|THE KINGS OF POLONNARUWA
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THE KINGS OF POLONNARUWA
King Vijaya Bahu (1070 to 1110) to Parakramabahu the Great ( 1153-1186)
Chola rule in the island of Sri Lanka
The period of Chola rule in the island of Sri Lanka began in 993 when Raja Raja Chola sent a large Chola army which conquered the Anuradhapura Kingdom. The whole or most of the island was subsequently conquered and incorporated as a province of the vast Chola empire during the reign of his son Rajendra Chola. The Chola rule which lasted for eight decades in the island, was overthrown in 1077 through a rebellion led by Vijayabahu I one of the dispossessed Sinhalese monarchs. The Cholas fought many subsequent wars and attempted to reconquer Sri Lanka as the Sinhalese monarchs were allies of their arch-enemies, the Pandyas.
Taking advantage of a civil war which had caused the Sinhalese monarch Mahinda V to flee to the south-east province of Anuradhapura known as Ruhuna, Raja Raja Chola invaded Anuradhapura sometime between 991 and 993 AD and conquered the northern part of the country and incorporated it into his kingdom as a province named "Mummudi-sola-mandalam". The capital was at Polonnaruwa which was renamed "Jananathamangalam".
In the year A.D.1014 Rajaraja Chola died after twenty nine years of rule, and was succeeded by his son the Rajendra Chola I, on the throne of the Chola Empire. As per the Sinhalese Buddhist chronicle Mahavamsa, the conquest of Anuradhapura was completed by his son Rajendra Chola I in the 36th year of the reign of the Sinhalese monarch Mahinda V, i.e. about 1017–18. According to the Karandai plates, Rajendra Chola led a large army into Anuradhapura and captured Mahinda's crown, queen, daughter, vast amount of wealth and the king himself whom he took as a prisoner to India. The whole of Anuradhapura including the south-eastern province of Ruhuna were incorporated into the Chola Empire.
Eleven years after the Chola conquest of Ruhuna, Mahinda V's son Vikramabahu I rose in rebellion. Taking advantage of uprisings in the Pandya kingdom and Kerala, Vikramabahu I massacred the Chola garrisons in Ruhuna and drove the 95,000-strong Chola army to Pulatthinagara. Soon afterwards, Vikramabahu crowned himself king of Ruhuna. Vikramabahu's mysterious death in 1041, however, brought an end to the war. His successor Mahalanakitti tried to drive the Cholas out of Anuradhapura but failed and hence, took his own life in disgrace.
Vijayabahu was born around 1039, by the name of Kitti (Keethi) in Ruhuna principality, the southern part of the country. He was the grandson of King Mahinda V the last king of Anuradhapura, and the son of Prince Moggallana (and princess Lokitha) who had not ruled according to history. Also he was related to King Manawamma’s family. Sri Lanka was then under control of Chola invaders from South India, but Ruhuna was controlled by Sinhala kings resisting the Chola rule. After the Cholas captured Anuradhapura, Prince Moggallana took refuge in Ruhuna for some time, but was later taken into custody in Ruhuna by the Cholas. But patriotic villagers of Ruhuna protected Prince Kitti, the son of Prince Mogallana, from the Cholas in various places of the jungles of Ruhuna with great difficulty. During that time the Prince Kitti was only 12 years old.
When he was fifteen years of age Kitti defeated the Cholas backed rulers in Ruhuna, Lokissara, with the help of a military leader named Budal Samy. Within three years Budal Samy recaptured the whole of Ruhuna from the Cholas, recruited forces and handed over to Prince Kitti. Subsequently in 1055, he became king of Ruhuna and attained the name of ‘’’Vijayabahu’’’. The Chola army frequently attacked Vijayabahu’s troops in Ruhuna. However, he managed to free Ruhuna from the Cholas by 1058 and take it under his complete control.
After securing Ruhuna, his intention was to capture Polonnaruwa, the capital of the country. In 1066, he launched the first attack on Polonnaruwa, and captured and held the city for a brief time. However, after receiving reinforcements from South India, the strengthened Chola army attacked again, forcing Vijayabahu to flee. He established himself in Wakirigala after this and concentrated on organizing his army for a fresh attempt to capture Polonnaruwa. During this time, he also had to face rebellions from other Sinhala leaders fighting for the throne. Overcoming these rebellions, Vijayabahu continued to muster his armies in order to retake the Capital, but was not strong enough to attempt another attack against the Chola army.And he made katharagama in Ruhuna as his capital and also he started to organize an army to defeat the cholas.
Civil war broke out during 1069–1070 in the Chola empire in South India, throwing the country into turmoil. The concerns within India prevented the empire from focusing on Sri Lanka, providing an opportunity for Vijayabahu to attack again while the Chola forces in Polonnaruwa were more or less isolated. Starting from Mahanagakula on the south of the Walawe river, Vijayabahu dispatched three armies to attack Polonnaruwa from three fronts. One army was sent along the western shore of the country to Mahathittha port to deal with any reinforcements arriving from South India. Afterwards, part of this army moved towards Polonnaruwa and attacked from the North-west, while the other part held the ports to prevent reinforcements from arriving. A second army was sent from the east across Magama to attack Polonnaruwa from the east. The third and main force advanced across the country, led by the king. Surrounded by these three armies, Polonnaruwa was besieged for seven months before king Vijayabahu’s forces entered the city. In 1070, Vijayabahu became the ruler of Polonnaruwa.
