You would have read how King Vijaya, our ancestor and the founder of
the Sinhala race, became the ruler of Sri Lanka with the help of Kuveni,
a princess from the Yakka race. She did so while neglecting her race,
customs and relatives. But things turned upside down as Vijaya wanted a
royal queen; Kuveni was chased away and Vijaya married a princess from
You would also know how when ungrateful Vijaya died, messages were
sent to India asking Vijaya’s brother Sumiththa to come and take up the
throne here, and how he sent his son Panduwasdev. The prince arrived in
Tambapanni with 32 of his men and was crowned as the second king of the
Prince Panduwasdev was a relation of the Buddha, by marriage to
Princess Baddakachchayana who was the daughter of Pandusakya, a son of
Amithodana. (The latter was the brother of King Suddodana who was the
Buddha’s - Prince Siddhrtha’s - father.)
The story of Baddakachchayana is similar to that of Vihara Maha Devi,
as she was sent in a ship by her father, who couldn’t fulfil the wishes
of all the princes who sought her hand in marriage.
arrived in Gokanna (the present Trincomalee) area, according to the
Mahawamsa . It further says that her six brothers too came to Sri Lanka
later. They built colonies which came to be known as Rohana, Anurada,
Wijitha, Uruwela and Deegayu.
Panduwasdev and Baddakachchayana had 10 sons and a daughter called
Chithra. When this daughter was born, astrologers predicted that her son
would kill his uncles one day and become the king of the country. This
shocking prediction made the brothers force the king to kill their own
sister, but she was spared. Instead, she was placed in an ‘ektamge’ (a
one-pillar chamber), which nobody could enter, without the king’s
When Chithra was young and beautiful, she happened to see from her
‘ektamge’ a young man called Deegagamini(Gamini in short form). He was
Baddakachchayana’s brother Deegayu’s son. The two soon fell in love with
each other and were well supported by two Yakka men called Kalawela and
Chiththaraja, who were sentries of the ‘ektamge’. With their assistance,
the lovers would secretly meet each other.
Soon, it became known at the palace that Chithra was expecting a
child. Her brother again planned to kill Chithra, but the queen mother
intervened and told them to wait till the child is born. They all agreed
to kill the baby if it’s a son.
As history reveals, the Yakka race helped Gamini secretly bring in
another pregnant woman to Chithra’s room. When the princess delivered
the baby, which was a boy, Queen Baddakachchayana told the royal family
that it was a girl to the utter relief of the brothers. Then Gamini’s
secret plan was put into action. That was to exchange Chithra’s new-born
son with the daughter born to the other woman. So, the new-born prince
was taken to a village called Doramadala.
At Doramadala, the prince who was named Pandukabhaya was looked after
well by a village family. Nobody could suspect anything as the head of
the family had told the others that his wife had twins.
The young prince behaved like any other village boy, but it was
obvious that he was different to them. The king’s spies came to hear
about this and they started gathering more information. The message soon
reached the king and the princes, who promptly ordered men to go and
kill the boy.
They went to a place where the village boys usually gathered to play
and since they couldn’t identify the prince, they massacred all village
boys who were playing there. But the prince was saved, as during a game
of hide-and-seek, he had hidden in an underwater cave.
The prince escaped with his life, but spying went on and another
killing was planned years later. This took place in a paddy field; all
young village boys were again killed, but not the prince. He managed to
Upon attaining teenagehood, the young boy was sent to study to a
Brahmin’s place. Pandula, the teacher, taught all ‘shilpa’ (skills and
crafts) to the prince. Under the guidance of Pandula, Prince
Pandukabhaya began his struggle against his relatives.
When the war finally started, Pandukabhaya was well-organised. The
chasing away of Kuveni by Vijaya and the loosing of their kingdom to
Vijaya was a big blow to yakka tribes, so their support was
automatically extended to Pandukabhaya. He led them to victories in
Dolugala and Dumrakgala and became strong in the present Polonnaruwa
By building a fortress at Ritigala, Pandukabhaya strengthen his
defences. It was a natural place for fighting, and gave maximum
advantage to the fighting prince. For nearly seven years, the prince
organised matters. Finally, the big battle began and the ancient
prediction was proved right as the prince’s uncles were all killed.
Prince Pandukabhaya, with the help of natives, formed a new dynasty
and changed the capital to Anuradhapura. By doing so, he became the
first ever city builder in history. The town was planned in a complete
way. A hospital, trading areas and cemetery were established. Hermitages
were built for different religions.
A pilgrims’ rest and some devalas were also set up. The two yakkas,
Chiththaraja and Kalawela, who were killed in battle were remembered by
building a devala for each. An organised city was therefore
established.Pandukabhaya began the Gamsabha system. He marked the
borders of villages. He appointed a Nagara Guththika post for the
capital city, to maintain law and order there.
He made the first ever wewa ‘Aba Wewa’ in Sri Lanka. He ruled for 70
years, one of the longest reigns in the country. He was one of the
greatest figures in our history and was a first in many areas. His most
endearing and outstanding quality was to get the support of all
communities like yakka and Brahmas in all important matters. Another
outstanding feature of King Pandukabhaya’s reign was the religious
freedom he granted to all alike.
- Asha Senevirathne Based on Pandukabhaya by Ashoka Karunarathne