By Anu Edirisinghe
Some time back, I met a scholar whom I revered as a teacher. His name was Karunaratne Amaratunge. Most people knew this name. I met and got to know Amaratunge at Lake House. It was Amaratunge who was seeing to the work on the Silumina newspaper at that time. When I used to work on the Dinamina newspaper in the night, on certain days Amaratunge was in the habit of coming to see me for a chat.
I made use of every word he spoke to help me move forward in my life of media, unbeknownst to Amaratunge. Although with time I left Lake House, it became my habit to meet Amaratunge in the evenings once in a while and have a chat with him. On one such day we talked on the topic of punishment during the era of the Sinhala Kings. It is possible that you too would be keen to hear this story. So, let us move on to that interesting story now.
King Rajasinghe II was supposed to have been a very strict King. He beheaded many persons due to many reasons. A huge rebellion broke out during the period of rule of this King. I asked Amaratunge the following questions:
Where was King Rajasinghe II born?
King Rajasinghe the Second was born in Aluthnuwara.
That is in Mahiyangana. It was known as Bintenna in history. That King was known as the King of Bintenna as well. The reason was when protection lacked in Kandy the queens who lived there fled to the land of the Veddas, to Mahiyangana. The security there was good. That was the path that fleeing ancient Kings took. That is why King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe also fled through that pathway. He was captured at Teldeniya. If the King managed to escape from there, he would have gone to Mahiyangana. Had he gone that way, he would not have got captured. It was the same path that Keppitipola took.
So, that means it was an ancient secret route of escape?
Yes, everyone took that route and escaped to various provinces in the country. It was the most ancient pathway. On that road today is the Senanayake Samudra. The road fell right through the middle of this tank. It was inundated by the reservoir. All roadways that existed in ancient times were built along river banks. There were many circuit palaces of King Rajasinghe II. These palaces he used while on journeys were located in Hanguranketha and Nilambe. The door of the palace built by King Senerath of Hanguranketha is the door that has been fixed to the Hanguranketha Dewalaya. Those are historic places. King Senerath was King Rajasinghe II's father.
Why was there a rebellion against King Rajasinghe II?
It was a rebellion against the Kings. A person named Ambanwela Rala was caught trying to usurp the position of King. He was the one who attacked the King, the most. During that time, it was a person named Aluwihare Mudali who befriended the King. He got to know that the rebels who were engaged in a conspiracy were going to behead the King while he was asleep in his bed. Aluwihare Mudali told the King of what he had heard and requested the King to flee. It was to King Rajasinghe II that he made this request.
Yes Your Majesty you save your life. As we are both of the same build, I will sleep in the bed pretending to be you. Then Aluwihare Mudali slept in the King's bed. The King fled somewhere.
The King had fled to Galenuwara which is located beyond Teldeniya. That was how security was provided. Anyhow the rebels had surrounded the King's palace. They had entered the bedroom of the King and beheaded the person who was sleeping in the King's bed. They had been under the impression that it was the King himself. Later they realized that it was not the King. How did they realise that?
In the darkness itself they put their hands into the mouth of the beheaded person and found that he did not have any teeth. The King had teeth. The rebels realized that their attempt had gone wrong. Then the rebels brought King Rajasinghe II's son to the Palace and appointed him as the King. This Prince was not happy about taking over the reins. He fled from Kandy to a place where his aunt was living Nuwara Bandara. In the meantime King Rajasinghe II arrived with an army in Kandy. He captured all the rebels there. Ambanwela Rala was also among them. The King captured everyone and put chains on their hands and feet. Then King Rajasinghe II wrote a letter, signed it and sent it to the Dutch. It was Ambanwela Rala who was sent as a traitor by the King to the Dutch Fort in Colombo.
We will hear the rest of the story and what was written in the letter, next week. These are the pages that were in our history which are being turned one by one. We cannot recall any of what was in those pages, today. Some day even today will become the same. So, when one day people with knowledge like Amaratunge are no more, what will remain are only books written about such incidents.