article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa’,
the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
Slaying of Commander Kapisiya
The king was engaged in a long conversation with the youth, who
had come from Matuvelanga. It was a very friendly discussion and
as such, the king was not given proper recognition. He felt a little
insulted and asked them whether they knew who he was. One of them
said, “No. We had no necessity to find out about you. We had
complete faith in Rev. Maha-Tissa and because he requested us, we
came to you for training. Nevertheless, we are ready to obey you”.
The king watched them silently for a while and said, “You
are right. He is virtuous and very trustworthy. He loves the country.
But I think it is high time you get to know who I am. I am your
king, who ruled over the land once before. I am king Valagamba,
who fled from the city of Anuradhapura, some time ago”. All
of them were taken by surprise. They at once, got up from their
seats, bowed and showed their respect to the king.
The king then requested thus. “Do not panic. This is an hour
that I need all your assistance. Help me to save the country, the
nation and our religion from the enemy”. They then vowed that
they would support him even at the risk of their lives. They promised
to tell the people about the king and they dispersed. On their way
back, they went on announcing, “Our great king is alive. He
is getting ready to fight the enemy. Those who love the country
and its people should now rally round him”. Many of the youth
who heard this announcement, came armed and reported to the king.
They were ready to get organized as an army.
The youth kept getting enrolled daily. The people too helped in
whatever way they could. As days passed, the king had more men than
he needed. Then, organizing an army single handed became a problem
for him. For this, he appointed eight commanders, Uttiya, Chula,
Saliya, Parvata, Kapisiya, Deva and Uttara by name. These eight
commanders were in control of the units they maintained.
The king took much trouble to train these troops well. Each commander
trained a thousand and ten soldiers. They became skilled in warfare.
As a result there were eight thousand and eighty soldiers who were
well-versed in the art of fighting. Meanwhile, the soldiers who
were trained at Matuvelanga, provided security to the king and his
There was special security provided for the king. In the forest,
the making of weapons continued. Spears, arrows and swords were
made on a large scale. All this was done very secretly. King Dathiya
was unaware of all these happenings. As everything necessary for
the final battle was being prepared, the king and the queen went
to the temple of Valasgala.
There was a big ceremony in the temple that day. It was held under
the patronage of Rev. Maha-Tissa. All the organization was done
by the commanders of the king. Commander Kapisiya was in charge
of cleaning the temple premises. The king and Queen Anula were climbing
up the steps of the temple. Kapisiya was coming down the steps.
He turned to a side, leaving room for the king and queen to pass,
not paying enough respect to the king. This made the king furious.
Royal pride overtook him. He drew his sword.
Within a split second, Kapisiya’s head was cut off. The onlookers
were shocked. They were disgusted over the king’s hasty action.
The other commanders were very angry and worried. As this was done
by the king of the country, none of them wanted to comment. Knowing
it was a real crime to have slain the commander, they kept quiet.
They left the king and fled to the forest. The king realized his
By Halaliye Karunathilake
Edited and translated by Kamala Silva