Tuesday, April 30, 2019

කපිතාන් මාරසිංහ


වයස 45 ක පමණ කොට මහත කොණ්ඩය තරමක් සුදු පැහැ වුණු කරුණාවන්ත එහෙත් තේජවන්ත පෙනුමකින් යුත් සෙනරත් රජතුමා මාලිගාවේ වැරැන්ඩාවේ හාන්සි පුටුවක වාඩිවී සිටියේය. ඔහුගේ ප්‍රධාන නිලමේවරුන් හතරදෙනකු ඔහු අසලින් මිටි ආසනවල වාඩිවී ඔහු කියන යමකට බොහෝ ඕනෑකමින් ඇහුම්කන් දෙමින් සිටියහ.

ඔවුන් හතරදෙනාම මේ උනන්දුවෙන් බලා සිටින්නේ මේ සාකච්ඡාවේ ප්‍රධානතම අරමුණ කුමක්දැයි දැන ගැනීමටය.  රජතුමා මුණ ගැසීමට මාලිගාවට එදින හවස පැමිණෙන ලෙස රජුගේ කාර්යමණ්ඩලයේ පණිවුඩ බාර නිලමේ දන්වා තිබුණද, ඒ කුමන කාරණයක් සාකච්ඡා කිරීමට ද යන්න, ඔවුනට දන්වා සිටියේ නැත. ඇත්තෙන්ම මෙහි අමුත්තක් නැත. රජුගේ සෑම පණිවිඩයක්ම ලැබෙන්නේ මේ ආකාරයටය.
"මහා සාගරයට ගිය අපේ නාවික හමුදාව පෘතුගීසි නැව් කීපයක්ම අල්ලාගෙන, බොහොමයක් වස්තුවත් එකතුකරගෙන ආපහු ත්‍රිකුණාමලය තොටුපොළට ආවා කියලා තමුන්ට ආරංචි වෙලා ඇති මයේ හිතේ"
"පස්වාන් දහසකට බුදුවන්ට ඊයෙ හැන්දෑවෙම ආරංචිය ලැබුණා. තිරිකුනාමලේ ඉඳල  ආපු පණිවුඩය ඊයෙම මුළු නුවරම පැතිරිලා ගියා, තමුන්නැහැ ඔටුනු පලන්දපු ගමන්ම මේ වගේ ජයග්‍රහණයක් ලැබිච්ච එක ගැන මුළු රාජධානියම බොහොම සතුටට පත් වෙලා"
අලුත් නුවර යූධ් නැව් කණ්ඩායම සදවන්නට මුල්වූ විමලධර්ම රජතුමා ගේ නම සඳහන් වුවෙත් නැත.
“සතුටු වෙන එක අහන්නත් දෙයක් යෑ, ටොන් හයකට වැඩිය වස්තුවක් රාජ භාණ්ඩාගාරයට ගෙනල්ලා තියෙනවා"
සෙනරත් රජතුමා ආඩම්බරයෙන් කීවේය.
“උඩගම්පහ ඕං එහා පැත්තෙ ශාලාවේ ඉන්නවා අපේ නාවික හමුදාවේ මහ අද්මිරාල් ඌවේ කුමාරයා, උන්නැහැට ඩිංගක් මේ පැත්තට එන්ට කිව්වනම්" ඌවේ කුමාරයා ගෞරව සම්පන්නව පැමිණ ඉඳගැනීමට ආසනයක් නොතිබුණු නිසා වටපිට බැලුවේය. සේවකයෙකු විසින් ගෙනත් දුන් කුඩා පුටුවේ ඉඳගත්තේය.

"දැන් අපි ආයෙත් පාරක් මේ වගේ නාවික හමුදාවක් හදලා මහා සාගරයට අරින්ඩ ඕනේ, ඌවේ මහා රාළ දැන් සෑහෙන කාලෙක ඉදලා මේ වැඩේ කොරනවා , අපි දැන් අලුත් මනුස්සයෙක්ට මේක බාර දෙන්ට ඕනෑ , ඌවේ මහා රාළගෙන්ම අහල බලමු කවුද මේකට සුදුස්සා කියලා" රජතුමාගේ මේ ප්‍රකාශයෙන් තමන මෙතනට කැඳවා ඇත්තේ කුමන හේතුවකට දැයි සියලු නිලමේවරු තේරුම් ගත්හ.

