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Eḷāra

King of Anurādhapura (145‑101 B.C.) He was a native of Coḷa, and having come to Sri Lanka, overpowered the reigning king, Asela, and captured the throne. The Mahāvaṃsa says (Mhv.xxi.14 f ) that he ruled with “even justice towards friend and foe,” and many stories are related showing his love of fairness and his kindness. Although an unbeliever, he paid the greatest respect to Buddhism, and he is credited with having persuaded the gods, by his determination, to send rain over his kingdom only at convenient times. Eḷāra had a general named Mitta (Mhv.xxiii.4); the chief of his forces was Dīghajantu, while his royal elephant was called Mahāpabbata. In the great battle between Eḷāra’s forces and the Sinhalese soldiers under Duṭṭhagāmaṇī, Eḷāra was slain in single contest with the latter. In recognition of the dead king’s chivalry, great honours were paid to him at his funeral and a monument was erected over his ashes. For many generations all music was stopped while passing the monument as a mark of respect to the honoured dead (Mhv.xxv.54‑74; Dpv.xxiii.49 ff).

According to the Mahāvaṃsa Ṭīkā (p.483), a shrine was erected on the spot where Eḷāra’s ashes were buried, and it was called the Eḷārapatimāghara. It was to the south of Anurādhapura, beyond the potters’ village.

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