince Dïghäbhaya sent a messenger, demanding a son.

Now, of Samgha ‘s seven sons, the youngest was Nimila, a giant in body as well as in strength, but he was prone to idleness.

And when the Prince’s summons came, the six brothers were all of the opinion that Nimila, the idler of the family, should be sent to join the guard.

Not so, however, thought Samgha and his wife, whose pet son was the youngest.

But Nimila, angered by the taunts of his brothers, resolved to go. And his parents, unable to dissuadé him, reluctantly agreed.

The First Stage of the Journey

Accordingly, Nimila rose up early in the morning of the day following the receipt of the Prince’s message, ate ” coldrice ” from the hand of his mother—(thousands of Sinhalese mothers to this day feed their grown-up and bearded sons)— took up his wallet, put into it a quarter of a measure of rice, took leave of his parents, and departed for Kasä-tota (Kacchaka-ford).

Now Kasätota was three yojanas, or nearly some thirty miles, distant from Khandaka-vitthika (Sinh. Godigamuva). And so fleet-footed was Nimila that he is said to have covered the distance in something like three hours.

For he would appear to have presented himself before Prince Dïghäbhaya at sunrise, ” at the time when the Prince was eating rice after he had bathed, that is to say, at the seventh hour after day dawn, ‘ or about 7 a.m.

Dïghäbhaya asked him at what time he had started from home, and was told he had started early the same morning. The Prince could scarcely believe so extraordinary a story, but resolved at once to put him to a practical test. After giving Nimila a meal of cold-rice, the Prince handed him a letter and addressed him thus :

“ Near the Cetiya mountain, east of Anurädhapura, in the village of Dvaramandala, Sinh. Daramadala ; Raj. Demitigama), is a Brahmin named Kundali, who is my friend. In his possession is merchandise from overseas. Go thou him with this letter and bring hither the merchandise that he gives thee ”.

Second Stage of the Journey

Nimila, taking the letter, started on his errand about 8 a.m., and yet in the forenoon he reached the house of the Brahmins having covered within that short time a distance much greater than that which he had accomplished early that same morning when starting from his house.

The Brahmin, on reading the letter, was amazed at the wonderful fleet-footedness of the man, and himself put Nimila to a further test.

” My friend ‘ he said to the Giant, “after so tiring a journey, there is nothing like a bathe in the Tissa-veva to refresh yourself. Go then to Anurädhapura, which is about eight miles from this place, and, after bathing in the Tissa tank, return hither. Meanwhile I will prepare some rice and curry for you to eat on your return. “

Nimila set out again with alacrity, for he had never. seen Anurädhapura before. He bathed in the Tissa-veva, and, after doing reverence to the Sacred Bo-tree and the Cetiya in the Thupäräma, he went in to the City.

When he had then seen the whole city and had bought perfumes in the bazaar, had gone forth again by the North Gate, and had plucked lotus-blossoms from a lotus-field, he returned to the Brahmin in time for the mid-day meal.

When the Brahmin heard of his wanderings in and out of the City and thought of his wonderful march earlier in the day, his amazement knew no bounds.

‘ This is a man of noble race,” he reflected. ” If Elära hears of him, he will get him into his power. Therefore, must he not dwell near the Tamils. He must take up his abode rather with the Prince’s father, Kävan Tissa. “

To this effect he wrote a letter, and, handing it to Nimila together with rich gifts and presents, bade him return to Prince Dïghäbhaya.

Nimila, after breakfast, started on his return journey, and, before dusk the same day, he was back at Kasätota.

Rich Rewards

The Prince was delighted beyond measure. He commanded that a thousand gold masu (pieces of money) be given to Nimila as a token of his appreciation.

This made the Prince ‘s own servitors grow envious, whereupon Dïghäbhaya ordered that, not one thousand, but ten thousand pieces of money should be given to Nimila. And feeling as if he had not done enough, he gave a number of other directions.

Accordingly, the Prince’s servants led Nimila away, cut his hair, bathed him in the river, clothed him in a pair of precious Punnavaddhana garments, [very costly garments bearing that name], then put on him a beautiful fragrant wreath, wound a silken turban about his head, and led him back to the Prince’s presence.

Thereupon Dïghäbhaya commanded that food from his own stores be given to Nimila and also bade them give as a gift his own richly ornamented and costly bed to serve as a couch for the giant.

Then, addressing Nimila, the Prince said .

“Take all these things with you and go to your village. Tell your parents and come tomorrow, prepared to go to Mahãgama, there to serve under my father, the King.”

Nimila gathered together his presents and gifts, and promptly set out for home, which (the legend continues), he reached before bed-time.

When his elder brothers saw him, they were loud in their anger.

“ This rascal has not gone to Kasätota after all, but has come back after going only a part of the way, ” said they.

But the parents chid them and bade them be silent.

Nimila then related the day’s doings, and ended his narrative by presenting the Prince’s bed to Samgha, his father, and handed the ten thousand pieces of money to his mother.

After that, he sought and received his parents’ permission to leave home and take service under King Kävan Tissa.

Early next morning, after a meal of rice and curry and with his parents’ blessing, he left home and without delay appeared before Prince Dïghä bhaya.

The Prince gave him a letter, in which he spoke highly of Nimila’s great strength and other accomplishments, and directed him to proceed straight to the King at Mahägama.

King Kävan Tissa, on perusing the letter, was greatly pleased. He loaded Nimila with honours and rich presents, and bade him serve under Prince Gemunu.

The Giant’s extraordinary drinking powers won fop him later the nickname of Suränimila (Surä meaning ‘s spirituous liquor



  • Maha Sona

In the village of Hundarivapi (Sinh. Hundari-veva), in the district of Kulumbari, lived a man named Tissa, who had a family of eight sons, the youngest of whom was named Söna.

Because of his size and immense strength, he was called Mahä Söna. Some idea of how great was his strength may be formed from the fact that, even as a seven-year old boy, he used to tear up young palms. When ten years old, the tearing or rooting up of great palm trees was no difficult matter to him.

The existence of such a prodigy soon came to the ears of King Kavan Tissa, who sent for the young Giant and gave him into the service of Prince Gemunu.

  • Gothaimbara

In the village of Nitthulavitthika (Sinh. Niselvitiya), in the district of Giri, lived a man named Maha Näga who had seven sons.

Of these the youngest, because of his dwarfish stature, was named Gothaka. But the dwarf made up in strength for what he lacked in size.

The story runs that once his six brothers went forth to clear the forest to lay out a Bean field. They labored throughout the day and cleared a portion. Then, leaving Gothaka’s share, they came and asked him to go and do his “bit”

Forthwith Gothaka strode out ; and, when he had torn up the imbara trees (i.e., palmyra-palms) which grew thick on his patch, and had levelled the ground, he came back and reported the completion of his share of the work.

The brothers could scarcely believe him. But, when they went and saw for themselves the amazing work Gothaka had performed single-handed, they were unstinting in their praises. Thenceforth was the strong dwarf named Gothaimbara.

Many are the other similar stories told to illustrate Gothaimbara ‘s strength and dexterity. Not the least interesting of these relates to the manner in which he subdued a Yakkha named Jayasena and then went among the monks, as narrated fully in a Pali work entitled the Rasavähini.

  • Theraputtabhaya

Gothäbhaya was the name given at birth to the son of Rohana, a Headman in the village of Kitti (Sinh. Kittjgama) near the Kota-mountain (Sinh. Kotagala), but it was soon changed to another and in this wise :

Rohana, the Headman, was a supporter of the Thera Mahäsumma who dwelt in the Kotapabbata Vihära (Sinh. Kotagal Vihära). One day, after hearing a religious discourse expounded by the latter, he made up his mind to give up the lay life and to become a monk.

He mentioned his desire to the King, and in due time, after he had given over the headship of his house to his son, Rohana was ordained a priest by Mahäsumma. Therefore his son was called Thera-puttäbhaya (i.e., ” Abhaya, the son of the Thera “).

Now Theraputtäbhaya was another prodigy in strength. From the Rasavähini, it would appear that he was stronger even than Gothaimbara.

Legend has it that, at the age of ten to twelve years, the boy was so strong that in his play he threw, like balls for playing, stones that could not be lifted by four or five men.

And we are also told that, when he was sixteen years old, his father made him a club 38 inches round and 16 cubits long, with which he used to smite the stems of palmyra or cocoa-palms and fell them.

Such a lad could not long remain in the obscurity of his village. The King heard of his prodigious strength, sent for him, and commanded him to stay with Prince Gemunu.

  • Bharana

Fleet of foot and strong of limb, Bharana, son of Kumära of the village of Kappakandura (Sinh. kapkandura,) was another Giant celebrated in the annals or legends of Rohana.

When he was ten or twelve years old, so the story runs, he used to go with other boys into the forest to chase hares, strike at the latter with his foot, and dash them crushed to a pulp to the ground.

And at the age of sixteen years, he was accustomed to go with the village-folk into the forest and to kill antelopes, elks and boars in like manner.

His exploits soon reached the ears of King Kävan Tissa, who sent for him and gave him into the service of Prince Gemunu.

  • Khanjadeva

A man named Abhaya, of the village of Mahendradoni (Sinh. Mahisadonika), in the district of Nakulanga (Sinh. Nakulgala), had several sons, the youngest of whom was named Deva. But since Deva limped a little, he was nicknamed Khanja-deva       (i.e., ” the lame Deva “).

Legend tells us that when, as a youth, he went a-hunting with the village folk, he used on those occasions to chase great buffaloes, as many as rose up, grasp them by the leg with his hand, and, when he had whirled them round his head, dash them to the ground, breaking their bones.

King Kävan Tissa soon heard of him and had him brought to Mahãgama, for service under Prince Gemunu.

  • Ummada-Phussadeva

Phussadeva, son of Uppala, lived in his father ‘s village of Gavita (Sinh. Kapitha), near the Cittalapabbata Vihära (Sinh. Situlpav Vihära).

When, as a boy, he went once to the Vihära with some playmates, he took one of the shells offered to the Bo-tree in the premises, and blew it mightily.

Powerful even as the roar at the bursting asunder of a thunderbolt was his tone, runs the legend, and all the other boys, terrified, remained as it were stunned.

Therefore, from that day, he was known by the name of Ummäda-Phussadeva. (In Pali, ummadeti means ‘ to madden, to distract or bewilder ”)

His father made him learn the Archer’s art, which was handed down in the family.

In time Phussadeva was held to be the greatest Sinhalese marksman of his day, being reputed to be the most unerring among those who hit a mark guided by sound, who hit by the light of the lightning, and who hit a hair.

So skilled was he in this direction that popular fancy credited him with being able even to perform what must, humanly speaking, be regarded as the impossible, viz. to shoot an arrow through either a wagon laden with sand and a hundred skins

bound one upon another, or through a slab of asana or udumbara wood eight or sixteen inches thick, or through one of iron or copper two or four inches thick.

Reports of the great Archer reached Kävan Tissa, who had him summoned to his presence, and the King directed Ummäda Phussadeva thenceforth to serve under Prince Gemunu.

  • Labhiya-Vasabha

Vasabha, son of the householder Matta, lived in the village of Vihãravapi (Sinh. Vihära-veva), near the Tulädhära mountain. Because his body was nobly, that is, beautifully formed, he was called Labhiya-Vasabha.

At the age of twenty years he was gifted with great bodily strength. The story goes that, anxious to have some fields, he one day took some men with him to begin the construction of a tank.

While engaged in this labour he was able, by reason of his extraordinary strength, to fling away masses of earth such as only ten or twelve men together could ordinarily move at a time.

Thus was he enabled, within a very short time, to complete the work, which was thenceforth known by the name of                “Vasabha’s Dam”

King Kävan Tissa, hearing of Vasabha’s doughty deeds, sent for him and commanded him to serve under Prince Gemunu.

  • Velusumana

Reference has already been made to King Kävan Tissa ‘s chief warrior, Velusumana, in connection with the ‘ ‘longings ” of Queen Vihära Devi.

The story of his birth and early life may now be told. He was the son of a householder named Vasabha, who dwelt in the village of Kutumbiyangana, in the district of Giri.

Vasabha was a man held in high honour and respect by the whole countryside. On the day that a son was born to him, there came to his house. among others, two intimate friends of his, Vela, a neighbour, and Sumana, Governor of the district of Giri. They brought presents for the boy, and the latter ‘s father named him after his two friends, viz., Velu­ Sumana.

When the boy was grown up, the Go\ernor of Giri had him to dwell in his house. Now the Governor had a powerful and very spirited Sindhu horse, of noble breed, which would let no man mount him.

Velusumana, however, succeeded in doing that which no ot her man dared essay. And, on a day on which the people of the district bad gathered to watch the exploit, he came forth riding the horse, keeping the animal well under control. Moreover, he signalised the occasion by an exhibition of superb horsemanship.

Seated firmly in the saddle, he made the horse gallcp in a circle. And at a certain stage of the exhibition, so swift was the pace maintained that the animal is said to have appeared even as one single horse around the whole circle ; and the rider himself seemed like a chain of men, that is, like an un­broken row of men holding together . And as he rode thus swiftly, Velusumana loosed his mantle and girt il about him again and again fearlessly.

The spectators marked their admiration by round upon round of hearty applause, and from that day Velusumana was looked upon as the greatest Sinhalese Horseman of his time.

The Governor of Giri himself showed his appreciation of Velusumana ‘s courage and skill by rewarding him with 10,000 pieces of money.

” He is fit for the King “, thought the Governor, who promptly sent him to Kavan Tissa.

Thenceforth did Velusumana dwell with the King, serving him loyally and zealously and highly honoured in return, till Prince Gemunu grew to man ‘s estate, when he was sent to serve under the latter.




THESE ten strong men, described as the Sinhalese ” Champions ” formed a bodyguard for Prince Gemunu. They spent their time mostly in martial exercises, in which they were joined by the two Princes, Gemunu and Tissa.

It soon became evident that Gemunu, in particular, excelled all others in manly accomplishments. Versed in archery, dexterous in swordsmanship, and skilled in guiding elephant as well as horse, he soon showed that he was a born leader of men.

The Sinhalese nation looked to Prince Gemunu as the only one who could deliver them from the bondage of Tamil domination.

And when King Kävan Tissa ‘s edict went forth, shortly, for the raising of a Sinhalese army to fight the hated foe, the nation responded manfully to the call.

The ” Call to Arms ” first went forth in this wise: The King, summoning Prince Gemunu’s ten stalwarts to his presence, commanded them :

” Each one find ten warriors. “

A hundred able-bodied men were soon forthcoming, and these, too, were commanded by the King to levy others in like manner.

An eager populace readily supplied the thousand, and these thousand men were again commissioned by the King to levy others similarly.

Within a very short time the recruits obtained in this manner, that is, by a form of conscription, totaled 11,110 men. Each day more and more voluntarily joined up, men coming even from the districts directly subject to Tamil rule. Soon, quite a respectable little Army was gathered together at the Sinhalese capital of Mahägama.

Meanwhile, while the forces were daily being augmented by fresh recruits who came from all parts of the country, the King, aided by his two sons and the stalwart ten, busied himself in the task of equipping the Army fully.

Horses and elephants, chariots and ” munitions of war ‘ had to be collected in large numbers and quantities. And with everybody lending a hand—men, women and children alike—with an enthusiasm that seemed apparently to know no bounds, the task was completed without delay.

In a few months the Sinhalese Army, compact, thoroughly equipped, and burning with ardour for the fight, was ready to take the field against the Tamils, but the moment was not yet ripe for the commencement of hostilities.

As a preliminary measure, the King contented himself with stationing a fairly strong force of troops and chariots, with Prince Tissa at the head, at Dïghaväpi in order to guard the open country.

Dutugemunu Insults his Father

But Prince Gemunu chafed at the restraint. He was for taking the field at once, and this inaction was hateful to him.

After reviewing his forces one day—for he had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army—he marched with his men to Kasätota.

Ostensibly the march was pacific in character. There was nothing to indicate that Gemunu intended to act contrary to his father’s wishes, which were to start the campaign at some indefinite time later. But, once at Kasätota, Gemunu resolved to force his father’s hand and to commit him to immediate action against the Tamils.

