Warfare during Pandukabhaya from Mahawansa

King Pandukabhaya’s Military Campaign.

The figure is a well built soldier wearing helmet seated in the Royal Ease posture and dressed as a Commanding in chief with his horse.-Chandra Wickremagamege.
Was it Parjana the rain god  with his horse Agni or Sage Kapila ?. It is King Pabdukabaya with his mare Cetiya.overlooking the city which was his Capital.- Edwin Ariyadasa

King Pandukabaya like most of other great kings of Sri Lanka left behind a Tank for the people of the country who has come and not yet come, called  Abayaweva in Anuradhapura, the city which he developed as capital of Sri Lanka. The statue of a soldier  or cavalary officer at the hillock at Isurumuniya ,with a Mare cetiya is now belived to be him with his beloved mare Cetiya over looking his beloved capital.

Many facts can be deduced from  texts of the ancients. The type of military expenditure, the use of Horse and Wagons [War Chariots? used by the Aryans], Fortified Camps, placing of Commanders, surrounding fortified camps and Seeking Peace  as a strategy of warfare is described in the Mahawansa, Deepawansa etc .

The First Military expenditure raising of troops  

As mentioned in the Mahawansa in Ch 10,para 40.

“He gave him a hundred thousand (pieces of money) to enroll soldiers and when five hundred men had been enrolled by him”

According to above statement  the Prince Panduka – abaya the son of Ummaga Chitra who was the great great grand father of Devanampiya tissa was given 100,000 kahapanas to raise an army of 500 soldiers by Brahmana Pudula.

This amount is 350 kilograms[about 750 Lbs] of Silver. The only silver pieces found in the Island are the Silver kahapanas or now known as punched mark Coins of the Maghadan empire. Few Thousand of these coins have been discovered in stary finds and in hoards at most ancient site in Sri Lanka, Shown below is about 90 pieces  a part of a hoard found at Tissamaharama. A lot of  over thousand was found a kilometer away from the fortress of Udugampola 20 km from Colombo. A smaller hoards  were found at Mirigama, etc.

Each silver kahapana weigh 3.5 grams.The commodity value in the present context of the 100,000 numbers  is 350 kilograms. The present market value is half a Million US $ or about Rs 50 Million. Compare this with the cost of training and equipping a Battalion of 500 Infantry in the prese4nt day??. Can may Director Budget please up-date this.

The earliest evidence of payments to soldiers is given in the Ancient Indian Book – Arthshatra- Kautiliya . During King Asoka period the  Senpathi or the commander of the Army ,the Chief Queen and the  Chief Minister was paid 4,000 Silver  Kahapanas per month. Soldiers were paid about 60-90 Kahapanas[210-315 grams of silver] or , perhaps about what is shown in the above photo. This was in addition to food etc, this was .

Roman Army pay

Compare above expenditure with Pay of the  the Roman Army  in 2 Cent AD, it had a strength of over 150,000 first grade troops. 5 Million Silver Denarii was required each month for payment, which was about 180,000 Kgs of Silver. Lot of this silver was sent to  East[ Sri Lanka} for the purchase of Cinnamon  etc. More Roman Copper Coins are found in the Island than in Rome. A trained trooper was paid about 225 Silver Denneri[ 4.5 Grams of silver each Denneri]. But the soldiers had to pay for their food and weapons etc.

The last of soldiers of then Ceylon Army when silver money was in circulation in the early 1900’s ,were paid about Rs 37.50 per month with  ration allowance  ect. A silver rupee was 11.2 Grams in weight , which at US $ 40 per ounce is US $ 140 or around Rs 14,000 with food etc.The pay in commodity money of silver ,has not  varied little during the last 2500 years. Shown below is the pay of a  Ceylon soldier in 1940’s if paid in the now demonitised Silver One Rupee and Fifty cents pieces[80% silver], the total weight of silver is about 370 grams.

Pandukabaya marshaling his troops [Mahavansa]

‘Proclaiming his name, he, the virtuous prince, fared forth and when in the city of Paianear the Kasa-mountain he had gathered together seven hundred followers and provision for all, he went thence, followed by one thousand two hundred men[ the total with 500 trained earlier] to the mountain called Ginkanda’.

Pandukabaya Captures of a Horse. [The mention of Cavalry in Mahawansa]

“……then he seized her[ A Mare] by the neck and boring her nostrils with the point of his sword he secured her thus with a rope; but she followed wheresoever he would”.

Pandukabayas Battles with Uncles.

“A former she-devil this Mare Mara-cetiya guided Pandukabaya to utter and total victory. The Mahavansa goes on to say, after his coronation King parakramabahu  sheltered her in a Palace premises. After her passing away , the king made her a cult figure” – Kalakeerthi .Edwin Ariyadasa in Sunday observer Jul 15,2012

Battle of Kalahangara

She stepped down from the wagon and, at the foot of a banyan-tree, she offered the prince food in a golden bowl. Then she took banyan-leaves to entertain the rest of the people (with food) and in all instant the leaves were changed into golden vesse1s. When the prince saw this and remembered the Brahmin’s words he was glad (thinking): `I have found the maiden who is worthy to be made queen.’ So she entertained them all, but yet the food became not less; it seemed that but one man’s portion had been taken away. Thus from that time onward that youthful princess who was so rich in virtues and merit was called by the name Suvannapali.

And the prince took the maiden and mounted his waggon and fared onward, fearless, and surrounded by a mighty army.

