This year, 2015, marks the bicentenary of the Kandyan Convention- Did Sri Lanka lose sovereignty due to supremacy of the British Empire or Sinhala infighting?
Posted on June 29th, 2015


Chanaka Bandarage

By late 18th Century, the mighty British were ruiling pockets of Sri Lanka; despite strenuous attempts  they were unsuccessful in taking over the whole country. During this time they had taken over the reins from the Dutch, yet, a major portion of the country was ruled and controlled by the Sinhala, Buddhist Kingdom from ‘Mahanuwera’.  The Kingdom’s northern boundary extended to the current day, Elephant Pass.

True, the King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, was not a native Sinhalese (a Tamil speaking Telugu from South India), but, he carried out his duties as a true Sinhala Buddhist.  Being nephew of  the King, Sri Rajadhi Rajasinghe (1782–1798), Prince, Kannasamy Nayaka (ascended to the throne as Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe) was raised in Sri Lanka and was brought up as a Sinhala, Buddhist.  Upon the demise of his uncle, Kannasamy Nayaka was handpicked as the King of ‘Thun Sinhale’ by Sri Rajadhi Rajasinghe’s Prime Minister (‘Maha Adhikaram’), Pilimathalawe.  It was Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe that gave further high prominence to ‘Dalada Perahera’; he modernised the Dalada Maligawa where among other things he built the  magnificent ‘Paththiriuppuwa’,  ‘Wahalkada’ and  beautiful temple ponds.  By way of ‘Nindagam’ he donated more land to the Dalada Maligawa. The work to construct the Kandy Lake to its tremendous glory, as seen today, was another achievement by the King.

The aristocratic Sinhala, Buddhist leaders of the Upcountry conspired with the British to bring the King’s downfall. Those who were in the forefront of the conspiracy such as Ehelepola  (nephew of Pilimathalawe), Eknaligoda, Molligoda, Galagoda Adhikaram et al foolishly thought that after removing the King, the British would hand power to them, on a platter. The British always had other ideas. Though mightiest of  all the then Empires – ruled under the iron fist of George III, Sri Lanka was one of the few places that it failed to capture wholesomely.   For closer to 20 years, hundreds of British troops sacrificed their lives in several of their unsuccessful attempts to capture the Kandyan kingdom. Each of their attempts was unsuccessful. The wars waged by the Governors Frederick North,  Thomas Maitland and  Robert Brownrigg are noteworthy.

After the 1815 Sinhala-British pact was signed (the Kandyan Convention), the British did not respect/honour the document.  One could say they  regarded it useless than the paper it was written on.

When the Sinhalese realised the mistake and their foolish act, all was too late.

In the latter part of his kingdom, the King also did stupid things. In 1814, the King did the stupid act of killing Ehelapola’s wife and children (Ehelepola was rebelling against the King in Sabaragamuwa); this  along with his other  eccentric acts perpetrated  under the influence of heavy alcohol – whiskey (introduced to him by the British, through Sinhala aristocrats), tainted the reputation the King had among his subjects.  For majority of the reign (1798 – 1815), Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was a reasonably good King, but, his rule was full of turbulence.  Often he faced opposition from his aristocratic Sinhala Buddhist Ministers.  Upon realization that the Ministers were adamant in hounding him down and that he had no getaway, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe became ‘mad’ and eccentric.  But, he never betrayed his nation and the religion. Throughout his reign, he kept the powerful British army away from the kingdom.  This is a remarkable achievement.

If the Sinahala Buddhists wanted to overthrow Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, they should have conspired against him themselves, rather than conniving with the British.

They had not learnt a lesson from the previous similar pacts the Sinhala kings had with the Portuguese and the Dutch.

After the King fled to Hanguranketha in January 1815, the aristocrats, if smart, could have captured the kingdom themselves (true, the King held the custody of the sacred Tooth Relic).  Instead, they (led by Ehelepola), foolishly decided to hand the country to the British, precisely, on 10 March 1815.

A regal act of the King was that he never bowed down to the British, even after his capture. When he was captured from his hideout in ‘Meda Mahanuwera’ , he refused to walk, but, demanded ‘dolawas’ for him and his wives (2). The British obeyed; though some Sinhala leaders like Eknaligoda insulted him. Before repatriation to India, the King made a powerful speech to the British officials in Colombo, asserting that he would not accept their annexation of his kingdom and that he was still the King of ‘Kanda Udarata’ (Thun Sinahale). At this meeting he also stated he did not order the pounding of Ehelepola’s infant son in a rice pounder (wangediya).  He foolishly tried to justify the gruesome murders of Ehelepola’s wife, his  daughters and the  sister-in-law by drowning them in Kandy lake (a despicable crime); stating that he only carried out an ancient custom.   He alleged Ehelepola was forewarned about the executions, and that Ehelepola purposely decided to remain  in Sabaragamuwa.

The writer states it was a stupid act by the aristocrats to seek Britain’s help to overthrow the King. They did not seem to have the intelligence/wisdom to fathom that the British rule would be more torturous than that of the King’s. When they realised the real brutality of the British, happened more or less immediately after the pact; as stated before, all was too late. Hundreds and  thousands of innocent Sinhala Buddhists , notably in Wellassa, were massacred by the British from 1815 to 1818.  They even killed some of the aristocrats who helped them to capture power, including Weera Keppetipola, who was a signatory to the Kandyan Convention (Keppetipola, albeit too late, led a spectacular rebellion against the British in 1818 where he displayed exceptional heroism). Even the main aristocratic leader, Ehelepola was captured and imprisoned (in Mauritius).

