Rajasinha I of Sitawaka
|King of Sitawaka|
Rajasinghe I (Sinhala:පළමුවන රාජසිංහ)  was a king of the Kingdom of Sitawaka. He is known for his extreme bravery and patriotism. Born as Tikiri Bandara to King Mayadunne of the Kingdom of Sitawaka, the name "Rajasinha" was given to him after a fierce battle against Portuguese forces. Rajasinha means the King of Lions (or the Lion King).
Ascent to throne
Generally, it has been recorded that he reigned from 1581 to 1592. However, according to De Queros, Mayadunne handed over the kingdom to Rajasinha in 1578. In 1581, Mayadunne died leaving Rajasinha to ascend the throne. There are conflicting information in various sources regarding his role in his father Mayadunne's death. In the 4th chapter of Mahawamsa written by Thibbotuwawe Buddharakhitha thero during the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasinha of Kandy states that Rajsinha killed Mayadunne. Minor Rajawaliya also recorded that due to his patricidal act which was considered as an irreversible "anantharya" karma by Buddhist monks, conflicts arose between him and the Buddhist prelates and as a result he followed an anti-Buddhist line. However, critics believe that the non-recording of a patricidal event in important sources such as Rajawaliya and Alakeshwara war renders the fact that he killed his father suspicious and conflicting. Rebairo too does not record a patricidal event. Dutch envoy Spillburjon who visited Sengkadagala kingdom reported that the rumor of patricide was spreading only in the Kandyan kingdom. Queros is known for his antipathy towards Sitawaka Rajasinha. In this background, if he committed patricide, Queros would have reported it without fail. In his lengthy account, Queros reported that Mayadunne died of natural causes after having lived 85 years. According to him, Rajasinha returned to seethawaka from the famous siege of the Colombo fort on hearing the passing away of his father.
While his main battle was against the Portuguese forces in defense of the sovereignty of the Sinhala monarch, he had to battle with numerous internal forces—some regional and individual, supported directly and indirectly by forces from Portugal.
One such adventure of Tikiri Bandara was the battle against his brother-in law " Veediye Bandara". Mayadunne initiated the campaign to destroy Veediye Bandara primarily due to (1) the ill treatment meted out to Mayadunne's daughter Tikiri Kumari who was the wife of Veediye Bandara and (2) non-rendering of the support to Mayadunne to wage war against the Kandyan ruler. Combined Sitawaka and Portuguese troops attacked Veediye Bandara's fort at Pelenda chasing him down to Devundara and capturing Tikiri Kumari.Sitwaka troops were led by twelve year old Tikiri Bandara.Veediye Bandara re grouped with the troops of the Kandyan leader and reached Salpiti Korale to attack Sitawaka troops. He was defeated by Tikiri Bandara again. He fled to Kanda uda rata and returned to Alut Nuwara with troops of the kandyan king. After a fierce battle at Alutnuwara, Veediye Bandara was decisively defeated by Tikiri Bandara.According to the "Alakeshwara War", this battle was so fierce and legendary, following which Tikiri Bandara was called "Rajasinha" .Rajawaliya states that the title Rajasinha that implies " Lion who is the king of kings" was given to him following this famous battle.
While Rajasinha waged his war against Portuguese, King Karaliyadde Bandara, utilized Portuguese soldiers to protect his Kandyan kingdom. Infuriated by this relationship with Portuguese invaders, with the support of Weerasundera Mudali of Peradeniya , Rajasinha led his troops up to the entry point at Balana in 1583 and chased Karalyadde Bandara.
The battle with the Portuguese in Mulleriyawa was the bloodiest fought to date. While the Portuguese held guns and more advanced weapons, the Sinhalese army simply equipped with swords and their ancient fighting method called Angam Pora, defeated the entire Portuguese army. Accounts indicate the vast paddy field in Mulleriyawa turned red with the blood of the dead Portuguese soldiers. This was the greatest defeat an European army ever had in an Asian land. It still remains that way. According to Queros, though he solicited support of Malabar coast or Kerala troops, non-availability of a naval fleet affected his endeavors to cleanse the country from invaders despite his remarkable siege at Colombo Fort.
The decline of the Kingdom of Sitawaka
King Rajasinghe I appointed a South Indian, named Aritta Kivendu as his chief advisor and acted on his advice. He was awarded the title Mannamperuma Mohottala. King Rajasinha arranged the marriage of Mannamperuma Mohottala to a sister of a junior queen known as "iron daughter" He converted to Hinduism. He was reported to have settled Brahmans at significant Buddhist sites such as sigiriya, sri pada etc. Under the advice of Mannamperuma Mohottala, he razed many Buddhist religious sites to the ground. The discontent caused among Buddhist public and prelates was a major reason for the downfall of the kingdom. Annexation of the Kandyan kingdom and killing many royals also believed to have contributed to the decline. His cruel approach towards Buddhism ignited anti-government rebellions with the involvement of Buddhist prelates. This gave rise to his conflict situation with the Buddhist prelates. In the Sath korale region , a prince named Pothupala Bandara rebelled against Rajasinha with the support of Portuguese. The rebellion was suppressed and all leaders who supported the rebellion were be headed. according to the Manadarampura Puwatha, prelates were involved in an attempt to make Konappu Bandara the king of Kandy. This conspiracy was exposed leading to execution of hundreds of Buddhist prelates. Mandaram pura puwatha reported that in one place , 121 monks were killed by Rajasinha. One of the notable victims was the chief prelate of Sitawaka. Support of the maha sangha that was a pillar of strength for Mayadunne and Tikiri Bandara to mobilize the public support for the sitawaka kingdom rapidly eroded.
Konappu Bandara having returned to Kandy via Mannar, Sri Lanka started a rebellion in Kandy. First he defeated the troops led by general and Aritta Kiwnendu. Secondly , Konappu Bandara defeated troops led by King Rajasinha himself. Rajawaliya reported that he withdrew saying that there was no king in front of me who fought valiantly from 11 years of age. However, this person who wages war in Kandy has lots of merits and I have now lost my merits. on his return from the defeat at Balana, he died in March 1592. The reason for his death was a wound caused by a pointed bamboo segment at Pethangoda while returning to sitawaka. Rajawaliya further recorded that the death was a result of the curse (suniyam) imposed on him by the Dodampe Ganithaya. Alakeshwara war reported that he was cremated at Mahanuwara that means the then capital Sitawaka.
Famous works on Sitawaka Rajasinha
Rajasinha I of SitawakaBorn: ? 1544 Died: March 1592
|King of Sitawaka
(Kingdom of Sitawaka annexed by Kingdom of Kandy)
- the first up-country Sinhalese who ascended the throne The Observer - December 29, 2002
- Fernão de Queyroz (1916). Conquista temporal e espiritual de Ceylaõ.
- Professor Mangala Illangasinghe (1997). Seethawaka Kingdom: in History of Ceylon (singhala). Education publication press. pp. 79–80.
- Professor Mangala Illangasinghe (1997). Seethawaka Kingdom: in History of Ceylon (singhala). Education publication press. pp. 78–79.
- Fernão de Queyroz (1916). Conquista temporal e espiritual de Ceylaõ.
- Mayadunne and Rajasinha I The Island - May 20, 2011
- Professor Mangala Illangasinghe (1997). Seethawaka Kingdom: in History of Ceylon (singhala). Education publication press. pp. 80–84.