Battle at Lohitakaha

Pandukaabaya’s Senpathi- Canda

…’Then her father heard this he dispatched all his soldiers, and they came and gave battle and returned, defeated by the others; at that place (afterwards) a village was built called Kalahanagara.’ When her five brothers heard this they (also) departed to make war. And all those did Canda the son of Pandula slay; Lohitavahakhanda was their battle-field….’

And they went to Upatissagama and told all this to the king. And the king sent the prince a letter together with a thousand (pieces of money) saying: `Keep thou possession of the land on the further shore, but come not over to this shore’.

Dhumarakka. When the mighty (hero) had gone to the Dhumarakkha mountain, bestriding the mare, he dwelt there on the Dhumarakkha-mountain four years. And having marched thence with his force and come to the Arittha-mountain he sojourned there seven years awaiting a fit time to make war.

Eight of his uncles, leaving two behind, drew near to the Arittha-mountain in battle array, and when they had laid out a fortified camp near a small city and had placed a commander at the head they surrounded the Arittha-mountain on every side.

After speech with the yakkhini, the prince, according to her cunning counsel, sent in advance a company of his soldiers taking with them kingly apparel and weapons as presents and the message: Take all this; I will make peace with you. But as they were lulled to security thinking: ‘We will take him prisoner if he comes, he mounted the yakkha-mare and went forth to battle at the head of a great host. The yakkhini neighed full loudly and his army, inside and outside (the camp) raised a mighty battle-cry. The princes men killed all the soldiers of the enemy’s army and the eight uncles with them, and they raised a pyramid of skulls. The commander escaped and fled (for safety) to a thicket; that (same thicket) is therefore called Senapatigumbaka. When t he prince saw the pyramid of skulls, where the skulls of his uncles lay uppermost, be said: This like a heap of gourds; and therefore they named (the place) Labugamaka.

William Giegers Apreciation of the Battle.


Pandukabava takes refuge From the persecution ,of his uncles in Pandulagamaka.The place is unknown. In our inquiry therefore, we must as a_starting-point Pana, where he gathers together his first followers, to engage in battle with his uncles.

Pana  is situated. near Kasapabbata[See Map]. This name has been, I believe preserved in the modern Kahagala-gama, the name of a village situated about ten miles to the north of Kalu-weva and fifteen miles to the south-west ofAnuradhapura.

From Pana he does not direct his march northward on the then capital of the country Upatissa-gama.  [Upatissagama is situated on the Gambhiranadi (Mah. 7.44) to the north of Anuradhapura, from here to the Gambhiranadi[ Malavatu oya] (Mah.28.7) is a distance of a yojana[ 7-8 miles]. By this we arrive at a general notion  of the position of Upatissa-gama[ See Map].He is not strong enough for this. Rather he is obliged to follow the tactics of all rebels, to bring first the border districts,[ the paccanta-gama,] into his :powers herefore he marches , first towards the south-east, more or less along the line which Dutthagamani followed, in  the opposite direction in his march againstAnuradhapura.

Probably the old military road. ran along here. so he comes first into the district of Girikandasiva. This name is, we may conjecture, connected, with that of Girilaka, which is mentioned. Mah. 25. 47 with reference to Dutthagamani;s campaign. we must look for this district between the Kalu-wewa and the Ritigala.

Pandukabaya, now marches on southward of Ritigala to the spot where the Amban-ganga and Mahaweli-ganga unite. To the south of the Mineri-tank the people of Girikandasiva come up with him. The result is the battle of Kalaha-nagara .This is the Kalahagala[See Map]  of the present day, situated 7-8 miles distant from the lake mentioned. Not far from here we must look for the scene of the second. battle of Lohitavahakhanda (Mah. 10. 48).

Although the victory in both battles is attributed to Pandukabaya., he does not yet venture to attack Upatissagama directly. 0n the contrary, he continues his march in the direction followed hitherto, and crosses the Mahawali-ganga (paraganga),Mah. (10. 44).

The place where he crossed over must have been the Kaechaka-ford which I take to be the Mahagantota  below the spot where the Amban-ganga flows into the Mahaweli-ganga.As the base of further operations Pandukabaya. chooses a region on the right bank of the Maha-ganga (Mahawali-ganga) the Dola mountain. This name survives in that of the village Dolagalawela  in the Bintenne district, twenty miles to the north of the place so named, which is now called Alut-nuwara.

During the four years that Pandukabaya spends near the Dola-mountain he is said to have been making preparations for the really decisive battle. This is made possible for him by the fact that he has now the whole province of Rohana, with all its resources, behind him[ His father Gamini came from Ruhuna]. By his position he has also the key to the most important or the only ford  of the Mahaweli-ganga.

In the meantime Pandukabaya’s uncles have also completed their preparations. They march against the rebels and entrench themselves on the Dhumarakkha-mountain. Its position is shown clearly by Mah. paras. 58, 57 , 58. We must look for it on the left bank of the Mahaweliganga, not far from the Kacchaka-ford. The chief object of the uncles was evidently to prevent Pandukabaya from crossing the river .However, to be beforehand with them, Pandukabaya. risks the crossing. He defeats the enemy in flight, and takes possession of their camp. He then proceeds on the direct road to the capital.

On the Arittha-pabbata (Ritigala) he pitches an entrenched camp which is to serve as a base for his final operations. The Uncles once more march against him with fresh troops. The decisive battle takes place  near Labunorura (Mah. 10.72) the Labunoruwa  of the present day, on the north-west slope of the Ritigala, Pandukabaya. carries off the Victory. The road to the capital now lies open to him. He takes possession of it and afterwards, having assumed sore sovereignty, he removes the royal residence to Anuradhapura.


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