After the victory at Polonnaruwa, Vijayabahu had to face more rebellions. This caused him to delay his coronation, which took place in 1072 or 1073, eighteen years after being crowned as Vijayabahu in Ruhuna and after a military campaign that lasted seventeen years. Polonnaruwa was renamed “Vijayarajapura” and chosen as the capital, making Vijayabahu the first Sinhala king of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom. The coronation ceremony was held in a palace built for this purpose in Anuradhapura, the former capital of the country. Vijayabahu took Lilavati, the daughter of Jagatipala of Kanauj as his queen. He also married Tilokasundari, a princess from Kalinga, with the view of strengthening ties with the Kalingas.
Around 1084/1085, another quarrel with the Chola kingdom erupted when some ambassadors of Vijayabahu sent to West Chaiukya were harassed by them. However, the king’s decision for another war against the Chola Empire caused the Velakkara mercenaries serving in Vijayabahu’s army, unwilling to fight their Tamil kinsmen, to rebel against him. Several generals of the army were killed by the mutineers and the royal palace was burnt down. Vijayabahu fled to Wakirigala again but returned to Polonnaruwa and recaptured it, suppressing the rebellion. The ringleaders being burnt at the funeral pyre of the royal generals whom they murdered. The Velakkilra force learnt the lesson, and at the end of the reign set up the fine Tamil stone inscription still extant at Polonnaruwa, in which is recorded their agreement to protect the Tooth Relic temple.
Vijaya Bahu reigned fifty-five years, and died at the age of seventy-two, about A.D. 1111.
King Vijayabahu I (also known as Vijayabahuthe Great) had two queens. They were, a local queen named Leelawathi and a Kalinga (Malay) queen named Thilokasundari who was a pretty daughter of the King Shri Vijaya of the Kingdom of Malay.
Queen Leelawathie, gave birth to a daughter and she was named Yasodhara. As she grew up, she was given in marriage to Prince Veerawamma. This couple were blessed with two daughters. The elder one was just like Queen Leelawathie and very pretty. So she was named Leelawathie. The younger one, was named Sugala. Both grew up as modest princesses. Thilokasundari had a son, Vikramabahu.
Meanwhile, Vijayabahu’s sister Miththa had three sons, Manabharana (also known as Weerabahu), Kithsirimegha and Sirivallabha.
Intrigue and dissension followed immediately upon the death of Vijayabahu I, the leader of the Sinhalese in the war of independence against the Cholas, who ruled for 55 years from 1055 AC. The princess Mitta (sister of the late king Vijayabahu I and wife of a Pandya prince), her three sons, the ministers and high officials and the chief monks of the ascetic sects conferred together and without informing the adipada Vikramabahu (the late king's son who was the ruler of Ruhuna at the time of his father's death), consecrated the uparaja Jayabahu as the king and appointed the prince Manabharana, eldest son of the princess Mitta as uparaja .
Apparently King Vijayabahu appointed his younger brother Jaya-Bahu as the sub-king, after the death of his elder brother and sub-king Vira-Bahu towards the end of the reign.
Jayabahu's succession to the throne was lawful because he was uparaja of Vijayabahu I, but in elevating Manabharana (king's sister's son), to be uparaja of Jayabahu instead of Vikramabahu, the king's son was against the royal tradition. The case for Manabharana was probably based on matriarchy, based on the fact that he was a scion of the Sinhalese royal house, while Vikramabahu, on his mother's side, was of Kalinga (Srivijaya) descent. The aim of the confederacy clearly was that Mitta's son, Manabharana, should exercise the real power, with her brother Jayabahu I, as puppet king and that Vikramabahu should be liquidated. With this object Manabharana and his brothers, together with king Jayabahu, took possession of the regalia and treasure and, at the head of the army, advanced into Ruhuna to seize Vikramabahu.
Vikramabahu took up the challenge. Actions were fought at Kosgoda, Dambagalla, Galabedda and other places in the Moneragala area and in all these engagements, Vikramabahu, who appears to have inherited some of his father's fighting qualities, was victorious although outnumbered. He drove the royal army westward and cut it off from its base, and himself marched north, occupied Polonnaruwa and established himself there as ruler of Rajarata, thus completely turning tables on Jayabahu and Manabharana.
Jaya Bahu together with sister Mitta and her sons retired to Ruhuna taking the sacred Tooth and Bowl Relies with them. Thereafter, Manabharana and his two brothers shared Dakkhinadesa (Maya) and Ruhuna between them; Manabharana ruled Dakkhinadesa (Maya Rata) under the name of Virabahu with his seat at Dedigama in the Kegalle district: Kittisirimegha became ruler of Dolosdahas-rata, a part of Ruhuna, to the west of Walawe Ganga with his capital at Manavulu (the modern Rambha-vihara, near Ambalantota): and Sirivallabha took charge of Atadahas-rata, the rest of Ruhuna to the east of the Walawe Ganga, with his headquarters at Undundora (present Galabedda, near Moneragala). King Jayabahu and the princess Mitta lived with Kittisirimegha at Manavulu.
The country was now divided into four parts. The `King's Country,' (Raja Rata) with its capital at Polonnaruwa was held by Vikrama Bahu (1111-1132); he seized the lands dedicated to Buddha and oppressed the priests, who removed the Tooth and Bowl Relies to Ruhuna. The `Southern Country' (Maya Rata) was ruled by Manabharana, while Ruhuna was divided between the other two brothers, Siri Vallabha having Dolosdahas-rata, roughly the Southern Province, and Kitti Sirimegha Atadahas-rata or the modern Uva and most of the Eastern Province.
