is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
1. Prince Keerti's ambition was to unite Malaya-Rata and Ruhuna, to begin with. He thought it would be easy to conquer the Pihiti-Rata next. With this plan in mind, he worked untiringly. Commander Lokeshwara, who lost power in the province in the south, was quite angered. He understood Prince Keerti's plan. Lokeshwara knew that if the prince succeeded he would lose all his power. So he sent a huge army to fight the prince.
2. They marched forward, ruining everything in their way. Prince Keerti was very angry at the destruction caused to men and property. He could not tolerate this behaviour. So he organized his army and marched to meet the enemy. Lokeshwara's forces came dashing forward. Both armies met face to face and a severe battle followed. Many lives were lost. The boundary where the fighting took place turned into a pool of blood.
3. Many were the soldiers that fell dead on the battle-field. Lokeshwara's army was shattered. Prince Keerti won. Thereafter, peace prevailed in the country, for a short period. Though the fighting stopped temporarily, the prince had to increase the numbers of his army. Lokeshwara on the other hand, was confined to Kataragama after the heavy defeat. As most of his men died in two severe battles, he was disgusted. He thought of confining his power, only to the Kataragama area.
4. Lokeshwara however, was not a good ruler. He was far too strict. But the fact that he was a Sinhala leader who opposed the Cholas was a plus point for him. He did not allow the Cholas to come down. This made the people support Lokeshwara, against all odds. Lokeshwara continued to stay quiet for about seven months, worrying about the losses he had suffered. This worry made him sick, all of a sudden.
5. It is of this sickness that Commander Lokeshwara died in
1054 AD. There was no ruler in Kataragama. Meanwhile, a warrior sprang up from Ruhuna. He was named Keshadhana Kasubu. This youth built a fairly powerful army. Before long, he conquered a number of villages in Ruhuna. The village leaders were ready to accept his leadership. He conquered Kataragama too and became its ruler.
6. Though he was not as strict a ruler as Lokeshwara, he too did not possess qualities of a good ruler. His one ambition was to increase his power and fight the Cholas. The people of Ruhuna, who were very national minded, liked this characteristic in him. So they joined his army and supported Kasubu.
7. His rise to power was a threat to the Cholas. With the intention of conquering Kataragama, the Chola leader sent a huge army to the south. They ruined the villages and caused a lot of destruction. The granaries were broken and even the animals were killed. When they started setting fire to the granaries, the people fled in fear. Keshadana soon got his army organized and marched to fight the Cholas.
8. The Cholas too did not like to give in. They took to arms. The fighting started. Both parties had skilled men and as a result the battle continued. The people of the area too, obstructed the Cholas in their own way. As the fighting continued, a lot of lives were lost. The loss was greater for the Chola camp.