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Dutch and the Tamil Homeland

Towards a Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Sri Lanka - Part 3
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The North Eastern Tamil Homeland during the Kandyan - Dutch Period

By Arular Arudpragasam

(August 06, Geneva, Sri Lanka Guardian) Many of the contemporary journalistic, academic and judicial contributions on the Kandyan Kingdom exhibit a great deal of misunderstanding and incomprehension about the political and social institutions of the Kandyan state. It is taken for granted that it was a centralised state with an almost homogeneous Sinhalese population. The belief that the Kandyan monarch was the custodian exclusively of Buddhism and its institutions has gained ground partly owing to the labours of some mediocre historians who cannot extricate themselves from their service to the chauvinist ideal. There is a general tendency, as evident from contemporary writings, to project the Kandyan Kingdom as a Sinhala Buddhist nation state, and worse still are the attempts made to defend the arguments in support of the unitary state with selected facts of Kandyan history.

The recent verdict of the Supreme Court to bifurcate the Tamil homeland too was based on the notion that the East was once part of the Kandyan Kingdom and there is significant difference between the North and East to warrant separation. Such notion rests on the untenable premise that the East was once part of the Sinhalese territory of Kandyan Kingdom. The attempts to turn these areas into Sinhalese areas has continued unabated for the last five hundred years and the consequence to the heinous schemes has been the continuation of genocidal programmes against the peace loving Tamil people who have lived in the North East since the arrival of the Portuguese..
In reality the nature of claims of the Kandyan Kingdom to the East was no different from the claims the Kings of Kotte were making over the whole island and offering the territories of the island to foreign powers so that it will become one day their own territory. The Kotte kings invited the Portuguese to carry out their design whereas the Kandyan kings invited the Dutch to carry out the scheme. The consequence of this clever manoeuvre was the same, the loss of Sri Lankan sovereignty to foreign powers, to be followed by the British with the same experience to the Kandyan Kingdom itself.

By nature and orientation the Kandyan Kingdom, during the time of its existence, was an anti-colonial alliance of the patriotic forces of both Tamils and Sinhalese as well as Tamil and Sinhalese principalities and in latter stages depended considerably on the Nayaker power that prevailed in South India. The tendency by the Sinhalese of today to over exploit the rights of the Kandyan Kingdom of this period to make claims and annex territories is totally unjustified, more so is the abuse of the Judiciary for this purpose and divide the Tamil homeland which is despicable.

As it prevailed during the period of Jaffna, the aspiration to become the overlord of the whole island existed among the Kandyan Kings as well and the Tamils were aware of it. The reduction of the Kandyan Kingdom into a Sinhala Buddhist Kingdom, that would justify Sinhalese claims of today, exists only in the conspiracy which miserably failed leading to the end of the Kandyan Kingdom and it becoming a British colony instead of its emergence into a Sinhala Buddhist Kingdom as it was hoped for.

The early history of the Kandyan kingdom

The beginning of the Kandyan Kingdom is traced to 1474 when Vikramabahu proclaimed him King of what was the originally Kandyan territory, the Kantha Uda Pas Ratta and asserted his independence.

The Kandyan Kingdom, like any other kingdom, rose by specific political conditions that facilitated the rise of smaller principalities into kingdoms. This, in the case of Kandyan Kingdom, undoubtedly was the arrival of the Portuguese, who sooner brought on considerable pressure to extinguish the freedom and independence of the native rule in the maritime kingdoms of Kotte and Jaffna.

Under normal circumstances, these two Kingdoms would have competed to take control of the principalities, known as Kanda Uda Pas Ratta (the five counties on the mountain top) that came together as the Kandyan Kingdom. The arrival of the Portuguese changed all this. The oppressive conditions the Portuguese created in the littoral areas effectively shifted the centre of native power from the maritime kingdoms to the central high lands and soon Kandyan Kingdom emerged as the bastion of native zeal of all Sri Lankans.

Kandy had its share of troubles during the initial period when the Kingdom of Kotte in league with Portugal and Sitawaka attempted to take control of the Kandyan Kingdom. These attempts had only a limited success.

Before the emergence of Kandy as a bulwark of native power, the role was effectively held by Jaffna and subsequently by Sitawaka during the time of Rajasingha I (1581-1593AD). This also saw the rise of Saivaism in Sitawaka and banishment of Buddhism and Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka.

Kandy attempted to thwart a Sitawaka takeover by aligning with Portuguese power in Kotte leading to a Kandy - Portuguese alliance between 1564-1581. This ended when Rajasingha successfully defeated the Kandyan Kingdom and annexed it in 1581 when the Kandyan king fled to the Portuguese held territory. This also saw the decline of Buddhism in the Kandyan Kingdom. When Konappu Bandaram became the king, he managed to forsake the Portuguese and Sitawaka and re-establish the independence of the Kandyan Kingdom.

Commenting on the missed opportunity in taking over the Kandyan Kingdom by the Portuguese, historian Queroz writes,

Finally leaving other errors of minor import which can be easily understood from this history, the principal mistake of this conquest was its delay; because if we had set about it with the needed forces which were not lacking at that time it would have been achieved even in the times of Kings of Cota or immediately after the death of D.Joao it could have been done with greater ease for good reasons. Because the people of Kandy at that time were not accustomed to the firelock and musket. Secondly in the time of the King of Cota every thing outside the hills was subject to them and the people were more ready to follow the fortunes of their native King than a stranger and a rebel, and if the Portuguese forces had been added, the King of Kandy could not have secured himself within a diameter of nine leagues of which alone that Kingdom of the hills consisted and wither we had entered with less forces. - The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon, Father Fernao de Queyroz, page 1066.