A year later civil war broke out again. However, thereafter, Vikramabahu and his three rivals ceased organised hostilities and each dwelt in his own realm. While this state of affairs prevailed king Jayabahu and princess Mitta both died in Ruhuna. Manabharana of Dakkhinadesa died soon after the birth of his son Parakramabahu: thereupon Kittisirimegha took over Dakkhinadesa and Srivallabha assumed control over the whole of Ruhuna. Vikramabahu died about 1131/32 AC and was succeeded at Polonnaruwa by his son Gajabahu. The brothers, Kittisirimegha of Dakkhinadesa and Srivallabha of Ruhuna, made a combined effort to dispossess Gajabahu but failed in the attempt: they retired to their principalities and made no further effort to renew the war.
Manabharana married Ratanavali, a daughter of Vijayabāhu. Later, when he had already two daughters, Mittā and Pabhāvatī, he gave over the government to his ministers and retired from the world. But seven or eight months later he had a dream in the temple of Indra and hurried back to Punkhagāma because the dream presaged the birth of a mighty son. This son was Parakkamabāhu I. Manabharana's famous son Parakrama Bahu was born at Punkhagama in the `Southern Country,' and after his father's death retired with his mother to Mahinagakula in the dominions of his uncle, Sri Vallabha, who now ruled the whole of Ruhuna on his surviving brother succeeding to Manabharana's principality.
On the death of Vikrama Bahu, after a rule of twenty-one years, and the accession of his son, Gaja Bahu II. (1131-1153), Sri Vallabha and Kitti Sirimegha attacked the `King's Country,' but failed in their enterprise. Parakrama Bahu had now grown up and went to the country of his birth, where he lived at his uncle's court. He was brought up by his uncle, Kittisrimegha, who had no son, at the then seat of the ruler of Dakkhinadesa Hatnagoda, in Beligal Korale, Kegalle district. He was instructed by chosen teachers in language and literature, religion, statecraft, the bearing of arms, sport, dance and music. Kittisirimegha encouraged the prince in his studies and took him on tours of inspection.
Parakramabahu's ambitious spirit made him restless and discontented with the prospect of ruling a petty principality. Accordingly one night he left the court and went to Batalagoda, where the general in command was killed, and thence through Hiniyala to Buddhagama (Menikdena Nuwara in Matale District), where he intrigued with Gaja Bahu's general at Kalavewa. His uncle, fearing complications with the Court of Polonnaruwa, sent troops to bring him back, but the prince, making a detour through Bogambara and Ranamure in the Laggala country of Matale East and through Ambana, finally crossed the frontier and so came to Polonnaruwa: here he lived with Gaja Bahu, and spent his time in spying out the country, and intriguing with his host's subjects. Later he returned to his uncle, and succeeded him on his death.
Sri Vallabha marries Sugala who was the daughter of Yashodara and grand daughter of King Vijayabahu ! and Queen Leelawathie. Son of Sri Vallabha and Queen Sugala was also named Manabaran (Sama name as Sri Vallabha's elder brother who ruled Maya Rata and father of Parakramabahu) and became the ruler of Ruhuna after the death of his father, Sri Vallabha. Young Parakramabahu was his cousin.
Parakramabahu I was a great military commander. Even at fourteen or fifteen years of age Parakramabahu was ambitious and precocious. In the plans for the future formulating in his young mind, the annexation of Rajarata to Dakkhinadesa was the first step in his scheme for the unification of the whole of Lanka into one kingdom, with himself as king. Upon assuming the overlordship of the principality of Dakkhinadesa, the prince Parakramabahu's first step was to secure his frontiers against possible aggression and, to this end he established military posts at various points, in particular on the east and north where his boundary was contagious with that of Gajabahu II.
After becoming the King of Maya Rate, Parakramabahu's plan of attack provided first of all, for the annexation of Mahamalayadesa, that is, that part of the hill country which fell within Gajabahu's realm. It was a sound plan, because the possession of this region which included Laggala, Patha Dumbara and Uda Dumbara, secured the right plank of operations which were to follow against the Elahera-Polonnaruwa area. The terrain was difficult for military operations because many parts of it were inaccessible except by narrow, steep and winding footpaths: heavily forested hills separated the inhabited valleys and the larger mountain streams were crossable only where the banks were not rocky and precipitous.
Parakramabahu resorted to intrigue in the first instance. He won over to his side Rakkha, Gajabahu's dandanayaka in the Southern part of Mahamalayadesa and hoped to make use of Rakkha's influence and authority to gain control over the whole region. Patha Dumbara was quickly seized and then with Rakkha's influence the areas around Napana, Rambukwella and Dunuvila were subdued. But resistance around Mediwaka and in the Kosvagga district was strong and had to be overcome by guile as well as by force. In a final battle in Kosvagga district, the preliminary campaign for the annexation of Gajabahu's mountain territory terminated successfully.
Parakramabahu now launched his main series of attacks upon Rajarata. He is said to have himself planned the operations, following the text-book injunctions of Kautilya and other authorities, and to have set down his orders in writing and delivered them to his commanders. The opening attack was on the west coast, the objective being the Pearl Banks. The commander on this sector advanced from Vellavela, near Battulu Oya and captured Gajabahu's fortress near Puttalam. He then embarked his troops, sailed to the Pearl Banks and fought a naval action. Apparently this operation failed but it was repeated shortly afterwards by another commander: this time it was successful and troops secured the Pearl Banks, landed in the mainland and built a fort from which to control the north-western sea-board. In support of the naval operations, a parallel advance was made inland: the Kala Oya was crossed and Kattiyawa was captured. Further inland in the Kalawewa district where the command was held by one of Gajabahu's ablest generals, a number of engagements was fought at different places, including Kahalla, Talakiriyagama, Madahapola, Nilagama and Dambulla but the defences held and Parakramahabu's attacks came to a standstill.
