FOREWORD

This book is the sequel to my first book ‘Rebels, Outlaws and Enemies to the British’. It was born out of the many hours spent over several years studying the documents on the period in the archives at Kew, at the British Library, and other institutions; and a desire to trace the events which led to the final dissolution of the Kandyan nation, which has left for us, a very rich legacy in the fields of culture, customs and law.

It is not intended to demonstrate that, if there is anyone in the country entitled to demand separatism, it is the Kandyans; rather, it is my objective to pit against the centrifugal forces, the sacrifices the Kandyans made by merging their identity, for the greater good of the entire country, and to alert my countrymen, that the preservation of the integrity of our country, is worth all the sacrifices it entails. As Nietzsche had put it, “knowledge of the past is at all times needed only to serve the present and the future, not to enfeeble the present or to tear the roots out of the vigorous powers of life for the future”. The immolation of the Kandyan Kingdom was the glory of the birth of Sri Lanka as one land and one nation. The preservation of that integrity of our country is now a para- mount task of all Sri Lankans, Kandyans or otherwise.

There is also a salutary lesson for us all, I believe, in what happened to the Kandyan nation. They invited direct foreign intervention in their country’s affairs, and lost both their king and country to the foreigners. One may seek help and advice from foreigners, but not direct intervention. For- eign intervention not only aggravates the problem but also leads to final disaster. The recent (1987/90) futile and un- happy sojourn of the Indian army in our soil bears testimony to my assertion. Such a course of action reeks with stupidity and should be avoided at all costs. I hope the leaders of our country will take note. History leads the wise man and drags = the fool, orin Santayana’s words, “those who do not learn from: lessons of history are condemned to re-live it”.

 In addition to self-knowedge, the study of history will enable us to know how we, the present generation, came to be what we are, who our ancestors have been, what they have done, what were the consequences of their activities, what were their hopes, fears, goals, and the forces which they had to contend---indeed the very identity of our ancestors does impart a sense of identity to their successors, which in Sri Lanka today is under attack by some expatriate academics. It is my hope that this book does supply, at least, some answers to some of the questions, the present and future generations might raise.

Some might claim that the extinction of the Kandyan nation was inevitable due to the many economic, social and political forces in operation at that time. It is my opinion that this inevitability was brought about by the actions of men, both British and Kandyans. The British were always suspi- cious of the Kandyans. This hostile attitude engendered policies inimical to the Kandyans. The British were also driven by a zeal to conquer foreign nations, and to exploit their economic potential, and in the process to proselytize them, so as to retain their vassalage over those colonies. It was the age of both political and cultural imperialism and Britain was the foremost exponent of that spirit of that age. The British did succeed in this endeavour, by exploiting the opportunities provided for them by some of the indigenous leaders of those lands; and to this day, that Britain does exert some mfluence over its former colonies is ex experientia patet.

The Kandyan elite were largely responsible for what befell them. There were the corrupt and worldly Buddhist priests to whom property and wealth were more important than any rules of the Vinaya Pitaka. The pursuit of these venal desires led a few of them to betray their country and their religion. There were also many patriotic Buddhist priests who died for their country and their religion. These heroic monks failed torealize that they lived in an age when might was right, and that the might of the British army was not different from that of any other ruthless colonial exploiter. Those brave monks needed more the nous of a Kautiliya (of Arthasastra fame) for survival, if not success, than the mere reaction to events. Lacking cohesion, direction and foresight, and the absence of a central Buddhist organisation reduced them all and all their tireless efforts to fodder for the grinding and binding administration of the British. The zeal and sacrifice of those priests, however, should not be forgotten. Grateful homage is due to them all. ; To the Kandyan lay aristocracy ought be allotted the greater responsibility, if such an apportionment be possible, as they claimed that they alone handed over the country to the British (see ch. 9). There were many brave men among them who died for their country, suffered foreign exile, and were left to rot in jails. Their cause was right, but the military might was not on their side. Their place in the annals of our history remains indelible and sacred. There were also many among them, to whom, the promotion of personal wealth and prestige was more important than anything else. These men were ‘mistaken in assuming that their personal interest was the interest of the Kandyan nation, and therefore, the pursuit of such interests would lead to the restoration of the Kandyan nation. They too lacked foresight and the ability to extrapolate beyond their narrow vested economic and social interests.

Many of them were imbued with petty jealousies which sowed disunity among them. The absence of a visionary leader among the Kandyans was sorely felt by all. Such a leader would probably have had the courage to resist, if not to overcome the machinations of the British. He would have assimilated and Kandyanised the best practices of the British, retained the good in Kandyan customs, ditched the arcane feudal Kandyan rituals, and would probably have gently shown his countrymen the way forward towards the twentieth century. This was not to be. The Kandyan aristocracy suc- cumbed to the inducements proferred by the British, and became dependent on their handouts. The British ultimately abandoned them to sink rather than swim in the new order of society. From this point onwards, the Kandyan aristocracy was fully occupied with its own survival. This aristocracy lost the capacity to differentiate its interests from that of the country at large, and forfeited the fealty of the nation.

Leaderless, the Kandyan nation lost its distinct identity and fortunately acquired the greater nationality of the whole nation. The Kandyans ceased to persist in their separateness after 1850. They were not prepared any more to shed blood to maintain their nationhood. Downtrodden and beaten, they simply acquiesed in the new order of one nation. This is the compelling tale in this book. It is my fervant wish to report what happened to the Kandyans as faithfuly as the ancient documents did reveal. In this endeavour, I hope I am success- ful in je ne suppose rien, je ne propose rien, je n ‘impose rien, j’ expose. ‘ The exXistentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard would, I trust, pardon me for adopting to my humble book his address to his great aesthetic work ‘Either/Or’… “Go out into the world, then; avoid, if possible, the attention of the critics; [but fear them not], visit an individual reader in a favourably disposed hour, and if you should encounter a fair-minded reader, then I would say: My dear reader, in this book you will find ‘something’ that you perhaps should not know, ‘some- thing else’ from which you will presumably benefit by coming to know it. Read,then the ‘something’ in such a way that, having read it, you may be as one who has not read it; read the ‘something else’ in such a way that, having read it, you may be as one who has not forgotten what has been read”. Be that as it may, I still pray indulgence from my readers, and remain in hope that this book will earn their approval, and encourage them to further investigation into the history of our country.

  Now it remains for me to acknowledge my indebted- ness to the many erudite authors on Sri Lanka whose scholarly tomes I have utilised in writing this book. These learned books will always remain as the sources of my education and inspiration.

I owe much to the Public Record Office in London, and as is required, let me acknowledge that Crown copyright material in the Public Record Office is reproduced in this book by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

I also remain thankful to my friend Frau Ingrid Uhland for her help in connection with the map in this book, and I am grateful to Dr. Frank Rice for reading over some of the chapters in this book.

Finally my sincere thanks go to Messrs. M. D.

Gunasena and Co. Ltd. for undertaking to publish this book.

Durand Appuhamy Negombo, Sri Lanka.

April 1995.

  DEDICATION  Barbecued by sun, drenched by rain and tormented by mos- quitoes  Their home is the battlement bunkers of putrid stench and decay  Wafting thoughts of home, loved ones and comforts forgone  Are frequent visitors tempting all to forsake this wretched- ness.

Yet resolutely they endure to soldier on for all our sakes They ask no questions, vigilantly watch and wait to fight and die To preserve their country torn by strife and bloody conflict Their supreme sacrifice, in recognition, I bid thee who passes by To tell the world, there obedient to Lanka’s call they lie To you the brave and patriotic soldier this book is dedicated.

  THE KANDYANS' LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH  FOREWORD   THE INFLUENCE OF SOME BRITISH EVENTS ON COLO- NIAL CEYLON  THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLIbN OF 1817-18  THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE  THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY  THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DO- MESTIC SLAVES  THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835  THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS  THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA  . THE DEATH OF A ONCE PROUD NATION  APPENDICES  15  THELONDON MASTERS OF SRILANKA GOVERNORS FROM 1815 TO 1855  THE GOVERNORS OF SRILANKA 1815 TO 1855  LIST OF PERSONS SHOT OR TRANSPORTED BY ORDER OF COURTS MARTIAL IN AUGUST AND TO OCTOBER 1848  LIST OF KANDYAN HEADMEN WHO JOINED THE REBEL- LION AT MATALE  EXTRACTS FROM THE PETITION TO QUEEN VICTORIA BY KANDYAN CHIEFS AND PRIESTS    @@@ 9 @@@    COVER PAGE  THE EXECUTION OF KADAHAPOLLA UNNANSE IN HIS YELLOW ROBES BY THE BRITISH WAS ALSO SYMBOLIC OF THE DEMOLITION OF THE BUDDHIST KING- DOM OF KANDY WHICH THEY CARRIED OUT WITH SIMILAR VIGOUR.

@@@ 10 @@@ – 1. THE INFLUENCE OF SOME BRITISH EVENTS ON COLONIAL CEYLON In the first half of the nineteenth century, the para- mount task of the British Governor in Sri Lanka was to preserve the British sway over the Island, and to rule the land for the benefit of British Crown and its people. In prosecuting policies to attain the above objectives, the Governors were very much left to their own devices and discretions. This was necessarily the case, partly because of the time it took to correspond with the Colonial Office in London, the profound ignorance on Ceylon prevailing in that office, and the poor quality of the permanent establishment in London. The Colo- nial Office in London did not possess any independent expert knowledge of the colony to assess and evaluate critically and ex-ante, the policies pursued by the Governors. Even when London was able to take an independent decision, the time lag involved in communicating that decision to Colombo made it out-of-date and ineffective. The exigency of timely action by the Governors in response to local events and circumstances which brooked no delay, made them, by and large, masters of their own action, but accountable to London ex-post, only after the events had unfolded themselves. Yet they were all creatures of their time and were heavily influenced by the many changes which beset British society at home. The Governors, being men, all drawn from the upper echelons of the British political elite, were persons who imbibed early nineteenth century culture, and were prone to import to the colony some of those changes, which they judged to be for the benefit and convenience of the colonial masters first, and incidentally only, for the betterment of their colonial subjects.

The kindly face of altruism had always attached to it a tether, @@@ 11 @@@ 2 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH at the end of which was the sharp harpoon of exploitation and expatriation of profits. Palmerston was yet to arrive on the scene of Foreign Policy, but his doctrine, “we have no eternal allies and no permanent enemies. Our interests are eternal, and those interests it is our duty to follow”, was already in place in the colonies. To Lord Palmerston, it was Providence that “commerce may go freely forth, leading civilization with one hand, and peace with the other, to render mankind happier, wiser and better” (1).

Among the many monumentous changes, radical re- forms, and significant improvements which took place in Britain between 1815 and 1850, a few extended their unmis- takable influence into the island colony, and changed forever, the character and style of the colonial Ceylon society. In the Kandyan provinces, their impact was such, that they disman- tled the very basis of that society, and replaced it with one which was revolutionary to the feudal Kandyans, who could neither cope with, nor understand the significance of the changes thrust on them. It was natural therefore for the Kandyans to harbour enemity and suspicion towards the British, and seek ways and means to eject the British from their lands.

It is therefore necessary to linger awhile on these events in order to better appreciate and understand the up- heavals in the former kingdom of Kandy between 1815 and 1850. It was possible that every change in the home country had some repercussion in the colony. After all, in Britain, this was the age of Industrial Revolution or self-sustained growth, Chartism, Factory Acts, Reform Act, Anti-Corn Law League, Turn-pike Trusts and the Railway mania, to mention a few.

For our purposes, it is sufficient to pick out the ones which bear directly on the events in the island.

@@@ 12 @@@ R THE INFLUENCE OF SOME BRITISH EVENTS ON COLONIAL CEYLON 3 EVANGELICALISM Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the Estab- lished Anglican Church was closely closeted with the social hierachy of the day, and served as the system of patronage and preferment for the blood relations of the well placed in British society. Orthodox religion was rational and a religious person was expected to be sober, moderate, dutiful and churchgoing.

But beneath this veneer of transparent morality, there existed many abuses. The Church’s income from land rent, parish tithes (paid by all farmers regardless of their own religious beliefs), and the church rate (a local tax for the upkeep of the church buildings), were all burdensome on the people. Many indigent lower clergy occupied several positions at the same time (pluralism) just to make ends meet. This led to absentee parishes, and in some new industrial towns like Oldham, there were no vicars for a long time.

It was to this theatre of religious torper that John Wesley burst in with indefatigable zest , to pursue his reviv- alist mission “to spread Scriptural Holiness throughout the land”. His evangelistic journeys preaching the “simple faith to simple folk” throughout the length and breadth of the country clocked up over 250,000 miles. “Faith evidenced by good works is adequate for salvation”, was not arevolutionary or an anti establishment doctrine, but the intensity with which he preached it, produced in his audience, convulsions, groanings, instant repentance and conversions. This motly hysterical behaviour was branded as unacceptable fanaticism by the Anglican bishops of the day, and they denied him the pulpits in their churches. This led to Wesley’s break with the Anglican Church in 1783, when he ordained his own Methodist minis- ters. However, his central message was that all men and women needed to be ‘saved’, and that before God, all humans were of equal value. This equality of humans before Almighty @@@ 13 @@@ 4 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH God was in complete contrast to the prevailing inequality of men before mortal men. This crucial point was not missed by his followers. Many of them pursued this logic to its ultimate conclusions, and become influential critics and reformers of the evils and abuses prevailing in the social and political order of the day.

The ‘Clapham Sect’ was one such enlightened cabal.

William Wilberforce and Lord Teignmouth were prime mov- ers in this pressure group. They made political action their instruments to free the slaves, to prohibit cruelty to children, to spread the knowledge of the Bible, and to infuse into society anew leaven of righteousness. Their tireless efforts led to the founding of The Church Missionary Society in 1797, The Religious Tract Society in 1799 and The British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Their striking success was the abolition _of the slave trade in 1807. In 1823 they founded The Anti- Slavery Society whose persistent and strident endeavours on behalf of the slaves, led to the complete emancipation of slaves in 1833.

It was William Wilberforce and Lord Teignmouth together with Alexander Johnstone, the Chief Justice of Ceylon, who initiated the British efforts to convert the colony to Christianity even before the Kandyan kingdom fell into the British hands. The early missionaries, whom they sent out did not have much success in converting the Kandyan Buddhists to Christianity. But their major success was in attacking the colonial government’s nominal and minimal support to the Buddhist religion as specified by Clause 5 of the Kandyan Convention of 1815. Both biblical and theological arguments couched in vitriolic language, were published both at home and in the colony, to put pressure on the government to sever all connections with the Buddhist religion, and to relegate it @@@ 14 @@@ = m——— S e e el S S el < S i THE INFLUENCE OF SOME BRITISH EVENTS ON COLONIAL CEYLON 5 to the ranks of heathenism and idolatry. While this was a major propaganda success to the Christian missionaries, it was a body blow to the Buddhist religion, which had enjoyed royal patronage from the very dawn of civilization in Sri Lanka. To the Kandyans, this neglect of their religion was not only a breach of a solemn undertaking, but it was also a step in the direction of suppression of their faith, and its replace- ment with Christianity. They were not prepared to accept this without a fight. Under the British rule, the first Protestant missionaries reached the maritime provinces of Ceylon in 1805. Catechism, Prayers and Bible reading were part of the curriculum and education, and the schools were the means of proselytism prevailing in that province.

The Anti-Slavery Society too put unrelenting pressure on the Colombo government to put an end to slavery in the island. Even though the lot of the slaves in Kandy was relatively better than elsewhere, yet the abolition led to changes in the structural layers of society, which, while it stoked up the embers of rebellion within the hearts of the Kandyans, also jolted Kandyan society out of its feudalism.

The Kandyan elite grudgingly paid the price. But they did not like it.

TURNPIKE TRUSTS During the eighteenth century, the original responsi- bility for the maintenance and the upkeep of the roads in Britain rested with the local parishes. But as the volume of traffic increased, the small parishes found it unable to dis- charge their responsibility. This brought into existence the Tumpike Trusts. They obtained from Parliament the right to maintain a length of road, for which, the user was charged a toll. It was estimated that by 1830, there were more than 1100 Trusts in England and Wales managing about 37,000 kilome- @@@ 15 @@@ 8 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH hands of the Colombo government was abolished, salt mo- nopoly in the hands of th East India Company was eroded, and restrictions on both import and export trade eased during the period under consideration. Important and significant to the Treasury in Colombo was the loss of revenue on the abolition of Cinnamon monopoly. In an attempt to balance the books, the governors had to resort to numerous other taxes, some of which, today, would be regarded as ridiculous. These taxes did not endear the colonial masters to the taxpayers, who were prepared to adopt any measure to avoid paying them.

JEREMY BENTHAM 1748-1832 Jeremy Bentham expounded the idea of the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” and the principle that actions tending to promote pleasure were necessarily good and those that were painful were bad. J. S. Mill, an associate of Bentham, wrote that one should promote actions which tend “to increase the sum of happiness and lessen the sum of misery”. Inhis Parliamentary Reform Catechism published in 1817, Bentham demanded equal electoral districts, annual parliaments and household franchise. He was not prepared to accept any institution merely because it was hallowed by tradition and respected for its age. He pleaded for the review of all laws, and the adoption of only those that contributed to the greatest happiness of the greater proportion of mankind.

The Reform Act of 1832 was the direct, even though an incomplete application of his principles of equality, and the greater happiness of a larger number of people. It is beyond our remit to explore the difficulties involved in Bentham’s philosophy. But his ideas and suggestions affected many of the ablest men of that time. Among them was Colebrooke, The Commissioner of the Far Eastern Inquiry (1828). His report, some of it, written by his colleague, Charles Comeron, was far reaching in its effects on the social fabric, political adminis- tration and the economy of Ceylon.

@@@ 16 @@@ THE INFLUENCE OF SOME BRITISH EVENTS ON COLONIAL CEYLON 9 Among the many recommendations, some are of immediate concern to our thesis. These were, his adoption of free trade for Ceylon, the recommendation to abolish Rajakariya (compulsory labour) in the country, the reform of the judiciary and the incorporation of the Kandyan provinces in the new administrative set-up. The last led to the geographi- cal dismemberment of Kandy and its extinction as a separate kingdom. We have already touched on the first and we shall delve more into it as we proceed. The abolition of Rajakariya dismantled at a stroke, the fabric omedyan society, which was held together by caste driven labour services, which each strata of society had to render the one above its own. This was no doubt a humanitarian step, but again, its ultimate objective was to free labour from the shackles of caste, in order to make it cheap and plentifully available to the coffee plantations. This did not happen. Instead, Indian la- bour invaded the plantations, and this in turn, aggravated the neglect of the Kandyans, and their grievances against the British multiplied. Another effect was that the Kandyan chiefs who were at the apex of their society, lost out on the services, those below them owed them. As we would see, though compensation was paid, yet they bemoaned this lev- elling down, the loss of their privileges, and the disintegration of the hierachical structure of their society. All these changes, they perceived to be to their detriment. Not a single one of the changes gave them any satisfaction, nor any reason for any expectation of better things to come. Nostalgia for the glory of bygone days was yet tangible, and this nurtured within them the dying embers of rebellion. It only needed a tiny spark w0 kindle it into a combustion. But the combustion, when it came, was more than a mere puff of smoke, which was quickly and ruthlessly doused by Lord Torrington.

Vade mecum dear reader, [ have an interesting, and a compelling story to tell you of the death of a nation.

EEFERENCE 11} Hansard 16 Feb. 1842.

@@@ 17 @@@ 2. THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE RE- BELLION OF 1817-18 The failure of the rebellion was an unmitigated disas- ter for the Kandyans. The conquerer, Governor Brownrigg, was now able to exercise his privilege of imposing his conditions on the vanquished. He availed himself of the opportunity to bring in measures, whose ultimate objective was the gradual obliteration of the very identity of the Kandyans. He appointed a three-man Board of Commission- ers (consisting of Sir John D’Oyly, the Resident, Mr. James Gay, the Second Commissioner, and Mr. Simon Sawers, the Third Commissioner) to govern the Kandyan provinces, and immediately to consider the proposals he had for the admin- istration of Kandy, and make any suitable recommendations.

‘The Governor’s fundamental ideas on the future of Kandy were embodied in a Minute he addressed to the Board. In it, he stated that “a short experience, after the acquisition of the Kandyan provinces served to convince His Excellency the Governor, that the system of administering the Government of the new possessions through the medium of native chiefs, holding high privileges, which they conceived to be very little controlled by the Articles of the Convention, was inefficient to establish the due authority of the Supreme Executive power of the British Crown, for any of the purposes, of securing its stability, collecting its revenue or ensuring the well-being of its subjects by protection from oppression and a full adminis- tration of justice”.

“In the want, however, of a perfect knowledge of the fundamental principles of the ancient Government of Kandy, and of the relative powers and prerogatives of the Sovereign, and the privileges and jurisdictions of the chiefs, it was @@@ 18 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 11 deemed most prudent to defer the introduction of any change till materials had been collected to complete that knowledge, and to enable His Excellency to submit to the consideration of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, such a plan of reform as might fairly be expected to afford a solid foundation for a good Government, embracing at once the interests of the* Sovereign and the subjects, and attending as much as those two more important considerations would allow, to the feel- ings of the chiefs and the rights they had stipulated for by the ” Convention… A “In the interval, the very moderate exercise of power by the Commissioners of Government either in demanding the accustomed services of the inhabitants or collecting the ancient revenue have, there is too much reason to believe, little benefited the lower classes, while on the other hand, the want or disuse of a strong controlling power in the Superior Executive Authorities, had relaxed the general administration o so great a degree, that even the chiefs themselves com- plained of frequent disobedience to their commands when given for the public service”.

“At the same time it has been unfortunately proved, that all the condescension that had been shown to their prejudices, and the share that had been left them in the acdministration of government, have not been sufficient to k==p in their allegiance to His Majesty, the chiefs of the gmeatest portion of the Kandyan territories, who have in 2imost every province, joined in the support of a Pretender to e Throne of Kandy, whose strongest claim, as held out to the.

mass of the people, founded on his assumed relationship to e Family, the tyrannical conduct of which had been g=nerally acknowledged and condemned by the nation, but it = mow proved incontestably was only put forward by some, if @@@ 19 @@@ 12 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH not all of the designing chiefs, in the completion of the project they had in view, when admitting and aiding the British Governmentin 1815, to dethrone the late King, viz., to acquire plenary dominion themselves”.

“Under these circumstances, surely, where so many of the chiefs have broken their part of the Convention by with- drawing their allegiance, and have seduced and forced the people to the same wicked course of rebellion, it is not imperative on His Excellency to consider the letter of the Articles of that Convention as so completely fettering his measures, that he is on the subjugation of the existing insurrection (which he hopes may now shortly anticipate to have been accomplished), to take steps to fortify the hands of the British Officers appointed to the Executive Government, to invest them with the powers of compelling immediate obedience from all the chiefs and inhabitants to all their | orders of Government, fixing and collecting a moderate and legitimate revenue, administering prompt and impartial jus- tice to every subject of His Majesty, and finally, to prevent by all possible means, the recurrence of such calamities as have been in these provinces, the consequence of the existing rebellion and the effects of which, it is to be feared, will long clog their prosperity”.

To carry out these ideas into effective government the – Governor made several proposals for consideration by the Board. The Board held several sessions, the eventual outcome of all their deliberations was the Proclamation of the 21st of November 1818.

The Governor concluded his Minute in the following words. “His Excellency contemplates with sanguine expecta- tion of deriving pleasure from their being brought into action, – L TN @@@ 20 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 13 that these several principles combining a great degree of political liberty, and the fullest security of property will be soon well understood, and voluntarily acceded to by both chiefs and people of the Kandyan provinces. To the former, a degree of affluence sufficient to command all necessary respect with a great portion of honour and consideration from government and its Agents, must be held with a view to compensate for the slavish submission, and extorted contribu- tions from the inhabitants. To the latter, His Excellency thinks, very little additional inducement need be held out, after freeing them from the trammels of abject subjection to the independence of their property from caprice, while both parties will, it is expected be conciliated, and a third of no little power kept at least neutral, by the inviolable respect paid to the property of temples, and a proper regard to the administra- tion of their funds already pointed out to the notice of the Board” (1) The first six clauses of the Proclamation contrasted the mildness of the administration of Kandy under the British with that of the former tyrant king, in order to emphasise the heinousness of the crime the chiefs were involved in, in their zttempt to overthrow the mild British Government from Kandy. It was therefore legitimate as well as credible to sentence the rebel chiefs guilty of pursuing their own purely personal advancement. Their actions were condemned as a Srutal attempt to re-establish their arbitrary power over, and comerary to the interests of the ordinary inhabitants of Kandy.

& followed therefore, that in order to prevent any further sowmence of insurrection in the Kandyan kingdom, the powers of the chiefs had to be clipped and the supreme suhenty of the British Government had to be firmly estab- Jsied = the minds of all Kandyans. This was implemented 9% 2 m=w imposition, a mutual. agreement, as was the case @@@ 21 @@@ 14 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH -under the Convention of 1815, was not even considered. This was the rationale behind the Proclamation of 1818. A new constitution for Kandy was unilaterally promulgated with immediate effect.

The only sovereign was the British Crown and power could be exercised by only those appointed by the Crown. The Governor, being an appointee of the Crown, exercised legiti- mate power, which, he in turn, delegated to his officers who formed his government. Obedience was due to this Govern- ment and the chiefs were subservient to it, and derived their powers only from this Government. They had to have a letter of appointment from the Government. Only those chiefs whose appointment came directly from the British Govern- ment could exercise any power or inflict any punishment. But this power was trimmed down to the minimum to undermine the influence of the chiefs. The honours the chiefs had to pay to their superior British officials, and the honours they them- selves could expect from others, were fully defined. The number of attendants any chief could have was also deter- mined. From now on, the chiefs were ‘reduced from an aristocratic faction obstructive of the operations of the gov- ernment, and oppressive of the populace, to the ranks and office of stipendiary organs for effecting the regulations and orders of the Supreme Executive Authority, the British Gov- ernment’. They became mere civil servants whose position and continuance in service depended on the disposition of the British Agentinthe province. The Government also abolished many positions connected with the former King’s palace and also the positions of Ratte Mahatmayas of the seven districts (Udunuwara, Yattinuwara, Tumpane, Harispattu, Dumbara, Hewahetta and Mimure) in the proximity of Kandy because of their support for the rebels. All Kandyans were made equal in the eyes of the law which was to be administered ‘according @@@ 22 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 15 to ancient and established usages of the country’. This salutary – levelling-up process had its downside. It was so sudden that many Kandyans took it as an opportunity to disobey the orders of the newly appointed chiefs, and to neglect their many agrarian duties, and embarked on challenging almost every- thing in the courts. Litigation became a growth industry in Kandy, and the lawyers very rich folks.

On the 17th of November 1818 the Proclamation was explained to Mollegodde, the First Adikar. His observations were inane and lacked all appreciation of the significance of what was to be imposed on the Kandyans. It was also likely that he realized, that he was not in a position to influence the Governor, even though he had been his ardent supporter against the rebels. He pointed out, that when attending the king, no Dissave or any other person could use a palanquin, but as British officers attending the Governor did, he hoped similar indulgences might be given to the Dissaves; he could not be expected to salute any officers but of superior rank; some provisions should be made for the services of Washermen for the Dissaves, and finally, as the Gamvasam (see chapter 4) lands were subject to taxation,it would be very oppressive to exact Addukku and Pehindoon (free accommodation and provisions) for the chiefs when residing or travelling in those districts. The Government accepted the points made by the Adikar and incorporated them in the Proclamation.

There were three other Proclamations; one called into suistence the Civil Tribunals, notwithstanding the continu- ance of Martial Law, which the state of the country required 10 be kept in vigour; the second remitted all arrears of revenue from the inhabitants in order to relieve them from all vexa- tons, as well as to abolish at once all traces of the former system of collection of revenue; and the third outlawed the possession of fire-arms without the permission of the Govern- meant.

@@@ 23 @@@ 16 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Those Kandyan chiefs who took the side of the British and faught against their rebel countrymen were amply re- warded by the Government with positions of honour and grants of land. Mollegodde, for instance, was made a special grant of 200 Rix $ as a ‘mark of appreciation for his attachment to the British government’. Referring to grants of land Brownrigg wrote to Bathurst, “up to the present time sixteen grants had been signed by me to deserving individuals of portions of land which have accrued to Government by forfeitures, and forty-three Instruments by which other por- tions had been restored to persons who had forfeited them (tax of 1/5th of annual produce) as a measure of clemency. I have also signed forty-two grants of Crown lands to persons for their service in 1815 and at other periods previous to the rebellion”(2). Those anglophiles were also the obvious candi- dates for appointments under the Proclamation as stipendiary chiefs, and were confirmed in various positions of authority.

The Board took upon itself the task of making the appointments and fixing the appropriate salary. “In proposing the scale of salary for the Kandyan chiefs”, they noted, “we have held in view, as well the emoluments, which it is believed they formerly derived from the respective offices, as the means of maintaining arespect and dignity suitable to their stations, but as the greater part of the chiefs’ offices are now vacant, it is almost become optional in Government to fix without reference to former profits, such stipends as it deems proper, and individuals (at least of those who have deserted their allegiance), knowing the terms upon which they accept office, cannot complain of inadequate allowance. But in the Dissavony of Seven Korales, the proposed salary of 200 Rix $ is considerably below the .annual emoluments, which Dissaves have been accustomed to derive from it under the ancient Government, and with respect to the chief now hold- @@@ 24 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 17 ing that office, who has a claim to liberal treatment from Government, we are of opinion, that he is fairly entitled to receive more, but have thought it preferable on the grounds of economy, to suggest that the remuneration be personal and made by a special grant of some confiscated lands” “In the case of the First Adikar, although we believe that the salaries proposed are equivalent to the legitimate profits of the two principal offices which he holds, we recom- mend that his fidelity on the late trying occasion be rewarded, and loss of power be compensated, by a similar grant of lands or a pension distinct from his salary “(3).

The Governor also pursued the same line of argument when he recommended to Earl Bathurst the appointments and salaries given below. He stated that “the salaries have been assessed on a liberal consideration of value of the profits accruing to the holders of great offices, from the fees on inferior appointments, the judicial fees much resembling bribes, as they were not determined in amount and paid by the gainer of the suit, and the fines levied arbitrarily for petty offences or neglects of their own orders. These three sources of revenue to the great chiefs were exactly the means by which they kept the lower orders in dependence and fear, and made the system of government so corrupt as to be disgraceful to any civilized nation to support it “(4).

” Schedule of Appointments Name of Person Position Salary Rix $ per month Mollegodde, the Elder First Adikar 150 Mollegodde, the Younger Second Adikar 100 Mollegodde, the Elder ~ Dissave of Four Korales 250 @@@ 25 @@@ 18 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Mollegodde, the Younger Dissave of Seven Korales 200 Ratwatte and Nugahapola Dissaves of Matale, 90 each 180 – Eheyleyagodde Dissave of Three Korales – 100 Galgodde Dissave of Wallapone 60 Unambuwe Dissave of Udupalate 60 Dambawinne Dissave of Wellasse 60 Gonigodde Dissave of Bintenne 40 Doloswella Dissave of Saffragam 150 Mahawellatenne Dissave of Saffragam 150 Ekneligodde Dissave of Saffragam 150 Dimbulana, the Junior Ratte Mahatmaya of Weyalooowa 30 Helpe Mohatale Chief of Upper Bulatgamma 30 Unambuwe Chief of Kotmale 30 Kadugamoone Maha Gabada Nileme 80 Dehigamme Uda Gabada Nileme 80 Manampitiye Maha Lekam 50 Kobbekaduwe Atapatu Lekam 40 ~ Mullegamme Weddikkara Lekam 40 Dodanwela Nanayakkara Lekam 30 Dehigamme, the Junior Padikara Lekam 30 Asmadulla. Waddanatuakkukara Lekam 30 Hakkmanne Nileme Koddituakku Lekam 30 Mullegamme Kunam Maduwe Lekam 40 Allagodde Kuruwe Lekam of Kingalle 20 Other positions which remained to be filled were; ‘ Chief of Lower Bulatgamma 30 Gabadda Dissave of Uva 20 @@@ 26 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 19 Ratte Mahatmayas of Two Korales, Passara and Wellawaya, 15 each 30 Chief of Madige, Akurana 25 Chief of Madige, Talawinne 20 Chief of Madige, Patteyagamma 20 Chief of Madige, Bowatte and Weragampatu 25 Chief of Madige, Matale 30 Two chiefs of Madige in Seven Korales, 30 each 60 Chief of Madige, Wellasse ~ 25 Alapatu Mohotale of Four Korales 20 Walawe Mohotale of Four Korales 12 Atapatu Mohotale of Thaladolospattu : 20 Atapatu Mohotale of Pahaladolospattu ) 25 Walawe Mohotale of Seven Korales 20 The six Dissaves of Uva, in total G Total 2907 (Note: the par value of one pound sterling equalled 114286 Rix $.) To come back to the Proclamation, the Clauses 7 and £ as had been noted above, reiterated the supremacy of the Bntish Crown, and those to whom the Crown had delegated s powers. The Crown was ‘the source alone from which all power emanates, and to which obedience is due’. The Gover- mor’s representatives in Kandy were the Board Commission- ers who had general superintendence, while in the outstations, sesident British Government Agents were installed. Only #hose appointed by the Crown or its representatives could exercise any jurisdiction of any kind. The rights of all Sandyans, no matter to what class or caste they belonged, were declared equal before the law.

Clauses 9 to 15 subordinated all Kandyan chiefs to the – Bomsh officials, circumscribed their authority, prescribed @@@ 27 @@@ 20 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH their limited powers, and defined their modes of appointment.

The type of honours the chiefs were to pay to the British officials, and the honours they could expect from others, were clearly defined. The number and type of attendants the chief could have, when on official duty, were cut to a bare mini- mum. Prostration and kneeling before authority were abol- ished. Obeisance to the portrait of His Majesty suspended in the Hall of Audience, and to the presiding authority in any court of law, was instituted. Thus we find Brownrigg request- ing Earl Bathurst to send him with “as little delay as possible a handsomely furnished portrait of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent in Royal Robes of State to put up in the Audience Hall in Kandy, to command in a sufficient degree, the veneration for the Monarch, which I consider it essential, all classes of his Kandyan subjects should be deeply im- pressed with, to replace the blind and abject feeling of dread with which they approached their former kings “(5).

Clause 16 watered down the pledge given regarding the inviolability of Buddhism in Clause 5 of the Convention of 1815. Now general protection was extended to all religions and Kandy was opened up for proselytizing by the Christians.

We shall see more on this in Chapter 3.

Clauses 17 to 25 introduced a new form of taxation and abolished all existing forms of taxation and duties. A tax on the produce of paddy-lands was fixed at 1/10th of the produce. Those who remained loyal to the British during the rebellion had to pay a concessionary rate of 1/14th, while the rate on the confiscated lands, now restored, were subjected to an impost of 1/5th. The fifteen named loyal chiefs’ lands were entirely exempt from taxation and also the lands of other headmen during their tenure of office. Temple lands too were exempt from taxation. The villagers who occupied these temple lands were not exempted from their customary serv- @@@ 28 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 21 ices to the Crown. The Veddhas were to continue to deliver to Government the usual tribute of wax. = – Clauses 26 to 29 forbade presents to government officials and fixed monthly salaries to the chiefs in addition to their tax exemptions. The inferior chiefs were to receive 1/ 20¢h of paddy revenue which they should collect from the people under them.

Clauses 30 to 32 reserved to the Government the right o require labour services from the people according to their caste, custom and type of tenure of lands they possessed. It was on the authority of these clauses, that gratuituous labour services were exacted from the people for road and bridge Buiding in the Kandyan provinces. As discussed in Chapter 4 these exactions caused lot of hardship to the Kandyans and famned the embers of rebellion against the British. The enor- mous burden of building the Kandyan roads fell on the K andyans and this has been often ignored by many historians.

Clause 33 specified the mode of punishment, dis- mussal and suspension of any chief from service, and named ose who had the authority to take such proceedings against e chiefs. The Governor reserved to himself alone the power % dismiss any, who might have been appointed by his | Sommmission.

Clauses 35 to 55 curtailed and strictly defined the “miicial powers of the chiefs and laid down a new charter of ~mstice for the Kandyan provinces. It was intended to make mstice “”accessible to every man, high or low, rich or poor, wuh all practicable convenience, and the confident knowl- =fe= of impartiality of decision”. Kandyans became profli- ‘= litigants, and many poor Kandyans found the administra- – 2am of law far from convenient, if they happened to live at a ssance from the courts.

@@@ 29 @@@ 22 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH To carry through these new provisions the Governor had to establish a new permanent establishment. It consisted of the following: Kandyan Provinces, Fixed Establishment (Pay per month excluding Kandyan chiefs, including support staff) Rix $ Resident 3157 Second Commissioner 2525 Third Commissioner 2456 Government Agent of Uva 1434 Government Agent of Seven Korales 535 Government Agent of Saffragam 1221 Government Agent of Three Korales – 283 Government Agent of Matale 211 Government Agent of Four Korales 7 136 Government Agent of Tamankada 229 Government Agent of Lower Uva 154 Government Agent of Uva Wellasse 154 Total 12495 The Governor requested form Earl Bathurst “indul- gent consideration of the Fixed Establishment of the Kandyan provinces for the current year, which with the greatest incli- nation to keep within the most economical bounds, the neces- sity of enlarging to its present extent has been insurmount- able, with any attention to the real present and future interests of the Government, in whatever point they may be viewed. By employing Military Officers in several instances as Agents of Government, much is saved for the present, as these gentle- men for a very tiny sum in addition to their military allow- ances, do the duty which a civil servant of Government, receiving no other emolument could not be expected to @@@ 30 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 23 execute on such moderate stipends”(6). The presence of the military was also important “as a measure of connecting more closely the general authorities of the Government and giving vigour to its administration”, It was for this reason that the Officer in Command of the troops in Kandy, Col. Kelly, was given a seat next to the Resident in the Board of Commission- ers.

Eight months after the Proclamation, Brownrigg was still trying to justify the measures he had taken to his colonial masters in London. For, he wrote to Earl Bathurst, “on the policy of limiting very greatly the powers even of those chiefs who adhered to Government during the late eventful period, I beg to offer to Your Lordship a repetition of my sentiments, that without such a settlement of the country, as should bring into action the beneficent principles of the British Govern- ment, and connect us with the people by the tie of protection against oppression, the only result of the labours and expense of the last year,we should have to look forward to, would be 2 temporary and delusive tranquility, which the ambition of those chiefs would disturb, as soon as they conceived, that the recollection of the evils of the last revolt was obliterated in the munds of the inhabitants, who would at the same time feel snder equal obligation to obey their chiefs, as they did against their own convictions of prosperity and self interest in 1818”.

“Indeed the very removal from the interior of the other ereat families which all joined in the insurrection, would have %= it more in the power of Mollegodde to have used his mluence against the government, has not checks of the nature ¢ the Proclamation of 21st November 1818 declares, been gplaced in opposition. The First Adikar himself is a man of little : ion, and I believe him to be really attached to the interests. His brother, with only half the abilities of the o e @@@ 31 @@@ 24 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH First Adikar, has a strong spirit of rapacity, and would be easily led astray by intriguing spirits, of whom, there are several among the second class of chiefs, who would expect to gain by the change of system, that should lay open the lower orders to their unlimited power”. A rare insight which was borne out by subsequent events.” I feel therefore convinced that the plan now in operation of compensation to the family, for what loss of power it has sustained, (for much is still conceded to the First Adikar) by liberal salaries and presents, is that which best tends to the preservation of uninterrupted tranquility throughout the country”.

“The establishment of a general impost on grain in lieu of all other exactions to which the inhabitants were liable, is also, in my opinion, an advantageous alteration both for the Government and its subjects. I have not heard from any quarter a complaint of its being heavy, though of course, evasions in making the payment are frequent. Its rate is everywhere high, and the exemptions of the property of the temples and the chiefs in office, tends much of course to prevent any opposition in the quarter whence it might be most dangerous”.

“The greatest tranquility continues to prevail in the Kandyan provinces, and the Government is administered with a proper degree of vigour tempered by mildness”(7).

Governor Brownrigg left the island before he could be rudely awakened from his tranquil slumber. In January 1820, Ramasamy alias Kumarasamy with the help of the Veddhas of Bintenne set himself up as Pretender to the Throne of Kandy.

He distributed olas (writs) summoning the Adikars, Dissaves and the head-priests in Kandy, Kobbekaduwe and Katupitiye Goorunanse, so that they could personally acknowledge him @@@ 32 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 25 as the King, and also deliver unto him the Sacred Tooth Relic.

He claimed that he was singled out to the throne of Kandy at Anuradhapura by the exiled Pilima Talawe during the rebel- lion of 1817/18. He claimed that he was the son of Laxamie Deiyo and Deysenayakke Unnanse, and the person who had gone to Jaffna with his uncle Muthusamy. He was born in Bambaragamma in Hewahetta and his father had died about thirty years ago in Kandy. He was of royal blood, and his brother was Kirtisinghe Rajatiraja who reigned in Kandy previous to the last king. His maternal uncle Buddhasamy Deiyo was beheaded by the last king, and his family was banished to Uva. He travelled about the country under the assumed name of Punchiralle Kappuralle, and was once imprisoned at Ruanwella. As pretender to the throne he titled himself as Wimala Dharma Narendrasingho Maharaja.

It fell to Gonigodde, the Dissave of Bintenne, to mvestigate, and if necessary, to apprehend this pretender. He s=t off with about ninety people armed with bows and arrows – and eight firelocks. He soon fell upon two veddha guards of Ramasamy in the thick jungle, and they were soon prevailed posied by the pretender, the two veddhas conducted the Dissave and his party by a long circuitous route to animmense St rock called Kondengalle in the thick of the jungle. Having – sarrounded the rock, the Dissave fired the guns to frighten Samasamy, and his followers fled inspite of the Pretender’s appeal not to desert him. The Dissave on ascending the rock, ad it covered with a mat and a white cloth for a seat.

®amasamy was with two others and one of them, a sandiram Nileme, handed the pretender a sword to defend «lf. The threat to shoot both soon persuaded them to it to arrest by Gonigodde. They were tried by Court wial and were sentenced to death by hanging.

wpon to betray the pretender. In order to avoid the other guards AR A A v, @@@ 33 @@@ 26 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Governor Barnes had doubts about the composition of the Court. He found it deficient in the number of members required for a General Court Martial. Therefore he set aside the proceedings as null and void, and on his own authority, exiled Ramasamy to Mauritius. His aids were imprisoned at Galle. At Mauritius, Pilima Talawe denied his alleged con- nection with Ramasamy, and identified him as a man of very low origin, and a house-keeper under the formerking. He was a troublesome prisoner, and on occasions, acted as mentally deranged. He also wrote a petition to D’Oyly in Kandy requesting that he be sent to Vellore, where the late king and many of his relations were living. Nothing came of this petition. He was freed on the 8th of August 1832.

In the same year 1820, one of the rebel chiefs who had gone underground raised the standard of revolt in Tamankada.

He was Kobbekaduwe who was appointed as Dissave of Wellasse by Wilbawe, the Pretender during the rebellion of 1817/18. He was helped by Halmillawewa, a Buddhist monk, Kimbisse Rateralla and three Malay soldiers who had de- serted the First Ceylon Regimment. Kobbekaduwe was al- leged to have circulated authoritative mandates to various petty chiefs of the district under the title of the First Adikar of the pretender. He was accused of interrupting communica- tions and burning Tapal (post) houses on the road between Kandy and Trincomalee, and of killing a Kangan head mes- senger and a young moor lad, a bystander at one of the post stations.

Kobbekaduwe and his companions were seized by the loyal inhabitants of Matale. They were tried by a General Court Martial in September, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged. Barnes wanted to make this execution an example in order to deter others, and was disappointed at the turn of @@@ 34 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 27 events. He wrote to Bathurst, “to deter others I thought it right to confirm the sentences and to ordef the executions to take place on the 7th of November at Puliankadawatte where the post office messenger was murdered. But the officer, Lt.

Hughes, misunderstood the message and executed the prison- ers on the 29th of October, thus denying us the publicity which should have accrued on this occasion”(8). Barnes did not stop there, his complaint to Col. O’Connell, the Officer Command- ing the 73rd Regiment, the superior of Lt. Hughes, was revealing as to the attitude of the British soldiers towards Kandyan life. Barnes wrote “Hughes should be taught to consider the putting to death a fellow creature, a matter of more solemnity and ceremony than he seems to be aware of”.

By now the Kandyan provinces as a whole had settled down, and therefore the Governor abolished Martial Law in the remaining provinces of Uva, Wellasse, Bintenne, Weyaloowa, Tamankada and Nuwarakalawiya on the 11th of November 1820.

In 1823 rumours of intended rebellion were roported = the northern Kandyan provinces. The Governor moved =ops to suspected areas to pre-empt any insurrection. He wrote to Bathurst, “I should hope that the futility of the former – am=mpt to subvert the British government, which only ended 2 e most grievous distress to those concerned in it, and the avantages which cannot but be felt in general of a mild and sguatzble administration of government, with a freedom of wsemmerce which must be productive to the Kandyans, (for, in ame article of the produce of the country, coffee, the trade has imcreased in a more than tenfold degree within the last three s=ars), would prevent any general disaffection or revolt.

Should 1 be disappointed, Your Lordship may rely on every Emertion in my power to suppress rebellion with promptitude and economy” (9).

@@@ 35 @@@ 28 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH This rumour was caused by the quarrel between Wibadde Lekam, the native collector of tithes, and Mudianse, the local chief. The latter had failed to give assistance to the Lekam to discharge his duties and had taken the side of a local Buddhist priest who had assumed Honours of Royalty. The Buddhist priest was arrested, and the Mudianse dismissed and a small detachment of Kaffirs was stationed at Anuradhapura.

In May another Buddhist priest got together the peo- ple of north west Matale, armed with bows and arrows, they went about agitating and proclaiming disobedience to the British crown. They also sent messengers to the Second Adikar soliciting his support. He arrested the messengers and sent them to Kandy, which obliged D’Oyly to order the apprenhension of all the persons, against whom, he had received information as being participators in the plot. Among the arrested were a Buddhist priest and two brothers of Indian origin. The latter were declared to be of Royal stock and one of them had been selected by the rebels to be the King. They were in fact ‘the lowest description of ignorant Indians, and were occasionally employed as coolies in the Commissariat, and since their discharge from it, earned their meagre liveli- hood as travelling traders’. The trial was expected “to display to the public the unprincipled artifices of the priests concerned in attempting to instigate the public to the horrors of rebelling in support of pretensions so utterly unfounded”(10). The trial ended in August 1823 and twenty eight prisoners were found guilty of treason and were sentenced as follows: To be hanged on 5th August; Kahawatte Unnanse, a priest from Matale, the princi- ple organiser and active agent in the plot.

Koswatte Rateralla, also an active participant and was also involved in the disturbances in Tamankada in 1820 and then pardoned.

@@@ 36 @@@ DYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 i) . ‘lle Ratteralle, Weyuridepolle late S Halowadune Nileme, mbure Adikaram, Lenawela Mohottale, uwe Koralle, Muratuoluwe Amera Mohottale, Kongawella Attewena | Korleya, gastenne Pihina Ralle, Dangadenieye : Aratchy, tegasmudeme Duggana Ralle, Bambaragahene Gammahe,and elieye Alutwatte Rateralla.

ned with hard labour for five years; s Dureya, and amuwe Vidahn.

soned with hard labour for three years; galle Korleya, and egalle Nekatralle.

soned with hard labour for two years; lagahawella Kapuralle, yake Kumbure Aratchy, egalle Gurunanse, nberagahawatte Punchyralle, i a Gammabhe, * derawatte Ralle, and @@@ 37 @@@ 30 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH with hard labour. He was also singled out for fifty lashes in Kandy on the 18th of August and for another fifty lashes on the 22nd at Fort MacDowall in Matale.

All the lands, goods and other property of the several prisoners convicted were declared forfeit to the government.

However, instructions were given to D’Oyly, to report on what portions might be restored to the parties themselves, if re- maining in the island or to their families, if banished, for their decent maintenance and subsistence. The trial was given maximum publicity throughout Kandy as being salutary and conducive to future tranquility. This did not deter the Kandyans.

Of the prisoners banished to Mauritius, only the two Weyuridepolles were put up as state prisoners, and were billeted with other state prisoners already there under the superintendence of Major Bates. All the others were treated as convicts, and were subject to be employed in the public works of the government of Mauritius. Their subsistence therefore fell directly on the government of Mauritius in recompense for their labour. By 1832, all those who survived the impris- onment, returned to Ceylon.

Almostexactly a year later the next attempt to eject the British took place in the Bintenne-Laggalla area. Barnes in a letter to Bathurst stated that “foolish attempt to create an ‘insurrection took place in August. It originated in a Buddhist priest of no note or family whatever, two veddha chiefs of the province of Bintenne and two men of Seven Korales, who though of mean extraction, pretended to be two of the highest families in the country, ie., those of Ahelapolaand Unambuwe”.

’ “These five men, first collecting the veddhas under their influence, crossed the Mahavelli river into the adjacent @@@ 38 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 31 parts of Matale. There, by false representation and threats, going from village to village, in some, finding some encour- agement from persons evil disposed to the government, con- trived at one time to get together as many as 470 followers.

They armed a few with muskets, and the rest with bows and spears, and made prisoners a Wibadde Lekam, and some itinerant traders from different places and plundered their goods”.

“A detachment from Matale assisted by loyal inhabit- ants from that area seized and took about 50 prisoners. Of these 13 were tried by the Judicial Court at Kandy and all were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death”(11).

Barnes ordered the five persons who were proved to be the originators and the most active, to be hanged, and recommended the others to be banished from the country.

Accordingly the following were hanged in Kandy; Galleylle Wannisekeregedere Mudelihamy— the pre- tender to the throne, Nelliye Punchyralle — who pretended to be Ahelapola Maha Adikar, and Wannake Ralleyge Punchyralle — who pretended to be Unambuwe Dissave.

To be hanged in Bintenne; Kottegangwela Kudaralle, and Mareke Mudianse.

To be banished from the country; 131 Himbeleyakade Nanduralle, By Attenegallawe Aratchela or Lebbe, g Wellewitte Keeralle, r Pinnewela Korleya, {basl Idame Gameralle, and i VS Amunuwela Gameralle. All of them were held in‘Jaffna prison and subject to hard labour. Some of them probably @@@ 39 @@@ 32 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH spent their exile in the island of Delft, where many prisoners were sent, until Malacca became a place for banishment of convicts. There was another minor attempt to frighten the villagers of Gantony in Matale as a prelude to a professional imposter prince appearing there. Major Forbes, the Agent at Matale, apprehended the instigators in a torch-light raid, and within twenty-four hours confined them in jail. In 1836 another professional imposter established himself in an inac- cessible district of Matale. He too was soon imprisoned and the villagers who furnishd him food were exposed to public ridicule and dismissed. The Kandyan struggle against the colonial British did not end here. It rumbled on, even after Kandy as a separate nation, ceased to exist.

In these executions of Kandyan freedom fighters one finds the final and emphatic transformation and imposition of British values on the Kandyans. It was also the elevation of the imperialistic raid on the Kandyans to the level of world – historical mission.

Mollegodde, the First Adikar died in October 1823, and the vacancy created the first test of the good intentions of the British towards the principal Kandyan chiefs. Sir James Campbell, the new Governor, wrote to Lord Bathurst, “the very great difference which has taken place in the administra- tion of the Kandyan province since the end of 1818, has indeed rendered the offices of the Second Adikar of very little consequence or exertion, and both situations might be dis- pensed with, did it not appear unadvisable to close the door of expectation of high office and emolument to the class of -Kandyan chiefs in general. Under the advice of D’Oyly, I have, in the present instance, complied with the dying wishes of the late First Adikar, by promoting his brother from the rank of Second Adikar to the vacant office as also to the Dissavony @@@ 40 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 33 of Four Korales which had been held by the deceased. The situation of Second Adikar, I have left vacant for the disposal of Sir Edward Barnes should he deem it inexpedient to continue it. The office of the Dissave of Seven Korales, which the present Adikar held as a sinecure has been abolished, and the present pension of 200 Rix $ per month to the deceased Adikar has ceased”(12). It became an unannounced policy of the Government not to fill any vacancy on the death of a chief, to curtail other privileges, and save on the salaries paid to the chiefs. Thus one finds that the total monthly pay for the chiefs i 1825 had been reduced by 525 Rix $ from 2907 Rix $ in 1819 to 2382 Rix $. The major part of this saving was accounted for, by the abolition of a Dissave for Seven Korales and another one in Saffragam. However, Barnes was aware that he was in breach of trust, the compact with the chiefs entitled them to be accorded all their privileges. This was patent in his reply to the questions raised by the Commission- ers of Eastern Enquiry, Lt. Col. Colebrooke and Charles Cameron on this and other topics. He wrote, “the privileges conceded to the chiefs in the Kandyan country of the personal attendance of a certain number of people whilst in office, is a coafirmation to them under strict limitation of what they had under the former regime, and in time be gradually reduced– But this as well as the Temple service cannot, I apprehend, be superseded without a most dangerous violation of solemn compact”(13). Solemn or not, the violation of the compact did tzke place as the years went by.

When Sir Robert Horton took over the Governorship = October 1831, Colebrooke and Cameron had been in the wsland for more than two years collecting materials for their Report on the island. They questioned the necessity for ~ maintaining many lascorins, paid out of the public purse, as personal attendants to the Governor and other public officials.

@@@ 41 @@@ 34 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Viscount Goderich, the Colonial Secretary in London, fol- lowed it up with an edict for the immediate reduction in the number of lascorins employed to be confined to actual service to Government. Horton managed to reduce the number from 377 to 337 in 1832, a saving of £268 per year. He also lost the attendance of mounted orderlies during his journeys. This reduction in the pomp and ceremony had to be carried through to all ranks including the Kandyan chiefs. This was made easy by the abolition of Rajakaria in April 1832 (see Chapter 4), and the recommendation by Colebrooke to amalgamate the Kandyan with the maritime provinces for the purposes of administration. These changes not only reduced drastically the work the chiefs had to perform, but also made them more or less anachronisms in the new order in society. The govern- ment sought to discontinue the retinues of chiefs, to substitute a fixed salary for perquisites of any description, and to get rid of the practice of exempting chiefs in office from taxation.

The Board of Commissioners in Kandy was in full agreement.

Their comment was “whatever may have been the motives which induced the Government at home to divest the highest authorities in the colony of external marks of official respect attached to their situations, the same motives must, we con- ceive, generally apply to the case of the native chiefs. We consider therefore, that reasons both of policy and economy enjoin the suppression of their official retinues. We would recommend consequently that the compensation made for the loss of those retinues, should consist in an allowance for the keep of a horse, or for other means of conveyance with such as establishment of paid messengers, as diminished duties of those chiefs may render absolutely necessary”(14).

The Board of Commissioners soon followed it up in November 1832, by submitting new schedules of pay to the chiefs in the provinces under their control, revenue remitted @@@ 42 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 33 o= 2ccount of their retinues, and other public services, the extent of compensation, and the extent of messenger services.

Simular schedules were produced by the Government Agents Sor the outlying provinces of the Kandyan kingdom. These . schedules convey to us today not only the privileges enjoyed &% the chiefs, but also the value put on them by the British and e dissatisfaction they engendered.

A_ Existing schedule of pay of the amount of Grain Tax exemption of the Kandyan Chiefs per year (15): Kandy £ sh d – Desuwilla, Dissave of Udupalata ‘ 540 s Maha Gabada Nileme Rate Mahatmaya ~ \BM) Udunuwara o AR – 1iéa Gabada Nileme, RM of Yattinuwara am Megoddetithe 7 B Mamayakkara Lekam, RM of Harispattu oL ol ara Lekam, RM of Dumbara 2l .

amaduwa Lekam, Mullegame, the d Adikar < F e mbuwe, RM of Kotmale A== of Upper Bulatgamma iy il S =f of Madige (transport) of Akurana . g | ) S =f of Madige of Patteyagamma 18 – – Korales Adikar and Dissave of Four Korales 360 – – wlawe Mohotalle of Four Korales 016 % gamoone, the Maha Lekam 45 – – r a, the Attapattu Lekam 36 mdewela, the Wadanatuaku Lekam S0 ab – 1 Mudiyanse 18 7 i £ 55 B § e @@@ 43 @@@ 36 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Matale Agency Dullawe, the Second Adikar and Dissave £ sad of Matale 228 – = = Talagahagodde, Gajanayakke Nileme, Dissave of Nuwarakalawiya 54 – – Haigoddapolla, Wedikara Lekam 36 – – Pamunuwe, Koddituakku Lekam Sl Tamby Kandoo, Chief of the Madige of Matale 27 – – Maturata Galgodde, the Dissave of Wallapone 54 Grain tax exemption of the property of Nilakarayas V23PN Grain tax exemption for the personal services of the Chiefs 6715 81 Grain tax exemption for the personal services of headmen : 219 -7 Katupulle and Tappal messengers 443 7 2 Cinnamon peelers 435 3 – Government Nilakarayas 12973 Granary Murakarayas (security men) 32.13-6 Elephant keepers 81 16 4 Total 3376 9 1 The Commissioners pointed out that although there were eighteen chiefs employed by Government, seven out of fourteen provinces in the neighbourhood of Kandy, had no chiefs and were managed by unpaid petty headmen. They were cognisant of the fact,”that the present altered circum- stances of the country not only deprive the chiefs and head- men of the power of exacting public services of any kind from the people, but deprive them also of many indirect perquisites and emoluments, which the exercise of that power héretofore procured for them. The substitution of the commutation tax @@@ 44 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 37 Soran annual assessment has further depreciated the value and – miwence of their offices. It will therefore now be indispensa- – iy necessary that some new paid establishment should be – prowided for those districts. We conceive that we should not – % wstified in recommending an increased expenditure for the – Sarmation of that establishment, without at the same time, sroposing the abolition of all those appointments which under e new system will become useless”(15). They proposed to Sspense with the following posts: & Gajanayakke Nileme, salary £54pa. His right to compel people to catch and train elephants had been abolished.

Mazha and Uda Gabada Nilemes, Salary £144. They were m charge of royal villages. These had been rented to Nilakarayas who were taxed. Further it was considered better to place the royal villages under the superintend- ence of the chief of the province in which the villages were sitmated.

All the Lekam Mahatmayas, Salary £270. They had no duty to perform, except to act as assessors in the Judicial Commissioner’s Court.

Madige Mohandirams. Salary £68. They no longer pos- sessed the power to compel transport. When bullocks were required for transport, they were obtained directly from the people.

The new posts, the Commissioners created were an of two or more of the existing posts, or the reinstate- of an existing unfilled vacancy, to which positions, the made redundant above, were given preference. All the had to reside in their provinces. If they defaulted on ey were deemed to have ceased to make themselves for the services of the Government at short notice, therefore would forfeit their emoluments. They also e ki ks @@@ 45 @@@ S iaais il ke S R A 38 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH allotted the chiefs the number of messengers strictly in pro- portion to the public service required of them. These messen- gers were to be paid 15sh. each per month. Due to their high rank and the extensive loss incurred by the First and the Second Adikars, they were assigned six messengers each. The following were the new posts: (a) A Dissave for the province of Nuwarakalaviya. The Gajanayakke Nileme was recommended for this post.

(b) The appointment of RMs to all the provinces in Udarata which had no chiefs now. The present Dissave of Udupalata, who was also the Gabada Nileme, was to take over this job on his present pay. On the same condition the UdaGabada Nileme was to take over as RM of Yattinuwara and Megoddetithe, Madugalla Padikara Lekam the RM of Dumbara, Wattarantenne Nanayakkara Lekam the RM of Harispattu. The RMships of Tumpane and Egodatiche were to be offered in succession to each of the other Lekams on the same condition as above. If they rejected them, then suitable residents from those provinces were to be appointed. Thus they managed to get rid of all the Lekam positions.

As the Colombo government had decided upon dis- continuing ‘the objectionable system of remunerating by exemption of taxes’, the Commissioners recommended that certificates should be issued to all chiefs now in office, specifying the lands held by them free of taxes. Such exemp- tion would not be extended to lands subsequently acquired by them by purchase or inheritance. Promotions to higher office should only be made on condition of being liable to land tax.

The abolition of Rajakaria would enable alarge reduc- ‘tion in the number of minor headmen who collected the Grain @@@ 46 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 39 They could now be appointed on‘a geographical basis obvious benefits for the administration as well as for the 2= tax-payers. Each Korale was to be assigned two minor The future tasks expected of the chiefs and headmen 2 be the performance of judicial and police duties. The process issued, and when necessary, accompanied by pc2admen.

The new schedule of pay and compensation allow- 2= ziven below did not take into account tax remitted on s personal property. In the case of petty-headmen only the amount remitted was taken into account as they were mm Bzlf-pay. The Commissioners proposed giving the retinues chiefs the option of either continuing to serve till the Smbalese New Year (in April), which would entitle them to =mption from the commutation tax of 1833, or resigning and paying that tax and be covered by the new scheme.

new schedule of pay and compensation allowances of Kandyan Chiefs and the pay of Messengers to be shed to them as well as to the Public Departments in (15): Per Month Per Year £ Sh’ £ Sh =godda, 1st Adikar Salary 30 18 Compensation allowance 6 — 6 Messengers at 15sh each 4 10 496 16 ve, 2nd Adikar, Salary 18 15 Compensation Allowance 6 – & Messengers at 15 sh each 4 10 ‘ 351 – messengers of the chiefs would be expected to execute – @@@ 47 @@@ 40 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Mullegamme, the 3rd Adikar, salary 3 – Compensation Allowance 3 – 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 – 108 Dunuwilla, Dissave of Udupalata, Salary | 4 10 Compensation Allowance 3 – 4 Messengers at 15sh each G T 126 & Galgodde, Dissave of Wallapone, Salary 4 10 Compensation Allowance T 5 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 – g 126 Talgahagodde, Dissave of Nuwara -kalaviya, salary 4 10 Compensation Allowance 3 – T 4 Messengers at 15sh each <Eet : | 126 ‘ Dunuwilla, RM of Udunuwara, – salary 6 – 8 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 – : 108 – Dehigamme, RM of Yattinuwara, salary 3 — Compensation Allowance 3 – 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 – 108 – Dehigamme, RM of Megoddatithe, salary 3 – 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 – 72 -9 Madugalle, RM of Dumbara, salary 3 – | Compensation Allowance 3 – 1 _ 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 — f 108 — @@@ 48 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 41 Wattarentenne, RM of Harispattu, – salary 3 = Compensation Allowance 3 — 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 — 108 Unambuwe, RM of Kotmale, salary 3 — Compensation Allowance 3 – 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 — 108 — Halpe, RM Upper Bulatgamma, salary EE – Compensation Allowance 3 = 4 Messengers at 15sh each 3 -~ 108 To be selected RMs of Tumpane and – Egodatiche at £9 each per month 216 – 52 Messengers for government ; @epartments at 15sh each – 468 – ” 83 postal peons at 12sh each 597 12 Taeal for the districts under control of the B R Board of Commissioners 3335–8 It was predictable that the chiefs were not satisfied these new proposals. The allowances were inadequate, more importantly for them, the social effects of the rawal of retinues, was a poingnant and tangible degra- on of their social status, which the British government had sed to preserve and maintain. In fact the younger Wilegodde, who was the 1st Adikar, was so tormented with _ hught of the possibility of his son not succeeding to his on under these proposals, and the ensuing degradation family, that he pleaded with the Governor for special swderation. On the 18th of December 1832, the chiefs ted a petition to the Board of Commissioners to be Sy S e dhouealiie: b A EEE e e e B e o e dindd @@@ 49 @@@ LN At el e S B s T e RN W o B e TR MR R e T L s b IR 1 e E TR T S R – e T e M P R e L A 4 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH presented to the Governor, expressing their ‘weighty distress in consequence of the loss of advantage hitherto accorded to them”. The first part of the petition recounted the historical circumstances under which the Kandyan country was ceded to the British, and the pledges the latter made to the chiefs and the people of Kandy. After the rebellion of 1817\18, “various changes were introduced affecting the power and the emolu- ments of the chiefs, and innovations in some of the established usages of the country. A moderate extent of power and honour was spared to the chiefs, their emoluments greatly dimin- ished, and monthly salaries together with some people for personal services allotted to each chiefs. The chiefs acqui- esced in these measures and did not trouble Government with remonstrances, but cheerfully discharged the duties they were called on to perform and the petitioners are confident that their zeal and assiduity in the performance of their duties have been duly appreciated by the Government”.

“The Principal motive of the Kandyan chiefs for transferring their allegiance to the eminent British Govern- ment, was the hope of being enabled thereby to maintain, and also to augment their honours and emoluments”. Behind this revealing statement, lurked the fallacious assumption that the perpetuation of the self interest of the chiefs would automati- cally benefit, as well as ensure the survival of the Kandyan kingdom. This was the tunnel vision which prevented them any extrapolation, and the consideration of the bonum com- mune of their country. The Petition continued, “but contrary to our expectations, our hereditary advantages and privileges have been since gradually diminished and we are now made acquainted with the pleasure of Government to deprive us of the attendants allotted to us for personal service”. The Petition pointed out that the last King, inspite of all his depredations, did not deprive the chiefs of their honours and emoluments @@@ 50 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 43 contrary to custom and ancient usage, “he rather augmented them, and although the revolution in the country originated with the chiefs and not with the people, yet the Petitioners render thanks to Government for having accorded relief to the people.. but we earnestly pray that His Excellency will take mto consideration our past services, our continued zeal and fidelity to Government.. that the deprival of the services of personal attendants had caused us great distress unless some othermeans were at the same time adopted to balance our loss, But for which purpose our salaries are inadequate”.

“The Petitioners would take this opportunity to pro- f2ss our readiness to undertake such other duties as may be 2eemed competent to, such as collecting the Revenue in our m=spective provinces and holding minor courts for the adjudi- . gation of cases, so that the performance of such duties may grove arecommendation for augmenting our salaries, and we assure Your Excellency that the said duties shall be dis- eharged by us with the strictest zeal and integrity and the Setitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray”(16). The Petition : signed in English by Dunuwilla and Madugalle, in alese, by Mollegodde, Dullawe, Mullegamme, edande, Galgodde, Dehigamme, Wegoddepolle, tenne, Kadugamoone and Rankotdewela.

The Board’s observation on the Petition was that the ‘ anxiety had arisen by their feeling that they had not properly consulted, and that they would be satisfied the proposals had been explained to them. It also noted when the chiefs were questioned on the quantum of a le allowance, they requested an allowance in money t to maintain at least half the number of their present s0 as to support in some degree their rank and dignity country. Given the altered situation in the country, the @@@ 51 @@@ 44 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Board reserved to the Government the right to decide on the quality and number of persons it required for its service un the chiefs.