During these early times of the Kandyan Kingdom, there was little opportunity for it to expand beyond the territory of Kanda Uda Pas Ratta, which was a land locked area above mountains.

With the closing of the Western littoral by the Portuguese, the outlet of the Kandyan kingdom was by the long root through Jaffna from where also came weapons and other imports from South India. The Portuguese were desperate to close this route and this became one of the main reasons for their subsequent expeditions against Jaffna.

The death of Rajasingha I, brought about the demise of the Kingdom of Sitawaka which was subsequently annexed by the Portuguese with Kotte. With the slow and steady decline of the Kingdom of Jaffna as a result of open war and hostility with the Portuguese, the time was ripe for the emergence of the Kingdom of Kandy as a bastion of independent native power.

The Kandyan Kingdom and the Eastern Principalities

Opening a route through the East became vital as the Kandyan Kingdom did not have even a right of passage through these areas which were Tamil principalities who have emerged as independent principalities with the decline of Kingdom of Jaffna and were having their own problems with the Portuguese. So the Kandyan kings decided to use the Portuguese for opening a pathway through Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

The relationship of the Eastern principalities with the Kandyan kingdom during this period could best be described as friendly neighbouring principalities. The Eastern principalities had their ambassadors in the Kandyan Kingdom, writes the missionaries who visited the hill kingdom during this period.

"For the King of Batticalou and Triqunamalee have ambassadors here (in Kandy) who wish to become Christians." - The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Portuguese period Vol. I, 1505 to 1565. V. Perniola, Letter of De Sousa to Joao De Castro from Kandy. 27 May 1546, page 154.

Portuguese missionary, De Coimba, writing on the nature of political relationship of the Eastern principalities with the Kandyan Kingdom notes,

"On this same coast there are two other Kingdoms; one called Jala, which adjoins the Kingdom of Madune on one side. The other in Batecalou, which borders on Jala and Triquinomalle. The Kingdom of Jala belongs to the Prince of Batecalou, for he is the nephew of the queen of Jala and, according to their customs, he is the heir to Batecalou since he is the son of the King.

I happened to go to this kingdom of Batecalou when I was coming to India, in order to take ship there for Sam Tome, as Batecalou is a sea port, and as its king is friendly with the King of Camde, and the two Kingdoms adjoin each other." - The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Portuguese period Vol. I, 1505 to 1565. V. Perniola, Letter of De Coimba to Joao III, page 211.


To the kingdom of Jaffna these southern principalities were the many Tamil Vannimai or autonomous principalities neighbouring each other that stretched through the mainland, linked by a common identity of language, religion and culture and also by the nature of governance under the overloadship of Kingdom of Jaffna.

According to ‘Yalpana Vipava Malai’, the history of Kingdom of Jaffna written during to Dutch period, the beginning of the Principality of Batticaloa is traced to the decision of the Kingdom of Jaffna to create a principality for the Mukkuva community who would not fall into the traditions of Vellala dominated cast stratification of Kingdom of Jaffna and the Mukkuvars from the rest of Kingdom of Jaffna were settled in Batticaloa.

Though the actual event cited in the Vaipava Malai that led to them being dispatched to far away Batticaloa is mentioned as drying of fish in the precincts of the sacred area of Keeriamlai Temple, the conflict could be of wider nature. The origin of the Mukkuvas ( From Mukkulathor, the three casts) are traced to their origins as the soldiery of the Cholas and in the post Chola period, their conflict with the emerging sovereign that was of Kalinga origin, which would have led to their eventual retreat to the Batticaloa and the Kingdom of Jaffna has appropriated the territory for the Mukkuva domination and facilitated their emergence as a near independent principality. Mukkuvas are war like people, and have defended their sovereignty of their territory which continues to this day.

However, the history of Trincomalee is different. Trincoamlee shared the same cast stratification of Jaffna and was closely aligned to Jaffna with connected Royal households. The entire territory of Trincomalee was linked to the Temple of Koneswaram which was patronised by the Kings of Jaffna. When the King of Jaffna decided to go for agreement with the Portuguese and accept vassalage after their defeat in the War of 1560, the Muthatliyars of Trincoamlee were with him and were party to the treaty, though this treaty soon came to an end as the people of Jaffna rose in revolt and drove the Portuguese to Mannar.

In this war the regiments from Trincomalee fought along side those of Jaffna and the Prince of Trincomalee was killed .

Here died a Prince, son of the Prince of Trincoaqmlee and some other great persons. - The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon, Father Fernao de Queyroz, p369.

Immediately after this incident, the King of Jaffna decides to end the War with the Portuguese and calls a truce and seeks an accord with the Portuguese accepting their terms in return the Portuguese allows him to continues as the King.

From the record of the the war of 1560 by Queyroz it appears that the lion was a totem that was the crest of Royal Household of the King of Jaffna.

He had a black inscription on his white shield above the tail of the lion which was his arms, which said “ I am this “. A mere boast to be sure, for if he were like a lion he would have pardoned those submitted… - The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon, Father Fernao de Queyroz, page 369.

The Kingdom of Jaffna had three totems. The Lion as the Crest of thr royal hoysehold. The cockerel on thr flag and the Nanthi or the Bull engraved on her coins along with the letters ‘Sethu’ proclaiming their control over the Sethu Samudram including the island of Rameswaram.
Kandyan Manoeuvres Over the East

As the Western literal was now occupied by the Portuguese and the land locked Mountain Kingdom was looking down on the Eastern plains for an opening to the sea, Jayaweera Bandara, the king of Kandy, had no other way but to use the Portuguese to open him a pathway through Batticaloa, sent a letter to the Governor Don de Castroa, via the Franciscans in 1547 that he was willing to become a Catholic and that he would need some Portuguese soldiers to protect him from any trouble and that these soldiers should come to Kandy through Batticaloa . He also sent guides, who would lead the Portuguese through Batticaloa and march to Kandy. The whole exercise ended as a nightmare for the Portuguese, and Britto, the Portuguese captain, who led the expedition, finally managed to escape to Sitawaka.