Further to the East, Parakramabahu's troops astride the Amban Ganga near Nalanda made their approach march to Gajabahu's frontier, and his detachments at Bogambara entered Laggala. Parakramabahu now strengthened his forces advancing directly upon Polonnaruwa, Gajabahu's capital and this threat brought immediate counter-measures. Gajabahu launched two counter-attacks, one to halt the progress towards Polonnaruwa and the other a strong diversionary blow, directed at the fortress on Parakramabahu's left flank on the north-western coast. Parakramabahu's troops succeeded, however, in penetrating into the Elahera district where they captured Talagoda and then occupied Alagamuwa and built a strong fortress there by the river. Gajabahu's troops made repeated efforts to capture this fort, but they were defeated and Parakramabahu's general won a notable victory. Parakramabahu now turned his attention to the threat to his left flank. His Senapathi Deva advanced from Giribawa, bridged the Kala Oya opposite Angamuwa and fought his way to the neighbourhood of Anuradhapura. The commander on the north-western coast was ordered to support the Senapathi's advance from the west: he marched inland, fought two successful actions and reached Tissawewa at Anuradhapura. Here he found himself under heavy attack by strong reinforcements which Gajabahu had sent up, and was soon entrapped and besieged within the city. The immediate concern now was to relieve the beleaguered commander: he was eventually able to breakout and join the senapathi after a series of successful attacks in his aid had been made. Gajabahu retained his hold on Anuradhapura.
The main thrust towards Polonnaruwa was now resumed, and Parakramabahu established his battle headquarters at Nalanda, in proximity to the scene of operations. The Elahera district was systematically conquered in a series of encounters and when this had been accomplished Parakramabahu gave orders for the capture of Polonnaruwa. Hitherto Manabharana the ruler of Ruhuna had allied himself with Gajabahu and his troops had fought alongside those of Gajabahu in several battles: but seeing that the course of war was now going against Gajabahu and that triumph for Parakramabahu appeared to be in sight, he abrogated his alliance with Gajabahu and entered into a treaty with Parakramabahu. In order to attack Gajabahu from the rear while Parakramabahu made his frontal assault upon Polonnaruwa, Manabharana set up camp with troops at Sorabora. The advance to Polonnaruwa now reached its climax. Converging columns now forged to the Kahandigama pass in the Sudukanda range of hills. This pass was the gateway to Polonnaruwa from the west and was strongly defended by Gajabahu's troops, but they could not resist the weight of Parakramabahu's assault found themselves hemmed in on three sides within the pass and after suffering severe losses, yielded their ground. Parakramabahu's troops streamed through the pass, while the survivors of Gajabahu's forces retreated in disorder into Polonnaruwa. In a last attempt to save his capital, Gajabahu assembled all his available troops, including his Tamil bodyguards, war elephants and chariots and moved out of the town to give battle to the advancing army of Parakramabahu. The struggle was short and decisive. Thrown back in confusion, Gajabahu's troops broke and fled. Gajabahu had the gates of the town locked and hid himself within. The victorious army of Parakramabahu, in close pursuit, soon swarmed over the fortifications and assisted by spies within the town who unlocked the gates, entered Polonnaruwa, discovered Gajabahu's hiding place, made him captive and imprisoned him in his palace.
Parakramabahu, who had remained behind at Nalanda, desired that Gajabahu should retain his regal dignity and sent him presents of garments and ornaments and gave instructions to his officers to treat him with honour. But the victorious and elated soldiers had got out of hand and pillage, rioting and disturbances were taking place in Polonnaruwa. Parakramabahu's commanders at Polonnaruwa and the district chieftains conferred together and sent him the following message: "So long as the king Gajabahu is alive, the people dwelling in his kingdom will not submit to thy sovereignty: he must therefore be put to death." Translating this idea of political expediency into practice, they and their soldiers intensified their pillage of Polonnaruwa, breaking into houses and plundering property to such an extent that the enraged population gathered together under their own officials and councillors and sent an urgent appeal to Manabharana of Ruhuna who was at Sorobora to come speedily to their deliverance, promising him the rulership of Rajarata. Meanwhile Parakramabahu had fetched the senapathi Deva from the Anuradhapura area and sent him and his troops to Polonnaruwa to restore order and discipline among the unruly soldiers there. When the senapati arrived at Polonnaruwa, Mahabharana had answered the appeal made to him and was already marching on the town. The senapati found himself engaged in battle with Manabharana before he had time to organize the disorderly rabble which occupied the town and the result was that he and all Parakramabahu's troops at Polonnaruwa suffered a crushing defeat, the senapathi himself being taken prisoner.
The first few days of Manabharana's occupation of Polonnaruwa reassured the population: he restored order and calm and treated Gajabahu with reverence. But his real intentions became apparent as soon as he had secured firm control. He put to death all the high and influential officers of Gajabahu and then seized Gajabahu and imprisoned him in a dungeon. He had brought to Polonnaruwa from Ruhuna, the Tooth and the Bowl Relics which had been removed for safety in the time of Wikramabahu, with the obvious intention of celebrating his own consecration. He then began to starve and ill-treat Gajabahu so that he would die by slow degrees. Gajabahu in his miserable plight and conscious of Manabharana's intentions, succeeded in getting a secret message delivered to Parakramabahu, imploring the latter to release him from his torment. Parakramabahu responded at once: with the least delay he mounted another attack on Polonnaruwa in aid of Gajabahu. Columns moved rapidly from Wewalawewa, Makulebe and other points: the roads from Ruhuna to Polonnaruwa were blockaded. On all sides supplies and communications were cut and the encircling troops closed in on Polonnaruwa. Manabharana marched out to fight but was driven back and abandoning the town, made good his escape to Ruhuna together with the Tooth and the Bowl Relics. Parakramabahu's troops broke into the town and released Gajabahu: he did not wait to receive Parakramabahu but betook himself at once to Kottiyar with the intention of taking ship out of the country if his misfortunes became worse.