The two chiefs of Saffragam did not take kindly to this levelling down. They sent a petition to their Government Agent, Mr. Moir on the 5th of February 1833 to be passed on to the Governor. In it, they recounted all the favours and the loyal services they had rendered to the Government at great risk to themselves, both during the Kandyan war in 1815, and also during the rebellion in 1817/18. These the Government itself had acknowledged by bestowing on them various hon- ours and grants of lands. Therefore they were entitled to special treatment. However, “we are extremely sorry at present to hear that our followers are to be reduced to the very insignificant number of four, and our regret is the more exaggerated, when we perceive that the Government holds us its legal and constant liege subjects, and some of its enemies who dared to revolt taking arms against it, in the very same estimation, and consequently their admission to equal privi- leges”. – “Therefore we most earnestly entreat that Your Hon- our may be pleased to lay this Petition before His Excellency, the Governor, and obtain for us the privilege of retaining our retinue for the remainder of our days, or else double our pay, as we cannot otherwise keep up our importance, as the new Regulation would prevent us receiving any kind of services without payment”(17).-It was signed by Mahawellatenne and Doloswella Dissaves. This petition had no effect other than the trite note on it by the Board, to the effect, that these two petitioners had been elevated to Dissaveship, and had been amply rewarded, they could not expect anything more.

: AS the reader would see below, one of them did improve his position and possessions in life. I leave it to the @@@ 52 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 45 ‘-?:m decide whether this was achieved at the expense of e other Kandyan chiefs or not.

One example would illustrate the extent of the loss to chuefs. Eheliyagodda, the Dissave of three Korales died on 30eh July 1832. Capt. Law, the Agent, was required to oile an estimate of the worth of all tax exemptions to the Dissave. His submission, which he considered an under- smation, was as follows: £ msomal property exempt trom tax worth per year 124 perty of the official retinue worth per year – 35 & annual salary : .29, Total e He had 32 Atapattu Messengers, 12 Kodittuakku vas, 12 Palanquin bearers, 7 Tom Tom bcz}ters, 6 Wash- and 2 Cooks. His successor to his post was his son. He was sointed on salary of £90, Compensation allowance of £36 3 Messengers on a salary of £2. 6sh.

Nothing came of all the representation and personal iew the chiefs had with the Governor himself on the 21st zust 1833. In the Governor’s Minute of the meeting, one i find that in addition to the loss of their privileges, the =5 also raised two other issues. One was, that a new class zents were to be appointed in the provinces. If this was they requested that selection for these posts should be ‘only from respectable English Gentlemen or to allow matives the distinction of discharging such duties, as they ¢ zeat objections against any other native (meaning, Dutch, suese and Burghers) except English’. They hoped that of their own members would be found suitable to ze those duties. The other issue was the incorporation @@@ 53 @@@ 46 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH of the Kandyan provinces with some of the maritime districts.

This they pointed out would eventually lead to the deprival of their long established customs and privileges. “The Governor in answer said that he perfectly understood their worries, that he could assure them that in the expected arrangements, there would occur nothing to their dissatisfaction, and as to the parts of the Kandyan provinces being annexed to the maritime districts, he could likewise assure them that it would never prove prejudicial to their religious and civil institutions and customs or privileges, and that they would hardly see any difference whatever”(18). The Governor also pointed out that these changes were made according to instructions he had received from London. They should see for themselves how they functioned over a period of time and then, if they had substantial grounds for complaint, they should petition the Secretary of State. They were bitterly dissappointed, but resolved to make one last attempt to convey their grievances to His Majesty the king in London (see Chapter 8 for their Petition). While they were getting their case together, they were overtaken by events, which put most of them behind bars.

One Englisham who spent almost all his fifty years among the Kandyans, bitterly disagreed with this policy of beating down the Kandyan hierachy. He wrote that, “the native chiefs were placed in a position anomolous and invidi- ous for some years past. A vague idea has prevailed that their influence and authority has been too great, and under an impression that it was necessarily subversive of the stability and efficiency of our own authority, the policy has been to allow it to decline, and without any avowed determination to destroy it we have practically discouraged and undermined . we have placed the chiefs and headmen (a most impor- tant fraction of the government machinery) in a position in which they are in various degrees calculated to impede, rather @@@ 54 @@@ THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 47 than to facilitate the progress of good Government; we have rendered them discontented, their respectability, and influ- ence (for good) with the mass of the people is generally impaired, and they are becoming alienated in feeling from the Government”.

“Under these circumstances, society in its various, but – =specially in the lower grades has been (for the last ten or – &lewen years) becoming demoralized, and so palpably so of = that it required no great power of discrimination to – ge=cict, twelve months before it manifested itself in open wit. the anarchy to which some of the districts were woaching.Respect, approaching to veneration, for aris- =cy. in a pure, ancient, and unblemished family descent, mdes every class; their fastidiousness with respect to it in jer Samily alliances is one of their strongest characteristics.

amcient family may be reduced in circumstances, and Bl of all official rank and authority, but we cannot i of the large amount of consideration and influence % be rendered to its members by their countrymen; should we deprecate or desire to subvert this element order? We may rest assured that any sudden attempt ol only recoil, and deservedly so, on ourselves”(19).

. Um e death of Mullegamme the 3rd Adikar, Gover- su=mrie proposed to bestow the offices of the 1st and < ar on two Kandyans and to revive the hereditary Sur London refused permission for these appoint- policy behind this proposal was laid out in the g 5% Anstruther. He wrote “when the system of e Commissioners of Enquiry and earnestly &% the local government, was the complete of the Kandyan Kingdom with our more an- on the sea coast, in pursuance of which it was reorganised in 1833, one of the measures e e @@@ 55 @@@ 48 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH was determined to abolish all offices tending to keep up the appearance of a separate Kingdom of Kandy”.

“The office of the Adikar or ministers of the King of Kandy could not obviously be kept up consistently with this resolution, it was also objectionable as a sinecure”.

“The first opportunity of carrying this resolution into effect occurred in 1835 when the 1st and 2nd Adikars were dismissed under the strong suspicion of being concerned in treasonable practices. The Government however found itself compelled very reluctantly to reward the chief who had given information of the conspiracy by appointing him 1st Adikar, but the office of the 2nd Adikar was then abolished”.

“The newly appointed 1st Adikar survived only two years, and on his death that office was abolished leaving only the 3rd Adikar, now also dead”.

“The chiefs doubtless would be gratified by revival of those offices, as two lucrative sinecures would thus be given to their order. If no salary or retinue were attached to the offices, they would be much less valued, the persons ap- pointed would be constantly applicants for salaries, and would soon become discontented in consequence of the refusal of any allowance, than gratified by naked title being conferred”.

“The lower classes have no sympathy with the chiefs, on the contrary, they openly exult in the destruction of their.

power by the reforms of 1833. They certainly would not be gratified by the title of the Adikar being revived, probably they would view it with indifference, but if by chance they should look upon it as indicative of an inclination on the part of the government to retrace its steps and reestablish the power of the chiefs–they could not but feel some alarm”(20).

@@@ 56 @@@ | THE KANDYAN PROVINCES AFTER THE REBELLION OF 1817-18 49 The death-knell of the Kandyan kingdom had been sounded, the coffin had been ordered, and measured up and tailored, all that remained to be done, was to confine the remains within the annals of history with the minimum of decorum and ceremony. The rest of this book unfolds this process of internment of a nation as contrived by the colonial British.

l Even in this age(1995) of allegations of corruption within the ‘Mother of Parliament’, yet there are many aspects of British society, both social and political, admirable and worthy of emulation. Nevertheless, one can only hope, that the British liberal minded meddlers of today (1990s), who seem to be keen on ramming down our throats, the alien British values, British democracy and British justice, would read these pages, and spend some time reflecting on the deeds of their fore-fathers, who did precisely the same thing many moons ago. All was certainly not fair, nor just with the Kandyan society. Nor was all fair and just with the British society of the same period. The British social, economic and political institutions did have the freedom to evolve with the – changes and progress in the British society, independently of . any impositions by any foreign power. Therefore they ma- tured attuned to the needs and ethos of British society, even though, many in Britain have to resort to the European Court even today (1990s), to obtain justice on many issues. This freedom was not given to the institutions of the Kandyan society. Had they been given that freedom, it was just possi- Ble, that Sri Lanka would today be governed by a home- grown, and therefore perhaps a more satisfactory indigenous system of administration, caste, religious and ethnic differ- ences notwithstanding.

@@@ 57 @@@ – 50 REFERENCES . CO54/84, Barnes to Bathurst, 20 Oct. 1824.

. CO54/84, J. Compbell to Bathurst, 23 Dec. 1823.

. CO54/112, Barnes to the Commissioners of Eastern . CO54/128, Board of Commiésioners to Dep. Govt. Sec., . CO54/128, Board of Commissioners to the Governor, 24 . CO54/128, The Kandyan Chiefs to the Governor, 18 Dec.

. CO54/128, Petition by Mahawellatenne and Doloswella, . CO54/129, Governor’s Minute, 22 Aug 1833.

. Major Skinner, Fifty Years in Ceylon, p223.

. CO54/168, Anstruther’s Memorandum, 9 Dec 1839 { THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH CO54/73, Brownrigg’s Minute to the Board of Commis- sioners, Aug. 1818.

CO54/74, Brownrigg to Bathurst, 13 Nov. 1818.

CO54/73, Minute by the Board of Commissioners, 24 Oct. 1818.

CO54/73, Brownrigg to Bathurst, 8 Jan. 1819.

CO54/73, Brownrigg to Bathurst, 9 Jan. 1819.

CO54/73, Brownrigg to Bathurst, 8 Jan. 1819.

CO54/74, Brownrigg to Bathurst, 2 Aug. 1819.

CO54/77, Barnes to Bathurst, 6 Sept. 1820.

CO54/84, J. Campbell to Bathurst, 5 Mar, 1823, CO54/84, J. Compbell to Bathurst, 12 May 1823.

Enquiry.

5 Oct. 1832.

Nov. 1832.

1832.

5 Feb. 1833.

@@@ 58 @@@ A 3. THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE In this book we are not concerned with the intricacies of Buddhism or Christianity. It is the interaction between them in the former Kandyan Kingdom in the period 1815 to 1848 that concerns us. In this context, a few words on Buddhism will not be misplaced here, as most of the colonial British, both in Colombo and London, tended, to treat it with contempt, and as a form of unacceptable heathenism and idolatry without taking the trouble to study it. Only a handful devoted any time to study it in depth, and these, did come to appreciate it as a religion promoting the well-being of man.

The British Church here stands forthe Anglicans, the Weslyans and the Baptists who were active in the southern and central provinces of Ceylon at this time, and the Buddhist Temple Bere represents the popular religion as practised by the Kandyans, when the British were ceded the Kandyan prov- inces by the Chiefs and the Buddhist monks. Kandy was not conquered by the British, a crucial fact, which James Stephen atthe Colonial Office tended toignore. He treated the Kandyans as if they were the vanquished, on whom the imperial deci- sons could be imposed unilaterally. He also considered them semi-barbarians, who could be uplifted to civilization only by Christianity.

Buddhism is a religion (some would say, a philoso- ) based on freedom of thought and self-deliverance by ‘s own efforts, by living a morally good life. “According » the unbroken age-old tradition in Buddhist countries, one idered a Buddhist, if one takes the Buddha, the Dhamma Teaching) and the Sangha (the Order of the Monks) — y called the Triple-Gem–as one’s refuges, and under- @@@ 59 @@@ T S { 52 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH takes to observe the Five Precepts (Panca-Sila) — the mini- mum moral obligations of a lay Buddhist–(i) not to destroy life, (ii) not to steal, (iii) not to commit adultery, (iv) not to tell lies, (v) not to take intoxicating drinks “(1). Lord Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths (2), and how one can attain them by one’s own efforts. He did not lay down any dogmas or.

beliefs. He rather insisted on freedom of thought and self- deliverance through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path (3). “Buddhism is a way of life to be followed, practised and developed by each individual. It is self discipline in body, word and mind, self development and self purification. It has nothing to do with belief, prayer, worship or ceremony. In that sense, it has nothing which may popularly be called ‘reli- gious’. It is a Path leading to the realization of Ultimate Reality, to complete freedom , happiness and peace through moral, spiritual and intellectual perfection”(4). Of course, to the ordinary people, this was too rational and intellectual.

They needed tangible and identifiable icons, images, rituals and modes of worship. These external accoutrements of a religion, in the forms of temples, images, worship, rituals and prayers were acquired over the ages by the faithful from the time the relics of Lord Buddha, (his alms-bowl, his robes, his hair, the saplings of the bodhi tree and the Tooth Relic) arrived in the island. They were not recently acquired habits as some British civil servants mistakenly observed in their dispatches.

Popular Buddhism had embraced within its folds the influences of Hinduism, Mahayanna Buddhism and other mythologies. Siva, Vishnu and Brahma the gods of the Hindu pantheon, together with other gods, were worshipped in Devales, erected in their honour, often within the precincts of the Buddhist temple. Kandy was the seat of god Natha, whose Devale is“today one of the most important among the four ‘Devales in Kandy (the others being Vishnu, Kattaragam [for @@@ 60 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 53 god Karthikeya] and Pattini). Upulvan was another deity worshipped by the Buddhists, as he was entrusted the guardi- anship of Lanka by Sakra, in accordance with the wishes of Lord Buddha. The Saman Devale of Ratnapura honours a deity who attended on Lord Buddha when he visited the Peak nearby and left his footprint there. An image of this deity was set up at the shrine of the footprint by the king’s minister, Deva-Pathiraja, in the reign of Parakramabahu the Second in the 13th. century AD. Hence the peak’s ancient name Sammanthakuta. There were attempts made to argue that this was not part of Buddhist practice, and therefore, the rituals at Saman Devale could be deprived of all the support it got from the lands belonging to that temple, and the revenue diverted 0 education. There were also many other cults of both the benevolent and malevolent spirits or Yakkas. The rituals used fo propitiate them or to invoke their help, took many forms ranging from blood sacrifices (usually that of a cockerel), to chanting of Mantras, and variety of dancing known generi- cally as Yakku-Natum (Devil Dancing). Semi-divines worth the mention here were the Nagas, the zealous worshippers of Lord Buddha and of his teaching. The image of Mucalinda, the Naga deity, protecting Buddha against the inclemency of weather, by sheltering him under his widespread hood of a cobra, is a common sight in most temples.

This cursory view of popular Buddhism is relevent to our thesis, because it was this religion, and the attendant mtuals, ceremonies and processions ‘professed by the chiefs and inhabitants of these provinces’, which was declared – mviolable by Clause 5 of the Convention of 1815.

Goaded by Evanglical Christians, the British govern- ment sought for ways and means to wriggle out of this undertaking. One such method was to condemn Buddhism as [} @@@ 61 @@@ 3 e |2 3 o 54 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH heathenism, and its practices as barbaric idolatry. When the undertaking was given, the colonial government was fully aware of its full implication, because the British had had experience of Buddhism in the maritime provinces for nearly two decades. Therefore this reversal of their perception of Buddhism could not be condoned nor excused. It appeared to the Kandyans as downright duplicity on the part of the British, who had thereby forfeited the trust the Kandyans had placed on them. Subsequent events did prove that the Kandyans were correct in their perception of the British as usurpers of their country, but were themselves disunited and lacking in charis- matic leadership and foresight, to avert the disaster which befell them. The violation of the ‘inviolablity’ of their religion was a matter of casuistry in the interpretation of the compact by the British, who were at the same time, the sole arbiters of the fate of the Kandyans. They were the plaintiff, the judge and the jury in this case.

In the third century BC, Devanampiya-Tissa, the then King of Céylon, invited Arahant Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka of India, to preach to him the Buddha Dhamma. The king and his subjects were overwhelmed by the sermons of Mahinda and accepted the Buddhists tenets, and adopted them as their religion. It was at this point that Buddhism became recognised as the official or state religion of Ceylon. It had continued to maintain that eminent position throughout the ages, and into the Kandyan Kingdom of the early nineteenth century, despite political harassment and persecution by un- friendly monarchs, and hostile Tamil and European invaders.

It had survived internal dissension, corruption and schism within its ranks. As Venerable Rahula had put it, “we have to admit that from that day that Buddhism was adopted as a state religion, itbegan to loose its original spirit of renunciation and simplicity, and gradually developed into an ecclesiastical @@@ 62 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 55 organization with its numerous duties, religious, political and social. It is impossible for any religion, When it becomes an organized body, to continue in its original form. It has to change with the times if it is to maintain its power and prestige”(5). An apolitical religion became enmeshed with the political, economic and social set-up of the country. The monarch became the Defender of Buddhist faith and its Chief lay benefactor. “The island of Lanka belongs to the Buddha himself..Lanka is suitable only for Buddhist Kings…”(7).

This refrain was heard time and again in Kandy, and was the prime motivating force in all the many attempts to oust the British from Kandy. A Christian could not be the King of Ceylon. This was not different from the position in Britain at – fhat time, that a Roman Catholic could not be the King of Britain, even though the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act was passed in Britain in April 1829.

As Defender of the Faith, it became the duty of the Kings of Lanka to foster the well-being of the Sangha. This . ey did, by promoting the recruitment of candidates to the Order, by rooting out corruption among the monks, by getting ‘% Sangha itself to formulate Katikavats (codes of conduct), and again, for their moral behaviour and conduct. That Sinhalese Kings were involved in the internal disciplines o the Buddhist religion was undeniable. Anyone taking their , would therefore be expected to follow suit. The mon- also ensured the satisfaction of the physical needs of the by donating productive lands, and by building for them e pansalas (abodes). The Sangha in return bestowed on King the legitimacy to the throne by taking part in his ka (annointing) and by supporting him. The Buddhist paid no taxes to the King. The temple lands were from all dues, and the occupants of these lands were to perform various services for the preservation and ce of the temple, in addition to giving the produce @@@ 63 @@@ 56 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH of the land to the temple, in accordance with the accepted custom of the country. The priests were expected to live a morally exemplary life, preach the Dhamma, teach the chil- dren at the temple and take part in the Buddhist festivals and ceremonies. The monk and his temple were the cynosure of the village, and the life of the village centered around the temple, and the religious and social activities which took place there.

The Nayakkar Kings of Kandy (1739-1815) were aliens among the Sinhalese. Their roots were South Indian and Hinduism by religion. The only bond binding them to the Kandyans was the Buddhist religion. It was therefore in their paramount interest of survival, to be conspicuous in their ardent support for Buddhism. They emulated as far as they could the actions of the devout Buddhist kings of old, and followed scrupulously pera sirit (the accepted traditions of the land), to make the connection between Buddhism and themselves intimate, reciprocal and conspicuous to the lay Buddhists.

_ The King appointed the Chief Priests. As Knox had put it, “the first and highest order of priests are the Tirinanxes (Thirunanses). Who are the priests of the Buddou God. Their temples are styled Vehars (Vihares)….They admit none to come into their Order but persons of the most noble birth, and that have learning and be well-bred; of such they admit many.

But they do not presently upon their admission arrive unto the high degree of a Tirinanx. For of these there are but three or four: and they are chosen out of all the rest of the order unto this degree. These Tirinanxes only live inthe Vehar, and enjoy great Revenues, and are as it were the Superiors of all the priests, and are made by the King”(8). Superiors they might have been, but this did not mean that there was in existence in @@@ 64 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 57 Kandy a well organised central Buddhist body, able to enforce.

its will by issuing Pastoral Edicts or Papal Bulls as was the case with the Christian churches. It was a loose organisation without a central directing body, and without powers or ability to manage all Buddhist affairs by itself. There was no diocesan organisation. An important point, not taken on board by the Colonial Office in London, which assumed that there existed in Ceylon, a central Buddhist Church (the persona ficta of civil law), able and willing to manage its affairs like the Roman or the Anglican Church, and therefore, one could simply surrender to this body, the management of its own affairs.

The Kings promoted the study of the Buddhist scrip- tures by establishing colleges, endowing them with the nec- essary economic support, rewarding the scholars and artifi- cers who helped to transcribe the texts into gold or palm leaves. During the Nayakkar dynasty many sacred books were imported from Siam, translated, transcrlbcd and avidly stud- ied by the scholars.

The Kings, often with the ladies of the court, played a prominant part in the festivals and the attendant ceremonies of the religion. Knox, in describing the Kandy Prehera, admit- ted, that formerly the King himself in person used to ride on horseback in the procession with all the train of torch-bearers, dancers, drummers, whip-crackers and the caparisoned ma- jestic elephants. This veneration of the Tooth Relic and the carrying of it in a grand procession become an annual event in Kandy. Many people were bound by Rajakaria to provide the necessary items for the procession, to attend and take part in the ceremonies. These servants of the Temple of the Tooth held various pangus or shares of land as their compensation for their service.

@@@ 65 @@@ 58 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The chanting of Pirit (protection) by the monks had its origin during the time of King Upatissa | (4th century).

During times of danger, calamity or adversity the monks gathered together at the request of the monarch to recite the sacred texts of the Ratana-Sutta to ward off the danger. Over the ages, it become a meritorious act to recite the words of the Buddha, in addition to obtaining protection from evil. Many inscriptions in Viharas in and around Kandy, bears witness to the King and his family participating in such ceremonies.

Ceremonies and festivals were also held on admission into the Order of Monks, on gaining the Upasampada ordina- tion, on laying the foundation of a religious edifice, enshrin- ing of relics in such edifics and their dedication. All these functions were attended by sermons, alms-giving and great festivities of music and dancing. One of the most important ceremony connected with the temple was the Netra Mangalaya (painting of the eyes). When the building or the restoration of the temple was complete, the eyes of the images therein were painted with great solemnity and devotion, and then the celebration followed. The King usually took part in this ceremony. The inscriptions in Sir Bodhimalu Vihara and the Alut Vihara in Kandy testify to the King’s participation in such ceremonies.

The annual Kathina ceremony was another important event in the Buddhist calender. A Kathina was a robe made for a Buddhist monk in the course of a single day and night. The presentation of it as a gift to the monks had come to be known as the Kathina ceremony. During the rainy season, the monks being confined to their monasteries, observed Vas or the rainy seasonal retreat. At the end of it, Kathina robes were presented to the monks. Great merit accrued to the donor. This ceremony had its origin during the time of Parakramabhu the Second.

@@@ 66 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 59 The Kings also went on pilgrimage to holy shrines at Anuradhapura, Polonaruwa, Kurunegala and Mahiyangana und to the holy peak of Sammanthakuta (Adam’s Peak). There were no modern roads to these places. The footpaths were through thick jungles, therefore food and accommodation of the King and his cavalcade required careful planning and preparation. All the scattered villages along the route got Involved in this project. This in itself got the people united with the monarch, and he in return was able to display to them, his devotion to their religion, and his connection with the pristine glory of Buddhism.

Among the other main festivities in which the palace was involved, were the Sinhalese New Year in April, the Katti Mangalla in November and the Alut-sal Mangalla in January.

T’he King led the New year celebrations by solemnly washing his head at his Ulpange (bath), and appearing in public to start the festival. The Katti was the festival of lamps. The Natha Devale provided the lamps and the oil, which were lit on the auspicious hour in the palace, in the presence of the King and his officials, to the chanting of hymns and prayers as thanks- giving to the gods, and for the prosperity of the King and his kingdom. The Alut-sal was the bringing in of the new rice and its preparation and consumption. The fortunate hour for carrying out these functions were designated by the royal astrologers and notified to the King. Then, by order of the King, the rest of the country got the message, and the func- tions were carried out with the due observance of the appro- priate ceremonies. The Kandyan kings were part and parcel of the way of life there, even though the aura of divinity, set them physically apart from the ordinary folk.

The British after they took over Kandy, substituted their far away King to the throne of Kandy, and at the same .

@@@ 67 @@@ 60 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH time engendered the belief and expectation in the Kandyans, that the British Crown would now discharge both the religious and secular functions performed by their former Kings. Both the British monarch and his Representatives failed miserably to match even the shadows of the Kandyan Kings, both in the resplendence of the Court, and in the participation of the British Crown in the religious ceremonies and festivals. This frustrated expectations of the Kandyans found their outlets in their many attempts to install a Pretender on the throne of Kandy. Although unsuccessful to supplant the British from Kandy, yet the Kandyans wanted to cling to this shadow British King, for without the support of a King, their religion lost its primacy, importance and prestige as the established religion of the land. Without a King behind it, Buddhism was not a state religion, and this situation was an unbearable and an unpardonable betrayal of the last two millennia of history of the country. The intensity of this guilty feelings, mortifica- tion and remorse of the Kandyans was given only a casual and cynical consideration by the British.

The monks were mendicants devoted to a life of poverty and celibacy. It devolved primarily on their great benefactor, the King, to bestow on the monks the fourfold requisites (the robes, alms, lodgings and medicine) for their daily lives. It had been recorded, that the last King of Kandy not only provided medical care for the monks, but had also visited the sick and the ailing. The Kings and the laity bestowed on the clergy more than the mere necessities of life.

Large tracts of lands were granted for the maintenance of the temples and devales. The occupants of these lands had to work for the temple, and they were usually the best kept lands in the village. The villagers in turn divided the land into pangus – (shares) and their work according to their castes. In theé case of Ninde Muttettu, the whole crop reached the temple or the @@@ 68 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 61 devale without deduction, and if it was an Ande Muttettu, only some of the produce reached the temple. The Parveni Nila Pangus transferred to the temple the various services, which the occupants of such lands owed to the King on a hereditary basis. These consisted of such duties as maintenance and repair of the temple, keeping watch, taking part in the festivi- ties and supplying the items and persons necessary to conduct the ceremonies and festivals. Thus the obligations of the Maligawa village of Kitulpe was described as follows. “Kitulpe is the temple village belonging to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, and pays no tax to the government. As is the case with all temple villages, it is remarkably fine and fertile. The fields are really beautiful and excellently kept. The fields are in extent about 40 amunams, and the produce of about 8 is rendered to the temple”.

“The yearly tribute to the temple amounts to 32 amunams and 16 lahas, which is converted into rice and offered monthly. Also a pingo of plantains and vegetable and oil are offered. In November the villagers attend with 10 pingos and decorate the temple. The same offering is made at the Sinhalese New Year. Ten pingos also are presented in January when the crops are cultivated at the festival Alut-Sal Mangalla. Soon after the Sinhalese New Year holidays are closed, 5 pingos are offered to the Dewa Nileme. One person of the village, in turns, must always watch at the Maligawa.

The villagers are also liable to do any service when called on for the benefit of the temple. At the Perehera they must attend for 15 days to join in the procession. There is also a coconut garden from which 20 coconuts a month are offered to the temple. The garden is nearly 20 pallas in extent”.

“There are four headmen belonging to the temple in the village, viz. the Vidana, Kankanam, Mananna, and Duraya.

@@@ 69 @@@ 62 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The Vidana’s duties are to superintend everything and he is responsible for any neglect. The Kankanam has charge of the keys of the paddy store containing the paddy belonging to the temple, and gives out the seed-paddy for the cultivation of the 8 amunams 15 lahas comprising temple share; he also is present at the threshing of the crops, and takes care of the temple share; and he keeps account and sends them to the Dewa Nileme. The Mananna’s duty is to measure the paddy.

The Duraya takes messages connected with the temple. The Muttettu fields are situated apart from the rest of the fields of the village, and they are cultivated by the natives according to the extent of the lands. The Vidana receives 3 amunams of paddy when the Muttettu fields are reaped, the Kankanam 5 pallas, the Mananna and Duraya 2 pallas. The Mananna and Duraya are of the Vahumpura or jaggery (hakuru) caste”(9).

[10 laha=1pala, 4 pala=lamuna, 1 amuna=5bushles]. Any gap in the services necessary for the functioning of the temple, was taken care of by the Maruvena (transferable) pangu.

The Maruvena pangu related to specific services to be rendered at appointed times of the year by those who occupied such lands. The supply of salt, oil and transport were examples of this type of temple service. There was a reciprocal relataionship between one’s caste and the pangu one held.

Caste determined the service and the service determined the type of pangu. Hance the holding of lands and its inheritance devolved from generation to generation on caste basis. Thus Buddhism which was anti-caste, became the lynch-pin bind- ing the caste system and perpetuating an economic and social system based on caste. When these ties were let loose by the British, the monks and the lay officials in charge of these temporalities, found to their cost, that they could not enforce the obligations of their tenants. The British soon discovered that by simply neglecting the appointment of lay officials of @@@ 70 @@@ F THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 63 the temples, they could bring to book the monks, who in their minds, were the ‘arch-plotters’ and ‘agitators’ against their rule in Kandy. The paddy tax, and later on, the abolition of lajakaria and the levy of road service, tended to have the same (leleterious effect on the economic and social position of the Huddhist monks and the chiefs.

The lands of the Devales were under the control of the Hasnayakke Nileme. He in turn had officials similar to the ones at Kitulpe, the most important one being the Kappuralle (or Kappuas), who officiated at the ceremonies at the Devale.

“Thus the services of the Vitaranage family who held a (jamvasam pangu as tenants of the Pasgama Natha devale, were to superintend the cultivation of one amunam of the Muttettu from ploughing to storing; to superintend and assist in thatching the devale buildings, in clearing the maluva (shed) and in decorating; to hold a Paliha or Mutukude (parasol) for the perehera; to get the other tenants to attend the lestivals and perform their customary services; to supply Pahidum (provisions) to the Basnayakke Nileme when he visited the village; and to take a basket of sweet-meats (kevil- pettiya) and a bundle of betel-leaves to the Basnayakke Nileme at New Year. In the same village, the Kapuge family performed the duties of Kappuralle at the devale for six months, and cultivated three Liyaddi (lahas) of the temple Muttettu from ploughing to storing”(10). It was argued (see below) that many Basnayakke Nilemes exploited the tenants and pocketed most of the revenue. His office was not directly connected with the worship or the ceremonies held within the sanctuary, and therefore could be abolished, and would be welcomed by the Kapuralles and tenants.

The temple land grants were sometimes made to a – named chief incumbent monk of the temple with the right to @@@ 71 @@@ 64 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH pass it on to his pupil successors. This was known as N (kinsman) Sishya (pupil) Paramparawa (lineage). As seen earlier, this was one important reason for restricting recruitment to the Order to the high caste, and also to the cl relations of the chief monk. As the munificence of the King and the laity increased, so did the holdings of the temples, that Knox could not help observing that ‘they impaired revenues of the Crown, there being rather more Towns longing to the Church than unto the King”. In 1844 it w considered a fair estimate, that one-third of all cultivated lands in the Kandyan provinces belonged to the temples ané devales together with vast tracts of forest and common lands.

The monks were in effect monastic landlords, who were, via the Nati Sishya Paramparawa, progressively concentrating in the hands of the nobility the wealth, power and influence which were attached to such landholdings in a village. There- fore any attempt to levél down the nobility, or neglect the patronage due to the religion of the country, was also a body- blow to this position, power and prestige of the monks. Dis- establishment of Buddhism was, in the eyes of the monks, the demolition of the very foundation of their economic security, ~ wealth, and the power to accumulate them in the hands of the nobles of the land. They were bound to resist any such measures, no matter how inherently beneficial these measures were, from an economic and social point of view, to the Kandyans at large.

In 1832 the Board of Commissioners of Kandy had pointed out that the Order-in-Council of 1832 abolishing Rajakaria, had deleterious effects on the temples. According to them the pecuniary grant made to the temples were for the continuation of the internal rites and ceremonies. “The dis- continuance of that aid will be a serious loss to the temples, and will tend to the suppression of the ceremonials, which we @@@ 72 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 65 believe, the people will feel dissatisfied to find suddenly discontinued without compensation. As the amount is small..it will be advisable to continue it, as long as the majority of the population attach importance to the observ- ance of the religious festivals, or rather until some other mode less objectionable should be found for defraying these ex- penses”(11).

Turnour, in 1834, too pointed out, that Kandyans who were not tenants of the temple lands, were no longer required to, nor were willing to render service or contributions towards the staging of the principal festivals in Kandy. He listed the items and the services costing just over £41, and suggested that this expense be borne by the Government.

Even before the de-coupling of Buddhism from the Government took place, its decay had set in as a result of gratuitous road service, the failure to appoint lay officials of the temples and indirectly from the abolition of Rajakaria.

Many petitions were submitted to Colebrooke in 1829 by Buddhist monks complaining about the neglect of temple service and its property because the villagers had been grafted on to doroad service away from their villages(12). In petitions numbered 398,418 and 628, the Malwatte monks complained that lands granted to them by the Kings of Kandy in the vicinity of Samanthakuta, had been given over to others by the Government. In the Petitions 542 and 544 the High Priest of Asgiriya and 65 other priests complained of encroachment on their temple lands at Kandy. Governor Mackenzie himself acknowledged this deterioration. The Clause 6 of his Ordi- mance No2 of 1840, reinstated the tax on temple lands which were no longer supporting the temples or devales. He ex- plained this imposition to Lord John Russell as follows, “by e Proclamation of November 1818 all lands belonging to @@@ 73 @@@ 66 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Buddhist temples in the late Kandyan provinces were e empted from land tax, and the occupants of them w required in lieu, to perform certain services to and keep i repair the temples themselves. A great number of th temples have now from various causes fallen altogether in decay, and no use has been made of them for religious purposes for many years–the occupants of these lands have consequently neither paid taxes to government nor rendered services to the temples, and it is the object of this clause to place them, as is just, upon the same footing as other landlords in regard to the payment of tax”(13). This sad state of affairs also engendered a belief in the missionaries that if Buddhism was left to itself, deprived of all state support, it would soon fade away into oblivion.

At this point, it is opportune to look at one particular Christian doctrine, in order to understand the intensity of the venomous and bigotted attack on Buddhism and its rituals, by the missionaries. This is the doctrine of ‘no salvation outside the Church’. The Council of Florence (1442) had defined that “the holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and proclaims that none of those who are outside the Catholic Church–not only pagans, but Jews also, heretics and schis- matics–can have part in eternal life, but will go into eternal fire, ‘which’was prepared for the devil and his angels’, unless they are gathered into that Church before the end of life”(14).

This rigid position has been,today, substantially modified by the Second Vatican Council of 1964. This Council conceded freedom of religion and belief and acknowledged that ‘all men of goodwill can attain to everlasting salvation’. The old Florentine doctrine of ‘no salvation outside the Roman Church’ was under attack during the time of the Protestant Reforma- tion. The devastation and the enormous human toll and misery caused by the Thirty Years (or the Religious) Wars of 1618- @@@ 74 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 67 1 48 led to the reappraisal of this rigid doctrine, and gave birth ‘ to deism or the natural religion and the ‘inclusive’ position, – which extended the possibility of salvation to all men, as they “had the innate ability to discover the ‘true religion’. The Protestants applied this reasoning to themselves, and included themselves in the family of God’s selected few, who were favoured by God with Revelation, and therefore recipients of His grace for salvation. They were however not prepared to _extend this formula to religions outside the christian fold. All other religions were heathenism and idolatry leadmg to everlastmg hell, deserving forthright condemnation in un- ‘compromising terms. No Christian could have anything to do ‘with any such religion, least of all, could he support it, without ‘committing a grievous sin and incurring damnation in hell.

‘Multi-religious or inter-faith worship and the genuine accept- ~ance of other rehgnons by the Christians had to wait till the 1980s.

i The Puritan Protestants were also averse tohaving any _intermediaries between themselves and God. For this reason ‘ they did not indulge in the worship of Christian saints or their ‘ images in their chapels. Nor did they have elaborate liturgies – ind ceremonies in their worship. No doubt, this repulsion was reinforced in the case of Buddhist images and rituals which “they condemned in the most bigotted terms. Words of Swift lippropriately conveyed the prevailing sentiment, i/ “We are God’s chosen few it All others will be damned There is no place in heaven for you We can have hell crammed”. T A The missionary attack on the connection between Buddhism and the colonial government started with the pamphlet, The British Governmentand the Idolatry of Ceylon’, blished by the Wesleyan missionary R. Spence Hardy in 1439, He did his research in Kandy where he was a minister @@@ 75 @@@ 68 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH for some time. The publication was well-timed. It more or coincided with the success of the missionaries in India disconnecting the British authorities from Hinduism. H in his pamphlet, first detailed all the support the Colo Government gave to Buddhism and then condemned them unacceptable, and being contrary to God’s teaching, it pernicious and sinful, an hindrance to conversion of heathen Buddhists, and therefore urged the authorities forthwith sever all connections with Buddhism, and to over to the Buddhists the management of their own affairs.

It is worth our while to delve into this pamphlet as controversy it set off, generated very un-Christian bigotry took nearly fourteen years to be sorted out, and that too, finally.

The following were the alleged support given te Buddhism by the Government: 1 The principal priests of the Interior were appointed by the Governor and held their offices bene placito. Hardy listed the following appointments; Malwatte Chapter Asgiriya Chapter The Maha Thera The Maha Thera The 1st & 2nd Anu Nayakke Theras Anu Nayakke Thera The Chief Priests of the temples =~ The Basnayakke Nilmes of Gangarama of Bambaragalla Welgampaya Mutiyangana Teldeniya Mahiyangana Hingula Huduhumpola Welegoda Dawanagala Anuradhapura Adam’s Peak Alutnuwara Dipitiya @@@ 76 @@@ r THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 69 The Dewa Nileme of Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic), The Basnayakke Nilemes of the Four Devales in Kandy and a few others in the outstations. The Kapuralles appointed by the Basnayakke Nilemes were confirmed in (heir posts by the Government Agent of the province. In cases of contumacy, upon the petition of the people, he dismissed the offender and appointed a new one. The Maha Theras according to their turn appointed the two priests who were constantly in attendance at the Maligawa, and this too was confirmed by the Government Agent.

2 The government granted a monthly allowance for the support of the priests. There were 42 stipended priests. The two Maha Nayakke Theras received a monthly allowance of 7sh. 6d each. The two priests at the Maligawa received 3sh.

cach plus 4 parrahs of paddy a month. Others received an allowance of paddy, in various proportions, from 7 parrahs and a half to 3 and three quarters each. They also received from the Government a monthly allowance for salt and oil.

The whole of the expenditure with the allowances to the outstation temples was estimatd by Hardy to be worth £150 per annum.

3 By Clause 21 of November 1818 Proclamation, the temple lands were exempted from all taxes. This loss of tax, he estimated to be worth 22,000 parrahs, which at 1sh. per parrah was over a £1000. If the temple lands in Saffragam, Seven Korales, Three Korales and Uva were included, it would be easily over £1200 per year, ‘The office of the priest was therefore frequently connected with great influence and emoluments, and excited ambition and was the object of intrigue. They distributed their revenue to their relations and allowed the temples to fall into ruin’. The stipended priests @@@ 77 @@@ 70 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH _ s were selected by the Agent. This involved the Agent, a Christian, passing judgement on the sacerdotal qualifications of the priests. He also had the right to interfere with the appointment of the priests and their right to take turns of duty at the Maligawa.

4 From 6pm to 6am the Maligawa was guarded by a Malay soldier of the Ceylon Rifles Regiment wearing the uniform of ‘our most gracious Queen’. The Officers of this Regiment were all European and Christian.

5 The Tooth Relic was in the official custody of the Government Agent. The keys of the roomin which it was kept were lodged at his house, and the keys of the Karanduwa (casket) in which the Relic was immediately deposited, was also in his possession. An Aratchy, on a government allow- ance of 30sh. a month, was appointed by the Agent for the purpose of opening and closing the temple and for other temple services. – 6 In May 1828, there was a Dalada (Tooth Relic) Festi- val, and the Agent of the Interior at that time had expressly said that, the superintendence of that ceremonial officially devolved upon him. The contributions amounted to 10,000 Rix $ (approx. £750), which were received into the Kachchery, to be appropriated to the embellishment of the temple. This money was given out at interest in various sums; the business connected with its transfer was conducted at the Kachchery by the clerks of the Government.

7 The Kandy Perehera was principally got up at the expense of, and by command of the British Government.

Hardy produced the Perehera Expense Bill for 1839, given below, which was paid as usual by the Government.

@@@ 78 @@@ . THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 71 B4 S .

Cost of sundry articles for the use 3 of Maligawa and the 4 Devales 3. M0 For traditional dances 3.31% 25 For outstation Devales B 5 1 For carrying the canopy over the Karanduwa – 16 – For oil and rags for the torch-bearers g L 19 95 8 The government also paid the expenses of other Bud- dhist and Hindu festivals. They were as follows; £ sh. d The Sinhala New Year festival 519 5 The Nanamura festival (a) L [ e The 5 Wahala Pincomas (b) o Lo – The Kathina Pincoma 43 13 8 The Kartiya festival (c) RR Y The Alut-Sal festival 11 7 5 Wali Yakkun ceremony SO by (a0 8 102 4% 7 The exact auspicious time to bathe after the commence- of the New Year, as determined by the astrologer.

The alms-giving held at the King’s Palace gates.

The festival held in December in honour of the demon Bali, and the last one too was in honour of the demon nt revenue by the Agent. He mockingly inquired all these demonology could really-be ‘For Maj- Service’. The figures given by the Governor in 1847 did substantially from that given above, except that he £185. 13sh. for allowances paid to priests who daily at the Maligawa.

Yakka. It was a 7 day performance, all paid for from the – @@@ 79 @@@ {7 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH 9 When anyone defaulted on his temple duties, the Agent dispossessed him of his lands, and appointed other devotees who would carry out their duties more zealously. In this way, the Agent was aclively promoting the Buddhist religion, by helping to get rid of the bad Buddhists, and by appointing good ones, who would be more zealous towards their religion and therefore arrest its decline.

10 Inthe Maligawa there were also many other gold and valuable treasures connected with the Tooth Relic. The fact that the Government had taken upon itself to protect these items, had also bound the Government to protect the religion.

All these were proof that the Government was guilty of – supporting the idolatrous religion of Buddhism, the worship of demons and the propitiation of malignant infernal spirits.

Hardy rested his argument for the disconnection “upon the simple fact that it (Buddhism) is opposed to the truth– denies the existence of God– is ignorant of the only way of salvation, by faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ–and is utterly important as a teacher of morals, or as messenger of peace to the awakened conscience of its deluded votaries. In the Sacred Scriptures all these errors are summed up in one word, Idolatry. Buddhism is idolatrous, and I contend, that it is the bounden duty of the Government of the country, from its possession of the Truth, to discountenance the system by – every legitimate means; and that it can afford no open or implied encouragement to its teachers or its worship, without the commission of an offence in the sight of God”. The Government’s connection with Buddhism was unnatural, sinful and pernicious.

  • Hardy also tried to anticipate the arguments which the supporters of the prevailing practice might advance against @@@ 80 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 73 him. One such point was the trifling amount expended on these religious affairs. He dismissed this point as of no concern in itself, other than the principle, that even this minute connection only emphasised in the eyes of the beholders, that the Government approved and fostered Buddhism. From the point of view of the Kandyans this was an important point. Governor Brownrigg estimated that the rev- enue from all sources from the Kandyan provinces in 1820 to be 252,539 Rix $ (approx. £ 21,000). If this amount of revenue could be obtained from the Buddhist subjects, was it not legitimate that some of it should also be expended on them? Further in the estimates submitted by Governor Mackenzie for Contingent Expenditure for 1840 of £177,339, there was only a one line item, among numerous others, for expenditure on temples in the central provinces, of a minute sum of £317.

In contrast, T. W. C. Murdoch, a civil servant at the Colonial Office, in a Memo to Lord Stanley, listed the expenditure on ~ the Anglican Establishment in Ceylon in 1843 as follows: £ per annum The Archdeacon 2000 Senior Colonial Chaplain 900 Colonial Chaplain of St. Pauls 700 Colonial Chaplain at Galle 700 LColonial Chaplain at Kandy 700 ‘Colonial Chaplain at Trincomalee 700 Portuguese Chaplain 108 Sinhalese Chaplains (total sum) 650 Tamil Chaplains 308 Murdoch admitted that the whole amount was paid out Colonial Revenue under the heading ‘Fixed Establish- @@@ 81 @@@ 74 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH ment of Ceylon’, and therefore they did not appear separately in the Annual Supply Ordinance. What appeared there was the Contingency of the Ecclesiastical Establishment, which was voted in the same way as that of any other Department. In the same Minute he noted that in 1837, it was estimated that the Anglicans numbered 1600, of whom, about 900 atttended churches served by the chaplains listed above. He surmised, thatin 1841, the latter figure could be about 3000. By contrast the estimated Kandyan Buddhist population was 250,000.

The salaries quoted by Murdoch, appear to the author, to be higher than was the case. Nevertheless, missionary zeal was not prepared to look at this glaring discrepancy in the figures of expenditure on Christians and Buddhists, let alone admit, that they impugned the elementary norms of distributive justice.

Governor Mackenzie knew that Hardy had published his pamphlet when he spoke on the 16th December 1839, moving the first reading of the Ordinance to provide for the Contingent Expenditure for 1840. His words were intended to answer Hardy’s criticism. He said that “the sum involved under the Head of Temples is in itself so small as to merit little notice. The general principles involved in it, render it, how- ever, a question of considerable difficulty to me to approach, while at the same time, they remind me forcibly of the necessity for affording you full explanation. The increasing jealousy with which any connection of a British Government with Idolatry is viewed both in the Mother Country and in the East, in which I entirely participate, compels me in justice to the Government both of my predecessor and of myself, to state, that this expenditure is incurred with the view, not of giving more effective support to Heathen Institutions, but of relieving this Government, as far is consistent with good faith and an”honourable observance of the Convention with the Kandyan Nation, from any direct participation in the Ceremo- @@@ 82 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 75 nies of the Buddhist Religion”. He then cited the particular obligations under the Convention of 1815, and that after Rajakaria was abolished, some of the Royal Villages were sold free of obligation to render temple service. “It was with these views that Sir R. Horton, most properly in my opinion, effected an arrangement with the Chiefs and other parties interested, by which, a sum of money was agreed to be annually paid by Government, which was thereby released from the former inconvenient and unseemly obligation upon it. It may perhaps be urged that the Government is bound to go further, and altogther release itself by the payment of one (lump) sum in redemption of the annual allowances–Without entering into the expediency of such a proceeding, it will be sufficient for me to state, that I am at present unable to perceive any practicable method of effecting it, even at a large pecuniary sacrifice”.

On the general subject of temple revenue, the ordina- tion and patronage of the Buddhist Priesthood, the Governor observed, “the Government here so far from deriving any Revenue from Temples, is deprived of the ordinary Revenue of Lands belonging to them–In the case of Ordination and patronage of Priesthood, as in the former case, the Govern- ment simply exercises the right devolved upon it by Law at the conquest of the Country”. One needed strongest reasons and clearest proof of any resulting benefits, for any alteration in the current practice to be justifiable. He was also against Aysterical bigotry, missionary intolerance and intemperate fanguage used by the Christian protagonists. His advice to hem was that “for ardently as we ought all to desire and hope Sor, and aid so far in us lies, the ultimate conversion of ind to Christianity, that all important object will not be by violent assaults upon the Religious Establish- of a Nation or upon those who administer in the @@@ 83 @@@ 76 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Heathen ceremonies so long cherished amongst them. That 2 Buddhist Priesthood would for many years exist, even if the ~ Government in no way interfered, cannot I think be denied: nor can that species of interference be justly said to be at variance with the views, which as Christians we profess, which tends to place in the higher Offices of the Priesthood men of influence, whether from wealth or general good conduct, rather than leave their choice in other hands, were that practicable; and it is to the selection of such that the interference of Government is principally restricted”(15). His implied conclusion was, that in this way the Government had some control over these men of influence, which in his view, was desirable and wholesome. He soon changed his views and advocated drastic measures to sever all connection with Buddhism, immediately prior to his departure from Ceylon.

Hardy also anticipated the legal objection which might be derived, as the Governor had pointed out above, from the Convention of 18135, the Proclamation of November 1818 and Governor Horton’s Proclamation of 1834 (see Ch. 7). Toatrue believer like himself, this was a minor obstacle. Hardy ar- gued, “I see no reason whatever, from the tenor of these treaties, why the British Government should be considered as bound to interfere with appointments of heathen priests, the celebration of heathen festivals, and the pecuniary support of some of the most gross superstitions that ever entered into the mind of man. These things are contrary to the law of God, and therefore, whatever might have been the consequence, it would still have been the duty of the British Government to rid itself of the responsibility, though a promise had been given to support heathenism in far stronger terms than any that have been actually used; there would have been a prior bar to the accomplishment of its intentions; but happily, as the Kandyans would not have comprehended the force of this argument, it is not necessary to resort to such a mode of explanation”(16).

@@@ 84 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 77 In Horton’s Proclamation of 1834, Hardy found the distinction between pure rational Buddhism and the popular devotional Buddhism as practised by the worshippers in the temples and the devales. He was willing to concede protection and support to the Buddhists ‘in the freest exercise of their religion’ in its purest form. In no way was he prepared to consider any connection with the popular worship involving prayers, images and demon worship.

Finally he quoted at length the Report of the Commis- sioners of Eastern Enquiry (see Chapter 4) in his support. This Reportcarried weight with the Colonial Office, asit had taken measures to implement most of the recommendations made therein. A few words from Hardy’s quotation are relevant here. “This interference of the Government in the religious affairs of the country, although induced from considerations of policy, has been attended with much inconvenience. It has failed to satisfy the chiefs, and it has checked the improve- ment of the country, and the advancement of the people.

While the Government was bound by the Convention of 1815, to protect the people in the free exercise of their religion, the mterposition of its authority to enforce an observance of its rites, is at variance with those principles of religious freedom, which itisa paramount duty touphold. Nor can it justly afford o the Buddhist faith a greater degree of support than it extends o the Christian religion, and to other systems, including the Hindu and Mohomedan”(17).

Hardy no doubt, was sincere in his belief that God had Britain great, first among the nations in wealth, power extent of influence so that it might carry on with better the great work of the world’s conversion ‘from darkness Light, and from the power of Satan unto God’. It was ore impossible and sinful to have fellowship with the @@@ 85 @@@ 78 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Devil and the Demon worship of the Buddhists. It was injunction to discard Satan and his worship, and thus uns ported by the arm of the secular power ‘they (the Buddhists! would fall before us like dew before the sun’.

Hardy had hooked the Colonial Office and the Co- lombo Government on the horns of a dilemma which took 2 long time to be resolved. The legal obligation to support Buddhism was quite clear, no matter, the conflicting interpre- tations and the abstruse constructions put on Clause 5 of the Convention of 1815 by the advisers of the Government in London and Colombo. It was also equally clear that as Christians, the British could not support overtly or covertly the various practices of the Buddhist religion, although there was no written constitutional provision, that a British Govern- ment consisting of Christians, should actively promote mis- sionary activity, by seeking measures to discourage and undermine other religions. It was also obvious that the hand- ing over of the affairs to a body of Buddhists required a legal act of creation of such abody. The Government suspected that this in turn would concentrate the power in the hands of a few untrustworthy Kandyans, who could use it against the British.

Such legal backing to a Buddhist body, argued some, would not only directly involve the Crown, but would also perpetu- ate Buddhism in the country, and would therefore stand in the way of conversion of the people to Christianity and freedom for missionary activity.

The Kandyans, and the Buddhist clergy on the other hand, rigidly stuck to the fact of legal obligation to support and sustenance owed them by the British. In their eyes and also in fact, Kandy was not conquered by the British, it was ceded to the British on the basis of a contract between equals without any time constraints or conditions binding on them. Therefore @@@ 86 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 79 it was incumbent on the British to discharge their duty. Any deviation was a gross breach of faith warranting action to restore, if possible, the status quo ante. In the absence of any legally enforceable proceedure, other than ineffective peti- tions, the Kandyans adopted the alternative of rebellion, to oust the British and restore their monarchy.

In England, Dandeson Coates, the Secretary of the – Church Missionary Society (CMS), sent Hardy’s pamphlet to three CMS missionaries (Samuel Lambrick, J. Selkirk and G.

E. Trimnell), who had served in Ceylon, for their opinions, so that they would lend weight to the representations, he was about to make to the Colonial Office. All three agreed with Hardy’s findings and his conclusion, that the Colombo Gov- ernment should withdraw support for Buddhism forthwith.

Selkirk also quantified the support to the Buddhist clergy in pound sterling values similar in amount to the ones quoted by Hardy. He also stated that, “there is no Government Ordi- nance which opposes the immediate and entire dissolution of its connection with the Idolatry of the natives. I believe it would occasion little or no commotion in the minds of the natives in general, were it to be published by order of the Government; 1. that the Priests of the Malwatte and Asgiri establish- ments would no longer be appointed to those offices by the Government Agents of the Central Province, 2. that there would be no more confirmations of the Priests in the Maligawa in Kandy and of the Basnayakke Nilemes or lay chiefs of the principal devales in their appoint- ments by the British Government, 3. that after the death of the “forty stipended priests” of the two establishments in Kandy, no more priests would receive a monthly allowance from the British Government, @@@ 87 @@@ -improve the moral quality of the population, and provide a 80 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH 4. that the getting up of the Perehera in Kandy and the expenses attending it, and other Buddhist and Brahminical festivals, and of the Devil Dancing called Walli-Yakkun would no longer be borne by the British Government”(18).

Mr Selkirk also pointed out that many priests had lost the respect of the ordinary people, that they were engaged in numerous litigations in Kandy and that it was common knowledge, “that great numbers of persons became priests merely that they may lead an idle life and be supported without manual labour. The number of such idlers would be lessened, as well as the others put more upon their good behaviour, were it known through the Island that the Buddhist Priesthood were unconnected with the British Govern- ment”(18). He concluded his letter with a plea for more support for Christian education which in his view would reduce the idolatrous Buddhists to a minority, and would also reliable source for clerical employment in Government serv- ice.

Mr. Trimnell too expressed his sentiments in the strongest terms. He wrote “that the natives have regarded the British Government as favourable to their religion, I have no doubt. For when I have been endeavouring to convince them of the sin of idolatry, and exhorting them to turn from it, it has been said to me, “why then does your Government approve our religion if it be bad?” and “if your Government does not approve our religion why does it issue proclamations to attend the Perehera?”(19). To Trimnell, the Convention of 1815 was only a promise to protect the Buddhist clergy and their places of worship from insult and injury in the exercise of their religion. Even this he opined, they had forfeited by the many rebellions whicli they had staged against the British. He cited Horton’s Proclamation of 1834 in support of his view that the @@@ 88 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 81 agreement with the Kandyans was only amere declaration of – simple protection and an assurance of freedom of conscience.

. He concluded that “it is a very solemn and awful reflection on 2 Christain community that idolatry should so long have . m=ceived that aid from it, which has kept it from crumbling to ust by its own decay. This Dagon in Ceylon would fall if – England would cease to uphold him. The British Government may, and ought, and will, if Christian, or influenced by Christian principles, wipe its hands from all further connec- Son with Buddhism and from every other species of idolatry Ceylon, and if it does not, it can expect no other– it ought & expect no other than that God who hateth that cursed thing o , will transfer the land to another people, who may be faithful to the trust”(19).

Coates dispatched all these to the Colonial Office s that British Government’s support “has a strong ten- v to counteract the just influence and to obstruct the artant labours of Christian missionaries in the island. The ztion thus given to idolatry necessarily creates an impres- in the minds of the heathen population that, in the ation of those in authority, practices which throughout whole Divine Revelation are condemned with the utmost iy as most affronting to the majesty of the True God, are =ss or of slight moral turptitude. Thus a hindrance is susly placed in the way of the reception of the truths of wuanity by the natives, and they are deprived, to the extent ach this pernicious influence prevails, of those social ssnes and that advancement in civilization which are the “muits of Christianity when cordially embraced”(20). He gwed that all connections with Buddhism should be ‘y and entirely dissolved.

James Stephen was the Premanent Under-Secr::tary at smial Office. He had the zeal of an Evangelist which @@@ 89 @@@ 82 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH progressively deteriorated into bigotry, arrogance and intolerance. He used his position to steer the Colonial to adopt a very hostile policy towards Buddhism in Ce His minute on the receipt of Coates’ letter was the first towards an antagonistic and confrontational policy whi remained unyielding until his retirement from office in 1 In it, he noted that the Colonial Secretary should issue ~ injunction to take immediate measures for the redress of th evils.I cannot but agree with the writer of these letters no Christian Government should countenance or actively participate in an idolatry which we are all agreed in regarding as not merely absurd but positively criminal. I should hold & wise to hazard any consequences however formidable of acting on this principle, but I totally disbelieve that there is anything to be dreaded, unless it be perhaps the sacrifice of some revenue'(21).

Perhaps Stephen had studied Sade’s advice to the imperialist in “de Juliette”, “take its god from the people that you wish to subjugate, and then demoralize it; so long as it worships no other god than you, and has no other morals than your morals, you will always be its master” (p324). Stephen pursued this imperialistic goal with unrelenting determina- tion.

James Stephen’s boss at the Colonial Office was Vernon Smith the Under-Secretary. The latter was not as enthusiastic as James Stephen was, in promoting the mission- ary endeavours vis-a-vis Buddhism in Ceylon. All he was prepared to concede was, that as changes had taken place in India, in the connection there between the Government and Hinduism, “we must follow the example in Ceylon, and perhaps the time has come when we may very safely, and as good Christians, violate our engagements”(22). There could be no doubt here, that a breach of contract was envisaged in the name of Christianity.

@@@ 90 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 83 In the meanwhile, James Stephen had in his hands Governor Mackenzie’s speech, quoted above, on the money voted to Maligawa. Mackenzie had put a legalistic construc- tion on the Convention of 1815 in partially answering some of the points raised by Mr. Hardy. James Stephen marshalled against this in strident language, an impressive array of arguments, which could not have failed to convince the Christian readers of his epistles. It is worth our while to look at this missive, as it was very influential in determining the future policy on this subject. He wrote that, “it is inferred that the British Sovereign succeeded to the obligations of the Kandyan Sovereign, and must maintain and protect their idolatry in the same way in which it was maintained and protected by their former princes. I cannot see the reasonable- ness of this construction. It could never have been meant by the contracting parties that the conquering state should locally adopt a system of religious observances condemned in the strongest possible terms by its own religion”. In the eyes of the Kandyans, it was true that the British Crown took the place of the Kandyan King with all the obligations towards the religion of the people. It was not true that Kandy was conquered and therefore the conquerer could impose his terms on the van- guished Kandyans, though this was what in fact happened, after the British had gained entry into the Kandyan privinces.

The British forgot the fact that Kandy was ceded to them, and d the Kandyans as the vanquished.

“It was, I think a contract for absolute toleration and a ct which bound the British Government to prevent by exercise of its power, every interruption of the public or te exercise of the Kandyan religion, and every invasion encroachment upon the property dedicated to the mainte- of it. But it could not mean that King George the Third himself and his successors, in the person of his or their @@@ 91 @@@ 84 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH offices, to tread in the steps of the Kandyan Princes by len to the idolatry of the country the same active support direct countenance. Or if such was the meaning of the T it was acompact, which in my judgment, no British Sovere: had aright to make, or having made, is at liberty to fulfil”( If the contract was voidable on the part of the British, so ought to be also ex parte the Kandyans. Unfortunately for Kandyans, the arguments could not be applied to th because being heathens, practising barbaric idolatry, they were perhaps considered as lacking the compos mentis of the Christians to make a valid contract in international law.

Unfortunately for the Kandyans, they did not also possess the military might nor have among them unselfish, capable lead- ers to free themselves from an invalid contract. They were at the mercy of the British and had to pay the price demanded of them. That price was the loss of their country and their customs.

James Stephen strained even the tenuous Conventions of the unwritten British Constitution to defend his arguments ex Revelatio Dei. To him, “the popular phrase ‘that Christian- ity is part of the Law of England’ has not perhaps much meaning, but must be supposed to mean at least that the British Government is and must be, so far a Christian Institution, as to render it constitutionally incapable of any measure essen- tially anti Christian”(23). It might be possible for clever constitutional lawyers to derive abstruse arguments from the Act of Union with Scotland and the Blasphemy Laws in favour of Stephen; but all that would be irrelevant to the Kandyans, to whom, the paramount consideration was the continuation of the patronage of Buddhism by the British, as promised by the British Governors, and as had been done by their own Kings, over the last two thousand years. For them, Christianity had nothing to do with the Convention and the – obligations following from it.

@@@ 92 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 85 Governor Mackenzie had already: suggested to his Executive Council in October 1840 that the clause 10 of the Proclamation of November 1818 be repealed to read that, ‘all such appointments by His Excellency the Governor shall henceforth cease and determine’. As he admitted, he found this course of not issuing any warrants for several temple appointments, was necessitated by the very fact of his being a Christian. Indeed, this precisely was also the point made by the Kandyans, namely, that a non Buddhist and a Christian King could not be expected to be solicitous of Buddhist affairs; they should have a Buddhist King on their throne to look after their affairs. Obviously this reverse side of this same argument was not acceptable to the British usurper of the Kandyan throne.

Mackenzie, before he left the country, did prepare a draft Order-in-Council. It laid down that all Buddhist affairs should be in the hands of the current lay officials. When any of these offices fell vacant, then that office would devolve wpon the Maha Nayakke, who in turn would be ‘elected, n and appointed by the priests of the Malwatte and iri establishments in council assembled and according to rded rules and established usages’. The Governor was to ntinue the appointment of the priests, and that all temple ials, both laymen and priests, were to be forbidden to ive any fees, other than the voluntary donations made by worshippers. It was also laid down that all concerned with affairs of the temples should be required to table annual ts. If they failed in this, then the property should revert to the Crown, and the temple should loose all revenue such property.

The conversion of Mackenzie to the cause of the lists was more apparent in the Minute he left behind @@@ 93 @@@ 86 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGA’jNST THE BRITISH before he vacated his office. Inithe tried to bind his successors to do the hatchet-job which he himself failed to do. It stated that, “the Governor now lays on the table his deliberate protest against himself and any future Governors who shall abide by this Minute, being called on to interfere in any future appoint- ments of officers, to the numerous situations connected with the worship and maintenance of the Buddhist temples through- out the Colony, or to take any charge or care whatever in future of the revenues, dues or services thereunder belonging.The Governor cannot but express his regret at the delay that has occurred after the full reference made….to consider the best mode of substititing some other authority in place of that of the Governor in time to come.”(24). Mackenzie left Ceylon in April 1841 and was replaced by Sir Colin Campbell, and in England, Lord Stanley took over from Lord John Russell as Colonial Secretary.

Campbell at first tried to follow his predecessor’s policy of noninterference in Buddhist affairs, but was soon faced with the practical problems of the ensuing ill-effects of such a policy. Thus when Mr. Mooyaart, the Government agent at Kandy, recommended the appointment of Nugawelle Rajakaruna Chandrasekre Wahale Mudianse as Basnayakke Nileme of the Pattini Devale, and Oadupolla Wickremesinhe Jayasundere Ratnanayeke Mudianse to Aluwattegodde Devale in the same capacity, (they were both acting as Basnayakke Nilemes), he was firmly and politely told, that it was highly desirable to abstain as far as possible from all interference in regard to the management of heathen temple. The same policy was adopted in the maritime provinces. The Government Agent in Galle, Mr. Cripps, was ordered not to interfere in the appointment of the Buddhist Head Priest of Matara and Hambantota; However, when it became apparent that the Courts of Law refused to recognise the legitimacy of the @@@ 94 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 87 authority of the Basnayakke Nileme, to enforce the dues or collect and preserve the temple property, then the policy was reversed; “if this is the case and as he (the Basnayakke Nileme) represents, legal proceedings are now necessary to protect the rights of the Devale, the Governor will consent to grant an act of appointment which shall, however declare, that it is granted solely to enable him to defend the temporal interests of the establishment and it is only provisional until some other arrangement can be made”(25).

Campbell in fact went further, when he realised the damage done and the anxiety and animosity this policy of disassociation was causing on the temporal well-bing of the temples. His minute to the Excutive Council stated that, “dissatisfaction among people existed attributable to the im- pression, that the Government was hostile to native institution and religion, by its refusal to make appointments absolutely necessary to protect the temporal interests”. He called upon the Council “to consider whether not only in policy as regards the degree of excited feelings on this subject (He was here refering to attempted insurrection, see Chapter 9), which now exists, but also in justice to the native religious establishment, the Government is not called upon to exercise its functions as heretofore in filling up the temple offices until it has made arrangements for devolving this duty upon others” (26). This emporary change of policy was to be explained to the Kandyans in a special assembly, but such an event appeared mot to have taken place.

In 1843 a group of Siamese Buddhist monks came on pilgrimage to Kandy. With the permission of the Govern- t, an exposition of the Tooth Relic was held in honour of pilgrims. This ceremony was attended by the Governor, wife, Mr. C. R. Buller (the Acting Government Agent of @@@ 95 @@@ 88 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Central Province), other government servants and army per- sonnel. A critical description of this event appeared in the Indian Baptist Journal. ‘The Friend of India’ in June 1843, This article reached a larger audience of ardent missionaries both in India and in England. Most of these missonaries had under their belt outstanding success in disconnecting the East India Company from Hinduism. They also knew the art of – effective propaganda and unrelenting pressure to achieve their objectives. One such person was the Baptist missionary the Rev. James Peggs.

Peggs wrote to Lord Stanley in September 1843 “to give attention to the removal of this anamolous impolitic and un-Christian system…to resign the affairs of idols, and their temples, their lands to their own votaries..”(27). By Decem- ber his patience was wearing thin. He had not received any reply to his letter, and he then tightened the screw of pressure a few notches further, by indicating to Lord Stanley, that he would not desist from publishing the damning evidence of Government’s support for Buddhism in Ceylon, and thus bring down on the Government the odium of the Christians in Britain.

Lord Stanley had already sent a copy of Peggs’s letter to Campbell and requested from him a report “on this subject stating whether any British Officers Civil or Military, either have been in recent times or now, in the practice of assisting at such rites–under what authority such assistance, if any, is afforded– and what consideration of public policy are in your opinion involved in the matter– also inform if it is correct what was stated in the Calcutta paper quoted by Peggs that Mr.

Buller recently exhibited the Tooth of Buddha in Kandy and whether the local Government interferes in any way in the ~ appointment of the priests and other attendants in the temple of the Buddha”(28).

@@@ 96 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE Campbell’s reply stated that,” no British Officer, Civil or Military, either has been or now is in the practice of assisting at any heathen rites, nor does the Government interfere in the appointment of any Priests or other attendants of the temple of the Buddha. The Government recognises the Chief Priest when only chosen, but it has abandoned all interference in their selection.. There is a superstitious belief among the Buddhists that, whoever has possession of the Relic will be secure of the Government of the country, persons in possession of this Tooth would therefore have great advantages in raising the Buddhist inhabitants against this Government”. Various security measures including the post- ing of a sentry, had been taken to prevent it being stolen. For the same reason the “keys were lodged in the hands of the Government Agent, who allows the room to be opened at all regular hours in order that the Buddhists may carry on their religious ceremonies, but the boxes (containing the Relic) are never opened unless he is present to prevent the Tooth being made away with”.

