“ A Dog on land can pull a Crocodile while [on water?] a Crocodile can pull Dog ,a Crow can kill an Owl in day-time while an Owl can kill a Crow at night…………… Kautilya disagrees. Power, Place and Time are interdependent”.

An Archer letting off an Arrow may or may not kills a single man, but a wise man using his intellect can kill even reaching unto the very womb”.- Kautiliya


Military tactics are both a science and an art. They answer the questions of how best to deploy and employ forces on a small scale.[2] Some practices have not changed since the dawn of warfare: ambushes, seeking and turning flanks, maintaining reconnaissance, creating and using obstacles and defenses, etc. Using ground to best advantage has not changed much either. Heights, rivers, swamps, passes, choke points, and natural cover, can all be used in multiple ways. Before the nineteenth century, many military tactics were confined to battlefield concerns: how to maneuver units during combat in open terrain. Nowadays, specialized tactics exist for many situations, for example for securing a room in a building . Wikipedia
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. An attack on Portuguese Stockade[Click] in Colombo 1521 AD.


As per the Mahavamsa certains kings like Vijayabahu I, used the Catura Upaya, the four means of success Bhedha,( Division of enemy), Danda or open warfare, Sama or friendly negotiations, treaty and Danani or Gifts, bribes etc.these are also quoted in well known ancient books such as mahabaratha, Amarakosa, Manu, Kuatilliya  as methods of Royal Policy. This is nothing new even President Premadasa in 1990’s practiced Danani by giving arms and money to LTTE as a bribe, all Presidents used friendly negotiations, Many heads of states signed treaties or came to some sort of understanding with the LTTE some times through third parties such as India, Norway etc and all government heads used open warfare against.


Tactics come from the meaning ordered or arranged in order  and is an action carefully planned to achieve a specific end, or the art of disposing armed forces in order of battle and laying down of operation plan when in contact with an enemy.


Legend has it that even as a young Prince, Dutugemunu main aim was to rid the country of Invader from India.When he was  young and found sleeping bundled up, when asked by his mother Queen Viharamahadevi, replied that” how can I stretch out when there is on one side the Ocean and the other side he is crowded in by invader form India”.The map of Ruhuna shows the out line of a Prince sleeping in this position, ready to kick out the invader from India.

Shape of Ruhuna

“I will finish off the LTTE terrorism from the Island before I retire as the Army Commander” General Sarath Fonseka 2007 AD

How Parakramabahu I . planned his operations in open warfare or Danda  against his enemy from Ruhuna is very clearly written down in the Mahavansa in Ch70 para 56 .


With careful consideration of the work profitable for the carrying out the war, such as the text books Koatalla[ Kautilaya] the Yuddhannava and others[ now lost], he versed in the procedures of war, worked out with ingenuity in way according with the locality [or Place] 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’.. … “.

In Kautiliya on Defense and War is based on, .

“To be in accordance with Dharma of ancient warfare, the place and the Time of Battle must be specified beforehand”.

“ In territories acquired by the conqueror, he shall not only practice custom according to dharma, but introduce those which had not been observed before. Likewise he shall stop the practice of any custom detrimental and not in accordance to the Dharma”.

Shown under is what  LN Ranganathan  copy of the translation of the  Arthasastra of Kutiliya, since these are very similar to the wording in the Mahavamsa it may interest the reader, to hear the arguments against certain factors others than only Time and Place .

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[ Kautillya] 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……”




The would be conqueror shall judge the relative strengths and weakness of the enemy of the following aspects [of waging a war], as applicable to him and to the enemy, before starting on a military expedition. Before starting out on a campaign Kautilliya suggest that eight different factors if relevant should be considered, each of which may have a bearing on its success or failure. After giving weight to the different factors, the king may conclude that he is superior or its advantageous or disadvantages of the course of action to taken to attack the enemy. Then only then he shall make preparation for war and suggest the King and Councilors agreeing on the course of action , and should spell out the future troubles irrespective of success or failure. Warns against exhibition of irresolution, other worldliness, misplace kindness and similar weak qualities. Once a decision is made it must be pursued steadfastly. It is not in the stars that success lies but in using ones resources to gain more..

–          Power- Not just military might or economic strength backing it, but intellectual power which  enable a king to make an objective analysis and arrive at correct judgment. Intellectual power, military might, Enthusiasm and Morale are the three constituent of power in decreasing order of importance.

–          The Place [of operations]; The nature of the terrain where the battle is to be waged.

–          The Time or duration [of the military engagement]; The weather of the season and the duration of battle..

