15/10/1505 (510 years ago to date) is the day that the Portuguese first landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Posted on October 14th, 2015

Chanaka Bandarage

Towards mid October 1505, the Portuguese Naval Captain, Lorenzo De Almeida, aka Don Lorenzo, who manned a fleet of nine war ships, had decided to return to Portugal  as he could not secure marine rope from the Islands of Maldives or Calcutta in India. Almeida was not aware of the existence of the island nation, Sri Lanka.  During the return journey to Portugal, his crew witnessed on the horizon of a land that was lush in vegetation.  They decided to sail towards that land, Sri Lanka; and upon arrival therein anchored at the Galle Harbour.

Two generations prior to this visit, Ven Thotagamuwe Shri  Rahula Thero in verse 84 of his Parevi Sandeshaya (පරෙවී සංදේශය) described Galle as a place where gems, pearls and gold were displayed in shops in such abundance as if the entire seabed had been mined to secure them.

While berthed in Galle, minor repairs to the fleet were attended to.  The Portuguese managed to secure the required marine rope as well. They procured food and water in large quantities for their new voyage;  the destination was Colombo, Sri Lanka.

While sailing to Colombo the Portuguese were mesmerised with the beauty of the island nation. What they had witnessed in Calcutta was a dry, harsh and a rough land.  In contrast, they realised that Sri Lanka was a refreshing, fertile land.  They saw whispering palm trees and very much enjoyed the fragrant breeze that blew through them. They could see lush green vegetation everywhere and the beautiful white Buddhist pagodas (dagobas) that appeared on hilltops. The Portuguese were exceptionally happy that they found this beautiful, prosperous island paradise at a time when the fleet was highly demoralised. They could not wait until they reached Colombo.  During the voyage, they gave thanks to their God for the finding.

On 15 October 1505, exactly 510 years to date, the ships anchored at Colombo Harbor.

The Portuguese observed two Muslim churches in Modera area.  They watched young Sinhala children while singing,  joyfully pulling giant fishing nets to the shore, filled with fish. The Portuguese were surprised that the Colombo Port was full of ships.  Among the items  that were destined to export from Colombo to various parts of the world were tusked elephants, desiccated coconuts, fresh coconuts, cinnamon and valuable  timber.

The King, Dharma Parakramabahu, who held the seat in Kotte was quickly  informed of the arrival of the flotilla of ships that contained the ‘strange, white skinned sailors’.  After obtaining favourable reports about them from his Spy Service, the King agreed to receive the visitors.  By this time the fleet had informed the King that the Naval Captain  Lorenzo De Almeida was a representative of the King of Portugal and was the son of  Francisco De Almeida, First Viceroy of the Portuguese India.  They had sought an audience with the King.  While granting the audience, the King through his representative indicated the visitors of his regret for the inconvenience caused to them by the local people who had prevented the Portuguese from collecting water and firewood within the Harbour.   The King also advised that the Portuguese should not have displayed their artillery power to the locals.

Lorenzo De Almeida’s representative (Farnao Kotrin) was picked up from a ship in the Colombo Harbor and taken to the King’s Palace , using a very circuitous route. It took three full days for the team to reach Kotte.  In actual fact, it was a one hour journey (hence, the proverb, ‘පරංගියා කෝට්ටේ ගියා වගේ’).

The purpose of taking the circuitous route was to deceive the Portuguese about the Kingdom’s whereabouts.

During the discussions the Portuguese representative advised the King that they were interested in doing trade and commerce with the King.  He stressed that the King must send gifts and pleasantries to the King of Portugal every year, then their King will reciprocate. The Portuguese made a ‘mild’ threat that if their proposals were not adhered to, they may have to punish the King.  The representative indicated that Portugal has one of the most powerful naval fleets in the world and if the King co-operated, they could provide him with protection against enemy forces.

The Portuguese cunningly stressed that for them Sri Lanka was only a transit point and that their intention was to do extensive business (trade and commerce) with India.

It was agreed that a Treaty should be entered into between Portugal and the Kotte  Kingdom in regards to trade and commerce and the provision of naval security to the King. The King and his Ministers (comprised of four of his brothers) were pleased with the Portuguese proposals and indicated of their desire to sign the Treaty immediately.

