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Sinhalese History

Sri Lanka Holidays presents you with the opportunity to visit historical & cultural sites of the Sinhalese. During Sri Lanka tours, while you tour ancient kingdoms with its rainwater reservoirs, temples & stupas it would be of value for you to have a printed copy of this web page titled Sinhalese History.

Pre-history of Sri Lanka, Garden of Eden & Adam's Bridge of Sri Lanka, Recorded History of Sri Lanka, Modern History of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a wondrous land whose history runs into 2550 years & legends runs into Adam' Bridge and Adam's Peak.

In spite of the origin of the Sinhalese & Indian influence on the new born race with respect of Buddhism, culture, art & historical connections adverse as well as favourable, island of Sri Lanka has never been a part of India. Neither historically nor geographically was the Island ever conquered, except in the narration of mythological epic Ramayana. The conqueror therein Lord Rama, an avatar of Hindu god Vishnu himself, who secured his abducted consort Sita, returned the kingdom of Lanka (of the tribes "Yaksha", "Deva" & "Naga") to righteous Prince Vibishana, brother of the defeated "Yaksha tribe" king of Lanka, Ravana.

While transiting from mythology to history, it is interesting to note a quote attributed to a Chola Prince who arrived in Sri Lanka. "Hail Prosperity in the year Sanbhu Puspa (i.e One thousand One Hundred & Forty Five) of the Saka Era, when the Sun was in the mansion of Aries, Hasta being the constellation (in conjugation with the moon) & the point of the ecliptic at the horizon (lagna) being Aries, the illustrious Codagama deva having arrived in the unconquerable Lanka, the forehead ornament of earth to the Lord Siva at Gokarnna (Trincomalee)". That is a testimony to the belief in the South Indian kingdoms that despite constant invasions of powerful Dravidian armies Sri Lanka could not be conquered.

Sri Lanka is of unbroken recorded history of over 2550 years. Historical chronicles are found in stone inscriptions (sel lipi), leaf writings (Hela Atuva) & also in great Indian chronicles as Mahabarata and Ramayana. The main historical evidence is the Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka, also including Dipavamsa and Chulavamsa.

In this chapter some of the main events of the history of India are indicated for the purpose of in-depth continuity of history of the island in as well as in an effort to give due credit to "fons et origo" (the source & origin of) for the heritage of Buddhism & influence of Indian art, architecture & culture of Sri Lanka.

Pre-history of Sri Lanka in an Indo-Aryan perspective

125,000 years ago
Palaeolithic human settlements by 125,000 year old people using quartz tools

34,000 years ago
Balangoda people; Mesolithic hunter gatherers lived in caves

28,000 years ago
According to some expert archaeologists, humans lived in Lanka. Unexcavated caves belonging to Pahurakanda temple bear evidence to this.

20,000 years ago
Prehistoric skeletal remains have been unearthed & there are two sites in Sigiriya, which have continuous sequence for around 20,000 years according to archaeologist Dr. Senaka Banadaranayake.

Circa 10,000 BC
The first Stone Age culture emerges in Sri Lanka, & is related to early settlers in Australia, the Nicobar Islands & Malaysia, etc. Stone age factory in Bandarwela, Hill country uses fire to shatter quartz to make tools (microliths).

According to Sir James Emerson Tennant Galle was the "Tarshish" referred to in the Bible as the port where ships trading with King Soloman obtained their Elephants, Peacocks & Gemstones.

Circa 6000 BC
Beginnings of Neolithic settlements-Sumeria, Egypt & Indus Valley
Sun dried brick houses, domestication of cattle, agriculture, and Copper known

Circa 4000 BC
Invention of the potters' wheel

Circa 300O BC
Epic mythological war of India's Prince Rama, an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu against Lankadipa's demon king Ravana; Ram'a quest to save his abducted wife Sita, from Ravana. Righteous Vibishana, a brother of King Ravana, takes the side of Lord Rama & wage war against his brother. Rama conquers Lanka & returns the throne to Vibhishana & claims no tribute.

Circa 2500 BC
Beginnings of the astronomical observations takes place in India.

Circa 1500 BC
The emergence of Indian Astrology in India- an Ancient Science

Indian Astrology is considered to be one of the oldest, most accurate and consistent form of astrology all over the world. It is a natural cosmic science based on real astronomy. In India, where Astrology is taken very seriously, it is one of the most important gifts to the Indian culture. Indian Astrology is generally regarded to be very predictive in nature and hence, it can help you to face the future in a better way, evading any misfortunes or obstacles that might be laid down in your path to success.

The ancient Vedas which are said to be the oldest religious literature available has references to this science. "Jyothisha or Astrology" is one of the limbs of the "Vedas" which date back to 1500 B.C. Hindus were the original masters who had the thorough knowledge of astronomy and many rituals and religious rites were related to the position of planets and their motions.

Long before Keppler, Copernicus, Brahe, Galilio and other galaxy of astronomers were born, the Hindu sages had already gained much knowledge on the stellar or planetary universe.

Indian Astrology has been divided into three main branches of study: Siddanta, Samhita & Hora.