The Kandyan King offered money to the Portuguese to open the port of Trincomalee for him and also establish a safe passage between Kandy and Trincomalee.

"He agreed to give 3000 pardaos , which he had offered to whoever shall open the port of Triqunamalle to him." - The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Portuguese Period Vol. I, 1505 to 1565. V. Perniola, Letter by Anthonio Padram to Joao de Castro, Kandy, June 1546, page169.

N.A.Periera and Andre de Sousa who led the expedition demanded the money saying the offer was far too short of the expenses incurred.

The experience of the Portuguese on this expedition is described by Periera.

At Triquanamalle however I found only 13 or 14 Portuguese. Hence the inhabitants of the place being themselves free from fear caused great fear among my men by the information they gave. This was near to causing me an unfortunate disaster.

On Good Friday, I was left without a single man, with the exception of my four servants. No body has so far attacked us . But word reached us that they were coming to attack us. Since the place we were was four leagues away from the inhabited districts of this King, they were anxious to withdraw in time. - Letter of N . A. Pereira to Joao De Castro, Kandy 29th May 1546. The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. V.Perniola, The Portuguese Period. Vol.1 page 161.

The expedition led by Maguell Fernandez in June also met with disaster. They were beaten and driven back to Nagapatnam by the Vanniah of Trincomalee. The Poutuguese were at a loss to know what was happening.

Then, though I had done them no harm, they began to harass us. Hence we disembarked, and there we found more than 500 men with swords and daggers. Our Lord was pleased that we should beat them, and we were saved only by a miracle. The struggle was such that a friar who was going with me, had to come to the rescue and it fell to his share to kill three persons. As I had been wounded by three men, and as food was running short, and I had received no message, though I had waited many days at this port, nor could I expect any message on account of the confusion of the situation, I set sail and made my way to Nagapatam.

At Nagapatnam I found Christavao d’Qurrea as captain. I reported to him the need in which the King of Cande stood and informed him that the King was now a Christian. I mentioned the presence of Portuguese there from whom I had received no message. I requested him to give me more men to go there with those who were with me. With them I would go back to the port of Triquinamale to get some information about the Portuguese and to bring help to the king, since at the moment any assistance was of great importance. I assured him that less than one hundred men were enough to go to Cande by way of the port of Triquanamale in spite of the opposition of the prince of the region.

Letter of Miguel Fernandes toJoao De Castro. The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, V.Perniola, The Portuguese Period, Volume 1, page 177


In explaining these events, the Portuguese historians exhibit a remarkable innocence, and the Franciscan friars, anxious at conversions, were forgetting the political realities and misleading the Portuguese rulers and causing great losses to the Portuguese state. The Portuguese were used by the Sinhalese aspirants to undermine the sovereign rights of Tamil principalities and faced bitter experiences at the hands of Tamil rulers.

However, in subsequent times the Kandyans were given the right of passage to the east coast, as long as this would not hinder the peaceful life in the principalities.

The Kandyans now faced a new danger of becoming encircled. The Portuguese, after the defeat of the Kingdom of Jaffna were able to build Forts in Trincomalee (1623) and Batticaloa (1628).

The Kandyan kingdom and the Nayakers

Two important factors led to the transmogrification of the Kandyan Kingdom into an anti colonial alliance against the Portuguese as a native power, with a renewed claim to littoral areas. These are the demise of the independent Kingdom of Jaffna and the establishment of Nayaker power in Kandy. The littoral territories at this juncture were slowly slipping into the hands of the Portuguese and the Kandyan Kingdom increasingly becoming land locked and threatened with blockade of vital supplies including salt.

The historical context and the beginning of the Vijayanagar influence in Kandy, now expanded with Madurai as its centre, has been kept as a mystery by the Sinhalese and British historians in an attempt to down play the extent of sovereign power they held in Kandy. These historians have purposefully refused to investigate the origins of the Nayaker influence in Kandy and were content to attribute it to the matrimonial relationship during a much later period.

The name Gopala Muthaliyar appears as a regent negotiating on behalf of the Kandyan Kingdom with the Dutch during much earlier time.

These chiefs and Gopala Muthaliyar in particular, seem to have done their job very well- so well in fact that the Dutch believed that Gopala Muthaliyar and the others were their good friends, and that so long as they were Raja Singha's advisers, he would not follow an anti Dutch policy.-Dutch Power in Ceylon 1658-1687 S.Arasaratnam, page. 54.

The name first appears in the name of Vijaya Gopala Nayakkar who was left behind as the Viceroy in Kandy, by Krishnappa Nayakkar after his expedition to Ceylon in which the Kandyan king was killed. The year the said expedition has taken place is 1561. The name Gopala Muthaliyar has survived as a title name adopted by the Nayker viceroys in subsequent period.

The emergence of Nayaker influence radically changed the political equations of the Kandyan kingdom. The Kandyan kings who were bending over backwards to become Catholics to obtain Portuguese support, now gained strength to wage full scale war against the Portuguese.

The conflicts and the dissension that arose among the chieftains of the Tamil principalities of the North East against the attempts to claim the remnants of the Kingdom of Jaffna by the Kandyan Kingdom, did not arise from any opposition to Sinhala Buddhism, which was long way away from rearing its ugly head, but were based on resistance to the Vishnavite Brahmin dominance, which the Nayaker rule was bent to impose over the Sivaite traditions prevalent in Jaffna and its principalities.

