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Sunday, 18 January 2015





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Sri Lankan history:

King Rajasinghe I

King Rajasinghe I ruled the Kingdom of Sitawaka. He is known for his extreme bravery and patriotism. Born as Tikiri Bandara to King Mayadunna of the Kingdom of Sitawaka, the name "Rajasingha" was given to him after a fierce battle against the Portuguese Forces. Rajasinha means the King of Lions.

According to historical records he reigned from 1581 to 1592. However, according to De Queros, Mayadunne handed over the kingdom to Rajasingha in 1578. In 1581,Mayadunne died leaving Rajasingha to ascend the throne.

While King Rajasingha's main battle was against the Portuguese forces in defence of the sovereignty of the Sinhala monarch, he had to battle with numerous internal forces. Some regional leaders supported directly and indirectly by forces from Portugal.

One such adventure of Tikiri Bandara was the battle against his brother-in-law Veediye Bandara. Mayadunne initiated the campaign to destroy Veediye Bandara primarily due to the ill treatment meted out to Mayadunne's daughter Tikiri Kumari who was the wife of Veediye Bandara and non-rendering of the support to Mayadunne to wage war against the Kandyan ruler.

Combined Sitawaka and Portuguese troops attacked Veediye Bandara's fort at Pelenda chasing him down to Devundara and capturing Tikiri Kumari. Sitawaka troops were led by 12-year-old Tikiri Bandara.Veediye Bandara re-grouped with the troops of the Kandyan leader and reached Salpiti Korale to attack Sitawaka troops. He was defeated by Tikiri Bandara again. He fled to Kanda Uda Rata and returned to Alut Nuwara with troops of the Kandyan king.

After a fierce battle at Alutnuwara, Veediye Bandara was decisively defeated by Tikiri Bandara.

According to the "Alakeshwara War", this battle was so fierce and legendary, following which Tikiri Bandara was called "Rajasingha." The Rajawaliya states that the title Rajasingha that implies " Lion who is the king of kings" was given to him following this famous battle.

While Rajasingha waged his war against the Portuguese, King Karaliyadde Bandara, utilised Portuguese soldiers to protect his Kandyan kingdom.Infuriated by this relationship with Portuguese invaders, with the support of Weerasundera Mudali of Peradeniya, Rajasingha led his troops up to the entry point at Balana in 1583 and chased Karalyadde Bandara.

The battle with the Portuguese in Mulleriyawa was the bloodiest fought to date. While the Portuguese held guns and more advanced weapons, the Sinhalese army simply equipped with swords and their ancient fighting method called Angam Pora and defeated the entire Portuguese army. This was the greatest defeat a European army ever had in an Asian land.

King Rajasinghe I appointed a South Indian, named Aritta Kivendu as his chief advisor and acted on his advice. He was awarded the title Mannamperuma Mohottala. King Rajasinha arranged the marriage of Mannamperuma Mohottala to a sister of a junior queen known as "iron daughter". He converted to Hinduism. He was reported to have settled Brahmans at significant Buddhist sites such as Sigiriya and Sri Pada.

Under the advice of Mannamperuma Mohottala, he razed many Buddhist religious sites to the ground. The discontent caused among Buddhist public and prelates was a major reason for the downfall of the kingdom.

The annexation of the Kandyan kingdom and killing many royals also believed to have contributed to the decline. His cruel approach towards Buddhism ignited anti-government rebellions with the involvement of Buddhist prelates. This gave rise to his conflict situation with Bhikkhus.

In the Sath Korale region, a prince named Pothupala Bandara rebelled against Rajasingha with the support of the Portuguese.

The rebellion was suppressed and all leaders who supported it were be headed. According to the Manadarampura Puwatha, prelates were involved in an attempt to make Konappu Bandara the king of Kandy.

This conspiracy was exposed leading to the execution of hundreds of Buddhist prelates. Mandaram pura puwatha reported that in one place,121 bhikkhus were killed by Rajasinha.

One of the notable victims was the chief prelate of Sitawaka. Support of the Maha Sangha that was a pillar of strength for Mayadunne and Tikiri Bandara to mobilise the public support for the sitawaka kingdom rapidly eroded.

Konappu Bandara having returned to Kandy through Mannar started a rebellion in Kandy. First he defeated the troops led by general and Aritta Kiwnendu. Secondly, Konappu Bandara defeated troops led by King Rajasingha himself. Rajawaliya reported that he withdrew saying that there was no king in front of him who fought valiantly from 11years of age.

However, this person who waged war in Kandy has lots of merits. On his return from the defeat at Balana,he died in March 1592.

The reason for his death was a wound caused by a pointed bamboo segment at Pethangoda while returning to Sitawaka. Rajawaliya further recorded that the death was a result of the curse imposed on him by the Dodampe Ganithaya. He was cremated at Mahanuwara the then capital Sitawaka.


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