Dasa Maha Yodayo : Suranimala | Sunday Observer

Dasa Maha Yodayo : Suranimala


King Kavantissa as a step to protect his kingdom from King Elara and the Chola invaders built a fortress at Kasathota on the banks of the Mahaweli and put Prince Dheegayu in charge of it. With King Kavatissa’sa consent, Prince Dheegayu commanded each and every family in his area of command to send one able bodied young man to serve in his army.

Sangha was a wealthy and important man in the village of Kadawita in the colony of Kotagama (modern Kottiyar Paththu). Prince Dheegayu’s command reached him too and he called his seven sons together and asked which of them would like to volunteer for military service.

The eldest son said that other than the youngest Nimala, all of them were engaged in earning their livelihood and that so far Nimala had not exerted himself though he was mightily proportioned and had enormous strength. Therefore, he suggested that Nimala should be sent to serve in Prince Dheegayu’s army.The other brothers agreed heartily.

Sangha and his wife were not happy about sending Nimala away as he was the youngest and their pet.

When Nimala heard about the Prince’s command he was eager to go and said so.Then, his parents too reluctantly gave permission for him to join the army.

Nimala left home at dawn. He was a fast walker and passed around twelve gauwas and reached Kasathota as the sun rose in the sky.

Prince Dheegayu asked Nimala what time he left home and on hearing Nimala’s reply was stunned at how Nimala had walked such a distance and in such a short time.

Yet, the Prince still found it hard to believe that Nimala had walked such a distance so quickly. So, he formed a plan to test the truth of Nimala’s story and his strength. He asked Nimala to take a letter to his friend, the Brahamin, Kundala who lived in Doramadalagama in Anuradhapura and to bring back a valuable object that the Brahmin wil give him.

Nimala soon reached the Brahmin’s home and handed over Prince Dheegayu’s letter. The Brahamin read the letter all the while marvelling at the speed with which Nimala had come to his house.

Kundala wanted to find out whether Nimala was really telling the truth and devised a plan to check on him. He told Nimala to bathe in the Thisa Wewa, offer flowers and worship at the Thuparamaya and Jaya Shri Maha Bodhiya, walk around and sight see in Anuradhapura and finally, pluck flowers from Thisa Wewa and return to his, Brahamin Kundal's house before lunch. Nimala did exactly as he was asked. Kundala questioned Nimala about what he had done. Once he knew everything he decided that Nimala should indeed be in King Kavantissa’s army .

Kundala was also aware that if King Elara heard about Nimala he would get him to join his army. Thus, Brahamin Kundala decided to send Nimala away from Anuradhapura as soon as possible. So, he gave Nimala gifts for himself as well as valuable ones for Prince Dheegayu and sent him on his way to Kasathota.

Prince Dheegayu was very happy when he read what Brahamin Kandula had written about Nimala. He immediately decided to send him to serve in King Kavantissa’s army. Prince Dheegayu gave presents for Nimala’s parents and sent him to ask his parents for permission. When Nimala told his parents the reason for his visit they gave him permission to join King Kavantissa’s army. Thereafter, Nimala left Kasathota and in one day reached Magama and met King Kavantissa.

When King Kavantissa saw Nimala and read the recommendations he recruited Nimala to his army and then to the Royal Armoury. There, the craftsmen engaged in making weapons did not believe that someone as young as Nimala could be a warrior giant and made fun of him among themselves.

All the unsharpened weapons in the armoury were stacked in a very high pile and the King asked Nimala to sharpent them and he walked to the other end of the huge armoury. After a little while, the King returned to where the weapons were and found that each and every one of the weapons in that enormous pile were sharpened to perfection by Nimala. All who observed this incident were utterly amazed at Nimala’s extraordinary strength. The much impressed King gave Nimala a nice house in Magul Maha Veediya and also provided him with many other facilities.

Nimala was a superb horseman . After joining the permanent army Nimala set forth for the Battle of Wijithapura. On the way, they passed a liquor shop and King Dutugemunu challenged his men to drink all the liquor in the shop. No one dared to accept the challenge except Nimala. He drank evey drop of liquor available in the shop and earned for himself the name Suranimala. (The Sinhala word Sura means liquor)

At the Battle of Wijithapura Suranimala, along with Nandimithra and the Royal tusker Kandula attacked the southern wall of the Wijithapura fortress. Kandula made a big hole in the wall but Suranimala did not want to enter the fortress this way but jumped over the wall. He is supposed to have attacked the enemy with a large sword.

King Elara’s champion warrior giant, Digajanthu, somersaulted into the air looking for a chance to kill King Dutugemunu. Seeing this Suranimala leapt forward and killed Digajanthu, thereby saving King Dutugemunu’s life.

Another warrior giant Pussadeva on seeing the death of Digajanthu blew a conch shell. The enemy army thought that they had been beaten and fled.

After the victory in the war against King Elara, King Dutugemunu and his army had to wage war against King Elara’s relative, Bhalluka. Here too, Suranimala played a major part in winning the war.

To be continued....