MILITARY TRADITIONS OF SINHALA KINGS.
” Happy are the Khastriyas, O Arujuna for whom such a war come of its own accord as an open door to heaven. But if you face this lawful battle then you will fail in your duty and glory and will incur sin. besides, men will ever recount your ill-fame and for one who has been honoured, ill-fame is worse than death either slain you will go to heaven or victorious you will enjoy the earth ; therefore arise, O Arjuna resolved on battle”– Bhagavatgita
This is what governed the minds of the young Ksatriya Royalty in Sri Lanka , taught various sciences including the art of war by reputed scholars of the past.- Anuradha Seneviratne. The People of ancient Sri Lanka accepted Prince of royal blood of the warrior clan of the Ksatriya’s as kings. All our kings had blood ties to the dynasties Okavas Kula[caste] or they descendent from the Mahasamasta lineage of the Suriyavansa[ The Clan of the Sun]. They also had blood connections to Sudodana Parapura[ the Sakyan clan of the Buddha]. All these Kulas or Clans had strong Military traditions.This fact is apparent from the ancient texts such as the Mahavansa which has devoted a whole chapter [ Chapter II] to the lineage of the Mahasamata parapura. This chapter ends with the caption “here end the chapter on the Race of the Mahasammata, complied for the serene joy and emotions of the pious”. The Mahavansa goes to great pains to show the blood connection of our kings with this clan.All kings from Panduvasdeva claim connections with this race of through Bhadaakaccana and her brothers Anuradha, Digayu, Rohona, Gamini. etc through the grandfather of the Buddha to the Maha-sammata race. The Kings were Buddhists and were not war like, but they also rose to the occasion when threatened by Invaders from India[ Our Chronicles calls them Demadas], and safeguarded the island of Sri Lanka for the last 2500 years. The first part of numerous inscriptions of land grants of the late Anuradhapura dealt with the parentage of the king who claimed to have belonged to the Ksatriya lineage. This was done in an elaborate composition written in poetic style Sinhalese language. “The Ksatriya Princes descended from the royal lineage of the Okkaka dynasty” King Kassayapa IV in Bibibawa Inscriptions calls him self the son of Sri Sanga-Bo who won a victory over the Pandyans and descended from the Okavas dynasty , the pinnacle of the Ksatriya clan. In the Nabakadavava Inscriptions he claims descent from the line of the Okavas , the pinnacle to the Sakyan, who made various other ksatriyas families their vassals. If he was referring to the Pandyans Royal families, then they too were Ksatriyas.There were Ksatriya’s of the Chandravansa[Moon Clan]. Legal Right to Kingship Mahavansa states that Vijeya surprised the Yaksha Kings with the help of Kuveni and killed them and wore their Garment of the slain Yaksha and became Lords of th country. The Ministers of the first king Vijeya sent a message to Madhura for a Princess, why Madhura? The answer is perhaps in chapter II , the Mahasamata parapura . the Madhura is said to the home of the Ksatriya family of king decended from a Sadhina.Chapter II para 7-‘ ‘Then followed a Hundred kings…….’ This legal right to kingship of Sri Lanka was not only the blood connections on the Male side of royalty,it was equally important that the parentage of the mother Queen, she had to be Sujata– a lineage of at least 7 generations of Ksatriya blood, as the mother of the Buddha. Perhaps the reason why King Dutugemunu son Prince Saliya did not get the kingship, for marrying a non-ksatriya lady, Asokamali. It is interesting to conect this practice with the rock inscription giving the ancestery of a king for seven generations.The last part of name is worn off but for the first letter is Va . Dr Paranavitane is opinion that the King is Vahaba[ means Bull ] considering the date of the script[ 2-4 Cent AD] and only king of that period whose name begins with Va. Perhaps the acceptance of Vahaba as king about whome no connection are made to Royalty in the Mahwansa , mayhave been influensed by these connections. The coins of this King is identified as those now known as Rectangular Bull Coins. Can these be related to Kat Usab that is described below. The association of the Bull with the Ksatriya is discussed in Bull and the Pot around the Royal symbol the Railed Swastika. There are few coins inscribed ” sujatha putra Tisaha….” Raja Wickramasinghe Collection No A 38. Was the “Tisa the son of Sujatha ” who issued this coins of the Ksatriya Clan?. or did he belong to set of warriors with a long standing tradition of been versed all types of warfare?.
