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Empires and Kingdoms (1000 CE 1505 CE)

Rajaraja Chola The Great

According to Michael Mitchiner, in "Oriental Coins", Rajaraja Chola invaded Lanka in 990 CE. The north of the island quickly accepted his sovereignty, but he did not conquer the whole island. He sacked Anuradhapura and made Polonnaruwa his local capital after renaming northern Lanka Mummudicholamandalam. Rajaraja associated his son Rajendra Chola in government during 1012, two years before his death in 1014.

Rajendra Chola assumed full kingship in 1014. In 1018, after only four years sole rule, he associated his son Rajadhiraja in sovereignty. Rajendra Chola completed the conquest of Lanka in 1018. The Sinhala king, Mahendra, was taken to Tanjore as a prisoner, and died there in 1027.

The Cholas controlled Lanka from 1018 to 1070. Sinhala rule was limited to the Ruhana area, where the descendants of Mahendra maintained some authority. Rajadhiraja Chola became sole ruler when his father died in 1044. He maintained Chola authority over most of Lanka, despite a series of revolts. He continued the struggle with the Chalukyas, defeating Somesvara Chalukya, but losing his own life in battle at Koppam in 1052. His younger brother Rajendra II inherited the throne and ruled until 1064. Virarajendra (1063-1070) succeeded his two brothers Rajadhiraja and Rajendra II, who had made him Yuvaraja in 1063. Virarajendra's son Adhirajendra was associated with his father from 1068, but died a few months after Virarajendra in 1070.

The Chola throne then passed to another branch of the family, Kulottunga Chola (1070-1120), a great-grandson of Rajaraja Chola. During this period of Chola decline, Lanka became independent under Vijayabahu (1055-1110), who had occupied Polonnaruwa in 1070 and crowned himself king in 1073. The subsequent peace established between Vijayabahu and Kulottunga in 1088 was cemented by a marriage.

The Ariya Chakravartis of Jaffnapatam

Under the Cholas, the Jaffna Kingdom continued with little change. The kinship between the Jaffna kings and the Cholas is related in the Yalpana Vaipava Malai in the form of a myth. The Princess Maruthappiravikavalli, daughter of Thisaiyukkira Chola, was cursed with the face of a horse. At the instruction of sage, she came to bathe in where the Kirimalai stream met the sea at Mavidapuram to cure herself. She was miraculously cured of her disfigurement, and became beautiful. King Ugirasinghan, the ruler of Jaffna, came to Mavidapuram and saw her. Falling in love, they marry, against the wishes of her father, the Chola king, who is later reconciled to the match.

The line of Ugirasinghan had links back to Vipeeshnan, the brother of Ravanan. When this line died out in Lanka, Selvarayan Malavan of Ponipatiyar, an official in the court of Ugirasinghan's descendants, went to India to the court of the Kings of Ramnad, where he found Prince Seliasekaran Vijeyabahu to take the throne. Malavan's motives in going to Ramnad are not recorded, but there must have been logic to his choice. Firstly, Ugirasinghan's line and the Chola line were linked. Further, the Princes of Ramnad were connected to the history of the Ramayana. Vipeeshnan was supposed to have surrendered to Rama on the spot where the Kothandaraswamy Temple now stands, about 12 km southeast of Rameswaram. The implication of Vipeeshnan having surrendered north of Danushkody in present-day Tamil Nadu is that this area, Lanka and Ramnad itself were part of the kingdom of Ravana, that is, Ramnad and the bridge to Lanka (known as the Sethu) were part of the ancient Jaffna kingdom. According to legend, the Lords of Ramnad were given their authority by Rama himself, who according to the astrological book Segarasasekeramalai, placed Brahmins belonging to the line of Kasiyappa on the throne of Ramnad. The Brahmins were said to be the descendants of five hundred and twelve generations of "Panchagrama Vethiayar" of Ramesvaram temple. The number 512 (two to the ninth power) may be symbolic, and might not intended to be taken literally. Vijeyabahu was also known as Kalinga Magan (or Magha), which means 'Son of Kalinga'. This title suggests that his family came from Kalinga, which is now part of the Indian Orissa State. He is also known as Kulangkayar, or 'the burned handed', though the story behind his injury is not recorded.

Under the name Ariya Chakravarti, Vijeyabahu is recorded to have been a general or minister in the government of the Pandyan Kings. This is wholly consistent with the role of a vassal kinglet, and it is quite possible that Vijeyabaju undertook the conquest of Lanka with Pandyan support and backing - whether in exchange for guarantees of feudal fealty or for plunder.

Whatever Vijeyabahu's motivation for leaving Ramnad, in 1215 CE, he took the throne of Jaffna as Segarajasekeran Singhai Ariyar Chakravarti, a title associated with his descendants for the next four hundred years. By the end of his rule, he had subjugated most of Lanka. The Batticaloa chronicle states that Segarajasekeran captured Polonnaruwa. The Chulavamsa and other chronicles say that Segarajasekeran stationed troops at Trincomalee, Koddiyara, Kantalai, Padavia, Kaddukkulam, Kayts, Pulachery and ruled Rajarata from his capital Polonnaruwa. Segarajasekeran died in 1240.

Segarajasekeran was succeeded by his son Kulasegaran, who took the throne name of Pararajasekeran. Either Vijeyabahu, or his son Kulasegaran is the father of Chandra Banu, the future King of Kotte. Kulasegaran died in 1256.

Kulothungan succeeded his father and reigned until 1279 under the throne name Segarajasekeran II.

Vikrama, son of Kulothungan, reigned from 1279 to 1302. He was known under the throne name of Pararajasekeran II.