Siddantas are those who devote to astronomical study of celestial bodies Samhitas deal with mundane astrology, earth quakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, rainfall, weather conditions economic conditions and effects of sunspots.The next and the very important branch is the Phalitha Jyothisha branch which concentrates on the system of predictions. And this branch has six sub-divisions, namely, Jathaka, Gola, Prasna, Nimitta, Muhurta and Ganitha.

Apart from these schools of planetary interpretations, Indians have what they call Nadi system which gives pen pictures of life and destiny patterns of people born at 12,24,48 seconds intervals. These have been written on palm leaves. Only very few experts can read and understand these, but the results and predictions are found to be amazingly accurate.

Indian Astrology - In a nut-shell

The Indian astrology study consists of 27 constellations, in 12 lunar mansions. The movements of two luminaries Sun and Moon, five major planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mercury) and the two nodal points of the Moon i.e., Rahu and Ketu are considered and their positions are marked. The extra Saturnine planets like Pluto, Neptune and Uranus are not recognized by the Indian Astrology Above all, Moon is taken as very important planet for predictions though it is satellite of earth. The Moon, at the time of birth is found in a particular position or in a particular star and it will be taken as the star of the person born. This star will be used for finding out the major and sub-periods of the person in his life.

Indian Astrology - Utility
To predict the future events.
To match the birth-charts of the couple at the time of marriage for a successful married life.
To provide a Life reading containing issues of a person's personal life.
To find out the Muhurath (best time) to start any auspicious ceremony.
To determine which stars are affecting one's life.
To provide a remedy for your problems.
To determine the right Gemstone to be used to become successful in life.

Circa 1500 BC
Aryan immigration into India: Indo-Aryans reaches Assyria in the west & the Punjab in the east. Iron arrives, Vedic age in India, composition of the Rig Veda. The bearers of the Vedic civilization, as sometimes called Vedic Aryans or Indo-Aryans were the precursors to modern Hinduism. The term derives from the Sanskrit word "Arya". Sanskrit language is described as "the language of the Gods". Sanskrit has unparalleled depth & unique richness among all languages of the world. Indo-Aryans are the ethno-linguistic descendants of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranians. It is also argued that prior to Indo-European language Sanskrit, there existed a still older language (Proto-Indo-European) from which all the Indo-European languages descended.

The spread of Indo-Aryan languages has been connected with the spread of the chariot in the first half of the second millennium BC. Most of the languages of the North India belong to a single language family, the indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European family of the languages. The languages of South India belong to a different language family, the Dravidian languages.

Dr. Max Muller's Indo-Aryan theory is contested, albeit unconvincingly, by Dr. David Frawley with his"Out of India" theory. It is not claimed that India is the Urheimat (original homeland) of the Indo-Europeans, but rather that "the Aryans could just as well have been native to India for several millennia, deriving their Sanskritic language from earlier Indo-European dialects. According to Frawleys's faulty theory, the history of Sri Lanka runs another couple of millenniums into the past. However the recorded & well substantiated history of Sri Lanka begins in 543 BC.

Present-day Indo Aryans (population: 500 million)
Gujarati people,Jats, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Sindhi people, Marwaris, Marathas, Biharis, Bengalis, Assamese, Oriyas, Roma, Sinhalese, Chhettris, Kalasha.

Circa 1000 BC
Aryan expansion, Gangetic plains, composition of the Brahmans

Circa 900-800 BC
Epic Age, creation of Ramayana & Mahabharata

Circa 877 BC
The twenty third tirthankar (prophet or founder of the path) was born in a royal family at Varanasi. Having renounced the world at an early age, he practices austerities & finally attained the Kaivalya or the supreme knowledge. His teachings in seventy years had tremendous impact on the society & he is often viewed as the real founder of Jainism.

Tirthankars are liberated souls who were once in bondage but became free, perfect, & blissful through their own efforts: they offer salvation by way of three jewels, i.e. right path, right knowledge & right conduct, from the ocean of phenomenal existence & the cycle of rebirths.

Circa 599 BC
The twenty-fourth & the last among the tirthankaras of the present age, Mahavira was born in the royal family of Kundalgrama in 599 B.C. He was given the name of Vardhamana because with his birth the prosperity, fame & merit of his family increased. From his childhood, Mahavira was inclined to humanize the society by wiping out the inequality, exploitation, autocracy & injustice. To begin with, he renounced the world subsequent to 30 years of aristocratic living & went through the life of an ascetic. He used to starve his body but his soul feasted through meditation & spiritual advancement, Following 12 years of austerity he attained Kaivalya or the supreme knowledge under a Sal tree on the banks of Rijupallika river in Giridih. Thereafter, he became a Kevatin or the repository of supreme knowledge, capable of propagating the truth he knew.

Besides incorporating the principles laid down by Parsvanath, Mahavira brought in the doctrines of Brahmacharya (total chastity) by preaching self-purification, he gave a new & firm direction to the faith propounded by his predecessors.

Among his well known teachings are Syadvada, the art of appreciating other's point of view, & Karmavada, importance of self in shaping one's destiny. Jainism, in the same tradition as that of Buddhism, dismisses the interference of so called Supreme Being: it recognizes no supreme deity.