On this 200th anniversary of the  Sinhale – British 1815 pact (signed on 2 March 1815), it is not too late for the British to apologise to the direct descendants of the Sinahala Buddhist families that suffered from their brutal carnage.  The atrocities committed were crimes against humanity of unimaginable proportions. It is not too late for the British to pay compensation to the direct descendants of their atrocities – a recommendation made by the Sinhala Commission in the early 2000s. On behalf of few  Uva families (direct innocent descendants of the atrocities), Sri Lanka Support Group (Global) has decided to take up the issue of compensation with the British Government.

The writer is the President of Sri Lanka Support Group (Global)

40 Responses to “This year, 2015, marks the bicentenary of the Kandyan Convention- Did Sri Lanka lose sovereignty due to supremacy of the British Empire or Sinhala infighting?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    The main reason for the fall of the SINHALE KINGDOM in 1815 was Singhalese trusted a TAMIL.

    That is the main reason.

    “True, the King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, was not a native Sinhalese (a Tamil speaking Telugu from South India), but, he carried out his duties as a true Sinhala Buddhist.”


    He was a drunkard. He was a womanizer. A HINDU. And a violent person.

    ONLY 2 HINDU kings in SL killed ROYAL CHILDREN in execution style. ELLALAN and KANNASAMY NAYAKA.

    NO Buddhist king killed ROYAL CHILDREN. It is NOT a Buddhist practice but a HINDU practice. Had there been a SINGHALA BUDDHIST king we should have survived 1815 as we survived previous attempts.

    NEVER trust a Tamil to lead SL. That is the lesson. Endia NEVER trusts Tamils to lead Endia. Kalam was just a NOMINAL president without powers. PM has the power in Endia. NO Tamil will ever be allowed to become PM in Endia.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    BREAKING NEWS – parliament dissolved, elections on August 17.

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:



    LORENZO !! Pathfinder Foundation fell short of the Run-Away.


    Lorenzo, The last king of Lanka was a cannibal, He killed Ahalepola Disawa’s children and ate them. Madhuma Bandara was first to be eaten. Then he raped his wife told her to kill the baby to be crushed in the Wangadhiya. He then ate the baby in front of his followers. He ate her breast first while she was alive. British was so afraid of him, after the capture, he was entombed in a cage after bringing him to Colombo. Then he was deported to Malabar Island and lived there until he died. He was force to have sex every month with his wife with the supervision of an English doctor. Never allowed her to go inside the cage. There is a book written by a Silva maybe a relative in the book he tells that only patriotic Sinhala king was this cannibal from Malabar Island. He created a SANGHA RAJA. Sangaraja did not like what he was going to do so he was jailed in KANDY. sangaraja broke out of the jail and joined the British army. Rajasinghe the first was the last Sinhala King. He died fighting the Dutch. A wooden spike went through his foot and got tattiness. His wife’s brother took over the kingdom because Rajasinghe’s wife could not produce children.

  5. Chanaka B Says:

    Lorenzo, My replies are below in response to your statements (in inverted commas)

    “The main reason for the fall of the SINHALE KINGDOM in 1815 was Singhalese trusted a TAMIL.”

    – It was the Sinhala aristocracy that picked him as their King; so blame the Sinhalese, not the King. One thing is sure, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe never betrayed the country; he fought on. Working to preserve the country’s sovereignty is most important than anything else

    “True, the King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, was not a native Sinhalese (a Tamil speaking Telugu from South India), but, he carried out his duties as a true Sinhala Buddhist.” –

    There is evidence that at least he demonstrated he was a true Sinhala, Buddhist. His inner most position, no one knows.

    “He was a drunkard. He was a womanizer. A HINDU. And a violent person” –

    Even Sinhala kings have shown these and worst attributes – A Hindu can become a true Buddhist, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe did a lot of good to Buddhism (true, there were Hindu devalas in the Dalada compound; some of them were erected by earlier Telegu Kings).

    “ONLY 2 HINDU kings in SL killed ROYAL CHILDREN in execution style. ELLALAN and KANNASAMY NAYAKA.” –

    Yes, these are despicable acts. That’s why he lost confidence of the Kandy people. Drowing the women in Kandy lake was a horrendous act. As a protest, Kandy people did not light kitchens fires for several days

    ‘NO Buddhist king killed ROYAL CHILDREN. It is NOT a Buddhist practice but a HINDU practice. Had there been a SINGHALA BUDDHIST king we should have survived 1815 as we survived previous attempts. “ –

    Lots of atrocities have happened in Sri Lankan history. King Kashyapa killed his own father, Dathusena. To kill Prince Pandukabhaya, his uncles (9) killed all the boys of his age in the village.

    “NEVER trust a Tamil to lead SL. That is the lesson. Endia NEVER trusts Tamils to lead Endia. Kalam was just a NOMINAL president without powers. PM has the power in Endia. NO Tamil will ever be allowed to become PM in Endia”

    Do not agree. If Kadiragamar was not killed, it is quite probable that he became the Prime Minister/President of Sri Lanka.

  6. Chanaka B Says:

    Hi Susantha. Yes, I have heard the story, but, unaware of the truth. If true (the tunnel), it is a remarkable achievement

    Sir Walter Griffin designed the Canberra Lake after he saw the Kandy Lake – a very beautiful manmade creation that all Sri Lankans can be immensely proud of

  7. Independent Says:

    “True, the King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, was not a native Sinhalese (a Tamil speaking Telugu from South India), but, he carried out his duties as a true Sinhala Buddhist.”

    – I don’t understand how a king who kills children as a punishment to father can be considered as “carried out his duties as a true Sinhala Buddhist. This is an insult to Buddhism.