In a short while hostilities with Gajabahu broke out once again, the immediate cause being an attack by Gajabahu's followers on a detachment of Parakramabahu's troops who were recuperating at a place by the river. Incensed by what he considered to be a hostile and ungrateful act, Parakramabahu gave orders for the capture of Gajabahu's person and his troops began to march on Gajabahu's abode in Kottiyar Pattu. Several actions were fought on the river and to the east of it, and Gajabahu even launched an unsuccessful counter-attack on Polonnaruwa, but it was not long before that he realised that his powers of resistance were nearing exhaustion and that his capture was approaching. As a last resort Gajabahu approached the Sangha for intervention and mediation. The Sangha undertook the task and sent a deputation to Parakramabahu at Giritale. They reminded Parakramabahu that he sought the sovereignty only to serve his people and further the cause of religion, and that this object was near attainment because Gajabahu was old and had no son or brother to succeed him: they asked Parakramabahu therefore, to end the war, return to his own principality and bide his time. Parakramabahu heeded this request and returned with his army to Dakkhinadesa. Gajabahu took up residence at Kantale and passed the evening of his life there happily.
But Manabharana of Ruhuna continued to plot. He sent envoys with gifts to Gajabahu and sought a renewal of their old alliance, hoping that if it was renewed he would be nominated as Gajabahu's successor. But Gajabahu rejected these advances, and to put an end to further approaches by Manabharana, he went to Medirigiri-Vihara and had the words, "I have made over Rajarata to king Parakrama engraved there on a rock. Gajabahu returned to Kantale and soon afterwards died there in the year 1153. The inscription which the chronicle asserts was engraved at Medirigiriya has not been found. But a copy of this record, incised on the rock surface, has been discovered at Sangamu-vihara, fourteen miles north east of Kurunegala, a site in Parakramabahu's principality of Dakkhinadesa. The Sangamu inscription is a treaty between the two brothers-in-law, Gajabahu and Parakramabahu, in which they agree not to make war against each other, to nominate one another as the heir of the other, and to regard the enemy of one, as the enemy of the other. The last clause was, apparently directed against Manabharana of Ruhuna.
On the death of Gajabahu, his minister had the body conveyed to Kottiyar and in violation of the treaty with Parakramabahu, sent a message to Manabharana of Ruhuna to come with all haste and assume the rulership of Rajarata. Manabharana responded to the call and marched to Kottiyar with a host of troops. Parakramabahu, on hearing the news, sent forward his army and occupied Polonnaruwa. He prepared for war at once: troops were dispatched to guard all the fords on the Mahaweli Ganga from Trincomalee as far as Vilgamuwa, so as to prevent Manabharana from crossing the river to the Rajarata side. Then Parakramabahu celebrated his consecration at Polonnaruwa as ruler of Rajarata and set forth to war. Manabharana's soldiers made unsuccessful attempts to cross the Mahaweli Ganga at a number of places principally Vilgamuwa, Talangamuwa, Hembarawa, Marake, Polwatte, Yakkure, Nikagollewa and Malagamuwa. Every attempt by Manabharana to cross the river having failed and the position in this region remaining static, Parakramabahu decided to carry the battle to his opponent and to attack him in his own territory, from an unexpected direction, the south-west.Parakramabahu's two commanders stationed in the Maniyamgana area and in Pasdun Korale advanced into Navadun Korale which was then a possession of Ruhuna. Continuing their progress they ascended the hills, took possession of the mountainous country of the Kukul, Atakalan, Kolonna and Morawak Korales and descended down the valley of the Nilwala Ganga into the Matara district where they fought a successful action near Akuressa and crossed the river at that point. Manabharana had to detach substantial forces from the Mahaweli Ganga front to meet this threat to his rear, and he might have lost the war at this stage but that fortune favoured him.
Certain inhabitants of Rajarata who supported Manabharana made known to him the existence of a ford on the river, unknown to and unguarded by Parakramabahu's troops where his soldiers could cross: Manabharana took immediate advantage of this valuable information and began to send detachments across the river at that point. Parakramabahu on hearing of this manoeuvre instructed one of his commanders to build a fort on the left bank and neutralize this new crossing. But this officer, being jealous of the praise given to a rival commander, was lax and dilatory in carrying out his task, and a spy in his camp set word to Manabharana to attack him while he was still unprepared. Manabharana himself led the attack on the negligent commander: it achieved complete success and the commander himself was slain after displaying great personal gallantry. The confusion caused by the breach in the defences spread to neighbouring units: other commanders on the river were compelled to fall back to conform to the new tactical situation and soon a general withdrawal of Parakramabahu's forces on the river-line commenced. Manabharana exploited his success to the full: by morning in the next day the retiring troops were passing through Polonnaruwa and the inhabitants of Rajarata joined in harrying Parakramabahu's dispirited troops in retreat. It was soon evident that the retirement would have to be continued to the frontier districts of Dakkhinadesa in order to secure a respite from fighting and enable the scattered and demoralized troops to be reformed for effective resistance. Manabharana occupied Polonnaruwa and advanced to Giritale. Some of Parakramabahu's troops reached Huruluwewa and others were trying to reform on the line Karavilahena-Dambulla. Parakramabahu was counseled to retire further to Panduvasnuwara or even to Kelaniya to rest and rehabilitate his soldiers for a resumption of war, but he rejected this pessimistic view of the situation and decided that the time had come to halt, re-group and turn around and fight. Manabharana's rapid advance from the river had lost its momentum and was now halted, and Parakramabahu was ready to take the offensive again. From his base at Nalanda he sent forward columns to recover lost ground and these formed a new line curving north-east from Elahera to Kantale. Manabharana now created a diversion in Parakramabahu's rear by delivering an attack from Anuradhapura southward across the Kala Oya: it was a partial success at the beginning but Parakramabahu strongly reinforced his troops in the Kalawewa region and restored the situation.
