Kingdom of Jaffna
Jaffna kingdom at its greatest extent c. 1350.
• 1215–1255Cinkaiariyan Cekaracacekaran I a.k.a. Kalinga Magha
• 1617–1619Cankili II
Historical eraTransitional period
• Kalinga Magha’s invasion of Lanka leads to the fall of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom.1215
• Independence from Pandya Empire1323
• Jaffna in the Kingdom of Kotte1450
• Aryacakravarti dynasty restored1467
• Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom1619
Preceded bySucceeded by
Pandya dynastyPortuguese CeylonThe Jaffna Kingdom (Tamil: யாழ்ப்பாண அரசு) (1215–1624 CE), also known as Kingdom of Aryachakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula traditionally thought to be established after the invasion of Magha, who is credited with the founding of the Jaffna kingdom and is said to have been from Kalinga, in India. Established as a powerful force in the north, north east and west of the island, it eventually became a tribute paying feudatory of the Pandyan Empire in modern South India in 1258, gaining independence in 1323, when the last Pandyan ruler of Madurai was defeated and expelled in 1323 by Malik Kafur, the army general of the Muslim Delhi Sultanate. For a brief period, in the early to mid-14th century, it was an ascendant power in the island of Sri Lanka when all regional kingdoms accepted subordination. However, the kingdom was eventually overpowered by the rival Kotte Kingdom, around 1450 when it was invaded by Prince Sapumal under the Kotte Kingdom's directive.
It was freed of Kotte control in 1467 and its subsequent rulers directed their energies towards consolidating its economic potential by maximising revenue from pearls and elephant exports and land revenue. It was less feudal than most of the other regional kingdoms on the island of Sri Lanka of the same period. During this period, important local Tamil literature was produced and Hindu temples were built, including an academy for language advancement.
The Sinhalese Nampota dated in its present form to the 14th or 15th century CE suggests that the whole of the Jaffna Kingdom, including parts of the modern Trincomalee District, was recognised as a Tamil region by the name Demala-pattana (Tamil city). In this work, a number of villages that are now situated in the Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee districts are mentioned as places in Demala-pattana.
The arrival of the Portuguese on the island of Sri Lanka in 1505, and its strategic location in the Palk Strait connecting all interior Sinhalese kingdoms to South India, created political problems. Many of its kings confronted and ultimately made peace with the Portuguese. In 1617, Cankili II, a usurper to the throne, confronted the Portuguese but was defeated, thus bringing the kingdom's independent existence to an end in 1619. Although rebels like Migapulle Arachchi—with the help of the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom—tried to recover the kingdom, they were eventually defeated. Nallur, a suburb of modern Jaffna town, was its capital.
Kalinga Magha: 1215–1215
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Historical states of Sri Lanka
Kingdom of Tambapanni543–437 BC
Anuradhapura Kingdom437 BC–1017 AD
Anuradhapura from Rohana1017–1055
Kingdom of Polonnaruwa1055–1232
Kingdom of Dambadeniya1232–1341
Kingdom of Gampola1341–1371
Kingdom of Kotte1371–1597
Kingdom of Sitawaka1521–1594
Kingdom of Kandy1469–1815
British Ceylon period[show]
Sri Lanka since 1948[show]
Dominion of Ceylon1948–1972
Republic of Sri Lanka1972–present
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Sri Lankan Tamils
FoundingThe origin of the Jaffna kingdom is obscure and still the subject of controversy among historians. Among mainstream historians, such as K. M. de Silva, S. Pathmanathan and Karthigesu Indrapala, the widely accepted view is that the Kingdom of the Aryacakravarti dynasty in Jaffna began in 1215 with the invasion of a previously unknown chieftain called Magha, who claimed to be from Kalinga in modern India. He deposed the ruling Parakrama Pandyan II, a foreigner from the Pandyan Dynasty who was ruling the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa at the time with the help of his soldiers and mercenaries from the Kalinga, modern Kerala and Damila (Tamil Nadu) regions in India.
Pandyan tribute paying territories circa 1250, includes what ultimately became the Jaffna kingdom in Sri LankaAfter the conquest of Rajarata, he moved the capital to the Jaffna peninsula which was more secured by heavy Vanni forest and ruled as a tribute-paying subordinate of the Chola empire of Tanjavur, in modern Tamil Nadu, India. During this period (1247), a Malay chieftain from Tambralinga in modern Thailand named Chandrabhanu invaded the politically fragmented island. Although King Parakramabahu II (1236–1270) from Dambadeniya was able to repulse the attack, Chandrabhanu moved north and secured the throne for himself around 1255 from Magha. Sadayavarman Sundara Pandyan I invaded Sri Lanka in the 13th century and defeated Chandrabhanu the usurper of the Jaffna Kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. Sadayavarman Sundara Pandyan I forced Chandrabhanu to submit to the Pandyan rule and to pay tributes to the Pandyan Dynasty. But later on when Chandrabhanu became powerful enough he again invaded the Singhalese kingdom but he was defeated by the brother of Sadayavarman Sundara Pandyan I called Veera Pandyan I and Chandrabhanu lost his life. Sri Lanka was invaded for the 3rd time by the Pandyan Dynasty under the leadership of Arya Cakravarti who established the Jaffna kingdom. The Sinhala text Nampota mentions the Aryacakravartis as ruling the kingdom known as Themilapattinam.
