Devinuwara Slab Inscription of Vijayabahu VI

Devinuwara slab inscription of Vijayabahu VI
The Devinuwara slab inscription of King Vijayabahu VI is presently on display at the Inscription Gallery of Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka. 

The slab
The slab is 4 ft. 6 inches tall, 2 ft. 1 inch wide and on average 7 inches thick (Paranavitana, 1953; Ranawella, 2005). It was discovered by Rhys Davids in 1870 among the ruins of an ancient shrine on the sea coast at Devinuwara which were washed away by the waves (Paranavitana, 1953). The slab was later brought to the present location for conservation. 

The inscription has been engraved on both sides of the slab. The first side contains the outline drawings of the sun and the crescent moon and 23 lines of writing while the second side has 4 lines (Ranawella, 2005). The record ends abruptly at the fourth line of the second side (Paranavitana, 1953; Ranawella, 2005)

The script and the language of the inscription are Sinhala of the 16th century A.D. (Ranawella, 2005). It is dated in the fifth regnal year of a king styled Sirisangabo Sri Vijayabahu Cakravartti who, according to scholars, is King Vijayabahu VI [(1509-1521 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1953; Ranawella, 2005; Rohanadeera, 2007]. The purport of the record was to register the grant of some paddy fields to a Hindu shrine named Nagarisha Kovila in Devinuwara (Ranawella, 2005).

Nagarisa Kovila and Upulvan Devalaya at Devinuwara
According to the view of scholars such as S. Paranavitana, Nagarisha Kovila mentioned in this inscription is not the present Upulvan Devalaya in Devinuwara (Paranavitana, 1953).
The purport of the document is to record the names and extents of lands which were the property of a shrine named Nagarisha-kovil. This shrine has hitherto been taken to be the same as that of Upulvan at Devundara, and in the erroneous reading Nila after Nagarisha has been found a reference to Visnu. But the two syllables occurring after Nagarisha read nam, 'named'. The shrine of Upulvan is nowehere referred to in Sinhalese literature as a Kovil, which term even today is restricted in its use to shrines of gods worshipped by Tamils and adopted from them by the Sinhalese Buddhists. The shrines of gods who have been naturalized among the Sinhalese are Devala's. The name Nagarisha is of the same formation as Kadiresha and Konesha. Isha, the second member of these compounds, is a well-known epithet of Siva, and the first member stands for a place name. Kadireshan is the is the God Ishvara of Kadira-gamam (Katara-gama) and Konesha is Ishvara of Kona-malai. Similarly, Nagarisha must stand for Ishvara of Nagari, which is the shortened form of Deva-nagari. The shrine on the sea coast at which this inscription was set up, has to be taken, therefore, as Saiva and as being quite distinct from the abode of Upulvan.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1953. p.75.
1)  Paranavitana, S., 1953. The Shrine of Upulvan at Devindara. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. Volume VI. Archaeological Department. pp.74-78.
2) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.104-106.
3) Rohanadeera, M., 2007. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon. Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-64-3. pp.98-101.

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This page was last updated on 12 May 2023

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