Myths and Misinterpretations of the Kandyan Convention of 1815 
Posted on March 20th, 2019

Harindra Dunuwille

Much has been said and written about the Kandyan Convention of 1815 whereby the Kandyan Kingdom was ceded to the British. Historians and writers have over the years interpreted the events that led to the signing and the cessation of what was the last bastion of Sinhale”. The document itself, its drafting, its local signatories and their very signatures, whether it was actually signed on the 2nd of March 1815 or on subsequent days, whether there were some who did not sign the convention are questions  yet being debated. It has been called a betrayal of what was left of the island. To me this is the biggest myth in regard to the Kandyan Convention.

After 200 years since that historic event, this article is an attempt to put in perspective the circumstances and the factors that resulted in the signing of that treaty between the Lieutenant-General Robert Brownrigg, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the British settlements and Territories in the Island of Ceylon, acting in the name and on behalf of His Majesty George the Third, King and his Royal Highness George, Prince of Wales, Regent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, on the one part and the Adigars, Dissawas and other Principal Chiefs of the Kandyan Provinces on behalf of the inhabitants, in the presence of the Mohottales, Korales, Vidanes and other sub ordinate Headmen from several Provinces and of the people then and there assembled of the other part”. It seeks also to refer briefly to the impact and ramifications of that agreement.

The Kandyan kingdom was established in 1580 at a time when the maritime areas of the island had been captured and were held by Western colonial rulers. The Portugese came in 1505 and were followed by the Dutch in 1648, and then by the English who took control of the costal maritime areas of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by 1796.

In 1802 the Treaty of Amiens formally ceded the Dutch occupied part of the island to the British, and thus the British colony of Ceylon was established. By the turn of the 19th century, of the 4 kingdoms in Ceylon, the kingdoms of Sitawaka, Kotte and Jaffna had fallen into foreign hands leaving only the Kandyan Kingdom as the only independent Sinhalese kingdom. This holding out, in the heat of continuous pressure, both military and economic was by fortitude and tact.

British expansionism and colonising began in the 16th century. By 1769, it had colonized America, Canada, and New Zealand and also included colonies in Africa and the West Indies. With these conquests, it had established the vast Empire, where it was said that the sun never set”. Replacing the Dutch with its East India Company,Britainfirmly established trading posts in India, with the periodic annexation of parts of India, namely, Madras in 1639, Bombay in 1661 and Calcutta in 1690. In 1770 the British orchestrated a famine that killed one third of the Indian population.

Despite the successful repulsion of invading troops for over 150 years by the Kandyans, the reality of the circumstances of the early 1800s was that the British had already annexed and conquered India and had established its writ there as it had in many parts of the world.  British troop reinforcements were available at hand across the Palk straits should a sustained military campaign was needed to capture the Kandyan kingdom. From all accounts such an exercise was on the cards at the time.

The saga of Kandy is a remarkable one. It is a record of how a small landlocked kingdom, with about half a million impoverished souls, politically disunited, not particularly warlike, economically strangled, continued a prolonged struggle for survival against three European foes at the height of their prowess. The Kandyan military resistance is a chapter worth recording” – (Lorna Dewaraja- The Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka)

 It is a matter of record that the war tactics used included, what is now called guerilla warfare”, a strategy of hit and run, deliberate disengagement and withdrawal, employing a scorched earth” military strategy whilst inveigling the enemy in to unfamiliar and rough territory and lunching multi-pronged attacks, often from higher ground. The terrain, the adverse and unfamiliar weather conditions bringing with it leeches, mosquitos added to the misery of the invaders who often fell sick, ran out of food and ammunition.  There was a time when the retreating armies were chased far beyond the borders of the kingdom even up to Sitawaka in the in the West.

However, during these times of conflict, there was contact with the foreigners for purposes of trade and security. King Senerat entered in to a treaty with the Dutch in 1612 followed by what is called the first Kandyan Treaty of 1638 signed by King Rajasinha II with the Commander of the Dutch East India Company at Batticaloa to secure the defense of the kingdom from the Portugese. A fresh agreement was signed by the King with the Dutch in 1649. In 1766 another treaty was signed by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinha and the Dutch Governor of Colombo again at Batticaloa on 14th February 1766. By this agreement the ‘king conceded the Dutch possessions of Colombo, Matara, Galle, Kalpitiya, Trincomalee, Mannar and Batticaloa with a cost line of 4 miles inland. At this time the Dutch were an economic power with their cinnamon industry and trade.

The reign of the last King of Kandy, Sri Wickrema Rajasinha, the last of the four Indian Nayakkar kings, was a matter of consternation not only to his Ministers and Chiefs but to the Buddhist clergy led by the two Official custodians of the sacred Tooth relict of the Lord Buddha enshrined and housed at the Temple of the Tooth, namely, the High Priests of the Asgiriya and Malwatta monasteries (temples). The Nayakkar kings were never fully accepted. There was a general aversion to their foreign ancestry. Furthermore, there were doubts cast on the royal ancestry of the Nayakkar kings and their regal legitimacy. The combination of a doubtful royal ancestry and the foreignness of the Nayakkars justified the opposition of the nobles against their alien king  (Lorna Dewaraja- The Kandyan Kingdom).

Of the three preceding Nayakkar kings, who took advice from their Prime ministers in governing the country, Sri Wickrema Rajasinha, on the other hand, partly because of his autocratic nature and partly because of the strong influence of his Nayakkar relatives, was not inclined to follow his predecessors. When Pilimatalawe complained to him that he did not take his advice, the king rebuffed him by replying I am not to be directed by the Chiefs, but the Chiefs were are to take orders from me’ When Pilimatalawe objected to  numerous public works undertaken by the king as to imposed great hardship on the people, the King removed him from his position’ He continued his policy of undermining the power of the Chiefs by splitting the Dissawas (Provinces), shuffling the officers, appointing persons to high offices from outside the established ruling families, raising the fees payable by the Chiefs, revival of death duty on their properties. He punished Chiefs ruthlessly on the slightest pretext and often without trial; thus he executed many of them such as Arawwawala, Dangamuwa, Lewke, Puswella, Ratwatte, Kandepola and Mampitiya Bandara. Local Chiefs who protested at the forced labour in the construction of the Kandy Lake were impaled on the lake bed itself. Almost every ruling family had lost one or more of their members during this programme, some went into hiding or left the city. There were at least three unsuccessful attempts to assassinate him”. The King also antoganised the Buddhist Clergy not only by his halfhearted support of Buddhism but also by his attempts to shift the Malwatta Temple to enlarge the lake and to shift the Natha devale to build a new Palace for himself on its site. He imprisoned several monks and executed two Anunayakes, namely Ven. Sooriyagoda and Ven. Paranathala–( The Last days of the Kandyan Kingdom – Dr. J.B.Kelegama (1993))

Costal islanders, having survived the jack boot authority of the Portugese and the Dutch weary of another invading foreign force, the British, choose to leave their native places of abode and seek the sanctuary of the last Sinhala outpost in the hills known as the Sinhale’. These outsiders’ did not, at first, assimilate with the Kandyan inhabitants, and this marked the Up-country and Low-country Sinhalese divide. Of these some had stealthily woven their way in to the confidence of King Sri Wickrema Rajasinha. They introduced British Officers to the King, encouraging the establishment of trading arrangements. This was also the time when Muslim traders made their way into the Kandyan provinces.  A gradual cultural and social shift was creeping into the hitherto pristine Sinhala Buddhist way in the Kingdom that the nobles and the peasants had jealously nurtured and preserved.

Notwithstanding the conversion to Buddhism by these Nayakkar kings and building of temples by them, it has also been argued that with a growing ethnic consciousness of the Sinhala people in that part of the country, it triggered the rise of a Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism at the time.

Hardy mountaineers of the interior, preserved their independence enabling us to form an estimate of Sinhalese as a live and individual people, with a national character and a national art, an individuality and art which is more difficult and often impossible to trace in the low country districts, long subject to western influence.”

The people of the interior became the saviors of culture and history, the preservation of names, dresses and legal systems that derived much from their ancient heritage. Thus, it shall be to the eternal credit of the Kandyans that the Buddhist religion, the customs and culture including the arts, dances and rituals, unpolluted by foreign influence, subsists to this day, much of which is aped in the all parts of the country.