This continued even up to the period of the Portuguese where king Buvanake bahu of Kotte in 1547 AD gifted to my mother family the Gajasinha’s[ Elephant- Lion] the Godagama-watte a village bordering the Panagoda Army Cantonment. The honourfic names Gunaratna Jayasinha is also given on this sannasa which starts with lineage of of the King from Kotte palace, the reason for me to get interested in this subject. “‘Vaivasaata Manu Maha sammata parapura niyata Suryavansa gotra Sumitra rajaputra… Maharaja Tri-sinhaladishravara –navaratnadipathi-srimath –Sri- buvanakabahu- chakravarthi swamin” The Sinhalese and the Kings of who came from Sinhapura, Kalinga , both claimed ancestry to these people , as the Kings Nissankamalla and Sahasamalla claimed right to the Sinhala throne through these connections.The slab inscription at the north gate Pollonnaruva starts ” If it be your desire to increase your prosperity, to preserve the position of your lineage, to respect the customs of your family and to protect your adherents, raise ye to kingship a member of Ksatriya clan,not other castes..” The Military Tradition of the Sakyan or the Okakas or Okkavasa.[ the Purus] that all our kings proudly made known to the people??.
A Ksatriya warrior with his 6 foot- Bow with two damsels
The Ksatriya race The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India[ Page 77] -DD Kosambi states that the name Khsatriya is from the from Khatti which means Hittite and may possibly be connected with Sanskrit Khastriya and Pali Khtttiyo [ Sinhala Kat]. This is shown by the seals of the Hittite having the characteristic Indian Humped Bull and that Hittite language has an Aryan base. Some seal of humped bull from Iran – Indian border region shown below is taken from the web-site.
Compare these with one of the many Humped Bull Seals found at at Kavantissa Vihare by the river flowing past Embilipitiya by gem-miner in South Sri Lanka.
Bull symbol has many other Buddhist and Hindhu religious interpretations. Many Bull were placed on Intaglios of signet rings and these are found in fair numbers on the sealings found at Tissamaharama.
Shown below is a Ancient Coin of Sri Lanka, many of these coins were published in Henry Parker’s book -” Ancient Ceylon”. It show a Soldier or a King holding a Weapon perhaps a Bident and on the reverse is a Railed swastika an emblem of Royalty of ancient Sri Lanka and this is flanked by the Pot of Plenty and a Humped Bull similar to that found on the above Seal. In Battle -When the going get tough the tough gets going. This characteristic of the what the people expected of their king is best interpreted in the popular Buddhist belief, that the Buddha himself was named as Vrusaba Raja in ancient text Dviyawadanaya.The Buddha or his dhamma is compared with the King of Cattle of the Vishaba Kula for the honourable qualities of Valour and Leadership. The Sayuktha Atuvava refers to three categories of cattle,Ushaba, Vishaba and the Vahaba. It is the Vishaba who takes over leadership, as it has the qualities of Walking tall or Erect, not deterred by the sounds of battle, tolerate extreme hardships and carry any burden. Perhaps the qualities of leadership required of the Kings of Sri Lanka who associated them self’s with the Kati or Khastriya Clan, whose origin can perhaps be traced back to the Hittites of Mesopotamia. Our King were considered to be future Bodhisatvas, they too need to possess these qualities. THE KATI OR KSATRIYA CLAN. The earliest mention of a Ksatriyas family of Kataragama, Ruhuna. southern Sri Lanka is in Dhatuvansa , but no mention of their connections to the royal family or with any military tradition, except they were all killed by Gotabaya. Dr Paranavitnae analyzing inscriptions is of opinion that Dutugemunus mother Vihara[ Savera] maha devi was from this family.[ History of Ceylon Vol I Pt I Page 147]. The next mention of this caste is from inscriptions of the late Anuradhpura period, where the kings claim relationship to the Kastriya caste. The mentions of Keti Usabha or ksatriya Bull on 4 inscriptions is very significant.These are inscriptions of Mahinda IV, Vijeyabahu I and Parakramabahu I. KAT-USAB [ Sankrit Khattiya Usabha]. This is interpreted as “Ksatriya Lord born the womb of Queeen of equal birth and descent ” in inscription of of King Vijayabahu I at Ambagamuva. The inscription of Parakramabahu I at Devenagala a grant to General Kit Nuvaragal who spearheaded the military campaign to Burma, too has this phrase Kat Osbanata aga-mehesi; which S .Paranavitane has interpreted as the Chief Queen of the Ksatriya Lords[ Bulls]. He adds that the names of animals such as lions,elephants etc were suffixed to class names signify an honorific sence in Sinhala and Pali. In Devanagala Inscription near Mavanella where Parakramabahu[1153-1186 AD] grant the hero General Kit Nuvaragal with a grant of villages Sirivat apirvat levu ikut guna mulin Dambedivahi an-kat-kula pa-mili kala Okavas rada parapuren bata kat-Osab anataaga-mehesin vu Lag-diva polo-yohon parapura himi- His Majesty Parakramabahu who descended from the royal line of Okkaka dynasty which abounding in in a assemblage of illustrious, boundless and transcendental irtue, has made other Ksatriya dynasty of Jambadiva its vassals, who by the right of decent, the