Minicoy society and culture and MaldivesMaldives Minicoy Mahl Dhivehi

Meedhoo History: Maldive Antiquity


The follwing is a translation of an extract of an old manuscript. The translation is not mine. The translator chooses to remain anonymous for the time being. I hope to translate the manuscript myself in the near future when the pressures of work permit. I have inserted translations of some terminology and names left without translation in the English document I received. These are in brackets.

The original manuscript (Kitab fi Athaari Meedoo el-Qadimiyyeh) was written by Allama Ahmed Shihabuddine of Midu in Addu Atoll in Arabic and translated into Divehi by Dhoondeyri Don Maniku son of Chief Justice Ibrahim Majduddine. The latter was my maternal grandfather's maternal grandfather.

This English translation is done using a copy of Majduddine's manuscript made by his grandson Ali Didi son of Mohamed Maniku. Shihabuddine was the son of Chief Justice Mohamed Shamsuddine (Bodu Fandiyaaraa) and Bodu Don Dhaleyka daughter of Kalihaaru Don Seedi Kaleyge.

The first Tarikh chronicler Hassan Tajuddine studied under a student of this Shihabuddine (Fonadu Kateeb Sirajeddine). Shihabuddine was Ibrahim Majduddine's grandfather's great-grandfather.

Arguably this is the oldest work on Maldive history written by a Maldivian in existence and it is now being published for the first time here by one of his descendants.

Brace yourself !    You are about to read an historical first.

Dheyvis were the first people to live in this country. They came from "Kalbanja" of India. These people were worshipping to different types of things like sun, moon, stars and other things. These people came and first lived in Isduva of Isduvammathi. These people named "duva" to any island, which they started to live and found. The leader of these people was known as Sawamia. They thought that this is an "agent" of God. There is no way to find which was the language they used and when did they come to this country. But that is understood that these people came here before the establishment of the kingdom of "Malik Aashooq" [King Asoka].

Asoka: The third emperor of India's Mauryan dynasty and the first powerful monarch to embrace Buddhism. Asoka was born in about 304 BC and came to the throne in 270 BC after a short power struggle in which at least one of his brothers was killed. In 260 BC his armies attacked Kalinga (modern Orissa) in an attempt to expand the already huge Mauryan empire. The campaign was militarily successful but it lead to horrific losses of both civilian and military lives and, moved by remorse, Asoka decided to renounce war forever. He converted to Buddhism and launched a campaign to bring about a moral, spiritual and social renewal within his empire. The administrative and judicial systems were reformed, useful public works were initiated, the previously aggressive foreign policy was replaced by one of peaceful co-existence and wildlife reserves were established

Sources: R. Mookeyi, Asoka. Delhi, 1962; S. Dhammika, The Edicts of King Asoka. Kandy, 1993.

Their skins were having the color of "zaithoon" [olive] and they were medium in height.

After Dheyvis, different people came to this country. Like Redin, Kunibeen, Aryas and different other people. All these people came after Dheyvis. Redin and Kunibees were of same origin. Kunibeen came after Redin. When Kunibeen came the language of Redin had been mixed with the language of Dheyvis. But their origin also was from "Mahrast" [Greater Kingdom, roughly the modern state of Maharastra] of India, which was the origin of Redin as well.

Aryas also came to this country from India. But they were really not Indian origins. They came to India from some other place. Aryas came here about three centuries before the establishment of the kingdom "Malik Aashooq". Then Dheyvis' language mixed with the languages of all these new comers. Now the mixed race is known as Dheevis. And a new religion was also introduced. They were known as Hindus. Then this country was named as "Dheeva Maari". Even though all these changes came to the religion and language of Dheyvis, there was a sound of them, which still was preserved. That was a letter pronounced between the letter "r" and "sh". And that was "rha" [shaviyani or more correctly, rhaviyani. I have been rendering shaviyani as "rh" throughout this site in recognition of this. I plan to upload an article that I have written on rhaviyani and another lost consonant, ndaviyani- Majid].

North of this country was populated by some other "qabeela" [tribe]. Their skin color was black. They came from south of India. They named the islands, which they started to live, as "Varam". Like "Nolhivaram", "Kuruhinnavaram" and "Giraavaram".