Accordingly, from Kasätota, the Prince sent a letter to his father, the King, stating that the time now seemed ripe to commence hostilities against the Tamils, and requesting permission to cross over with the Army to the other side of the Mahaveli-Ganga.

The river was the border or boundary between the region occupied by the Tamils and the provinces ruled over by the Mahägama dynasty, and Gemunu’s proposed move would be regarded as a definite act of hostility.

King Kävan Tissa was alarmed at the consequences of such precipitate action. He realised more clearly than his impetuous son did that the moment was inopportune for war, and his reply to his son ‘s letter was prompt and emphatic.

“ Be not rash, and desist from any such action. The Tamil Army contains over a million men and twenty mighty champions. The region on this side of the river sufficeth, at least for the present. “

But Gemunu was stubborn. Three times he wrote to his father to the same effect, and three times the King sent him the same reply. The fourth time Gemunu declared .

“My Royal Sire is a woman, not a man. If he were a man he would not speak thus. Therefore, should he put these on.”

And he sent the King a pair of bangles and other female ornaments to wear.

The King, stung by his son ‘s contempt and by the manner of its expression, was greatly enraged. He forthwith gave orders for the arrest of Gemunu, and he further commanded :

“Make me a golden chain ! With that will I bind him and keep him prisoner, for else he cannot be protected ”.

On hearing of his father’s anger and of the orders the King had given for his arrest, Prince Gemunu, leaving the Army behind, fled to Gilimale (in the Ratnapura district of today). After lying concealed there for several days, he departed for Kotmale, where he lived in concealment for some time.

Thenceforward was the Prince known as Duttha-gämani (Dutu-gemunu) or the “wicked. i.e., undutiful, Gämani”.

The Sinhalese Army, over which Prince Tissa was now given the command, was brought back to Mahägama, and there it remained during the next few months.

Seruvila Dagaba

Meanwhile the King, mindful of the claims of religion, had, had built the Seruvila Dägaba (near the right bank of the Mahaveli-ganga and to the north of the Verukal branch of that river in the Trincomalee District).

It was constructed in order to enshrine the Forehead Relic and a Hair Relic of the Buddha. This Forehead Relic was first brought to Mahägama in the reign of Mahä Näga, who erected a relic-house for it in the neighbourhood of his Palace.

In the time of Kävan Tissa, however, the latter, in fulfilment of an alleged prophecy, decided upon building a dägaba for the relic at Seruvila, and carried it out with great pomp and ceremony.

Handing over the charge of the Government for a short time to his son Tissa, the King, accompanied by his Queen Vihära Devi, proceeded to the spot in a magnificent procession, in order personally to supervise the carrying out of the work.

Firstly, in order to fix upon the correct position for the structure, the King resorted to a peculiar device. Two pairs of bulls were decorated with flowers and allowed to roam alone in the jungle. They were found together in the morning at a rock.

Similar experiments were tried with a horse and an elephant, and these, too, were found at the same rock, which was thereupon adopted as the site for the dägaba.

When the relic-chamber in the upper part of the structure was ready for the relics, the King carried the Forehead Relic and deposited it in it, followed by the Queen who similarly placed the Hair Relic in the room. The King and Queen thereupon took off the ornaments they were wearing and offered them in the relic-chamber.

Their example was followed by the great Ministers and members of the Royal Household and others present, each of whom made an offering of the jewellery and other ornaments he or she was wearing at the time. The chamber was then closed by being covered with a stone slab.

A Vihära was also built at the spot and liberally endowed. On the occasion of its formal gift to the Community of Monks, a great festival was held at which Abhaya, the King’s son-in-law, and other Princes were present.

A large concourse of bhikkhus was there, and before these witnesses the King, in accordance with the orthodox method of making such presents, poured water over the right hand of the superior monk present.

Then, in announcing the gift of the Temple, Kävan Tissa declared :

 “ My Lord and members of Royal Families assembled together here, in conformity with the arrangement for causing the acceptance of the Vihära, I have poured the water on the right hand of the Mahä Thera. “

And the latter, in expressing agreement and signifying the acceptance of the gift, said in reply :

“ It is well, Mahä Raja. “

Kävan Tissa next began the building of the Mahanuggala cetiya, a stately and imposing structure. It was the last of the many religious edifices which owed their construction to his pious zeal.

The completion of the work of this Cetiya was marked by a solemn festival, which was attended by several thousand bhikkhus from the Cittala-pabbata and other Vihãras far and near.

Death of Kavan Tissa

It was on the occasion of this festival that the King gave further proof of his great and tender solicitude for his two sons, even though one of them had treated him most shamelessly and un-dutifully. The thought occurred to him in the midst of the rejoicings

“ If these two brother Princes should some day quarrel and fight, from the desire to take possession of the country or to acquire wealth, and if the Ten Champions join one Prince, the other Prince will perish”.

Forthwith he summoned the ten strong men to his presence, and he addressed them thus :

“ If there be fighting any day in which these two brothers are engaged, do ye ten persons keep aloof, taking part with neither.”

He wanted them to take a solemn oath to that effect, and each one swore faithfully to respect the undertaking.

Shortly afterwards King Kävan Tissa died, and his death marked the beginning of considerable internal trouble in the Principality of Rohana. All was confusion as soon as King had breathed his last Firstly, Queen Vihära Devi took her dead husband’s body in a covered car to the Tissamahäräma, and communicated the news to the monks.

Then Prince Tissa, who was stationed at Dïghaväpi (Sinh. Digämadulla), followed her thither without delay as soon as he heard of his father’s death.

With due care he himself carried out the funeral rites for his father, after which he took his mother and the elephant Kandula with him, and returned with all haste back to Dïghaväpi before his brother Dutugemunu could arrive on the scene.

While these things were happening, the late King’s Ministers met in consultation. Mindful of the law which gave the succession to the eldest, they sent a letter to Dutugemunu at Kotmale.

The letter conveyed the report of his father’s death and of the incidents following that event, and formally invited him to return to Mahägama to assume the sovereignty the Kingdom of Rohana.

Dutugemunu left Kotmale immediately, and, arriving at Mahägama, was apprised of the condition of affairs and of the apparently hostile attitude taken up by Prince Tissa.



DUTUGEMUNU’S first step was to guard against a surprise attack from his brother Tissa, who resided at Dïghaväpi. Accordingly, he marched at once with some troops to Guttahäla (Sinh. Buttala), and there he stationed some outposts as a security against any such surprise.

The reason why Guttahäla was selected for this purpose was that the road from Mahiyangana to Mahägama led through it. It was situated some 30 to 35 miles north of Mahägama, where the high road crossed the Menik-ganga.

This precaution taken, Dutugemunu returned to Mahägama where he was ceremoniously consecrated King of Rohana in succession to his father.

Immediately the Coronation festivities were over, he sent a letter to his brother Tissa, requesting him to send their mother, the Queen Vihära Devi, to Mahägama, as well as the noble elephant Kandula. This animal had been born on the same day as himself and was therefore greatly prized by him (Dutugemunu), the more since it was a special gift given to him by their deceased father, the late King.

Prince Tissa ignored the letter and the request, even though his brother communicated with him three times to the same effect.

Dutugemunu, therefore, marched forth without delay, with a fairly strong force, in order to compel his brother, by strength of arms, to surrender those whom he would not give up by peaceful means.

Battle of Culanganiya-pitthi

About ten miles north-east of Guttahäla, in the direction of Dïghaväpi, the two brothers met on a plain (probably near the modern Muppana), and a fierce battle ensued between their respective forces. The Battle of Culanganiya-pitthi (Sinh. Yudanganä-pitiya) ended in a decisive victory for Prince Tissa.

Dutugemunu, astride on his favourite mare Dïghathunikä and accompanied by his Prime Minister Tissa, fled from the scene of battle. Crossing the river Kappakandara (Sinh. Kumbukkan Oya) at the ford of Javamäla, he returned to Mahägama, his capital.

Prince Tissa, who had started in pursuit, was met on the way by a number of bhikkhus. These, learning of the nature of his mission, persuaded him to give up the pursuit and to return to Dïghaväpi.

Within a few weeks Dutugemunu, fretting under hic discomfiture, resolved to wipe off the stain of his defeat by a fresh resort to arms.  Getting together a force of sixty thousand men, he took the field afresh.

He summoned the Ten Champions to accompany him: But they explained the nature of the oath by which they were bound, the pledge they had given at the behest of the late King, to take no sides in any dispute or altercation between the two brothers.

Dutugemunu readily agreed to their remaining neutral in the circumstances. He then marched out with his second army, and soon encountered Tissa’s forces encamped in the vicinity of the scene of the previous fight.

Duel between Dutugemunu and Tissa

Before the two armies could clash in battle, Dutugemunu decided to make a certain proposal to his brother.

Realising almost at the eleventh hour that, however it ended, a second engagement in what was after all civil warfare would further weaken his forces appreciably and so delay, if not actually prevent, the other and greater enterprise upon which his heart was firmly set, viz., the expulsion of the Tamils from the country, he wrote and despatched a letter to Tissa to this effect :

“ Let us two fight, the one against the other, the sovereignty going to him who wins the day.’

The proposal was agreed to, and the two brothers advanced to a selected place midway between the two forces and in full view of the adherents of each side.

Tissa came seated on the back of the elephant Kandula, ahd Dutugemunu was astride his favourite mare Dïghathunikä.

The duel was over in a few minutes, Tissa being no match for his more accomplished and more resourceful brother.

What happened was briefly this : Dutugemunu was anxious not to kill either Tissa or the elephant, and he was anxious to decide the issue without even seriously wounding either, if that were possible.

Accordingly, after dexterously parrying a blow aimed at him, he made his mare circle round the elephant, but found no weak or unguarded spot at which he could aim an effective blow.

Then with a view as much to show his physical superiority as, if possible, to deliver a blow from above, Dutugemunu swiftly made up his mind on an extraordinarily daring venture.

With reins drawn tight, he backed his mare a few paces till, suddenly, she was seen almost to fall on her haunches.

Then, loosening the reins, he darted forward. The next instant the mare was seen leaping clear over the elephant and

its rider, Dutugemunu en passant dealing a blow with the sword which alighted on Kandula’s back.

The elephant, frightened by the sight of the leaping horse and maddened with pain where the sword had inflicted a sharp wound on its body, rushed headlong in the wake of the mare with such force that Tissa was unseated and he fell heavily to the ground.

Flight of Tissa

He was quick to get up, however, and to note that the duel had gone against him, and he turned and fled as fast as his legs could carry him.

Either because the mare was too tired after the recent effort, or because he preferred the animal which had been the faithful companion of his early days and which Tissa had since sought forcibly to acquire, Dutugemunu sþed up to the now quiet and docile Kandula, and, mounting its bt1Ck, hastened in pursuit of the escaping Tissa.

The latter had had a good start, but he was too frightened to be able to run easily, and his progress was impeded by all manner of obstacles.

Coming up against the entrance to a Vihära (today known as Okkampitiya Vihara) which lay on the path of his flight, Tissa deflected from his course and he ran inside the Temple premises just as Dutugemunu, mounted on Kandula, appeared within sight a few yards behind.

Tissa hid himself under the bed of the High Priest, who spread a cloak over the bed in order the more effectually to conceal the other’s presence.

A few seconds afterwards Dutugemunu dashed up to the spot and demanded to know :

“ Where is Tissa ”

The Thera made equivocal reply

“ He is not in the bed, great King, as you can see. “

Dutugemunu suspected that Tissa was under the bed, but without a word he left the room and placed sentinels round about the Vihära.

Thereupon the High Priest, assisted by the other monks of the place, got Tissa, swathed in yellow robes, to lie upon the bed and covered him over with a garment. Then four young ascetics, grasping the bed-posts, bore him out as if they were carrying a dead bhikkhu.

Ruse that Failed to Deceive

Dutugemunu, however, was not deceived. He knew that il was Tissa who was thus being carried forth as if dead.

Stopping the cortege, he addressed the recumbent figure in these words :

“ Tissa, upon the head of the guardian genii of our house art thou carried forth. To tear away anything with violence from their hands is not my custom. Mays ‘t thou evermore remember the virtues of the guardian genii of our house. “

Straightway then Dutugemunu departed from the place, and, hastening to Dïghaväpi in search of his mother whom he greatly loved and reverenced, he found her there in Tissa ‘s Palace.

Taking Queen Vihära Devi with him as well as his elephant Kandula, he returned to Mahägama, his capital.

Meanwhile Tissa, upon Dutugemunu ‘s departure, returned to the Vihära, and, addressing the Thera Godhagatta Tissa, said :

“ Reverend Sir, I know I have behaved badly, undutifully, and I am sorry. I should like to make my peace with my brother.”

The Thera readily undertook to effect a reconciliation between the two. ‘The next day, taking Tissa clothed in the habit of a servitor along with him and accompanied by a number of monks, he started for Mahãgama.

On arrival at the capital the party entered the King’s Palace. And the Thera, leaving the Prince on the stairs, entered the Reception Room along with the bhikkhus.

Reconciliation of the Two Brothers

Dutugemunu, who received them in person, welcomed them cordially, invited them all to be seated, and had rice-milk and other food brought to them.

The King, assisted by his mother, was about to serve the Thera, when the latter covered his almsbowl.

“ What means this ? ” asked the surprised Dutugemuna.

 “ We have come, bringing Tissa with us, the Thera made reply.

“ Where is the traitor ? ” demanded Dutugemunu.

And the Thera pointed to the place where Tissa stood, with bowed head, in his mean attire.

All a mother’s love for a son welled up at once in the heart of the Queen Vihära Devi. She ran up to her young son, embraced him, and stood sheltering him, for fear lest Dutugemunu, in his anger, might do him some bodily harm, if not kill him.

But Dutugemunu’s next words reassured everybody present. Addressing the Thera, he said :

“ Reverend Sir, it is known to you that we are your servants, even now after our assumption of the Kingship. If you had but sent even a seven-year old Sämanera, our strife would not have taken place, and all would have ended without loss of precious lives. “

“ O King, this is the Brotherhood ‘s Guilt, ‘ declared the Thera, ” and the Brotherhood will do penance. “

“ You will first “, Dutugemunu rejoined, ‘ have to partake of what is due to guests arriving. Reverend Sir, take the rice-milk and the rest”.

With these words the King returned to his interrupted duties of hospitality, and himself offered the food to the monks, who thereupon sat to the meal.

Then, calling his brother to his side, he embraced him in token of forgiveness of the past, sat with him there and then in the midst of the monks to a repast which was served to them separately, and after the meal gave the Thera and his monks permission to depart for their Vihära.

Thus was happily ended the quarrel between the two brothers.

And thenceforward Tissa conducted himself with fitting repect and devotion to one who was, after all, his elder brother as well as his King.



DUTUGAMUNU now made ready in grim earnest for the campaign against the Tamils, which had been the dream of his life since boyhood.

The road to Anuradhapura was repaired and made ready for the easy passage of his army. Gay caparison for the horses the war-chariots were tested, and the commissariat thoroughly organised.

Neither were the needs of the non-combatants at hon¿e neglected.

Summoning his brother Tissa from Dïghaväpi, he embraced and kissed him, and, speaking tenderly, said to him :

“ Tissa, I am going to fight the Tamils, the enemies of our house and race. Let Agriculture be your particular care during my absence. “

Then, formally entrusting the government of the kingdom and the welfare of the people to Tissa ‘s charge, Dutugemunu marched out of the capital with his army.

He went first to Tissamahäräma, to the monastery to which his father’s body immediately upon death had first been taken by his mother.

After making due obeisance to the monks, Dutugemunu said to the High Priest :

“I am going to the land on the further side of the Mahaveli River to bring glory to the religion. Since the sight of bhikkhus is blessing and protection for us, give us bhikkhus who shall go on with us, and we will treat them with honour”.

The Thera remembered the sin which lay at the door of their community in having failed, on a previous occasion, to intervene in the strife between the two Royal brothers, and so failed to have prevented the destruction of several thousands of lives.

As a penance or atonement for that sin of omission, he now gave orders for five hundred monks to accompany the Army.

