An ancient inscription at Mihintale of a Great General[ Mahasenapati] named Naka , where he donates the revenue from a tank and a village for the lighting of lamps at Kanteka Caitiya on Mihintale rock. It also states that that at the four Vahalkadas facing the four directions were mounted Flags, pennons and staffs of Bamboo. It is reasonable to speculate that these may very well have been the Flags of the army. Flags were very much a part of the four fold armies of the ancient generals. The Army when described in verse in the Mahawansa ,was associated with Flags , Banners and Pennon.
” With divers Elephants and Steeds, with divers Infantry and Chariots, with divers beating of Drums and divers sounds of trumpets, with divers Flags and Pennons,…..
Who was this Commander Naka or Mahasenpati Naga ?. This has been placed by S Paranavitane to be during the periods King Sirinaga I [194-204 AD] to King Mahasena277-305 AD]. Which of these Kings had a army commander by this name.
What the Mahawansa states about the wars of this period id below.The Mahasenpati title was held earlier by King Dutugemunu[ S Paranavitane]. There are few Princes who led armies and defeated the King and ruled Sri Lanka, some of these Princes named Naga is marked in red.
AFTER the death of MAHALLA NAGA his son BHATIKA TISSA reigned twenty-four years in Lanka.
After the death of BHATIKA TISSA (his younger brother) KANITTHA TISSA reigned eighteen years in the island of Lankä
After KANITTHA TISSA’s death his son, who was known as KHUJJA NAGA, reigned one year. The younger brother of KHUJJA NAGA, KUNCHA NAGA, when he had slain the king his brother, reigned two years in Lanka.
But the brother of KUNCHA NAGA’s consort, the commander of troops, SIRI NAGA, became a rebel against the king, and when he was equipped with troops and horses he moved on to the capital and when he, in battle with the king’s army, had put king KUNCHA NAGA to flight, victorious lie reigned over Lanka nineteen years in splendid Anuradhapura.
After the death of SIRI NAGA his son VOHARIKA TISSA reigned twenty two years, with knowledge of (the) law and (the) tradition. Because he first in this country made a law that set aside (bodily) injury (as penalty) he received the name king VOHARIKA TISSA
This king’s younger brother, known as ABHAYA NAGA, who was the queen’s lover, being discovered (in his guilt) took flight for fear of his brother and went with his serving-men to Bhallatittha and as if wroth with him, he had his uncle’s hands and feet cut off. And that he might bring about division in the kingdom, he left him behind here and took his most faithful followers with him, showing them the example of the dog, and he himself took ship at the same place and went to the other shore. But the uncle, Subbadeva, went to the king and making as if he were his friend he wrought division in the kingdom. And that he might have knowledge of this, ABHAYA NAGA sent a messenger thither. When Subhadeva saw him he loosened (the earth) round about an areca-palm, with the shaft of his spear, as he walked round (the tree), and when he had made it thus (to hold) but feebly by the roots, he struck it down with his arm; then did he threaten the (messenger), and drove him forth. The messenger went and told this matter to ABHAYA NAGA. And when he knew this, ABHAYA NAGA took many Damilas with him and marched from there against the city to do battle with his brother. On news of this the king took flight, and, with his consort, mounting a horse he came to Malaya. The younger brother pursued him, and when he had slain the king in Malaya, he returned with the queen and reigned eight years in the capital as king.
After ABHAYA NAGA’s death, SIRI NAGA II, the son of his brother Tissa, reigned two years in Lanka.
SIRI NAGA’s son named VIJAYA-KUMARAKA reigned for one year after his father’s death.
(At that time) three Lambakannas lived in friendship at Mahiyangana: Samghatissa and Samghabodhi, the third being Gothakabhaya. When they were coming (to Anuradhapura) to do service to the king, a blind man who had the gift of prophecy, being by the edge of the Tissa-tank, cried out at the sound of their footsteps: `The ground bears here three rulers of the earth!’ As Abhaya, who was walking last, heard this he asked (the meaning of the saying). The other uttered yet again (the prophecy). `Whose race will endure?’ then asked again the other, and he answered:
`That of the last.’ When he had heard that he went (on) with the two (others). When they were come into the capital the three, being the close and trusted (counsellors) of the king, remained in the royal service about the king.
When they together had slain king Vijaya in his royal palace the two (others) consecrated SANGHA TISSA, the commander of the troops, as king. Thus crowned did SANGHA TISSA reign four years in stately Anuradhapura.
And Abhaya consecrated as king Samghabodhi who was charged with the (command of) the army.
The king, who was known by the name SIRI SAMGHABODHI, reigned two years in Anuradhapura, keeping the five precepts.
The king’s treasurer, the minister GOTHABHAYA, who had become a rebel, marched from the north against the capital. Taking his water-strainer with him the king fled alone by the south gate, since he would not bring harm to others.
After his father’s death JETTHA TISSA became king. To punish the hostile ministers who would not go in procession with him, at the performing of the king’s funeral rites, the king himself proceeded forth, and placing his younger brother at the head and then the body following close behind, and then the ministers whilst he himself was at the end (of the procession), he, when his younger brother and the body were gone forth, had the gate closed immediately behind them, and he commanded that the treasonous ministers be slain and (their bodies) impaled on stakes round about his father’s pyre.
After king JETTHA TISSA’s death, his younger brother MAHASENA ruled twenty-seven years as king.
The minister named Meghavannabhaya, the friend of the king, who was busied with all his affairs, was wroth with him for destroying the Mahavihara; he became a rebel, and when he had gone to Malaya and had raised a great force, he pitched a camp by the Düratissaka-tank.
When the king heard that his friend was come thither, he marched forth to do battle with him, and he also pitched a camp.
The other had good drink and meat, that he had brought with him from Malaya and thinking: `I will not enjoy it without my friend the king,’ he took some, and he himself went forth alone by night, and coming to the king he told him this thing. When the king had eaten with him, in perfect trust, that which he had brought, he asked him: `Why hast thou become a rebel?’ `Because the Mahavihara has been destroyed by thee’ he answered. `I will make the vihara to be dwelt in yet again; forgive me my fault,’ thus spoke the king, and the other was reconciled with the king. Following his counsel the king returned to the capital. But Meghavannabhaya, who persuaded the king (that it was fitting to do this), did not go with the king that be might collect in the meantime the wherewithal to build.