This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
Southern India asking for the hand of a princess, daughter of the Pandya, who agreed and sent along with the princess a number of young women of the noble families and of the 18 guilds to go and colonise Ceylon and marry the new settlers there. They all came across apparently by way of Ramesvaram and landed in the port of Ceylon, Mahatitha (Mantota) opposite the island of Mannar almost where the railway line starts in the island now. Thus was founded civilised society in Ceylon. It is clear that the story contains elements of history in it although the historical elements are so covered over with myth that it would be difficult to believe at first sight that it contains anything historical at all. A close examination of the story, however, will exhibit that there are some elements of history undoubtedly in it. The story conveys the information that the northern parts of the island of Ceylon were colonised from Bengal, - to be more accurate, Gangetic Kalinga. That comes out clearly from the story itself, and we find it confirmed from a somewhat overlooked circumstance in the story itself. The Bengal princess that was banished from her father's capital joined a caravan going to Magadha, which would mean, she left some town in Bengal which might have been on either side of the Ganges, and went along the road to Bihar. If the story is to be taken as authority at all, it was in the course of this journey that the caravan was attacked by the lion, it may be an animal lion, or more probably a tribe of wild people with a lion for their totem. The region where they were attacked is called Lata. This has been apparently too readily equated with Lata (Gujarat) which also becomes Lada in Tamil. It certainly would be far more reasonable to equate it with Radha which in the eastern Prakrit would appear Ladha, or by a further modification Lala, dha and la interchanging usually. The Asoka edicts give us authority for this, as oftentimes the term "Raja" is in the language of these parts represented by 1 "Laja," and Rajjuka by Lajjuka. One of the inscriptions referable to the period of the Kushanas refers to a district in this region as Radha. Mr. Bannerji2 identified this Radha, at least northern Radha, with Burdwan and the southern Radha, must be south or south-west of it, in either case towards Kalinga.
Both the Bhagavati Sutra forming the fifth of the Jain Angas and the Ayaranga Sutra contain references to the meeting of Mahavira with the Ajivaka Makkhali Gosala in Nalanda, and their residence in Paniyabhumi together for six years. This last place is said to have been in Vajjabhumi, one of the two divisions of Ladha, which is describded as a forest country difficult to travel and inhabited by rude people who set their dogs upon mendicants wandering in the country.1
1 Vide Kalsi, Dhauli and Jaugada versions in Ramavatara Sarma's Edition of the Asoka Edicts.
2 R. D. Bannerji's Pala Kings of Bengal, pp. 71-75, Memoirs of the Ben. A. S., V. 3.
This location confirms what Tamil literature has to say of Vajra-nadu already referred to as being country in the basin of the river Sone. Vajra-bhumi and Svabhra-bhumi constituted two divisions on the basis obviously of the peculiar geographical features. It must also be noted that this part of the country contains many other divisions up to the present time ending in "bhumi," such as Manbhum, Singbhum, and Birbhum.
In a subsequent part of the story Simhabahu gave up the Bengal kingdom to his mother and her cousin-husband, and took himself away to an uninhabited region where he cleared a kingdom for himself in the forest and settled with his queen-sister to rule there, having founded the capital Simhapura. On the basis of the story therefore there was a kingdom known as the kingdom of Lala which was on the highroad between Bengal and Magadha where Simhabahu cleared the forest of the savage tribes and constituted for himself a kingdom with a capital Simhapura. That this was either a part of
1 Vide the Ajivakas by Mr. Barua, pp. 57 and 58 (Calcutta Univ. Publication).
Kalinga itself, or not very far from the frontier of it, is in evidnce in both the Silappadhikaram,1 and Manimekhalai,2 which refer to a fratricidal war between two cousins of Kalinga. They ruled respectively over two parts of the kingdom with their capitals "Singapuram" (Sans. Sim-hapura) and Kapilai (Sans. Kapila). The only detail that has to be satisfactorily accounted for on this hypothesis is the islands where the banished party, men, women, and children respectively landed. Naggadipa, where, according to the story, the children landed is certainly the Nakkavaram of the Tamils (the modern Nicobars) Mahiladvipa may have to be looked for among the innumerable islands in the same region. The Ptolemaic name Maniolai is near enough in sound to Mahila. The Suppara where the men landed may be another island about the same region, and for a guess Sabadeibai islands of Ptolemy on the west coast of Sumatra might very well answer the purpose. It is certainly matter for great doubt whether Suppara of the West coast has anything to recommend it for identifying it with this place. As a matter of fact, if the party set sail from the Gangetic region, it must have been very near Damlok at the mouth of the Rupnarayan river, wherefrom other missions to Ceylon started. For that region of Bengal this port or somewhere near seems exactly the starting point; and then if they went adrift they must have gone towards this island region rather than sail all the way round. The identification with Suppara on the West coast of India became possible, once Lala was equated with Gujarat for which there is absolutely no warrant whatsoever in the tradition as embodied in the Mahavamsa. Suppara would mean merely the good shore, the shore that offered safe anchorage in a storm almost like the cape of Good Hope. Any place that afforded a good landing might have been so named. If the Mahavamsa story is to be accepted as containing any history, Lala will have to be Radha a region of Kalinga (Bengal), and other places will have to be looked for in the Bay of Bengal and none whatsoever on the Arabian sea side of India. Vijaya is said, in the story again, to have landed in Ceylon at a place which he named subsequently Tamba-panni where he laid the foundations of a town. This ultimately gave one of the names to the island itself. The whole party went in a ship and the landing was effected by Vijaya with 700 men and no more. It would be difficult to identify the Ajanta painting which ordinarily goes by this name with the landing as described in the Mahavamsa itself. What is to our purpose here is that Vijaya had to find womenfolk for himself and his companions from Madura. If he came from Bengal or Kalinga, settled in the island and entered into wholesale marriage rela-tions with the Pandya country - the geographical details of this narration work out correctly-it is clear that the northern part of the island of Ceylon, in fact the earlier civilised part, was colonised partly from Bengal and partly from the Tamil country. What actually was the date of Vijaya's occupation of Ceylon and in consequence the migration from the Pandya country does not rest upon so clear a foundation. The Mahavamsa claims that Vijaya landed in Ceylon as the Buddha was passing into Nirvana in the Nepal Tarai, and according to the Chronology of the Mahavamsa it would be sometime in 544-543 B.C. But the extraordinary length of the reigns of the immediate successors of Vijaya make it suspicious that Vijaya's landing took place so early. It is likely that it took place much later, but sometime anterior to the conversion of the Ceylon king to Buddhism and the establishment of regular relationship between Asoka and his contemporary Devanam-Piya Tissa. The edicts of Asoka mention the name Tambapanni for Ceylon. Tambapanni is a name unknown to the Tamils. It is certain therefore that the colonisation from Bengal came in some time anterior to the period of Asoka, may be at least about the time of his grandfather Chandragupta Maurya when people in