There are two different queens by the name of Anula in early Sri Lankan history. Anula was the name of the consort of King Devanampiya Tissa, who introduced Buddhism as the kingdom`s religion in the 3rd century BC. The second Queen Anula lived two centuries later and was a consort, too, namely of Chora Naga, but this is only the beginning of her story. She became a powerful women and decided about who became king by marriage with herself before finally reigning herself openly. Queen Anula is the first known female ruling monarch in Asian history. She was the most powerful figure on the island between 47 BC and 42 BC. Her story is told in the Mahavansa chronicle, which was written in the 6th century AD.
After reigning twelve years, Chora Naga, son of the famous Vatthagamani Abhaya, was killed with poisoned food by his consort Anula. After his death, Kudatissa, son of Chora Naga’s predecessor and step brother Mahachula, became king and reigned three years. Mahachula had been the nephew and adopted son of Vatthagamani Abhaya.
Anula then developed a passion for the senior gate porter of the king's palace, who was called Shiva. She poisoned King Kudatissa and enabled her new consort Shiva to ascend the throne. After only one year and two months Anula fell in love with a Tamil carpenter called Vatuka. King Shiva was poisened and Anula married Vatuka. After another year and two months Anula`s affections went to a low-caste firewood-carrier called Dharubhatika. After Vatuka died soon afterwards, Anula married her new lover, this king got the royal name Tissa, he was poisened after one year and one month. Anula’s final consort was a Tamil Brahmin called Niliya; he reigned for only six months. Afterwards, Anula reigned herself. She is said to have had intercourse with thirty-two of the palace guards. Having reigned for four months on her own, Anula was overthrown by Mahachula's second son Kutakanna Tissa. Anula was burned by him on a funeral pyre. It is told that he refused to live in the palace which he considered to be polluted by the deeds of Queen Anula.
So Asia’s first Queen is remembered as a sexually greedy and murderous bitch. Maybe, the existence of such a powerful woman in Anuradhapura’s early history came to such a surprise to the male chroniclers living in celebacy that they could not explain a female souvereignship without inevitably insinuating, that this must have been the result of bedroom stories and crimes. Due to a lack of sources we will never come to know an alternative version of Queen Anula’s reign in Anuradhapura told by herself or by her followers.
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