"අවසරයි දේවයන් වහන්ස මටනම් එක පයින්ම යෝජනා කරන්නට පුළුවන් මගේ දෙවැනියා විදිහට මෙතෙක් කල් වැඩ කරපු වන්ඩිගෙ නේරාළ, මයේ හිතේ කවුරුත් ඒකට විරුද්ධ වෙන එකක් නෑ" ඌවේ මහා රාළ අසුනෙන් නැගිට පිළිතුරු දුන්නේ තමන්ගේ රජුට ඇති ගෞරවය තවදුරටත් පෙන්වා දීමටය.
එහෙත් රජතුමා එම යෝජනාවට එතරම් සතුටකින් ඇහුම්කන් දුන්නේ නැත. ඔහු තම සහෝදර මාතලේ කුමාරයා දෙස බැලීය.
"මම නම් හිතන්නේ කපිතාන් සුන්දර අප්පු තමයි වඩාත් සුදුසු, උන්නැහැගේ අපිට ඥාති සම්බන්ධයකුත් තියෙනවා" මාතලේ කුමාරයා පිළිතුරු දුන්නේ ය.
"එහෙම බලන කොට සුදුසු කීපදෙනෙක්ම ඉන්නවා වගේ, මං කියන්නද අපි මෙහෙම කරමු, ඔය නැවක ඉන්නවා කපිතාන් මාරසිංහ කියල කෙනෙක්, උන්නැහැ අපේ මහ බිසෝ වගේම බොහොම තදින් කතෝලික ආගම අදහනවලු, අපි උන්නැහේට අවුරුද්දක් දෙකක් වත් ඕක දෙමු, මට හැමදාම රෑට බුදියන්ට ගියාම මහරැජිනගෙන් පුදුම කරදරයක් තියෙන්නේ කපිතාන් මාරසිංහ ඕකට පත්කරන්න කියලා"
"මාරසිංහ කපිතාන් බොහෝම දක්ෂයෙක්, අපි උන්නැහැ පත් කරමු” සියලු දෙනා එකහඬින් රජුගේ යෝජනාවට එකඟ වූහ.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The royal cannon of Kandy


The royal cannon of Kandy
       
      



In 1740 Dutch officially replaced Portuguese in coastal areas of Ceylon with the help of the king of Kandy, king Rajasingha ll. Although there was an agreement between king of Kandy and the Dutch to handover the coastal areas to Kandyan kingdom after Portuguese leave Dutch refused to do so claiming a enormous  fee that’s impossible for the king of Kandy to pay for their contribution in wrestling back  the Portuguese  possessions in the island. Though the Dutch were less cruel and more professional traders than Portuguese the resentment among the Kandyans, for cheating them of the coastal area remained a serious and contentious issue between the two. The origin of the conflict was having two different clauses in copies of the agreement signed between Dutch and king Rajasingha ll in 1738.king’s copy said after expelling Portuguese Dutch would occupy forts if king would ask them. But copy of the VOC of the same agreement, strangely, said Dutch would occupy the forts after Portuguese are expelled.

Although four consecutive kings were  trading with Dutch  the resentment of not honoring the agreement remained a thorny point in their relations.  However none of them could bring this sporadic frictions into a conclusion because Kandyans lacked sea power to fight European powers at sea in order to  blockade them bringing in reinforcements from their nearby Indian colonies when their possessions here are attacked.

In 1760, King Kirthi Sri, the second Nayakkar king was reigning in Kandy, who after visiting Polonnaruwa had decided he will follow the footsteps of ancient king Parakramabahu the great, sent an army to help rebellion in  low lands and captured many cities from Dutch including Mathara and Hanwalla. Mathara fort on the peninsula between sea and Nilwala River was destroyed by the Kandyans.
The governor Jan Schreuder was recalled and Lubbert Jan baron Van Eck replaced him as the 31st governor of coastal areas of Ceylon. He wrestled back the disavanis captured by king of Kandy with reinforcements from India and mounted a retaliatory invasion to Kandy. In Mathara he built a star fort and named it after himself, Van Eck redoubt. His experience in India as governor of Coromandal, made it easier for him to exercise his control in Ceylon because of many similarities between the two countries.
New governor’s first invasion to Kandy in 1764 ended in dismal failure. They had to fall back to Colombo with heavy losses after Kandyan armies defeated the Dutch van guard attempting to enter the city from Sath korale. However Dutch  succeeded in reaching Kandy in the second attempt next year and occupied the city briefly. Before entering the city King sent many massages to the general who had camped at king’s garden at Katugasthota to save the city but general imposed so many conditions king refused to discuss them  and fled.