According to the Treaty, the Portuguese were allowed to establish Settlements in Colombo and that the Sinhala Kingdom would gift Portugal with a large quantity of cinnamon every year (about 200,000 pounds).

After entering the Treaty, the Portuguese agent returned to the fleet stationed in the Colombo Harbour.

Lorenzo De Almeida was extremely thrilled and happy with the outcome, he could not basically believe it.  To celebrate, he ordered the firing of several rounds of ships’ artillery into the air. The Colombo residents were so terrified about the gunfire; it was for the first time they had experienced anything like that.  They fled their dwellings in large numbers and hid in bushlands.

Lorenzo De Almeida immediately  appointed an Ambassador (Payo De Souza) and wanted to send him to the King with a group of Portuguese men.  The King provided elephants for the journey, which again took three days to reach Kotte (by then the Portuguese had realised that the King had tricked them as to the distance, as they could hear the ships’ artillery fire in Kotte).

The Ambassador had a cordial audience with the King.

The Ambassador was astonished with the wealth and prosperity of the nation. He could not believe the quantity and the value of the gems, gold and other jewelry that he witnessed at the palace. The King gave a golden memento to the Ambassador. The words therein were inscribed in Sinhala.

Upon his return to the fleet, the Ambassador  was well received by Lorenzo De Almeida.  The King’s Sinhala entourage who travelled with the Ambassador were cordially welcomed by him and given a sumptuous meal that included bread and  red wine.  This was the first time that the Sinhalese had consumed such food. First, they thought the Portuguese were eating rocks (bread) and drinking blood (red wine).

The promised load of cinnamon was loaded to Portuguese ships on the same day.  The King gifted two tusked  calf elephants  to be given to the Portuguese King.  To consume during their voyage, the King donated them large numbers of live foul, fresh fruit that included bananas, mangoes, pineapple and king coconuts. The Portuguese were authorised to inscribe their country’s Crest and the Christian Cross upon a rock in the Harbour (this inscription is believed to be still preserved in the Harbour). Prior to their departure, the Portuguese were allowed to build a small Catholic church at the same place in the Harbour and conduct a mass there.  This should be the first ever Catholic mass to be held in Sri Lanka. Next to the church, the Portuguese were allowed to open a factory and few Portuguese were allowed to live there permanently.

The fleet when arrived in Lisbon was received as heroes.  There was much publicity in the country about their most astonishing achievements.  Lorenzo De Almeida was promoted to the rank of Admiral. The tusked elephant (one had died during the journey) was the first ever elephant to set foot in Portugal.

King Manuel (1495 – 1521), personally attended a mass in Lisbon on 21/12/1507 to thank the God for the valuable gift (Sri Lanka) bestowed on  his nation. He drafted a letter in 1507  to Pope Julius II (nicknamed ‘The Fearsome Pope’ and ‘The Warrior Pope’  (1443 – 1513), informing  him of the remarkable achievement by his country.

The Portuguese King ordered that a military Garrison and a Fort be established in Sri Lanka and that his First Viceroy in India should henceforth reside in Sri Lanka.  He wanted all Asian operations to be conducted from Sri Lanka.

The Portuguese King organised a suitable present for his Sri Lankan counterpart.

The unbelievably friendly relationship between the two nations lasted only a few months.

The Portuguese interrupted and searched ships that carried cargo from Colombo to other nations (mainly Muslim ships).  Thus, the Sinhala and Muslim merchants despised the Portuguese.

Christianization of people by the Portuguese and damage caused to Buddhism  furthered the Sinhala friction with the Portuguese.

In 1518 the Portuguese were permitted to build a Fort in  Colombo and they were given further trading concessions.

When King Dharma Parakramabahu died in 1519, the Portuguese had firmly established their footprint in Sri Lanka. Dharma Parkarambahu’s brother, Wijeya Parakramabahu (Vijayabahu of Vijeyaba Kollaya fame) took over the reins and ruled the country until 1521.