Running against the grain to Hinduism, Jainaism upholds the cause of an individual whose status in the society is determined by his labour & not by his birth. It also recognises that efforts & dedication could bring about perfection. Yet like its parent sect, Brahmanism, the Jainism admits in practice the institution of caste & a group of 16 essential rites, called samskaras, prescribed for the first three varna (castes) of Hindus & recognizes some of the minor deities of the Hindu pantheon: nevertheless, Jainism, like Buddhism, is essentially atheistic.

Jainsim teaches fourteen stages in the evolution of the soul from impurity to purity or complete liberation. For Jains, the path towards their goal consists of adhering to three spiritual jewels- right knowledge, right faith & right conduct.

The most notable feature of Jain ethics is its insistence on non-injury to all forms of life. Jainism find that every kind of thing has a soul; therefore strict observance of precept of non-violence (ahmisa) requires extreme caution in all activity to prevent living beings being killed.

Circa 563-483
Prince Siddhartha, attained eternal & total enlightenment following a prolonged meditation by means of middle path (golden means), having given up means of austerities which failed to achieve the ultimate objective of end to all suffering. The emergence of Budhism, an essentially atheistic & profound religion that recognizes no supreme deity.

Circa 550 BC
Composition of Upanishads in India

Garden of Eden & Adam's Bridge of Sri Lanka

1,750,000 years ago
30km chain of shoal of limestones between Talaimannar of Sri Lanka & Rameshwaram of India has been called The Adam's Bridge by the British colonial rulers of Ceylon and the name derives from the Christian notion that the biblical Garden of Eden was located in Sri Lanka.

That the bridge is man-made, as some archaeologists of India claim, yet to be proven conclusively. While some argue that the bridge is 1,750,000 years old (Hindu treta yuga), others announce it is only 3,500 years old.

According to the Hindu epic Ramayana of Valmiki, a bridge was constructed at the request of Rama, by an army of non-human tribe called Vanara led by Nala, son of the architect-god Visvakarman, & Lord Hanuaman. The bridge was supported on floating rocks but said to have later anchored the rocks to the sea bed, thus creating the present chain of limestone shoals. It was built for Rama's army to cross the Palk straits between Baratha (India) & Lanka to rescue Sita from King Ravana, who was then the ruler of Lanka. Lord Krsna's incarnation, Rama, appeared as a human being because only a human being could kill ten headed demon king Rawana of Lanka, due to certain benediction that he had been given. Some Hindu groups citing NASA's digital imagery of the bridge claim that the bridge's unique curvature & composition suggests it was man made & that events narrated in the Ramayana epic were not mythology but factual.

NASA has distanced itself from such claims: "The images [...] may be ours, but their interpretation is certainly not ours. [...] Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands, and certainly cannot determine whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen."

To date, the epic Ramayana is associated & identified with geographical & historical locations in India & Sri Lanka. Among these Ritigala Kanda (mountian), Rumassala Rock (Mountain) Ravana Ella (waterfalls) & Sita Eliya.

The Archaeological park of Champaner - Pavagad (2004) - A World heritage site
Champaner, 47 km north-east of Vadodara, is the ancient capital of Gujarat of India that was renamed as Muhammadabad after having been conquered by Sultan Mahmud Begara in 1484. The Jami-Masjid built by him is one of the finest mosques of the country. The Pavagad hill with the ruins of an ancient Hindu fort stands in the vicinity of Champaner. Legend has it that the hill is in fact a one-fourth chunk of an Himalayan mountainside that was brought by Hanuman, a hero of the epic Ramayana; hence the name pava meaning a quarter. Presently a vast field of ruins at the Champaner-Pavagad region is a large treasure-trove of un-excavated archaeological finds, rich with history & cultural heritage strewn all over a highly scenic environment.

Recorded History of Sri Lanka

Where must we begin? All would like begin from the beginning. Should we begin with the history of Sinhabahu & Sinhaseevali in Eastern India, their incestuous marriage, patricide by Sinhabahu (man with a hands of shape & strength of the lion, the ripper of the Elephant's rock strong forehead & huge mass of brain) of his father since these two words, incest, patricide rings a bell: King Arthur of England, his incest with his sister, adultery by his queen with his first night Lancelot, patricide by the son of King Arthur? There are more than two words now. Indeed, more than two sins. Their three historical sins & crimes verses our historical two.

Let's begin with the recorded history of arrival of Prince Vijaya & his 700 men from Eastern India. When it comes to historical records, Sri Lanka's is second to none. The rich & vibrant history of 2550 years was faithfully recorded in the chronically called Mahawamsa (Great Chronicle) & other historical chronicles. This is an invaluable contribution to the heritage of the mankind, a national treasure is the single most important work of Sinhalese origin & continuance. It narrates the life & times of the people who forged our nation, from the coming of Vijaya in 543 BC to the final take over by the British in 1815. The Mahawamsa itself is actually comprised of three parts, all written at different times in Sri Lankan history. And it is a history of glorious civilization with unprecedented irrigation engineering & protection of one of the greatest heritage of the mankind: Buddhism.