Varothayan succeeded his father and reigned from 1302 to 1325. He took the throne name of Segarajasekeran III.

Varothayan's son Marthanda Perumal became the ruler of Eelam as Pararajasekeran III. He reigned from 1325 to 1348.

Kunapooshanan succeeded his father and reigned as Segarajasekeran IV from 1348 to 1371.

In 1371, Virothayan followed his father and reigned until 1380 as Pararajasekeran IV.

From 1380 to 1410, Jeyaveeran, son of Virothayan, reigned as Segarajasekeran V.

Virothayan's son Kunaveeran (or Gunaveeran) took the throne as Pararajasekeran V from 1410 to 1446.

Kanagasooriyan, Kunaveeran's son, had his reign interrupted. From 1446 to 1450, he reigned as Segarajasekeran VI, before being ousted by Chempaka Perumal, son of Parakrama Bahu VI of Kotte. For 17 years, Chempaka Perumal ruled Jaffna as a feudatory his father, the King of Kotte, Later, Chempaka Perumal became King of Kotte under the name of King Bhuvanekababu VI. Kanagasooriyan retreated to Ramnad, and came back with an army and re-captured the Kingdom and again ruled from 1467 to 1478.

Kanagasooriyan's son is only known by his throne name. Pararajasekeran VI was ruler of Jaffna from 1478 to 1519.

At this point, the Jaffna kingdom's history is difficult to follow. The Portuguese arrived in Lanka in 1505, and very quickly started to involve themselves in the politics of the Lanka kingdoms. Most probably, Pararajasekeran VI had two principle wives and a number of concubines. His first wife, Rajalaksmi, was a Chola princess. The Cholas had, by this time, lost control of their kingdom in Tamil Nadu, with Rajendra Chola IV being king in the Tanjore area around 1279. There are no records of subsequent Chola kings exerting power beyond this date, so Rajalaksmi was either a descendant of the surviving titular head of the Cholas or the daughter of a descendant based in Lanka. Rajalaksmi had two sons, Singhabahu and Pandaram. Pararajasekeran VI's second wife Valliammal was a Pandyan princess. She bore Pararajasekeran VI a son named Paranirupasingham. One of Pararajasekeran VI's concubines, named Mangalath also bore him two children, a boy named Sangili and a girl named Paravai. The Yalpana Vaipava Malai is most probably incorrect in its account of this time. What is more likely, though not confirmed, is that Sangili intrigued with the Portuguese and eliminated his half-brothers Singhabahu and Pandaram, allegedly killing one by poison and one by the sword. The Yalpana Vaipava Malai is silent as to who Sangili did not feel the need to kill his other half-brother Paranirupasingham. A clue can be found in the Catholic Church's records of the time, as recounted in the Vinea Taprobana. It is possible that Portuguese missionary activity had become so successful that it reached the Royal household. If Paranirupasingham had become a convert, then he would have been disqualified from the throne because of his lack of popular support. This explains another story from this time. Sangili took the throne of Jaffna in 1519 CE as Segarajasekeran VII. His own son converted to Christianity, and was executed by his father. Sangili's second son Puvirasa Pandaram, along with Sangili's sister Paravai and her son, fled to Goa and claimed protection from the Portuguese. In 1561 CE, when Sangili died, Puviraja Pandaram claimed the throne as Pararajasekaren VII.

Within four years, Puviraja Pandaram was fleeing Jaffna, with his throne usurped by Kunchi Nainar (also recorded as Kurunchi Nainar and Kasi Nainar), who also ruled under the name Pararajasekeran VII from 1565 CE to 1570 CE. Kunchi Nainar was an unpopular king, and unable to maintain Portuguese support for his usurpation. In 1570, Periyarpillai, who assumed the name Segarajasekeran VII, replaced him. We do not know who these two kings parents were. Clearly, they were of suitable caste to assume the throne, so we can assume they were related to the Ariya Chakravarti line, though they were not recorded as such by any surviving records. Periyapillai ruled until 1582, when he was overthrown by Puviraja Pandaram, who successfully regained his kingdom. Periyapillai was killed but his three sons, Arasakesari, and the twins Ethirmanasingham and Sangili spared. Over the next nine years Puviraja Pandaram prosecuted a war against the Portuguese, but without success. On 28 October 1591, he was captured and beheaded by the Portuguese. The throne was now given to Ethirmanasingham, the elder of the two twins, with Portuguese support. History does not record the reason for Arasakesari's exclusion, but perhaps, like Paranirupasingham, he was a Christian, and therefore unacceptable to the populace.

Ethirmanasingham assumed the throne name of Pararajasekaran and reigned from 1591 to 1615. In his time, the Portuguese were able to exert substantial control over the Jaffna Kingdom. On Ethirmanasingham's death, the kingdom passed to his son, known as Leuke or Loku. This son was only seven years old at the time of his father's death, and Arasakesari was appointed regent. Sangili, killed Arasakesari and took over the throne of Jaffna, ruling until 1619, when the Portuguese captured him. Sangili was taken to Goa with his sons, and after trial, found to be guilty of treason and hanged along with his sons in 1621.

Ethirmanasingham, his mother, sisters and other members of the royal family were converted to Catholicism. Ethirmanasingham lived out the rest of his life as a Roman Priest in Goa, known as Don Constantine de Christo. His sisters were nuns. On 11 February 1621, they were made to sign an act, transferring sovereignty from the Ariya Chakravarti dynasty to the kings of Portugal. As members of the Roman Catholic priesthood, these members of the royal family were forbidden to marry, and died without descendants.

 
 
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