Midweek Review
If Dona Catherina was not an empress what was she?

by A. Denis N. Fernando
Fellow, National Academy of Science
Mr. B. P. Ariyatilaka in reply to my article on Dona Catherina that appeared in ‘The Island’ Saturday Magazine of 15th December 2001 has replied in an article titled Dona Catherina was not an empress also appearing in ‘The Island’. This is a reply to his article.

Mr. B. P. Ariyatilaka has stated in his article that Dona Catherina was not an Empress without making any analysis for his statement which is completely illogical. I believe Mr. Ariyatilaka is a graduate in History and is only trained in history, which is the art of recording man and his acknowlishments based on documents. The Oxford Dictionary says that History is a written narrative consisting of a continuous methodical record, in order of time, of important public events, especially those connected with a particular country, people, individual etc. Thus it is clear that one need not necessarily have a degree in that subject to write History. But the training in any university is to produce graduates who can think for themselves and not be like students in a tuition class who only repeats what the tuition class master says. One has to only visit the RAS library and refer to the 17,000 of books and Journals both local and foreign to accept that truth, because History has also been written by those who do not have a degree in that subject, but also by Scholars trained in logical thinking in Science and Technology like Medical Doctors, Engineers, Survey Engineers etc, and therefore it is unfair to decry them and attempt to say that historical writing is limited to those having a degree or even a moth eaten one as quite aptly put by Dr. Mervyn de Silva in a recent article in The Island .

Be that as it may, though Mr. Ariyatilaka lables me as a Geologist, I must state that I do not have a degree in that subject, but a B.Sc. Hons, degree in the Sciences from the University of Ceylon, where I was taught by my teachers in the use of Scientific methodology of Scientific thinking and to question when in doubt or in the face of new evidence, which I have always done and followed in whatever subject I read. While I subsequently obtained a Degree in Aerospace techniques as well as an M.Sc degree in that subject from the prestigious International Institute for Aerospace Surveys and Earth Sciences in the Netherlands. This has enabled me to delve into subjects of Man's impact on the Natural Resources as well as planning for development with this new tool, making new discoveries, which I have published in the journals of the RAS as well as in well established Journals both local and abroad. As stated earlier though I do not have a degree in Geology, nor in Archaeology or History, I was awarded the prestigious RAS Medal for pioneering work on Archaeology and Historical findings as well as the Ananda Coomaraswamy Memorial Medal in Geology for my geological findings.

I have known Prof. Tikiri Abesinghe personally and while I was President of the RAS brought out a special issue of the RAS Journal Edited by Rev. Fr. V. Perniola posthumously on "Antonio Bocarro’s Ceylon" which was translated by the Late Prof. Tikiri Abesinghe. Unfortunately Mr. Ariyatilaka has referred to an article on Dona Catherina in the Sinhala Encyclopedia, which he does not quote and expects me to do research for him. I must remind him that not all what is stated in that Sinhalese Encyclopedia is accepted by the Sinhalese and has been challenged by individuals and groups and even taken to the Courts of Justice for publishing false information.

On the Portuguese period of occupation there are many books written on the subject from Quieros, which was translated by Fr. S. G. Perera, by Rubero and others like Rev. Phillipus Baldeus which give some very interesting revelations of that period. I have myself done original research on the location of the Kings Palace and the Location of the Dalada Maligawa from the time of Vimaladharmasuriya I up to the Time of King Narendrasinghe which was located within the inner fortress of Kandy where the present Kataragama Devale is located. But they had to be shifted to the present site with the destruction of both in the time of Van Eck in 1765. This was also done using ancient maps, Aerospace technology and field verification. Which even the Cultural Triangle with enormous funds were unable to locate. Suffice it to say that the legitimacy of both King Vimala Dharmasuriya known as Konappubandara and baptized as Don Juan of Austria as well as King Senaraths position as Emperor was legitimized because of marrying Princess Mahapatibandi Kusumasena Devi or Dona Catherina daughter of Karaliyedde Bandara. It must be remembered that there were several princes and princesses who were baptized and trained in warfare and the niceties of Court procedure by the Portuguese and even Vimaladharmasuriya I followed such courtesies with the foreigners he had contact with.

Lest Mr. Ariyatilaka is not aware King Rajasinghe I with his General Wimala Dharmasuriya (Senior) led the assault to Kandy when Karaliedde Bandara was King of Kandy and adopted the Guerrilla Tactic of avoiding a confrontation and went to Trincomalee with his wife, infant daughter Princes Kusumasena Devi and his nephew Prince Yamasinghe. Unfortunately both the parents of Kusumasena devi died of small pox and both were asked to take refuge with the Portuguese in Mannar. Subsequently Rajesinghe I together with his able general Wimaladharmasuriya (senior) was able to capture Kandy and appointed General Vimaladharmasuriya as Governor of Kandy. After a few years later Rajasinghe I a diehard Hindu under the instructions of the Berendi Kovil Hindu priests ordered his governor in Kandy to kill the Buddhist Monks and burn the sacred ola Holy books. The governor Vimaladharmasuriya (Senior) promptly dispatched his son Konappu Bandara and his wife to Mannar for safety as he disobeyed the Kings order. He was promptly summoned to Sitawaka and in the presence of King Rajesinghe I, the Hindu priests of the Berendi Kovil stoned the General to death on the orders of Rajasinghe I. This treacherous act and Martyrdom of Wimaladharmasuriva (senior) the father of Konppu Bandara who was Baptized as Don Juan of Austria became a martyr to the Buddhist cause. This is clearly indicated by Rev. Phillipus Baldaeus in his book titled, "A Description of Ceylon" and on page 669 is a sketch of this incident which I reproduce here. If Mr. Ariyatilaka wants to memorialize king Rajasinghe I with a statue he should do so depicting the dastardly act by him together with the stoning by the Hindu priests of the Berendi Kovil of the Buddhist Martyr General Wimaladharmasuriya (Senior).