543 BC
Beginning of succession of 168 Kings & 3 queens (543 BC to 1815 AD) in Sri Lanka
Year 1 of the Buddhist era in Lanka (ancient name).
The first entries in the Mahavamsa (Great History) date from now.
Arrival of Prince Viyaya & 700 other Indo-Aryans from Bengal, East India on the very day Buddha gave up his mortal body & ceased to exist achieving Nirvana the perfect annihilation.
About the time that bands of Indo-Aryans were making this island their home, momentous events were taking place in North India. Many centuries of religious developments & metaphysical speculation culminated in the rise of Buddhism, which preached that the man could assure his welfare here & in hereafter, & attain final beatitude by their own efforts, without divine help.

The earliest record of cotton weaving (handloom) machine: Mahawamsa narrates that Princess Kuveni of "Yakka" tribe of Lanka was weaving cotton at the time of Prince Vijaya's landing. Classical Sanskrit literature refer the settlers in Lanka as Sinhala. The language of the Sinhalese is linguistically related to Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati & other Indo-aryan tongues of Northern India, all in turn given birth by Sanskrit.

The fact that Sinhala has been the speech of the people of this land for 2550 years is established by the thousands of inscriptions on stone, the earliest of which belong to the 3rd century BC. Sri Lanka goes on & on to be, (for about 2550 years) the southernmost region of the globe where an Aryan language has been spoken by the mass of the people. Historical actualities make the Sinhala language, & the Sinhalese people, an endangered race, who spoke & still speak it, with particular importance in the study of the world's history & civilization.


Contemporary events in India

500 BC
Existence of Mahabharata in the form of popular stories of Gods, kings & seers. The epic was told, retold & improved by priests living in shrines, ascetics living in retreats or wandering about, & by travelling bards, minstrels, dance groups etc.

518 BC
Persian conquests & rule in North Western India.


437- 366 BC
Spread of civilization.
Reign of King Pandukabaya. The concept of hospitals emerged & put into practice.

In the third century B. C the capital of Sri Lanka was Anuaradhapura. It was Pandukabhaya (437-366 BC) who developed the original Anuradhapura in to a city.. From the time Anuradhapura was raised by Pandukabhaya to the eminence of a city in the latter part of the fourth century B.C it remained as the capital of Sri Lanka for a about twelve centuries.

The Mahavamsa -Tika says that the early Aryans who came to this Island opened up new settlements in areas where water was easily available. Pandukabhaya built a tank to supply
water to the city, although there was already a tank built by Anuradha, his grand uncle.


Contemporary events in India

350 BC
The epic & the epitome of Eastern Literary cannon in India
"Mahabharata came to be unified, sacred text of 100,000 stanzas written in Sanskrit, distributed throughout India by kings & wealthy patrons, & declaimed from temples.
Even after it became a famous Sanskrit writing it continued to exist in various performance media in many different local genres of dance & theatre throughout India & then Southeast Asia.

Finally, it came to exist, in numerous literary & popular transformations in many of the non-Sanskrit vernacular languages of India & Southeast Asia, which (with the exception of Tamil, a language that had developed a classical literature in the first millennium BCE) began developing recorded literatures shortly after 1000 CE.

Quite simply, the Mahabharata is a powerful & amazing text that inspires awe & wonder. It presents sweeping visions of the cosmos & humanity & intriguing & frightening glimpses of divinity. The Mahabharata definitely is one of those creations of human language & spirit that has travelled far beyond the place of its original creation & will eventually take its rightful place on the highest shelf of world literature beside Homer's epics, the Greek tragedies, the Bible, Shakespeare, & similarly transcendent works.
" Dr. James L. Fitzgerald

326 BC
Alexander the Great invades India

321 BC
Mauryan Dynasty begins in Pataliputra, composition of Arthashastra by Kautilya, treaties on Governance


341 BC
King Buddhadasa, a reputed Ayurvedic Physician & veterinary surgeon, establishes Animal Hospitals

300 BC
Irrigation engineering on ascendancy: a brilliant invention called bisokotuwa, a sluice gate was introduced into the manmade rainwater reservoirs carving many square kilometres.
Convalescent homes were established.

300 BC
The Greek historian Megasthenes describes pearls & elephants of Lanka.
Onescritus, who was an Admiral of the fleet of Alexander the Great describes the tamed & trained elephants of Taprobane (Lanka)

274-232 BC
Reign of King Asoka the great, golden period, spread of Buddhism across India, China, Japan, Far East & Lanka, Lanka embraces Buddhism whole heartedly.

Early Anuradhapura Period

307-267 BC
Reign of Devanam Piya Tissa, a contemporary of Emperor Asoka of India, the one & only Indian emperor to unite whole of India send Buddhist monks to all part of Asia.

Such was the Emperor's love of Lanka (called Tamraparni in King Asoka's Rock Edicts), non other than his son bhiksu (monk) Arhath Mahinda was entrusted with the task of establishing Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The Aryan Sinhalese embraced Buddhism with such fervour, they began to believe Buddha had entrusted the care of pure Buddhism to the little island. Non violent Buddhism & a new born race, Sinhala become inseparable .

