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The Kandyan Kingdom
Conspiracies and assassinations
 
 
There had been a number of conspiracies and assassinations during long years of Kandyan Kingdom. The ruling King closely guarded his kingdom and all subjects had to get permission to travel out of the Kingdom. King’s officials were given large land grants and they in turn gave this land to villagers for the purpose of farming.

The conspiracies to assassinate kings in general came mostly from his own nobles and high priests of the temple. We also find times where they were threatened by foreign powers that had come to attack the Kandyan Kingdom.
 
© The Island - by Deepthi Anura Jayatunge
 

The Kandyan kingdom lasted for more than 400 years before falling in to the hands of British in 1815. They banished the Kandyan King to Madurai and established their rulership. After a period of three years Kandyan nobles realizing that they had been badly tricked attacked a British Garrison at Uva. This was known as the Uva rebellion. Using this situation to their advantage the British confiscated the lands of Kandyan chiefs who were against them. Some chiefs were executed and others were banished to Mauritius and India. Soon after this rebellion the Post of Maha Adikaram and several other senior posts were given to Molligoda family.

There had been a number of conspiracies and asassinations during long years of Kandyan Kingdom. The ruling King closely guarded his kingdom and all subjects had to get permission to travel out of the Kingdom. King’s officials were given large land grants and they in turn gave this land to villagers for the purpose of farming.

The conspiracies to assassinate kings in general came mostly from his own nobles and high priests of the temple. We also find times where they were threatened by foreign powers that had come to attack the Kandyan Kingdom.

King Rajasinha the Second (1629-1687)

Rebels from Alawwa surrounded the Nillamba castele during King Rajasimha II’s time. To safeguard the life of the King the ever faithful Matale Aluwihare Wanigasekara Bandara acted as a double for the King risking his life. He wore royal robes and slept in the king’s bed covering his face. Rebels believing he was the king, stabbed him to death. Then they started looting the royal treasury shouting that the King is dead. After some time they found Aluwihare Bandara missing among the nobles. Then they suspected that they might have killed the wrong person. It was well known that Aluwihare resembled the king but was completely toothless. They force opened mouth of the imposter now dead, and found he was completely toothless. They panicked and wanted to kill rebel leaders who promised them that the king would be an easy prey for them. Now they knew that they have lost valuable time plundering the royal treasury. By this time the king had gone to a safe hideout. The timely action of Aluwihare had not only saved king’s life but also gave him time to call for his loyal forces and capture the rebels. When the King went to his royal chambers he saw what had happened to Aluwihare. He started to cry not being able to bear the death of his kinsman.

He bestowed the rank and name to Aluwihare’s son. This young Aluvihare served the king and his son King Wimaladharma II (1687-1707) very faithfully in time to come.

Robert Knox reports a rebellion in 1664 by Ambanwela Rala and he was soon captured. He was sent to the court of Rajasinha II for punishment. King was so angry and could not think of a suitable punishment. King was advised by his ministers to send him to the Dutch for his punishment. Cunning Abanwela Rala made friends with Dutch agreeing to provide them with all the information that they required about the Kandyan kingdom. He was given a large land grant from Kollupitiya. He became a very rich coconut planter and was given an official burial when he died at a ripe old age. Name Kollupitiya came in to use after Ambanwela Rala meaning "land that Rala cheated from the Burghers".

King Wimaladharma Surya II (1687-1707)

Young Aluwihare Bandara was very loyal to the king at all times. It is said that King Wimaladharma II son of King Rajasinha wanted to bring a queen for him from Madurapura. This task was given to Aluwihare Bandara. While she was being brought she fell from the palanquin in to the water at a seaport while being ferried. Young Wanigasekara Bandara saved her life by jumping in to the water and catching hold of her by her long hair. She showed her displeasure for being touched by a person who did not have noble blood. Because of this Queen refused to speak to the King when she was brought to the Castle. King took Aluwihare’s side and fully exonerated him for touching the queen. It is said that Aluwihare then cut his own finger as a self-inflicted punishment for touching the queen, even he did with an idea of saving her life.

King Narendrasinghe — (1707-1739)

King Sri Weeraparakrama Narendrasinghe (1707-1739) was known to be a person who did not take his royal responsibilities seriously. He was called "Sellan Rajjuruwo" or literally as "the king who loves to play". Once when he was residing in Nillamba he used to swim and dive to a water tank specially kept for him near the Mahaweli River. One day just before he jumped king saw a kingfisher sitting on water. He got his guards to investigate and found several sharp spikes fitted to the waterbed to instantly kill him when he dived. During the night the water level had dropped and one of the spikes had been jutting out making it possible for the kingfisher to sit upon it.

