is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
The Burmese army
1. Kesadana Kasubu continued fighting, but not for long. Prince Keerti was more powerful than he was. He was more skilled as a warrior. Kesadana was helpless before Prince Keerti and realized that defeat was certain. Yet, this warrior did not retreat. He went on facing the attack. Finally, Prince Keerti cut off Kesadana's head. This took place in
2. It was because of his thirst for power that this clever commander had to sacrifice his life. If only he had joined Prince Keerti, it would have been an easy task to chase away the Cholas. It was sheer misfortune that the country lost one of its excellent warriors. After this battle, the entire Ruhuna came under the leadership of Prince Keerti. The citizens were jubilant. They celebrated this victory. Prince Keerti was made the 'Yuvaraja'. From then onwards he came to be known as King Vijayabahu.
3. The Cholas could not bear to witness this turn of events. They were terrified. They took a hasty decision and sent an army under a clever warrior to the south. They did not spare a single village, on their way. They set fire and scared the villagers. Hence they did not meet with much opposition. Their army advanced. Prince Keerti realized the strength of the Chola army and retreated temporarily.
4. He went to reside in the hill country. He was a person who always wanted to minimize the loss of life and property. He was very concerned about his soldiers and tried his best to give them all comforts. The prince knew it was difficult to defeat the Cholas and chase them away completely. That is why he avoided small skirmishes.
5. Every little battle meant death to a number of soldiers and that was a great loss for the prince. In the meantime, the Chola army reached Kataragama without any obstacle. They stayed there for a couple of days. During this time, that area was completely deserted. The people had fled. The Cholas realized that it was not a good sign. From the very outset, they were frightened to stay in Ruhuna.
6. These foreigners had no faith in the people of the South. They were sure to adopt guerilla tactics. Many were the instances when they had to face such fights. So the Cholas went back. Prince Keerti then returned to Ruhuna and set up camp in a place called 'Siptala'. The prince realized that it is only with foreign help that he could chase away the Cholas.
7. He began to contemplate. He tried to think of a country that was against the Cholas. Then Burma came to his mind. Burma was then a powerful country. Prince Keerti, who went as King Vijayabahu, sent some envoys, with many gifts, to King Anavarata of Burma. This king welcomed the Sri Lankan envoys and discussed matters with them. He sent an army with a lot of wealth. This wealth was sufficient for the prince to treat all the soldiers well.
8. The Burmese soldiers were well taken care of. They were accompanied to the village named ‘Thambalagama’ and set up camp there. It is at this time, that the people of Rajarata rose up in rebellion against the Cholas. They did not pay taxes to the Cholas and without stopping at that, they harassed the tax-collectors. This became a big issue and it compelled the Chola emperor to send a huge army to Sri Lanka.