The ease with which the Nayaker rule seems to have integrated as one with the Sinhalese has to be explained in terms of the South Indian origins of earlier Buddhist culture. The Vishnavite Hinduism of the Nayaker’s consider Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Rajasingha’s wife was a Tamil. She was also the mother of Rajasingha’s son who ascended to the throne with the name of Vimala Dahrmasuriya II (1687-1707AD) after the death of Rajasingha. The claim of the Kandyan king to Jaffna on the basis of matrimonial relationship which the Portuguese tried to prevent from taking place and which was refuted by the Dutch can be understood only in terms of the origins of Rajasingha’s wife to the Royal household of the Kingdom of Jaffna and not to the Coast of Coromandel. But this could have taken place after their taking refuge in Madurai. The Kandyan Sinhalese still would approve of marriage with Jaffna Tamils but not with the Low Country Sinhalese signifying a long standing cultural relationship.

Rajasingha and the Dutch

The new found strength of the Kandyan Kingdom came to be further consolidated under the able and crafty leadership of Rajasingha II who entered into an alliance with the Dutch to drive the Portuguese out.

Rajasingha’s rule is distinguished by its plural character and its resulting effectiveness. Religious tolerance reigned supreme. The Kingdom provided refuge even to the Portuguese Catholics, known for their religious bigotry, at the time when they came to be persecuted by the Calvinism of the Dutch in the maritime areas. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity existed side by side. Tamils and Muslims served in high positions in the administration and were envoys of the King in important negotiations with the foreign powers.

During the period of Rajasingha II the Kandyan Kingdom emerged and expanded drawing to itself all the native disposition of power. The monarchy cannot be linked to any single faith but the principle of government was more Hindu in character.

The constitution was outstanding. It is one of the earliest constitutions recorded in the East. Based on the union of autonomous principalities, the norms and customs were strictly adhered to. There were Tamil and Sinhalese principalities within the Kandyan Kingdom and the sovereign powers of these were carefully upheld.

Robert Knox and the Principality of Anuradapura

Robert Knox has left behind valuable account of the constitution and culture of Kandyan kingdom during this period. It is apparent from Robert Knox’s observations that the principality of Anuradapura was peopled by Tamils at the time of his escape in 1679, and the Tamil principalities of the Kandyan Kingdom enjoyed a substantial degree of autonomy. In terms of sovereign rights of the king over these principalities, there was little left and the Kandyan King himself was careful not to violate the norms which by custom the King upheld.

The Kandyan Kingdom and the Sinhalese claims of today

It is saddening that the alliance of the Tamil principalities with the Kandyan Kingdom, could have been made a basis for Sinhalese territorial claims in subsequent years on the basis that any territory that had anything to do with Kandyan Kingdom belongs to the Sinhalese of today.

The Tamils who have lived in the North Central and North Western provinces over centuries, have undergone considerable hardship in recent times and sought refuge in the North East. As a result of the creation of the North Central and North Western provinces with sustantial areas that were Tamil principalities, the Tamil population in these provinces have been reduced to a meagre number and placed at great disadvantage politically and turned into Sinhalese by force and threats. A considerable number of village names in the North Western and North Central provinces have Tamil origins. Their conversion into Sinhalese forms has accompanied a systematic take-over and assimilation of these Tamil villages by the Sinhalese villagers.

No doubt the claims of ancient Kingdom of Anuradapura greatly excited the British. This came in handy for the Sinhalese schemers who were in collusion with the British in dethroning the Tamil Royalty of Kandy and helped the realisation of claims for these areas as Sinhalese as they were once part of Kandyan Kingdom.

The idea that an Aryan speaking colonisation brought civilisation to Sri Lanka and that the Tamils were nothing more than Dravidian invaders destroying the great Aryan civilisation, immensely conditioned the British rulers in making a judgment regarding political realities in Ceylon. The fact is that the British rulers came to Ceylon nearly 300 years after the arrival of the Portuguese, with whom the Tamils were at war for nearly 100 years and during which time the present North East province, as well as the sovereign rights the Tamils held by the Kingdom of Jaffna and the other principalities, has faced considerable challenges. The high handed act of Sinhalese offering these territories to foreign rulers lead to war with Kingdom of Jaffna and local Chieftains and consequently to the de-population of these areas .

When the Kingdom of Jaffna and other principalities were subdued and their civil life destroyed, these political entities became so much disfigured obliterated that once flourishing principalities became overgrown with jungle. By the time the British arrived, much of their demarcation was unidentifiable. The alliance with the Sinhalese and the British which started with the Kandyan conspiracy, facilitated Sinhalese gains of today which led to the annexation of substantial Tamil areas leading to the current difficulties the Tamil people are facing in establishing their historical rights.

Dutch and the Tamil Homeland

After the decline of the Kingdom of Jaffna, the nature of diplomacy that the Eastern principalities had to adopt in dealing with, on one side the Kandyan Kingdom and on the other side, the Portuguese, the Dutch admiral Ceybalt De Weert who arrived in Batticaloa in 1602 says the chief of the district whom he describes as a king is "secretly a friend of the Portuguese, though kept in check with the fear of war with the King of Kandy".10

And in trying to assert its authority over the eastern principalities, the Kandyan King had the habit of carrying away the local chiefs. The Dutch to whom the Kandyan Kings offered the East without the consent or knowledge of the people of the area replaced the Portuguese in the maritime areas. Soon after taking these areas from the Portuguese, the Dutch realised the nature of the offer that the Kandyan Kings and their Nayaker proteges were making.