Arrival of the slip of the Bo tree in whose shelter Buddha achieved eternal enlightenment.
Foundation of the Mahavihara & Thuparama monuments
Inscriptions in Brahmi characters on cave shelters show first Buddhist communities.

259 BC
Death of Arhath Mahinda in Lanka

205-161 BC
Defeat of Tamil invader Elara, who ruled dry central plains. Restoration of Buddhist monuments destroyed by the Elara's Dravidian invaders by King Dutugamunu of Ruhuna.

Religious foundations at Mihitale & Anurdhapura. Victorious King Dutugamunu, who was already tormented by the 15 years of bloodshed in his war against the Dravidian invaders, in spite of the newly gained overwhelming strength gives up pursuing them at Elephant pass, slim strip of land leading to Jaffna. The invaders were" allowed to live as they pleased" (ancient scriptures) Buddhist teachings continued to be held supreme over the threat of marauding Dravidian invasions.

The lack of all religious rites in Buddhism was not keenly felt during the lifetime of Buddha. Personal devotion to him took the place of religious fervour. But since his cessation from suffering (eternal relief from bondage of birth & rebirth) this very devotion to him assumed the form of religious worship. His sacred relics, consisting of his bones, teeth, alms-bowl, cremation vessel & ashes from his funeral pyre, were enclosed in dome shaped monuments called Dagobas, or Stupas, & were honoured with offerings of lights, flowers, & incense. Pictures & statues of Buddha were multiplied on every side, & similarly honoured, being carried about in festival days in solemn procession. The places, too, associated with his birth, enlightenment, first preaching, & final extinction were considered especially sacred, & became the objects of veneration & pilgrimage & the occasion of recurring festivals.

104-75 BC
First reign of King Vathagamani; interrupted by Tamil invaders from Southern India

89-77 BC
Pali scriptures of Budhism were committed to writing.

Four Lankan envoys visit Rome in the reign of Emperor Claudius Caesar (10BC-54BC); Roman historian & naturalist Pliny chronicles Lanka in his histories.
Pliny makes reference to Lanka's relationship with China.

175 AD
Greek historian Ptolemy records export of elephants from Lanka to Kalinga

214-136 AD
Reign of Voharika Tissa; progress of Mahayana Buddhism

276-303 AD
Reign of Mahasena;& the foundation of the Jetavana Dagoba, the largest dagoba or stupa in the world.

305-331 AD
Reign of Sirimeghavana; the arrival of the Sacred Tooth relic of Buddha

410-482 AD
The reign of King Mahanama. The translation into Pali of the Sinhalese commentaries of the Tripitaka (three books of Buddhism) was undertaken.

412-413 AD
The Chinese scholar Fa-hsien visits Anuradhapura

428 AD
Embassy to China; nuns sent to Nanking

432-459 AD
South Indian invasion & domination; end of first Anuradhapura period.

500 AD
Buddhist Monk Mahanama commence writing Mahavamsa (Great History) in Pali language (language of Buddhism) on palm-leaf tablets. A chronicle of Sinhalese kings who irrigated, cultivated the island, embraced Buddhism wholeheartedly & protected island & Buddhism from South Indian invasions.

Late Anuradhapura Period


459-477 AD
Reign of King Dahtusena; end of brief South Indian domination; end of first Anuradhapura period. Patricide by Prince Kasyapa

477-495 AD
Reign of Kasyapa;construction of Sigirya. Suicide of King Kasyapa in the battle against his brother Mogaallan

495-512 AD
Reign of Mogallan 1; capital returned to Anuradhaopura; arrival of bikhshunie (Buddhist nun) Sangamiita, daughter of Emporer Asoka of India & arrival of hair relic.

King Silakala decrees the "preservation of life of all creatures" throughout the island

575-608 AD
Reign of Aggabodhi1, Irrigation works

608-618 AD
Reign of Aggabodhi 11. Rebuilding of the Thuparama

618-684 AD
Internecine struggles; South Indian invasions.
A significant collection of ancient ceramic ware from the periods of six Chinese dynasties has been unearthed in Sri Lanka. The earliest ceramics are from the period of Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D) Ceramics remains from North Sung, South Sung, Ming, Yuan, & Qing dynasties & ancient Chinese coins have been discovered. Chinese inscriptions found in some of the ancient ports of Lanka provide valuable information on ancient Sino-Lanka relationships & archaeological & historical values of Chinese ceramics found in Sri Lanka.

684-718 AD
Reign of Manavamma; alliance with the Pallavas.

772-777 AD
Reign of Aggabodhi V11, which brought the temporary abandonment of Anuradhapura in favour of Polonnaruwa

835-853 AD
Reign of Sena 1. Pandyan conquest

840 AD
Anuradhapura plundered

853-887 AD
Reign of Sena11;alliance with Pallavas against Pandyas

898-914 AD
King Kassappa IV granted safety to all creatures on land & water following the footsteps of the ancient kings.