Beginning of the Campaign

With the blessing of the Sangha and the good wishes of the populace, and accompanied, too, by his mother as well as by the 500 bhikkhus allotted to him, Dutugemunu then set out. He led his forces in person, his spear (in a receptacle of which a relic had been placed) being carried before him as his Royal Standard.

It is impossible to say exactly, or even approximately, what were the numbers of this fourfold Army consisting of elephants, cavalry, chariots and infantry.

One chronicle says that so mighty was the host that, ” with the one end yet in Mahãgama, the train of the army reached to      Guttahälaka. “

As the distance between Mahägama and Guttahälaka was some 30 to 35 miles, the chronicler ‘s statement is obviously couched in the language of hyperbole. It may, however, be taken as being intended to convey no more than the idea that it was a very vast force indeed which followed Dutugemunu.

 Be that as it may, Dutugemunu ‘s route lay in a northerly ina northerly direction, and his first objective was Guttahalaka (Sinh. Buttala), Through which lay the road to Anuradhapura.

Beyond Guttahalaka, which he soon reached was contested ground. And as he advanced thence, after resting the army, his progress was stoutly resisted.

 The Tamils had a whole series of strong and well-guarded Forts, on strategic points, beginning from the neighbourhood of the mouth of the Mahaveli-ganga and extending right down to the bend of the river near Mahiyangana. These, one by one, were stormed and captured by Dutugemunu.
        The following are the Forts so captured, with brief notes in regard to each. Most of the individual names cannot now be identified

The Captured Tamil Forts

  1. Mahiyangana—(modern Bintenna or Alutnuvara): The first Sinhalese-Tamil encounter in the campaign took place here. Chatta, the Tamil Commander, was defeated and the Fort surrendered to the Sinhalese.
  2. Ambatitthaka—(Ambatuvä, according to the Räjavaliya) : A ford of the Mahaveli-ganga, not far from Bintenna. It had a trench leading from the river, and the name of the Tamil Commander of the Fort was Titthamba, who, after a four months’ siege, was overcome only “ by cunning ”, says the Mahãvansa. What exactly was the stratagem employed it is difficult to say with any certainty, but from the Tikä or commentary on the Mahavansa, it would appear that the promise of the hand of the Queen Vihära Devi in marriage, and with it the prospect of government, had been held out to Titthamba by Dutugemunu.
  3. Khemarama—(Satbekotta, according to the Räjävaliya): Seven Tamil Chiefs, said to have been brothers, appear to have been subdued at this spot. After the capture of the place, Dutugemunu gave over the booty to his troops.
  4. Antarasobbha—(Aturabä, according to the Räjävaliya) The Tamil Commander of the Fort was Mahakottha.
  5. Dona—(Denagama, according to the Räjävaliya) Gavara was the leader of the Tamil forces here.
  6. Halakola—The Fort was held by the Tamil Chief, Issariya.
  7. Nalisobbha—(Polvatta, according to the Räjävaliya) The’ Tamil forces here were commanded by Nalika. After the capture of this Fort, Dutugemunu paid his men, giving them in addition gifts of gold and other valuables, which were presumably taken from the enemy.
  8. Dighabhaya-Ga llaka (Digabäyagolla). The Tamil leader here was Dïghãbhaya.
  9. Kaccha-Tittha (Kasätota)—The siege lasted four months, and Kapisïsa, the Tamil Commander, was slain.
    After this victory Dutugemunu crossed the Mahaveli-ganga, and, his objective being Vijitapura, took the old road that ran somewehere between the present Sigiriya and the Minneri tank.
    It was the same road that King Pandukäbhaya used when, in the fight against his uncles, he marched from the Käsapabbata to the Dola-pabbata.
    The Forts mentioned below, which rapidly fell before Dutugemunu ‘s advance, lay along this route :-
  10. Kotanagara—The Fort was held by the Tamil chieftain, Kota, upon whose overthrow Halavahanaka took charge, with the same result.
  11. Vahittha—(Mahãvetta, according to the Räjävaliya), named after the Tamil Commander, Vahittha.
  12. Gamani-gama—(Bänägama), named after its Tamil Commander, Gamani.
  13. Kumba-gama—named after its Tamil Commander, Kumba.
  14. Nandi-gama—(Nïlagama), named after its Tamil Commander, Nandika.
  15. Khanu-gama—(Vilbä-gama, according to the Räjävaliya), named after its Tamil Commander, Khanu.
  16. Tamba-gama
  17. Unnama,- gama
    16 & 17 were named after the Tmial Commanders, Tamba and Unnama, who were uncle and nephew.
  18. Jambu-gama—named after its Tamil Commander, Jambu.

Siege of Vijitapura

Upon the fall of the Fort at Jambugama, the remains of the conquered Tamil divisions retreated towards Vijita-nagara.

This was a fortress of considerable strength, situated near the northern bank of the Kala-vapi (Sinh. Kalu-veva), where the Vijitapura Vihära is now situated, about 24 miles SSE, from Anurädhapura.

The Tamils were here in immense numbers, and Dutugetaunu knew he would meet with the stoutest possible resistance. The success of the whole campaign practically depended upon the issue of the battle that would have to be fought here, and he made adequate preparations accordingly for storming the place.

If the Tamils were driven out of Vijita, they would be so demoralised that their future resistance would be more or less weakened, and the taking of Anurädhapura would be attended with less difficulty for the Sinhalese.

Therefore, Dutugemunu made up his mind to strain every nerve to capture Vijita, and he began by completely investing the place.

But the Tamils were ready for a long siege, and they had made great preparations betimes. The fortress was well-nigh impregnable.

“ Amongst the fortresses already reduced by Dutugemunu, ” Says the Räjävaliya, “there was none like unto this. Except the city of Anurädhapura, none of the other fortresses equalled it.”

Vijita city, which was girt about with three trenches or moats, was guarded by a high and strong wall or rampart, with four gates of wrought iron, north, south, east and west.

The defenders were well provisioned, at least sufficiently to last them even for several months, and they had huge quantities of ” munitions. “

Nandhimitta’s Struggle with Kandula

Dutugemunu had his camp pitched in a favourable open stretch of country, which was afterwards known by the name of Khandhavara-pitthi (Sinh. Kandavurupitiya). It lay close to Hatthi-pora, a village which derived its name from an incident connected with this siege.

One day, while the siege was in progress, during a temporary cessation of hostilities, Dutugemunu, partly in fun and partly to test afresh the strength as well as courage of the Giant Nandhimitta, let loose his elephant Kandula upon the latter.

On seeing the animal come towards him apparently threateningly, Nandhimitta, swift as thought, sprang forward, seized with his hands the two tusks of the animal, and actually forced it back on its haunches.

This result, which was loudly cheered by the spectators, was obviously due not to any superiority of strength on the part of Nandhimitta, but to the suddenness and boldness of his attack which disconcerted the animal.

The village built on the spot where the contest between the man and the elephant took place was therefore named Hatthipora (Hatthi  ” elephant” , pora ” contest “).

To return to the siege. It dragged on from days to weeks, and from weeks to months, and yet no decisive result was reached.

It is true the defenders occasionally made sorties which were repulsed with some loss, and the Sinhalese in turn made intermittent and ineffectual assaults against the walls of the Fort. But there was no engagement of any importance.

At length, at the end of the fourth month of the siege, Dutugemunu made up his mind to strike a great and decisive blow, and he made ready for a concerted attack on an unprecedented scale.

Calling up his Ten Champions, who had hitherto since the beginning of the campaign not been called upon to take any very active part in the hostilities, he bade them do their bit ” on the present occasion.

The joy of the Yodhayäs, (i.e., Giants) who had been fretting at their compulsory inaction, was unbounded.



EVERYTHING being now ready for the intended coup, Dutugemunu marched up his entire forces one day in close proximity to the fortress, forded the three moats which were full of water, and gave the signal for a simultaneous attack on the four gates of the citadel.

To the East Gate marched the Giants Velusumana, Mahäsona, Gothaimbara and Theraputtäbhaya with a strong detachment.

And the assault on the North and West Gates, respectively, was entrusted to Bharana, Khanjadeva, Phussadeva and Labhjyavasabha, who were themselves supported by picked bodies of soldiers.

But the main attack was intended to be delivered on the South Gate, and thither Dutugemunu sent Nandhimitta and Suränimila along with the elephant Kandula, which was to be employed to batter down the gate.

Arrows and all manner of other missiles literally rained down upon the Sinhalese as they advanced, the Tamils using to good purpose the points of vantage they occupied upon the walls and the fortifications above.

But the advance was well maintained in spite of heavy casualties, and then at last came the concentrated attack on the South Gate.

Kandula’s Heroic Exploits

Here the elephant Kandula led the attack. Placing itself upon its knee and battering down stones, mortar and bricks

with its tusks, it charged at the Gate with a great rush. But the Gate was of iron and withstood the charge.

Trumpeting and roaring, the animal rushed at it again and again, and when under these repeated onslaughts the structure shook to its foundations, the enemy grew desperate.

As the elephant, bellowing terrifically, came tearing at the Gate again, at a great pace which seemed to shake the ground near about, the Tamils standing upon the watch or Gate Towers hurled down weapons of every kind, balls of red-hot iron and molten pitch.

Roaring with pain when the smoking pitch fell on its back, Kandula dashed away from the Gate. But its mahout led it coaxingly away to the water in the moat hard by.

Into the water plunged the animal eagerly, and, after thus assuaging to some extent the torments inflicted the pitch burning into its body, it reared itself out of the water, trumpeting, and stood again defiantly on firm land.

The elephant-physician came swiftly to the spot. He washed the pitch away, put on balm over the scorched flesh, dressed its other wounds and then led the animal to the spot where Dutugemunu was standing apart, busily engaged in directing the operations against the South Gate.

Seeing Kandula, the King hastened up to the animal at once and mounted its back for a few minutes, in token as it were of his appreciation of its gallantry that day. Then, alighting, he gently stroked its temples with his hand, addressing it the while in terms of endearment or encouragement in the “ elephant-language

Return to the Charge

And when Dutugemunu had had choice fodder given to the noble animal, he had its back covered with a thick cloth and over this he had its armour, a plate of copper, put on securely.

Then binding upon its skin a seven-times folded buffalohide and laying above it a hide steeped in oil, he set Kandula free, to return to the battering down of the South Gate.

Here meanwhile, during Kandula’s temporary absence, Nandhimitta and Suränimila, with their faithful band of followers, had performed wonderful deeds of strength and daring, and had inflicted terrible losses on the already dismayed enemy.

And now when Kandula returned to the charge, the signal went forth for one last tremendous effort.

The Tamils almost stood still for a few moments when Kandula, roaring like thunder, came with a mighty rush, pierced with its tusk the panels of the Gate, and trampled the threshold with its feet.

With a terrific uproar the Gate together with its arches crashed to the ground, and Kandula narrowly escaped being buried under the debris.

Popular legend has it that it was Nandhimitta who saved the elephant ‘s life by pushing aside the crumbling mass from the Gate-tower.

The probability is, however, that Nandhimitta, seeing the danger, dragged Kandula aside just before the mass of earth came crashing to the ground where the elephant had stood.

However that may be, the result was that Kandula emerged unhurt, and the stoutly defended South Gate no more barred the advance of the Sinhalese soldiers.

Fall of the Citadel

The North, West and East Gates fell almost at the same time as the South Gate, and the Sinhalese hosts literally poured into the citadel from the breaches, chasing the Tamils who were now on the run, and demolishing everything before them.

Nandhimitta and Suränimila scorned to enter the fortress through the opening made by Kandula at the South Gate. Each made a breach for himself in the city-wall, and each accounted for many Tamil lives.

The fortress was now in the hands of the Sinhalese, and the havoc they wrought was indescribable.

The ten Yodhayäs in particular were ubiquitous. They dashed into the streets, each using anything that came in handy as a weapon.

Nandhimitta armed with a portion of a wagon-frame, Gothaimbara carrying a small palmyra palm, Suränimila his huge sword, Mahäsona a portion of a palmyra palm, and Theraputtäbhaya waving his great club—they rushed here, there, and everywhere, shattering everything before them.

While the redoubtable Kandula, bearing a cart-wheel in its trunk to serve as a weapon, and hurrying in wake of one or another of the Yodhayäs, completed the work of destruction.

Further Engagements

The rout of the Tamils was complete. They had lost heavily, and such of them as escaped death or were not seriously wounded fled to Anurãdhapura.

Dutugemunu set out quickly on the same road, for he was anxious to bring to a close a campaign which had lasted longer than he had anticipated.

Beyond Vijita, along the road that leads from the presentday Dambulla to Anurãdhapura, he thrice encountered further strenuous resistance.

First, at Girilaka (Sinh. Girila, Girinillankada), he slew the Tamil chief Giriya, who with a sturdy band of men put up a brave but unavailing fight against the Sinhalese.

Proceeding thence with all despatch Dutugemunu turned aside, just where the town of Nivatta-giri-nagara was later

built, in order to attack another Tamil stronghold, viz., the fortress of Mahela-nagara.

It proved a more difficult undertaking than he thought, and the siege of Mahela-nagara lasted as long as that of Vijita, that is, four months.

The fortress, which from its natural situation was inaccessible or rather difficult of access, was enclosed by a triple trench or moat, had but one Gate, and was surrounded by an undergrowth of Kadamba plants.
       Mahela-nagara eventually fell into the hands of the Sinhalese, but its fall was brought about not so much by a decisively fought action as by a stratagem or ruse which Dutugemunu effectively employed.

Battle of Kahagalagama

From this place Dutugemunu turned on to the capital. When, at long last, he was within less than two days’ march of the latter, he resolved upon a certain course.

He decided to entrench himself in a favourable position and thus, advantageously situated, to await Elära who, he felt sure, would march out of Anurädhapura, if for no other reason than to avoid the disadvantage and danger of fighting within the City itself.

Dutugemunu pitched his camp south of the Kãsa-pabbata, probably near the modern Kahagalagama or Kasagalugama (i.e., village of the Kaha or Käsa mountain ‘ about eighteen miles S.E. of Anurädhapura and ten miles WNW. of the mountain, Ritigala.

After throwing up fortifications and in other ways making his position secure, Dutugemunu leisurely awaited the approach of the enemy.

The interval he filled by such occupations and recreations as the construction, near the village of Pajjota-nagara (Sinh.

Posona-pura), in the neighbourhood of the camp, of the tank named the Pajjota-väpi. Here he held a great water-fete or festival, in which thousands of his men and the neighbouring peasants took part.

Meanwhile Elära, distressed by news of the fall of the last of the fortresses—said to have been thirty-two in number, in all—which had unavailingly sought to restrain Dutugemunu’s advance, summoned a meeting of his Ministers and Generals.

When they met, he asked their advice as to what exactly was necessary to be done in the circumstances of their position and in view of Dutugemunu’s reported proximity to the capital.

The conference, alive to the danger and uncertainty of a fight from within the City walls, decided that Elära should march out with his troops and engage Dutugemunu in an open battle.

Accordingly, the necessary preparations were hurriedly made : and at length the Tamil host, variously estimated from some 30,000 men to more than double that number, sallied forth in the endeavour to make one last herculean effort to turn back the Sinhalese.

The Tamils were led in person by the brave Elära, who, in full armour and mounted on his favourite elephant, Mahapabbata, was closely surrounded by his body-guard of twenty Tamil warriors, picked men and true, strong and stalwart of frame.

Dutugemunu, apprised in time of Elãra’s advance, made everything ready for the encounter, which he knew would decide the sovereignty of Lanka.

He attended a meeting of his War Council at which his mother, the Queen Vihära Devi, was present ; and, acting upon a suggestion made by her, he formed thirty-two bodies of troops.

In these he placed Parasol-bearers and wooden figures intended to represent himself. But he took his place within the innermost body of troops, with his Pearl-umbrella or Parasol raised above him—it was one of the five insignia or symbols of royalty—and the conch and shield held on either side of him.

The faithful Nandhimitta stood on Dutugemunu ‘s right hand, and the redoubtable Suränimila on the left.

The rest of the Sinhalese Champions distributed themselves among the various bodies of troops, taking thus their respective positions near the wooden ” dummies of the King, which were certain to be the main centres of attack by the enemy.

