During the rule of the Tamil king Elara in Anuradhapura, branches of the Sinhalese royal family resided in Kelaniya in the west and in Magama (Tissamaharama) in the south of the island, which is called Rohana. According to the chronicles, the queen of King Devanampiya Tissa, who had introduced Buddhism, had tried to poison her brother-in-law, Prince Mahanaga, who then fled to Rohana. On the way his wife gave birth to a son called Tissa. This Tissa is credited with having built the Kelani Dagaba. His grandson Kakavanna Tissa (also called Kavantissa) became the ruler of Rohana and resided in Magama. His consort Vihara Devi gave birth to two sons, Gamani and Sadha Tissa. The elder brother, Prince Gamani, asked permission of his father to fight the Tamil ruler of Anuradhapura. But when his father prohibited any attack on the northern main kingdom of the island, Gamani fled in anger to the highlands, for his quick-tempered manner he earned the epithet “Duttha”, the Pali word for “bad”. Dutthagamani’s Sinhala name is Dutugemunu, also transcribed Dutugamunu or Dutu Gemunu.
On the death of his father Kavantissa, Dutthagamani’s younger brother succeeded to the kingdom, because the elder brother was in exile. But Dutthagamani launched an armed struggle with his brother. Only by intervention of the Buddhist order the two brothers were finally reconciled and Dutthagamani became the king. Dutthagamani opened his log-planned campaign against Anuradhapura’s Tamil ruler Elara. Finally, Elara was slain by Dutthagamani in single combat at the southern city gate of Anuradhapura.
Dutthagamani, coronated in Anuradhapura, was now the sole monarch on the island. One week after his coronation he celebrated a festival at Anuradhapura’s tank. But at its conclusion he was unable to take up the spear from the ground where he had left it at the banks of the tank. This spear contained a sacred Buddha relic. Dutthagamani understood, the relic had decided to be placed at this spot and constructed a huge dagaba enshrining it, Mirisaveti.
But his most famous work of pious architecture ist the even greater Ruwanweliseya, which was erected at the site where Buddha is believed to have stayed during his visit to Anuradhapura. The giant dagaba was not yet completed, when Dutthagamani felt he would die soon. His younger brother, Saddha Tissa, then added the missing top of dagaba with white cloth and the sick King Dutthagamani died with his eyes fixed on his masterpiece in full size, though not finalized,
Due to his victory about a Tamil usurper, Dutthagamani has been venerated by Sinhalese as the most significant national hero till the present day.
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