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.
The next time that Ceylon comes into connection with the Tamils is under the rule of Vattagamani about 44 B.C. In his reign there was a rebellion set up by a Brahman by name
Tissa, who according to the Buddhist account, instigated by the prediction of an astrologer set up in rebellion against the newly installed King Vattagamani. At the same time seven Tamil chieftains landed at Mahatitha (Mantota) with their troops apparently in alliance with the rebel Tissa. Vattagamani skilfully appealed to the Brahman by telling him that the kingdom was already his and that he might exert himself to get the Tamils out. The Tamils easily won a victory against the Brahman first, and then attacked the king himself and defeated him in a battle near Kolambalaka. For fourteen years afterwards the king remained in exile. During this period five Tamils ruled one after the other, the remaining two having gone back with such booty as they could lay hold of, one of them carrying Somadevi the queen, and the other the Buddha's alms-bowl, from Anuradhapura. One Tamil chief by name Pulahattha reigned for three years; his commander-in-chief Bahiya after killing him, ruled for two years. Bahiya was succeeded in his turn by his commander-in-chief who slew his master. The succession passed on to Pilayamaraka and from him to Dathika. After fourteen years and seven months of exile Vattagamani was able to overcome the last Tamil usurper Dathika and entered his capital again, His great work was the construction of the Abhayagiri
Vihara after having destroyed a Jain arama (park or garden). He is said to have brought back his queen Somadevi from the Tamil country and restored her to her position as queen. He built in her honour the Manisoma-arama. In these doings of Vattagamani Abhaya the Tamils again came into contact with him as enemies, having come apparently in support of the Brahman usurper and ending in usurping the kingdom for a period of nearly fifteen years.
After the death of Vattagamani two successors followed, the second of whom was Vattagamani's son Choranaga. He was followed by Tissa. Choranaga made himself unpopular with the Buddhists by destroying a number of their monasteries which refused him asylum while he was a fugitive rebel. His queen murdered him and set up a changing succession of her lovers on the throne, among whom was a Tamil by name Vatuka who occupied the position of a city carpenter. Another of this infamous queen's lovers was also a person named Niliya, a Brahman palace priest as he is described, who had a short reign of about six months. She changed her mind and got rid of him as she did the others before him. These Tamils apparently were people that had settled in Ceylon, and their connection with the throne does not bring Ceylon into any connection with the Tamil country. Then we pass over a succession of rulers whose doings do not bring them into connection with the Tamil country till we come to the reign of Chandamuka-Siva who ruled from A. D. 101-110. His queen was named Damila-devi. Whether she was a princess from any of the Tamil countries in the neighbourhood is not made clear. Chandamuka-Siva was assassinated by his younger brother, Tissa by name, who ruled for a period of about eight years. He indulged a fancy of his by setting on the throne a gate watchman who looked like him and enjoyed the joke from his place as a watchman instead, when his courtiers in succession made their obeisance to the watchman on the throne. The watchman took advantage of this unseemly conduct of the king in the watchman's guise, and ordered his being slain for such bad conduct. The rule of the gate watchman apparently-became unpopular and a person named Vasabha of the Lambakanna race, and belonging to the northern provinces of Ceylon, apparently Jaffna, set up a rebellion and overthrowing Vasabha in battle occupied the throne for the long period of 42 years. The term Lambakanna designating the class of people to whom this ruler belonged, it seems as though the Lambakanna rulers were Tamils as well. Lamba-karna means merely pendant ear. Whether that name was given to them because of the physical deformity, though brought about artificially, of ears lengthened by making big holes in the lobes seems just possible. In the later period of the history of Ceylon and even of the Pandya country these Lamba-karnas play an important part, and a number of chieftains in the present-day district of Ramnad are described as Lambakannas in the Ceylonese account. They had a specific function to discharge on occasions of royal coronation though what exactly the function was is not made clear. A Lambakanna-dhura, apparently the chief of the Lambakannas, along with a number of chiefs of that class was sent by the victorious Ceylon general Lankapura to officiate at the coronation of a Pandya King in the twelfth century. If they belonged to the community of chieftains in that part of the district which is peculiarly the district of the so-called Nattukottai Chetties, the term Lambakanna may well apply to them. The Lambakanna usurpation therefore would mean the usurpation by the warriors of the Lambakanna race who must have formed a recognised part of the military forces of the state of Anuradhapura in Ceylon. This ruler is described in the Mahavamsa as having been a particularly pious monarch, who anxious to extend the short life that was predicted for him, did make very large donations to the Buddhist priests and institutions, and earned the grateful encomiums of this class of people. This Lam-bakanna chief was succeeded by his son for a short term of three years; and his son Gaja-bahuka Gamani, or more briefly Gajabahu, succeeded to the throne. His rule, according to Geiger's chronology, beginning in 483 B. C. lasted from A.D. 171 to A.D. 193. The Mahavamsa itself has very little to say of him except that he built a Vihara in honour of his mother and a stupa. He is also given credit for having constructed a tank and a few other minor works of merit to the Buddhist shrines, His reign is, however, of great importance in South Indian History as he was the ruler of Ceylon who was present at the completion of the ceremony of the institution of the temple to Pattini-Devi in the Chera capital of Vanji. The Silappadhi-karam refers to him definitely as among the kings who were present, along with others, on the occasion; the other rulers mentioned being the Aryan princes who were just released from prison, other Kings that were similarly set at liberty, the rulers of Western Kongu, the kings of Malva, and king Gajabahu of Lanka "surrounded by the sea." All of them prayed that the goddess might honour their territory as she did that of the Chera, which was answered by a voice from the air proclaiming assent.1