Death of Dighajantu

When at length the battle joined, things went badly against the Sinhalese at the start.

Their advance columns, practically giving way under the determined onset of the Tamils, were compelled to fall back, and the hottest fighting soon raged around the area where Dutugemunu was directly in command.

Suddenly Dïghajantu, the strongest and most fearless of the Tamil warriors, recognising Dutugemunu by the Parasol held over his head, resolved to engage the latter in single combat.

Cutting his way through the front ranks of the Sinhalese, right up almost to a few yards of the place where Dutugemunu stood animatedly giving orders, he found his way barred by the giant frame of Suränimila, who cried out :

‘ Where goest thou, worthless Tamil ? “

Disdaining to answer the question and giving up for the moment the idea of attacking Dutugemunu, Dïghajantu ran towards Suränimila, and, raising his heavy sword high up in the air, brought it down with terrific force upon the latter.

Swift as thought Suränimila warded off the blow with his shield, and the sword fell clattering to the ground from othe other’s injured hand.

Thereupon, as Dïghajantu stooped to pick up the fallen weapon, Surãnimila, with lightning rapidity, drew out his own powerful sword, and with one mighty stroke slew Dïghajantu, who fell literally cleft in twain.

The death of Dïghajantu was the turning-point of the battle.

The dismayed Tamils turned to flee, and just at this moment Phussadeva blew his conch-shell with a deafening roar.

It was the signal for the Sinhalese host to close in on the enemy, and the signal was promptly obeyed.

The Tamils, finding themselves surrounded on all sides, bravely essayed to cut their way through, but in vain.

The Sinhalese, flushed with the spirit of success, fought like demons, and the Tamils fell like corn before the scythe of the reaper. The massacre was frightful. It was a terrible holocaust.

The water in the tank close by the scene of the battle was, it is said, dyed red with the blood of the slain. For this reason it was thenceforward known by the significant name of  Kulanta-väpi, i.e., ” end of the tribe ” (Sinh. Kalat –veva).



ELARA was one of the very few who escaped from the Battle of Kasägalugama without a scratch, but it was a bootless escape.

Dutugemunu, accompanied by a select band of soldiers, set off in pursuit directly intelligence was brought to him that Elära had fled. He overtook the Tamil King just near the South-Gate of Anurädhapura.

Giving orders that nobody else was to raise a hand against Elära, Dutugemunu engaged the latter in single conflict, there on that very spot.

Each was mounted on his own favourite elephant. But Elära, crushed in spirit by his overwhelming defeat and tired after his recent run, was no match for his adversary.

Evading the dart which Elära threw at him, Dutugemunu made his animal charge the other. And, just as Kandula succeeded in goring the other elephant with its tusks, he flung a javelin which took Elära on the side.

It was a fatal wound. For he fell down dead from his elephant, which, too, shortly afterwards collapsed in death agony a few paces from his master’s side.

Elara’s Cremation—Dutugemunu’s Order

With Elära ‘s dead body borne respectfully in his train, Dutugemunu, who was soon joined by the rest of his army, marched triumphantly to the capital.

Thither, after the rejoicings of victory, he summoned the people from miles around, in order to join him in solemnlý celebrating the funeral rites for the dead King, Elära, who had proved in life to be a brave man as well as a just and humane ruler.

The body Was taken at the head of a mighty procession of the people—Sinhalese as well as Tamils, men, women and children —to the place outside the South-Gate of the City where Elära had fallen dead from his elephant.

There, on that very spot, the cremation took place and there, shortly afterwards, Dutugemunu built a stately monument in memory of the brave Tamil ruler, and ordained that the place should be respected.

Near the monument he set up a Pillar Inscription which read as follows

” Let no man, Prince or peasant, in future pass this way riding in palanquin or litter, or with beating of drums. ‘

For two thousand years and more the Princes and people of Lanka, when they drew near to this place, were wont to silence their music because of this order.

Another Tamil Invasion Repulsed

Dutugemunu now made up his mind to be formally and ceremoniously consecrated as supreme King of Lanka. But before any preparations for this event could even be begun, the necessity arose for fighting the Tamils again. And it was in this wise :

During the siege of Vijitapura, or rather upon its fall, Elära had written to India, to his younger brother, Bhalluka, explaining how hard pressed he was by the Sinhalese forces, and begging him (Bhalluka) to raise an army there and to come to his (Elära ‘s) aid with all possible despatch.

Bhalluka, anxious to help his brother, whose life and throne were apparently in peril, did raise an army on the neighbouring continent for service in Lanka, but it took him longer than he thought.

When, however, eventually, with a force of some 30,000 Indian Tamils, he landed at Mahatittha (Sinh. Mantota or Mahavatutota, opposite the Island of Mannar), it was only then that he learned that Elära was dead and had been cremated just a week previous to his landing.

Having come so far and at such great trouble, he was reluctant to turn back. Besides, his brother’s death had to be avenged; and there was the possibility, if the Sinhalese could be driven away, of Bhalluka himself mounting the throne of Lanka.

Therefore, Bhalluka decided to press forward, and in a few day, arriving at the outskirts of the capital, he pitched his camp near the village, Kolambahalaka, situated not far from the North-Gate of Anurädhapura.

Dutugemunu, for his part, was not slow to act. Marching forth in full panoply of war, mounted on the elephant Kandula with the Giant Phussadeva seated behind him, with his fourfold army in mass formation—warriors mounted on elephants, horses and chariots, and with foot-soldiers in great numbers— he resolved to strike a swift blow.

The two armies quickly met, and a fierce and bloody battle ensued. Every inch of ground was hotly contested, and nobody could say for some time on which side lay the victory.

Phussadeva’s Extraordinary Marksmanship

Suddenly, Bhalluka was seen advancing at the head of a picked body of troops, and upon his approach a curious thing happened.

Kandula, with Dutugemunu and Phussadeva on its back,

yielded ground and continued to fall back, and the Sinhalese army with him was also constrained slowly to retire.

Dutugemunu, surprised as well as alarmed, declared excitedly:

“ Before this, in twenty-eight battles, Kandula has never retreated. What does this mean, Phussadeva ? “

To reassure the mind of the King, who was apparently superstitiously inclined to believe that the elephant ‘s unusual retreat signified an omen of defeat, Phussadeva promptly replied.

“ Victory lies behind us, O King. Looking to the field of victory the elephant draws back, and at the place of victory he will halt. Let us take our stand where the elephant halts.”

Kandula halted at a spot within the precincts of the Mahä Vihära, and there Bhalluka essayed to shoot at the King.

Taking aim at Dutugemunu’s mouth he let fly an arrow, but it struck the shield with which Dutugemunu had instantly covered his face and it fell to the ground.

And because the King happened at the moment to spit out the quid of betel which he had had in his mouth, Bhalluka, seeing it and imagining Dutugemunu was wounded, uttered a great cry of joy.

“ I have shot the King in the mouth,” he shouted. But his joy as well as shouting was short-lived.

Phussadeva, the greatest marksman of his time, let fly straight into Bhalluka ‘s mouth an arrow which, as it passed,. slightly grazed the King’s ear-ring and drew a little blood from the lobe.

Bhalluka, fatally wounded, fell backwards so that he would have lain with his feet towards Dutugemunu.

But legend tells us that, to prevent this, Phussadeva thereupon shot a second arrow which struck Bhalluka in the knee, even as he fell, so that he now fell forward on his face, from which moment he lay in the position of one conquered and overthrown, or of a slave before the King.

Phussadeva’s Guilt

However, that may be, whether the extraordinary result of   Phussadeva ‘s marksmanship was designed or accidental, its effect was instantaneous and profound.

With Bhalluka’s fall the tide of battle turned definitely against the Tamils, who, thrown into wild confusion, broke loose and fled, with the triumphant Sinhalese close at their heels.

The moment Bhalluka fell down, Phussadeva, forthwith cutting off the lobe of his own ear, showed the King the blood streaming down.

“ What does this mean ? ” demanded to know the surprised Dutugemunu.

“  I have carried out the Royal Justice upon myself,” was Phussadeva ‘s reply.

 “ What is thy fault ‘?’ ‘ enquired the King.

“ Striking your Majesty’s ear-ring “, answered the warrior.

“ Thou hast been foolish,” retorted the King, ” to assume as guilt that which was accidental and therefore no fault of thine. However, I shall not forget either the spirit or the extent of thy service today. Great shall be thy honourable guerdon, even as thine arrow. “

Large numbers of Bhalluka ‘s men laid down their arms and surrendered, while the rest got back to India as best they could.

With this battle ended Tamil domination in Lanka for some time to come at least.

Great were the rejoicings in the capital, where the people celebrated the victory in feasting and revelry.

Theraputtabhaya’s Resolve

Dutugemunu, seated in the Royal chamber of his Palace on the night of the victory and surrounded by his Ministers and Generals, bestowed great gifts and honours on those who had distinguished themselves or had rendered notable service, not only in that day’s battle but throughout the campaign as well.

The Ten Champions came in for special recognition.

Theraputtäbhaya, however, respectfully declined any gif’t or honour, and, on being asked the reason, declared

“ It is war, O great King ”.

“ When a single realm is created, what war is there ? ” retorted the King.

“1 have resolved to do battle with those rebels, the passions —a battle wherein victory is hard to win. I pray you, Your Majesty, grant me leave henceforth to live a hermit ‘s life. To be a monk is now my only desire and ambition. ”

The King asked him again and again to reconsider his resolve, but without effect.

Theraputtäbhaya respectfully pressed for the permission, which was eventually given.

In due time he was ordained, and, like his father, lived the life of a recluse.

Dutugemunu did not forget to reward Phussadeva in a special manner. He sent for Phussadeva’s arrow and had it set in the ground with the feathered end uppermost.

Then, covering the dart over and over with Kahäpanas (gold coins) poured forth upon it, he caused these to be handed to Phussadeva.

Duiugemunu’s Own Resolve

Then, dismissing the assembly and retiring to an inner apartment of the Royal Palace, he sat on his soft and fair couch covered with costly draperies, and there for a long time he lay buried in deep thought.

So profound was his reverie that he soon became oblivious to everything around him.

The gay decorations of the room, the fragrant lamps and perfume-filled vases, the dancing-girls, beautiful as nymphs, who waited silently for his signal to entertain him with song and dance—these had no place in his thoughts at the moment.

His mind wandered elsewhere and dwelt on other things. It harked back from his victory of that day to the beginning of the campaign upon which he had embarked.

And yet the remembrance of the great and glorious success which had throughout crowned his arms gave him no real joy at heart.

He thought of the thousands of human beings whose lives had been utterly destroyed by his undertaking, and the memory of this filled him with deep and poignant sorrow.

For he had always been deeply religious in mind and compassionate at heart; and the recollection of the incalculable pain and indescribable suffering he had inflicted, the terrible price he had paid to purchase the fruits of victory, robbed him of his peace of mind and the content which should otherwise have been his, upon the realisation of his cherished ambition.

When, however, he awoke at last from his reverie, it was with the fixed determination to begin, with the morrow, a new

chapter in his life which should have nothing in common with that which he closed that day.

Hitherto he had been a man of war. Henceforth he would be a man of peace, governing his people justly and humanely, and devoting himself whole-heartedly to furthering the sacred cause of Religion.

On the very next day preparations were set on foot for the King’s Coronation, and this solemn event took place in a few days’ time, Dutugemunu being acclaimed by the thousands of people who had gathered at the capital, from north and south, east and west, as the Supreme Ruler of United, east and west, as the Supreme Ruler of United Lanka.



KING Dutthagämani (Dutugemunu), more securely placed on the throne than any previous ruler of Lanka, was solemnly crowned King within a few days of his assumption, in B.C. 161, of the Government of the country.

The Coronation festivities lasted a whole week in the capital, and the event was celebrated in a befitting manner in every and hamlet throughout the kingdom.

Never was a King so enthusiastically and so universally acclaimed as Dutugemunu was upon his consecration.

Hi; great and glorious victories over the Tamils had shed lustre on the nation, which could now proudly declare themselves Sinhalese. And the nation marked the occasion of his accession by rejoicings of unparalleled grandeur and magnificence.

When the week of the Coronation festival was over, Dutugemunu, accompanied by the members of the Royal Household, drove in state to the Tissa tank for a great water-fete which had been arranged to be held there,

He was attended to the spot by his Ministers and other Court Officers, and the bearers of the Spear headed the procession.

This Spear was the same one, in a receptacle of which a Relic had been placed, and which had constantly been carried before him as Royal Standard throughout his campaign against the Tamils. And it was now borne before him even when he went to take part in water-sports.

The bearers of the Spear halted at a spot just north of the Tissa tank, and, planting the Spear on the ground where they stood, awaited the time of their Royal Master’s return from water-sports, in order to carry it before him on the way back to the place.

In the evening, at the conclusion of the water-fete, Dutugemunu made ready to return and gave directions for the Spear-bearers to precede him. But these men found difficulty in dislodging the Spear from the ground.

 The “ Miracle of the Spear ”

The reverent if superstitious soldiers, making no further attempt to remove the Spear which they knew contained a Relic of the Buddha, knelt down round it and placed offerings of flowers at the spot where the Spear stood planted on the ground.

Dutugemunu, coming up to the place shortly afterwards, was apprised of what had happened, and he made haste to make his own offerings at the spot.

The King’s example was followed by all the members of his household and others present, with the result that a goodly heap of offerings of various kinds—from simple flowers to costly articles of adornment, such as jewellery—soon marked the spot where the Spear stood.

As it was now getting dark, Dutugemunu placed sentinels round about the place of these incidents, and returned to his Palace.

The very next day Dutugemunu gave orders for the building, on the spot, not only of a Cetiya or Dägaba which would enclose the Spear, but also a Vihära enclosing the Thupa (i.e., Dägaba).

The work was taken in hand at once. In three years, that is, in B.C. 158, the Cetiya and Vihära—the Maricavatti (Sinh. Mirisavetiya) Vihära—were completed, and the event was celebrated by a great festival.

All the Buddhist monks and nuns resident in the Island were invited to the imposing ceremony of the consecration of the Monastery.

And in the presence of a large assembly of these as well as of the laity, the King solemnly poured forth the ceremonial “ Water of Donation ‘ and gifted the Mirisavetiya Vihära to the Brotherhood of Monks.

In a great and beautiful Hall, which ran round the Vihära and extended right up even to the neighbouring Abhaya-veva, the assembled monks and nuns were sumptuously entertained, not only that day but for a whole week.

Besides all kinds of rich food and drink, Dutugemunu on them valuable gifts of clothing etc., allotting the most costly parikkhära (i.e., a bhikkhu’s necessaries) to tile most distinguished monks, and to the others according to the rank of the recipient. Several hundred thousand kahäpanas (coins) were spent on these offerings.

Mirisavetiya as it Stands Today

The Mirisavetiya Dägaba was shaped like a hemisphere, resting on three cylinders which formed three basal platforms or ledges round it.

On the top of the dome was a rectangular ” tee ‘ ornamented with posts and rails on each face in sunk relief, above which rose the spire surmounted by one solid chatta.

The Dägaba, as it stands today, has been described thus :

It had three high rectangular stone vähalkadas, 25 feet long, facing the north, south and west cardinal points, each formed of a series of cornices or deep mouldings separated by bands of plain stone-work.

Twenty-one elephants’ heads project from the band above the lowest cornice. And on the uppermost band are carved in relief four processions of animals in one line, all marching to the left, and consisting of horses, humped bulls, lions, horned lions, and elephants.

At the left of the six animals in each wing of the vähalkada, a man or deity stands facing them and holding up his left hand. And a similar figure stands facing each group of five animals in the central part.

The vähalkadas are flanked at each end by two rectangular monolithic pillars, 13 inches wide in the face.

The inner pillar is as high as the uppermost cornice, and is surmounted by a stone lion sitting on his haunches on a square capital with a Buddhist railing of two bars on its face. He is looking outwards, with half-open mouth.

The outer pillar, which is very short, has vertical flutings on the face, and the lower half of a rayed sun emblem above them.

