Migara of SigiriyaThe Man Responsible for the Downfall of Two Kings


Migara is a Machiavellian character in Sri Lankan history. He was the chief of the army during the reigns of three monarchs, namely, Dhatusena, and his sons Kasyapa and Moggallana; kings of the Moriyan Dynasty of the Anuradhapura Kingdom who ruled between 463 and 515 AD. Migara was pivotal in the dynastic upheavals that unfolded at this time.

Migara was Dhatusena's nephew and also his son-in-law. (Migara's mother was Dhatusena's sister and he was married to Dhatusena's daughter). Thus, he was the cousin of Kasyapa and Moggallana and also their brother-in-law.

He was initially appointed to the position of senapati (Army Chief) by Dhatusena because of his familial ties and to make him a suitable partner for his favorite daughter.

Migara it appears was unkind to his wife (Dhatusena’s favorite daughter) and beat her around the thighs with a whip. She fled to her father, the king, who on seeing his daughters garments soaked in blood was outraged. Unable to find Migara to bring him to account, Dhatusena vented is anger Migara's mother (his sister) by have her burned alive.

Infuriated by Dhatusena's act of cruel vengeance Migara conspired with Kasyapa, Dhatusena’s oldest son (but not heir apparent because of his lowly birth) and overthrow the king. Not satisfied with merely overthrowing the king, Migara irked Kasyapa on until Kasyapa finally ordered the death of his father. Migara extracted his revenge parading the old king through the streets and then finally entombing him alive into a niche in his prison cell wall.

Migara then continued to serve as the chief of the army under Kasyapa and possibly moved with Kasyapa to his new city Sigiriya.

Upset over Kasyapa's refusal to grant him permission to carry out a lavish consecration ceremony for a shrine he had constructed, Migara secretly switched his allegiance to Kasyapa's younger brother Moggallana, the rightful heir.

In an ensuring confrontation between Kasyapa and Moggallana, Migara defected to Moggallana taking the army with him. Thus abandoned Kasyapa committed suicide and Moggallana ascended the throne.

Moggallana in gratitude for Migara's help allowed him to carry out the concentration ceremony which had previously been refused by Kasyapa.

There is no further reference to Migara after this time. But we are told of another army chief during Moggallana rule. It is reasonable to assume therefore that Migara died some time during the rein of Moggallana (497–515 AD).

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