King Buwanekabahu sent a delegation to Lisbon. This antagonized the Portuguese here. After the death of King Buwanakabahu, who was his grandfather, Prince Dharmapala had to ascend the throne at a very young age. The country was ruled by others. First it was his father, Commander Veediya Bandara, who carried on the rule. With the passage of time, the prince got angry with his father. Then it was Thammitta Suriya Bandara, who took over the rule. He was Commander Veediya Bandara’s brother and so was the uncle of Prince Dharmapala.
As king, Don Juan Dharmapala was a mere puppet. By the time he reached his youth,
everything had undergone change. In short, there was no country for the king to rule. After that, it was just a case of surrendering to Portuguese power. The Portuguese never respected the king. They did what they wanted, without consulting the king. Finally, the king had to seek Portuguese help for his survival. This king got married three times but he never had a child.
King Don Juan Dharmapala depended so much on the Portuguese, that in the end he had to delegate the authority of ruling the land to the King of Portugal. Even as a prince, Dharmapala was under the influence of the Franciscan priests.
He learnt the Christian religion very well from these priests. When the political
situation in the country changed, he embraced Christianity. This change of religion on the part of the king, made most of the people go against him. They sought the support of King Mayadunne of Sitawaka. But there were certain Christians who supported King Dharmapala because he became a convert.
Though misfortune fell upon him, the king had full faith in Christianity. With time,
he became more devoted to the new religion. There were some nasty Portuguese
officials who caused harm to him privately. Yet, the king did not give up his new religion. He was so devoted that the income he obtained from Viharas and Devalas in his kingdom was given to Franciscan priests to spend on
churches and other religious institutions.