Portugal’s total civilizational war
Posted on July 13th, 2012

Dr.Susantha Goonatilake 

Chapter 5 Total Civilizational War

1563 was the year Dharmapala donated temples to Franciscans. The “the ever dreaded”  (the Portuguese description) Diogo de Melo in the 1560s commenced hostilities around Kotte and Colombo by various assaults [1].  He did “great damage [to the towns and villages of the present day suburbs of Colombo namely] Attitidiya, Kalubowila, Gorakana, Galkissa, Mapana, Panadura, Kollonnawa, Mulleriyawa, Peliyagoda, Telengipata, Mattumagala and Hendala[2]. Around 1574, Diogo de Melo attacked the already ruined Kelaniya city where he destroyed a “temple of great pilgrimage” among the people.  He destroyed the city “altogether, ordering the Pagodas to be razed” [3]. Pires had already mentioned in 1512-15 that the main ports for trade and navigation were Colombo, Negombo, Chilaw, Dewundara and Weligama[4].

Diogo de Melo then went on in 1574 to Negombo where he killed many, captured 700 persons, burnt all the ships and as the port was “rich in trade they took many articles of gold and silver, money and apparel, and other spices and goods” [5]. He again  attacked Negombo this time together with an attack on Salpe “three leagues further to the interior, where he wrought great destruction, burning villages, capturing 400 persons, taking many cattle, and he razed to the ground two sumptuous pagodas much venerated by the people”[6].  Then he fell upon the ports of Kalutara, Maggona, Beruwela and Alutgama where he “burnt many decked vessels laden with cinnamon and paper, sapan and copra capturing more than 700 persons”[7].  And in Weligama, he heard that two ships were being laden which were seized “burnt the village killing many Moors who lived in the port” [8].

In 1576, de Melo attacked Waragoda again in the outskirts of Colombo[9].  He then “destroyed Chilaw and Munneswaram [picture] [an important Hindu temple with alongside an ancient Buddhist temple from the Anuradhapura period] with fire and sword” in the process burning many storehouses of areca and cloth together with a large decked vessel laden with 500 bahar of cinnamon for the Red Sea with four sampans of areca[10].  For the third time, de Melo destroyed “Negombo, Kammala and Atulugama and with many other spoils they passed on to the ancient Pagoda of Manucarao [Manikkadawara close to the banks of the Maha Oya on the road to Kandy] razed it to the ground” retiring with “prizes” [that is loot][11].  He then razed to the ground the Pagoda of Raigama [picture] from which they took many “idols” of gold, silver and metal, captured 300 persons and brought 500 head of cattle”[12]. Raigama was at one time a capital of Sri Lanka and an important urban centre.

Ruins of Raigama Complex

 

 

Catholic “festivities”

The Portuguese did some of their attacks on festival days when the people would throng and come decked with jewellery.  This was to allow the Portuguese soldiers to rob as much valuables as possible.  In 1576, on the “day of the festival of the Pagoda of Atulugama and the concourse of pilgrims was large”, the Portuguese attacked “to turn their [the pilgrims’] tears into blood” but failed this time in the attempt[13] . De Melo again attacked Negombo in 1577 “with the death of many locals and 200 captives” putting “everything to the sword and fire including many storehouses and vessels”[14].

As a means of relieving the pressure of Rajasinghe away from Colombo, the Portuguese set sail towards Galle “to destroy and lay waste” all the ports of Rajasinghe along the way.  They came across the ports of Beruwela, Welitota, (near modern Balapitiya), Galle and Weligama[15].  In the last place, “they wrought great destruction and killed and captivated much people and committed very great cruelies on the men and children, because, in order to get from them their earings and bracelets, they cut-off their ears and hands; and leaving everything burnt and plundered, they passed on to other places, which they proceeded to lay waste and destroy”¦ and when they were finished returned to Colombo laden with prizes [that is, loot]” [16] .

De Melo’s successor de Sam Payo again attacked the ports of Kalutara, Beruwela [Picture]

Restored mosque at Beruwela as seen today

and Alutgama and “killed many enemies and burnt many vessels” including one going to the Red Sea [17]. In 1578, the Viceroy de Albuquerque ordered attacks yet again on the ports of Negombo, Kammala and Chilaw taking “more than 300 captives and a great number of large cattle and did other damage”[18].  This was followed by attacks on the ports of Kalutara, Alutgama, Maggona, Beruwela and Gintota[19].

In 1578, Thome de Sousa de Arronches laid waste all the temples from Kosgoda to Devinuvara[20]. He set out from Colombo with six ships to lay bare all what he could along the coast of Sri Lanka[21]. The religious places that were destroyed were well endowed materially and had a large number of resident monks.  Some of these institutions were the successors to the very large monastic institutions of Anuradhapura in the first millennium. These monastic centres of learning taught not only religious subjects but also secular ones, some of their still remaining writings are impressive.  The subjects studied in these institutions included, apart from religious studies, astrology, astronomy, architecture, medicine, sculpture, ontology, philosophy, psychology, logic, poetry, languages, grammar, drama, in fact the entire gamut of learning at the time.  Many of these institutions having 500-1000 monks and students included Vijayabahu Pirivena at Totagamuva, ([Figure Totagamuva) Keragala Pirivena at Padmavati Viharaya, ([Figure Keragala) Ghanananda Pirivena at Vidagama  ([Figure Vidagama) ; Sunethra Devi Pirivena at Pepiliyana ([Figure Pepiliyana) and Galaturu-mula Pirivena (Figure ).

The first place Thome de Sousa de Arronches burnt was Kosgoda.  He then arrived at Madampe near modern Ambalangoda which he destroyed and set fire to two temples “much visited by pilgrims”[22].  He then went to Galle and remained there for three days.  Sri Rahula of Totagamuwa had described Galle just two generations before the landing of the Portuguese in the following words “where the shops are resplendent with gold and gems and pearls, as if the depths of every ocean had been searched to procure them”[23]. The Portuguese chronicler   Couto now records that the Portuguese then “burnt the town, which was very large, and in which were several warehouses of goods “¦ [They then smashed] all the boats that were beached, and leaving everything destroyed, reduced to dust and ashes, they demolished the tranqueiras [palisades], and burnt them”[24].  The Portuguese then returned to the vessels “laden with prizes [loot]”[25].

Thome de Sousa de Arronches then proceeded to Weligama which had been attacked four years previously by Pedro Homem Pereira.  They then burnt it again and “found some prizes” only “some” because most of the loot had been taken away in an earlier first attack[26].  This was when Pedro Homem Pereira ransacked Weligama[27]. They set fire to the houses and as the Portuguese chronicler Couto notes “burnt many shops filled with cloth, opium, oils, butters, cinnamon, and other things that greatly augmented the fierceness of the fire”[28].  These items were being loaded to go to Mecca, Achem, Masulipatao, Pegu and other destinations.  They then set fire to over 25 ships waiting in harbour.

Nearby was the important temple complex of Agrabodhi.  With an ancestry going back to the 3rd century BC, the name of the temple comes from it being constructed as a major centre by King Agrabodhi IV (667-683 A.C.). In the period of this King, it had a strong Mahayana influence as evidenced by the 6th -7th C AC rock cut Avalokatisvara statue. The extent of literacy of average people around the area during the 7th C is revealed by a graffiti poem scrawled around the time from an ordinary visitor from Agrabodhi at the rock fortress of Sigiri.  Its major residential complex was established in the early 13th century, and in the 14th century, two major grants were given by two different kings.  And to support this centre of learning and worship, it had been given a large extent of land.

The poet described the Agrabodhi site before the Portuguese incursion in the following words[29]:

Agrabodhi VƒÆ’-¾«hƒÆ’-¾ra

 When the sun takes the form of a scarlet gem-set fan

Swaying over the wall of the West of sapphire hue in pan

The lovely maidens would end their sports in tune with their hearts’ desire

And from the cooling waters of the lake of delight finally retire,

And when the moon in evening cloud vestments dressed

With the tresses of the sky of blue impressed

Takes the guise of a sandal-wood mark on the fore-head’s centre

Of the genial Lady of the East in beauty and lustre,

Enter, the AgrabƒÆ’-¦dhi VƒÆ’-¾«hƒÆ’-¾ra that pleases every mind;

And there, ample rest and peace you’ll certainly find[30]

This entire complex now vanished through Thome de Sousa de Arronches. But the 6th -7th C AC rock cut Avalokatisvara statue, being of granite, escaped Portuguese demolition and can still be seen today.  And today only mute remains of pillars with burnt marks exists after the Portuguese destruction and very partial reconstruction in the 20th century exist today.

Figure Rock Cut Avalokatisvara Statue

 

Figure Partially reconstructed Agrabodhi temple today partial view with ancient stone pillars

Thome de Sousa de Arronches then attacked Matara which as the Portuguese chronicler mentions was “very prosperous in merchants and goods” and was sacked.  It was set fire in several parts and inside it; they “burnt three very handsome pagodas”.  They destroyed a store full of cinnamon and burnt a vessel[31].

As part of the reason for the plunder was to compensate for the soldiers, some attacks took place on religious and festival days when a large number of people congregated together; so that the people themselves could be robbed in addition to the plunder from the temples as for example what happened on the attacks on Navagamuwa, Munneswaram and Alugama.

