This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa’, the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history.
The Lambakarnas flee

  1. King Ilanaga wrested power in Anuradhapura and became king once again. Then came the time for the ‘Water Festival’ at the tank, Tissa. The king dressed in all his splendour joined in the festivities. There he was reminded of the unbecoming behaviour of the Lambakarnas on a previous occasion. He got into a rage and wanted to take revenge on them. He called his officers and wanted all the Lambakarnas assembled.
  2. All of them were brought to the king. The king ordered them to be yoked to carts as if they were oxen. Then they were taken to the park. Once the king’s men did all this, the king ordered the Lambakarnas to be beheaded. This news reached the ears of the king’s mother. She hurried to the scene and spoke to the king.
  3. 3. “All these oxen were yoked to your carts. So do not cut off their heads. Instead cut off their horns and hooves”. Listening to the mother’s advice, the king revoked his earlier order and ordered his men to cut off their noses and the big toes of their feet. The king’s men did accordingly. Thereafter, the Lambakarnas severed all their connections with their king and went to reside in the suburbs.
  4. King Ilanaga respected the elephant who helped him. He treated the elephant well. The place where it hid to escape from the Lambakarnas was made a colony and named ‘Hastibaga’. Towards the latter part of his rule, the king turned to be more religious. He got a number of stupas and temples repaired. The tanks and canals that were abandoned were repaired and he did a lot to develop agriculture.
  5. After ruling for five years, he died in 52 AD. His eldest son, Chandramukha-Siva succeeded him. He was a pious king who led a righteous life. He built a tank named ‘Manikaragama’ and donated it to the temple at Isurumuniya. He had a queen named Demala Devi. She spent a lot of her wealth on the activities of Isurumuniya temple.
  6. 6. King Chandramukha-Siva ruled the country for only eight years and seven months. His younger brother, Yasalalaka Tissa was eying the throne. As was the practice, King Chandramukha-Siva too took part in the water sports at the tank Tissa. Prince Yasalalaka-Tissa too was there and he was determined to put an end to Chandramukha-Siva. He was assassinated.
  7. This unfortunate incident occurred in 60 AD. That very day, Yasalalaka-Tissa ascended the throne. Though he committed a murder, Yasalalaka-Tissa led a happy-go-lucky life and loved fun and frolic. He was very friendly with everyone in the palace. At this time, the door keeper of the palace was a person named Danta.
  8. This Danta had a son named Subha. The king and Subha looked very much alike physically. The king got friendly with him and appointed him as the door keeper. This jovial king used to play jokes with him. Once in a way, the king exchanged his attire with the door keeper and swapped roles. Once when they exchanged roles, the ministers who could not make out the difference paid their respects to Subha, who was seated on the throne as the king. Observing this, the real king couldn’t help laughing.

By Halaliye Karunathilake
Edited and translated by Kamala Silva
Illustrated by
Saman Kalubowila

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