In 1639 Trincomalee was taken by the Dutch and a year after that, they have taken Batticaloa. Though the direct Portuguese rule over North East has lasted for only 20 years, the Portuguese have converted most of the people into Catholicism including ruling layers and Portuguese atrocities have driven substantial number of the Tamils into Kandyan Kingdom when the Dutch appeared prosecuting the newly converted Catholics.

In return for their services the Dutch were promised cinnamon and when they found there was no cinnamon in the East, they exchanged these areas for Galle where cinnamon grew. This temporarily brought an extension of the authority of the Kandyan King over these areas. The Tamil principalities were put into extreme difficulty in the East by the high handed act of the Kandyan King .

The Kandyan kings have no history of having maintained any garrison in the Eastern principalities or do they have any history of having defended these areas from foreign incursions but only made attempts to take control of these areas using foreigners and in which enterprise they never succeeded. Further, when the Kandyan Kingdom was making these offer to the Dutch, in spite of the turmoil caused by the forced conversions of the Portuguese, the independent authority structures of the principalities, which had nothing to do with the Kandyan Kingdom, and its self defence mechanisms were still intact. The Dutch were mainly confined to the Fort.

The initial experience of the Dutch would have clearly indicated to them the nature of claims the Kandyan Kingdom was making. The Dutch garrison at Batticaloa was authorised to demand from the inhabitants of the district whatever they might require. As for the cinnamon the King promised, they went and demanded it from the Muthaliyar of Sammanthurai and the Muthaliyar explained to Caen, the Dutch Commander, that it is not found in the Eastern Principality but has to be obtained from elsewhere.

The King not only could not supply provisions to the Dutch garrisons according to the agreement, he couldn’t provision his own troops whenever he took them into the Tamil principalities to protect his convoys to the sea ports. When the King demanded the Fort, the Dutch who were more interested in the cinnamon producing areas of the south, after initial hesitation handed over the Fort of Trincomalee for the payment of 10 elephants and the Fort was dismantled as it stood on the premises of the Koneswaram Temple where the Portuguese have built it after razing the temple.

Soon the true intentions of the Dutch, "Not only we intend to maintain our present rights in Ceylon but we hope to secure the entire possession of the island of Ceylon", put Rajasingha into difficulties for he could hardly pay the bills as agreed and the Dutch never handed over what they took afterwards.

Trincomalee was retaken by the Dutch in 1666, followed by Batticaloa.

Robert Knox came and landed in this period in 1659 when the King of Kandy had a nominal control over Trincomalee as a result of his agreement with the Dutch. Knox and his father travelled into Trincomalee for trade in areca nuts and clothes which has been a usual happening, and stayed on for the repair of their ship. After receiving information of their undue stay, the King becoming suspicious and detained them. The soldiers the King sent had to travel all the way from Kandy as there were no Kandyan soldiers in Trincomalee.

However, credit goes to the Kandyan Kings for securing the passage and use of ports and expelling the Portuguese, whose marauding rule brought so much misery to the people of the North East .

S. Arasaratnam commenting on this achievement of the Kandyan King says,

The ports of Chilaw and Kalpitiya on the West cost and of Trincomalee and Batticaloa in the East coast were, at least for the present, open for his trade as was not the case in the Portuguese period. - The Dutch Power in Ceylon. 1658 - 1687 S. Arasaratnam, page 2.


Further commenting on the high-handedness of the Dutch and the consequences of the dubious claims of Rajasingha, Arasaratnam says,

"Some other interesting facts throw more light on this whole enterprise. In the preamble to the ola granted by the Dutch to the Chiefs , it was stated that the occupation of the lands was done with deference to Rajasingha’s request to the Dutch to annex Batticaloa and all its dependencies and the lands of Kottiyar and to rule them in Company’s name. This was a calculated lie, and a reference to Rajasingah’s letter of 5th January 1665 shows that this Dutch claim was a deliberate falsification. It would appear, therefore, that this story was concocted by the Dutch purely to convey the impression to the native chiefs and people that they acting on behalf, and with their consent, of their lawful King. If the Dutch had to put across this piece of deception in the course of this enterprise, it would show that they were making a definite attempt to win over the people. In this case, it casts doubt on the Dutch contention that they found the lands unoccupied and marched in responding to the pleas of the people.

Other circumstantial evidence that came up later confirms the above suspicion. Within few months of this transfer of sovereignty, the entire East coast from the North to the South rose up against the Dutch and inflicted heavy losses on them. The Dutch could never subdue these districts completely, in spite of littering the coastline with numerous fortifications and military watch-posts garrisoned by Dutch and native soldiers. Unrest in the land, the result of Dutch expansion, which so far had only been confined to the West and the South of the island, now spread to the East too. Dutch attempt to penetrate this area and Rajasingha’s efforts to curb these attempts made these Eastern lands too the theatre of warfare, bringing in their train the familiar devastation that had so often been seen in the Western lands. The former trade and commerce, the buying and selling, the frequentation of the people declined. Consuming every year a large number of soldiers by sickness and death, not producing the expected economic advantages, these Eastern acquisitions were a ‘running sore’ in the finances of the Dutch Company till they decided to get rid of them." - Dutch Power in Ceylon 1658 - 1687, S. Arasaratnam, page 43.

S.Arasaratnam, whose thesis on this Dutch period emphasised the nature of the conflict that existed between King Rajasingha and the Dutch, justifiably takes the side of his native king and attempts to underplay the nature of the dubious claims the Kandyan King was making to the East, which was strongly resented by the Eastern principalities. However commenting on the nature of the relationship that existed between the King and these principalities, which was not the subject of the book, says,

The Western lands were populated by the Sinhalese professing the Buddhist faith, and had belonged traditionally to Sinhalese Royal families of which Raja Sinha was the only remaining representative in the island. Thus there was a sentimental value attached to the possession of these lands, and the prestige of a Sinhalese monarch governing over Sinhalese subjects.

