A king of the Rohaṇa dynasty in Sri Lanka. He was the great-grandson of Mahānāga, brother of Devānampiyatissa, and his father was Goṭhābhaya (Mhv.xv.170 f; Mbv.132). His capital was at Mahāgāma. He had as wife, Devī (better known as Vihāradevī), daughter of Tissa, king of Kalyāṇi, who had been cast into the sea to expiate her father’s crimes (Mhv.xxii.20 ﬀ). Their children were Duṭṭhagāmaṇī-Abhaya and Saddhā Tissa. Kākavaṇṇa Tissa gathered round him all the foremost Sinhalese warriors of the time so that they should be available for Gāmaṇi, when the time came for his campaign against the Damiḷā (Mhv.xxiii.2).
However, at the start, Kākavaṇṇa Tissa was very reluctant to allow his son to make preparations for such a campaign (Mhv.xxii.82 f), so much so that, in exasperation, the young prince once sent his father some female ornaments to indicate that the king was no man (Mhv.xxiv.4). Kākavaṇṇa Tissa was very pious, and is said to have built sixty-four vihāras, sixty-four years being also the length of his reign (Mhv.xxiv.12; see also AA.i.279). Among the religious edifices built by him were the Tissamahārāma, the Cittalapabbata-vihāra (Mhv.xxii.23) and the Mahānuggala Cetiya. He was cremated at Tissamahārāma (xxiv.8, 13). He evidently received his name on account of his dark colour. The Dīpavaṃsa (Dpv.xviii.20; were their names Mahilā and Samantā?; see also xix.21 f) speaks of Kākavaṇṇa Tissa’s daughters as having been proficient in the history of the religion (saddhamma-vaṃsa-kovidā).
He was once a tribesman (milakkka) in India and looked after a Pacceka Buddha. One day he gave the Pacceka Buddha a meal of ripe jack-fruit. On another occasion, when the Pacceka Buddha visited his house in his absence, his wife tried to tempt him. Having failed, she complained to the husband that the Pacceka Buddha had assaulted her. The latter sought the Pacceka Buddha to kill him, but, seeing him in mid-air putting on his robe, he was filled with wonder and asked the Pacceka Buddha’s forgiveness. Later he was born in a hunters’ village near Amaruppala-lena, his name being Amaruppala, and did various good deeds.
He was called Kākavaṇṇa Tissa because he knew the speech of crows. Ras.ii.53 f; see also p.64, where a crow announces various things to him.