King of Ceylon (29 17 B.C.). He was the son of Saddhatissa,
and came to the throne by killing the usurper Maharattaka (v.l. Kammaharattaka).
He married Anula, wife of Khallatanaga, and adopted
Mahaculika as his own son; because of this Vattagamani came to be known as
Pitiraja (this name occurs several times in the Commentaries -
e.g., VibhA. passim, see Pitiraja).
Vattagamani had a second wife, Somadevi, and also a son of
his own, called Coranaga. In the fifth month of his reign a brahmin, named
Tissa, rose against him, but was defeated by seven Damilas who landed at
Mahatittha. . After that, the Damilas waged war against the king and defeated
him at Kolambalaka. It was a remark made by the Nigantha Giri to Vattagamaini,
as he fled from the battle, that led later to the establishment of Abhayagiri
(q.v.). The king hid in the forest in Vessagiri and was rescued by Kupikkala
Mahatissa, who gave him over to the care of Tanasiva. In his flight he left
Somadevi behind, and she was captured by the Damilas.
For fourteen years Vattagamani and his queen Anula lived
under the protection of Tanasiva, and, during this time, five Damilas ruled in
succession at Anuradhapura; they were Pulahattha, Bahiya, Panayamara, Pilayamara
After a time, Anula quarrelled with Tanasivas wife, and
the king, in his resentment, killed Tanasiva. Later, when he also killed
Kapisisa, his ministers left him in disgust, but were persuaded by Mahatissa to
return. When his preparations were complete, the king attacked Dathika, slew
him, and took the throne. He then founded Abhayagiri vihara and recovered
Somadevi. He also built the Silasobbhakandaka cetiya. He had seven ministers who
themselves built several viharas; among them Uttiya, Mula, Saliya, Pabbata and
Tissa are mentioned by name.
It was in the reign of Vattagamani that the Buddhist Canon
and its Commentaries were first reduced to writing in Ceylon, according to
tradition, in Aloka vihara. For details of Vattagamanis reign see Dpv.xx.14ff.;
Mhv.xxxiii.34ff. The foundation of Abhayagiri vihara formed the beginning of
dissensions in the ranks of the monks (Cv.lxxiii.18). Vattagamani was, however,
regarded by later generations as a great protector of the faith (Cv.lxxxii.23).
Various monasteries, chiefly rock temples, are traditionally ascribed to
Vattagamani, and said to have been built by him during his exile; among these is
the modern Dambulla vihara. The Culavamsa calls him the founder of the
Majjhavela vihara. Cv.c.229.