Ehelepola Maha Adikaram of the Kandyan Kingdom
by Rohan L. Jayetilleke
CDN / 23APR2005
The life and times of Ehelepola Maha Adikaram (1773 - 1829 A.D.) who passed away in exile in the Mauritius on April 5, 1829, have not been analytically assessed by historians, scholars and writers. Hence this attempt to place his life and times in their correct perspective, as he was never a traitor, though some uncritically assess it to be so.
Ehelepola, a village in Udugoda Udasiyapattu of Matale West about nine miles from Matale town, is the ancestral home of the Ehelepola dynasty. The Wasamas included Kinigama, Urelemulla, Kohana, Kohotanwela, Dalupota, Walmoruwa, Demadaoya, Hompola, Ehelepolas of the Ehelepola Walawwa of the Wasama were the greatest of the Kandyan, purely Sinhala Buddhist aristocracy.
The family name was Wijayasundera. In the Matale Maha Kadaimpotha, the dynasty of the Ehelepolas is clearly recorded that in the reign of King Rajasingha and King Wijayapala of Godapola, Ehelepola Basnayaka Nilame was Ratemahatmaya and Muhandiram. Ehelepola Ralahami Maha Adikaram Nilame was witness to an era of 1706, written at the palace of Hanguranketha. The family had a Sannas (1722 A.D.). The ancestry of the Ehelepolas and their land entitlements as per the Sannas of 1745 A.D. are as follows in summary form -
"His Most Gracious Majesty our Supreme Lord and God, king of the illustrious Lanka by the light of his incomparable and most profound divine wisdom made the following edict. "Waradamune Mudiyannaehe, served and continued to serve the Great Gate with affection and then obtained great many favours, among such a Sannas to Asweddumize any land he might wish in any place below Narangashinna and above the ferry Timbillatota. Medabedde Ekanayake Mudiyannaehe also having served the Great Gate with true loyalty obtained office of Dissava of Seven Korales and in recognition of his military exploits received the present of an elephant and a chain of four strands from His Majesty.
The grandson of Siriniwasa Maha Terunwahanse, who is a descendant of Bhuvanekabahu Terunnanse accompanied King Rajasingha to Madakalapuwa (Batticaloa) and performed loyal military service and was appointed as Lekam of the Halu Mandapa and Radabedda, Gabada Nilame of the Palle Maha Wasala."
Ehelepoal Disava of Uva married a daughter of Rate Korale and sister of Kosinne Korale, who was executed in 1815. Ehelepola Maha Nilame by his marriage to a Pilimatalawwe Lady had two sons and two daughters. 1. Ehelepola Adigar, 2. Ehelepola Disava of Matale, 3. Ehelepola Menike, who was married to Meegastenne Adigar, 4. Ehelepola Tikiri Menike who married Haluwadana Nilame.
The elder brother of Maha Nilame married a niece of Niramulle Muhandirama, a sister of the wife of Kobbekaduwe Disava. Ehelepola Disava of Uva died in 1807. His children were Maha Nilame and Second Disava of Matale.
In a document (Sittu) he is described as Ehelepola Wijayasundera Wickramasinghe Chandrasekera Seneviratne Senanayake Jayatilleke Amarakoon Wahala Panditha Mudiyanse Ralahami, who held the offices of Gantuna Disava, Gangala, Laggala, Kirioruwa, Bogambara Kuruwa, Nalanda, Kallawa, Kotalbadde, Kumbalbadde, Tamarankada Disava and Maha Disava of Matale. He incurred the King's displeasure and was sent out of Kandy and his properties were given to the Maha Nilame, his brother.
He had two sons and a daughter. 1. Ehelepola Disawa of Seven Korales, who was put to death with Maha Adikaram Ehelepola's children. 2. Ehelepola of Nuwarakalaviya (Anuradhapura, too was put to death after Ehelepola Maha Adikaram's flight to Colombo for refuge under British Governor Brownrigg. 3. Ehelepola Kumarihamy married Dodanwela, then divorced and married Unambuwa Godahela Wedikkara Lekam.
The chief character of this story, the eldest son Ehelepola Wijayasundera Wickramasinghe Chandrasekera Seneviratne was born about 1773 A.D. Appointed the Disava of Seven Korales and succeeded Migastenne as Second Adigar in 1806 at the age of 33 years, comparatively a very young age to hold this high office, comparable to a present day Deputy Prime Minister.
