This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
|By Halaliye Karunathilake Edited and translated by Kamala Silva Illustrated by Saman Kalubowila|
1. Ibn Batuta had to land in the northern coast of Sri Lanka in 1344 AD, when he was caught in a storm. It is believed that it was to the Jaffna ford that he came. Whatever that may be, the ruler there was Aryachakravarti. According to the travel records of Ibn Batuta, Aryachakravarti was treated as the Sultan of Lanka. This Sultan had given a warm welcome to the traveller, Ibn Batuta.
2. He had even made all arrangements for the traveller to visit 'Sri Pada' (Adam's Peak). These records mention that Arychakravarti got involved in the pearl business too. He had been an independent ruler.
There is mention of a place named 'Konakar,' where a ruler named Alkonar was ruling. Ibn Batuta had visited this place on his trip to Adam's Peak. This Alkonar would have been Alagakkonara.
3. Many believe that 'Konar' was Kurunegala. Others say it cannot be and according to them, 'Konar' is either Ratnapura itself or a place close to it.
According to Ibn Batuta, Alagakkonara's area of rule is named a kingdom. He says that Alagakkonara had a white elephant and that would have been the regal symbol of his kingdom.
4. However, going by these reports, it is clear that Alagakkonara was not a ruler under either the Gampola or the Dadigama kings. During the period that Ibn Batuta was in this island, he would have been chased out of power. In later years, this ruler had been blinded by his area followers. Later on, his son had been made the ruler, according to the records of Ibn Batuta.
5. Alagakkonara had a Malayali connection. Therefore it can be, that the Sinhala officers secretly opposed him and conspired against him. They would have wished to put an end to him and make a Sinhala prince the ruler.
Hence this plan to make Alagakkonara's sister's son the king. The sister was Padmavathie. The prince's father had been an Attanayake. Some scholars point out that this one may be the prince whom Ibn Batuta says was Alagakkonara's son.
6. One aim of this revolt however, was to avoid the rightful heir becoming king of Raigama and make the king of Gampola more powerful.
The people of Gampola too would have supported this move. Venerable Vilgammula Sangharaja Thera, who received support and maintained friendly relations with Alagakkonara came to Dadigama and took ups residence there.
7. When he came to Dadigama, the king there was Parakramabahu V and it was about 1344 AD. A nephew and a student of Vilgammula there, who was a monk has written a book of Pali verses, praising King ParakramabahuV.
The king of Gampola at this time was Buwanekabahu IV and his Prime Minister was Senadhilankara. This prime minister was a devout Buddhist.
8. He was instrumental in getting the king to bring about a reformation of the 'Sasana.'
It was he, who got the Lankatillake and the Gadalani temples in Gampola built. It is said that he got temples built even in Dondra and Weligama, which belonged to the Kingdom of Raigama. A poet who lived during this time, has written in praise of this prime minister, Senadhilankara.
------------- The Sunday Times