In 1521 three sons of Vijayabahu, put their father to death and partitioned the kingdom amongst themselves. The oldest of the brothers, Buvanekabahu, ruled at Kotte, and the two others set up independent kingdoms at Sitawaka and Rayigama. Mayadunne, the King of Sitawaka, was an ambitious and able ruler who sought to expand his frontier at the expense of his brother at Kotte. Buvanekabahu could not resist the temptation of seeking Portuguese assistance. The Portuguese were eager to help the King, and the more he was pressed by Mayadunne, the greater was his reliance upon them. Buvanekabahu defended his kingdom against Mayadunne, who in turn allied himself with the Zamorin of Calicut (in India), an inveterate enemy of the Portuguese.

Buvanekabahu was succeeded by his grandson Prince Dharmapala (Don Juan Dharmapala, 1541 – 1597), who was even more dependent on Portuguese for support. An agreement between Buvanekabahu and the King of Portugal in 1543 guaranteed the protection of the Prince on the throne and the defence of the Kingdom; in return the Portuguese were to be confirmed that they would receive all of their privileges and the tributes of cinnamon. The Prince was educated by Franciscans; in 1557, when his conversion to Christianity was announced, he  had become nothing more than a Portuguese protégé .

Fierce battles erupted between the Sinhalese and the Portuguese in Mayadunne’ s kingdom.  His son, Rajasinha, continued with the ferocious battles on land.

The Sinhala Kings failed because they had no way of combating the Portuguese sea power.

The Portuguese captured the whole of Kotte and conquested the surrounding Sinhalese kingdoms as well (Dharmapala , the Portuguese puppet,  was only a name sake  King (from 1551 to  1597).  He was the first and only Christian King of Sri Lanka.  His wife – Dona Catherina, later married Konappu Bandara, who became the King of Kandy in the name, Vimaladharmasuriya (‎1592–1604).

In 1565 their capital  was moved from Kotte to Colombo.

The battles of Mulleriyawa (1559) and Danthure (1594) were turning points in the indigenous resistance to Portuguese expansion.  In Danthure, for the first time in Sri Lanka an entire Portuguese army of many thousands was completely annihilated (according to ‘රාජාවලිය’, the Portuguese death total was 20,000), when they were just a fraction away from the total conquest of the island.  The Danthure battle was led by the King of Kandy, Vimaladharmasuriya.

The Portuguese were finally chased away, in 1658, after fierce battles with the Dutch.

Unlike the British (1798- 1948), the Portuguese did  very little to improve the country’s economy. Their legacy was the endowment of Catholism to the country.  No doubt that endowment is a blessing to the hundreds and thousands of Catholics living in the country.  But, the manner in which Catholism was introduced by the Portuguese  was contrary to the noble Christian principles. The Portuguese burnt down Buddhist temples, pirivenas, and libraries and Catholism was basically forcibly imposed upon the coastal  Buddhists. Lots of inducements were given to people who converted themselves from Buddhism to Catholicism; and to those who took  up Portuguese names. For example, such converts were exempted from paying taxes that were payable by all subjects to the Portuguese Government.

 

Facts to write this article were obtained from the book ‘ලංකාව:   පෘතුගීසී   යුගය‘  by Abehya Hewawasam; and  from other reputed sources including ‘මහාවංශය’  and ‘රාජාවලිය.

15/10/2015

10 Responses to “15/10/1505 (510 years ago to date) is the day that the Portuguese first landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    You either love or hate Lorenzo’s men. MORE SL songs are there about the Portuguese than ANY OTHER invader. Almost all of them PRAISE them and their BAILA than blame them!!

    SL should have made use of the POPE’S IMPOSED INQUISITION executed by the Portuguese to get rid of some South Endian and Arabic ungrateful invader communities that lived in SL and Maldives.

    That would have saved a lot of problems later. Then Maldives would remain Buddhist which would add a TREMENDOUS GEOPOLITICAL ADVANTAGE to SL-Maldives.

  2. Christie Says:

    Forget about the Portugese who gave us lots of skills at least to the people in the coastal areas. The Indian suckers; Parippuwaas cannot see what Indian Jadayaas have done to us and are doing to us now. These Parippuwaas are good at blaming the West instead of Indian Imperialists.

