Magha Invasion The End of Rajarata Civilization

Magha Invasion The End of Rajarata Civilization

Parakrama Pandu ascended the throne of Polonnaruva in the year 1212 AD and remained there for three years. In 1215. Magha from Kalinga invaded the country with a large force from Kerala or Malabar, blinded Parakrama Pandu and captured the throne in the year 1215 AD. His invasion of the country and tyrannical rule finally saw the end of the great Rajarata civilization that existed for nearly fourteen centuries. As described in the chronicle, Magha was a cruel King, "a heretic, ungenerous, impatient, foolish, unjust, a rejoicer in evil laws and a destroyer of the doctrine of the Collaborating with him was a Jayabahu whose identity is not yet established. He was certainly a Dravidian. 
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Rankot Vehera - Polonnaruwa

According to some literary sources, this was a time of "many thousands of enemy forces with their kings, the Colas, Keralas and the like, who had destroyed the w√≥rld and the sasana and were living in Pulatthipura or Polonnaruva". The policy of Magha is described at length in the chronicle as well as in contemporary Sinhala literary works. 

Destruction of Magha Sri Lanka

Nissnka Mandapa Inscription
The following sentiments are quoted from the Culavamsa:
 a man by name Magha, an unjust king sprung from the Kalinga line, in whom reflection was flooded by his great delusion, landed as leader of four and twenty thousand warriors from the Kalinga country and conquered the Island of Lanka". While the great warriors oppressed the people, boasting cruelly everywhere, ".

we are Kerala warriors", they tore from people their garments, their ornaments and the like,corrupted the good morals of the family which had been observed for ages, cut off hands and feet and the like (of the people), destroyed many houses and tied up cows, oxen and other (cattle) which they made their own property.

The expulsion of Kalinga Magha and the further destruction he did

 After they had put fetters on the wealthy and the rich people and had tortured them and taken away all their possessions, they made poor people of them. They wrecked the image houses, destroyed many cetiyas, ravaged the viharas and maltreated the lay brethren. 

Makara Balustrade-Vatadage
They flogged the children, tormented the five(groups of the) comrades of the order, made the people carry burdens and forced them to do heavy labour. Many books are known and famous they tore from their code and strewed them hither and thither. The beautiful vast proud cetiyas like the Ratnavali (cetiya) and others which embodied as it were, the glory of the former pious kings, they destroyed by over-throwing them and alas! many of the bodily relics, their souls as it were, disappeared. Culavamsa goes on to describe the disruption caused by the SOClal order by Magha. It is noteworthy that this king harassed maha sangha in particular and launched a merciless onslaught against it.


 It is 'also said that many viharas and parents worked into residences for his 'soldiers. As a result, many Ch monks were compelled to leave the country and take in South India. All these activities of Magha, especial the theirinst the Buddhist monks, may have been to weaken eir influential role in the political affairs of the country. 

Hidden relics of the Tooth Relic Going to Kotmale

leading members of the Buddhist Order no doubt wielded great influence. Many acts of Magha show that he was not a Buddhist though Nisssankamalla boasted about Kalingas as pro-Sinhala Buddhists. Having inaugurated a reign of terror, he antagonised the people of the country very much and it seems he was unable to suppress the fighting spirit of the powerful Sinhala chieftains. 

Vimana-Thivanka Pilimage

At this time, the country looked to the Colas and the Pandyansfor help. The Culavamsa says that the Buddhist monks led byVacissara, having hidden the Tooth and Bowl Relics of the Buddha at Kotmale, went to Cola and Pandya's countries seeking refuge against the cruelties of Magha. Magha carried on his tyrannical rule from Polonnaruva for twenty-one years. People were tired and exhausted and lacked the resources to fight back. During this period the Sinhalese rulers took refuge in mountain strongholds.

Dava Figure-TivankaPilgrimage

Finally, it was Vijayabahu IIl who gave the lead to oust Magha who adopted a policy of blood and iron to maintain his control over the country. But it took a few more years to oust Magha and that goal was achieved under the reign of his successor Parakramabahu II somewhere in 1255 AD By the end of the Kalinga period, the grandeur of Polonnaruva was lost. The University History of Ceylon says: "the period between 1186 and 1235 AD saw the last days of the glory that was Polonnaruva. 

The culture and civilization of the Sinhalese which was fostered by Vijayabahu I and was given a great impetus by Parakramabahu I were gradually declining during this period, except for a bright flicker during the reign of Nissankamalla. The invasion of Magha only has-turned this process and brought about the final downfall of the civilization of the Polonnaruva period"

Vijayabahu IlI, Establishment of the Kingdom of Dambadeniya

Vijayabahu IlI now established his kingdom at Dambadeniya in the Kurunegala district. This is in the year 1232 AD and he became king of Mayarata or Malayarata, the central highlands.Vijayabahu had no kinship to the Polonnaruva rulers of Sinhala origin, nor did he have any claim by descent to the sovereignty 
 of the island. He started his career as a chieftain of the Vanni, i.e. forest tract. He achieved all these honours and victories through his own efforts as an able warrior. But what is important was that according to the Pujavaliya and other Sinhala literary sources he was of the lineage of Sirisanghabodhi, who came to Sri Lanka bringing the Sacred Bodhi Tree. That qualification alone was Though Vijayabahu III was the king of Mayarata, we find no evidence to suggest that there was a confrontation of the main forces of Magha and those of Vijayabahu. He only freed Mayarata from the enemies. Dambadeniya, the new capital of the new king of Mayarata, was just seventy-five miles (five yojanas) from Polonnaruwa where Magha held sway. Vijayabahu reigned only for four years from 1232 to 1236 AD. He recovered the Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic and brought them back to Dambadeniya and the possession of the Relics has become a qualification to Justify the claims of the Sinhalese kings to the throne of the whole country. Vijayabahu was succeeded by his son Parakramabahu II to the throne in 1236 AD. The latter ruled till 1270 AD. During this period, two wars one with Candrabahu of Java and the other tn Pandyas were fought, while Magha continued to rule from Onaruva. The approximate date of the defeat of Magha is believed to be 1255 AD


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