925 AD
Pandyan king asks for aid against the Cholas & takes refuge in Sri Lanka

947 AD
Chola (Tamilnadu) invasion;Anuradhapura is plundered, the king flees to Ruhuna (South of Sri Lanka)

956-972 AD
Reign of Mahinda 1V. Rebuilding takes place at Anuradhapura.

993 AD
Capture & sack of Anuradhapura. Mahinda 1V takes refuge in Ruhuna

1017 AD
Mahinda V captured by Cholas. Collapse of irrigation system & destruction of numerious Buddhist foundations


Polonnaruwa Period (1073-1215)

1055-1110 AD
Defeat of Cholas at the hands of Sinhalse prince Keerthi of Ruhuna. Kingdom was liberated from Cholas.

1070 AD
Prince Kirti was crowned at Anuradhapura by the name king Vijayabahu

1073 AD
Capital transferred to Polonnaruwa. Religious foundations & irrigation works

1153-86 AD
Reign of Parakramabahu the great. Beginning of a period of Buddhist revival & construction of major irrigation networks.

1187-96 AD
Reign of Nissanka Malla



Period of ephemeral capitals (1214-1597)


1214 AD
Kalingan invasion

1215-36 AD
Destruction & tyranny of Kalinga Maga of Kerala

1236-70 AD
Reign of Parakramabahu 11

1270-1508 AD
A succession of kings, up to Parakarambahu V111

1254-1324 AD
Marco Polo visits Lanka & call it Seilan

1505 AD
Portugese arrive under Lorennco de Almeida; they soon occupy the island's coastal areas
The Portuguese found" Kola Amba-thota (harbour with leafy mango trees), (Colombo) a fine bay for the ships. The Muslims, who had been trading peacefully in the island by courtesy of the Sinhalese kings, were expelled by the Portuguese. Portuguese commence to monopolize the spice & cinnamon trade, which soon became of enormous importance to Europe

1550-97 AD
Dom Juan Dharmapala set up as puppet king by the Portuguese

1554-93 AD
Reign of King Rajasinha 1


Kandyan Period


1597 AD
Capital moved to Kandy

1629-87 AD
Reign of Rajasinghe 11
King Rajasinghe's army inflicted a major defeat on the Portuguese. But the Sinhalese King was not pleased with the bloodshed. Having seen the decapitated head of the Portuguese commander Constance de Sa, the king lamented. "How often did I ask thee not to make war on men, nor destroy my lands, but to let me live in peace, the Portuguese remaining absolute lords of the best part of Ceylon"

1656 AD
Dutch arrive & oust Portuguese after both land & sea battles. Following an epic siege of Colombo Fort, 73 Portuguese survivors surrendered to the Dutch.
"At three o'clock on the afternoon of the 12th May, 1656, we came out of the city, 73 very emaciated soldiers, all hat remained there, including some with broken arms & minus a, leg, & all looking like dead people... We then entered the house where we met the Dutch general & major, who received us very warmly & gave us a toast..." The Dutch officers said they looked forward to meeting the rest of the brave defenders. They were told there were no more surviving." At this they changed colour, a great sadness following the cheerfulness with which they received us"

1660-80 AD
Robert Knox
, an English sailor, is captured by the king of Kandy



Modern History of Sri Lanka

Crown colony Ceylon: Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Coffee, Tea, Rubber, highways, railways, missionary schools & colonial repression & exploitation


Dutch surrender to the British, who have become interested in Trincomalees's fine natural harbour

Reign of Sri Wickrama Rajasinha; ultimate betrayal of the nation to the British by Kandyan Ministers



British Colonial Period 1802-1948


Ceylon becomes a Crown Colony

The American Mission founds the Batticotta Seminary (later Jaffna College) in Tamil speaking Jaffna. The establishment of these Christian schools was a means of spreading Christianity in Sri Lanka.
Education & employment in Colonial Sri Lanka was restricted to Christians.
Buddhist Sinhalese & Hindu Tamils had to become Christians to advance themselves within the colonial administration.
This situation resulted in, at the independence in 1948 ( population then 8 million), 49 out of 103 schools were in the Tamils populated North & the Tamil populated East servicing an almost exclusively Tamil population: 12% of the population, the Tamils had access to 50% of the education institutions which translated into public sector employment.
At independence in 1948, 42% of the beurocracy Ceylon consisted of minority Tamils.

In effect successive European Colonial administrators relied heavily on the Tamil minority, local & immigrant from South India, to administer the country, since the bulk of the Sinhalese majority were opposed to European rule. This was compounded by the European colonial powers encouraging millions from South India to settle in Sri Lanka as a means of cheap labour to work in the tobacco plantations (Portuguese) in Jaffna & coffee, tea & rubber plantations in the central hills. Tea plantations (British) alone had over a million Indian labourers in the island, which at independence in 1948 had a population of only 8 million. This was a deliberate colonial policy to dilute & weaken majority Sinhalese who resisted colonial rule.

Sinhalese chieftains in Kandy, who despised king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, voluntarily submitted to the British in 1815 by signing a pact with British at "Magul Maduwa" which stands to date close to "The Holy temple of Tooth Relic" by the Kandy lakeside.
Last Kandyan king deposed & exiled in Madras.
Soon the island was dotted with coffee, cinnamon & coconut plantations & a network of roads & railways was built to handle to new economic revolution. English became the official language of the rulers.