  3. Cerberus Says:

    Please read the book “16th Century Clash of Civilizations” by Dr. Susantha Goonatilaka. Gives you the whole picture. The Portugese were barbaric in their treatment of the Sinhalese. People were made to convert at the point of a sword. Many of the temples were ransacked and the ola leaf books were burnt. The temples were destroyed and the stones were used to build forts. They renamed all the people along the coast and gave them Portugese names as part of a census they did. Even today there are Perera, Fernando, de Alwis, etc which are all Portugese names. Sri Lanka should request reparations from Portugal for all the atrocities and damage done to our nation.

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Sri Lankans should have retained their friendly, childlike nature and combined it with the inventiveness of their European conquerors. Sri Lankans inherited the power lust of their European colonisers, but none of their vision. Sri Lankans also inherited Portuguese lethargy, Dutch hedonism and British snobbery.The British left no room for the leadership to emerge from the truly indigenous people.
    The Portuguese who arrived in 1505 with a gun in one hand and the bible in the other, occupied the coastal areas and soon became a constant source of aggression, annoyance and terror to the large mass of people. In the coastal areas that they occupied, almost all Viharayas and Privenas were destroyed, including the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya, the famous Totagamuwe Vijayaba Pirvena, Padmavathi Pirivena of Keragala and Sunethra Devi Pirivena of Pepiliyana.
    The Dutch who ousted the Portuguese in 1640 and were instrumental in destroying temples, monasteries including the royal palace at Hanguranketa.
    The British who ousted the Dutch in 1796 had a well-planned program of activities, for a continuous period of about 150 years, led to the greatest damage to the country’s culture, social cohesion, unity and dignity.
    Even though different ethnic groups could be traced in Sri Lanka’s pre-colonial era, there were not any significant disputes between them. The colonial factor enforced the ethnic divisions and the ethnic divisions reflected political, economic and territorial benefits. All colonial powers acted on pure and absolute “self interest”. British occupation of Sri Lanka was one of sheer exploitation and devastation. Whatever benefits that were derived by local inhabitants were merely incidental to their exploitation of the country’s natural and human resources in order to reap enormous benefits for the British government. The vast changes that they brought about in almost all areas of life in the country, led to the disruption of the long held culture, values and way of life of local inhabitants, particularly those of the main stream community the Sinhala Buddhists.
    To serve their self interests the British practiced the “divide and rule” policy by setting communities against each other. The British gave special privileges to the Tamil minority and those of the Christian faith, by providing with better opportunities for education, employment and other government services to became privileged communities. Jaffna district had the highest density of schools per unit area. In 1870 there were only two Buddhist schools left in Sri Lanka – in Panadura and Dodanduwa, with an attendance of 246 children as against 805 Christian Schools with an attendance of 78,086 children. Several people went after the British and then started to follow their religion and culture in order to gain various positions and other material benefits.
    Colombo assumed prominence as the commercial centre and also the center of learning and opportunities for better employment and better amenities for living. This created an outer-oriented, English-speaking urban sub-culture consisting mostly of Christians, with attitudes and behavior patterns seemingly akin to that of the British. Most of the outer-oriented urban elite which included the so called Sri Lankan leaders, held to half-baked foreign values, superficiality and strange ways of living. They were barely conversant with the plight of the majority of the ordinary people. They were not representative of the large mass of people, but they were the ones who became the trusted servants of the British administration. Almost all of the qualified professionals belonged to or subscribed to this sub-culture. The excessively poor living conditions of the large mass of rural youth led to migration to Colombo and other big towns. Some were subjected to the influence of the extremes forms of undesirable urban culture including alcohol abuse, crime and underworld activities that was gaining ground in urban areas.To make matters worse, power -political, administrative, and economic was inherited by those belonging to the westernised Colombo sub-culture.
    Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy urged Sri Lankans to develop a sense of their own traditions and national culture. He challenged the intrusion on eastern values by the expansion of western society. Besides, he was one of the world’s greatest exponents of oriental art, comparative religion and aesthetics.
    There were also fearless Buddhist monks who openly spoke out against British rule and the colonial mentality of our so called leaders. Prominent among them was Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera whose Panadura debate with the missionaries in August 1873 was a remarkable event in the country’s history.
    Great Patriot Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) spoke of the superficiality of the lives of those of the Colombo sub culture who have joined up with the colonialists to run the country.
    On February 4, 1948 we obtained the so-called Dominion Status with the Queen of England as the Head of State and with the British maintaining military bases in Katunayake and Trincomalee. Aging Englishmen became our first Governor Generals, whereas India became a free republic with an outstanding Indian Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its first President. It was in 1957 through the initiative of Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike that these British bases were taken over by the Sri Lankan government.

