THE KING THE CHARIOTEER AND THE GATEKEEPER (Part 1)
by Bernard VanCuylenburg
“Not to know what happened before we were born ” wrote the Roman poet Cicero, (106 – 43 BC.) “is to remain perpetually a child. For what is the worth of a human life unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history ?” Thus in my writings I have endeavoured to peel back the layers of time to give an honoured place to ancient Lanka which emphasizes so greatly the importance of her history and traditions which have left a deep footprint on the worlds stage.
An alternate title I had in mind for this article was A DAY IN THE YEAR 478 AD. It was a day which saw tremendous political upheaval and instability in the land, and the end of a dynasty. Before I get into the detail of this article, a flashback to the year 478 AD in other parts of the world, may provide an interesting timeline to events of the period although they have no direct impact on the drama being enacted in ancient Lanka that year. In the far east, the year 478 AD signalled the end of the Song dynasty in China and heralded the ascendancy of the Qi dynasty. In neighbouring India just one year before, the Gupta Empire held sway and King Budhagupta ruled the land. Two years before, in 476 AD the mighty Roman empire collapsed , with the last Roman emperor Romulus Augustus suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Odovacar the Goth. Distant England was ruled by the Anglo-Saxons except for Cornwall and Cumberland. In the Vatican in Rome, Pope Simplicius sat on the throne of St.Peter. And in Lanka that year, one of the greatest kings that ever sat on a throne was usurped in a palace coup and was to endure a sudden fall from grace and suffer the most barbaric death ever conceived by the human mind. History is replete with numerous examples of kings and rulers being put to death by the most gruesome means even before Emperor Julius Caesar’s assassination, and right down the ages. In keeping with the subject of this story, I wish to cite three examples which come to mind. …