MILITARY TRAINING IN ANCIENT SRI LANKA

MILITARY TRAINING

A Collection of fact of Military training Activities from Ancient Text and Inscriptions.

 

The old tradition of Prince Sidhartha Goutama, was a Kastriya and was trained in the art of war, in fact he won  an archery contest for the hand of Princess Maya. Most of our kings claimed to be descendent of his family from Princess Baddhakacchana, and called them selves[ Kat-usab] warriors trained in the art of war, which was a necessary, requirement to defend the country and the Order.

Read  Militray Tradition of Sinhala Kings

The first training establishment on record of the training of Royal Princes of Sri Lanka from the Mahavansa Chapter X verse 18 -26.

Prince Pandukabaya[Pre 377 BC]

IMG

A warrior wearing helmet perhaps a cavalry officer, believed to be that of Pandukabaya with his mare Cetiya

Then, when he was sixteen years old, his uncles discovered him; his mother sent him a thousand (pieces of money) and a command to bring him to (a place of) safety. His foster-father told him all his mother’s message, and giving him a slave and the thousand (pieces of money) he sent him to Pandula. The brahman named Pandula, a rich man and learned in the Vedas, dwelt in the Southern district in (the village) Pandula-gamaka. The prince went thither and sought out the brahman Pandula. When this latter had asked him: `Art thou PANDUKABHAYA, my dear?’ and was answered `Yes’, he paid him honour (as a guest) and said: `Thou wilt be king, and full seventy years wilt thou rule; learn the art, my dear!’ and he instructed him, and by his son Canda also that art was mastered in a short time.
He gave him a hundred thousand (pieces of money) to enroll soldiers and when five hundred men had been enrolled by him (he said): `The (woman) at whose touch leaves turn to gold make thou thy queen, and my son Canda thy chaplain.’ When he had thus said and given him money he sent him forth from thence with his soldiers. Proclaiming his name he, the virtuous prince, fared forth and when in the city of Paia near the Kasa-mountain he had gathered together seven hundred followers and provision for all[ 500 troops and 200 Camp follows or supporting arms] , he went thence, followed by one thousand two hundred men to the mountain called Ginkanda. Mahawansa Chapter X verse 18-23
..
We see that the earliest mentioned training establishment was at Pandulagamaka in a Southern District. Fortunately the Mahavansa gives the cost charged , which was 1000 Kahapanas, which was sent by Pandukabayas mother Ummagacita The names of two Chief instructors learned in the Vedas was Brahman Pandula and his son Canda.

Later Canda led the first and second battles of Pandukabaya’s army of 1200 men, with Pandukabaya’s uncle at Kalahanagara and then against five other uncles at Lohitahankida. He should have been well versed in warfare. Mahavansa Chapter X V 41-42.

Brahmana Pandula and his Son was paid to train the young Prince at the age of 16, the age prescribed by ancient book ,the art or the knowledge required by a Prince prior Kingship, this included Philosophy, the three Vedas, economics and science of government, the art of war in and the Martial art ,handling Elephants, Horses , Chariots and weapons of the Infantrymen. Some of the subjects according to Ancient Indian books available in the Island were
The Laws of War
Weapons of War[which may be Gathered from Literature]
Martial Arts – Fighting without weapons
Army and Army Divisions
Naval Warfare
Diplomacy and War
Conclusion

Few years later Kautilliya collected most of the subjects in the Veda’s and other books vailable during the time of King Chdragupta and Bimbisara , the father of king Asoka and placed it in the Arthsastra.The Chief Minister and the Commander of Devanampiyatissa army led the first delegation to ASsoka Court, and he stayed there for about 7 months. He was also granted the title of Senapati by King Asoka.[ Mahavansa]. The subjects of Arthsastra connected with war

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King Devanampiyatissa[Pre 247 BC]

The next evidence we have off the rock inscription , in fact in two of them of Brahman named Gobuti , who was a teachers of King Devanpiya-Gamini Tissa and also his Physician. This is inscription is North off the Mile post Puttlam – Anuradhapura Road. This King is perhaps King Devanampiya Tissa, who was the Grandson or Great Grand son of King Pandukabaya. We don’t know if this Brahman is an ancestor of Brahman Pandula. Did Gobhuti train Devanampiyatisa sister son Aritha who was his Chief Minister and Army Commander who went to King Asoka Court and was conferred the title of Senapathi while been there.The Teacher and Physician of Devanpiyatisa.