  8. Lorenzo Says:


    That Tamil was made king because Singhalese were divided and in-fighting. It should NOT have happened.

    The violent events you mentioned happened thousands of years prior to this event. By the 19th century the SL way of life (and any other country too) had improved vastly. Drowning, chopping, etc. women and children was not part of the 19th century SL history.

    I have met some descendants of the Ehelepola, etc. clans. They are PATRIOTIC to the core. Some have changed their surnames due to the stigma.

    I agree Kadirgamar was more patriotic than MOST. However, he could not have become president because to become president you needs more than patriotism. You need to be seen with common people. He was too busy to make such connections.

    I agree with the main topic of the article – Did Sri Lanka lose sovereignty due to supremacy of the British Empire or Sinhala infighting?

  9. Chanaka B Says:

    Lorenzo, the Nayaks dynasty ruled Sri Lanka for about 80 years. Altogether, there were fourTelegu kings. It was the Sinhala Adhikarams who selected those kings. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was the last.

    I did not try to whitewash Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. I outlined the gruesome atrocities he committed. My attempt was to analyse the issue –whether or not Sinhala infighting caused the loss of sovereignty. Anagarika Dharmapala in his diaries (compiled by Dr Ananda Guruge) blamed the Sinhalese for working with the British to overthrow the King. He stated we should have stuck with the King. Surely, the great patriot (especially a person who lived under the British rule), knew what he was talking about

  10. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    HEY CHANAKA !! In that film, they show Sampath entering into the water from the Maligawa end, and then coming out into the Kandy Lake out house, right opposite the Maligawa. Correction:- It should read as Sampath Sri Nandalochana De Silva. His father Dalrymple and my father Albert, were cousins from Galle.

  11. Chanaka B Says:

    Sampath Sri Nandalochana was the Personnel Manager of Elephant House?

  12. Jag Says:

    ”Had there been a SINGHALA BUDDHIST king we should have survived 1815 as we survived previous attempts.”

    All that happened just because King Narendrasinha’s preference for a Teligu wife. That is what changed our history, a lesson for our rulers to choose the right partner if they truly think of the country and its values.

  13. Chanaka B Says:

    From Vijaya onwards Sinhala kings brought women from South India for marriage. It is probably for their own convenience to avoid internal conflicts and disputes.

    In the 17th and 18th century, the Kandy kings received military support from the Nayaks (Governors of Vijayanagara Empire) to fight off the Portuguese and the Dutch.

    When the last Sinhala King of Sri Lanka, Narendrasinghe died without an offspring, the brother of his Madurai Nayak Queen succeeded the throne under the coroneted name of Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe. Thus, in 1739 there began the Nayak rule in the Kandy kingdom, which lasted closer to 80 years.

    Though they were Telegus, unlike the Cholas and Maghas, the Nayaks were not people of evil.

    It is not incorrect to say that there was a great revival of Buddhism during the Nayaks period.

    The Nayaks, devoted a great deal of time to the furtherance of Buddhism. For example, Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe (1739 – 1747) is said to have caused life sized images of Buddha in recumbent, standing and sitting postures to be cut in the rock caves in various parts of the country. His reign also marked several conflicts with the Dutch who were ruling the coastal provinces, based on trading issues. The King destroyed churches and initiated a persecution against the Portuguese and Dutch, which was continued under his brother-in-law, Kirti Sri Rajasinghe. It ceased only because the King considered that certain calamities which fell upon the country were due to his action.

    Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1782). devoted his reign to the advancement of Sinhala literature and Buddhism. The king, got down learned Bhikkus from Siam (Thailand) for the purpose of advancing Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and established the Siam Nikaya. He also built Raja Maha Vihara (Gangarama) in Kandy. He built the existing inner temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, and caused the Mahavansa chronicle to be continued from the time of Parâkkamabâhu IV down to his own reign.

    In 1761 Kirti Sri Rajasinghe attacked the Dutch garrisons and forts at Matara, Katuwana and Tangalle, completely destroying them, and killing hundreds of Dutch while some surrendered and ended as prisoners.

    In order to revenge the humiliation, the new Dutch governor had plans to attack Kandy, but the weakness in fortification and garrison forbade him. The Governor wished the King to cede the three four and seven Korales and Puttlam and hand over the entire coastline of the island to the Dutch. The King was not agreeable to any demand that diminished his sovereignty and was deliberately delaying a settlement hoping for help from the English in Madras after his discussion and negotiations with John Pybus in 1762 (an English writer in Madras).

    John Pybus in his notes described the King as a man of tolerable stature, and very brisk in his movements. Pybus was amazed as to how the Kandyans had managed to fight a war with Dutch and had captured Matara Dutch Fort. He wrote that “They had put every European to the sword except two officers who are now prisoners of the country.”

    The King, Kirti Sri Rajasinghe, died on 2 January 1782, of the injuries caused two months before by a fall from his horse after a reign of 35 years which the people saw as a period of religious revival; they had a sentimental attachment to the King.

    Sri Rajadhi Rajasinghe who became the next King (1782–1798) was the brother of Kirti Sri Rajasinghe. A very sophisticated person, he spoke many languages amongst which were Pali and Sanskrit. A lavish patron of Buddhism, he was a great aficionado of poetry and he himself was a poet. He died childless in 1798 without nominating a successor.

    The burden to find a successor fell on Pilimathalawe, the first Adhikaram (Prime Minister). There was a rival claimant to succeed King Sri Rajadhi Rajasinghe, the late King’s brother, who had a stronger claim. However, Pilimatalawe, choose Prince Kannasamy Nayaka to the Kandyan throne, with the deep seated plans to usurp the throne to set a new dynasty of his own. Pilimitalawe plotted to overthrow the King and seize the crown for himself, but his plot was discovered, and, having been pardoned on two previous occasions, he was finally executed. As stated in the article, the King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1798–1815), upon ascending the throne at the young age of 18, faced many conspiracies and reigned through one of the most turbulent periods in Sri Lanka’s history.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:


    Thank you for the interesting write up on Lanka history.