Figure Navagamuva Remains Today

Munnesarama Hindu Temple

Figure Munnesarama Remains of  destroyed adjoining  Buddhist Temple

The Portuguese historian Diogo Do Couto gives details of how some of the attacks were made. Devundara or Devi Nuwera a well-known temple in the South, and also known among Asian seafarers was sacked.

Figure Devundara

This was the year 1587 but in 1334 Ibn Batuta had described the city as inhabited by merchants which had a “vast temple”.  He describes a statue of gold the size of a man with two large rubies as eyes which shone in the night.  In this complex there were according to him upwards of a thousand monks and Brahmins[32]. The Chinese armada admiral Zheng Ho’s chronicler writing one hundred years later describes this area as the Buddha Hall Mountain  where “on the left hand side there is a temple of Buddha”[33].  But the more complete descriptions come from Sinhalese Sandesa poetry.

Devundara

 As though yet remained the ropes that lowered each divine mansion

On the day that the great lord descended, on Sakra’s sanction,

To Devinuvara to protect Lanka’s people, the radiant rays

Flashed from the gem””…”set finials to strike all reaches of space[34]

 

Espy the promenades, cubicles, mansions big and small

Where learned monks, in purity of mind and control of fickle senses all,

Shine like lustrous conches, in their morality four-fold

And who up-rooted, whirl-wind-wise, the trees and bramble of the heretic fold[35]

 

 Dispel the heat of your body by the cooling breeze

That wafts from the Malaya Mount causing the tender leaves

Of sandal-wood glades to tremble; be not in haste,

Yet enter the Monastery first, with no time to waste[36]

 

Salute the order of Monks of the GalaturumƒÆ’-¦«la Mansion

Of three floors on sturdy columns of stone in construction

With streamers of jinglers that resound in the wind

To swaying echelons of flags of gold well pinned

And where on roof-crests streamers of pearl

Usher radiance that, as of stars, do constantly whirl[37]

 

To the feet of the monks “”…” the Moon that gladdens the Milky Ocean

The people, that like Brahma keeps Ananga in submission

That bowls of gold that the leonine oil of the Truth contain

Make salutation, O peacock, that lotus “”…” remain[38].

 

The eyes, the face and the body of the image in the Buddha shrine

As though in life, bathed as if by the sun’s rays do immaculately shine

Resembling the crown of the Goddess of the sylvan domain

All that makes you think of NibbƒÆ’-¾na “”…” a thought that I too entertain[39].

 

As though in the blue of the eyes of the Buddha that once in the past

Were kept long focusing in homage, appearing to be thus made fast

Also in red and white of the crown, the trunk and the tender leaves

Salute this shining BƒÆ’-¦dhi, nibbƒÆ’-¾na aspiring, with your head in heaves[40].

 

Salute the relic-dome built within the circular shrine

With paintings drawn in beauty and continuity fine

In likeness to that in which the Buddha’s robes were enshrined

By the Brahma to daily salute with faith and joy combined[41]

 

O friend, salute the BƒÆ’-¦dhi Tree, and for your own Release aspire

That resembles a parasol of sapphire with a stem of silver entire

That the Brahma from his own realm celestial, conveyed

To salute the Lord “”…” the crown of the three-fold World, in immense virtue arrayed[42]

 

Salute the recumbent image of the Buddha in the appropriate way

Shining in beauty as though bathed in a clustered solar ray

Resembling the manner in which, in joy, reposed

On causing the entry of countless beings well disposed

Into the City of Bliss immortal

NƒÆ’-¾«bbƒÆ’-¾na, through the vast glorious portal[43]

 

Then salute, within the other shrine, the standing image

Of Him who vanquished the MƒÆ’-¾ra1 bristling with intentions savage,

Seated under the BƒÆ’-¦dhi Tree, and brought too to the eight-fold Path the sage

UravƒÆ’-¾”…”la KƒÆ’-¾ƒÆ’-¦”‚ºyapa, freeing him from the heretic bondage;

Him, the lamp that shed and crushed the bind

Of darkness of sin within one’s mansion of the mind[44]

  De Sousa de Arronches attacked Devundara and Portuguese chroniclers describe the site as “the most celebrated and most resorted to by pilgrims of all in the island excepting that of Adam’s Peak”[45].  The Portuguese observed that the temple complex structure had a circuit of a full league and “resembled a beautiful city”[46].  As they described it, the body of the temple had a very great vault set above with a high degree of workmanship and around the main temple many “most beautiful chapels”.  And above the principal gateway, there was a very high and strong tower with a roof of copper gilt.  Around the tower was a square cloister “very beautifully and finely wrought with its verandahs and terraces and in each square a handsome gateway for its entrance, and all around was full of flowerpots, delicate flowers, and fragrant herbs for their pagoda[47].  Inside the structure, continued the Portuguese chronicler Couto, were “very fine streets” in which lived persons of every occupation.  And among its notable industries was “very good casting work” in copper, silver and gold[48]. The city was large, populated and frequented by foreigners including Chinese[49].

Figure Remnants of Devinuwara City

The Portuguese soldiers on their way to this major centre, which was actually almost a city by itself, set fire to three Buddhist temples on the way.  A Portuguese historian has left us a vivid picture.

The inhabitants”¦ on seeing the Portuguese, abandoned the city, and betook themselves inland. Our people proceeded to enter it without encountering any resistance, and reaching the Pagoda broke open the gates, and entered it without meeting anyone to resist them, and went all round to see if they found any people: and seeing that all was deserted, Thomas de Souza delivered it over to the soldiers that they might do their duty, and the first thing in which they employed themselves was to destroy the idols, of which there were more than a thousand of diverse forms, some of clay, others of wood, others of copper, many of them gilt. Having done this, they demolished the whole of that infernal structure of Dagabas, destroying their vaults and cloisters, knocking them all to pieces, and then proceeded to sack the store houses, in which they found much ivory, fine clothes, copper, pepper, sandalwood, jewels, precious stones and ornaments of the Dagabas, and of every thing they took what they like, and the rest they set fire to, by which the whole was consumed[50].

Figure Remain of Buddha statue at Devundara “knocked to pieces”

A church was built on the temple lands of Devundara and a cross was erected.  It had been fraudulently put up by a friar falsely saying that it was to teach children but quickly changed its name and called it a church.  The church was pulled down by the people in what the Portuguese called “great acts of lawlessness”[51].  But it was to be rebuilt by the Portuguese[52].   This place is still called church land Palliawatta while the site of the cross is today called “land of the cross” Kurusawatta.

Figure Kurusawatta Land where Catholic Church Built on Burnt Temple Later Destroyed by Protestant Dutch

Jaffna Peninsula

 In around 1591, they marched towards Nallur in Jaffna destroying two pagodas which are identified by S.G. Perera as Veeramakail Amman Kovil and Kandasamy Kovil [53].

The Jaffna Kingdom was the earliest to fall more or less completely to the Portuguese, a contrast to the continuous struggles in the rest of the country[54].  To describe the civilisational encounter, there we should first have a preamble on this small kingdom.

It emerged after the massive devastation caused by the invader Magha (reigned 1215 – 1236), who as the Culavamsa describes was involved in mass scale destruction of property, torture, kidnapping, amputation and mutilation and ransacking and destruction of key places of worship[55]. The power vacuum created by this devastation allowed historical space for the emergence of the Jaffna kingdom which existed from the 13th century to the early part of the 17th century. But except during the brief heyday of its power, it seldom controlled any thing more than the Jaffna peninsula.  The first detailed map of the Kingdom by Baldaeus in 1672 AD shows it being confined to the Jaffna Peninsula and Mannar Peninsula.

Jaffna and its population have been subject to the same demographic and cultural changes as was the rest of the country.  Just as there were Tamils and Hindu devotees in the rest of Sri Lanka, there were Sinhalese and Buddhists in this kingdom.  Its Kings depended on trade and further also had a penchant for attacks on unsuspecting ships.  Its King Arya Chakravarti got at least added income from sea piracy as attested by Ibn Batuta who when he was to land in a Sri Lankan port controlled by Arya Chakravarti, was warned by his sailors that the port was under the “evil doing tyrant [who] keeps pirate vessels”[56].  Portuguese sources confirm this charge of piracy. Writing in 1545, Francis Xavier mentions that, when a ship coming from Pegu ran aground near Jaffna, the king of Jaffna seized the goods[57]. A letter to the Portuguese king Joao III in 1546 refers to the king of Jaffna as a brigand[58]. And Couto goes on to say that the king of Jaffna “acting the pirate had all the ships and vessels of the Portuguese that passed by its coast to be set upon and using stratagems to get them to put into the coast so as to rob them”[59].

And just before the arrival of the Portuguese that Kingdom was again annexed to Kotte during the reign of Parakramabahu VI (1412-1467). Soon after, however revolts and a series of wars engulfed the whole of the country. But one must place the Jaffna kingdom in cultural and political context.