lord of …. Land of Lak-diva, the chief queen of Kastriya Bull [ Nobles ]by the effulgence of the nails of hose feet kings became anointed…’. Kat Usab literally in the Sinhalese langauge is Ksatriya Bull. The Famous Slabs Inscriptions[ 2 Slabs] of Mahinda IV [954-970 AD] at Mihiintale starts Siri-bar Kata- Kula Okavas raj – paranparava bat Kata usab Abahay Sala-mevan –mahara …………… The Translation is “The great King Siri Sangaboy Abaya born into the Abaya-Salamevan an eminent Ksatriya descended from the royal line of the Okkaka dynasty, which is the pinnacle of the illustrious Ksatriya race,…” Here Dr S Paranavitane states that Kat-usab, literally means Ksatriya Bull, names of animal such as Lions, Swans, Elephants etc were affixed to class names signifying an honorific sense by the Sinhalese. Ksatriya’s were a warrior caste of ancient India. Prof Wimala Wijesuriya on Okavasa dynasty- It is Okavasa(Sinhala), Okkaka (Pali) and Ikshavaka(Sanskrit) was a king of Puru dynasty originated , from Vaivaavata Manu who was the first king of the Hindus, Ikshvakus was a resident of upper area of Punjab-. Later on this belonged to the Puru dynasty of Suryavansa who lived in Ayodaya. D.D Kosambi- The last of the proper Ksatriya Kings of North India was Porus who fought Alexander the Great . Though Porus lost the battle, the resistance put up by his army made the Greeks Generals to think twice about going any further into India. Though defeated Porus was given back the kingship by Alexander . Porus and his clan was exterminated during the period of the Nandas. The battle scene between Dutugemunu and Elara on elephants show a Buddy behind both Kings as is the case of Porus, as Osmund Bopearachchi points out , the King is in front seated on the Neck of the Elephant. THE MILITARY TRADITION OF THE SAKYAN. Both the Sakyan and the Okavasa has great military tradition and called them selves Ksatriya. The military tradition of Young Gautama Sidhartha the future Buddha who received the training of Sakyan Kshatriya in the use of weapons, management of horse and Chariot as well as worked in agriculture. These facts were well known to the people. In fact King Bimbisara after making certain that the young alms-man of distinguished appearance and impressive physique was trained Ksatriya , offered him Command of the Maghadan army. The offer was reclined and the two became good friends [DD Kosambi]. The last king of the Sakyan Clan was Sumitra. Of the Okavasa lineage to which all Sinhala kings claimed connection to , was a king named Poros by the Greeks who reigned in upper Punjab area of Puru tribes. This was during the Nanadas reigned in the Ganges region of North India. King Pandukabaya was the King of Sri Lanka during this period when Alexander the Great crossed the river Jhelum which bounded the land of Purus . He was opposed by a giant King whom the Greeks call Poros, the of the Suriavansa Ksatriya clan. Porus is said to have put into the field the biggest single army to oppose the Greeks in their Indian venture. Alexander crossed the river by a feint and the Poros sent in his chariots to intercept the invader. The Greek cavalry having an advantage of using 21 foot lances called Sarissa , defeated them. The main and desperate battle against King Poros lasted the entire day, to end with the dignified surrender of Porus who was severely wounded and hopelessly outmatched on the battlefield. Due to the ferocity of this battle the Mecedonian Army lost its enthusiasm, stopped its advance into India east of this region and withdrew. Porus fought on an elephants. A contemporary coin of this period discovered in this region where the battle took place by Osmund Bopearachchi a prominent Numismatists show the battle of Porus on a Elephant and the Greeks cavalry armed with these21 feet long lance. The custom of the race of these kings marching to battle on Elephant back was common to our kings, who seems to have carried on these Ksatriya tradition. Two of our famous Kings Dutugemunu and Kassayapa amoung many others went into battle on elephants is mentioned in Mahavansa. Alexander portrait on coins had an elephant cap which marketed his success over the Porus. Many other Greek rulers followed this trait by having portraits wearing an cap in the shape of an elephants. THE KINGS OF SRI LANKA . There are many sources of information with regard to the training of the Sihala royalty to a specified standard prior to be selected as a King. Although the succession hereditary from father to son or to the brothers etc, there were incident quoted in our ancient texts that there may have been a selection proceedure adopted, when King Sadatissa[77-59 BC] died the brother hood of Buddhist monks gave their consent to appoint the younger son Thulathana as his successor. The same was the case when the Minister took council and and bestowed the Kingship to Jayabahu I[1114 AD]. 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]
The tradition of the Ksatriyashad been adopted as a part of training of all Sinhala kings. The chapter XXIV para 1 of the Mahavansa endorses this fact and describes the training received by King Dutugemunu[161-137 BC]-
“ Skilled in guiding elephants and horses and in bearing the Sword and versed in Archery did the Prince Gamini dwell at Mahagama.”