Other scholars push the date of the founding of the kingdom in the 7th century CE with the ancient capital being Kathiramalai, which finds mention in Tamil literature.The king Ukkirasinghan thought as one of the early Jaffna king had his capital at Kathiramalai and is said to have married the Chola princess Maruta Piravika Valli. According to the scholars was the capital moved to Singainagar after an invasion of Parantaka Chola in 10th century CE.
Aryacakravarti dynastyMain article: Aryacakravarti dynastyWhen Chandrabhanu embarked on a second invasion of the south, the Pandyas came to the support of the Sinhalese king and killed Chandrabhanu in 1262 and installed Aryacakravarti, a minister in charge of the invasion, as the king. When the Pandyan Empire became weak due to Muslim invasions, successive Aryacakravarti rulers made the Jaffna kingdom independent and a regional power to reckon with in Sri Lanka. All subsequent kings of the Jaffna Kingdom claimed descent from one Kulingai Cakravarti who is identified with Kalinga Magha by Swami Gnanaprakasar and Mudaliar Rasanayagam while maintaining their Pandyan progenitor's family name.
Politically, the dynasty was an expanding power in the 13th and 14th century with all regional kingdoms paying tribute to it. However, it met with simultaneous confrontations with the Vijayanagar empire that ruled from Vijayanagara, southern India, and a rebounding Kingdom of Kotte from the south of Sri Lanka. This led to the kingdom becoming a vassal of the Vijayanagar Empire as well as briefly losing its independence under the Kotte kingdom from 1450 to 1467. The kingdom was re-established with the disintegration of Kotte kingdom and the fragmentation of Vijayanagar Empire. It maintained very close commercial and political relationships with the Thanjavur Nayakar kingdom in southern India as well as the Kandyan and segments of the Kotte kingdom. This period saw the building of Hindu temples and a flourishing of literature, both in Tamil and Sanskrit.
Kotte conquest and restorationThe Kotte conquest of the Jaffna Kingdom was led by king Parakramabahu VI's adopted son, Prince Sapumal. This battle took place in many stages. Firstly, the tributaries to the Jaffna Kingdom in the Vanni area, namely the Vanniar chieftains of the Vannimai were neutralised. This was followed by two successive conquests. The first war of conquest did not succeed in capturing the kingdom. It was the second conquest dated to 1450 that eventually was successful. Apparently connected with this war of conquest was an expedition to Adriampet in modern South India, occasioned according to Valentyn by the seizure of a Lankan ship laden with cinnamon. The Tenkasi inscription of Arikesari Parakrama Pandya of Tinnevelly who saw the backs of kings at Singai, Anurai, and else where, may refer to these wars; it is dated between 1449–50 and 1453–54. Kanakasooriya Cinkaiariyan the Aryacakravarti king fled to South India with his family. After the departure of Sapumal Kumaraya to Kotte, Kanakasooriya Cinkaiarian re-took the kingdom in 1467.
Raja Remigius Kanagarajah, claims himself as the 28th descendent of the Jaffna Royalty – Ariya Chakkaravartys.
The Cekaracacekaramalai , an astrological work in Tamil composed at the beginning of the fourteenth century, records the following tradition concerning the origins of the Cinkai Ariyar.
Sri Rama invited the 512 Ariyar of the five villages and gracefully directed them to officiate at the temple (Rameswaram Temple). He invested two of them with the paraphernalia of royalty, granting them the garland of the fragrant Tulasi, the title of the “Arya King” of the faultless scriptures, the beautiful Parasol, the single Conch and the victorious Bull (Nandi) standard at Kantamatanam, a locality on the southern extremity of India. Cekaracacekaramalai which asserts that the Ariyar of Rameswaram had come from Benares.
Cinkai Arya Cakravartti Cankili (II) Cekaracacekaran (1616-1620) , the last known monarch of Jaffna had fought with the Portuguese till the very end never allowing them to rule the Northern Sri Lanka and there by the protecting the Independence of the Kingdom of Jaffna.
In fact the Tamil Kingdom of Jaffna fell in the hands of Portuguese in June1619, when Cankli Kumaran and his family were arrested and taken prisoners by Portuguese.
However, by 11th February 1621, the sovereignty of the Tamils came to an end when the last resistance of the Tamils were subdued.
Subsequently, Tamil Kingdom change hands to Dutch and later to British and on 4th February 1948 Ceylon which included the old Jaffna Kingdom, became and Independent country.
Again in 22 May 1972, the name of the country was changed as Sri Lanka and was declared a sovereign Republic.