    I have read a book by P. Dolapihilla called “Sri Wickrema Rajasingha: Last King of Kandy”. I read this book many years ago and I hope what I write here is accurate.
    The story as related by Mr Dolapihilla is intriguing. He has pieced together the story from ‘Mathaka Katha’ (handed down story from the generations in Kandy). It says that King Rajasingha II died after a riding ‘accident’. It seems that Pilimathallawe indeed had aspirations to sit on the Throne in Kandy. He and the King had shared the same Tamil courtesan who lived in Peradeniya and her male son (Prince Kannasamy) used to call him ‘aththa’. Whose son was this Prince Kannasamy ? Anyway, as was his duty after the King died, it was Chief Adigar Pilimatallawe who chose the young Prince to be King. He supervised the young Prince and trained him to be the monarch. After Pilimatalawe was executed for attempted treachery to seize the throne, the young King was deeply disturbed. At this stage, the British had introduced liquor as a ‘gift’ to the King. In his drunken rages the King ordered the death of his Adigars suspected of further treachery. The death of the Ehalepolla Family was the most grusome. The King was definitely unstable mentally when drunk and the Adigars must have been mortally afraid of him. This is what led to the Kandyan Kingdom being handed over to the British. The Adigars probably felt that they and the People may be safer with the British, not realising that the British gift of liquor demented the King more and more.
    What led to the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom :
    Does it boil down to the greed of Pilimatalawe to be King of Kandy that led to the downfall of the Kandyan Kingdom ?
    One unwholesome person was enough to bring ruin upon the entire country ? And the British seeing opportunity in a divided court and King sending ‘gifts’ of liquor to the King ?
    Lesson Learnt: Do not divide the leadership of Lanka re a UNITARY LANKA.

    Chanaka, I wonder what you think of this version of events in Lanka ?

  15. Lorenzo Says:

    That is right Chanaka. But they never made these south Indian queens and their relatives kings until later in history.

    We should NOT have made a Tamil the king in that crucial period of time.

    Had a Singhalese king ruled Kandy in 1815, the Kandyan Kingdom would never have fallen.
    Had a Singhalese king ruled Jaffna the 17th century, the Jaffna Kingdom would never have fallen.

  16. Chanaka B Says:

    Fran, there is sense in the story.

    Pilimathalawe who handpicked Kannasamy as the King was the mentor and chief advisor for the young King. It is not incorrect to say that Pilimathalawe basically ran the kingdom. Pilimathalawe always had the ulterior motive of becoming the King himself; he started covert operations with the British to provoke the King into acts of aggression. Pilimathalawe thought this would give the British an excuse to seize the Kingdom, and through them he can become the King. For example, Pilimathalawe manipulated the King into beginning a military conflict with the British, who at that time had gained a strong position in the coastal provinces. War was declared and on March 22, 1803 the British entered Kandy with no resistance, But, cunning Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe fled to the interior leaving Pilimathalawe in charge. Pilimathalawe had no other alternative but to massacre the British garrison in Kandy (in June)- and restored the King to the throne. Pilimathalawe’s great desire to become the King never ended. The King had to execute him, albeit reluctantly.

    It is because of the gratitude the king had to Pilimathalawe that he appointed Pilimathalawe’ s nephew, Ehelepola, as the new Maha Adhikaram. But, Ehelepola followed his uncle’s pathway. A rebellion instigated by him was suppressed, where he fled to the South and joined the British. After failing to surrender (after 3 weeks’ of notice), the exasperated King dismissed Ehelepola, confiscated his lands, and ordered the imprisonment and execution of his wife and children. The King was acting like a mad man during that time. A propagandized account of the execution was widely circulated by sympathisers; especially by Molligoda and Eknaligoda. The people in Kandy started to hate the King.

    If one applies the 1815 scenario to today, I think infighting is tolerable as long as they are done in the best interests of the country. When the paramount concern for infighting is personal benefit (not the best interests of the nation), then, it is a recepie for disaster, The enemy forces will not hesitate to grab the opportunity and take the upper hand.

    I say Ehelepola et al wanted to overthrow the drunkard King, for the primary reason of acquiring power for themselves. If their 1st thought was the country, they should not have made deals with the arch enemy, the British.

    Lorenzo, your two statements:

    “Had a Singhalese king ruled Kandy in 1815, the Kandyan Kingdom would never have fallen.
    Had a Singhalese king ruled Jaffna the 17th century, the Jaffna Kingdom would never have fallen.”

    One could also argue that it was thanks to the Nayaks (Nayakkars) that Kandy was safe for the entire 80 years of their reign. Did the Dutch have to leave Sri Lanka due to the military tactics and commitment displayed by the Nayaks? If Ehelepola et al did not hand the Kandy kingdom on a platter to the British, was it still possible for the British to capture Kandy so easily. Or would they have been confined to the coastal areas, just like the Portuguese and the Dutch?

    It was the Portuguese who captured Jaffna in the late 16h century (in 1591 precisely) The Nayaks were not there then. Kandy was ruled by Vimaladharmasuriya 1.

    These hypothetical situations can be answered in a similar hypothetical way – like the expression ‘whether the glass is half empty or half full’.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:


    Many thanks. Now the whole Kandyan history picture is fairly clear on the Last Days of Kingdom there.