The Eastern lands were of a totally different type. Predominantly Tamil in population and Hindus by faith, with a fair concentration of Muslims, these lands had been governed for some time by semi independent chieftains owing a feeble allegiance to the lord of the land. But, in some respect, these lands were even more valuable to Rajasinha than were those on the West. Their economic importance was very great. -
Dutch Power in Ceylon - 1658 - 1687, S Arasaratnam, page 53.

The Dutch who were by now well entrenched and familiar with local traditions now looked to renegotiating the basis of their relationship with the Kandyan Kingdom. They took the following stance with the Kandyans,

1st. that the lands of Mature, Galle, Columbo, Negumbo, Chilau and Calpatyn with their dependencies, be held by us in lease with full power to raise forts wherever these may be deemed necessary by us, until such time as the King shall have paid his debts.

2nd . that the Domain of Jaffnapatnam, the Province of the Wannis, Mannar and the neighbouring districts be placed under the absolute control of the company. This part of Ceylon in former ages, before the landing of the Portuguese , was governed by a king of the gentiles , and neither Raja Sinha nor any of his predecessors ever held sovereignty over it.

3rd. that the subjects and the residents of the Kingdom of Jafanapatam and those of the lands held on lease, shall live in peace and amity with each other, and that the Emperor or any of his representatives be forbidden to carry away any of the inhabitants under whatever pretext.

4th. that all the country roads and rivers of both Domains will be free and open to the travellers from all parts of Ceylon and no one will be obstructed in his progress.

5th. that the ports of Trincomalee and Batacalao shall be open ports for the Emperor but that those of Chilau and Calpentin and some others, if necessary, shall be exclusively reserved for us.

6th. that the entire inlet of the Sea, generally called the Bay of Tutecorin, extending from Cape Comorin along the coast of Madura, past the islands of Rameswaram, Adamsburg, Mannar and then along the coast of Ceylon and the island of Calpetin as far as Columbo, shall remain under the exclusive rule of the Company and no one be allowed to frequent these waters without our passes.

7th. that if the Emperor wishes it, we shall send in a yearly balance sheet of credit and debit.

8th. that we will always show due respect and deference to the King and his son, the Prince.
9 th. that we shall protect the leased lands against the enemies from outside and duly inform His Majesty when the necessity for such measures arises.

Letter of Dutch Commissary Ryckloof Van Goens to The Governor General dated 24th July, 1658. Jaffnapatnam. - Pieris,P.E, Ceylon and the Hollanders, 1658 -1796, page 252.

In another instant the Dutch concerns were expressed in the following terms.

It is perfectly clear that Raja Singa’s pretensions to Jafanapatam and the island of Manar are invalid. I shall order some of the Mudaliyars and magnates of Jafanapatam to draw up a statement of the just rights of the former Kings of Jafanapatam who were descendants of the King of Tanjore. They never intermarried with any of the relatives of the Kings of Jaffnapatnam, and therefore Raja Singha’s claim cannot be considered. As soon as it comes to war we shall send him the document and a justification of our action.

(Van Goens Letter to Governor general in Bataviya 4th Feb 1659. Pieris,P.E, Ceylon and the Hollanders, 1658 -1796, page 270. )


Now that the scheme to take over the North East with the help of Dutch has failed, the Kandyan king offered these areas to the French. The French came and occupied Trincomalee in 1672. But the expedition miserably failed because the Kandyan King had no way of supplying provisions to the French and the Dutch managed to get them away. Then an offer was made to the English but knowing the pitfalls they turned it down.

The Dutch, no more dependent on the goodwill of the Kandyans, brought military pressure to bear on the relationship and during the time of Kirthi Sri (1747-1782 ), the Kandyans gave up their claim for the North East. Though the Kandyans offered a strip


The territorial demarcation between Dutch and the Kandyan Kingdom as agreed on the treaty of 1766. ( Land Maps and Surveys R. L. Brohier)

ten miles from the cost, the Dutch totally ignored this and used the traditional boundaries of the Tamil principalities to draw out the boundary, between them and Kandyan kingdom, which has substantial bearing on the current boundaries of the North East boundary, and there were no objections to this from the Kandyans. This treaty that came into force in 1766, made the Kandyan Kingdom a landlocked country dependent on the Dutch for external trade and salt.

The territories of Tammban Kadavai ( Thamankaduwa) which extended to the Mahawali river and Pdavil Kulam ( Padaviya) that went along bund of the tank is recognised in the mp as apart of the Dutch territories as these territories were part of the Northern and Eastern principalities. In subsequent times when the new boundaries of the Northern and Eastern provinces were determined these territories were made part of the Sinhalese territories as the British had some other consideration. The intension was to narrow the linkage between Trincomalee and the northern and eastern districts so that they could consolidate their hold over Trincomalee. Their natural disposition lay in them being returned to the territory of Tamil homeland.

During the time of the Dutch many of the Tamil principalities reasserted their autonomy. The Dutch, unlike the Portuguese, respected the autonomy of the principalities. Their obligation under the Dutch rested on providing their annual tribute of elephants and land rents. The reassertion of the political authority of the Vanniahs was a source of irritation for the Dutch and some maintained a relationship between the Kandyan king as well as the Dutch

In choosing between a native King and a foreign power the principalities and chieftains would have definitely favoured the one that would have had the capacity to recognise and respect the native traditions and norms. This explains the ease with which the Kandyan Kingdom, which integrated the governing the traditions of Kingdom of Jaffna, swelled its boundaries and could provide a stable constitution for over 300 years. However this native dynasty with its secular, consensual and federal form of governance was soon to be undermined from within by forces of intolerance and treachery ending once and for all the tradition of governance based on mutual accommodation, tolerance and pluralism.