Prince Parakramabahu learned the art of war and personally led his troops in the early battles as mentioned in the Culavansa. He had his second consecrations after capturing the Sacred Tooth relic and the Bowl as the ruler of the whole country. He too claimed an ancestry descending from the Okkaka or Iksvaku dynasty of the Solar kings through matri-linear descent. This was through his mother Princess Ratnavali , his father was King Manabharana who was of Pandyan of Chandravamsa or Moon dynasty.
TRAINING OF A PRINCE
The Indian tradition was that after the third years of his birth he should learn the Alphabet and Ganitha[ Arithmetic]. After a few years he should learn perhaps the duties of kingship propounded by the Buddhist scriptures. perhaps under the tutorship of the teachers on kingship under various department of the father king on science of governing a country. Their training programme for the first part of the da was in Martial art with Elephants, Horses, Chariots and Weapons as an foot soldier. The Buddhist scriptures and ancient history may have been part of the programme. At sixteen the Indian Princes were married.
Training received by Parakramabahu II .
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 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. 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.Exercizes involving swords was a part of the daily routine of our Kings[ Jayatilleka 1965 p 28]. The type and methods adopted in training is discussed in detail by Dr PEP Dereniyagala in Combative sports, where he states that “Combative sports were practiced from the earliest times not merely for amusement but in order to foster disregard for pain and death, and to inculcate the valor and pugnacity essential for the survival of a race. ………………. with combat displays between man and man, as well as between animals as staged by the Sinhalese, for producing soldiers who kept their small Island free for over two thousand five hundred years”. The earliest period he specialist in arms were called Yodaya, the example of the 10 Yodayas of Dutugemunu and the long line of Senpathies that are mentioned in our texts and on Inscriptions from 400 BC. This word continued to be used even up to the wars of Parakramabahu I.The discoveries of hero-stones where the sculpture states that a warrior killing his enemy goes to heaven were perhaps some Hindu beliefs that was practiced in the Island. HUMANITARIAN APPROACH OF OUR KINGS . There were three types of hero in ancient days, the Yuddha –Vira( hero in battle), the Dhramma –vira( hero of righteousness) and Dana-vira( hero of liberality). This is related in Mahavansa. Perhaps these were also certain characteristics that people expected from the kings. So the Sinhala King having the martial training had other qualities and was not warlike and was interested in the conquest like other Ksatriya clans. The act of Dhramma Vira and Dana Vira is stressed in the Mahavansa based on the meritorious act and way of life King Sri Sangabo I . The Kings of Sri Lanka not only was proud of their Ksatriya blood but as a reminder of other duties most kings there after called them selves or used the Sri Sangabo as a part of their name. Vijeyabahu the first’ s Polonnaruva Slab Inscription ” Siri Sangabo Vijyabahu reigned without violating the ten principles of royal conduct having brought the whole Island under one Umbrella”. The set of virtues of the Kings of Sri Lanka were expected to follow the , namely ,avoidance of evil conduct caused by the four kinds of errors[ satara Agati] and practice the four heart winning qualities [ satara sangraha- vatsu– Culavamsa Chapter 37.109]. CODE OF CONDUCT.
But it did not stop there , King Buddhdasa and his hospitals concept. Then the irrigation idea, quite apart from economic concept and a matter of bread and butter, was a large scale Dana, at a national level, a duty a ‘yutukama’ of the king.