De Queryoz acknowledging its small size mentioned that Jaffna was a kinglet subject to the King of Kotte. [add Kingsley Silva] He mentions that at the time of the coming of the Portuguese, the Jaffna Kingdom together with other minor kings paid tribute to Kotte[60]. The Portuguese King as well as its missionary Francis Xavier as well as the Portuguese correspondence at the time accepted the claim of Kotte as over lord of Jaffna[61].   In the donation of the kingdom of Kotte by Dharmapala was included Jaffna as part of his empire together with other parts of Sri Lanka including the Vanniars in the area north of Anuradhapura who had given vassalage and paid tribute to the kings of Kotte [62].

When in the 17th century, the King of Kandy Senerat called all his subordinate rulers in the country for a Council of state, Baldaeus mentions that representativeness of Jaffna also attended this meeting[63].  Letters from the Dutch refers to King Senarat as the Emperor of Sri Lanka, the King of Kandy, Sitavaka, Trincomalee, and Jaffna and of other smaller political entities[64].

The rulers of Jaffna at the coming of the Portuguese were Tamil but there are strong indications that the population was possibly still strongly Sinhalese. The Nam Potha, the 17th C text used for elementary education records many Sinhalese places of Buddhist pilgrimage in the Jaffna peninsula.  These include Kadurugoda, Weligama, Hunugama, Telipola, Mallagama and such Sinhalese place names[65].  Their present Tamilised names are Kandarodai, Welikamam, Chunnakam, Telipallai and Mallakam in which the Sinhalese originals can easily be identified.  In the 17th century, Portuguese mention a village called Tambana in Jaffna clearly a Sinhalese name[66].  And as Paul Pieris pointed out, there are many sites in Jaffna peninsula with names such as Puttur Kovil (Buddha Temple) just as there are many names of lands and villages clearly of Sinhalese name origin.

In the early part of the 20th century, Pieris discovered the remains of a relatively large dagaba in Chunnakam (Hunugama), one of the sites described in the Nam Potha[67].  In the 1960s, the present author working as an engineer in the Jaffna peninsula could still see some remains of this dagaba but visiting Jaffna in 2005 found the traces gone. Pieris also found the spire of a dagaba in Kopay and he also uncovered in 1902 in Koddiya Vattai (Vattai being a Tamil corruption of the Sinhalese watta) near Chunnakam remains of another dagaba[68].  Excavations at Kandarodai in the 1960s have unearthed a complex of Sinhalese remains and of course the Jaffna Museum has many examples of such remains including inscriptions.

Accounts of the Portuguese administrative archives relating to the mid-17th century give further evidence of the persistence of Sinhalese and Sinhalese culture in Jaffna during Portuguese times.  For example, in 1612, the local official in charge of the collection of elephants in the Jaffna region is referred to by its Sinhalese name “Kuruwe Vidane”[69]. Couto mentions that just after crossing what is today Elephant Pass, they found the bodies of 40 dead Sinhalese[70].  Boccaro writing around as late as 1632 mentions that in Jaffna the Portuguese employed two interpreters, one Tamil and one Sinhalese indicating that there was a sizeable Sinhalese population there[71]. And in 1645, reference is made to the rice field of Buddhist monks in Jaffna”[72].

The Jaffna Chronicle Yalpana Vaipava Malai (the YVM) was compiled around 1736 A.D.  at the request of Dutch officials[73]. According to Mudaliar Rasanayagam who authored the book Ancient Jaffna, this chronicle was done by an “illiterate”, one can easily see, on reading it to clear flights of fancy and incorporation of large doses of the supernatural[74]. Although presumably written during Dutch times, it has a peculiar forward-looking “history” predicting that the English would replace the Dutch who had replaced the Portuguese indicating that it was probably written or finished during British times. In its part on the earlier history of the country, it also mentions disingenuously that Vijaya the legendary first Sinhalese to arrive in the country had gone to Siam and brought Buddhists who came to be called Sinhalese mentioning also that the country was then called apart from Lanka Singhalam (Sinhala) because the inhabitants were Sinhalese[75].  (It is probably from such folk tales of an illiterate that the Britisher Cleghorn concocted his notorious minute where in he says among others that the Singalese came from Siam!).

Although faulty as a historical document, the Yalpana Vaipava Malai has useful information on the Portuguese occupation. It mentions that Sangili Kumaran, the last King of Jaffna (1617-1618) after he killed the Tamils who converted to Christianity turned his attention to the Sinhalese who lived in his kingdom.  The YVM continues, Sangili’s “insane fury longed for more victims and he fell upon the Buddhists.  The followers of Buddhism were all Sinhalese and of them there were many in this [Jaffna] kingdom” and he expelled them[76].

Even in the 1960s when the present writer was in the Jaffna peninsula I found that there were many persons with names such as “Mudiyansalage” which indicated their Sinhalese origins although now they would be classified as Tamil.  We should also hasten to add a similar process occurring in the South of the country where migrants from South India with Tamil origin names became Sinhalese through cultural assimilation. (My own paternal grandmother had the name “Pulleperuma” clearly a name of Tamil origin.)

The YVM has information on the attitudes of the people of Jaffna to the Portuguese occupation. It mentions that the Portuguese spread Christianity “with force of arms and ruled 40 years with an iron sceptre” and destroyed all places of worship[77].  Couto describes how with the banner of Christ in front carried by a Catholic father the Portuguese marched through a fine street in Jaffna to attack it[78]. They set fire to the Palace at Nallur which was “built entirely of unburnt bricks, with its bastions and round turrets, very well made and pretty strong”[79]. Couto describes the imperial dais of the Jaffna king as being of much majesty carved with ivory and high workmanship[80]. The YVM relates that the Portuguese after having taken residence at Nallur pulled down its walls and fortifications and with its materials built a fort. These brutal acts paralleled what was been done in the other parts of Sri Lanka[81].

On the orders of de Sa, the Jaffna Kingdom was “exterminated and the whole kingdom became Christian”[82]. In 1619, Queyroz records the Portuguese attacking a pagoda in the Jaffna region[83].  In the same year, Constantino de Sa de Noronha ordered the large temple of Nallur to be razed to the ground in spite of imploring by local inhabitants which he ignored because “he was a great Christian”[84].

Baldaeus who lived in Jaffna for about nine years from 1656 records that near the church at Manipay, once stood a pagoda which obviously had by then been destroyed[85]. Baldaeus refers to the Portuguese defeating in Jaffna “Sinhalese forces” [his words] near Achiavelli (Achuvely) by the “great pagoda” where there could then be still seen he observes its ruins. This has been identified as Puttur, meaning Buddha village, indicative of its identity as a former Buddhist temple[86]. Baldaeus use of the expression “Singalese forces” above is deliberate because elsewhere he mentions that the Malabars [Tamils] of Jaffna were different from Singalese[87]. In 1633 a church was built by the Portuguese at Telipola (Telipallai), one of the sites of Buddhist pilgrimage as described in the contemporary Nam Potha, and was clearly after the earlier Sinhalese place of worship had been destroyed[88].

On the occasion when the Portuguese set fire to the Nallur palace, they had also brought from the “principal pagoda” an alleged “Tooth Relic” of the Buddha[89].  This we should note was very probably a replica of the relic and the Buddhist pagoda was one of the many Buddhist religious sites in Jaffna described in the 17th century Nam Potha. It could even be the “Buddha Hall”, the only monument mentioned in the Jaffna peninsula by Ma Huan, the chronicler of the Chinese Voyager Zheng He (Cheng Ho) in the 15th century[90].

Fellippe de Oliveria who subjugated this area, mentions that 500 temples were destroyed in the Jaffna peninsula[91]. The 500 would include like in the case of Goa very small shrines at these places where Catholicism penetrated, small virtually wayside shrines are common in the Hindu tradition in addition of course to large complexes. A parallel is seen in the large number of small shrines destroyed in Goa. [ref] A research group associated with a recent large study on the Portuguese encounter in Sri Lanka by among others members of the Royal Asiatic Society and which included leading members of the Hindu community could not locate much pre- Portuguese remains except Buddhist ones at Kandarodai. The exception was Nallur Temple which Nallur according to Portuguese sources was the only city in Jaffna[92].  It is possible that this may have been because what the Portuguese described as pagodas covered both Hindu Kovils and Buddhist temples. And in the Jaffna archaeological museum, there are in addition to Buddhist artefacts also Hindu ones.

A Jesuit priest, Andre Palmeiro, wrote with evident relish that in Jaffna the Portuguese committed “great cruelty in cutting children into two and severing the breasts of the women, a treatment which struck awe and terror into the people”[93].  Continuing in the same vein and again in Jaffna, a Jesuit letter notes that “children were put to death – even those of tender age” to prevent future uprisings when they grew up.  However, good care was taken of their after life as their eternal salvation was obtained and their souls saved by being baptised[94].

Having seen the Jaffna incidents, let us now return to the mainland.

Viceroy Azevedo described in his own words the Portuguese strategy of genocidal war:

I carried continuous war into the [Kandyan] kingdom attacking it twice a year with the entire body of troops with the aim of making its life ebb away, by killing its inhabitants or capturing them, by destroying its food supplies and driving the cattle away into our conquered territories[95].

