Sivali (d. 93 CE)

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Sivali (d. 93 ce)

Queen of Ceylon. Died in 93 ce; daughter of Āmandagāmani Abhaya, ruler of Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka); sister of Cūlābhaya.

According to the Mahāvamsa (a chronicle of the history of Sri Lanka written by a Buddhist monk named Mahānāma in the 4th century), Sivali was one of a line of pious rulers of the Vijaya dynasty whose capital was at Anuradhapura. In antiquity, Sri Lanka was for the most part politically unified but free neither from raids originating in India nor from domestic rebellion. Sivali's grandfather, Mahādāthikamahānāga, inherited the throne upon the death of his childless brother, Bhātikābhaya. Both knew long and relatively peaceful reigns, of 12 and 28 years respectively, throughout which they manifested their piety (especially by patronizing the Buddhist monasteries within their kingdom) and attained reputations as great builders. Sivali's father Āmandagāmani Abhaya ruled for almost ten years and was similarly inclined. However, his younger brother, Kanirajānutissa, murdered him and usurped the throne. This act generated political unrest which was not entirely doused when Cūlābhaya (Āmandagāmani Abhaya's son and Sivali's brother) ascended the throne after his uncle had reigned for three years. Cūlābhaya's reign, however, itself lasted only a year and his death inaugurated a dynastic civil war. For a short time, Sivali's faction held sway, and she was recognized as queen. Nonetheless, her reign too was brief. After only four months, Sivali's cousin, Ilanāga (who was probably the son of Kanirajānutissa), dethroned Sivali and had her executed. Thereafter, although the authority of Ilanāga was contested, the royal line proceeded from him until the Vijaya dynasty was overthrown and replaced by that of the Lambakanna (127 ce).

William S. Greenwalt , Associate Professor of Classical History, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California