Ehelapola the great: By Dr. Mirando Abeysekere (Island)

Ehelapola Maha Adigar or Ehelapola the Great was the leader of the successful coup against the despot King Sri Wickrema Rajasingha (1798 - 1815). He planned to overthrow the king because he ruled as a despot and he was a cruel tyrant. Although the people hated him they were powerless as the king was well guarded by foreign mercenaries.

Ehelapola, was a pure bred Brahmin and a very devout Buddhist. In addition to that he was a very loyal, efficient, leader who served the country and the people faithfully.

He offered his Walawwa to the Maha Sangha and he settled down in Kandy. Now it is a famous temple situated at Mahawela, Matale. He was a militant chief. This was partly due to his noble birth and ancestry. His father and all his paternal ancestors had been devout Buddhists and had served the armies as leaders. It is very relevant to discuss the illustrious background of Ehelepola Maha Adigar. Hence, I would give a brief history of his ancestors and close relatives.

Mudaliyar Nandiris Wijesekera of Brahmana Watte Walawwa - Welitota was the father of the illustrious and brave leader Don Cosmo Wijesekera - Mudaliyar of the Portuguese Army. According to the records of the Portuguese and Dutch Mudaliyar Don Cosmo Wijesekera was a key figure in the Portuguese Army. He was almost the general. His step sister Edanduwawe Gehenu Dissawa - female Dissawa of Edanduwawe alias Galagoda Swarnapali Kumarihamy was a Dissawa under king Rajasingha II.

Therefore Don Cosmo had an underground friendship with King Senarath (1604 - 1627). This was because he did not condone the cruelties inflicted on the Sinhalese by the Portuguese. Although he served as a General in the Portuguese Army inwardly his objective was to liberate the country from the Portuguese. He knew all the tricks of the Portuguese militia.

The lion of Randenigala
It was a decisive day for the Sinhala forces of King Senerath. The King sent a secret message to Don Cosmo through the step sister of Don Cosmo, Edanduwawe Kumarihamy asking him to help the Sinhala forces. This message was sent for the sake of Buddhism and the country. Mudaliyar Don Cosmo accepted the king's request and did his duty as promised.

When the battle started at Randenigala all the regiments under Don Cosmo fought against the Portuguese. Constantine de Zaa, the leader of the Portuguese army was beheaded by Don Cosmo himself and his head was sent to king Senerath as proof of loyalty to the King. The chief reason for the victory of the Sinhala army was the brave and gallant leadership given to the Sinhala forces by Don Cosmo.

King Senerath was so overjoyed with the victory that he hosted the leaders of the Sinhala army to a grand reception. Don Cosmo was of course greeted as a hero by the entire Sinhala population of the country.

Prince Rajasingha, the son of King Senarath embraced the hero Don Cosmo and exclaimed, 'Don Cosmo! you are more than a brother to me! You had really shown the calibre of your Brahmin nobility. You have brought honour to all your Brahmin ancestors.

Thereafter the grateful people of Uva erected a Manor House in the village of Katugaha and Don Cosmo had two children - a son and daughter. The son Mudaliyar Theodore Wijesekera married Maria Corea and lived at Rassaya Muna Kanda Walawwa, Mutwal, Colombo. Theodore Wijesekera's only daughter Catherine married Kumara Bandara alias Juan Mirando of the Murunda Dynasty. Don Cosmos' only daughter Helena Swarnapali married Wijesundera Brah-mana Mudiyanse, the Royal Astrologer of King Rajasinha II. Wijesundara Brah-mana Mudiyanse the Royal Astrologer and his wife settled down at Katugaha Walawwa as it was given for their dowry by Mudliyar Don Cosmo.

Ehelepola the First Dissawa of Matale was the son of Wijesundera Brahmana Mudaliyar of Katugaha Walawwa. Wijesundera Mudi-yanse's daughter, Kumarihamy married Bandaranayaka Mudiyanse of Chilaw and settled at Katugaha Walawwa after contracting a Binna marriage. The famous Katugaha Bandara-nayaka Mudiyanse Dissawa of Uva was his son.

So, Ehelepola alias Chandrasekera Mudiyanse migrated to Matale for Public Service and settled down at the village of Ehelepola. His ancient Walawwa built at Ehelepola village is known as 'Nekathge-dera' because he too was an astrologer like his father. This identical Ehelepola the First had a few children and one daughter got married to Monarawila Disava a direct descendant of Mona-ravila Danta Brahmana Mudiyanse.

The elder son of Ehelepola the First, Chandrasekera Amara-koon Mudiyanse became the Ratema-hatmaya, Dissawa and the chief of the Army respectively. He was known as the 'Padikara Mudiyanse' of Ehelepola. Chandra-sekera Amarakoon Mudiyasne too followed the footsteps of his parents., married Kosshinna Kumari-hamy of Kosshinna Brahmana Family. He died of cancer in the jaw. Chandrasekera Amarakoon Mudi-yanse was the father of Ehelepola Maha Adigar or Ehelepola the Great.

Ehelepola the Great was a very versatile person having a sound knowledge of English, Pali, Sanskrit and Tamil. He was educated at a Buddhist Pirivena and he became a Rate Mahatmaya in his youth. At the King's Palace he had a militant look.

