The Ethnicity of Sinhalese People
The Ethnicity of Sinhalese People Belong to the East Indian States Kalinga and Banga of those times
King Nissank Malla of Sinhala in Dambulla cavern
Present Day Srilanka in the Annals of History
Scholars have already confirmed that the ‘Lanka’ described in the Ramayana is today’s Sinhala or Ceylon or Sri Lanka.
Ceylon ( present day Srilanka) was a British settlement from 1798 till 1948. At first the region it covered did exclude the Kingdom of Kandy, which was a protectorate, however from 1817 to 1948 the British rule incorporated the entire island of Ceylon (presently the country of Sri Lanka). However, when we search for the ethnicity of the first occupants of the island, we come to know from Srilankan government archival records that the Sinhalese people went to the island first around 2500 years back and set up the realm of Anuradhapura. The primary King of Sri Lanka was Vijaya. The Tamils came later because of different intrusions, attack endeavors, exchange or trading , as indentured labourers and so forth .
Sri Lankans of African origin also establish a little level of their populace . The minuscule ethnic group of Africans in Sri Lanka are descendants of African hired fighters, performers, and workers taken to Sri Lanka by Portuguese colonisers during the time of Portuguese colonial rule (Portuguese Empire was there in between 1597 and 1658) on the island.
When we focus on the population distribution of present day Srilanka , we find Sinhalese people makeup about 75% (> 16.5 million) of the total Srilankan population. Sinhalese is an Indo-Aryan language, which also stands as one of the two official language of Srilanka.
Daunting Historical Facts Regarding the Ethnicity of Sinhalese People.
Kalinga had close oceanic exchange relations with antiquated Sinhala since sixth Century BCE. Kalinga, the prosperous realm of East Coast of India was a very much functioning and vibrant center of exchange, trade and culture according to Ceylonese Chronicles ‘Mahavamsa’, ‘Dathavamsa’,’Chulavamsa’ and so on. The distinctive antiquated Ceylonese Chronicles notice of voyagers like Hiuen Tsang, Fa-Hien , the disclosure of coins of Ceylon from Kalinga and different engravings and craftsmanship examples of that period. The most established record of Sinhala language traces all the way back to sixth century B.C as engravings on ceramics . Kalingan maritime merchants were much ahead of their other contemporary explorers and merchants from the vast Indian mainland as far as trading with Ceylon was concerned.
It is believed that the major ethnicity of the people settled there and religions being followed by them, has been adopted from the Indian subcontinent. Sinhala’s two major ethnic groups were the ‘Sinhalese’ and the ‘Tamils’, and two dominant religions were ‘Buddhism’ and ‘Hinduism’ .
According to the Mahavamsha, prince Vijaya (son of king Sinhabahu of Sinhapura in ancient Kalinga, 543 -505 BC ), went to Ceylon and turned into the principal ruler of the island. It is recorded that Vijaya’s great grandmother Susima was a Kalingan princess and had married the ruler of Banga (Bengal).Sinhapura was a verifiable city of Kalinga from pre-Christian times till the time of Ganga kings.Some of the copper plate grants issued by Ganga kings have also been unearthed in support of this.
Consequently the recently vanquished island was called Sinhala or Sinhala Dwipa after the name of Sinhabahu and Sinhapura, the father of Vijaya and the capital of Vijaya’s father respectively. Perhaps this is how the lion emblem in the national flag of SriLanka owes it’s origin from SINHA PUR. It is because SINHA literally means lion in Odia.
It is believed that Sinhabahu of Sinhapura expelled his son Vijaya and his 700 allies for their offense, and ordered them to go on a voyage to look for their own rehabilitation. After a long sea journey, Vijaya with his sidekicks arrived close to the current site of Puttalam on the north-west bank of Sinhala and started colonizing the island after defeating the original inhabitants called Yakkhas. The location of Vijaya’s arrival in Ceylon can be found in the works of art of Ajanta cavern ( WHS of India, UNESCO)as demonstrated here in this image.
