Saturday, October 22, 2016

First ,first lady of the nation ; an intriguing beginning , History series 1












In  year 483 BC, prince Vijaya with 700 followers land on the beach of the western coast, most likely somewhere between Mannar and Puttalam, having left  a port somewhere in Mumbai ,( ancient port of Supparaka ,present district of Supparaka in  state of Maharashta) in the western coast in India. They must have been dog tired after a long journey in a small ship. They couldn’t have been provided with lots of food and luxuries because from the last port of call, because  they were thrown out from there  in a hurry with some violence.
When they land in this coast they would have passed ¾th  of islands length from south to north keeping the land on their right side. And they would have seen the luxurious growth of flora from the distance and even small settlements along the coast. Either because of the unpleasant experience they had at the last port of call or they were looking for a land which is uninhabited to establish a entirely new settlement like prince Vijaya’s  father , prince Sinhabahu did they don’t come and land in first foreign land they see.
They see the coast north of Puttalam, pristine beaches with no human settlements or they see that they have come to an impasse in a form of sand banks across the sea and have no alternative but to land. They land and they must have been dog- tired, like in many stories of ship wreck they go to sleep on the beach itself , carefree because they don’t see any settlements.
One man wakes up and although he had been told to not to go out without permission he ventures out, after seeing a dog and thinking sensibly that there can’t be dogs moving around , if there is no human settlement nearby.
Probably a group of people from a small tribe of who have been outcast from the main tribe are watching this strange group of people who are much fairer and more sophistically dressed than they are. Also with a strange hair style, because Sinhabahu had their heads half shaven, before putting them on board ship for deportation.   
700 young men is a large band of fighting men. It would have been  a 1/4th of a  brigade in present day terms. But they were tired and had no local knowledge. Despite all the magic spells and rhetoric included later in  Mahawamsa , I think they are taken, one by one without a fight. But luckily for the new arrivals the leader of the tribe is a young woman. And it was love at first sight, she falls in love with handsome Vijaya and the marriage is consumed in the same night under a tree, to seal the bond.
Before the nightfall young leader of the tribe, Kuweni shows Vijaya much wealth they have accumulated from ships. There was a thriving sea trade those days between India and Europe, many ships must have been plying closer to Mannar in and out of India. And rough seas in this hazardous stretch of passage would have led to many mishaps, including ship wrecks.  So this wealth is also transferred to coffers of the new nation.
She knew that a royal wedding is taking place in few days in a nearby city of her people, and she apparently has not been invited. She keeps her newfound army a secret and attacks the city at night when wedding party is at full swing, killing most of them. Prince Vijaya takes the dresses of ruler of the city and distribute other wealth. That shows that they are fairly decent guys whose dresses were good enough for the most developed societies at the time; as they say cloths make the man.
Now anybody would expect Vijaya and Kuweni to settle  in the city they conquered and rule the country that supported the city. It doesn’t happen that way, Vijaya and Kuweni return back to their original place of dwelling and live there.  
 Yakkas of Lankapura, the city from which the ill fated bridegroom came, doesn’t do anything after this disaster; in fact city is never mentioned in Mahawamsa after this episode.  Now after their two children grow up , when they are like ten years old , ministers want Vijaya , who has been de facto king anyway to crown himself king. Vijaya agrees but with one condition; that he should have a proper princes springing from a royal blood line.
Ministers, who send messengers to   their former kingdom when they want a prince to succeed Vijaya , send massive haul of wealth  to a king in Madurapura , a kingdom in south India; in fact closest south Indian kingdom to Srilanka  in india. Doesn’t it sound like a kings ransom?.

Vijaya meanwhile begs Kuweni to leave him leaving the children with him; he even promises him that he will pay 1000 golds to conduct a puja for the Kuweni, As if he knows that she is going to die in the hands of Yakkas , when he let her go.

to be continued ..........

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