–          The Season for marching [towards the battle ground]; The first three factors are interdependent, if the king is superior in power, space and and time, he shall proceed to consider the other factors. If he find so he shall nor waste time but crush or weaken the enemy

–          when to mobilise different types of forces;

–          The possibility of revolts and rebellions in the rear. Get the Grown prince[ Yugaraja] or chief or defense [ Senapati]to lead the expedition.

–          The likely losses, expenses and gains and kautilliya suggest an analysis of gains and losses before going into battle.

–          or likely dangers.: The possibility of treachery either internal or external, possibility of an ally defecting etc

If [on balance, after giving due weight to the different factors explained below ], the conqueror is superior the campaign shall be under taken , otherwise not .


The three constituents  of power are ,Counsel and Correct judgment, i.e. the actual strength of the fighting force enthusiasm and Energy The three are not equally important; Sheer Military strength is  more important than (enthusiasm does not compensate  for lack of military strength]; the  power of Judgment  is superior to might. After discussing place and time, Kauttilya holds that power ,place and time have to be considered as interdependent .

[The concepts has changed little, even today the appreciation done at Captain to Major levels, to emphasis that the aim is the most important with the limitations. The next factor considered is the Enemy Strength  which determine strenght of own troops in basic battle plans.]

Some teachers hold Enthusiasm[ To motivate Morale amoung soldiers] to be more important thanMight. They argue so long as  king. is himself brave, strong, healthy and expert  in the use of weapons, he can defeat, with only the army to help him even a mightier king.

Kauttilya disagrees. A mighty king, by his very might, can overpower an energetic one; for, a mighty army, richly endowed with its  horses, elephants, chariots and instruments of war, can move un-hindered anywhere. Further’ a mighty king can get the help of energetic one or he can hire or buy heroic fighters It is known that even women, children the lame and the blind have conquered the world after winning over or buying heroic fighters with their might.

Some teachers hold might to be more important than power of good counsel and judgment . They argue

“However good a King’s analysis and judgment, he thinks but empty thoughts . If he has no power. Just as  drought dries out the planted seeds, good judgment  without power produces no fruit”.

Kautiliya disagrees.

“The power of good counsel, good  analysis good judgment is superior to sheer military strength. Intelligence and good knowledge of the science of  are the two eyes of a King. Using these, the king  can with a little effort arrive at best judgement on the means , the four methods  of conciliation, sowing dissension etc, as well as well as various tricks, stratagems, clandestine operations and occult means”

which is laid down by Kuatilliya to overwhelm even Kings who are mighty and Energetic. Thus the tree components of power, enthusiasm, military might  and the power of counsel – are in ascending order of importance. Hence, a king who is superior as compared to his enemy [ as explained  later], outmaneuvers  his adversary.


The area extending from the north to south  and from East to west is the area of operation of the King. With in this the different types of terrain; the more important ones are; forests, villages, mountains, , rivers,watery lands, dry land, plains, and uneven land . From the point of view of a conqueror , the best land is one most suitable for operation of his own army and  unsuitable for that of the enemy; the converse  worst for him;  if the terrain is equally suitable to both , the conqueror shall undertake such works as would  increase his Power. The Mahawamsa text explains how the terrain of the country became natural barriers, the use of the Mahahaveli River and the Ruhuna Mountains with central mountains, the use of the natural rock formations , Marshes and the forests as [ dhurga] or  defensible areas, fortresses etc] by many different kings during the last 3,000 years-. The authors of the Mahavansa realises the importance of these facts and mentioned them for the benefit of  future strategists and tacticians. This has been analysed by Codrington and Nicholas in their writing on the Topography of Ceylon.

The Sinhala Kings not to be  caught by surprise attacks from South India,placed troops forward at Mantai fortress and perhaps other landing places. He sent his forces to defeat the enemy or if not possible to delay them, his next line of action was to change the place and withdrew to the Mahaweli river and then to Ruhuna or the Mountains until the times and might was right to eliminate the enemy. Many kings followed these basic  principles.


By time is meant the climate, heat, cold and rain-as well as the or duration of the campaign (night ,day fortnight, month, season, one year and five years). From the conqueror’s point of view, ; the best  time is one which is suitable for the operations of his own and  unsuitable for that of his enemy, the converse is the worst and, if equally suitable, average. In each period, he shall undertake such works as would increase his own power.


Teachers say that, as among power, place and time, power is the important because a powerful king can overcome the difficulties or wet terrain and the effects of heat, cold or rain. Some others hold that the place is the most important; [quoting as an example  a Dog on land can pull a crocodile while [on water?] a crocodile can pull dog. Some others hold time to be the most important; [quoting as example  a crow can kill an owl in day-time while an owl can kill a at night.