The taller pillars have, as ornaments on their face, a dwarf at the base, supporting on his head a vase out of which springs a tree decorated with a series of pairs of men and animals alternately, climbing upwards on each side of it.

At the top, above the tree, there is a disk or dharma-chakra  (a ” Wheel of the Law “) on a pedestal, over which is a conical chatta in relief with a snake lying head uppermost on each side of the pedestal.

Above each snake is a Yak-tail fly-whisk, the emblem of a guardian deity.

Behind the vähalkadas, steps led to the two upper basal ledges.

The height to the top of the ruin was 52 feet 7 inches.



A YEAR after the gifting of the Mirisavetiya Vihära to the Brotherhood of Monks, it was reported to Dutugemunu that a gold plate had been discovered in a chest at the Royal Palace.

Upon examination, the plate was found to contain an inscription of Devänampiya Tissa ‘s time, recording a prophecy by Mahinda Thera.

The prophecy was that, within two centuries of that King’s reign, there would arise a ruler of Lanka who would glorify religion by the construction of mighty and splendid buildings.

Dutugemunu assumed that this prophecy conveyed as it were a message to himself, and he resolved to build for the Sangha another structure, of a different character from the Mirisavetiya Vihära but on a more magnificent scale.

The explanation of this new zeal lies in the fact that Religion was to him now, not a matter of secondary consideration as in the days of his martial enterprises, but a living, driving force of the first importance, an obsession which filled all his thoughts, day and night.

The man of war had indeed been transformed into the man of peace, the valorous soldier into the pious devotee.

And his one ambition now was to employ all his strength of mind and body, and all the power he had acquired as King, for the greater glory of the religion which he professed.

Swift upon his new resolve, Dutugemunu arranged a gathering of the monks in the beautiful Mahämegha Park of Anurädhapura, and there he addressed them thus :—

 “ I will build for you a päsãda like to a Palace of the Gods. “

He requested them to send him a plan of the kind of building they desired, so that he might model his proposed structure on it

The monks then. dispersed, and, meeting again later by themselves, discussed the plan of the building they Should submit to Dutugemunu, Various suggestions were made, but none Of them received general approval.

At length one Bhikkhu, shrewder and of wider reading than the rest, declared .

“ The King is minded to build us a pasäda like to a Palace of the Gods. Why should we not give him a plan of the gleaming Gem-Palace of the serving-woman named Birani?”

“ Who was she? ” asked some of the monks who knew not the story, and the Bhikkhu thereupon replied :

The Gem-palace of Birani

” In the time of the Sage Kassapa [the last Buddha before Gautama l, we are told, there lived a Brahmin named Asoka who had set eight sätakabhatta ( “ ticket-meals ” ) to be apportioned to the Brethren.

“ Give of this continually”, he had commanded his serving-woman named Birani. And faithfully her whole life long did she give of these gifts to the Brethren.

“ When he died, by reason of the merit she had  acquired during life by her action, she was reborn as a lovely maiden in a gleaming Palace floating in the air, and she was continually served by a thousand nymphs.

Her Gem-palace was twelve yojanas high and measured forty-eight yoanas round about.

“ It was adorned with a thousand jutting window-chambers, •was nine-storied, provided with a thousand chambers, gleaming with light, four-sided, with a thousand shell-garlands, with windows like eyes, and provided with a vedikä adorned with a network of little bells.

“ In the middle of this gleaming Palace was a beautiful Pavilion named Ambalatthika-päsäda, visible from every side and bright with hanging pennons.

“ That is the story in brief.

“ Now, why should we not make a drawing of this Gem palace of Birani and hand it to the King, to serve as a model for the Palace which he wishes to build  ? ”

The monks all agreed that it was a capital idea. And they thereupon commissioned one of their number, a Bhikkhu naturally gifted as an artist, to make a drawing of Birani’s Palace.

The drawing, made with red arsenic upon a linen cloth, was soon finished and sent to Dutugemunu.

He was greatly pleased and gave directions to commence building operations without delay, after the plan of the model supplied to him by the Bhikkhus.

The work was taken in hand in B.C. 156, two years after the completion of the Mirisavetiya Vihära, and many thousands were employed in the undertaking.

From the outset Dutugemunu was determined that the whole merit of the work should be his, and his alone, by paying for the labour himself. He had it proclaimed

“ No work is to be done here without reward ”.

And every workman had his labour appraised and wages paid accordingly.

For the payment of these wages in a manner convenient to the labourers themselves, large sums of money—800,000 gold pieces, according to one chronicle—were deposited in charge of Paymasters near each of the four Gates of the City of Anurädhapura.

Here, too, were placed thousands of bundles of garments and many pitchers filled with ball-sugar, oil, sugar-dust and honey, for the use of the workmen.

The Magnificence -of the Brazen Palace

In six years—that is, in B.C. 150—the work was over. And so wonderful was the magnificence and beauty of the completed structure that, it is said, many could scarcely believe it had been fashioned by human hands.

Even the ancient priestly chronicler of the Mahävanså, not accustomed to lavish praise on material things, was moved to eloquent and picturesque language in his description of the splendid and stately building. For this is what he says :-

The päsäda was four-sided, measuring on each side a hundred cubits (150 feet) and as much in height.

In this most beautiful of Palaces there were nine storeys, and in each storey a hundred window-chambers.

All the chambers were overlaid with silver, and their coral vedikäs were adorned with manifold precious stones. The vedikäs were surrounded with rows of little silver bells and lotus flowers gay with various gems.

A thousand well-arranged chambers were in the pasäda, overlaid with various gems and adorned with windows.

Costly beds and chairs, according to rank, and carpets and coverlets of great price were spread about.

Even the rinsing-vessel and the ladle belonging thereto were of gold. What need then to speak of the other utensils in the Palace ?

But that was not all.

Birani’s Gem-palace—the model for the present structure— had in the middle of the building a beautiful Pavilion, and a similar Gem-Pavilion enhanced the beauty and splendour of this new Palace of Dutugemunu ‘s.

It was adorned with pillars consisting of precious stones, on which were figures of lions, tigers, etc., and shapes of devatas. A bordering of pearl network ran round the edge of the Pavilion, and thereon was a coral vedikä of the kind described above.

The Throne of Ivory

Within the Pavilion, gaily adorned with the seven gems, stood a shining Throne of Ivory with a seat of mountain crystal. In the ivory back was fashioned a sun of gold, a moon of silver, and stars of pearls.

White lotus-blossoms made of various gems were artistically placed here and there. And scenes from the Jätakas (birth stories of the Buddha) were depicted within a festoon of gold.

On this beautiful Throne, covered with costly cushions, was placed a gleaming fan of ivory. A white parasol with a coral foot, resting on mountain-crystal and having a silver staff, shone forth over the Throne.

On it, depicted in the seven gems, were the eight auspicious figures (viz., the lion, bull, elephant, water-pitcher, fan, standard, conch-shell and lamp), as well as rows of figures of beasts with jewels and pearls in between. Rows of little silver bells were hung up on the edge of the parasol.

No wonder the chronicler adds that ” palace, parasol, throne and pavilion were beyond price. The whole structure was surrounded by a beautiful enclosure and provided with four gateways, one at each cardinal point.

Such was the Palace which Dutugemunu built as a labour of love and which, from the circumstance that it was covered over with plates of copper, came to be called the Brazen Palace (P. Loha-päsäda ; S. Lovä-mahä-päya).

Soon after its completion there was held, just as in the case of the Mirisavetiya Vihära, a solemn consecration-festival at which, in addition to vast numbers of the lay people, there was present a great gathering of the Brotherhood of Monks.

These latter, according to their rank and degree of learning or sanctity, were accommodated in the various storeys of the Palace.

Thus, the Bhikkhus who were yet simple folk “, stood in the first storey ; those learned in the Tipitaka or Sacred Scriptures of religion on the second, and so on till all the nine storeys were filled, the holiest ascetics being placed in the topmost storey.

In the midst of this assembly and in sight of all, Dutugemunu poured forth the ceremonial “ Water of Donation ” and gifted the splendid Lovä-Mahä-Päya to the Brotherhood of Monks.

Moreover he commanded, as on the previous occasion, a lavish gift of alms for a week. This order was carried out unstintingly and regardless of cost.

The almsgiving was on the same magnificent scale as that on which the Palace was designed and constructed.



IN B.C. 149, that is, in the year following that on which the Brazen Palace was completed, Dutugemunu resolved to build the Great Thupa or Ruvanveli-Seya—the earliest and greatest of the greater Dägabas of Anurädhapura.

And it came about in this way :

It will be remembered that, in the reign of Devänampiya Tissa, immediately after the formal gifting of the Mahä-meghavanäräma or Mahä Vihära to the Buddhist clergy, the Thera Mahinda had proceeded to seven different spots in the neighbourhood of the Royal Pavilion.

The site of one of these was marked by a pillar of stone which Devänampiya Tissa set up, exactly on the spot where Mahinda had made an offering of jasmine and other flowers.

About a year after the consecration of the Lovä-Mahäpäya, Dutugemunu held a great and splendid ceremony of gifts in honour of the Sacred Bo-tree.

When entering the City in connection with this ceremony, he happened to see the pillar of stone set up by his predecessor, Devänampiya Tissa. Being reminded of the tradition associated with this stone, he expressed his intention without delay to build a mighty Thupa upon the spot.

In this manner originated the idea of the construction of the Ruvanveli-seya.

Entering his Palace shortly after he had seen the stone-pillar, Dutugemunu ate his repast, and, mounting up to the high terrace, sat there for a long time bowed in thought.

” At the conquering of the Damilas (Tamils) this people was oppressed by me. It is not possible to levy a tax. Yet if, without a tax, I build the great Thupa, how shall I be able to have bricks duly made ? “

Such was the burden of his thoughts, and he found it difficult to reach a satisfactory decision.

He was determined, of course, that the people should not be taxed in this connection, and he was equally determined that the Thupa should be built.

But how was he to do the one without the other ?

 The Mirisavetiya Vihära, and then the Lovä-Mahä-Päya, had impoverished his resources, and the kind of building he now contemplated would require even more money than he had spent on those two structures.

The resolution to which he came finally was’ to start collecting the necessary material slowly, even if the process took a long time, as he was extremely anxious to avoid oppressively burdening the people.

Legends of the  “ Fortunate Discoveries ”

But a series of fortunate and opportune discoveries considerably lightened his task, and obviated the necessity for any levy on the people.

Legend tells us, for instance, that not long after the King ‘s resolution to collect the wherewithal to build the Thupa, there was a huntsman who had gone with his dogs one morning into a forest near the Gambhira River, about a yojana from the City.

Seeing an iguana the hunter pursued it, and, in the course of the chase, came across a huge pile of bricks.

“ Our King intends to build a great Thupa. Here is an aid thereto ”, thought he.

And forthwith returning to the City, he reported his discovery to the delighted Dutugemunu, who handsomely rewarded him.

The story assigns a divine origin to the presence of the bricks in the forest. But the probability is that they represented a collection made by some previous builder who had somehow been unable to utilise them.

Another hunter, shortly afterwards, was not less fortunate. He found, on the sand, in a cave opening on the Peliväpikagama Tank (Sinh. Pelavevgama, now Vavunikkulam, a little over fifty miles north of Anurädhapura), four large and beautiful gems, in size like to a small mill-stone and in colour like flax-flowers.

These he brought to the King, who gave him a rich reward.

A similar find of precious stones including sapphires and rubies, in fairly large numbers, was made at the village of Sumåna-väpi (Sinh. Saman-veva), situated about four yojanas (about 32 miles) south-east of Anurädhapura, and was duly reported to Dutugemunu, who had the gems stored away carefully for use in due course.

From time to time other discoveries were made of a like character and helped to fill the coffers of the King.

For instance, in a north-easterly direction from Anurädhapura, at a distance of three yojanas and near Äcäravitthigama (Sinh. Ãcäravitiya), on a plain covering sixteen karisas of land, there appeared nuggets of gold of different sizes, the largest measuring a span and the smallest a finger’s measure.

Again, on the east side of the City of Anurädhapura, at a distance of seven yojanas, copper was discovered on the further bank of the river, near a village which from this circumstance was thenceforward called Tambapittha (Sinh. Tambavitiya).

In a westerly direction from the City at a distance of five yojanas, near the landing-place Uruvela (at the mouth of the Kolä Oya), legend has it that six waggon-loads of pearls were found, in size like to great myrobalan fruits, mingled with coral.

Certain fishermen who made the discovery took the pearls, together with the coral, and handed them to the King.

The Story of the Silver Cave

Then, finally, in the fifth year of the King’s resolve to collect the wherewithal to build the Great Thupa, came the sensational discovery of silver in the Ambatthakolalena, a cave lying in a southerly direction from Anurädhapura, at a distance of about eight yojanas. It came about in this way :

A merchant from the City, taking many waggons, or rather bullock-carts, with him, had set out for Mäyä in order to bring ginger and other provisions from that Province, as he was usually wont to do in the pursuit of his trade.

Not far from the Ambatthakola cave, which lay along his route, he brought the carts to a halt. And since (like the modern Sinhalese carter) he required a few strong sticks to serve as whips for his bulls, he walked up the adjacent hillside.

Seeing here a Jak (Sinh. kos) tree branch lowered down by the weight of a single ripe fruit as large as a water-pitcher, he cut the fruit from the stalk with his knife. Then, ripping it open, he began to extract the sweet kernels (Sinh. penivaraka-madulu).

Just at this moment, the story proceeds, four Theras ” free from the äsavas ” appeared on the scene. The merchant greeted them gladly, invited them with all reverence to be seated, and proceeded to cut away the rind of the fruit around the stalk.

Then he tore out the bottom of the fruit and, pouring the juice which filled the hollow forth into their bowls, he offered the Theras the four bowls filled with fruit-juice. They accepted them and went their way.

Almost immediately thereafter four other Theras, similarly “ free from the äsavas ” appeared before the merchant. The latter took their alms-bowls, filled them with the kernels (madulu) of the varaka fruit and gave them back.

Three of the Theras then went their way. But the fourth, proceeding a little distance apart, sat down near the mouth of the cave, ate the kernels given to him as his share, and then departed from the place.

Thereupon the merchant, following the track taken by the Thera, went himself and sat down at the entrance to the cave, made a meal of the remainder of the jak fruit, and, wrapping up a portion for consumption during his journey, got up to go.

Prompted, however, by a sudden feeling of curiosity, he took a few steps into the cave, only to be brought to an abrupt halt by something dazzling before him.

He had his axe in his hand, and with this he struck at the glistening object. On examining the lump which thus broke off, he found it to be silver.

The excited merchant then ran to his carts, gave orders for the bulls to be untied and tethered nearby, and, bidding his servants await his return, ran in haste to Anurãdhapura.

Straight to the King he went and announced his discovery.

Dutugemunu, well pleased, rewarded him and forthwith gave orders to bring the silver from Ambatthakola cave to the capital.

In this way, at the end of five years from that on which he had made up his mind to build the Mahä Thupa without taxing the people, Dutugemunu found himself in a position to begin the undertaking, and to this end he now gave orders.

Some of the necessary material had to be obtained from outside the Island—from India—and thither he sent men fov the purpose.
      Meanwhile he made all local preparations, so as to be ready to start the work on an auspicious day and to proceed with it uninterruptedly thenceforward.

The Beginning of the Maha Thupa

On the full-moon day of the month Vesäkha (April-May), in the 17th year of his reign—that is, in B.C. 144—Dutugemunu began in real earnest the work of the Great Thupa.

The stone-pillar, set up of old by Devänampiya Tissa, was removed and the place for the Thupa was dug out to a depth of seven cubits, in order to make it firm in every way.      

Round stones, which Dutugemunu ‘s soldiers had brought to the spot, were then broken with hammers. And in order to make the ground firmer, the crushed stone was stamped down by great elephants whose feet were bound with leather.      

A kind of clay, which, because of its fineness, is called  “ butter-clay ”  and which had been brought there from the neighbourhood of the Ganges, was spread over the layer of stones, and bricks were laid over the clay.

Over these bricks came a rough cement, and over this cinnabar. Over the cinnabar was placed a network of iron, and over this sweet-scented marumba, which had been brought there by Sämaneras from the Himälayäs.

