The Emblems of Royalty of Sri Lanka.
‘The Duties of a Monarch propounded by the Buddha stated that the root of all Social Evil was Poverty and Unemployment. A King who merely collected taxes had the duty to supply Seed and Food for those who lived by Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Those who lived by Trade should be provided with the necessary capital. The Government Servant were properly paid or compensated so that they don’t squeeze the people. New wealth had to be generated, the Citizens was free from Robbers and Cheats, could bring up Children in comfort and happiness, free from Want and Fear. The best way to spend surplus accumulation, whether from the Treasury or from Private donations would be in Public Works such as Tanks, Hospitals, and Monasteries that provided Education, Health care, Banks etc along the Trade Routes maintained by the King.”
The Raja Anka or the heraldic Emblems of rulers of the Brihadhartha dynasty of Maghadha was the Bull mentioned in the Mahabaratha. But the Bull symbol is a universal symbols used by other nations on the coins and art.Most states of India too had their own Royal emblems that signifies the Royal authority of the King when placed on official documents and on coins. In fact in the text book Arthasastra of the Maghdan Empire ,the Master of the Mint was called Laksanaadhayasaka, Laksana in this name apparantly refers to the Emblem of the King and State stamped on the coin.
Closer home, the independent states of the Southern India the Pandayan’s had the stylised fish, the Chola’s the tiger[ This Animal looks very much like a Lion, than a Tiger] , Cera’s the Bow etc. These heraldic marks was also placed on seals on copper grants etc. After about the 2 Cent AD, most of these nations stopped using their Emblems. The Sri Lankan used the Four Dots with a circle emblem or the Purangantha or the Vase Symbol after 2 Cent AD.After about the 6 Cent AD, they opted to inscribe on the face of the coin ,the the name of the Country and the Value alongside the other traditional symbols. The gradual changes that took place , and why these changes took place over the last 2500 year of the coins is a very interesting study.
The Elephant was a prominent symbol placed on coins of all different ancient Empires/Nations in India and Sri Lanka. Most of these different nations had their own Raja-anka on the other side of the coin.The Emblem on the reverse of their coins was a means by which the people with in the area of Kings influence to identify and accept coins as money or reject those with other emblems. A few examples of elephant and many Buddhist symbols on the obverse of the coins with different reverse heraldic emblems is shown below.
THE RAILED SWASTIKA
The Swastika was the most popular symbol of the Indus civilisations , the later Aryan of India soon made this a religious good luck symbol. The ancient people of Sri Lanka too followed the suit and used the Swastika as a religious or a good luck symbol .Some historian is of view this smbol also represented the Buddha or his taechings. But in ancient Sri Lanka an emblem using swastika as the main component , standing on a central staff attended to by two short pillars on either side.This was called the Railed Swastika.
Two Important Factors is respect of the Railed Swastika.
a. Which is the most popular symbol on ancient coins found in Sri Lanka?. With out doubt it is this Railed Swastika, perhaps next to the Lotus- A rough estimate is that over 10,000 ancient coins[ some of them dated to 3 cent BC] with this symbols on them. I have seen over 4000 of them at Museums,with Collectors and Dealers. A fair number of ancient inscriptions of royalty has this symbol. A fair number of seals inscribed with names and titles of Royalty around the railed swastika has been published.
b. The Railed swastika is unique to the Island of Sri Lanka.
THE RAILED SWASTIKA ON SEALS AND INSCRIPTIONS
i.An unread inscribed Intaglio with a Railed Swastika, the mirror image of seal and this may read Ma Ha Sa[Se?] Na Pa Tha……..to an untrained eye. This needs be read by experts. Dr Paranavitane identifies Mahasenpathi as King Dutugemunu on an inscription at .
ii. Many Seals and sealing’ s with Railed swastika was discovered , most of them are inscribed.The two below are legible.
- A clay seals with railed swastika with letters Maharaja[ Great King] is visible.
- A sealing with railed swastika inscribed .. [Ma Ha Ra ] Jha Ga Mi Ni Ti Sa ha de Va Na pi Ya[The Great King Gamini Tisa Devanampiya.Perhaps of King Sadatissa [ Bopeatachchi and Wickremasinghe ] . The German excavation team has published many sealing found in the same location as above sealing. The rear of these sealing was affixed on to Ola leaf’s as the outline of the grain of the Ola is still visible.
- Cave inscriptions In Inscription of Ceylon Volume I – S Paranavitane.
- N0 835 :-This is found on Rock Inscriptions of kings identified as King Sada-tissa at Dambulla Inscription.
- No 406 :- On Gamini-Tissa and Mijhi- Maharaja at Henannegala.
- No 563:On Inscription of Royal Prince and Princess at Kottadamuhela identified with Queen Viharamaha devi. Ms Chandrika Jayasinghe published a coins from the British Museum of a lady Standing on a Boat of the Obverse with a Railed Swastika on the reverse.In our history a lady on a boat can only be connected to Vihare Maha Devi , the mother of our hero King Dutugemunu.
