Sangamuwa Viharaya | Oldest Peace Treaty Inscription in Sri Lanka

Sangamuwa Viharaya (Sinhala: සංගමුව විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Meddeketiya village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka. The temple is popular due to the rock inscription that records the peace treaty between Gajabahu II and Parakramabahu I in the 12th century A.D.

A number of cave and rock inscriptions dating from the 2nd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. have been found on the temple premises (Dias, 1991; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970). The Meddeketiya tank (ancient Sangamu Wewa) which is located near the temple is said to have been constructed by King Dhatusena [(455-473 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963]. Two names similar to this site (Sangamu and Sangamu-kelvala-arama) have been found among the famous Sigiri graffiti (Nicholas, 1963). A peace treaty between Gajabahu II (reigned: 1132-1153 A.D.) and Parakramabahu I (reigned: 1153-1186 A.D.) is engraved on the rock of this temple (Nicholas, 1963).

The peace treaty inscription
The Culavamsa (the latter part of Mahavamsa) mentions that King Gajabahu II (1132-1153 A.D.), during the strife between Parakramabahu and Manabharana, went up to the Mandalagiri Vihara (present Medirigiriya Viharaya in Polonnaruwa) and engraved a stone tablet saying "I have made over Rajarattha to the King Parakrama"(Geiger, 1998; Wickremasinghe, 1928). Although this inscription has not been found yet in the premises of the present Medirigiriya Viharaya, a copy of it has been found at Sangamu Viharaya (Nicholas, 1963).

Sangamuwa Vihara rock inscription
Reign: Gajabahu II (1132-1153 A.D.)
Period: 12th century A.D.
Script: Medieval Sinhala
Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: An agreement made between Gajabahu and Parakramabahu I, not to war against each other.
Translation: Prosperity! We are the two brothers-in-law, Gajabahu and Parakramabahu who come down in unbroken succession in the illustrious Mahasammata lineage and who valued the absolute truth. According to this treaty, we shall not wage war against each other till the end of our lives. If any one of us is first to pass away, the other who survives will be in possession of the (Kingdom). If there be any kings who are enemies of either of us, they are enemies of both of us. If we do anything against this agreement, it will be as if we have transgressed the command of the Triple Gem. We shall (also) never be delivered from hell. May this writing protects the world as long as the Moon and the Stars last. May this union of these two people, whose wealth is used for the benefit of others, be suffused with love.
Reference: The information board at the site.

This inscription is considered the first recorded peace treaty in Sri Lanka (Sudharmawathie, 2007). According to Sudharmawathie, this treaty mainly reveals the following information about the religious and political setting in the country during the 12th century A.D. (Sudharmawathie, 2007);

*The legal heir to the throne has to pass from Gajabahu II to Parakramabahu.
*The nature of the link between religion and the state.
*The role of the Buddhist monk as counsellor for the state and society.
*The intervention of Buddhist monks whenever there is political instability in the country.

The temple consists of many ancient monuments such as rock caves, rock-cut steps, stone ponds, stone works, ruined Stupas, and inscriptions (Dias, 1991; Nicholas, 1963). The Len-viharaya (the cave temple) has murals and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan Art tradition (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. pp.92-93.
2) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp.79,82.
3) Geiger, W., 1998. The Culavamsa: Being the more recent part of the Mahavamsa. Part: I. Asian Educational Services, New Delhi. p.315.
4) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). pp.101,183.
5) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.74.
6) Sudharmawathie, J.M., 2007. The first recorded peace treaty in Sri Lanka. Proceedings of the Annual Research Symposium 2007- Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of' Kelaniya. p.66.
7) 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.25-33.

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This page was last updated on 22 July 2023

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