Less known myths of Kotte Kingdom | Sunday Observer

Less known myths of Kotte Kingdom

7 March, 2021

Sri Lanka better known as the “Pearl of the Indian ocean”, being comparable to the incomparable, rays to the Sun , beams to the moon and fragrance to the lotus, has allured the world with its natural beauty.

Not only its unrivalled beauty but also its golden history have enchanted everyone’s eyes and hearts. When speaking of the history of Sri Lanka, it can be noted that in the 3rd century BC, the Sinhalese kingdom was established in Anuradhapura and later during the 11th century A.D, it was established in Polonnaruwa due to the invasions of foreigners. As the time passed, the Sinhalese kingdom is proven to have moved to the south-west part of the country beginning from Dambadeniya to Gampola.

The kingdom of Kotte founded as a fortress to avoid the advances of south India by a minister named Alakesvara during the reign of Vikramabahu III, had flourished during the 15th century. History revealed that gigantic and strong swamps and ditches had been built to protect the kingdom of Kotte.

Parakramabahu VI

Parakramabahu VI said to have been the king of Raigama in 1412, made Kotte his capital in 1415. The king, being a warrior, had brought the divided country under one flag. After his demise, Parakramabahu IX of Kotte moved the capital to Kelaniya in 1509.

We, though familiar with this local parlance, like the Portuguese went to Kotte, are not aware of the one who went to Kotte. It was none other than “Fernado Cutrim” who was made to go to the Kingdom of Kotte via a long and tortuous route. It is believed that the ancient Sinhalese had deceived the Portuguese team to avoid their invasion. But sadly, the Sinhalese failed to keep on cheating them because those in the ships had fired the canons so that the deserted Portuguese team could find the correct route.

Vijayaba Kollaya

Back in 1521, Vijayabahu VII’s three sons, after slaying their father, took the control of the kingdom and divided it into three kingdoms, such as Kotte, Sitawaka and the Principality of Raigama. Kotte was ruled by Bhuvanekabahu VII, Sitawaka was ruled by Mayadunne and the Principality of Raigama was ruled by Pararajasingha. As noted by the historians, the most powerful kingdom was none other than Sitawaka ruled by Mayadunne. The king of Kotte by the name of Buvenekabahu VII received aid from the Portuguese to defeat Mayadunne. However, in 1597, Dharmapala handed over the Kotte Kingdom to the throne of the Portuguese, marking the end of the glorious kingdom.

The golden era of Sinhala literature

It was during the kingdom of Kotte Sinhala literature had flourished and prospered. The giant pillars that had brightened and elevated Sinhala literature to the peak are Ven. Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera, Ven. Wattawe Thera and Ven. Weedagama Maithree Thera. The poems penned by these scholarly bikkhus in praise of the glory and beauty of the country had added aesthetic values to the country’s history.

The first “Sandesha kavya” (the errand poem) is the “Monara Sandeshaya” (the Peacock’s errand ). The other “Sandesha kavya” written in this era, are: Kokila Sandesha, Paravi Sandesha, Gira Sandesha, Salalihini Sandesha, Hansa Sandesha and Nilakobo Sandesha.

Sri Rahula Thera

History revealed that Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera whose layname was Jayaba, was conceived in the womb of Seelawathie at Dematana in the Kegalle District in 1408. He was an infant when his mother breathed her last. Father’s name was Wickramabahu. Jayaba, having received his education from his grandfather Uthurumula Rahula Thera and his uncle Wilgammula Thera, was ordained under the name of Vachissara Rahula Thera according to the traditional Buddhist rituals.

Saraswathi oil

Sri Rahula Thera, being a mischievous novice bikkhu, is believed to have drained a bottle of medicinal oil called “Saraswathi oil” in one breath which had been hidden by Weedagama Maithree Thera knowing about Rahula’s mischievousness. Even though Rahula Thera drank the whole bottle of oil, the prescribed amount was only a drop. It is said that novice bikkhu Sri Rahula, after having over drunk the oil, fainted and fell. The parrot that had witnessed the incident had flown through the window and informed Ven. Weedagama Maithree Thera of what happened in the temple.

Ven. Weedagama Maithree Thera is believed to have brought the novice monk back to consciousness with the help of Ayurvedic Medicines. According to the folk-tales and beliefs, “Saraswathi oil” had empowered Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula’s long-term memory.

Siddaloka Rasaya

It is said that the “Sidualurasaya” or known as “Siddaloka Rasaya” was an Ayurvedic medicine made by Ven. Sri Rahula Thera. Ven. Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera had consumed this medicine when he had stayed in the Induruguri cave. It is surmised that the body of Ven. Sri Rahula Thera would remain intact without decomposing until 4230 AD due to the effect of the “Siddaloka Rasaya”.

All we cherish have to perish -:

In Buddhism, the truth instilled into our minds, blood streams and hearts is the Impermanence. Even Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera is not an exception.

Having rendered a great service to illuminate the lamp of Sinhala literature, Ven. Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera passed away in the Indurugiri cave at Ambana, Galle in 1491. Myths and legends revolve around the demise of Sri Rahula Thera. History reveals that the remains of Sri Rahula Thera were taken to Goa by ship under the guidance of St. Francis Zavier.

Glory of Kotte

In the historical sites of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, there can be observed the ruins of the giant Buddhist statues in which the deepest tranquility depicts through their ruggedness and the gigantic temples supported by the tall stone columns and the edifices adorned with the delicately chiselled carvings and flower motifs that enable anyone to visualise the glory and magnificence of our history. But unfortunately in the kingdom of Kotte, there cannot be seen such ruins that bear testimony to a golden history.

It is still controversial as to why there cannot be found the remains of the ancient temples and the castles in Kotte except for the ruins of Alakesvara’s palace, the ruins of Beddagana Veherakanda and Kotte Raja Mahaviharaya.

However, it is certain that the hidden and buried glory of Kotte Kingdom which can eclipse even the rays of the Sun will emerge to fulfill the prevailing void. On that day Sri Lanka will become the diadem of Asia as if through a miracle.