Over this marumba, by Dutugemunu ‘s order, was laid mountain-crystal. And over the layer of mountain-crystal he had stones spread, the ” butter-clay ‘ serving as cement everywhere throughout the work.

Then, over the stones, came a sheet of copper, seven inches thick, with resin of the kapittha tree dissolved in sweetened water (that is, water of the small red coconut). And over this,



WHILE this work of preparing the spot where the Great Thupa was to be built was in progress, Dutugemunu sent out invitations to the monks of the great Vihäras and Monasteries in India, to be present on the occasion of the solemn Laying of the Foundation-Stone.

This was fixed for the evening of the 15th day of the bright half of the month Asälha (June-July).

As the day approached, an order was given for the decoration, not merely of the place of the Thupa and its surroundings, but also of the whole City of Anurädhapura and the streets leading to it.

Certain Ministers were specially appointed to be in charge of the scheme of decorations, and they personally saw to it that this task was properly carried out.

Other Ministers were charged with the duty of making adequate arrangements for the proper reception and entertainment of the visitors, and for providing all that might be required by the people flocking to attend the ceremony.

Some idea of how thoroughly these Ministers performed their allotted share of work may be gathered from the following        facts :—

On the morning of the day fixed for the ceremony, the whole City, gay with decorations of flags and flowers, pretty pandals and artistic arches, was transformed almost beyond recognition.

At each of the four Gates of the City were numbers of barbers and bath-attendants, who were ready to attend to .. such requirements of the incoming people as would enable them to go to the place of the Thupa, neat in appearance cleanly in person.

Moreover, near the Gates were stored piles of white clothing, fragrant flowers and sweet-foods for the use of the people. While, in addition, round about the spot where the ceremony was to take place, there were a thousand-and-eight cart-loads of clothes.

There were also a thousand-and-eight large quantities of honey, clarified butter, sugar and other goods, each disposed in a separate place.

On the previous evening Dutugemunu had arranged for an assembly of the Brotherhood of the Bhikkhus as well as of the people, and had addressed them thus :—

“ Tomorrow, Venerable Sirs, I shall lay the Foundation Stone of the Great Cetiya. Let our whole Brotherhood assemble here, so that a festival may be held for the Buddha. And let the people, in festal array, with fragrant flowers and other offerings, come tomorrow to the place where the Mahã Thupa will be built. “

On the morrow, from early dawn, the people came from far and near. Citizens and peasantry, clad in white and bearing white flowers of sweet perfume, poured in one unending stream to the place where the Foundation-Stone was to be laid.

As the time for the ceremony drew nigh, the assembled monks and people took up their respective places round about the spot.

The monks included not only the Bhikkhus of Lanka, but also large numbers of others from the principal Vihäras and Monasteries of India. These foreign deputations were each led by their respective Mahä Theras.

The names of the more notable principals who were present on that occasion re as follows :-

Eminent Visitors from India

Candagutta Maha Thera—from the Vanaväsa country (modern Banaväsi in North Känara).

Cittagutta Maha Thera—from the Bodhimanda Vihära (at Bodhgayä, the place where Gautama attained to Buddhahood).

Dhammasena Maha Thera—from Isipatanäräma (near Bäränasi—the modern Benares—where the Buddha preached his first sermon).

Indagutta Maha Thera—from Räjagaha (now Räjgir), the capital of Magadha.

Mahadeva Maha Thera—from Pallavabhogga.

MittinnaMaha Thera—from the Asokäräma in Pupphapura (Pätaliputta).

Piyadassi Maha Thera—from the Jetavanäräma (a monastery near Sävatthi in the Kosala country).

Suriyagutta Maha Thera—from Keläsa Vihära.

Urubuddha-rakkhita Maha Thera—from the Mahãsan monastery in Vesäli (modern Basär, in the district Muzzafarpur, north of Patna).

Urudhamma-rakkhita Maha Thera—from the Ghositäräma in Kosambi (on the River Yamunä).

Urusamgha-rakkhita Maha Thera—from the Dakkhinägiri in Ujjeni (now Ujjain in the Gwalior State, Central India).

Uttara Maha Thera—from the Vattaniyäräma in the Vinjhä forest (near the Vindhyä Mountain).

Uttina Maha Thera—from the Kasmira country (Kashmir).

Yonamahadhamma-rakkhita Maha Thera—from Alasanda (Alexandria), the city of the Yonas, i.e., the Greeks [probably the town founded by the Macedonian King in the country of the Paropanisadae near Käbul].

These Bhikkhus, together with the chief monks of the local fraternity, stood, according to their rank, around the place of the Mahä Thupa, leaving in the midst an open space for the King.

A few minutes before the hour fixed for the ceremony, Dutugemunu, clad in his rich, royal robes and decked with priceless gems of wonderful beauty, arrived.

He was accompanied by all his high Ministers of State, richly clothed as befitted their office, and by the members of the, Royal Household, including the beautiful dancing-girls Who were themselves clad like celestial nymphs.

The four sections of the Sinhalese Army were represented in large numbers and formed a great square enclosing the assembled throng.

As the King stepped on to the dais prepared for his accommodation in the open space referred to above, the music crashed and the whole assemblage broke out into tumultuous applause and deafening shouts of  ” Sädhu ”

Laying the Foundation-Stone

The ceremony began sharp at the appointed minute.

The King greeted the Maha Theras immediately in front of him, made an offering of fragrant flowers to them, and walked round them three times, thus making a pradakshinä.

A few feet away from the monks was a spot marked out as the consecrated place of the ” Filled Pitcher ‘ where was placed the pure turning-staff (for tracing the circular boundary), made of silver and secured by means of a rope to a post of gold.

Stepping across to this spot, Dutugemunu, as ceremonially prescribed, directed a Minister of noble birth, who stood by and whose popularity with the people stood high, to grasp the turning-staff, walk round with it in his hands along. the ground already prepared, and to draw, in this way, the circular outline of the Thupa.

Dutugemunu’s object was thus to allot a great space for the Cetiya, but there was a sudden interruption in the proceedings.

Siddhattha Mahä Thera, a far-seeing monk, who stood not far away from the King, stepped forward and respectfully expressed it as his opinion that it was not wise to plan the Cetiya on so large a scale.

He gave two reasons in particular, namely, that the King would in all probability be unable to complete such a stupendous work in his own life-time. And its repair if future times, presuming it was built on the dimensions intended, would be not only difficult, but also costly and protracted.

The King, realising the force of the arguments, expressed his approval of Siddhattha Thera ‘s words. And, though he would fain have carried out his original plan, gave directions that it should be modified.      

The circular boundary eventually marked out was that on which the Thupa was afterwards built. Dutugemunu then proceeded ceremoniously to lay the Foundation-Stone, and walked up to the spot prepared for the purpose.

Here he deposited, in the middle, eight vases of silver and eight vases of gold, and in a circle around these he placed a thousand-and-eight new vases.

Then he laid eight splendid bricks, each one apart by itself (namely east, north-east, north and so on), and, in a circle around each of them, a hundred-and-eight garments.

Then another Minister, who had previously been selected for the purpose and who was clothed suitably for the occasion, took one of the bricks, and, going to the east side, which had been prepared with much ceremony, solemnly laid there the first Foundation-Stone, upon sweet-smelling clay.

This clay had been mixed by a Thera named Mittasena, and on it water had been poured by another Thera, Jayasena by name.

Conclusion of the Ceremony

Dutugemunu thereupon made an offering of jasmine flowers at the spot where the first stone had been laid. After this he directed that the seven remaining bricks be laid by seven Ministers and the prescribed consecration ceremonies carried out.

This was followed by an eloquent and impassioned sermon preached by the Maha Thera Piyadassi, who had come all the way from the Jetavanäräma, in India.

Thus was the solemn ceremony of the laying of the Foundation-Stone of the Mahä Thupa or Ruvanveli-seya brought to a close late in the evening of the 15th uposatha day of the bright half of the month Asälha (June—July), in the year B.C. 144 (that is, 400 years after the death of the Buddha).

When the ceremony was ended Dutugemunu, addressing the assembled monks—several thousands in number—formally requested them not to depart but to remain in the capital as his guests, till the building of the Mahä Thupa was completed.

The invitation was in effect that they should stay in Anurädhapura for years, at his expense. But the Bhikkhus respectfully but decisively expressed their inability to do so.

Dutugemunu, therefore, pressed them to remain for a year ; and, as they still declined, he kept limiting his invitation more and more, till at last they agreed to stay only for one week.

The King who was anxious to treat with generosity the monks who had travelled great distances and come from far countries to be present at the ceremony, gave orders for the setting up of eighteen pavilions round about the place of the Mahã Thupa

In these and other places the Bhikkhus were accommodated. And every day throughout a whole week they were most sumptuously entertained and lavish gifts bestowed upon them, not only by the King but also by his Ministers and rich nobles.

In due course the Bhikkhus departed to their respective Vihäras and Monasteries.



Now that the Foundation-Stone had been well and truly laid, the work of actual building was taken in hand at once.

The first thing that had to be done was to settle what the design should be, and to this end Dutugemunu summoned to his Palace the most skilled Master-builders in the country.

When they arrived he asked one of them :

“ How wilt thou make the Thupa ? “

“ Taking a hundred workmen, I will use one waggon-load of sand in one day, ” was the man ‘s reply.

“ Should ‘st thou do so, the Cetiya would be like a heap of pure sand and would be covered with grass and bushes, ” declared the King in rejecting him.

Dutugemunu realised only too well that the use of too much sand would tell against the durability of the Thupa.

Thereon a second Master-builder offered to work with half a waggon load, a third with a quarter, and a fourth with two ammanas of sand. But Dutugemunu would have none of them.

Then an experienced and shrewd Master-builder named Sirivaddhaka ( “ the great healer ” lit. augmenting the bliss “) said to the King :

“ I shall pound the sand in a mortar. And then, when it is sifted, I shall have it crushed in the mill, and thus will use only one ammana of sand. “

“ In what form wilt thou make the Thupa” ? then asked the King, who appeared to be so far satisfied with this proposal.

The Master-builder thereupon had a golden bowl filled with water. Taking a little water into his hand, he let it fall on the surface of the water in the bowl, and a great bubble rose up like unto a half-globe of crystal.

“ Thus will I make it, ” he declared, pointing with his finger to the great bubble.

Dutugemunu, greatly pleased, bestowed on him a pair of garments worth a thousand pieces of money, ornamented shoes and 12,000 kahäpanas.

He also gave orders that the direction of the work of the Mahä Thupa should be entrusted to Sirivaddhaka.

No Work without Wage ”

A few days before the work on the Mahä Thupa began in real earnest, Dutugemunu had it proclaimed by beat of tom-tom

“ Work shall not be done here without wage. “

He was anxious that the merit of the whole undertaking should be his, and his alone. And he gave stringent directions that no man ‘s labour was to be utilised without recompense of some kind or other.

Accordingly, near about each of the four Gates of the City, he had a number of temporary buildings put up, in which were stored not only vast sums of money for the payment of wages, but also articles of clothing, different kinds of ornaments, solid and liquid foods, drink, sweet-smelling flowers, sugar etc., for the use of the workmen.

He also provided the five kinds of mouth-perfumes, so that the men might perform their labour round about the Thupa in an atmosphere of fragrance, unpolluted by foul breath or evil smell.

“ Let them take of these as they will when they have laboured as they will, ‘ commanded the generous Dutugemunu, and every labourer found the work a profitable occupation.

Each man found himself rated on a liberal scale and wages allotted to him accordingly.The Overseers appointed for the purpose saw to it that no man went away unrequited on any day.

A Bhikkhu ‘s Secret Endeavour

A certain Bhikkhu, who was anxious to take part in the building of the Thupa, took a lump of clay, kneaded and mixed it himself till he formed a brick.

Then, going to the place of the Cetiya, he eluded the vigilance of the watchers on duty and boldly handed the brick to a workman.

As the Bhikkhu had received no wage for making this brick, he hoped thus to obtain a share in the meritorious work of building this Thupa. But this effort failed.

The workman at once recognised the brick by the difference in its composition, and promptly reported the matter to the Overseer, who in turn had it brought to the notice of the King. Dutugemunu came to the spot and questioned the workman. Finding that the latter was unable to say whether the particular Bhikkhu was a local or foreign monk, he directed the Overseer to make a searching enquiry.

At length the Bhikkhu was discovered. Thereupon the King had three pitchers with jasmine-blossoms placed in the courtyard of the Sacred Bo Tree, and he bade the Overseer give them to the Bhikkhu, so that the latter might be rewarded in this way for his work on the Thupa.
      The Bhikkhu, suspecting nothing, used the flowers to make an offering on his own account to the Bo Tree.

It was only then that the Overseer told him that the flowers represented a return or payment for the brick on which the. monk had laboured in the hope of sharing in the work of the Thupa.

There was another Thera—a kinsman of that brick-worker— who made a similar attempt to take part in the work of building the Thupa.

He made a brick of the size such as was used there, after having learned the exact measure from the brick-worker. Then he came to the place where the men were at labour, and contrived stealthily to hand it to the workman.

The latter laid it on its place in the Thupa along with other bricks and continued his work, but soon a commotion arose.

Apparently the use of the Thera ‘s brick had been noticed by another workman and the fact communicated.to the Overseer, who made much ado about it.

Eventually the matter was reported to the King, who soon arrived on the scene and interrogated the workman.

 “ Is it possible to recognise the brick ? ” asked the King.

“ It is impossible, ” replied the man falsely, though he knew exactly where the brick lay.

“ Can ‘st thou at least recognise the Thera ? ” was Dutugemunu’s next question.

“ Yes ” , answered the other, for he was afraid to carry his denials too far.

The Bhikkhu Circumvented

Thereupon the King, after giving certain instructions to the Overseer, went away.

From that moment the Overseer kept a close watch on the workman, and succeeded at last in finding out who the Thera was.

He was a monk from Piyangalla (Sinh. Piyagala) in the Kotthiväla district (Sinh. Këlivä-janapada), who had come to Anurädhapura for the laying of the Foundation-Stone of the Mahä Thupa. Remaining behind after that ceremony, he had taken up temporary residence at the Katthahala Parivena.

The Overseer decided to follow him there. After ascertaining the day of the Thera’s departure and the place to which he was going, he intimated his intention to accompany the monk to his village.

Then, hastening back to the Royal Palace, he told the King all that he had seen, heard, and found out.

Dutugemunu thereupon gave certain further instructions to him, handing him at the same time a pair of garments worth a thousand pieces of money and a costly red coverlet, as well as sugar, a neliya of fragrant oil, and in fact many other things useful to Bhikkhus.

With these packed in a handy bundle, the Overseer rejoined the Thera and started with him on the journey to the Kotthiväla district.

When Piyangalla village came in sight, the Overseer induced the Thera to sit down in a cool shady place where there was water.

Then, giving him sugar-water to drink, he rubbed the monk ‘s feet with fragrant oil and put sandals upon them.

Next he handed to him the other requirements for priests which he had brought in his bundle, saying at the same time :

“ For the Thera who visits my house have I brought these with me, but the two garments are for my son. All this do I give to thee now.”

The Thera, suspecting nothing, accepted the gift.

Then the Overseer, in taking leave to depart, declared that the gift just made was in payment for the brick which. the monk had made for the Mahä Thupa.

Thus, for the second time, did Dutugemunu prevent another from sharing in an undertaking, the entire merit of which he was determined should be his alone.



WHEN in due course the work on the Mahä Thupa had made considerable progress, the time arrived for the construction of that part of the Cetiya known as the Relic-Chamber.

It was intended to use in this connection certain fat-coloured stones—that is, stones of the golden or cream colour of fat— which were to be found only in the land of the Northern Kurusa people living near the Himälaya mountains.

Accordingly two Sämaneras, named Uttara and Sumana, were despatched there for the purpose, and they brought back six massive stones, eight inches thick, which are described as having been “ bright as the sun and like to ganthi blossoms ”.’

One of these stones was laid on the flower-terrace in the middle of the Relic-Chamber, four were disposed on the four sides in the fashion of a chest, and the remaining one was kept apart, on the east side, to serve afterwards as a lid for the chest-like receptacle.