Kautilya disagrees.

“Power, place and time are interdependent”.{9.1.26-33}

 Basic Tactics adopted by the Sinhalese in local rivalries.

King Pandukabaya.

The Young Prfince rebelled against his uncles the eldest of whome then ruled the Island from Upatissagama. He raised a small army and moved away from the Capital towards Mahaweli Ganga as the Place he was vulnerable and he could not match the might of his uncles so abided time until he was strong enough  to move against rulers. Read Battles of Pandukabaya.

Another Tactics FROM ARTHASASTRA he adopted was similar to the Trojan Horse of Homer in the battle of Troy.



[If the efforts at waging psychological warfare, enticing the enemy out of his fort and weakening him (see Arthasastra XI,xi) all fail. the next step for the conqueror is to besiege the fort. The actual taking of the fort will be less costly in terms of men and material, if a part of the besieger’s army can be infiltrated inside the fort. This can be done either by tricking the enemy into opening the gates or by gradually building up a clandestine armed unit inside the fort.]
Agents in the guise of hunters shall station themselves outside the gate of the fort and sell meat. They shall make friends with the gate keeper. Twice or thrice, they shall inform the enemy beforehand of attacks by dacoits [made to come true by the conqueror organizing so called dacoit raids. When the enemy’s confidence has been gained .They shall inform the conqueror who shall divide up his forces into two parts – one part near the villages and the other for making a sudden assault. When the villages are attacked, the agents shall proclaim that a great gang of dacoits was attacking fiercely and that a large army was needed to deal with them. The conqueror shall take over the force sent by the enemy to deal with the dacoits. [In the mean time, the assault force shall be brought to the gates of the fort. The agents shall then call for the opening of the gates saying that the [enemy’s anti dacoit] force had returned victorious. Or, other agents hidden inside shall open the gates. The assault force can then take the fort being unprepared and the defending army already depleted. {Arthasastra13.3.40-43}
Armed agents in the guise of artisans, craftsman. Monks. Entertainers and traders shall be sent into forts. Agents, pretending to be ordinary householders, shall smuggle to them weapons and armour hidden in flags, images of gods or in carts carrying wood, grass, grain and other goods. The armed agents shall at the appropriate time create a tamult by blowing conches and beating drums and announce the arrival, at the rear of the fort, of the besieger’s army bent on destruction. They shall open the gates to let the conqueror’s army in disperse the enemy and destroy him{Arthasastra 13.3. 44 – 47}.
Or , the Conqueror may make peace with enemy in order to lull him into a false sense of security. Armed forces shall infiltrate into enemy’s fort using escorts of caravans and trading groups. Bridal parties, horse traders, equipment sellers, grain merchants, disguised as monks or envoys.{ Arthasastra 13.3 48}


Pakakabaya sent an company of his soldiers along with his Kingly Apparels and Weapons into the fortifications of his uncle with the message “ keep all this; I will make Peace with you, lulled by this . the Uncle army lowers its security and to take him prisoner . He now lead his army mounted on Cetiya his mare and at a neigh of he mare , both troops now inside camp and those surprise the enemy and routes them, their heads are made into pyramid and place called Labugamaka[ This village is presently known as Lubunoruva]..

The ancient practice of sending Kingly Apparels and Weapons was a single for surrender and the capture of these items was considered the final victory.Trojon Horse

Was there ever really a Trojan Horse?

The story of the Trojan Horse is first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, an epic song committed to writing around 750BC, describing the aftermath of a war at Troy that purportedly took place around 500 years earlier.

After besieging Troy (modern-day Hisarlik in Turkey) for 10 years without success, the Greek army encamped outside the city walls made as if to sail home, leaving behind them a giant wooden horse as an offering to the goddess Athena.

The Trojans triumphantly dragged the horse within Troy, and when night fell the Greek warriors concealed inside it climbed out and destroyed the city. Archaeological evidence shows that Troy was indeed burned down; but the wooden horse is an imaginative fable, perhaps inspired by the way ancient siege-engines were clothed with damp horse-hides to stop them being set alight by fire-arrows.

Another tactics in Arthasastra adopted by Vasaba in his battle with King Subha[ 1 Cent AD],


This story is in Mahawansa and the folk lore attributes it to King Dutugemunu of an earlier period . when he was similaly adviced by an old lady at Kotmale.

Simple strategy of Ancient Sinhalese,


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