The Governor stated that the Chief Priests had ‘an absolute and legal right’ to have the Relic exhibited, and that this was allowed to them, and that “Mr. Buller accordingly sat in the room while the boxes were open, and saw the Tooth locked up again, but without interfering in any way”. There were a great number of people, both Europeans and natives, ncluding himself and his wife. They were there ‘to see the ‘show, as they would go to see any other show’, but no public wificer had anything to do with the religious worship of the ves.

At one time the Governor had granted licences for the ination of the Buddhist Priests. His predecessor had aban- this practice and he had followed suit, and he had no @@@ 97 @@@ o % THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH BRITISII CONNEXTON WIiTIl IDOLATRY IN THE ISLAND OF CEYLON.

SR S e e T TO THE RIGHT HONORADLE LORD STANLEY, Priucipal Scovetaty of Blate fur the Uolvtins.

My Louv; Permit e to sulicit your Lordship’s alcntion 10 the anomaluus state of British conncxion with I in the Crown Colony of Ceylom. It chicfly prevails in Candy, Hor of which was subjugutcd in Feb. 1815, from which lilmi”lk itish Government has exercised the | valuable Pumiphlct in 1839, entitled, * The Brit The Rev. R. lardy, Missionary in Ceylon, ment snd the Ldulatry of Coylon.” Allow me, my r e of this i cessiun ut Candy ; pays the expense of vals; mu:dgmmd—m’h;h_m?-:;n{?un- [ e Queen :—a unished – I::nln,l ; um???l”?l o The Friend of India, « Caleutta paper, comtaing the fol- i observativns on the recent exhibition of the lo caustic 1ol ’l’ul.ln. by the British Resident, at the great procession | ¢ in y i— “There cxists at Candy, as it i cie of M,h:lnlh:peil;,‘l footh, which 1o ae mch ah objes this idolatrous , s lly dul of the Christian part of the community, They consider the ir i the faree of exli on the continent of I-nud.i’o.l.:l:- db?r:x 7, c.ylol o d mure thi uny ether spot in the world, by mesy i nented b Lnl wut his , und the ey of the Karmnduwa & *The services of the temple are conducted by 40 pricsis, 20 of whom belong 1o the &htli‘llll and 20 to the Asgiri ‘T’wo pricsts are regularly in altendance, one year from the Malwatta and the nest from the A#?-l, shemately, Thess Pricsts are appuinted by the Muha Nuyskas of the 1 establishments, but wast be confirmed in their office by the Agent of Government. Frow six in the evening to the same hour in the nmmi-t: soldicr, in bis rogular uniform, be- Limging to the Ceylon Rifle Hegiment, which is composed chiefly of Malays, wnid officered by 8, TNOUILS | in the lower conrt of the tewplel The Malaguwa containg variaus article of consideruble velue, such as wrillen npon leaves of salid gold, (he iutrinsie worth of one of which cannol be less than omm;rihg.. Ou & recent when these were | y , vue of the priests was hicard to declure, that, us they were the praperly of government, it was right that the get nt should pro- teet them § umd he argued, thut the Government was bound to maintain their religion, from the sbuple fact of its reten- tion of these sacred trewsures ” ] tivals, their reli ou:%uir_c subjeets be left entirely to themselves.” e llkestun, Derbyshice, Ang. 26, 1AL 63 @@@ 98 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 91 knowledge whatever what Buddhist Priests were ordained. At one time the Chief Priests were appointed by the Government, but “for years this has been entirely abandoned having the matter settled by election– the Government acknowledges whoever is elected as the legal holder of their landed estates”.

The only outstanding issue was the property of the temples. “If the Government were to abstain from all attention to them, the whole would be speedily made away with, as they are in the hands of the laymen, not of the Priesthood–and it is highly probable that in a few years, it will be practicable to devote their revenue to purposes of education””.

The Governor, therefore, continued, to appoint the lay managers of the lands belonging to the temples which were located all over the country. He found it impossible to find any body in whom he had the confidence to vest this responsibil- ity. “The appointments are valuable and constitute nearly the most valuable patronage that remains in the hands of the Government, and it is used to reward deserving public serv- ” ants .

Campbell admitted that the grant of £310 was objec- tionable, and that he would be happy to have it struck off. He pointed out that, “great doubts are entertained if the Govern- – ment can do so in good faith–a great portion of the money is – paid on trifling pensions to old priests, who would otherwise starve, and it may perhaps be doubted whether, seeing that the greater part of the revenues are levied from Buddhists, the – Government is justified in refusing to allow even so inconsid- “erable a sum to be appropriated to the Priesthood of the payers”(29). This was a very potent argument for which the ‘missionaries had no answer. They simply ignored it.

Campbell’s reply was aimed to establish the fact that ae connection of his Government with Buddhism was minute, @@@ 99 @@@ 92 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH and that where it existed, it was for mundane business reas and had hardly any religious significance. If it was left tohs he would piecemeal get rid of the whole lot without incurr any harm to his Government.

James Stephen’s bigotry came to the fore on receipt Campbell’s letter. He minuted that, “the obvious course is destroy it (the Relic), which, however, might probably pm voke an insurrection. The middle course would appear to & ‘that of keeping it, but refusing to make any exhibition of & Possibly it might be safe to send it off the island. But to hawe a spectacle of this kind in the presence of the Governor wi the Government Agent sitting by him as the official Guardi of the Relic is, I think, indefensible. It gives to Idolatry & countenance which no consideration of human policy cas justify voting. Public money for the support of Buddhist Priests would seem to be a gratuitous homage to their faith®.

He suggested the creation of a Fund from the temple lands for the use of the monks, but without implicating the Govern- ment.

Lord Stanley agreed that the Governor’s presence at the exhibition was ‘ill-judged’. That the custody of the Relic should be in the hands of someone less prominent than the Government Agent. He would not destroy the Relic nor would he exile it. He requested a comprehensive report on this matter, and this was duly compiled by Mr. Murdoch. Lord Stanley’s policy decision of far reaching consequences to Buddhism followed soon after. It had all the stamp, character and tone of James Stephen, an uncompromising statement of policy to break all connection with Buddhism. It came to be known as ‘the July 1844 Statement of Policy’ in subsequent Government dispatches.

In it, Lord Stanley reduced the issue to two distinct heads. “First, what relates to the support of the religious rites, @@@ 100 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 93 including the custodyof the Relic, the appointment of Priest- hood and the maintenance of idolatrous ceremonies; and the second, the management of the landed propemes belongingto the temples”.

“Upon the first point, I think the time is now come when the British Government may, without breach of faith and without risk to the tranquility of the colony, relieve itself from all connection with idolatry”. He approved with appro- bation the steps already taken for non-interference in appoint- ments, but as legislation was necessary, he requested that the local Executive Council should devise the appropriate meas- ures without delay. Asregards the Relic, he stated that, “there can hardly be a doubt that the scrupulous care with which it has been guarded by the British Government, must have tended to sanction in the minds of the natives the idolatrous veneration with which they were accustomed to regard it.

This, therefore, is an arrangement in the continuance of – which, I cannot acquiesce, and although I am not prepared to . direct the destruction of the Relic which would unquestion- ably offend the prejudices of the Priests and the people”.

“I see little risk and much advantage in making over the custody of it to the Priests, in withdrawing the sentry Beretofore posted at the temple and in strictly prohibiting the Government Agent and his subordinates from taking any part ‘o future in the exhibition of the Relic”. He left the precise time and manner of implementing this policy to the better judge- ent of the local Government, but enjoined not to allow mecessary delay to take place in adopting the measures.

As regards the contribution from the Public Revenue mall though it be, towards ‘Devil Dancing’ and other idola- ws festivals, I wish you to consider whether it might not be £ @@@ 101 @@@ 94 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH possible without breach of faith at once to strike out from the Public Expenditure. Nothing but the cleass dence of an obligation on the part of the Governm justify the grant of money by a Christian Legislation purposes”.In short, Lod Stanley had left it to the disce=s the Governor to find the excuse for stopping this paltry As regards the property of the Temple, he a¢ that, he possessed defective information to give precass’ structions. As reported by Col. Colebrooke, and conses on the abolition of Rajakaria, it was possible that the se of the tenants to temples had increased in irregularity. “E tenants had no claim to hold their lands exempt both £ taxation and from prescribed services. I should wish y consider whether some scheme of commutation could not® properly adopted. If so whether funds so raised be applied® part towards the maintenance of an English Seminary for education of the natives”.

He concluded this letter with a request for a “full report as to the extent and value of the temple lands in all par of the island, the times at which they were dedicated, the conditions on which they are held, and the persons to whom they are leased”. He wanted a comprehensive report to enable the Colonial Office to decide on a policy with respect to these lands “so as at once to preserve the faith of the Crown to the natives of Ceylon and to promote the permanent interests of all classes of the island”(30). It would have been a mamoth task to produce this report with any credible accuracy and probably for that reason, appeared not accomplished.

: Later the Colonial Office reduced this policy state- ment to a five point plan of action: 1 To withdraw from interference with the appointment of Buddbhist priests and other temple servants.

@@@ 102 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 95 Tohand over the custody of Tooth Relic to the priests and take no part in its exhibition.

To discontinue, if possible without breach of faith, the annual grants of money towards ‘Devil Dancing’ and other sdolatrous ceremonies.

Toconsider the possibility of providing for the commuta- ©on of services of the temple tenants.

Of applying any part of the commutation money to the estzblishment of an English Seminary for the education of matives. ; – To the Colonial Office in London, the Buddhist issue uritating problem. The easy solution was simply the ent of Buddhism to fend for itself. Treaty obliga- were not eternal or rather they were dictated by the el climate and evolved with changing conditions. Fi- hing was subservient to God’s law, and man made s good and just only to the extent that it conformed to Law as revealed to Christians. As the British Govern- i was run by Christians, they could not allow in con- g= the implemetation of a legal obligation contrary to Law. This then was the excuse, under which the mment took refuge, when it decided on breaking its obligations to the Buddhist Kandyans. In fact, 2 behind this convenient casuistry was the desire to Kandyans to Christianity, and to brainwash them =oting the British administration in Kandy as the only and the morally uplifting saviour. The age of shis was yet to be born; that the British would have ®» the tenets of Human Rights was doubtful as they the Kandyans as semi-civilized and morally de- arians, who needed to be converted to Christianity @@@ 103 @@@ 96 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH first, before the Kandyans could be ascribed any Rights. By and large, the majority of the Kandyans w duped. They remained loyal Buddhists.

To the Kandyans, the traditions and history they imbibed over two millennia had come to an end. _ dejection was all the more mortifying because they the selves were partly responsible for this deplorable sititats They had bargained away their King and country for maintenance of their customs, protection of their traditic and for an interminable support for their religion. Lord Stanle policy had cruelly cut adrift their religion from the Crown ané submerged their traditions and customs to the alien Christias doctrines. Their religion was simply knocked out of it prime perch and degraded and condemned as barbaric paganism{ The Kandyans had simply lost everything which stamped them with their own identity. They had lost their country, their customs, their social structures and the primacy of their religion. This was the significance of Lord Stanley’s policy to them and they were helpless and surely felt hopelessly be- trayed by the British.

Governor Campbell probably anticipated this drastic policy, for he too was looking for schemes to divest Buddhism from his Government. He had two schemes for his considera- tion, one by C. R. Buller, and the other by P. E. Wodehouse, the Government Agent for the Western Province.

One Drawaggedere Wickramasinghe Mudianseylagey Dugganaralle and forty others had submitted a petition to Mr.

C. R. Buller, the Government Agent at Kandy in December 1843. In it, they complained that the Basnayakke Nilemes in the town of Kandy as well as in the interior, and some of the Principal priests of vihares were neglecting the improvement @@@ 104 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE ; 97 of their places of worship, were ornittirfg +the performance of service and ceremonies, and were appropriating to them- selves the proceeds of the temples. As a result, the temples were falling into decay and dilapidation. They were able to do all this because they were not accountable to anyone, and because the Government had given up its duty of care, which, it had hitherto exercised. They requested the Governor “to grant, that in conformity with the terms of the Convention of 1815, the protection of the Government may be extended towards the support of the national religion of the country, and in order to prevent the above occurrences in the future–to select good, intelligent, pious, learned and influential men practising the Buddhist religion, and empower them to act as Commissioners to inquire and superintend the affairs of the Buddhist temples, Devales and Vihares over the island, their incomes and their improvement”(31).

Buller took the opportunity to submit his eight point scheme to the Governor together with this petition. He pointed out the “urgent necessity for immediate measures being taken for the protection of the interests of the Buddhist religion, and as everyday the priests and the chiefs are becoming more mmportunate for the adoption of some definite arrangement with respect to these matters”. He considered that his plan was sonsistent with Government’s instructions and would also tthe expectations of the petitioners. His plan entailed that: A Board of Commissioners be appointed.

It was to consist of five persons.

Two of the five were to be selected by the Government in the first instance.

The remaining three were to be selected by ballot super- vised by the above two Commissioners. Not less than twenty days’ notice of the day fixed for election, and also &ue publicity, should also to be given.

@@@ 105 @@@ 98 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH 5 All priests, sons of chiefs and all persons who have held or at present hold any office, were eligible to vote.

6 Two of the Commissioners were to vacate office annually and that between the 20th and 30th of December each year, these offices were to be filled by ballot.

7 All powers and patronage now exercised by the Govern- ment as regards heathen temples were to be vested in the above Board.

8 In all cases the decision of the Commissioners was to be final.

Wodehouse produced a lengthy thirty-nine point plan too long to detail here. In summary, his plan covered the positions of Basnayakke Nilemes of Devales in Kandy, the priests of Vihares and the Chief Priests of Malwatte and Asgiriya establishments. All were to be elected by an elector- ate appropriate to each position. Electoral lists of Kandyan headmen and priests, and lists of temples and devales together with their property were to be compiled by the Government Agents of the several provinces. The Basnayakke Nilemes were obliged to produce stewardship accounts and were subject to dismissal for mismanagement. The priests too could be dismissed by the District Judge for non performance of their duties.

The District Judge was to act as the Election Officer.

He fixed the election date. All elections were to be held in his presence. He announced the result and issued a certificate to the successful candidate. This bestowed on the successful candidate, all the powers, which earlier, the Governor’s war- rant had conferred on the person appointed to such a post. The judge also had the jurisdiction to resolve any disputes on the election as well as on the eligibility of anyone to vote.

@@@ 106 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 99 ; This plan also permitted the chiefs and priests of any Devale or Vihara and tenants of lands attached to them, to i come to an arrangement to commute the service due in respects of such lands for money payments.

Finally the Governor was “to appoint a three man Commission to ascertain the nature of service due in respect of any land, to assess the value of that service and to determine the amount of money to be paid in commutation of such service. Their decision shall be final and binding on all parties and certified by the District Court”(32).

In the meanwhile, the Governor summened the chiefs E and the priests to convey to them the instructions he had ‘ received from Lord Stanley. At this meeting he declared that “Her Majesty’s Government are desirous of withdrawing from any interference or connection with the Buddhist reli- gion orin the appointment of your priests. Youmustelect your own and as the situation of the Chief Priest is now vacant you 4 should loose no time in appointing one”.

“The Government are anxious that you should have the freest intercourse with the Relic and are desirous to give it up to your own keeping and the sole charge and exhibition of it and recommend that you should appoint a Committee of your chiefs and priests to devise the best and securest means for its safe custody”(33). This meeting was a one-way affair with no substantial discussion. It simply laid down the im- pending policy of the Government. The Kandyans protested tono avail and submitted a strongly worded petition which did E mot elicit a formal answer from the British Government. i The Excutive Council in Colombo began to consider s religious problem and the schemes submitted by C. R.

‘Suller and P. E. Wodehouse. In a legthy minute submitted to @@@ 107 @@@ 100 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH this Council, Wodehouse was critical of Buller’s plan. & argued that Buller’s proposal was founded on the principle centralisation and had “the effect of gradually placing & ~ whole of the revenues and influence of the temples in e hands of a small body of influential chiefs, principally ress- dent at Kandy, whose interest it will be to increase as far a5 possible, their own influence and revenue, with very litthe regard probably, for the wishes or the interests of the popu- lation for whose benefit they will nominally be elected”. Such a Board would not assent to the diversion of temple funds for the maintenance of an English Seminary as was envisaged by Lord Stanley. i His own plan, however, was founded on the principle of decentralisation, in that, the right to elect candidates to various positions was vested in the inhabitants of the districts whose interests were involved. In this way “it leaves the Buddhists to the free exercise of their religion. It avoids conferring upon any of them the political power now enjoyed by the Government and which it is pot desirable to transfer to them”. This division of interests enabled the Government to _sequestrate the property of the temples in default, to fill up an – incumbency, and divert its revenue for education.

The role played by the District Judge in his plan might be objected to by some. As far as he was concerned, the – District Judge would act as the Returning Officer ensuring the conduct of the election according to law. In any case, even in the ordinary course of dispensation of justice, the District Court might be called upon to decide matters concerning questions of religious law, therefore this involvement of the District Judge was not something extraordinary.

  • . “The moral improvement and ultimate conversion of the Buddhists is the object which the Government ought @@@ 108 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 101 always to keep in view, and for which, with due regard to the feeling of the people, it ought to endeavour to legislate”. All temple lands should forthwith be registered. The “Governor should be disposed to act upon a liberal principle in admitting the claims of the temples in consideration of the Government being relieved of all concern in the management of the temples, and also from the present annual contribution from public funds towards the expense of certain temple festivals”. This liberal recognition of claims for temple lands should be admitted only so long as there was the willingness to commute services to money payments. This aspect of Wodehouse’s plan was significant to the extent that it brought tothe open and sought toresolve, the vexed question of temple property. There was little or norisk involved in handing over the Relic to those who considered it sacred, so long as the “other ecclesiastical arrangements are so carried out as to prevent eir making any undue political use of it. The priests ought % be consulted as to the parties to whom it should be – @elivered, and also upon the other details of the arrangement =n the general principles to be acted upon have been fully m=rmined”(34). Anstruther submitted two Minutes, one before, and other, after his resignation from the post of Colonial metary. In his first Minute, he admitted that “the Govern- should withdraw entirely from all connection with sus Institutions, and avow itself to a Christian Govern- @esirous by all fair means to extend Christianity and %, though tolerating idolatry, and protecting idolatrous s in their legal rights”. = objected to the involvement of the District Judge @ouse’s plan. The judge, according to him, should @@@ 109 @@@ 102 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH confine himself to deciding questions brought to him.

ought not to interfere as manager of the election.

He also agreed with the Commissioners of Enquiry, that a portion of the temple revenue should devoted to educational purposes.

He was of opinion that ‘Devil Dancing’ was not part Buddhist faith and that the Convention of 1815 did not inc it. It was a mistake to include the Devales, where Devil Dancing took place as part of the Buddhist worship and & exempt their lands from taxation. Pure Buddhist worship, was carried on in the Vihares, and therefore they were covered by the Convention, and their lands ought to be exempted so long as the Vihares were kept up. If they failed in this, then the “Government should take possession and appropriate the revenues to Christian education”. At the conference which took place in October 1847, at which, the Relic was handed over to the two High Priests and the Dewe Nileme, the priests too took a similar line. As reported by the Governor, the priests repudiated all connections with the Devales; they professed to ‘be pure Buddhists of the Siam Sect, and openly avowed not only that the worship of the Devales was opposed to their own principles, but also that the stipulations of the Treaty of 18135, applied only to the religion of Budhoo and its ministry’. It was true that the worship of Hindu gods in Devales certainly had nothing to do with Theravada Bud- dhism. It was also true that by the words in clause 5 of the Convention, inviolability was extended clearly to the religion ‘professed by the Chiefs and inhabitants of these provinces’, and that this religion did have practices and rituals connected with the Hindu gods and demons. This point was taken up by the Queen’s Advocate.

To Anstruther a similar mistake was made in accept- ing the Basnayakke ‘Nilmes as ecclesiastical chiefs. Their @@@ 110 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 103 positions were merely political. All such positions should therefore be abolished including the position of the Dewe Nileme of the Maligawa. The management of all such temple lands should be merged in the general district administration.

The tenants of these Devale lands should pay tax to Govern- ment “instead of paying as they now do much large contribu- tions to the Basnayakke Nilemes, who, now through our misunderstanding, put it in their own pockets”(35).

It was conceptually correct to distiguish between rational, pure Buddhism and that practised by the Buddhists.

Itwas certainly incorrect to infer that any such distinction was made in the clauses of the Convention of 1815-or any subse- guent Proclamations of the Governors of Ceylon. Mr. Arthur Baller, the Queen’s Advocate, in his Minute, adroitly argued s point. His was the only point of view which came close to 5 stand taken by the Kandyans on this particular point.

Arthur Buller maintained that “it is undeniable from Be express terms of the Convention itself, as well as the merpretations put upon it by our subsequent Proclamations Acts, that the British Government, when it entered the an provinces, placed itself in relation to the national mon of the Kandyans, and most fully and deliberately Emced to place itself in the precise position of its predeces- m the supremacy:- that is, at its head as its chief authority ardian. That it pledged itself to watch over the interests religion, so that they should not suffer from the on of its ministers, or from the indifference of the osee that itsrites, ceremonies and processions which essential a feature of Heathenism, should be kept up and punctual solemnity”.

“The British Government in a word undertook that the =zion should not be left to shift for itself, but should @@@ 111 @@@ 104 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH be maintained and protected by the whole might of the power”. While the decay of the temples, the immorality corruption of the priests might be regarded as matters 3 congratulations to Christians, yet they were also matters reproach, because they were the unmistakable cons of the neglect and betrayal by the British, who had taken themselves to be the avowed defenders of the Buddhist It was impossible to deny that the British had failed to act to the spirit of the improvident pledge at the Convention.

. The British Government had by almost imperce degrees withdrawn itself more and more every year, from practical connection with idolatry, and without making itsel obviously open to the charge of overt breach of faith. The Government was now in point of fact, observing the connee- tion only in appearance. This was the course he advocated.

As the exhibition of the Tooth Relic had attracted censure from the Government in England, he found no diffi* culty in giving it up to the custody of the Kandyans. However, “it must be done in a quiet conciliatory manner and without any unnecessary announcement of our determination to break all connection with the religion of the Kandyans… the transfer should be looked upon rather as the offer of a boon than as a breach of faith”.

Buller objected to an Ordinance based on Mr.

Wodehouse’s plan as an ostentatious parade of breach of faith “in as much as it proclaims in plain terms to the Kandyans ‘we will have no more to do with your religion, you may manage its affairs yourself as best as you can”‘. There was also another stronger reason for objection. It was “an elaborate and well considered scheme for the endurance of the best selection of heathen priests, and for the faithful appropriation of the @@@ 112 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE : 105 revenues of the temples….it could adr_nirably be adopted for the purposes of an enlightened Buddhist Reformer..and would be looked upon by Mr. Peggs, as it would in reality prove if carried into effect, ‘an Ordinance for thc encourage- ment of Buddhism”.

The present parlous state of affairs should continue to exist. If the Governor formally divested himself, then the Government was bound to legislate for the creation of a substitute authority in his place. The position of Basnayakke Nilemes could be abolished. The priests of Vihares and the Kappuas of Devales were already selected independently of Government, the only instance of interference by the Gover- nor was in the appointment of the Chief priests of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters. Even in this case it was unobtrusive, = that, the Governor merely recognised the choice of the Wodehouse’s scheme would result in frequently occurring, tatious and practically efficacious interference of gov- nt office, as there would be elections at regular inter- Buller also objected to Anstruther’s distinction be- pure and adulterated Buddhism. He stated that “it may and [ believe is, perfectly true that the worship of the ) deities forms no part of pure Buddhism–but it was Buddhism which we undertook to maintain. It was ism of the people with whom we were treating…..

ion of the Buddha professed by the chiefs and the .. That religion was and is the Buddhism of the sect with which the worship of the heathen deities has been blended… The inhabitants have always been in the habit of worshipping indiscriminately at both.

Devale that the good Buddhist repairs to make his ies with whom the actual selection rested. In contrast, Mr.

@@@ 113 @@@ TS e T Rl L et RSN N = T Y M AR S ) O e ) ‘ deal.

106 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH vows when he is sick or in distress, and it is the gods of Devale who, he believes, will give him health and relief = a word, the faith which is expressed at the Devale forms & as essential a part of the national religion of the Kang the faith which is preached at the Vihares..It is this relss we undertook to maintain”.

At the Convention the Government did not &= guish between the two nor did it prefer one over the othe order to secure the tranquility of the new acquisition.

Government guaranteed the same protection for the relizm as it had, under the former rulers. He cited the various Acs Government since 1815 to prove that Devales were part of Asthe Basnayakke Nilemes were a “sort of lay exa cence superintended for political purposes””, they could 258 dismissed with a pension. The Kappuas of Devales cou supported out of lands especially assigned for that purp Other lands now in the management of these Nilemes we revert to the Crown and its revenues could be utilised educational purposes.

“Torecapitulate, I would avoid, if possible all legss tion at present. I would give up the Tooth Relic to whoms the chiefs shall consider its most fitting guardian. [ would g no more public money for Devil Dancing, which …. i : more than mere tom-foolery, not necessarily connected ws the established religion…I would abolish all Basnay=iss Nilemes and dedicate the lands heretofore appropriaies their use to purposes of education. I would leave the apposss ment of High Priests as at present with the Governor. By & course, I conceive that, we shall practically attain the o we have in view, without making any stir, which will alan dissatisfy the Kandyans”(36). For a bolder policy it wouls better to await the declarations of the Imperial Governme @@@ 114 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 107 Arthur Buller’s interpretation of the Covention of 1815 was not only honest but was also legally correct and in sympathy with that of the view taken by the Kandyans. To him, the moral obligation to support Buddhism was as strong as the legal obligation, given the underhand method adopted ‘to acquire the Kandyan provinces. Unfortunately for the Kandyans, the substance of the argument was not about contractual obligations to Buddhists, the existence and the legal validity of which, the Governors of the period did accept; to the British, the substance of the argument was about how could true Christians support a pagan religion, and still remain true to their faith. As they saw it, such support was forbidden by the Bible, the Divine Law. Any terrestrial contract contrary to Divine Law was invalid, no matter the type of obligation it imposed on the parties to the contract.

Thus in the case of Kandy, the issue was no longer about obligations, but more about the practicality of reneging on the obligations without causing any irreparable harm to the Brit- ish hold on the Kandyan provinces. What happened to the Kandyans was of significance only to the extent that their religion would fall into decay, and that they would be ripe for conversion to Christianity and its civilising moral upliftment.

The Auditor General, Mr. Wright also submitted a Minute to the Executive Council. He stated that to withdraw suddenly the authority exercised over the last thirty years, without substituting some other rule, might be both mischevious and impolitic in the extreme. He wanted a proper explanation to the Kandyans, of the measures to be adopted. He agreed with Arthur Buller that the Convention covered both the pure and adulterated Buddhism. The British authorities who signed the Convention deemed it “in those disturbed times, politi- cally right to include both descriptions of worship in our general exemption from taxes and services…rather than at- tempt any innovations which might have endangered the success of their enterprise”.

@@@ 115 @@@ 108 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The political climate had now changed. The British Government had grown in strength and stature while the position of the Kandyans had declined. Therefore the proper time had arrived for asserting the principles of civilized government. He too advocated the commutation of services and abolition of the position of Nilemes. This he anticipated would lead to the expected ruin of the Devales. i As the Vihares were not under the control of either – Malwatte or Asgiriya Chapters, and the Chief of either was selected by their own members, there was nothing more to be done, than for the Governor to transfer his patronage to three highest priests in office. They should be enjoined to exercise this power in conformity with existing rules and customs of the country. Their decisions on election of candidates for the posts of High Priests should always be unanimous and they should all sign the act of appointment. They should also take charge of the Relic and all ceremoines connected with it, and the revenue and expenditure of the Maligawa.

The trifling stipends paid to the priests should be commuted, so as no longer to form a charge on the public revenue by a grant of land, after which, they would have to depend upon their own endowments and other resources for their future support.

“Should any of these temples had fallen into decay and be no longer fit places of worship, the land belonging to them not being resumable according to Kandyan law by the gran- tors, might be let out by the chief of the province, and the rents duly accounted for to the nearest institution for educational purposes”(37).

Anstruther studied all these documents and produced his second Minute . He could not find in them any reason to @@@ 116 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 109 change his mind on what he had already stated. He maintained that the 5th Clause of the Convention could be complied with to the utmost without the Government’s participation in idola- try. He vehemently argued that “surely non-interference is not violation. Surely the Government maintains the rites, minis- ters and places of worship by giving up a large portion of public revenue for their maintenance”. He then proceeded to clear up a few points, which in his view, had been so far misunderstood.

In the first place the Convention had nothing to do with the custody of the Tooth Relic. The British, for political reasons, took it over after the rebellion of 1817-18. Those political reasons no longer existed and there was nothing in the Convention, why it could not be handed back to the – Kandyans. In fact, the Government violated the Convention when it took it over. If there was any political doubt about handing it over to the Kandyans, then it could also be locked up in the Treasury in Colombo.

It was agreed by all Kandyans that the money, jewelry and other valuables in the sanctuary of the Relic would be plundered by the Buddhist votaries, the moment the Govern- ment handed over the Relic and its property to the Chief Priests. “Such no doubt will be the case, for everyone knows that it is only the Christain British Government that upholds the Buddhist religion and protects it from the spoliation, contempt and abandonment of the Buddhists. I do not think thatitis a good reason for a Christian Government to interfere, but if it did not interfere, the Buddhist would despoil and destroy their own temples–a money making nation, we can- not bear to see money wasted”.

The money could be lodged with the Loan Board under the guardianship of the law. Risky though it was, the Tooth and the jewels could be handed over to salaried High @@@ 117 @@@ O THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Priests, on condition that if the Relic disappeared, the lands, whose produce paid their salaries, would revert back to the Government. It was also possible that if the Tooth was “publicly and constantly exhibited, it would fall into utter contempt. People would declare this bit of Ivory is no Tooth”.

The Chief Priests were against giving up Governor’s commission, because without it, no one would care for them.

Anstruther ignored a very important legal point here. The Governor’s commission gave legal validity to the positions of the Chief Priests and could be produced in any court of law, as incontrovertible proof of the legitimacy of their incum- bency of the Vihara and its Property, in cases of dispute, or in cases of non-performance of service dues owed them by their tenants.

To Anstruther the Convention was not binding any longer because in the first instance Kandy was ceded to the British only by one set of chiefs in 1815. Since then, the whole country had rebelled and was conquered by force of arms. By this conquest the Kandyans had forfeited all legal claims and the provisions of the Convention ceased to apply. Both these points were patently incorrect. The Convention was signed on behalf of the people by the existing Kandyan hierarchy and after the rebellion, many proclamations were passed by sev- eral Governors ensuring protection and support for Bud- dhism. Further, a few important chiefs, including Mollegodde the first Adikar, supported the British against the rebels of 1817-18.

He argued incorrectly, as has been pointed out at the beginning of this chapter that Devale worship was introduced by the Malabar Kings of Kandy. It was true that they did enhance what was already prevailing in the Kandyan king- dom. To Anstruther the worship of Hindu gods in Devales was Jnot part of Buddhism. It was wrong to treat all the Devale k @@@ 118 @@@ iR i R G e T TR T T A sl S o St R Al (i S il ot AR v UL A s AR £ i THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 111 lands as private property or property of a sort of corporation.

The Kandyan Kings, however, treated them as personal property for the moment appropriated to support the Royal religion, but available for his use. There was therefore no private rights in Devales, “they ought to have ceased or been appropriated to Christian worship whenever the rule passed into the hands of Christians”.

His concluding words were that the Government could divest itself from its support to Buddhism without the smallest hazard of disturbance. “The chiefs might be led to give it their support, and they would do so immediately if they saw that their salaries would be improved thereby. The Priesthood who are always at the bottom of any mischief would be paralysed, for the people would go against them, and the door would be opened for the rapid extension of Christi- anity”(38).

The Governor submitted all the above documents to Lord Stanley at the Colonial Office and pointed out the conflicting advice he got from his local officials. He pleaded that the issue be left to his discretion, so that aided by “any instructions from you, to determine upon the proper time and method of effecting the object which everyone must earnestly desire to be realized”(39). * Among these documents, there was a lengthy report on the abuses prevailing at the Saman Devale of Ratnapura. It was produced by a schoolmaster named Mr. A. de Silva from Bentota for the Central School Commission. Its objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of appropriating the revenues of Devales for Christian education. This report distinguished between the rites and ceremonies of the inner sanctum of the Devale performed by laymen known as Kappuas, and the @@@ 119 @@@ 112 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH exterior activities which were in the hands of the Basnayakke Nileme and his subordinates. The Devale had separate lands cultivated for the benefit of Kappuas whose positions were hereditory. They also took the offerings and donations made by the votaries. This kind of worship was part of the Siamese Nikkaya (sect), which was the religion of the people at the capture of Kandy. It should be pointed out that the Kandy Buddhist priests at the conference with the Governor in October 1847, repudiated all connections with Devales, and insisted on the purity of the religion they practised.

Now there was a new Buddhist sect known as the Amarapura Nikkaya in Saffragam. It disclaimed all connec- tion with the polytheism of India. It was strongly advocated by Nugawella Banda, a nephew of late Doloswella Dissave.

Almost all the important families in the area had accepted this reformed and orthodox version of Buddhism. Many had given -up Hindu gods and Buddhist priests had been ordained under the auspices of the Amarapura Nikkaya. Many Siamese sect priests were forced to keep their religion because the courts recognised only the Siamese Nikkaya priests and the lands they held. Had it been otherwise, most of them would have turned to Amarapura Nikkaya.

The present Basnayakke Nileme of Saman Devale did not recognise the vile superstitions, or the abominable and barbarous caste system of the Brahamins. His emoluments and patronage was too great for him to give up, even though, he was against Hindu worship. To a great extent, it was Mr.

Silva’s findings which fuelled the distinction between pure ~ and adulterated Buddhism of Mr. Anstruther. This document . was made available to all the local Executive Councillors.

: Mr. Silva was also able to produce plausible argu- ments to expose the position of the Basnayakke Nileme as @@@ 120 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 113 merely that of a political appointment devised by the Kings, as a counterpoise to the power of the provincial Dissaves. The Kings derived revenue on the appointment of a Basnayakke Nileme. Therefore the abolition of his office and the arroga- tion of all the revenues could not be a violation of the Convention. The Nileme also had several exactions which amounted to two-third of the services of the tenants. A large amount of money accrued to him during the fifteen-day Saman festival from rents of plots to stall-holders. All this went into his pocket, and not for the maintenance of the Devale.

Finally the temple women (Alatiammas) were well known for immorality and loose habits. They danced to the most lascivious songs and had lost their modesty and virtue.

In many cases they acted as prostitutes. The vicinity of the temple was well-known for debauchery.

For these reasons the Government should give up all connection with the Saman Devale, and abolish the position of the Basnayakke Nileme, and divert the revenue for the education of the children. In fact, in the government school in Ratnapura, only one in seventeen was a Kandyan child, the rest were all low country Sinhalese. The Kandyan children were reserved to be taught only the dancing, singing and – music-making connected with the temple ceremonies. They were prevented from attending lessons which showed them – the truth and the salvation of their immortal souls.

James Stephen studied all these documents with great imterest and admitted that some aspects of the issue, in their il, were beyond his understanding. Yet it was not neces- to abandon the whole question asintractable. The general iples could be ascertained and stated, though the appli- ion of them ought to be left to the local authority to be – ented with caution and in measured steps.

@@@ 121 @@@ 114 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH He took to task Arthur Buller’s interpretation of the Convention which asserted that the British Government was the Defender of the Buddhist faith. There was no such gloss in the words of the Treaty. The object of the Treaty was “to reassure, on the subject of their religion, a people from whom we had taken everything else. The Treaty did not, and could not, mean that King George the Third succeeded to the religious duty and character of the King of Kandy, and that the Defender of the Christian Faith should in the same sense become Defender of the Buddhist Faith. The Treaty meant..

merely this –If you will surrender to Great Britian all secular dominion, you may keep up your religion. If you will deliver up to us your Treasury, your temple lands shall be inviolate.

You will become subjects of our King, he will permit no one to interrupt your religious offices or to despoil your priests or your temples”.

The schemes suggested by both Buller and Wodehouse would involve the Government in direct intervention with idolatry; that of Wodehouse “would go far as to establish something like a Buddhist Papacy”. # The Colonial Secretary should insist on prompt and exact compliance with the July 1844 instructions. He mock- ingly concluded that “it is evident enough from the papers that the obstacles to obeying Lord Stanley’s instructions have been rather personal than substantial–the want of Agents willing and able to act with the decision rather than any inherent difficulty in the subject itself”(40).

Lord Stanley agreed with Stephen, rejected Buller’s interpretation of the Convention and thought that the two schemes submitted to him would increase “still more strict alliance with Buddhism than has hitherto existed. Buller’s plan would recognise in the Priesthood powers scarcely @@@ 122 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 115 compatible with the secure existence of any other powers in the island.. Pursuing that principle (set out in July 1844) to its legitimate consequences, please draft a law in conformity to it for adoption by the Local Legislature and for confirma- tion by HMG. Shake off all active interference with, or positive assent to, the religious ceremonies, rites and usages of the Kandyans. You should be sustained by Agents willing and able to act with decision and to solve rather than create difficulties”.

“You will omit from all future Bills of Supply, the sum hitherto granted for defraying the expenses of Devil Danc- ing”(41).

The secular British Colonial Office had put on the missionary garb, and under the astute guidance of James Stephen, had imbibed the ardent zeal of an intolerant evange- list. Besotted as it was, the Colonial office forgot that the Convention of 1815 was a political document for which the Kandyans had paid very valuable consideration, and from which the British had obtained advantages they did not enjoy hefore its signature. The British Church was not a party to this contract and had nothing to do with it. Yet the interests of the (“hurch became predominant and the British administration s obedient servant. Inherent in this was the intellectual and tultural arrogance of the colonialists. Their belief in the tertainity and superiority of their religion, ideas and institu- llons was so overwhelming, that they wanted to impose them un the natives, notwhistanding the fact, that the latter had Jossessed their own culture and religion nursed over centu- %, and of greater, if not, of equal importance to them. Thus Inded, the Colonial Office failed to understand that the Wddhist question, which it had itself made it a problem, uired a solution which involved the land holdings of the ples and the service tenures of the tenants. There was no ttul body or an organisation, recognised in law as a @@@ 123 @@@ 116 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH persona ficta, able to sue and be sued and with powers to enforce its rights. This was no problem in the old Kandyan society when Rajakaria prevailed, and custom was the law of the land. At every opportunity the British had cut loose these bonds and replaced them with something new by Proclama- tion of the Governor. It was thereforelogical for the Govern- ment to use its Proclamation to sortout the Buddhist issue.

This, it was reluctant to do, all it wanted was to wash its hands off Buddhism and allow it to drift, and to hope that it would wither away.

Given the uscompromising stand taken by the Colo- nial Office, Campbell had to draft legislation to get rid of all association with Buddhism . This hedid, and based it largely on the proposal made by Mr. Wodehouse, and sent him off to Kandy to explain it to the Kandyans.

This meeting lasted from the 10th to the 12th of November 1845. At first Wodehouse was met with a general expression of dissent, and admissionof their inability to carry on their own affairs without the assistance of Government.

Wodehouse insisted that the matter had been decided by HMG, and that they were assembled merely to consider how the transfer of management of Buddhist affairs could be best achieved.

Wodehouse denied that the intended step was a breach – of faith. He argued that the Government proposed simply to transfer the power which it had longneglected to a Committee of Kandyans, who would be enabled to use its powers more efficiently, and that this Committee ‘would receive the same amount of protection as all other subjects of the Crown’.

He was also asked ‘why Britain could not go on as pefore. Why if it had no objection to take such trust upon themselves in the Convention (of 1815), it should now think @@@ 124 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 117 it necessary to abandon it’. Wodehouse replied that feelings upon such matters had changed in England. What was re- garded in 1815 as unobjectionable would now not be toler- ated. The implication was that only the British could have a change of heart, but not the Kandyans.

When compensation was requested in lieu of the allowances proposed to be terminated, Wodehouse pointed out that the Colonial Secretary had directed them to be discontinued. That Buddhism in other parts of the island, as well as people of other religions were in receipt of no allow- ances from Government, –(a patent untruth), –while they themselves possessed the very great additional privilege of holding lands free from tax. Further they received large offerings from the worshippers every time the Relic was exhibited. As the Relic would now be under their control, they could have as many such events as they wished, and the increased offerings could be made available for the mamte~ nance of the priesthood.

The Kandyans also suggested that a Committee of Englishmen, even unconnected with the Government, be appoined to administer their affairs. This was turned down. A desperate request, revealing more the inadequacy and incom- petency of the Kandyan hierarchy than the obduracy of the English to get rid of their pagan connection. It was admitted that a future Government might change the legislation again.

  • This would be unlikely if the current changes were more in Bne with the directions from London. The Kandyans were assured that the temple lands would remain exempted from tax. They, altogether in public, disagreed with Wodehouse as o the course to be taken and pleaded for the continuance of the SEatus quo. – Later on, some of the chiefs and two priests met ouse in private to consider in detail the draft Ordi- . This meeting lasted nearly four hours and the follow- @@@ 125 @@@ 118 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – ing changes suggested by them were accepted by Wodehouse, and later, incorporated in the Ordinance. They wanted the membership of the Committee to be extended to include the four Ratemahatmayas in the vicinity of Kandy, two more priests, one each from the Malwatte and Asgiri Chapters, and four private individuals of respectabil- ity. The Dewe Nileme to be the Chairman, and that he be vested with the title of the Adikar. The quorum was to consisl of five Committee members. They strongly objected to the tenants of temple lands having the right to vote. It was accepted that this right would be given only to the petty headmen of temple villages, if no opposition to commutation of services to money payment was offered. They wanted the right to eject temple tenants on proof of refusal of service or non payment of commutation. This was granted subject to the right of appeal by any aggrieved tenant to the District Court. Any Basnayakke Nileme or priests dismissed or removed for mismanagement or neglect of duties had the same right of appeal to the District Court. Finally they secured assurance that no sale of temple lands could be effected without the permission of the Com- mittee and that of the Government, and that the powers of the Committee would extend to all lands in the former Kandyan provinces. Even though, a substantial part of it had now become amalgamated with the former maritime provinces. Wodehouse also produced a Memorandum on the Draft Ordinance further explaining some aspects of it. For instance he admitted, that though the first members of the Central Committee needed to be named, they would all be elected subsequently. Although this Committee had wide powers which were necessary and essential for the orderly management of their affairs, yet any abuse of it could be checked by the provision for appeal to the District Court. @@@ 126 @@@ ?E BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 119 The Convention of 1815 recognized only the Malwatte and the Asgiri Chapters as the fundamental institutions, representing the Buddhist religion, which the Government was pledged to support. For this reason only priests belonging to these two establishments could offer themselves as candi- dates for the vacancy of the Chief Priests respectively, and also they alone had the right to vote. The Kandyans would have found it revolting if the membership of the Committee was thrown open to all ranks and castes. It would have been equally unbecoming if it was confined to a superior caste. At the same time, from a political point of view, it ‘was desirable that the members of so important a body should to a certain extent be dependent upon the Government’. Nevertheless the object in the Ordinance was to confer powers only upon those who in the existing state of the country, were ‘competent to exercise them, at the same time to prevent, as far as practicable, any mischievous con- centration of influence’. Both under the Kandyan Kings and the British Gov- ernment, Devales had become part and parcel of the Buddhist religion. “Nothing could now justify their being treated differ- ently from the Buddhist Vihares…to make no provision for their management would be highly offensive to the people, while the conferring it upon the Committee with proper rules will be attended with no inconvenience”. For many reasons the registers of temple lands did not exist and were very defective even where they existed. While some temples claimed more than their due, others were deprived of their legitimate holdings as they lacked legal proof. There was plenty of uncertainity in this area. To prevent.

numerous litigation and to restore some order, it was pro- posed, that a mixed Committee of British Functionaries and @@@ 127 @@@ 120 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Kandyan Chiefs should have the power to determine the rights of the Crown and that of the temple.

When Rajakaria was abolished, the services of the tenants of the temple lands were not abolished. These tenants had become dissatisfied, and considered themselves reduced to an inferior situation than the others who benefited from the abolition. The tenants who had the power, refused to render their obligatory services, and also avoided paying any tax on their holdings. The remedy was ejection after a protracted court case with no costs or worthless cost awards. In some cases the tenants too were subjected to extortion and vexa- tious demands. All these abuses could be remedied by the commutation of services to money payment at a rate to be assessed by this mixed Committee. These two were the only functions in which the British Functionaries would be in- volved. Neither of them had anything to do directly with their religion, and neither of them could, with safety, be left to the disposal of the Kandyans.

Governor Campbell forwarded all the documents at his disposal together with the Ordinance and the Petition to Her Majesty Queen Victoria (see Appendix 5). He explained that, as the Kandyans had evinced much alarm and dissatis- faction at the intention of the Government to discontinue the connection with Buddhism, which had prevailed since the Convention of 1815, he had sent Wodehouse to explain the Draft Ordinance to the Kandyans. “I was naturally anxious that the change should be effected not only with the most thorough understanding with the natives as to its motives and scope, but likewise in the manner which appeared to me most curteous and considerate towards the chiefs and the people”: The title of Adikar in the Ordinance was to him “a compliment which would go far to reconcile the natives to the measure and to satisfy them that it was the wish of the Government to consult their feelings as far as practicable.It @@@ 128 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 121 was purely honorary and carried with it no power of any description..It may be allowed during the life of the present holder”(42).

The Petition by the Kandyans reiterated the legal obllgatlon on the part of the British to support Buddhism and pleaded for the continuance of that support and emphasised that the withdrawal of that support was a grievous breach of faith.

All these documents generated a lengthey and lively discussion in the Colonial Office, wholly antagonistic to the Buddhist interests in Kandy. Some of the protagonists forgot that Kandy was not conquered but ceded to the British by the Convention of 1815, and proceeded to treat the issue as a matter between the victors and the vanquished. Some others ignored the fact, that this Treaty was merely a political document with the British, the church having no part what- ever in it. Some others failed to grasp the fact that, the Buddhists religion was not organised in the same way as their church and to all of them, it was a fact that the Buddhist religion was a depraved and a barbaric practice, with which, they should not be connected in any way.

Having studied the documents, James Stephen laid down his arguments against the Ordinance in aMinute in May 1846. This Minute was held over till the new Colonial Secretary, Gladstone arrived on the scene, and was circulated by Murdoch. He pointed out that, firstly, the proposed Ordi- nance assumed and declared, in express terms, that the Con- vention of 1815 vested in the Governor of Ceylon not only patronage, but also the general superintendence over the internal discipline of the Buddhist religious establishments.

This declaration even if its correctness were admitted, would be unnecessary–but where its correctness was open to ques- tion, was objectionable.

Secondly, every matter connected with the Buddhist religion was to be regulated by a Body to be created by Law, @@@ 129 @@@ 122 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH passed by the Queen’s Representative in Council and con- firmed by Her Majesty herself–which Law would also confer on that Body, the power of appointing priests and determining everything connected with their internal discipline. Every Rule therefore hereafter in force for the regulation of such matters would owe its authority to HMG, and to legislature composed of Her Majesty’s subjects.

Thirdly, a Buddhist priest if deprived of his office might appeal to one of HM Courts, which would then have to decide, whether or not he had performed his duties properly.

If further appeal ensued, it was possible that Her Majesty’s Privy Councillors might be called on to affirm or set aside a sentence of deprivation against one of Her Majesty’s subjects, for the non-performance of duties which might probably be idolatrous, and in the eyes of Christians, impious and profane.

The intended conclusion here was that, by helping to get rid of lax priests, the courts would be promoting the atheistic Buddhist religion, as such vacancies would be filled by more devout priests. This was an unacceptable use of Her Majesty’s courts in interfering in Buddhist affairs. Lax priests if left in office would expedite the decay of Buddhism.

A Buddhist priest who failed to practies his religion would, to a certain extent, be acting according to the tenets of Christianity, which in no uncertain terms, forbade idolatrous and heathen worship. If the Privy Council did punish such lax priests by sacking them from their positions, then the privy Council itself would be guilty of punishing someone for complying with the teachings of Christianity. This was not only an invidious contradictory position, but also a totally unacceptable use of the Privy Council.

Fourthly, the whole proceedure of election would be carried on under the express provisions of a Law, of which HMG would be the authors.

In all these respects the Ordinance appeared to him to have failed to disconnect the Government from idolatry, and @@@ 130 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE ‘ 123 on the contrary actually to establish and recognise that con- nection. Therefore the Ordinance ought to be disallowed(43).

Gladstone, the new Colonial Secretary, handed over Campbell’s papers to Frederick Rogers, an Assistant Under- Secretary, anewcomer at the colonial Office. His comprehen- sive report on the documents, though devoid of evangelical bigotry, was influenced by the Christian perspective of the issues under consideration. His five point summary would be sufficient for our purposes.

¥ The Ordinance, as it stood, was not objectionable to him. The pledge given to Buddhists was that Buddhism would have every facility for maintaining its previous legal status, and that the Government would not use either art or violence to subvert or undermine it. “I conceive that in handing it over to its Professors our only duty is to give it, since we must give it, some Constitution, an honest working one. I do not see any fault is to be found with, or that there is any insidious intention lurking in that now proposed by the Legislature of Ceylon”.

  1. The title of Adikar would be a gratuitous patronage of idolatry. It was possible that future Chairmen of the Commit- tee would come to expect it as part of their job. “It would be undesirable to make such a provision, if a permanent grant of this rank is unusual or in the present case uncalled for”. “The interference of the District Court does not appear to me to be objectionable..We have no right to abdicate the function of deciding what are in fact disputes respecting the right to property”. 3 To him, what was strongly objectionable was, the hierarchical machinery created by the Ordinance, with very wide powers. “They are elected representatives not of differ- @@@ 131 @@@ 124 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH ent and conflicting local interests, but of a large aristocy priests and officers–itself in great measure self elecl there is in Kandy, any remains of ‘unbounded reverence’, which in the time of Sir. R. Brownrigg the Kandyans regu the religion, this scheme would appear calculated to give most dangerous force and unity”. | Government’s influence was at the foundation of | – whole edifice as the right to vote accrued to only those w held office. The decline of Buddhism was inevitable no matter | machinery given to prop it up. This was suggestd by | dilapidation and dereliction of the temples, and more forcihly, by the horror with which priests and chiefs deprecated bely left to their own resources. “The proposed hierarchy, thouy formidable on paper, is not, and can never become 50 Il fact.It really is not protection or patronage but interferencs which they ask for”. He argued for the principle of division in the election of priests and other authorities. “The central management of lands, and the supervision of religious offices might be brokei up. The custody of the Relic might be committed to different hands unconnected with those who wield patronage, or suprintend the discipline of the Buddhist hierarchy, and a veto might perhaps be retained on some of the appointments”. “This division of authority is not an insidious method of breaking faith with Budhists, itis merely an obstacle to theis obtaining a political power to which they have no claim. And the Ordinance appears open to very grave objectlon as founded on the opposite principle”.
  2. He was against the distinction of and the consequent different treatment of Buddhist Vihares and Hindu Devales, @@@ 132 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 125 “Arguments for confiscation of Devale funds ought to be generally received with caution. Devales formed part of the Buddhist religious system….which we pledged ourselves to maintain ..It would seem safest on this complex and very local subject, torely on the local authorities for the correctness of their assumption implied in the 12th and 23rd sections of the Ordinance”. 3 Registration of all temple land holdings appeared proper. Only lands registered within the limited period allot- ted for this purpose should be entitled to tax exemption. “On the whole, the Queen’s assent should be withheld from the Ordinance as giving a dangerous organisation to the Buddhist hierarchy. The election provisions of the Ordinance should, I submit, be remoddled, to avoid this danger. And this being the case, I would submit whether it would not be desirable also to modify the clause conferring the title of Adikar on the Chairman of the Central Committee, and to insert a provision such as I have last described for enforcing registration of temple lands”(44). James Stephen was more forthright in rejecting the Ordinance. He wrote that “if this compact of 1815 meant that the Sovereign in whose name it was made was to become the guardian and defender of all the crimes and pollutions prac- tised in Candian country in the name of their religion and as an intergral part of their religion, it was a compact absolutely void ab initio. No Christian King can contract a valid obliga- tion to do any act which Christianity unequivocably forbids.

Noman, whether in private or in public life can divest himself of an earlier and higher duty by entering into an engagement, however solemn, to violate or neglect it. This appears to me a conclusive answer, in the absence of any other, to all the arguments used by Mr. Buller and employed (by the aid of some English lawyers) by the Sinhalese petitioners”.

@@@ 133 @@@ THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The Treaty according to him gave only freedom worship and the right to hold property without molestul from their new Sovereign or from any one else. Therefor new legislation was necessary.

126 The wide ranging powers given in the Ordinane rather than disconnect the Government from Buddhism, ally established the clearest connection both actual and appi ent with idolatry. He reiterated the arguments already clf above more emphatically and with vehemence that they reeked with religious intolerance and fanaticism.

His reproach was that he “could not understand why the professors of the Buddhist religion should not be allowed to make any kind of agreement among themselves (not beln otherwise an illegal agreement) for the regulation of their owi religious affairs, the custody of their Relics and the choice of their priests. If any legislation is necessary on these subjec(y, it would, I conceive, be a Law to recognize or perhaps (0 establish, this right. In the East Indies the Brahmins and (he inhabitants settle their own religious affairs in their own way, The East India Company take no share in them. I know nol what reason requires that the Queen’s Government should take any part in the affairs of the same kind in Ceylon”.. Al this point, it should be noted that Stephen had ignored that hix Government had obligated itself by the Treaty of 1815…” In addition the proposed Committee, the whole system of elec tion, being based on a positive Law, would constitute ay formidable an hierachy as could possibly be put together oul of such materials. I cannot percieve why the Government should thus engage in the creation of a power, which when created, would probably, be found, if not irresistible, at least most intractable and inconvenient”.

“My own opinion is that the Ordinance ought not to be confirmed”(43).

@@@ 134 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 127 Lord Lyttilton commented that James Stephen’s pro- posal, if acted on, would be a breach of faith and contrary to the manner in which the Treaty of 1815 had been acted upon at least since 1818, and also to the language of some of the official documents issued since that time. It was clear to him that it would excite extreme dissatisfaction. Nevertheless he urged that the risk should be encountered, and that it was time and legitimate to put the proper construction on the words of the Treaty as interpreted by Stephen. Accordingly he agrced on a declaratory Law. : Gladstone’s initial reaction was to agree with Stephen on ‘abstract grounds’, but he would rather rely on local knowledge and experience for sound judgement on the mat- ter. He was, however, not prepared to follow Stephen all the way.

He observed that “if we be already implicated and that to the highest degree, I do not think it clear that an Ordinance should be disallowed because it does not wholly destroy all the grounds for arguing that we still remain implicated. I am not sure of the possibility of an absolute neutrality, nor am I sure that such neutrality fulfils the obligations incumbent on us as Christians, unless it is required by an absolute necessity.

But if there be such a necessity, it is difficult to decide to what precise point it may reach. An Ordinance that went far to relieve us from taking active part in a vicious state of things might well deserve assent, even if it did not do everythmg that could be desired”.

He was for disallowing the Ordinance as presented by Campbell. He was at aloss as to the instructions he could give Campbell for framing a substitute Ordinance. He did realise the necessity for an organisation with central authority for the Buddhists to take over the management of their own af- fairs(46).

@@@ 135 @@@ 128 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH In the meanwhile Rogers produced areply to Stephen’s Minute. He wrote that “it is far better that we should enable the Buddhists to make regulations for themselves than that we should do it for them. But I am not sure whether this amounts to an acquiescence in your conclusions”.

  • Rogers found it difficult to disconnec® from Bud- dhism without legislation and judicial interference. “We obtained the power to injure or destroy Buddhism which we now possess under– almpst by means of–a pledge that it should be maintained and protected. This pledge, I think, we are bound to observe”. As the subsequent acts of Government were acts of a Sovereign, HMG was free toundo them as it was free to do them in the first place. Unfortunately for the Government, it had given the people to understand over the years, that it would not undo them. In the first place the British appropriated to them- selves certain powers necessary for the existence of Bud- dhism. These powers could not be simply abandoned without enabling someone to take them over. This required decision on the part of the Government and involved legislative inter- ference. If someone could be empowered, then, as such an authority would be remote from the Government, it would be more unobjectionable. The property of the temples could not be cast outside the protection of the law. The temple properties needed to be safeguarded either by the existing courts of law, or by a tribunal, especially created for that purpose. Both involved Government interference. He pursued his line of thinking with an illustrative question, “When we cease to appoint priests, what is to become of the first priest’s office which becomes vacant? If @@@ 136 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 129 several appoint–the people of the district–the chiefs of the district–some college or establishment of priests etc.–which of the appointees is entitled? Or if only one appointment is made, but the temple tenants refuse to perform their services, and the person charged with the temple property, refuse to deliver it disputing his title, how is he to enforce his title?..These questions are incapable of an answer except under legislation. And I submit that by a Sovereign act of ours, to render it impossible to determine or enforce the right to temple property, would be a breach of faith”. Rogers was here tackling the important point of temporalities which required a central organisation with legal power to sue and be sued. “I conclude no more than this. That we are bound not only to acknowledge the rights of Buddhists to agree on a mode of regulating their own religious proceedings, but to sanction a possible mode of agreeing validly, which, without such sanction will not exist. And I do not see how this can be done without investing certain definite classes or persons with the power of binding all concerned in the privileges and property secured to Buddhism. I do not know whether this may be considered as involved in the expression ‘establishing the rights of the Buddhists’. If it is, I gladly acquiesce in your (Stephen’s) opinion and abandon my own”(47). Gladstone had by now digested the mass of docu- ments on the subject to pronounce a considered view on the subject, which he did, in his second Minute on this issue. He wrote that “whatever the Buddhists may agree upon among themselves (assuming that to be done) will assume the char- acter of a contract. It appears to me that if the contract is sufficiently definite and has other conditions necessary for legal cognizance, we have no right to refuse judicial interfer- ence because it relates to a false religion. Although I presume that the courts would decline to enforce what is contra bonos mores”. j @@@ 137 @@@ 130 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Stephen had proposed a declaratory law to establish the right of Buddhists to regulate their own affairs. Gladstone found this impracticable. It required executive means “to enable a great mass of men to act for acommon purpose”. “In this case the question whether we shall ourselves appoint a governing body or shall determine and empower those who are to do it, becomes in my view, a question to be decided mainly by the further consideration, whether one or the other mode is likely to save us from the necessity of subsequent interposition”. He was againstnovel interpretation of the Convention of 1815. “We are not entitled to turn round upon our construc- tion of the Convention or alter our protection in such a way that Buddhism should suffer fromit. on the other hand it has no claim to stand better”. “These I think are the principles on which we should write with regard to the new Ordinance… We should give to these religionists. neither more nor less (or as nearly as we can hit that mean) that it may be fair to presume they would ‘have had if we had never interfered: so that no man may be / able to say with justice hereafter either that we destroyed the religion unavowedly or that when it was destroying itself, we went out of our way and beyond our obligations and raised it from its natural death”(48). He accepted that these principles could only be regulated on the spot. Gladstone did not stay long enough at the Colonial Office to carry through this non-missionary ideas into policy decisions. However, he had stemmed the tide of missionary influence, as articulated by Stephen, for only a short while.

Earl Grey replaced Gladstone and renewed with vigour to implement policies urged on by Stephen. In Ceylon Campbell @@@ 138 @@@ e THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 131 resigned at the end of his term of office and was replaced by Viscount Torrington as Governor.

Grey was in total agreement with Stephen. He even brought to bear the essentially Buddhist doctrine of imperma- nence of all things (Annicca), in the interpretation of the Convention of 1815. To him this Treaty in no way bound the British ‘to take active part in maintaining and encouraging the abominable superstition of Buddhism’. Nor were-the words of the Treaty susceptible of any such construction. “I also deny thatin human affairs any immutable arrangement can be made by men of one generation which men of all future generation are bound to abide by. The Sovereign authority in no country possesses or ought to possess the power of making laws binding even upon its successors. the Sovereign authority of no country can be deprived. of the inherent power of making from time to time such changes in the laws as may be required for the welfare of those who are subject to them”.

Grey’s ideas as applying to the British Constitution could not be faulted. He was, however, concerned with an international agreement, which he now proposed to change unilaterally, and ignore the other party to the contract. His idea of welfare of British subjects was that propagated by the missionaries, and was clearly contrary to the welfare of the Buddhists as théy saw it, and as it affected them. If it was a mistake to have taken on powers to interefere with Buddhism in the first place, was it not a bigger mistake to have taken on the very Government of the Kandyans? Grey wanted to abstain from all legislation on the subject and abandon to the Buddhists their own affairs withno legal backing, if that were possible. “If however a law is absolutely necessary the objects to which it is directed ought @@@ 139 @@@ 132 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH to be very carefully and precisely determined; as far as I can understand the subject, I can see none for which it is so necessary to provide except the regulation of the right of exemption from taxation of the temple lands”(49). He con- cluded his Minute with an invitation to Stephen to draft Instructions on this subject for the new Governor, Viscount Torrington. Stephen was more than glad to oblige. It was the climax and the crescendo of his rampant missionary zeal. This uncompromising document was couched in pugnacious lan- guage and was adopted without any alteration by Earl Grey.

The new Governor had to suffer the nasty consequences ensuing from its adoption.

In it, Stephen shot down Mr. Buller’s version of the Convention which we have already seen. Hereiterated Buller’s arguments for the benefit of Torrington, and proceeded to affirm that he would go further than Lord Stanley had ven- tured, and repudiate “the obligation which it has thus at- tempted to impose on the British Crown not only by the Queen’s Advocate” but also by the Kandyan Petitioners.

He was not prepared to accept that any law or enact- ment was incapable of changes under new and unforseen circumstances and in the general interest of society. Treaties between the conquered and the conquerer carried no such connotations. The language used in the Convention was no more than that used usually in such documents, therefore Buller’s interpretation could not be accepted.

This was patently incorrect. Immediately after the Convention, Governor Brownrigg too came under severe criticism in London on the language used in Clause 5 of the Convention (50). Brownrigg admitted to Lord Bathurst that the language employed was ‘more emphatical than would @@@ 140 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 133 have been my choice’, but was necessary to placate the Kandyan chief and the priests, otherwise he would not have been able to retain the Kandyan Kingdom.

According to Stephen, Christianity posited a prior obligation on a Christian Monarch which prevented him from doing anything contrary to the Christian teaching. This was the argument we have already seen before. “A Christian Sovereign of a Christian state had no authority to bind himself and his successors to a course of conduct which Christianity unequivocally forbids..” and was “irreconcilably hostile [to the] general conscience of mankind”.

The Colonial Office rejected the Ordinance because it involved executive and judicial interference by the Govern- ment. By way of illustration, he repeated his argument about a Buddhist priest appealing to the courts for reinstatement, when dismissed for non-performance of his duties. This, he concluded, not only involved the the judiciary in the internal affairs of the Buddhists, but also promoted Buddhism by helping the Buddhists to weed out the malingerers.

The Ordinance would give birth to a spate of subsidi- ary laws and executive actions which would ultimately derive their validity from the Crown itself. This too was unaccept- able. “Your Lordship will, therefore, understand, and will cause it to be made publicly known, that Her Majesty will not be advised to confirm it (the Ordinance). You will communi- cate to the Legislative Council the grounds for that decision”.

In the place of this rejected Ordinance, Stephen rec- ommended that “no Law whatever is necessary or could be properly made, respecting the custody of this Relic, the choice of Buddhist priests, the internal discipline or their religious @@@ 141 @@@ 134 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH observances”. The priests should be informed that they should regulate these matters for themselves and execute their own Regulations within the general law of the land.

The proprietary rights vesting in the priests could be enforced or defended like the proprietary rights of any other Corporate Body. If there was any technical difficulty in the exercise of this power, then “there could be no difficulty in the enactment of a Law creating that right or declaratory of the existence of it”.

He was quite happy to institute a distinct enactment covering the following items pertaining to temple lands: i. To ascertain the extent, boundaries and the services due from tenants of temple lands.

ii. To enable a tenant to commute his services into a money payment.

iii. To provide for the ejectment of tenants who fail to fulfil their obligations.

iv. To prevent the future acquisition of other lands, except . with the licence from the Government.

v. To prevent the alienation of such lands, except with a similar licence.

vi. To render temple lands subject to taxation whenever they cease to be devoted to religious purposes.

Stephen admitted that the above Instructions were contrary to the opinions and wishes of the local Legislature.

It was possible for them to be influenced by local circum- stances as they were “on the scene of action..agitated by the proposed application” of these policies. Whereas the princi- ples could “be appreciated more clearly at a distance from the @@@ 142 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 135 scene of action…On a review of the subject, they will agree with me that the difficulties, whatever they might be, must be encountered, and that the danger, whatever it may be, must be incurred, in order to maintain inviolate the sacred principle in question, to the maintenance of which, I am well assured, the Members of the Legislature of Ceylon are not less earnestly attached than the Members of HM Government of this coun- try”(51). – In the midst of this debate on an Ordinance for Buddhist establishment, two Ordinances were passed in 1845 and in 1846 to regulate the temporal affairs of the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in Kandy, respectively.

These two Ordinances exposed starkly the discrimination practised by the British against the Buddhists, and the legal backing the Government was prepared to give to Christianity while denying the same to a very large portion of their subjects, from whom it was also not averse to obtain a large tax revenue, a large proportion of which was spent on Chris- tian clegy, Christian churches and Christian education.

At least one reaction to these Instructions needs to be noted here. It was that of Mr. Wodehouse, who, for a short time, acted as the Colonial Secretary in Colombo. He minuted that if the Instructions were carried out “the tranquility of the country will be disturbed–there is no doubt that the priests possess considerable influence on a large proportion of the Kandyan population and the proposed measures are most repugnant to them.. If the Instructions now received be acted upon . all classes will be equally dissatisfied” “To say that people would rebel, would be an exag- geration, but it by no means improbable that distrubances and destruction of property will take place to a great extent, which @@@ 143 @@@ 136 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH it would be for some time out of the power of the Government to arrest, and which it would leave long even after they had been quelled, a general feeling of insecurity and apprehension very prejudicial to the prosperity of the colony”(52).

Wodehouse certainly was right in his prediction, and rebellion did not take long to erupt. Before the House of Commons Committee on Ceylon, in London, in July 1849, in answer to a question by Mr. Hawes about this Instructions, Wodehouse stated that, the Instructions “embodied a far more religious view of the question, and, as I hold, an utterly impracticable view of the question; it carries out the views, as we say in Ceylon, of the missionaries rather than any system of Government”(Q.6603). In answer to another question, he said that it “left everything unsettled; it laid down what we look upon as very extreme views as to the future legislation that was to take place upon the subject”(Q.6564).

