Funday Times - Our History

Veediya Bandara is imprisoned

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

The Portuguese commander accompanied Veediya Bandara, to a room. The other ten Portuguese
soldiers followed them. As everyone entered the room, the Portuguese soldiers closed the door of the room. Suddenly, De Mallo, who had a pistol hidden, took it to his hand. Commander Veediya Bandara was unarmed. De Mallo said, “In the name of the King of Portugal, I am taking you prisoner”.

De Mallo added, “If you do not surrender now you may have to face serious dangers. You may even have to pay with your life.” This brave warrior Veediya Bandara was not afraid, but he thought seriously.

He acted quite calm and collected. He asked the Portuguese officer, what crime he had committed to be taken prisoner like this. “The lawyer for the plaintiff will reveal that in due course,” replied De Mallo. For a moment, Commander Veediya Bandara decided to remain quiet.

If I were to act hastily, this man will kill me by shooting. The next best thing to do now, is to obey him,” thought he. All of them then came out of the room.

Veediya Bandara’s men were then becoming restless. He ordered them to be quiet and advised them not to make any attempt to save him. His men listened to him. Thereafter, Veediya Bandara had to go to Colombo with the Portuguese.

This valiant warrior entered the Fort in Colombo as a prisoner. In order to honour him, there was a gun salute as he entered the fort. But after that things changed. He was imprisoned in a tiny cell, under difficult conditions. Later he was produced before the court of De Eka – the Chief Portuguese officer in the fort. Here, Veediya Bandara had to suffer insults, as when all the others were comfortably seated, he had to keep standing.

With great difficulty, he bore it up. De Eka was seated on a magnificent ebony seat. He then presented the charges against Veediya Bandara. “I am really sorry to carry out this action in a very unsatisfactory manner, but it is you who compelled me to act like this.”

“There was a very close relationship between the Kingdom of Kotte and Portugal. There was a royal agreement too. You ignored that and harassed the Christians. You ill-treated all of us. Our Catholic priests were made to suffer harassment, churches were broken down and their contents stolen. Wherever there were churches, you erected Buddhist temples and made the Buddhist priests occupy them.

In short you prohibited the following of the Christian faith in the Kingdom of Kotte. The Viceroy in Goa and I were often humiliated. We were made to suffer immense insults. You made all plans to stop inter-marriage between the Sinhalese and the Portuguese. The tributes, which King Buwanekabahu used to pay, were stopped by you. These are only a few of the offences you have committed. There are many more.

I need not give them in detail. You may know what wrongs you committed. In future all that will be revealed. That will not be done here. It will take place in Goa and the necessary punishment will also be meted out there. You can organize your facts to present and plead your innocence. Be prepared to go to that country.” All this was said by the Chief of Colombo Fort, De Eka. He said so in a very proud and authoritative manner.

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