is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
King Gajabahu II
1. King Vickramabahu's plan worked. Veeradeva and his party started climbing the rock. They attacked the main army of the king. They little expected the other small contingents to surround them. The fighting began. It was a serious battle. Veeradeva and his party had to face a tough fight, they never expected. Not knowing what to do, they had no alternative, but to go on fighting.
2. Before long the Sinhala forces were able to crush Veeradeva's army. Most of them were killed in battle. King Vickramabahu who was victorious, marched to Polonnaruwa and became the sole ruler once more. His fame and glory spread not only all over the country, but also beyond our shores. Mayadunne and his brothers were now terrified. They gave up the idea of fighting against the king.
3. They dismantled all their camps and went to Ruhuna. There, they continued to mind their own affairs and lie low. After this battle, a big change had come over the king. He began to treat the soldiers with extra care. This spoilt them. They were up to no good and the king did not bother to punish them. He ignored the bad conduct of the soldiers. The king also angered those who belonged to the high castes.
4. He began to appoint those who were supposed to belong to low castes, to superior jobs. The people who were considered noble, fled to Ruhuna, in utter disgust. The low-caste people, gradually acquired the land and houses that belonged to the nobles. Another mistake committed by the king was to neglect Buddhism. He remained quiet even when the property that belonged to the temple was misused.
5. Misfortune dawned on the country. The numerous temples, built by former kings, were destroyed. The king settled the mercenary armies in these sacred lands and they were allowed to enjoy the fruits of these lands. Those who settled in temple property robbed the valuables from the temples. The Buddhist monks who were disgusted with this state of affairs, left this area and went to Ruhuna and Malaya-Rata. Meanwhile, village chieftains gained power. Among them started a fight for power.
6. Certain government officers began to accumulate wealth. All this meant oppression for the people. Robbery was rampant. The high-ranking officers of the king set fire to villages, ruined the system of irrigation and collected taxes by oppressing the people. King Vickramabahu remained blind to all this. He was leading a luxurious life in the palace.
7. As time passed, the situation in the country deteriorated. King Vickramabahu passed away in 1132 AD. His son, Prince Gajabahu succeeded him. When the rulers of Ruhuna heard this, they were disturbed. By this time, Jayabahu and Princess Mitta too had died. King Gajabahu was able to be the chief ruler for some time. The brothers Keertisirimegha and Sirivallabha, who were the rulers of the south, at this time, began to act.
8. They managed to establish a friendship with the Velakkara army of Polonnaruwa and had discussions with them. They bribed them to win them over to their side. This worked beautifully. The two of them, then came to Rajarata accompanied by their armies. They set up camp on two sides. When King Gajabahu heard this, he quickly summoned his ministers and commanders. The king explained matters to them.