The Lions is placed to the North direction on some ancient temples or dagabos, Yatraragalas and on Astamangala Slabs. the other three animals are placed in the other three directions.This is so at Sigiriya , but to a Buddhist artist the three animals signify the three important events in the life of the Buddha–
- the Elephant the conception -the dream of Maya-devi of a white elephants,
- the Horse, renunciation or the the horse kanthaka on whom Prince Sidhartha left the palace,
- the Lions or the force of the lions roar his first sermon at Isipathana.
The scenes depicting these events is shown on the Sanchi Vihare Gateway.There are many stories in the Tripataka where the force of the buddha dhramma is compared with the Lions roar.Angunthara Nikaya- Sihasuttraya etc.The Asoka pillar erected at Issipatana the place of his first sermon is now the National Emblem of India.
The Lion is the emblem of the Sinhalese and was used frequently in their art and architecture. They used it n their coins, the earliest coin with a Lion was C14 dated to the 1 Cent BC. They also used it on later lions from the period of King Mahasen and later of the Lion and Pot coins.
Our Kings were expected by the people to be future Bodhisatavas and so follow and practice the Buddhist principles of governance. The Lion on the coin would have meant the benevolent rule of the king.
Lion Coin – HW Codrington in Coins and Currency of Ceylon.
There were Nine kings under the name of Parakramabahu, the legend on the coin with a seated lion shown above. HW Codrington has analyzed below why it was the coin of Parakaramabahu VI who ruled from Kotte. I visited the Kotte Museum which has displaced many Moulds for the casting of these coins. Many other moulds have been found elsewhere. The provenance of these moulds and the various types of these coins need to be studied, if more than 3 kings with the same name issued these coins. This may apply to the Vijabahu and Bhuvanake-Bahu coins.
The ‘Lion’, Type
20. The attribution of the ” Lion ” coin bearing the legend Sri| Parakrama Bahu has hitherto been far from. : clear. The treatment of the head and crown, as well as the frequent presence of a border of large dots, differentiate it from the usual Polonnaruwa-Dambadeniya copper, and the variations in size and weight taken into consideration with the deterioration in design would class it with, if not after, series II of that coinage, Though allied in many ways with this, the obverse bears a close resemblance to that of type II (4) of the Setu issues, the discussion of which above should be read in conjunction with the present section, and it, therefore, seems probable that it was issued in the same locality.
The introduction of the lion, the national dynastic emblem, absent from the Polonnaruwa-Dambadeniya series, may be explainable as suitable to a coinage struck by a Sinhalese king in a foreign country. On this supposition there are only two kings of the name of Parakrama Bahu who can have issued the “ Lion” Of these, Parakrama Bahu I, between A,D. 1164-5 and 1167-8, interfered in the war of the Pandyan succession, After a campaign,in the course of which the fortified city of Parakamapura was built, the Sinhalese general Lankapura reduced the country, put his master’s candidate on the throne of Madura, and, according to the Mahavansa (cap. LXXVII, 104),. commanded that the kahapana coin bearing the superscription of the King Parakkrama, should be used throughout the country.” The Sinhalese occupation of at least a small part of the mainland seems to have been more than temporary, as Nissanka Malla clamns to have built the Nissaakesvara Temple at Ramesvaram.
KING PARAKRAMABAHU VI.
The second, the sixth of the name, who reigned from A.D. 1415 to 1467 sent Sapumal Kumaraya against the kingdom of Jaffna, which he conquered and held for some years.
At first blush it would appear to be obvious that the coin under discussion is the kahapana referred to in the Mahavamsa. But it is to be observed that there is no mention of striking a special coinage, but merely of the enforced circulation of the Sinhalese money in the Pandyan country. The has never been found in excavations conducted by the Archaeological survey, and, further, the Set type II(4), which it resembles, must date from a period posterior to those of type I, which are copied from a thirteenth century Cola prototype. The Setu coins undoubtedly formed the currency of Jaffna, where, as we have seen, it is likely that they were struck, and it is more probable that the ,”Lion ” was issued under the authority of Parakrama Bahu VI in the kingdom. It may be objected to this theory that the proposed date is too late for the letters of the legend. But the Dambadeniya coins were current till a much later date, and quite naturally would be given as the model for the Tamil craftsmen’ who on their part would be influenced by the ,Setutype already familiar to them.
21, The following are the chief types ; the comparatively large number of varieties in contrast with the Uniformity of the Dambadeni kasi is noteworthy, as, whether struck by Parakrama Bahu I or VI, all must have been issued within a comparatively short period :-
I-Hanging Lamp with Dots
A.-As in twelfth-thirteenth century Sinhalese.
Obv. : Head, a semicircle, from the chord of which three lines project; crown, or makula, two curved lines with a dot in rear ; r, elbow more pronounced : in r. hand a lamp consisting of a straight line ending in a ball and flanked on either side by two dots ; in l. band a small ball : in some this rests on the palm, in others is held by the finger and thumb, Feet turned outwards, no line between the legs, but one across them at the knees ; a small curved line without finials under the feet. Two dots, one under each arm.-, represent the upper part of the dhoti.
To right, a lion seated and facing r., left foreleg uplifted ; each paw has three claws. In Rhys Davids No. 5 the uplifted leg has degenerated into a symbol resembling a mace, possibly though a mistake of the die engraver, A varying number of dots in the field. The whole is in a circle of large dots.
Rev. : A similar head, with eye, or the central projecting line crosses the chord, either (l) reaching the back of the semicircle, or (2) stopping halfway ; crown, as on
Qbv. In L hand either (1) a narrow upright object curving over to the left at top, or (2) a small ball held by the finger and thumb. The l. leg is in line with the body . Dhoti consists of two short branching lines, below which a line of dots. Anklets visible ; a trace of the asana showing a small line to l. of lower leg. The whole in a circle of large dots,
In some specimens the right limb of the ra curves outwards.