Mural Painting of Coronation of King Vijay ( Ajanta caves) in Sinhala
Mural of Ajanta caves, Image: Wikipedia
King Nissanka Malla of Sinhala (Ceylon) says in his inscription that he was the son of Sri Jaya Gopa of Kalinga Chakravarti tradition . Then the said Jaya Gopa of Kalinga Chakravarti dynasty was just the predecessor ruler of Sinhapur. It has been distinctly mentioned in the inscription( in the cave temple of Dambulla) by the King Nissank Malla that they are the descendants of the King Vijay from Kalinga. The relationship of Sinhala with Kalinga was so profound .
Matrimonial relationship between Sinhala and Kalinga Imperial Rulers
It has been proved from different Ceylonese chronicles that matrimonial relationship was existing in between Sinhal rulers and Kalingan rulers which was in turn leading to political developments. The Sinhalese ruler Mahendra IV Sri Sangabodhi, who controlled over Sinhala from c. 953 CE to c. 969 CE, had a Kalingan princess as his sovereign whose son ascended the throne later. The family members of this Kalingan princess remained in the helm of affairs of Sinhalese court administrative issues.
It is found from the annals of history that two illustrious kings were ruling in Sinhala and Kalinga during same time. One is King Vijaybahu I of Sinhala and another is King Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev of Kalinga. The Ceylonese narrative Chulavamsha states that ruler Vijayabahu I of Ceylon (c. 1054CE to c. 1109 CE) wedded Triloka Sundari, princess of the illustrious imperial group of Kalinga. Vijayabahu I’s marriage with a princess of Kalinga appears to have been directed by political contemplation . He was a contemporary of Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Ganga dynasty, whose period has been considered as the brilliant age throughout the entire existence of Kalinga. Trilokasundari was the mother of Vikramabahu( son of Vijaybahu I) who played a conspicuous, however troublesome part in the Sinhalese administration.
Rule of Keerti Nissank in Sinhala( An unadulterated Kalingan King)
Another significant ruler was Nissanka Malla who governed from c. 1187 CE to c. 1196 CE. The engravings of Polonnaruwa contain distinctive records of his accomplishments.Nissanka Malla, in his engraving, has styled himself as Keerti Nissank and was the main chronicled ruler of Sinhala having a place with an unadulterated Kalinga line . In several of his rock inscriptions ( e.g. at Dambulla cave temple and at Ruwanwelisaya…etc.), he has also described him as a descendant of Prince Vijaya and belongs to the royal family of Sinhapura of Kalinga.
His time has been alluded as Golden Era of Ceylon, with records of movement and numerous accomplishments in several fields like financial restoration, religion and culture. The RankotVihara at Polonnaruwa, the cavern temple of Dambulla, the Tooth Relic Temple at Kandy, the Nissankamalla Mandapaya, and surprisingly the Nissankeswara temple at Rameswaram (in India) were some of his noteworthy achievements . In any case, of the relative multitude of engineering landmarks credited to the rule of NissankaMalla, the most extraordinary was the assortment of temples and viharas in the alleged Great Quadrangle, which has been depicted as the most lovely and fulfilling proportioned structures in the whole Indian subcontinent. It was after the King Nissank Malla, there was a little political shakiness…and Pandya rulers were eyeing at the Sinhalese empire and slowly after the rule of another Kalingan King called Magha , the empire started declining.
Mahendra & Sanghamitra as Emissary
Keeping aside the political relation, there was also a substantial religious influence of Kalingan people over the Sinhalese during that time. As per the Sinhalese practice, Buddhism originally arrived at Sinhala by a mission conveyed under the Mahinda (Mahendra , believed to be the son of King Ashok) by Mauryan Emporer Ashoka during the reign of Sinhalese King Devanampiya Tissa.Within a brief time frame of Mahendra’s main goal, Buddhism arose as one of the set up religions of that land. The Emperor Ashoka had sent a sapling of the Bodhi Tree in the guardianship of his little girl Sanghamitra .
