is part of a continuing series on the 'Mahavamsa,' the recorded
chronicle of Sri Lankan history
Unrest in the Chola empire
After all the rejoicing, everybody reported to work the following morning. The chief commanders met the prince and had a discussion. They said, "O Prince, now is the time. Let us strike Polonnaruwa. It will be disadvantageous for us to delay. Now that the Cholas are completely weakened, let us make use of this opportunity." All the commanders were unanimous in this decision. Prince Keerti was in deep thought.
2. The prince thought that the Cholas were not as weak as they thought them to be. They were clever warriors and would not give up easily. But he did not show any signs of reluctance. The commanders asked him why he was in thought still. They told him it was time for action. Prince Keerti who is also called King Vijayabahu, agreed to the majority wish and got the army ready for the attack.
At an auspicious time, he set out with the army and marched towards Polonnaruwa. There was unrest in the Chola empire at this time, due to the death of the Chola Commander-in-Chief. The people of the city of Bali were in tears. King Raja Raja Chola too was very sad. He was angry at what had happened. His enmity towards King Vijayabahu was increasing every hour. In a way, his enmity was justifiable, as the Chola commander who died in Sri Lanka was a powerful warrior.
4. The death of this commander was a great blow to the entire Chola kingdom. There was very little choice of a replacement. This is why the Chola emperor wanted to take revenge. He convened a meeting of his ministers and told them that they will have to kill King Vijayabahu, somehow. The ministers too agreed, adding that if they do not take revenge in this manner, the Sinhala army will take them to be weaklings.
5. The Chola king organized an army and sent it to Sri Lanka. King Vijayabahu was ignorant of all this. He was marching towards Pihiti-Rata, amidst the blessing of the people. His army marched as far as the boundary of Polonnaruwa. By this time, the army that came from the Chola country was at Mantota. The spies gave this news to King Vijayabahu.
6. The king was not disturbed. However, he was aware that things were not quite favourable for them. He had only one option and that was to send troops to fight the Cholas. He stopped his army at the boundary to Polonnaruwa. Then he assembled his commanders and notified them of the latest situation. Then the commander asked him, what action they were expected to take.
7. The king then said, "We are left with only one course of action. We have to attack the camp at Polonnaruwa. Also another troop has to fight the Chola army that is advancing from Mantota. Now I want the Commander-in-Chief to select a troop to go there." All the commanders informed their respective platoons of the seriousness of the situation that had arisen.
8. All the soldiers, in one voice said, "Let us not retreat.
We must kill all our enemies." The soldiers were so patriotic that they did not want to let the foreigner have his way. The Commander-in-Chief selected a battalion and went to meet King Vijayabahu. He wanted the king's permission to go to battle.