    I do totally agree with you that infighting will be tolerated ONLY so long as it serves the country as a whole and a wholesome purpose is served at the end of the day. However, I think it is far better if serious infighting is avoided by small fry countries like Lanka as infighting can be misconstrued – like a shove turning into fisticuffs. It will require high political wisdom to back off at the right time, for the sake of the country. I hope our politicos know this fact and wisdom prevails, always.

  18. Fran Diaz Says:

    Sorry, typo. Read as “Chanaka”.


    It is ok, but do not confuse the Kandian History. Wimaladrmasooya was from Kote Rajadhniya and had nothing to do with Kandy. Last so called KING, the Malabhar man was a cannibal he raped and ate the breast of Ahalepola desawas’s wife, also ate her other children. All the Kandyan kings brought MAHARASTI Solders to fight the British. Some became Tamils by taking Tamil names, some became Sinhala by taking Sinhala names. Lets take DRAMARAJA: he could be Sinhala or Tamil. Then the religion; Tamil could be a HINDU or a Catholic. Sinhala could be a Buddhist or a catholic. One good example is this disgraceful GANJA smoking Punk thinks that he is the president and every one must obey his orders. OBAMA called him and thanked him for ballot box stuffing and stopping the computer to get at the result. Offered him a professor ship at Howard University. Parliament must appoint a new election commissioner and remove him from the Department before the election and if the election is held without removing him then the Speaker must null and void the election. Seal his personal belongings until a case is filed for Treason!

  20. Chanaka B Says:


    I was talking about Vimaladharmasuriya I, also known as Konappu Bandara. He was the king of Kandy from 1590 to 1604. He is renowned for repulsing two major Portuguese offensives in to Kandy, the battle of Danture in 1594 and the Battle of Balana in 1602, in both of which the Portuguese were humiliatingly defeated. When Dharmapala died (1597), the Sinhalese in Kotte treated Vimaladharmasuriya I as their king. They turned to him for support against the Portuguese. He was the only Sinhala king left at that time.

    Fran, I fully agree.

    Whether at work or at home, infighting should be avoided at all times. It is a recepie for disaster.

    In politics, the applicable principle as I stated before is whether or not a person is acting in the best interests of the country. If one conspires against the country with enemies or plunders public wealth that belongs to the citizens, he/she cannot be acting in the best interests of the nation. When one makes money by stealing or other means of corruption; there is no stopping of that person (it is like the behaviour of an heroin addict). Like Pilimathalawe and Ehelepola, they will not hesitate to make deals with arch enemies for personal benefit; not knowing or being reckless as to their action – that they can even affect sovereignty. I herein talk generally about how the principle works in relation to politics. I am not referring to any particular present day individual or a political party. As you know in Sri Lanka, there is corruption in most spectrums of the politics.

    The sad thing is that in contemporary Sri Lanka, the entire public discourse seems to be focused on politics. It seems, there is not much interest to write about social, cultural, history, literature, health and many other things.

    I am pleased that through this article and the subsequent comments, I was able to give an interpretation as to what happened in the Kandyan kingdom in the 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, people can give other interpretations, for example, by Lorenzo and Lankaputhra.

    Though they were foreigners, the Nayak kings were not too bad rulers (leaving aside the last stages of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe). They got themselves converted to Buddhism and acted like Sinahala Buddhists (in contrast, the British rulers promoted their own culture and religion). Nayaks were Tamil speaking Telegus. As you know, their origin is Andra Pradesh, (present day Bangalore is the capital -where Sai Baba was living). In the 16th -18th centuries the Nayaks (Telegus) ran a vibrant empire (part of the former Vijanagara empire) from Madras, ruling the whole of Tamilnadu. It was a very significant empire. Our Indian (estate) Tamil brethren are not decedents of the Nayaks (Telegus); they were brought in by the British (as a result of the 1815 Convention). Some say Sri Lanka’s ‘Ahikuntakayas’ (gypsy people) who speak Telengu, are descendants of the Nayaks. I have not come across any research on this.

    In regards to securing compensation for the descendants of the innocent victims of the rebellion – in Welimada, our Group has identified few families whose forbearers were indiscriminately killed by the British, soon after the 1815 pact was signed. They are extremely poverty stricken people, living in a remote village called ‘Palugama’ – a former stronghold of Weera Keppetipola. The name of the village was so given as during the rebellion, the British army ransacked the entire village killing all men, even women and children. The village became empty, hence, was called ‘Palugama’. Even today, it is called by that name. The British set fire to people’s paddy fields, granaries and even killed farm animals that were used to plough the paddy fields. Yes, it will be very difficult to win some form of compensation for these descendants of the British atrocities, but, at least we want to put the record straight and bring their story to the attention of the British authorities.

  21. Lorenzo Says:


    Nayak kings were GOOD. But KANNASAMY was bad. He should have acted more responsibly especialy when SL was under threat.

    Better still, SL should have had a Singhala king who conducted his affairs like a TRUE BUDDHIST.

    No taking revenge from women and children for the man’s wrongs. It is an old Hindu practice in Telungu to burn the wife and kill children for the sins or crimes of the husband. Not a SL practice.

  22. Chanaka B Says:


    SW Rajasinghe did not betray the nation at any stage

    Apart from that, you and I are in agreement

  23. Fran Diaz Says:


    Thank you very much for all write here. Education re the past in the most accurate way is so important.

    What you say is absolutely true.
    INFIGHTING MUST BE AVOIDED. Infighting will mean gaps left open for foreign powers to take over the country or parts of it.


    It may be that our Parliament needs a Conflict Resolution Unit ? A Democratic Parliament, Presidency etc must work ONLY for the People & Country. Rewards follow for the honest and able politician, in both recognition, respect and even some wealth.

  24. Chanaka B Says:

    Thanks Fran. The good thing is that in a democracy, people decide who they want as their representatives. It is the people’s responsibility to oust corruptors and appoint good ones. Lately, people seem to have not taken their responsibility too seriously. A Code of Conduct for the parliamentarians? – a good thing as long as those who breach same are disciplinarily dealt with

  25. RohanJay Says:

    Its interesting regarding that period. However, I am not sure Sri Lankan historians have overlooked one important aspect of that period. 1770s-1815. It is well Known that during this period the British were fighting the American Colonists who wanted to break from Britain. However the American Colonists were too weak to fight the might of the British Empire at the time on their own and they got significant help from France. Americans owe a great debt to the French for their independence from the British Empire. The British during this period were fighting a global war in four continents without a single ally, locked in a desperate power struggle with France to dominate the world. The French in fact were winning this struggle which was mostly a maritime naval struggle for all the marbles on the globe, in this context we have to place why the British were desperate to find new territories and allies as they had none having lost the support of the American Colonists who were pro-British Crown up to that point. The British and French had the seven years war. As a continuation of this war, France decided to help the American Colonists gain independence from Britain. Which enabled the Americans to defeat the British on American soil. As most of Britain’s army and navy forces were tied up with the French who were formidable force around the globe in the 18t century. I believe Sri Lanka being significant area due to its geo-strategic location. The British were after it. I think we have to put Sri Lanka’s fall of the Kandyan kingdom in connection with the American revolution and Britain’s seven year war with France, because I believe there is a strong connection between these two events in history.
    From this struggle it seems that, British Empire lost a Crown colony the United States of America and gained another British Crown Colony which became Ceylon in the Indian Ocean.
    France’s significant help to the Americans bankrupted France and led to the French Revolution. Anyway it is significant that these pivotal events which changed the destiny of three countries significantly of USA, France and Sri Lanka were during the reign of King George III of England who seemed to have been a pivotal British Monarch in history.
    If you still doubt my theory that the American revolution, France and Sri Lanka are not linked. Then wikipedia has a forgotten naval battle off the coast of trincomalee between the French Navy and the British Navy. Which was in fact a significant part of the American war of independence.
    Here is the wikipedia link:-
    Very interesting indeed adds a new twist to Sri Lankan history!


    Chanaka, I apologize, my mistake I hate this Royal Asiatic Society, some times author names get mixed up. You gave a good history lesson. Except for Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe who was a cannibal. This man could not speak SINHALA. ENGLISH WAS AFRID OF HIM, such as. he had to live in a cage. Original cage was in fort before he was deported. Believe it or not demise of Sinhala was by these Kerala kings.

  27. Chanaka B Says:

    Lankaputhra, thanks for the correction. It is courageous for you to seek the apology; a noble act in this day and age. Yes, the apology is given. Whether or not Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was a Cannibal; I am not sure. Let’s do more research about this.

    Fran, about Kannasamy; true his real whereabouts are not fully known. Clearly, he was not a close relative of Sri Rajadhi Rajasinghe (1782–1798), but a distant one. I’ve heard a story (oral) that Kannasamy (18) was loitering in Kandy streets, when Pilimathalawe picked him. If he called Pilimathalwe ‘aahttha’, well, that’s opening up a new Pandora’s Box!

  28. Independent Says:

    I said earlier killing of an infant, two children and the mother was good enough to refute the claim this Tamil man “carried out his duties as a true Sinhala Buddhist”.

    Therefore getting rid of this Tamil “cannibal” ( I did not say), who did not speak Sinhala( I did not say that too) is not betrayal. Whoever helped to put this man to power is the betrayer.

    By the same token “SW Rajasinghe did not betray the nation at any stage” is irrelevant.

    We should identify the betrayers correctly rather than following the herd.

    Here we have someone betrayed the Nation to put a Tamil cannibal to the throne. Then someone else betrayed the Tamil cannibal – it is a betrayer of Tamils not Sinhalese.

    Premadasa got rid of Indians by arming Tamils. He betrayed the Indians and Sinhalese at the same time. I shall stop there.


    Chanaka, Thanks again for the reply. I got severely reprimanded by my niece for writing bad things about you. Your sister Asoka was in the same class as my niece Dinasha Kulathunga, at Vishaka Vidyala in Colombo; (we had a nick name for her “Bushy” ) who now lives in Australia, and she is a grand mother now. Her elder sister Anoma, lives in England and she called me from England today to say that she was angry about my comment. Even if you get to know my name, please don’t publish it. I live in Florida USA and it is for my personal safety. I was told, your sister has published books about Tamil terrorists and I was not aware of it. Now to Siri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the Malbhar man; it is Katakatha that I heard people taking to my father. If any one disobey him he killed him immediately and ate parts of his body. So every one in his Royal Court never told what happened at the Royal Court. He slept with a sward in his hand. His wife never got near him towards the end. Again Katakatha, how the British captured him was as follows: 25 elite Maharashter unite stormed the Daladha Malighawa at night, over came his army, and tied him up and put him in cage transported him to Colombo. An Englishman writing about the capture gives an account of where he ate human body parts and the English solders used DETOL to clean and disinfect the area. In Colombo he was put into a smaller cage, where this cage today is at old insurance building in Fort. He was then dragged on to the ship because he got some kind of a bug and could not walk. Ships Captain took the prisoner ordered the solders to leave the ship and treated him with English medicine. He had lots of information that the British crown wanted. He was in cage even after he was transferred to Malabhar Island. There was a book published two years, ago by one of his direct descendants, I think the author’s name is Silva. He put him as a hero and said that he killed English solders with his sword. I do not remember the title of this book. Any way what I deduce is that he was in a cage until his death and his wife was not allowed into the cage. Later, after 1948, British brought his relative and was working in the foreign ministry.

