Ten Giant Warriors

Much is written of the great war between Sinhala King Dutugemunu and a South Indian Invader,Tamil King Elara for the City of Anuradhapura, and the central role played by Dutugemunu’s Ten Giant Warriors or the great warriors (dasa maha yodhayo in sinhalese)– the dasa maha yodha. According to the chronicle Mahavamsa the men were drafted into Royal service during the reign of Dutugemunu’s father King Kavantissa, and levied to serve the young prince in due course.

The Rajavaliya claims the ten champions had remained impartial throughout Dutugemunu’s battles with his younger brother Tissa, as they had promised King Kavantissa that they would remain impartial in the vent of a dispute between the two brothers.

At the decisive battle between the two kings at Vijithapura, Nandhimitra with Nirmalaya (Suranimala) are said to have fought to secure the south gate to the city. Mahasona (sena), Gothaimbara and Theraputtabhya are said to have secured the east gate, while the remaining champions fought for the north and west gates (Rajavaliya p39).


Nandhimitra perhaps the most well known of the ten giant warriors, was the nephew of Mitta, a general in King Elera’s army – and was named after his uncle. As a young child Mitta was tied to a mill-stone to stop him from wandering off, but endowed with great strength the young boy was able to drag the heavy mill-stone behind him – thus earning the name Nandhimitra. The Mahãvamsa narrative suggests Nandhimitra had subsequently travelled to Rohana to serve a king who worshipped the noble triple gem (Mahãvamsa, chapter 23, verse 4-15)– a supposition that has been questioned by scholars, who argued Elera himself, despite his Tamil heritage, had been a patron of the Buddhist temples (De Silva , 2005).


According to the Mahãvamsa (chapter 23, verse 16-44) Nimala was the seventh son of a village headman named Samgha, in the village of Khandakavitthika in the Kotthivala district. As a young man Nimala was sent to the service of prince Dighabaya – King Kavavannatissa’s son form a lesser queen. Dighabaya who was in charge of Kacchakatittha send Nimala on an errand to a Brahman named Kundali, who lived near the Cetiya mountain in the Dvaramandala village. Nimala marched the great distance of more than eighteen yojanas form Kacchakatittha to Dvaramandala, then form their to Anuradhapura to bath in the Tissa tank and back to his master the prince at Kacchakatittha, fetching the precious punnavaddhana garments gifted by the Brahmin, in just one day. Nimala was thus named Sura-nimala.


According to the Mahãvamsa (chapter 23, verse 45-48) the giant warrior Mahasona was born, the eight son of Tissa, in the village of Hundarivãpi in the Kulumbari district. At the age of ten the young boy, then named Sona is said to have been strong enough to up-root ‘great palm-trees’, and in time gain the strength of ten elephants.


According to the Mahãvamsa (chapter 23, verse 49-54) Gothaimbara was born, the seventh son of Mahanaga, in the village of Nitthulavitthika in the Giri region. The chronicle says the young boy, Gothaka, named for is ‘dwarfish’ stature had single-handedly torn up a forest of Imbara trees and levelled the ground, thus earning the name Gotha-imbara.


Born the son of a householder named Rohana, the headman of the village Kitti near the Kota mountain, Gothabhaya as a child of ten or twelve, was able to throw rocks that could only be lifted by four or five grown men. Gothabhaya’s father Rohana, was supporter of the thera (buddhist monk) Mahasumma, and on hearing a discourse of the thera at the pabbata-vihara, attained the first stage of enlightenment – sothapanna. Rohana subsequently ordained as a monk and in time an arahath – thus Gothabhaya became known as Thera-putt-abhya, abalya the son (putta) of the Thera (Mahãvamsa, chapter 23, verse 55-63).


According to the Mahãvamsa (chapter 23, verse 64-67) Bharana was born in the village of Kappakandara, to a man named Kumara. As a young boy of ten or twelve Bharana was said to be able to chase after hares in the forest and crush them under his feet, and later aged sixteen he was said to out run and hunt antelope, elk and bore, thus being recognised great warrior.


The warrior Velusamanna was born the son of a house holder named Vasabha, in the Kutumbiyangana in the Giri district, and was named after his friends Vela and Sumana – who was the governor of Giri. Young Velusamanna was able to ride a Sindhu (Saindhava – form the Indus country) horse belonging to the governor, a beast that would not let any man ride him. Velusamanna not only broke the beast but galloped in circles so fast that he made it appear a chain of riders (Mahãvamsa, chapter 23, verse 68-77).


According to the Mahãvamsa (chapter 23, verse 78-81), he was born Deva, the youngest son of Abhaya of the Mahisadonika village in the Nakulanaga district. He was later dubbed Khanjadeva as he limped a little. The young man was able to chase great buffaloes, grasp them by their legs, whirl them over his head and dash them on the ground.


According to the Mahãvamsa (chapter 23, verse 82-89) Phussadeva was born the son of Uppala in a village named Gavita near the Cittalapabbata temple. As a young boy visiting the temple Phussadeva is said to have been able to blow conch shells so loud they sounded like thunder, thus being named Ummadaphussadeva. Subsequently Phussadeva became a renowned archer who never missed his mark.


Vasabha was born, the son of the house holder Matta, in the village of Viharavapi, near the Tuladhara mountain, and was named Labhiyavasabha – vasabha the gifted, on account of his noble physique. At the age of twenty it is said Vasabha had single-handedly moved such masses of earth that could only be moved by a dozen men to build the Vasabha tank with relative ease (Mahãvamsa, chapter 23, verse 90-95).


*Gunasekara, B (ed). (1900). Rajavaliya – a Historical narrative of Sinhalese Kings. Reprinted (1995). Asian Education Services. Madras: India.
*Geiger, Wilhelm (trans. German); and Bode, Mabel Haynes (tras. Eng). (1912). Mahãvamsa – the Great Chronicle of Ceylon. Reprinted (2003). Asian Education Services. Madras: India.
*De Silva, K.M. (2005). A History of Sri Lankan. Vijitha Yapa Publications. Colombo: Sri Lanka, pp15-17

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