Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy

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Sri Vikrama Rajasinha
King of Kandy
Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.jpg
Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, King of Kandy.
Reign1798 – February 10, 1815
Coronation1798
PredecessorRajadhi Rajasinha
SuccessorEnd of Sinhalese monarchy
George III of the United Kingdom, as King of British Ceylon
Born1780
Kandy, Sri Lanka or Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Died30 January 1832(1832-01-30) (aged 51)
Vellore Fort, India
SpouseQueen Consort
Sri Venakatha Rangammal Devi

Royal Concubine
Venakatha Jammal Devi

Royal Concubine
Venakatha Ammal Devi

Royal Concubine
Muttu Kannamma Devi

Royal Concubine
Pilimathalawe Devi
IssuePrince Rajadhi Rajasingha (d. 1843)

Princess Raja Letchumi Devi (d. 1856)

Princess Raja Nachiar Devi (d. 1860)

Princess Sinhala Gauri Devi

Princess Rajaratne Kamsalya Devi
HouseNayaks of Kandy
FatherSri Venkatha Perumal
MotherSubbamma Nayaka
ReligionHinduism
SignatureSri Vikrama Rajasinha's signature

Sri Vikrama Rajasinha (1780 – January 30, 1832, born Kannasamy Nayaka) was the last of four Kings, to rule the last Sinhalese monarchy of the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. The Nayak Kings were of Telugu origin who practiced Shaivite Hinduism and were patrons of Theravada Buddhism.[1][2] The Nayak rulers played a huge role in reviving Buddhism in the island.[3] They spoke Telugu or Tamil, and used Tamil as the court language in Kandy alongside Sinhala.[4][5][6][7][8]

The King was eventually deposed by the British government under the terms of the Kandyan Convention, in 1815, ending over 2,300 years of domination by the Sinhalese crown on the island. The island was incorporated into the British Empire, and Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was succeeded by George III, as monarch of British Ceylon.

Early life[edit]

Prior to his coronation in 1798, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was known as Prince Kannasamy Naidu.[9] He was a member of the Madurai Nayak Dynasty and the nephew of Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha. He succeed his uncle as the King of Kandy in 1798 at the age of eighteen.

Reign[edit]

The Throne of Kandyan Kings.

Early reign[edit]

There was a rival claimant to succeed Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha, the brother of Queen Upendrama, who had a stronger claim. However, Pilimatalauwa, the first Adigar (Prime Minister) chose Prince Kannasamy, reportedly with deep-seated plans to usurp the throne to set up a dynasty of his own. Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was faced with numerous conspiracies to overthrow him and reigned through one of the most turbulent periods in Sri Lanka's history.

Internal Conflict[edit]

Capture of HM Rajasinha in 1815.

During his time, the British who had succeeded the Dutch in the Maritime Provinces had not interfered in the politics of the Kingdom of Kandy. But Pilimatalauwa, the first Adigar of the King, desiring British control over the island, covertly worked with the British administration to provoke the King to acting aggressively towards them in order to give Britain a casus belli against the Kandyian Kingdom. The Adigar manipulated the King into starting a military conflict with the British, who had gained a strong position in the coastal provinces. War was declared and on March 22, 1803 the British entered Kandy with no resistance, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha having fled. The Adigar massacred the British garrison in Kandy in June and restored the King to the throne. Pilimitalava plotted to overthrow the King and seize the crown for himself, but his plot was discovered, and, having been pardoned on two previous occasions, he was executed.

The disgraced Adigar was replaced by his nephew, Ehelepola Nilame, who soon came under suspicion of following his uncle in plotting the overthrow of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. A rebellion instigated by Ehalepola was suppressed, after which he then fled to Colombo and joined the British. After failing to surrender (after 3 weeks of notice), the exasperated King dismissed Ehelepola, confiscated his lands, and ordered the imprisonment and execution of his wife and children. A propagandised account of the execution was widely circulated by sympathisers.

Rangammal Devi, Queen Consort.
Drawn by William Daniell in the 1800s.