In the meantime Raja Remigius Kanagarajah now claims himself as the 28th descendent of the King of Jaffna, now lives in Holland.
Thinacheithi, the Tamil newspaper – Weekly edition, contacted Raja Remigius Kanagarajah and interviewed him.
Given below the Excerpts of the interview that appeared in the Thinacheithi – weekly edition:
“Ffirst of all congratulate the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. A new era has dawned, people of Sri Lanka wanted change, and now they have elected a new President. The new government’s programs to rebuild the country within 100 days were a success.
The Tamil ethnic conflict has not yet been solved. The Tamil people should get proper recognition. Everyone says there is a solution, but rather then saying it is important now to put an end by implementing a political solution to the ethnic issue. With a constitutional guarantee ensuring equal rights and equal status to all citizens.
The things in the country belong to the people and if you all start sharing the things equally to all the people in the country you will see a positive change and peace in the country.
I would like to remind everyone that when there is a problem in the country, you need to learn to solve the problems, rather than appealing to the International Community. During the reign of my ancestors every problem of the country was solved at the royal court.
It is time to stop using the team "Minority" all the people of Sri Lanka should be treated with dignity and respect and everyone should be able to live in a truly equal multicultural society.
Corruption is one of the critical issues around the world, especially in under developed and developing countries. If people stop paying bribes the corruption could be eliminated. The laws related to corruption should be made strict and the punishment for corruption should be very severe. Those who are involved and found guilty of corruption should be punished by law.
The families of people who have disappeared need proper investigation into the disappearances by an appointed Special Commission. After full investigation proper answers should be provided to the victims families. The authorities should take decisive steps to prevent these disappearances from taking place on the island.
After thirty years of civil war which ended four years ago on the island, all Sri Lankans should try to rebuild a new nation to live in peace and harmony. People have lost their homes, loved ones and their dreams. To re-establish their livelihoods, we must commit ourselves sincerely to continuing rehabilitation, reconstruction and redevelopment of the affected people and affected areas. Although some of the displaced civilians have been resettled, we must continue to improve the quality of their lives.
The greatest heritage we inherited from our forefathers was harmony. Sri Lanka was a shining example and model of ethnic and religious harmony for the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Sri Lankans of our generation failed to maintain this precious gift from our ancestors. When ethnicity and religion was politicized by politicians in the north and the south, they started to fight each other. Unfortunately, some are still trying to disturb the hard earned peace. Every human being on the planet has the right to live in peace. This is the most basic human right.
It is my sincere wish that all Sri Lankans should come forward to build a harmonious Sri Lanka. Do not fear change. If you change your thoughts, you change your life. The fastest way to achieve peace is to change your thinking. Some may think peace is difficult. In order to achieve peace and unity in our country, we have to work together. Therefore I urge all Sri Lankans to come forward and join hands for the happiness of the whole country.
I want to make it very clear that I am not asking to rule or to somehow take advantage of the people but to make it known that I am here to serve my country and my people. We must encourage the younger generation to come forward and take important roles in Sri Lanka. Teach them that the only way to ensure a bright future for our country is to be united. We must give an opportunity for the Tamil people to speak freely and to fulfil their hopes with equal rights.
I will help to develop the economies in the North and East, but also down South. I will bring back the rich heritage of the Tamils. I am sure that some day the glorious days previously enjoyed by the Tamil People will return.
During the time my ancestors reigned, they would greet their loyal subjects from the palace balcony. But today things have changed, and because Sri Lanka is a democratic country I cannot abandon my place with the people. It is time to serve the people, to be with the people, listen to their problems and help them. I seek to provide invaluable guidance and support them all. I ask from God to give me power and courage to help all the people of that island to live in peace and to help them fulfil their needs and hopes.
Many royals who had lived in exile have been permitted to return to their homelands. The exiled royals who have returned have made good progress in the country by working together. Again, my mind and my heart are still in Sri Lanka. Life is an eternal struggle for all of us and I have been struggling for so many years to get back. Although I know I am only able to return to Sri Lanka if my personal security were assured, and if the Sri Lankan government authorities were to grant permission for my arrival, to bare the full responsibility for my safe arrival and stay in the island. As of right now, any anonymous group or individual could put my life into danger, with no one taking responsibility.
There are many issues to be addressed in northern and eastern part of the island, and the new government has just now assumed office. There’s the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and we cannot expect change to come overnight. But, still, the problems of the Tamil people needs to be addressed within the framework of a united Sri Lanka. I feel this will be a good opportunity for both sides to return to the negotiating table in order to solve the Tamil ethnic conflict without any further delay. The government should also ensure that all private lands in the northern and eastern part of the country should be returned to the rightful owners. I kindly request all Tamil leaders of the county to work together in one spirit towards a common goal.
As I have mentioned before in my messages, I believe that communication is the best way to deal with conflicts. As long as you don’t communicate, you cannot find a solution.