The battle was resumed in the Polonnaruwa sector by columns based on Elahera. They attacked with new vigour and made good progress towards Polonnaruwa. Instead of closing in on Polonnaruwa and besieging it, Parakramabahu brought into action his specially trained commando units, consisting of hunters, path-finders, night fighters and house breakers. These troops made day and night forays around Polonnaruwa so that communications were severed, all business on the outskirts of the town ceased, the citizens were unable to go outside of the city in safety and a state of panic prevailed in the town. Manabharana marched out of the town with his troops and launched an attack in the direction of Dambulla but he engaged and delayed on his way by three of Parakramabahu's columns from three different directions. Diverted from his objective by this resistance and unwilling to divide his forces, Manabharana took up a position at Konduruwa on the Elahera canal. Guerrilla warfare continued for six months longer in the course of which two pitched battles went in Parakramabahu's favour: Manabharana's forces had become seriously weakened by losses and he began to build a stronghold where he could fight a delaying action until he was finally forced to fall back on Polonnaruwa. Parakramabahu judged that his was the time for decisive attack. The stronghold was captured, but during the night, in darkness and heavy rain. Manabharana abandoned his troops and made good his escape, crossing the river at a secret ford.
At dawn, detachments hastened to the river in pursuit of Mahabharana, but Parakramabahu recalled them allowed the fleeing ruler of Ruhuna to travel unmolested back to his own territory. Parakramabahu entered Polonnaruwa in triumph and celebrated his second consecration, this time as ruler over the whole of Lanka. The Chronicle gives a picturesque description of the event and of the rejoicings of the populace. In the Devanagala inscription of his twelfth regnal year, Parakramabahu declares that he made war with two persons, Gajabahu and Manabharana and 'made the authority of one umbrella of dominion prevail in the island of Lanka'.
The first of the major military operations undertaken by the king was the renewal of the war with Ruhuna, now ruled by Queen Sugala, the mother of the late ruler, prince Manabharana. She was in possession of the Tooth and Alms Bowl Relics, and there seems to be little doubt, notwithstanding other explanations in the Chronicle, that this was another war of aggression whose object was to secure these relics for Parakramabahu because his right to the sovereignty remained imperfect and challengeable without them
The people of Ruhuna, it is alleged, built strongholds in various places, blocked the roads, garrisoned the defences of the principality, and started to revolt. The king dispatched the senapati Rakkha with a division of troops to enter Ruhuna and quell the rebellion. When these troops had departed, the Sinhala and the Malay mercenaries in Kottiyar Pattu, together with the Velaikkara regiment, took advantage of the depletion of the king's forces, to mutiny, expecting that they would soon become masters of Rajarata. But their plans were completely foiled: the mutiny was quickly suppressed, the ringleaders were put to death, and the villages allotted for the maintenance of the rebel soldiers were taken away and assigned to other services. Meanwhile the general Rakkha had marched as far as Mahiyangana and overcame strong resistance. Continuing his advance down a line corresponding to the present Mahiyangana-Uraniya-Bibile road, he made slow progress in a difficult terrain and was finally brought to a halt by natural obstacles as well as determined opposition. The enemy had built a succession of seven strongholds in a forested valley, two or four miles long, hemmed in on both sides by high hills, a description which fits the vicinity of modern Hepola and Rakkha spent some months in ineffective efforts to break through these defences. Impatient of Rakkha's tardy progress, the king sent forward powerful reinforcements, and the combined forces soon penetrated the defile and pressed forward to the neighbourhood of Bibile. Here, a division was diverted to the north to subdue the enemy troops in the flanking hilly region of the Loggal Oya valley: this force brought that area under subjection and rejoined the main body. The danger of a flank attack from the overlooking hills having been removed, the general advance was resumed and after further fighting at Medagama and Katupelalla the troops reached Udundora (modern Galabedda), the residence of Queen Sugala. The queen, taking the Tooth and Bowl Relics with her, took refuge at Ethimole.