 

 

The Mahawansa states that the four fold armies, the Caturangani Sena consisting of foot Soldiers, Cavalry, combatants on Elephant, Horses and Chariots of King Devanapiya tissa which when assembled was 7 by 3 yojanas.

King Dutugemunu Period[Pre 101 BC]

The head dress of Kingg Dutugemunu- Henry Parker - Ancient Ceylon

The head dress of King Dutugemunu- Henry Parker – Ancient Ceylon

The Mahavansa also indicates the type of training the Two Royal Prince Gamini and Tissa in the South of the Island during the period of King Kavantissa.The two Prices were trained for Kingship including the required Military training mentioned above, like his grandfather Devanapiyatissa who Experts who were versed in these subjects.
a. Skilled in the guiding of Elephants and Horses.
b. Bearing of the Sword
c.
d. Handling of Troops
e. Equipped with Chariots.

 

 

300 BC-100 AD- Unidentified Training Establishments

These trainer ran establishment as mentioned on rock inscriptions.

A better known word denoting a cavalry man is found in No 606, in which the donor is upasika Gura, wife of Paramuka Tisa, the Asaruya[Pali Assaroha. Skt asvaroha]. Asajiriya in no 1158 was not one who fought on horseback, but a professional who trained horses and riders in military exercises and man oeuvres. Similarly Ati-acariya[Pali hatthaacariya] denotes one who trained War Elephants[n0112] There appears to have been several of these elephant trainers at one and the same time. They had organized themselves into a Company, the leader of which ha the title of gamani[ No 494], the only instance in which this word has been found and used by a personage whom was not of royal rank. The Donor in this inscription, Paduma Guta, was a son of Paduma who is called Ati-acariya-gamani to denote the leader of a band of warriors who fought on Elephant or Elephant trainers. S Paranavitane -Insriptions of Ceylon Vol Ixcvii

Miliatry TrainersThe Training of Elephants- Ati-Acciriya.

An Elephant based Battle array, supported by 6 Cavalry and 80 .Foot Soldiers.

An Elephant based Battle array, supported by 6 Cavalry and 80 .Foot Soldiers.

According to the Arthsastra the Chief Commander of Elephant Corp is responsible for the capture and Training of Elephnats, in addition he is responsible for the all elephants in the wild, for the protection of forests construction of stables, the distribution of rations of elephants, assigning tasks for the animals, maintenance of all implements and equipment of war elephants, the Veterinary, trainers and all attendants.

The Military Training of elephants will include;Used in single combat,Marching in front,making new roads,protecting the flanks, water crossing and ascending and descending mountains,starting fires and distinguishing fires, reuniting broken ranks[own] breaking enemy ranks, trampling the enemy,frightening the eemy, capturing and liberating enemy positions, destroying ramparts, gates and towers, bringing own wealth or carrying away the enemies treasury.

The Training of cavalry or Horses . Asi-giriya.

Cavalry was not generally deployed with out Foot Soldiers depending on the Terrian

Cavalry was not generally deployed with out Foot Soldiers depending on the Terrian

The Chief Commander of Cavalry is responsible for training of Horses, in addition he shall know all the facial and bodily  characteristics of horses and shall grade them into best, medium and lowest  types and give training according to the temperament and assign them for different jobs. He will maintain a register of all types and will be responsible for rationing and veterinary and stabling of these horses, he is also responsible for all cavalry equipment and weapons, and shall train them to rush forward , around, beyond and back of enemy forces, hold enemy at bay after an attack, surround enemy after a pincer attack, encircle enemy after cutting them off, scatter enemy forces, protect broken ranks in front rear or flank and pursue enemy broken army.