The new Governor, Lord Torrington, had two meet- ings on the 29th of July and 11th of August 1847 with the chiefs and the priests in Kandy. Both were fruitless. He went off to Kandy again on the 29th of September and emerged with an imposed solution to the problem at the conferences held on the 1st and 2nd of October and communicated his success with ‘exceeding gratification’ to Earl Grey.

The Governor wrote that “on Saturday the 2nd of October 1847, the final and the most important step was taken to complete the separation of the British Government from all connection with or participation in the practices, ceremonies and observances of the Buddhist superstition in this island.

Henceforth, and I trust for ever, the authority of the British name and power will have been entirely withdrawn from the active support of Heathenism, and the sanction of the Chris- tian Government can no longer uphold and strengthen, even though it tolerates the errors of a hopeless pagan worship”.

@@@ 144 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 137 He handed over the keys to the casket of the Relic, one each, to the High priests of Malwatte and Asgiriya and the Dullawe, the Dewe Nileme, so that the assistance of all three would be required to open the casket. He got a list made of all the jewels and other precious ornaments (with an estimated value of £ 19,000), and handed over custody of them too to the same three individuals. He allowed the government guard to remain at his post at the Maligawa for another 36 hours, to give time to the new guardians to make their own arrangements.

The Governor was delighted at the way this handing over of the Relic had proceeded. “No disturbance of the public peace, nor indeed any great degree of apparent excitement took place upon this interesting occasion of almost national importance… although some hundreds of Chiefs and their followers, as well as a large body of Priests had been assem- bled for several days previously at Kandy”.

He also reported that “all the allowances paid to the priests, under whatever condition or for whatever purposes have now been withdrawn, the contributions to the religious festivals, both of the Devales and Vihares, and the customary minor presents of oil, cotton cloths and other trifling articles have been entirely withheld. Priests and temple officers no longer receive their appointments from Government, and the final surrender of the precious Relic of Budhoo itself, has broken the very last link of the chain that bound the British Government to Heathenism in Ceylon”.

He could not resist crediting himself with a bit of glory. “During more than seven years this question has been in agitation throughout the Kandyan country.It will ever be to myself a source of satisfaction that 1 have been permitted to be the humble instrument for effecting the completion of this @@@ 145 @@@ 138 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH great and holy work”(53). Had he known what was in store for him in July following, he probably would not have given way to this euphoria. He probably would have sought a solution based on consensus.

If Torrington had his way, he would have persuaded the Kandyans “that the Queen of England had a splendid temple called the British Museum, in which, she would place it(the Relic) and take care of it for them. That is where it ought to have gone”(54). In another private letter to Lord Grey, he said of the Relic and the Kandyans that “they cannot trust one another and there is the greatest danger of the Tooth being carried off. That it can be used as a means to cause an outbreak, I have no doubt, and though I dare not propose it, I wish from the bottom of my heart the Tooth was safe in Buckingham Palace”(55). The exile of the Relic in London would have been a calamity beyond repair at that time, but providentially for the Buddhists, it did not leave its island abode.

Torrington did not forget the difficult problem of temporalities which still remained to be solved. He requested furtherinstructions from Grey on this subject, at the same time pointed out the necessity for an enactment on that issue.

Otherwise oppression and wrong would prevail, anarchy and violence would spring up uncontrolled, and there would be a general scramble for temple property.

This Ordinance should, according to him, cover the lands of Devales and limit the powers of Basnayakke Nilemes, the mode of election of incumbents of temples, and their legal ~ right to own and possess the lands and buildings, and their right to enforce the performance of secular duties owed to them. “The Government should not relax a hold which it would be both difficult and dangerous to endeavour after- @@@ 146 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 139 wards to recover, over what may ultimately prove to be the most advantageous source for the improvement of the people and the extension of Christianity”(53).

Mr. Tennent, the new Colonial Secretary, approved of the step taken by the Governor and added “I entertain no doubt or hesitation–norhave I any apprehension as to the policy and consequence of the step”(53). He did expect a temporary upsurge of feelings and scattered instances of dissatisfaction created by those who were opposed to this policy, but it would soon disappear.

Mr. MacCarthy, the new auditor General, considered the handover of the Relic to the three Kandyans as creating “a state within a state, it would throw a strong engine of political and social power into hands often unfaithful, always un- steady, and would give a new lease of life to the expiring tyranny of caste ..[the Government] should keep a fast hold on the temporal power over heathen temporalities and hea- then wealth..by cautious and prudent management may produce incalculable effects. Voluntarily to resign that power [would be a] most impolitic resignation of our undoubted rights, as well as an abandonment of our most imperative duties.The Dalada (Relic) was handed over without any law”(53). He wanted the Government to keep at least a slack hold now over the Buddhists by legislation, so that, if any necessity arose later, it could be tightened later on for the good of the governed.

Mr. Wodehouse too argued that the body which took charge of the Relic “are acting without law or title and in the final settlement of the question will prabably be displaced.I am prepared to admit the policy and the propriety of the step which he has taken as far as it goes. It is both an act of ¢ @@@ 147 @@@ 140 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH obedience to the order given and also a concession to that public feeling, which whether well or ill-founded, appear to have prompted those orders”(53).

As alesson to us all Sinhalese, it is appropriate to state briefly what took place between the Chiefs and the Priests at the conference on the 1st and 2nd of October. There were ten priests, five each from Malwatte and Asgiriya temples. There were thirteen principal chiefs, led by Dullawe, the Dewe Nileme, who was the only surviving signatory to the Conven- tion of 1815.

The priests presented a plan for an association (Sangame), consisting of priests and laymen, to take over the Buddhist affairs. The chiefs, on the other hand, wanted the Government to hand over its powers to a Grand Committee consisting of themselves. The other details of both plans are not relevant for our purposes, as both parties began to dispute this main point. In short, the chiefs argued, that they, as abody, handed over the Government of the country to the British, and therefore, the Relic and all other Buddhist affairs should be handed back to them first. Then, subsequently, they were prepared to hand back the Relic to the Chief Priests of the two temples in Kandy. The priests argued that the plan presented by the chiefs would make them subordinated to the chiefs.

They were the ‘sons of Buddha’ and therefore the rightful custodians of the Relic and the guardians of the religion, both functions had devolved on them from very ancient times. It was a prolonged and rather unedifying disputation, in which each faction tried to prove that it had primacy and precedence over the other, and therefore, should be preferred over the other. According to the Governor in whose presence this ignoble debate was conducted, the manner in which it was conducted was discreditable to both factions. The custody of the Relic and the management of the Buddhist affairs were @@@ 148 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE – 141 issues of national importance. It transcended the petty issue of precedence. It was unfortunate that instead of using this national issue as a unifying and rallying force, the Kandyans chose to divide on this issue for the sake of personal pride.

This: was their bane. No wonder they lost their King and country. The lessons remain yet to be learned even today.

Unity on national issues is still a distant chimera even today.

Earl Grey congratulated Torrington and expressed his satisfaction “at the quiet and judicious manner in which these important changes appear to have been effected without exciting a single expression of discontent or giving rise to a single attempt at opposition on the part of the Buddhist community themselves. I trust that by a continuance of the same temperate but decided policy all minor difficulties will be overcome, and even a religious question peacefully and finally settled”(56). He left it to the local legislature to initiate or modify any further enactment required to solve the remain- ing question of temporalities.

This is where we have to end this sad saga, because before Torrington recived Grey’s dispatch, rebellion broke out in Matale and Kurunegala in July 1848. There was no doubt in the minds of many, that this act of withdrawal of the Government from Buddhist affairs, did contribute to the rebellion. Many witnesses who appeared before the House of Commons Committee on Ceylon did acknowledge this con- nection.

Sir T. H. Maddock, a coffee planter and confidant of Torrington, admitted to the Committee that he believed that the Priesthood “have very serious cause of complaint against the Government for some of the measures which have been adopted…in consequence of the want of support of the Government, the priests have been almost entirely unable to secure the rents of the lands which belonged to the temples, @@@ 149 @@@ 142 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH and the lands have in many places been allowed to lie waste.

On all those accounts I believe the priests have of late been exceedingly hostile in their feelings to the Government; and no doubt on the occasion of this late insurrection, they gave all the support they possibly could to the cause of the rebels”(Q.3676).

Mr. G. Ackland, a businessman and an ex-member of the Ceylon Legislature, too admitted to the Committee that “the priests have been dissatisfied with the disconnection of the Government from Buddhism; that I know from personal intercourse with them, and from knowing a great many of the headmen themselves; I know they considered it a most im- politic thing; many of the headmen attached to us considered that by doing this we had given a handle for dissatisfaction”(Q.3082).

Mr. Wodehouse in his submissions to the Committee admitted that his prediction of a rebellion had been realised mainly because of this policy and the manner in which that policy was implemented. He also had something interesting to say when questioned, whether the monks were apprehensive about the establishment of Christianity in the island. He said “No; I do not think the Buddhists look upon Christianity with any hostility whatever; many of the natives think very little of attending Christian worship and attending Buddhist worship too. A man receives education in one of the towns, and calls himself a Christian some years of his life; and he goes back to his own village and his own family, and becomes a good Buddhist as ever”(Q.6712). This perhaps was the clue to the frustration of the missionaries who whipped up this anti- Buddhist campaign.

The last word on this ought be left to Torrington himself. While the rebellion was still working itself out, in a @@@ 150 @@@ THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 143 somber mood, he wrote in a private letter to Lord Grey on the | Ith August 1848; “I cannot forget the words of one of their best men in addressing me, “What good have we gained by British rule if you violate your Treaties–not only cease to protect our Religion, but on the contrary endeavour to destroy it! Tam a loyal subject of the Queen, but we have been unfairly and unjustly used in this, a matter to us of the utmost importance?’ They took over the Tooth from us with evident dislike; in our hands this prized treasure was safe, and possi- bly our custody of it increased its value in the eyes of the mass of the people”(57). Indeed, state patronage of Buddhism meant that it had the status of state religion. That was what the Kandyans wanted all along. Sadly it needed a rebellion and bloodshed to make the British understand what the Kandyans wanted; in the meanwhile, Christian zealots, and not Christi- anity as such, got in the way to foul up everything.

REFERENCES 1. Dr. W. Rahula, “What the Buddha Taught”, p80.

  1. The Four Noble Truths are; i. Dukkha, absence of lasting happiness ii. Samudya, how Dukkha originates iii. Nirodha, the cessation of Dukkha iv. Magga, the way leading to the cessation of Dukkha 3. The Noble Eightfold path or the Middle Path are i. Samma Ditthi, Right Understanding ii. Samma Sankappa, Right Thought ili. Samma Vacca, Right Speech iv. Samma Kammanta, Right Action v. Samma Ajiva, Right livelihood vi. Samma Vayama, Right effort vii. Samma Sati, Right Mindfulness viii. Samma Samadhi, Right Concentration 4. Dr. Rahula, op. cit. p49 @@@ 151 @@@ THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Dr. Rahula, “History of Buddhism in Ceylon”, p76 Robert Knox, “Historical Relations”, p74 Pujavalia, xliii, quoted by Dr Rahula po63 Knox, op. cit. p74 Ralph Peries, “Sinhalese Social Organization”, p76 . ibid. p75 . CO54/210, Board of Commissioners of Kandy to Anstruther, Oct. 1832 .

Petitions to Colebrooke by Buddhist monks . Mackenzie to Lord John Russell, 10th Feb. 1840 Hans Kung, “On Being a Christian”, p97 . CO54/178, Speech by Mackenzie, 16th Dec. 1839 . Hardy’s pamphlet, p47 . ibid. p51 . CO54/193, Selkirk to Coates, 15th Feb. 1841 . ibid. Trimrell to Coates, 26th Feb. 1841 . ibid. Coates to Russell 23rd Mar. 1841 . ibid. James Stephen’s Minute of 24th Mar. 1841 ibid. Vernon Smith’s Minute of 25th Mar. 1841 . ibid. Stephen’s reply to Vernon Smith . CO54/210, Minute by Mackenzie, Mar. 1841 . ibid. Anstruther to Turnour, 5th Feb, 1842 . ibid. Executive Council Minute, 31st Mar. 1842 . CO54/209, Peggs to Stanley, 4th Sept. 1843 . ibid. Stanley to Compbell, 15th Sept. 1843 . CO54/210, Campbell to Stanley, 24th Jan. 1844 . ibid. Stanley to Compbell, 24th July 1844 / . CO54/217; Petition presented by Dugganaralle, Dec.

1843 . ibid. Wodehouse’s plan . CO54/210, Governor’s Address, 23rd Apr. 1845 . CO54/217, Wodehouse’s Minute, 30th Apr. 1845 . ibid. Anstruther’s first Minute, 30th Apr. 1845 . ibid. Buller’s Minute @@@ 152 @@@ – 38.

3% 40.

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50 52.

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o THE BRITISH CHURCH AND THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE 145 ibid. Wright’s Minute ‘ ibid. Anstruther’s second Minute CO54/210, Campbell to Stanley, 8th Aug. 1845 CO54/217, Stephen’s Minute, 4th July 1845 CO54/210, Stanley to Campbell, 7th Aug. 1845 CO54/223, Campbell to Stanley, 7th Feb. 1846 ibid. Minute forwarded by Murdoch ibid. Rogers to Gladstone, 26th June 1846 ibid. Stephen’s Minute, 26th June 1846 ibid. Gladstone’s Minute, June 1846 ibid. Roger’s reply to Stephen, 30th June 1846 ibid. Gladstone’s Minute, 1st July 1846 ibid. Grey’s Minute, 30th Sept. 1846.

Durand Appuhamy, “Rebels, Outlaws and Enemies to the British”, p20 CO54/227, Stephen’s Instructions, 13th Apr. 1847 C0O54/239, Wodehouse’s Minute, 15th June 1847 ibid. Torrington to Grey, 14th Oct. 1847. This dispatch included the other documents quoted in the text K. M. De Silva, “The Rebellion of 1848”, p57 ibid. p99 (The above two references are from the private letters of Torrington to Lord Grey) CO54/239. Grey to Torrington, 19th July 1847.

K. M. De Silva,op. cit. p99.

Q stands for question numbers in the HCCC Report @@@ 153 @@@ 4. THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY Robert Knox, although a prisoner in Kandy for nearly twenty years, was allowed to live among the Kandyans and was therefore able to acquire a first hand knowledge and experience of the ways of life of the Kandyan folk. In his book published in 1681, he observed that “the country being His, the King farms out his land, not for money, but service. And the people enjoy portions of land from the King, and instead of rent they have their several appointments, some are to serve the King in his wars, some in their trades, some serve Him for labourers, and others as farmers to furnish his House with the fruits of the ground; and all things are done without cost and every man paid for his pains; that is, they have land for it”. If some of the King’s subjects were unable or unwilling to pay the dues required of them, “they may leaving their house and land, be free from the King’s service, as there is a multitude to do. And in my judgement they live far more at ease, after they have relinquished the King’s land, than when they had it”(1).

Knox was trying to explain the complicated system of land tenure and Rajakaria both of which were inextricably inter- twined with the caste system. All these together formed the very foundation of the feudal Kandyan society. The social organisation, as well as the implementation of the economic ‘and social policies, and the conduct of political and religious life, were governed by the caste based Rajakaria system. To continue with Knox, “among this people there are divers and sundry castes or degrees of quality, which is not according to their riches or places of honour the King promotes them to, it remains hereditary from generation to generation.Riches are not here valued, nor any the more honourable..But it is the birth and parentage that innobleth”(2). The picture Knox @@@ 154 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 147 painted was a Kandyan caste- driven society strictly organ- ised on a hierachical basis, bound and sustained by a complex web of Rajakaria service. Sir John D’Oyly, who took over the administration of the Kandyan provinces after the last king was deposed in 1815, confirmed Knox’s view of the Kandyan society. He wrote “Rajakaria, which may be properly inter- preted King’s duty, implies either a personal service, or the dues in money or kind, to which any person or lord is liable”(3). Every person in the Kandyan kingdom had various services which he was expected to perform either directly to the King himself or to his immediate superiors in society. The type of services depended on both his caste and the type of land he held. This compulsory service was known as Rajakaria.

Land and service tenure under the Kandyan Kings are complicated subjects and are outside the province of this book. Nevertheless, a brief sketch of its main outline will suffice for our understanding of the effect on Kandyan soci- ety, which resulted from the abolition of rajakaria.

Any village or land belonging directly to the King was known as Gabadagam. “It may be generally described as containing Muttettu (see below) lands, which the inhabitants cultivate gratuitously -and entirely for the benefit of the Crown, and other lands which the inhabitants possess in consideration of their cultivating the Muttettu and rendering certain other services to the Crown”(4). The Gabadagam was administered by the Royal Estates Department (Gabadava/ Treasury), headed by an official known as the Gabada Nileme.

Under him were a host of other officials to keep records and accounts and also many field officials who travelled the country, enforcing the obligations and collecting the dues from the people. A greater part of what was collected was the produce of land, and the obligations enforced were various @@@ 155 @@@ 148 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH types of labour services, which ranged from public services such as roads or (in reality) foot-paths maintenance to prepar- ing the fields for cultivation. It was still a subsistence economy based on peasant agriculture.

Money had taken root as the medium of exchange under the Nayakkar dynasty in Kandy (1739-1815). Butin the 1820, it was still held at bay at the very threshold of acomplete take-over as a medium of exchange, from land, produce of land and labour services. But transactions in money rather than the bartering of goods for services, continued to spread throughout the Kandyan country after the British took it over in 1815. The amount of paper currency put into circulation from st January 1827 to 31st August 1841 was: % Notes in Government chests……. 24,980 Notes in general circulation….oevene. 62,420 87,400 It was possible that this penetration of the Kandyan society by money, profit motive and entrepreneurial capital- ism, and also greed, might have broken down the bondage of feudalism. With the encouragement given for various capital- ist ventures by the colonial government, the disintegration of the old feudal society was inevitable: Some of the Gabadagam lands were earmarked as perquisites of office of various chiefs or given to individuals as rewards for service to the Crown. Such lands were known as Nindegam. As D’Oyly put it, “Nindegama– A village which for the time being is the entire property of the Grantee or temporary Chief. When definitely granted by the King with Sannas (written document), it becomes Parveny (private property). It generally contains a Muttettu field, which the inhabitants, in consideration of their lands, cultivate gratui- @@@ 156 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 149 tously for the benefit of the Grantee, and besides are liable to performance of certain other services for him”(4). The recipi- ent Chief of a Nindegam paid a fee to the King both on his appointment and annually. This tribute to the King had the effect of exempting the Nindegam villagers from special state service. The chief was able to substitute himself in the place of the King, and arrogate to himself all the dues and services which the tenants of such lands owed the King before they became Nindegams. In Robert Knox’s words, “all the profits which before the king received from these towns, now accrues unto the king’s officer. These towns are composed of all sorts of trades and people that are necessary for his service to whom the king hath given them; a potter, a smith, a washer, and there is a piece of land according to the ability of the town, which the townsmen are to till and manure, and to lay up the corn for his use”(5).

Where the Nindegam was hereditary, there existed a longstanding friendly attachment, a family bond between the chief and his tenants. They rendered him numerous personal services, which in turn were determined both by the type of land they possessed and the caste they were born into. They attended on him as honorary servants, and accompanied him on his journeys, some carrying him and his ladies in their palanquins. They guarded his Walawe (manorial house) and some others acted as cooks and butlers. It was the duty of some others to contribute articles of food, and fetch firewood and water for cooking and water for washing. Whatever the domestic chores, there were persons whose specific duty it was to perform that service at the appointed times. In the same – way on the agricultural front, the fields were cleared and ploughed, banks and ditches were cut, bunds were repaired, watch was mounted against wild beasts, help was provided at harvest times, and fences were put up, and water courses were @@@ 157 @@@ 150 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH diverted by those tenants who owed those labour services. On social occasions such as religious festivals and family wed- dings, births and funerals, these tenants provided the neces- sary services. These tenants were collectively known as Nilakarayas, and this term too had various other subdivisions.

This complex web of numerous people, performing numerous tasks, required an establishment similar to that of the Royal Estates Department, and the Adikar and the Dissaves too had officials to keep records and accounts; storekeepers and field officials to enforce and collect whatever was due from their tenants. This was all the more necessary as the Adikars (ministers) and Dissaves (governors of the provinces) were required to spend a greater part of their time away from their districts, at the King’s palace in Kandy. In his absence the Walawe Mohottale officiated for him athome. It was Rajakaria which fuelled this system.

The Buddhist vihares (places of wership) and the Hindu temples too had lands belonging to them spread through- out the Kandyan province. They were known as Viharagam and Devalagam respectively. The products of these lands were mainly directed towards the maintenance and support of the Buddhist monks, the Kappuas of Devales and other lay officials attached to these establishments. In addition, such landholders were required to keep the temples in good repair, attend and promote the ceremonies and festivals connected with them. As these lands were also exempted from paying any taxes to the Royal treasury, one needed Royal permission to donate any lands to a Vihara or a Temple.

The chief lay official of the Temple of the Tooth (Maligawa) in Kandy was known as the Diyawadana (Dewa, for short) Nileme. He was appointed by the King.He, in turn, appointed the numerous lay officials to administer the exten- sive lands belonging to the Temple, and obtained fees and got @@@ 158 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 151 them to perform various personal services for him. Such obligations were just part of the job of serving the Dewa Nileme and, through him, the sacred Temple. Refering to these appointments, one British government agent wrote, “the headmen are annually appointed. The Bulatsurulla (fees) required for Vidana is 45 ridi, equal to £1.10.00–formerly it was 22 ridi. The Kankanam is a hereditary office and no Bulatsurulla is required. The Duraya and Mananna are ap- pointed by the Vidana; the Duraya gives 6 ridi as Bulatsurulla, the Mananna 2 ridi. They are appointed annually. The Vidana is appointed by the Dewa Nileme”(6). The Vidana was the village superintendent, the Kankanam acted variously as the recordkeeper, storekeeper, accountant and sometimes also as the collector of the temple dues. The Mananna measured the final produce of the land and the shares due to the various parties. The Duraya acted as the messenger conveying the instructions of the headmen to the village and brought back with him any news from the village. This was a very necessary function as the villages were spread far and wide over the Kandyan province, and there were no easy modes of transport or convenient roads connecting the villages to the temples.

The chief lay official of the Devalagam was known as the Basnayakka Nileme. He too was appointed by the king in Kandy and by the Dissaves in the provinces. He had to pay a fee which varied from time to time, (3000 ridi, approximately £100, was not unknown). He recouped this fee from the produce of the land, the fees he himself received on appoint- ing other officials, and the many personal services his tenants – were obliged to perform for his benefit.

As a general rule, the forests and waste lands belonged to the Crown. In the case of some of these lands, permission was granted to clear and cultivate them. No Crown dues were @@@ 159 @@@ 152 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH . payable during the lifetime of the pioneer cultivator in recog- nition of his labour to improve such waste lands. But he was not exempted from Rajakaria duties and could be called upon ~ to perform gratuitous public duties. Some forests were con- sidered part of the curtilage of the village. These villagers could clear such a forest, cultivate it, harvest its timber and drive their cattle into it for pasture. These village lands were a bone of contention and a constant source of trouble and dispute between these villagers and the newly arrived coffee planters, who could not understand the villagers’ right to common lands.The troubles caused by the planters enclosing their lands in the Kandyan province was not very unlike the disturbances which took place in England during the time of the Enclosures of the Commons. In both, the peasants were denied access to these lands, which the peasants asserted it to be their right to use from time immemorial.

There were also certain Palace officials who took turns to provide personal service to the King. They were given lands known as Gamvasam in consideration of their services.

Such landholders had enjoined on them the obligation to properly house and feed, free of charge, the King’s officials on offcial tour in their provinces, in accordance with the officer’s status. At times, they also supplied timber for public purposes.

There were many other subdivisions of land subject to various services. These could be ignored except the few terms noted earlier, which D’Oyly had adequately described in his book. “Parveny land is that which is the private property of the individual–properly land long possessed by his family, but so called also, if recently acquired in fee simple”.

“Muttettu land, is that field which is sown on account of the King or other proprietor, temporary grantee, or chief of @@@ 160 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 153 avillage, as distinguished from the fields of other inhabitants of the village, who are liable to perform services or to render dues. Muttettu land is of two kinds; viz., 1st. Ninde Muttettu, which is sown entirely and gratuitously for the benefit of the proprietor, grantee or chief, by other persons, in consideration of the lands which they possess. 2nd. Ande Muttettu which is sown by anyone without obligation, on the usual condition of giving half the crop to the proprietor… Nila panguwais the land possessed on condition of cultivating the Muttettu or performing other menial service or both, for the proprietor, grantee or chief of the village. The possessor of such land is called Nilakaraya. In some instances, he is the proprietor, and cannot be displaced so long as he performs the service; in others, tenant at will and removable at pleasure”(7).

Governor Horton arrived in the island with instruc- tions from London to put an end to the evils of compulsory services. When he looked into it, he found that “the whole native machinery of internal government had been created by the exaction of personal services”, which if he suddenly abrogated, would “necessarily leave the country without a police, and without the means of carrying on all those details of judicial and executive duty which are provided for by municipal and local regulations, for the protection of property and the preservation of public peace”(8). He also found that Rajakaria was “so interwoven with other Institutions of the Country, the interests of the Chiefs, the maintenance of their religious establishments” that he was in no position to end it abruptly. It appeared certain to him “that so soon as govern- ment relinquishes its feudal claims on the gratuitous services of the inhabitants, the dependents of the Chiefs and Temples, who are subject to compulsory labour, will call for a corre- sponding improvement of their own condition”(9). Horton was for abolishing Rajakaria, but at a pace left to his own @@@ 161 @@@ 154 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH devices. He was against its sudden demise which the Com-.

missioners of Eastern Enquiry recommended. He even circum lated aMemorandum to all his Revenue Collectors convassing their opinions, and most of them agreed with him, that, if Rajakaria was to be abolished, it should be done piecemeal.

Horton, however, did plan to replace the notorious road service obligation by a proportionate local tax on land, either payable in money or commuted for a given quantity of defined personal services, but was overtaken by Colebrooke’s Report.

Underlying this complex social organisation based on land tenure and labour services was “the chain of duties and services which was thete established, binding every class, and every individual, from the highest to the lowest rank, it was the moving machine applied to enforce the civil and judicial administration of government, to regulate the pursuits of agriculture and to carry on offensive and defensive war”(10).

This was the crucial importance of Rajakaria in Kandy. It bound the multi-layered social structure and made them all mutually inter-dependent. To modern eyes, the old traditional system might appear inefficient and oppressive, but to the peasants of the day, it was a system of considerable social certainity and of some economic security. Above all, it was hallowed by custom and tradition. In terms of Plato’s ‘Repub- lic’ there was his kind of ‘justice’ in this system, it consisted in the right relationship of classes and castes, each performing a necessary function according to the caste he or she was born into. – It would be incorrect, however, to deduce from the above that all the different strata of society were quite happy with their station in life and content with the relationship with those both above and below them. Some, undoubtedly were quite happy, while some others were looking for the first @@@ 162 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 155 opportunity to free themselves from their vassalage. The disintegration of this society was a matter of time once this chain was cut loose. To the Kandyan elite of 1830s, the abolition of Rajakaria was an upheaval beyond their compre- hension. When they handed over the Kandyan Kingdom to the British, they did not bargain for the dismantling of all class and caste barriers, nor the imposition of equality of all men before law. They were at a loss to perceive the benefits of this new order. Their loss, however was tangible enough. Their reaction, therefore, was predictably hostile. The Kandyan ‘ancien regime’ had to be dragged kicking, screaming and struggling throughout the nineteenth century. In retrospect, one might also argue that if those feudal, yet indigenous .nstitutions were allowed to evolve of their own accord, they might have developed into structures more acceptable to the – people than foreign impositions and implants.

In the maritime provinces, Governor North had abol- ished service tenure in 1801, but had substituted a direct tax on the produce of service lands. He also reserved to the Governor the right to compel the citizens to services accord- ing to their castes. Maitland, who followed North as Gover- nor, reinstated the citizens’ obligation to maintain unpaid, the roads and bridges in good repair. This compulsory service was effected through village headmen at the discretion of the government Revenue Collector of the district. This system was blatantly abused. Both civil servants and army personnel on tour, called on the people to provide them with various services free of charge. Even the Governor during the Kandyan rebellion invoked his reserve powers. The army found that it could not find enough coolies to transport their supplies to the rebel areas. Fear of death at the hands of the rebels, as well as death caused by the many pestilential jungle diseases, and the fact that it was very unpleasant hard work, kept those who .-‘——-i”!: @@@ 163 @@@ 156 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH owed coolie service, away from their obligations. Brownrigg then passed a Regulation in May 1818 to the effect, “that the impressment for the service of the Government, of all persons bound by their castes, tenure of lands or other customs of the colony, to perform service, is and has always been legal”.

Therefore it was the duty of the headmen “to seize, take, arrest, send and employ in the service of Government” all persons who “are bound to serve Government as coolies or otherwise”.

This was a Declaratory Regulation necessitated by Puisne Justice William Coke, who expressed grave doubts on the legality of “the extraordinary and novel powers assumed by the Collector and Native Headmen authorising Lascoreens, (native soldiers ) by verbal directions, to enter houses and search for concealed coolies””. The occasion was the case against Chandos mudaliyar of Negombo, who was rather over enthusiastic in enforcing the Collector’s instructions. He had sent his men to apprehend Juwanis, aservant, working in the house of Mrs. Krail (Koelmeyer). They had no warrant to forcibly enter the house or to arrest Juwanis, who, the Mudaliyar alleged, was a fugmve coolie hiding in Mrs. Krail’s house. Such draconian powers, the judge declared, were undesirable. The Governor was forced not only to legitimise these powers, but also to conduct an islandwide survey of caste and tenurial service, so that the types of services owed by the various castes in every district in the maritime prov- inces could be ?rm]y established.

There were minor changes to this system of Rajakaria in the maritime provinces, which can be omitted as they are not central to our thesis. The existence of Rajakaria in the maritime provinces, with its own peculiar abuses, which were more than the ones given above, is here given, only to make the reader appreciate better, why the Commissioners Colebrooke and Cameron, wanted it abolished throughout the whole island.

— @@@ 164 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 157 In Kandy, there was no King anymore. The British Resident who took over Kandy did not need, nor did he require, all the personal services rendered formerly to the King. These services had suddenly become obsolete, and the people who owed such services redundant, leaving a hiatus in revenue to the Crown. They possessed Crown lands, owing services which had now become superfluous to the British government. This situation needed urgent attention. The suppression of the rebellion in 1818 also provided the govern- ment with the opportunity to clip drastically the privileges of the Kandyan chiefs. Both these objectives were achieved by the Proclamation of 1818.

Clause 17 of this Proclamation abolished all fees payable for appointments either to government or to any chief. Clause 18 plugged the gap in revenue by imposing a tax of one-tenth of the annual produce of the paddy-lands. some were exempted from this tax, and some others (ie. the restored lands of the rebels) had to pay one-fifth. Clause 30 reserved to the Governor and his representatives, the right to call out the people to render gratuitous service as and when such service’ was deemed necessary, — “the duty of clearing and making roads, putting up or repairing bridges, be considered a general gratuitous service falling on the districts through which the roads pass, or wherein the bridges lie; and that the attendance on the Great Feast (the Kandy Perahera), which certain persons are bound to give, be continued to be given punctually’ and gratuitously. The Washermen also, shall continue to put up white cloths in the temples and for the chiefs gratuitously”.

This reserve power was more despotic and exacting than that exercised by the late King of Kandy. It did not respect Kandyan custom or usage. It was an effective means to keep the Kandyans shackled to their bondage of Rajakaria service, and achieve the final subversion of the old Kandyan kingdom, @@@ 165 @@@ 158 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGA;INST?-[E BRITISH by getting the people to work free of charge on projects, whose immediate aim was the subjugation of the recalcitrant Kandyans. The enormous price they paid is rarely acknowedged by those who wax lyrical today on the fine set of roads in the Kandyan provinces.

The grain tax was one of the first measures to admin- ister the shock to the Kandyan society. In D’Oyly’s words, “Nindegams: this subject seems to hinge upon whatever be the true construction of Law which imposes the grain tax. The government Agent (Mr. Turnour) observes that a plea has been set up by the dependants of these (Saffragam) Villages that, by virtue of this tax they are released fromall further dues and services to the Proprietors, and this he considers to have been the object which Government had in view in framing the New Constitution..It is not the tax but the manner in which ithas been levied that has alienated the dependants and ruined the Proprietors who, being regarded as Lords of the soil, are entitled to the services and certain dues from their dependants in consideration of the lands they allow them to possess. If they wish to retain these dependants as formerly, they must secure them against the operation of any additional burthen imposed generally by Government, but failed to do this, their dependants have been obliged to seek their own redress.

Without such dependants, which constitutes the real value of a Ninde Gama, in what would its respectability, profit, or influence consist? To separate them from the Proprietor would prove, as it really has, highly injurious to the latter, as it would break the chain which has, from time immemorial, united their mutual interests, and reduce the revenue which the Proprietor derived from his Muttettu from a whole to a half share of their produce”. This was because he would be forced to have his Muttettu lands cultivated by Ande tenants. “There is besides a certain idea of ignominy attached to the person .

@@@ 166 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY g – ] whois thus obliged to give his parveny lands out to Andakareyas (Ande tenants) as it implies a degree of poverty in that particular kind of possession of which the people are most fond, viz; Followers and Dependants. They are in fact his Servants by Inheritance whose wages are paid in land in lieu of money, and though he has the power of dismissing them, and transferring the lands to others if he pleases, this is seldom, or rarely, ever exercised, they in most instances acquired a kind of birth-right by long residence and posses- sion, living happily and contented in performing all the customary services which by the tenure of these lands they are bound to perform to their chiefs”.

“That this relation between Proprietor and cultivator should be broken, and their private rights and privileges destroyed by the imposition of grain tax, I do not think was ever contemplated or intended by Government”(11). In his view, it was meant to be applied to those services and dues which directly belonged to the government. But in Saffragam, some Nilakara tenants took advantage of this tax, and man- aged to free themselves from their services to their superior landlords. What prompted the above observation from D’Oyly was the report on Saffragam by Mr. Turnour, who found that some villagers used the grain tax as an excuse and an oppor- tunity to free themselves from the services they owed to their superior landlords. “It may appear extraordinary” wrote Mr.

Turnour “that the most respectable part of the landed propri- etors should have abandoned so considerable a portion of their property in silence; but the circumstance admitsof being accounted for. The grain tax was introduced immediately after the suppression of a rebellion carried to extremities; the enactment imposing it avowed to determination to reduce the influence of the chiefs; and declared the grain tax to be a substitute to all other dues and taxes. The taxes and dues so @@@ 167 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY ) 159 whois thus obliged to give his parveny lands out to Andakareyas (Ande tenants) as it implies a degree of poverty in that particular kind of possession of which the people are most fond, viz; Followers and Dependants. They are in fact his Servants by Inheritance whose wages are paid in land in lieu of money, and though he has the power of dismissing them, and transferring the lands to others if he pleases, this is seldom, or rarely, ever exercised, they in most instances acquired a kind of birth-right by long residence and posses- sion, living happily and contented in performing all the customary services which by the tenure of these lands they are bound to perform to their chiefs”.

“That this relation between Proprietor and cultivator should be broken, and their private rights and privileges destroyed by the imposition of grain tax, I do not think was ever contemplated or intended by Government”(11). In his view, it was meant to be applied to those services and dues which directly belonged to the government. But in Saffragam, some Nilakara tenants took advantage of this tax, and man- aged to free themselves from their services to their superior landlords. What prompted the above observation from D’Oyly was the report on Saffragam by Mr. Turnour, who found that some villagers used the grain tax as an excuse and an oppor- tunity to free themselves from the services they owed to their superior landlords. “It may appear extraordinary” wrote Mr.

Turnour “that the most respectable part of the landed propri- etors should have abandoned so considerable a portion of their property in silence; but the circumstance admits:of being accounted for. The grain tax was introduced immediately after the suppression of a rebellion carried to extremities; the enactment imposing it avowed to determination to reduce the influence of the chiefs; and declared the grain tax to be a substitute to all other dues and taxes. The taxes and dues so @@@ 168 @@@ 160 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH abolished could only apply to those rendered to the King, or, which is the same thing, to headmen in office who annually purchased their appointments and received no other emolu- ments than those official dues. No derangement could, I presume, have been intended in the relations which subsisted between the proprietor of the village and his dependants, as individuals or as regards their private rights. Yet such was the construction put upon the enactment by the dependants, who from the moment they paid the tithes to government, ceased to render their dues or their labour to the proprietor. The tone of the Proclamation and the universal cessation of contribu- tions from Palakarayas (sub-tenants), at least in the province of Saffragam, made the proprietor consider the sacrifice on their part resolved on by Government and they have submitted without remonstrance”(12). It was quite clear that the Kandyan society could never be the same again. There were winners and losers. Those who gained by these changes looked for more, while those who lost, sought to reverse the changes by trying repeatedly to remove the root cause of these changes, the British Government, from the Kandyan provinces. They failed because they lacked unity, cohesion and charismatic leadership, and their cause was easily exposed as partisan, an attempt to perpetuate economic and social privileges at the expense of the population at large. ’ The tenants of temple lands, who were exempted from grain tax, also sought to shake off their tenurial obligations.

The lay officials were now paid officers of the Government with very limited judicial and executive powers. They, there- fore, found it difficult to enforce the services, which the tenants of temple lands were obliged to perform. The local village councils (gansabas), which enabled them to enforce the local customs, were also replaced by courts. This further weakened the powers of the lay officers. The Governor had – @@@ 169 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 161 also abandoned the policy of appointing lay managers of temple lands. This had led to difficulties. Thus we find Anstruther in a Minute to the Executive Council stating that “representations have been made to-the Governor that this – course of procedure is injurious to the temporal interests of their establishments, and one case has been brought to the notice of the Governor; in the case of the Patini Devale, that legal measures are required to recover certain dues, but that the Chief who has been appointed by the Government Agent to discharge the duty of Basnayakke Nileme, not being able to produce a Warrant of Appointment, cannot be recognised by the courts of law”(13). Thus one finds Petitions directed to Colbrooke by Buddhist monks for relief. In the Petitions numbered 332, 333 and 402, one Wegiregale Unnanse com- plained that temple lands had been granted to individuals, that instead of doing temple service, these people were out on road service, and as the repair of the temple hadbeen neglected, he should be given pecuniary assistance to compensate for loss of revenue to the temple and to effect the necessary repairs.

This neglect of duty led to the inevitable deterioration and dilapidation of temples. At times, the government itself had to interfere to enforce those obligations.

Such minimal active support for Buddhist temples was soon attacked by the Missionaries as unacceptable pro- motion of a heathen religion by a Christian government.

Sustained pressure by the Missionaries forced the govern- ment to withdraw this meagre support. This in turn antago- nised those Buddhists who were still attached to their religion and to the Buddhist priests. They considered this abandon- ment of support as a grave breach of solemn undertakings giventothemin 1815 as well as in 1818. Faith in the Colombo Government was badly shaken and it lost any trust it had with the Kandyan chiefs and the Buddhist clergy. Atrophy of Buddhism set in by default and neglect to the utter chagrin of those devout and faithful Buddhists.

@@@ 170 @@@ 162 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Colebrooke himself had pointed out the loss to tem ples which were progressively taking place before he arrived in the island. “To those who reside at considerable distance, the necessity of making long journeys to deliver some trifling articles of little value, or to assist at some protracted cer emony, became irksome and inconvenient and as they are liable to detention for a month at Kandy during the annual festival, these duties are very negligently performed and ‘numbers omit them altogether. In 1820 the Agent for Saffragam stated the willingness of the landholders to pay a tax, in commutation of the Temple Service–but in deference to the Chiefs and the priests, who were opposed to innovation, the measure was not adopted. Some landholders from influence, have been allowed to pay composition to the Temples, instead of rendering personal services for their lands– The laxity of the people and the remissness of the Government officers in enforcing the orders for attendance, has been urged as a subject of complaint by the Chiefs”(14). Commenting on this, Mr. Murdoch, a civil servant, appropriately minuted on the margin. “Temple services were irregularly performed even in 1831, and it may be assumed that the general abolition of – compulsory service which has since taken place, and the refusal of the Crown to interfere for the enforcement of attendance at religious ceremonies, must have increased rather than diminished the irregularity”. No doubt, the with- drawal of government patronage to Buddhism was a tangible grievance, powerful enough to kindle rebellion against the British. In the eyes of many Kandyans, their state religion had been demoted to a matter of personal preference, and sub- jected to the handicap of many inducements offered by the missionaries, to abandon it for Christianity. The survival of Buddhism in Kandy was deliberately put at risk by the British.

All was not just nor right with the Rajakaria system even under the Kings of Kandy. It was all the more so under @@@ 171 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 163 the British. Tenants did not possess lands of equal size, nor were their lands equally productive. Therefore any benefits accruing to them, from any exemption of such lands from tax in lieu of road service, were proportionately unequal on those tenants. The benefits of any tax remission fell on those who possessed the productive lands. When it fell on a village to turn up for public or road service, the actual onus of discharg- ing that service fell only on a handful of villagers. Conse- quently, they had to work longer and harder to finish the work at the expense of neglecting their own lands and livelihood.

This onerous incidence of hard labour fell on a few villagers, because, many of the villagers were exempted from such services by caste or for other legitimate reasons. Many others, who had the means, got themselves exempted by bribing the local headmen, who were the recruiting agents, as well as the supervisors of the labour services. Many others simply pre- ferred to work directly for the headmen on their lands rather than for the Government. Thus according to Mr. Turnour, who was at this time the District Revenue Commissioner of Four Korales, the road service was discharged by the propri- etors of only one-third of the land in his district. It was therefore very oppressive and rigorous in severity upon a people who had steadfastly supported the Government during the Kandyan rebellion of 1817/18. His proposal to ameliorate this unintended discrimination was to replace it with a tax of 5% uniformly assessed on the annual produce on all lands in his district. But Governor Barnes rejected it. To Barnes, the oppressive nature of road service was merely exaggerated, and he maintained that it was possible to make local arrange- ments, which would enable the villagers to perform two – services (one for the government, and the other, for them- .

selves on their lands) at the same time.

What was apparent so far was the double-edged ill effects of Rajakaria under the British government. On the one @@@ 172 @@@ 164 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH hand, the imposition of grain tax had cut loose the chain binding the people to the landed gentry who were the ruling class, and to the Buddhist monks, who were the guardians of the religion. On the other hand, the colonial Government had now arrogated to itself powers to compel people to perform labour services at times of the year, at places in and out of their districts and for periods of time, contrary to custom and usage which had prevailed under the Kandyan kings. On both counts, therefore, Rajakaria was deeply disliked by the Kandyans. They directed their opprobrium at the colonial Government, which was responsible for this new order of progressive poverty and disintegration of their old order of society.

It was during this time that Commissioners of Eastern Enquiry arrived in the island. Lt. Col. Colebrooke arrived in April 1829 and was later followed by Charles Cameron, who wrote parts of the reports, in March 1830. The latter was a Scottish lawyer, a classical scholar and an ardent Benthamite.

Sir James Stephen, the influential and powerful Permanent Under-Secretary at the Colonial officein London at this time, wrote of Cameron, “J, Bentham, whose disciple Cameron was and with whom he was in constant intercourse”, when trying to explain Cameron’s reports to his political masters.

Cameron did lace his reports with Bethamite doctrines, con- vinced that if they were right for Britain, they ought also to be right and appropriate for the colony.

The Commissioners brief was to subject the colonial Government to a thorough examination from the perspective of the many changes taking place at this time in Britain itself, and make appropriate recommendations, where they consid- ered them to be necessary. They made methodical and exten- sive enquiries on every aspect of the Colombo Government @@@ 173 @@@ b i & Lo – THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 165 and made very far-reaching recommendations. The one that concerns us here is the confidential report on Rajakaria sent by Colebrooke to Viscount Goderich on the 16th of March 1832.

Inthis report, Colebrooke catalogued the many abuses committed by the headmen as well as the Government through- out the whole country under the Rajakaria system. He referred to an incident in Kandy which took place at the time of his arrivalin the island, as amply illustrating, on the one hand, the oppressive nature of the burden the Kandyans suffered, and on the other hand, how contrary to Kandyan customs, the imposition of Rajakaria had become. About 100 labourers were required . for public works in Kandy in March/April 1829. They were to be impressed from Wallapane, a distance of about twenty-five miles from Kandy. They were to be formed into two divisions from the landholders of that district, so that by operating an alternating relief system, there would always be at least 100 labourers at work in Kandy. When the order was sent out to Wallapane for the people to assemble, most of them refused to turn up, and the few who.did turn up, refused to work. The ringleaders were then arrested, tried and found guilty of “disobedience of the orders of Government”.

They were imprisoned with hard labour. With a view to frightening the others into submission, one prisoner was ordered out for immediate corporal punishment. He was to receive 30 lashes on his back in the presence of others. When he had received 16 lashes, the others spared him further punishment by consenting to work, commencing the next morning. In the meanwhile, troops were sent to Wallapane “to enforce the orders for attendance of the people and to repress any attempt at resistance” (15). : In the following week, four headmen were found guilty of refusing to work, and inciting the people to resistance and were sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour forone @@@ 174 @@@ 166 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH month. In order to pacify the people, the whole of the province of Wallapane was exempted from grain tax, and the landholders ~ were to be divided into four, rather than two reliefs. But again in August of the same year, they refused to go to Kandy to perform labour services, to level the ground around the mansion erected for the residence of the governor. Even under the King the people asserted that rajakaria did not cover mere labouring to beautify a place such as the building of Kandy lake.

Their objection was that this service was outside their own district and therefore, it was contrary to the ancient usages of their country. Further, two reliefs working every fifteen days completely ignored the many days involved in trudging to Kandy, and travelling back from Kandy to their villages. During these days spent on travelling, they received no subsistence, and while at work, they received only the pittance of a seer of rice (2/3 of an English Quart, valued at about one halfpenny in the province or three halfpence in Kandy). They complained that this service had fallen unfairly and heavily upon them. They were thus compelled to work for several months to the utter detriment and neglect of their agricultural lands, which in turn had drastically impoverished them. They were worse off than the convicted felons, who were not only paid but also had His Majesty’s lodgings! In January 1830, the governor did make some concessions. He allowed them leave of absence, so that they could first attend to the cultivation of their lands, and directed that they should then be employed on road work within their own district.

The use of Rajakaria labour for road building was so ~ exacting that it was intensely abhorred by the Kandyans. The Colombo/Kandy road through the Four Korales employed the people of that district for several years without any payment made to them. They had to help in the initial tracing, had to cut and clear paths through the jungle, make the roads, open up @@@ 175 @@@ .f e————mm— RS THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 167 pusses over mountains, cut and drag timber for bridges. While engaged in all these works, they were exposed to the Inclemencies of climate and season. Mr. Turnour, as Revenue (‘ommissioner, acknowledged the oppressive nature of this road service in a statement he made to Colebrooke, which the lutter quoted in his report. “The value of the produce of the lunds of the people employed on the roads (in the Four Korales) amounts to £5300. The road party are exempt from work for four months in the year. For the eight months they are employed, if they were paid at the rate of voluntary labour which may be reckoned at sixpence per day, the cost would be £2400, nearly half the value of the produce of their lands.

I’rom the remainder, they have to subsist themselves during the four months that they are exempted from the roads, and during which period they are required to occupy themselves in cultivating their lands to supply themselves with the means of recommencing the road service”. The implication was, that in fiscal terms, these indigent peasants were paying a 50% tax on their meagre produce from their scanty holdings. This is the exorbitant price the Kandyans paid for many of the hill country roads of today.

“This oppressive system the Revenue Commissioner is satisfied would not have been enforced for a period of ten years if Government had been aware to the full extent of its rigorous severity”.

“The Revenue Commissioner has to state that in almost every province the inhabitants have represented to him the hardship of being obliged to erect and keep in repair resthouses, tappal (post) stations and buildings attached to Government Agent’s residences without receiving any remu- neration. The Agents continue to exact these services because they found that the inhabitants had been required to perform them by their predecessors”(15).

Many of the labourers who numbered 400 on average, working on this project were seven/eight year old boys and old @@@ 176 @@@ 168 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH men. The Governor’s excuse for this was that, this was the labour available to him after exemptions and permitted ab- sences for agriculture. In 1827, torrential rain and consequent floods and landslides devastated the area. The Governor increased the number of labourers to 800 to repair the severe damage to roads and to rebuild the bridges washed away by the floods. The Government Agent, for the province, Lt.

Taylor, was fully aware of the harshness of the nature of service his Government was exacting from the people. In his evidence to Colebrooke he maintained, “that the road service is felt by the people as oppressive, that it interferes with their occupations, retards every little project of improvement and limits their industry to cultivating only what is requisite to satisfy their actual wants, that it deters people from settling in the province, and that to many of the Headmen, the road service is a source of considerable emolument in conniving at the absence of those who can pay for the indulgence, and which from the difficulty of getting evidence to prove it, the Agent finds it out of his power to check”(15).

The principal Kandyan chiefs too found this road service very onerous on their people. In 1830 they made the following representation to Colebrooke. “That the late King of Kandy employed the Temple people in making the lake in Kandy, which he did on the plea that the construction of tanks was a work of piety”. ‘ “That the Temple people in common with others labour on the roads in erecting Bungalows and in any other work required by Government. That the Kandyan people are “not paid for their work upon the roads nor do their lands benefit from the roads except when passing directly through – them– that besides the roads are never finished and the people would rather be at the labour of erecting a shed over the road @@@ 177 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 169 from Colombo to Kandy (a distance of about 85 miles), than be subject to the constant recurrence of the repairs necessary after the rains. The cutting and carrying of timber for the bridges is also a severe labour falling on the Kandyan people.

That the rents they pay in a year are as large as the contribution to the late Government in ten years, besides the services they perform, which are also heavier than those formerly exacted”.

“Under the Kandyan Government when the people were employed on public works, they were allowed to return to their homes some time before the Sinhalese New Year which falls in April, and is a festival which they usually celebrate with their families, but this indulgence is not al- lowed to them under the British Government, and they are worked through the whole month of April. There are two intervals allowed them in the year for the cultivation of their grounds, and it sometimes happens, that they are not released from Government work, till the season of sowing is passed.

The leave is not granted at any fixed periods, and their lands have sometimes been left uncultivated or partially so”.

“The people are called on to serve in Panguas (Paddy lands were divided into shares or Panguas), and, if a man has a separate pangua, he must serve for it, if called on throughout the year. Such persons if they can get time cultivate Chenas (commons) and grow Corocan etc. (dry grains) for their subsistence, but if they cannot get time, they employ them- selves as they can in day labour in the lands or houses of Chiefs, Headmen and others. Their wives do the same, em- ploying themselves in pounding paddy, and in some cases the labour of the wife subsists the husband. It is their practice when relieved from work daily to go to the neighbouring towns to earn their meals”.

“If they do not attend the Government work regularly at the stated hours, they are flogged by the Korale (a native @@@ 178 @@@ 170 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH . overseer) under whose superintcndencé they work. They are kept out thus for different periods, sometimes for several months at a distance of 20 miles from their homes and are obliged to reside in houses in the neighbourhiood of their work, or to make sheds for themselves”.

“The people in general undergo many injuries (hard- ships). The tenants of Temple lands, dissavonies, and Ratta Wassame (high caste) are all subject to road service, and if the people should, owing to some accident fail to attend to their – services, the headmen and the people are fined, the Headman returns to his village and in order to reimburse himself the amount of the fine, he takes a bullock or some other part of the property of the people under him, on the plea, that the Headman had suffered, owing to the neglect of the people.

The people thus pressed for road service and prevented from cultivating their lands cannot therefore augment their re- sources, or relieve themselves from their poverty. They have become poor and in debt to others. The people being subject to pay tax ought to be paid for the labour they perform on the roads, and they should have time to cultivate their lands”(16).

This solicitude for the plight of the poor on the part of the Chiefs lost its cogency by their admission that they “them- selves are exempted and have no direct interest in the ques- tion”.

Colebrooke also quoted many petitions from the peo- ple themselves in his report. Few are appropriate here. Peti- tion Nos. 376 Gallegodde Dissave complained that he and his people were required to perform labour on the roads or find substitutes or pay up and that they could not afford to pay. His Petition was signed by 66 others. Colebrooke quoted Petition Nos. 417: “198 persons state that for the last ten years, they have been obliged to perform public work– that they pay to Government one tenth of the produce of their lands–that they @@@ 179 @@@ E——r THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 171 are continually employed gratuitously at road making–that some of them are pressed for a week–that on such days they begin to work early in the morning and discontinue from 10 to 12 in the forenoon, during which intermission they serve others for their food, not being able to buy it for money. They pray that the Commissioners will obtain for them a daily pay Irom Government when employed on such services”(15). To (uote one more among many others, Nos. 462, Tumpane Udapittiya Koralle and 18 others complained that they were compelled to work gratuitously on roads, to furnish tools for work, and to provide supplies to travellers. They were not paid and were at times subjected to disgraceful punishment.

The government Agent for Matale, Capt. Forbes, too made the following representation to Colebrooke. “The Kandyan system has been virtually overturned by the Procla- mation of 21st November 1818, which imposed a tax as an equivalent to Government for most services and imposts, yet left by the 30th clause a power by which the services of the people have been employed by Government, in a much greater degree than by native sovereigns with few exceptions, and then the direct taxes were much less. In this Province the Ratta (high caste) people have been often employed in serv- ices they would not have been called on to perform under the Kandyan Kings, in building and repairing rest houses, court houses, offices, granaries, tappal (post) stations, cutting and dragging timber, driving and watching elephants. These and minor services hayve been gratuitous as well as road and bridge service, and often without regard to former customs orclasses”.

“The authority of the Headmen is liable to abuse in the collection of tithes–in calling out the people for Rajakaria and in supplying provisions according to the 26th Section of the Proclamation of 21st November 1818”.

@@@ 180 @@@ l’f2 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “If afew men were required for Government work, the Headmen warn many, excluding their own friends. Those ~ whoare rich or cannot attend, give presents or bribes, and thus the labour falls heavy on a few. Supplying provisions gives opportunity for severe exactions, the people are seldom paid and ten times the quantity required such as oil, salt, rice etc.

is collected and no part returned to those from whom it is raised”.

“Under the present system there is no way of checking such practices, for with the terrors of Rajakaria and summary punishment, no one would complain publicly and success- fully. It is well known however that Headmen do exempt people from Government service and employ them in their own, but the people do not venture to complain. The provin- cial Headmen (Chiefs) in confidence have not screened these abuses, and would willingly adopt a system that would remove them”(15). In this report, Colebrooke drew attention to many other loathsome abuses of the Rajakaria system in the maritime provinces and then he summarised the existing law relating to Rajakaria in the colony for the benefit of the Colonial Office. There was one abuse worthy of note here.

“The Governor who is restricted by his instructions to the disbursement of £200 Sterling without the sanction of His Majesty’s Government has thus a power of applying the labour of the people to an indefinite extent and either to fix the rate of their wages, to remit their taxes as a remuneration, or to compel them to labour gratuitously without rendering any regular account, and their labour has been thus irregularly enforced from year to year since the establishment of the – British Government”.

“The principal carriage roads in the Kandyan prov- inces have been undertaken by the verbal directions of and in @@@ 181 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN nANDY 173 personal communication with the Commander of the Forces, whose views were not necessarily communicated to the officer employed”.

” Admitting the utility of these undertakings as well for the defence of the country, as for improving the commercial intercourse with the interior, the irregular mode in which they have been executed is open to the greatest objecgions”.

“Having already in my general report recommended the adoption of measures for abolishing the forced services throughout the Island, I will only add that any delay in their application might tend to weaken the confidence of the people in the protection of the King’s Government and thereby to hazard the tranquility of the country”(16).

This persuasive report had its most desired effect.

Viscount Goderich transmitted it to governor Horton with many acerbic and noteworthy comments. He also enclosed.

the Order in Council abolishing Rajakaria service.

Viscount Goderich did accept the fact that the Gover- nor had exceeded his expenditure limit of £200 by manipulat- ing the road service and the grain tax. “The incessant demands upon the labour of the people on various trivial occasions and the obvious departure even from the customs and Regula- tions, on which the right to exact them has professedly been founded, would in itself have constituted a ground of interfer- ence on the part of His Majesty’s Government, and I should have felt it my imperative duty to have imposed some strict limitation on the exercise of a power, thusirregularly directed, had I not been convinced, that the only just and effectual course to be pursued, is to interpose the Authority of His Majesty, for the final and effectual suppression of such a system”.

@@@ 182 @@@ 174 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “It is apparent that the Grain Tax was intended and considered as imposed in commutation of the unpaid services of the people; and the gratuitous services which, since the imposition of that Tax, the Cultivators of Grain have been required to perform, in the opening of Roads and the construc- tion of Bridges, together with many other unpaid services, which have been exacted from them, would therefore appear to be contrary to the principle of the arrangement of 1801”.

“I lament also to observe that in the Kandyan Prov- inces this incessant and unpaid labour should have chiefly fallen upon a Province (the Four Korales), which adhered to the British Government through the Kandyan Rebellion and that complaints should thus have been the most numerous from those who have had the strongest claims to protec- tion”(16).

Goderich also pointed out that this system also tied down labour and made it scarce for others who needed labour for hire. He hoped that the abolition of Rajakaria would make it available in plenty for the plantations. If it failed, he urged that labourers should be procured from India. His conclusion was “that the Emancipation of the Native Inhabitants from an interference with the free disposal of their time and labour, is recommended, not less by consideration of practical expedi- ency, than of justice and right “(16). Rajakaria was abolished by Order-in-Council dated 12th April 1832.

The Ordinance, which was published in Ceylon in – September 1832, repealed, abrogated and annulled the pow- ers reserved to the Governor in various Regulations and Proclamations, to compel people to render gratuitous labour services to the government. It further declared “that none of His Majesty’s Native or Indian Subjects within the said Island @@@ 183 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 175 shall be, or are liable to render any service to His Majesty in respect of the tenure of their land, or in respect of their caste, or otherwise, to which His Majesty’s Subjects of European birth or descent are not liable, any law, custom or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding”.

In Bentham’s ‘Panopticon’ (the theoretical prison), men would, following their own interests, do what they ought to do, namely, do things promoting the greatest happiness of – the greatest number. Institutions and actions are right only to the extent they contribute to increase human happiness- or decrease human misery. Nothing in society was sacred. Eve- rything considered sacred and hallowed by tradition ought to be challenged and tested for its contribution to human happi- ness and allowed to exist only if it passed this test. As J. S. Mill (1806-1873) put it “the doctrine that the existing order of things is the natural order, and that, being natural, all innova- tionuponit, is criminal, is vicious”. To what extent Colebrooke was influenced by this utilitarian philosophy was a matter for speculation. But he did persuade the Colonial Office in London to abolish Rajakaria remained a fact and therefore, one might be permitted to conclude that Benthamite ideas were not without any influence on the mind of Colebrooke.

Royal patronage had made Rajakaria indispensable for the perpetuation of power and privilege for the few, and destitution and penurious vassalage for the many in the Kandyan society. Tradition had made Rajakaria the solid foundation on which the multi-layered structure of Kandyan society was built; custom and usage had made it the living chain binding the human relationship in society. It was, in combination with caste, the most effective means to enforce serfdom and keep the majority of society in a state of depriva- tion and poverty. Clearly in the eyes of Colebrooke, Rajakaria @@@ 184 @@@ 176 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH did not contribute to the greatest happiness of the community.

Its abolition, however, he firmly believed, would diminish the misery of the majority and accordingly recommended its abolition. This, no doubt, was the quake which led to the collapse of the multi-layered feudal Kandyan society.

Ha Colebrooke was not without opponents. Governor Barnes was one of them. He wrote to Goderich, “a popular government or one wherein the people have a share appears to me quite out of the question..whatever Utopian ideas Theo- rists may cherish of a universal fraternity without regard to – Colour, Religion or Civilization, or whatever notions Level- lers may wish to see adopted, I am decidedly of opinion that this people cannot, nor ought to have, under existing circum- stances, any greater share in the government than they have at present”. It was evident that Barnes believed in the superiority of the conquering race and its institutions.

“I am not one of those persons who think that black and white people can ever be amalgated in the situations of society so as to do away with these distinctions which at present exist all over the world. Putting then the ideas of popular government out of the question, what other materials I would ask are there for forming a new government?.I am therefore under all circumstances decidedly of opinion that so long as the present order of things exists, the present is the best form of government that can be adopted.. There are grada- tions in all societies, and not bein g as [ said before, a Leveller, I should be sorry to see all distinctions in society destroyed”.

The Kandyan chiefs would have agreed with Barnes here, and would have questioned why he was not prepared to extend his logic to them, and the pre-colonial Kandyan society.

“When we talk of caste or privilege arising therefrom we should do well to look a little at home. There are no @@@ 185 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF-RAJAKARI-A IN KANDY 177 situation of Headmen in this island hereditary, no such exclu- sive privilege as appertain to a British Peer who is born a hereditary Counsellor of the King and a member of the Legislature, besides various other privileges.. A man in this island being born a son of an Adikar or Maha Mudaliyar gives him no more civil rights than if he were the son of a cooly or washerman”.

“I am decidedly of opinion the subject of caste had much better be left to the progressive effect of civilization”.

“As to the propriety of gradually introducing Natives into those situations at present held by Europeans, I shall be glad to know where you would propose to draw the line; admitted to one situation they would have an equal claim to another, so that unless you contemplate the suppression of all European Authorities, not excepting the Governor, I do not see when you could stop. My opinion is that the line is now well defined, that the natives are perfectly content, and that it ought not to be invaded”. He forgot that Ceylon’s civilization stretched back nearly two and a half thousand years and during that time, they had governed themselves to flourish as a civilization worthy of admiration. Here we see the intellec- tual arrogance of a colonialist Governor, who obviously thought, that what he had to offer to his subjects, was the best available, and they had better accept it, and be content with it.

Referring to Rajakaria Barnes wrote, “we would be glad to be informed of the means by which in your Excellen- cy’sopinion, achange inthe system may be most satisfactorily effected, and the privileges and usages of caste be most effectually superseded, and we would advert in this place to the command over the services of the people and the resources of the country which have been conceded to the Chiefs and to @@@ 186 @@@ 178 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH the religious establishments of the Kandyan Provinces under the convention of 1815.. The privileges conceded to the Chiefs in the Kandyan country of the personal attendance of a number of people whilst in office, is a confirmation to them under strict limitation of what they had, under the former regime, and will in time be gradually reduced–but this as well as the Temple service cannot, I apprehend, be superseded without a most dangerous violation of solemn compact, and it must be remembered, that the people who perform this service as well as that under the Chiefs, are requited in a manner most agreeable to themselves, viz. by an exemption from tax upon their lands. It must always be borne in mind too that there are no people in the world so lightly taxed as the people of this island are in general”(17). The opportunity cost of labour services to the Kandyans was conveniently over- looked. This is also a candid admission of a breach of compact on the part of the British.

Rev. D. J. Gogerly, a Weslyan missionary in the island, also put to paper his penny worth of thought on the Colebrooke report. His letter to the Governor was passed on by Governor Horton to Goderich as additional support for his views, which, as we have already seen, did not welcome warmly the Commissioners’ Report. Gogerly’s argument ran as follows, “respecting the summary abolition of compulsory labour, paid or unpaid, it is necessary to speak with caution.

To the principle of compulsory labour I am decidedly averse, and think the practice ought to be discontinued as soon as practicable. In the maritime provinces this is done, but I do not see that it can with safety be done immediately in the Interior.

The English Government has been too recently established to be based on any other foundation than that of power. In proportion as the people become acquainted with the equity of Government it may rest more upon attachment; but at present @@@ 187 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 179 (he country is as much open to traitorous practices as ever, and it is only the impression that the Government possesses the imeans instantly to repress anything of the kind that kept them (uiet. No means are efficacious.for this purpose than the intersecting the Country with good military roads, and any = lepislation which would tend to prevent this would offer to the KKandyans an instrument to rebellions. Considering the dread (he inhabitants of the lower provinces have of the climate of the interior, I apprehend it would be impossible to obtain voluntary labour for the purpose, and either compulsory lnbour to which the people have been accustomed for ages must be continued for a time, or the roads remain uncom- pleted, and thus a measure of utmost importance to British Rule in the island, and to the interests of the Natives them- selves, be sacrificed to a theory of freedom. Undoubtedly the lnbourers ought to be remunerated”. It ought to be remem- bered that it was Barnes who started road construction and actively encouraged coffee plantation by engaging in it him- self. Coffee thrived in the Kandyan districts and access to these lands was essential to attract the capitalist planters, and in their wake, the land speculators. He therefore exploited to the full and beyond accepted custom, the system of compul- sory labour to open up the country.

To the Kandyans however, the demise of Rajakaria led to the demolition of their feudal system of society. The .

majority of the Kandyans stood to gain in the long run, but they were unable to absorb the shock it administered in the short term, given the deep root Rajakaria had taken in their way of life. They lamented the disappearance of tried, tested and familiar ways of doing things and of conducting their affairs and behaviour in their society. And they did not forget the oppression they had to endure at the hands of the British povernment until Colebrooke arrived on the scene. The @@@ 188 @@@ 180 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Kandyan elite lost out in everyway. A lucky few became paid officials of the Government with a semblance of former flamboyance and pomp, conspicuous as a monument to their arcane way of life. Others lost their privileges and found themselves on equal footing with the rest of society. To an aristocracy which was parochial in attitude, this was a bitter pill to stomach. It fermented within them as one of the grievances to be avenged. The society as a whole was firmly thrust into a money economy, capitalist ventures and pursuit of profit. One could only pity the Kandyans, who found it difficult to cope with all these changes, given that they had just “emerged from centuries old serfdom. In their confusion, they were an easy prey to any scheming pretender, who was prepared to manipulate them, and their lingering loyalty to the aristocracy and to their religion, to seize power in Kandy.

Many such attempts were made between 1818 and 1848 without any success.

REFERENCES 1. Robert Knox: An Historical Relation of Ceylon, p.45.

  1. Robert Knox: op. cit. p. 66. Sir John D’Oyly: A Sketch of. the Constxtutlon of the Kandyan Kingdom p. 45.
  2. D’Oyly: op. cit. p. 82.
  3. Robert Knox: op. cit. p. 80/81.
  4. Cey. Govt. Arch.: Agent’s Diary. 26th Oct. 1852. 7 8 a D’Oyly: op. cit. p. 80/81.