  30. Asanga Says:

    Chanaka, Lankaputhra and others,

    Thank you for posting this host of enlightening information on the last days of the Kandyan aristocracy.

    If I had a penny for each time I heard a relative or a friend utter the words ‘Aiyooo…what the bloody hell is the use of studying history and culture men……’

  31. Chanaka B Says:

    Lankaputhra, all I can say is that you are a man of integrity; something sadly lacking in today’s society. I admire people with such qualities – may be because you belong to the ‘bygone era’ where people stressed on good manners. I have few friends in Florida; what a lovely place. Same tropical weather as Sri Lanka!. As soon as I could verify the facts about his cannibalism, I will certainly write another piece.

    Regards to Dharamasiri Senevirathne’s article on the same topic today, I commented to Lorenzo that I did not want to whitewash SW Rajasinghe. I stated that if the Adhikarams wanted to overthrow SW Rajasinghe, that was ok, but, they should not have connived with the then arch enemy, the Briritish (thanks to the 1815 Convention, we were stuck with the British for another 133 years). For 310 years, despite strenuous attempts by them, no European army was able to capture Kandy (1505 – 1815). It is we who gave Kandy on a platter to them. What Rajasinghe II stated in 1656 (third King of the Kandy Kingdom – 1629 – 1687) “ඉඟුරු දීලා මිරිස් ගත්තා වගේ” is applicable to what happened in 1815. In my article I stated the following:

    “If the Sinahala Buddhists wanted to overthrow Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, they should have conspired against him themselves, rather than conniving with the British.

    They had not learnt a lesson from the previous similar pacts the Sinhala kings had with the Portuguese and the Dutch.
    After the King fled to Hanguranketha in January 1815, the aristocrats, if smart, could have captured the kingdom themselves (true, the King held the custody of the sacred Tooth Relic). Instead, they (led by Ehelepola), foolishly decided to hand the country to the British, precisely, on 10 March 1815.”

    Asanga, I encourage you to study Sri Lankan history – which is fascinating. I am not a historian myself but a lawyer. Like law, history asks us to investigate why things happened in a particular way/s (history is not the mere study of past events)

  32. Fran Diaz Says:

    Lesson Learnt : A bad/unstable/inept monarch or leader has spelt the end for many a country, however good the people. Lankans must choose their leader/s wisely. Choose only the time tested, trusted ones to lead the country.


    Fran Diaz, this Siri Wicrama kings did good as well as bad. One of the Siri Wickramas went to Gujarath, where Aura Veda was taught. He brought the Bheth Oru cure to Kandy. If one goes to Dalada Malighwa one can see these boats. Towards the end Rajasinghe II went insane as Channake state. British Intelligence did an excellent job for their crown. At least today, people know who the election commissioner is; who CBK is; and who RANIL PUNK is. the burning question is: Will MR correct his past mistakes and nullify the 2014 election? when he gets the opportunity Will Obama allow this?

  34. samurai Says:

    Mr. Gamini Gunawardane read a paper entitled ” A Closer Look at the Fall of the Last Kingdom of Sinhale in 1815″ to mark the 200th year since that tragic event,
    under the auspices of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka at the Mahaweli Center in Colombo on June 29, 2015
    It attracted a fairly distinguished audience comprising academics, historians, professionals, retired senior public servants and the like.
    The paper was informative and insightful, and though delivered primarily in English used absorbing ‘Sinhala Kavi’ when necessary to illustrate a point.
    It generated much interest on the circumstances that led to the capitulation of the last Kingdom of Sinhale. The names of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, Ehelepola, Molligoda, Robert Brownrigg, John D’ Oyly figured heavily in both the presentation and the lively discussion that followed.

    Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to delve deeper into relevant issues and obtain elaboration / different perspectives ( in contrast to the reigning orthodox views) from both the speaker and the distinguished audience.
    Though the names of Don Juan Dharmapala and Ehelepola were mentioned in the contexts of treachery and betrayal of the Sinhale nation in different periods of our history, the question that should have been raised but was not done is the following question:

    1) Given that the initial treachery committed by Don Juan Dharmapala in bequeathing the Kotte Kingdom to the Portuguese was finally completed by Ehelepola in joining hands with the enemy i.e. British, to wrest control of the Kandyan Kingdom leading finally to its dissolution, it is interesting to pose the question which of these two i.e. Don Juan Dharmapala or Ehelepola was the greater villain?
    2) Which of them did greater damage to the interests of the Sinhale nation?
    3) What are the lessons to be learned by the current and future generations of Sri Lanka from these betrayals?
    4) What are the chances of more betrayals taking place in the future that will outstrip the betrayals of both Don Juan Dharmapala and Ehelepola?
    The answer of course will be speculative but it would always be sensible to be better prepared for the worse than to be caught napping or sighing in collective resignation to possibly a fate far worse than what transpired in Kosovo, Libya or even Cyprus.
    Beautification of Kandy

    Mr. Gamini Gunawardana unhesitatingly gave credit to the last King of Kandy Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe for having initiated the construction of the Octagon (‘Pattirippuwa’) but failed to mention the name of the architect of the Octagon i.e. Devendra Mulachari, reputed for his expertise in architectural design.
    In an article entitled ‘ The brainchild behind Kandy’s brilliant designs’ the author D. D. M. Waidyasekera says as follows:
    ” Relatively little has been written about one of the most brilliant designers and royal artificers produced by the Kandyan Kingdom – Devendra Mulachari. He designed and built some of the most historic monuments in the Kandyan Kingdom, including the Pattirippuwa or Octagon of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Cloud Wall or Walakulu Bemma surrounding the Maligawa, the Diyarella Bemma or ornamental wall surrounding the Kandy Lake and the Magul Maduwa or Audience Hall in Kandy.