In 1594, the Portuguese attacked Haloluwa on the Mahaweli Ganga near Kandy but because they were interested elsewhere, the Portuguese chronicler notes with regret, “they delayed to set fire to some pagodas, pulled down buildings and burned the village”[96]. In 1595, Jeronimo de Azevedo attacked the popular temple of Nawagamuwa[97]. In 1598, he sent troops to Sabaragamuwa and destroyed the pagoda there (Saman devale) on which were now built by the Franciscans a Christian College, Church and seminary[98]. In 1599, de Azevedo marched into a village Galetota and set fire to it together with “the sumptuous pagodas which were in it”[99].

The genocidal strategy is repeated when Azevedo affirms that this is to be done by entering Kandy twice a year with the whole Portuguese army with the aim of “destroying them and laying waste with dead and captive people, destroying the food resources” and driving the cattle away into Portuguese territory so that the kingdom is “bled to death until it is entirely depopulated and laid waste in such a manner that the life of no male of 14 years or above is to be spared”[100].

Azevedo’s grand strategy was thus to kill every male over the age of 14 years and destroy the food resources of the people and drive away their cattle[101]. The Portuguese violence on the population included as Baldaeus noted “ravishing their wives, killing their children and setting their houses on fire”[102] and as Queyroz points out of “subduing states, killing and capturing enemies, plundering cattle [and] burning villagers”[103].

Following this genocidal approach, Azevedo went into Kandy and as Queyroz recalls:

Marched to the city which is large and in those times one of goodly buildings and it was put to the sword and fire with the other villages of that Kingdom to drive terror into those peoples[104].

Mascarenhas the successor to Azevedo followed the latter’s tactics when he invaded Kandy twice in 1615.  Here he gave the order “To set fire and cut all the fruit trees”¦ [getting] everything burnt and destroyed without leaving anything standing”[105].  The city of Kandy was burnt several times[106]. Mascarenhas visited Kandy twice every year “putting to sword and fire the houses, fields, gardens and everything which he found”[107]. These gentle acts were of course “besides killing them [the population]”[108].  A Portuguese captain Pinto put this strategy of genocide to full use because he “was always of opinion that none should be given life [that is, all should be killed], because in this way, the land would be put in a better state and in a shorter time. [So] he ordered to kill a hundred and as many prisoners as his men took”[109].

In their attacks around Maha Oya, the Portuguese fought, as their chronicler Queyroz mentions “with death and plunder and fire and fury and few left no stone nor tree or fruit of use”[110]. In their attacks on Korale, de Couto mentions that the Portuguese “committed conspicuous cruelties”[111].

The Jesuit Superior for the country writing in 1612 observed that people out of fear of the Portuguese soldiers hid themselves and took shelter in the jungles as they were frightened and scandalised by the Portuguese behaviour[112].  He goes on to note the effect of this devastation was that “a village or town which formerly had 300 houses now does not have even ten after the Portuguese attacks”[113]. In the same year 1612, Azevedo admits that his soldiers forced cultivators to give them food when they themselves had no food, robbed them and “used force on the wives and daughters”.  The people to escape, as Azevedo himself admits, from such “wrongs and oppressions go to the mountains thus depopulating and deserting their villages” and thus creating a deep hatred “against the Portuguese government”[114].

The attacks were not restricted to the villages but had been extended to the capital cities.  They had first razed Kotte, then Sitawake and Nallur (the capital of the Jaffna kingdom) and they did the same to Kandy.  After the burning of Kandy around 1617 Queyroz notes that the ancient opulence and size and grandiose edifices were no more and what was left to burn in the attacks to come later were only huts instead of edifices[115]. In March 1629, de Saa invaded Kandy again and “burnt the city and raised and burnt idols and pagodas”[116].  This included setting fire to the Royal palace[117]. In 1638, de Mello (a different de Mello from the one who had attacked the South, several decades earlier in the 1570s), set fire to Kandy, a metropolis that had already been under attack for roughly half a century. Reminiscent of the desecration after their attacks on Devinuwara decades earlier, to insult the religious sensitivities as the RaƒÆ’…'”…¾jaƒÆ’…'”…¾valiya records, de Mello placed the hides of oxen in the devalas, a truly barbarous act in the eyes of both Hindus and Buddhists[118].

Impaling babies

The barbaric cruelty in Sri Lanka is described by a Portuguese historian Faria e. Sousa who observed that “[Sinhalese] babies were spitted [that is, impaled] on the soldiers’ pikes and held up so that their parents might “hear the young cocks [meaning the babies] crow”. Sometimes they forced mothers to put their children between millstones and “having seen them pound to mash”, the mothers themselves were, after torture, beheaded. He also noted that many men were cast off the bridge at Malvana, the headquarters of the Portuguese Viceroy, so that the Portuguese soldiers would out of a perverted sense of amusement, gather at the bridge to see the crocodiles devour them. “And those creatures were so used to this food, that at a whistle, they would lift their heads above water”[119]. Queyroz relates similar barbarous acts done by his countrymen[120]. Even now, hundreds of years after the event, people around Malvana relate these events.

Unable to withstand the cruelty of de Azevedo, the people of Seven and Four Korales petitioned the King of Kandy Wimaladharmasuriya in the following words:

the inhabitants of the frontiers of the Portuguese make known to the universal King and the victorious Lord of this Lanka, how on all sides the robbers of cattle, the shedders of blood, the enemies of life, the causers of captivity, have come upon us, which makes it necessary for us either to abandon our possessions to them, or to obey them against our will.  Wherefore you, who are the guardian and the refuge of this orphaned and afflicted people, succor the miserable, who are in this condition, if you do not wish to see altogether extinguished the nation of which you are the Restorer, Guardian, Relief and firm Protector”[121].

The excerpts from Parangi Hatana (“The Portuguese War”) describe Portuguese strategy well[122]:

And thus they [the Portuguese] went and built the fort at Balane

And raged in havoc through the country around

Many a sacred shrine and palace proud

And the very temple of the Sacred Tooth

Were consumed in their devouring flame

While many a fertile land of fruit and flower,

Mango and plantain, jak and arecanut, betel and cocoanut,

This destroying horde ravaged

 

To fill the bellies of these devouring ogres

Our gentle herds of cattle were slain

Many a wanton deed they wrought,

As when long ago the cruel Demalas did land and sack our city Anurapura. .

 

Our King could no more abide in his city

With his family, his jewels of gold and his gems,

His slaves and records and his treasure chests,

King Senerat sought refuge in the Pattu of the Veddahs,

For his glory was dimmed and his merit had failed

 

After setting fire to Kandy in 1638, the Portuguese suffered a major defeat at Gannoruwa.  It is graphically described in the following excerpts from the war poem Parangi Hatana (“The Portuguese War”) [123]:

 

The foe who burnt the Capital [Kandy] marching back to Gannoruwa,

Without any chance of escape they were encircled,

The King’s men fell on them with the pointed sword

Our dauntless men now advanced on the heathen Portuguese

A roar as of countless thunderbolts hurtled through the sky;

From front and rear blazed forth a hedge of fire,

Our army faced and fought them step-by-step

The enemy turned and fled – as one man

 

The palm leaves which they bore,

The copper vessels in which their rice was cooked, their powder,

The loads of butter and of chickens,

All are cast away in their deadly panic

And in their terror they said:

“It is enough if we escape with our lives”.

 

The Portuguese scattered in flight

In quick succession the countless jingals and muskets rang out

And veiled everything in smoke;

And they [the Portuguese] hid the blazing fear of their hearts

Why do the gallant men of Lanka, who are of us from of old, cleave to this beef-eating host?

Verily on the morrow we shall slaughter them everyone

 

Like the roar of ten thousand thunderbolts

The cannon bellowed forth at once,

Shattering heaven and earth and the mountain tops,

Our gallant Bombardiers delayed not to crush

The pride of the warmongering foe

With thundering cannon and musket,

Bondikula and Kodituakku, Pedreneiro, Camelete, and Bacamarte,

All in one, we rushed into them

All are struck down.

Some of the religious sites destroyed in the Eastern Province were the “pagodas” of Trincomallee. Trincomallee was the ancient port of Gokanna where a Mahayana Vihara was built by King Mahasena  (276″”…”303 AD).  References to the site are also found in the 8th century when King Aggabodhi added a Padanaghara to this Vihara and in the 12th century Parakramabahu I had his forces there. Two 12th century inscriptions  indicate the presence of Tamils around Trincomalee, not surprising as this was shortly after the Chola occupation and as its excellent harbour was an important port of call for many ships of many nationalities.  Thus a 12th C Tamil slab inscription at Nilaveli, a few kilometres north of Trincomalee written in Grantha characters for Sanskrit words and Tamil characters for Tamil words mentions a donation to a temple called Maccakeswaram [also known as Konesvaram] at Tirukonamalai[124]. The Mankani inscription dated again to the 12th C written in Tamil but with some words of Sinhalese origin evokes the Buddha[125].

As for the religious identity of the destroyed sites in Trincomalee there is no doubt from Portuguese sources that they were (at least) predominantly Buddhist. Queyroz mentions that there were three pagodas there which were administered by the Ganzes (Ganinnase) of the sect of Budun (Buddha) at the time of the visit of Francis Xavier to the place in 1542. Further, he adds that the Buddhist monks there were subordinate to the Matera (Mahathera) of Aracao (Arakan that is Burma). Xavier claimed to have met the Terunanse (“Terunnanse” or the head of the local Buddhist monks) and converted him to Christianity[126].