C0O54/118, Letter from Horton to Viscount Goderich, 1st Oct. 1832. ‘ 9. (CO54/114, Letter from Horton to Viscount Goderich, 10th Nov. 1831.

.10. A. Bertolacci: A View of the Commercial, Agricultural and Financial Interests of Ceylon, p.279.

  1. D’Oyly: op. cit. p. 117/118. @@@ 189 @@@ THE EFFECTS OF THE ABOLITION OF RAJAKARIA IN KANDY 181 . ColvinR de Silva: Ceylon under the British Occupation, quoting Turnour, p. 398/399. . CO54/210, Anstruther’s Minute to the Executive Coun- cil, 31st Mar, 1842.

CO54/210 Letter from Colin Campbell to Lord Stanley, 16th Mar. 1844.

. G. C. Mendis: The Colebrook – Cameron Papers p. 189 and following.

. idem: Letter by Goderich to Horton 3rd May 1832, p. 233 and following.

. idem: Barnes’ answer to the Commission of Inquiry, 10th Sep. 1830 p. 25.

@@@ 190 @@@ 5 THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES Slavery existed in Ceylon from very ancient times.

There are many rock inscriptions spread throughout the island which refer to the granting of and the purchase of temple slaves. Some also refer to the gaining of freedom from slavery. The pious King Aggabodhi VIl (9th Century AD) having tended to his mother “walked round her bed, did reverence three times in the right way, ordered slaves or servants as guard and without turning his back on her went out”(1). The same King “once addressed one of his slaves with the word ‘slave’; to make up to him for it, he let him use the same word towards himself”(1). The fact that the slaves were employed in the bedchamber of the queen was ample indica- tion of the way they were treated even though the term ‘slave’ was contemptuous to use in common language. It would be a mistake to import the colonial concept of predial slavery which reduced the West African negroes to human beasts of burden, to the Kandyan society under British administration.

As the reader will see, even though the slaves were one of the lowest in the social hierarchy, there were others ranking below them in the Kandyan society. There was an element of Aristotaleon justification for Kandyan slavery. Slaves were necessary because of the slavish nature of all occupations requisite for the maintenance of life. To be master of slaves was to master necessity. Slavery was not a device for cheap labour or an instrument of exploitation for profit in Kandy.

Robert Knox was imprisoned in Kandy in 1660, but was allowed out to live among the Kandyans for nearly twenty years. He has left us a memorable account of his observation of Kandyan slaves. He wrote, “the slaves may make another @@@ 191 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 183 rank. For whose maintenance their masters allow them land and cattle. Which many of them do so improve; that except in (ignity they are not far behind their masters, only they are not permitted to have slaves. Their masters will not diminish or ” luke away aught, that by their diligence and industry they have procured, but approve of it, as being persons capable to repose trust in. And when they do buy or otherways get a new slave, they presently provide him a wife, and so put him forward to keep house, and settle, that he may not think of running away.

Slaves that are born of Hondrew (noble) parents, retain honour of their degree”(2). Knox also gave an insight into how people became slaves. He attributed it mainly to debts which remain unpaid. “If the debt remains in the debtors hands two years, it becomes doubled; and from thence forward be it never so long, no more use is to be paid by the law of the land, which Act was established by the king in favour of the poor, there having been some whole families made slaves for a bushel of corn”(3). The noble slave (rather than savage) was no fiction of political satirists, he did actually exist in thef, Kandyan kingdom and was treated as part of the family.

Dr. John Davy, the army surgeon, arrived in Ceylon in August 1816 and spent a greater part of his time with the army in Kandy. He also took the opportunity to travel about Kandyan provinces and observe the Kandyans and their customs, and saw first hand the devastation brought on them by the British army in their endeavour to suppress the great rebellion of 1817/18. In his remarkable book which was publishedin 1821, he wrote, “insolvency amongst the Sinhalese was very cruelly dealt; slavery was its consequence. The creditor applied to the Dissave, and having proved his claims just, and the debtor having acknowledged his incapacity to meet them, leave was granted to the former to make the debtor and his family his slaves, and to retain them and their offspring @@@ 192 @@@ 184 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH in slavery, till payment of the debt were made. The debtor could not be sold, but if he died, leaving the children in slavery, they and their children might be sold. No interest was allowed to accumulate for the original debt, the labour of the slaves being considered an equivalent. In respect to slavery, there was no privileged caste; it was a punishment to which all insolvent debtors were liable. It was not usual for the Goewanse (nobility) to become the slaves of the people of the low caste; when in danger of this degradation, some chief generally paid the debt and made the debtors his slaves. The state of slavery is of course considered disreputable; by marrying a slave, a free woman would be utterly disgraced. The condition of the slaves is, however, easy; they are kindly treated by their masters, well fed and clothed, and not required to do much work; and they are even distinguished occasionally,by being made the petty head-men of low castes. In consequence, they usually become attached to their masters, and soon cease to pine after liberty. What the total number of slaves may be in the Kandyan country, no register having ever been kept, it is impossible to estimate with any precision: an intelligent chief, from whom I collected the above particulars, guessed that they amount to about 3,000. It would be worthy of our government to emancipate these people, though they may not ardently desire to be free; and altogether abolish slavery, by prohibiting the custom that gave rise to it”(4). The lot of the slaves depicted by Davy was far different from the notorious cotton fields of the deep south of America and the sugar plantations of the West Indies. Yet the reader should note the underlying assumption implied in Davy’s words; namely that his superior (in culture) government had in it the power to give freedom to slaves and advance his brand of civilization in Kandy. He ignored the fact that Kandy has had its own type of civilization and its own method of granting freedom to slaves. More importantly, as C. L. R. James had pointed out @@@ 193 @@@ e o] 186 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH prevalent, and was admired by the British civil servants. Thus on the 11th of December 1828, John Downing, the Judicial Commissioner, in Ireagama Tikiri Bandara vs Keppitipola Banda expressed his view that “in no part of the world where slavery is tolerated, are the rights of the master more leniently exercised than in this country, which is much to the credit, and speaks highly of the humanity of the chiefs who were the principal possessors of the slaves”.

Sir John D’Oyly took over the running of the Kandyan kingdom from 1815 as its First Resident and Representative of the Governor. He was also an avid student of Kandyan laws and customs besides being a compulsive diarist. He had unparalleled opportunity to meet the chiefs who were the custodians of Kandyan mores, and to observe those chiefs in real life as they went about their daily chores. He too affirms that when a creditor could not obtain satisfaction for his debt, he could employ the debtor as his servant or his slave; sometimes a child was taken and before the slavery became perpetuated, the distressed debtor somehow found the means to satisfy the debt by begging or further borrowing.

He quotes from the Proceedings of the Board of Commissioners held on the 25th of July 1829; “All slaves in the Kandyan provinces are personal property and liable to perform any service the owner may think proper to require of them–Some are retained for domestic purposes, others lo- cated on lands and employed as Nilakarayas (these are per- sons who possess land on condition of cultivating and/or performing other menial service to the proprietor or the grantee of that land) or otherwise, at the pleasure of the proprietor. Frequently they are advanced to offices on the estate, but these arrangements are not considered permanent.

The manner of employing slaves being entirely at the option of the owner”.

@@@ 194 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 187 “Slaves are all personal property–none are attached to the soil, but can be disposed of in any way the proprietor may think proper–They are competent to acquire and possess landed and moveable property independent of their masters, and dispose of it by will or otherwise. But a slave dying intestate, his owner becomes his heir at law, and inherits all his lands and effects. They are in every respect held equally competent with a free man to give evidence in a court of law and are not unfrequently called upon to be witness to transac- tions where their owners are concerned”.

“Of the slaves at present in the Kandyan country, some are descendants of native Kandyans who from circumstances become slaves, and others are supposed to be the descendants of slaves brought from India by the first settlers”.

“Slaves were likewise acquired by purchase of chil- dren from their parents in time of great scarcity, and by seizing free persons in satisfaction of pecuniary claims, but these practices have entirely ceased since the insurrection of 1818”.

In the Kandyan royal household “there were a number of salves who were emancipated by this government soon after the accession, so that all slaves are now private prop- erty”(5). A document signed by both D’Oyly and Sawers, dated 27 January 1824 gives the breakdown of the number of slaves in the Kandyan Provinces as follows: Provinces Males Females Four Korales ‘ 174 162 Seven Korales 222 228 Three Korales 15 12 Saffragam 275 225 Uva 81 101 @@@ 195 @@@ 188 l’I’HE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Wegalawe T e Bintenne 7 33 – Wellasse 85 Matale Korale 54 Matale Udogodde and Asgiri 56 Nuwarakalawya 2 Udapalata 21 Uda Bulatgama 2 Kotmale 3 Udunuwara 78 Yatinuwara 97 Tumpane 11 Harrispattu 57 Dumbara 119 Hewahetta 2 Kandy and its environs 10 1443 A more up-to- date census of the slave population In the Kandyan provinces submitted by the Board on 25tk August 1829 was as follows: Males Udaratta 380 Four Korales 82 – Three Korales 2 Seven Korales 213 ‘Uva : 184 Matale 70 – Saffragam 169 Total 1067 12 52 104 19 25 1456 Females : In the same book, D’Oyly gives us an example of a slave known as Appooralle who was appointed Vidahn (the @@@ 196 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 189 village police officer) over several villages in succession, and in process of time attained the office of Ratte Ralle of Hintenne. He married into nobility and worked for the King of Kandy against the British, for which, the King bestowed on him the title of Dissave of Pattipola and on his son, a gold chain. As he was raised to office by the King, he became virtually enfranchised and his former master could not claim him nor his property. His heirs inheritec.. s lands and accord- ing to his wishes, at his death, the King got all his valuable poods and sixty slaves who were his property. Such, slave of i slave, was designated Perakitta Waal.

Another instance was the case of a claim submitted by the widow of late Ratwatte Adikar in which she claimed a women and her five childern as her slaves. Captain Forbes ordered the woman to go and perform duties as usual at Ratwatte’s house, even though Mrs. Ratwatte had refused to receive the husband of the slave, who was a free man, and had lived with her for many years, and was the father of the five children. The Captain sought advice from Sir John D’Oyly whether he should ‘enforce the slavery of the woman and family, and consequently separate them from the husband as this was not the custom in Kandy’. The reply dated 17th September 1829, affirmed that he ‘would be justified in compelling the slaves to submit to the authority of their proprietor, although at the penalty of being separated from the husband—–the case should be tried as a civil case and classed nccording to the value of the slaves claimed, which would be it the rate of one hundred Ridies for every female and fifty for every male without reference to age’. (100 Ridies equalled approximately £3.40 in 1825 value of sterling).

Quoting Sawers, D’Oyly stated that a master might drive out his slave or abandon him to starvation, but it would not be creditable to do so. He had the power to punish a slave, but could not inflict death or maim his slave. This right @@@ 197 @@@ 190 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH belonged only to the King. If a slave committed robbery upon another, his master was expected to give up the slave to the injured person in compensation for the loss or make restitu- tion. When ftrials concerning the freedom of slaves were before the court, sometimes the King himself attended such cases and granted the liberty to a slave at the Audience Hall in Kandy.

On the Kandyan caste scale, the two castes which night be considered as ranking below that of the slaves were the Gattaru and the Rodi. The Gattaru were those who had brought upon themselves the odium of the King and were therefore degraded by him as punishment. The Rodiyars were outcasts. They could not wear clothing above their waist.

They buried the carcases of animals that died on the estates of nobles, and supplied ropes made of hide and fibres. They were usually professional beggars and jugglers. Robert Knox tells us that women would rather accept death as punishment than be degraded and be abandoned to the Rodiyars for any crimes they had been adjudged to be guilty. Ahelapola Kumarihamy was threatened with this disgrace if she refused the King’s order to pound the heads of her children in the mortar.

Distressed as she was, she did obey the cruel and inhuman order of the King than be handed over to the Rodiyars.

The report of the Board for Kandyan Affairs quoted above stated that “by the laws and customs of the country, a master has the power of punishing his slave in any way short of maiming and death. The punishment usually inflicted are flogging, confining in the stocks or irons, cutting off their hair and, if very refractory, by selling them. But in no part of the world is slavery in a milder form than here. Cruelty to a slave is scarcely known, and in general they are treated more as adopted dependants of the family than menials. Indeed there is no object for ill-using slaves. The owners are the principal landed proprietors of the country, who confine their agricul- tural pursuits merely to the supply of grain for the use of their i “””.1_‘_.1 @@@ 198 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 191 lumilies and retainers. There is therefore no inducements for overworking or otherwise ill-treating their slaves. Slaves are seldom sold or families separated, but when given as marriage portion, or on the demise of the proprietor, when in common with the rest of the deceased’s property, they are distributed among his heirs. In all cases however, every consideration is paid to the feelings of the slave thus dispersed of”(6).

The Governor’s reply to the above report accepted that it would be impolitic and inexpedient for any interference to take place, on the part of the government, with a view to the abolition of slavery altogether. It adverted to two points in the report which required further consideration. “The first was the acquisition by purchase of children in times of scarcity, or by seizing free persons in satisfaction of pecuniary demands (a practice which the Board reported to have ceased since 1818).

Upon this point however, it was His Excellency’s intention to publish a Proclamation declaring such modes of acquisition of slaves to be henceforth illegal, and as this practice was already discontinued, it could not be assumed by the people as .

an unwelcome infringement of their customs”.

“The other was the powers vested by the laws and customs of the country in the master to punish his slaves.

Upon this point, I am to request the opinion of the Board, whether it would not be advisable to restrict the measure of punishment which may be inflicted by the masters upon their slaves within reasonable bounds, instead of leaving them that unlimited powers”(6) The Board was requested to frame a scale of punishment which would be recognized by all con- cerned as a lawful infliction by the master upon his slave. If the Board did frame such a table, it was not probably incorporated into the penal code of that time, because the legal validity of enforcing punishment on slaves remained a matter of doubt. ‘ @@@ 199 @@@ 192 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH In England, the question of slavery troubled the minds of politicians and evangelists alike. Britain and United States were the first to prohibit the slave trade in 1807, and by 1820, most other European countries had similar laws passed in their own countries. But the suppression of the slave trade, without the abolition of slavery itself, led to the most lucrative as well as the most cruel system of smuggling of slaves across the Atlantic. When the terrible condition of these slaves became gradually known, the feeling against slavery became organised. In 1823, the Anti-Slavery Society was founded in London. Clarkson and Wilberforce were among its founding vice-presidents. Missionaries were soon dispatched to Guiana and the West Indies, where they preached the gospel of the equality of all men and brought upon themselves, (in some cases their own death), the odium of the plantation owners who owned the slaves. Their truly altruistic efforts were rewarded when the Emancipation Act was passed in 1833. It was introduced by Lord Stanley, the Colonial Secretary, during Lord Grey’s administration. Slavery was to end within twelve months, the former slaves became unpaid apprentices for varying terms of years according to their form of work.

Specially appointed commissioners were given a total fund of £20 million to compensate the slave owners and £18.5 million was actually distributed. By 1838 all colonial legislatures had adopted an intermediate system appropriate to their local polity, and were pledged to change over to wage labour. The pressure on the Ceylon Governors of that time to get rid of slavery was equally intense and relentless.

One of the most influential person at that time in Ceylon was Sir Alexander Johnstone, the Chief Justice. In a letter to Mr. Wilberforce’s sons, he explained that he made a special trip to England from Ceylon in 1809 and met up with Mr. Wilberforce,Lord Teignmouth and R_ev. Dr. Cooke,‘ the @@@ 200 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 193 head of the Wesleyan Mission, at Mr. Wilberforce’s house and made arrangements to establish a Wesleyan mission in Ceylon.

C‘onversion to Christianity as well as the abolition of slavery in Ceylon were among its primary objectives. Dr. Cooke himself, despite his age, volunteered to accompany the mis- sionaries and died during the passage. They arrived in Ceylon in 1811 and worked tirelessly to disseminate their Christian ideals.

Around this time some socially important Indian Muslims, who had influence over the colonial Qitish govern- ment in India, on their return journey from a pilgrimage to Mecca, took refuge in Galle against severe weather in the Indian ocean. While they were ih Galle, their transactions with the indigenous population led to the enslavement of some locals. The colonial Government of Ceylon was furious.

These Muslims were among the first to be tried under the new anti-slave trade law and were convicted and imprisoned.

Being important persons, this enforcement of anti-slavery law became well-known in Ceylon as well as in India, and led to, in the words of Sir Alexander Johnstone, “a rapid change in all the moral and political opinions and feelings of upwards one hundred million people”.

In the maritime provinces of Ceylon, which were under the direct controf of the British, steps were being taken to end slavery. In a letter by Sir Alexander Johnstone to Vernon Smith, the Under-Secretary of State for Colonies, Sir Alexander requested that some funds allocated by the British government to Mico-Charity, be used for the education of the children of the slaves as was done in Mauritius. He further pointed out that “all the natives of Ceylon who were proprie- tors of slaves in the maritime provinces (763 of them) con- ceiving that their continuing to have any interest whatever in @@@ 201 @@@ 194 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH slaves, might in cases in which slaves were concerned, pre- vent them from discharging their duties as jurymen with impartiality, and very honourably wishing to show the public in India and in Europe,that they were worthy of rights and privileges with which they had been entrusted by the British government, at my suggestion came unanimously to a resolu- tion, by which they agreed, without asking for any pecuniary remuneration whatever from the legislature of Great Britain to consider as born free, all children born of their slaves after the 12th of August 1816, to support at their own expense, if the parents of the ghildren wished them to do so, all such children until they had attained the age of 18, and the means of earning alivelihood for themselves, and thereby put an end altogether the state of domestic slavery which had prevailed in Ceylon for upwards 300 years”. He referred with gratification to the citation in the 7th Report of the African Institution which read.

“the Directors are persuaded that they express the cordial feeling of the Institution at large in offering the tribute of their grateful acknowledgement to Sir Alexander Johnstone for his successful exertions in promoting, and to the special and other jurymen of the island, for their general adoption of this important change in the condition of their country, and for the bright example which they have taken the lead in exhibiting to the world, of fixing a period for the extinction of the state of domestic slavery–an example, which the Directors trust will speedily be followed wherever it may be done with safety. But whether this hope shall ever be realised or not, it will never be forgot that the inhabitants of Colombo were the first of the British colonialists to act upon this grand, noble, liberal and disinterested principle; they will forever deserve the best thanks of every individual who has at heart the advancement of the happiness of mankind and the improve- ment of human nature” (7). This voluntary gesture was further strengthened by a regulation passed in 1818, which provided @@@ 202 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 195 lor annulling all joint ownership in slaves and enabling all sluves to redeem their freedom by purchase. We have on record that 504 slaves purchased their freedom in 1829.

[Inlike the African slaves in the plantations of West Indies, the slaves of Ceylon were part of the family and therefore the amelioration of their condition and eventual emancipation was relatively easy and enhancing in honour to their maritime proprietors.

In Kandy, the slaves were appendages that enhanced the status and rank of the owner, whose economic and politi- cal privilege was inextricably interlinked with his status and rank in the Kandyan society. In Kandy the ending of slavery was considered as an unacceptable loss of rank and position, and an insidious process of levelling down the nobility.

Therefore the abolition of slavery was resisted with vigour, eventhough, as we have seen, slavery existed there in the most mild form. There was also the question of the very specific services, slaves exclusively performed in society, which no one would undertake even for payment. Such services were, ipso facto the stamp of slavery, except in very limited circum- stances. By 1821, a regulation was passed for the emancipa- tion of all female slave chidren by purchase at their birth. The government was to pay to the owners 2 or 3 Rix Dollars (3R$=20.5p) according to the caste of the mother. According to documented reports, by 1829, 2211 children were pur- chased. The Governor, Sir Edward Barnes (1824-31) had taken up the question of slavery with the Kandyan chiefs and was keen to introduce measures for the enfranchisement of female slaves. This led to conference among the chiefs for formulating their arguments for resisting such a measure, and this conference was referred to, in the Conspiracy Trial, (ch 8) as a plot to overthrow the British. In conference, they did produce a petition stating their case against the governor’s proposal.

@@@ 203 @@@ 196 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH It read as follows: “On the occasion of the last audi- ence given by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Edward Barnes to the chiefs, and to the inhabitants, mention was made of a measure for the enfranchisement of female slaves born hereafter. We are very sorry that want of time prevented us from submitting the circumstances which we have to urge rcspcctmg this before His Excellency’s departure from the island. However in the letter sent by the Judicial Commis- sioner to the Adikars, clear and explicit information is called for as to how this measure is to be effected and what disadvan- tage will result therefrom to the owners of female slaves”.

“In the first place, we are clearly informed that Gov- ernment entertains the opinion that itis a good thing to liberate the slaves in this country. If the Government thus intend prosperity for the slaves–we would also implore Government to consider what must be the adversity, loss and disadvantage, the disgrace and the difficulties, which must result to the principal chiefs and the owners of the slaves in consequence of liberating the slaves whom they have inherited from their ancestors”.

“The most important services rendered to us by our slaves are the following. On the death of a member of any one of our families, the laying out of the corpse and doing every thing else requisite at the funeral, carrying out the corpse and performing the office of the sepulchre. Whatever may be the incidental emoluments, none but such slaves will take the same. A free person of whatever degree, will neither do such service at a funeral, nor accept the perquisites allotted on the occasion, because such perquisites have been made appropri- ated to slaves only from ancient times. No people even of low caste, with the exception of Gahalayas, would accept such perquisites, and if Gahalays were to be hired to perform such duties, that will involve our families in disgrace”.

@@@ 204 @@@ . THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 197 ‘ “On the death of a person of a chief’s family who possessed no slaves, a relation who has slaves must send them to remoye the corpse. Amongst Ratte (free Kandyan) people who po§§e§s no slaves, the relations themselves bury their dead, but a person of a chief’s family cannot do such a thing.

In the maritime provinces, in the event of a death in any of the respectable families, equally respectable family members (Appuhamies) bear the corpse to the grave, but such a thing is impossible in this country. The bringing of firewood and water to our Walawes (manor house), various other menial offices, and services performed in attendance on the master and the mistresses of respectable families amongst us, can be imposed on none but slaves. No free person of any degree can be so employed. If these slaves were to be liberated, then the masters and the mistresses of respectable families will be constrained to do what had been incumbent on their slaves, for none else will submit to be so employed. By this liberation of slaves we will suffer other difficulties and distresses which we cannot enumerate”.

“Moreover, although it is alleged therein that the Government will consider the prevention of any loss that may accrue to the owners of slaves in consequence of their eman- cipation, we cannot say what advantage we will receive to obviate the losses incident on such liberation of slaves.

Therefore we pray Government not to inflict on us a distress- ing loss of the means whereby we maintain the honour and respectability which have devolved to us in this country from ancient times”. ; “Further we do not expect services gratuitously from these men and women slaves. We allot to them out of our hereditary estates paddy lands and gardens and there are some slaves, who from having been so long settled, have become @@@ 205 @@@ 198 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – very rich and they serve us with much fidelity. In case of inquiry we have much more to state touching this matter. If facts were to be fully stated, the writing will be extensive, therefore this is written concisely and we all pray that Govern: ment will not abolish this usage in this country”. Signed and dated 22nd November 1831.

Mollegodde Maha Nileme Dullawe Maha Nileme (2nd (1st Adikar), Adikar), Mulligame Maha Nileme Galagodde Walapone Dissave, – (3rd Adikar), Dunuwilla Dissave, Dehigame Udagabada Nileme, Weygodapola Lekam, Wattarantenne Nanayakkara Lekam, Kadigamoruwe, Madugalle, Golahella, Gonegodde, Angammana, Amunugamma Nileme, Mullegame, : Giragama Banda, Halangoda Lekam and Katumegedera Banda (9).

This petition was not what Mr. Turnour wanted to see.

The rejection of this petition by him and the subsequent discussion on it by the chiefs was also alleged to have verged on a plot to overthrow the Government. “On that petition being presented, Mr. Turnour said it is not good, apply to keep the slaves for alimited period. After this petition was returned it was carried to the verandah of the Maligawa, it was debated amongst ourselves as to what period it should be limited. After this Dunuwilla Dissave said that an attempt was made to abolish slavery in Mauritius, the inhabitants there rebelled .

and resisted it and disputed with the British government, that if unanimity existed in this country the same could be done here. After this, both Mollegodde and Dunuwilla said, “we cannot endure these things, if there are no slaves, no religion, no respect, how can all these things be endured? Therefore @@@ 206 @@@ T I THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 199 some steps should be looked for, that the Revenue Commis- sioner would burn this country before he left it, we must look for something to destroy the Government”. (Mulligame, 3rd Adika?\and the 12th crown witness at the conspiracy trial of 1835). ° It fell to Governor Horton to spell out the inevitable to the Kandyan chiefs who were assembled at the Audience Hall in Kandy on the 11th of January 1832. At this assembly he stated “that he was desirous of availing himself of the very first opportunity of conferring with the chiefs, to call their attention to the very important measure of effecting a gradual abolition of slavery in the Kandyan provinces, which his predecessor Sir Edward Barnes, had recently brought under consideration”(8). He opened the discussion by distinctly and pointedly assuring the chiefs that no definite measures were at present in the contemplation of the Government and there- fore should not disconcert or alarm their feelings. He was desirous of making them fully acquainted how much the question of the abolition of slavery engaged the public atten- tion in England, and of impressing upon their minds how important a part of his own duty it was, to avail himself of every favourable opportunity to advance the objects of this measure of vital consequence, and to anticipate the steps necessary for its gradual implementation. He assured them that he was anxious to bring to a successful issue the emanci- pation of slaves, not in resistance to their masters, but with their acquiescence, founded upon the reasonable nature of the change proposed. The chiefs would gain the approbation of the Sovereign and the Parliament, if they evinced a desire to regard this question with a disposition to facilitate its accom- plishment.

The objection and the resistance so far shown by the chiefs to the views of the Government, he understood, arose @@@ 207 @@@ 200 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH from the apprehension that certain menial services at present exclusively performed by the slaves, would not be rendered by free persons under any practicable inducement of remu- neration. Such menial services were authenticated by only oral evidence as there was no public register of slaves in Kandy. Therefore, it was possible that no one would consent to renider those services, as long as their performance exposed them to the risk of being legally and socially adjudged to be slaves on the very grounds of having rendered those services.

For the purpose therefore, of both of securing the rights of the proprietors, and of rescuing the menial free servants from the hazard of being condemned to slavery, he proposed a law requiring the registration of all Kandyan slaves. Such a law would have ample precautions and provisions to meet the interests of all parties.

Such a register would be, for the future, the only admissible evidence for the proof of titles to slaves and that the present admitted practice of allowing the proof of the performance of certain services to constitute that proof of title, would be absolutely prohibited. He expressed the hope that the register would soon usher in the new regime of wage labour and enable the chiefs to concur in the adoption of measures for a gradual and early emancipation of the slaves.

He concluded by saying that he was open to any remarks or suggestions, but he did not call for any immediate response, but expected a considered reply from the chiefs in the near future, after they had fully considered, and deliberately weighed the views and sentiments he had expressed, and the proposal he had made. Governor Horton had in his hands their long deliberated and considered reply to retain slavery which he rejected. Their reply to his speech came soon after,even though the English translation of it was dated I December 1835. It was couched in the restrained words of a Memorial in the following terms:- @@@ 208 @@@ L THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 201 “It was in order that the Government may be informed of the loss, the detriment and the disgraces consequent on the liberation of slaves in this country, that we lately gave in a statement in writing. However we have been since informed of Governor Sir Edward Barnes’ earnest wish for effecting the liberation of female slaves having been made known to the Government in England. When His Excellency was Governor of this island, he bestowed friendship and conferred honour on persons of the principal respectable families in the Kandyan country, and maintained the institutions and customs in a very proper manner, and on the approach of His Excellency’s departure from this island, we were exceedingly sorry thereat; and on account of His Excellency’s beneficence, we also evinced to the utmost our fidelity and reverence. How great soever may be the loss resulting to us from this measure which His Excellency wish to adopt, yet if we should counteract His Excellency’s wishes, it might seem that all fidelity and respect which we showed to His Excellency, were a scheme of dissimulation. Therefore we most earnestly pray thatin consid- eration of our fidelity and attachment to Government, the penerous Government will also have compassion towards us, and refrain from liberating the female slaves in question for the sixty years ensuing, so that for a short space of time we may continue free from inconveniences–and that it may be so regulated that female slaves born after the lapse of these sixty years shall be paid for at the rate of 100 Ridies each, and thus a gradual emancipation of female slaves be effected thence- forth, as His Excellency had suggested. That it may also be ordained that on the death of a member of our families, the emancipated female slaves shall attend to perform services as they now do, receiving the allotted perquisites–or that the Government may in regard to this matter make some other suitable rule that will be consistent with the customs which have subsisted in this country from very ancient times, and @@@ 209 @@@ 202 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH that the protection and respect which are at present ensured to our religion, and the respect and honours accorded to us, and other ancient and important institutions and usages of this country may not be abrogated, even as the institution in question is sought to be abolished. Moreover we pray, that when the plan of emancipating the female slaves born after the ensuing sixty years comes to be made public, it may at the same time be proclaimed by Government, that the men and women slaves now belonging to us shall continue submission, and be obedient as they now are; that the power of enforcing obedience will continue as at present; and that after the lapse of the sixty years, such slaves as may yet be retained by us must continue under such control”(10). This Memorial was signed by the same persons as did the first petition. The Board of Commissioners held a special meeting to consider this submission by the chiefs. The Board held that “the conces- sions they now offer to make appear to go as far as might be reasonably be expected of them. The proposal now made by the chiefs should be favourably received and copies of the document be sent to all government agents so that they can invite the owners of slaves in their areas to subscribe toit”(11).

Before long most of the signatories were arrested for conspiracy to raise rebellion to eject the British from Kandy and to install a King of their own on the Kandyan throne. The fear that the abolition of slavery would expedite insurrection in Kandy halted the progress towards their emancipation. This possibility was acknowledged by Horton in a letter to Lord Glenelg. He wrote that’ “the great reluctance by the Kandyan chiefs to agree to any measure for the emancipation for their slaves, and the degree of discomfort which the abolition of compulsory services and other measures of improvement gave rise to–which terminated in the conspiracy of 1834 rendered it necessary to defer any measure connected with @@@ 210 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 203 slavery. I need hardly remark that slavery in Ceylon is the mildest possible condition of slavery, and the Kandyan slaves are not valued in consideration of labour executed by them, but in some measure as appendages of rank, and for the performance of certain services which being considered a badge of slavery cannot be obtained for hire. The rapidity with which the Kandyan people abandon their national prejudices is very remarkable, and it is highly probable that the preju- dices to which I have referred will gradually disappear, when the objection to emancipation will cease, and the slaves become as they now are in the maritime provinces nearly valueless”(12).

In another letter to Lord Glenelg after his return to England, Horton wrote, “to persons unaccustomed to the state of society in a country like Ceylon, such an indication of public opinion, (he was here referring to Justice Norris’ direction to the jury in the conspiracy trial) may appear to present no reason for not proceding at once with any measure deemed desirable, but in a country which has only reached a certain degree of civilization, the same principle will not apply, which might apply in Europe, and in such a country, it is the peculiar duty as it appears to me of a Governor to consider well the time of bringing forward a measure opposed to the prejudices of any class of people”.

“In my speech to the chiefs and priests of the Kandyan nation in February 1835 I expressed myself as follows, the task of a government, in a personal point of view, might be more easy if it were only to watch and wait as crisis develops.. it is the province of good Government to avert such crisis”.

“During the six years of my administration of the Government of Ceylon, I never saw a slave in any part of the @@@ 211 @@@ 204 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH country whose condition as a slave could have been suspected from any distinctive work or occupation. I have been in houses where the servants were slaves, but they were in no ways to be distinguished from those who were not slaves. [ am not bringing forward this as an argument that slavery ought not to be abolished in Ceylon, but as an argument to show, that compensation for loss of slaves so employed, cannot involve any serious expense, and I have no reason to doubt for one moment, that the revenue of Ceylon will be able to afford any reasonable compensation for the loss of slaves without any claim having to be made upon the mother country, more specially if made by annual instalments”.

“The course I would venture to propose to your Lordship is to apply to the present Governor of Ceylon for a full report upon the subject, as also for a statement of the compensation, which it would be just to give to parties holding slave property for the emancipation of their slaves whether in the maritime or the Kandyan provinces; that is, if His Majesty’s Government are decided upon immediate abo- lition, and are not prepared to act upon any less rapid alterna- tive under the peculiar circumstances of the very mitigated state of slavery existing in Ceylon, more especially with reference to slavery in India, which I need not remind your Lordship, was kept back in the same clause together with Ceylon, as a reserved question at the conclusion of the Emancipation Act”(13).

On the 16th of September 1837 Ordinance No. 3 was published. It required the registration of all slaves. This was soon followed by Ordinance No. 4 on the 22nd of September 1837 for the Better Regulation of Servants and Labourers, the latter paved the way for a wage economy and the purchase of services hitherto performed by the slaves without the stamp of @@@ 212 @@@ T T — T THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 205 slavery being necessarily attached to them. In June 1838 the new Governor Stewart Macknzie was able to tell the local l.egislative Council that “the Kandyan chiefs, under the benign sway of British rule are notsthemselves tardy in – learning, that the best security for the present tenure of their ancient land, is to be found in an earnest endeavour after British example, to ameliorate the condition of those who are born upon the soil–by emancipating them from the bondage of slavery–such had been done by two chieftains, one in the district of Saffragam and the other in that of Aliput. The whole of his slaves, 39 in number are emancipated by Doloswella Dissave in Saffragam. A gold 100 guineas medal was pre- sented to each with an appropriate inscription to perpetuate the remembrance of those unsolicited acts (of freeing slaves) of wise and virtuous humanity”(14). This was soon followed by a period of substantial manumission of slaves, 1044 in the Kandy district, 354 in Saffragam, 256 in Matale and 338 in_ Badulla, and slavery as an institution was on the way out.

However, on the 21st of July 1841 the Anti-Slavery Society in London passed a resolution, that the existence of slavery “within the British Dominions as deeply disgraceful {0 us as a nation..it exists to a vast extent within.India and Ceylon….we respectfully but urgently call on the govern- ment immediately to bring in a Bill declaring the entire abolition of slavery throughout the entire portion of British Dominions”. The Government’s answer was that “sofar as relates to Ceylon, the information of this society appears to be very imperfect”. This led to alengthy Memorial by the Society to Lord John Russell in which the Society recounted that on the 14th of August 1806, a Regulation was passed by which all slaves not duly registered within four months of that period were declared free. As this Regulation was not generally complied with, on the 27th of May 1808, the time for registra- @@@ 213 @@@ 206 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH tion was extended for a period of six months to the 27th of November 1808. This Ordinance too was neglected and the forfeiture of slaves consequent thereon never exacted. Noth- ing too came of the tgiennial verification of Registers passed under Governor Horton. Despite the solemn declaration made by the maritime chiefs as persuaded by the Chief Justice Alexander Johnstone, to free all children born of slaves from and after the 12th of August 1816 (George I’V’s Birthday), only 96 had been so registered up to the year 1831, whereas there should have been 2500 females alone. On the 17th of April 1821 another Regulation was enacted for the gradual emancipation of female slaves by the purchase of the master’s interests in such slaves at their birth. But by 1829 only 2211 had been purchased or less than the admitted increase in female slaves in one year. The numbers who had redeemed themselves by public works or otherwise were 504 from 1818 to 183 1. The Society’s complaints were largely applicable to the maritime provinces and slavery lingered on in Jaffna for along period (is evidenced by the Slave Registers available in the Kew archives today). In fact the answer to this complaint was anticipated in the report sent by Governor Stewart Mackenzie to Lord Glenelg on the 13th August 1838. In it he stated that “he was confident with unmixed gratification, the happy advance to abolition of slavery in the island… when compulsory labour (the government slavery) was abolished, the blow was struck at that slavery which individual proprie- tors still exercised over more or less numerous dependants; and a short time will see the whole system extinguished here, I confidently hope and trust, without commotion or mischief of any kind. I shall watch its progress anxiously, and encour- age the abolition by every fair means”(15). The following table accompanied the above letter: The number of slaves formally manumitted since the last meeting of the Legislative Council, June 28, 1838.

VAPt R i W A @@@ 214 @@@ THE KANDY AN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMSMVES 207 : Males Females Total District of Saffragam R N 257 ~ Aliput 1 – 1 Badulla – – 1 L Number of slaves registered in 1838 under Ordinance No.3 ol 1837 District of Saffragam (a) – – 354 Aliput (b) 6 3 9 Three Korales 9 8 1 Neven Korales 43 27 70 Nuwara Kalawya – – nil Matale – y 256 Hadulla (c) – – 338 1044 District of Saffragam 209220 479 Aliput – – 279 hiee Korales 4 = nil ven Korales ; 4 = 457 Muwarn Kalawya – % nil wale ) 70 70 140 ilulln 210, 232 432 1787 before the last meeting of the Council, 24 by others and – one was discharged by the Order of the court.

-~ the case of (c).

On receipt of this letter, Lord Glenelg was happy to he reduction and insisted on expediting the process.

O these, 39 were emancipated by Doloswella Dissave, | Of these one emancipated by the owner and the samein @@@ 215 @@@ 208 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Refering to the point raised by the Kandyan chiefs as reg the specific job the slaves performed, he pointed out that the was no weight “in the objection to the abolition of sluvery drawn from the alleged employment of slaves in the perfori: ance of certain offices, which free persons cannot be induced to undertake. I apprehend that this is an objection which will continue to be urged so long as slavery exists; but which, o the extinction of slavery, would be proved to have been destitute of any valid foundation. It is probably because those offices have hitherto been allotted to slaves, that it is consid ered a disgrace to free persons to undertake them; but I cannol believe, that were the invidious distinction between the free man and the slave abolished, it would be impracticable to obtain the services of hired servants for the performance of the offices in question. I am therefore anxious that measurey should be immediately taken for effecting the entire abolition of slavery at the earliest practicable period”(15). Itdid not stop here, the London Government pressed on the Colombo Gov ernment the necessity of ending quickly all slavery in the colony. Thus one could find the Governor Colin Campbell writing to Lord Stanley, “in regard to slavery in the Kandyan provinces, respecting which your Lordship calls for informa tion, I beg to refer to my Despatch No. 38 dated 10th March 1842, with which I forwarded a return showing that the effect of the first Triennial renewed registration had been to reduce the number of slaves from 1158 to 379, and of that number 36 disputed the claims of their masters”.

“The slavery of the remaining number is little more than nominal, for a general doubt is entertained of the power of the courts to enforce punishment; there being no express law upon the subject. Slaves are therefore so entirely without value that I have little doubt the result of the second Triennial registration next year will be the almost, the total extinction of slavery there also”(16).

@@@ 216 @@@ e ite e s e AR i SRR T, ; PRI b REET eSS o [l e ral T Vonie Sl i T THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETAIN THEIR DOMESTIC SLAVES 209 The proprietors failed to comply with the legal re- quirement to register their slaves. Their failure ipso facto made the slaves free and this enabled the Governor to take the final step to end slavery in the island. Ordinance No. 28 dated 20th December 1844 enacted “..From and after passing of this Ordinance, Slavery shall no longer exist in this Colony and that all persons at such time being Slaves shall thereupon become free and entitled in every way to all the rights and privileges of free persons, any other law or Ordinance to the contrary now in force notwithstanding..”(17).

On the issue of slavery, the Kandyan province was a mere ripple in the whirlwind which swept the world clear of slavery. The self-interest of the Kandyan nobility was in no position to resist such a monumentous change. They not only lost their slaves but also, as they feared, were brought down afew rungs lower from the pinnacle of their society. It was this fact more than anything else that they lamented. Egalitarian- ism was beyond their understanding. It rankled and gnawed in their entrails and accumulated with the other debris of griev- ances against the British until the day, when the final eruption surfaced in Matale in July 1848, Of all the issues, the resist- ance to the abolition of slavery by the Kandyan chiefs clearly revealed, that what motivated them, was only their self- interest in maintaining and perpetuating their privileged so- cial and economic position. The failure to distinguish their self-interest from that of the Kandyan nation spelt disaster to their country at large, and led to the eventual disappearance of Kandy as a nation, and the neglect of the Kandyans by the British.

In the post independent Sri Lanka, one finds this very same mistake of identifying the self-interest and privileges of the Colombo elite as that of the country at large, being A iy TN i T I | Ll e @@@ 217 @@@ 210 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH frequently made, with disastrous consequences which we all suffer today. Privileges of the few is gross exploitation of the many, and should not be tolerated in any democratic society.

Today we may not have slavery in our country, but economic subjugation tantamounting to slavery, is a problem requiring urgent attention by the rulers of the country. Indigence and poverty is a form of slavery, when a few in the same society, wallow conspicuously in grotesque wealth, which in most instances, may not have been acquired wholly legitimately.

REFERENCES 1. Wilhelm Geiger, Culavamsa Ch 49, (59-62) 2. Rebert Knox, Historical Relation of Ceylon, p. 69-70 3. Robert Knox, Historical Relation of Ceylon, p. 104 4. Dr.John Davy, An Account of the Interior of Ceylon, p.

137/8 5. Sir John D’Oyly, A Sketch of the Constitution of the Kandyan Kingdom pg. 119 6. CO54/168, Report of the Board of Commissioner for Kandyan Affairs, 25.7.1829 7. CO54/176, Letter by Sir Alexander to Vernon Smith, 7.11.1839 8. CO54/168, Address by the Governor to the Kandyan chiefs 9. CO054/168, Petition presented by the chiefs to the gov- ernment against the enfranchisement of slave women 10. CO54/168, Memorial requesting the extension of slav- ery to sixty more years 11. CO54/168, Meeting of the Board of Commissioners, 6.12.1831 ¢ 12. CO54/156,Letter from Horton to Lord Glenlg, 3. 10.1837 13. CO54/168, Letter from Horton to Lord Glenlg,25.8.1838 14. CO54/163, Governor Stewart Mackenzie’s address to the Colombo Legislative Council, 28. 6. 1838.

@@@ 218 @@@ THE KANDYAN CHIEFS WANTED TO RETKIN THER DOM (‘054/196, Copy of Dispatch by the Govemdrion 13 : August 1838 and a reply to that Dlspatch st .

(1054/204, Letter from Govemor e CampBell to Lord- g Stanley, 28.8.1843. o (054/216, Letter. from Govemor 2l Campbell to Lord Stanley, 8.1. 1845 @@@ 219 @@@ 6. THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS The Kandyan country was a very rough territory full of majestic mountains, un-navigable and rocky rivers infested with crocodiles; and the land, overgrown with thick and impenetrable jungles full of wild and ferocious beasts. The jungles were preserved as fortification. As Knox had de- scribed it, “this Kingdom is strongly fortified by Nature. For which way soever you enter it, you must ascend vast and high mountains, and descend little or nothing. The wayes are many, but very narrow, so that but one can go abreast. The hills are covered with wood and great rocks, so that it is scarce possible to get up anywhere, but only in the paths, in all which there are gates made of thorns, the one at the bottom, and the other at the top of the hill, and two or three men always set to watch, who are to examine all that come and go, and see what they carry, that letters may not be conveyed, or slaves run away”. It was King’s policy “to make his country as intricate and difficult to travel as may be, and therefore forbids the woods to be felled, especially those that divide province from province, and permits no bridges to be made over his rivers: nor the paths to be made wider”(1). It was with the help of these natural fortifications that the Kandyan Kings main- tained their independence, and successfully defeated the invading armies of the Portuguese, then the Dutch and then the British in 1803.

After attaining control of Kandy in 1815, the British devoted much time and effort to building as many military outposts as they could, and located them at strategic places.

This they assumed, would be sufficient to keep control of the country. It was the rebellion of 1817-18 which exposed the necessity for vital road links to Kandy, to transport the troops and their provisions at minimum notice, and to help them to @@@ 220 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 213 stem quickly any further attempts at rebellion against the Hritish. The military domination of Kandy was the driving motive for the construction of any roads to Kandy, and it was (he military men who took the leading parts as cartographers, road surveyors, engineers and constructors of bridges and roads during the period under issue, whilst the Kandyans provided the hard graft and toilsome labour.

Governor Barnes, on his first visit to Ceylon, made an extensive tour of Kandy. This pioneer tourist discovered that “nothing can be more magnificent and beautiful than the country, but I do not apprehend it will contribute much to the revenue, that is nothing in comparison to its extent and population.. I regret that it has not been deemed of more importance to improve the communications than to construct fortifications; particularly as the Kandyans have at all times placed so much reliance for their defence and protection on the intricacy and difficult nature of their country, and until these obstacles are removed, we never can be said to have possession of the country norcan it commercially improve”(2).

Barnes became the architect of a policy which opened up the Kandyan lands for venture capital, commercial exploitation and expropriation and its occupation by many non-Kandyans.

Ensconced in their enclaves within the fortifications of moun- tains, rivers and jungles, the Kandyans were safe in their solitude and seclusion and able to sustain their way of life; but exposed to the world of greedy entrepreneurs, the money economy and morally depraved profligates, they were an easy prey. Thus the European planters, the low country settlers and the Indian indentured labourers, all took advantage of the vulnerable Kandyans, and ultimately deprived them of their lands and destroyed their way of life. In this tragic story, the planting of cash crops like coffee, and the roads to transport it to the harbours on the sea coast, and to convey the supplies back to the plantations, played a very important part.

@@@ 221 @@@ 214 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Itis this aspect of the impact, the roads and plantations had on the Kandyan society, which is relevant to our thesis and is considered in this work.

On taking office, Barnes used several corps of pio- neers in the construction of carriage roads through the princi- pal parts of the country. He reported that “after great persever- ance, ingenuity and bodily exertion, a carriage road has been traced through the intricacies of the mountains by Capt.

Dawson and Lt. Yule of the Royal Engineers–an undertaking, which will tend more than any other I could adopt, to consoli- date the new with the old provinces, improve the commercial intercourse of the two, remove the principal difficulties that were experienced in the late military operations, if unfortu- nately the necessity for such operations should recur, and diminish the vast expense in the conveyance of the commis- sariat supplies, the expense of which from Colombo to Kandy alone is upwards of £4000 a year. I pledge myself to the diminution of three-fourths of this before the end of the year, and that the journey from this (ie. Colombo) to Kandy, which is at present a very tedious and laborious one shall be rendered perfectly commodious for wheel carriages”.

“The chiefs and people. came forward cheerfully with their aid in these operations, indeed without such pow- erful assistance the undertaking would have required many years and considerable expense”(3). As we saw in Ch. 4, the cheerfulness of these people soon vanished when they real- ised the heavy price they had to pay, and the suffering they had to endure in helping to construct this road for the benefit of planters. J. Forbes, as ex-Government Agent and ex-coffee planter, did acknowledge that the great lines of roads in the interior constructed prior to 1833, were principally at the expense of the lives and unpaid labour of the native proprie- @@@ 222 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 215 tors of rice lands. He accepted that the greatest benefit of those roads accrued to the British capitalists, who did not contribute i penny for their formation. By July 1821, Barnes was able to announce gleefully that “a carriage road is now opened between Kandy and Colombo by Kurunegala, although in a stupendous undertaking of this kind, it cannot be expected (hat it should be complete in all its points, but it will be everyday becoming more perfect. No direct line between (‘olombo and Kandy yet, but the above was because of the aid which might be derived from the great population of the Seven Korales and also of the resources which the fertility of that province afforded to the supply of Kandy”(4). This impetus IHarnes gave to road communications did not slacken, even though, the funds available for road construction were very meagre. The plantations provided the momentum.

Major Skinner, the Commissioner of roads in Ceylon, tescribed the efforts of Barnes during his first term of office us Governor, in the following words. He wrote that “so Inuccessible were the interior districts at this time that Kandy wis only approachable by narrow jungle paths, so steep and fpged as to be quite impassable for any description of vehicle, and often dangerous as a bridle path. Commissariat supplies, and amunition, etc..etc., were from necessity car- fied, to the capital and numerous outposts of the interior, on mens’ backs”.

“With such energy and judgement, however, did Sir I’dlward Barnes proceed, that within twelve months from the ute of the order for surveying and tracing his new roads, one line of eighty-four miles, from Colombo, through the princi- pul grain district, to Kandy, was so far opened, and his lrunsport department so complete, that his supplies for troops and his post conveyed by wheels to Kandy with ease and pelerity”.

LIL @@@ 223 @@@ 216 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “The means employed in the construction of the first 200 miles of road by Sir Edward Barnes were a splendid body of pioneers which he raised, such of the native troops as could be spared for and were adapted to the work, and the gratuitous labour of the inhabitants, which, according to their own laws, they were compelled to render to the State”(5).

These roads had yet a long way to go before they became the modern networks joining up all parts of the country. They were without doubt a vast improvement, even though Chief Justice Sir Hardinge Gifford, was moved to enshrine his tribulations of travelling on the Colombo-Kandy road in a verse as follows: ] “Marshes and quagmires, puddles, pools and swamps, Dark matted jungles and long plushy plains.

Exhaling foetid airs and mortal damps, ~ By Kandyan perfidy miscalled a Road, Through which the luckless traveller must wade, Uncheered by sight of man or man’s abode”.(6) Security and military objectives predominated this initial phase of road building. Kandy was to be joined to Colombo, Trincomalee, Badulla, Hambantota and Galle so that troops could be rushed to Kandy from more than one point on the coast. The two Governors who followed Barnes also pursued this policy, in addition to maintaining the exist- ing roads in good repair. Thus Paget informed Bathurst that, “the completion of the roads through the island, I can by no means flatter your Lordship will be effected for at least seven years. The road now opened for carriages through the Seven Korales to Kandy requires much labour still to render it permanent throughout or capable of resisting the torrential rains which fall twice a year. One half of the direct road to Kandy through the Four Korales (through Kegalle) is yet @@@ 224 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS ; 217 { lmpassable for a carriage. From Kurunegala in the Seven | Korales, the road to Trincomalee is only made for about 12 I iles, opened about 40, and there are about 60 still in which | ¢ the line is not traced. The road between Kandy and Badulla, i distance of about 55 miles over a very difficult country, is unly one-fifth of the way passable for cattle, and the commu- nication from Colombo to Saffragam (Ratnapura) and thence Into Uva is yet untouched”.

“Not one of these lines of roads can with any propriety he dispensed with, if we are, as I think we ought, to consider (he great disadvantages which a want of easy general commu- nication would again throw us under in the event of any future tommotions. Of course some of these lines are more immedi- utely important than others, and these have been consequently In preference attended to, but as all must be completed in turn, I do not go too far in stating the time I have, as the shortest period for their accomplishment” (7).

When Barnes returned for his second term of office in I824, he was able to submit a satisfactory report on the progress of road building. By that date, the beneficial effects of the existing roads, were beginning to be felt not only by the army but also by all those who used the roads. Barnes pointed out that “the beneficial results of the improvement of the inland communications in a commercial point of view is conspicuous in a variety of ways, but in none more so perhaps, than in the increase of about 600 carts in Colombo alone since the road to Kandy was opened. In a political point of view, it has had the best possible effect by destroying in the minds of the Kandyans, the security they always placed in the intricate and difficult nature of the country. In a military point of view the thing speaks for itself”(8). The reduction in the cost of transport of goods to and from Kandy was very drastic.

@@@ 225 @@@ 218 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Horton in 1831 gave one example of this. He pointed out that at present “one labourer generally pressed for the service carried 40 pounds weight for which he received, before the roads were opened, 7sh. 6d. between Colombo and Kandy. A bullock cart now transports 1200 pounds, under a contract for certainly not more, but now I believe, less than £1. The gain in economy… is the difference of the expense of 30 coolies at £11 15sh. for the whole body and the £1 now paid to the bullock contractors”(9). This commercial advantage soon took over as the driving force for transecting the entire Kandyan province with roads of some kind, all emanating from Kandy.

Successive Governors based their arguments for more expenditure on the roads on the investment made by the British capitalists on land for coffee cultivation. Campbell argued that because of this a most urgent necessity existed for the further extension of roads. He reiterated the fact that large tracts of land had been sold in very inaccessible situations, and very large capital had been expended by European planters in the confidence that communications would be speedily opened.

A considerable extent of land could not be sold until roads were opened. Further the planters incurred enormous ex penses, and some faced ruin through lack of roads. Their discontent would soon spill over, unless the Government devoted men and money on road construction (CO54/189, Blue Book Report).

Coffee cultivation entered the Kandyan agriculture in the mid 1820s as a cash crop. Coffee consumption in England was rising fast helped by reduction in duty, and the preference given to coffee from the colonial possessions. Ceylon was well placed to take advantage of this change in consumei demand, as coffee was cultivated in the coastal plains of @@@ 226 @@@ T THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 219 {‘eylon. Before the British, the Dutch, in 1720s, had indulged In the export of coffee from Ceylon for some time but without much success. Coffee was also grown in the Kandyan prov- Inces for the use of Kandyans, and also for export. In fact, tiovernor Brownrigg in 41819, did ship to Lord Bathurst for his ippreciation, a bag of Uva coffee weighing I cwt and 18 Ibs (10).

The prodigious growth of coffee plantations from I835 onwards in the Kandyan provinces is graphically con- veyed to us by statistics presented to the House of Commons (‘ommittee on Ceylon by the Colonial Secretary, Sir E.

Tennent and by those figures scattered throughout the dis- patches from Colombo to the Colonial office. We need to consider only a few of these, as we are more concerned about the good and the bad effects the coffee plantations had on the Kandyan country.

“The sale of Crown lands in the Kandyan provinces, i reliable index of growing interest in coffee, increased from 49 acres in 1834 to an average of 6,412 acres in 1835 to 1838.

IFrom 1840 to 1845 the average annual sale was 42,880 acres, the largest amount being 78,685 acres in 1841. A great part of the land was bought by speculators and left uncultivated; but in 1845, 37,596 acres were under coffee as compared with 4,000 in 1836. In 1848 there were 367 plantations, while approximately 60,000 acres were under cultivation out of 400,000 which had been sold”.

  • “The average annual export of coffee in 1836 to 1840 inclusive was 49,322 cwt. with a value of £142,239. This was more than double the quantity and four times the value of the coffee exported in 1831 to 1835 inclusive, when the produc- tion had been 24,069 cwt. with a value of £31,863. During the @@@ 227 @@@ 220 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH quinquennium 1841 to 1845 the average annual export of coffee was 121,559 cwt., the value being £257,925”.(11). The statistics given below were submitted to the House of Commons Committee on Ceylon by the Colonial Secretary, Sir Tennent. The figures illustrated the close con- nection between coffee plantations and the building of roads.

It was perhaps true to say, that at first, the plantations chased the roads, and later, the roads chased the plantations. Any benefit to the Kandyans was only of secondary importance, Revenue from land sales Expenditure on roads and bridges £ ¥ 1841 33,408 23,255 1842 23,752 24,650 1843 29,601 26,510 1844 26,534 – 39,112 1845 37,947 67,584 1846 13,054 63,627 1847 6,471 53,825 1848 5,465 47,567 It ought to be pointed out that the second column included money spent on roads in the maritime provinces, bul this was only a small proportion. Needless to say, that the planters were never satisfied until a road ran directly to thei bungalows. They always complained about the lack of roads and agitated for greater expenditure on roads. Some enterpris ing ones constructed their own roads and charged tolls on them. ‘ The Colombo Legislature appointed a Committee to report on how best to finance the extension of roads in the colony. It reported on the 9th of December 1842. The map il —— @@@ 228 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 221 produced showing the existing and projected roads is dis- pluyed in the next page. It portrays conspicuously how the Inolation of Kandy was effectually ended. Both Col.Fraser, as e Government Cartographer, and Major.Skinner in the vnpacity of Road Commissioner, gave evidence to this com- iittce. They named almost all the present-day network of Kundyan roads, which were then part of their present and luture work, and demanded more funds be allocated for this purpose.

The Committee made several recommendations. The Iwo of them were noteworthy. One recommended the floata- lion of a loan of £ 100,000 with a sinking fund of 10%pato be puid out of tolls; the other requested the Government to #hcourage private persons to purchase land to undertake to open roads as a matter of speculation, and charge tolls on the users of such roads. The idea of a loan came to nothing, but private toll charging roads became a reality.

Among the speculative investors in coffee plantation were the two Governors, Barnes and Mackenzie, many civil servants, judges and military personnel. It was Barnes who was the leader and pioneer of the coffee enterprise. His (iangaruwa estate was among the first, about which he wrote (hat it had answered every expectation, and the finest coffee was produced there. “I am in very great hopes that the example thus set, will be productive of the most beneficial consequences in inducing others to follow a course, that with (lue encouragement cannot fail of being profitable to them- selves and advantageous to the public interest”(12).

He also established an experimental coffee plantation in the Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, so that it could provide the necessary advice on the cultivation of this crop, @@@ 229 @@@ THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH [ MAY CEYILON ‘-. ) _,,.E.’,::-;” // e («wregy s 7 |~ e LR R 6 S N N g F H ll.. Rl ) [P @@@ 230 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 223 enpecially on lands hitherto used for the cultivation of dry prains by the ‘slash and burn’ method, otherwise known as the thena cultivation of the Kandyans. Barnes in 1824, also exempted coffee plantations from the land tax of one-tenth of (he produce. He also exempted all labourers who were em- ployed in any plantation of coffee or in the manufacture of produce thereof, from Rajakaria or public service on road building during the period they were bona fide so employed, on the production of a certificate from a competent authority.

T’he Horticultural Society in London, soon after, reported that (‘eylon was well suited for Coffee and that it would be very successful there. Under pressure from the Colonial Office, the Botanical Gardens coffee estate was later sold to Mr. Wright in 1832 for £460. Mr. Bird, Governor Barnes, and Mr. Wright were the first three Europeans to embark on coffee plantations on a commercial basis, and set in motion the first speculative mania that followed.

Before one looks critically at this argicultural con- quest of the Kandyan provinces, it would be just and fair to acknowledge the work of the pioneer planters and the contri- bution they made to the development of the country. The words of another planter adequately conveys this sentiment.

“The pioneers laid deep the foundations of the great edifice of plantations. These men were often widely separated from cach other. Ceylon owes its debt to these men: men who amidst deprivations, solitude and discomfort or often very hard privations, left behind them the lasting evidence of their toil”(13). Often they bought lands in the most inaccessible of places, in the thickest of jungles and converted them to thriving plantations. P. D. Millie, a coffee planter at this time, wrote as follows of a Dimbulla planter in his book “Thirty Years Ago”: “many Dimbulla estates were for months with- out coolies; I know one proprietor, long since dead, who used @@@ 231 @@@ 224 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH to walk down to Pussellawa one day, and return the next, carrying on his shoulders a load of rice for his own consump- tion, and some condiments, or curry stuffs in his pocket; pumpking and brinjals could be procured from some of the village gardens, and this was the usual fare”(ch.2). They were men of adventure, in the hunt for their fortunes. Initially not all the coffee planters were successful, and some plantations were so difficult to develop that they were simply abandoned.

With the exception of a few, most pioneers lost money, their health or their lives.

This first phase of economic activity in commercial cultivation until its crash in 1847, was conspicuous for specu- lation in land with the potential for coffee cultivation. In 1810 Europeans were allowed to acquire land in Ceylon and from 1812, they were allowed to receive grants of land less than 4000 acres, free from tax for five years, so long as it was for agricultural purposes. When Crown lands came to be sold in 1833 (see Advertisement), the planters were allowed initially to select the land, clear it temporarily and mark off its boundaries. It was then auctioned to the highest bidder. As it was a matter of honour, and ‘looked upon by the public as almost an act of fraud to bid against the applicant at public sales’; nobody bid against the person who had selected the land in question, and had incurred the preliminary expenses.

Therefore land at auctions did not fetch anything more than the reserve price of five shillings an acre. This attracted the speculators, who bought lands at five shillings and resold the same at twenty shillings or more an acre. It was said that Parsis from Bombay and civilians of Bengal sent orders to their agents in Ceylon to purchase thousands of acres for them, which they had no intention of cultivating; but wanted to hold and resell at a profit. The value of a piece of land sometimes increased beyond all expectations when roads were projected @@@ 232 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 225 Government Advertisement.

IN pursuance of Instructions received from the Secretary of State, Tue Riont Honona- ¢ mie Goverwor is pleased to direct thut the following summiary of the Rules, upon which it is intended that all lands the property of the Crowa should in future be dispo- jued of, be published for gedgral information.

Mir. 1.—All the lands in the Colony not hitherto granted, and not apprepriated for public p will be put up t6 Sale—The price will of course depend upon the quality of the Land and its local situation, but no Land will be sold below the rate of Five Shillings per Acre.

mr. 2.—All persons pioposing to pu:chase Lands not adveitized for Sale, must transmit a written application to the Governor, in a certain prescribed form, and upon a Stamp of two Shillings and Sixpence, which will be delivered sat the Cutcherry o all persons’ applying.

lir. 3.—Those persons who are desirous of purchasing will be allowed to select, within certain defiued limite, such portions of Lind as whey may wish to acquire in that manner-~These portions of Land. will be advertized for sale for three calendar months, and ‘will then be sold to the highest bidder, provided that such bidding shall at least amount to the price fixed by the lst. Article—-All costs of Survey to be de- frayed by Government.

atr. 4—A deposit of 10 per cent upoa the whole value of the purchase must be paid down at the time ofsale, and the reruinder must be faid within one year from the day of sale—and in case of payme.t not being made within the pie-cribed reriod, the sale will be considered voul, tne deposit forfeited, and the purchaser lizhle 1o be ejected.

. 5—On payment of the money a grant will bz made, in fee simple, to the purcha ser at the nominal quit-rent of a pepper-corn.

far; 6—The Crown raserves to itseli the riglt of ‘making and eonstructing such Roads and Bridges as may be necessary ior public purposes in all Lands purchased as above, and also to such indigenous ‘lxi’mbcr. Stoue dnd other materials, the ‘produce of the as may be requirel for making and keeping the said Roads and Bridges in rapair, anl for any other Public works—The Croin further reserves to itself all mines of precions motals.

By His Excellency s Command, Colonial Secretary’s Office, P. ANSTRUTHER.

Colombo, 11th July 1833, } Col. Sec.

@@@ 233 @@@ 226 _ THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH to be constructed adjoining such lands. The pressure exerted by the planters and speculators on the Government for build- ing roads and for surveying lands, was relentless. On both accounts, the Government could not match the expectations of the planters and speculators as it lacked resources of both men and money. : The loss to Government on the sale of land at five shillings an acre was quite evident. This was in fact acknowl- edged by Tennent in his report on the colony’s finances for 1846. He wrote that “vast tracts of forests, consisting in many instances, of 5000 and 6000 acres, have passed into the hands of individual speculators, which for some years to come will be resold at a profit to new settlers, who would otherwise have purchased at Government sales. This would reduce the rev- enue from land sales”(14). Before Tennent arrived in Ceylon, on the recommendation of the Colonial Secretary Mr.

Anstruther, it was raised to £1 an acre in June 1844. By then it was too late because the decline had set in, and this hike in the price of land helped to expedite the crash in coffee cultivation and speculation.

Later Anstruther’s motives for raising the price of land came to be questioned by Lord Torrington. For he wrote to Lord Grey that Anstruther “was a great land jobber, bought large tracts of land, and then recommeded the price to be raised to £1 per acre system, he having purchased at 5sh and of course expecting to make a great and profitable specula- .- tion, but as with the rise in the price, so the demand ceased (it B L 2 .is a curious fact that not a single civil servant bought good land)”(15).

There were also protests from merchants and planters against the price rise. In a petition signed by 110 merchants @@@ 234 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 227 und planters of the interior in 1846, the London Government wiis told in no uncertain terms that the colony was destitute of fonds, that scientific men helped by pioneers should be employed to remedy this deficiency. The effect of raising the price of land had been “to keep away colonists and to check (he sale of land and this too while 8/10th of the island is still in uninhabited jungle.. but no one will pay 20sh for such lnnd when equally good land can be had in the Cape Colony for one – sixth of that sum”(16).

One of the first casualty of this scramble for land was the fact, that the British forgot to pay little or no attention during 1815 to 1848, to the staple food of the Kandyans– paddy cultivation. It was not given any inducements or incentives. New methods of irrigation nor any further devel- opment of cultivation of paddy formed any part of any plan of the Government. In fact the repair and maintenance of tanks was brought into the Road Ordinance of 1848 only as an amendment–an afterthought–to the original Bill. The tax yield from paddy was all that concerned the Government.

This might have acted as a disincentive, and land might have been converted to other uses to avoid paying the tax. Major Skinner drew attention to this point. He wrote that “the cultivation of the staple article of food of the country (rice) declined; large tracts of land were thrown out of cultivation, while in one province alone was there to be seen any attempt to increase the means of irrigation, or to extend or improve the cultivation of native productions”(17).

By the confessions of Governors and contemporary writers of that time, the land jobbers and speculators deprived many a legitimate Kandyan land-owner of his inheritance, not only by their greed to get posession of suitable lands, but also by the sheer force of the purchasing power of the funds in their hands. They were helped in this by the absence of @@@ 235 @@@ 228 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH proper documentation or other proofs of ownership of land in the Kandyan province. The Kandyans’ protestations that the land was temple land,or that it was their communal hunting and grazing land, or that it was essential for their timber requirements did not carry any weight with anyone.

The Kandyan population was exclusively agricultural and were in general proprietors of land. There was no primo- geniture among them. The children shared the inheritance.

Therefore almost every Kandyan, however poor, had an hereditary right to some portion of land, however small its extent. Only ahandful of families possessed any written deeds (Sannas) of grants, bequests and sales. Land was held and cultivated by the Kandyans on the basis of the services rendered to the King and his Officials and the caste to which – one belonged (see Chapter 4). It was a matter of custom and oral tradition, and the elders of the village knew who owned what. Disputes on ownership and boundaries were rare in the old Kandyan kingdom, but where it arose, it soon got resolved by the elders of the village in their village council (Gansaba).

By the 1840s, old age had made the village elders, who were the repositories of village customs, an endangered species, and the new British administrative and judicial set up had made the old Gansaba system obsolete. The situation there- fore was ideal for any greedy and determined land grabber to dispossess the peasant Kandyan of his lands. That this hap- pened was evidenced by the many land ownership disputes which arose on the sale of Crown lands to private individuals.

No doubt there were many bogus claimants, but they could not belittle the genuine ones, whose claims were set aside as lacking in proof, satisfactory to a Court, which in turn was constituted according to British law.

Governor Campbell too acknowledged to Lord John Russell that all was not well with the system of land sales. He @@@ 236 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 229 did not reveal the precise nature of the defect or the abuses which took place. He wrote that he “found the system of land sules very loose and irregular, the natural consequence of a demand having suddenly arisen for which the Government was not prepared. Some progress had been made in regulating the sales for the future and I am endeavouring to render the Survey Department more efficient, but as yet I have not made such progress as to enable me to report to Your Lordship upon the subject”(18). The hint here that his Survey Department was ineffecient, was largely true. It was soon separated from the Civil Engineer’s Department, and Major Skinner was for a time given the charge of it.

