Annexation of Kandy to the British Crown

First King of Sri Lanka

In the land of mystery and solemn beauty, there lived a King by the name of Sinhabahu about two thousand four hundred years ago. The name of his Queen was Sinhasivalie and they had many children of whom the eldest was named Vijaya and the second Sumitha.

Vijaya was a very strong and healthy boy, but I am sorry to say he was already in his youth a very willful and naughty boy, who gave a great deal of trouble to his parents. as he was, however, very strong and also very clever, his father made him sub-king, while he was still very young; for the poor King needed a great deal of help to improve his country, which consisted still to a great extent of jungle and swamps. These he wanted to turn into fertile and useful land. So that his faithful subjects should have a happier life.

Vijaya was very clever in supervising the workman and showing them how to fell a tree and remove their roots. He understood also how to turn swamps into tanks which the monsoon rains were to fill with water so that the poor people could irrigate their paddy fields in the dry season. In this way, they could have two paddy harvests each year and need not serve. These poor people were really very easily satisfied, for when they had their rice, boiled in water and some salt with it and some roots or fruits, then they were quite happy.

Now this state of affairs would have been quite nice if Vijaya had attended to his business faithfully. But he got very tired of it and commenced a great deal of wild happy.

He gathered a crowd of youth around him, who was just as mischievous as himself. They dressed up as wild men; frightened the women and children by pretending to want to rob them and carry them away, and they did many other foolish and unlawful things.  The poor villagers came running to King Sinhabahu and complained bitterly about his disobedient and mischievous son and asked him to forbid this cruel play.

Three times the King pardoned his son because he promised to become better, but when he always fell back again into his former bad ways, Sinhabahu got very angry. He had half the hair of their heads, and half of the beards of Vijaya and his companions shaved off and had these men put on board a ship, which was sent drift on the Ocean. Then the angry King shouted to him “Vijaya, go and find another country for yourself”.

Thus Vijaya was sent away from his own country, India, the Wives and children of Vijaya’s companions were also put on ships and they landed in different parts of India, where they were kindly welcomed, and where he remained and settled. Vijaya and seven hundred companions landed at the port of Supparaka, but they were driven away again by the people there, on account of their bad behaviour. And for the second time, they were adrift on the ocean. This was really a very sad thing now.

They were carried by the current further away from the coast and they were drifting on the water for many days. At last one morning, when the sun was just rising over the sea, it shone on something high that seemed to reset in the water.

When they came a little nearer they saw that it was a mountain. After a few more hours they saw in the far distance something green and they discovered that high palm-trees were waving their slender branches to them as a welcome. Vijaya was the first to land, and he put his hands down on the earth as if bowing down and said solemnly “I take possession of this land, and I swear that I will be a father to my subjects and a good ruler over this country”.