The historical revision narrative surrounding the arrival of the Sinhalese to the Ceylon Island unfolds

The historical revision narrative surrounding the arrival of the Sinhalese to the Ceylon Island unfolds, as a where the banished community, initially numbering around 700 now lays claim to the entire island. In 1956, the Sri Lankan Government issued a commemorative postage stamp titled “Vijayan’s Arrival.” The stamp portrayed Kuveni seated under a tree, with Vijayan, who arrived by ship, seeking refuge with her. The stamp stirred objections from Sinhalese leaders, expressing their disapproval, and asserting that accepting Vijayan’s arrival from Northern subcontinent India and acknowledging a Tamil woman named Kuveni would suggest an admission that the native / indigenous community of Ceylon Island are Tamils. Therefore, they declared, “It is imperative to withdraw this stamp.” In response, the Government of Sri Lanka retracted the postage stamp. Unfortunately, by the time of its withdrawal, the stamp had already gained circulation and already found its way to various corners of the globe. According to the Mahavamsam, a historical text in Sinhalese culture, the establishment of the first Sinhalese kingdom is attributed to Prince Vijayan, who originated from Northern India.

Like the renowned Indian epics “Ramayana” and “Mahabharata,” the Mahavamsam is authored in the Pali language, and it is esteemed by the Sinhalese as their sacred scripture. While the Sinhalese assert this as their “history,” their history encompasses myths that stretch the bounds of belief. Vijayan: The Mahavamsam credits Vijaya as the founding figure of the Sinhalese dynasty of Sri Lanka within Ceylon island marking him as the first Sinhalese king. The Mahavamsa states the following about Vijayan: “In North India, Bengal and Orissa were formerly referred to as Laladesam. The ruler of this kingdom was Singabaku, born to a lion and a Queen /Rajakumari. Later on, he comes to a realization and locates a lion (his father) in a cave, proceeding to sever its head. Singabagu marries a girl named Chikasivali, declaring her the titular queen. They have twins on sixteen occasions, resulting in 32 children. Vijayan, the eldest among them, is chosen by Singabaku as the crown prince.

People complain: Complaints escalate as Vijayan exhibits extreme cruelty, prompting the subjects to approach the king with grievances about his atrocities. Singabagu endeavors to reform his son, but Vijayan remains unyielding. Alongside his companions, he persists in subjecting the people to extreme cruelty and violence. Faced with Vijayan’s escalating atrocities, the subjects once again implore the king, advocating for the death sentence for Vijayan, the heir apparent. In response, the king chooses to instead exile Vijayan and 700 of his friends. Departing from the northern regions of the subcontinent, they set sail on three ships with the instruction to ‘Go somewhere and survive.’ The king bids them farewell, advising them to ‘Find happiness again.’ All three ships reach the neighbouring island. A sanctuary by a radiant beauty: In the year 543 B.C., Vijaya arrives at the neighbouring island of Ceylon, stepping off the ship.

The location of his landing showcases stunning picturesque scenery and beneath a tree sits a woman named Kuveni, belonging to the Rakshasa clan. (The term Kuveni is a variant of the Tamil word Kavini, denoting ” Innate beauty.”) Drawing parallels to the giant status ascribed to Ravana, the ruler of Ceylon Island, the “Mahavamsa” characterizes Kuveni as belonging to a giant clan. When Vijayan encounters Kuveni, he seeks refuge, and she graciously provides shelter. In a quiet progression of their bond, they marry. This union is marked with the arrival of a son and a daughter. Pandyan princess: Vijayan and his 700 malevolent and ruthless comrades, upon arriving at Ceylon Island, erect various settlements within the island and they nominated Vijayan to rule as their new settlements as king, but he refuses, stating he will only accept the throne after marrying a princess of royal lineage. In response, the group heads to Madurai bearing gifts to the expansive Tamil kingdom, aiming to secure a marriage alliance with a Pandya princess of royal lineage.

The Pandya king consents to the request, oblivious to Vijayan’s existing marital status, he selects the Pandya princess and 700 women and sends them to Ceylon Island to join Vijayan and his companions. Kuveni’s fate: Vijayan is ecstatic upon hearing that the Pandya princess has consented to marry him and has arrived in Sri Lanka. He then proceeds coldly to inform Kuveni; “I’m marrying the Pandiyan Rajakumari / princess and demands to Kuveni, give me my two children and leave this place.” Heartbroken, Kuveni departs with the children to a different part of the newly formed Sri Lanka kingdom known as “Lankapura.” Their descendants become the Sinhalese hunters of Sri lanka. Wedding: Vijayan, having wed Pandiya Rajakumari, arranged marriages for the 700 women who arrived with her, pairing them with his friends and ministers based on their standing. Despite his previous reputation for cruelty, including his harsh treatment of his first wife, Vijayan governed his newly established kingdom for 38 years. His descendants are identified as the Sinhalese in the Mahavamsa.


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