Funday Times - Our History

The captain who was deceived by false tales

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 Jesuit priest continuing in his letter to the Portuguese authorities in Goa wrote, “O, king, endless are the unlawful acts of our own Portuguese people, let alone those of Veediya Bandara. As a result, it is very
difficult to get the Sinhala people to embrace Christianity.

We find it difficult even to venture upon any missionary work. There are many obstacles in our way. The people have begun to think that the religion we preach is not that good. All this is a result of the misdeeds of our own people. It has come to a point where the Sinhala people come straight to us and complain about the wrong actions of the Portuguese.”

When the Viceroy in India heard all this he felt miserable. He took immediate action. He sent a person named Aponso Pereira Lasardu, to Colombo. He was appointed as the Chief Captain. One of his aims was to capture Veediya Bandara. Meanwhile King Mayadunne of Sitawaka, once again, turned against his son-in-law, Veediya Bandara. He thought of getting rid of Veediya Bandara, somehow.

It is not only Commander Veediya Bandara – but also Thammita Suriya Bandara, who was a powerful personality in the court of Kotte – who was Mayadunne’s target. He was thinking that if these two were killed, he could claim to be the ruler of the Kotte Kingdom as well. To attain this end, he had to be supportive of the Portuguese. So he ruled as if he was a ruler under the Portuguese power. The lands that belonged to the Portuguese had been annexed by him.

These included the parts from Puttalam to Galle and the adjoining lands. He concocted various false tales to the effect, that Thammita Suriya Bandara was secretly helping his brother Commander Veediya Bandara and various other things against Thammita. This was done to poison the minds of the Portuguese leaders against Thammita. The Portuguese, on their part, believed all this and said they would capture Thammita and send him to Goa.

Captain Aponso Pereira, did not pause for a moment to think. He accepted all the tales of Mayadunne and arrested Thammita Suriya Bandara. Two other leaders of Kotte were also captured. Without holding any inquiry whatsoever, they were sent to Goa. Once they were sent there, Thammita Suriya Bandara met the Viceroy in Goa.

He proved his innocence. The Viceroy who was a staunch follower of Christianity, granted them freedom and went to the extent of conferring on him, the honorary name – Francisco Baratto. They were sent back to Lanka. King Mayadunne, just could not tolerate all this. But he patiently bore it all up, as he was determined to crush Veediya Bandara.

King Mayadunne, continued his policy of working in co-operation with the Portuguese. By this time, Commander Veediya Bandara had erected a fortress in Palanda. He even had put up a few barriers and
within a couple of weeks, all this work was complete. He hated his brother Thammita. He called two of his messengers.

He gave them a letter and requested them to deliver it to his brother Thammita Suriya Bandara. Immediately the two messengers left for Kotte and met Thammita. By then, he had once again become the most powerful individual in the Kingdom of Kotte. King Dharmapala was king only in name. The entire administration was carried out by Thammita Suriya Bandara.

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