9th May 2018
On my return back from Kataragama, I happened to pass by your childhood city Tissamaharama filled with its lush green paddy fields all around supported by the five lakes all built by the line of Lankan royals who had always patronage great hydraulic works for benefitting the denizens.
Its not a town I had planned in my trip as the legends and mythology here didn’t seem to be exceptionally striking to me in any sense, but then when I happened to read about you in the process, my respects for Lankan royalty increased many fold.
Your name (popular as Dutugamunu) first stroke me when I read about the historicity of Sinhalese-Tamil relationships. Your name is especially taken with passion on how you (representing the Sinhalese national pride) had ‘freed’ the country from the rule of Ellara the Tamil merchant king who had annexed the bulk of island nation. You earned the title ‘Dhrishta’ – the cheeky one when you sent a feminine jewelry to your father who wasn’t too interested in taking back the control of power of Anuradhapura the capital of the island from the Tamil king, making peace with himself to stay limited to the southern province only. No wonder Mahavamsha the royal chronicle of the island has dedicated six chapters to you due to this.
Banished by your father, life certainly wasn’t easy for you especially given that your brother Tissa had overthrown you from the claims of kingship and acquired your possessions. The fact that even in exile, you were able to raise an army and win back the kingdom back from your brother making due peace with him reflects the right balance of bravery and compassion which is needed in every chivalrous king. Perhaps, this was also due to the fact you were blessed by Lord Karthikeya the valiant God himself at Kataragama and relieved the grace of his sword.
In your conquest of the northern kingdoms, you marry the daughter of a chieftain who was loyal to your enemy making loads of imaginations of a classic Romeo-Juliet here. You lead your armies with the help of legendary 10 giants who would be expert in all sort of martial arts like bodybuilding, archery, using club, shot-puts, swordsmanship, horse-riding, weightlifting and have many individual legends on this. Your armies dealt in a war where elephants would be thrown over the molten iron from enemy gates. These are certainly juicy war stories which can put the mind on imagination for an epic story with full throttle of thrill.
Once your armies got to meet the enemy armies on battleground, it was you yourself who would confront King Ellara and throw the spear into his chest. Certainly you are the man who leads the battle from front. The most amazing fact I realized was that recognizing that the overthrown king was otherwise a just ruler, you never did anything to erase his memory. Rather more so surprisingly, you ensured the construction of a great tomb in the memory of your enemy and decreed that everyone who passes by that area pays his respect there. Now, this certainly speaks of a character I can’t help falling in love with. Rather I can’t help not noticing the similarities in your character with that of Shivaji in India who also took back his country from the foreigners but also retained every priciple a true warrior should hold onto.
Today while passing by the Tissamaharama, I see the grand bubbletop Stupa which commemorates the sacred discourse given by Buddha during his last visit to the island. But more than that, I will remember this place as the countryside which inspired you for an amazing life and built in an amazing character truly royal and noteworthy.