The economy During Kurunegala was the Capital.
Posted on March 19th, 2023

By Dr Tilak S. Fernando

Historians will not consider Kurunegala as a particular era during the Sinhala Kingdoms because four to five kings reigned during this era. It is not recognisable to identify as a historical period. 

According to ‘Dalada Pujawaliya’ during the Kurunegala era, approximately one hundred per cent of the government’s income from ships was directed to the sacred temple where Buddha’s tooth relic is housed. The income from the ships aided Sinhala kings in maintaining the country as a leading source of income along with trade.

The Aryans who came to Sri Lanka dealt with agriculture and raised paddy farming to an excellent level up to the twelfth century. Whilst the water was obtained through irrigation systems during that epoch, through lakes and ponds, the people managed to do paddy farming in the North and Southeast. A decline in crops caused a colossal drop in production ultimately.

There was no reason for kings to abandon fertile places and come to places like the Dhambadenya and Kurunegla area, which is highly populated. Historians believe it was because of the geographical set-up, climatic changes, foreign invasions and nature. Mahavamsa does not show any annexation of Dambadeniya with Kurunegala, but it mentions that after the demise of Parakramabahu III, Buwanekabahu’s son held the throne.

During the Kurunegala epoch, the King’s primary income consisted of the agricultural produce that farmers contributed to the King. King’s second income was from precious stones such as pearls and various types of precious gems ranging from blue diamonds, moonstones and Pishparaga”. The King’s second income came from the penalty courts served on King’s subjects known as the Marala Badda”.

Those who did the King favours were given several plots of land by the King, known as Prvaniya or Dival. Also, Royal servants who conformed to the king’s problems and went to distant places received several properties distributed by kings known as Prvaveniya” or Divel”. Historical records also mentioned that government servants who travelled up to faraway places did not incur any expenses to the royalty, who went on official duties and were allowed to reside in such schemes, thereby incurring no extra costs because they were permitted to live in such properties.

Parakramabahu IV donated an ashram to Buddhist priests. He planted Paranagama king coconut, breadfruit, and fruit trees, such as morawaka, to assist the ashram. The King commanded that folks trained for military purposes should work free of charge for the nation’s sake on behalf King’s behalf, but payment had to be made only for regular soldiers. During this period and a substantial amount of wealth King Parakramabahu II spent on religious activities. Parakramabahu II had given alms to one to one thousand Buddhist priests, whilst Pandit Parakramabahu IV built a three-level building and performed every aspect of religious observations.

During Parakramabahu IV’s reign, past battles with ‘Soli’s reign in India were exposed. Still, the King brought several languages professors, translated them into Sinhala from the Pali language, and distributed them throughout Ceylon.

During Dambadeniya’s reign, it is recorded in the folk tales that many people visited on pilgrimage to see the scared Dalada by using elephants, horses, cattle etc. And many rich people thinking was that it would give rise to many accidents. These people would have been the officials or officers who were the favourites of the kingdom.

The country’s economy was greatly influenced by internal trade and exports. During this aeon, undoubtedly, Muslims were prominent tradesmen. It also proves that Roman coins were found in four dams made of Alexdarian metal by kings Niro and Westphalian, with evidence of trade agreements with Rome. It differs from the country’s economy during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa era. However, there was evidence to prove how kings and the people were very pious. There was no foreign invasion during the Kurunegala epoch, as per   Mahavamsa.

Courtesy: The writer translated to English from the text of the late Prasad Milinda Siriwardena, Ceylon Economic Analysis  between BC 543 to 1832

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress