The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe – the Monarch who suffered from PTSD 
Posted on October 5th, 2015

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge 

 The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe (Tikiri Bandara ) the 16th century monarch of Sri Lanka was a great warrior who came to the battlefield at the age of 16. He fought against the Portuguese invaders and witnessed many deaths and destructions. He was a fearless fighter who used effectual war tactics and overpowered the fully equipped and fully trained Portuguese war machine. The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe ruled 39 years from 1554 – 1593 AD. He was a military genius and a strategist.  One Portuguese historian compared him with Hannibal.

In 1562, the Battle of Mulleriyawa took place and Tikiri Bandara fought against the 16th Century Super Power – Portuguese war machine.  The Portuguese army was led by Captain Major Afonso Pereira de Lacerda   and Captain Major Jorge de Meneses Baroche. The conflict took place outside Colombo on the southern bank of the Kelani River. Tikiri Bandara attacked the Portuguese army like a thunderbolt. The invincible 16th century super power was in the verge of a defeat in front of his sword. According to the Rajavaliya – 17th-century historical, chronicle of Sri Lanka, more than 1600 Portuguese and support   troopers (Lascarins) perished on the Mulleriyawa battlefield.

At the height of his military success  the King Seethawaka Rajasinghe gathered 100,000 soldiers and attacked the   Portuguese Fort in Colombo.  The Portuguese were desperate. Fear and famine fell upon them. Despite the attacks the Portuguese were able to get external naval support from Goa. The battle was a fiasco and the King became furious. He suspected most of his Generals and assassinated them one by one. King Seethawaka Rajasinghe poisoned his right wing man Wicramasinghe Maha Senevi then Weerasundara Bandara. These Generals helped him in numerous battles.

Following the long years of combat Tikiri Bandara alias King Seethawaka Rajasinghe was exhausted and obviously suffered from battle fatigue.  In the later years, his mental health was declining. The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe became extremely suspicious showed outburst of anger, irritability, deep mistrust, alienation, emotional numbing and various other PTSD related symptoms. There were clear personality changes in him. With these changes, the great warrior launched a chain of terror against his own people creating a deep void in the hearts and minds.

He acted as a tyrant and used brutal methods to punish people. He never felt any remorse or compassion. The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe even killed his own father King Mayadunne  who ruled the Kingdom of Sitawaka from 1501 to 1581. This despicable act could be interpreted as a reaction following emotional anesthesia, which is evident in PTSD.  He banished his religion, embraced Hinduism, and murdered thousands of his subjects who refused to follow Hinduism.

The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe destroyed Buddhist temples and killed Buddhist monks by drowning.  His emotions were unstable. Very often, he acted with sudden rage. Gradually he made himself alienated. He had no close associates and the King became an isolated and a broken man. After many battles, he was physically and mentally worn out. Many aristocrats had left him because they could not stand his false accusations and outrageous behavior. The Great warrior had become another victim of combat stress.

His final battle took place in Kandy. He had to face Konappu Bandara ails the King Wimaladharmasurya the son of Weerasundara Bandara. One time Weerasundara Bandara was King  Seethawaka Rajasinghe s faithful supporter.  Weerasundara Bandara helped  King Seethawaka Rajasinghe to fight Portuguese.  However, King Seethawaka Rajasinghe unreasonably suspected Weerasundara Bandara and killed him. The battle was atrocious. The King Wimaladharmasurya proclaimed that he would take the revenge for killing his father.

King Seethawaka Rajasinghe lost the battle. While retreating he fell down from the horse and sustained an injury. A bamboo prick pierced his leg and after a few days he died may be due to tetanus or septicemia. Thus, a legend came to an end. He was called the Lion of Seethawaka who brought fear to the Portuguese invaders. He was a liberator but later became an enigma. May be PTSD ruined his inspirations and the goals in life. If these personality changes did not occur, he would have been one of the great heroes in the Sri Lankan history.

4 Responses to “The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe – the Monarch who suffered from PTSD ”

  1. Independent Says:

    I remember the song “Tikiri Kumaru Rajasinghe naming Rajavuna”. It is very sad.

    After killing his father ( which is one of the 5 great Papakammas (wrong actions) in Buddhism) he asked a lot of Bikkhus a way to escape from the bad kamma. Unfortunately if one commits one of these bad actions invariably one will have to suffer in Aviici Maha Hell according to Buddhism and monks said NO. That made the king angry and he killed every monk he could see until Buddhism was completely gone.

    It is good to keep in mind that Buddhism that time was eradicated from Sri Lanka, completely by a Sinhala Buddhist king, a war hero, a great fighter , patriot. At a later stage monks had to be brought in from Siam ( Thailand) to re establish Sangha.

  2. anura seneviratna Says:

    Many thanks for this interesting account Dr. Ruwan. How true is the susceptibility of mind to changing conditions!

  3. SA Kumar Says:

    He banished his religion, embraced Hinduism, and murdered thousands of his subjects who refused to follow Hinduism !!

    So Where Hindhu Sinhalese & Bhuddish Tamils gone Now !!!

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    An interesting but sad story here. Our thanks to Dr Ruwan Jayatunge.

    Even the Last King of Kandy, Sri Wickremarajasingha must have suffered from some mental ailment due to excessive consumptionof alcohol (gifted by the British colonists) for him to have behaved in crazy ways, killing his own Adigars.

    One wonders whether some of the present day leaders are mentally stable after the trauma of 30 yrs of terrorism with the LTTE culminating with the war with the terrorist group.


    Nearly 500 yrs of Colonisation would have brought about much mental and physical suffering to Lanka’s people. An Age of Truth must dawn now and unnecessary death and disease must end.

    Small sized Islands such as Sri Lanka have to be constantly vigilant and guard their coastlines and internal areas against invaders. Such is the nature of life. Even Britain, which is far larger than Lanka, had its share of invaders when Vikings from the North and Barbarians from the South came in invading hoardes into Britain. Today, even with a Democracy in place, Britain is well guarded against such acts. Lanka must do the same. We have to our North, Tamil Nadu with all their internal problems, and India with her problems. Lankan leaders have to be constantly aware that we have experienced nearly 500 yrs of Colonial rule which nearly finished off the island’s people. Dr RJ’s story is a confirmation that the People of Lanka must be battle ready, same as land locked Switzerland (this state is similar to an island), where apart from the army, the citizens too are trained to defend the country.

    Ranil’s “Chunnel” with Tamil Nadu will only bring death and disease to Lanka.

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