It was true that much land was sold without a proper survey, other than, on the basis of an often inaccurate plan submitted by the potential purchaser. Where the buyer ne- glected to maintain and secure his boundaries, reforestation soon obliterated such boundaries. This led to some double sales of land to the utter embarrassment of the Government, and many boundary disputes among the planters themselves.

In a lengthy report to the Colonial Secretary dated I2th June 1841, Mr. Norris, who was at that time still the Surveyor General, pointed out the difficulties his handful of surveyors faced, when they embarked on a survey of a piece of land. He stated that the villagers strongly objected and were extremely suspicious of his men. In some instances they had used force to stop the proceedings. They always set up claims to almost every tract of lands and were unwilling to allow boundaries to be cut or marked out near villages or cultivated fields or chena grounds. Their claims rendered futile any attempt on the part of the surveyor to adhere to a system of cardinal lines and parallels in marking off boundaries be- tween villages and waste lands.

@@@ 237 @@@ 230 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Millie, in the book cited above, gave an instance of this at Punduluoya, where a surveyor had originally cut out the boundaries of a piece of land and had attempted to survey the same. “He had a weary toil and tramp from Pussellawa, as there were neither roads nor bridle paths. When he passed on, troops of natives came up in his rear, and surrounded him on all sides. They, however, offered no violence, but talked and bewailed and lamented as only natives can do. They would not go away, but surrounded his tent, after it was pitched. The next morning he commenced with theodolite and chain, but the natives stood in front of the former, and threw themselves down on the ground before the course of the latter saying: ‘Pass over our bodies, our dead bodies, before you measure and sell our hunting-grounds of our forefathers’. So without any actual violence being used, the work was stopped and the surveyor had to depart”(ch.xx). Here probably was the first Green Party in the world. It was disgraceful that the present day descendants of their brave forefathers, when displaced by the new Mahaveli irrigation scheme, were denied a place in their traditional lands, apparently at the behest of, what one might call the ‘new Nayakkars of Thotum’.

The first European to embark on coffee plantation on a large scale was George Bird, an ex-cavalry officer and a friend of Governor Barnes. He was given a loan of 4000 Rix $ interest free for five years to develop and cultivate 4000 acres in Gampola. The land was free from taxes for ten years, thereafter an annual tax at the rate of 6 fanams an acre was payable on the whole land in full (19). This land was in the former Royal village. Therefore private ownership of any portions of it was precluded. Yet when the final grant was made to him with a survey annexed in 1829, his right to a portion of land included in that survey was disputed. His title to undisputed possession could not be admitted until it was @@@ 238 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 231 entnblished by due process of law. On another transaction of YUK acres sold to him and his brother Charles by the Govern- ment in 1827, private individuals fully established their claim for 300 acres, and had to be bought off them; the Government ¢ould sell him only the balance at 5sh. an acre.

In the case of Sir Barnes’ estate, Mr. Turnour admitted in 1833 that “there are still two parcels of land, which the ostensible owners have sold but their right has been disputed hy co-heirs”. Mr. Turnour, as Agent for Barnes “was author- ined to pay the full value to the subsequent claimants also with the view of perfecting his title, but this offer has only had the ¢lfect of increasing the claimants and the completion of the burgain is still in abeyance”(20).

Before its sale, the Peradeniya estate purchased by Mr. Wright, was supposed to have been unencumbered by private claims. The moment it passed to his hands, three claimants appeared for small parts thereof, and two contend- ing parties claimed ownership of the same piece of land.

A similar situation arose in the case of Capt. Forbes’ (odapola estate in Matale. As soon as the intimation of the grant became public, claimants presented themselves for various parts of the land, though it was the unalienated site of a Royal palace two centuries ago and the boundaries of the Royal domains were still in existence unobliterated.

The fifth estate–and these were the first five coffee estates–sparked off a major inquiry, which today reveals to us the uncertainity which prevailed on the ownership of Kandyan lands. This was further compounded by the complicated Kandyan forest laws, which were not only non-uniform throughout the interior, it also admitted communal ownership of chenalands. The civil servants accepted the fact that no safe @@@ 239 @@@ 232 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH title could be made out to lands which had ever been culti- vated, whether obtained from grant from Government or by private purchase, except by prescription. This state of affairs would, they concluded, not only materially deter speculators from acquiring property in the Kandyan province, but would also equally discourage the investment of capital obtained as loans on the security of the very same estates. The solutions they sought for this problem was primarily aimed at helping the land jobbers. The Kandyans and their rights were not the primary concern of the British civil servants. It was merely incidental that the measures they introduced did help the Kandyans in perfecting their own titles. The onus was on the Kandyans to prove that they were the rightful owners and inheritors of their lands, or give way forthwith, for its expro- priation and exploitation by capitalist planters, seeking specu- lative profits on their investments. As Major Skinner put it, “as European capital was to accomplish such prodigies, it was ‘but a natural consequence that European interests should gain the ascendancy”(30). One might add, at the expense of the Kandyans, whose ownership of land based on tradition and custom, was no match against the combined efforts of the civil servants and the power of British capital.

The fifth projected coffee estate was at Kundasale. It was Mr. Bird’s second estate. In 1832, prior to purchasing, he had cleared about 100 acres there and had marked off its boundaries. Soon twelve claimants appeared and a protracted ” inquiry followed. It is worth our while to look at this case as it amply illustrates the prevailing uncertainity, and the likeli- hood that the Kandyans could have been dispossessed of their lands by the coffee planters and the civil servants. It also reveals the failing memories of the elders of the village.

One Wedoorooge Wahale Kanrale Vidahn was one of the claimants. He appeared for others at the investigation at @@@ 240 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 233 the Kandy Kachcheri. He stated that they were the Wahala (inmbaddagam (Royal Garden Tennants) of Kundasale, and had patches of paddy fields in different parts of Kundasale with high grounds and gardens as appurtenances of those paddy fields. The tract of land applied for by Mr. Bird, was a sequestrated jungle of the Kings, until the late deposed King undertook the formation of a tank, by which he intended to irrigate the Rajawella plain. For this purpose, it was cleared which made it unnecessary to conserve it as a special Royal preserve. About thirty years ago, the King verbally sanctioned the appropriation of this ground as chenas. Accordingly, the present claimants had cultivated these lands for about six times. On each occasion, it had first been cultivated with paddy and then with Kurakkan (dry grains). The last time it was cultivated was about six years ago, when Mr. Pennell was the Revenue Commissioner in Kandy. This year, the land ndjoining the one selected by Mr. Bird, had been cultivated by him and the stubble was still on the ground. On behalf of all his associates, he claimed a part of the cleared ground as their parveny, the other portions he asserted belonged to the villag- ers of Nattangpattu, Mahawatte and Attiegahawatte.

Dehigamme Udagabada Nileme was the chief of the Department in which the lands in question were situated. He stated at the inquiry that, when the king Narendra Sinha resided at Kundasale a century ago, the ancestors of the present claimants worked in the Royal Gardens and received payments. After the confiscation of lands belonging to Degaltooruwe Ralle, his paddy fields were distributed among those individuals as remuneration in lieu of pay. The adjacent high fields were also cultivated by those individuals, but whether that extended to the lands now in question, he was not prepared to state. He confirmed his above statement in writing and reiterated that the late King had granted lands to the @@@ 241 @@@ 234 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH claimants, but whether it was granted in perpetuity or not, and whether this grant extended to the lands now in question, he was unable to ascertain satisfactorily. The claimants had attempted to cultivate those lands about six years ago. Mr.

Downing, the Revenue Commissioner at that time, had re- fused them permission and hence it had remained fallow and left to revert to jungle.

Madugalle, the late Gajanayakke Nileme was the Rate Mahatmaya of Dumbara about five years before the King was deposed. He stated that all the ground adjacent to the Royal Garden and extending all the way to Hainagea Hoowila–at least 10 miles from the palace–was royal land. For the protection of the royal forest, headmen named Kalley Korales had been appointed from time immemorial. Within that forest no private individual had any rights. The people in the nighbourhood were not permitted even to gather fruits from the trees that grew therein. Several of those Korales, whose badge of office was an axe, were still alive, and could point out the boundaries of this royal forest.

When he was in office, the late King decided to extend the coconut garden along the banks, 100 fathoms in depth from the river. He himself had measured out the land and one of his helpers — Petteroella–was still alive. It was sown the first year with paddy, then with dry grains and finally the coconut trees were planted.

The King withdrew his sequestration as far as Dugally and the people residing in the neighbourhood were permitted to take possession of parts of land nearest to their residences.

The claimants did so. The forest beyond Dugally was still sequestrated and was under the jurisdiction of Kalley Korales.

The King did not announce whether the grant of land was in @@@ 242 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 235 perpetuity or temporary. As no Sannas or other grant was mude out, the King could have resumed the lands he had given nway without injustice to those who possessed them. He was lecidedly of opinion that the claimants could not sell those lunds because they were royal lands and also because they did not possess any Sannas.

The next witness was Ulpangedere Appuhamy Lekam.

Ie corroborated Madugalle’s statement and expressed doubt nbout the grant by the King being parveny or only temporary lor the purpose of clearing the forest.

In another written statement dated 24th December |#32, Dehigamme admitted that the jungle now being pre- pured for coffee plantation at Kundasale was originally the property of the King.during the time of the late King, it was nssigned by him to the people of Kundasale and several others und ever since, they had cultivated the same at different times und enjoyed the produce thereof (21).

This particular saga ran its full course through the courts and Mr. Bird got his lands, others soon followed him und Kundasale became a major coffee producing district. The significance of this inquiry was that the Kandyan peasants had now to compete with Europeans with large wallets, political influence and power, for the occupation and cultivation of (heir lands. The dice which was already loaded against them, was actually thrown against them by Ordinance 7 of 29th December 1835. Clause 2 of this Ordinance declared that “it shall be lawful for any person in possession of land to make application in writing to the Court of the district…. for a general Citation…containing full description of property logether with Map or Plan and survey thereof showing extent and boundaries.stating the nature of his rights or the manner @@@ 243 @@@ 236 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH in which he acquired his possession, supported by the affida- vits of two respectable persons”. Clause 5 gave 18 calendar months for claims against the Citation or be barred forever.

Later Ordinance 5 of 13th January 1840 was passed to prevent any encroachment upon Crown lands. As it was disallowed by the Colonial Office, it was replaced by Ordi- nance 12 of October 1840. This Ordinance arrogated to the Crown all forests, waste, unoccupied or uncultivated lands including the chenas. Any claimant of a chena had to produce Sannas or a Grant for the same with satisfactory evidence as to the limits and boundaries thereof or of such customary taxes, dues or services having been rendered within the last 20 years. Clause 7 of the same Ordinance gave the Kandyans in possession of lands, an opportunity to obtain valid titles by making written applications, together with a description of the property, an authorised survey, a statement of the nature of their rights, and how they acquired the possession of such lands. The Government Agent was to subject such claims to stringent investigation and if satisfied, was authorised to issue Grants and have them registered at the Kachchery. Clause 8 entitled anyone with the uninterrupted possession of land for ‘not less than ten nor more than thirty years’ to a Grant from the Government on payment by him of half the improved value of such land.

The poor Kandyan peasant was not educated in these matters, nor did he have the means to conduct surveys or draw up plans, nor the funds to pay the surveyors or the proctors to – pursue his case through protracted legal proceedings. This law was passed at a time when, even Lord Glenelg in London was querying costs of £250 incurred by Colombo on the survey of 12,800 acres of Pussellawa forest by Messrs Wallet and Baganell, and its division into units of 50 to 1500 acres for @@@ 244 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 237 sale as Crown property (22). It is extremely doubtful, that the Kandyans ever were in a position to take advantage of this law, which was passed presumably for their benefit too.

This point was understood by the Colonial Office in I.ondon. One Civil Servant minuted that “the attempt to throw the burden of proof on the private party by demanding the exhibition of titles would scarcely be productive of any favourable results. It is difficult to conceive, that, even in cases of valid titles, such instruments are much taken care of by a poor and illiterate people unable to comprehend the importance of strict forms in judicial matters, and they are constantly liable to destruction or loss from all the accidents of insecurity and neglect”(23). – The increase of the prescription period from 10 to 30 years of uninterrupted possession, and legal proof of it for the grant of legal ownership, effectively killed off all claims to lands by Kandyans based on custom and tradition. Tennent commenting on the revenue aspects of this measure, justified it in the following terms. “By old law and custom of Kandy, all chena lands were the property of the King, and only cultivated by express permission, a payment known by its ancient name of ‘binmille’, being made in every case for a licence to burn and cultivate chena ground”.

“By Ordinance 12 of 1840 the title of the Grown to chenas of every description is distinctly asserted, unless 30 years uninterrupted possession could be proved”.

“We have insisted on every individual before felling a portion of any forest or burning jungle for chena procuring a licence from the Kachchery on the payment of at least 2sh 6d an acre as binmille”(24). One could not fail to notice the injustice of this imposition even merely on monetary terms.

@@@ 245 @@@ 238 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH While land was sold at 5sh. an acre to the Europeans, the Kandyans had to pay half that price merely to cultivate the land without any title to that land. It was all the more iniquitous, for the reason that, chena cultivation took place on a cyclical basis of once in five or six years.

Governor Colin Campbell did perceive the dissatis- faction among the Kandyans as being caused “by the en- croachment of European settlers upon lands belonging to the natives or claimed by them. The former frequently endeavour to have lands belonging to the natives put up to sales as Crown lands, and I fear they are frequently neither considerate nor conciliatory in their intercourse with their native neigh- bours”(25). It was difficult to deny that the lands of the Kandyans were misappropriated.

It was no wonder, as Torrington remarked in a private letter to Lord Grey, that “our coffee estates are a source of deadly hatred to the Kandyans”(26). George Ackland, whose agency house Ackland Boyd and Co. controlled 35 coffee estates in the first phase of coffee cultivataion in Ceylon, amplified Torrington’s statement before the House of Com- mons Committee on Ceylon as follows. He stated that “there were a great many disputes constantly between the natives and the parties applying to purchase land…. The Govern- ment, unless the natives could show a title to it, was anxious to sell as much land as possible; and [did not] in all cases [show] as much leniency…towards the natives as perhaps ought to have been shown; [there were] instances in which lands have been taken from them in which they had not alegal title, but in which it would have been policy to have conceded to them possession”(27). In one instance 1000 acres sold to messrs Wilson and Ritchie was claimed and forcibly occupied by the Kandyans, and the Governor was forced to return the purchase money with interest (28).

@@@ 246 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 239 Lt. Col. Forbes, who, by 1841, had ceased his planta- lion business, wrote that the pasture lands of the Kandyans were abridged to such an extent in accommodating European speculators, that he found the villagers in the country, where only one-thirtieth was cultivated, had to beg for a place to be nllotted, where they could deposit the ashes of their deceased relations. He considered it a fallacy that the Kandyans had benefitted by the establishment of coffee plantations. “Since coffee planting was extended over that country, the cutting down of so much of forest has had an injurious effect on the springs and streams on which rice cultivation in the nighbourhood of coffee region depends. Theirinterests, which in policy and equity ought to have been paramount, were not sufficiently considered. Their pasture lands have been ubridged to a grievous extent, and they have suffered much.

[rom being liable to damages for trespass of the cattle into coffee gardens”(29). Coffee processing factories were usu- nlly located high up the mountains. The processes of washing, (rying, curing and the dumping of the pulp residue in the streams led to pollution of water courses and adversely nlfected the villagers at the foot of the mountains, by making the water unfit for use by both men and their cattle for months without end.

To quote Millie again, “the greatest evils natives are subjected to, in the vicinity of coffee estates.is the pollution ol water by coffee pulp. As the native lands and villages are nlways in hollows and valleys, below the level of estates on the mountain ranges, they are liable to have their water not only all polluted but even eliminated and diverted and turned olf from its original source…in order to supply power to the planter’s machinery, or to wash his coffee. Thus water, upon which the native sets so much store, for the cultivation of his rice fields, is sometimes cut off and sent down another @@@ 247 @@@ 240 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH stream…Has the question ever been asked, or proved, whether or not blackened, smelling pulp water is beneficial or other- wise to the irrigation of rice fields?”(ch.xx). Such were the woes the Kandyans had to endure.

Kandyans’ cattle were another point of conflict be- tween the planters and the Kandyans. The Kandyans took care to fence off their paddy fields, and stationed guards to protect the fields from the ravages of both their cattle and wild animals. It was their custom to drive their domestic herds and draught animals to the commons and the forests adjoining their villages for pasture. The commons and forests had now become coffee plantations and the damage to them by these animals was inevitable so long as such plantations were unfenced; and where they were fenced, the Kandyan lost his ancient right to pasture, and his right to obtain timber for housing and other needs.

The Government’s solution ignored the rights of the Kandyans and favoured that of the planters. It passed the Ordinance for the protection of cultivated and enclosed lands against the trespass and depredation of stray cattle, goats, sheep and pigs in December 1835.

This law did not enforce fencing on the owners as it would be expensive on them. Land had to be “fenced in such a manner as the local custom may require’’ –a meaningless set of words, because the commons were, by local custom, left unfenced in Kandy. The law allowed the planter first to seize the stray cattle and to charge their owners both for damages and the release of the cattle. Where this was impossible, he could obtain a warrant to shoot the stray cattle. The Kandyans were given the right to appeal to the Courts. They very rarely exercised this right as it was too expensive and time consum- @@@ 248 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 241 Ing. Many buffaloes were shot down, and this had a very (lnmaging effect on agriculture as these animals were essen- {inl for the ploughing of the fields and drawing of water, (hreshing and other activities connected with agriculture and (he day to day life of the Kandyans. These animals were also (he sources of their dairy food.

Governor Campbell acknowledged that the Kandyans were tangibly disadvantaged by the tardy operation of the system of law and the fees they had to pay to the proctors. He wrote that “in Kandy, where I am now resident, the rules of the Supreme Court and the general system which throw the litigants entirely into the hands of the Proctors is a subject of very deep and serious complaint. The natives complain that the Europeans frequently encroached upon their lands and still more that their cattle which feed in the jungles are illegally impounded by coffee planters, but justice is in consequence of the system inaccessible to them”.

“They say if we go to the District Court to complain, in the first place we must pay a sum of money to the Proctor exceeding the value of our land or our cattle, and even the delays are endless–it is better therefore to pay the planter his demand to release our cattle than seek the redress”(28).

# Governor Torrington too alluded to this war between the bullocks and the planters, which had long been a very serious grievance of the Kandyans, which he found it difficult to deal with. He acknowledged that previous to the land being planted, it was the custom of the Kandyans to turn their bullocks loose in them. This conflict did drag on into the 1850s, and eventually again, the Kandyans were the losers.

Many of the planters and speculators who invaded the Kandyan provinces were neither men of probity nor paragons @@@ 249 @@@ 242 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH of virtue. There were many unscrupulous fortune hunters.

Their behaviour amidst the Kandyans was scandalous and offensive to them. They had no regard nor respect for the religion of the Kandyans, their customs, their elders nor their womenfolk. As Torrington remarked, “the mass of the coffee planters, many of them the very worse class of Englishmen, has very much tended to lower and degrade our caste and character in the eyes of the natives. The habits of the planters particularly with the women has been most objectionable and in the eyes of a Kandyan a coffee planter is a term of reproach”(26). As one writer put it, they were the riff-raff of the round world, a floating scum of coffee planters. How could the Kandyans work for or work with such men? Major Skinner agreed with Torrington. He wrote that “with the introduction of the supposed endless stream of capital which poured into the colony, simultaneously came a number of European settlers of every grade and age, in the various capacities of capitalists, planters, agents, superin- tendents, overseers, etc., etc. Amongst these were not a few whose habits and conduct tended much to diminish the respect in which the English character had previously been held by the natives”(30). This reprobate behaviour did lower the general high standard of morality which had hitherto prevailed in the Kandyan villages, and contributed to the degeneration of the Kandyans themselves.

Major Skinner also vehemently disapproved of civil servants dabbling in coffee plantations. He argued that it was “a most fatal error committed by Government, in allowing its public servants to embark in the seductive speculation of coffee, by placing too many of them in the general category of ‘planters’, weakened the moral influence and authority which they previously possessed, no less than it tended to circum- @@@ 250 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 243 A 1ibe their pecuniary means of independence and usefulness, ail inally, in too many instances ruined their finances. It also lnced their interests in rivalry with their duty, which in wylon (where so much depends on the individual example, Willuence, and energy of the public functionary) demands, and il previously received, their individual attention and Hine”(30). He should know, because he was himself a planta- Hon owner.

The maritime Sinhalese had been under foreign domi- nution from 1505 when the Portuguese landed in Ceylon. The Portuguese were then followed by the Dutch and the British.

All these foreign powers waged war on the Kandyans at different times, and they used the maritime Sinhalese to further their cause. Many low-country Sinhalese not only helped the foreigners but also adopted the foreign customs – und religion. They were held in suspicion by the Kandyans as polential participants in intrigues with foreigners to over- throw the Kandyan nation. Nevertheless many low-country Sinhalese remained faithful to Buddhism, and looked up to Kandy, the Tooth Relic, the Buddhist Sangha, and the other places of pilgrimage there, as the fountain of their faith and culture. This helped to sustain an amiable intercourse between the Kandyans and the low-country Sinhalese, and this was not merely confined to the border areas. There was no open untagonism between them, but a measure of suspicion did persist in the minds of the Kandyans, because the latter were untagonistic to the dilution of their people and their ways of life.

When the Kandyan territory was opened up by roads and plantations, many low-country Sinhalese trekked up the hills in search of jobs and fortunes. Many were welcomed and had no problems in settling down among the hill country @@@ 251 @@@ 244 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH brethren. The presence of many of the skilled artisans in the interior was a significant gain to the economy of the country.

Their contribution to the development of the Kandyan coun- try remains yet to be recorded.

Moratuwa had at this time acquired the reputation as the home of skilled carpenters and other artisans. It was soon denuded of these men by their migration to Kandy, and Colombo suffered from the shortage and escalating wages paid to the few who remained in Moratuwa. Referring to this, Governor Campbell wrote that “the recent influx of merchants and planters from England has entirely altered the social aspect of the island, and changed it from a quiet settlement into an active European colony, with a new population, new pursuits, new habits and new wants. The first effect of this event had been to draw off the artisans from the towns and villages. They have followed the planters into the hill country of the interior, where they find instant employment in the construction of houses, stores and all the buildings requisite for preparing the new produce of the colony.. thus betaken into the interior for the service of the planters are the masons, bricklayers, carpenters, sawyers, nail-makers, smiths, wheel- wrights and every description of artisan.. wages of labour of all kind have risen to an unreasonable height”(31). The Governor had to obtain from Cochin in S. India, skilled men to service Colombo, and requested Lord Stanley to organise the emigration of at least 100 skilled English artisans from London; but the costs of passage to Ceylon killed off this venture.

The low-country artisans lived among the Kandyans and some did intermarry. They were not stictly bound by caste or other social customs. Their behaviour was more influenced by the money economy than by any tradition or custom. They @@@ 252 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 245 sold their labour to the highest cash bidder and freely migrated (v where they could get the highest wages going. They were not tied to the soil or the village, nor did they evince any ubiding loyalty to anyone. The Kandyans could see that such uninhibited behaviour only made these men more prosperous than they themselves were. This economic behaviour of the low-countrymen deeply influenced the predial Kandyans and led to the disintegration of their old ways. Some of them too wanted to emulate these new arrivals and secure to themselves the benefits of the wage economy. Some enterprising Kandyans soon followed suit.

Among those new arrivals into the Kandyan prov- inces, there were also many profligate undesirables and crimi- nal elements. They imported many social evils and contami- nated this placid country. Some Kandyans were seduced while many others became the innocent victims of fraud, burglary, gambling, demon drinks and murder. The Governor was forced to take measures to arrest this breakdown in law and order. He found the police in Kandy totally inadequate and imcompetent to serve the public and enforce the law. In 1842 the police force in Kandy consisited of 1 Head Constable supported by 4 others. The Government Agent of K andy, Mr.

Mooyart suggested a vast increase of this force. He wanted 1 Superintendent at £150pa, 1 Clerk at£36pa, 1 Head Constable at £48pa, 5 Subordinates at £24pa each, 18 police Officers at £12pa each. Funding of this large force remained a stumbling block.

Governor Campbell sought approval from Lord Stanley to increase the police force. He pointed out the inadequacy of the present force to provide for the security of even the Kandy town, “which is constantly filled with large bodies of labourers belonging to the adjacent coffee planta- tions or seeking employment”.

@@@ 253 @@@ 246 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “The central province is now filled with labourers from the maritime districts of Ceylon and the continent of India. It is well-known that any bad character who may be forced to fly from the maritime districts find a secure refuge in the interior on the coffee estates, and some of the villages which are now rapidly rising such as Nuwara Eliya, Gampola etc. are filled with the worst characters. Robberies are very frequent, and some very desperate and atrocious murders have been committed”.

“The Kandyan Headmen are quite unfit to control such large masses of strangers, but it is a matter of great difficulty to devise the means of establishing any efficient substitute and still more so to levy funds for paying them”.

This was no surprise, because the influence and power of the Kandyan chiefs had been deliberately eroded as a matter of overt Government policy and the chains which bound that society together had been cut loose.

“I can at present do no more than appoint a few constables to reside in such villages as above described”(32).

Another reason he gave for the increase in the police force was, that the Government could use those constables as secret agents to obtain information on the Kandyans and their secret insurrectionary activities, so that it could be stopped at the very initial stages. This was important, as there was a rumour of rebellion at this time.

Mr. Gibson, the Deputy Queen’s Advocate, who re- ported on the increase in crime in Kandy, also supported the increase in the police force. He stated that “robberies are now getting so numerous, and many of them are of such extent and also of such a daring nature…that whatever remedy may be agreed upon, it should be carried into effect with as little delay as possible”(32).

@@@ 254 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 247 Other contemporary writers agreed with the Gover- nor and bemoaned the fact that the most profligate of the low- country Sinhalese flocked from the maritime provinces into the interior, and spread far and wide their contaminating influences over a previously sober, orderly, honest race.

“Robberies and bloodshed became familiar to the Kandyans, in districts where a few years before any amount of property would have been perfectly safe in the open air”(33).

Nine months later the Governor took up this theme ngain. He wrote to Lord Stanley that “the increase of crime has been of late so great that the introduction of an effective rural police becomes a matter of very great necessity…The police of the interior has hitherto formed a part of the duty of the Kandyan local headmen, and they were sufficient for such duties so long as the inhabitants of the rural districts were Kandyans and almost exclusively an agricultural population”.

This in fact, was a testament to the civility and integrity of the Kandyans. This serene state of civic tranquility was soon torn apart by the influx of newcomers of questionable characters.

They were greatly responsible for the social upheavel result- ing in lawlessness and the ultimate breakdown of the social lies binding the Kandyans as a separate entity in their country.

The Governor continued that “of late the enormous expenditure of British capital in the interior has led to the introduction of many thousands of labourers to the interior from India and from the maritime provinces of Ceylon–the Kandyans having shown little disposition to engage as day labourers”. This comment on the Kandyans had led many to construe that the Kandyans were work-shy and a lazy lot.

Such conclusions were unfair and untrue. The Kandyans, in general, were unwilling to work for the usurpers of their lands who paid very low wages, and sometimes none. Further they were too busy all year round, occupied in keeping their own @@@ 255 @@@ 248 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH lands cultivated to eke out their own livelihood, which was all that they wanted in life. The double harvests a year paddy cultivation cycle in the Kandyan lands was an elaborate process, attended with rituals, and involved practically the entire village. It started with the flooding of the fields (vakkaduval) and ended with the threshing and the division of paddy among themselves; in between, they had a continuous stream of arduous work, such as cleaning of water courses, fencing, banking, ploughing, sowing, transplanting, reaping of the fields, treading out the grain and removing it to the garner, and thatching and repairing their flimsy dwellings. As soon as one season’s work ended, they had to get ready for the next planting season. Nevertheless some did supplement their income as day labourers in the plantations even though the conditions of work were appalling even by the standards of the day. As Tennent noted “few of the Kandyan peasantry were al any time disposed to lend their aid to the new settlers, and those who did on the first opening of the plantations, discon tinued their services by degrees, disgusted as there is too much reason to fear, by the want of good faith on the part of thei employers, by breach of engagements and unkindness of theil general treatment”(34). This became impossible with the arrival of Indian coolies.

All European colonalists in Asia, British included, did typecast the indigenous people as lazy and indolent. It was part of their ideology of colonial capitalism and exploitation of natives. To the natives however this was one of the earliesl forms of resistance to colonial expansion–a point very ably – argued by S. H. Alatas in his scholarly book “The Myth of the Lazy Native”.

The Governor continued that “so many as 10,000 persons are shown by the returns to have come over from the @@@ 256 @@@ L THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 249 – ¢ontinent of India in one quarter of this year and the resort of lnbourers from the maritime provinces is still more consider- nble”. “ “Among the former there are of course very many persons of bad character, but unquestionably by far the greater number of the daring robberies and murders which have of lnte become common in the interior are committed by persons Irom the maritime provinces. The Kandyan headmen and the population generally are so totally devoid of courage and energy that they are quite unequal to control this class of persons, and the large sums of money which are continually heing carried about the country for the payment of labourers, present irresistible temptation to robbery and murder where (here is no sort of protective police”.

“It therefore becomes absolutely and urgently my duty on my own responsibility to authorise the payment from (he public funds of the limited police for the interior”(35). In lequesting approval for this expenditure, the Governor pointed out that the police force consisted of 1 Head Constable paid at £4.10sh a month and 12 police peons in the rural districts of the interior paid at £1 a month each. He wanted an additional £500 ayear, and the permission to bring forward an Ordinance to regulate the police of the interior, and the power to impose such assessment as might be necessary to meet the expenses of an expanded police force. He concluded that a moderate tax on Kandyan houses and a tax of 1sh.6d on imported guns would provide the necessary funds.

Another cause of the very serious decay in the Kandyan morality was the introduction for sale and distillation of arrack in this region. In general most Kandyans were, accord- ing to their religion, teetotallers. The drinkers were in the » @@@ 257 @@@ 250 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH border regions where a profitable contraband trade in arrack flourished. With a view to checking this illicit trade and also to raise revenue, Governor Barnes in April 1820 introduced the maritime excise system into the Kandyan provinces. The supply of arrack to the taverns was a Government monopoly, except in Lower Sabaragamuwa. The retail price was fixed high at 12 Rix $ per gallon in Kandy and in the surrounding areas to discourage excessive consumption. Soon Kundasale had an arrack distillery. Expenditure on it by the Collector of Kandy was in 1825 £793, 1826 £1416, 1827 £470. The four components of this expenditure were, (1) the pay of the establishment, (2) the value of rice and salt to toddy drawers, (3) the value of toddy delivered for distilling and (4) transport charges. The last was the biggest item, and because of the use of carts as opposed to the backs of men, it dropped from £1258 in 1826 to £299 in 1827(36). The Government obtained an annual revenue of about £5000 between 1821 and 1833, which soon multiplied tenfold with the arrival of the low- countrymen and the Indian coolies.

The consumption of alcohol increased, drunkeness became common and gradually the people were reduced to depravity and immorality. Skinner, who saw this happen first hand, had given us a graphic account of this slide of the Kandyans into the vice of intemperance and the evils that followed. His words are worth our study. He wrote “that the vice of intemperance has become an enormous evil, and that itis rapidly gaining ground, there is left no room for doubt. A revenue of between £50,000 and £ 60,000 a year is derived from the sale of arrack farms. Renters purchase from Govern- ment the monopoly of the taverns of a district; the conditions requiring the renter not to sell his spirits under 4sh. a gallon,he purchasing it from the distillers at an average of 1sh. 2d a gallon. The competition for these arrack farms is so great that they are seldom sold much under their value. It is, of course, ) @@@ 258 @@@ ki el “‘wm‘-“wm THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 251 {he object of the renter to sub-let as many of these taverns as pussible; they are established in every district, almost in every village of any size throughout the interior, often to the great unnoyance of the inhabitants, and in opposition to the head- men. To give the people a taste for the use of spirits, it is often, Al first, necessary to distribute it gratuitously, the tavern- keepers well knowing that, with the use, the abuse of the Indulgence follows as a certainity. I have known districts, of {he population of which, some years ago, not one in a hundred tould be induced to taste spirits, where drunkenn€ss now prevails to such an extent that villagers have been known to puwn their crops upon the ground to tavern-keepers for nrrack. We know the train of evils which are the inevitable tonsequences of intemperance in the most highly civilized societies; but deprive the poor uncivilized, uneducated native ol his great redeeming virtue of sobriety, and you cast him ndrift at once, an unresisting victim to all the vices of human- Ity”. ; “Government, by the tempting item of its revenue (lerivable from the arrack farms, has been induced tacitly to ullow, if it has not, through its agents, positively encouraged {he use of spirits throughout the land; it justifies itself by the (Intended) restrictive price, under which rate it forbids it to be sold by retail. It would have been more consistent with the (luty of a paternal Government to have limited the number of – luverns in the rural districts, or, at least, not allowed them to be forced upon the people against their wish”(37).

Tennent before the House of Commons Committee ndmitted that the Kandyans did complain that the establish- ment of taverns throughout their country, which was a new {hing having sprung up over the last ten years, had led to – #xtensive demoralization as the consequence of extended Intoxication (Q.2622).

@@@ 259 @@@ 252 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Another ex-Government Agent, ex-Military Officer, ex-District Judge and ex-Coffee Planter, J. Forbes, wrote about the introduction of arrack into Kandy in no uncertain terms, “I entirely sympathise with the Buddhist priests and denounce the establishment of 133 Government taverns for the sale of ardent spirits, to about 200,000 persons, whose – religion forbids them to taste the accursed draught thus pressed to their lips by a Christian Government. This policy not only increases the revenue and the number of nominal Christians, but multiplies drunkenness, gambling, robbery and murder”(38). Many taverns and inns were also gambling dens.

Mr. Colepepper, the Police Superintendent in Kandy, referred to five such hotels in Kandy, in his report on the coolies made on the 3rd. June 1847. He wrote that those hotels were frequented by young superintendents of coffee estates.

They were the constant scenes of riot and confusion and every species of gambling for considerable sums of money was carried on there. They were dens of iniquity, of riot and debauchery which enabled the inn-keepers to retire with their ill-gotten gains after only a few months in business.

As the Kandyans were unwilling to work in the plantations in any sufficient numbers, the planters at first sent their agents to India to recruit south Indian labourers, even though it was illegal to do so under the then existing Indian emigration laws. Soon the labourers came on their own accord. They came in gangs led by a headman (Kangani) as ~ seasonal labourers during the coffee harvesting season be tween August and November, and returned home with thei earnings. Tennent gave the following figures of arrivals and departures of coolies (34). What is of concern to us is the effec! ‘these men had on the Kandyan society.

@@@ 260 @@@ Ml THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 253 ARRIVALS : Men Women Children Total 1439 2432 188 99 2719 1§40 3326 BO750 g 3814 1841 4523 363 164 5050 | 542 9025 279 166 9470 1§43 6298 162 248 6708 | Bad 74840 1181 724 76745 1§45 72526 698 177 73401 1§46 41863 330 125 42318 – DUPARTURES 1839 1956 161 85 2202 K40 3464 256 153 3873 841 4243 274 117 4634 1842 10691 345 228 11264 1843 18977 694 482 20153 1844 38337 825 533 39697 I845 24623 145 36 24804 I846 13833 48 23 13904 It would be unsafe to conclude that the differences in ~lumbers between the arrivals and the departures were all settlers in the Kandyan country. Allowance should be made lor errors in the compilation of the figures, for those who died ¢ route, in the estates or elsewhere due to fatal diseases (tholera, small-pox, dysentry) and for those who delayed Aheir departures into the following years and those who telurned unrecorded in dhonies. Nevertheless, the discrep- uncy between the two sets of figures appears to be large #hough, to hazard the conclusion, that some remained in the Kundyan country, albeit temporarily, and this would have sed a threat to the isolated Kandyan villagers, who could ve easily felt that they were being swamped by these Loolies. i .

@@@ 261 @@@ 254 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH In passing, it ought to be pointed out that this report contained various recommendations. for the welfare of the coolies. Among them was one pertaining to their permanent settlement in the country in order to secure a permanent source of local labour. Tennent suggested the establishment of ‘India villages’ in the ancient Sinhalese lands around Anuradhapura with their own local government. “A race of willing labourers might thus be transported into the very neighbourhood of the coffee districts with the opportunity of restoring the tillage of the district”. Torringtion too was enthusiastic about this proposal and looked upon it as an additional source of rev- enue. He wrote to Lord Grey that a great object he had in view was “the locating of Malabars–making them cultivate their lands under certain restrictions, and paying after the Indian fashion a portion of the produce as rent to the Crown. The only way to do this, is by bringing over whole villages with their Priests,headmen etc.–and that immense tract of country be- tween Kandy and Trincomalee, now almost a solitude may yet be peopled and an immense Revenue derived from their labours. That the location of Malabars will be highly advan- tageous to the coffee planters there can be no doubt”(39). This proposal was later changed by Tennent to the settlement of coolies in the confiscated lands of the Kandyan rebels of 1848.

Providentially for the country, nothing came of these propos- als, but the idea of a permanently settled labour colonies in the plantations began to be practised by the proprietors of planta- tions as years went by.

The Kandyans had many reasons for disliking the.

coolies. These casual labourers were part of the system which was depriving the Kandyans of their lands. Given that the labourers were in general loyal to and were identified with the plantations, they too became an object of distaste and dislike by the Kandyans just as much as the owners of the plantations.

@@@ 262 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 255 The coolies usually arrived by boat at Talaimannar or Arippu in the north-west of Ceylon. From there they marched lv Kandy, a distance of about 200 miles. The roads at that time were still hazardous jungle paths and infested with malarial – nosquitoes. By the time they reached the Kandyan country at – Kurunegala or Dambulla, they would be starving, sickly, miserable and desperate men. Such men had no scruples.

They rested on Kandyan lands and took whatever they could Iny their hands on, even carrion flesh, as their food. As all food and water belonged to the Kandyans, conflicts and confronta- fions were frequent. To minimise these conflicts with the Kandyans, the Government later did build a few road-side festing sheds, and did dig some wells for their use. The (iovernment, however, resisted the pressure from the planters {0 a system of state-assisted and state-subsidised immigration of Indian labour.

As the sickly and diseased ridden labourers were a llability on the planters, they were frogmarched out of the estates. These emaciated men turned up at the outskirts of the nearest Kandyan villages begging for or stealing food or they simply dropped dead on the roadside. The Agricultural Soci- ety indeed did report that the roads were choked up with the sick, the dying and the dead. Others who could make it, went to Kandy and ended up in the infirmary of the Kandy Friend- in-Need Society. This ‘hospital’, which was originally erected lo service the civilian population of Kandy, was now entirely devoted to treating the foreign coolies to the exclusion of the Kandyans–a point which aggravated their dislike of the coolies. Some of the able-bodied, vagrant coolies in Kandy resorted to crime for their survival. Ordinance 3 of 1840 was nimed at the suppression of vagrancy and for the punishment of idle and disorderly persons, rogues, vagabonds and incor- rigible rogues. It had little effect in Kandy because of the @@@ 263 @@@ 256 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH absence of a visible and forceful constabulary. Thus three years later in 1843, the Europeans in Kandy petitioned the Governor to-take urgent steps to counteract the almost daily occurrence of robberies, house-breaking, gambling and mur- ders.

The sight of so many unclean and sickly men, wonder- ing about aimlessly, also instilled in the minds of the Kandyans, that they were carriers of infectious deadly diseases. This – impression was further enhanced by the fact that small-pox and cholera did break out in the country more than once in the 1840s– another reason for keeping the coolies at arms length, Where the coolies did settle down on their work in particular district, and were regular in their arrivals and departures, they began to establish a sub-society of their own, by-passing that of the Kandyans, pursuing their own culture and their brand of Siva-Lingam worship. There began to appear dotted around the estates shrines devoted to Lingam (phallus) worship. On top of this, in some remote villages, this Tamil-speaking immigrants outnumbered the Sinhala speak ing Kandyans. These factors could have been perceived by the Kandyans as another threat to their own religion, which at thiy time was under attack by the Christian missionaries; and as i threat to their dominance in the country.

These labourers also gradually built up a sustained commercial rapport with the Muslim and the Low-country traders in the bazaars nearby as well as in Kandy. Such ‘commercial intercourse was not open to the Kandyans by and large, because they were not yet fully on stream in the money economy. As there was a satisfaction of coincidental needs, both parties prospered. The Kandyans could only helplessly watch and wonder how all the newcomers to their Kingdom @@@ 264 @@@ THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 257 Advanced, while they themselves were, at best stagnating, if not degenerating. Anger, tinged with jealousy, could nothave endeared the foreigners to them. – [} The discontent and the antagonism engendered by the coffee plantations and the consequent ill-effects on the mass of the Kandyan people were, by Tennent, confessed to the House of Commons Committee on Ceylon. He stated that “they complain of the sale of their forests for the purpose of converting them into coffee estates…All the Kandyan villagers made free use of them for the purpose of pasturing (heir buffaloes. They were in fact an easement to their paddy lands..The result of that [the sale of land] has been likewise very distasteful to the mass of the people by the opening up of the roads. There is no characteristic of the Kandyan people more decided than their love of privacy. Their villages are all built in the very depths of the jungle, and very frequently sunk in hollows, so that you might be within 100 yards of a populous Kandyan village without being aware of its vicinity.

The opening up of the roads has necessarily destroyed that privacy; but in addition to that, it has poured into the villages the low-country Sinhalese, who came there as tradesmen and mechanics, and of whom the Kandyans have a great dislike; and still more, it has let in an influx of Malabar coolies, who ure wholly distasteful to the Kandyans, and whom they accuse of robbing their plantains and gardens, and carrymg off their poultry”.

“All these are the results of the conversion of these hills and forests into planting settlements; they have repeat- edly complained of this to the Government. But it must be – obvious that these are grievances to which we can apply no remedy, because they arise out of legitimate causes, which it would be injudicious in us to control, I mean to check coffee @@@ 265 @@@ 258 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH planting”(Q.2621). Given this unyielding and rather callous sounding admission from the Colonial Secretary, any furthe attempts on my part, to demonstrate the loss imposed on the Kandyans by the coffee plantations, becomes superflous; s I rest my case.

From a long term point of view, one cannot entertaif any doubts that the influx of investment estimated at £} million, into the Kandyan country, the development of the ~jungle interior with coffee plantations, the opening up of the country with a network of roads, theinflow of skilled labour and the wage economy were all beneficial to the country. Thix was the missing link in the reforms set in motion by Commis sioners Colebrooke and Cameron. They set out to destroy the existence of the Kandyan kingdom as a separate entity. Their .reforms only touched the administrative and the legal aspecty but lacked the locking integration provided by an economic¢ base. Coffee plantation and the consequent roads were the binding cement,the firm base on which a united nation was born. The roads not only broke down the isolation of the Kandyans, they also became literally the conduit through which men, money and materials for further development entered the country. To the Kandyans, however, everything was falling apait. They were still struggling to free themselves from the feudal inequalities and caste restrictions. As a body, they were in no position to forsee the benefits. What they saw was the loss of their lands, their customs, the loss of influence of their religion and the gradual drift of their people to degradation, and the disintegration of the society they knew.

They were hemmed in by economic and political forces which they could not control or comprehend. In their ignorance, they sought to fight their way out without any proper leadership or plan. It ended in disaster for the Kandyans.

  • e AR 1 e ) { g v (T @@@ 266 @@@ i o (R il S BRI R e L R ; THE OPENING UP OF KANDYAN LANDS 259 ; – MEFERENCES ‘ @ |, Robert Knox: An Historical Relation of Ceylon, p.4. ‘3 ). C0O54/74, Barnes to Bathurst, 13th. Nov. 1819. ‘ ] |\, CO54/77, Barnes to Bathurst, 19th. May 1820. g 4, CO54/80, Barnes to Bathurst, 19th. July 1821. % 5 T. Skinner, Fifty Years in Ceylon, p. 215. , h. L. A. Mills, Ceylon Under The British Rule, p.223. ‘ (C0O54/82, Paget to Bathurst, 29th. May 1822.

§. COS54/104, Barnes to Bathurst, 25th. Jan. 1829.

U, COS54/114, Horton to Goderich, 21st. Nov. 1831. – 10, CO54/74, Brownrigg to Bathurst, 23rd. Apr. 1819. il 1. L. A, Mills, op.cit. p.228.

12, CO54/104, Barnes to Murray, 25th. Feb. 1829.

I3. F.Lewis, A Few Pioneer Estates, p. 12. ’ I4. CO54/228, Report on Revenue and Commerce 1846.

I5. K. M. De Silva, The ‘Rebellion’ of 1848, p.84.

16, CO54/229, Petition 10th. Nov. 1846.

I7. Skinner, op.cit. p.223. : B I8. CO54/189, Colin Campbell to Lord John Russell, 9th.

Aug. 1841.

  1. CO54/84, James Campbell to Bathurst, 31st. Dec. 1823.
  2. CO54/147, Turnour on Land Disputes, 3rd. Feb. 1833. o 21. COS54/147, Investigation of claims on lands at Kundasale. e 22. CO54/161, Glenelg to C. Campbell, 16th. Dec. 1836.
  3. CO54/171, Lord John Russell to Mackenzie, 25th Nov.
  4. o 24. CO54/228, Report on Revenue and Commerce 1846.
  5. CO54/196, C.Campbell to Lord Stanley, 11th. Apr.1842.
  6. K. M. De Silva, op. cit. p.98.
  7. K. M. De Silva, op. cit. p.13. : 28. CO54/229,C. CampbelltoLordStanlcy,let Jan.1846.
  8. J. Forbes, Recent Disturbances, p.27. .
  9. Skinner, op. cit. p.222. ¢l 31. CO54/223, C. Campbell to Lord Stanley, 14th. Feb. ‘ 1846. {1 @@@ 267 @@@ (30541205 C Cam;;bell to Lord Sta.nley, 19th Sept 1843, ’36. \@0541101 ClVll Expcndlture for 1825, 1826 1827 “37 Skmner op c1t. p 219. K M DcS?.va op c1t Pl @@@ 268 @@@ 7 THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION The Kandyan chiefs felt mortified when they were deprived of their stately retinue. They felt degraded by the curtailment of their power and sway over their people. When lRajakaria was abolished, they foresaw their downfall from the pinnacle of their society. The efforts made to free their personal slaves threatened them with humiliation. The delib- erate neglect of their religion by the British was confirmation (0 them, that their society had left its moorings and was drifting beyond their control. They found their lands opened up at the expense of blood, sweat and livelihood of their people and parcelled out to British capitalists and speculators, whose methods and manners were not only alien, but were unlso downright hostile to the interests of both the chiefs and the Kandyan people. Given this litany of grievances, rebel- lion and reaction was to be expected from a proud people with an age-old history, pristine tradition and a flourishing civili- zation. This was all the more likely, as the Kandyans were suddenly plummeted from the heights of being masters of their own destiny, to the subservience of stipendiary servants of one of the parties to asolemn covenant between equals. The discovery that such a solemn compact could be breached with impunity by the British the one party to a contract, to achieve the subjugation of the Kandyans, who were the other party to the contract, would have engendered uncontrollable frustra- tions in the hearts of many Kandyans. Ejection of the British from the Kandyan provinces was the only avenue open to the Kandyans to counteract the cunning duplicity of their colonial partners, who by stratagem and military force had now be- come their masters. This, as was already seen, they attempted – @@@ 269 @@@ 262 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH time and again without much success. Condign punishment of such rebels by the British did not deter others. The downtrod- den Kandyan society was a fertile soil for conspiracies and plots against the usurper, and also for spies and secret agents who tauted their expertise and connections to profit from the misery of their countrymen. The vultures needed a carrion to feast on, and on this occasion, the old Kandyan kingdom was unfortunately that carcass. This was the political climate in Kandy, where rumours abounded that the principal Kandyan chiefs were in cahoot concocting a plot to subvert the British rule in Kandy, and install a pretender on the vacant throne of Kandy. There were many informers.’Some were motivated by their attachment to the British on account of the many favours and lucrative positions they had obtained under the British.

There were others who aspired to such favours, and hoped that their sequealing on their fellow countrymen would endear them to the British, and merit them substantial rewards. There were also others, who, driven by private jealousy and anger over family squabbles and land disputes, were quite prepared to betray their fellow-men.

It would be tedius to recount all the statements made by all such informers over a period stretching from March 1834 to January 1835, when the alleged conspirators were put on trial. Most of those depositions would be dealt with at the trial in the following chapter. In this chapter it would be adequate to deal with the allegations in general, made by Mahawellatenne, the Dissave of Saffragam, the ex-rebel Weyuridepolle (see Chap.2), and the three Buddhist monks, Embilmeegama, Mahalle and Ratnapala Unnanses. The in- formation they gave led to the arrest of many Kandyans, though only six were put on trial. The low-country interpreter @@@ 270 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 263 mudaliyar David de Silva too played a crucial part as the nexus between the government and the informers. The allega- tions amounted to the following: (n) (b) (¢) (d) (e) () (g) The First Adikar Mollegodde had ceremoniously gifted all his property to his son, before undertaking a pilgrim- age to the sacred city of Anuradhapura.

This was a sham pilgrimage, because it was effected during the Sinhalese New Year in April, when it was the.

Kandyan custom to spend the time with one’s family.

The secret objective of this journey was to parley with a Wanny chief for his support for the plot and to select a pretender for the throne and bring this candidate to Matale. It was also a tour to rally his supporters to the cause of rebellion and to win over the headmen of the district.

Mollegodde had many royal insignia in his temple and was in the process of collecting in a book the customs, traditions, usages and ceremonies connected with the late King’s palace. This book, if it still exists, would be a very valuable source of information to all Sri Lankans.

The chiefs were holding pincomas (meritorious charita- ble religious events) and encouraging large gatherings at various places, at different times, in order to win the loyalty and support of the people, and had administered secret oaths on some of their followers.

The Asbage and Atbage people were given privileges, which they were hitherto not entitled to, in order to win them over to thc rebellion.

The Malay soldiers had been bribed by Buddhist monks to fight for the Kandyans. They would also be employed @@@ 271 @@@ 264 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH to murder all surviving Europeans at a party to be given by Dunuwilla Dissave. At this party poison was to be mixed with the beverages served to the European guests.

(h) €) (k) ) Prostitutes and other Kandyan beauties were to be sta- tioned at convenient places in Kandy, to attract the Europeans. Those who fell into this trap were also to be murdered. Their executioners were to be not only Malays, but also vagrants and convicted felons. It ought to be observed here, that with so many people involved in such a dastardly act, the plot becomes incredible as well as impossible to be kept a secret.

Mr. Turnour was to be murdered one morning by the archers from Bintenne while he was out riding in the forest near Kandy.

The Governor, his wife and their retinue were to be kidnapped on the jungle road, while on their way to Nuwara Eliya, and to be held in the jungle as prisoners.

Mr. Turnour was to be persuaded to open the Karanduwa (casket) to verify the presence in it of the Tooth Relic.

During this exhibition, commotion was to be created by setting fire to the curtains, and during this commotion, a facsimile was to be substituted and the real Relic pur- loined.

Two Malabar (sometimes three) princes had already been in the Kandyan provinces and had met some of the conspirators.

(m) Dunuwilla Dissave had talked of sending Ihagamme Ralle to Mauritius, (an ex-rebel and recently returned state prisoner from Mauritius), with a petition signed by all the chiefs, under the disguise of a trader, ona mission to enlist the help of the French against the British.

@@@ 272 @@@ LR “‘fl WW , ””51( TW@wv\mwu; ), AR} 1 | THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 265 (n) Dunuwilla also talked of plans to send Buddhist monks to Amarapura in Siam, under the pretext of obtaining the higher Upasampada ordination, to obtain the help of the Siamese king to eject the British from Kandy. He had also talked of raising contributions to fund his Joumey to London to petition the King. ‘ (0) Thechiefs had given money to one headman to collect the people for revolt and were collecting more to bribe the Malays and to finance the rebellion. Mahawellatenne himself had given 200 Rix $ for this purpose.

(p) The headmen of Udunuwara, Yattinuwara, Dumbara, Seven Korales and Four Korales had been got ready with their people to attack the army garrisons in their areas and plunder them of all the provisions and arms.

(q) Polwatte Unnanse had stored up provisions to last for several months in Mahiyangana and had been gathering saltpetre and iron for armaments.

(r) Therebellion was to start during the hurly burly of Kandy Perehera both in Kandy and in the outstations simultane- ously.

Except for a few minor details, the reports the Govern- ment received from different quarters were consistent in the identity of the plotters as well as the crux of the plot. This put the Governor in a difficult situation. He had no hard evidence of one single act of open rebellion. All the evidence he had, amounted to conversations, hearsay and inferences. He was prepared to bide his time until some action was taken by the alleged conspirators, when two events, more or less forced his hands. The first was the importation of a large consigment of arms through the port at Batticaloa. This consisted of: @@@ 273 @@@ 266 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH 40 Firelocks; 99 Gunlocks, 26 Bags of Gunpowder, 13 Saltpetre Bags, 4 Sulphur Bags, 444 Lbs of Sulphur, 21 Lbs. of Gunpowder, 300 Flints, 10 Swords, 3 Daggers, 2 Pistols and 1 Box of Gunpowder.

The Government Agent at Batticaloa was instructed to keep a watchful eye and was asked to delay clearance. He was to attribute the detention of the consigment ‘to accidental delays in the transmission of the usual licences from Co- lombo’.

The other event was the request by the stipended monks, for permission to leave Kandy to go to the outstations to observe Vas. This was a religious observation of rigorous meditation and fasting similiar to the Christian Retreat or Lent. The Governor was afraid that the culprit monks would use this opportunity to escape from his clutches and stir up the people in the countryside. He held many secret meetings of the Executive Council at Kandy to decide on the appropriate course of action. The members present at these meetings were, Sir J. Wilson, the Major General of the Army, Mr.

Turnour, Mr. Anstruther Mr. Wodehouse and himself. Their suspicion that a plot was in the brewing had reached the point of decision. At 11pm on the 18th of July 1834 the Executive Council met to decide and at 1.30am on the 19th they unanimously resolved to arrest the conspirators the same day at the same time.

The Governor observed that the arrests themselves by reason of their being notorious would lead to more corrobo- rating evidence. Two circumstances made it necessary that immediate arrests took place. “The one–the fact of the disper- sion of the conspirator priests, whose plans are to excite the @@@ 274 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 267 people to immediate treasonable enterprises. The other, the notorious fact that rumours of this conspiracy are in full circulation at Colombo, which rumours cannot fail to reach the ears of the conspirators, who in that case will adopt one of the two alternatives, either of which are in my judgement of most dangerous tendency”.

“The one, the immediate smothering of the plans now In active agitation, unattended with any overt plea to remove from power the chiefs who are implicated. The other, the proceeding to some acts of overt rebellion, which would commit some portion of the population, a result which in my judgement is most anxious to be avoided”(1).

Mr. Anstruther recorded that he was of the opinion that the arrests could not be deferred. “If the principal witness Embilmeegama is to be credited, the conspirators have pro- ceeded so far that there is every probability of further evidence being obtained when the arrests are made, his evidence is clear, consistent and circumstantial, that I cannot believe it to be falses: v it is supported by many collateral facts of impor- tance, such as the unprecedented importation of fire arms at Batticaloa.. and the statement by Major Fletcher as to the communication of the Malays with the priests, and the ab- sence of the suspected Malay Captain from the Lines during the whole of this day, when we were previously informed that he would attend a feast at a temple for the purpose of taking treasonable oath”.

“I have long urged the expediency of deferring the arrests till sufficient legal evidence can be obtained. That I believe is still wanting, but I am strongly impressed with the opinion, that a further delay would in all probability be productive of extreme hazard, which I believe the government @@@ 275 @@@ 268 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH would not be justified in incurring at this moment…The dispersal of the priests appear to be a most unusual proceed- ing.. if they disperse tomorrow, they will be beyond the reach of the government and may probably raise an insurrec- tion before Government will again have the means of effect- ing their arrests”.

“I cannot canceal from myself that it may turn out that the arrest is premature or not made on sufficient grounds–but on the other hand, I do not think that with the mass of evidence before the Council, it would be justified in deferring the arrests, when such delay will certainly afford further time for the corruption of the native troops, and may not improbably lead to much bloodshed, which the arrests are calculated to prevent”(1).

Mr. Wodehouse, the Government Agent of Kandy recorded that “it would be highly prejudicial to the public safety and the public interests, to continue in their high offices, s_ccular and sacerdotal, the principal parties in this conspiracy. Their immediate displacement therefore in my judgement is indispensable–and as that displacement would give much publicity to the cognizance of this plot by Govern- ment as the arrests themselves, I conceive that the measures should be immediately carried into effect–thereby discourag- ing the disaffected and encouraging the well disposed to denounce the proceedings of the conspirators”(1). Accord- ingly the following were arrested on the 19th July 1834.

At Kandy The Chiefs The Priests Mollegodde, First Adikar Wellasse Anunayakke Unnanse Ellapata Basnayakke Nileme Dembewe Unnanse @@@ 276 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 269 Dunuwilla Dissave Tibbotawewe Unnanse Dunuwilla Madduma Banda Kettekumbura Unnanse Raddegodde Lekam Obbokotuwe Unnanse Gunhetty Mohandiram Parakumbura Unnanse Palane Kumbure Liyaneralle Gallagama Unnanse Athagama Banda Mahakehlwatte Unnanse Informer Priests (later released) Embilmeegama Unnanse Mahalle Unnanse and Ratnapala Unnanse Native Officers of the Ceylon Regiment Abdul Passer and Vera Sorta At Badulla Gonegodde Dissave Polwatte Unnanse Bibile Ratteralle At Matale Dullawe Second Adikar and At Nuwarakalwiya Nuwarawewe Mudiyanse. ‘ Bamberadeniya Basnayakke Ralleand Warakadeniya Vidahn were arrested later in October. ‘ Governor Horton wrote to the Colonial Secretary that he had issued, with the unanimous sanction of the Executive Council, warrants for the arrest of certain chiefs and priests, founded upon evidence which had been received, of their guilt of treasonable projects and practices to subvert the British rule. “No indication of resistance or disaffection have been evinced as yet on the part of the population in consequence of these proceedings. I have the satisfaction in being able to express my conviction of their general loyalty and just ap- @@@ 277 @@@ 270 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH preciation of the benefits which they are practically enjoying under the British Government. It is impossible to say how far the treasonable designs of the chiefs and the priests, had they been allowed full time to mature, might have operated in deceiving a half civilized population as to the permanent nature of the benefits which they had received, and inducing them to believe that they were only treacherous and temporary….A population accustomed to feel deference to their native superiors and susceptible also in a high degree of the impressions of a barbarous religion, and jealous of its maintenance and ascendancy, although perhaps not to be considered as under the subjugation of the Priesthood. A very few years will so thoroughly establish the reality of the advantages which the mass of the people now enjoy that all danger of excitement by the influence of a limited number of higher class will be forever prevented”(2).

After the arrests many investigatory interviews were held by the government in Kandy and numerous statements were taken down. No hard fact of rebellion was forthcoming and to protect his actions the Governor again wrote to London that, “it is impossible to anticipate the result of any legal prosecution in a country like this, where the population have unfortunately so little regard for truth or consistency, nor is it easy to ascertain the extent to which the conspiracy may have spread in such a country where distrust necessarily prevails as a consequence of a system of habitual dissimulation, inas- much as the only parties who can furnish the information must have been participators in the guilt, and feel that they are liable to be denounced themselves, at the very moment they are employed in denouncing others. As far however as moral conviction is involved, nothing can be more conclusive than that a conspiracy was in progress, which there is every reason ~ to believe, has been paralysed, if not destroyed by the meas- @@@ 278 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 271 ures the Government have adopted””(3). This tone of insult and innuendo of a people was a deliberate ploy resorted to by all the Governqrs of the period under consideration. As savages and half-civilized people, the Kandyans could be easily proved to be capable of anything nasty and brutish. Such knaves and villains, according to the governors, had no right to fight for their country, but had every right to be arrested and held incommunicado, even though, the investigators were still in the dark in September, as to the extent to which the plot had proceeded, and incriminating evidence was very meagre and unsatisfactory. The Governor expressed the hope that the Colonial Secretary would not be disposed to question the course he had taken, even if it was found impossible “to bring legal proofs of the guilt of Treason home to any individual who has been implicated”. In the meanwhile, the Governor had also obtained the right to arrest and hold anyone in prison for eighteen months without a trial. Such was the shameful course of British justice then! The man sent to arrest Mollegodde was Major Thomas Skinner. He wrote that “the first supposed interruption to the contentment and loyalty of the Kandyan population occurred in 1834, towards the close of which, reports of disaffection in some of the districts were made to the Government,with such precision and minuteness of detail as regarded the time and mode, and such exaggeration as regarded the means of the intended attack, that on the night on which it was said the preparations were completed by the rebels in Kandy, and on the eve of the supposed insurrection, the troops were turned out in silence, and at a given signal before daylight certain officers, of whom I was one, were told off for the apprehen- sion of the most influential chiefs and priests, Government supposing, from the information it had received, that the temples and houses of the chiefs were prepared for resistance; each officer was provided with a military party. My own @@@ 279 @@@ 272 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH inglorious office was the seizure of the First Adikar, Mollegodde, in whose Walawa there was such an entire absence of preparation, either offensive or defensive, that the martial array by which we were supported (suggested by the false and exaggerated information on which the Government had acted) gave the whole affair, when daylight dawned upon it, a character of extreme burlesque”.

“At 4am the Ceylon Rifles were turned out without a noise. Captain Atchison was furnished with a party to sur- round the Asgiri temples, and I with another party had orders to capture the Adikar and his palace full of armed men”.

“We were directed to take up positions which would effectively prevent any escape, and to make gunfire the signal for attack! I had surrounded Mollegodde’s Walawa as quietly “as was possible, but still felt surprised that, if the building was, as it was reputed to be, full of armed men, some watch or guard should not have been set, and that they should have allowed themselves to be so taken unawares. It was unlike Kandyans, for they make up in watchfulness and caution what they are deficient in courage”.

“I shall never forget my humiliation when as the gun fired I burst open the hall door, and instead of finding the palace bristling with men armd to the teeth, [ was accosted by an old cripple, who came forward with a lantern to ask what was wanted. I ran upstairs with a sergeant and file of men to Molleggodde’s bedroom, where I found him asleep with his little boy. They were both, as well they might be, utterly surprised at this intrusion on their morning’s repose”.

“My orders were to take my prisoners to the general parade, where the troops had all been turned out. I handed them over and then received orders to march my detachment @@@ 280 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 273 back to their lines and dismiss them. I was heartily glad to get away from the scene in which I had performed so unenviable a part. It is impossible to conceive what could have been the motive for the evidence which had been trumped up against – this chief, whom I had known from my first employment on the roads and had always believed to be a decidedly loyal subject”(4). A similar tragi-commedy was also enacted by (“aptain Stanuus at Dunuwilla Dissave’s house at about the same time.

Lord Stanley replied that, “I approve of the caution and vigilance employed by yourself and the Council of your Giovernment from the first intimation which you received of (he existence of a treasonable plot, nor can I consider, under ull the circumstances you have stated, that you were prema- lure in securing the chief parties supposed to be concerned, as you have reason to believe that they were in the eve of dispersing for the accomplishment of their designs”.

“You seem indeed to have been so well aware of the importance of postponing their arrest to the latest moment consistent with a due regard to the public safety, that it is almost superfluous for me to remark how much it is to be wished that the evidence against the prisoners should have been of the most perfect and conclusive description, and at the lime, of a nature to afford the means of discovering others who – might be implicated in the further prosecution of the plot”.

“] fully participate however, in my sentiments which led you to forgo the chance of a more perfect development of (heir schemes in order to avert the danger of some overt act of violence or even of insurrection…. 8 “It is with great satisfaction that I learn your convic- tion that the people in general are loyal and well-disposed, and @@@ 281 @@@ 274 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH that the disaffection which has lately shown itself is confined to a very limited number. I sincerely trust that whatever may be the result of the trial of the parties who have been arrested, the discovery of their projected schemes will not only con- vince the native chiefs and priests, should any unhappily remain ill-disposed towards the British Government, that their proceedings are closely watched, but will also have the effect of checking in future their unwarrantable designs”(5).

No, this did not check the Kandyans. They still had lot of fight left to fight another day. They were not going to give up their country to usurpers that easily.

In order to forestall any trouble on the part of the general population, and to induce the Kandyans to inform on the plotters, the Governor made a Proclamation on the 9th of August 1834. It ran as follows: “Whereas a treasonable conspiracy has been orginated by certain Kandyan chiefs and priests who had for their object the subversion of British Supremacy, by which they had hoped to crush the liberties which under that Supremacy had been conferred upon the people”.

“And whereas evidence laid before the Government, it appears that in pursuance of their traitorous designs, it was intended to seduce His Majesty’s Kandyan subjects from their allegiance by false assertions: amongst others, that it was the object of the British Government to destroy the religion of the Buddha and to revive that system of Compulsory Service to which they had been formerly subjected”.

  • “Itis hereby declared that such assertions are false and unfounded, and that although the Government will no longer interfere to enforce compulsory attendance at religious Festi- vals, the inhabitants of this colony professing the religion of @@@ 282 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION 278 the Buddha will continue to be protected and supported in the freest exercise of their religion”. “And it is further declared that the fullest effect will continue to be given to His Majesty’s most gracious com- mands as explained and declared in those Clauses of His Majesty’s Order-in-Council which are hereto subjoined by which they are placed entirely on an equal footing with the British-born subjects of His Majesty”. What is referred to here, is the abolition of Rajakaria. “And whereas certain of those chiefs and priests have been arrested, and it is the desire and determination of the Government to bring all offenders to justice who have been engaged in this irrational and abortive attempts against the British power; relying on the loyalty and fidelity of the people, which have been evinced by their orderly and peaceable conduct, the Government hereby call on them to come for- ward and render their aid and assistance towards the detectlon and conviction of all such offenders”. “And it is hereby further declared that a free pardon will be granted to any person or persons, not having been principal leaders in this conspiracy, who may immediately come forward to give full information thereof™. “And whereas an apprehension of the possibility of internal disturbance is said to have given rise to alarm which unless speedily checked, might retard the growing agricul- tural and commercial prosperity of the country, His Majesty’s loyal subjects are hereby assured that they may pursue their ordinary avocations without fear, as the Government have laken effectual means for the preservation of the public (ranquility, and the protection of the peaceable and industrial subjects of His Majesty”(6). @@@ 283 @@@ 276 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH There was a major change in policy in the above Proclamation. It was at the same time a source of confusion and contradiction. Rajakaria duties applied to temple lands, they were not abolished as far as the services, which the occupants of such lands owed to the temples and devales.

