Vijayabahu I Polonnaruwa 1070 AD Victory over the Koalas

King Vijayabahu I  Ruhuna - (1055 - 1070)

In 1070 AD when Vijayabahu emerged victorious, defeating the Colas, he too decided to continue to rule from Polonnaruva, thus ending an administration from the capital of Anuradhapura which had lasted for nearly fourteen centuries. However, immediately after the victory he built a temporary palace in the citadel of Anuradhapura and had his consecration after three years. Vijayabahu I King was born 1039AD in Ruhuna. Vijayabahu I assumed rulership of the Ruhuna principality in the southern parts of the country in 1055. king was known as prince kiththi.

In 1070, the Cholas successfully drove the island out of the island in 1770 after a seventeen-year campaign, reuniting the country for the first time in more than a century. It happened during the reign of King Vijayabahu. Buddhism was re-established in Sri Lanka and much of the damage done during the wars was repaired. This act suggests that Vijayabahu was concerned about maintaining the status of ancient Anuradhapura.

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Victory over the Koalas

When reviewing the long journey completed by Vijayabahu to obtain supreme power over the country, we can be certain that he rose to this position gradually, through hard work and dedication. He first became adipada at the young age of fifteen years and then a Yuvaraja or Mahadipada at the age of seventeen years. After becoming king of Sri Lanka, he chose to be called Sirisanghabo, an epithet used by the Anuradhapura kings and also Cakravarti, a title used for the first time by him and by the Sri Lankan kings thereafter.  Atadage - built by Vijayabahu

Meer becoming king of the entire Island, Vijayabahu ap posted his younger brother Virabahu as the viceroy or Yuvaraja or the Rohana district. He then went on to re-organize the admin Tstration which had been in a chaotic state under Cola rule, and Mok steps to uplift agricultural and irrigational works in the country which were hitherto neglected, At the very outset he also had to face political threats from his own three brothers who were holding important positions. These three brothers, who were renamed the island around 1075 from South India, posed a major threat to the new king, but the rebellion was subdued and the culprits punished by death, After this incident, Vijayabahu settled down to the work that the people expected of him. 

Reconstruction of tanks and reservoirs to create an agricultural revival in the country

He renovated the damaged tank and reservoirs and aimed at an agricultural revival in the country. Another political victory achieved by Vijayabahu was his marital alliance with India. His chief queen was the daughter of Jagatipala, who began to rule Rohana after coming here from Ayodhya city. The second one was a queen named Tilokasundari from Kalinga. His youngest sister Mitra was given in marriage to a Pandya prince from South India in preference to a Cola. Vijayabahu was determined to invade the Cola country in South India over an incident relating to the subjection of his envoys to punishment while they were passing through Cola country on their way to Karnataka but had to give it up owing to protests by the Velaikkaras, the Tamil mercenaries who were at the time serving the Sri Lankan king. These South Indian soldiers not only took the sister of Vijayabahu with her three children into custody but also set fire to the royal palace. With the help of his brother, Virabahu, the rebellion was successfully repressed. The power of the Velaikkara soldiers was such that even the Temple of the Tooth Relic at Polonnaruva under Vijayabahu was guarded by them and to support them there was a large Tamil population present in and- around Polonnaruva. This was because of the Cola rule of nearly three-fourths of the century. Vijayabahu too, maintaining a policy of religious harmony, gave every support to the Tamils for their religious 

 Atadage - built by Vijayabahu

performances. This is quite evident from his inscription found at Vijayaraja Ishvara Temple at Katale. Summing up the rule of Vijayabahu it must be mentioned that more than half of his life was spent on the wars that he fought, especially against the Colas, and that he did not have much time for the development of the country.

Religion and culture during the reign of Vijayabahu

Nevertheless, he did what he could to uplift the spiritual and material life of the people. Speaking about his qualities, the Ambagamuwa Inscription says: "Veneration for the Triple Gem, hospitable attention to preceptors, a homage to the righteous, prosperous conditions to the learned, assistance to kinsmen, intimacy to friends, haughtiness towards foes, compassion for all living beings, wisdom in council - (all these qualities) he made completely secure for himself". Thissamaharama Temple, Sadagiri temple, uruwela temple in devinuwara.Reconstruction mahiyangana Tempe. venerating Sri pada and gifting the village of gilimale for its upkeep.Vijayabahu did in 1110/11 AD in the fifty-fifth year of his reign at the ripe age of seventy-three. Nilakanta Sastri the foremost South Indian historian of our times, has these words of praise about Vijayabahu recorded in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Ceylon Vol. IV. "It may be an overstatement to say, had there been no Vijayabahu, there would perhaps have been no Sinhalese today. But, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he was the author of Sinhalese freedom, and one of the chief architects of Sinhalese national- It is important here to make a reference to his progeny who figures in the foregoing pages of our account of the Polonnaruva Kingdom. King Vijayabahu by his first queen Lilavati, the daughter of Jagatipala, had a daughter named Yasodhara. She married prince Viravamma who was put in charge of the Matale district. By him she had two daughters, namely Lilavati and Sugala By Tilokasundari, the second queen from Kalinga, he had five daughters, namely Subhadra, Sumitra, Lokanatha, Katnavali and Rupavati, and a son named Vikramabahu. His aster Mitta, who married a Pandya Prince, had three sons, namely

Manabharana, Kirtisrimegha and Sri Vallabha, who married re- respectively Ratnavali, Lokanatha and Sugala. The remaining daughters of Vijayabahu, Subhadra and Sumitra were married to his younger brothers, Virabahu and Jayabahu. The younger sister of the three Kalinga princes Sundari married Vikramabahu, the only son of Vijayabahu. 

