MAHAVANSA CHAPTER VII.  The author of Mahavansa  says he read the Mahavansa written by the ancients. After going into to what the ancient said or written down? in 5 Cent AD ,What he had to say. He is quite explicit and gives the answer and why so. Why did he write what was in Sinhala script in Pali ?

Verse 7

And no sooner had the god received the charge from Sakka than he came speedily to Lanka and sat down at the foot of a tree in the guise of a wandering ascetic. And all the followers of VIJAYA came to him and asked him: `What island is this, sir?’ “The island of Lanka”, he answered.

VERSE 40-42

When those who were commanded by VIJAYA landed from their ship, they-sat down wearied, resting their hands upon the ground and since their hands were reddened by touching the dust of the red earth that region and also the island were (named) Tambapanni. But the king Sihabähu, since he had slain the lion (was called) Sihala and, by reason of the ties between him and them, all those (followers of VIJAYA) were also (called) Sihala.



During the 8-11 cent AD, the  coins in circulation had the name of country as Sri Laka and value inscribed on them. There are about 30 numbers of  types and sub types, differing in Symbols and the arrangement of these symbols of the faces of the coin. The coins are in 4 denominations, the Kalanda, the Ada Kahavanu or half Kalanda , the De-aka or quarter Kalan and the eighth called Aka. The number of types in almost equal to number of kings that ruled the country during that period, after King Manavamma [684-718 AD].



LANKA, SINHALA AND IILAM. By Professor Abaya Aryasinghe

I propose in the following  notes  to examine  three names  Sinhala. Lanka and lilam from among many term attributed to our island. The Sinhalavatthuprakarana supposed to be the earliest extant Pali book in our country does not use the term Lanka to introduce the island. It only uses two alternative terms, Sihaladvipa and Tambapanni-dipa.

This work contains stories from the time of king Saddhatissa (137-119 B.C.). It is therefore admissible that the term Lanka is a later introduction. The Dipavamsa[ 4 CENT AD ?] and the Mahavamsa[ 5 CENT AD] however use Lanka for the first time. It is followed by the Buddhagaya Sanskrit inscription by a monk called Mahanaman. This monk is supposed to be the author of the Mahavamsa. In no early inscription of our country the term Lanka appears. The Alahabad prasasati  inscriptions of King Samudradupta and the Tiriyaya inscriptions apply the term Sinhala apply the name with the dental La stand honorific suffix suggesting the meaning “Group”  in Sinhala usage. Sinhala people as a long standing community of people evolved themselves into a nation not by the strength of the sword but by the plough. They belonged to the Solar Dynasty[ Suriyawansa]. The standard of the Sun God in the Lion.

The Sinhala people by the nature of being worshipers of the Sun God are entitled to adopt  the Lion as their national insignia. It may be noted that the lion bears a Sword. This feature is a later addition introduced by the Vaduge kings in Kandy to under estimate the prestige of the bravery of the Sinhala people. A brave creature need no sword nor weapons to kill its enemy.

In Indian literary works the term Lanka does not exclusively refer to this island. The Brharsamhita identifies Lanka as Sinhala, as two different political divisions. The Bhagavat-purana agrees with the Sanhita in stating, pancajanah sinhalo lanketi. In dealing with the location of Jambudvipa reference is made to eight islands. Sylvan Levy points out that alluvial islands lying on either sides of  the banks of the Godhavari river as Lankas. A deed of gifts which comes from the district of Sonpur mentions a local chief under the title of Pascima Lankadhipati– Lord of west Lanka. .There had been a territory called Mavi-langai in North India lying to the north of Nellur. Thus it becomes clear that there existed two distinct political entities known as Lanka and Sinhala in the past.

As stated earlier, Pali writers have repeated the term Lanka more than Sinhala counterparts in their works. The Mahavamsa itself uses the term Lanka more than forty times, the Dipavamsa thirty times. In the Pali commentaries this term predominates. The commentators such as Buddhaghosa and Buddhadatta were foreigners who would have been more familiar with the ‘Indian’ term Lanka than the local term, Sinhala, as mentioned in the Ramayanaya, as the principle arena where episodes took place.They imagined that it was Lanka of the Sinhala people. But Ramayanaya only mentioned Lankapura and not Lankadipa.



Balaramayanaya-Act X verse 49.

Janas ca vak-sudha- sutir mani-sutis ca Rohana Nanyatra Simhala-dvipan mukta- sutis ca sagarah

‘People who  produce the Nectar of speech, Rohana Mountains  which produce Gems and the Ocean that produces Pearls- these are nowhere found together, but in the Island of the Sinhalas’-


The works like Mahabaratha. Kathasarisagara, Diyawadana etc  make references to Sinhaladvipa. The works on astrology and Gemmology refers to the term Sinhala, Navaratna has it is seven places.


The Pattuppatti a Tamil poetical work mentions Sinhaldavipa as lilam in the following line Ilatkulavum u means “rice  from lilam”. Iliam also occurs in an inscription of Rajaraja Chola discovered at point Comarin in India, The relevant line runs thus, “Murattolil Singalar lilamandalum”.

The earliest reference to Sinhala in the garb of Iila is found in two cave inscriptions in South India. They are written in Brahmi script and their language shows affinity with the archaic tamil. TheTirappanguram  cave inscription also in this locality has the wording  Ilakuturnpikanam… ‘husband from Sinhala’. It is followed by the Kalugamalai inscription which mentions, Ilan kanikan to mean Kanikan from Iila (Sinhala).