The Trincomalee sites were first destroyed by de Azavedo who “killed the Ganzes [Buddhist monks][127].  de Sa then destroyed the three pagodas making use of their building material to erect a fort to close the harbor to the “Chingala” (Sinhalese)  “on the site of the celebrated pagoda”[128].  The king of Kandy who had been a Buddhist monk, Queroz notes, greatly resented this destruction of the site which had been revered by many[129].

In 1630, de Sa sacked the city of Badulla and burnt it[130]. It had the important Muthiyangana temple which now lay among the rubble. In 1638, de Sa “successfully” marched to the pagoda at Attanagalle, a very ancient site, and destroyed it[131].

The wealth that changed hands was not small. The King’s treasure that was found in Kotte after the viceroy ransacked it was taken away in the presence of Catholic religious Orders and included rubies, sapphires, and pearls. Gold items found included, vessels of gold for the domestic use of the king, candlesticks, cups and basins.  The king’s own gold spittoons were carried away to Portugal.  The value of coins thus plundered amounted to 100,000 pardaos while the value of the total booty was nearly one million pardaos[132]. A somewhat contemporary European visitor to the country, a Dutchman was to give a rough equivalency; a pardao he noted could buy three cows.  In Sri Lanka today (2007), a similar local cow costs around US $150 which gives a figure of US $45 million for the treasure carried away, a very high figure considering the relative wealth of then times. The full treasure plundered was inventorised by Simao Botelho in O Inventorio do Thesauro do Rei de Ceylao[133].

There is another indirect indicator of the wealth that was around. In 1594, Jayaweera Bandara, the General of Rajasinghe who had become a turncoat and gone to the side of the Portuguese attempted in turn to shift allegiance to the King of Kandy and was caught and executed by the Portuguese.  The wealth that he had accumulated, being once in charge of Sitawake was according to Portuguese sources, “so great that it exceeded a million and a half of then gold coins”.  One such gold coin was equivalent to 120 reis[134] . Gaston Perera has calculated that one reis was equivalent to Rs. 1,800 (US dollar 18) in 2008.  This works out to an astonishing, rupees 324, 000, 000, 000 (324 billion rupees equivalent to 3.24 billion dollars). Wealth accumulated in just 54 years since the death of Mayadunne.

Historical records in Lisbon mentioned at least 400 major religious places were destroyed in the country taken as a whole[135]. This broad campaign of destruction and seizure of local religious buildings and lands in the country was more or less complete in 40 years that is by 1600 but continued in the coming years[136].

Most temples destroyed were converted by force to Churches.  At least some of the important temples converted into churches can be identified.  For example, immediately on King Dharmapala becoming a Christian, a “well-known temple” in the kingdom, became St Anthony’s church[137]. The request of Dharmapala for the return of the seat of the national palladium, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth was refused and the place was converted to a church for mass for ladies of the court. It became the church of the Holy Saviour of the Franciscans[138].

Augustiainian, Dominican and Jesuits records reveal that Roman Catholic Churches were built on most of the destroyed temple sites. Queyroz gives a detailed list of all the churches built on the destroyed Buddhist temples and monasteries[139]. He mentions that only in Temple land could churches be “conveniently” erected [140].  The large church St Jerome was built by de Azevedo at Nawagamuwa after the destruction of the temples there[141].  He also built the Church of the Mother of God on the site of a destroyed Buddhist temple in Mapitigama[142]. After the destruction of the nearly 2000 year old temples at Kelaniya, two churches were built.  The Church of St Anne was built on the banks of the River and on the other side of the river where the Kings of Kotte had their pleasure Palace was erected the church of St Bartholomew [143].

In nearby Wattala, on the site of another destroyed temple was built the Church of St James[144]. In Dikwella, was built the Church of St Lucy in a village which belonged to the large temple complex destroyed in Devundara [145]. On the destroyed city of Devundara itself was built a Church of Three Naves on columns of stone[146]. After the destruction in Matara, was built the Church of our Lady of Victory[147]. In Weligama, after their destruction of Agrabodhi and associated temple was built the Church of St Michael[148]. In Galapata, after the destruction of the temple, there was built the Church of St John the Baptist[149].  After the key centre of learningVidagama was destroyed, the Church of our Lady of Miracles was built [150]

By decree, the villages who were accustomed in former times to maintain the temples were made to switch their allegiance and ordered to maintain the new Catholic churches.  This was reminiscent to the Iberian experience for converts from Judaism and Islam during the Inquisition and after.

The other side: Sinhalese attitudes

 And what were the attitudes of the Sinhalese themselves to the Portuguese in this clash of civilizations that ensued? Let the Portuguese historian of the period Queyroz who wrote about the “temporal and spiritual conquest” of Sri Lanka speak.

Queyroz observed that the antiquity of the kings of Sri Lanka was “unequalled in Europe” and “the people are noble, cultured”[151]. The Portuguese knew of the ancient history as well as of the abandoned capitals of the country and their ruins. Queyroz reproduces the list of ancient kings of Sri Lanka which although deficient is fairly accurate[152]. So does Couto.

Constantino de Sa de Noronha also was not a total barbarian.  He had heard of Anuradhapura and its ruins and did send some people to explore it[153]. And in a separate foray, Father Negrao found rows of pillars in Anuradhapura, 1600 pillars in all, clearly remnants of the once nine storey Lova Maha Paya[154]. And Boccaro writing around 1632 recorded that in Anuradhapura, there were some pagodas and “large ancient Roman monuments”, Boccaro clearly assuming that like in the Mediterranean any ancient monuments should be that of Romans and that it was beyond his imagination that Sinhalese could have built them[155].

Boccaro gives an appreciative description of the “Roman city” Anuradhapura:

There is here a lake which is seven leagues in circumference. [In ancient times] Anuradhapura was a city so large that it is said that its king once wanting some breast milk from a mother for preparing some medicine, he made known his wish one morning and nine Caloes [large pots] were brought to him. It is also said that there is a bridge here [built on] 900 marble columns which a laundress ordered to be made so that her son could go to school without getting his feet wet[156].

Pires writing in around 1512-15 added that Sinhalese were “serious, well educated”[157] and “different peoples say that [Sinhalese were] ruled justly”[158] and they “have complete justice among them”[159]. Queyroz added Sinhalese “have such a horror of theft” [that] if a person left his “pack of clothes on the road in no other place could it be more safe”[160].  He further said Sinhalese people “are extremely gentle by nature”[161] and that Kandyans from Uva were “good-natured and simple”[162].

 Queyroz went on to say that the Sinhalese were “pride itself”; the first error of the Sinhalese pride being to think that they alone in the world “observed and maintained the art of government, cleanliness and propriety and that all the other nations are barbarous, low and wanting in cleanliness and propriety – especially Europeans.”  He also observed that they indulged in “endless ablutions” and that those who do not eat as they do are considered the lowest and those who do not wash properly “neither clean nor proper”[163]. He also adds that Sinhalese “live long, and only here do the Portuguese enjoy good health”[164].

Elsewhere Queyroz mentions that the Sinhalese are “generally proud and vain” on account of the presumption of a “celestial descent”, of the “antiquity of their kingdom and nation” and of the riches in the country[165]Pires observed that in Sri Lanka, “the grandees do little honor to strangers [meaning foreigners]” [166] that is, they do not kow tow to foreigners presumably in comparison with what the Portuguese and the Spaniards encountered in other non-Asian lands.

Confident of their culture and civilisation gestures on conversions to Christianity was generally not sincere.  A father Antonio Padram writing to the Viceroy Joao de Castro in 1547 observes that although the friars work very hard in the conversion process “there is no king or ruler who seeks the Faith sincerely.  All is deceit.  If you become a Christian, I will also become a Christian, so that you may not take my property from me, but I may take yours”[167].

In pursuit of this very Real Politik the ambassador of King Bhuvenekabahu VII Ramaraksa Pandita gives a record of essentially bribes the King gave to the Portuguese to take his side against his brother Mayadunne.  In a letter sent to Queen Catharina in January 1551, he recalls giving a loan to this Queen of 10,000 pardaos because the Viceroy had informed that he was in great need of money.  These were to drive Mayadunne out of Sitawake. He had already given 20,000 xerafins before to meet the expenses of the Portuguese fleet and supplied an extra 150 bares every year in addition to what he had already promised.  He was now offering the Queen of Portugal further monetary inducement to pursuit the war against Mayadunne in the form of a further 40,000 xerafins[168].

It should be remembered that apart from Dharmapala who was brought up as a Christian, all other kings became Christian for political reasons seeking Portuguese help against other claimants to their thrones.  And the case of Dharmapala was also for the same reasons, albeit of his grandfather Bhuvenekabahu VII who though allowing the conversion of Dharmapala himself refused to convert.  This was inspite of the Portuguese promising him “great advantages “¦ both in this world and the next” if he would convert.  Bhuvenekabahu replied that he found no reason on earth for that[169].