  5. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    1797 Napoleon takes the lands under the control of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church The Pope has become the facto ruler of the city of Rome and the suburbs by the 6th century AD. But in 754 AD, Pepin the Short, king of the Franks, officially handed over these areas to Pope Stephen II. These Italian lands under direct rule of the Pope were called Papal States, or States of the Church or Pontifical States. Pope, with the help of regional powers like the Franks, continued to annex more territories by gifts, purchases, and conquests until the Papal States included nearly the whole of central Italy. These areas reached their greatest extent in the 16th century. In 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte took much of the territory. In 1815, after the allied forces defeated Napoleon at Waterloo and restored Papal rule back in these areas under Austrian protection. But in 1870, Italian King Victor Emmanuel II annexed all Papal states including Rome and limited the Pope’s jurisdiction to the Vatican. In protest, each Pope thereafter considered themselves as prisoners under Italian occupation. In 1929, in the Lateran Treaty, Italian king Victor Emmanuel III recognized the full independence of the Vatican City under Pope.

    Vatican has a history of pacts with criminal dictators as the Holy See signed treaties with monarchs and governments regardless of slavery, inhumanity, or torture they may have induced upon fellow human beings. Vatican had links to government organizations, right-wing nationalism, including Fascism and Nazism. Moreover, From 1920′s to the 1940′s most every right-wing dictator had been brought up as a Catholic: Hitler, Horthy, Franco, Petain, Mussolini, Pavelic, and Tiso (who has served as a Catholic priest).

    Pope Pius XI, in his own words a “man with no love for democracy,” helped to bring Mussolini’s Fascist Party to power in Italy and in 1926 solemnly declared:
    “Mussolini is a man sent by Divine Providence.”

    The Spanish people, stricken with poverty and a high rate of analphabets (about 80% of the population), had swept away monarchy, proclaimed a republic and elected a left-wing government in 1931. Separation of State and Church was made a reality, religious freedom was granted and civil marriage adopted. Some of the Church property – which was estimated at one third of the nation’s wealth – was nationalized. To fight the “Antichrists,” a violent, relentless Catholic opposition was promptly started on a large scale throughout Spain.

    By 1934 Catholic organizations already planned a coup d’état, having been in touch with the Fascist Government of Italy. On July 17, 1934 the Spanish Army rose in many Spanish towns. The Spanish Civil War had begun. As soon as the revolt broke out, a General Franco made haste to let the pope know that his coup had succeeded. The papal banner was unfurled over the rebel headquarters at Burgos, and the Pope Pius XI had Franco’s flag raised over the Vatican.
    This was the beginning of a world-wide Catholic offensive against Republican Spain. Bishops in Italy, Germany and other countries published pastoral letters urging Catholics to help. The pope spoke. The Spanish Civil War, he said, was a foretaste of what

    “is being prepared for Europe and the World unless the nations take appropriate measures against it.”
    — Pope Pius XI, December 25, 1936

    Mussolini sent thousands of troops, Hitler sent warplanes, warships, tanks, and soldiers. The Spanish people fought a bitter, relentless fight from 1936 until 1939. Before the demolition of yet another young democracy in Europe was complete, Pope Pius XI died.

    BBC broadcasts on Croatia – February 16, 1942 :

    “The worst atrocities are being committed in the environs of the archbishop of Zagreb [Stepinac]. The blood of brother is flowing in streams. The Orthodox are being forcibly converted to Catholicism and we do not hear the archbishop’s voice preaching revolt. Instead it is reported that he is taking part in Nazi and Fascist parades.”

    – Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, by John Cornwell page 256

    Though Fascist governments eventually died out and the Vatican made sure to distance itself from them, later dictatorships under Catholic tyrants would yet again be given the Vatican’s full support.

