is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
The brave warrior
1. King Vijayabahu embraced the Commander-in-Chief and wished him good luck. The brave commander bowed his head and paid respect to the king. He then marched towards the enemy camp. After a considerable period of time, he reached Anuradhapura. The Cholas who had landed at Matota, were there by then. They were causing a lot of damage to the villages, as they marched towards Polonnaruwa. The Sinhala soldiers who were well-armed were marching on.
2. The two armies met face to face. The Sinhala forces, whose one aim was to kill the enemy, were furious. The Cholas, who were bent on taking revenge for killing their commander, were equally angry. The fighting commenced. It was a very grave battle. There was a lot of bloodshed. Both armies lost most of their men. Innumerable were the soldiers that fell dead in the battle-field.
3. Yet, the battle continued. Time passed. The number of soldiers in the Sinhala army, was less than that of the Chola army. It was quite difficult for them to continue fighting. Yet, they went on. But the end was drawing nigh. The patriotic commander of the Sinhala army was killed by the Cholas. The rest of the soldiers were quite disheartened. They became helpless, Most of them died fighting. The Cholas were jubilant.
4. They celebrated their victory by setting fire to the neighbouring villages. These enemy forces treated both men and animals in a very cruel manner. From the time the battle started, the houses on either side of the road to Polonnaruwa, were burning. Meanwhile, the Sinhala soldiers who were camped at Polonnaruwa heard of the death of their commander. They felt very sad.
5. King Vijayabahu, when he heard of this loss, left the camp and retreated to the south. He retreated as far as the place named Villikabana. There were two chieftains here who were working against King Vijayabahu. They did not allow Vijayabahu to camp there. They had their own small armies and they came to fight the king. The king faced them bravely. In a short while, both leaders and their armies were killed
6. The people of the area were very happy to see the king faring well. They supported him and the king in return treated them kindly. He was close to the people. He was more a friend than a ruler, to the people. By this time, the entire country was looking forward to a peaceful rule under a Sinhala king.
7. The people were undergoing a lot of suffering. On the one hand, the Cholas were plundering. They stole whatever valuables they could. The village leaders too were oppressing the people and trying to fatten their own purses. It was the law of the jungle that prevailed. The leaders behaved the way they wanted. There was no one above them to control them. Things had turned upside down.
8. A complete change had come over society. Corruption was at its height. Thefts were far too common. While everything was going wrong like this, the Cholas got organized once again. They had a new commander who had come from the Chola country. A huge army too joined him.