Burma (Myanmar) - Sri Lanka relations
(S B Karalliyadda)
Although there were instances in our recorded history when Myanmar then known as Pegu, Rakkanga Desh, Burma etc: was invaded by our ancient Kings, we had strong religious/cultural and trade relations with that country. During the reign of Vijayabahu (1055-1110) Lanka faced a Chola invasion and the Pegu King Anawarahata helped us with ships, forces finance and other logistical support to defeat the Cholas. They sent us the necessary scholastic monks to establish Upasampada. An instance is recorded that during the reign of Maha Parakramabahu (1153-1156) a Lankan Princess who was on her way to Cambodia to marry a Cambodian Prince was confronted by the King of Burma, and our ruler Parakramabahu invaded Burma in retaliation. This incident occurred during the reign of King Alawunsitu in Pegu. Another incident recorded in history was the invasion by Parakramabahu, over the violation of a trade pact with Pegu. Parakramabhu’s troops entered Pegu from the Kusumiya port. Nevertheless during his reign, several high ranking priests came to Lanka and lived at Dimbulagala, when there was a situation of unrest in Burma. During the reign of Parkramabahu VI (1412-1467) the Pegu King Biyanyan sent a Buddhist delegation to Lanka. Apart from these religious and cultural relations we had matrimonial relations with this country. The matrimonial relationships were very strong and close during the Kotte, Seethawaka and Senkadagala kingdoms. The trade relations between the two countries were export of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, nutmeg etc: Another trade that flourished was the exchange of elephants and tuskers. Our tuskers were believed to have tusks superior to any other tusks. The exports were through our ports in the North and East. Later the ports in the coastal areas such as Galle, Matara and Colombo were used for these trade purposes. It was a continuation of time immemorial friendship and goodwill that the government of Sri Lanka and Myanmar recently signed several trade agreements and a M.O.U. The Myanmar government also presented two tuskers to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. There are several monks here who were conferred the title of ‘Agga Maf Pandita’ by the King himself. During the Senkadagala regime Upasampada or higher ordination was twice performed here when the Sangha order had no priests who have obtained the higher order or Upasampada.
It was King Thunayama who ruled from Keulgama, Pallepitiya and Senkadagala from 1497-1594. He was from Poddalgoda Udispattu in the present Teldeniya electorate and a grandson of Dedigama Parakramabahu, and the son of Dumbara Satanbandara. Thunayama’s one son was Jotiya Situ (1460-62) who ruled from Meda Mahanuwara. He is the author of the famous Madawala inscription. Second son was Weera Wickramabahu (1543- 79) who ruled in Senkadagala. He was also known as Rankoth Pathirannehe. It was during his rule that a Portugese, General D. Gastro invaded Senkadagala with a troop of seven thousand five hundred. Wickramabahu was able to defeat these invaders and built a Viharaya in Poya Maluwa Maiwatte temple to commemorate this event. The third son was Weerasundara Bandara alias Wijesundara who was the ruler from 1582- 1585.
The Portugese called him ‘Maha Kalu Parakramabahu’. He was killed by Sitawaka Rajasingha and Rajasuriya alias Nikapitiya Bandara was placed in the Senkadagala throne. Weerasundara’s son Konappu Bandara fled to Uda Hewaheta and took refuge under the people of Hanguranketa. Konappu Bandara who became the King of Senkadagala (1593-1604) after defeating the Portugese assumed the name of Wimaladhrmasuriya I. His sister was married to Tammita Suriyabandara who was the son of Tanivallabahu, of Madampe and Kapuru Lamaethani. Suriyabandara’s one daughter Nilupamala was a Queen of Sitawaka Rajasinghe. His son was Rajasuriya alias Nikapitiye Bandara whom Rajasinghe placed in the Kandyan throne after the murder of Weerasundara Bandara. The other daughter was married to the king of Pegu. (Vidiya Bandara Gothrapataya Gnartha Pradeepa 05.02.1999) According to this matrimonial alliance Pegu King’s Queen was Wimaladharmasuriya’s sisters daughter, his niece. This may be why Wimaladhrmasuriya was able to get down Rev. Nandiwakka and other priests to re-establish the Upasmpada order in Lanka. This matrimonial alliance was strong at the time.
Tammita Suriyabandara was also well versed with Christianity and it was he who induced Dharmapala of Kotte to learn Christianity. He had free access to the Kotte palace as Dharmapala was the son of Veediya Bandara who was this nephew and the son of his brother Sakalakala Wallabha of Udugampola. Suriya Bandara was the Chief Chamberlain of the Kotte palace. He embraced Christianity as Francisco Barranto in later years. Suriya Bandara’s son Nikapitiya Bandara was appointed the King of Seetawaka in 1592 by Maha Biso Bandara alias Roma Lamaethani his rand-mother and mother of Veediya Bandana. He declared himself the King of Dambadeniya on 05.12.1616 with the backing of Hatara Korale and Hath Korale people. Later he was chased by Senarath of Senkadagala and joined the Portugese to embrace Christianity under the name of Don Phillip. He was the first Sinhala prince to embrace Christianity and the first Sinhalese to enter a European University. He entered the Coimbre University of Goa.
It was hundred years after, that King Wimaladharmasiriya II, the grand son of the first in 1597 requested the Pegu King to send a suitable delegation to establish the order of higher ordination. Dodanwela Herath Mudiyanse Headed this delegation. Thus we see the strong religious cultural and the trade relations with Burma, now Myanmar, had been in existence for thousands of years.
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Saturday, October 6, 2007
Burma (Myanmar) - Sri Lanka relations