The Dissolution of the Kandyan kingdom and Sinhalese claims of today

After failing in the first attempt in 1803, the success of dethroning the Kandyan Royalty by the British in 1815, with the help of a few traitors based on communal lines that the royalty is Tamil and Hindu and it should be removed so as to turn the Kandyan territories into a Sinhala Buddhist Kingdom, effectively brought an end to the Kandyan Kingdom and made it part of the British Colony of Ceylon as is evident from the following sections of the proclamation that annexed the Kandyan territories:-

The Officil Declaration of the Settlement of Kandyan Provinces

Proclamation of 2nd March 1815 of the convention between the British Crown and Kandyan Chiefs

1. That the cruelties and oppressions of the Malabar ruler, in the arbitrary and unjust infliction of bodily tortures and the pains of death without trial, and sometimes without an accusation or the possibility of a crime, and in the general contempt and contravention of all civil rights, have become flagrant, enormous and intolerable; the acts and maxims of his government being equally and entirely devoid of that justice which should secure the safety of his subjects, and of that good faith which might obtain a beneficial intercourse with the neighbouring settlements.

2. That the Raja Sri Wickreme Raja Singhe, by the habitual violation of the chief and most sacred duties of a sovereign, has forfeited all claims to the title, or the powers annexed to the same; and is declared fallen and deposed from the office of king; his family and relatives, whether in the ascending, descending, or collateral line, and whether by affinity or by blood, are also for ever excluded from the throne; and all claims or title of the Malabar race to the dominion of the Kandyan provinces is abolished and extinguished.

3. That all male persons, being or pretending to be relations of the late Raja Sri Wickrema Raja Singhe, either by affinity or by blood and whether in ascending, descending or collateral line, are hereby declared enemies to the government of the Kandyan provinces, and excluded and prohibited from entering those provinces on any pretence whatever, without a written permission for that purpose by the authority of the British Government, under the pains and penalties of martial law, which is hereby declared to be in force for that purpose; and all male persons of the Malabar caste, now expelled from the said provinces, are under the same penalties, prohibited from returning, except with the permission before mentioned.

4. The dominion of the Kandyan provinces is vested in the Sovereign of the British Empire, and to be exercised through the governors or lieutenant-governors of Ceylon for the time being, and their accredited agents; serving to the Adigars, Dessaves, Mohottales, Coraals, Vidaanas, and all other chief and subordinate native headman lawfully appointed by authority of the British Government, the rights, privileges, and powers of their respective offices; and to all classes of the people the safety of their persons and property, with their civil rights and immunities, according to the laws, institutions, and customs established and in force amongst them.

5. The religion of Budhoo, professed by the chiefs and inhabitants of these provinces, is declared inviolable , and its rights, ministers and places of worship are to be maintained and protected.


(There are 7 more articles in this document)

The expulsion and exclusion of Tamils from the Kandyan Kingdom which the traitors demanded as a price for their collaboration, also brought about a dissolution of the allegiance of the Tamil principalities with Kanda Uda Pas Ratta and these territories of Tamil principalities including Thammankadavai and Anuradapura became part of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in subsequent demarcation and in the Proclamation of 1833 creating the five provinces. The Sinhalese claims could be made only to those territories that were Sinhalese which was originally the territory of Kanda Uda Pas Ratta.

The British connivance with the traitors and agreement to expel the Tamils from the Kandyan Kingdom as given in the article of the Proclamation officially enthroned communalism and religious despotism as the ideology of Government of Kandyan territories effectively replacing and ending the plural foundations of the Kandyan Kingdom.

The denial of the rights of the Tamil people and the exclusion of Tamils from the process of government which started with the Kandyan Conspiracy, subsequently has been further carried through under the guise of parliamentary democracy and extended to the whole island by the collaborator layers of the Sinhala society, in whose hands the British left behind the reigns of power and their decadent idea of unitary state.

Tamby Modeliar - Don Adrian Wijesinghe Jeyawardena Mudaliyar, of Chetty descent, born at Welgama in Siyane Korala, in the Dutch service; guide to embassy of General MacDowall to Kandy, 1800; on return titular Muhandiram of Attapattu; guide in war of 1803; warned Governor North of his intended capture by Pilima Talawuwe and appointed effective Muhandiram of the Atapattu , with the allowance of a Mudaliyar; headed native troops which put the King to flight at Hanwella, and appointed Muhandiram of the Gate and Mudaliyar of the Guides, with gold medal and chain; Mudaliyar of Chilaw, 1808; accompanied D’Oyly to Kandy and assisted in the capture of the King, 1815; employed in rebellion, 1817.

(Ceylon Gazette, May 15th, 1830) Also See J.R. Jayawardane. A Political Biography K.M. De Silva and Howard Riggins.Vol.I page 22)
.
What started off as disagreement between the British and the collaborators over the failure on the part of the British to hand them the power and the squabbles over the spoils and booty of the Royal property developed into the squabble for independence from British rule. The democratic politics in Sri Lanka came to be dominated by two main parties founded on the Chauvinist ideology ( which has now become five) on which the Kandyan conspiracy was based and led by collaborator clans whose involvement with the British started in the Kandyan Conspiracy. The anti Tamil mission initiated and enthroned as the ideology of governance through the Kandyan Conspiracy has now developed into the Chauvinist scheme of unitary state claiming sovereignty over the whole island, excluding and pushing the Tamils out from every walk of life in Sri Lanka attaining new ferocity in the post independence days.

