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King Vimaladharmasuriya II (1687-1707)

In the rich tapestry of Sri Lankan history, the reign of King Vimaladharmasuriya II stands out as a period marked by peace, religious revival, and strategic diplomacy. Ascending the throne after the tumultuous reign of his father, King Rajasinghe II, Vimaladharmasuriya II brought a sense of stability and cultural renaissance to the Kandyan Kingdom. His reign, which spanned from 1687 to 1707, is remembered for its emphasis on religious and cultural restoration, as well as his diplomatic acumen in dealing with foreign powers.

Background and Rise to Prominence

Born into the royal lineage of the Kandyan Kingdom, Vimaladharmasuriya II was the son of the formidable King Rajasinghe II. His father’s reign was characterized by relentless military campaigns and complex alliances, particularly with the Dutch, who had replaced the Portuguese as the dominant colonial power on the island. Rajasinghe II’s efforts to expand and defend the kingdom left a legacy of both territorial gains and strained foreign relations.

Upon his father’s death in 1687, Vimaladharmasuriya II ascended the throne. Unlike his father, he was known for his peace-loving nature and diplomatic approach. The historical context of his reign was one of transition, as the kingdom sought to consolidate its gains and navigate the complexities of colonial interactions. The new king’s primary focus was on fostering internal stability and cultural revival, steering the kingdom away from the incessant conflicts that had marked his father’s rule.

Diplomatic Relations and Challenges

One of the significant challenges Vimaladharmasuriya II faced was managing the kingdom’s relationship with the Dutch. His father had formed an alliance with the Dutch to expel the Portuguese, but this relationship had soured over time, particularly due to disputes over territorial control. The new king sought to mend these relations and worked cordially with the Dutch. However, tensions persisted, especially when the Dutch refused his request to restore the ports they had captured during Rajasinghe II’s regime. This refusal was a source of disturbance, but Vimaladharmasuriya II’s diplomatic approach prevented these tensions from escalating into open conflict.

Religious and Cultural Revival

One of the hallmarks of Vimaladharmasuriya II’s reign was his profound commitment to religious and cultural restoration. Recognizing the importance of Buddhism to the identity and unity of the Kandyan Kingdom, he took significant steps to revive and strengthen the religion. One of his most notable achievements was the restoration of the practice of higher ordination. To accomplish this, he invited monks from Siam (modern-day Thailand) to re-establish the higher ordination lineage, which had been disrupted. This move not only revitalized the monastic community but also reinforced the kingdom’s religious foundations.

In addition to his efforts in religious revival, Vimaladharmasuriya II also focused on enhancing the kingdom’s cultural heritage. He undertook the development of the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most revered sites in Sri Lanka. Under his patronage, the temple was transformed into a magnificent three-storied building, reflecting the architectural and artistic grandeur of the Kandyan Kingdom. This development not only served as a religious center but also as a symbol of the kingdom’s cultural and spiritual identity.

Strategic Leadership

Vimaladharmasuriya II’s reign was characterized by a strategic blend of diplomacy and cultural patronage. His ability to maintain a cordial relationship with the Dutch, despite occasional tensions, demonstrated his diplomatic acumen. By focusing on internal stability and cultural revival, he ensured that the kingdom remained resilient and cohesive.

His legacy is one of peace and cultural renaissance. Unlike his father, who was often embroiled in military conflicts, Vimaladharmasuriya II’s reign was marked by a relative absence of warfare. This allowed him to concentrate on the kingdom’s internal development and religious restoration. His efforts to revive Buddhism and enhance the Temple of the Tooth Relic left an indelible mark on the kingdom’s cultural landscape.

Moreover, his diplomatic approach in dealing with the Dutch set a precedent for future interactions with colonial powers. By prioritizing peace and stability, he ensured that the Kandyan Kingdom could navigate the complexities of colonial politics without compromising its sovereignty.


King Vimaladharmasuriya II’s reign was a period of peace, religious revival, and cultural renaissance in the Kandyan Kingdom. His strategic leadership, diplomatic acumen, and commitment to cultural restoration distinguished his rule from that of his predecessors. By fostering internal stability and reviving the kingdom’s religious and cultural heritage, he left a lasting legacy that continued to inspire future generations.


  • Reshan Ranjan
    06/06/2023 at 20:56


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