In the Battle between Prince Gemunu and Tissa. the first battle many had fallen[ 30,000 soldiers] and Gemunu defeated. He raised another army, but realising that it is impossible to wage war on Tamil King Elara, he sent a letter to Tissa stating
“Lets us two fight the One against other; the Land to him who gains the day”
After defeating Tissa who escaped been carried as a dead monk , Prince Gemunu laughed it off by saying
“There goes Tissa, powerless, on the shoulders of Monks”
Advice written by the ancients and perhaps practiced by our Kings. So some factors which may be useful or relevant to the attacks on Forts in books .[Peguin Book> – Arthasastra.-LN Rangarajan]is given below.
Many rules of Conduct during the storming of a Fort.
Those who fall in the fight, turns and run, those surrendering, those who untie their hair as a symbol of surrender or downs his weapon, anyone contorted with fear and those not fighting shall not be harmed.
These practices were known to the Sinhalese. an example is when Prince Dutugemunu tested his General Nanda Mitta before the battle of Vijithapura.. Gen Mitta was coming to see the Prince and the Prince enraged his elephant Kandula to attack the general. The Rajavaliya states that the Mitta had thought to himself
” A champion should not let the hair on my head fall down my back and run away”
Action after the Capture. All enemy supporter shall be cleared out and precautions shall be taken both inside and outside against secret attacks or spies, before entering the fort.
King parakramabahu the Great in the 12 Cent AD, is quoted in the Chulavansa Chapter about knowing of the Ithihasa or the history of war fare.The quote is
Chapter 64 Verse 41.
“ (I hear) in tales as in the Ummaggajataka and others, of deeds done by the Bodhisatta in the different stages of his development 1, the outcome of his heroic nature and of other qualities. ( hear) in secular stories in the Ramayana, the Bharata and the like of the courage of Rama who slew Ravana and of the extraordinary deeds of heroism performed in battle by the fire sons of Paudu, how they slew Duyyodhana and the other kings. (I hear) in the Itihasas tales of the wonders worked, from of old by princes Iike Dussanta and others in combat with gods and demons.
(I hear) of the great wisdom of Chanakka [ Arthasatra of Kautilya] , the best of Brahmanas[ the teacher of Kings] who uprooted the kings of the Nanda dynasty. — All these deeds though they belong not to our time, have attained amoung the people up to the present day, the highest renown. – when I hear such a happy and incomparable life of those who are able on earth to accomplish extraordinary deeds, then if I, sprung of a noble stock, do not that which befits the best among noble heroes, my birth will be useless. These were aided alone by favourable conditions of the time, but they were superior to me in insight and other qualities?”
These rules were imposed during the storming of LTTE at the siege of Mulativu in 2009..
Rules Of Engagement
In Ramayanaya which was a known to most kings of Sri Lanka , During this war the two supreme commanders met and framed “rules of ethical conduct”, dharmayuddha, for the war. The rules included:
• Fighting must begin no earlier than sunrise and end exactly at sunset.
• No more than one warriors may attack a single warrior.
• Two warriors may “duel”, or engage in prolonged personal combat, only if they carry the same weapons and they are on the same type of mount (on foot, on a horse, on an elephant, or in a chariot).
• No warrior may kill or injure a warrior who has surrendered.
• One who surrenders becomes a prisoner of war and will then be subject to the protections of a prisoner of war.
• No warrior may kill or injure an unarmed warrior.
• No warrior may kill or injure an unconscious warrior.
• No warrior may kill or injure a person or animal not taking part in the war.
• No warrior may kill or injure a warrior whose back is turned away.
• No warrior may attack a woman.
• No warrior may strike an animal not considered a direct threat.
• The rules specific to each weapon must be followed. For example, it is prohibited to strike below the waist in mace warfare.
• Warriors may not engage in any unfair warfare.
,HOW VIJAYABAHU COUNTERED A CRUEL ACT OF CHOLA KINGS.
Mahavansa Ch 60 v 24 onwards “….Sent his own envoys to Karnata with choice gifts. But the Cholas maimed the noses and ears of the Sihala messengers horribly, when they entered their country. Thus disfigured they returned hither and told the King everything that had been done to them by the Chola King.” In flaming fury King Vijayabahu in the midst of all his courtiers had the Damila envoys summoned and gave them the following message for the Chola king. After these words he dismissed the envoys clad in women’s apparel, in haste to the Cola King,
“Beyond ear-shot, on a lonely island in the midst of the ocean shall a trial of the strength of our arms take place in Single combat, or, after arming the whole forces of thy kingdom and of mine a battle shall be fought at a spot to be determined by thee: exactly in the manner. I have said it shall ye report to your master“.
HUMANITERIAN OPERATION LTTE WAR