Bhuvenekabahu VII in addition warned the king of Kandy not to be dishonoured by becoming a Christian mentioning that he had refused to become one.  For, he said that the Portuguese were “a set of thieves” who came to the country not for any other reason but “to destroy and plunder” and that he was not safe even with the collar of gold around his neck because he feared, they might snatch it from him[170].

On the urging of the Portuguese, the king of Kandy Vickramabahu became a nominal Christian in 1546.  He was, however, baptised, the Portuguese recorded only “at night and secretly” and he still remained true to his “pagan customs without professing or learning [the Christian] doctrine. [Further, he] does not know [even] make the sign of the cross, and nor is he willing that any member of his household should embrace the Faith”[171]. But as a Christian father soon reported, this conversion business was “all a sham” to avoid danger from the Portuguese.  And when he saw he was out of danger, the king refused to be instructed in Christianity, did not want to see a cross, or make its sign and if anyone became a Christian secretly, they were immediately sold into slavery.  The king of Kandy in addition continued to make his pagodas as well as visit them[172].

The aura of repression that descended on ordinary citizens and the pressure for conversion is well illustrated by one incident. Having heard a rumour that the king of Kandy had become a Christian,some of his subjects in Velassa out of fear – and on the urging of the Fathers – became Christians alarmed that if the king had become Christian, their lands would be destroyed and handed over to the Christians[173].

During this period of sheer one-sided repression, there were, however, instances of attempts at religious discussions by the Portuguese with Buddhist monks and the Buddhist king.  During these, the pacific nature and tolerance of views by the Buddhist side were a strong contrast to Catholic intransigence. When Francis Xavier accompanied by a Captain wanted to frighten the King about tales of hell, the smiling King asked whether they had seen it.  At which the accompanying Captain became very angry, and flung his hat on the floor.  The King responded “judging from the behaviour of the officer, Christian hell must be a rigorous place indeed!” Yet after this encounter, in keeping with Buddhist norms of civility, the King sent presents to both of them[174].

And in a letter written Joao De Castro on 12th November 1545 by King Buwanekabahu, the very King who gave his grandson to the church and to Portugal, pleaded for freedom of religion describing why Buddhists actually become Christians:

They become Christians out of fear when they have killed someone or have robbed a person of his property, or have committed some similar offences which fall under my royal authority. Once they become Christians, they are not ready to recognize my [that is the local king’s] rights over them and to pay what they owe according to our laws. I cannot approve of such people becoming Christians, but I have no objection when people become Christians out of conviction [italics added], and still recognize my rights over them, and pay what they owe me according to the laws of the country. For this reason I would request that when one of my subjects wishes to become a Christian they should make him wait nine days and make him a Christian only after ascertaining that he is embracing Christianity not for any offence committed but only for the love for the God. With such conversions I will have no objections, whatever, but will rather be pleased. But when someone has committed an offence and I come to know that this is the reason which led him to become a Christian then I give orders that such a person shall be dealt with according to justice with regard to his offence, even though he has embraced Christianity.  I now greatly desire that my request be granted so that my people and I may live in harmony with the Christians. If what I ask you is carried out, I will give immediate orders to build a church for them, and treat them as is proper[175]

It was a plea that would easily resonate with present day norms of freedom of conscience but it fell on deaf years, even though he had in effect bequeathed his kingdom to the Portuguese. Fair or foul, a Christian convert to the Portuguese was still a Christian convert.

In keeping with this largeness of attitude, Bhuvenekabahu offered to help build a Christian monastery for the friars and provides funds to maintain them[176]. In addition, he assigned a yearly subsidy of 50 pardaos to every church of the Franciscans in his kingdom[177].  In a similar manner, the king of Kandy allowed Christian worship and handed over the buildings of one of the main temples so that the Christians would make a church of it[178].

The liberal views is echoed nearly a century later by also the King of Kandy.  Baldaeus, a Dutch Protestant priest writing in around 1656, mentions that the Buddhist King of Kandy does not apply any coercion to follow his faith, but allows for individual choice.  “The nation is not bigoted” he observed adding that there were also Catholics under the Sinhalese king[179].

If the Portuguese and Christian documentation at the time showed a harsh and confrontational, the style of reporting on these unpleasant events in contrast, descriptions by Sinhalese intellectuals at the time was characteristically civilised and polite. The Sinhalese chronicle Rajavaliya records:

King Bhuvaneka Bahu having foolishly lived on terms of close intimacy with the Portuguese entrusted to the King of Portugal the Prince (Dharmapala) whom he had brought up. On account of this foolish act, the Portuguese brought harm on the King. It should be noted that the King Bhuvaneka Bahu was the cause of the injustice which his posterity had to suffer; and that the harm done to the cause of Buddhism after this was due to the action of this King.[180]

The chronicle continues: “On the occasion the emperor of Kotte was baptised, many of the nobles of Kotte were baptised likewise – for the sake of Portuguese gold. The Buddhist monks who were at Kotte retired into the interior, to Sitawaka and to Kandy.” [181] The Chronicle forgot to add that this gold itself had been stolen from Buddhist temples and from the King’s own Treasury.

The nonconfrontational attitude was engrained in Buddhist culture.  Buddhist monks when they met Portuguese Christian fathers shied away from them, sedulously avoiding all discussions, the Portuguese commentator complaining that among the Buddhist monks there was “nobody willing to meet and discuss with us”.  When a father meets some of them on the road, the monks hide themselves.  This shyness and avoidance was misunderstood by the Portuguese as a lack of intelligence, learning and an inability to follow an argument and to admit the monks to be in error[182].  Elsewhere, Portuguese record that Buddhist monks did not want to tell anything about their beliefs or answer any questions to a Christian Father Morais – who incidentally had been chosen to convert king Dharmapala[183].   Anybody with an idea of the rules of vinaya would understand this seeming shyness.  And as for lack of learning and inability to argue, the records of the pirivenas at the time show just the opposite.

Yet, the real assessment of the Sinhalese on the imposed religion was not difficult to discern.  Queyroz mentions that when Sinhalese see Portuguese youths praying in the Christian manner, it was a “cause of laughter” to the Sinhalese[184].  This same latter sentiment was noted by de Caminha who in a letter dated 1547 to the Portuguese Viceroy said that the King of Kandy “laughed heartily at the friars and Christianity”[185].

But under this general Buddhist indirectness, burned a strong resentment.  Queyroz observed that when the Sinhalese had to acknowledge their King who converted to Christianity, “it was not [done] spontaneously, but against their will, as they think he is undeserving of the Kingdom by reason of his becoming a Christian, which in their opinion, was an infamy unworthy of a Prince [of their race] and this was a sufficient reason for them to go over [to the enemy of this King]”[186].

The hatred of the Sinhalese for the Portuguese Queyroz added, because of the murder of their King “remained indelible in that nation”- an attitude as strong as their belief in their temples[187]. Those who have not been to Sri Lanka, Queyroz noted had no “knowledge of the determination and constancy of the locals in defending their independence”[188]. Singhalese, Queyroz went on, have been “most stubborn to admit any foreign dominion and when the Portuguese entered Ceylon at first foreseeing the future vassalage and afterwards experiencing the foreign dominion, they did not hesitate to submit to any old rebel, in order to recover the liberty”[189].

 Boccaro writing around 1632 gives further evidence of hatred even among Christian converts:

They [Sinhalese] are of such a type, after the island came under our control, it was never free of rebellions and treachery not only of that king who as the enemy of all [of us] would forment the rebellions with or without a peace treaty, but also of the same Sinhalese Christian subjects and inhabitants of our territories who regard rebellions, which they call perlins [pereli] as quite casual a thing during which they cross over to the enemy and later, nonchalantly leave him to join us.  There is one difference however: [even] when on our side they are ever ready for any treachery against us, whatever might be their obligations [to us] for benefits received from the Portuguese.  So steady are they in their hatred towards us and so strongly do they resent subjection to us that even those who show their loyalty to us and offer their lives [in our service] admit that even in death they will not give up the hatred in which they were brought up towards us” [emphasis added] [190].

Boccaro acts that although there were four mendicant Christian orders and many churches built and a large number of converts the real situation reveals itself only during rebellions.  Here the Singalese converts deny obedience not only loyalty to the Portuguese crown but also to the newly adopted Christian faith.  The converts now “cease to render obedience to God and his ministers, and proceed to join the enemies of the faith where the very name of Christ is loathed”.  And the converts go on:

profaning the churches and holy images, destroying and putting everything to fire and the sword along with the priests every time there is a rebellion in such a manner as that things and sacred places appear to have been subjected to a great upheaval.  Thus some rebels relapsing from the faith and joining the enemies have been greater enemies of God and of His Majesty [the Portuguese king] than those whom the waters of Holy Baptism have never touched[191].

And as Queyroz noted the kings of Kandy on retaking of lands from the Portuguese made it their first job to rebuild the temples demolished by the Portuguese especially those of “great veneration” like Devundara, Kelaniya and Nawagamuwa [192] .

Boccaro adds reluctantly though that much of this hatred of the Sinhalese was well earned because it came out of the oppressive conduct of the Portuguese who ruled over them. The Portuguese he mentioned “squeeze out not only the milk but their [ie the Sinhalese subjects’] very blood as well, and ill use their daughters and wives[193].

