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 Post subject: King Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawaka
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 10:51 pm 
King Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawaka

The young ‘son’ of Mayadunne, called Tikiri Bandara or Tikiri Kumaraya, had distinguished himself in the battlefield, and was called ‘Rajasinha’.

It is said, that Tikiri Kumaraya or Rajasinha, was fathered by Petiyagoda Patta Mestri Sinhala Kirti Rajapakse Bhatirajja Vanniyar Mudiyanse Disava, residing in the palace, and was begotten by Sumana Devi, the Chief Queen of Rajasinha. It is also said that it had been a known fact, as much as his physique, ability, military prowess, intellect and bravery.

Between 1557 and 1565, Mayadunne and his son Rajasinha besieged Kotte several times. The Portuguese, unable to depend, both Kotte and Colombo, abandoned Kotte in 1565, and Dharmapala, moved with all his valuables and retinue to Colombo. For all practical purposes the suzerainity of Kotte had come to an end. Sitavaka became the acknowledged capital of the people.

Queyroz, as well as Sinhala records state that Mayadunne abdicated in May 1578/1580 in favour of Rajasinha (1580/1593), and thereby, the latter became the de facto successor, to the Kotte kingdom. But, the de jure position remained with Dharmapala in Colombo, by virtue of the nomination of the latter by Buvanekabahu, and supported by the alien Portuguese power in the island.

The Chulavamsa statement that Rajasinha was a parricide is contradicted by Queyroz, and other contemporary Sinhala works, and has also been effectively disproved by all scholars of this period.

On Rajasinha’s accession to Sitavaka, he continued to lay siege on Kandy. If Dharmapala had alienated his position of being the rightful ruler of the land, by his conversion to Catholicism, Karalliyadde, a grandson of Senasammata Vikramabahu, was in the same plight after his conversion, which is dated to sometime between 1562 and 1564. Thus, when Rajasinha invaded Kandy in 1582, Karalliyadde fled his kingdom.

Sitavaka was now at the apex of its power. It had taken over the territory of Kotte, and now of Senkadagalapura. Only Colombo, the seat of the Portuguese, and of Dharmapala, lay between his virtual possession of the Kotte kingdom and his aspiration for the overlordship of the island.

Thus, Rajasinha, after his expedition against Colombo in 1579- 1581, once again mounted an attack between 1587 and 1588. Brilliant as these campaigns were, yet they failed to achieve their objectives. Portuguese succour from its Indian possessions, and Rajasinha’s inability to control the seas, and perhaps the better trained soldiery of the Portuguese against that of his, led to his disappointment. In both occasions he nearly succeeded, but unfortunately, success eluded him.

Due to that Portuguese intervention in Kandy, which received support from some sections of its people, Rajasinha, in 1593, once again invaded Kandy. If Vidiye Bandara had met his match in Rajasinha, Rajasinha met his match in Konappu Bandara, at the Balana pass. The latter successfully defended the entry to Kandy, and Rajasinha retired.

Rajasinha’s attempted invasion of Kandy was to be his last military expedition. As disunity among the Sinhalese would have it, his last battle was against another Sinhala centre of power. And, Rajasinha failed. On his retreat, it is said that he had the misfortune of a bamboo splinter pricking his foot at Petangeda, and shortly after, he breathed his last.

If Rajasinha’s birth is seen to have had a fault, his end is certainly seem to be tragic. According to the Sitavaka Rajasinha Rajakalaya (1599) Rajasinha’s daughter Menik Biso Bandara from his chief queen Dedampegei Malvati, had a son named Rajasuriya, by a Cola prince.

According to the above source, the wound in the king’s foot was caused by a blow from the followers of Rajasurya, and in the guise of treating the wound, Dodamvela Ganitaya, through his accomplice named Peduru, had poisoned it. The background to it, is said to be that Rajasurya was having an affair with Dodamvela Ganitaya’s daughter, and hastening the death of Rajasinha, would benefit both Rajasurya and the Ganitaya.

Whether the wound was caused by a blow, or as is better and popularly known by the pricking of a bamboo, its poisoning is seen to be the cause of death.

“King Rajasinghe who had brought this beautiful Lanka under one canopy breathed his last on Thursday, the 7th day of the lunar month, under the asterism Hata”

Image
The tomb of Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawake

This is the farewell tribute made in the chronicle Rajavaliya on the death of King Rajasinghe 1 of Sitawaka fame and the “King of Lions” whose death occurred in 1591 AD.

It is related that when the king suffered defeat at the hands of Konappu Bandara who later ascended the Kandyan throne as Vimala Dharmasuriya 1, the king retreated to the royal park at Pethangoda. And here a fatal bamboo splinter ran into the kings foot.

This story however is subject to debate. And some say it was the bite of a cobra that inhabited the bamboo grove that killed the king.


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