Midweek Review
Dona Catherina was the direct heiress by virtue of her heredity

by A. Denis N. Fernando
Fellow National Academy of Science
I refer to the Article on the subject "If Dona Catherina was not an Empress, who was she? "by Mr. B. A. Ariyatilaka appearing in the Midweek of the Island of 6th March 2002.

In his article referred to above there is no direct answer to the question I had posed him namely "she was not an empress what was She?" He in the process of a so called answer has drawn a red herring and diverts his attention first to the statement he had made about me as being a geologist having some sort of degree in that subject which I had to contradict as it was not so and, as it would have given the reader a wrong impression and had naturally to give an account of my competence in logical thinking.

Unfortunately Mr. Ariyatilaka’s so called answers to my basic question, reminds me of the Sinhalese saying "Koheda yanne ? Malle pol". To give its literary translation "Where are you going? There are coconuts in my bag." It is well known that when a person who has no material for argument, engages in diversionary tactics and usually resorts, to name calling. It is not my intention to resort to those tactics nor is it my intention to repeat the arguments which I had stated earlier, as the readers have access to them.

It is in this background that it is necessary to present the FACTS. After all "Facts are sacred and comment is free", whether it is uttered by a Professor who has a licence to profess on matters they are competent in but are subject to be challenged on false statements. Then unlike Mr. Aryatilaka I do not also have a licence as a tour guide to take tourists on a guided tours.. Moreover it is also not my intention to go "round and round the mulberry bush" and talk of cabbages and Kings, but as a trained Scientist I would rather proceed straight to the point of debate., without engaging myself in extraneus issues, so that the public could come to their own rational conclusions without wasting precious time.

Firstly I would indicate the Geneological Table of Empress Donna Catherina, who derives her right to the throne of Sri Lanka as a direct descendent of Parakrama Bahu VI. Both through his daughter Ulakudaya Devi as well as through his adopted son Kuda Kumaraya the natural brother of Prince Sapumal. These two adopted sons were both the natural sons of the Kaurawa General Mannikka Talavan who led the Mukkara Hatana but fell in battle. Thereafter these natural sons of Manikka Talavan were then adopted as the sons of Parakrama Bahu VI This is a Geneological Table prepared by H.C.P. Bell and indicated in his Kegalle Report starting from Parakrama Bahu VI up to Donna Catherina. I have further extended this geneology from Donna Catherina up to the time of Narendrasinghe is based on accepted historical documents. The foot note in TABLE I also indicates that Senanayaka Sapumal Kumaraya and Kuda Kumaraya were the natural sons of General Mannika Talawan. The Mukkara Hatana which most historians with a biass do not want to indicate, is also clearly stated by Hugh Nevil

The following is the geniological table of Donna Catherina from the time of Parakramabahu VI up to Narendrasinghe when the dynasty of Parakramabahu VI ended. (Indicated tin he geneological table )

Secondly I would also wish to indicate the scene of Empress Donna being welcomed in Kandy as empress depicted by Baldeus in page 673 of his book "Description of Ceylon" which is reproduced here. As Illustration I. After this Donna Catherina was conquered and taken captive by Konnappu Bandara or Don Juan of Austria who married her as she was the legal heir to the Kingdom of not only Kandy but to the entire country, to enable King Vimaladharamasuriya I to be entitled to be called Emperor.

Donna Catherina by King Vimaladharmasuriya I had a son named Maha Adahasin and two daughters. After the death of Vimaladharmasuriya I, Donna Catherina voluntariy became the guardian to her son who was heir to the throne. Thereafter King Senarath married Donna Catherina and through her had three sons, namely Prince Wijepala, Prince Kumarasinghe and Prince Rajasinghe. When it was apparent that Maha Adhasin the legal heir to the throne was about to be appointed King having come of age, he was said to have been poisoned by King senarath as he wanted his youngest son Rajasinghe to be made Emperor. After the death of Maha Adhasin, Donna Catherina accused Senarat of murdering him and thereafter there were strained relations between King Senarath and Dona Catherina . Donna Catherina thence lived in her palace at Welimantoa and the ashes of her son were kept in her palace as well.

Thirdly whenever Donna Catherina visited Kandy after the death of her son she stayed in the guest house at the centre of the paddy field (which is today at the middle of the Kandy Lake), as indicated in the Portugues and Dutch Maps,. A copy of a scaled map based on known landmarks which was compiled by me is for the information of the interested public and indicated in Map I .

Indicate the map of Kandy in the time of Donna Catherina (appended)

It also indicates the old ramparts both inner and outer. The old kings palace, the Temple of the Tooth as well as the audience hall and the Kataragama Devale were located within the inner rampart or fortress. The Natha devale and the Maha Vishnu devale were located within the outer rampart from the time of Vimaladharma Suriya I till the time of Narendrasinghe. According to available eye witness accounts the shifting to the present location of the Kings Palace and the Temple of the Tooth took place only in 1765 when both were destroyed by Governar Van Eck.

The dying disposition of Donna Catherina has been recorded which was accompanied in prayer and was made in the presence of Migomu rala namely Boschover the Dutch national in the service of the King, as well as the second Prince of Uva namely Antonio Baretto a Sinhalese, who were both confidantes of Dona Catherina. Antonio Bareto thereafter buried her with Catholic rites at the Welimantota Palace, where a mousoleum was built and it is reported that according to tradition a lamp was lit in perpetuity by the grateful people.

A seven and a half acre site was declared as an Archaeological Reserve by H.C.P.Bell. A few years ago this Archaeological Reservation had been reduced in size to half an acre. According to present information it his site and mousoleum has been dedicated. It is only but proper as decent citizens that this site be restored and safeguarded as a heritage site as it represents a part of our heritage irrespective of her or anybody else’s religious beliefs, which has also to be respected if we have a sense of history.

It is not my intention as far as I am concerned to get further involved in this debate, as the best judge would be the readers who could make their own rational judgement on this matter.

Finally the fact of the matter is I have used terminology to describe Donna Catherina by respected historians and is not my invention, and I have only repeated them . Whether these historians are like Gobells is another matter, which could be well known to people with German connections and is for the reader to judge for himself and is not my domain. We in Sri Lanka also have among us people like Gobells with or without degrees in history, moth eaten or otherwise as quite aptly put by Dr. Mervyn de Silva in a recent article in the Island. When we have new evidence what had been accepted as true sometime back may not hold water now. In such instances the readers are the final judges as they rationalise on FACTS and comment is free in free Sri Lanka. Further it is not my intention to get involved in further unnecessary debate and treat this correspondence as closed. While Mr Ariyatilaka is entitled to his final response if he so pleases without making libellous statements.