There was a natural impact on the minds of the Sinhalese. Because of the constant wars of resistance against the Portuguese, Queyroz observed the Sinhalese had now “as their greatest occupation soldiering and they enjoy peace only as an accident and war is the custom”¦ This exercise has made them warlike and already they are habituated to condemn the fear of death”[194].  To illustrate this lack of fear of death, Queyroz goes on “Wonderful is the constancy and strength of mind where with they [Sinhalese] await death without a complaint or change of countenance”[195]. Those in the kingdom of Kandy are such that “all their care and pleasure they place in arms in which they constantly exercise themselves”¦ They are regardless of life, brave, robust, light footed and the continual practice of arms makes them so well disciplined in their own way”[196].

And these were the people whom Queyroz had described in their normal mode as extremely gentle by nature, good-natured and simple.


[1] De Queyroz, Fernao p 429

[2] De Queyroz, Fernao p 422

[3] De Queyroz, Fernao p 425

[4] Pires, ThomĮՠթ The Suma oriental of ThomĮՠթ Pires: an account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515 Vol 1 and 2 London : Hakluyt Society, 1944 p 85

[5] De Queyroz, Fernao p 425

[6] De Queyroz, Fernao p 425

[7] De Queyroz, Fernao p 425

[8] De Queyroz, Fernao p 426

[9] De Queyroz, Fernao p 426

[10] De Queyroz, Fernao p 426

[11] De Queyroz, Fernao p 427

[12] De Queyroz, Fernao p 427

[13] De Queyroz, Fernao p 427

[14] De Queyroz, Fernao pp 427-428

[15] Barros & Couto p 358

[16] Barros & Couto p 358

[17] De Queyroz, Fernao p 429

[18] De Queyroz, Fernao p 430

[19] De Queyroz, Fernao p 430

[20] Barros & Couto p 366-375

[21] Barros & Couto p 369

[22] Barros & Couto p 369

[23] Parevi Sandesaya verse 84 quoted in Pieris, P.E. Ceylon, the Portuguese era : Being a History of the Island for the Period, 1505-1658 Volume 1 First Edition 1913 reprinted Tisara Prakasakayo Dehiwala, Sri Lanka :1992 p 32

[24] Barros & Couto p 370

[25] ibid

[26] Barros & Couto p 371

[27] Barros & Couto Pp 265-266

[28] Barros & Couto p 266

[29] Kovul Sandesaya Verses 105 “”…” 106

[30] Parevi Sandesa verses 105, 106

[31] Barros & Couto p 373

[32] Gray, Albert, Ibn Battuta in the Maldives and Ceylon (1333-1334) Asian Educational Services 1999 pp 55-56

[33] Ma, Huan Ying-yai Sheng-lan, The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores 1433 by Ma Huan, translated by J.V.G. Mills, with foreword and preface, Hakluty Society, London 1970; reprinted by the White Lotus Press 1997 pp 125-126

[34] Mayura SandƒÆ’-¾”…”ƒÆ’-¦”‚ºa Verse 116

[35] Parevi Sandesaya Verse 15

[36] Tisara Sandesaya Verse 148

[37] Parevi Sandesaya Verse 153

[38] Mayura Sandesaya Verse 114

[39] Mayura Sandesaya Verse 112

[40] Mayura Sandesaya Verse 113

Barros, Joao de & Couto, Diogo do History of Ceylon – 1597 translated and edited by Donald Ferguson Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 1908 volume XX No. 60 Government Printer Ceylon Colombo p 375

[41] Tisara Sandesaya Verse 149

[42] Tisara Sandesaya Verse 150

[43] Tisara Sandesaya Verse 151

[44] Tisara SandesayaVerse 152

[45] Barros & Couto p 373

[46] Barros & Couto p 373

[47] Barros & Couto p 373

[48] De Queyroz, Fernao Vol. 1 p 35

[49] Ma, Huan Ying-yai Sheng-lan, The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores 1433 by Ma Huan, translated by J.V.G. Mills, with foreword and preface, Hakluty Society, London 1970; reprinted by the White Lotus Press 1997 p 193

[50] Barros & Couto p 373

[51] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  pp 267, 278

[52] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I pp 266, 278

[53] De Queyroz, Fernao p 452

[54] Pathmanathan, S (1978). The Kingdom of Jaffna. Colombo: Arul M. Rajendran.

[55] Geiger, Wilhelm (editor) Culavamsa, being the more recent part of the Mahavamsa London: Humphrey Milford for the Pali Text Society, 1925 Chapter LXXX, pp 54-58 and LXXXI pp 74-79

[56] Batuta, Ibn Travels of Ibn Battutah Tim Mackintosh-Smith (editor) Picador 2002 reprint p 143

[57] Barros & Couto p 120 footnote 5

[58] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 210

[59] Barros & Couto p 180

[60] De Queyroz, Fernao pp 32,, 48, 101

[61] Perera, S. G. “The Jesuit in Ceylon in the 16th and 17th Centuries” The Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register, Vol. 1V 1918-1919, Times of Ceylon, Colombo 1919

De Queyroz, Fernao pp 195, 528

[62] De Queyroz, Fernao p 528

[63] Baldaeus, Philippus, A description of the great and most famous isle of Ceylon New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996 p 55

[64] Baldaeus, Philippus, A description of the great and most famous isle of Ceylon New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996 p 47

[65] Pieris, P.E. “Nagadipa and Buddhist Remains in Jaffna” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch Vol 70 1922 pp 11-44

[66] Perera, S. G. “The Jesuit in Ceylon in the 16th and 17th Centuries” The Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register, Vol. 1V 1918-1919, Times of Ceylon, Colombo 1919 p 96

[67] Pieris, P.E. “Nagadipa and Buddhist Remains in Jaffna” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch Vol 70 1922 pp 11-44

[68] Pieris, P.E. “Nagadipa and Buddhist Remains in Jaffna” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon Branch Vol 70 1922 pp 11-44

[69] Pieris, P.E. The kingdom of Jafanapatam 1645 : being an account of its administrative organization as derived from the Portugese archives Colombo The Ceylon Daily News, Printers, 1920 Asian Educational Services reprint 1995 pp 24, 64

[70] Barros & Couto p 194

[71] Abeysinghe, Tikiri (translator)  Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Of Sri Lanka New Series Vo and XXXIX 1995 p 59

[72] Pieris, P.E. The kingdom of Jafanapatam 1645 : being an account of its administrative organization as derived from the Portugese archives Colombo The Ceylon Daily News, Printers, 1920 Asian Educational Services reprint 1995 pp 26,64

[73] Pulavar, Mayilvagana The Yalpana-vaipava-malai, or, The History of the Kingdom of Jaffna translated by E.Brito in 1879 Asian Educational Services reprint August 1999

[74] Rasanayagam, Mudaliyar C.  Ancient Jaffna first Edition 1926, Laurier Books Ltd. Asian Educational Services reprint 2nd edition 1993

[75] thus Pulavar, Mayilvagana The Yalpana-vaipava-malai, or, The History of the Kingdom of Jaffna translated by E.Brito in 1879 Asian Educational Services reprint August 1999  p 2

[76] thus Pulavar, Mayilvagana The Yalpana-vaipava-malai, or, The History of the Kingdom of Jaffna translated by E.Brito in 1879 Asian Educational Services reprint August 1999  p 25, 33

[77] thus Pulavar, Mayilvagana The Yalpana-vaipava-malai, or, The History of the Kingdom of Jaffna translated by E.Brito in 1879 Asian Educational Services reprint August 1999  p 28

[78] Barros & Couto p 187

[79] Barros & Couto p 200

[81] thus Pulavar, Mayilvagana The Yalpana-vaipava-malai, or, The History of the Kingdom of Jaffna translated by E.Brito in 1879 Asian Educational Services reprint August 1999  p 46

[82] De Queyroz, Fernao p 101

[83] De Queyroz, Fernao p 633

[84] De Queyroz, Fernao p 642

[85] Baldaeus, Philippus, A description of the great and most famous isle of Ceylon New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996 p 323

[86] Baldaeus, Philippus, A description of the great and most famous isle of Ceylon New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996 p 316

[87] De Queyroz, Fernao p 50

[88] Perera, S. G. “The Jesuit in Ceylon in the 16th and 17th Centuries” The Ceylon Antiquary and Literary Register, Vol. 1V 1918-1919, Times of Ceylon, Colombo 1919 p  95

[89] Barros & Couto p 191

[91] de Sa y Menezes “Rebelian de Ceylan” translated by H. H. St George in
JRASCB XI, p 568

[92] De Queyroz, Fernao p 50

[93] quoted in Abeysinghe, Tikiri The Portuguese Rule in Ceylon 1594- 1612 Lake House Investments Ltd, Colombo 1966 p 34

[94] Perniola, Fr. V.  The Catholic Church in Ceylon-The Portuguese Period, Vol. II1 1625.1658, the Ceylon Historical Journal Monograph Series Tisara Prakhashkayo Ltd. Dehiwela, Sri Lanka 2003 p 32

[95] Abeyasinghe, Tikiri A study of Portuguese regimentos on Sri Lanka at the Goa Archives / Colombo: Dept. of National Archives, 1974 p 49