Ehelepola fled to British-controlled territory, where he persuaded the British that Sri Vikrama Rajasinha's tyranny deserved a military intervention. The pretext was provided by the seizure of a number of British merchants, who were detained on suspicion of spying and were tortured, killing several of them. An invasion was duly mounted and advanced to Kandy without resistance, reaching the city on February 10, 1815. On March 2, the Kingdom was ceded to the British under a treaty called the Kandyan Convention.

Regarding the King's reign, the historian Louis Edmund Blaze states that "He was not as ardent a patriot as his immediate successors; nor did he show those mental and moral qualities which enabled former Kings to hold their own against rebellion and invasion. To say he was cruel does not mean much, for cruel Kings and nobles were not rare in those days; and it is questionable whether all the cruel deeds attributed to Sri Vickrama Rajasinha were of his own devising or done by his authority. It might be more fair to regard him as a weak tool in the hands of designing chiefs than as the monster of cruelty, which it is an idle fashion with some writers to call him. He did a lot to beautify his capital. The lake and the Octagon in Kandy have always been considered the work of the King."

Death[edit]

On March 2, 1815 the Kingdom was ceded to Britain and Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was deposed and taken as a royal prisoner by the British to Vellore Fort in southern India. He lived on a small allowance given to him with his two queens by the British colonial administration. He died of dropsy on January 30, 1832, aged 52 years.

His death anniversary is celebrated as Guru Pooja by descendants at Muthu Mandabam, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India. Since 2011, Guru Pooja is celebrated at Muthu Mandabam by them.[10][11]

Family[edit]

Parents

  • Lord Venakatha Perumal - father
  • Lady Subbramma Nayakkar - mother

Siblings

  • Prince Sri Perumal - Brother
  • Prince Dawala Kumara Sami

Consorts

  • Queen Consort Sri Venakatha Rangammal Devi - Spouse 1
  • Royal Concubine Venakatha Jammal Devi - spouse 2
  • Royal Concubine Venakatha Ammal Devi - spouse 3
  • Royal Concubine Muttu Kannammal - spouse 4
  • Raani Thayarammal Devi - according to some legends.
  • Raani Sitammal Devi - according to some legends.

Children

  • Prince Rajadhi Rajasinghe (son) + Princess Consort Savithri Devi (daughter-in-low)
  • Princess Rajaratne Kamsalya Devi (daughter)
  • Princess Sri Raja Nachchiyar Devi (daughter) + Lord Alagiri Sami (son-in-low)
  • Princess Sinhala Gauri Devi (daughter)
  • Princess Raja Lakshmi Devi (daughter) + Lord Ranga Raja (son-in-law)

Grand Children

  • Prince Sri Dharmaraja (grand son), son of Princess Sri Raja Nachchiyar Devi. + Lady Muttu Krishnal Ammal Devi (grand daughter-in-low)
  • Princess Chaya Devi (grand daughter), daughter of Princess Raja Nachchiyar Devi.
  • Prince Tyaga Raja (grand son), son of Princess Sri Raja Nachchiyar Devi.
  • Prince Sri Alagia Manawala Sinhala Raja (grand son), son of Princess Raja Lakshmi Devi.

Great Grand Children

  • Prince Sri Vikrama Raja (great-grand son), son of Prince Sri Alagia Manawala Sinhala Raja. + Lady Snagavalli Tyagar Ammal (great-grand daughter-in-low)

Great-Great Grand Children

  • Two children of Prince Sri Vikrama Raja.

Legacy[edit]

Palace of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.
Flag of the Kingdom of Kandy.

The current Flag of Sri Lanka incorporates Sri Vikrama Rajasinha's Royal Standard. In September 1945 it was proposed in an address to the State Council that the flag be adopted as Sri Lanka's national flag:

"This House is of opinion that the Royal Standard of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha depicting a yellow lion passant holding a sword in its right paw on a red background, which was removed to England after the Convention of 1815, should once again be adopted as the official flag of Free Lanka."

Kandy Lake, an artificial lake overlooking the palace in Kandy was commissioned by Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.

