« PreviousContinue »
across a horizontal creeper or branch at the side of the path, and usually under a large shady tree. In some places where no suitable creeper or branch is available two sticks with forked tops are set firmly on the ground, and a horizontal one laid across them, on which the offerings are hung. These sometimes accumulate through the action of successive travellers until they form a large heap of such twigs. In the last chapter I mentioned that the Wanniyas made this offering to the Hat Rajjuruwo when supplicating him to stop the approaching rain-storm. I do not remember noticing these twig offerings in the districts of the Vaeddas.
THE PRIMITIVE DEITY OF CEYLON
'N the account of the religion of the Vaeddas it has been mentioned that their chief deity, the Galē Yakā, is probably identical with the Hill God of the aborigines of Southern India. It may be assumed that the knowledge of him was either brought to Ceylon by the first comers, or was acquired by them at an extremely early date, as nothing is known of him by the Sinhalese of the coasts, or the northern Kandian Sinhalese, or by the Tamils of Northern Ceylon. If his worship had been introduced at a later date, after these races had arrived in the country and had occupied all the coast-line, some, at least, of them would be acquainted with it. This god is regularly propitiated in the interior, however, by the Kandian Sinhalese in part of Uva, and the southern half of the Eastern Province, and especially in the tract to the north-east of Kurunāēgala. The residents in these districts may have acquired a knowledge of him from their ancestors the Vaeddas.
Although he is known by the name of Galē Deviyā, 'the God of the Rock,' in these latter districts the Sinhalese consider him to be a powerful demon, and state that they apply the expression'God' to him merely as an honorific title. calculated to please him. It will be seen, however, that it has a much more honourable meaning. It is an excellent illustration of the degradation of an ancient deity into the position of a demon. I have already given the names by which he is known to the Vaeddas, and pointed out that there was a deity at Anuradhapura-' the Vaedda God'in the fourth century B.C., who appears to have been this one. A similar legend regarding his arrival in Ceylon from India is current among the Vaeddas and the Kandians; and all
who are acquainted with him agree that he came from a country called Malwara-dēsa or Malawara-dēsa, 'The Country of the Hill Region,' which can be no other than some part of the Malayalam tract, our Malabar, for which, however, a separate expression, Malayāla-dēsa, is now commonly used in Ceylon.
The tradition of the Tamil-speaking Vaeddas, which is very definite, is that accompanied by his minister Kurumbuḍa, ' in the olden time' he landed from a vessel on the east coast, at a place called Periya-kaḍuvei-karei, close to Vāleichēna, which is twenty miles north of Batticaloa. A temple was established there for his worship, and it was in existence down to comparatively recent times, when the residents of the place having died out or left, it was abandoned, and the
FIG. 40. Kokka-gala.
site became overgrown with jungle. They state that he did not remain at this spot, but went to some place in the interior with which they are unacquainted. "When he came," they said to me, "he told us the names of things, trees, and animals, and how we should make offerings and dance to him when going into the jungle to hunt, and at other times. He told us everything we know." Such teaching is distinctly a characteristic of only a primitive deity.
The Vaeddas of the interior state that the Gale Yaka came over the sea, and alighted on two hills of their district in succession, on which dances are still performed in his honour; one of them is called Kokka-gala, and I believe the other is Ŏmun-gala. Omun may be the Sanskrit word ōman, 'favour'; the name would then appear to mean the rock on which the God granted favours-probably a translation
of an ancient Vaedi name for it. Some thought that this deity afterwards proceeded to Kataragama; I have already referred to the probability that this place was a site where a Vaedda deity was worshipped in early times.
The Sinhalese who inhabit villages in the same district carry his movements a step onward, and repeat a tradition. that he and Kurumbuḍa went to some place further inland, where they killed a number of Buddhist priests, and took possession of a cave in which they resided. Neither the name of the district to which he proceeded, nor the site of the cave is known by them.
To follow up the God's travels it is now necessary to move to the Kurunāēgala district of the North-western Province, where the latter part of the story is much more definite, and is related as follows. The Gale Deviyā, attended by Kurumbuḍa Dēvatā, alighted from Malwara-dēsa on Rițigala, the hill called Arishṭha in the Rāmāyana, and thence came to Maeṇikpāya-kanda, the upper part of Raṇa-giriya, called also Deva-giriya, 'the Hill of the God,' a steep forest-clad rocky hill near Nirammulla, about fifteen miles north-east of Kurunāēgala. Some say that they landed first at Wilbāwa, two miles from Kurunāēgala, before going to Raṇagiriya ; others believe that they came direct to Raṇagiriya from India. They were pleased with the general convenience of a large Buddhist cave-wihāra or temple which they found established under a rock on the slope of the hill, and wished to take possession of it; but the sixty monks who occupied it refused to hand it over to them, and began to chant 'Pirit,' or sacred stanzas, for protection against evil in general and demons in particular, as a spell to keep them out. If they could persevere in this course, and continue the chanting without intermission for seven days and seven nights, demons would have no power over them. In the meantime the Galē Deviyā could not harm them while the magical verses were being repeated. So he said to his minister Kurumbuḍa, "Kill these monks for me." But the monks went steadily on with the Pirit, and Kurumbuḍa could not touch them unless he could make them stop. It must have been an interesting