Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located in the Indian Ocean, known for its rich history and vibrant culture. While many people come to Sri Lanka to enjoy its stunning beaches and lush forests, some arrive here to explore the country’s rich history of political and social movements. And yes, there are many interesting stories that make this country’s history worth exploring. One such incident that stands out is the Vijaya Ba Kollaya incident, which occurred in 1521 during the time of the era of the Kotte Kingdom. Of course, this incident had a significant impact on the country. Hence, it is indeed worth knowing about. So, why not? Let us get to know about ‘Vijaya Ba Kollaya’ in detail!
The Kotte Kingdom
One of the most captivating periods of Sri Lankan history was the reign of the Kotte kingdom. It had a powerful dynasty that ruled from the 14th to the 16th century.
Located in the western part of Sri Lanka, the Kotte Kingdom commenced in the 14th century by a warrior King named Parakramabahu VI. This kingdom was famous for its impressive military might, strategic location, and well-developed trade routes. Over the years, the kingdom grew in power and prosperity and soon became a center of learning, culture, and art.
One of the most notable landmarks of the Kotte Kingdom is the Royal Palace. King Parakramabahu VI built it. This palace was a marvel of architecture, with intricate carvings, stunning paintings, and sprawling gardens. This palace was also the center of the kingdom’s power. In fact, it served as the residence of the king and his courtiers.
Another fascinating aspect of the Kotte Kingdom was its vibrant culture and art scene. In fact, this kingdom was famous for its traditional dances, music, and theater performances. The Kotte kingdom was also home to some of the most famous literary figures in Sri Lanka, who produced some of the greatest works in Sinhalese literature.
Further, the Kotte kingdom also had a well-developed trade network, with traders coming from all over the world to buy and sell goods. In fact, this kingdom was well-known for its high-quality spices, gems, and textiles, which were the interests of Europe and the Middle East.
However, the connection of this incident with the Kingdom of Kotte is that this incident of Vijaya Ba Kollaya happened during this era. So, now, having knowledge about the Kotte Kingdom, and its significance, let us get to know what exactly happened in Vijaya Ba Kollaya.
What happened in Vijaya Ba Kollaya?
The three sons of King Vijayabahu VI rebelled against their father, killed him, and then divided the Kingdom among themselves. They were Bhuvanekabahu (later Bhuvanekabãhu VII of Kotte), Pararajasingha (later Raigam Bandara), and Mayadunne (later Mayadunne of Sitawaka).
The king’s second wife, Queen Kiravella, had a son named Deva Rajasinghe from a previous marriage. When the princes learned that the king intended to make Deva Rajasinghe the heir to the throne at the request of his second wife, they became hostile to the king and hired a foreigner to assassinate him in the palace.
The Political Background of the Country at the Time of the Vijaya Ba Kollaya
Before ascending the throne, Prince Vijayabahu lived with his brother, Chakrayudabahu, and his wife, Kirawelle Mahabiso Bandara, as a consort. During their stay at Menikkadawara, Kirawelle gave birth to four princes: Maha Rayigam Bandara, who died young, Bhuvanekabahu, Para Rajasinghe, and Mayadunne Raja. When Chakrayudabahu and his wife died, Vijayabahu took on the responsibility of raising the three princes.
After Vijayabahu became King Vijayabahu VII, he married another princess from Kirawelle. He had an adopted son named Deva Rajasinghe. Later, King Vijayabahu VII conspired with two of his courtiers, Kandure Bandara and Ekanayake Mudali, to make Deva Rajasinghe his heir. However, the three princes discovered the plot and fled the capital with the help of the priests, hiding in Borales Migomuwa.
Prince Mayadunne sought help from King Jayavira in the Kingdom of Kandy, while the two elder princes stayed with the Patabenda of Yapa Patuna. With King Jayavira’s assistance, Mayadunne secured the army of Four Korale and marched towards Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte. He ravaged Pitigal Korale and joined forces with his brothers to prepare for war.
Meanwhile, a part of King Vijayabahu VII’s army was in favor of the princes and refused to fight against them. As a result, the opponents forced the King to sue for peace. The princes demanded that the two ministers involved in the plot be handed over for punishment. Kandure Bandara was flogged to death. However, Ekanayake Mudali sought refuge with the priests.
The army of the three princes, along with their supporters, entered the capital, leaving their army outside. However, they were unaware that King Vijayabahu had a detachment of sixty soldiers hiding near the palace gates. The soldiers were waiting to assassinate the princes and prevent them from entering the palace.
Upon entering the palace, the princes encountered Deva Rajasinghe, the young prince, who informed them of the soldiers’ presence. The princes quickly left the palace and returned to their army, where they informed them of the king’s treachery. The army decided to take revenge, and both armies, along with a large mob, broke into the palace.
The army looted the palace, including the treasury and harem. They took all the valuables, such as gems, gold, silver, silk, and pearls, and threw Vijayabahu’s personal belongings. However, there were orders to keep the citizens away from these lootings.
Vijayabahu managed to escape to an upper room with two concubines. Later that night, the decision came to assassinate the king, but no Sinhalese would carry out the act. Therefore, a foreigner named Salman was hired to kill Vijayabahu inside his room.
The Vijaya Ba Kollaya incident had a significant impact on Sri Lanka. The council of ministers met the next day and selected Prince Buwanekabahu, the eldest prince, to become the new king. However, King Vijayabahu’s sisters’ son, Pilesse Widiye Bandara, also known as Vira Surya, challenged the succession with the help of Mannamperiya, the late king’s equerry.
They left Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte with many followers and raised a rebellion in Hapitigama Korale, arriving at Ambana and Pasonnuwara. Prince Mayadunne arrived with his army and subdued the rebellion by killing the ringleaders. The people of Hapitigama Korale were severely punished, and several high-caste nobles were handed over to Pannayo, who belonged to one of the lowest castes, and whose job was to cut grass for the elephants.
After quelling the rebellion, King Buvanekabahu VII became the king. A formal ceremony took place for this. At the advice of chief minister Illangakon, the kingdom was divided into three parts.
The youngest prince, Mayadunne, was granted Seethawaka, Denawaka, and Four Korales as the Kingdom of Sitawaka, while Prince Rayigam Bandara was granted Raigama, Walallawiti, and Pasyodun Korale (excluding the seaports) as the Principality of Raigama. They were granted these territories as fiefs through Royal sannas and were given the titles of Kings, while Bhuvanekabahu ruled the remaining territory as Emperor.
In a political context, Sri Lanka has gone through a lot. That is because of the rich history it possesses. Having gone through all that, Sri Lanka has become what it is and become a perfect tourist destination for any kind of traveler with any kind of interest. So, while you travel in this beautiful country, don’t forget to explore a bit of its wonderful history as well. Happy and safe traveling!