Historical links to Padmawathi legend



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In The Island November 25, TD queried whether Queen Padmawathi was a Sinhala Princess. According to the facts, there is no recorded evidence that she was a Sinhalese princess. May be a Rajput princess born in Sri Lanka.


According to the article published by Professor Wimala Wijesuriya in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (1992), during the 13-14 centuries, in Sri Lanka there was Rajputana influence in the Royalty, most of the Rajputs were employed as Army commanders and soldiers, to keep the Maga influence beyond Polonnaruwa to the minimum. One such army commander of Rajput Royality, named Bhameera was made the commander of a fortress in Gandeniya near Minipe. He managed to keep the Maga forces in check, and is mentioned in the Minipe column inscription and in the Mahavansa. Hameera Sanka is his full name, but Professor Paranawithana in his translation of the Minipe inscription mentioned him only as Bhama. May be the name Sanka was added later. Sanka was an honorific name.


Padmini was a legendary 13-14 century Indian/Sri Lankan queen. The earliest source to mention her is Padmavat, an epic poem written by Malik Mohamed Jayasi in 1540 CE. He confirms that Padmini was a daughter of Hameer Sanka, a chieftain of Sri Lanka.


An English soldier and a historian, James Todd, in his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajastan, mentioned that in 1275 Chauhann (commander) HameeraSanka’s daughter Padmini was married to Ratna Sen, Lord of the Rajput clan in Chittor. Rajput ancient stories and bardic poems confirm that Padmini’s father, hailed from Singalor Sinhale and is of Rajput Royality.


The legend of Padmini has little historical evidence, and historians have rejected the authenticity of most of the versions. If we assume Hameera Sanka was Padmini’s father, his name appears in the Minipe column inscription, but not daughter’s name. The Mahavansa authors do not mention army commanders’ wives or daughters’ names. Chulawansaya also records the name as Sanka Senevi who contained the Maga forces in Minipe area and his heroic deeds.


Although there is no historical evidence that Padmini existed, she has become a symbol of valour and sacrifice in Rajput.


There is confusion about another Padmini existing in Sri Lanka in that time frame. She was Keragala Padmawthi. According to Professor P.E.P.Fernando it was assumed that she was King Wickramabahu’s (1357) of Gampola and King Buvenakbahu’s Prime Minister Nissanka Alagakkonara’s sister. She is mentioned in Keragala inscription and in the Hansa Sandesya. She lived in Keragala. Keragala Pirivena was built for Padmawathie to worship. There is a vast difference in the upbringing of the two Padmawathies. Therefore, the two Padmawathies cannot be the same. The Sinhala Padmawathie died as the grandmother of Ven. Keragala Wanarthana Sangarajahimiyan.


Padmawthie’s (the Rajput Princess) story became very popular during Nurthi/Nadagam period of Sri Lankan theatre; the plays were performed at the Tower Hall under the direction of John Silva and Rupasinghe master. The song ‘Dakkoth Padmawathi’i became very popular.


French composer Albert Roussel held a lifelong fascination with Asian cultures, and produced an Opera/Ballet Padmawathie., which is very rarely performed these days.


Thank you TD, some of us like your writings, please keep writing.


TILAK WIJEWARDENE


Melbourne,


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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