Dheyvis found "Suvadinmathi". But the people who came from Sarandiva [Sri Lanka, known as Olhudu in Divehi] settled there and later corrupted its Dheyvis characters. After their arrival Dheyvis letter "rha" disappeared and they started to use "sh" instead of that letter.

When Dheyvis came and settled here and started live. They were not practicing a kingdom. Their ruler was their religious leader. He was named Sawamia. A short period of time after the Hindus came here; a prince of India came to Dheeva Maari. That was the son of King Brahamaadittiya, King of Kalinja. King Sri Brahamaadittiya became angry with this son of him and sent him to Dheeva Maari.

He established a kingdom in Dheeva Maari as the kingdom of Adeetta Vansa. His name was Sri Soorudasaruna Adeettiya. This was the first king of Dheevis of Dheeva Maari known in the history. He established the kingdom of Adeetta Vansa a short period before the establishment of the kingdom of "Malik Aashooq".

Malik Aashooq established his kingdom in "Bataal Bootra fil Hind". His people went preaching Buddhism to Bairat. A group of people came here from Bairat to teach the religion and writings of Buddha. These people came here a very very short while after the establishment of the kingdom of Malik Aashooq. Then Dheeva Maari was known as Dheeva Mahal.

Kingdom of Adeetta Vansa [Solar Dynasty] was in power until the Kingdom of Soma Vansa [Lunar Dynasty] was established. Origin of Soma Vansa also was from Kalinja, the origin of Adeetta Vansa as well. This kingdom was established by a son of a king of Soma Vansa ruled in Kalinja at that time. That was about one and half centuries before Dheeva Mahal converted to Islam. The first king of Soma Vansa was Sri Balaadeettiya. His wife Queen Damahaar was the last ruler of Adeetta Vansa. So really only the name of the dynasty changed to Soma Vansa but the rulers were related to both Soma Vansa and Adeetta Vansa. It is because the rulers, who became kings after Sri Balaadeettiya were all descendents of Queen Damahaar, last ruler of Adeetta Vansa.

At the beginning of Soma Vansa kingdom Indian king Raja Dada invaded north of Dheeva Mahal and took the control of most northern two atolls of Dheeva Mahal, Malikatholhu and Thiladunmathi. The latest five kings of Soma Vansa before the event of Islam were Sri Loakaabarana, (his son) Sri Maha Sandura, followed by his brother Sri Bovana Aananda. He came to the throne after his brother Sri Maha Sandura had passed away.

The daughter of Sri Maha Sandura was Kamanhaar, some times written as Kamanaar and Rehendihaar was banished to the island of "Is Midu". She took Maapanansa in which the history of the Kings of Adeetta Vansa was written.

Al Muhaddith Hasan has written in his book that he read the whole Maapanansa, which was written in Copper. He also writes that he buried all the parts of Maapanansa. After Sri Bovana Aananda his son Sri Mahaabarana Adeettiya came to throne. This King defeated the Indians who were controlling Malikatholhu and Thiladunmathi the most northern two atolls. The Indians were from the same group as Raja Dada who first took the control of these two atolls. And he was then named as the ruler of 14 atolls and two thousand islands. And his "Dheeva Mahal" was Malikaddu dhemedhu [between Minicoy and Addu].

Those atolls' names were as follows: -

    1. Malikatholhu.
    2. Thiladunmathi.
    3. Miladunmaduva.
    4. Maalhosmaduva.
    5. Faadu Bur.
    6. Mahal Atholhu.
    7. Ari adhe Atholhu.
    8. Felide Atholhu.
    9. Mulakatholhu.
    10. Nilande Atholhu.
    11. Kolhumaduva.
    12. Isaddunmathi.
    13. Suvadinmathi.
    14. Addu Fuvah Mulakatholhu.

After Sri Mahaabarana Adeettiya his nephew Sri Sandaneyka Buvana Adeettiya became the king. This was the famous "Darumavanta Rasgefaan". He was known as the first ruler of Theemuge Darikolhu. This name was derived from his house's name, Theemuge. Though it was being called Theemuge Darikolhu really they were descendents of Soma Vansa.

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