In the midst of the Relic-Chamber, Dutugemunu placed a priceless and dazzlingly beautiful five-branched Bo-tree made of jewels.

The root, made of coral, rested on sapphire. The stem, made of perfectly pure silver, was adorned with leaves made of gems, and had withered leaves and fruits of gold and young shoots made of coral.

The attha mangalakäni or eight auspicious figures—viz., the lion, bull, elephant water-pitcher, fan, standard, conchshell and lamp—were on the stem, as well as festoons of flowers and beautiful rows of four-footed beasts and rows of sacred geese.

Around the Bo-tree ran a vedikä made of all manner of jewels, the pavement within being made of pearls of the size of great myrobalan fruits.

At the foot of the Bo-tree were placed rows of vases, some empty and some filled with flowers. These vases were made of all kinds of jewels and filled with four kinds of fragrant water.

East of the Bo-tree, inside the Relic-Chamber, was erected a costly Throne, on which was placed a shining golden Image of the seated Buddha.

The body and members of this Image were appropriately made of radiantly beautiful jewels of different colours  :-

Thus, the finger-nails and the whites of the eyes were made of mountain-crystal ; the palms of the hands, soles of. the feet, and the lips were of red coral ; the eyebrows and pupils of sapphire, the teeth of diamonds, and so on, the harmony of colour being thus maintained throughout.

Seven other Thrones, similarly beautiful and not less costly, were erected facing the other seven regions of the heavens.

In order that the Bo-tree should be at the head, there was placed a priceless couch adorned with jewels of every kind.

It represented the death-bed of the Buddha, and was intended to serve as the immediate receptacle for the Relics which were eventually to be deposited within the Relic-Chamber.

Paintings and other Ornamentation Within

Painted on the inside face of the walls of the Chamber were scenes from the life of the Buddha and figures of innumerable Gods and Goddesses.

Thus, at the four quarters, stood the figures of the Lokapäla or the four Guardian Gods of the world, and numbers of other celestial beings as well as representations of the twenty-eight chiefs of the Yakkas.

Above these were Devas—some raising their folded hands, others with mirrors in their hands or bearing flowers and branches or lotus-blossoms—and Devatas, either in a dancing position or playing instruments of music.

Then there were vases filled with flowers and row upon row, not only of dhammacakkas [the sacred symbol of the Buddhists! and of arches made of gems. hut also rows of more Devas, some bearing swords in their hands, others carrymg pitchers.

Above their heads were tall pitchers, filled with fragrant oil, with continuously burning wicks made of dukula fibres.

In an arch of crystal in each of the four corners of the Chambeber was a great Gem, and in the four corners were four glimmering heaps : one of gold, another of precious stones, the third of pearls, and the fourth of diamonds.

Sparkling zig-zag lines, (raced on the fat-coloured stones that made up the walls, gave the appearance of lightning flashes, and served to add realistically to the beauty and radiance of the Relic-Chamber.

Over these wonderfully dazzling and priceless objects was a beautiful canopy which had, as its border, a net-work of pearl-bells and chains of little golden bells.

From the four corners of the Canopy hung bundles of pearl strings, each worth vast sum of money.

The figures of the sun, moon, stars and different lotus flowers—all made of jewels—were fastened to the Canopy. And, hanging from it, were a thousand-and-eight pieces of divers Stuffs, precious and of varied colours.

Apart from the objects described above, there were numerous other images and figures in the Relic-Chamber, every one of which, by order of Dutugemunu, was made of massive wrought gold.

The fashioning of these priceless works of art and of devotion, as well as the decoration and adornment—in fact, everything connected with this Chamber—were carried out under the personal supervision of the great and accomplished monk, the Maha Thera Indagutta.

In due time a Bhikkhu celebrated for his piety, Sonuttara Thera of Pujä Parivena, was sent to India to bring the Relics intended to be deposited within the great Thupa.

The Thera successfully accomplished his mission, and the day following that on which he returned to Lanka with” the Relics was fixed for their solemn enshrinement.

Dutugemunu was resolved that this event should be marked by a Festival on a scale of magnificence greater than that of any other held previously in the Island, and to this effect he forthwith gave orders.

Festival of Enshrinement of the Relics

He had proclamation made by beat of drum within the City and outside it. And right gladly did his Ministers and people give effect to his wishes and support his efforts in this direction.

The whole of Anurädhapura was profusely decorated as well as all the approaches to it. And at the four gates of the City were stored garments, food etc., for the use of the thousands who kept pouring into the Capital for the occasion.

In the evening of the day of the enshrinement of the Relics, and shortly before the ceremony began, the scene near the main entrance to the Ruvanveli-seya was a memorable one and impressive in the extreme.

Surrounded by a vast concourse of people, whose festal garments contrasted sharply with the gleam of the yellow robes of the thousands of Bhikkhus present, stood King Dutugemunu, clad in the rich robes of State and arrayed in all the splendour of his Royal ornaments.

His stalwart frame stood out in bold relief against the background of dancing-women from the Royal Household who filled the space immediately behind him, and of the thousand-and-eight boys in festal array, who bore beautiful many-coloured flags, and formed an inner semi-circle behind.

On one side stood the Generals and other superior military officers, everyone in complete armour, and behind these were ranged a number of sections of the Sinhalese Army, who were present with their horses and chariots and gaily-caparisoned elephants.

In close proximity to the King, on another side, was his State-Chariot, drawn by four pure white Sindhu-horses.

Encircling the chariot, in three distinct circles one behind the other, stood a thousand-and-eight beautiful women of the City bearing well-filled pitchers, a similar number of women from the villages holding in their hands baskets filled with various flowers, and as many women again bearing lamps on staves. These latter formed the outer ring.

Nearby, in front of the King, rose the gigantic but beautifully decked figure of Kandula, Dutugemunu ‘s favourite elephant. It bore on its back, under a white parasol, the golden casket containing the Relics which were to be enshrined in the Ruvanveli-seya.

The Ceremony

Sharp at the appointed minute and on a given signal, Dulugemunu stepped forward to take the Relic-Casket into his hands.

Then, amidst the thundering noise of elephants, horses and chariots, broken by the crash of music from a thousand instruments and by the solemn chanting of the assembled monks, the King, bearing the Casket, moved forward to the side of the Mahä Thupa.

Here, on a throne prepared for the purpose, the Casket was temporarily placed. And the King, followed by his courtiers and many others, made costly offerings to it.

After a brief interval Dutugemunu again took up the Casket. Then, heading a procession formed of the Mahä Thera Indagutta and certain of the other principal Bhikkhus present, he made a pradakshinä, i.e., walked three times around the Thupa, keeping the latter always on his right.

Then, ascending it on the east side, he descended into the Relic-Chamber, where all was ready for the completion of the solemn ceremony.

Here Dutugemunu, with the Mahä Thera Indagutta and followed by the dancing-women, formed themselves into’ a smaller procession which made a complete circuit of the Chamber.

Then, approaching the beautiful Couch within, the King halted near it and laid the Casket which he carried on the jewelled Throne.

Washing his hands in water fragrant with perfumes and rubbing them (the hands) with five kinds of perfumes, Dutugemunu thereupon opened the Casket.

Then, taking out the Relics, he laid them one by one, reverently, upon the gem-studded Couch which was to be their final resting place. Immediately this was done, the King made an offering of all the rich ornaments on his body.

His example was followed by the dancing-women, members of the Royal Household, the Ministers, the retinue and others privileged to be present within the Relic-Chamber at the moment.

Thus was the solemn Enshrinement of the Relics in the P.uvanveli-seya carried out on the 15th uposatha day in the bright half of the month Asalha (June—July).

The ceremony being thus ended, Dutugemunu gave orders that garments, sugar, clarified butter etc., should be distributed to the monks, and that a select number of Bhikkhus should recite pirit in chorus throughout the night within the Chamber and thus guard the Relics till break of day.

These orders were carried out. And on the next morning Dutugemunu proclaimed throughout the City by beat of drum that, during a whole week, the Relic-Chamber would not be closed up, thus enabling the people to offer worship and make thei•j• offerings.



THE opportunity was enthusiastically embraced by the populace, who not only flocked to the place in their thousands, but also brought their offerings—tributes of their fervour and devotion—simple or costly, according to the circumstances of each.

During the week great offerings of alms were regularly bestowed on the Brotherhood of Monks, and at the close of the seventh day Dutugemunu declared .

“ All that was to be done in the Relic-Chamber has been carried out by me. Now let the Brotherhood take charge of the closing of the Chamber. “

The Brotherhood entrusted the task to the two Sämaneras, Uttara and Sumana.

These two closed up the Relic-Chamber with the fatcoloured stones which they had brought from India and which, as we have seen above, had been set apart to serve as a lid for the Chamber.

On the lid were inscribed the following words .

” Theflowers here shall not wither,

These perfumes shall not dry up,

The lamps shall not be extinguished,

Nothing whatsoever shall perish,

The six fat-coloured stones,

Shall hold together for evermore”.

Above the Relic-Chamber was built another room in which were deposited other Relics. Over these were piled up the

thousands of offerings—jewellery and precious stones etc.— which were made by the King and his people.

Then, enclosing all together, Dutugemunu took in hand the work of completing the Dägaba and perfecting those thousand and one details without which the structure could not properly be said to be completed.

The King’s Religious Zeal

While the work on the Ruvanveli-seya went on apace, the King during the next few years busied himself in numerous other religious activities.

So much was this the case that Dutugemunu may be said to have excelled even Devänampiya Tissa in his devotion to the cause of religion. He had all the latter’s fervour, but in his case his piety found expression in a more wonderful manner, and was carried to a degree which his predecessor could never even have conceived.

Apart from the Lovä-mahä-päya (Brazen Palace), the Mirisavetiya Dägaba and the Ruvanveli-seya, he is said to have built and endowed ninety-nine great Royal Vihäras

So great was his religious zeal that he, on one occasion, even assumed the role of Preacher, his audience being no others than the monks themselves.

He had been told that a gift of the doctrine “—that is, propagation of the religion by preaching—was more meritorious than a gift of worldly wealth, and he resolved to make such a ” gift ” himself.

Convening the great assembly of priests at the Lovä-mahäpäya, he took his seat in the pulpit or Preacher’s Chair, and made ready to give the learned assembly a discourse on religion.

But, though he was fully conversant with the Tipitaka or Sacred Scriptures of Buddhism, he refrained from the attempt, ” owing to false delicacy ” says one chronicle, but, according to the Mahävansa, “ from reverence for the Brotherhood”.

Whatever the reason, Dutugemunu descended from the pulpit ” perspiring profusely ”, and declared :

“  Reverend Sirs, I fear to proclaim the Dhamma ”

There and then, however, he appears to have enquired what was the next best means of acquiring the merit of communication of religious truth, and the reply he received was :

“ Great King, cause Bana to be preached at your own expense. “

Dutugemunu took the advice to heart and soon gave practical effect to it. And he did so in a manner which, more than any other single act of his, helped to spread Buddhism to the innerrmost confines of the Island, and to establish on a surer and stronger basis the hold which the religion had secured upon the minds and hearts of the Sinhalese people.

” Meritorious Deeds ”

Thenceforward he conferred great favours on those learned in the Buddhist Scriptures, and caused Bana to be preached in his own name in all the Vihäras throughout Lanka.

Moreover, he commanded that every preacher should receive a monthly allowance of a neli of butter, molasses and sugar, a piece of liquorice about four inches in size, and two cloths.

In each Lecture or Preaching Hall he placed a very valuable canopy, a pulpit, a carpet, a stand for the books of the copyists, book-covers, a blanket, a fan and a Bana book. His gifts to the Priesthood did not end there.

Apart from the alms which he daily distributed to the monks resident within the capital, he bestowed on three occasions during his reign the three garments or robes (ticivaram), on all the priests in the Island.

Moreover, he had one thousand lamps with oil and white wicks burning perpetually at twelve Vihäras as an offering to the Buddha. While for the Uposatha festival, he had oil for the lamps distributed one day in every month in eight other Vihäras.

The sick and the needy received his special attention, and on their behalf he spent vast sums of money.

There was the “ Book of Meritorious Deeds ” which early in his reign he had ordered to be prepared and for which he had appointed a special Scribe.

It records inter alia that, daily at eighteen different places, he bestowed on the sick suitable foods in addition to the remedies prescribed by the Physicians.

Again, in forty-four places within the capital and kingdom, he commanded that continuous offerings should be made of rice-foods prepared with honey ; and in as many places, rice boiled in milk not mixed with water. While in forty-four other places offerings were made of coconut cakes fried in clarified butter along with the ordinary rice.

Dutugemunu also held a great Vesak festival during each of the twenty-four years of his reign.

The Buddha’s death is said to have occurred on the fullmoon day of the month Vesakha (at that time, March—April), and the event was commemorated each year by a great festival, marked among other things by the most lavish alms-giving and other forms of charitable endeavour.

Tissa’s “ Deception ”

However, before the work on the Ruvanveli-seya could be completed, Dutugemunu was seized with an illness which was destined soon to prove fatal.

Immediately he was stricken down by sickness, he sent for his younger brother, Tissa, from Dïghaväpi, and said to him ” Complete thou the work of the Thupa that is not yet   finished. “

Tissa understood how strongly his brother’s heart was set on the work, and he resolved to do his best. But he realised at the same time that it was impossible to complete the work before Dutugemunu’s death, which was now only a question of a few days.

Anxious to give his dying brother the consolation of seeing his heart’s work finished, he hit upon a plan which, though involving some measure of deception, was nevertheless calculated to achieve the object in view.

What remained to be done was the making of the chatta (conical dome) and the plaster work on the Cetiya, and the manner in which Tissa contrived to produce an appearance of the completion of this labour was as follows :

He employed seamsters to make a huge covering of white cloth with which the Cetiya was covered. And on this covering he commanded a number of painters to draw a vedikä [ornamental railing] and rows of filled vases, as also to make other suitable ornamentation.

Then he had the dome made of bamboo-reeds by plaiters of reeds, and on the upper vedikä the picture of a sun and moon with kharapatta leaves.

When he had had this Thupa painted cunningly with lacquer and kankutthaka [” a kind of soil or mould of a golden or silver colour “], he appeared before the dying Dutugemunu and   declared :

” What remained to be done to the Thupa I have just completed ”.



THE King’s joy was profound. Rising up from his sick bed with painful effort, he expressed the wish to see, with his own eyes, the completed Thupa.

His brother and the others around him made immediate preparations to take him to the spot.

The Royal Palanquin was got ready, furnished with soft cushions and coverlets, to enable the King to recline comfortably. Dutugemunu was then gently helped in to the Palanquin and taken to the place of the Ruvanveli-seya.

Tissa had done his work well. The King, believing that what he saw before him was the finished pile, could scarcely contain himself for joy. Lying on his Palanquin he made a circuit of the Cetiya, and then halted at the south entrance.

Here his eyes wandered from the Great Thupa to the splendid Brazen Palace that towered up dazzlingly to the sky on his left, and, heaving a great sigh of pleasure and content, he fell back on his pillow, exhausted by the exertions of the last few minutes.

They brought him back hurriedly to his Palace, for the end was at hand.

The Chief Priests, who had gathered together at the Capital from all parts of the Island upon the first news of the King’s mortal illness, now crowded into the room of the dying ruler. Group by group, they recited religious verses suitable to the occasion.

In the midst of their chanting, the King, gazing round and not seeing the face of his former friend and champion, the Thera Theraputtäbhaya, said in tones of sad resignation.

“ The great warrior, the Thera Theraputtäbhaya, who aforetime fought victoriously through twenty-eight great battles along with me and never once yielded his ground, comes not now to help me, now that the death-struggle, my last battle, is begun. Methinks he foresees my defeat. ”

The Thera was, as a matter of fact, present. He had come all the way from his dwelling-place on the Panjali-mountain, by the source of the Kirinda River, as soon as he had learnt of the King’s serious illness. The latter had not noticed him, as he was not among those who stood nearest to his bedside.