- No 1018:-1027 – of a Maharaja-Gamani Abayasa– at Gallena Vihare.
A similar coins was found by PE Pieris at Kantarodi in the North of Sri Lanka.
This symbols was good enough for the ancient Maharaja to place next to their rock inscriptions and on their Royal Seals. Henry Parker suggest that the central vertical cross bar represents the royal Standard while the four lateral lines symbolize the four fold army of ancient kings ,ie the Corp of elephants, the Chariots, the Cavalry and the foot soldiers, He admits it is far fetched. From the above data this is quite possible and this had a strong connections with Royalty. This symbol is flanked by either the Standard, the Asana or throne and the Triratna which according to reputed writers had implicitly expressed an regal authority.
- The Railed swastika is usually found on the most early coins of the Island. It does not appear alone. In good condition coins, two symbols are found on either side. In all the types of coins with the railed swastika, a few examples having the Caitiya or three arched hill appears under it. The associations of these symbols with the railed swastika and their placement around is a special characteristic of the Sri Lanka early coins. The significance of these symbols is quite relevant to Kingship as discussed by TB Karunaratne. This will be dealt with later.
Of the Coins shown above, Dr DPE Hettiarchchi has speculated that the Multi symbol Elephant and Railed Swastika coin is that of Devanampiyatissa. C14 and Thermoluminance dating of layer of undisturbed layer of earth in which this type of coin was found , justify the credence of this statement. It is possible that this king had the Railed Swastika on his coin.
In an RAS Journal Mr P Weerasinghe suggest that Mahatissa in the inscription shown above was King Devanpiyatissa. If this is so, then this suggest that in addition to Railed Swastika , the monarch would have palced a personel monogram on thier coins , which was Dhajaya or a Standard which King Asoka used. So perhaps the Railed Swastika was the emblem of of a particular Royal family which ruled during the issue of these coins, perhaps that known as those of the Devanampiya Kula on inscriptions. Could it be that the Kings used the Railed Swastika symbol as the emblem that belonged to the Kula or as family emblem.Did they have their own mongrams in addition to this??. But on coins more than one such symbol is placed around the Railed Swastika.
The Throne or Asana
.Mr MH Sirisoma in Inscriptions Vol II 1990 gave a number of symbols associated with inscriptions of Kings. One of them is of is from Minvila , and is of King Katakanna Tissa[ 41-19 BC].The symbol on the inscription is simalar to symbols on coins of Sri lanka with the Railed Swastika. This is found on the the King Devanampiyatissa coin on the reverse of the coin shown above to the right of the Railed Swastika. There are various forms of the Asana found on coins . The Asana is a auspicious symbol of India and also of the Sinhalese. These Lucky symbols are used extensively of Sinhalese art and mentioned in our chronicles.those on coins are analysed on Symbols around the Railed Swastika.
One of the earliest inscriptions that can be historically dated from ancient text is thatof a daughter of the King Uti or Uttiya the brother of king Devanampiyatisa, and reigned after him. The cave donated to the Sanga for the benefit of her parents. This has two symbols , the first is a T on Railing and a Swastika. Therailing is similar o that of the Railed Swastika.
The First Three Lines
A Swastika – “Success| King Abaya the eldest son of King Kuakanna and grandson of great king Tissa, the friend of Gods[ Devanampiya] dedicated the golden Vase channel at Galatataka to the Community of bhikhus in the Payelipavata monastery”.
A Swastika- “The great king Naga gave therefore said channel to the Sanga”.
The King Naga is identified as King Mahadathika Mahanaga [9-21 BC].
This king ‘s inscription at At Vehera Minhintale shown below has a Swastika below it.
The First part is of King Batiya Abaya[ 19 BC]. Great-Great-Great grand son of King Sadatissa, whose mother was Queen Vihare Mahadevi.
The second part is of King Mahadathika Mahanaga [ 9 -21 AD]- a brother of King Batiya Abaya.
The Swastika as a minor symbol on coins
The Fish and Railed Triratna
The Fish and the Railed Triratna is found on inscription that is linked to the parent of King Dutugemunu. The Fish emblem is associated with the Kastriya of Kataragama , Dr Paravitane suggest they have connection to the Sakayan Group of Princess Baddhkacchana who came from India and some on them sttleed in the South[ Mahavansa].
The Fish and Triratna is popular symbols on Coins and is very common on ancient Sri lankan art. The Railed Triratne is not yet found on coins.
A symbol on Inscription of King Sabha[ 59-65 AD]. A Scythe like symbol is seen on an inscription of King Sabha. No such symbol is found on coins, but the Deity or Standing Figure and Railed Swastika coins there are many such symbol fixed at the end of the staff .
For Emblem of Kings of later period.
King Gajabahu II – Peace Treaty placed on a Rock Inscription
A few symbol on coins and similar symbol on Rock Inscriptions of Kings.