It was a time when those living in the maritime areas had succumbed to the invaders and capitulated, jettisoning whatever religion, culture and indigenous culture that they might have had. These people succeeded in repulsing all foreign invasions for over three hundred years and preserved their ancient line of monarchy and their unique culture for the posterity” – (Ananda Coomaraswamy (1912)

Historians have argued and differed on the tyrannical and oppressive character of the last King. Conversely he has been portrayed as a sympathetic and humane man by his captors. The brutal execution of the wife and small children of the renegade Ehelepola Adikaram who had defected to the British is described, as follows: After having first incarcerated the wife aged 34 years and 3 minor children, including an infant, on 1st May 1814 at a spot between the Natha devale (temple) and the Vishnu devale, a drunken king ordered and watched the execution of the entire family.  A distraught Kandyan populace, it is said did not cook any meals in their houses for a whole week. The wooden mortar used to crush the infant is said to have been in the possession of Dr. J.W.Attygalle as at 1929.  (Lesser Known Stories of the Kandyan Kingdom –Chamikara Pilapitiya, 2018.)

The wanton destruction of human life comprises or implies the existence of general oppression. In conjunction with that, no other proofs of the exercise of tyranny require to be specified; and one single instance, of no distant date, will be acknowledged to include every tiling which is barbarous and unprincipled in public rule, and to portray the last stage of individual depravity and wickedness, the obliteration of every trace of conscience, and the complete extinction of human feeling. Coupled with their growing resentment to the dilution of their cherished, indigenous religious and social norms and values and the danger thereto, the Kandyan chiefs looked to secure those norms and values. Undoubtedly two other strong motivating factors were the removal of an unreliable King and the diminishing of the influence that they hitherto enjoyed. Attempts to install a Sinhala king, in the form of the Pretender, Muttusamy had already ended in failure.

The Culavamsa (Part II) describes the King`s tyranny as follows: He had the chief councillors, the great dignitaries and many other officials gathered together and destroyed his subject like the devil. He had the people, many hundreds in number brought to different spots and had them impaled, merciless in death. Much wealth that had come to the people by inheritance, the king confiscated like a thief that robs villages”

Dr. Colvin R de Silva`s assessment of Pilimatalawe is as follows: If the Adigar`s methods were disloyal, his motives did not lack a semblance of patriotism. That, he a Sinhalese of royal descent, should long to depose a foreign dynasty is as understandable as his intention to implement that consummation to forward his personal ambitions was natural. At the same time there can be little doubt that, though he offered to become in some fashion a British tributary, he had no real intention to surrender Kandy. His policy was simply in line with a fateful Kandyan tradition – calling in a foreigner to settle domestic disputes but discarding him on attaining that object” – (Ceylon under the British Occupation – Vol I).

The chiefs had invited the British to depose of their despotic King, not to take over their kingdom. The unequivocal assurances of D`Oyly that the British had no plans of conquest and aggrandizement.  Marshall describes the feeling of the Kandyan chiefs thus: You have now deposed of the King and nothing more is required. You may leave us” They had been lulled into a false sense of security by D`Oyly and naively believed the British expressions of good intentions and sympathy with their plight allowing themselves to be duped.  It was Ehelepola who persuaded the Chiefs to support the British. It can be surmised that it was a reason for his brother-in-law, Keppetipola Dissawa to the patriotic freedom uprising three years later.

A precursor to the signing of the Kandyan Convention was the Official declaration of the Settlement of the Kandyan Provinces, the Proclamation of 10th January 1815 which stated that it is not against the Kandyan Nation that the arms of His Majesty are directed. His Excellency proclaims hostility against that tyrannical power alone, which has provoked aggravated outrages and indignities which has cut off the most ancient and noblest families deluged the land with blood and by the violation of every religious and moral law became an object of abhorrence to mankind.”

The role of the Chief Priests of the 2 Buddhist Temples, as the chief custodians of the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, – recognised as the symbol of Buddhism, was significant as was the role of the Kandyan chiefs. The sacred relic had been taken from place to place during turbulent times of invasions and war, for it is the belief to this day that whoever rules should do so where the sacred relic is enshrined. Of the two, the Mahanayake – the Chief of the Malwatta Temple, Ven. Kobbekaduwa Thero who was an educated and knowledgeable person, made his own assessment of the British vis a vis the Dutch and the Portugese. In his view, the British were more qualified not only to administer the country but he perceived them as a more educated and a more reasonable and reliable people. The negotiations of the treaty were led by the MilleweDissawa, acting as spokesperson of the nobles where their concerns and questions were raised.

The role of John D`Oyly is very significant. This was a British Civil officer, who had been described an intelligence man, a mole, a master-spy, a manipulator, a shrewd and wily negotiator among other descriptions. Having learnt Sinhala, he befriended both the clergy and the King and his Ministers and Chiefs. Much of the drafting of the Convention is attributed to him.

