King Wimaladharmasuriya (I)
The first up-country Sinhalese who ascended the throne

by Dr. Mirando Obeysekere
There is a very famous and popular aphorism that the Brahmin tutor used the cane to punish the Royal Prince once he became disobedient, the same Brahmin who used the cane to punish the prince wielded the power of the sword to control the mischievous kings. We can read such incidents throughout the history of India and Sri Lanka.

The dynasties such as Sunga, Kalinga, Kanara and Kadamba were established by noble Brahmins against the mischievous kings who had failed to heed the instructions of Brahmins. In Sri Lanka Brahmin Upatissa had served as the acting king after the death of king Wijaya. According to Mahawansa, Brahmin Pandula was a very powerful scholar during the Anuradhapura period and he helped prince Pandukabhaya (B.C.437-367) and gave his own army to destroy the power of Pandukabhaya’s uncles who held sway over the country. So, since, the arrival of King Wijaya there were many immigrations of Brahmins from time to time. They were Pandaya Brahmins, Shaliyagama Brahmins, Konkani Brahmins, Kerala Brahmins and Andra Brahmins and most of these Brahmin families merged together and became a strong power of scholars. The Seethawaka and Kotte periods were the most unlucky periods of foreign invasions, some Dravidian ethnic groups as well as European ethnic groups such as Portuguese and Dutch encroached on our soil and began to govern the country. Some immigrants used Sinhala names and embraced Buddhism and ruled the country. According to ancient historical records King Rajasinghe I (1580-1592 AD) and his father Mayadunne were not pure Sinhalese. They were the descendants of Pandaya ethnic group. (Kandyan Kingdom P. 107)

Seethawaka Rajasinghe (I) killed his father Mayadunne, and embraced Hinduism. Valuable historical records say that King Rajasinghe I had murdered thousands of people who refused to follow Hinduism. The King’s supporters plundered and abolished many Buddhist shrines of the country.

Perhaps, he was worse than Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the despot the last king of Kandy. Specially, King Rajasinghe was a challenge to the up-country Buddhist leaders of Udunuwara, Yatinuwara, Dumbara, Gampola Tunpane, Harispattuwa, Hewaheta, Walapane, Uva, Kotmale, Matale, Hathara Korale, Hath Korale, Vanni and Anuradhapura, and all of these leaders gathered together planned to overthrow the rule of Pandyan Rajasinghe (I) Galagoda Weerasundara Bandara of Peradeni Walawwa was the leader of this conspiracy. Weerasundara Bandara had been a supporter of King Rajasinghe in his early battles with Portuguese but he crossed swords against the king to protect Buddhism and country. But, with in a short time Weerasundara Bandara was trapped and killed by the king. (Udarata Withthi PP - 249-250)

According to " Mandaram Puwatha Kavya" Wimaladharmasurya Bandara was the elder son of Weerasundara Bandara who was murdered by King Rajasinghe I. Sakalasuriva Bandara was the younger son of Weerasundare. Weerasundara Bandara’s mother was a lady from Urulewatta Brahmin family. Hence, he is known as Wijessundara of Urulewatte.

(History of Gampola - P 142 - Warasambodhi)

The History of Gampola points out that there are ruins of a palace or Manor above the land of Hindagolla Temple - Peradeniya (IBID - P 142)

It is evident that young Konappu Bandara lived at Peradeniya at the time of his father’s death. However he decided to take revenge from King Rajasinghe of Seethawake for the ruthless murder of his beloved father and liberate the country and people.

At first he understood reality to have a good training in modern arms and ammunitions to wage war against the king of Seethawaka and joined the Portuguese who held sway in the low country. Thereafter , he went to Goa and Portugal and had a top class training in the battle ground. Konappu Bandara became an intimate friend of Portuguese generals and family members of the king. He changed his name as Don Juan and embraced Catholicism to win the hearts of the Portuguese. Meantime, he married the daughter of Udammita Brahmana Rala, a very distinguished officer of the Palace of Kotte. (Rajawali P. 160 - Suraweera) His newly married wife passed away as a result of a child birth. Being a full trained soldier he began the liberation struggle against king Rajasinghe I and Portuguese power both. Konappu Bandara met princess Dona Catherina alias Kusumasana Devi on the battle field. She was the only daughter of the deposed king Karaliyadda - Jayaweera and baptised by Gabriel Solas and Kaluhath Catherina de Abrew of Low country Brahmin stock of Mahakappina Walawwa, Gabriel Solas was a Portuguese noble who had married Catherina de abrew who was a blood relation the first wife of Konappu Bandara and god mother of princess Dona Chatherina.

Therefore, Catherina de Abrew planned to marry Dona Catherina with Konappu Bandara who was a widower at that time.

It was a conspiracy for the Kingship of the country. As a result of early arrangement Dona Catherina came to up-country with the forces of Portuguese and she was caught by Sinhala rebels Konappu Bandara. Unknown of the pre arrangements, young Dona Catherina surrendered and married him.

Asgiri Talipot says that Konappu Bandara alias Wimaladharmasuriya (1593 - 1604 AD) was crowned by Rev. Devanagala Ratanalankara Maha Thero and Chief Sanghanayakes of up country. History of Uva P 152)

The Hamlet called GALAGODA of Hewawissa, in lower Hewaheta was donated to Brahmin Rajakaruna Navaratne Wijewardene by-king Buvanekaba V. (Silumina - 1985.09.29) Later the descendants of Galagoda family served as chief Adigars, Adigars, Dissawes and Rate Mahattayas under various Kings of the country.

A.C.B. Galgoda Rate Mahattaya was a direct descendant of Weerasundara Bandara of Peradeni Walawwa, King Wimaladharmasuriya (I) was a Symbol of honesty, sincerity and bravery and he reigned eleven years and passed away peacefully in 1604