the end of the reign of King Nissankamalla
~This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history~
Though King Parakramabahu I is said to be a son of the soil, his origin is in Kalinga. This may be the reason why, some scholars believe him to be the first ruler of the Kalinga dynasty. However, it cannot be said that there was no opposition to Nissankamalla from those belonging to the line of Sinhala kings and those supportive of them. However, there were never such serious problems. Anyway, to counteract whatever opposition he had, this king went out of his way, to win the hearts and minds of the people.
King Nissankamalla was very generous in all his dealings. He never thought twice when he had to donate towards the cause of religion. He carried on a righteous rule. He belonged to a generation, that held sway over the Indian ocean, who also had a strong naval power. He had very cordial relations with countries like Cambodia, Burma, Gujrat, Bengal, Orissa and Andhra.
This king too had naval power and he was engaged in foreign trade. King Nissankamalla suspended the payment of taxes for five years, because he knew he could balance that loss with profits from trade. Some scholars believe that he would have increased the duty on imported goods. They have a suspicion that this king would have supported plundering in the deep sea.
The inscriptions of this king are written with a lot of exaggeration. Some doubt whether the 'Vatadage' which is supposed to have been built by Nissankamalla, is really a work of Parakaramabahu I. When you analyse all that he has said and done, he appears to be a righteous, pleasure-loving, honourable king. He had been overwhelmed with prosperity.
In his 'Galpota' inscription, King Nissankamalla makes a bit of a sermon. Here he says, "Though kings appear in human form, they are the gods of the people and as such, should be treated as gods. The appearance of a good king, is as good as the appearance of the Buddha.
The king gives punishment for wrong doings. But that is like a kind of treatment given to a physical ailment. The suffering you undergo for the sake of kings is like seeds sown for happiness."
"Even if the kings give up kingship, they should be like fruits that have fallen off their stems. Likewise, if people conspire against kings, they will be inviting death. It is a great man who sacrifices his life for a king. His fame and honour is sure to last long. Knowledge is really knowledge of gratitude. Trade is agriculture. The thing to be treasured is the Dhamma."
"At a time when there are no kings, no viceroys or no queens, even the sandals of the king should get the respect, that is due to a king. The dynasty referred to here, is the Kalinga dynasty. Therefore kingship should not be given either to Cholas or Pandyas. They are not Buddhist." This inscription is the largest inscription, that describes the services of this king. It was erected at Mihintale. It is believed that elephants were used to roll it and bring it up to Polonnaruwa.
Even though scholars are of the opinion that Nissankamalla always tried to exaggerate things, to preserve his good name, he really is a special king. Some important religious buildings at Polonnaruwa are ones he built. He tried his best to make the city of Polonnaruwa beautiful. In 1196 A. D., he passed away.