The Paththirippuwa or Octagon of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, is widely regarded as the epitome or the most admired symbol and representation of Kandyan Sinhalese Architecture. It was built in 1802 A.D. by Devendra Mulachari, Master Craftsman and Royal Architect, on the instructions of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.

During Sri Vikrama Rajasinha's time as a royal prisoner in Vellore Fort he received a privy purse, which his descendants continued to receive from the Government of Ceylon until 1965. Muthu Mandapam is a memorial built around the tombstone of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the last south Indian origin ruler of Kandy.[12][13] Situated on the bank Palar River, it is just one km north of Vellore town.

During Sri Vikrama Rajasinha's reign, Tamil was used as one of the court languages in Kandy - a historical fact with implications for the present-day politics of Sri Lanka.[14]

In 2018, a Sinhala film titled Girivassipura was made and released which depicts the real-life story of the King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Historians, Society of Architectural (1994). Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. The Society. p. 362.
  2. ^ Gooneratne, Brendon (1999). This inscrutable Englishman: Sir John D'Oyly, Baronet, 1774-1824. Cassell. p. 294. ISBN 0304700940.
  3. ^ "The Island-Midweek Review". www.island.lk.
  4. ^ Muthiah, S. (2017-03-27). "The Nayaka kings of Kandy". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-10-23. All four worshipped at Buddhist and Hindu shrines, used Sinhala and Tamil as court languages (though they spoke Telugu), and encouraged their courtiers to take wives from Madurai and Thanjavur.
  5. ^ Ricci, Ronit (2016-05-31). Exile in Colonial Asia: Kings, Convicts, Commemoration. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-5375-4. They spoke Telugu or Tamil rather than Sinhala; they were by origin Saivite Hindus rather than Buddhists, though they fulfilled their key responsibilities as defenders of the Buddhist faith.
  6. ^ Francoeur, Noonan, Robert T. Raymond J. Noonan (January 2004). The Continuum complete international encyclopedia of sexuality. In Fact, the last Sri Lankan king ruled from highland city of Kandy and was of Tamil descent. ISBN 9780826414885. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  7. ^ de Jong, Joop T. V. M. (30 April 2002). Trauma, war, and violence: public mental health in socio-cultural context. "Later in 1815. British captured the central hill country, which was ruled by the Tamil Nayakar, King Rajasingan". ISBN 9780306467097. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  8. ^ Llc, Books (2010-05-01). Madurai Nayak Dynasty: Puli Thevar, Palaiyakkarar, Nayaks of Kandy, Srivilliputhur, Thirumalai Nayak, Mangammal, Chokkanatha Nayak. General Books LLC. ISBN 9781155798967.
  9. ^ Pilimatalavuva, Ananda (2004). The Pilimatalavuvas in the last days of the Kandyan kingdom (Sinhalé). Being the most powerful Chieftain at court Pilimatalavuva Maha Adikaram was instrumental in raising Prince Kannasamy to the throne under the title of Sri Vickrama Rajasinha. ISBN 9789558733646. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  10. ^ https://www.news18.com, https://www.news18.com. "Homage to last Tamil king of Sri Lanka". News18. News18. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  11. ^ https://www.thehindu.com, https://www.thehindu.com. "Last ruler of Kandy has his resting place in Vellore". The Hindu. The Hindu. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  12. ^ Kulatunga, K. M. M. B. (2005-01-01). Disorder in Sri Lanka. Nidahas Publication. ISBN 9789551035020.
  13. ^ "Tamil Rulers of Kandyan Kingdom". www.sangam.org.
  14. ^ Rangarajan, S. (April 1998). "Frontline, Volume 15, Issues 1-8". The Nayakkars were of Telugu origin but spoke Tamil. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  15. ^ "ஒரு துரோகம், ஒரு மரணம்! ஏரெடுத்து உழுத உழவன் வாளெடுத்து வரலாறு படைத்த கதை இது! - Dinamani". m.dinamani.com. Retrieved 2018-12-28.

External links[edit]

Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy
Born: ? 1780 Died: January 30 1832
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha
King of Kandy
1798 – February 10, 1815
Succeeded by
End of Sinhalese monarchy
George III of the United Kingdom, As king of British Ceylon