Among the many services, attendance at and contribution in kind towards the festivals and ceremonies were the mosl essential for the success of the festivities. The Proclamation had now signalled the Government’s reluctance to enforce the tenurial duties of the temple tenants. At least that was the construction put on it by those tenants who exploited the opportunity to escape from their feudal bonds. The inevitable result was the gradual decline and decay of Buddhism.

It was also a source of contradiction, in that, in some Kandyan provinces, the Government Agent did confiscate the lands of disobedient Kappuralles, and had appointed others to the tenancy of the confiscated lands. The fact that the Procla mation omitted to mention the rites and practices of the religion, was seized upon by Hardy, as an argument that the Government of his day had no right to support Buddhism; the undertaking given was mere freedom to practise one’s reli gion, in this case, it was the pure and rational Buddhisl philosophy, without any molestation.

All the evidence taken were submitted to the King’s Advocate and his Deputy for their assessment with a view to bringing the prisoners to trial. Both submitted voluminous reports confirming the existence of the conspiracy.

Mr. Perring, the Deputy wrote that, “on the perusal of these voluminous papers it is morally impossible to come to any other conclusion than that a conspiracy on a most exten- sive scale has been formed chiefly by discontented headmen ‘1 @@@ 284 @@@ 276 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Proclamation. It was at the same time a source of confusic | and contradiction. Rajakaria duties applied to temple lands, they were not abolished as far as the services, which the occupants of such lands owed to the temples and devale Among the many services, attendance at and contribution i kind towards the festivals and ceremonies were the mo essential for the success of the festivities. The Proclamatio ‘ had now signalled the Government’s reluctance to enforce tl tenurial duties of the temple tenants. At least that was th construction put on it by those tenants who exploited tf opportunity to escape from their feudal bonds. The inevita result was the gradual decline and decay of Buddhism.

It was also a source of contradiction, in that, in § | Kandyan provinces, the Government Agent did confiscat lands of disobedient Kappuralles, and had appointed othe: the tenancy of the confiscated lands. The fact that the Proel mation omitted to mention the rites and practices of t relfgion, was seized upon by Hardy, as an argument tha Government of his day had no right to support Buddhism; tt undertaking given was mere freedom to practise one’s rel gion, in this case, it was the pure and rational Buddhi philosophy, without any molestation. b All the evidence taken were submitted to the King Advocate and his Deputy for their assessment with a vie bringing the prisoners to trial. Both submitted volumi reports confirming the existence of the conspiracy.

Mr. Pernng, the Deputy wrote that, “on the pcrusal’ ” these voluminous papers it is morally impossible to co any other conclusion than that a conspiracy on a most exte sive scale has been formed chiefly by discontented heac @@@ 285 @@@ THE RUMBLINGS AND RUMOURS OF AN INSURRECTION m lor the subversion of British Government and that it was contemplated to carry the plot into execution by the most (reacherous and detestable means”. He did warn however, that on the available evidence a conviction of the culprits might be difficult. ‘ Mr. Ogle Carr, the King’s Advocate too took a similar line. Toquote his report, “I am of opinion that a conspiracy has existed having for its object the subversion of the British Supremacy in the late Kandyan provinces and the re-estab- lishment there of a Kandyan King and Government…There ure in fact many points in the evidence for the Prosecution, which to my mind are suspicious and not satisfactory, –but the case is rather to be regarded and considered in its whole bearings, and with its various sources of proof–while a public (rial is the only satisfactory test of truth in this country, where lulsehood and revenge are unhappily so prevalent in the native witnesses”(7). We shall see what these two gentlemen made of the trial in the courtroom drama in January 1835.

In 1834 the Kandy Perehera started on the 5th of August. As this was the date fixed for the alleged insurrection, und because attracted by this annual pagent, a large number of Kandyans had gathered in the town of Kandy, the Govern- ment suspected that attempts might be made to rescue the prisoners and create general commotion in the town. The prisoners were transferred to Colombo under tight security and held in jail there until their trial in Kandy.

If there was any truth in these allegétions, it was to be the last time that the Kandyan hierachy as a whole combined and co-operated together to oust the British from Kandy.

Major economic and social changes were at work in the Kandyan provinces, changing that society from its very foun- @@@ 286 @@@ 278 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH dations. These changes marginalised the Kandyan chiefs, so that they were forced to seek their own economic and social survival within the ambit of the new social structure forced on them by the British; and reduced in number by deaths and mellowed by old age, the remaining few chiefs had not the will, if not the heart, to continue their fight against the British usurper. The situation in Kandy had changed to such an extent that anyone who attempted an insurrection against the British could not succeed on his own. He would have needed massive foreign aid sustained over a long period, even then without the assurance of success. From a political point of view, the Kandyan kingdom was no more.

REFERENCES 1. Co54/135, Minutes of the Executive Council 18th July 1834.

CO54/137, Horton to E. G. Stanley, 23rd July 1834 CO54/137, Horton to E. G. Stanley, 15th Aug. 1834 Skinner, ‘Fifty Years in Ceylon’ p.189 CO54/137, E. G. Stanley to Horton,2nd April 1835 CO54/137, Proclamation, 9th Aug. 1834 CO54/136, King’s Advocate’s Report, Oct. 1834 e T [ @@@ 287 @@@ 8. THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 The state trial commenced on 12th January 1835 in Kandy before Honourable W. Norris, the Second Puisne Justice. It lasted nine days and on the last day, the 21st January, the judge took over five hours to sum up the case and (lirect the jury. The jury in turn took slightly over one hour before they returned to the Court with their historic verdict. In the dock were: (1) Mollegodde, the late First Adikar, (2) Dunuwilla, the late Dissave, (1) Dembewe Unnanse (Buddhist monk), (4) Tibbotawewe Unnanse (Buddhist monk), (5) Kettekumbura Unnanse (Buddhist monk), and (6) Bamberadeniya, late Basnayakke Ralle.

They were defended by Mr. Staples, whilst the King’s Advocate Mr. Carr was the Prosecuting Counsel. He was ussisted by Mr. J. Perrings The Deputy King’s Advocate. The Juty consisted of six Europeans and seven Sri Lankans. They were; Henry Wright, W. H. Whiting, George Bird, J. Darley, W. Ridsdale, J. G. Watson (all of them Europeans), The Rev.

Mr. De Saram, The Rev. Mr. Dias, Don Jacobus Dias Mudaliyar,J. J. De Saram Mudaliyar, V. De Saram Mudaliyar, Don J. F. Dias Mudaliyar and L. De Leiwera Mudaliyar (all {rom the maritime province).

I’he indictment contained the following Eleven Overt Acts: First charged the prisoners with conspiracy and hav- g consulted to devise, arrange and mature plans.to subvert Wnd destroy the government of the island as by law established nd to depose the king from his style, honour and kingly name @@@ 288 @@@ 280 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH of the imperial Crown of the Dominions or the Island of | Ceylon and to levy Insurrection, Rebellion and War againsl – the King therein; (in ordinary language, conspiring to levy war and depose the sovereign).

Second charged the prisoners with having conspired and endeavoured to set up some pretended Prince or relative of the late deposed King of Kandy to be the king of the laie several districts lately known by the name of the Kandyan Provinces, with intent to depose the king by the same, and (4 subvert and alter the Legislature, Rule and Government now happily established therein; (to set up a pretended king and alter the government).

Third charged the prisoners with having conspired and endeavoured to send a deputation, letters and proposal for procuring foreign aid and assistance from Siam, and from the French nation through the Isle of France (Mauritius), witli intent to levy Insurrection, Rebellion and War; (looking to France and other foreign countries for aid).

Fourth charged the prisoners with having conspire and endeavoured to raise and collect among themselves an from other subjects of the King, money, ivory, cinnamon an other precious articles with intent to procure such foreign aid and to seduce Jemindar Abdul Passer and other soldiers in the Ceylon Rifles from their allegiance and raise Insurrection; (raising contributions and suborning military assistance).

Fifth charged the prisoners with having conspired and g endeavoured to collect procure and record information rela g tive to the forms, laws and customs adopted in the inaugeration of the Kandyan Kings and in the collection and managemen| of the revenue and enforcement of compulsory service, and F @@@ 289 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY mt OF 1833 281 uther royalties and customs during the period when the late Kundyan King existed with intent to subvert and destroy this ~ jovernment. (Intent to subvert and destroy the government und restore the Kandyan monarchy, renew the system of tompulsory labour and all other Kandyan royalties and cus- 1oms).

| Sixth charged the prisoners with having conspired and ehdeavoured to seduce Arrawawella Ratte Mahatmaya, Watterantenne Ratte Mahatmaya, Ratnayakegedera Koralle, – Dwisse Pellangey Koralle, Wellegedere Rate Adikarame, (liragame late Basnaike Nileme, Haendenuya Ratte Muhatmaya, Ippalagamowe Unnanse and Jemindar Abdul I”usser and other subjects of the King from their allegiance, to usociate and join themselves with and be aiding and assisting the prisoners in their attempt to raise Insurrection, Rebellion und subvert the government; (to seduce the native officers of the government from their allegiance).

Seventh charged the prisoners with having conspired und endeavoured by holding pincomas (metitorious religious tharitable acts) and other public meetings and by messages, letters and other means to invite and seduce divers subjects of – Ihe King to assemble at Gampola and other places and there {o make seditious and treasonable speeches to them, with ~ Intent to excite and procure the said subjects to raise Insurrec- {lon, Rebellion and subvert the government; (holding pincomas nnd seditious meetings and making treasonable harangues to excite people to rebellion).

Eighth charged the prisoners with having conspired ~und endeavoured to seduce Jemindar Abdul Passer and other soldiers in the Ceylon Rifles from their duty and allegiance ind to persuade and procure themto join themselves with, and be aiding and assisting in raising Insurrection and subvert the @@@ 290 @@@ 282 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH government;(attempts to tamper w:th and seduce the military from their allegiance).

Ninth charged the prisoners with having conspired and endeavoured to administer or cause to be administered to Mahalle Unnanse, Ratnapala Unnanse and Arrawawella Ratte Mahatmaya and other subjects of the King a certain oath and engagement purporting to bind them to secrecy, and not to betray or give evidence against any associate or confederate in the said conspiracy, with intent more securely to persuade and procure those subjects of the King to join and be aiding and assisting the prisoners in their traitorous attempt to subvert the government; (administering treasonable and un lawful oaths).

Tenth charged the prisoners with having conspired, consulted and agreed to make or cause to be made and procured a facsimile of the Sacred Relic of the Tooth of Buddha contained in the Karanduwa at the Maligawa Temple in Kandy, and to apply to have the said Karanduwa opened by the Government Agent and then set fire to the curtain of the altar and during the confusion thereby created, place the counterfeit model of the Relic under the Karanduwa and (o seize and carry away the Sacred Relic with intent to thereby incite, cause and procure the King’s subjects to raise an insurrection; (designing to possess themselves of the Sacred Tooth Relic).

Eleventh charged the prisoners with having conspirei and agreed to seize and attack the Fort at Matale, the Garrison and Barracks in Kandy and other places within the island, and to seize the Ordnance, Arms and Ammunitions with intent to attack and kill the soldiers and faithful subjects of the King and to raise Insurrection; (designing to seize the Fort of Matale, attack Kandy and raise a general insurrection).

The prisoners bleaded not guilty to all the charges.

@@@ 291 @@@ ~ The King’s Advocate commenced the proceedings by minding the jury the paramount importance of the case ‘them on which they would be eventually called upon de. Their decision would affect the lives of the prison- e of whom held the highest official position among his ymen. If the charges brought against the prisoners were hen it clearly followed that they had endangered the ce and welfare of the island. They should therefore listen efully with open and uninfluenced minds the evidence laid them and consider if such evidence was clear and tory proof that treasonable projects, of which the Q ers were accused, had existed and in which they had bar tly participated. If this be the case,they would be clearly llty of the crime they had been charged.

  • The general charges against the prisoners in effect ‘f» ¢ that contrary to their allegiance, they had conspired ther and attempted to raise rebellion and insurrection in !?land in order to subvert the power of the present govern- ;» to depose the King from his right and title to the \ ilyan Provinces and replace him by a native Pretender to § Kandyan throne. According to English law, a man could | be brought to trial on such general charges of treason.

glish law required that overt or specific acts tending to ublish a charge of treason against the prisoners should be 0 set out in the Indictment, so that, the prisoners knew for ‘ ‘_ to what particular charges or treasonable acts, they ht be prepared to apply their defence, and precisely the jnf evidence they needed to produce to disprove those ‘-‘.. acts. Under the laws prevailing in the Kandyan m the prisoners might not be strictly entitled to this itment. But under English law this was a matter of nght-~ *required that the prisoners be given every practicable ity and ample opportunity of making good their defence.

THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 283 @@@ 292 @@@ 284 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The King’s Advocate was only required to prove any one overt act of treason upon the evidence of two witnesses or bl else one such overt act by one witness and another overt act by a second witness. If the jury then believed these witnesses, then they would be bound to find those prisoners, againsl whom such evidence was adduced, guilty of treason. Another point the jury should take into account was as a treasonable conspiracy among the prisoners was alleged as the first overt : act, if the jury should be satisfied that there was sufficient ¢ proof establishing the existence of such a conspiracy, then the ‘ evidence against any one prisoner, who was proved to be a member of that conspiracy, of any act done by him in further- ance of the common design, was evidence against the other prisoners who might be proved to be also members of the same conspiracy. In short, proof against one conspirator was proof against the other conspirators too. Where there was reasonable proof to substantiate treason, the government was forced to arrest every person whom they had reason to believe was implicated in the scheme, as there was the probability of eventual destruction of lives, injury to the welfare and pros perity of the well-affected among the community, the tempo rary panic and disturbance created by open acts of rebellion would deliver a serious shock to the growing importance and prosperity of the colony. They had to be arrested in order thal the happiness of the many might not be risked and sacrificed to the crime and disaffection of the few. But as no man was guilty until convicted by the jury in an open trial, the govern : ment had afforded to the prisoners during their confinement, | every comfort consistent with due regard to the public peace ‘ and tranquility. The Government could never desire the conviction of any one whose guilt was not clearly proved : before a jury and the general public, and the witnesses should P remove any erroneous impression, if they had entertained 4 any, of undue influence exerted by the government. | @@@ 293 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 285 The Counsel continued, once arrested the prisoners were subjected to the fullest investigation, so that, everyone “ight learn that justice was equally and impartially adminis- .

lered to all, to the high and low, between all parties and under il circumstances. A public investigation would show the weakness and the folly of any such treasonable schemes. At (he same time it would afford the prisoners the chance to lisprove the evidence, and publicly vindicate their good tharacter and loyalty to the government. He, the King’s Advocate, however, was bound to state to the jury, that if the #vidence received by the government proved true, and the ~ Witnesses for the Crown should remain unshaken by the test ol public examination, and by the defence evidence called to llisprove their testimony, it would be their bounden duty to tonvict the prisoners.

Once the government first received information of lreasonable projectsa few months previous to the arrest, it was lisbelieved, but as further information filtered in, it was (hought imprudent to omit any proper precaution. The Gov- ernment Agents were alerted and put on guard. On informa- {lon that Malay soldiers had been tampered with, their quar- lers were changed to another district. The army posts in suspected districts were strengthened and reinforced by de- lnying the departure of the old detachments, when they were – (elieved from duty there, by the arrival of a new detachment.

All these actions to secure the public peace and tranquility was elfected without exciting observation or alarm. But as further [nformation accumulated, it became obvious that further (lelay was inexpedient and dangerous, and immediate steps – Wwere taken to arrest the prisoners involved.

Some of the actions of the prisoners needed further comment. The alleged pilgrimage of the first two prisoners – was an unusual event conducted in an unusual manner. This @@@ 294 @@@ T e 286 ; THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH was followed by pincomas and religious meetings at which, if the witnesses were to be believed, the prisoners had been actively engaged in furthering their treasonable projects, in endeavouring to seduce the headmen from their allegiance, and to engage them to cooperate in their proposed rebellion.

The first prisoner was alleged to be secretly collecting every information available on the custom and practices of the Kandyan King and his government from those who had been in the service of the late king. Over the last ten years during which he had been the First Adikar, he had not shown any interest in such topics, and further, he could have obtained accurate information on this from the public records at Kandy, if he had applied to the Government Agent. The wild projecl for obtaining foreign aid was consistent with the ignorance of the Kandyans, as to the relative position and resources of foreign countries, and their relationship with England. The scheme to seize the Tooth Relic was not surprising, as the Kandyans believed that whoever possessed the Relic had the right to govern them, and had in former times too, resorted to purloining the Relic from the Maligawa.

In defence of the prisoners it might be argued that due to the abolition of Rajakaria (compulsory labour services), the chiefs did not possess the power to compel people to do their bidding. Therefore they could not call upon the people to revoltagainst the government. The answer to this defence way that the prisoners knew of the discontented state of many of the headmen, they could therefore be worked upon, and it was now the opportune moment for insurrection, as the lowel classes were daily becoming more intelligent and independ ent, and the chiefs were daily loosing their former undue power over them.

It would have been easy for the jury if the prisonery were allowed time to perpetrate an act of open rebellion or i @@@ 295 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 287 tollection of arms. But the government considered that the prevention was the best course of action, given the availability of undoubted evidence as to the existence of a treasonable plot, and that, this involved the sudden massacre of the luropeans in Kandy. Given that many circumstances might occasion an unforeseen sudden outbreak of insurrection, and given that atrocity similar to the one contemplated had in former times taken place,it was preferable, risking the greater vertainty of the conviction of the prisoners, to the calamities (hat might have ensued from an act of open rebellion. The povernment rejoiced therefore, that the whole scheme was thus arrested in its earliest stage. The jury also had the tonfessions of three of the prisoners in support of the facts sated by the witnesses.

He warned that the jury might have to listen to several discrepancies in the testimony, and much unwillingness per- haps in some of the witnesses to give their evidence. This he uttributed to the fact, that, as the objective of the plot was to Iestore the powers and influence of the chiefs and the priests, their influence, therefore, might be expected to be indirectly exerted against this prosecution. It would be the duty of the Jury to sift the evidence well, retaining that which was pure ind rejecting the bad; it was for them to discriminate and to uvail themselves of all that was really true and valuable, and lo throw away the dross. He begged the jury to give the whole ruse their fair, deliberate and unbiassed attention, taking into ue consideration the various sources from which the infor- mation had been derived. The jury should examine it in detail, – ind minutely sift it in every particular. He felt assured that when the jury had discharged their present public and very painful duties , and returned to the bosom of their families, they would be able to reflect, that they had with every due consideration of mercy to the prisoners, given that verdict – which was alone consistent with their oaths, their conscience @@@ 296 @@@ 288 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – and their allegiance. Having made the above remarks on the case before him, the King’s Advocate began to summon the – witnesses.

. There were thirty one Crown and seventeen Defence witnesses. Needless to say, that inspite of some contradictions and many repetitions, the Crown witnesses were directed towards weaving a story consistent with the charges in the Indictment. Most of the Crown witnesses were originally members of the conspiratorial clique. The Defence witnesses were mainly employed in establishing the good character of the prisoners, thereby seeking to prove that they were not the sort who would embark on any treasonable project, and therefore, the mainly hearsay evidence of the Crown were nol admissible and unacceptable.

Mr. Anstruther, a member of the Executive Council and the person in custody of the records of evidence was the first witness. He said that he and Mr. Turnour went to the house where Mollegodde was confined, and Mr. Turnour took down the statement Mollegodde made. Mollegodde was warned to be cautious, and that no menace was used. He was told that he was accused of high treason. In the event of it being proved against him, no hope was held out to him. The prisoner did not sign nor was he asked to sign the statement- –this document had been in his custody ever since and that he could swear to its identity. He recollected most of what il stated and would undertake to repeat most of the points excepting the dates. At this point the second witness Mr. G, Turnour, another member of the Executive council was called in to reinforce the statement made by the previous witness, Mr. Anstruther.

Mr. Turnour stated thathe saw the prisoner Mollegodde soon after his arrest on the 19th of July. The prisoner then @@@ 297 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 289 imserted that the grounds for his arrest were the machinations ol his enemies and utterly untrue. When he pointed out that a Mulay officer under arrest, had made a confession, which confirmed his implication in treasonable projects, the pris- oner was ready to swear on the Sacred Relic and the Four Devales (temples), that he was as innocent as his young son, not only of the knowledge, but even also of the suspicion of conspiracy. He persevered in this attitude till the 22nd of July.

On that day when he was informed that the 4th prisoner Tibbotawewe Unnanse had made a confession which directly implicated him, he appeared surprised, and said, if that be the case, he should also make a confession. On the 23rd of July he recorded Mollegodde’s statement in the presence of Mr.

Anstruther who understood Sinhalese well.

First Prisoner’s Statement, 23rd July 1834 ‘Mollegodde, First Adikar, being informed generally of the nature of the evidence which have transpired as to his proceedings of late, and of the possibility of his being brought lo trial on charges of treasonable character, and being there- – upon cautioned not to state any matters which may incrimi- nate him—He entered into a long detail of his journey to Anuradhapura, describing the attention and honorary marks of respect paid to him, both on his journey to, and on his return from Anuradhapura, which honours were however, paid to him wholly unsolicited on his part’.

‘In return for all this attention, he invited the Second Adikar, Third Adikar, Dunuwilla Dissave as well as Madduma and Tikiri Banda to come to his Vihara on a similar pilgrim- age, which they promised to do. He assembled the Headmen of Paranakoordowe and Golboddapattoo Korales, and told them that the attention he received was paid not individually to himself, but to the flag of the Four Korales Dissavony, @@@ 298 @@@ 290 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – which he had taken with him on his pilgrimage, and expected them to receive his guests with similar honours. He also applied to the Rate Mahatmaya of Yattinuwara to assemble the Headmen of that district, that he might bespeak similar preparations from the river to the limits of the Four Korales, They were to decorate the roads, erect triumphal arches, and if the guests wished to breakfast in that district, to prepare 4 place for the Chiefs, but asked the Headmen to prepare food for the followers. The Headmen promised to render this assistance’.

‘The prisoner then gave a detail of his pilgrimage to Gampola, equally however, disavowing any improper objec! ~or any demand on his part for unusual honours’.

‘Some months ago, certainly before the Ball held in honour of Sir Edward Barnes by the Chiefs, Dembewe Unnanse, Mahalle Unnanse and Ratnapala Unnanse came to his house, and set forth the degradation to which the Buddhist religion was subjected, and proposed that measures should be taken to prevent the religion from being annihilated. Deponent asked what was to be done. They replied that they might proceed to Amarapura in Siam and ascertain whether they could get any assistance from that quarter. Deponent asked who else was in the secret of this project. Dembewe Unnanse replied that he would consult Dunuwilla Dissave on the project, but that Chief would dread the undertaking. Deponent asked again whether the other Chiefs knew about this scheme.

The priests replied no. Deponent then told them not to go about talking nonsense, but to retire quietly to their Pansellas (abodes of Buddhist priests). The priests did not say when or – where or by what means, they would raise a rebellion against the Government. A day or two after this the prisoner called on Mr. Turnour in his library, and told him “do not imagine that @@@ 299 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 ‘ 291 ~he priests are faithful to the government, they are discon- lented, if more comes out, I will give information but if the – povernment makes any discoveries, do not hold me responsi- ble. If this information is disclosed, I shall not be able to ~ (llscover anything more”. These four priests have frequented {he deponent’s house often since, but have not spoken on this Mubject’.

‘Shortly before the deponent started on his pilgrimage ~ ol immediately on his return from Anuradhapura, Tibbotawewe ~ llnnanse came to see him and said that the religion of the tountry was seriously prejudiced, and that if anything was to be done, he, the deponent was the man for it, and asked whether he would join. Deponent replied, do not mention this (hing to me—Tibbotawewe then said, it would not do for you l0 speak so—1 would call again. After this Tibbotawewe tnlled repeatedly with other priests at his house, but never snid anything on the subject. On Thursday last, Maha Nayakke UInnanse and other principal priests, including those above numed, called on the deponent. They talked of the Petition to government regarding the ordination of Upasampada (a higher ordination of Buddhist monks), and the circumstances of their not being allowed by Mr. Turnour to take their turn of duty at {he Maligawa, but they did not say anything connected with Ireasonable matters. On Friday Tibbotawewe came alone and snid that he had already spoken to the people of Dumbara, Matale, Harrispattu and to the Malays, if the deponent would – crosstheriver, he could assemble the people at once. Deponent replied that Raja Sinha was a valiant monarch, he had moreo- ver the sovereignty of a greater part of the country; that even he could notexpel the Portuguese without the aid of the Dutch.

” Deponent was sure therefore, that unless some power equal to the British in resources would undertake it, the attempt to overthrow the government would be in vain. This declaration nppeared to astonish the priest, deponent then said (with a @@@ 300 @@@ 292 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH view to either apprehending him, or those who were em- ployed with him), that he did not believe all that he had said.

Tibbotawewe replied that he would bring some of his confed- ‘erates, he never came, before daylight, the deponent was arrested’.

‘At this interview with Tibbotawewe on Friday, he also proposed getting possession of the Relic. When asked how this was to be accomplished, the priest replied, that a facsimile of it was to be prepared in ivory, that Mr. Turnour was to be told by the priests, that they were desirous of having an exhibition of the Relic, as they were not certain that Relic had not by supernatural means disappeared. That when the Karanduwa was opened, the curtain of the altar was to be sel fire to, and the facsimile was to be substituted for the Relic.

Deponent replied in anger, “what is this you are at, I do not believe what you say”. It was at this point that the priest – promised to bring some of his confederates, whom the deponent intended to seize. As neither Tibbotawewe nor his Confeder- ates came, he had made up his mind to repeat this circum stances the next day, either direct to the government or through Mr. Turnour’.

‘He then made the following comment which he wished to be recorded’.

“I inherited nothing from my mothet, from my father I only inherited the Mollegodde estate; all my present wealth and honours,I have received from the British government; even my name was known in foreign countries, I would not be the person under these circumstances to turn traitor to the British”.

“I have lent Rix Dollars 3000 (Rix Dollars were a Dutch currency and RD100=in 1830s sterling £6.85 approxi- @@@ 301 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 293 mately), to Gunhetty Mohandiram on interest on a notarial bond, receiving his house in the town as security. The interest on this loan was intended for the expense of educating my son.

| have similarly lent Rix Dollars 600 to Mr. Turnour’s dis- missed butler. No, Tibbotawewe never asked me why I brought my son to Kandy. No, I have not received any mysterious letter about any prince or princes. No, I did not see any priest or priests on Thursday after the Chiefs and other priests retired. No, I did not see Embilmeegama on that day, nor have I seen him for three or four months–we are not [riends. No,Idonot know any such person as Weerakoongedera Punchiralle of Heerasagalle. I know nothing of the importa- lion of arms at Batticaloa. I know nothing of any message to the Chiefs of Saffragam, I am not aware the priests had said anything to Dunuwilla Dissave, I have had no conversation with him on this matter. I did send for Bamberadeniya Basnayakke Ralle and had a conversation with him about the politics and state matters in Kandyan times. I asked about Arrawe Adikar’s rebellion against the late king, and the manner in which the First Adikarship was conferred on Ahelapola. I asked whether that rebellion would have suc- ceeded if the Adikar had crossed the river. He replied it might or might not have succeeded. No, I did not ask whether the people would take and deliver me up, if I crossed the river on a similar exercise’. This statement was placed before the jury by the Prosecution as a confession made by Mollegodde.

Mr. Turnour denied that Mollegodde ever informed him in his library of the existence of the conspiracy. He even disbelieved Mr. Moir’s intimation of the existence of a conspiracy. He did meet the first two prisoners immediately after their return from their pilgrimage from Anuradhapura in his study. The conversation, that ensued then, was about the recent changes–the abolition of both Rajakaria and slavery.

When the two protested about these changes, he pointed out @@@ 302 @@@ 204 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH to them that the government could not disregard or alter the orders sent from England, but anything that was suggested by – themthat was reasonable, would be duly considered. The Firsl Adikar appeared chiefly mortified at the prospect of his son _notrising to the rank of Adikar; and that there was the chance of the lower classes rising to situations now exclusively held by the Chiefs. He could not promise an Adikarship to his son, but was able to assure him that people of his rank, when duly qualified, would be raised to the offices now exclusively held by the Europeans, and that the unabolished Chiefships would ‘be exclusively conferred on the families of Chiefs as long as they presented well qualified candidates. Dunuwilla Dissave alluding to this said, ‘if you mean this why don’t you issue a proclamation to that effect and where have you given those appointments to well qualified maritime Chiefs?’ My reply to that was, that recent administrative changes had made many Englishmen unemployed, and they had to be provided for first. Even though Mollegodde was unconvinced, I did con- vey the substance of this conversation to the Colonial Secre- tary in Colombo, and my suggestions were approved of, and ‘the Governor wrote in his own hand to say, that if the First prisoner would send his son to England to be educated, as he offered to do, he would be considered eligible for any situa- tion that any Englishmen could hold. This letter was handed – over to Mollegodde.

Mr. Turnour was of the belief that the first two prisoners were not disaffected, but were only dissatisfied and mortified at the recent changes. He expressed this belief to Mr.

  • Anstruther in a letter dated 18th April 1834. He acknowl- edged that Mahawellatenne was his channel of communica- tion, his recognised agent, and that his conduct and exertions in obtaining information for the government had been most meritorious. He placed the utmost confidence in Mahawellatenne, and that he was the only Chief who had @@@ 303 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 295 given him all the assistance, by making all the inquiries and reporting all the evidence. He had known him since 1822,and used to visit him at leisure at his house. However, two examinations in particular, were conducted by himself and had led to the discovery of the ramifications of this con- spiracy. ” At this point Mr. Turnour introduced Dembewe Unnanse’s Statement made on the 20th August 1834, Dembewe Unnanse came up at his own request, and was warned to use his own discretion in making any commu- nication he had to offer, and to remember that whatever that he might have to say, might be brought against him. It ran as follows; ‘States that he has some circumstances to mention respecting Dunuwilla Dissave which he formerly forgot.

About the month of May 1833, a person came from Dunuwilla Dissave to say, that he wished me to come to see him. I went.

IHe said to me that he was very anxious to have a pair of elephant’s tusks. I told him, I had none. He urged me strongly [0 get him a pair. I asked him for what purpose? He then said, (hat this government was not to be endured and that steps must e taken to subvert it by means of foreign power. That he proposed sending an emissary, and that with the view of (isguising the object of his mission, he wanted to make a #ned me very much, and I came away telling him in order to tleceive him, that if I could find ivory, I would bring it. Never ilid bring any; asked repeatedly where his emissary was to go, Dunuwilla answered that it was of no business of mine. Never weived any message from him since; have not taken an oath uny one not to disclose treasonable designs’. Signed, mbewe.

tollection of ivory and wrought ivory. This proposition fright- @@@ 304 @@@ 296 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The third witness, Ratnayakegedera Koralle asserted that the first two prisoners had told him that the British government was not good and should be replaced by a Sinhala government with the help of soldiers (Hewapane), and that he should assist them when called upon to do so. The fourth witness stated that Mollegodde had given him Rix Dollars 100 to be given to one Hettigedera Korale of Harrispattu for recruiting people to make war on the government.

The fifth witness, Hettigedera Korale acknowledged that he had received Rix Dollars 100. The previous witness Watterantenne had told him that there was no means of keeping up the respects and status appropriate to the chiefs. It was therefore necessary to replace the present with a Sinhala government. He was called upon to assist in whatever was done with that objective. When the impossiblity of attaining such an objective by the efforts of just two people was pointed out, he was told that it is not a thing that persons in our situations could do. Former attempts have been made and failed. It was not his sole intent, but that of all the principal Chiefs including the Maha Nileme (i, e. Mollegodde) and all other Chiefs in the country’.

One day when Dunuwilla Dissave requested his help to sew planks out of a fallen tree, he had to point out his inability to recruit labour for that job as Rajakaria had been abolished. Dunuwilla then stated that he had not as much authority as a Vidhan (a minor police official of a village) had formerly in getting assistance—— if it were to continue in this manner he would not be able to get the service of a man even – for hire—–whatever we did we should have the assistance of all our people to subvert this government and establish a Kandyan one. Again when pointed out the failure and the disastrous consequences of such attempts in the past, he replied that ‘this time it will not last so long, this time there was @@@ 305 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 297 the necessary aid for it, and notice would be given to you on the day assistance would be required, you should give all cooperation necessary for it’. The first prisoner had also i requested him to obtain the help of the Pannagame v?lagcrs of which, he was the head.

The sixth witness was Wellegedere Rate Adikareme from Matale. He had provided the lodgings and provisions on the orders of the Second Adikar Dullawe, to the first two ‘ prisoners on their way to Anuradhapura, at Nalande. In their presence, the Second Adikar had told him that they wanted to subvert the British government, and make war and establish a Kandyan government. He was told to assist in this object. A few days before the arrest he had received an ola (a chit) from Dullawe to get together some people. He did assemble about 20 persons at Nalande. He did not know for what purpose nor did the ola specify any objective.

At this point a legal argument ensued, as to the legality of admitting as evidence a subsequent conversation which the above witness had on the above subject. The King’s Advocate argued that any attempt to seduce a king’s subject from his loyalty with a view to furthering the objective of the conspira- tors was admissible evidence. The Defence Counsel argued that a conversation with others was not evidence against the prisoners and words did not constitute treason.

The judge overruled the arguments of the law officers of the Crown but reserved their right to examine this witness on the above points, if on consideration, his Lordship should find reason to alter his opinion.

The seventh witness was Nugaliadde Koralle of Hewahetta. He stated that at the Pincoma in Unnambuwe, the 2nd prisoner had told him, ‘you came all this way from @@@ 306 @@@ 298 – THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Hewahetta on account of our religion; it is very right you came, and we must exert ourselves to keep our religion, and if it cannot be done in any other way, it must be done by compulsion against the government’. He denied that he was ~ told that all the Chiefs were unanimous, and denied that the Dissave said that he would subvert the government.

The eighth witness was Kandewelle Koralle from Hewawisse. At the Pincoma at Udapalatta in June, the First Adikar had told him, ‘as the government is degrading us we ~ must show some coercive measures towards the government’.

The intended specific measures were not revealed, and when the attention was drawn to the failure of past rebellion, the Adikar had replied ‘when we join in such a thing, it will not be in vain’ and had requested his assistance, whenever it was required.

The ninth witness, Owisse Pellangey Koralle had came to Kandy to protest against the privilege granted to the low caste Panneadureyas, to carry an umbrella and cakes which they were formerly not entitled to. He had then met Dunuwilla Dissave, who had told him not to complain, and that the privilege had been given with his, as well as Mollegodde’s, consent. The Dissave’s complaint to the gov- ernment, on the fact that he had to sit on the same bench with Moorish men, was simply ignored, and therefore this govern- ment had better be discontinued before the end of that year. It – was amatter of great suspicion why this privilege was granted to the Atbage and Pannea people. Was it to obtain their help when the rebellion broke out?.

On the third day of the trial, Wednesday the 14th 1835, a complaint enlivened the court proceedings. Mahalle Unnanse’s nephew complained to the judge that Tikiri Banda, the younger brother of Dunuwilla, the second accused, had L @@@ 307 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 299 (hreatened him with the whip, saying, ‘your uncle is giong to’ pive evidence you son of a bitch, take care of yourself’. Then nlter a short conversation with Mr. Staples inside the room, hoth had come out and told him ‘if you remain here listening (o what’s going on, don’t you go and mention this in your uncle’s temple’. Watterantenne the fourth witness too alleged {hat he too was threatened by Tikiri Banda. Tikiri Banda was warned and reprimanded by the court and was not allowed to sit with the Defence Counsel.

The tenth witness was Mahalle Unnanse, a Buddhist monk, he had already made the following statement to Mr.

T’urnour on the 24th of April, and since then acted as a British spy. His statement ran; ‘Locu Banda the Dissave of Udupalata (le. Dunuwilla), one day called me into his hopse as I was passing by. He said that a great many of the ancient customs were in the process of change under this government, and that prospectively, the power of the chiefs and the privileges enjoyed by the religious establishment would be still further violated, and that there was no arresting these innovations from the want of union and unanimity among the chiefs and among the people. When asked what he would do, he replied that we could set up a contribution of money, and send an intelligent person to ascertain, if we could not get the French lo cooperate with us. He named Ihagamme Nileme, lately returned from Mauritius, a freed state prisoner there. Thagamme was fluent in French and intelligent, and would be a very suitable person for this project. When it was pointed out that France was at peace with England, he doubted it. He also had an alternative. That was to send Buddhist priests to Amarapura in Siam on the plea of getting the higher ordination of Upasampada, and obtain the aid of that monarch to oust the British from Kandy. He also had a third plan. As the British had done a lot to improve the condition in the country at large, it was proper to throw a great entertainment to the British in i AR AL € @@@ 308 @@@ 300 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Kandy, to express Kandyans’ gratitude and satisfaction. Al these parties it was habitual for the British to get intoxicated by late evening. Then there would be no difficulty in infusing poison into their drink. When questioned the feasibility of this scheme, he reminded me of the great number of British troops who died of poisioning, when they were given toddy mixed with poison in 1803 in Dumbara. I assented to the scheme pointing out that if it had been done before, then it certainly might be done again’.

; ‘He said that we could do nothing until we seduced Mollegodde Adikar to our side. He was not friendly with him on accountofhis having brought about a marriage between his sister and Keppitipola Banda. I agreed that we should get him over to our side’.

‘On a later visit to the Dissave, he expressed the desire to go to England and cited that a Hindu, Ramohan Roy Rajah had gone to England and obtained redress against the viola tion of the customs of India. A national subscription should be made and that he should be sent on the same terms as that of the Indian envoy. He said that the chiefs had discussed the feasibility of this scheme and that he had applied to the rich Dissave of Saffragam, Mahawellatenne for financial help’.

~ ‘Onastill later visit, I found him drafting a petition to the King. It set forth the loyalty of the Kandyan chiefs and the people and proceeded to discuss the extent of the loss the chiefs had sustained and advocated the advancement of the Buddhist religion’.

From the witness-box Mahalle Unnanse repeated sub- stantially the same story as in the statement he had already made to Mr. Turnour with a few embellishment here and there. For instance, lhagamme was to be fitted out with a ship @@@ 309 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 . 301 [ull of cinnamon, elephant tusks and other mercantile items, us if he was going on a trading mission to Mauritius. The religious mission to Siam was likely to be a success, because (he King of that country was at war with the English. Finally he admitted that the conversation on this subject with the Dissave took place three times, and that he had revealed the existence of this conspiracy to his pupil Ratnapala Unnanse who was the next (11th) witness. He too was a Buddhist monk.

Ratnapala Unnanse too had already made many secret revelations to Mr. Turnour about the existence of a plot to overthrow the government and repeated his version of the plot made before the Executive Council in Kandy on the 21st of July 1834. His deposition was the same as that from the witness-box but for minor differences and was as follows: ‘Dunuwilla Dissave told me about two months ago, at his house, that the ancient customs and usages of the Kandyans had been discontinued by the English government. They had (eprived us of the authority of the Buddhist religion and the prosperity of the chiefs, and had conferred powers on low caste people, and that, it was the intention of the government lo increase the taxes on the land belonging to the temples and Devales, also on coconut, coffee and other fruit trees. If this government were to continue, rather than benefits, there would be more and more hardships and injustice. To remedy this, a complaint should at once be preferred to England and if this could not be done, some other step ought to be taken to remove this government’.

‘The Sinhalese, by themselves could not successfully remove this government without foreign help. A plan had been devised to obtain this help. A large quantity of ivory works and other mercantile products, suffieient to load a ship ¥ | @@@ 310 @@@ 302 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH should be procured and delivered over to Ihagamme Ralle, who had lately returned from Mauritius, who could speak French, and he should be sent to Mauritius or another French ~ country, to procure the help of France against the English’.

‘Another plan was to send four or five priests of talent to Amarapura in Siam, under the guise of a pilgrimage, to obtain the Upasampada ordination, and then, to propose to the king there, to help the Kandyans to remove the English by his personal assistance, or with that engaged through his influ- ence. It was pointed out to the Dissave that distance prevented such assistance. He did assert that he also had the cooperation of all the low-country headmen. Another plan he outlined to me was, that from the time the English government was established up to the present time, no entertainment had been given to the English gentlemen and soldiers at the same time; therefore preparations should be made for an entertainment by collecting money from all classes, rich and poor, then to obtain the sanctions of the government for such a function, then to lay a large quantity of beverage prepared, and that while they were getting intoxicated, poison could be given by putting it into the beverage. When I pointed out the large quantity of poison required for such a large number of persons, he drew my attention to the poison put into toddy and – the resulting deaths of a great many soldiers in Dumbara in 1803″.

“When I asked him who was going to take over from the English, he said that among the low-country headmen there was still a prince concealed. A part of the present Kandyan provinces formed the territories of the low country formerly, and this would be given to a foreign nation for their help, and a king would be established in the Kandyan prov- inces to govern it%% before’.

@@@ 311 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 303 ‘From a newspaper lying on his table he explained that when the privileges which prevailed in some parts of India were destroyed by the English, Ramohan Rajah Roy went to England to complain and won them back. We should do the same’, Ratnapala was confused as to the many statements he had made prior to the trial and precisely on what dates he had made them. However, he did corroborate the evidence given by his master Mahalle Unnanse. The evidence led by these two Buddhist monks were crucial to the prosecution’s case of conspiracy against the British government.

Mullegame, the Third Adikar, was the twelth witness.

He stated that ‘on their second visit to my house both the first and the second prisoners said that our respects were lost, our religion was lost, it was therefore necessary to take some measures about it. On a later visit after a party, the first prisoner said our religion was not in existence, the customs of our religion and our respects were all gone, we ought to adopt measures suitable to regain it; the Government Agent after ruining this country would leave it, it was therefore necessary (0 take into mind how to destroy this government’.

‘On another occasion most of the chiefs got together a petition to Mr. Turnour against the abolition of slavery, and upplying to keep the slaves for a further limited period. After the debate on this, both the first two prisoners said we could not endure these things. If there were no slaves, no religion, no respect, how could all these be endured? Therefore some steps should be looked for; the Revenue Commissioner would burn this country before he left it. He meant that he would destroy the country, the religion and everything. This could not be endured and that we should look for a method to destroy the government. Walaponne Dissave who was present on this occasion agreed to do whatever was needful’.

@@@ 312 @@@ 304 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Mapagey Mohandiram of Mollegodde was the thir- teenth witness. He stated that ‘he knew the first prisoner from his infancy. He was in the service of his house, and kept the keys of the several apartments, and was the confidential advisor to the late First Adikar, his brother. He saw the book the first prisoner kept being written upon about the royal families and local customs. He saw the prisoner making entries in that book. He was however unable to say what was exactly written in it. He knew that the prisoner had given away his lands to his son. It happened at his Walawe at Mollegodde before he went to Anuradhapura. Ellapata Basnayakke Nileme was present with some tenants when the prisoner took the grants of his different lands, called his son and handed them to him, and committed his son and the deeds to the care of Ellapata, the son being the nephew of Ellapata. The prisoner retained only the estate in Dodantellegamma. He did not divulge his motives for this action of ceding his property to his son. i ‘He had also seen the emblems of the sun and the moon in the Dodantelle temple and these being used in ceremonies.

In the time of the king, any person who had them in his house woud be found fault with, and loose his head. It was rather suspicious that these emblems together with the Mutukude (a ceremonial parasol), was there with the other Royal emblems.

During the cross-examination by Mr. Perring the witness admitted thathe saw the ceremonial details of the inaugeration of the king being written down by the Adikar’.

The fourteenth witness was Rajapakse Walimunegedere Sattamby. He was the Sattamby (supervi- sor) over the Palanquin bearers of the late king of Kandy. He stated that he recounted to the first prisoner how he employed people and equipped the palanquin. The first prisoner did want to know more about.the former customs under the king, @@@ 313 @@@ THE CONS_PIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 305 whichhe related to him as far as he could remember. Rajapakse confirmed that he was the person who actually equipped a palanquin, and brought it to the Revenue Commissioner for the Governor’s use. The prosecution pursued this line of ¢vidence with the next two witnesses, to substantiate the fifth overt charge of collecting and recording information regard- ing the Kandyan Royal customs.

Today, no doubt, far from being an incriminating piece of evidence, this document would be considered price- less in terms of its historical value. This particular overt act, nbove all, reveals to us today, the extent of prejudice on the part of the British colonials, because it was not a crime if such information was gathered by an Englishman. Sir John D’Oyly, the First Resident and Representative of the Govenor in Kandyin 1815, did precisely the same and no one accused him of engaging in a criminal activity to overthrow the govern- ment. So did Mr. Turnour who published the Mahavamsa in 1837.

The fifteenth witness, Molledandde Rate Mahatmaya was the late king’s Betel bearer. He too stated that the first prisoner wanted to know the ancient royal household customs {rom him for the purpose of compiling a book. He had told him how the Rajakaria was performed and the process by which betel was furnished to the royal household. ‘T also told him to refer to the Lelammitiya (register) at the Kachcheri with the Revenue Commissioner’s permission. I also gave the names of the villages from where betel was brought to the king. He look down my statement with a pencil at the table’.

Sirimalwattegedere Aswadoone Pihineralle was the sixteenth witness. After his brother’s death he took over the job as acook in the palace of the late king of Kandy. He stated that the first prisoner wanted to know how many Pihineralles @@@ 314 @@@ 306 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH (cooks) were employed at the palace, (25 were), and how many belonged to the Mulltanngey (kitchen department).

At this point there was a slight diversion to the trend of evidence. The sixth witness Wellegedere Rate Adikaram was recalled to attest to the fact that he had received an ola (note) six days before the arrests, from the first prisoner requesting him to prepare and collect the elders of Asgiri and Oodugodde Korales. But the note did not tell him for what purpose.

The seventeenth witness was Gabbedagedere Korale.

He had gone to Maha Oya to see the first prisoner on his return from his pilgrimage from Anuradhapura. He said that many people of that part of the country paid him much respect, and that the first prisoner had requested the assembled people that they should reciprocate when they came to visit the prisoner in his dissavony. : The eighteenth witness was Dunuwilla, the Elder Basnayakke Nileme. The second prisoner was his nephew, his elder brother’s son. He said that the first prisoner wanted confirmation on the Sattamby’s statement, and requested information about the Rajakaria duties, the fees paid on appiontment to office, the dues of the treasury, the manage- ment of the royal stores, and the number of men employed on the canal in Bintenne. He also told the prisoner that the Dissave of Walaponne provided the buffaloes, iron and salt to Kandy on carriage cattle, and other requirements for the religious and other ceremonies in Kandy. He did not know why this information was required.

Rajapakse Sattamby was recalled as the next witness to confirm the dates of his discussion with Mollegodde. His memory failed him.

@@@ 315 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 307 Muhatmaya. He stated that he knew the sixth prisoner Humberadeniya, who had visited him twice at night. On his second visit he came under the pretext of accusing a slave talled Kettekumbura of stabbing him. On that occasion The twentieth witness was Arrawawella Rate =~ inmberadenniya had got him to swear on his elder brother,a Huddhist monk, not to divulge the information he was about (o tell him. This was that the government was about to abolish slavery altogether and that the government had taken away the powers which the chiefs and other headmen formerly had..that they had already spoken to the Malays…that an entertainment should be prepared at the house of the Maha Nileme for all the English gentlemen, and at the entertain- ment, poison should be put into their victuals which would intoxicate them, then the Malays could be called upon to (lispose of them, if necessary, by stabbing them. The people ol Dumbara, Yattinuwara, Udunuwara and Hewahetta would be called upon to rebel in the provinces. When asked how things would be conducted after the rebellion, he said that (here were three royal princes of the Palley Wahalle (Lower I’alace) in Matale and Dumbara, and one of these would be culled upon to be the king. The rebellion was to be during the Perehera season, and nothing was told him about arms and amunition. Later when the witness met the first prisoner, he was told to attend to the matters Bamberadeniya had con- veyed to the witness and was urged to give his full support.

The twentyfirst witness was Daskare Punchy Ralle.

He led witness to what the second prisoner had said whenhe visited Nillegodde Liene Ralle’s house. The prisoner had thanked the headmen assembled there and had said that it was his intention to serve them whether he was in office ornot. The witness quoted the prisoner having said ‘T won’t abandon you and you must not abandon me either in distress or on account of my loosing my position’. The headmen had replied that if @@@ 316 @@@ 308 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH ~ at any time they were called upon to do anything, they would gladly oblige.

The twentysecond witness was Heandenuya late Ratemahamaya. He attested to the fact that Dembewe the third prisoner, had told him that there were two royals of the rank of prince in the Kandyan kingdom. One had gone abroad ~ and the other was travelling about the kingdom in order to ge! acquainted with the people, to assemble them with the object – of making war to destroy this government. He was urged to continue his zealous efforts on the prisoner’s side.

Later, when he met Bamberadeniya, he was requested to help to enable that prisoner to escape if he was captured and taken to Colombo. The witness did promise to help at that time to pacify Bamberadeniya, but considered the whole thing a nonsense and unlikely to succeed.

The twentythird witness was Giragame late Basnayakke Nileme. His uncle was once flogged by Mollegodde, the first prisoner. He stated that Dembewe had told him that the people of the provinces should be assembled.

That there was enough Kandyans for each Englishman, if it came to a battle. That there were two royals, and that they, the rebel leaders would take care to have a king even though he would be a foreigner. He had promised to join if a unanimous attempt was made to overthrow the present government.

Tibbotawewe Unnanse, the fourth accused was the next on the witness stand. He had made a series of statements before the trial. The first was before the Executive Council in Kandy on the 20th of July 1834. On that occasion he denied all knowledge of any conspiracy or of any treasonable com- munications between the Buddhist monks and the Second Adikar. He had never heard of any suspicious conjectures or | @@@ 317 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 309 conclusions extracted from the object of the First Adikar’s pilgrimage to Anuradhapura. He had heard of the Tooth lelic’s (supernatural or otherwise) transfer to Anuradhapura und that the Governor himself had gone there to satisfy the Sungha (The organisation of the Buddhist clergy) on this point. On the 22nd of July Tibbotawewe made another state- ment which ran as follows: ‘About a fortnight ago Kolluwelle Ralle visited me.

He said that there were indications of another rebellion and (hat Embilmeegama (another Buddhist monk) was exerting limself to bring it about. Later, Embilmeegama himself came (o him with Kettekumbura the 5th prisoner, and told him that they were exerting themselves to raise another rebellion, and (hat they had spoken to the Malays also, and that what they wanted with me, was to arrange for the removal of the Relic from the Maligawa. He pointed out that it was not his turn to be on duty there. Wattagedere and Parakoombura were the monks selected for duty at the Maligawa. They urged me to bring about some means of inducing the First Adikar to getthe I’nglish Commissioner to allow the Karanduwa tobe opened.

| promised to help, but when I spoke to the Adikar he ~ (isapproved of it’. [It was at this point that Mr. Turnour fevealed to Tibbotawewe, that the Malay Officer had been arrested and that he had confessed, but what the Malay Officer’s confession contained was not disclosed to l’ibbotawewe. From the interviewer’s point of view, this had the desired effect, because it probably frightened Tibbotawewe {0 admit]; ‘T acknowledge myself guilty of having joined the {raitors who were plotting against the government. I have not however done any material service to the cause. I trust (herefore that the government, through the intercession of Mr.

lurnour, will rescue me from the punishment of death’. (This tonfession was then conveyed to the First Adikar which in furn led him to make his confession on the 23rd of July which was quoted above). ; @@@ 318 @@@ 310 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH On the 24th Tibbotawewe made another statement in which he stated that Dembewe, Mahalle [the tenth witness] and himself had on several occasions, visited the First Adikar, ~ and talked about the rebellion, the help from the Malay ‘soldiers, help from a foreign country and the king to be elevated to the throne. The First Adikar had on one occasion told them that, “the person whom I shall set up will be the one whom the rest will acknowledge to be the King of Kandy”.

[Needless to say, Mahalle denied his implication in the plot.

But the denial must have sounded unconvincing to the jury and probably made his earlier deposition from the witness box unreliable as all these statements made by Tibbotawewe were placed before the jury].

The twentyfifth witness was Ippalagamuwe Unnanse, another Buddhist monk. He stated that Tibbotawewe sent for him so that he could be sent to Wellasse in order to raise a – rebellion there. When he refused to take on this mission, he was warned not to disclose the plot to anyone.

The twentysixth witness was one of the most impor- tant to the Prosecution. He was Embilmeegama Unnanse, a Buddhist monk of the Poyamaduwa Temple, a son of one Bowalle Banda, and was adopted in the family of Megastenne Adikar, who was married to Pilima Talawe’s sister. Pilima Talawe was a the leading figure in the rebellion in 1817/18, and had recently returned to Kandy from long incarceration in Mauritius. Like the other monk witnesses Mahalle and Ratnapala, Embilmeegama too was a British spy, and had made secret statements to Mr. Turnour at various times about the progress of alleged conspiracy. One such statement was made on the 4th of May 1834. It would be appropriate to look at this here as his statement to the court was not very different from the ones he had made prev10usly in private as a spy of the British government.

@@@ 319 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 311 He stated that he was urged by Dembewe Unnanse of (jangarama Vihara, the third accused, to approach Pilima 1’nlawe as he was intimate with the French authorities, and as he was even married to a French lady, it was probable that he had strong relations with the French. That the object in view was to get a letter signed by all the principal Kandyans, engaging either to give the country up on certain terms to the Irench, or to pay them a tribute annually of thirty or forty Inkhs, if they would expel the English, and he wanted to know I Pilima Talawe Dissave would sign and seal such a letter, and {0 tell him to what person among the French, such a letter should be addressed. ‘ He had promised to help. But as the Dissave was a (drunken stupid old man who could easily be misled, the witness had gone to see him, and reminded him of the misery ol his banishment and imprisonment in Mauritius, and had cautioned him whether drunk or sober, not to sign any paper (hat might be brought to him. Pilima Talawe then resided at the house of Mollegodde. The witness had gone there imme- iately after the conversation with Dembewe, and on his return told Dembewe that the Dissave was a scorched man, who even dreaded the sight of a firefly, and that he would do nothing and that the Dissave could not be relied upon for anything. : Embilmeegama also stated that a confidential em- ployee of Mollegodde, Weerakoongedere Punchy Ralle, had told him that Mollegodde and Dunuwilla Dissave had enter- fnined secretly a Malabar in the house of Nuwerawewe Wanny when thay were at Anuradhapura, and had requested his return when he was called up. Mollegodde had addressed the headmen of that district on the day of his return from Anuradhapura in words such as, ‘you must bear in mind what I have told you. You have all shown me great kindness. Surely @@@ 320 @@@ 312 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH you will also come to worship at my Vihara. Give me timely “notice and I will render you equal kindness’. This assembly of chiefs would be the occasion for the rebellion under the guise of a great celebration.

, [On the 5th. of July Embilmeegama returned accom- panied by David Mudeliyar to see Mr. Turnour. He expressed his anxiety to withdraw from the league with the conspirators, as he was apprehensive of being murdered by the Malays, if his spying was unearthed by the Kandyans, and also, as he ran great risk of being killed or ill used by the British troops, if he fell into their hands, while still in the ranks of the rebels. | [He was assured of his safety from the Malays, and was offered a ‘certificate of his being a confidential emissary of the British government’. But as this document, if discov ered, could lead to worse consequences, private instructions were sent to the Government Agent at Badulla for his protec tion, as the rebellion was expected to break out first there, Embilmeegama expressed his expectation of being killed, caught in the cross-fire between the rebels and the British soldiers.] He described the contacts between the priests and the Malay Captain and a sergeant. The principal agents for the Kandyan chiefs were the monks Wellasse Nayakke Unnanse, Dembewe Unnanse, Parakumbura Unnanse and Tibbotawewe Unnanse, all stipended priests in Kandy, who could not absent themselves for long. without being noticed, and had to get permission from the government Agent in Kandy, if they wished to stay away from Kandy for long. Their associates were Kettakumbura Unnanse, Obbokottuwe Unnanse and another priest from Hewahetta whose name was unknown to Embilmeegama. | @@@ 321 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 ; 313 The witness was introduced as a confidential messen- ger who could be trusted, to the Malay officers at the captain’s house. The priests explained that it would not be judicious to begin the insurrection near Kandy as it would be rapidly put down, the ringleaders would be captured and the whole enterprise would be jeopardised. All successful attempts ngainst foreigners always originated in the remote destricts, and before the soldiers could get to the territory, some initial success was obtained and much publicity given to the rebel- lion. This in turn encouraged the well-disposed to join, and simultaneously to raise the standard of revolt in the other provinces, making it impossible for the government to deal with them all at once everywhere. Therefore it was decided that the insurrection should start in Wellasse. At this meeting Wellasse Nayakke Unnanse had told them that he had ar- ranged matters with a wealthy and influential Wellasse monk named Polwatte Unnanse , and an old rebel Bibile Ratte Ralle to implement the rebellion there, and all that remained was to lix the time and venue for rendezvous. Tibbotawewe was to coordinate the affairs in Matale with the headmen there and had obtained from them promises of substantial help.

Embilmeegama was to act as a go-between the conspirators.

In Wellasse, Polwatte Unnanse had already made a depot for storing grain and had sixty or seventy persons held in readi- ness, to proceed in small parties and commence the rebellion in as many places as possible, and create a sensation in that remote district.. this then would be the signal for other districts to rise in arms according to circumstances, and the disposal or the position of the troops.

The Malay captain objected that valuable time would be lost, and that the change of troops was imminent, and that it was better to start the rebellion now. The priests replied that they could not change the plan, and that Palane Kumbure Liyaneralle of Dumbara had told them that he could do nothing to help, if the attempt at rebellion was made in the @@@ 322 @@@ 314 ‘ THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH neighbourhood of Kandy. But if the Wellasse rebellion crossed the Mahaweli river he would get the whole province to march with the rebels to Kandy itself.

The Malay captain did observe that all the Malay soldiers in the British army were discontented, their pay had been reduced, and that they were worked like coolies (menial servants), and that no indulgence was given to or care taken of them…that he himself, though he had attained a respectable rank, only got forty Rix Dollars a month. They wanted no money for their cooperation just yet, but if this enterprise succeeded, they expected to be well rewarded by the Kandyans, His company would follow him to a man. He did not require arms from the Kandyans, they could provide themselves with the necessary armaments, and they would mainly depend on their Kreeses (daggers). If his company were shifted to Colombo or any other remote station, all that would be required was a Pagoda a man as marching money. At the moment, every man who could get his discharge from the army would take it, and would join him. All he wanted was intimation when and where they should join the insurrection.

The witness did not know the name of the Malay captain but described him as a short man light in colour with grey hairs and a beard. The sergeant was his first cousin married into the family of the Malay Mohadiram of Kandy (Gunhetty Ralle). He did identify both the Malay officers af the later stage before the trial.

The Malay captain acknowledged that he was aware, that if he was betrayed, he would die at the end of a rope, but his friends would avenge his death on the traitor.

Embilmeegama also pointed out that when the rebel- lion was on the point of breaking out, Mr. Turnour would be got rid of, during one of his solitary rides by employing some of the skilled archers from Wellasse.

B e e e N T e P @@@ 323 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 315 He also revealed that the Tooth Relic would be pur- loined by deception when the receptacle was opened by Mr.

Turnour for inspection. That the curtains in the sanctuary would be set on fire, and in the prevailing confusion the Relic would be spirited away by one of those present, and a new one made of ivory was to be substituted in its place.

He also informed Mr. Turnour that Dullawe the Sec- ond Adikar had consented to furnishing provisions for three months to the rebels. At the commencement of the rebellion it was promised to Embilmeegama, that he would be ap- pointed Gabada Nileme and the Dissave of any province he wished, on a proper instrument. However he regretted having Involved himself in this matter, which threatened such serious consequences to the whole of Kandy and the Kandyans.

Kettekumbura had confided to him that there were fwo princes in Wellasse, one a priest, the other a layman, voncealed by Wellasse Annu Nayakke Unnanse, and that he had met one near the house of Wattegedere Nayakke Unnanse ol Kandy, and that one of them would take over from the Hritish in Kandy. The statement by Embilmeegama from the (lock before the judge and the jury was in substance and detail, but for minor difference, faithful to the many statements he had made in secret to the British authorities before the trial and was heavily relied upon by the Prosecution to prove their case ngainst the accused conspirators.

The twentyseventh witness was Amunugama, late – Rate Mahatmaya. He admitted that Tibbotawewe had told him of the imminent rebellion, and that the rebels had got lead, nrms, gunpowder and the Malays on their side. All the chiefs were supportive and that he too should support it, which he did promise, without intending to do anything about it.

@@@ 324 @@@ 316 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The twentyeighth witness was Ukkuwela Banda. He stated that Tibbotawewe had’told him that the religion was destroyed by the British and new taxes were to be soon imposed. The principal chzefs were to give a grand entertain- ment to the Governor and other British officers, and were ther to be killed during this levee, and the discharged Malays were to join in this project. – = The twentyninth witness was Obbokotuwe Unnanse, a Buddhist monk, and an associate of the fourth accused. Al the pre-trial inquiry the British were convinced that he knew alot about the plot and pardoned him as an incentive to eke oul the information from him. In the dock he denied any involve ment in the rebellion and blurted out ‘Mr. Turnour gave me pen and asked me to write so and so and I wrote it down’. He said ‘you know such and such facts, write the same down’. He was threatened with corporal and other severe punishment if he did not comply. Mr. Turnour also threatened to kill him. He wrote what he was ordered to, while he was in the jail in the same way as another internee, Kahawatte had done.

The thirtieth witness was Jemindar Abdul Passer, a Jemindar in the Ceylon Rifles Regiment. He admitted thal Sergeant Vera Sorta had recommended Kettekumbura, the fifth accused, as a good doctor for his children. One day Kettekumbura had asked him to procure Malays who would be well-paid and provided for by the chiefs. His repeated inquiries as to the objectives and the identity of the chiefs concerned were not answered. His intention, in initially going “along with the plan to subvert the government, was to im prison Kettekumbura and take him to his commanding of- ficer.

He admitted going to the priests for a meal, but as the Malays did not eat what others had cooked, he ate only a @@@ 325 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 317/ plantain, the priests ate the rest. During thisrepast Ebilmeegama nsked if he had men who would go to Matale and make a Karella (rebellion). He did not a_x_iswer. The three priests, Kettekumbura, Obbokotuwe, and Tibbotawewe promised to reveal the identity of the three chiefs the next day. He went away from this meal resolving that when this happened, he would convey the information to his regimental major. Noth- Ing was said about money or Pagodas at this meeting and he did not say that he could get fifty men, if they were given two Pagodas each.

The thirtyfirst and the last witness for the Prosecution was Hainkumbure late Mohatalle of Oodangoda in Matale.

He stated that the second accused had told him that it was his intention together with others, to raise a rebellion in his Koralle, and that he and others should exert every endeavour to procure some men for this purpose from his Koralle, and soon he would be summoned, which he should answer imme- diately. With this witness the Prosecution closed its case.

When the court assembled on Saturday the 17th Jan 1835, there was a debate on Mr. Turnour’s presence in the court as an aid to the Prosecution. The accused supported by their Counsel objected to his presence, which the judge (hreatened to overrule. Mr. Turnour then made a statement to the court and left.

Mr. Staples for the defence began “I ask only that you – will consider this case with those feelings which every good man must possess, when he sees a fellow creature depending on him for his life–that you will make all allowances for prejudices and ignorance–beyond’this I ask for nothing more than–justice–. The Kmg s Advocate had told you that the crime for which the prisoners stand charged involves every interest which can be valuable to them–but when you are told @@@ 326 @@@ 318 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH at the same time that the clearest interests of the community are affected, I must entreat you not to allow any impression of loyalty to get the better of your judgement, or give them the smallest bias– and if the seriousness of the charge is to have any influence on your minds, it should be only that of rendering you more incredulous of the truth”. ‘ “I trust I may be permitted, in common with many other citizens, to doubt the good policy of these proceedings- -whether it can possibly lead to strengthen the ties which bind the natives of these provinces to the British government, by accusing their chiefs of disloyalty on such slender grounds- whether it does not bespeak of a want of confidence in the strength and resources of our government by listening to and building legal proceedings on such idle reports”.

“You have been told that now is the time of this intended insurrection or never–what–now? Just when the lower classes (without whose cooperation nothing could possibly have been effected), had just emerged from a com parative state of slavery, and had just begun to feel they had acquired a station in society–was such the hour for a rebel lion? And is it likely that, at the very time public demonstra tion of respect and attachment were shown to the late highly talented governor of this island, that these prisoners (particu larly the first two), could have been meditating what was imputed to them? Why was not the incredible diabolical plof of poisoning (spoken of in the evidence but not alluded to in the indictment), then carried into effect? In the course of his observation the King’s Advocate has also stated that one of the – grounds for which the prisoners were put upon their trial, was that they might have an opportunity of proving their loyalty -1 cannot subscribe to the justice of such a proceeding, or thal anyone has the right thus to speculate with the life, liberty or character of a British subject”.

@@@ 327 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 319 “The laws under which we have the happiness to live presume every man to be innocent until the contrary be clearly proved, and if the unimpeached or unimpeachable characters which the prisoners (I allude particularly to the first and the second prisoner) have borne for so long a time have not been sufficient to shield them from suspicion, of what use is character?” He then considered at length the overt acts, and called them nothing more than a string of intention, from which a jury were to infer the intention of subverting the government.

That the prisoners were not charged with having assembled people and haranguing them; nor with having engaged per- sons to form a deputation to the King of Siam or to Mauritius; nor with having collected money for the defraying of the expenses of such deputation; nor indeed with having done one single act; but having intended to do them, with merely the intention of doing so being mentioned in the indictment. That with respect to the alleged conspiracy, it consisted but of some loose conversations directed to indifferent objects; and the very allusions to Rammohan Roy and the inhabitants of Mauritius clearly showed that no traitorous design could have been contemplated.

“I have considered the case hitherto taking it for granted that the witnesses who have been called in support of the prosecution, are wholly untainted and worthy of credit– but when you come to consider that the majority of them acknowledged themselves to be accomplices and the hopes, not only of a pardon but of rewards held out to some–when you reflect on the improbability of a Kandyan chief, who has s0 many at his command (for it cannot be supposed that the abolition of compulsory labour has deprived them of all influence or of confidants), should have put himself in the foreground, while his projects could have been matured by the @@@ 328 @@@ 320 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – instrumentality of others–when you reflect on the impi¢ ability of the Buddhist priests confiding their designs persons with whom they were not at all, or very sligh acquainted, and doing so without having first held out indu¢ – ments, and prospects of personal advantage to them–of improbability of conversations of this nature taking place | public, in houses of entertainment and in open verandhay weigh all these well–throw away the dross as the King’ Advocate has requested you, and see what remains”.

