Kingdom of Tambapanni
|•||543 BC - 505 BC||Vijaya of Sri Lanka|
|•||Landing of Vijaya||543 BC|
|•||Death of Vijaya||505 BC|
|Area||65,610 km² (25,332 sq mi)|
|Historical states in
present-day Sri Lanka
The Kingdom of Tambapanni, also referred to as Kingdom of Thambapanni, was the first administrative center in ancient Sri Lanka and Kingdom of Rajarata. It existed between 543 BC, with the first Sinhalese king of modern-day Sri Lanka to 505 BC. Tambapanni only had one king, Vijaya, a prince who was banished from India to Sri Lanka.
Tambapanni is a name derived from Tāmraparṇī or Tāmravarṇī (in Sanskrit). This means the color of copper or bronze because on the landing Vijaya's and his followers' hands and feet which touched the ground became red with the dust of the red-earth, and the city founded on that spot was named therefore Tambapanni. A derivative of this name is Taprobane (Greek). Tambapanni is a Pali version of the name Tamira Varni.
Before the landing of Vijaya both Greek and Indian literature of the period made references to the island and considered it as a kind of fairyland, occupied by Yakshas or non human beings. According to a story of the Jataka, which calls the island Tambapanni, and mentions Nagadipa and Kalyani, states the island inhabited by Yakkhinis or she demons.
Founding and location
The Kingdom of Tambapanni was founded by Vijaya of Sri Lanka, the first Sinhalese King, and 700 of his followers after landing in Sri Lanka in a district near modern-day Mannar, which is believed to be the district of Chilaw, after leaving Suppāraka. It is recorded the Vijaya made his landing on the day of Buddha's death. Vijaya claimed Tambapanni his capital and soon the whole island come under this name. Tambapanni was originally inhabited and governed by Yakkhas, having their capital at Sirīsavatthu and their queen Kuveni. According to the Samyutta Commentary, Tambapanni was one hundred leagues in extent.
Legend has it that when Vijaya landed on the shores of the island he kissed the sand, called it ‘Thambapanni’ and planted a flag depicting a lion in the ground. The famous ‘Sanchi’ ruins of India depict the events of Prince Vijaya’a landing.
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