King Vijaya Rajasinha  (1739-1747)

Sri Vijaya Rajasinha ascended the throne of Kandy and sought a wife from South India. For this purpose he sent messengers to Madurai in 1739. Since the Nayaks had now lost the power and prestige they enjoyed in the days of Vijayaranga Cokkanatha, the members of the family thought it advisable and even desirable to accept the offer from the king of Kandy.

Two brothers Rama Krishnappa Nayaka and Narenappa Nayaka, who were kinsmen of Bangaru Tirumala Nayaka made their way to Ramand to meet the Kandyan envoys. Narenappa had a daughter of marriageable age. The brothers now dispossessed and landless, agreed to the Kandyan request and with their families, they accompanied the envoys to Ceylon. There was little to hope for in South India, and once Narenappa Nayaka came over to Ceylon for his daughter's nuptial, he showed no wish to return but settled instead in Kandy with his kith and kin. He was destined to be not only the father-in-law of one king, but the father of the next two kings of Kandy; for his two sons, the one five or six years old in 1740, and the other still an infant were successively to succeed Sri Vijaya Rajasinha.

The process of linking Kandy with Madurai did not stop here for seven years later in 1747, Sri Vijaya Rajasinha married another Madurai princess.

The king, however, died childless soon after, having nominated as his successor, his eldest brotherin-law who had been living in the court ever since his sister had married the king. Thus by this peculiar mode of succession the son of Narenappa Nayaka who claimed kingship with the ruling Madurai Nayak family now ascended the throne of Kandy as Kirti Sri Rajasinha. (1747—1781).

King Keerthi Sri Rajasinha  (1747-1781)

Maha Adigar of the King Keerthi Sri Rajasinha conspired with priests at Malwatta Viharaya and tried to assassinate the king. They tried to make him fall in to a pit fitted with spikes dug at Malwatta Viharaya in 1760. But fortunately king was warned in advance by Galagoda Dissawa and priest Hulangamuwe Buddarakkitha. Complete details of this conspiracy was published in ‘The island’ on 27th November 1999.

King Rajadi Rajasinghe (1781-1798)

King Rajadi Rajasinghe used to visit his Queen "Siriyammal" at Malwatta. He used to go there without any escort, during the night on horse back. His Maha Adigar Pilimatalawe was also permitted to go to Siriyammal’s palace as he was managing the place and looking into their daily requirements. After some time Queen and Maha Adigar developed a strong desire for each other. It is said that he is the father of Queen’s son Kannasamy who later became the king. Subsequently as the king had a strong suspicion as to what was going on he gave an order that Pilimatalawe must not go to Malwatta hereafter, where the queen resided. As a further precaution, King also gave his royal sword to his younger son Kannasamy and gave him authority to kill any intruder to the Queen’s chambers. After few days king went there in the night as usual. When Kannasamy challenged him in the dark, king could not utter any word as he was suffering from a severe cold. Young Kannasamy killed the king by mistake thinking he was an intruder. When Adigar Pilimatalawe was informed they staged that king has fallen from the horse and cut his own head accidentally. He used his power as the Maha Adigar and strategically made Kannasamy the king and covered up the whole story.

Last King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815)

Young Kannasamy who became the last king had to face a lot of conspiracies. First he had to execute Chief Adigar Pilimatalawe for attempting to murder him. This was followed by a series of executions ending with the family of Ehalepola. This happened when Adigar Ehalepola escaped and joined the British and failed to surrender after 3 weeks of notice. With Ehalepola sending secret letters to remaining leaders British were able to invade and capture the fleeing king. King was banished to Madurai and died as a royal prisoner. He was living on a small allowance given to him and his two queens by the British Government. It is claimed that this allowance was paid to his next-of-kin for next 156 years and stopped only when Sri Lanka regained its sovereignty.

In his letters written to Kandyan leaders in 1813, two years before the fall of kingdom, Ehalepola confirms that British had agreed to hand over Kandyan kingdom back to Kandyans within twenty-five years. He was much heart broken and refused the Maha Adigar post offered to him under the British. The Kandyan dynasty ended in 1815 when the entire country fell into the hands of British due to the power hunger and envy among our Sinhalese leaders.

References-Kandyan Kingdom — By Dr. Mrs. Lorna Devaraja PhD Madyama Lanka Purawrutha — By Rajakeeya Panditha Nawulle Dhammananda.
 

 

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