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Sinhabahu (सिंहबाहु) was a legendary king of ancient India, mentioned in Sri Lankan text Mahavansa. He founded the City Sinhapura in the Lala Country. He was father of Vijaya, the first King of Sri Lanka.[1]. His consort's name from other sources was Suppadevi.

Origin of name

Sinha = Lion, Bahu = Hands. A man with lion like hands.

Variants of name

In Mahavamsa

Mahavansa/Chapter 6 tells us that ....In the country of the Vangas in the Vanga capital there lived once a king who married with the daughter of the king of the Kalingas. Their daughter went forth from the house, desiring the joy of independent life; unrecognized she joined a caravan travelling to the Magadha country. In the Lala country she bore twin-children, a son and a daughter named Sihabahu and Sihasivali.

Mahavansa/Chapter 6 tells us that When Sinhabahu was sixteen, he escaped with his mother and sister, Sinhasivali, and arrived in the capital of Vanga. He later killed his father for a reward and was offered the throne of Vanga.

Built city of Sinhapura

Mahavansa/Chapter 6 tells that Sinhabahu accepted the kingship but handed it over then to his mother's husband and he himself went with Sinhasivali to the land of his birth. There in the country of Lála he built a city, and they called it Sinhapura, and in the forest stretching a hundred yojanas around he founded villages.

Mahavansa/Chapter 6 tells....In the kingdom of Lala, in that city did Sihabahu, ruler of men, hold sway when he had made Sihasivali his queen. As time passed on his consort bore twin sons sixteen times, the eldest was named Vijaya, the second Sumitta; together there were thirty-two sons. In time the king consecrated Vijaya as prince-regent.

His son Vijaya exiled

Mahavansa/Chapter 6 tells....Vijaya was exiled from his Kingdom. Vijaya and his followers, seven hundred men, to be shaven over half the head and put them on a ship and sent them forth upon the sea, and their wives and children also. The men, women, and children sent forth separately landed separately, each (company) upon an island, and they dwelt even there. The island where the children landed was called Nagadipa, the island off the coast of Jaffna Peninsula in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. The island where the women landed was Mahiladipaka, modern Maldives. But Vijaya landed at the haven called Surparaka, but being there in danger by reason of the violence of his followers he embarked again. The valiant prince Vijaya , landed in Lanka, in the region called Tambapanni on the day that the Tathagata lay down between the two twin like sala-trees to pass into nirvana.


The king of Vanga (present-day Bengal) married a princess (named Mayavati in some versions) of the neighbouring Kalinga (present-day Odisha). The couple had a daughter named Suppadevi, who was prophesied to copulate with the king of beasts. As an adult, Princess Suppadevi left Vanga to seek an independent life. She joined a caravan headed for Magadha, but it was attacked by Sinha ("lion") in a forest of the Lala (or Lada) region.

The Mahavamsa mentions the "Sinha" as an animal, but some modern interpreters state that Sinha was the name of a beastly outlaw man living in the jungle. Lala is variously identified as an area in the Vanga-Kalinga region, or as Lata (a part of the present-day Gujarat).[2][3]

Suppadevi fled during the attack, but encountered Sinha again. Sinha was attracted to her, and she also caressed him, thinking of the prophecy. Sinha kept Suppadevi locked in a cave, and had two children with her: a son named Sinhabahu (or Sihabahu; "lion-armed") and a daughter named Sinhasivali (or Sihasivali). When the children grew up, Sinhabahu asked his mother why she and Sinha looked so different. After his mother told him about her royal ancestry, he decided to go to Vanga. One day, when Sinha had gone out, Sinhabahu escaped from the cave along with Suppadevi and Sinhasivali. The three reached a village, where they met a general of the Vanga Kingdom. The general happened to be a cousin of Suppadevi, and later married her. Meanwhile, Sinha started ravaging villages in an attempt to find his missing family. The King of Vanga announced a reward for anyone who could kill Sinha. Sinhabahu killed his own father to claim the reward. By the time Sinhabahu returned to the capital, the King of Vanga had died. Sinhabahu was made the new king, but he later handed over the kingship to his mother's husband, the general. He went back to his birthplace in Lala, and founded a city called Sinhapura (or Sihapura). He married his sister Sinhasivali, and the couple had 32 sons in form of 16 pairs of twins. Vijaya ("victor") was their eldest son, followed by his twin Sumitta.[4][5]

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