Every Sri Lankan leader since independence and before with single mined obsession, have wanted to annex these Tamil territories, which the British left behind through their recognition of the historical rights of Tamil people over these territories, have denied that right of the Tamil people, and claim these territories as Sinhalese territory through the settlement of Sinhalese. In the process of denial of these rights to the Tamil people, they brought near ruin to the idea of united Sri Lanka, abused the idea of unitary state and the instruments of state and adopted the same scheme of inviting foreign powers and handing over these territories in order their control can be established the way their predecessors attempted and enslaved Sri Lanka.

Over the last thirty years, the population of the North East has been reduced by nearly half to two million people of which a million have fled the country. Over 250,000 people have been physically liquidated. Another 200,000 maimed, widowed and orphaned with no end to the wows of Tamil people with 500.000 in refugee camps. The birth curtailment has brought a drop of 500,000 persons. In monetary terms, the loss to the Tamil homeland and Tamil people is anywhere between $300 billion and $350 billion with another $150 billion to Sri Lanka with a total loss nearing $ 500 billion. The consequence of illegal territorial claims of the Sinhalese and their subjugation of the state process of the united Sri Lanka for the realisation of this chauvinist ideal has brought ruin to the Tamil people. The cruelty of the Sinhalese towards the Tamil people during the last 60 years in the independent Sri Lanka has surpassed the cruelty of the Portuguese, Dutch and British put together during the their 450 years of oppressive rule over the Tamil Homeland.

Unfortunately, India that came to help the Tamils as well as the international community too has been sucked into the same scheme. Only the restructuring of Sri Lanka as union of two equal statehoods, one Tamil and other Sinhalese, can bring an end to the beginning of another era of total loss of Sri Lankan sovereignty and lead to peace, prosperity and stability. The aspirational dream of a Sinhala only Buddhist country, which has no historical basis whatsoever, that has now become a cry shrouded as the unitary state and the conspiratorial schemes for its realisation started long before LTTE came into the scene and it continues unabated with no real end.

Previous Parts :

The Contours of Sovereign Process -Part Two

Dismantling the Chauvinist Foundation of Sri Lankan State -Part One

The author is the Director General of the programme Global Sustainability Initiative and he can reached through email by: globsustain@live.co.uk
-Sri Lanka Guardian

4 comments

Ranjit said...

These refer to a collection of sub-kingdoms with vassals running them, from different periods and in no way contrubute to a conclusion that Ealam should a separate region.

If one is to go by these arguments India too should be split in to an innumerable regions governed formerly by maharaja's. Nonsense!

jayalal said...

some of the geographical and archilogical factors should be taken into consideration before accepting a separate land for tamils as they claims.
1.If the tamils were the original occupants of the land their population should be more than the sinhala population.But it has not been so.
2.If the tamils were the original accupants why did they selact the land in the northern part of Sri lanka where you have to dig about 50-60 feet for a drop of water where as the central part of the island is so abundant with water which was a primary need for the cultivation of land.As they claims they wil have to strave if the water flow is blocked on theway wchich flows down from the centre of the island(Ex:Mavil Aru)

Anonymous said...

In an article published in the 'Journal of World History', the colonial (Dutch) writer Markus Vink quoting a Dutch Record says:

In 1694, the city of Colombo alone had a slave population of 1,761. See Knaap, `Europeans, Mestizos and Slaves,` p.. 88. In 1661, 10,000 slaves had been put to work by the company and by private individuals on the lands in southwestern Ceylon, including 2,000 company slaves.

Refer: The World's Oldest Trade: Dutch Slavery and Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century by Markus Vink.

http://www.historycooperative.org/cgi-bin/justtop.cgi?act=justtop&url=http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/14.2/vink

The above article proves that the Dutch brought tens of thousands of slaves from South India to the South of Ceylon (Colombo, Galle and the entire South West). One of the main sources of income the Dutch had at that time was Cinnamon.

The Sinhala population from Colombo to Galle along the entire South West increased when these people assimilated with the Sinhalese. Ten thousand in 1694 must have multiplied into many hundred thousand by now. Today they are Sinhala Buddhists/Catholics who are claiming the ancient Sri Lankan civilization as their own heritage! The Portuguese/Dutch settling South Indians in the Southern parts of Sri Lanka is one reason for the Sinhalese to become a majority.

Tiuz said...

Jaffna Kingdom was established after a violent invasion by the Tamils of the Pandyan Kingdom in an attempt to annex Sri Lanka. If the Tamils have sovereign right by the virtue of this, so must the British have the same rights.

There is no evidence that the northern area was a sovereign Tamil country from ancient times, as you claim. Even when the Pandyans invaded Sri Lanka in ca. 1212, they fought against the Sinhalese. If the northern area was Tamil won't they have fought against Tamils, and not the Sinhalese?

You also say that Sri Lanka lost its sovereignity to foreign powers because of the actions of the kings of Kotte and Kandy. If the Jaffna Kingdom was so strong and a sovereign country, and not under the Sinhalese, why would the Jaffna Kingdom also fall?

You say that the Sinhalese have been attempting to turn Tamil areas into Sinhalese for the past 500 years. What a joke? Most Tamils came during this time. And anyway from the Cholan invasion in the year ca. 990 AD what have the Tamils tried to do? Expand the Tamil homeland in South India into Sri Lanka. Now you say that these failed attempts give the Tamils a right to a homeland in Sri Lanka, also seperate from the original Tamil homeland in South India?

Present day Tamils are mainly decendants of the last of these invasions which resulted in the Jaffna Kingdom and the ones the colonial powers brought from the begining of the 1500's.

There is no Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. Everything which is Tamil originated in South India, and then came to Sri Lanka with Tamil migrants and invaders.

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