    For example, Chile’s Catholic dictator Pinochet who tormented Chileans. He was caught and was to be extradited to Spain where he could be put on trial for his crimes against humanity. The Vatican pleaded with international authorities to prevent his extradition – on humanitarian grounds, no less, arguing that the criminal was unwell. This farce might have been more believable, had the Vatican (and its fascist Nuncio to Chile, cardinals and archbishops) also pleaded with Pinochet for humane treatment of the Chilean people when he was still dictator. But the Vatican hadn’t done that, because Pinochet was working for the Church and in a Church-approved manner in his position as tyrant.

    Religious conversion is a deadly weapon much more disastrous than nuclear bombs and Vatican is the biggest terrorist organization that is using it for sowing distress and sorrow in this world. It is high time the civilized world shut down the ‘harvest machinery’ in Vatican .
    Even though the Christian population is “still” at 7%, the Christian Church has tremendous political influence in Sri Lanka. A majority of the major business tycoons, media organization owners, civil activists and almost all the senior cabinet members of the former UNP government were Christians.

    Both Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunge are also widely believed to be closet Christians.

    Tamil writer DBS Jeyaraj wrote in the (Christian owned) Sunday Leader , Christians have contributed much more to the “Tamil cause” than Hindus.

    Christianity was brought to this island country of Buddhists and Hindus by the Portuguese, where it was imposed violently on the pre-Christian people against their will. The zealous soldiers of Christ destroyed temples and built Churches where the shrines had stood using the very materials of the broken temples themselves. They killed all those resisting who defended their pre-Christian places of worship.

    From 1574 onwards, the Catholic zealots kept destroying Buddhist and Hindu temples all along the Western coast. The monks and priests over there either fled or got killed or went underground. 1,000 pillared temples in Devundara in the deep south and Trincomalee in the East; the Saman Devale (temple) in Ratnapura; and the Kelaniya temple, all very much revered, were ransacked and burnt.A group of militant monks called Ganinnanse discarded the traditional yellow robe and began to wear a white robe instead to hide themselves.

    The Portuguese deliberately built churches over the ruins of Buddhist or Hindu temples. The present Kochikade church in Colombo and the Madu church in Mannar, both very popular now among Catholics, were Pattini Devales or temples for Kannagi, the famous heroine of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
    Buddhist schools (pirivenas), which were also mini universities, were ransacked and burnt, and their monk-scholars killed. Among the schools thus destroyed were the Sunethra Devi Pirivena in Kotte, Vidagama Pirivena in Ragama – In 1557 400acre Vidagama Pirivena of Ragama converted to church graveyard and the Tottagamuwe Pirivena in Hikkaduwa. Today there hardly exists a Buddhist Temple over 150 years old in areas once ruled by the Portuguese, particularly in the maritime coast.
    The campaign against Buddhism had the involvement of three principal agencies namely –
    (1) The Roman Catholic Emperor of Portugal (2) His Viceroy at Goa and (3) The Roman Catholic priests in Sri Lanka
    ..the Portuguese came not only for trade and territorial acquisition, but for proselytising. The Papal Bulls of 1452, 1455 and 1456, gave the clear go ahead to Portugal to acquire territory and convert heathens. The Pope had conferred on Portugal a monopoly on all this. Force and intrigue were used convert them

    Many coastal communities in Sri Lanka underwent mass conversion, particularly in Jaffna, Mannar, and among the fishing communities living north of Colombo such as in Negombo and Chilaw. Roman Catholic churches with schools attached to them served Catholic communities all over the country. These schools also contributed to the spread of the Portuguese language particularly among the upper classes of society.

    The efforts of Roman Catholic clergy particularly the harsh methods adopted by them to convert Buddhists and reduce the influence of Buddhism among the public were viewed with great alarm by the Buddhist Sangha who had fled from Kotte to the Kingdoms of Sitavaka and Kandy, upon the conversion of Dharmapala and the seizure of Buddhist Temples.

