article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa’,
the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
1. King Pandu's soldiers destroyed a whole lot of temples. On the
pretext of looking for the prince they robbed gems, jewels, gold
and all the valuables from the temples. Whoever protested against
them, whether it be monk or layman, all were slaughtered. They harassed
the people who stood in their way. But those brave Sinhala people
of that time, did not utter a word about the prince.
The people silently bore up all the suffering. The prince who had
been ordained, got derobed by this time. Yet, he went on studying
at the Gonasadi temple. Rev. Mahanama was restless. He knew, for
certain, that at any moment, the Tamil soldiers would attack this
temple. He even thought of taking the prince and running away to
a far off village.
Meanwhile the Tamil soldiers had attacked a temple, which was very
close to the one where the prince was. Rev. Mahanama got quite worried.
He did not go out of the temple premises the following day and was
passing the time in anxiety. At one he heard a yell. A second followed.
He felt as if the soldiers were coming. Rev. Mahanama was disturbed.
Rev. Mahanama rushed into the temple, took the prince by his hand
and ran along a forest path. A moment later, the soldiers had invaded
the temple. They broke open the doors, went in and looked for the
prince. Meanwhile, some of the soldiers were busy collecting valuables
in the form of gems and jewels. They took Buddha statues made of
gold, tusks of elephants and a lot more and bundled them all up.
Having collected all the valuables, they set fire to the temple.
The leader of the regiment, studied the surroundings. On the sand
in the compound, he noticed two footprints, one of a child and the
other of an adult. He followed these foot prints while the others
took care of the valuables robbed. A few soldiers however followed
the leader. They reached the forest, but beyond that, they had no
trace of the path taken.
Rev. Mahanama who was proceeding on his way, along with the prince,
came to a rivulet, beyond which King Pandu had no sway. He thought
it best to cross this river, as soon as possible. As it was the
rainy season, the river was almost overflowing. There was no boat
within sight. The priest and the prince were both excited. They
looked around. The entire place was very lonely. There was no human
being to be seen around.
Rev. Mahanama got into the stream and told the prince thus, "Dear
Prince, look, this stream is a big obstacle today. The day you become
the king of this country, you should block this river. It should
be made useful to the people". The prince agreed. "On
no account can we stop our journey here", said Rev. Mahanama.
He took the prince too and swam across the river. Then they entered
A cave in the forest became their temple. The priest went begging
for alms in the neighbouring villages. With the food he got, both
the priest and the prince survived. Rev. Mahanama then managed to
employ a commander who had served the Sinhala kings and got him
to train the prince in the art of warfare. Prince Dhatusena then
learnt the art of fighting speedily and demonstrated his skill.
He then started learning archery.