Funday Times - Our History

A new ruler of Kotte

By Halaliye Karunathilake, Edited and translated by Kamala Silva, Illustrated by Saman Kalubowila

Commander Veediya Bandara was silent. He did not show any signs of fear. He was not shaken but was in deep thought. Yet, after De Eka’s speech, he tried to say something. But the Portuguese leader said that he was not prepared to listen. He got up and left. Veediya Bandara was imprisoned in a dark cell. From that time onwards, he had to undergo untold suffering.

These ‘whites’ did not for a moment consider the greatness of the man. His royal connections were overlooked. He was made to suffer. Even the minor employees tried to harass him. This commander who enjoyed good food, was not properly fed. Yet, this brave leader was not moved by these. He maintained his normal majestic manner. He constantly contemplated on his religion.

He always prayed for the end of this bad period, which had befallen him. Just as when he was the ruler of Kotte, he kept his dignity even while in prison. In the meantime, Portuguese appointed Thammita Suriya Bandara, as the ruler of Kotte. He was loyal to the Portuguese and accepted their superiority. After this, Christians in Kotte, did not have to face any oppression. They carried on their activities

King Dharmapala too liked Thammita Suriya Bandara. Even though Veediya Bandara was his father, King Dharmapala harboured a little suspicion. Veediya Bandara’s supporters did not know this. They requested King Dharmapala to get Commander Veediya Bandara released. They almost compelled Thammita Bandara too to act on this matter. But both these individuals did not take any notice of this request. They just ignored the matter.

Meanwhile, his queen tried her best to get the release of this great commander from prison. This brave lady was Suriya Devi, the daughter of King Mayadunne.

Veediya Bandara met this princess while he was in prison, during the time of King Buwanekabahu. At one stage, King Mayadunne stopped paying tribute to the King of Kotte.Commander Veediya Bandara then sent a letter requesting the payment of tribute immediately.

The underlying intention here was to tempt King Mayadunne to come for a fight. But the King of Sitawaka did not get caught to this trap. Instead, he too sent a message to Kotte saying, there was no need to pay tribute to Kotte, and that the King of Kotte had notified them to this effect.

This notification had been by a royal decree, which Commander Veediya Bandara ignored. He got ready for battle. Knowing this, King Mayadunne also planned all necessary strategies. He stationed his soldiers in two secret camps. Mayadunne then, fled to Kandy. Commander Veediya Bandara, who was ignorant of all this, marched to Sitawaka, taking a huge army.

He met no resistance on the way. He captured Sitawaka, without shedding a drop of blood. He set up camp there. The soldiers too had no fear at all. They ate, drank and enjoyed themselves. This turned to be a foolish act. They never thought there were secret enemy camps.

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