                             Dutch map of Kandy around 1765
 Whilst occupying Kandy, Dutch, it seems, very busy not only making preparations for the defenses of their temporary occupation, but they were busy too in looting kings treasure and shipping them to Colombo for onward dispatch to their home country. Not only palace of kandy but palaces at Kundasale and Hanguranketha were also ransacked. Among the war booty there were many jewelry, weapons and other artifacts. One of them, a decorated bronze canon inlaid with silver and rubies had been the royal canon of the Kandyan kings belonging to royal household of king Kirthi Sri Rajasingha.












                         Kings palace in Kandy at that time

Then Dutch governor of Ceylon lubbert Van Eck , who led the invasion   had recorded that the cannon should be sent to Duke of Brunswick , the administrative guardian of William V, Prince of Orange, the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic.
 After few months Kandyan armies attacked Kandy and  occupiers and had to fall back to Colombo again with many losses. Governor sent many reconciliatory massages to king for armistice, and it was king’s turn to turn tables, massages were sent back unread.  Kandyans could not pursue the fleeing army because people in Kandyan areas were starving as they could not plant rice due to war and the king’s food stores have been set on fire by the invading armies.  Then an armistice was signed in 1766 between the two warring parties in which two main clauses were that Dutch would keep the control of the coast as per earlier status quo and when Dutch ambassadors come  to see king in Kandy they will present themselves in front of the king without kneeling down at the audience in royal court. Interestingly the second condition had to be abandoned later because king refused to grant audience unless ambassadors agree to kneel down.  Governor died in Colombo shortly afterwards.
The cannon meantime, probably with large amount of treasure looted from Kandyan invasion had arrived in roads of Texel, Nederland in June 1766 in a ship called Overns. After arrival It has been in the curiosity cabinet of the Prince William V having being described at various stages as a gift from many head of states including Emperor of Tunis to the states general or from the Dey of Algiers and eventually catalogued as  ‘a gift from certain Indian king.’






                                      Texel harbour then






Painting by Renier Vinkeles showing how the cannon was brought into the building of the State General  After the French troops seized power in Nederland in 1795 this cannon along with four other historical objects were brought into a new museum and presented to new parliament where they were given place of honour in the building of states General at Binnenhof of Hague. The cannon from there found its way into east wing of the ground floor of  Rijkmusuem in Amsterdam where it is in permanent displayed now.










                                                                             Rijksmuseum
This is the background story of the decorated cannon at display at Rajikmusuem in Amsterdam. The cannon as depicted by the image is priceless and probably one of its kind in anywhere in the world. It’s antiquity; dating back to at least 1750 no doubt, ads further value to its already priceless stature. This artifact would be a pride to any nation to whom it belongs, and in this case the Sinhalese nation.
It belongs to Sinhalese nation because of many reasons;
1.     That it was looted by a force of invading Dutch during an unjust war, from Sinhalese people.
2.     It was an illegal acquisition; Dutch had attempted to conceal the fact that it came from Srilanka for many decades and claimed it was a gift from several other head of states.
3.     All relevant documentation of its acquisition, storage, transportation and display are available on record.
We must be grateful to the Nederland for keeping it in the government possession because, if it became a private property as many of the other war booties, we wouldn’t even know that it still exist. However it’s time to claim back this nationally significant monument.  Srilankan people can display it, at its rightful place which is next to the palace of king of Kandy, from where it was forcibly removed 253 years back.
Our government, even at this late stage, must request the people of Nederland to return this decorated field piece and I cannot see any reason for them to not to honor such a reasonable and just request.

අලියා ආලින්ගනයේ යෙදෙන්නට බොහෝ කල් ගනී

D H ලෝරන්ස් 1922 වසරේ ලංකාවට සංචාරයක් සඳහා ඔහුගේ බිරිඳ සමග පැමිණියේය. ලංකාවට පැමිණි බොහෝ බටහිර සංචාරකයන් මෙන් ඔහුට ලංකාව ගැන එතරම් ...