Ceylon's Rosetta stone was found; ola parchment at Mulgirigala that led to deciphering of classical Pali scripts, & the translation of the Mahawamsa.

Colebrooke Report (1831-32) was an important document in the history of the island. G.C. Mendis, considered by many to be the doyen of modern Sri Lankan history, considers the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms to be the dividing line between the past and present in Sri Lanka.
Under Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms, English becomes the language of administration.

A devastating leaf disease--hemleia vastratrix struck the coffee plantations and spread quickly throughout the plantation district, destroying the coffee industry within fifteen years. Climatic conditions for the cultivation of tea were excellent in Sri Lanka, especially in the hill country. By the end of the century, tea production on the Island had risen enormously.
The British were unable to persuade the Sinhalese to work cheaply & willingly on the plantations, so they imported large number of Dravidian labourers from India

The first official census conducted by the the Briish rulers: total population 2.8 million

Ruins of Polonnaruwa discovered

Sri Lanka's Anagarika Dharmapala founded the Mahabodhi Society & launch "Save Bodh Gaya" campaign. Bodh Gaya (Bihar), one of holiest of holy Buddhist sites in the world was threatened with irrecoverable devastation.
It was at Uruvela ( modern Maha Bodhi) that Prince Siddhartha, then an ascetic, attained eternal & total enlightenment following a prolonged meditation by means of middle path (golden means), having given up means of austerities which failed to achieve the ultimate objective of end to all suffering.

Bodh Gaya, today is one of the five most famous Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. Other four sites are Lumbini, near the Shakyan capital of Kapilavastu in the southern region of Nepal where Buddha was born; Deer Park at Saranath (Uttar Pradesh), just north of Varanasi the place of his first sermon; Kushinara, where Buddha left the world & eternal suffering.

"The Sinhalese people are not, in my opinion, happier or better than they were in the eighteenth century. Talk of progress, & the reality, are not the same. Civilzation is supposed to advance by the creation of new desires, to gratify which the individual must endeavour to improve his position. But in reality it is not quantity, but quality of wants that may be taken as evidence of progress in the Art of Living. No one acquainted with modern Sinhalese taste will pretend that it gives evidence of any improvement in the quality of wants. Indeed, it is sufficiently obvious that quantity, variety, & novelty are not really compatibale with quality."
Mediaeval Sinhalese Art : Sri Lankan Tamil scholor Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy comparing the period prior to British rule with the period of British rule

The Jaffna Association of Jaffna Tamils submits 50-50 representation formula for the Legislative Council in memo.

15th Aug. 1921
Tamil political party, Tamil Mahajan Sabha, once again takes up call for 50-50 representation. Herein a 12% of Tamil minority in Sri Lanka demands 50% representation in the legislative council. This would leave majority Sinhalese -70% of the population- with only 50% representation in the legislative council.

H. W. Codrington
, B. A.(Oxon.) F. R. N. S. of Ceylon Civil Service publishes "Ceylon currency & coins"

H. W. Codrington publishes "Short history of Ceylon" history till year 1833 in about 50,000 words.

A Tamil scholor Mudaliyar C. Rasanayagam's "Ancinet Jaffna" is published. In the final chapter on page 384 he mentions that the Sinhalese occupied Jaffna before the Tamils & goes on to give his reasons.

Universal franchise granted by the Donoughmore Constitution. No leader of Ceylon had agitated for it in the legislative Council. At best there were lone voices of the Lablour leader A. E. Gunasinghe & George E. de Silva, the Member of Kandy. Nowhere in British Empire was the experiment carried out in the decade of the nineteen thirtees.
The first General Election in Ceylon under universal franchise held in 1931 was boycotted by four electorates of Jaffna peninsula: Jafna, Kankesanturai, Kayats & Point Pedro giving unmistakable message Tamil predominant Jaffna peninsula was opposed to universal franchise.

The Jaffna Association repeats its demand for 50-50 representation: 50% for the Sinhalese who consists 70% of the population of the island, 25% for the Tamils, 25% for the other minorities.

G. G. Ponnambalam of Ceylon Tamil Community clamours for "fifty-fifty" representation in the state council with parity status with the Sinhalese speaking majority & All Tamil speaking minorities.
All Tamil speaking minorities, The Ceylon Tamils (descendants of invaders who later became settlers), the Indian Tamil (brought in to the island by the British colonialists for the tea plantations) & the Muslims put together accounted for only 30.1% of the population whereas the Sinhalese accounted for 69.2%. The exact parallel today is that the Ceylon Tamils demanding for two-thirds of the coastline of the entire nation & one third of the landmass, while accounting only one-eighth of the population.

Unlike India, where nationalists demanded a guarantee of independence as recompense for their support in the war effort, Sri Lanka committed itself wholeheartedly to the Allied war effort. Although the island was put under military jurisdiction during the war, the British and the Sri Lankans maintained cooperative relations. Sri Lankan pressure for political reform continued during the war, however, and increased as the Japanese threat receded and the war neared its end. The British eventually promised full participatory government after the war.