According to some historians Haggard, D'Oyly and Donold James the young and handsome Ehelepola had many clandestine affairs with the concubines in the King's harem. One day he was caught red handed by the King at the residence of Alutgama Biso Menike, a woman of the King's harem and the King ordered six strokes to be delivered with a whip on the back side of the accused. But when the King's henchmen came to execute the order they were mercilessly assaulted by Ehelepola.

Ehelepola Kumari-hamy was his cousin and he began to love her when she visited her uncle's Walawwa . The view of the astrologers was that anyone who married her would be king as her horoscope was very good and powerful. Her uncle Chandrasekera Mudiyanse used his good offices and saw to it that she married the daughty warrior Ehelepola.

True to the astrologerss' predi-cations Ehelepola got promotion after promotion and after the demise of Pilima Talauwa, Ehelepola was promoted to the highest rank of Maha Adigar. Pilimatalawas, Lewkes and Ratwattas were high class Brahmins.

The King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha being a Waduga by birth always suspected the noble families and began to eliminate them either by killing them or by forcing them to flee the Kandyan Kingdom.

The Rev. Paranatala Anunayaka Himi of the Malwatta Chapter, Lewke Nilame, Halangoda, Aluvihare Bandara, Ratwatte - Devamedde Dissawa, Pilimatalawa Maha Adigar etc. were all killed on the orders of the despot King.

However Ehelepola remained loyal to the King. But the king lived in fear of Ehelepola as he was a talented warrior and he feared that one day he might usurp the Kingship.

During this period the killing of excessive children especially female children was very common in the Kandyan Kingdom. Ehelepola issued an order that no child should be killed on that account and that if any family felt that they could not bear the burden of these excess children that he would help. (PP. 217 - Sinhala Social Organization).

During a certain period he was the Dissawa of Sathkorale and later on Sabaragamuwa. When the King's cruelties increased Ehelepola planned a liberation struggle against the despot. At the preliminary stages he had discreet discussions with his relations in the maritime provinces those living in Kalutara and Balapitiya.

They were the Mudaliyars of Carlo Walawwa, Mutwal, Nagoda Walawwa, Kalutara and Maha Kappina Walawwa at Balapitiya. He knew that through the good offices of his relatives he could obtain the support of fiery Brahmin warriors of southern province. His chief aim was to liberate the country against Nayakkar rule. Unfortunately for Ehelepola the King's spies came to learn of this conspiracy and they scretly informed the King.

'Wal Raja'
The King was not only a despot and cruel tyrant but he was also a highly lecherous sex maniac. He was popularly known as 'Wal Raja'. No pretty woman was safe from his lecherous advances. Through fear of reprisals by the King many women gave in to his advances.

The King now made an order for the arrest of Ehelepola. He was in a frenzy but he knew that it was a very difficult task as Ehelepola was also influentical and powerful. The Maha Adigar went from place to place incognito and finally he sought refuge in the low country. Gradually the British too came to know of the presence of the Maha Adigar in their territory. To make things easy for him Maha Mudliyar Adrian de Abrew Rajapaksha of Maha Kapina Walawwa, Welitota introduced him to the British. (*ola manuscript of Nilgalle Walawwa)

When the king found that he could not have Ehelepola arrested, he arrested his wife, children and sister. He told the wife and sister that unless both of them agreed to have sex with him they would be killed. They refused and they were killed.

The ideology of the the Kandyan Convention was conceived at the discussion between Ehelepola, Brownrigg and Maha Mudaliyar Rajapaksha at the premises of 'Carlo Walawwa' in Mutwal. According to the reports of J. Campbel and A. C. Lawrie the British Governor had promised to appoint Ehelepola Maha Adigar, as Sub King of Kandy, but the British who were experts at the policy of 'divide and rule' offered the same post to Ehelepola.

After the deportation of King Sri Wickrema Rajasingha and the signing of the Kandyan Convention the entire island came under the rule of the British. The hero and the mastermind behind all these machinations was none other than Ehelepola the Great.

Col. John Davy had stated that Ehelepola was promised several honours and titles but he wanted none other than the Sub Kingship of Kandy. The Uva rebellion of 1818 which was a spontaneous rebellion erupted as a result of the cruelties inflicted by the British rulers on the people. Elelepola appointed his brother-in-law Mona-ravila Keppitipola to be in charge of the area under rebellion but as history reveals he joined the rebels and became their leader. The rebellion was doomed to fail as it was badly organized and was no match for the modern arms of the British.

Although Ehelepola helped the British to oust the despot king the British were always suspicious of him because he was very clever. They thought that after ousting the king he might try to oust the British from Kandy and become King. Ehelepola had all the qualifications and the intellect to be the king but the British were not even willing to make him the Sub King.

It was a convention and a privilege that if there was no suitable person to be the King a Brahmin was appointed. That is how after the demise of King Vijaya (543 - 505. B.C.) Saligrama Brahmin Upatissa became king.

Ehelepola the Great, former Maha Adigar, a pure bred Brahmin Buddhist overthrew the cruel and despot King and tried to restore peace in Kandy with the help of the British. Naturally he also wanted a due place and wanted to be the Sub King but the British who secretly had other ideas did not give him his due place. As the people were disunited and disorganized he was unable to achieve his final objective of overthrowing the British and restoring the Kandyan Kingdom to the rightful owners - the people.

Ehelepola was banished to Mauritius and passed away on the 5th of April at Pampla Mousasou in the year 1829. Elelepola was a hero and a martyr and Lanka should be proud of him.

May his name live for long years to come and may be attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.