Meanwhile a fresh area of operations had been opened in the Dighavapi district, the present Gal Oya valley, and a pincer movement now developed from east and west on Ethimole, the queen's new residence. Parakramabahu's troops entered the Dighavapi district through Eravur, and advanced through Divulana and Uhana to Dighavapi itself. The king now received news that Queen Sugala contemplated crossing the seas, taking the Relics with her, and it became imperative to act quickly and effectively to prevent the Relics, objects indispensable to sovereignty, from being removed to a foreign land. He therefore ordered the troops in Dighavapi to close the pincers by marching westward to make contact with the forces already in the Moneragala area who were endeavouring to fight their way to Ethimole from the west. A major action was fought at Galabedda, where the queen's troops made a determined attack upon the combined forces of the king. After further encounters at Marawa, Badaguna and other places, the encirclement of Ethimole was completed and the Relics were captured: but Queen Sugala made good her escape.(University of Ceylon - A Concise History of Ceylon by C. W. Nicholas and S. Paranavitana)
At this time a former general of the Ruhuna army named Sukarabhatudeva, who had been made a prisoner-of-war by Parakramabahu in the previous campaign, escaped from captivity and made his way to Hapatgamuwa, north-west of Badulla. He was an influential and able officer and was a great asset to the Ruhuna army in its present struggle. Attempts to recapture him failed, and he soon appeared in the field as Sugala's chief commander. The overall commander of the king's army fighting in Ruhuna was the senapathi Rakkha and under him were three adhikarins in addition to other titled leaders holding superior commands. The Ruhuna army under Sukarabhatudeva now began to exhibit an offensive spirit and launched attacks on the several units of the king's forces. At Bhattasupa, to the west of Moneragala, the king's army was heavily attacked and driven westward past Okkampitiya. At this stage in the campaign the senapathi Rakkha fell ill and died. Formerly a commander under Gajabahu, he had joined Parakramabahu at the very beginning of the latter's campaign and served his new master thereafter with conspicuous ability and distinction, receiving advancement to the highest office in the state. At the site of his cremation Parakramabahu afterwards built a large alms-hall to commemorate the memory of his distinguished general.
The men of Ruhuna now assembled in large and threatening strength in the Buttala district, and the opposing forces inter-locked in combat, moved towards the Tissamaharama area. Parakramabahu sent his generals the following message, 'That ye fight as chance wills it, while dragging the Relics about from village to village pleaseth me not, send ye both Relics to me at once'. The generals decided to send the Relics to the commander in Viyaluwa Korale, for conveyance by him to Polonnaruwa. The sacred objects were escorted by a strong force, and the journey to Viyaluwa was marked by resistance during most of the way. Enemy troops attacked the escort from the flanks and the rear and heavy fighting took place at six or seven places before the Relics finally reached Kuruwepotha in Madulsima where they were received by the Viyaluwa commander. The further journey of the Relics to Polonnaruwa was without incident. On learning that the Relics were on their way to him, the king left the city and went forward about eight miles to the river: there he took personal charge of them and brought them to the city in procession along a decorated route thronged with people. A great festival or rejoicing and adoration of the Relics was celebrated in the city for several days, the Relics being exhibited to the people in a specially constructed mandapa, and they were then deposited in the Temple of the Tooth.
Parakramabahu's campaigns against Sugala
The king's commanders in Ruhuna met in conference after the safe dispatch of the relics and discussed the military situation. They summed up the enemy's tactics in the following words - "Our foes know their own country. When we come near them they disperse or every side, and penetrate again into the territory that we have brought into our power in order to re-conquer it." As a counter-measure, they decided as for the future they would, in every area which they subdued, post a strong garrison to hold and consolidate their gains and so prevent the enemy from re-entering or re-occupying it. Serious rebellion had broken out again in the Dighavapi district (the present Gal Oya valley) and it was agreed that in the first instance, a concealed attack should be launched upon it to bring this region under complete submission before the scope of the military operations was further extended. Accordingly, the combined forces marched east and fought their way past Sakamam to Balapasana, a place between Sakamam and Malwatta, where they built a formidable fortification and garrisoned it with a strong detachment. The main body then continued their march in order to subdue Dighavapi district from end to end. Various columns of this body fought successful engagements at a number of enemy-held points of resistance including Malwatta, Vadinagala and Sengamuwa, the direction of their attack being from east to west, the reverse direction to that in which they had entered the district. Dighavapi was subdued and all the columns from the different sections converged on Hintalavanagama, forty or fifty miles west of Dighavapi district, where the troops of queen Sugala had taken up their position in a powerful stronghold. Hintalavanagama was stormed, but the defeated defenders, resorting to their usual tactics, created a diversion in the rear of the king's forces by attempting to retake the Dighavapi district. The garrison left behind at Balapasana, reinforced by the column from the main body, which made a forced march to its aid, foiled this attempt. The main body again broke up into columns to traverse and subdue the Buttala district and after fighting actions at Dambagalle, Horombava and other places, rejoined and halted in the Wellawaya area.
The king had, while these operations in east Ruhuna (Atadahas-rata) were in progress decided upon a new front in west Ruhuna (Dolosdahas-rata) with Mahanagahula (Rambha Vihara), a former seat of the rulers of Ruhuna, as its objective. One commander made his advance down the western and southern coasts while his collaborator, the Damiladhikarin Rakkha, made his way over the hills of Ratnapura district and Morawak Korale into the Matara district. The coastal advance began in Pasdun Korale and after the advanced guard had captured Gintota, the main body followed and camped at the mouth of the Gin Ganga. The enemy retired to Weligama. This place was then an important port and there were many rich merchants there. The commander of the seacoast column offered terms to the people of Weligama: freedom from punishment and protection to all if they submitted without resistance. The terms were accepted and the merchants and the people surrendered. The king's troops then resumed their easterly advance and various detachments fought successful actions at Pelena, Kamburugamuwa, Matara and Devundara and converged on Akuressa to make there a crossing of the Nilwala Ganga in force. The enemy offered strong resistance and a severe struggle ensued, but the king's soldiers were victorious and took up a position on the opposite bank. The defeated enemy troops retired to Ranmalakanda, near Kirama and fortified themselves in the hills on the flank of the line of advance to Rambha-Vihara. This menace to further forward progress had to be removed before the king's troops could continue their march to their objective, and a strong detachment was dispatched to dislodge the enemy from their positions on the Ranmalakanda. It was a difficult operation owing to the rugged nature of the terrain, but spies guided the troops along unguarded paths through the forest, and the enemy's entrenchments were stormed and captured in a surprise attack. The way forward being now clear, the king's commander advanced to a point between Ranmalakanda and Mamadola, was joined by the detachment which captured Ranmalakanda and halted there.