Soulbery Commission of the British Colonialist rulers rejects proposal of fifty-fifty presented by the all powerful All Ceylon Tamil Congress.


Contemporary events in India

In August India gains political independence from the British. British India is partitioned into two countries: India & Pakistan. Pakistan becomes the first country in the world to be born out of a religion: Islam. Partition related riots kill 200000 to a million.
In October erupts the first Indo-Pakistan war.


Ceylonese led by Sir James Peiris, George E. De Silva, E. W. Perera, Ramathanan, Arunchalam, Coreas, Macan Markars,Caders, Razeek Fareed, Jayawardenes, A. E. Gonnasinghe procure independence from the British solely by means of negotiations without single drop of blood being shed.

Foreign occupation had a tremendous impact on the nation. Changes of laws & customs, clothing styles, religions & proper names were significant results of the colonial era, followed up with plantations of Tea, Rubber replacing Rice cultivation in numerous areas.

The population had grown from 800000 in the year 1802 to more than 7 million. Over a relatively short period, the island had developed an economy capable of supporting the burgeoning population. Roads, railways, schools, hospitals, hydroelectric projects, and large well operated agricultural plantations provided the infrastructure for a viable national economy.

A highly respected statesman, Mr. Don Stephen Sananayake becomes the first Prime Minister of Ceylon. Senanayake, the minister of agriculture in the pre-independent British appointed Ceylonese state council had devoted himself to the immense task of restoration of the derelict irrigation networks of ancient capitals of Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa. Now, becoming Prime Minister of the independent Ceylon, Senanayake runs close at the heels of King Parakrabahu the great in the context of irrigation. The Gal Oya irrigation Project harnessing the waters of River Mahaweli, the longest river of the island would create an inland sea four times larger than Parakrama Samudra. It is named Senanayake Samudra.

Mahabodhi society
founded by Angarika Dharmapala of Ceylon achieves its objective of rescuing Buddhist sacred site Bodh Gaya of India. Today Bodh Gaya is one of the World Heritage sites with monasteries & meditation centres run by Tibetan, Burmese, Thai & Vietnamese communities.

Bodh Gaya & its Mahabodhi Temple complex where prince Siddhartha, then an ascetic, attained supreme enlightenment, today is a vibrant pilgrimage site. With a 50 meter high pyramidal spire, the grand magnificent, restored Mahabodi temple stand on the sacred place & a golden image of the Buddha adorns the shrine. Built in 3rd century by BC by Mauryan emperor Ashoka, the temple had to be restored several times to overcome the ravages of time. Emperor Asoka's daughter Sangamitta had carried a sapling of the holy Bo (Peepal) tree to Sri Lanka where she went propagating Buddhism. Later, when the original Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya died, a cutting of the tree planted at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, was brought back & transplanted at Bodh Gaya, which is presently flourishing. Under the holy Bo tree is a lotus shaped red sandstone seat-the vajrasana- on which sat the Buddha while in meditation. On a rounded stone slab near the Bo tree the footprints of the Buddha are preserved. Ever year on Buddha Purnima, the birthday of Buddha, a large congregation is held here participated by Buddhists from all over the world.

Silver bell of Asia, Oxford educated S.W.R.D Bandaranaike, storms into office of Prime Minister promising administration in Sinhala. Sinhalese had been disappointed that in spite of the independence, in spite of being relieved from the suffering under the jack boot of colonialist masters, still being administrated in English language by the English educated Ceylonese elite. Leonard Wolfe, a British civil servant of Ceylon (husband of Virgina Wolf) vividly depicted the suffering of natives under English language administration in his famous book "A village in the Jungle" True to his promises, Sinhala, language of 72% of population was made the official language of Ceylon, by Bandaranaike

S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was assassinated. Courts of Law finds Buddhist monk Somarama guilty; but the nation wasn't convinced at all. There was a notorious local name & name of a foreign Intelligence Agency in the winds of conspiracy. Those were the days of the assassination of another nationalist, Patrick Lulumba. Ceylon's Warren commission + John Kennedy + Edgar Hoover + FBI + CIA + Mob + Marylyn Monroe + Lee Harvey Oswald + second gunman + Oliver Stone maze

Mrs Bandaranike, widow of slain Prime Minister, on the wave of sympathy, becomes world's first women Prime Minister.



Contemporary events in India

First Sino-Indian war erupts

In an attempt to suppress militancy in Tamil State of Tamil Nadu in India, Prime Minister Nehru introduces the Sixteenth Amendment to the constitution of India, making it mandatory for those running for office to take an oath stating that "I will uphold the sovereinighty & integrity of India". Since then, Tamil politicians holding office could not campaign for a separate Tamil State openly, but those in the Opposition continued to harbour a Tamil State dream.

Second Indo-Pakistan war erupts in September.

Third Indo-Pakistan war erupts in December.


April Insurrection by Sinhalese.

Ceylon becomes a republic: Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapakse from Ruhuna (which gave birth to the hero of the nation King Dutugamunu, King Vijayabahu & an array of heroes) becomes executive president of Sri Lanka


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