[96] De Queyroz, Fernao p 487

[97] De Queyroz, Fernao p 495

[98] De Queyroz, Fernao pp 537, 539

[99] De Queyroz, Fernao p 542

[100] Abeyasinghe, Tikiri A study of Portuguese regimentos on Sri Lanka at the Goa Archives / Colombo: Dept. of National Archives, 1974 p 47

[101] Pereira, C. Gaston, Kandy fights the Portuguese. Sri Lanka: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2007 p 151

[102] Baldaeus, Philippus, A description of the great and most famous isle of Ceylon New Delhi: Asian Educational Services reprint, 1996 p 674

[103] De Queyroz, Fernao p 497

[104] De Queyroz, Fernao p 614

[105] Abeyasinghe, Tikiri The Portuguese Rule in Ceylon 1594- 1612 Lake House Investments Ltd, Colombo 1966 p 14

[106] De Queyroz, Fernao p 735

[107] Ibid p 15

[108] Ibid p 53

[109] Ibid p 53

[110] De Queyroz, Fernao p 539

[111] Barros & Couto p 424

[112] Perniola vol 11 pp 420, 434

[113] Perniola vol 11 p 346

[114] Abeyasinghe, Tikiri A study of Portuguese regimentos on Sri Lanka at the Goa Archives / Colombo: Dept. of National Archives, 1974 p 48

[115] De Queyroz, Fernao p 615

[116] da Lomba p 36

[117] da Trinidade, Friar Paulo p 280

[118] GunƒÆ’…’£aseƒÆ’…'”…¾kara, B.. 1954 p 102

[119] Faria e. Sousa, Manuel de, The Portuguese Asia or the Discovery and Conquest of India by the Portuguese, translated by Capt John Stevens Vol 111 London 1695 pp 277-278

[120] De Queyroz, Fernao p 1005

[121] De Queyroz, Fernao p 540

[122] Pieris, P.E. Ribeiro’s History of Ceilao, with a sumary of De Barros, De Couto, Antonio Bacarro translated from the Original Portuguese and Sinhalese by.-2nd ed.-Colombo Apothecaries, 1909 pp 265-266

[123] Pieris, P.E. Ribeiro’s History of Ceilao, with a sumary of De Barros, De Couto, Antonio Bacarro translated from the Original Portuguese and Sinhalese by.-2nd ed.-Colombo Apothecaries, 1909 p 247

[124] Gunasingham, S. “A Tamil Slab Inscription at Nilaveli” Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities Volume 1 No. 1 June 1976 pp 61-72

[125] Pillai, K. Kanapathi “Mankani inscription of Gajabahu 11” University of Ceylon Review Volume XX No. 1 pp 12-15

[126] De Queyroz, Fernao pp 236-237

[127] De Queyroz, Fernao p 65

[128] De Queyroz, Fernao pp 66,67. 736

[129] De Queyroz, Fernao p 736

[130] De Queyroz, Fernao p 771

[131] De Queyroz, Fernao p 814

[132] Peiris, Paul E.  Ceylon: the Portuguese Era Volume 1Tisara Prakashakayo, Dehiwela, Sri Lanka 1992 p121-122

[133] Botelho, Simao O Inventorio do Thesauro do Rei de Ceylao 1904 Sousa Viterbo, Goa

[134] De Queyroz, Fernao p 486

[135] Archivo Historico Ultramarino, Lisbon, Caixa II,  quoted in Abeysinghe, Tikiri The Portuguese Rule in Ceylon 1594- 1612 Lake House Investments Ltd, Colombo 1966

[136] Abeysinghe, p 207

[137] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka: The Portuguese Period – Volume I p 351

[138] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 353

[139] Queyroz Book 4  pp 714 “”…” 719

[140] De Queyroz, Fernao p 1086

[141] De Queyroz, Fernao p 714

[142] De Queyroz, Fernao p 714

[143] De Queyroz, Fernao p 714

[144] De Queyroz, Fernao p 714

[145] De Queyroz, Fernao p 715

[146] De Queyroz, Fernao p 715

[147] De Queyroz, Fernao p 715

[148] De Queyroz, Fernao p 716

[149] De Queyroz, Fernao p 717

[150] De Queyroz, Fernao p 718

[151] De Queyroz, Fernao Vol. 1 p 298

[152] De Queyroz, Fernao p 12

[153] De Queyroz, Fernao pp 12, 46

[154] De Queyroz, Fernao p 12

[155] Abeysinghe, Tikiri (translator)  Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Of Sri Lanka New Series Vo and XXXIX 1995 p 15

[156] Abeysinghe, Tikiri (translator)  Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Of Sri Lanka New Series Vo and XXXIX 1995 p 15

[157] Pires, ThomĮՠթ The Suma oriental of ThomĮՠթ Pires: an account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515 Vol 1 and 2 London : Hakluyt Society, 1944 p 86

[158] Pires, ThomĮՠթ The Suma oriental of ThomĮՠթ Pires: an account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515 Vol 1 and 2 London : Hakluyt Society, 1944 p 87

[159] Pires, ThomĮՠթ The Suma oriental of ThomĮՠթ Pires: an account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515 Vol 1 and 2 London : Hakluyt Society, 1944 p 87

[160] De Queyroz, Fernao p 23

[161] De Queyroz, Fernao p 284

[162] De Queyroz, Fernao p 63

[163] De Queyroz, Fernao Vol. 1 p 81

[164] De Queyroz, Fernao p 78

[165] De Queyroz, Fernao Vol. 1 p 23

[166] Pires, ThomĮՠթ The Suma oriental of ThomĮՠթ Pires: an account of the East, from the Red Sea to Japan, written in Malacca and India in 1512-1515 Vol 1 and 2 London : Hakluyt Society, 1944 p 86

[167] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 234

[168] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 272-280

[169] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 234

[170] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 206

[171] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 171

[172] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  pp 187-188

[173] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 221

[174] de Silva, D.G.B. “Bhuvanekabahu’s Response to Missionaries” paper presented at the ” International Conference On The Portuguese Encounter” December 10-11 2005

[175] Perniola, Fr. V.  The Catholic Church in Ceylon-The Portuguese Period, Vol.1 1505 to 1565 the Ceylon Historical Journal Monograph Series Volume 12 Tisara Prakhashkayo Ltd. Dehiwela, Sri Lanka 1989 pp 94-95

[176] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  pp 191-192

[177] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 234

[178] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 201

[179] Baldaeus, Philippus, A description of the great and most famous isle of Ceylon New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996 p 384

[180] Rajavaliya, ( A Historical Narrative of Sinhalese Kings from Vijaya to Vimala Dharma Surya II ),  p 79

[181] Rajavaliya, ( A Historical Narrative of Sinhalese Kings from Vijaya to Vimala Dharma Surya II ),  p 80

[182] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 334

[183] Perniola, Fr V The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka : The Portuguese Period – Volume I  p 319

[184] De Queyroz, Fernao Vol. 1 p 121

[185] da Silva, O.M. Cosme Sri Lanka and the Portuguese (1541-1557) M.D. Gunasena & Co, Colombo 1996 p 67

[186] De Queyroz, Fernao p 321

[187] De Queyroz, Fernao p 29

[188] De Queyroz, Fernao p 1149

[189] De Queyroz, Fernao p 22-23

[190] Abeysinghe, Tikiri (translator)  Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Of Sri Lanka New Series Vo and XXXIX 1995 p 15,16

[191] Abeysinghe, Tikiri (translator)  Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Of Sri Lanka New Series Vo and XXXIX 1995 p 17, 18

[192] De Queyroz, Fernao p 1057

[193] Abeysinghe, Tikiri (translator)  Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Of Sri Lanka New Series Vo and XXXIX 1995 p 17

[194] De Queyroz, Fernao p 23

[195] De Queyroz, Fernao p 23

[196] De Queyroz, Fernao p 61

One Response to “Portugal’s total civilizational war”

  1. Naram Says:

    THanks Susant for a very thought provoking article.

    Portugese claim that there were the first to master of arts of sailing with precisise control of the sails by the use of capstans. That may be correct, but Chinese had far bigger fleets and the largest Chinese ship was about 5 times that of Portugese and they roamed Indian seas 100 yearsbefore. But sea faring was abandoned by Chinese emperors as soothsayers warned that conquering the seas caused anger in the heavens which lead to massive earthquakes.

    Portugese ships with controlled sails enabled them to move slowly even in the direction opposite to the wind. Equal to that was the cunning and brutality they exercised tocontrol and eradicate the races they encountered. Though Portugal is a tiny unit in comparison with Spain today, the larger country Brazil speak Portugese while the rest of Latin American countries speak Spanish.

    THe so called ‘virgin’ rain forests of Amazon are full of evidence of many past human habitations. An environmentalist who was looking into the forest tree types found many clusters of trees that were used by villagers, irrigation tanks, fish ponds and led him to remark that it is wrong to call imany parts of Amazon as virgin forests. Darwin who travelled in Latin America in 1840 or so had recorded how a Portugese army amn travelled with a small group oflocal converts to hunt down other tribes.

    Not much different from the fate our own forefathers met.

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