The first mention of a Cavalryman was Prince Pandukabay and his mare Cetiya, the famous statue at Isurumuniya Anuradhapaura is believed to portray them. The mare is said to have the characteristics of a white body and red  feet or limbs. Another famous Cavalrymen was Senapati Velusummana whose father was a famous trainer of Horses. Mahavansa describes that he  was with the Governor Giri who had horses and showed off his  skills demonstrated riding in a circle[ Ch XXIII. 76]  Elara’s Chief Commander was a Cavalryman who was killed by Velusumana and he brought back the two prize horse’s of  Ealara .Training in Bows

Master of Archery- Dunu Acciriya

During the period of Dutugemunu’s father who assembled the army of 11,110 soldiers. One of his Generals Pussadevas was born into a family where the Archer Art was passed on, his father Uppala who lived in a Village close to Situlpavu close to kataragama taught him the art. He had mastered the art
a. to hit the target guided by Sound.
b. To hit a target by the light of Lighting.
c. To hit a hair.
d. His arrows could penetrate slabs of Asana wood eight anguli thick and udumbara wood sixteen Anguli thick ora Hundred skin bound together, Plates of Iron[ 2 angula] and copper[four angulas thick].An Angula was less than 2 Cm.
e. He was mastered fighting with Bows from Horse and Elephant back.
Velusumana came from Kudumbiyangana from the Giri District. The Governor of Giri had Sindhu Horses. Velusumana mastered the art of horse riding and he did go to Anuradhapura which was under King Elara and Killed the chief cavalryman and brought back the two best horses of Elara to the Ruhuna.

More of ancient Sinhala archery click  . ANCIENT ARCHERS OF SINHALA ARMY

An old story perhaps from the Jataka stories about Right concentration, though Buddha  suggested that avoid the trades of making weapons that may cause suffering.  A Dunu-acciriya was teaching  his pupils  to aim their arrows at the Eye of bird seated on a branch against the blue sky. He questioned them as to what they saw while aiming.

The first replied   ‘ I see a blue sky, a tree , a branch, where a Bird was seated”.

The Second replied that he sees  a tree and a Bird on a branch “. and  the next a Bird so on

The best student replied “I see the Birds Eye“.

LESSONS LEARNT TO BE APPLIED AT FRING RANGE

Instructor to recruit taking aim,” What do you see through the Site?’

To the Reply ” You should see only the Bulls eye”

 

Vijeyabahu [ 1058 AD ].

 

 

The Mahavansa also mention the use of the four methods of war fare by Vijeya bahu I [ Chapter 58 Strope 3] and the organization of the four fold armies, the Caturangini Senaa consisting of foot Soldiers, Cavalry, combatants on Elephant, Horses and Chariots.
Parakramabahu I

The Mahavansa[ Culavamsa ] in Chapter 70 paragraph 56 describing war preparations of Parakramabahu I[1153-1186 AD].
” With careful consideration of the work profitable for the carrying out the war, such as the text books Koatalla[ Kautalaya] the Yuddhannava and others[ now lost], He versed in the procedures of war, worked out with ingenuity in way according with the locality and the time, the plan of campaign [ Yuddhopaya] , wrote it down, had it handed out to the officers and gave the order.
‘ Doubt not that ye do thing of great moment, if ye do but swerve by a hair’s breadth from this my instruction.. … “.

Jayabahu I[1114 AD].

The same was the case when the Minister took council and bestowed the Kingship to Jayabahu I. In the 13 Cent AD the successor to Parakramabahu was chosen by a community of buddhist Monks-
” Hereupon he summoned the Bikkhus and asked them- Which of the six princes, my sister son and my own sons , is worthy of the royal crown?”.. “O great king , thy princely sons and thy sister son are all capable men and well instructed; they all practiced in fighting, crushers of the alien foe and worthy of the royal crown as protectors of the laity and the order. But thy eldest son Vijayabahu….’ [ Culavansa Chapter 87 verse 39].

 

Parakramabahu I

A Prince [under a Roya Umbrella] holding what is perhaps a Sinhala Sword of  Trivanka Pilmige paintings- Paramkramabahu I Reign 12 Cent AD

A Prince [under a Royal Umbrella] holding what is perhaps a Sinhala Sword of Trivanka Pilmige paintings- Paramkramabahu I Reign 12 Cent AD

The Mahavansa[ Culavamsa ] in Chapter 70 paragraph 56 describing war preparations of Parakramabahu I[1153-1186 AD].

