The ruler of Mayarata
~This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history~
1. King Vijayabahu III was determined to defeat Magha in the near future. He decided to start that struggle from Dambadeniya. This area was well-developed by this time. When King Parakramabahu the Great, was the ruler of the South, he took steps to develop agriculture in areas belonging to the Mayarata. It proved successful. This process of development continued even during the time of King Vijayabahu III.
2. Another reason for the supremacy of King Vijayabahu III, over Mayarata was his obtaining the possession of the Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic of the Buddha. The 'bikkhus' who lived in Polonnaruwa, brought these relics and hid them in Kotmale by burying them underground. With the help of those monks, King Vijayabahu was able to unearth the relics and bring them to Dambadeniya.
3. Still, the king thought that Dambadeniya was not safe enough to keep the relics. So he got a beautiful temple built in Beligala and the relics were taken there with all due honour. He organized a ceremony to deposit the relics there. Beligala is situated in the district of Kegalle. The Temple of the Tooth was built on top of the Beligala rock. By this time, the Tooth Relic had gained its importance as a symbol of the power of the king.
4. It was necessary to possess the Tooth Relic if one were to be crowned king. Only a person who had this relic in his possession, was considered the king of the country. But for that, however clever or whatever claims one may have to kingship, he was not considered king. Such was the connection between the Tooth Relic and the king of the country. All the laity and the monks, respected King Vijayabahu III, for taking steps to deposit the Tooth Relic in the new Dalada Maligawa.
5. Even if this king, by any chance, did not have a connection to the old line of kings, his possession of the Tooth Relic alone, was enough reason to recognize him as king. So, automatically, Vijayabahu III was accepted as the sole ruler of Mayarata. According to 'Rajavaliya,' he is said to have built a temple named 'Vijayasundararama.' It is also mentioned that he got the Kelaniya temple repaired. This king is responsible for inviting and bringing back home, the monks who fled abroad.
6. He is supposed to have built a temple, in his name, at Wattala. The Higher Ordination ceremony, which had not been held for sometime, was also revived by his efforts. He tried to reform the order of monks too. The religious books that were ruined by the foreign invaders were re-written, with his patronage. All these things added to his political popularity. The scholars of history note that the power of King Vijayabahu III was not confined to the South West part of the country only. It spread over Ruhuna as well.
7. This righteous kings' rule was limited to about four years, from 1232 AD – 1236 AD. He was old when he was crowned king. There is mention to the effect that this king's funeral rites were performed at Attanagalla. The general belief is that a 'dagaba' was built there to deposit his ashes.
8. The Sangha Council that this king convened was presided over by Venerable Sangharakkhita Thera. The chief priests who participated in this assembly were Venerable Dimbulagala Buddhavamsa Vanaratana Thera and Venerable Dimbulagala Medhalankara Thera. King Vijayabahu III had two sons, the eldest of them was named Prince Parakramabahu.