However, the King, knowing the talents and the Second Adigar's popularity among the people, in order to keep him in check the office of Seven Korales was divided between Ehelepola and Molligoda, which greatly dissatisfied the people, as they to perform double services and duties to two officials.
People rose in rebellion and Pilimatalawwe suppressed it ruthlessly. Ehelepola was then shifted as Disava of Uva. Pilimatalawwe himself, not gaining his wish of becoming the King of the Kandyan Kingdom, and to be treated as heir-apparent by the King, rebelled against the King and he was put to death by the King in 1812.
Ehelepola then succeeded as the First Disava. But the King suspected that he would have been hand and glove in the rebellion with Pilimatalawwe. This displeasure was directly shown to Ehelepola when he made some rich presents to the King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, on his marriage with the King stating that these presents were unworthy of acceptance.
Ehelepola discerned that this King's remarks were the outburst of the King due to the Kandyan officials with no connection to the Sinhala Buddhist aristocracy were trying to gain important officialdom under the king and ultimately to succeed to the throne, even assassinating him and the best stratagem was to feign total allegiance to the king by fabricating stories against Ehelepola and make the King a total adversary of Ehelepola. Ehelepola, was thus circumstanced to proceed to his Disavoni, as the atmosphere at the Kandyan court was totally detrimental to his life.
Furthermore king was a confirmed alcoholic and well provided by the plotters with liquor smuggled from the British liquor shops at Colombo, through the itinerant Muslim traders who took arecanuts and spices to the Colombo markets. The King summoned Ehelepola in March 1814 and Ehelepola refused to call over at Kandy.
The King deprived Ehelepola of offices of Disava and Adigar and conferred these offices on Molligoda. A rebellion broke out at Wellessa and in the wake of the supresional activities Ehelepola fled to Kalutara in May or June 1814 and thence repaid to Colombo and sought refuge under British Governor Brownrigg, as the Kandyan King and his acolytes were planning and plotting to kill him.
True to expectations Molligoda had the followers of Ehelepola both in Sabragamuwa and Kandy killed. It could be presumed that it was Molligoda who was the force behind to encourage King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe to pursue the most bestial genocide, ever happened in any civilised country. Ehelepola's brother and nephew were put to death and eventually to destroy all traces of Ehelepola family his wife and children and relations were put to death.
Thus came the end of the Ehelepola dynasty who had every right, through their ancestry and Buddhist monks descending from King Bhuvanekabahu's dynasty, popular leaders of the Sinhala Buddhist of the country and fearless military strategists and logisticians, came to a forced ending by the conspiratorial officials of the Kandyan court who never had any such credentials to be the heirs to the throne of high offices in the administration of the country.
"Palipane Disawa witnessing the drowning of Ehelepola Kumarihamy and her female relative in the Bogambara Tank was so affected that he fainted and was deprived of his office for showing such tender sensibility, says Charles Pridham in his work, 'A historical, political and statistical account of Ceylon and its dependencies (Volumes London 1849, pp. 185 - 186).
He further records, during the two days, the whole of Kandy, with the exception of the court (Palace) was one of mourning and lamentation, and so deep was his grief (that it was said) not a fire was kindled, nor food dressed and a general fast was held. "This is clear manifestation to the popularity of Ehelepola Maha Adikaram and his family and Kandyans never reckoned Ehelepola as a traitor.
In a foregoing paragraph, the correct place where Ehelepola children were beheaded and where Ehelepola Kumarihamy was ordered the severed heads of her children were to be pounded, namely in the centre of the area between the Vahalkada of Natha Devale (opposite old Dharmaraja College building) and the flight of steps leading to Maha Devala (Vishnu Devale) within sight from the window of the Queen's apartment (extreme Western end of the Sri Dalada Maligawa building).
This Great lady has to be immortalized and I would also appeal to the Central Province Governor, Mr. Monty Gopallawa to initiate action with the Ministry of National Heritage to raise a statue of Ehelepola Kumarihamy and her children, so that thousands of schoolchildren visiting the Sri Dalada Maligawa and the precincts would be aware of the great contribution this lady had made for the country. The statement quoted by me made by her could be carried in the epitaph of the memorial.
(The writer is a member of the Bharatiya Kala Kendra, India and ISP (Switzerland) 1978 International Awardee (first Asian) in anthropological and investigative journalism).
Last edited by LankaLibrary on Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.