The State of Anarchy After the Death of Vijayabahu 

What took place after the death of Vijayabahu was intrigue and dissension in the royal court of Polonnaruva. At the time of Vijayabahu's death, Jayabahu was the Uparaja/Yuvaraja and Vikramabahu was the adipada. Immediately after Vijayabahu's death his daughter Mitra, her sons, the ministers and high officials and the chief monks, having assembled, decided to consecrate Jayabahu as king in succession as he was uparaja at the time. Manabharana, son of Mitra, was appointed as uparaja. This decision of elevating Manabharana to the position of uparaja certainly went against the accepted norms and customs of the country. This was no doubt the legitimate right of Vikramabahu, the son of Vijayabahu, who was at this time the uparaja. There was a reaction to this illegal appointment, but the successors were more concerned about the matriarchal rights to the throne, as happened in later times too when Parakramabahu was claiming his right to the throne.

Wickramabahu became the ruler of the Rajarata kingdom

Realising well the consequence of this illegal act of succession, Mitra, the king's sister now plotted to liquidate the legitimate prince who was her brother's own son. This shows what power can do making one forget even one's own kith and kin on occasion. Manabharana, together with his brothers and Jayabahu, took possession of the royal regalia and the valuables in the royal treasury at Polonnaruva and proceeded to Rohana with an army to capture Vikramabahu. But Vikramabahu successfully fought back with the skill he inherited from his father and occupied Polonnaruva and became ruler of the northern Rajarata kingdom. while Manabharana and Jayabahu took possession of Rohan and the Dakkhinadesa.

Manabharana's son Parakramabahu assumes responsibility for governing the country

Manabharana now began to cule Dakkhindesa under the name of Virabahu with his administration at Dedigama in the Kegalla district. A year later civil war broke out again. The three brothers once again planned to oust ViSramabahu from Polonnaruva with a fresh attack. Having heard of this, Vikramabahu advanced to Dakkhinadesa with a large force and severely defeated the enemies. At this time he was threatened by another invader from Palandipa, but he too was defeated. Thus Vikramabahu returned to Polonnaruva and continued to rule the kingdom of Rajarata. The princes now began to rule from their respective districts. This is rightly called a period of anarchy. There was not a single king after Vijayabahu, who was properly consecrated; all of them ruled without the approval of the people. On the other hand, Vikramabahu was angry with the monks who did not support him and drove them away from their monasteries in Polonnaruva and gave their lodgings for the use of the soldiers as barracks. He also plundered valuables belonging to the viharas. During this time the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic were removed to Rohana for safety. The soldiers of the provincial rulers, making hay while the sun shone, plundered villages and set fire to some of them. They also destroyed or damaged village tanks and paralysed the agricultural economy of the country. There was no trace of any prosperous village. Corrupt officials made illegal money while the rulers depended on them. There was not a single lake or vihara built during this unfortunate period. It was at this time of civil war in the country that we powerful prince named Parakramabahu, the son of Manabharana of Dakkhinadesa, took over the responsibility of governing his country once more and achieving unity and prosperity. see the emergence of a The three decades following Vijayabahu's death in 111011 D was a period of turmoil. There was no development and the venue was just enough for military activities.

The State and Sangha

It is relevant at this point to make a reference to the relationship between the sangha and the state. As we have observed above, Buddhism suffered immensely under the Colas at Polonnaruva in the eleventh century. After Vijayabahu ascended the throne, we see that he made all attempts to bring back the older order, HHe gave patronage to resuscitate Buddhism and as a result, the sangha became a major aspect of the internal politics of the ruling king. The ruler, like in the past, was beholden to the Buddhist monks and depended on them for advice and guidance to rule the country on Buddhist ethics. Vijayabahu, it is said in the chronicle, punished his own queen Tilokasundari by expelling- ling her from the city, for she had violated certain privileges given to the Buddhist monasteries. This was the status enjoyed by the venerable monks during the reign of Vijayabahu. He in fact accepted the throne at the request of the sangha so that he could protect the Buddhasasana. When the sangha suffered severely under Vikramabahu, the son of Vijayabahu, they took away the Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic to Rohana, thus denying him royal consecration. Gajabahu II was also denied royal consecration for similar activities. But he immediately changed his anti-Buddhist policies realizing that he cannot override the sangha. In accordance with the old practices and customs of the country, the rulers henceforth continued to rule according to Buddhist principles. This is seen in subsequent periods when Parakramabahu and Nissankamalla ascended the throne of a Polonnaruva. Parakramabahu was a great patron of Buddhism and Nissankamalla too followed the same principles in governing. ing. Nissankamalla once stated that it was the duty of the kin to protect Buddhism for the country belongs to the sasana. The was the status of the sangha-state relationship.


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