Funday Times - Our History

The great army in search of Veediya Bandara

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.

Once Commander Veediya Bandara entered the battlefield he wielded his sword and displayed his martial prowess, almost like a lunatic. He did not care what happened. His only intention was winning the battle. Father Queros states that when this warrior entered the battlefield, neither the Portuguese nor the Sinhalese of Sitawaka, could remain without being shaken and disturbed.

Both rulers of Colombo and Sitawaka, were ashamed of the defeat they suffered that day. They were greatly angered by the shame that came over them. Then followed a discussion among King Mayadunne and his son Tikiri Bandara of Sitawaka and the Portuguese leader Lasarda. Their decision was to use a huge army and somehow defeat Veediya Bandara.

All those who took part in the discussion agreed that it had to be done immediately. So they quickly made plans for the same. Finally an army of nearly thirty thousand gathered at Sitawaka. Among these soldiers were archers, swordsmen and also those who were versed in the javelin throw. In addition, there were soldiers who were able to manipulate hand guns and even cannons.

This massive army marched towards Palanda, as that was Commander Veediya Bandara’s
fortress. The commander of this army was Prince Tikiri Bandara. It is said that the prince was only 16 years of age at the time. Though young in age, he was a skilled warrior. The army that followed this leader, marched on without meeting any obstacles on its way.

They went as far as Kalutara. There some more soldiers joined them and there were about three thousand of them. They were all Portuguese soldiers. That army was led by great Portuguese warriors like Antonio Castro, Raidias Pereira and Antonio de Aspinola, who were well experienced in warfare. However, Prince Tikiri Bandara inspected the armies that were gathered.

He was pleased with their talent. The prince began to boast that Veediya Bandara’s armies would flee like a flock of sheep before a pride of lions. Accompanied by this huge army, Tikiri Bandara marched towards Palanda. They could not march for long as they were met by the armies of Veediya Bandara.

A severe battle ensued. It lasted only for a short time. The armies of Veediya Bandara were defeated and so they retreated to Palanda. Two days passed without any incidents. The huge army led by Tikiri Bandara was nearing Palanda. They were able to overcome whatever obstacles they faced on their way. They crossed the river Palanda.

They came close to Veediya Bandara’s fortress and set up camp. By this time, there were about 14,000 soldiers in Veediya Bandara’s army. They were unable to flee from an army of 33,000. What any other warrior would have done at this point, would be, to stay confined to the fortress, till they were attacked.

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