Transfer of sacred tooth relic from
Kalinga to Sinhala
The tooth relic of Buddha was brought to kalinga after his parinirbana by a Buddhist priest named Khemathera and was given to the Kalingan King Brahmadatta who constructed a stupa at Dantapura (identified to be current Palur in the Ganjam locale of Odisha) to save the relic. Hundreds of years later, Guhasiva, the then ruler of Kalinga confronted trouble in shielding the relic from being assaulted by the rulers of different other religions and prefer to send that proud possession to the Sinhalese king through the protected hands of his little girl Hemamala and son- in-law, Dantakumar ,who was the prince of Ujjain. At first , eight families from Kalinga were shipped off Sinhala to set up the Theravada school of Buddhism in the island. The Buddhist scripture Dathavamsha portrays exhaustively the occasion of the dispatch of the consecrated tooth relic of Buddha from Dantapura in Kalinga to Sinhala during the rule of SriLankan king Shri Meghavama (c. 304 CE to c. 352 CE). The sacred tooth relic was received with absolute honour by the Sinhalese king and from that point forward, it keeps on being considered as the most consecrated irreplaceable asset of Ceylon and is as yet adored at Kandy (pictures of the temple has been appended beneath) .
Sacred Tooth Relic Temple, Kandy
Notwithstanding, a fascinating angle can’t be disregarded… For example, the shifting of the tooth relic from Kalinga to Sinhala proves that Kalinga was then having a proficient and very much oversaw maritime force … Otherwise, the ruler Guhasiva couldn’t have trusted or thought to send the most valuable tooth-relic of master Buddha through an ocean course to Ceylon in the possession of his daughter and son- in-law and thereby putting their life at danger.
The relic, since antiquated occasions, is assuming a significant part in the nearby legislative issues since it is accepted that whoever holds the relic, holds the administration of the kingdom.
Oceanic Exchange Relationship
In Between Sinhala and Kalinga
The trade and exchange relations which was at its apex among Kalinga and Ceylon is especially evident from the way that couple of the Ceylonese Coins have been unearthed from Manikpatna, Odisha.
According to Garuda Purana and VarahaMihira, Sinhala was one of the significant exchange places of pearl-fishery in the Indian Ocean. Likewise, the disclosure of Sinhalese ruler ShahasaMalla’s copper coins from Manikpatna in Odisha , Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka and Kotchina in Indonesia gives the evidence of a rich oceanic exchange history between Kalinga, Sri Lanka and Sumatra (Indonesia)
Kalinga imported pearl, silver and copper from Sinhala and sent out valuable stones, ivory, pepper, betel-nuts, medications and fine textile weaving items to Sinhala. A 17th century CE poet of Odisha, Upendra Bhanja, known as kavi samrat (laureate known for poetic artistry) in his kavya “Lavanyabati” discusses the exchange among Kalinga and Sinhala in the accompanying words ” ବୋଇତ ଲାଗିଲା ଆସି ସିଂହଳ ଦ୍ବୀପରେ , ସାଧବ ଯୁବତୀମାନେ ଅତି ଉଲ୍ଲାସରେ ଗଲେ ବୋଇତ ବନ୍ଦାଇ ” ( after the boat arrived at the island of Sinhala, the merchant women, feeling good humored went to venerate the voyagers)
The canvases of Sigiriya and images of the Buddha at Anuradhapura in Sinhala bear close resemblance with the artworks of Sitabinji and pictures of the Buddha at Lalitagiri in Odisha . Another huge part of Kalinga’s contact with Sinhala is the impact of the language of Kalinga on that of Sinhala. Oldenberg in his analysis, expresses that Pali went to Sinhala from Kalinga. He made a comparative analysis of the Pali of Sinhala and the vernacular of Kharavela’s engravings (Hathigumpha Inscriptions) at Khandagiri and Udayagiri . Likewise, the Ashokan engravings in Eastern India, particularly that of Dhauli (close to Bhubaneswar), build up the reality of good social contacts among Kalinga and Sinhala.
The hereditary , Socio-Cultural and phonetic relations that the Sinhalese public offer with the Odias is particularly observable even today.
Just a thought:
# Is there any connectivity of Sinha pur with our Lord Narasimha, who is considered none other than Lord Vishnu (having a body of half-lion and half-man)?
# Is there any etymological connection with the city Singapore?
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Dr. Manoj Mishra