Velaikkara Slab Inscription (Polonnaruwa)

Velaikkara Slab Inscription, Polonnaruwa
The Velaikkara Slab Inscription (Sinhala: වේලක්කාර සෙල්ලිපිය, පොළොන්නරුව; Tamil: பொலநறுவை வேளைக்காரர் கல்வெட்டு) is one of the Tamil Inscriptions in Sri Lanka. It is located just next to the Atadage building in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

The slab is approximately 9 ft 6 in tall and 2 ft 9 in wide (Wickremasinghe, 1928). Totally forty-nine lines of writing incised between ruled lines are found on the slab. Below the writing is a pair of carved vases.

Reign  : After the death of Vijayabahu I
Period : 12th century A.D.
Script  : Grantha, Tamil, Sinhala
Language : Tamil mixed with Sanskrit

This inscription has been engraved in Tamil because it is an agreement entered into with the Tamil speaking Velaikkara community (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

In the 30th year of  King Vijayabahu's reign (1055-1110 A.D.), a quarrel erupted between the Colas and Vijayabahu.

Velaikkara Revolt
The king ordered Velaikkaras to fight against the Colas but instead that Velakkars mutinied against Vijayabahu and captured the city of Pulatthi (Polonnaruwa). They also took the king's sister captive with her three sons and burnt the king's palace (Wickremasinghe, 1928). However, the mutiny was immediately overcome by the king's forces (Wickremasinghe, 1928; Wijesekara, 1990).

It is believed that Velaikkaras provided the protection for the Temple of Tooth during the early period of Vijayabahu's reign. Several buildings around the Temple of Tooth are said to be constructed by them. After the mutiny, Velaikkars may have been removed from the security of the Temple of Tooth. However, after the death of Vijayabahu, there were several internal conflicts in the kingdom and it is very likely that the Buddhist monk named Mugalan Thera decided during that problematic period to reinstate the Velaikkara forces for the protection of the Tooth and Bowl Relics of the Buddha. This inscription has been established to assure that Velaikkaras will protect the sacred relics and its properties no matter what happened.

The inscription, according to Wickremasinghe, can be divided into two parts (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The first part which is regarded as the introduction, reveals the following information (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

Obeisance to the Buddha! In the prosperous island of Lanka, King Sirisangabo Vijayabahu, the scion of the lineage of the Iksvaku family of the Solar race, overcame many enemies, entered Anuradhapura, and at the request of the Buddhist monks he put on the crown to protect the Buddhist religion. So, he invited Buddhist monks from Aramana country (present Myanmar) and purified the three Nikayas of the Buddhist church [This fact is confirmed by the account given in the chronicle Culavamsa (Ray, 1960)]. The king who reigned over the whole of the country for 55 years and lived for 73 years, made donations (Tula-bhara gifts) to the three Nikayas three times equivalent to his own weight. On the instruction of the king, a commander named Nuvarakal Deva-Senevirattar (Pali: Nagaragiri Deva-Senapati) built the Temple of Tooth Relic in Vijayarajapuram or Pulanari (Sinhala: Polonnaruwa) to permanently deposit the Tooth and the Bowl-relics of the Buddha which were at the Uttaramula of Abhayagiri Vihara. The Temple of Tooth Relic where the first anointment ceremony (of Vijayabahu) was held (according to the chronicle Culavamsa, this ceremony was held at Polonnaruwa in the 18th regnal year of the king), was also the house for the colossal stone statue of Buddha in which is held annually the ceremony of unloosing the sacred eyes (of the Buddha statue) and applying collyrium to them.

The second part which has no date contains the following information (Wickremasinghe, 1928).

Rajaguru Mugalan Thera of Uttaramulla who is virtuous and learned, associating himself with ministers of the State came to the spot, called us, and said: "The Temple of Tooth Relic should be under your custody". (The custody of the Temple of Tooth Relic, according to this inscription, was entrusted to the Velaikkara community by Rajaguru Mugalan Thera during the disturbed state of the country.)

After that, we (the Velaikkaras) had a meeting with our elders, undertook the control of the shrine, named it "Munru-kai-t-tiru Velaikkaran Daladay-p-perum-palli [The great temple of the Tooth Relic, belonging to the Velaikkara (army) of three divisions]" and made the declaration that it will remain as our charitable institution under our own custody. For the protection of the shrine, one servitor from each of the (three) division was appointed and for the maintenance of each person, one veli of land was allocated. We will protect the villages, the retainers, and the property belonging to the shrine as well as those who enter for refuge, even it is detrimental to us. We shall endeavor as long as our lineage exists and even if we suffer deeper than we have suffered already.

To ensure our fulfillment of these things, we have set (our) hand attestations and have delivered it over (to Mugalan Thera), having had it wrote both on copper and stone so that it may last as long as the sun and the moon endure. Accordingly, anyone who breaches this contract or consent to breach or tell others to breach becomes an enemy of the (Velaikkara) army, who has committed an offense against the Matantra, committed five great sins, a great sinner who appropriated what had been offered to gods, committed an offense against the (three) gems (namely) the Buddha, his doctrine and his Order, who will enter the hell.

(Note: Some parts of this section have been directly extracted from the details given in the information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.)

1) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.434.
2) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.242-255.
3) Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)], 1990. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. II: Inscriptions. p.161.

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This page was last updated on 2 July 2022
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