Early history of the Jaffna Kingdom
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The early history of the Jaffna kingdom is not well documented, and relies on archeological excavations and ancient literature.
The name 'Ko Veta' is engraved in Brahmi script on a seal buried with the skeleton and is assigned by the excavators to the 3rd century BCE. Ko, meaning "King" in Tamil, is comparable to such names as Ko Atan, Ko Putivira and Ko Ra-pumaan occurring in contemporary Tamil Brahmi inscriptions of ancient South India and Egypt.
Potsherds with early Tamil writing from the 2nd century BCE have been found from the north in Poonagari, Jaffna to the south in Tissamaharama bearing several inscriptions, including of the clan name velir, chieftains and minor Tamil kings also residing in the ancient Tamil country. Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and early Sangam literature from the 3rd century BCE-4th century CE illustrate that a section of the island Eelam, known as Nāka-Tivu or Nāka-Nadu at the time, was autonomously ruled by local kings (Ko) in the northern peninsula with capitals and emporiums at Maanthai, Kandarodai (Kadiramalai) and Vallipuram.
References in Epics
The twin epics of ancient Tamil Nadu Silappatikaram (1st century CE) and Manimekalai (6th century CE) speak of Nāka Nadu across the sea from Kaveripoompuharpattinam, and their civilization which was even more sumptuous than those of the Cheras, the Cholas and the Pandyas. Manimekalai speaks of the great Nāka king Valai Vanan who ruled the prosperous Nāka Nadu with great splendour and a rich Tamil Buddhist tradition. Cīttalai Cāttanār, the author of the Manimekalai reflected Tamilakam's perception at the time that Nāka Nadu was an autonomous administrative entity, kingdom or nadu stretching across coastal districts, distinguished from the rest of the island also ruled intermittently by Tamil kings; Eela or Irattina Tivu-Nadu. Jaffna is an anglicized rendering of the medieval Tamil name for the northern peninsula, Yaalpaanam.
There is scattered literary and archeological evidence from local and foreign sources describing the division of the whole island in the first few centuries of the common era between two kingdoms. The accounts of 6th century Greek merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes who visited the island around the time of King Simhavishnu of Pallava's rule in Tamilakam reveal the presence of two kings, one of whom was based in Jaffna, home to a great emporium, who ruled the coastal districts. In the ninth century CE, as the medieval Cholas regained strength in the region, a Tamil kingdom based in Jaffna was functioning in rivalry to the south, as described in narratives by Arab travellers such as Soleyman (Suleiman), Ibn Vahab and writing sixty years later, Abu-Zeyd. The historian Al-Masudi identifies Yaalpaanam as Zapage or Zabedje in his 10th century work The Meadows of Gold and describes how the island peninsula's Maharaja (Hindu king) wielded sovereignty over islands opposite the kingdom of Kanyakumari, Karativu island (or Kala island, home to the ancient port of Kalam where ships docked for water on their way to the Nicobar islands), the islands Zadig, Sarendib and Rameswaram Island. He visited the Jaffna country and the lands of Ramanathapuram which extended both inland and on sea at the time. Masudi witnessed the funeral of a Tamil Hindu king during his stay in Jaffna. Muhammad al-Idrisi writes in the 10th century that the king of Jaffna (Jabeh) rules his island country of the same name (in an apparent reference to the minstrel Yaalpaanan to whom the kingdom was gifted) and in the neighbourhood of this country are the islands of Karativu and Eluvaitivu which also obey his rule. Rajadhiraja Chola's conquest of the island led to the fall of four kings there, one of whom, Madavarajah, was the king of Jaffna and, according to historian K. Pillay, a usurper from the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Inscriptions from the period reveal that the Cholas defeated three Jaffna kings during their conquest of the island.
This area was under Kingdom of Anuradhapura. The Jaffna peninsula was called as Nagadipa. Isigiriya was governor of Nagadeepa under the king. The Vallipura gold inscriptions written by king Vasaba (AD 67-1 11) who inaugurated the Lambakarna dynasty bears indelible testimony to the existence of Buddhists in the Northern Islands now named the Jaffna peninsula. Nagadeepa was the home  for the Lambakanna clan who produced most of kings in Rajarata. Later Lambakanna/Naga clan moved to the core of Rajarata. Naga are the popular as great architect of the irrigation systems. Also Lambakanna kings (Vasaba, Mahasen,..) are popular for creating massive irrigation systems.
- Indrapala, K. The Evolution of an ethnic identity: The Tamils of Sri Lanka, pp. 324
- Mahathevan, Iravatham (June 24, 2010). "An epigraphic perspective on the antiquity of Tamil". The Hindu (The Hindu Group). Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- Mahadevan, I. Early Tamil Epigraphy: From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D., p. 48
- Peter Shalk. SERENDIPITY - ISSUE 02 - THE VALLIPURAM BUDDHA IMAGE - AGAIN
- L.E. Blaze (2004). History of Ceylon. New Delhi. pp. 83–84.
- James Emmerson Tennent (1850). Christianity in Ceylon: its introduction and progress under the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, and American missions : with an historical sketch of the Brahmanical and Buddhist superstitions. p. 4.
- Pillay, K. (1963). South India and Ceylon. University of Madras. OCLC 250247191.
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