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Lambakaṇṇā

A clan (gotta) mentioned in the Chronicles as being among the inhabitants of Sri Lanka. The Lambakaṇṇā had, probably, certain duties to perform in connection with the consecration of a king.¹ We find that Iḷanāga, when he went to take his ceremonial bath in Tissavāpi, was enraged on finding that the Lambakaṇṇā were not there. As a punishment, he ordered them to work at the remaking of a road along the bank of the reservoir, leading to the Mahā Thūpa, and set outcastes (caṇḍāla) to supervise them. Full of anger, the Lambakaṇṇā rose in revolt and seized the throne. Three years later the king returned from exile, and, having defeated the Lambakaṇṇā, made them drag his chariot in triumphal procession. When he proposed to behead them his mother intervened, and he contented himself with having their noses and toes cut off (Mhv.xxxv.18 ff).

The Lambakaṇṇā were evidently a powerful clan, and several members of the clan ruled as kings of Sri Lanka — e.g., Vasabha, Saṅghatissa, Saṅghabodhi, and Goṭhābhaya, the last three of whom came from Mahiyangana and seized the throne from Vijayakumāra (Mhv.xxxvi.58 ff). Between the reign of Kittisirimegha and the Coḷiyan conquest in 1017 A.C. — i.e., between the third and the eleventh centuries — out of thirty-six kings who occupied the throne of Sri Lanka the majority belonged to either the Moriyā or the Lambakaṇṇā. A clan of Lambakaṇṇā lived also in South India in the twelfth century. When Laṅkāpura, acting under the orders of Parakkamabāhu I, crowned Vīrapaṇḍu as king of Paṇḍu, three Lambakaṇṇā chiefs were asked to carry out “the duties of the Lambakaṇṇā” (Lambakaṇṇādhuraṃ) (Cv.lxxvii.27 f).

The name may have had a totemistic origin, but according to some Singhalese Chronicles (e.g., the Saddharmaratnākara and the Pārakumbā-Sirita) the Lambakaṇṇā of Sri Lanka were a branch of the Moriyas. They claimed descent from Sumitta — a prince of the Moriyan clan, who formed one of the escort that brought the Bodhi-tree from India — and Sumanā, a princess of the same race, who was at one time a nun, ordained under Saṅghamittā. According to these Chronicles most of the kings of Sri Lanka down to the time of Parakkamabāhu VI were scions of this clan.

In Sri Lanka, the Lambakaṇṇā had settlements in Rohaṇa. See, e.g., AA.i.262.

¹ This was perhaps the reason why Parakkamabāhu I gave them a prominent place in the ceremonies held in honour of the Tooth Relic (Cv.lxxiv.213); see also below, in the text.


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