It would be good to remind ourselves that Dona Catherina was descended from the Chieftains who saved the country by the patriots who took part in the Mukkara Hatana in the time of Parakramabahu VI to rid the Mukkuwas of their piracy and challenge to his kingdom. On the death of Manikka Thalavan the General of the Kaurawa forces, who fell in battle and whose sons Sapumal Kumaraya and his brother were adopted by him as his own sons, while the other Chiefs and warriors were settled along the coast as provincial governors to prevent foreign incursions. They in addition used sailing ships, boats for intelligence gathering purposes to scan the seas as well as assault boats for warfare. It was while being engaged in such activity that the presence of Spillbergen and Knox etc. were brought to the presence of the King of Kandy. Later during the Portuguese period when the Negombo warriors in the troops of Constantine de Sar at Randenigala at the crucial time and a prearranged signal joined the Kandyan forces and defeated the Portuguese which led to the Governor falling in Battle in the tradition and code of ethics of the"Kshatriyas which is to fight an oppressor, to fight for deliverance of the Nation and the establishment of peace and order. The Negombo warriors were then settled in Manampitiya. And served as Warrior Chiefs of the region While Antonio Barreto became the second Prince of Uva in the time of Dona Catherina. The symbols of war their flags, banners and regalia of those warriors settled at Manampitiya has been recorded by E. W. Perera in his book on Flags and Banners. I was fortunate to visit this area too while I was additional Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development. Together with Vidiyajothi Ashly de Vos we have indicated this in our joint publication on "An Integrated Plan for the development of Negombo".

Mr. Ariyatilaka should take note of the Galpotha Inscription (Polonnaruwa) where it's stated:

"A crow should not be compared to a Swan

nor a Donkey to an Arab (horse)

nor a worm to a Cobra

nor a firefly to the sunshine

nor a snake to an Elephant

nor a jackal to the Lion.

Should no man of the Govi tribe

be greedy for sovereignty,

However powerful he may be the men of the govi tribe should not obtain the Kingdom.

While we also see that during the British take over of the Kandyan Kingdom several Sinhalese persons who assisted in that venture were highly placed in the British times for their treachery and misbehaviour which has been recorded by Doyley. However they were given important posts under the British, but the true saviours of our country are not even remembered. This unfortunately the people have not adhered to resulting in the present chaos that now prevails under democracy with the inverted hierachical pyramid, where the sacred objectives of the kshatriya motto and ethic is not followed by our leaders.

While I was in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro I was able to visit their Portuguese Archives where there are records from our kings to the King of Portugal, as the King of Portugal lived in voluntary exile there when the King of Spain also became King of Protugal in some of the letters the King of Kandy styled himself as Emperor of Ceylon King of Kandea, Cota, Ceytabaka, Dambadan, Amorayapore, Jaffnapatam, Prince of Uva, Mature, Dinavaca, four Coreles, Grand Duke of the seven Koreles, Matale, count of Cottia, Trinquelemale, Batecaloa, Velase, Vintene, Dembra, Panciopato, Veta, Puteloon, Vellare, Gale, Belligaon, Marquis of Duranua, Ratenura, Triipane, Acciopato, Lord of the Heavens of Alican, Colombo, Negombo, Chilau, Madampe, Calpatyn, Aripiture, Mannar and the Fisheries and Gems and Pearls, Lord of the Golden Sun.

From this it is abundantly clear that all the so called Kings and Kingdoms depicted in the Portuguese and Dutch Maps were nothing but Dissawas and Dissawanies who were warrior Chiefs and provincial Governors in those Districts who served the king to safeguard his Kingdom and called himself Emperor to whom they were subject to. While it must be remembered that all powers and legal authority were derived by both King Vimaladharmasuriya I and King Senarath who called themselves Emperors through the marriage of Dona Catherina who was the real source of Power as legal heir and has thus been Empress.

Finally it must be appreciated that it was only President Premadasa who in his Gam Udawa Exhibitions helped in remembering and memorializing our Heroic Kings and Queens being represented by statues so that our heritage and culture is remembered by our citizens. we seem to be erecting more statues to the descendants of traitors and those who do not deserve such recognition.

It is therefore timely to erect Statues permanently in the locations that the Heroes and Heroines of the past are remembered as it is part of our heritage.