Vallipuram inscription

Vallipuram Sannasa

Vallipuram Sannasa was discovered in the division of Vadamarachchi located in the Jaffna district. It provides the evidence to prove that Sinhala is the main language in northern Sri Lanka in the 2nd century AD. This Sannasa is an ancient literary work of Sri Lanka and they are available in various materials such as palm leaves, silver, copper, gold etc. Vallipuram Sannasa is a plate of gold and it is written in Brahmi letters of 2nd century AD. The same alphabet is recorded in several other stone inscriptions dating back to the same period, in several places of Sri Lanka.

Origin of the inscription

The inscription is originated in the 2nd century AD during the Anuradhapura period. According to the Vallipuram Gold plate, Nagadeepa and Jaffna were under the control of King Wasabha of Anuradhapura. The king had assigned the duty of governing the region to one of his ministers.

Exploring the inscription

The gold plate was first explored by J.P Lewis, the government agent of Ceylon (1903-1904). Ha had made a lengthy description of the contents of the Sannasa in his book “Ceylon Antiquary-Literary Register” (Second volume), which was published in 1916.

According to the information on the book, there had been a Buddha statue near the Vishnu Kovil (Hindu temple) of Vallipuram. Remnants of an ancient fortress were discovered at this religious site with some remaining of old bricks.

Gold plate was hidden in the ground under the foundation of Vishnu Kovil. The plate is slightly more than thirteen inches in length and one inch in breadth and it weight 69.5 Grains. The thin plate is inscribed on the side while the other side kept blank.

What is the Information hidden in the inscription?

According to the plate, when the King Wasabha of Anuradhapura was in the throne (65 AD – 109 AD), a minister by the name of Isigira had ordered his subordinates to build a Buddhist temple in Vallipuram. Jaffna district was known as Nakadiva (Nagadeepa) in the plate and it was ruled by King Wasabha in the 2nd Century AD.

The reign of Wasabha had been one of the most prosperous periods of the island. As Prof. Paranawithana opines, the reign of King Wasabha was the El Dorado of Lanka economically, culturally and politically.

As the gold plate describes the minister had been a Sinhala Buddhist and the Sinhala language had been the main language of the people. According to several historical sources of information such as chronicles and inscriptions, the people of north Sri Lanka had been known to be having the same language, religion and origin as the people of Anuradhapura.

It was a strong indication of existing Sinhala Buddhist culture in the Northern part of the country during the period of Anuradhapura Kingdom.  Further to historians, there had been identical political, religious and cultural systems in the northern part of Sri Lanka and in the rest of the country.

The language of the inscription

The gold plate was written in Brahmi letters, Brahmi letters were mostly seeing in ancient granite caves, where the Buddhist monks had been sheltered. Inscriptions that are written in Brahmi letters found in ancient Buddhist temples in various parts of the country. The inscription written in Brahmi letters can be witnessed under the drip-ledges of the granite caves, such as Dambulla cave temple. These inscriptions were written under drip-ledges mostly say that the caves were reserved for Buddhist monks of present and future.

The gold plate is valuable evidence to prove the strong Sinhala Buddhist presence in the country including the northern part in the past. This valuable evidence can be used to solve many controversial opinions that exist regarding the northern province of the country.