(Last Updated on : 30/03/2010)
The Damilas, commonly known as the Tamils, were a powerful South Indian tribe, frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts, particularly the Ceylon Chronicles. The Pali chronicles say that the Damilas were a warlike people. From early times they made incursions into Ceylon, and it is frequently found that Damila rulers on the throne at Anuradhapura.
The Buddhists text refer that the Damilas were a fighting people, engaged in constant strife with the Sinhalese. They are described as ' anariya' or uncultured. They were defeated and mercilessly massacred in almost all their battles with the Sinhalese.
The literary tradition of Ceylon does not clearly indicate who these Damila invaders were. But, the general Ariyacakkavatti, for example had came from the Pandu kingdom, i.e. the land of the Pandyas in the southernmost part of India; and it may be concluded from this that the Damilas who made predatory excursions into the island of Ceylon from time to time were natives of Pandya. However it cannot be said whether those Damilas who invaded Ceylon in early times were sent on thief expeditions by the king of Pandu, or whether they were a race of marauders who undertook those expeditions on their own initiative. The Commentaries of Buddhaghosa have distinguished the Damilas from the Yavanas and Kiratas on the one hand, and from the Andhras on the other.
It can be said that the relations between the Damila country and Ceylon were not always inimical. For instance, the account of Vijaya in the Mahdvamsa distinctly brings out that a matrimonial alliance existed between the rulers of Lanka and Pandya. It is also mentioned that there was a very early settlement in Ceylon of skilled craftsmen and families of the eighteen guilds, all from Pandya. There existed a close cultural relationship between South India and Ceylon.
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