The Arrival of Vijaya, the First King of Sri Lanka

Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, and full of different landscapes around the island, Sri Lanka is the ideal place to hunt its mysteries. In fact, Sri Lanka is a county, bearing a history of more than 2500 years, and this history consists of many interesting legends and myths. The story of King Vijaya and his arrival and establishment in Sri Lanka is such an interesting and fantastic story passed down through generations. So, why not? Let’s have a look at this fascinating story!

Early Life of Prince Vijaya

According to Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya was the son of King Sinhabahu and Sinhaseevali. King Sinhabahu is well-known to be the son of royal princess Suppadevi of Vanga Desa and a lion called ‘Sinha’. There are beliefs that although he is a lion, he was a man bearing the features of a lion. Princess Suppadevi was traveling to Magadha. Meanwhile, a lion attacked her, captured her, and bore her off to his cave. According to the myths and legends, later this couple had two children named Sinhabahu and Sinhaseevali. The Lion father kept their children in a cave in Lala and blocked the entrance of the cave with a rock.

However, after Sinhabahu grew up and became strong, he moved the rock away and escaped with his mother and sister. Then the lion’s father roamed around the land searching for his family. Unfortunately, his own son killed him.

Then, after the death of the King of Vanga Desa, Sinhabahu took over the kingdom. He accepted it and turned it over to his mother’s husband and traveled back to Lala. He built a city called Sinhapura there and married his sister. They have had sixteen pairs of twins. The first pair was Vijaya and Sumitta.

The Arrival of Prince Vijaya in Sri Lanka

When Vijaya became a young prince, he turned out to be a hellion. Thus, the king banished Vijaya and his followers to bring peace to his kingdom. Accordingly, Prince Vijaya and his fellow men sailed and arrived at Supparaka, north of Mumbai.  Still, they continued their usual behavior. Hence, they were banished again from Supparaka as well.

Then, the ship landed on a beach in the northwest of Sri Lanka. The area where Vijaya and his crew landed, was popular as Thambapanni. However, there was a reason to call that area ‘Thambapanni’ as well. When Vijaya knelt on the shore, he found the sand had the color of copper. ‘Thamba’ in Sinhalese means the copper color, and ‘Panni’ in Tamil means land. Accordingly, that area got the name ‘Thambapanni’.

During these days, three types of tribes lived in Sri Lanka. They were Yaksha, Naga, and Dewa, which meant Devil, Snake, and God respectively. It is a popular fact that these tribes have magical powers. Besides, these tribes of people have different professions. According to the beliefs, Yaksha people molded iron, the Raksha people farmed, and the Naga people took part in trading. Moreover, the Deva people were the rulers and they were the most respected.

The Love Story of Vijaya and Kuveni

After Vijaya and his friends arrived at Thambapanni, some of them went in search of locals in the country. But none of them came back. So, Vijaya had to go in search of them. Then, he noticed that all of them were missing. Then he came to know that it was Kuveni, a “Yakkha” princess who had captured Vijaya’s men for her supper. Prince Vijaya threatened to kill her unless she released his men. Accordingly, the men were set free. Ultimately this interesting story continued making Kuveni and Vijaya fall in love. Finally, Kuveni betrayed her own kind and helped Vijaya destroy their city of Sirisavatthu. 

Vijaya Becomes the King of Sri Lanka

After all these events, Vijaya settled down at Tambapanni while his men established settlements in other cities. Anuradhagama, Ujjenigama, Upatissagama, Uruvelagama, and Vijithapura were some such cities. These men identified themselves as the Sinhala people. Up-to-date the people of Sri Lanka are well-known as Sinhalese. Eventually, these scattered settlements needed a king. Accordingly, Prince Vijaya got the Kingship. Thus, he became the first king of Sri Lanka’s recorded history.

The Romance that Turned into Tragedy 

With time Vijaya and Kuveni had a son and a daughter of their own. Yet, unfortunately, it was declared that to be the King, he had to be married to a bride of royal lineage. Then Vijaya’s family searched for a royal princess and Kuveni had to leave.                                                                                        

The history says that Vijaya offered her money in return for keeping the children. Yet, Kuweni left him, taking her children with her. However, later her own kind killed her, while she was in another Yakkga city – Lankapura. It is believed that the Veddah tribe who are known to be the indigenous people of the country are descendants of Vijaya’s son Jeewahaththa and daughter Disala. 

Then Vijaya became King, with a royal princess as Queen but did not have any children. So he had to die without an heir. The country was left without a king for a year. Then Vijaya’s nephew, Panduvasudeva, the son of Vijaya’s twin brother Sumitta, arrived to take on the crown. 

The Bottom Line

This is the story of Prince Vijaya who came to Sri Lanka all the way from India and ultimately became the king of the country. Although there are many sources that include the story of Vijaya and Kuveni from different perspectives, still it is undeniable that all these stories consist of some myths. However, the Vijaya Kuveni story is a very important part of the history of Sri Lanka, because it is believed to be the root of the Sinhalese nation.