Posted on August 30th, 2021

Courtesy: ‘ANANDA IN SWADDLING CLOTHES’  By S. A. Wijayatilake (Extracted from the Ananda College Golden Jubilee Souvenir – 1936)

Three and a half centuries of foreign aggression and occupation – at first partial, but since 1815 complete – of the land had not only demoralized and emasculated the Sinhalese people generally, but had adversely affected the position of Buddhism in this Island in particular. The Portuguese, whose arrival in Ceylon synchronized with the activities of the Counter-Reformation in Europe, believed that the Flag follows Trade and the Cross follows the Flag. In the words of Albuquerque, The new heroes of Portugal are not her soldiers or sailors, but her missionaries. These were the men who made their way into the interior of India and who penetrated the furthest East. China, Japan, and even Tibet witnessed their presence and heard their preaching”. (Quoted by C. M. Fernando, M. a., LL.M. (Cantab) in Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon, p. 45, in Part XL The Portuguese Period,” of his article on the History of Ceylon. I should add that the late Mr. C. M. Fernando was a Roman Catholic.) Along the Western littoral of Ceylon the Portuguese established Roman Catholic Missions with the same thoroughness with which they built magnificent fortresses at every key point. Even as Italy, the premier Roman Catholic country in Europe today, has been recently civilizing the savage” Ethiopian with the aid of such beneficent instruments as bombs, cannon, and poison gas so her prototype of the 16th Century, the great Portugal, tried to wean the benighted heathen from the ways of evil by such gentle means as wanton desecration of Buddhist and Hindu temples of far-flung fame.

The Hindu Temple of a Thousand Columns in old Trincomalee was razed to the ground and the granite of its carved columns and cornices was used in the building of a fort. The ancient Buddhist Temple of Devi Nuwara in the South, which had evoked the homage of poets and of kings, was demolished, and only the story of its pristine splendor remains. Such was the thoroughness and the loving kindness with which the Portuguese, followers of the Prince of Peace, disseminated Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.”

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