The Tale of Labhiya Wasanbha: The Handsome Giant

Labhiya Wasanbha

Grandson: “Good morning, Grandpa! Have you had breakfast yet?”

Grandpa: “Yes, my dear. And you?”

Grandson: “I have too. Mom wanted me to check on you and see if you need anything today since Dad’s away. She said we should help you out.”

Grandpa: “That’s very thoughtful of her. I appreciate it, but there’s not much on the agenda for now. Maybe we could take a walk to the rice fields later.”

Grandson: “Since you’re not busy, could you share a story with me? I love tales about giants.”

Grandpa: “Of course. But remember, the ‘giants’ we speak of weren’t necessarily larger in stature. Some were quite average or even smaller. Their true ‘giant’ nature came from their inner strength, resilience, and determination.”

Grandson: “Understood, Grandpa. I’m eager to hear the story.”

Grandpa: “This story is about an extraordinary figure in the army, known for his remarkable good looks.”

Grandson: “What made him stand out?”

Grandpa: “His virtues in past lives, particularly during the time of Lord Kashyapa Buddha, resulting his handsome features in this life.”

Grandson: “Intriguing! What was his name?”

Grandpa: “Originally, he was called Wasanbha, but due to his striking looks and muscular physique, he earned the name Labhiya Wasanbha.”

Grandson: “Did he work out at a gym to get those muscles?”

Grandpa: “Not before joining the army, but he achieved something remarkable.”

Grandson: “What did he do?”

Grandpa: “He hailed from Viharavapiya in the southern part of the island, Ruhunurata, a picturesque village. His father, Maththa, led the village. However, the villagers struggled with water scarcity, affecting their rice cultivation, their main livelihood.”

Grandpa: “This was a significant challenge for Maththa and the villagers, requiring hard labor for sustenance.”

Grandpa: “The village’s young men, including Wasanbha, decided to tackle this issue. They planned to construct a large reservoir, a ‘Wewa,’ to collect water for their crops.”

Grandpa: “Their leader, Maththa, supported this initiative, offering guidance and motivation. But building such a tank was daunting.”

Grandpa: “Despite a strong start, progress was slow with their limited tools, and morale waned until the effort was eventually abandoned.”

Grandpa: “Undeterred, Wasanbha, who had been involved with his father, decided to continue alone, even crafting a colossal bucket that required ten people to lift.”

Grandpa: “Remarkably, it’s said he finished the reservoir in just one day, thanks to his strength, speed, and wisdom.”

Grandson: “All in one day? Amazing!”

Grandpa: “His achievements brought great joy to the villagers and pride to his father. The king himself heard of Wasanbha’s feat and wished to honor him.”

Grandson: “Was King Dutugemunu the ruler then?”

Grandpa: “Close, but it was his father, King Kavan Tissa, and the husband of Vihara Maha Devi, who you might know from another brave tale.”

Grandson: “Ah, the queen who made a great sacrifice for the people. I remember, Grandpa. You’re full of interesting stories!”

Grandpa: When the king’s messengers arrived at the village, they observed the villagers, energized by Wasanbha’s monumental tank, diligently working the rice fields. Among them, a lively young man stood out for his active engagement with the community.

Upon first sight, the messengers were certain they had found their man. Approaching him, they inquired, “Excuse us, young man, might you be the one known as Wasanbha?”

From across the way, a confident voice responded, “Indeed, I am Wasanbha. What brings you here? Let’s head to my home for a refreshing drink before we talk.”

Recognizing him, they expressed, “We’ve heard of your remarkable deeds and your generous spirit. Are these new fields a result of your work?”

Wasanbha replied, “Yes, with the abundance of water now, we’re able to cultivate enough rice for ourselves and even support neighboring villages. It’s a collective effort.”

Acknowledging his work, the messengers explained, “The king has sent us with urgent orders to bring you to the palace. We apologize for the abruptness.”

Wasanbha, taking it as a high honor, assured them it was no inconvenience. After sharing a meal at Maththa’s house, they set off for the palace.

Upon their arrival, King Kawanthissa inquired, “Is this the young man everyone speaks of?”

“Yes, my Lord. This is Labhiya Wasanbha, renowned for his strength, beauty, and kindness,” confirmed the officers.

King Kawanthissa warmly welcomed him, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Your deeds have not only reached my ears but have also touched my heart. Your contributions are invaluable, especially in these times.”

Wasanbha, humbled, expressed his gratitude, “Serving my kingdom is my greatest honor, Your Majesty.”

The king then presented Wasanbha with gifts for his village, offering support for future endeavors and encouraging him to keep up the good work before allowing him to return home.

Back in the village, Wasanbha and the villagers succeeded in expanding their rice fields significantly, leading to a prosperous harvest.

Grandson: “What happened next?”

Grandpa: “A few months later, Wasanbha received another summons from the king, who shared the troubling developments concerning Elara’s influence over the kingdom and its impact on Buddhism. The king emphasized the need for wise and strong individuals to navigate these challenges with minimal disruption to the people’s lives, inviting Wasanbha to join this cause.”

Overwhelmed with emotion and honor, Wasanbha pledged his allegiance to the king.

Grandson: “And did he make a big difference in the battles?”

Grandpa: “Absolutely. His bravery and leadership were crucial during the war.

Labhiya Wasanbha trained under the esteemed commander Velusumana and rose to become one of the ten celebrated giants in King Gamini Abhaya’s army. During the pivotal battle of Wijithapura, Wasanbha’s leadership and the bravery of his troops were instrumental in securing peace and religious harmony throughout the land.

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