Tamil Pillar Inscription of Vijayabahu VI (Colombo National Museum)

Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VII, Colombo National Museum
Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VI is one of Tamil Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is presently exhibited at the outside passage that leads to the Stone Gallery of the National Museum of Colombo.

The inscription has been engraved on the capital of a stone pillar which could be a pillar that was used to support a hall of a temple probably belonging to the Kotte Period (Pathmanathan, 2005). The text of the inscription is engraved on eight lines within a rectangular frame that measures 1ft. 3 in. by 11 in. (Pathmanathan, 2005).

This pillar along with a large number of ruins was discovered in a culvert near the 6th-mile post on the Colombo-Kandy road (Pearson, 1930). A brief account regarding this discovery was published in the "Ceylon Daily News" dated 23 May 1930 (Pearson, 1930). J. Pearson who examined this site with Senarath Paranavitana (the then Epigraphical Assistant) wrote a short note about these findings to the "Journal of the Ceylon Branch of Royal Asiatic Society (Vol. XXXI)". In which he had published a note given to him by S. Paranavitana as follows;

"The culvert in question consists of three piers in the construction of which these ancient stones had been utilized. Some of the stones were embedded in the masonry and no accurate description of the antiquities is possible in their present condition. However, as far as could be observed, there were 32 pillars and 10 slabs besides various architectural fragments, such as mouldings, steps, etc. Of the pillars, 13 were plain square ones; eleven belonged to a type which is square at the base, octagonal in the middle and square again at the top, with no ornamentation. A third type, of which eight examples were found, was ornamented and was on the whole of a more elegant workmanship than the second type.

A Tamil inscription was found on one of the pillars. It consisted on nine lines, of which the last one was completely, and the 6th and 7th partly, worn. My reading of this inscription is as follows:- ..........>>

<<..........The Vijayabahu of this inscription may be identified, on palaeographical grounds, with the seventh of that name whose reign, according to Codrington, extended from 1509 to 1521. The regnal year as well as the day of the month are doubtful; the figures in both cases being not very distinctly visible. The name of the person who gave this pillar to the temple is not completely preserved; all that we can say is that it ended in "rayan". He was probably a South Indian. As this inscription proves, these pillars and probably the other stones, too, belonged to a temple dedicated to Kandasvamy, the most popular of the deities worshipped by the Tamils of Ceylon".
Citation: Pearson, 1930. pp.585-586.

The inscription
The inscription on the pillar consists of eight lines and has been written in the Tamil language with the Tamil scripts of about the late 15th or early 16th century A.D. (Pathmanathan, 2005).

Depending on the palaeography, this inscription has been assigned by S. Pathmanathan to the reign of King Vijayabahu VI (1513-1521 A.D.), the ruler of the Kingdom of Kotte (Pathmanathan, 2005). The inscription says that it was recorded in the fourth year of the king, suggesting the written year as 1517 A.D. According to S. Pathmanathan who edited this inscription for the second time (after Paranavitana), this record gives details about the construction of a temple of Kantacuwami (Kandaswami) by a person called Accutan [Kumaran] Nayan (Pathmanathan, 2005; Pearson, 1930).

Tamil Pillar Inscription of the reign of Vijayabahu VII
Tamil pillar inscription, reign of Vijayabahu VI

Reign: Vijayabahu VI (1513-1521 A.D.)
Period: Late 15th or early 16th centuries A.D.
Language: Tamil 
Script: Tamil
Transcript: Sri vicayavaku tevarku 3 itanukku etiravatu vaikaci 20.....>>
Translation: The 20th (day) of Vaikaci ( May- June), in the year opposite three of his Majesty Vicayavacu tevar......>>
Notes: The precise location of the Kantacuvami Kovil referred to in the inscription is unknown. It is assumed that this temple was located in the outskirts of Kotte.

Citation: Pathmanathan, 2005

1) Pathmanathan, S., 2005. Tamil inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 47. (2010). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka, pp. 75-78. 
2) Pearson, J., 1930. Antiquities discovered in a Culvert on the Kandy Road. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, Vol: XXXI. pp.585-587.

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This page was last updated on 7 November 2022

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