is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
The suspicions of King Gajaba
1. One day, Prince Parakramabahu was traveling by cart, enjoying the scenic beauty of Rajarata. There was a wild buffalo, running amok, attacking everyone in its path. The people, who were terrified, ran for their lives. They locked themselves up in their houses. Some left even the vehicles they were on, in the middle of the road and ran away. Noticing all this commotion, Prince Parakramabahu alighted from his vehicle.
2. In the houses around, there were people at their windows watching this. There was nobody on the road. "He is asking for trouble," said some who were watching him. Some shouted, warning him not to go. Without paying any heed, the prince proceeded on his way. When the buffalo came near him, the prince shouted, in a loud, resounding voice. The buffalo was frightened and turned back.
3. The people who were watching all this were amazed. They praised the prince for his bravery. This news spread all over in a matter of minutes. King Gajaba too got to know of it. He was a little shaken. He felt a fear and entertained a suspicion about the actions of the prince. He was uncertain whether the prince would wrest the kingship from him. He began to think. "This prince is extra-ordinarily, physically strong. He is well-known for his skill in warfare too."
4. "Furthermore, with his exceptional heroism, he is able to win over humans and even animals. I must see that he is gone from here and that has to be done as soon as possible." Going by years, it was around 1140 AD. From then onwards, one could notice a big change in King Gajaba. His friendly attitude towards the prince changed dramatically. The king, in fact, tried to dodge the prince.
5. Prince Parakramabahu understood the change in the behaviour of the king. On several occasions he tried to ask the king, but he never got a chance as the king was always avoiding him. This added to the suspicion of the prince. He then asked the queen, who was his sister. She said she knew nothing about this change. The prince then questioned the loyal ministers.
6. They too admitted that they did not know about it. The prince then arrived at a decision to go and meet the king. The king did not show a good response. Yet, the prince was determined to tell him, what he had to say. He said, "I am going to meet my step-father." The king did not say anything by way of a reply but showed his approval. The prince left for Ruhuna. It was mid-night, but fortunately, the moon was shining in the sky.
7. The prince walked a considerable distance. When he felt tired, he stopped to rest a while under a tree. As he lay down to rest, he saw another traveller. He looked at the prince and then looked aside. The prince spoke to him. He inquired who he was and from where he was travelling. He looked at the prince angrily in a very haughty manner and said, "I am a normal traveller."
8. The prince then asked whether he did not know him. He answered in the negative and ignored the prince. The prince got angry. He got up and almost roared in his resounding voice, "You better learn now. I am Prince Parakramabahu."