    He lived and worked under three Kings, Kirthi Sri Rajasinha (AD 1747-1782), Rajadhi Rajasinha (1782-1798) and Sri Wickreme Rajasinha (1798-1815).”
    Ehelepola – a descendant of Lascarin Chief Don Cosmo Kulatunga
    The victory at the Battle of Randeniwela in 1630 was made possible by the conspiracy hatched within the Portuguese ranks by four Sinhalese chiefs colluding with King Senerath of Kandy.
    The Portuguese Governor Constantino de Sá de Noronha was killed in this battle at Randeniwela near Wellawaya, a place close to the town of Badulla.The Lascarins commanded by four Sinhalese chiefs namely Don Alexio, Don Thiodisgo, Don Cosmo Kulatunga and Don Balthasar in the Portuguese battalion crossed over to the ranks of the Kandyan Army under the command of Senerath, and his three sons Prince Mahastana ( later to be known as King Rajasinghe II), Prince Kumarasinghe and Prince Vijayapala, leading to the defeat of the Portuguese and death of their Governor Constantino de Saa.
    After the Battle of Randeniwela, King Senarath provided Dom Cosmo Kulatunga and other Lascarin Chiefs with several nindagams.
    It is said that Ehelepola is a descendant of this Don Cosmo Kulatunga.
    A topic worthy of discussion at RAS of Sri Lanka in the future
    Mr. Gamini Gunawardane or any other leading speaker of the RAS is invited to speak and lead a discussion on the topic:
    ” The corpse at Goa: Francis Xavier or Ven. Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thero? ”
    This is a subject worthy of being kept alive orally and in writing by people who value the heritage of this country, from generation to generation.

  35. Fran Diaz Says:


    I have not seen any record that says that King Rajasingha II went insane.

    Also, as for nullifying 2014 Election, I don not think that Pres Obama will have any say in such a move in Lanka.

  36. Fran Diaz Says:


    When you say Rajasingha II, you probably mean Sri Wickrema Rajasingha and not King Rajasingha II ?

    I agree that Sri Wickrema Rajasingha may have been insane at times and no wonder as his mentor Pilimathalawe appears to have turned against him. Together with the Adigars not trusting Pilimathalawe and consuming the British ‘gift’ whiskey and losing his ability to reason, Sri Wick Rajasingha did probably go mad from time to time.


    Lesson Learnt : Do not trust ex-Empires ! Trust the time tested people only, at this point in time.

  37. Chanaka B Says:

    Given that it is the 200th anniversary (bicentenary) of the Kandyan Convention, I believe there should have been more discourse in the country about this important event (everyone seems to be more interested in the current politics!). In Europe, ther has been lots of discourse about the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, which also fell this year (in June).

    It is excellent that the Royal Asiatic Society held the discussion last week.

    I believe this should be a debating topic for our school children this year.

    Fran, when we talk about Rajasinghe II, we refer to the King who who reigned from 1629 – 1687 (pre coronation Prince Mahastana); third king of the Kandy kingdom. He is the King who requested the Dutch to expel the Portuguese from the island, which they successfully did in 1656.

    Rajasinghe I (පළමුවන රාජසිංහ) was the king of Sitawaka. He is known for his extreme bravery and patriotism. Born as Tikiri Bandara to King Mayadunne of Sitawaka, the name “Rajasinha” (King of Lions) was given to him after a fierce battle against the Portuguese.

    Lankaputhra erroneously referred to Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe as Rajasinghe II. You are again excused! (a minor mistake)

  38. Chanaka B Says:

    Rohan Jay

    Indeed, the American revolution, France and Sri Lanka are all seemed to be linked

    However in 1815, the British defeated Napoleon (France), true, after the Kandyan Convention, precisely in June 1815

    The then powerful European nations were hell bent on capturing Sri Lanka and keeping it as a colony. For them, Sri Lanka was the ultimate Jewel. I believe they were interested in Sri Lanka not just for its strategic location, but, mainly for economic reasons. The country had an abundance of resources available for them (spices, elephants, gems, silver, timber, coffee, tea, rubber – the list was endless)

    During this time, Britain had taken control of Australia; 19th century was the golden century for them. They went from strength to strength in that century.

  39. Fran Diaz Says:


    You are correct. Thank you.

    L’puthra did make a mistake. If we are to refer to Sri Wickrema Rajasingha using only the Rajasingha part, we shall have to call him Rajasingha III ? As far as I know, this has never been done before and is therefore probably inappropriate.

  40. samurai Says:

    I have noted several instances where people have confused Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe with previous Rajasinghes in our history.
    Rajasinghe of Seethawaka (Prince Tikiri Bandara) also known as Rajasinghe I was the first Rajasinghe. Rajasinghe II (Prince Maha Asthana) came to power after the demise of King Senarath of Kandy. Both of them were Sinhala.

    The Rajasinges of the Nayakkar Dynasty sat on the Kandyan throne after the death of Sri Weeraparakrama Narendrasinghe, the last Sinhala King. Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe was the first of the Nayakkar Rajasinghes followed by Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, Rajadhi Rajasinghe and Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe.

    The last king was not insane (no historian states so) but became addicted to liquor. It is alleged that the British envoy D’Oyly had made Sri Wickrema an addict by introducing to him foreign liquor.

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