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