The Sunday Leader

Restoring Anuradhapura

Mahinda Rajapaksa will assume the title of President for a second time in Anuradhapura, site of the last great kingdom. At the same time, the first ship will be berthed in the Hambantota Port. In this way Mahinda restores the glory of the ancient kingdom. He both controls the territory and does great works. The one threatening General has been jailed.

The President on a visit to Anuradhapura

Thus begins the official Chootivamsa, a predictable story, for now.
Anuradhapura has been won and lost many times throughout history, often in similar circumstances. Duttugamini captured Anuradhapura from a Tamil King in 383 BE (Buddhist Era, or 161 years Before Christ). Thus the island was unified under the lion flag. He had a son but that son married badly, something one presumes Namal would never do. Duttugamini gave his throne to his brother Sadhatissa. He, in turn, passed it on to a succession of four brothers.
Today Sri Lanka is ruled, effectively, by four brothers. Mahinda as President, Gotabaya running the military and the capital, Basil in charge of development and Chamal minding the Parliament. The Sadhatissa line, however, ruled in succession, each as kings. The penultimate brother lost his throne to, of all things, a General.
Perhaps seeking to avoid that fate, Mahinda has imprisoned General Sarath Fonseka, his last viable opposition. Indeed, Vattagamini — the youngest of the ancient brothers — had to defeat a Tamil General (after years of regime change) to reclaim Duttugamini’s throne.
King Vattagamini was enthroned in Anuradhapura after 14 years of misery — years of drought, warring princes, foreign invasions and infrastructure neglect. At the time, Lanka’s irrigation systems had failed, breaking the backbone of that agricultural economy. King Vattagamini is thought to have rebuilt this infrastructure and asserted broad symbolic control. When he fled Anuradhapura, an ascetic had said ‘the great black Sinhala is fleeing’. On his return, King Vattagamini built the Abhayagiriya stupa on that spot.
Similarly, Mahinda assumes the title of President and powers of a king 30 years after a plague of war and instability. The modern manufacturing and services economy has suffered under years of domestic terrorism. Mahinda is thus making infrastructure a centerpiece of his reign, building ports, power plants and roads instead of tanks. He is also taking symbolic control of the island, building war monuments in the North and East and assuming the title of President in Anuradhapura.
As much Mahinda plans, however, he cannot plan for everything. Resuming a historical narrative means resuming the risk along with the glory. He has imprisoned the General that threatened his rule, but only for 30 months. Latter-day Generals never kept their heads. Those that did often rose again. It’s truly difficult to plan more than a generation ahead, especially when you can’t just kill people.
Example, the son of Vattagamini married a Queen Anula who poisoned him and six rulers in succession, ranging from the palace priest to a wood carrier. It is told that she ‘listed’ with 32 of the palace guards. To avoid the dramatic arc of the usual Mahavamsa, Mahinda should ensure that Namal marries wisely.

4 Comments for “Restoring Anuradhapura”

  1. Narasimha Vijendra

    Indi seems to be a serious genetic mutation of a family of patriots hailing from the South. We see this kind of a lunatics every once in a while, but never to the extent of the congregation at Sunday Leader.

  2. panakku

    American lunacy at its best! are you some sort of crazy tea party supporter?

  3. gamarala

    Chootivamsa appears to be a new Mahavamsa, commencing with the reign of King Rajapakse.
    Will Namal marry a queen imported from india as did our ancient kings, as there maybe noone fit to be a future queen, available in sri lanka, and thus perpetuate the dynasty?

  4. If I remember Duttugamunu fought in the front line and did not imprison any of the Dhasa Maha Yodhayas !

    Kavanthissa, Duttu’s dad tried to prevent his son, favouring power sharing, whlie the JVP and JHU pushed MR who was considering dialogue and an ‘honorable peace’.

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