Funday Times - Mahavamsa

Unrest in the palace
This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
By Halaliye Karunathilake, Edited and translated by Kamala Silva, Illustrated by Saman Kalubowila

1.King John handed over five Christian priests to the Sri Lankan envoys. They belonged to the Franciscan order. The leader of these missionaries was John Vile de Konde. Towards the end of 1543 A.D., they came to Sri Lanka. King Buwanekabahu welcomed them warmly and made arrangements for a
comfortable stay here.

2. A few days passed. The priests realized that their purpose was proving to be fruitless, as King Buwanekabahu did not want to embrace the new religion. It is not only the king, the citizens also showed no enthusiasm. They did not pay much regard to the priests. They felt small, neglected, sad and eventually disgusted. But it should be noted that though King Buwanekabahu did not embrace Christianity, he never insulted the new religion.

3. He respected this religion and never did he ill-treat the Christians. He even did not object to the propagation of this religion in our country. He, however, did not like his subjects becoming Christians. According to him, if the subjects embrace Christianity, it would affect the stability of his kingdom. It would definitely be advantageous to King Mayadunne. He thought that all the Buddhists would go against the Kingdom of Kotte.

4. The clergy who were sad, came, met King Buwanekabahu and told him that their expectations were all broken. The king was a little worried about their disgust because he thought if they were to inform Portugal about this, King John would certainly be angry. The king gave them gifts of money and tried to please the priests. But the clergy felt that it was an unbecoming act. The entire country was

5. After hearing that Prince Dharmapala was to become the next king, the people in power thought, this was against the rules and regulations that existed so far. The King of Sitawaka was the most worried, over this issue. There arose enemies in the palace itself. They were the sons of the king by the second queen. This queen began to ill-treat the king. The king became utterly helpless.

6. Meanwhile, King Mayadunne, who couldn't control his anger, raised an army and went to fight. King Buwanekabahu was quite upset. He sought Portuguese help and sent an envoy to Goa too. Pandita Rala was the envoy sent. The king expected to send envoys to Lisbon too and seek help. King Mayadunne came to know that envoys had been sent to Goa.

7. He marched once more with his army. The trouble in the palace could not be suppressed. There was no escape for the king. The queen and her two sons too worried the king. He even entertained a threat to his life. As something had to be done, he was compelled to seek Portuguese help and wanted to make the two princes provincial rulers of Jaffna and Kandy respectively. At this time, there was a staunch Christian in the palace of Kotte.

8. Though a Portuguese national, he had learnt the Sinhala language and was very fluent in it. He was Andro de Souza, by name. He got friendly with the princes. The elder prince was secretly converted to Christianity. No one in the palace knew about this. The younger prince Jugo Bandara was only 14 years of age at this time. He was the one who had a great craving for kingship. Souza, who understood this, spoke to the prince about kingship.

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