    If Portuguese rule had continued and spread to the interior of the island, Sri Lanka would have completely lost its Buddhist heritage and become a completely Westernized and Catholic country. But even with the limited territorial reach (they were strong only in the Western maritime provinces) the impact had been deep, perhaps even indelible.
    Prior to the advent of the Portuguese, there was much Sinhala-Tamil and Buddhist-Tamil amity in Sri Lanka. Hindu temples dotted the maritime provinces, though these were Buddhist-majority areas. In the Thottagamuwa school, no distinction was made between Sinhalese and Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit. It was the Portuguese who first created a division between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

  6. Chanaka B Says:

    Nalliah

    It is the innocence and the hospitality of the Sinhalese that the Portuguese exploited

    Lorenzo De Almeida was effectively a pirate (මුහුදු කොල්ලකරුවෙක්) who was roaming the Indian ocean with his 9 ships. They were more bandits than naval officers. They mainly robbed Muslim ships that transported goods between Europe and Asia

    For just 9 ships to come like that and conquer a country (yes, gradually) is remarkable, and unbelievable. The stupidity of the Kotte king is so obvious

    I agree with what you said ‘British occupation of Sri Lanka was one of sheer exploitation and devastation’. It is the British who attacked our psyche not anyone else. The brainwashing they did to us, we still suffer. ‘Kalusuddhas’ is just one end result. Thanks to patriots like Walisinghe Harischandra, Anagarika Dharmapala, S Mahinda Himi etc we at least came to know that we have a problem

  7. Chanaka B Says:

    Nallaih

    True, the Portuguese and the Dutch did forced religious conversions and many other bad things. But, why I said “it is the British who attacked our psyche, not anyone else ” is because it is the British who caused divisions in our society and also upset our thinking

    Yes, among many other vices, they taught us snobbery

    Only the British practised the ‘divide and rule’ policy

    Apart from stealing the nation’s wealth which all the three colonial rulers did so well, it the British who controlled our innermost thinking; ie, attacked our psyche (soul, mind, and spirit)

  8. Independent Says:

    Chanaka,
    This is without researching, I thought it was the Portuguese who brought the tobacco growers trained in Tamil Nadu as the first Tamil settlers in large numbers. If that is correct they are the people (Lorenzo’s men) who have done the worst harm.

  9. Chanaka B Says:

    Independent

    It is the Dutch who brought Tamils from Tamilnadu to work in the northern tobacco plantations. Yes, they were the early Tamil settlements there. Prior to that due to harsh climatic conditions, the north was sparsely populated

    None of the early history books (prior to 1980), including those written by the British, mention about a King by the name Sankili. If you can show me otherwise, please do so

    The Dutch attacked Catholism and introduced Protestantism

    It was Joseph Vaz (now St Joseph Vaz), who revived Catholism in the country during the Dutch period in the 17 century. Vaz travelled throughout the island bringing back the Catholic mass to clandestine groups of Catholics. Later in his mission, he found shelter in the Kingdom of Kandy under the Sinhala rule, where he was able to work freely. By the time of his death, Vaz had managed to rebuild the Catholic Church on the island

    The Portuguese and the Dutch did not unsettle our psyche much. It was the British who did this. Basically the Portuguese were jovial people who wanted to have a good time in Sri Lanka and were fond of Sri Lankan women. Lisbon actively encouraged intermarriage with the Sinhalese, hence the formation of the new racial group: the Burghers. The ordinary Portuguese basically treated the Sri Lankan equally. Baila is a gift from the Portuguese to us. The Dutch concentrated on coffee and tobacco plantations. They built elaborate forts and canal systems.

    It is the British who wanted to change our way of thinking. For example, they wanted us to think that we were inferior to them. Their ‘divide and rule’ policy created various divisions such as, between the:

    Sinhalese and the Tamils, rich and the poor , English speaking Sinhalese against the non English speaking Sinhalese etc

    They also created the class structure that we unfortunately still have

  10. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    In 1805 Capt.Robert Percival of British army in Jaffna wrote in his book “An account of the island of Ceylon” that the majority in Jaffna peninsula were Moors who wore a little white round cap on their shaven heads. Second largest community was Malabars, who had migrated to Lanka after the Portugese period, from the Coromandel coast of South India. They appeared different to the South Indians in Jaffna. Capt. Percival also recorded in his book that there were more foreigners in Jaffna than the people who were native to Jaffna. These “foreigners” were those Malabars who came from the Coromandel coast to grow tobacco. The legacy of the tobacco boom in Jaffna was reflected in the thousands of odd wells that have been used and are still being used for irrigation. Even after the big massacre of the Sinhalese in Jaffna in 1478, third largest community in Jaffna at that time was the Sinhalese. The South Indian community who had arrived as merchants and invaders, was smaller than all the above three communities.

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