Monday, 21 March 2022

Thonigala Inscription, Vavuniya

Not to be confused with Thonigala Rock Inscriptions, Anamaduwa

The Thonigala Rock Inscription of the reign of King Sirimeghavanna (Sinhala: වවුනියාව තෝනිගල සෙල් ලිපිය) is found engraved on a low flat hummock of gneiss known as Thonigala (or Nagaragala) located in Vavuniya District, Sri Lanka. This inscription is considered important as it reveals some information about the economic condition in Sri Lanka during the 4th century A.D. (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana,1933).

The inscription
The site of the inscription is located about half a mile to the north of the 6th-milepost on the minor road from Vavuniya to Horovupotana, just by the boundary line between the Northern and North-Central Provinces (Paranavitana,1933). Ruins of a small Stupa built of rubble and two rock inscriptions are found at the site (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana,1933). Of the two inscriptions, one is fragmentary (or unfinished) and the other received the attention of several scholars such as Henry Parker (1886), D.M. de Z. Wickremasinghe (1892), H.C.P. Bell (1894) and S. Paranavitana [(1933) Paranavitana,1933]. 

As the rock surface has not been smoothed before the writing was executed, the area occupied by the inscription is of irregular dimensions and the lines are not of a uniform length (Paranavitana,1933). Totally, there are 17 lines of writing and the first 12 lines of them are in an excellent state of preservation (Paranavitana,1933). The script belongs to the latter half of the 4th century A.D. (Paranavitana,1933).

The inscription had been covered with a clay layer during the war period (1983-2009) as it could be damaged due to mortar attacks. The clay cover was removed for public view in May 2022.

Content
The inscription is a private document and it is dated in the 3rd year of Sirimeghavanna (304-332 A.D.), the son of Mahasena (Paranavitana,1933). As confirmed by chronicles, Sirimeghavanna was King Mahasena's (277-304 A.D.) son and the contemporary of Indian emperor Samudragupta (Paranavitana,1933). During the reign of Sirimeghavanna, the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to the country.

The inscription records that a certain minister deposited some quantities of grain and beans with a guild in the northern quarter of the city with the stipulation that the capital should remain unspent and the interest should be utilized for providing meals to the monks of the Yahisapavata monastery during the Vassa season of every year (Paranavitana,1933). The Yahisapavata is believed to be the ancient name of the present Thonigala (Paranavitana,1933).

Tonigala Rock Inscription of the reign of Sirimeghavanna
Period: 4th century A.D.                  Script: Later Brahmi                 Language: Old Sinhala
Content: In the 3rd regnal year of King Sirimeghavanna, Devaya, the son of a minister named Sivaya who lived in the village called Kadubala, had deposited a quantity of grain with a guild in the trading village of Kalahumanaka in the northern quarter of the city. It stipulates that the interest should be utilized for providing meals and other requisites to the monks of the Yahisapavata monastery during the religious ceremony of Ariyavasa. 
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology.
 
A protected monument
The Kudakachchakodiya Thonigala inscription and the ruins around, in the Grama Niladhari Division No. S. 212-F Mahamayilankulam, in Vavuniya South Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008. 
 
References
1) Medhananda, Ven. Ellawala, 2003. Pacheena passa - Uttara passa: Negenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala bauddha urumaya (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-686-112-9. pp.394-396.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Tonigala Rock Inscription of the third year of Srimeghavarnna. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.172-188.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 23 February 2007. p.531.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 22 May 2022
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