The Dying King Consoled

As soon, however, as he heard Dutugemunu ‘s sadly reproachful words, he stepped forward from among the throng, and the King recognised him at once.

With a smile of joy on his wan face, he bade the Thera be seated before him and then addressed him thus :

 “ Once I fought along with you, ten giant warriors, by my side. Today, I enter alone upon the battle with Death, and Death is a foe I cannot conquer. “

“ O great King and ruler of men, pluck up courage and fear not, ” was the Thera ‘s reply. Without conquering the foe named Sin, the foe named Death is unconquerable. All that is and exists in this transitory world perishes, is full of sorrow, and is unreal. Mortality overcomes all, even the saintliest. Think now only of the glory that thou hast brought to Religion and of the many and varied works of great merit that thou hast performed during life, and all will be well with thee, even in this last battle.”

“ In single combat also thou art my help, ” murmured the dying King, who was greatly consoled by Theraputtäbhaya ‘s words.

Dutugemunu then commanded that the ” Book of Meritorious Deeds ” be brought, and he bade the Scribe read it aloud. This was done, and the King as well as everybody present listened attentively.

The Scribe enumerated, one by one, the many works of piety, munificence and charity with which the monarch had busied himself during the twenty-four years since he had ascended the throne of Lanka.

When the reading was concluded, Dutugemunu declared in firm and clear accents :

‘ Twenty-four years have I been a patron of the Brotherhood, and my body shall also be a patron of the Brotherhood. In a place frorn which the Great Thupa can be seen, in the mälaka consecrated for the ceremonial acts of the Brotherhood, do ye burn the body of one who has been the servant of the Brotherhood. “

Then calling up his younger brother to his side, Dutugemunu said :

“ All the work of the great Thupa which is still unfinished, do thou complete, my dear Tissa, and be not remiss about it. Put thou thy heart into it, even as I have done. Morning and evening offer thou flowers at the Great Thupa, and three times every day  command a solemn oblation at the place. All the ceremonies introduced by me in the name of our Religion do thou carry on, neglecting nothing, and stinting nothing. One thing bear thou in mind always : Never grow weary in duty to the Brotherhood. ‘ ‘

Death of Dutugemunu

With that the King fell back upon his pillow, and everybody present realised that the end was now at hand.

Some even thought he was dead, but it was not so, though his eyelids remained closed.

The Brotherhood of Monks immediately began a religious chant in chorus, in the middle of which the King was seen to hold up his hand and to murmur:

“ Wait ye as long as I listen to the Dhamma. “

The monks, thinking that the King desired them to desist from their chanting, ceased from their recitation.

Dutugemunu opened his eyes and asked the reason of the interruption.

“ Because, O King, the sign was given to us, bidding us be still.”

“ It is not so, Venerable Sirs, ” replied the King, who thereupon explained that his gesture and words  had been meant for six Celestial Beings who, hovering in the air, had appeared before him and had invited him to enter the regions of bliss.

“ Seized by the fear of Death, he wanders in his speech ”, said someone close by in a whisper.

And even at that moment the King’s body moved for a few seconds and then suddenly lay still.

Dutugemunu was dead.

                *             *             *             *             *             *

The King’s death was promptly announced to the vast multitude of people who had gathered outside the Palace precincts, and the sorrow with which the news was received was universal.

Thousands wept on hearing the news. And to everyone in the Kingdom—high and low, rich and poor—the event came as a personal bereavement.

Strange Reports

Strange reports soon grew out of the simple death-bed scene, and wild and fantastic stories were bruited about and gained wide currency.

One to which the popular imagination has clung tenaciously even to this day (and which owes its origin to the words with which the King in his dying moments interrupted the chanting of the monks) is that, Dutugemunu, immediately he breathed his last, “was seen, reborn and standing in celestial form ” in a heavenly car which ” he drove three times around the Great Thupa ” before he disappeared from sight.

The obsequies were worthy of the greatest and most popular King of Ancient Lanka.

After a Lying-in-State extending for a week—during which hundreds of thousands of men, women and children came from all the three Provinces to pay their last respects and offer tribute to the illustrious dead—the cremation took place with all pomp, solemnity and ceremonial in the mälaka, which was thenceforward known as the ” Räja-Mälaka”.

Close to this, in the place where the King’s dancing-women and other members of the Royal Household laid their head ornaments preparatory to paying their last respects, a Hall was built and called the Makutamuttasälä.

Facing this Hall, on the site where the people broke into wailing when the body of the King was laid on the funeral pyre, there was built afterwards another Hall, named the Ravivattisälä.

Dutugemunu ‘s reign lasted 24 years, i.e., from B.C. 161 to B.C. 137.



AUTHENTIC history does not tell us anything at all as to who Dutugemunu ‘s Queen was, or even whether he had any Queen at all.

This latter fact we are left to deduce from the circumstance, which is recorded, that he had a ” famous son ‘ named Prince Säli (Säli-räja-kumärayä).

The tradition is that Dutugemunu, in the days before his advent to the throne —when, after having “rebelled” against his father, he was still roaming the countryside outside the domain of King Kävan Tissa,—he was married to a beautiful Lady of Kotmale, one who was not of Royal descent and who bore him an only son, the Prince Säli.

And popular belief, based on the absence of any reference to her in the Sinhalese chronicles after Dutugemunu ‘s accession to the throne, was divided between two surmises— one, that she died shortly after the birth of her son, Prince Säli ; the other, that because of her lowly rank before marriage she was not anointed as Queen Consort, but kept in the background, included among the other women of the Royal Household.

For, as may be gathered from the Mahävansa, it is a fact that at all the public functions and religious ceremonies of Dutugemunu’s reign, his ” dancing-women ” and other female members of the Royal Household were always present, but the Queen as such was conspicuous by her absence.

Now, after many hundreds of years, however, thanks on the one hand to the industry, and on the other to the scholarship, of Dr. S. Paranavitana, PH.D., Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon, we have at last some definite evidence in regard to Dutugemunu ‘s Queen—not only that her name was Kati and that she was still alive after her husband ‘s accession to the throne of Anurädhapura, but also that she was a ‘ charming as well as pious lady who performed at least one ” good act ” before she died, namely, the establishment of what was then known as the ” Convent of Milaka Tisa”.

This interesting and valuable evidence is to be found in a pre-Christian Brähmï inscription (in Sinhalese verse) which Dr. Paranavitana discovered in September, 1939—the month and year in which the Second World War commenced.

The inscription is indited on a rock boulder at the ancient Vihära at Kossagamakanda, near Maradankadavala, in the Mäminiyä Korale of the Anurädhapura district. And it consists of one line in the earliest form of the Brähmî script.

According to Dr. Paranavitana, it may palaeographically be assigned to any time during the first three centuries preceding the Christian Era.

His translation of the inscription (published a few months ago in the Journal of the R. A. S., Ceylon Branch, Vol. 36, No. 98, July, 1945). reads as follows :—

“ By Kati, the charming wife of the great King Gamani Abaya, dear to the gods, has the convent of Milaka Tisa been caused to be established.”

Now ” Kati ” is a common enough name, and seems in its own small way to bear out the popular tradition that Dutugemunu’s Queen was not of Royal or aristocratic lineage.

And the question is pertinent here—whether the King                “ Gamani Abaya ”  of this inscription, instead of being definitely identified with our Dutugemunu, or Dutthagämani Abhaya, to give his full name, may not possibly be the Vatthagämani Abhaya who became the ruler of Lanka a few years later ?

As a matter of fact, Dr. Paranavitana, in a footnote in this connection in his paper published in the Journal referred to above, leaves the question open, opining that it may be the one or the other.

But it seems to me possible to remove the question from the region of doubt and speculation, and to establish the greater probability, if not the certainty, that the reference to the King in this inscription is to Dutugemunu or Dutthagämani Abhaya and not to Vattagämani Abhaya.

For our historical chronicles are clear and definite that Vattagämani had only two Queens, and that these were named Anula Devi, and Soma Devi respectively.

It is possible, of course, to carry speculation to the point of extravagance by surmising that Vattagämani may have had a third Queen, and that her name was Kati—the Kati of this inscription.

But the probability is as I have stated above, that the Kati of the inscription was the Queen of Dutthagämani Abhaya, and that it was she who was the mother of Prince Säli.

Her absence from the public functions and religious ceremonies of Dutugemunu ‘s reign may be explained by the not unreasonable surmise that she died a few years after Dutugemunu ascended the throne.

That she was not living at the time of Prince Säli ‘s infatuation for, and association with, the Chandäla maiden, Asökamälä Devi (for love of whom he subsequently gave up the. throne) is to be inferred from a circumstance recorded in the Saddharmãlankäraya, a Sinhalese work of the 14th Century.

That chronicle relates that, when King Dutugemunu first heard of Prince Säli’s liaison with Asökamãlä Devi, it was not to the mother of the Prince, but to a minor Lady of his Harem (albeit his favourite) that the King entrusted the task of first visiting his son and endeavouring to persuade the latter not to sully Royal blood and linage by marrying a low caste maiden of Chandala class as Asoka Mala was.

That task would certainly have been the mother’s natural duty, if she had been alive at the moment. In all probability, therefore, Queen Kati was living at the time of her son’s mesalliance.



” GREATLY gifted was he and ever took delight in works of merit ” says the Mahävansa of Dutugemunu ‘s ” famous son, who grew up surrounded by splendour and riches and distinguished himself by liberality to religion.

But the Prince lacked the manly qualities of his Royal father, to whom and to the Sinhalese nation he proved a great disappointment.

Early in his youth he formed an attachment which was destined soon to alter the whole course of his life.

One day he happened to hear the song of a Chandäla maiden as she gathered Asoka flowers in the garden or park—hence was she later named Asöka-mälä-devi—and he felt strongly drawn to the singer who sang with such rare melody.

This romance is given in the Mahävansa in its barest outlines, but it would appear to have captured the imagination of the Sinhalese people as few other incidents in the history of Ceylon have done. And stories about the Prince who renounced a throne for the love of a beautiful maiden of humble origin, are still narrated in the countryside.

The story has been adopted by the Buddhist teachers of Ceylon for imparting religious instruction, and, as thus transformed, is given with considerable literary embellishments in the Pali work Rasavähini and in the Sinhalese Saddharmälankära. These accounts give numerous details of the story which are not found in the Mahävansa.

Describing the Prince’s outing which ended in his romantic marriage, the Saddharmälankära gives an elaborate description of the pleasure-garden or Park of ancient Anurädhapura which was the scene of the fateful meeting of the two.

And Dr. S. Paranavitana has in our day (in a most illuminating and valuable paper contributed to the Journal for 1944 of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society), identified this Park as being the Magul Uyana, also called Ran-masu Uyana, which existed in Dutugemunu’s time in the close vicinity of the Tisäveva.

The description of this Park as given in the Saddharmälankäraya is of remarkable interest.

It is true, of course, that when this work was written in the fourteenth century, Anurädhapura with its Park was already abandoned, but it is not an extravagant assumption that its author knew earlier descriptions of the Park not available to us now. Even if this were not the case, what a learned author of the fourteenth century thought the Park to have been, is not without its own value. He says :

One day the Prince adorned himself. with all ornaments for sporting in the Park, and, attended by a large concourse of people, came out of the Western Gate of the City, and, proceeding along the decorated streets, arrived in the Park.

” The mansion in which the Prince lived at the time was in the western quarter of the City, hence his going out from the Western Gate.

” The Prince, in sporting mood, walked about here and there, admiring the various attractions of that Park which was exceedingly delightful in having, here and there, flat stretches of rock which were like theatres for peacocks to exhibit their dance.

‘ There were also a series of pools adorned with lotuses of the five varieties, red, white and so forth in colour ; rows of bowers formed of creepers, crowded with. birds like parrots, peacocks, brahmany ducks and the like ; and avenues of trees such as sal, sapu, nä, panä, sihingenda and erahanda, laden with flowers, and around which were humming bees of different varieties.

“ He thus came to the foot of an Asoka tree in full bloom, which was laden with flowers from its foot to its top, aid, turning up his neck, looked upwards”.

Then an arresting vision met the eyes of the impressionable young Prince. It was a maiden of extraordinary loveliness— “ the most famous beauty in Ceylon’s history “— who had climbed the tree and was plucking the flowers and tender buds of the Asoka, with which she was decking herself.

The Prince was overpowered by her charms and addressed her inquiring about her identity, as if, in the words of the old story-teller, ” he could not bear the passion engendered in him and was vomiting it out from his mouth. “

From her, he learnt that she was a Candäli, the daughter of the blacksmith who was the headman of Helloli, a vil1ge lying just outside the boundary of the Park.

A different version of the story would appear to have been known to the author of the commentary to the Mahävansa. He says that the Chandäla maiden, who later came to be known as Asökamälä, was the daughter of the Chief of the Carpenters’ Guild in the village named Säli, near the Western Gate of Anurädhapura. There is no reason, however, to attach more weight to this writer than to the author of the Rasavähini.

However that may be, the fact remains that the knowledge that the maiden was of low caste did not affect the Prince’s feelings towards her. He had “ fallen in love ” with her with all the fire and strength of his being, and that was all that mattered to him. He decided to make the low-born maiden his consort and took her to his mansion.

The matter could not, of course, be kept a secret for long, and it soon reached the ears of the King.

According to the account given in the.Saddharmälankäraya, Dutugemunu sent for the Lady of his Harem who was his favourite—since, presumably his Queen, the mother of Prince Säli, was dead at the time—and commanded her to go to his son and say to him as follows :

‘ Your Highness, it is the earnest wish and hope of your father, the King, to marry you to a beautiful Princess of Royal or Brahmin blood, so that thereafter in due time you may be crowned King and rule the country. That being his desire, it is but meet that you should give up and have nothing further to do with this Chandäla girl. Do not, I pray you, bring this blot, this stain, on your Royal blood and lineage. “

Directing the harem Lady to address his son in these terms, the King requested her at the same time to note the Prince’s reaction to the message, and to come back and inform him (the King) at once of the result.

The Prince’s reply (according to the old chronicle) was as follows :

‘ Lady, I ask you : Can a pregnant woman, whose only longing is to eat of the ripe pomegranate fruit, ever be satisfied by eating, instead, any mi-amba, (sweet mango) however ripe and       luscious ? In the same way, no other woman, on earth or even from heaven, can fill my heart ‘s desire as Asökamälä can and will. Moreover, I ask you : Can the lotus, which opens its petals only to the rays of the sun, blossom to the mere beam of the  moon ? ”

In these and similar terms Prince Säli made clear the strength of the love he bore for Asökamälä. And the harem Lady, deeply impressed, came back and told the King exactly how matters stood.

Thereupon King Dutugcmunu sent for a Brahmin skilled in the science of interpretation of spots on the body (as indications of good or bad fortune) and said to him:

“ Go thou, O skilled Brahmin, to see Asökamälä-devi, make careful note of her points of beauty and marks, if any. indicative that she is a fortunate being, and come and tell me. If she is lacking in beauty and in truth bears the marks indicative of being a miserable creature, I shall know what to do in that event ”.

The Brahmin did as he was directed, and, wonder-struck as it were by her amazing beauty and by her possession of all the marks of a great and fortunate being, he came back and told the King, in words of burning eloquence, that she was indeed peerless in all respects.

Dutugemunu thereupon made up his mind to see for himself the beauteous maiden who had so completely won the heart of his son, and sent word to the latter that he proposed to visit him in his mansion.

The chronicle then goes on to tell us how the King visited his son, was himself struck by Asökamälä-devi’s loveliness and nobility of bearing, approved of the union of the. two, and in due course himself presided at the marriage ceremony.

Years later King Dutugemunu, enfeebled in health and at the point of’ death, sent for Prince Säli and requested him to be ready on his (the King ‘s) demise, to succeed him on the throne.

Prince ‘Säli’s reply was prompt and characteristic.

“ Pardon me, O Sire ”, he said, for being unwilling to carry out your behest. I have no desire for kingly rule. My love for Asökamälãdevi is to me a nobler prize, a greater kingdom than the sovereignty of Lanka ”.

And so it came about that the son of Dutugemunu gladly gave up the throne of Lanka for the sake of the love of a low-caste Chandãla girl.