In the initial discussions had with D’Oyly, thenobles andthe religious potentates of Kandy were adamant in including clause 5 concerning the protection of Buddhism. Later at the meeting with the governor, the heads of the two Buddhist monasteries of Asgiriya and Malwatta extracted a guarantee that Buddhism would not be compromised” – (The Kandyan Convention at the Audience Hall – Rootsweb.com)

The British Governor Brownrigg promised, in the name of His Majesty the King of Great Britain, to the Kandyan chiefs, the continuance of their respective ranks and dignities; to the people, relief from all arbitrary severities and oppressions, with the fullest protection of their persons and property; and to all classes, the inviolate maintenance of their religion and the preservation of their ancient laws and institutions, with the extension of the blessings resulting from the establishment of justice, security and peace, which are enjoyed by the most favoured nations living under the safeguard of the British crown.

After the capture of the last King of Kandy by the British in 1815, the indigenous ruling nobility of the Kandyan Kingdom entered into a solemn Convention with the British Colonial Government of that time with the fervent hope and expectation that, its conditions would be respected and honoured by the rulers of the British Empire.  The objective of this bi lateral international agreement, unprecedented as it was, was entered into whereby the people of the subject nation  were guaranteed rights, privileges and safe guards, specifically preserving the cultural and religious heritage if its people, a document which was to receive the endorsement of the British Parliament.

The questions that begs consideration is whether the Religious Leaders and the Chiefs negotiated from a position of strength or weakness? Why did the British negotiate if they were in an unassailable position, and why enter in to a treaty with guarantees to the conquered”? In such a situation, can the signing of this negotiated convention be said to be a betrayal?

The Kandyan Convention was a Treaty officially recognised as having been signed on the 2nd of March 1815, but it is said that some signatures were subsequently placed after further discussion among the Kandyan Chiefs. It marked the end of 2358 years of self-rule on the island.

On this day the 2nd of March 1815, it is recorded by Captain L.D.Bush, an English General, that governor Brownrigg arrived early at the Audience Hall. He had beengreetedby Molligoda Adigar and others and a discussion ensured. Thereafter, the Governor had called on the Chief High priest Ven. Kobbekaduwa at the Malwatta Temple. After lengthy discussion, attended by other senior priests and the Kandyan nobles, agreement had been reached, especially with regards to that part of the Convention which relates to Buddhism, its temples and places of worship.  It is reported that the High Priest addressed the Governor thus: We have heard of your virtues, of your piety and of your charity; and the great revolutions which have been affected among us, have had their source, not less in the admiration of your character and government, than the evils we have suffered”. This original transcript is said to be in the Library of the Malwatta temple. Thereafter the Governor left for the Audience Hall once again. He had been followed by the Kandyan chiefs and joined by the Mahanayake and his retinue. The signing of the Kandyan Convention is said to have taken place late on the night of the 2nd March 1815. (Chamikara Pilapitiya – Lesser Known Stories of the Kandyan kingdom – Vol II (2018)

The Sinhala translation of the Convention clearly says it was an agreement between the Kingdom of Britain and Sinhale, which meant the whole Island and its maritime territories and the ocean around. This historic Convention had only 12 clauses and it was issued in Kandy as a Royal Proclamation of the 2nd of March 1815.

As mentioned previously, Governor Robert Brownrigg, signed for the British Crown with John D’Oyly, designated as the chief Translator and another high ranking Official, James Sutherlandaswitnesses.

The Kandyan Chiefs who signed the convention were:-

Ehelepola Nilame

Molligoda Snr. – Maha Adigar & Dissawa of the Sath Korales

PilimaTalawuwe Snr. alias Kapuwatte – 2nd Adigar & Dissawa of Sabaragamuwa

PilimaTalawuwe Jnr. – Dissawa of Hathra Korales

Monarawila – Dissawa of Uva

Ratwatte – Dissawa of Matale

Molligoda Jnr. – Dissawa of Thun Korales

Dullewe – Dissawa of Walapane

Millewe – Dissawa of Wellassa & Bintenna

Galagama – Dissawa of Tamankaduwa

Galagoda – Dissawa of Nuwara Kalawiya

The clauses in the agreement were, briefly;

