King Vankanasika Tissa of Anuradhapura

Rajangane ruins
Ruined Mahamangala Viaharaya built by Vankanasika Tissa
Photo credit: Dilanka Laksiri (Google Street View)

Vankanasika Tissa (Sinhala: වංකනාසික තිස්ස රජ) was the King of Anuradhapura Kingdom, Sri Lanka from 111 A.D. to 114 A.D. (Nicholas, 1963). Belonging to the First Dynasty of Lambakanna, he ruled the country from his capital at Anuradhapura until he was succeeded by Gajabahu I (Ray, 1959).

The king of Anuradhapura
After the death of Vasabha (67-111 A.D.), his son Vankanasika Tissa became the ruler of the country (Ray, 1959). It is revealed by two inscriptions in Tammannava in Anuradhapura District and in Habessa in Monaragala District that Vankanasika Tissa may have had two brothers named Dutaga and Uttara (Paranavitana, 1983; Ray, 1959). These two brothers reigned in their territories when Vankanasika Tissa rules Anuradhapura (Ray, 1959).
A Cola invasion
Although it is not mentioned in early chronicles, Pujavaliya and Rajavaliya reveal that there was an invasion of an unnamed Cola king during the reign of Vankanasika Tissa (Ray, 1959). According to their details, the Cola forces had captured 12,000 Sinhalese and took them to Kaveri in South India where they were employed as labourers in some works (Ray, 1959). As the tradition of South India, the Cola king named Karikala had great anicuts on the Kaveri built by enemies captured by him though there is no particular reference therein to Sri Lanka (Ray, 1959).
Vankanasika Tissa ruled the country for 3 years and was succeeded in 114 A.D. by his son Gajabahu I (Nicholas, 1963; Ray, 1959).

Services & monuments
As mentioned in the chronicles, King Vankanasika Tissa contributed to the development of Buddhist monasteries in the country as follows (Davis, 2013; Nicholas, 1963); 
1) Mahamangala Viharaya: Built the temple on the bank of the Gona-nadi [(present Kala Oya) Nicholas, 1963]. The ruins of this temple are still found on the Kadilgala hill near Rajangane Reservoir (Arumugam, 1969; Nicholas, 1963). 
Only one Later Brahmi Inscription belonging to King Vankanasika Tissa has been found in Sri Lanka (Paranavitana, 1983). However, two inscriptions containing the names of his two brothers, Dutaga and Uttara, have been recorded from Tammannava in Anuradhapura District and in Habessa in Monaragala District (Paranavitana, 1983; Ray, 1959). An inscription found from Ledorugala in Monaragala District mentions a donation made by Governor Kalaya in the reign of two brother kings, probably Uttara and Tissa (Paranavitana, 1983).
1) Kadigala rock inscription (from Kurunegala District)
The purpose of engraving this inscription was to record that a share of the merit, presumably gained by the performance of a good deed, was transferred by the king to his mother named Jitadevi (Paranavitana, 1983).
2) Tammannava rock inscription (from Anuradhapura District)
This inscription contains the name Dutaga, one of the sons of Vasabha (Paranavitana, 1983).
3) Habessa Rock Inscription (from Monaragala District)
The purpose of this inscription was to record a grant of a channel and three tanks to a monastery named Ulibikala-Naka by Uparaja Naga, the grandson of the great king Vasabha and son of the great king Uttara (Paranavitana, 1983).
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.349.
2) Davis, C.E., 2013. Early Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka: A Landscape Approach (Doctoral dissertation, Durham University). p.533.
3) 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). p.92.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, Volume II (Part I). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.81-85.
5) Ray, H.C. (Editor in chief), 1959. History of Ceylon: Vol. I: Part I. Ceylon University Press. Colombo. pp.181-183.

This page was last updated on 27 May 2023

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