With careful consideration of the work profitable for the carrying out the war, such as the text books Koatalla[ Kautalaya] the Yuddhannava and others[ now lost], He versed in the procedures of war, worked out with ingenuity in way according with the locality and the time, the plan of campaign [ Yuddhopaya] , wrote it down, had it handed out to the officers and gave the order.

‘ Doubt not that ye do thing of great moment, if ye do but swerve by a hair’s breadth from this my instruction.. … “.

Kautalya i. e. Chanakya, the famous minister of Chandragupta [320-270 BC ]is meant. He is alleged to be the author of a text book on politics, Artha-Sastra,

Culavamsa further states

“With the help of his lightning-like intelligence he learned easily and quickly from his teachers the various accomplishments. In the numerous books of the Victor (Buddha), in the works of politics, as in that of Kotallala and others, in grammar and poetry together with the knowledge of vocabulary and ritual, in dance and. song, in the art of driving the elephant and so forth, And the manipulation of the bow, the sword and other weapons he was past master. Admirably trained, he did everyihing that accorded with the King’s, his father’s wishes and was never lacking in reverence……….

These simple instructions known to all our ancient Kings and perhaps Commanders at all levels in the ancient Armies of the Sinhalese. The subjects and type of training of Kings are described in the Mahawansa. Since the book named as Yuddhannava and other books are not available for reference. But we can at least read between the lines in Mahawamsa and other books to what principle which are in kautilliya that was adhered too.

Mahavansa states that King Parakramabahu I in Chapter LXX Verse 36-38

“To test the military fitness of the soldiers he arranged fights on the street, sifted out the most skilled and granted them high distinction. Those unfitted for fight he dismissed out of pity: they were to till the fields and perform other work and live in peace’.

Thus versed in right methods, Prince Parakramabahu placed in readiness mails and weapons and skilled troops….”

 

 

Training received by Parakramabahu II[1225-1235 AD] .

The young prince, we are told, was given training in all the arts and sciences (kalasilpa). According to the Pujavaliya(112-112 Cv, LXXXI) this training included dharma-niti (moral precepts) raja-niti (statecraft), the art of letters and so forth. The Dambadeni Asna elaborates on the branches of learning in which Parakramabahu attained proficiency and states that he learnt many languages including Demala, Simhala, Samskrta and Magadha (Pali). Similarly, the Buddha Dhmma in its three Pitakas,Vinaya, Sutta and Abbidhanma, grammar (vyakararya) in the two systems, namely Moggallayana Vyakarana and Kayisan Vyakarana, the three Vedas, prosody (chandolakssna), astrology (nakastray), :and so forth are mentioned in this list. He is also said to have mastered sword-fighting ,(kadu-silpaya), archery (dunusilpaya), law (nitisastraya), logic (tarkaya) and other branches of learning included in the eighteen crafts (astadasa-silpaya) as well as those of the sixty-,four arts (su-sta kala) some of which are named in this list. ? Dambadeni Asana should be regarded as reflecting the cannons of learning and accomplishments expected of a prince according to tradition, rather than as an account of the actual attainment of a the young Prakramabahu II.

.
Rajasinha I of Sitawaka.[1580-1592]

The property of Mr DJLW Jayasekera, Gonawala , Kelaniya a decendent of Senpathi Wickremasinghe Mudali  the Commander  of King Rajasinghe I of Sitawaka.

The property of Mr DJLW Jayasekera, Gonawala , Kelaniya a decendent of Senpathi Wickremasinghe Mudali the Commander of King Rajasinghe I of Sitawaka.

 

The training received by kings Dutugemunu[161-137 BC] as mentioned in the Mahavansa was followed right down to warrior King Rajasinha of Sitawaka. The poems number 156 /7 appearing in manuscript Sitawaka Satana[ Battle of Sitawaka] describes the training he received[ Dr R Amarasinghe- Kingdom of Sitawaka.
King Rajasinha when he was 12 year old was skilled in use of Swords and shields, Lances and Bows,riding of Elephants and Horses.

rAJASINGHE POEM

It is said that King Mayaduna Palace at Sitawaka had a special Haramba Salava a training area for the training of the Royal Princes[Vasala Saramba Salava Illanganmaduva]. This may have been a tradition from the time of Dutugemunu. Exercises involving swords was a part of the daily routine of our Kings[ Jayatilleka 1965 p 28].

 

 

 

 

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