  1. ‘Sri Wickrema Rajasinha’, the ‘Malabari‘ king, to forfeit all claims to the throne of Kandy.
  2. The king is declared fallen and deposed and the hereditary claim of his dynasty, abolished and extinguished.
  3. All his male relatives are banished from the island.
  4. The dominion is vested in the sovereign of the British Empire, to be exercised through colonial governors, except in the case of the Adikarams, Dissawas, Mohottalas, Korales, Vidanes and other subordinate officers reserving the rights, privileges and powers within their respective ranks.
  5. The religion of Buddhism is declared inviolable and its rights to be maintained and protected.
  6. All forms of physical torture and mutilations are abolished.
  7. The governor alone can sentence a person to death and all capital punishments to take place in the presence of accredited agents of the government.
  8. All civil and criminal justice over Kandyan to be administered according to the established norms and customs of the country, the government reserving to itself the rights of interposition when and where necessary.
  9. Other non-Kandyan positions to remain according to British law.
  10. The proclamation annexing the Three and Four Korales and Sabaragamuwa is repealed.
  11. The dues and revenues to be collected for the King of England as well as for the maintenance of internal establishments in the island.
  12. The Governor alone can facilitate trade and commerce.

Of thesethe following clauses are of significance:

4th Clause

The dominion of the Kandyan provinces is vested in the Sovereign of the British empire and to be exercised through the Governors or Lieutenant Governors of Ceylon for the time being, and their accredited Agents, saving to the Adigars, Dissawas, Mohottalas, Korales,  Vidanes and all other chief and subordinate native Headmen lawfully appointed by authority of the British government, the rights, privileges and powers of their respective offices and to all classes of people the safety of their persons and property, with their civil rights and immunities, according to the laws, institutions and customs established and in force amongst them.

5thClause

The religion of Boodho (Buddha), professed by the Chiefs and inhabitants of these provinces, is declared inviolable, and its rites, ministers, and places of worship are to be maintained and protected.

8th Clause.

Subject to these conditions, the administration of civil and criminal justice and police over the Kandian inhabitants of the said provinces is to be exercised according to established forms, and by the ordinary authorities; saving always the inherent right of government to redress grievances and reform abuses in all in stances whatever, particular or general,and where such interposition shall become necessary.

At the time and to my knowledge even to date, never has a mighty, powerful invading foreign country entered in to an agreement with the subjugated State with guarantees and safe guards including provisions for the continued use of religious and administrative practices and saving unto the Chiefs and other state functionaries the powers of office with guarantees of the safety of person and property with civil rights and immunities. Surely, this cannot by any stretch of imagination be termed a betrayal.

Subsequently, there was a period of relative peace and tranquility during the first three years of British rule (1815-1818). However, the indigenous leaders increasingly witnessed an erosion and violation of the legally binding terms and conditions laid down in the Kandyan Convention, by the lawfully appointed authority of the British government. The rights, privileges and powers of their respective offices were usurped creating dissension.

A dispatch by Lord Bathurst from London on 30th August 1815 to Governor Brownrigg stated: His Royal Highness has commanded to signify to you his general approbation of the principles of liberal policy by which you have been guided in acceding to the convention for the annexation of the Kingdom of Kandy. I cannot conceal from you that  the satisfaction of His Royal Highness would have been more complete if the 5th Article of the Convention, which relates to the superstition of Boodho, had been couched in terms less liable to misconstruction……………….. The term inviolable’ in the Article 5, as I do not conceive it can have been, understood as precluding their efforts which are making to disseminate Christianity in Ceylon, by the propagation of the scriptures, or by the fair and discreet preaching of its ministers, it would be very much in variance with the principles upon which his Majesty`s Government have uniformly acted for guarding against so great an evil”.

There appeared re-appropriation and a resistance to the British rule. A very intrinsic part of the Kandyan politics and power was the critical relationship between the Buddhist clergy and the nobles of the time. A definitive usurpation of this was becoming evident. Colonial dispatches to London refer to many episodes of that time in religious ceremonies. Kandyan customs, legal practices and traditions were re-appropriated as a means of resistance. The Kandyan Sinhalese were described in these dispatches asa rebellious people with a subversive national culture’

A British Parliamentary report in 1849 stated that there are periodical manifestations of one abiding and continuous feeling in the minds of the Kandyan people to restore a Kandyan sovereign and an impatience with British supremacy which turned to outrage at the unilateral abrogation of the Convention and in blatant violation of its undertakings, paving the way for the historic uprising, the first freedom struggle for independence of 1818, which the British termed a rebellion – (The Historical Journal – James Wilson – Cambridge University Press)

Governor Brownrigg unilaterally abrogated this Convention by a Royal Proclamation in 1818. It declared the supremacy the British Crown, exercised through the Governor and his Agents and to which obedience of all citizens is due. The Board of Commissioners and the resident Agents of the Government were vested with the sole power over the affairs of the territory. This was issued on the wake of the so-called rebellion of 1818. The last section (56) stated “He (Governor) also reserves full power to alter the present provisions as may appear hereafter necessary and expedient: and he requires, in his Majesty’s name, all officers civil and military, all Adigars, Dissawas and other chiefs, and all other His Majesty’s subjects, to be obedient, aiding, and assisting in the execution of these or other his orders, as they shall answer the contrary at their peril”.