Puttamittarar, (Buddhamitra) in his Grammar, Virasoliam sites, Singalavan pesavadu Singalan– language of the Sinhalas is Sinhala. These instances clearly show the stand taken by the Tamil authors ,when they make reference, to our island. K. B. Subramanyar Ayyiyar eminent epigraphist in India says, ‘It ( ilan with long i)is the Tamil adaptation of the word Sinhala passing through the intermediate forms, Sinhala and ilan (with short i) is  the adaptationof the word Sinhala passing through the intermediate form, Sinhala and  llam[ Short i].

Foreigners other than the Tamil and Sanskrit writers have used a number of other names to denote Sri Lanka. In Ptolemy’s time this island was known as Salike and her inhabitants Salai. The Chinese called it Sen-kia-la. Ibn Batuta who visited the island in the l4th century used the term Silavan. Various terms used by the Arabs are Serendib, Singalbid and Sisla, It appears that the Arab term, Sislan gave birth to the English term, Ceylon. Thus etymologically it could be proved that almost all alternative forms applied to our island except perhaps. Tambapanni and Ratnadvipa have their birth in the original form Sinhaladvipa. The future Constitution makers should take note of this fact and rename this island of ours as Sinhaladvipa. Even the present Constitution could be amended accordingly as Sinhala M.P’s are in a majority.



Polonnaruva Raja Maligawa and West Porch Pillar inscriptions of KinG kassapa IV[ 889-914 AD], described as the Great King Sri Sanganbo, who is by the right of descent inherited the earth of the Island of Lanka.

Hela-divi: the Island of Sinhala/Simhala (Sg.293)

He!-diva: the Island of Simhala (EZ( Epigraphica Zelonica) Vol I, No 20.line 15 -Mahinda IV (1026-1042 AD) repaired the Tanks and Ponds and ended the scarcity of food in the Hela Diva[ transalated as Island of the Simhala] also uses Lak diva or Island of Lanka in many another lines in Jetwanarama Inscption[No 68 .7 ofIC Vol V pt ii]

Lagdivu: the Island of Lamka

a.EZ.III, 34. 3;Parakramabahu I, called the Lord of the maiden, the Island of Lankadvipa, in  Devenagala Inscription to Gen Kit Nuwaragal who invaded Burma .

EZ.IV, 22,A 7-8;EZ.V, I, A.2}

Lak: the Lamka (

  1. l , l9.5;- Jetwanarama Insp of Mahinda IV – states he drove away the the Dravadian foe like Sun dispelling darkness from the sky.1026-1042 AD

IC.V, II, I8, A. 4)

Laka: the Lamka[ (EZ.II, I 7, A. I 6)

Lakdiv: the Island of Lamka (E.Z.I,7, A. 3; 9.19’19. 4;EZ V,17.15)

Lakdiva: the Island of Lamka (EZ.V,17. 15; 43. 5 44,l)

Lakdivu: the Island of Lamka, (EZ I, 9.l9; EZ.II, I 4. I 5)Dambulla Inscp- Nissankamalle returned to the Island of Lamka with his 4 fold armies from Dambadiva India.

Lamka; the Lamka (EZ. II, l 9. l; 41 .6; UCR. XIX, p. 21.3) .

Lamka-dvlpaya: the Island of Lamka( 1EZ.II, 17, C. 3 ;20.1;IC.VII 9, 4,; GP.p. 137 . 4)

Lamka-.Jipaya: the Island of Lamka( EZ.III, 34.14)Devanagala Insp, Parakramabahu refers to Vijeyabahu I who united the land of the Sinhala

Lamkava: the Lamka (

EZ.I, 9. I 2;Nissankamalle  relinquished the revenue from inordinate taxes imposed upon the people of Lankava by King Parakramabahu I

EZ.II, 15 . 2;

EZ.III, 3,B12-  Parakramabahu VI in Oruvala Sannasaya, it says he was crowned 53 time in Lamka

Siri-Lak/Siri Laka: The Island of Siri Lamka (EZ I,4.8; Kassaapa V(923-39 AD ) Inscriptionat Jetwanarama Dagabo.Direct descendant  from great Lords of the soil of Siri-lak. Prowess of lion and sat on lion throne.

EZ.II, 24.1;25.1; Sg. 44)

Siri-Lakdiv/Siri-Lakdiva: the Island of Sri Lamka(EZ.I, 17 Kassapa IV 963-980 AD brought under one umbrella all three provinces Ruhunu. Maya and Pihiti in Island Sri lanka

,A.1; EZ.II,3, A.l; 21, A.15; EZ.III,28,A. 3)

Sri Lamka-dvipaya;  the Island of SrI Lamka(EZ.VI, 28 3;EN. 3,1. 4)

Tri-simhalaya: the triple Kingdom of Si Lamka; the three kingdoms were: the Rohana, Maya, and Pihiti (EZ.11,36, B. 8,17, B. 8)

Tri-Simhala rajaya: the triple Simhala Kingdoms; the three Kingdoms were the Rohana, Maya and Pihiti (EZ I, I4. 6), Queen Lilavati wife of King Parakramabahu I, in Apua Inscription sates she attained the kingship over tri simhala rajaya