Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 712 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.

Even those of the original race who slowly conformed to the religion and habits of their masters, were never entirely emancipated from the ascendency of their ancient superstitions.  Traces of the worship of snakes and demons are to the present hour clearly perceptible amongst them; the Buddhists still resort to the incantations of the “devil dancers” in case of danger and emergency[1]; a Singhalese, rather than put a Cobra de Capello to death, encloses the reptile in a wicker cage, and sets it adrift on the nearest stream; and in the island of Nainativoe, to the south-west of Jaffa, there was till recently a little temple, dedicated to the goddess Naga Tambiran, in which consecrated serpents were tenderly reared by the Pandarams, and daily fed at the expense of the worshippers.[2]

[Footnote 1:  For an account of Demon worship as it still exists in Ceylon, see Sir J. EMERSON TENNANT’S History of Christianity in Ceylon, ch. v. p. 236.]

[Footnote 2:  CASIE CHITTY’S Gazetteer, &c., p. 169.]

CHAP.  VIII

EXTINCTION OF THE “GREAT DYNASTY.”

[Sidenote:  B.C. 104.]

From the death of Dutugaimunu to the exhaustion of the superior dynasty on the death of Malta-Sen, A.D. 301, there are few demonstrations of pious munificence to signalise the policy of the intervening sovereigns.  The king whom, next to Devenipiatissa and Dutugaimunu, the Buddhist historians rejoice to exalt as one of the champions of the faith, was Walagam-bahu I.[1], whose reign, though marked by vicissitudes, was productive of lasting benefit to the national faith.  Walagam-bahu ascended the throne B.C. 104., but was almost immediately forced to abdicate by an incursion of the Malabars; who, concerting a simultaneous landing at several parts of the island, combined their movements so successfully that they seized on Anarajapoora, and drove the king into concealment in the mountains near Adam’s Peak; and whilst one portion of the invaders returned laden with plunder to the Dekkan, their companions remained behind and held undisputed possession of the northern parts of Ceylon for nearly fifteen years.

[Footnote 1:  Called in the Mahawanso, “Wata-gamini".]

[Sidenote:  B.C. 104.]

In this and the frequent incursions which followed, the Malabar leaders were attracted by the wealth of the country to the north of the Mahawelli-ganga; the southern portion of the island being either too wild and unproductive to present a temptation to conquest, or too steep and inaccessible to afford facilities for invasion.  Besides, the highlanders who inhabit the lofty ranges that lie around Adam’s Peak; (a district known as Malaya, “the region of mountains and torrents,")[1] then and at all times exhibited their superiority over the lowlanders in vigour, courage, and endurance.  Hence the petty kingdoms of Maya and Rohuna afforded on every occasion

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