The reasons that led to the above state of affairs are narrated by different historians. Some of the more perceptive British rulers of the time detected the signs of the gathering storm well in advance. Without paying due heed to such prognoses, high colonial authorities continued their blatant display of the ‘right of conquest’.

Sir A.C. Lawrie, the District Judge of Kandy, writing a few years after the Rebellion had this to say: The story of British rule in the Kandyan country during the rebellion of 1818 cannot be related without shame….. By 1819, hardly a member of the leading families remained alive…… those whom the sword and the gun had spared, cholera and small pox and privations had slain by the hundreds….. any subsequent effort by the Government to develop Kandyan areas were only attempts begun and abandoned…. (Lawrie’s Gazetteer, 203p.).

In 1844 the British reneged on the commitment to safeguard Buddhism. The ferocity with which a betrayed people rose and fought was such that the armed struggle claimed many British lives until they were put down with brutish force. Governor Torrington`s response was the imposition of martial law and a brutish quelling of the uprising with troops brought from India. The leaders, and members of the Kandyan hierarchy were executed, including Buddhist Priests as stated in the debate in the House of Commons in their full robes’.  Torrington was recalled and a motion of censure on the colonial government in Ceylon was narrowly defeated by 282 to 202 in May 1851

The Proclamation has tightened the grip of the British authority over the Island and set the process of gradual erosion of power of the priests and the local aristocrats.

It took a hundred years and more for the country to achieve independence in 1948 with a constitution drafted and enacted by the British Parliament, referred to as the Soulbury constitution.

The 1972 Republican Constitution repealed the 1948 Soulbury Constitution and enshrined a provision for the protection and fostering of Buddhism, which was copied in to current constitution in 1978.

The Kandyan Convention finds a place in the Legislative Enactments of Ceylon and Brownrigg’s Proclamation ratified by the British Parliament also appears in the Sri Lankan statutes under the title Declaration of British Sovereignty, although it is in direct conflict and in contradiction with Kandyan Convention.

The question whether the unilateral abrogation of the Convention solemnly entered into by and between two states is valid remains an unanswered legal question. Rules of natural justice would undoubtedly say otherwise. Almost a hundred years later, the British Privy Council – the highest Appellate Court in the Commonwealth – was called upon to make a decision based upon the Kandyan Convention. It was the famous Gampola Wallahagoda Devale case, arising from an objection taken in 1879 to the conduct of an annual Perahera (Religious Procession)by the Buddhists. The District Judge of Kandy, Paul E. Peiris (later Sir Paul) held that the guarantees in the Convention allowed the Buddhists to conduct its religious rites.  The Supreme Court over turned that judgment and an appeal was preferred to the Privy Council in London.  At that time, the Governor Sir John Anderson intervened and settled the dispute allowing the conduct of the procession along the streets of Gampola. It can be safely assumed that the British Authorities got the Governor to do what he did, and thereby saving face.

Even now, it is open to the British to repent its violation of the treaty and the brutality that they unleashed and make reparation.The Kandyan peasantry and their descendants wait reparation by the way of the return of the land of their ancestors snatched  by  the façade of the Waste Lands Ordinance.

The Kandyan Convention as much as the subsequent struggles ensured the preservation not only ofthe pristine Theravada doctrine of Buddhism, but as importantly, the unpolluted indigenous Kandyan arts, culture and traditions which prevail to this day and are proudly displayed in all parts of the country by all Sri Lankans.

This is an English version of the Sinhala speech delivered by Harindra Dunuwille, on Saturday 9th March 2019 at the Arts Faculty Auditorium of the University of Peradeniya at the Public seminar under the theme The Kandyan Convention and the future of Sri Lanka” . Dunuwille is a Senior Attorney at Law  He  is a   former State Minister and Mayor of Kandy  and is  presently  Chairman of the Central Provincial Public Service Commission.

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