Dipavamsa (study)

by Sibani Barman | 2017 | 55,946 words

This page relates ‘Sinhabahu (Simhabahu) and Vijaya’ of the study on the Dipavamsa conducted by S. Barman in 2017. The Dipavamsa is the base material of the Vamsa literatures of Ceylon (Srilanka or Sri-Lanka) writtin the Pali language.

Chapter 4b - Sinhabāhu (Siṃhabāhu) and Vijaya

Sri-Lankan chronicles like Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa say that the country was colonised by immigrants from India. Many legends come out from this fact. The most famous is that: There was a king of Vaṅga country. He had a daughter who was the princes of Kaliṅga. She after leaving the palace travelled with a company of merchants and she fell into the hands of a lion. From their union a son and a daughter was born.

Sinhabāhu [Siṃhabāhu] was the son of the lion. He did not like the life of his father and arrived in the Vaṅga country with his mother and sister. He killed the lion, his own father and came to the Lāḷadesa (probably Gujrat but the exact location is a matter of dispute) and established a city which became known as Siṃhapura. He married his sister Sivalī and they had thirty-two children. Vijaya and Sumitta were the eldest. Vijaya, in his growing period, used to harass people.

King Sinhabāhu warned Vijaya and his friend’s thrice. But Vijaya did not listen to his advice. At last, the king asked them to leave his kingdom. Vijaya and his seven hundred followers were boarded on a ship, and they reached at the port of Suppāra (north of Mumbai). In spite of getting cordial hospitality and honour by the local people, Vijaya and his followers committed theft, adultary, falsehood, slander, and many immoral dreadful conducts in return. The ship in which the children had embarked was helplessly driven to an island, the name of which was then called Naggadīpa. The ship carrying the wives of Vijaya’s followers was driven to another island and was named Mahilāraṭṭha.

After Suppara Vijaya’s ship went to Bharukaccha (Broach near Surat). There also they irritated the inhabitants intensely and had to leave the island. After that their ship had faced a violent wind and driven to Lankādīpa, where they disembarked and went on shore. Being weekened by great hunger, thirst and fatigue they were unable to walk on foot. They crawled about on the ground with both hands and knees. When they rose and stood upright, they saw that their hands were resplendent. The red coloured dust of the ground covered their hands and arms.Hence the place was being called by the name Tamba-paṇṇi (copper-palmed) 10.

It is said that, Vijaya arrived in Tambapaṇṇi on the very day of the Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha. Tambapaṇṇi was the first town in the Lankādīpa where Vijaya resided and governed his kingdom. Vijaya found the country in the occupation of the Yakkhas, the earliest inhabitants of the territory. The new comer defeated them easily with the help of Yakkhinī named Kuvenī whom he married. Vijaya established an extensive settlement throughout the island giving the name Sīhala (being the descendant of the King Sīhabāhu who slain a lion) and making him the eponymous hero of the Sihala race. He however was not willing to declare the Yakkhinī his wife, as the queen of the kingdom. He searched out a maiden of a noble house and for the purpose sent envoys to Modourā or Madhurā in the Pāṇḍya country of South India.

The envoys piloted the mission successfully. The Modura princes was not sent over alone but with her were sent many other maidens of good birth for marriage with Vijaya’s followers together with craftsmen and a thousand families of eighteen guilds. Thus indeed the position of the royal family was strengthened. But even today it is a matter of dispute-that the founder of the Sinhalese race hailed from the east coast of northern India or from the west coast.

Mahāvaṃsa mentions Siṃhapura as the royal capital from which the founder of the first Indo-Aryan dynasty came to Sri-Lankā. Geiger and Professor Suniti kumar Chatterjee wanted to identify the Lāḷa region with Lāta above Gujrat on the western coast of India. But Prof. B.M.Barua was not ready to accept it. According to him, in that case, there must be a similarity of dilects between the two countries.

He further adds–“The association of Simhapura with Lāḷa or Rādha cannot deter us from identifying it with Siṃhapura in Uttarāpatha. In the Mahābhārata (II. 27-21), the countries of Siṃhapura, Suhma and Coḷa are associated together, and these are all located in Uttarāpatha. The Buddhist Sanskrit work called Mahāvastu, locates Utkala, later a part of Orissa, in Uttarāpatha. The Greeks mention the Pāṇḍyas among the autonomous tribes of the Punjab proper, just like other ruling races, the Siṃhas of Siṃhapura may have migrated and founded territories elsewhere, e.g. in the north and south of Kalinga. Probably the northern Siṃhapura in Kalinga was believed all along, due no doubt, to the tradition in the chronicles, to have been the homeland of Vijaya”.

It appears from all the legends and chronicles that the Indo-Aryan rulers built planned cities and towns. The districts and rural areas were populated according to the classes or castes. The kings were to be formally anointed and the ministers elected or appointed. According to Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa, Vijaya built the city of Tambapaṇṇi, his chief minister Anurādha built the village Anurādhagāma on the bank of river Kadamba, named after him, his purohita Upatissa built Upotissagāma on the bank of river Gambhīrā to the north of Anurādhagāma. Three other ministers built Ujjenī, Uruvelā and Vijitanagara. Thus the settlements founded by Vijaya were located along the river banks in the north-western region of Sri-Lanka.

After establishing the settlement, Vijaya wanted to strengthen his position in the Island by establishing a matrimonial alliance with the neighbouring Pāṇḍya country of India and forming a social aristocracy with the help of the Pāṇḍya princes and other maidens from the families of the Pāṇḍya nobles.

Princes of Modhurā and her companions landed at Mahātittha port (now Mantoṭa opposite the island of Mannar).

Vijaya had one son and one daughter by the Yakkhinī.When he heard that the princes had arrived he said to the Yakkhinī to go leaving the children behind. Yakkhinī, Kuvaṇṇā departed for Laṅkāpura and was murdered immidiately by a person of her own community on account of her treachery. Her two children fled to Sumaṇakuṭa-pabbata (Adam’s Peak) and started living there. When they grew up, the brother took the sister as his wife in Malaya region. From these are sprung up the Pulindas.

King Vijaya ruled Sri-Lanka for nearly 38 years (-505 B.C.) but died leaving no son from the Pāṇḍya princes to succeed. The kingdom which he and his band conquered not by open violence, but by policy, intrigue, and perfidy was cursed by Kuvenī, the local wife of Vijaya, stating that no future ruler would be able to rule the land without bloodshed and strife.

After the death of Vijaya, his chief Minister Upatissa having ascended the throne temporarily removed the seat of government to Upatissa-gāma founded by him. Shortly before his death, Vijaya, perceiving that the fair kingdom which he had so unjustly obtained was about to depart from his house, had sent an embassy to his father, requesting his younger brother to be sent as his successor. In the meantime, however, Sinhabāhu had died and left his throne and kingdom to his second son Sumitta, who willing to preserve the possession of Ceylon in his own family, sent his youngest son Pāṇḍuvāsudeva to assume his crown.

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