The first king, who chose Anuradhapura as his capital, was Pandukabhaya, who reigned from 377 to 307 B.C.E. Pandukabhaya is famous for his fight for the throne against his uncles, who tried to kill him, because a soothsayer had prophesised even before Pandukabhaya was born, he otherwise would kill his uncle. The latter came true. It’s a very famous legend about an early civil war. The historical background of this story is presumably a conflict between the early Sinhalese settlers who quickly had become the rulers in the northwestern part of the island, called Tambapanni by them, and the local tribal people. According to that legend, Pandukabhaya was both a descendant of the Sinhalese leaders and the heroic leader of of the locals, thus reconciling the tribals with the Sinhalese rule.
Once Pandukabhaya became the king, he turned out to be a just ruler. He is said to have have governed Sri Lanka in a way that helped to improve the living conditions of ordinary villagers and ensured equal treatment to all citizens including both earlier and later settlers. The tribals are called Yakshas in the chronicles, meaning “demons”. Pandukabhaya is believed to have offered fraternity and fair treatment to their leaders called Kaladevala and Cittaraga he offered. As a way of showing his acceptance of all religious traditions, Pandukabhaya planted two different sacred trees at the eastern gate of his capital, a Banyan and a Palmyrah tree. The female demon Pachchimarajini was recognized as the guardian deity at the western gate of Anuradhapura.
Pandukhabahaya is also credited with having provided support for first groups of Indian ascetics, but not yet Buddhists. The chronicles mention Niganthas (Jains) as early hermits. Other groups mentioned in the Pandukabhaya legends are Ajivaka and Brahmin immigrants, which were rivals of the Buddhist order in India those days, too.
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