Funday Times - Mahavamsa

The prisoners who were released
This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
By Halaliye Karunathilake Edited and translated by Kamala Silva Illustrated by Saman Kalubowila

1. Alakeshwara lost his temper. He decided to go to fight the Chinese. Everything needed for the battle was organized. A huge army was gathered. He meant to change the road which led to his palace, from the harbour. Trees were cut and put across the road to block the passage. One platoon was sent to rob the ships. All this was done very secretly and with a lot of care. Around him were enemies who pretended to be friends. They appeared friendly but sneaked all his plans to the Chinese.

2. Cheng-ha, the Chinese leader was very glad to receive this information. He altered his strategy to suit this plan and gave orders to fight. Some more spies were sent inland. He took a platoon himself and entered the city through another gate, in the night. The soldiers of Alakeshwara, were awake. They attacked the Chinese army. The Chinese army too fought back. As the Sinhala army was getting weakened, Chen-ha's soldiers advanced. They were instructed to attack Alakeshwara's palace.

3. The Chinese soldiers acted according to instructions. They attacked the palace and took possession of it. The Sinhala troops that went to rob the ships, got to know about this. They immediately moved towards land and joined the troops of the Sinhala army, that were fighting the Chinese. The skilled army of Cheng-ha became victorious.

4. Veera Alakeshwara and the members of his family became prisoners in the hands of the Chinese. They were taken to China. It was in 1412 AD, that Cheng-ha took these prisoners to China. Some Chinese ministers wanted them killed. But as the Chinese emperor was a just ruler, he did not want to do so. He released the Sinhala prisoners.

5. Among the prisoners who gained freedom from the Chinese emperor, there were people who did not belong to Alakeshwara's family. These prisoners who were released were ordered by the Chinese emperor, to name the person who was most suited to be the ruler of Lanka.

According to Chinese records the person named was identified as 'Yeh-pa-ne-na.' This person was sent to Lanka. He came to be the ruler accepted by the Chinese emperor. Veera Alakeshwara who was pushed out of power, was also sent back to the country.

6. This above description is according to the Chinese records. However, nothing definite could be said about the kings of this period as kingship surrounds a lot of controversy. According to the Rajavaliya, King Buwanekabahu V had been succeeded by Parakramabahu VI.

It is said that this Parakramabahu was not directly connected to the line of Gampola kings. Furthermore, Rajavaliya states, that the early years of this king are not well known.

7. Yet another theory is put forward in the records of 'Kuso' – who was a scholar versed in Portuguese history. According to him, King Parakramabahu VI is the son of King Vijayabahu – who was a prisoner in the hands of the Chinese.

The queen of this king, had fled with her two children. She had gone to the Venerable Veedagama Maha Thera, for refuge. The priest had helped her. It is said that there was no lawful ruler, at this time.

8. This had been the period of Alakeshwara's rule. He had got to know that the queen had fled with her two children. He tried to kill them.

The Venerable Veedagama Thera, had sent them to Kegalle. A village chieftain there, had looked after them. The children were given a good education. The had been trained in the art of warfare too.

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