Simultaneously with the coastal advance, the Damiladhikarin Rakkha entered Denawaka with a strong force and set out to subdue Navadun Korale. Anxious to secure a quick and decisive victory, he pushed through, precipitately to Atakalanpanna, only to find the enemy rising up behind him and re-occupying the districts he had passed through. He was compelled to return to Denawaka and start operations all over again, but this time he was prudent, consolidated his success in each district and appointed officials to continue ordered administration. The enemy forces retiring before him, established themselves in an entrenched position at Dandava near Kahawatte. This position as well as another at Tambagamuwa, near Madampe, were captured, the latter in a night attack and the Damiladhikarin returned to Dandava and sent divisions of troops in different directions to clear the ground for his next forward move. These advanced troops engaged the enemy successfully at Bogahawela, Binnegama and Bathkanda, forcing the enemy to retire over the hills, past Urubokka and Beralapanathara to the Giruwapattu boundary. The Damiladhikarin following with the main body, found the enemy in position and ready to fight at Obada, north-west of Weeraketiya. He marched to Mahasengama and launched his attack on Obada from there. The battle was decisive: the Damiladhikarin's troops overwhelmed their opponents, slew the enemy commander and completely routed the enemy forces. Untroubled by further resistance, the Damiladhikarin occupied Mahanagahula (Rambha-vihara), the objective set him by the king.
The troops who had advanced along the coast joined the Damiladhikarin at Rambha-vihara and the combined forces were given a period of rest and recuperation. The rebels now assembled on the eastern side of the lower course of the Walawe Ganga and the Damiladhikarin engaged them at Koggala-Udawewa and put them to flight. More sorties were made against enemy forces at Hambegamuwa and Tissamaharama and at the latter place the enemy Commander-in-Chief, Sukarabhatudeva was killed in battle. The enemy approached Tissamaharama again, but were driven back to Koravakgala, near Situlpawwa and there defeated.
For the third time they made a desperate bid to capture Tissamaharama, but they were repulsed yet again. It was clear to the king's generals in this region that the rebels, though defeated in open combat, were still dangerously active underground, every now and again breaking out in open hostility when they thought they were secure from attack and then subsiding into uneasy quiescence when the king's troops entered their territory. The Damiladhikarin resorted therefore to a stratagem: he pretended to carry out a forced retirement and went right back to Dandava in the Ratnapura foothills, leaving the territory which he had conquered ungarrisoned, thus inducing all the rebels, who were hitherto acting in secret, to come out into the open in the belief that they were free men once again. When they had in this way, showed their hand, the Damiladhikarin marched back with his army, fell upon them at Bogahawela, Urabokka, Beralapanatara and Meegoda and annihilated all the rebel elements in Morawak Korale. Then he descended to the lowlands, sent detachments to penetrate every part of the Giruwa and Magam Pattus and destroyed all rebellious activity root and branch.
The Damiladhikarin now proceeded to the Buttala district and conferred with the three adhikarins there who had completed the subjugation of the Buttala district. Queen Sugala was a refugee in the wilderness of Atadahas-rata, but the remnant of the rebel forces in Dolosdhas-rata was still at large. The generals decided to overcome the latter first and then take up the pursuit of the queen. The Damiladhikarin marched his troops to the Walawe Ganga and found that the enemy was on the move to the foot-hills. He continued in pursuit and found them entrenched on Mahapabbata, a peak in the Ranmalakanda range: he besieged them and then broke into their fortification and took prisoner all those who escaped death. This victory completed the subjugation of Dolosdahas-rata and the Damiladhikarin returned with his troops to Rambha-vihara and punished the rebel prisoners with savagery, impaling or hanging a large number of them. He then sent word to the king that he had accomplished his mission.
The three adhikarins in Buttala took up the task of capturing Queen Sugala. They marched to Aralugasmeda (a hamlet of Parana Alupotha), Kinivelgoda and Beddegama where they caught up with her and her troops. In the engagement which followed the queen's soldiers were put to flight and she was taken prisoner. Those who escaped from the battle were hotly pursued to Galabedda and Maragala and were killed or taken captive. Vengeance was now taken on the rebel leaders and their active supporters: several hundreds were put to death by public execution in villages and towns. On the king's orders garrisons were posted in the various districts, stable government was established, and the whole principality of Ruhuna was placed in charge of the adhikarin Bhutha who was appointed by the king to govern it. The other commanders and the troops returned to Polonnaruwa taking Queen Sugala with them and presented themselves to the king.
The Chronicle ends its narrative of the 'Conquest of Rohana' at this point. The next chapter begins with the statement that in the eighth year (1161 AC) of the king's reign, all the inhabitants of Ruhuna rose in rebellion again, "stirred up by a foolhardy villain". The previous campaign was repeated: large forces commanded by generals, entered Ruhuna, fought the rebels at many of the places where battles had been fought previously and in a shorter time than before, suppressed the revolt. No details are given of this second campaign. We may infer that, in the first decade of his reign, Parakramabahu's sovereignty over Ruhuna was powerfully resisted by the majority of its inhabitants.
King Parakramabahu the Great, passed away in 1186 A.D. His sister's son, Vijayabahu II, ascended the throne next. He is supposed to have been a poet. He is also known as Pandit Vijayabahu and also Keerthi Vijayabahu. This king has carried a righteous rule. He had developed trade and religious relations, between Burma and Sri Lanka.
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