“You are well aware gentlemen, of the honour whi¢ has been bestowed on the first two prisoners and the marked attention paid to them by this government–you are aware, {01, it is a matter of history, that it is the first prisoner’s family which was the principal means of overthrowing the Kandyan tyrant, and the active part the first prisoner himself took I quelling the rebellion of 1818–is it likely therefore, that hg should ever have contemplated the overthrow of this govern: ment, and to re-establish the ancient one, from which he hud everything to fear and nothing to gain?”.

He then referred to the contradictions and discrepan cies which discredited the evidence. As tothe payment of 10() Rix Dollars by the first prisoner–the very idea of advancing such a paltry sum for such a purpose as subverting the government, was preposterous. The very demeanour of the witnesses cast doubt on their veracity. He appealed to those who knew the character, manners and customs of the Kandyan people, whether conversations such as had been related would have been likely to have taken place between the prisoners and such people as had given evidence of them.

That as to the untreasonable journey to the holy city of Anuradhapura, the collection of the ancient customs of the country etc., he did not think them worthy of even an obser @@@ 329 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 321 vation. That as the throne, or rather the palanquin which had jisd been spoken of as a very suspicious circumstance, it was made bt for Sir Edward Barnes, had been paid for, and was at the i moment lying in store in Kandy! That, in short, every actof the first prisoner however innocent, or even loyal had been T misinterpreted and perverted. He added that if the collection of manners and customs of this country was imputable to a e treasonable intention, as was the case with the first prisoner, e he feared that two gentlemen (one a member of the Executive S Council, and the other holding a situation of trust, both I British) who betrayed equal, if not more eagerness in similar enterprise, would ere long have a chance of standing in the same place where the prisoners then were. Surely research into old customs could not constitute treason! He then pointed to the bad terms on which some of the witnesses for the prosecution were with some of the prisoners, particularly the second; arguing that although enmity might not go far towards impeaching the credit of a witness when he deposed to a fact which he had seen, yet it did so, to show the improbability of any confidential communication having taken place between the parties. It had been also proved that some of the prisoners were not on good terms with each other, they therefore could not have conspired together! Commenting on the ‘confessions’ made by prisoners put before the court, he observed “I beg it to be understood that the observations I am about to make on these documents B, (confessions they have been called lucus a non lucendo, =~ confessions from their confessing nothing), are confined to f the writing and not intended to extend to the writer. Mr.

Turnour had told you that he has taken down the very words made use of by the prisoners; but if you refer to the statements, you must see that he must have been nnstaken, foritisnotonly in the third person, but the pcrson who is supposed to make the ! statements is called the depo_pcnt. Now, if Mr. Turnour could , @@@ 330 @@@ 322 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – have committed such an error in his own language, it is not unlikely he may have committed some in translating what was said in one language to another, and considering that Mr, – Turnour was at that time something in the light of a prosecu- tor, and entertaining, no doubt, suspicions of the guilt of the prisoners, it would have been more satisfactory if he had employed an interpreter. I need hardly tell you that the statements must be taken altogether and that which each prisoner states can affect only himself. Dissatisfaction with ~ the government prevailed not only in the Kandyan but also in the maritime provinces. Dissatisfaction and disaffection were words synonymous, the expression of the former even in the strongest terms, could never amount to treason, that it was the peculiar privilege of the English nation to growl at everyone and everything, and it is the right that every British subject may exercise”.

“Gentlemen I would willingly with every confidence leave this case in your hands, as it now presents itself, but | think it right for the sake of my public as well as my clients, to expose the means that has been resorted to in procuring evidence for the prosecution. You have heard several of the witnesses make mention of one Mahawellatenne Dissave, who, I belive Mr. Turnour said, has been employed as a government agent to make enquiries and collect evidence for the prosecution. I am instructed, and am prepared to prove thal this man has not only held out inducements to persons to give evidence against the prisoners, but has also tampered with the = ‘witnesses on their part. I shall also prove the uniform loyal _conduct of the prisoners particularly the first and the second, and produce numerous testimonials which the former has received from time to time, from the government. I shall ~ likewise call a few witnesses to disprove what has been deposed to by some of the witnesses for the prosecution. But you will readily see that I am unable to do this to any extent, @@@ 331 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 ! 323 us almost all the Crown witnesses seemed determined to lorget whether anyone else was present at the alleged conver- sations”.

“Gentlemen I have said I do not intend to appeal to your passions, but if the prisoners themselves were to address you, they could perhaps relate what would not have failed to urouse your feelings on their behalf–but I will only allude to their long imprisonment they have undergone, during which Ihey were shut out from all intercourse with even their nearest relatives, and the ignorance in which they were kept both of the nature of their charge and of their accusers. Gentlemen 1 detain you no longer– before you can find the prisoners puilty, you will have to reconcile contradictions–you will have to credit the greatest improbabilities, but above all you must deny to the prisoners the possession of that master passion which governs and regulates the conduct of all men- self interest. But I expect not such a verdict. In the name of the Law, in the name of Justice–by those sacred ties to which the King’s Advocate has so forcefully appealed–your alle- giance to your King, your duty to your God — I demand an acquittal “. Having thus finished his address to the jury on a high note, Mr. Staples began to summon the witnesses for the defence, most of whom were very brief, and their statements were aimed at casting doubt on the veracity and the honesty of the prosecution witnesses, and establishing the high moral characters of the prisoners.

The first witness was Carolis Silva, the interpreter of the District Court of Matale. He asserted that he met Wellegedere, the prosecution’s sixth witness, during the time of Governor’s Proclamation, and had told him that if he knew anything about the conspiracy, heshouldrevealit. Wellegedere had then replied thathe knew nothing. He had only purchased a gun from Tikiri Banda, who being a man of influence from Asgiri Korale, would be in the know of the plot and this was conveyed to Captain Forbes in Matale.

@@@ 332 @@@ 34 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The second witness was Captain Stannus, ADCtot governor. He acknowledged that he arrested the second accused. He found him quiet, he saw no warlike preparationy at his place, not anything to excite his suspicion. When pul under arrest he came instantly and quietly.

  • The third witness was Ellapatta Basnayakke Nileme, whose sister was married to the first accused. He asserted thal Wellegedere departed from the house of the first accused immediately after his business and did not stop to hold i ~ conversation with him as he said in his evidence. This fact was confirmed by the next (fourth) witness Hangurankette Unambuwe Basnayakke Nileme, who was married to the sister of the first accused. He too stated that after dinner nobody stopped to chat, they all retired to bed. The fifth witness was Dullawe, the Second Adikar.

He admitted that he entertained the First Adikar at his house, he had no private conversation with him. He did ask Wellegedere and Hainkumbura to return to their villages. He was not on good terms with Wellegedere.

After his arrest, the assistant Government Agenl showed him a plan of a Pansale built about a mile away from his house at Weregama. He then admitted that he did not know why the house in the centre was lined with white cloth. The government agent however had told him that there was a large collection of rice, but according to information received from the two headmen in the area, Gatune Rateralle and Godapusse Rateralle, the house and the provisions were for the celebra tion of the Vas Pincoma {(Buddhist lent). He had written many olas (notes), including the one to Wellegedere (o assemble the people at Nalande to build a bungalow for the entertainment and accommodation of the First Adikar, and the other chiefs on their return from the pilgrimage to Anuradhapura. This was a matter of common curtesy.

@@@ 333 @@@ |’THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 325 The sixth witness was Narangamuwe Mohandiram.

He too confirmed that Wellegedere left the house with him and did not stop to speak to anyone. It was true that during the pilgrimage, Tiki Banada did shoot randomly at first but not at game and was asked by his brother, Dunuwilla Dissave, to stop doing so except as part of the ceremony. It was untrue that there was drinkng during the pilgrimage.

The seventh witness was Parapey Vidahn employed at the Walawe of the first prisoner, who was alleged to have been sent to fetch Watterantenne the fourth prosecution witness. He denied having been sent on such a mission. This statement was supported by the eighth witness, Wellimone Korale, who lived near the first prisoner’s Walawe and knew the accused from his infancy. He also added that he had not seen Watterantenne in the house of the first prisoner.

The ninth witness was Weerabahoagedere Aratchie who was to offer evidence that Mahawellatenne had offered inducements to potential witnesses. But the judge stopped this line of argument and insisted that Mr. Staples ought prove, if he could, the tampering of witnesses who had already made their statements in court. A point not taken up by Mr. Staples.

The. tenth witness was Tannipperepattuwe Mohandiram. He stated that the knew both Mahalle and Ratnapala, the latter being Mahalle’s pupil. Mahalle was in his opinion a bad priest because he quarrelled about land.

What both these priests said even on oath could not be trusted.

They were in bad terms with both the first two accused prisoners. Wellimone was recalled to confirm this view of the two priests, The eleventh, Bambaragame Korale and the twelth, Weycumbure Korale too confirmed that the two priests were wellknown to be bad characters, and were not to be trusted even on oath, and that they were on bad terms with the first two prisoners.

@@@ 334 @@@ 326 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The thirteenth witness was Christoffel Petrus De Saram who had been the translator to the Judicial Commis- sioner in Kandy, but presently unemployed from January. He stated that he knew both the first two prisoners over the lasl ten years as loyal subjects without a single instance to the contrary. Bamberadeniya the sixth accused was a greal enemy of the second prisoner. Hettigedere Korale, the fifth prosecution witness was addicted to liquor, was in the habil of assaulting people, and of bad character and could not be trusted even on oath. Mahalle and Ratnapala had complaints and disputes over certain lands belonging to the second accused. He had seen the Mutukude (the royal parasol) at the first prisoner’s temple and not at his house. It was not hidden from anyone.

The fourteenth witness was Dunuwilla Vidahn of Harrispatu. He bore witness to several quarrels about land between Mahalle and the second prisoner. It all started with Mahalle trying to build a dam. On one occasion Mahalle had told the accused ‘one day I will do something, against which you will not be able to raise your head. Could this be hiy concocted evidence against the prisoner ? The fifteenth witness was Wattegedere Annunayakke Unnanse, a Buddhist priest. His evidence was that both Mabhalle and Ratnapala had calumniated him and got him dismissed from his office from a village temple which he had got from the government, and deprived him of his monthly allowance which he had received from King’s time, and also stopped his turn of service at the Maligawa. They had ‘complained that he had prevented them from preaching and taking the Buddhist service at the temple. This was not true, both of them could not be trusted. The last two witnesses for the defence were two more priests, the sixteenth, Lenedorre Unnanse, and the seventeenth Dolangammuwe Unnanse, Both of them knew very well Mahalle, Ratnapala and Embilmeegama, and their lives were very unbecoming and contrary to the teachings of Buddhism. They were all of bad character and could not be trusted.

@@@ 335 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 327 The Kings’s Advocate called in Captain Forbes, the Agent at Matale. He stated that Wellegedere held an office of Influence and responsibility. He was appointed to office at (he suggestion of the Second Adikar Dullawe when nearly all (he other headmen’were reduced in consequence of a change in the manner of collecting land taxes. The second prisoner und Dullawe were on bad terms formely but not recently. He ulso attended the party given by Dullawe to the Governor.

Then Mr. Turnour was called in to attest to the good ¢haracter of Mahalle. He stated that Mahalle was stipended by Sir John D’ Oyly in 1823 and was looked up to for respectability and acquirements by other Priests and the chiefs. The case closed and on the 21st. The judge began his direction to the jury.

“Gentlemen of the jury . The crime of high treason with which the prisoners stand charged, is the greatest and the pravest known to the law, for it must be obvious to everyone (hat the tremendous consequences to which, unless timely checked, it directly leads are beyond calculation, when ‘reason stalks abroad, the bands of society are loosened’ – the property -and life of every individual are placed in jeopardy, und a prospect opens for confusion, blood and rapine, from the contemplation of which the mind recoils”.

“Treason is a crime, the moral turptitude of which may possibly vary according to circumstances, but which in the eye of the law admits not of palliation or excuse, whilst on the other hand, circumstances may very considerably aggravate the natural heinousness of the crime. Do not imagine that I make these observations with any the slightest intention of exciting your feelings against the prisoners-I should be unworthy of the situation I have the honour to fill, were I capable of so grossly abusing it–no my objective is far @@@ 336 @@@ ] fi £ : b it A 328 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST ?i? ,BR:I?SH .

different. I wish to place before you inits true colours and full magnitude, the crime with which the pnsoners are charged, that you may in the first place feel the fearful r_e;spopmblhly you may incur by convicting them without a thorough persuasion of their guilt. But at the same time I am bound to remind you, the argument is equally strong the other way, and that by a hasty acquittal of men labouring under a charge 50 heavy, you will incur no less fearful responsibility for the n consequences that may ensue.. , “Any treasonable attempt to subvert the existing gov ernment good or bad (the mild and benignant sway of the British government, the iron rule of the Portuguese, the jealous despotism of the Dutch or the groan beneath the weight of the Kandyan tyranny), to displace the constituted authorities, popular or tyrannical, is the highest crime known to the law and subjects all persons engaged in such attempts to the highest penalty the law can inflict..”.

“Thetreason against the British government of Ceylon must of necessity wear an aspect of uncommon malignity, because never had any people greater reason for lasting gratitude than the inhabitants of this beautiful island, but more especially those of the Kandyan district on the happy change – oftheircondition, consequent on the deposition of the Kandyan tyrant and the transfer of the government to the British Crown. The abolition of torture of all human punishments, the ‘ gradual extinction of slavery in the maritime provinces a least, the abandonment of old and profitable monopolies and of the right to exact compulsory labour, the adoption of extensive plans for the education of the people, the formation of noble roads by which most distant parts of the island are connected together and the comfort of the people immeasur ably augmented, the substitution of known and fixed laws, which the Sovereign himself dares not and cannot go beyond i @@@ 337 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 329 bl for the capricious and arbitrary decrees of a despot, and the b public solemn administration of these laws here in this very Hall from whence as from a Star Chamber issued, but a few short years ago, a tyrant’s bloody edicts founded on secret and ex parte statements, obtained by torture or prompted by self interest or revenge, and though last but not least, the introduc- tion of that noble institution which with all its defects, all its abuses, is the pride and glory of our country, the true palla- dium of our liberties, that noble institution which enables me to address you–the trial by jury…these are few of the blessings acquired by the inhabitants of Ceylon from its subjection to the British Crown, and never, I will boldly assert was the paternal care of our Gracious Sovereign better repre- : sented in this portion of his immense dominions than by our & d present respected governor… I assert then without fear of T contradiction that the government of Sir Robert Wilmot i Horton, in all its broad and important features, will bear 40 comparison with that of any of his distinguished predecessors, not certainly in the glitter of arms, but in the nobler and more enduring arts of peace. I assert that never were the wants of il people whether on occasions of pressing emergency or those of a permanent description, more promptly and benevolently ‘Q.ih administered to. I need but instance the active measures : adopted for the relief of the sufferers by the late floods in proof of one and the establishment of a Savings Bank and Friend in Need Societies in illustration of the other. I maintain that never was the complaints of the people more patiently heard, their grievances were more readily redressed, their rights more sacredly respected”.

“Bold then and wicked in no common degree–traitors of no ordinary stamp, must these men be–it is not for me to pronounce the prisoners such–who could for a moment seriously wish, much more deliberately intend and actually attempt, not merely to deprive the people of blessings such as @@@ 338 @@@ 330 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH those I enumerated, but to bring them back to a state of slavery–to areign of terror, when one might naturally withoul hyperbole, expect to see the bloody tragedy of Ahelapola renewed–the whole catalogue of horrid and inhuman punish- ments resorted to, and the mutilated victims of Kandyan atrocity meeting us at every turn. The heart sickens at the bare idea of the misery, devastation and bloodshed into which & few disaffected individuals may, if they be so disposed, plunge a whole community”.

“To come more directly to the case before us–whal were the mighty causes of discontent and irritation which goaded the prisoners into the tremendous crime–if guilty they are–of attempting to involve their country in all the horrors of rebellion? Was it on account of grinding taxation, intolerable tyranny or merciless spoliation–from irrepressible feelings of patriotism–for the comfortless troubles, sake of the needy and the deep sighings of the poor–that they were resolved to shake off the yoke of the British government? Nothing of that kind, The only alleged causes of discontent which have come out in evidence, are of purely selfish description, paltry, affecting – only the privileged chiefs and the superior Buddhist priests -opposed to the interests of the people, and leading certainly to the conclusion that the conspiracy (if it shall be found to have existed), was directed primarily indeed against the supremacy of the British government, but secondarily and principally against the new born liberties of their country”, “These alleged grievances, more properly, these pleay for the continuance of privileged oppression are threefold.

The first is the abolition of compulsory labour and the appre hended ultimate extinction of slavery in the Kandyan prov inces. It is almost needless to say that the first of these measures was conceived by His Majesty’s Government in the noblest, most benevolent and most enlightened spirit, was an @@@ 339 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 331 inestimable boon to the great mass of people and has already been productive of the happiest effects–nor can you have forgotten that compensation was made to those chiefs who at first suffered from the change, and their acquiescence in the measure was publicly and gratefully expressed to His Excel- lency the governor, through the mouth of the second prisoner at the bar. With regard to the apprehended abolition of slavery in the Kandyan provinces, it is a question the final settlement of which must mainly depend upon the disposition of the Kandyan chiefs themselves–and let us hope that they will at no distant period be prepared to follow the noble example set them by their brethren of the maritime provinces”.

“As to the second alleged grievance, our pretended interference in their religion, never was more extravagant complaint put forth. We refuse any longer to be parties to the monstrous absurdity of compelling the attendance of the people at the religious festivals and this by a perversion of language, is called interference!”.

“The last grievance on the list–the structure of the jury box–I am almost ashamed to mention. There is a period at which concession becomes a weakness and a folly; there is a limit beyond which prejudice is not to be endured; there is a point at which absurdity becomes intolerable, and when a due fegard to the comfort and convenience of the public at large, fequires that idle and ridiculous forms should be set at naught.

T’he question with regard to chairs or benches was duly considered by the government and by this court, after full consultation with those who were best informed upon the sibject of native habits and prejudices, and was finally de- ¢lded–and that even the highest chiefs should any longer tomplain of degradation in being placed upon the same benches which English gentlemen of the first respectability ure not ashamed to occupy is beyond endurance…”. The Judge then reverted to the legal aspects of the case.

@@@ 340 @@@ 332 “hlE KANDYAfN”S’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “The prisoners at the bar are charged with high treason in various forms which may be reduced in substance to three kinds : i ¥ First, Compassing the death of the King.

Second, conspiring to levy war against him in this part of his dominions.

Third, conspiring to depose him from his Royal style and kingly name in this his island of Ceylon and to subvert his government therein. The eleven distinc! overt acts are stated as evidence of the prisonery’ – intention to commit these several species of treason, The indictment is framed on the Statute 36 Geo. 3¢7″.

“The substance of the overt act is the conspiring together, meeting and consulting as to the means of carrying these treasonable intentions into effect, namely by setting up some pretender or native prince as King of Kandy–by inviting foreign aid–by raising money and other valuables to pay their expenses–by procuring information as to the forms used in the inaugeration of the King of Kandy,—by endeav ouring to seduce the king’s subjects and soldiers from their allegiance–by calling public meetings or pincomas for the pupose of making inflamatory speeches to the people–by getting possession of the Tooth Relic of Buddha by strategem -and by seizing on the fort of Matale, Kandy etc . . .” “Compassing the death of the king, who is never perhaps likely to set foot in Ceylon, may seem to be a strange charge against any person in this island. I will endeavour to explainit. By our ancientlaws any person, any who compasse«| ‘or imagined, that is intended, to take away the life even of a private individual or manifested that intention by any open @@@ 341 @@@ _ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 333 act, was guilty of a crime little short of murder itself. Thus if a man threatened to kill another and ran after him with a drawn sword but was prevented by others from the full – commission of his purpose, he was nevertheless guilty of compassing the death of his intended victim. The king is considered to be the head of the body politic, and the members of that body are considered as united and kept together by a political union with him and with each other. His life cannot in the ordinary course of things, be taken away by treasonable practices without involving the whole nation in blood and confusion; consequently every stroke levelled at his person is, in the ordinary course of things, levelled at public tranquility. The law therefore tendereth the safety of the king with an anxious concern, and if I may use the expression, with concern bordering upon jealousy. It considereth the wicked imaginations of the heart in the same degree of guilt as if carried into actual execution, from the moment measures appear to have been taken to render them effectual, and therefore if conspirators meet and consult, how to kill the king, though they do not then fall upon any scheme for that purpose, this is an overt act of compassing the death of the king; and so are all means made use of, be it advice, persuasion or command, to incite, to encourage, to commit the fact or to join in the attempt; and every person who but assenteth to any overture for that purpose will be involved in the same guilt. The care the law hath taken for the personal safety of the king is not confined to actions or attempts of the more flagitous kind, to asssasination or poison, or other attempts directly and immediately aiming at his life. It is extended to everything wilfully or deliberately done or at- tempted, whereby his life may be endangered; and therefore the entering into measures for deposing or imprisoning him or to get his person into the power of the conspirators, these offences are overt acts of treason within this branch of the Statute; for experience hath shown that between the prison THTTEE @@@ 342 @@@ 334 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH and the grave of the princes, the distance is very small, ~ Offences which are not so personal as those already men- ‘tioned have been with great propriety, brought within the same rules as having a tendency, though not so immediate, to the same fatal end; and therefore the entering into measures in concert with foreigners and others in order to an invasion of the kingdom, or going into a foreign country or even proposing to go thither to that end, and taking any steps in order thereto, these offences are overt acts of compassing the king’s death”.

“Now it has again and again been decided that a conspiracy torise in rebellious war against the king’s govern- ment is an overt act of compassing the king’s death, and for this plain reason, that though the king is bound by coronation oath to resist all such attempts by force of arms, which of ~course has a tendency direct or remote according to circum – stances (and in the present case certainly remote), to place his life in danger. But it is needless to dwell upon this, for the prisoners are charged with a distinct species of treason, plain and palpable, whether it affects the king’s life or not–I mean the compassing to deprive him from his royal style and kingly name in this part of his dominions, and of this species of treason, the meeting and conspiring of persons together to devise means for carrying it into effect is a distinct overt act, and this is in fact the gravamen of the charge against the prisoners. Almost the whole evidence tends to the establish ment of this charge, and our business is now to enquire whether it has or has not been sufficiently and amply substan tiated.” g “But first let me advert to the arguments urged by the prisoners counsel: ithas been contended that the libel does not set out one single overt act, properly so called; that the wholc isatissue of alleged intentions and the prisoners counsel asks: @@@ 343 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 335 is there no locus poenitentiae? Undoubtedly so long as aman confines his wicked thoughts and intentions within his own hosom there is a locus poenitentiac-our great poet tells us that “evil into the mind of god or man may come and go, so unapproved ard leave no spot or blame behind’. But when a man reveals his evil purposes to others and goes from place to place consulting and conspiring with them as to the best mode of carrying those purposes into effect, the case is entirely altered; what was before comparatively innocent becomes desperate guilt–the locus poenitentiae is left behind; the crime is consumated; the man is to all intents and purposes (if designs are directed against the government) a traitor; and thus are the prisoners charged in the libel. Again it is urged that all the evidence tends to prove mere conversations, and that words are not acts. Loose words directed to no definitive purposes are certainly not acts, but words of persuasion or consultation how to effect a treasonable purpose, must be viewed in a very different light; the question is an old one and much has been said and written on the subject : the law is well summed up in Hume’s Commentaries on Criminal Law of Scotland where the law of treason is the same as in England, ‘with respect to words uttered and spoken’ says he, ‘the general rule, laid down by all authorities (excepting Hawkins, who speaks more doubtfuly), seems to be this; that be they ever so wicked and abominable, they do not at common law, nor under the statute of Edward, amount to treason, but to a high misdemenour only, as expression of hatred of the king, prayers and wishes for his death, curses or invectives against him, or even threats and denounciations of mischief; and certainly there is great reason for distinguishing in the matter of treason, between spoken words and written, because the former are often no deeper than the lips and rather argue heat of temper than malice of heart; and besides, they are so liable to be mistaken, misconstrued, perverted or imperfectly re- membered by the hearers; whereas a writing is a deliberate @@@ 344 @@@ 336 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH and an advised act, and always testifies for itself, what it is, and was meant by the writer to be. Nevertheless to be just or reasonable, this rule must be understood w1th certain qualifi- cations and limitations; for we should form a very false notion of the law, if we imagined that words are usually indifferent in this matter, and cannot in any circumstances amount to treason. All consultation and debate, though purely verbal, ‘how to kill the king, or towards levying war, to imprison or depose him, is an undoubted overt act of compassing his death, because the words in such case are not the evidence only of traitorous purpose, but an act prosecution of it, and the one which tends to advance the project’. Another point urged is the suspicious nature of the evidence, the witnesses being almost wholly accomplices. On this subject I cannot do better than cite the remarks of that truly great man, Lord Ellenborough on the trial of Colonel Despard for High Treason–“That an accomplice’ says he, ‘is a competent witness, upon whose testimony you may found a conclusion cannot be doubted. If it were not so, it would be a dereliction of duty of the judges sitting here, and those who have formerly sat in Court of Justice, not to have repelled witnesses from the oath and have told the jury, that they were not fit to be credited, but they are always received, and although sullied with contamination ol crimes which they impute to others, they are credible, al though their testimony must be received with caution. They may be confirmed by various circumstances, by the clearness of their own narration, or by the narration of others. They may be confirmed by the coincidence of external circumstances and broken in upon by no one fact of adverse circumstances.

In the case before us when so many sceues are laid, all of which, if untrue, may be falsified, and it is falmfied in no one instance, if a person so falsified is not to be beheved it would form acase by which conspiracies would alwaysbe protected, because conspiracies can never be known but through some who were participators in the crlme”‘ [l ¥ @@@ 345 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 337 “Another argument strongly pressed upon the jury was the improbability that persons high in office and so well informed as the prisoners could ever seriously entertain the idea of subverting the British Government, and certainly at the first blush, it does seem strange, that persons so well ncquainted as they must have been with the overwhelming power of the British Government, and the comparative ease with which the former rebellion was put down, should ever have seriously contemplated success in such a scheme. This argument was anticipated and well answered by the King’s Advocate in his opening speech. ‘The prisoners’ he said, ‘must have reasoned thus–our power is diminishing day by day, and the inferior classes are advancing upon us. Now is the time to strike the blow or never’. But the argument may be answered more comprehensively. Are men, it may be asked, writhing under oppression, fancied or real, foaming under grievances, uctual or imaginary, ever likely to reason cooly or soundly on any subject? Much more when they bid adieu to their better reason, by embarking on a crusade against the laws? The great protector of innocents is the folly of crime; if wicked men were always wise and prudent men (though in truth the supposition in terms refutes itself) there would be no living in the world. Besides, I ask, is it less improbable that nearly thirty witnesses sworn and examined on the part of the Crown, should all be perjured and without any apparently adequate object? For what interest can so many witnesses have in bringing about the destruction of the prisoners at the bar?”.

“Again it is urged that nothing but a few conversation ure proved, but what conversations they are! How pregnant with matter! The surpnsmg part, inthe case of this kind, where plots have been carried on in secret–where secrecy became of necessity indispensable until the plot was ripe–the surprising part, I say, is that we should have learnt anything of the conspiracy and rebellion that were hatching in the dark rather @@@ 346 @@@ 338 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH than that we should know so little. Who can tell how far the poison may have spread? To infer that because only a part has been brought to light there was no more to be disclosed, appears to me a most frivolous kind of reasoning in such acase | – as this”.

“The Defence Counsel had asked ‘why such an array of witnesses on the part of the Crown to prove so little?’. Does not this observation recoil with tenfold weight upon the prisoners themselves–out of 339 witnesses only 17 are called! But this is a point for you to consider. Again it was distinctly held out by the Defence that offers of reward to the witnesses for the Prosecution would be distinctly proved. You will judge how far this pledge has been made good”.

“Now I come to the evidence for the Prisoners and begin with the statements made by some of the prisoners. Bul first let me advert to some remarks of the Prisoners’ Counsel, Mr. Staples, in commenting on these documents. I admire the zeal and the talent of that gentleman in the discharge of his duty, and have never been backward in acknowledging them, But I must say that he displayed neither good taste nor good feeling–but rather the spirit of musty special pleader, a cantor formularum auceps syllabarum when he seized with so much triumph upon a trifling technical inaccuracy into which any unprofessional man might have fallen, and magnified it into an ignorance of the English language–a singular charge certainly to bring against Mr. Turnour of all other men. But | am sorry to say that this was not all, for it was pretty broadly insinuated as mala fide the arresting and confining for so long a period before trial the prisoners at the bar (who, by the way have little more to complain of in that respect than hundreds of others arrested and confined in the ordinary course of criminal justice); I say it was pretty broadly insinuated that Mr. Turnour was actuated by personal feelings, certainly @@@ 347 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 339 charge utterly unfounded and unjust. Happily for that, his character for integrity, zeal and ability in the discharge of all his duties, whether private or official, stands far too high to be hurt by any such attacks”.

“Two objections were raised by Mr. Staples against the admissibility of these documents. In the first place, said he, they are in many parts in the third person instead of the lirst, whereas the exact words of the prisoners should be piven. Now it is obvious that in a translation this cannot be done. The sense and meaninig can only be transferred into unother language, and that sense and meaning are equally well expressed perhaps in the third person as in the first; our interpreters in the court here repeatedly fall into that mode of Interpretation, though it certainly requires more nicety and care to prevent a confusion of different persons, but when the Identity of the person represented to be speaking is clear, one mode is quite as intelligible and accurate as the other. The other objection is that in truth these statements are not confes- sions at all. And for the most part I agree with Mr. Staples. But (0 quote the words of Mr. Baron Shepherd on a similar paper being offered in evidence: ‘we are not discussing whether it is evidence of a confession, but whether being receivable in evidence, it may more or less corroborate the evidence that has already been given’. These statments having been clearly proved to have been voluntary, are certainly admissible in evidence, and it is principally as tending to corroborate the ~ viva voce evidence of the witnesses examined in court that – Ihese documents are of so much importance”. His Lordship (hen read over to the jury the statements made by the first, third und fourth prisoners (see Mr. Turnour’s evidence above) – before the Council and the evidence of the Colonial Secretary nnd the Hon. G. Turnour, as to the circumstances under which (hese statements had been made, from which it appeared that .~ they were perfectly voluntary, and of course receivable in @@@ 348 @@@ 340 THE KANDYANS’ LAST ST. AND AGAINST THE BRITISH evidence, notindeed as confessions but as statements strongly ~corroborative of the testimony given by many of the wit- ~ nesses; they betrayed also in one or two remarkable instances a palpable departure from the truth, which it would be for the – jury to reconcile, if they could, with the general conduct of – men conscious of their innocence, The judge then proceeded to read over the whole of the evidence, observing that, extended as it was, he knew not well how to select, where all appeared to be so important–pointing out as he proceeded, how far the testimony of each witness affected the prisoners singly or collectively–remarking from time to time on the demeanour of the more important wit- nesses as it appeared on the trial–their characters as impugned or supported by evidence on the one side or the other, and directing the attention of the jury to such contradictions or inconsistencies as merited observation. The judge could nol forbear from dwelling with merited excretion, upon the dia bolical plot for the destruction by poison of the Governor and as many of his heads of department, civil and military, as could be called together at an entertainment to be given by the Kandyan chiefs for that purpose–a plot only conceivable by savages, and the more detestable, as founded (according to evidence) on the very hospitality which should have disarmed all hostile feelings.

The evidence on behalf of the prisoners was in like manner read over and commented upon by the judge. He adverted to the fact that Christoffel De Saram Mudaliyar had spoken of the previous peaceable and loyal cha;acter of the first two prisoners, which was also evidenced by numerous testimonials produced by the prisoners themselves and placed inthe hands of the jury. But against this, he pointed out, should be placed the undoubted fact of the two prisoners’ dissatisfac tion and mortification at the late measures adopted by the @@@ 349 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 341 : Eovemment and the treasonable practices alleged agamst . them by the concurr;ng testimony of so many witnesses.

The judge referred to Captain Stannus, the Governor’s ADC, who had testified to the calmness of the second prisoner on his arrest and the absence of anything suspicious in his appearance or in his house. The jury could attach weight to these circumstances as they deserved. But they appeared to the jury to be of very trifling importance, since it was to be expected that a man who had treasonable designs in view to be particularly careful to preserve an unsuspicious exterior.

The judge also observed that the principal witnesses who were called to disprove the story of the treasonable conversation, held at the second Adikar’s house, between the first two prisoners and Wellegedere Korale (by swearing to the Korale’s having left the house before the time when the conversation was alleged to have taken place), were two brothers in law of the first prisoner and the second Adikar, who had himself been nrrested on the same charge of treason– the improbability of Wellegedere’s selecting as the scene for such conversation (supposing it to be fictitious) a place where a great number of people were avowedly assembled together–thus furnishing (he readiest means of contradiction of his own story–was too manifest to be dwelt upon.

The several witnesses called for the purpose of throw- Ing discredit on the two principal witnesses for the Crown, the priests Mahalle and Ratnapala, it appeared to the judge, had lnmentably failed in their object. The respectable appearance 1wl those two priests, and the manner in which they had given {heir evidence had particularly struck him, and the character ol the former, i in particular, was supported by very decisive idence given by Mr. Turnour–whilst, on the other hand, the pearance of most of the witnesses arrayed against them had ry little in their favour, and the reasons they gave for @@@ 350 @@@ 342 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH discrediting the priests were loose, vague and unsatisfactory, However it was for the jury to decide between them.

Having finished annalysing the evidence critically, the judge concluded in the following terms. “Now Gentlemen the whole case is before you; the evidence speaks for itself, and I know not what I can say to make it clear. Treasonable plans, treasonable conversations, treasonable meetings, on various occasions and at various places, are brought home to the prisoners by the evidence of nearly 30 witnesses, whose testimony is on the whole remarkably consistent and sup ported on the one hand, by facts admitted (but endeavoured to be explained away–with what success–it is for you to judge) by the prisoners themselves–such as the pilgrimage (0 Anuradhapura at an unusal period of the year–the transfer of his estate by the first prisoner to his son–the possession by the first prisoner of certain insignia generally considered a§ peculiar to royalty, and which under the Kandyan govern ment no private individual could possess under penalty ol death–and the existence of extreme disgust and mortification in the minds of all the prisoners on account of the recenl changes; and on the other, facts in terms admitted by the prisoners, but positively sworn to by many of the witnesses foi the Crown, and rendered palpable by the general tenor of the statements made by three of the prisoners as already men tioned, namely, the payment of 100 Rix Dollars to Wellegedere for the purpose of raising the people, and the means taken to seduce the Malay officer. Gentlemen, in this, by far the mosi important case which ever came before a jury in this island, the eyes of the whole country are upon you–and your country will pass its verdict upon your verdict. It now remains for you to decide whether the prisoners are guilty of the charge, and it appears to me that you must come to that conclusion, unless you are prepared to say that the numerous witnesses for the Crown are perjured without any apparently sufficient object.

@@@ 351 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 343 | have said that the crime admits of no palliation in the eye of (he law, but there are those in whose hands is vested the prerogative of mercy. An intimation of that kind fell from the Deputy King’s Advocate in his concluding address to the court, and I’need scarcely say, that should you feel yourself compelled to return a verdict of guilty, any recommendation of yours which may accompany that verdict shall immedi- ately be transmitted to the proper quarter. Gentlemen I have done, the prisoners are in your hands, consider your verdict”.

The judge commenced summing up at about 11.30 A.

M. and did not conclude until 5 P. M. in the afternoon when the jury retired. After deliberating for upwards of an hour, the jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY. There was tumultu- ous applause in the court. Silence was proclaimed and the Judge addressed the prisoners in the following terms. “Prison- ers you have been acquitted by a jury of your countrymen of the heavy charge brought against you, and most heartily and sincerely do I congratulate you on your deliverance. It is not for me to question the propriety of the verdict, the jury have declared you not guilty, and I must not express a doubt of your innocence; but in justice to the government I am bound to say, that this prosecution was imperatively called for, and the circumstance of suspicion against you were amply sufficient to justify your arrest and the long imprisonment you have undergone. The anxiety you must have suffered during that imprisonment and this painful and protracted investigation will, I trust, have left an indelible impression on your minds, and you will endeavour, I hope, by the extreme propriety and circumspection of your conduct for the rest of your lives, to evince your loyalty and attachment to the merciful govern- ment under which you hve You are discharged”.

The next day, Thursday 22nd of January 1835, in the Supreme Court of Kandy, the Deputy King’s Advocate rose to @@@ 352 @@@ by hardly believe what I am going to say, but I do not believe that . there was one word of truth in the evidence either for the 344 THE KANDYANS’ LASTSTAND AGAINST THE BRITISH his feet at the very start of the proceedings and stated that in consequence of the verdict of yesterday, which could only be attributed to a belief on the part of the jury that the witnesses for the Crown were perjured, he was instructed to say that the government would abandon the intended prosecution against the remaining state prisoners.

Mr. Justice Norris observed as follows: “Mr. Advo- cate, the government will of course use its own discretion– with the verdict of yesterday, which is now a matter of history, we have nothing more to do. For myself, I lay no claim to infallibility: on the contrary, the great probability is that [have fallen into some of the errors of judgement, whether of omission or commission which will cling to humanity; but | can say with safe conscience, that to the best of my poor ability, I have done my duty. I am bound to believe that the conscience of the jury are equally clear–but, I confess, I was surprised at the verdict”(1). The last word on the trial itself ought go to the Colonial Secretary at that time in Colombo, Mr. Philip Anstruther. He had been a Civil Servant from 1820 and was appointed Colonial Secretary in 1830 and had been in that post till his resignation in February 1845. He remained a planter 30 miles south west of Kandy and left the island in May 1849 to give evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Ceylon 1849/50. He brought to bear his thirty-year experience of dealing with the Kandyans in his replies to the questions put to him by the members of the Select Committee.

On the 5th of July 1850 Mr. Hawes, a memeber of the House of Commons Committee, asked him, “are you aware of the evidence given on that occasion (of the conspiracy trial)?”.

Mr. Anstruther replied, “I am afraid the Committee will @@@ 353 @@@ ” THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 345 Crown or for the prisoners on the trial. The trials were sanctioned by myself, and of course, I had at that time the opinion that the prisoners were guilty. Since that time I have talked over the subject with many of the chiefs over and over again and I am confident that was the case. There was dissatisfaction in the minds of the chiefs consequent upon the abolition of compulsory labour and there was something wrong; but it is my firm belief that not only the evidence for the Crown was false but the evidence for the defence was also false. I mean of course, as regards the conspiracy charged”(Q8995).

Mr. Hume, “were they all acquitted?” “They were, in consequence of the majority of the jurymen being natives.

One of the parties acquitted was the Maha Nileme, who has = ” been mentioned here. Some time after the trial, when the matter had blown over, I got more private information with reference to him and in consequence I gave him the highest office I could give him” (Q8999). Yet Mr. Anstruther had the lemerity to imply that had it been an all European jury they would have been convicted on evidence which, in his own words, were all false ! Mr. Hume, “the information you subsequently ob- tained satisfied you that he had not been guilty of the charges alleged against him?”. “Just so, not guilty on these charges. It I5 a circumstance that has puzzled me more than anything I ever met with in my life. We reinstated many of the parties who were tried. Locu Banda, the Chief of Police, was one of those who were brought to trial. I should know whether he was puilty or innocent. I spoke to these people as freely as I speak (o any friends here”(Q9000)..

Mr. Hawes, “your opinion then is, that the chiefs and iy priests, especially the Kandyan chiefs and priests, are not to be considered as generally disaffected to the British govern- @@@ 354 @@@ 346 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH ment?”. “That is going a little further the other way; I think the disaffection of the chiefs, generally considered, that is as a political disaffection, is greatly exaggerated. I think many of them do not like our government but their dislike does not extend to anything like an idea of throwing off our government”(Q9026).

Mr. Hawes, “you think they would not be willing to take advantage of any moment of disturbance or discontent to call in the aid of their followers and to try to establish a king of their own?”. “I do not think they would, for they have no followers; they are dissatisfied because they have no followers”(Q9027).

Mr. Hawes, “you seemed to be of the opinion that the circumstances of the Kandyans never having a king of their own militates against the assumption of their ever trying to set up a king of their own?”. I do not think they would try to sel up a Sinhalese King”(Q9028).

Mr. Hawes, “do not they (the Kandyan chiefs) hope by that means (ie. by taking advantage of disturbances etc.) to establish their religion?. “I do not think they do; I do not think they care a straw about their religion; they have no religion at all”(Q9029).

Mr. Hawes, “you think there is no discontent at the moment on the part of the priests, chiefs and headmen as to the decay of their religion and the influence of their priesthood?”.

“] think the priests are very much dissatisfied that they have no influence; as to the chiefs caring about the Buddhis religion, they do not care more about it than I do (which iy pretty nothing), nor do the generality of the people”(Q9030).

Mr. Hawes,” Is that not the case with the priests?” “The priests care about their own authority, their influence and their property”(Q9031).

@@@ 355 @@@ ’ AR Pt g ey R T LI e A i THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 347 | Mr. Hawes, “I understand you to say that a wish to ! restore their religion and their former influence is not pre- dominant withthem?”. “Notas regards theirreligion”(Q9032).

Mr. Hawes, “They neither aim at religious re-ascend- ancy or political re-ascendancy?”. “They would like very much, if our government were a weaker government and they had the power they had before; but still they know that they are within our power, and they are so disorganised and so quiet and timid a people, that I deny that there is anything like a political disaffection, or an idea of getting rid of our government”(Q9033).

The reverberations of the verdict in this historic case did not stop with egg on the face of the government. Its implication that the government was anti Kandyan and anti Buddhist became firmly ingrained in the minds of most of the ordinary Kandyan people. At the same time the beginning of the end of Kandyan social structure which had existed over 400 years was ushered in by the fact that almost all of the Kandyan elite had lost their status in the eyes of the new governors of Kandy. For good or for bad the British governors could now ignore the Kandyan hierachy in whatever they wanted to do in Kandy. The only interest that mattered was the revenue earning capacity of Kandy which needed to be exploited no matter the solemn undertakings given by the previous governors. The door had been now widely opened for the decimation of the virgin forests of Kandy and its replacement with cash crops of coffee which, until now had been creeping up the slopes of fertile mountains at a very painfully slow rate. This however will not be acceptable to the Kandyans. They will resist it. Compounded by other causes, the loss of Kandyan lands by the Kandyans and the loss of primacy of their religion, brought about the final major upheavel in the Kandyan territory, which might be properly called the “Kandyans’ Last Stand Against The British”.

@@@ 356 @@@ 348 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The governor was keen to salvage the reputation of the government and secure the status of its spies who had perjured in their evidence and to suitably reward them for their serv« ices. A levee was held at the Pavilion in Kandy on the 13th. of February 1835. The governor, Sir Robert Horton’s address (o the assembled worthies was the focal point at this function, “Thave this day assembled the chiefs and priests of the Kandyan nation to express my obligation, as the representa tive of His Majesty the King of England, to those priests and chiefs who have been instrumental in the detection of the treasonable intentions of some individuals belonging to their respective bodies. To appreciate the benefit which the govern ment had derived from their conduct and the consequenl acknowledgement that are due to them, it is only necessary (0 reflect for one moment as to what the state of this prosperous and peaceable colony would have been, had any treasonable designs been permitted to develop themselves in active meas ures of rebellion. The miseries of the past periods of 1817 and 1818 might have been revived and the progressive career of the Kandyan prosperity checked, if not annihilated. It is the essential duty of Executive Government of every country to prevent treason from maturing itself”.

“The task of government in a personal point of view, might be more easy, if it were mostly to watch and wait until blood had been shed, and direct acts of rebellion overtly committed. There would then be no apology necessary for ~ exerting all its energies of power and punishment against such parts of the population as might flock to the standard of treason when once unfurled. In such a case there would be no difficulty or intricacy in proving the‘guilt of the offenders–but _ by this tardy interference the interest of the country might, and probably would, sustain the deepest prejudice–above all, the innocent would be, in many instances, inevitably confounded with the guilty in one common ruin. Such a crisis it is the province of good government to avert”.

@@@ 357 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 349 “In reference to the principles which I have just explained, and in reward for his loyal conduct, before this meeting separates, I shall invest Mahawellatenne Dissave with the office of the First Adikar. He was the first individual to awaker¢the vigilance of the government to the existence of any treasonable intentions. In the firstinstance, it was scarcely possible to believe that chiefs who had been treated with every sort of favour and personal curtesy, could be the parties to entertain such intentions– subsequent inquiry however ulti- mately placed that fact, in the opinion of the Executive government, beyond the power of doubt. It is due to Mahawellatenne Dissave to state, that he did not come for- ward in the slightest degree in the character of an eager informer–on the contrary, he protested against his name being mentioned, and deprecated in the extreme, any acts on the part of the government which would awaken suspicion of their having received such information. His declared object was to put government on their guard. It was after a long interval, and not till after the arrests of the parties, that he became, as it were, an Agent of government on this occasion.

In the intervening period he gave to the government no information whatever on the subject”.

“Another individual highly deserving the marked ap- probation of government is David de Silva Mudaliyar. As proof of the high sense I entertain of the loyalty, zeal and courage which he displayed in endeavouring to avert from his country the possible consequences of rebellion, I shall appoint him Mudaliyar of Governor’s Gate with an allowance suitable (o that rank. Before I proceed to the question of reward which it is the intention of government to allot to the priests Mahalle, Ratnapala and Embilmeegama, who have on this occasion fearlessly, effectively and loyally, come forward to unmask the pernicious designs which were in agitation, it will be necessary for me to explain publicly, what I understand from @@@ 358 @@@ 350 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Mr. Turnour, the Government Agent of the Central Provingg, to be the doctrines of the Buddhist priesthood with respeci the case of the priests giving information of treasonah intentions, or, in fact, of any other crime involving puniy ment. I cannot avail myself of a more conclusive authority ¢ this point than that of a letter addressed by the Chief Priest o the Malwatte establishment to the Government Agent: ‘To the Government Agent of the Kandy District’ “The conduct of the two priests Mahalle and Ratnapalu, in having detected and communicated to the government (g treasonable discussions of certain priests and chiefs, with the intention of protecting the people, the religion and the goveri- ment, is highly praiseworthy. If these treasonable discussiong had gained ground, both to the nation and the religion as well as to the government, the greatest calamities would have ensued therefrom. The manner in which the government huy suppressed the spread of these treasonable discussions, I consequence of the information obtained from these twa priests, is most excellent’.

‘Therefore we shall readmit the aforesaid priests into the ceremonies and the rights of our religion on the same footing as formerly–and moreover in order that it may be held up as an example for the future of all others that these were priests loyal and faithful to the government, it appears to be proper that whatever may be the requests of the said priesty, Mahalle and Ratnapala, that it should be gratified and carried into effect by the government’. It is thus reported by the Chiel Priest of Malwatte, Galgiriyawe Dharrnakklrtl Sumangalla Maha Thera”. i “Nothing can be more just and proper than the grounds on which it has been decided in this document that these priests who have given information should be readmitted (o the ceremonies and rites of the Buddhist religion. It is con i @@@ 359 @@@ ‘ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 351 ceded that their conduct has been most excellent, which I understand to be the precise meaning of the Sinhalese epithet employed. It is conceded that they have assisted in averting the greatest calamities from their country and they are read- mitted accordingly. I understand that had the prisoners been convicted of the crime of treason and suffered such penalties as law might have adjudged them, according to the doctrines of the Buddhist religion, the sacerdotal functions of those priests might have been superseded–as the evidence given by them might have been considered as proximate cause of such conviction and its consequences. It is repugnant, I am told, to the doctrines of the Buddhist religion that the priests of the religion should be the direct cause of the infliction of any penalty however small. But in ceasing to be priests their character as laymen would nevertheless be unimpeachable.

Their retirement from the priesthood would not be attended with any moral degradation. It might, however, be observed that the chiefs and the priests who have lately been dismissed from their public situations have in point of fact incurred penalties, though not judicial penalties–but let me once for all explain, that these penalties have not been the consequences of the information given by these priests, but of the admission contained in their own statements by the portion of the parties entertained by the government that, to say the least, they were cognizant of treasonable intentions being afloat, of which intentions, as public servants., it was pre-eminently their duty 1o have apprized the government at the earliest opportunity”.

“Under these circumstances it is hardly necessary to observe, that the continuance of Mahalle, Ratnapala and Embilmeegama in the priesthood will depend upon their own feelings and judgement; it is a point on which no hasty decision is required–but whether as priests or laymen their tried; and in the case of others, from the entire conviction @@@ 360 @@@ 352 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH conduct has equal claims on the favours of the British goverie ment. It is enough on this occasion due reward to them | publicly pledged by me. The precise nature of that reward muy- be the subject of future consideration. But, let me solemnly assure these priests and other priests now present that, had the prisoners been convicted, and they suffered judicial penalties, had the fact of these priests having given information dis qualified them under the laws of their religion from continu: ing in the priesthood, they would still have been considered by government as laymen utterly untainted by this conscientious secession from the priesthood and entitled to receive a prac tical acknowledgement of the important services they hal rendered their country. In fact, if there were a country i which it was not deemed to be the first of the duties (0 denounce treasonable intentions, in that country no liberty could exist. The compact would be broken between those who govern and those who are governed. There could be no rule for such a country but that of unlimited power, in other words unqualified despotism”.

“I have now fully explined myself with regard to those witnesses who came forward prior to the arrests. The othel class who came forward after the period, deserve and shall experience the full support and protection of the government, but it is not intended to confer on them any special reward, They do not possess the claims which those possess, who firsl awakened the government to the due sense of danger with which the country was threatened. The distinction cannot be too strongly drawn between these two classes”.

“l am now about to offer some observations upon the presumed exciting causes of these treasonable intentions, and this leads to the subject of the Memorial to His Majesty which was proposed to be in preparation. The facts are these : @@@ 361 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 353 About a month after the first intimation which the government had received from Mahawellatenne Dissave of existing trea- sonable intentions, [received a letter from Mr. Turnour dated 25th April, informing me that at his second interview with Mollegodde, the late First Adikar, and Dunuwilla, the late Dissave, after their return from Anuradhapura, the subject of a Memorial and of sending a delegate to England (Which had not been adverted to in his first interview) was promi- nently put forward. On the 26th and 30th of April, I received additional letters from Mr. Turnour on the subject; he appeared to be inclined to believe that the parties were in carnest in the preparation of this Memorial and that they had or had not dabbled in treasonable designs, they were now at least looking towards a legal mode of redressing any griev- ances under which they might consider themselves to labour.

After this information, and especially after receiving from Mr. Turnour an epitome of the contents of this proposed Memorial, I feltittobe my duty, as Governor, notwithstand- iIng my strong suspicion of their disloyalty, to give every fucility to the transmission of this Memorial to His Majesty und thereby to assist in turning their minds from disloyal to loyal courses. With this view I sent for Dunuwilla and told him that I have heard from Mr. Turnour and other quarters of (he preparation of a Memorial; that I was anxious to have it franslated and copy of it sent to me–that I would give the framers of it my best advice upon the subject. I observed that * (hey would do well to loose no time in sending such a (locument home, in as much as the speech made by himself on the part of the chiefs in the Audience Hall at Kandy on the Jdth of January 1833, could not have prepared His M%ljesty und the British government to expect that any such reclama- llon would be offered. The passages in that speech to which | more especially refer are as follows; ‘the speech which His ixcellency the Governor has made to us the chiefs here at @@@ 362 @@@ 354 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH present assembled, has been comprehended by all of uy we rejoice at the alleviation which, through affection for people of this country, has been accorded to them by His Majesty, our present British Sovereign. We the chiefs w at present hold the superior offices, are exceedingly few number, but our relations and friends who are not in of fl#, are very numerous, and they having had to perform person service for their lands, in common with the rest of (hi inhabitants did, as well as them endure much distress ui annoyance. But now His Majesty, King of England, oug illustrious Sovereign, having in the plenitude of benevolencs felt commiseration towards us all, has delivered us and ull other inhabitants of our country from this species of Rajakarin service, for which we render thanks and have resolved (o continue permanently faithful and loyal to His Majesty’. Tu continue, Dunuwilla appeared to enter entirely into my views, We had a good deal of conversation upon the expediency of sending adelegate to England with the Memorial, who might give information in full detail upon any parts of it that were nol clearly explained. Between the period of 26th of May when – I returned to Colombo and the day in June when I set out to Anurdhapura, Ireceived (in obedience to my urgent requesi) a translation of this Memorial by Mr. Armour. I told Dunuwilla that I was of the opinion that the Memorial wis extremely well drawn up, that of course, I could not express my assent to some of the propositions that it contained, bul that I would forward it to the Secretary of State for presentu- tion to His Majesty and at the same time call, in the strongest manner, the attention of His Majesty’s government to ils contents. Dunuwilla informed me that he must consult the chiefs, and that he would press upon them the expediency ol acting upon my suggestions; but from that period I neve heard the subject mentioned. On the 29th of June, Ireturned from Anuradhapura to Kandy; fresh indications of guilty intentions poured in, and on the 19th of July the prisoners were arrested. I shall give full publicity to this Memorial”.

@@@ 363 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 355 ” I should here explain that after Mollegodde’s first interview with Mr. Turnour, and prior to any allusions having been made on the subject of the preparation of a Memorial to the King, Mr. Turnour suggested that in reference to the conversation which occurred at the meeting, it would be well if assurances could be given to the Adikar that his son would be placed on the same footing with English gentlemen in respect of eligibilty for public appointments; and I addressed a letter to Mr. Turnour, of which letter the First Adikar has a copy, both in English and in Sinhala, in which I took upon myself the responsibility of pledging the English government to the following extent–that if the Adikar would send his son to England and give him an English education, I would guarantee, that if he properly availed himself of the advantages so to be obtained, his son should be considered as eligible to any situation in this island to which European gentlemen were now appointed as Europeans them- selves. I considered such a pledge to be in strict keeping with the spirit of the expressed intention of His Majesty’s Govern- ment, and I wrote this letter in the hope that such a prospect would wean the Adikar from the dangerous course, which I was too apprehensive, he was pursuing. He expressed great gratitude for my assurances but there the matter rested. His infatuation prevailed against the dictates of loyalty, the first of duties, of honour, common sense and personal interest”.

“Ineed not remind you that a Proclamation was issued by the government on the 9th of August ultimo. That Procla- mation announced that strongest confidence was felt by the government in the loyalty and fidelity of the Kandyan people.

The experience of last seven months has amply sustained the opinion therein expressed. His Majesty’s loyal subjects were also assured in that Proclamation that the government had taken effectual measures for the protection of the peaceable and industrious subjects and that they might pursue their @@@ 364 @@@ 356 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH ordinary avocations without fear. It is within the knowledge of all persons in this island that pledge has been fully re- deemed. That Proclamation declared that the religion of Buddha would be protected and supported and that compul- sory labour would never be revived. Has any persons detected indications of a contrary policy?If so, let him step forward and designate them”.

“In fact when the blessings which the Kandyan nation enjoy under the British supremacy, are contrasted with the courses which hovered round them, when their lives and liberties, their property and their labour were dependent, from hour to hour, on the caprice of a despot, it is impossible to doubt their loyalty as a nation–although misrepresentation and hypocrisy might work upon some minds to support the abortive attempts of ambitious and disaffected leaders. I have ‘now done, I trust that these are the last words which a British Governor of Ceylon will ever be called upon to utter in reference to attempts, in word or deed, to seduce His Majes- ty’s Kandyan subjects from their allegiance to their Patron, Benefactor and Friend, our common Sovereign and Master, the King of England(1)”. The speech over, both Mahawellatenne and David de Silva were invested by the governor in their full regalia of office.

(1) Source: The Ceylon Government Gazette published soon after the trial, and CO54/137.

COPY OF A PROPOSED MEMORIAL TO HIS MAIJESTY, transmitted to the Governor at his request by Dunuwilla, late Dissave, in the month of May 1834, and referred to in the address recently delivered by His Excellency at Kandy.

“Sheweth, – That since the days of King Wijaya who landed on the island of Ceylon 2376 years ago, with the first AR A T g AR RO @@@ 365 @@@ §a% 10 an gl THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 357 colony that peopled it, the higher Offices of state, and also most of the minor offices of trust and consequence were conferred upon proper persons of the Goyi Wanse or agricul- tural caste, which in this island is the principal and most resp’ectabic tribe; and under the care of such Officers, the institutions of this country were sedulously maintained and the general welfare of its inhabitants promoted”.

“That in the year 2323 of the era of Buddha, being the year 1780 of the Christian era, and in the reign of King Rajadhi Raja Singha, the 164th Sovereign of this country, Mr. Andries a civil servant of the Honourable East India Company was sent hither from Madras on a political mission. The result of his conferences with the Kandyan Chiefs was a resolution to retrieve the maritime provinces of this island from the domin- ion of Holland and to place them under the government of British. Mr. Andries then returned to Madras, accompanied by Meegastenne Dissave and Denagomuwe Dissave, chiefs of high authority and influence, who having been admitted to an audience of His Excellency the Governor of that Presi- dency, concluded a treaty with him and then returned to Ceylon. According to the terms of that treaty, the King of Kandy sent down a numerous body of his armed subjects headed by chosen chiefs, to co-operate with English forces at the siege of Colombo,(a) which, with the other seaports of this island, being then surrendered, were annexed to the British Dominions. The said King Rajadhi Raja Singha and his Chief Ministers, in attestation of the joy(b) which they felt on that occasion, bestowed valuable gifts on the leaders of the British forces, and the Kandyan nation celebrated the event of the surrender of Colombo and the Maritime districts to the British Crown by public rejoicings, and anticipated the fehc1ty of a constant friendship with the English Nation”.

“That in the year of Buddha 2340, answering to the – year of Christ 1798, the Kandyan Chiefs installed their last @@@ 366 @@@ 358 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Indian King, Sree Wickreme Rajah Singha, on the throne of the kingdom, and he did for some time, as was incumbent, conform to the established usages and duly respected the institutions of the country; but after the war (c) of 1803, which was conducted by Major Davy, the King began to deviate from the line of conduct observed by his predecessors; he dispensed with the advice and slighted the admonitions of hiy faithful Ministers, and being guided by his own will, infringed the laws of the land and the sacred institutes of the establish Religion. He subdivided each of the Provinces called Dissavonies, and the lesser districts called Ratta, and in the place of one Chieftain over a whole province or District he appointed several, thus increasing the number of chiefs of superior rank. He introduced various other changes and innovations, and not only distressed his subjects, but by his cruelties he also raised the indignation of the English govern ment”.

“The Kandyan chiefs and people becoming discon tented, concurred in thinking it proper that the King should be removed–the chiefs then in the course of taking counsel for effecting such purpose, reflected on the splendid merits fame ascribed to English government. They had learnt from various ~documents transmitted to this country (Kandy) by Mr, D’Oyly(d) that the principles of the English government were to maintain inviolate the ancient intitutions, to support the established Religion, and by all means to promote the pros.

perity of every country–and they had also been informed by their friends in the maritime provinces how happy their inhabitants were since the English government was estab lished over them, owing to the integrity, impartiality and justice of their rulers –and thus they came to the conclusion, that it would be most beneficial to their country if it were placed under the Sovereignty of His Britannic Majesty, for all classes of the inhabitants might then rely upon having their respective rights and privileges accorded to them, and that @@@ 367 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 359 especially the great families of this country would be justly maintained in their ancient stations and dignities. Being satisfied respecting these matters, the Chieftains used their – best endeavours to secure the adherence of the minor Head- ‘men as well as the assent of the Priests, and the concurrence of the inhabitants in general towards effecting the object so – (desired; and thereupon the then premier Kandyan Chief(e) Ahelapola, 1st Adikar, with several other persons of distin- guished families in his country, and many inferior headmen, repaired to Colombo and represented to His Excellency Giovernor Brownrigg that it was the earnest wish of the Kandyan chiefs and people to cede their country to the British povernment. When afterwards the British troops under the command of His Excellency General Brownrigg entered the Kandyan Territory, they were met by Kandyan Chieftains on (he borders and welcomed as friends, and were supplied with ull such necessaries as this country afforded, and the leading people amongst the Kandyans took such effectual measures for the comfort and safety of the troops, that not a single casualty happened amongst them until they took possession of this country. The Kandyans were also instrumental in the capture of their since deposed King and his family, and by (heir means also did the English government become pos- sessed of a large share of the Royal Treasures”.

“Having voluntarily submitted to the English Govern- ment, they formally transferred their allegiance to His Britan- nic Majesty, at a Convention held at the Palace of Kandy, on ~ {he 2nd of March 1815, between His Excellency General Hrownrigg acting in the name and on behalf of His Majesty King George the Third and His Royal Highness Prince Regent on the one part, and the Kandyan Chiefs on behalf of the Inhabitants of this country on the other part. At the Conven- tlon, amongst other things, it was agreed and established, that lo the Adikars, Dissaves and all other Chiefs and subordinate Headmen, should be saved the (f) rights, privileges, and @@@ 368 @@@ 360 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH powers of their respective offices, and to all classes of (hi people the safety of their Civil rights and immunities accords ing to the laws, institutions and customs established and In force amongst them”.

“In just accordance with the terms of that Conventiof, the Kandyan Chiefs of higher order and subordinate Headmen had all their rights and privileges duly guaranteed to them fof several years; but latterly some of the Kandyan appointmeniy of rank and consequence have been abolished, and the righty and emoluments which were appropriated to various other appointments have been considerably diminished. However, as they believed that government acted in this manner only from motives of economy and that present circumstances rendered such retrenchments necessary, the Kandyan Chiely and Headmen not only refrained from troubling the British Authorities by expressing their regrets and alarms at these new arrangements, but continued in on all occasions to evince a cheerful acquiescence and dutiful submission, and were as sedulous as before, in endeavouring by every means in thei; power to strengthen the attachment of the inhabitants to the government, and to render their personal services on all occasions readily available for accomplishing various public works, such as roads, bridges, rest-houses etc., for the Chiels and Headmen justly and reasonably hoped, by such demon stration of dutifulness and loyalty, to merit due consideration for their own temporal interests, and for the established Religion of their country”.

“His gracious Majesty King George the 3rd, out of kindness to his subjects in the island of Ceylon, ordered Commissioners to be sent hither to enquire and ascertain the propriety and the impropriety of the measures of the govern ment and of its other affairs, and the said Commissioners having ascertained the distresses to which the inhabitants of @@@ 369 @@@ DTN – IrpTe———”r TR ¥ LIEET T THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 361” (he Kandyan provinces were subjected, contemplated various measures for effectively(g) relieving them–and the conse- (uent representations made by them when they had returned l0 England, having met with generous consideration in the Royal €ouncil, many benefits have resulted therefrom. Not- withstanding which, however, the inhabitants of this country can never stop to grieve and repine at the new subdivisions und partitions of the Kandyan territory, by which portions thereof have been incorporated with different Seaport Dis- (ricts and placed under government Agencies in the maritime provinces(h). The grief they feel on this account is not unjust and imaginary, but is forcibly excited by circumstances of (aily occurrences resulting from this new system. Although there are assistant Agents of Government in the Kandyan Iistricts, to whom the inhabitants may have access at all times on ordinary business, yet on various particular occasions they must travel a great distance to call on the Principal Govern- ment Agents (i) whose residencies are in seaport stations.

Many of the inhabitants of Udaratta or the Central Province, s itis at present designated, possess Estates in the Dissavonies, und whenever it became necessary for them, on account of such lands, to appear before a British Authority, they could feadily repair to the Provincial Agent’s Cutcherry or to the thief Cutcherry in the town of Kandy, but now, they are ubliged on such occasions to undertake a long and toilsome journey, and thus incur great expense for provisions and for paying the various tolls etc., and the risk of being attacked and tobbed on the highway, of falling sick at insalubrious places which they had never frequented before, and of being har- ussed and insulted by strangers who have no regard to their leelings and prejudices”.

“That in consequence of the dismemberment of the KK andyan Dissavonies, and their annexation to the contiguous maritime provinces, the Office of Dissave might be deemed Incompatible with such arrangement and be consequently @@@ 370 @@@ 362 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH abolished, (k) and in such case the Offices of the 1st and 2 Adikar will be unnecessary. The apprehension of the probuhlg abolition of these ancient and honourable Offices of theld native country causes in the minds of all classes of Kandyans the deepest sorrow and regret. They had no reason whatever at the period of the Convention aforesaid, to expect so grent a calamity as the abolition of Adikar and Dissave, which n coeval with the oldest Institutions of this country and on the attainment of which dignified offices always depended, the perpetuation of the honour and consideration of the noblesl families of this country–nor can the Kandyan Chiefs and the Nation in general now conceive how they have deserved s great a misfortune. Some persons who entertain unfriendly sentiments regarding and Kandyans and condemn the honout of their country, may probably allege in justification of the abolition of these dignities, that the Kandyans having rebelled against His Britannic Majesty’s Government in the year 18 1§, did thereby forfeit all their right to expect that the terms of the Convention should be any longer held sacred–but such ungenerous and undiscriminating arguments will appear un worthy of notice, on considering that the disaffection alluded to had not (1) spread throughout the whole of the Kandyan country, and that the majority of the Kandyans chiefs, far from adhering to the malcontent party, were actually engaged in counteracting their measures, and sedulous in persuading the misguided insurgents to return to their allegiance. Many of the Kandyan Chiefs who even risked their lives in endeavours to quell the said rebellion, received substantial and lasting re wards from government, and salutes were even fired at the return of most distinguished amongst them from the field, Thus it will be obvious that to make a whole(m) nation suffer for the faults of comparatively a few infatuated individuals would not be consistent with justice, and the Petitioners with utmost humility for themselves, and for the poor nation who they represent, beg to express their earnest hope and reliance, @@@ 371 @@@ THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 363 that a just discrimination may be made between the guilty and the innocent, even as the bird Hangsa (mythical swan) ex- tracts the milk from the water wherewith it was mixed”.

“That sirice the period of your Majesty’s accession, government has relinquished the revenues heretofore derived from various sources, and by your Majesty’s gracious solici- tude for the welfare and prosperity of this island, the system of Compulsory Labour had been wholly abolished. The inhabitants are now at liberty to trade in Cinnamon and various other means have been made available to them for acquiring wealth and consideration. The natives of this coun- try have also the happiness to know that your Majesty has sanctioned their being hereafter admitted to fill some of the situations which have always been exclusively held by Eng- lish gentlemen; but even the prospect of such advancement has not abated the alarm and distress they feel at the indica- tions of an approaching abolition of their national offices of Adikar, Dissave etc”.

“The Petitioners thus venture with the utmost humility to pray that the co-operation of their nation with the British troops at the taking of Colombo, when the whole of the maritime province became annexed to the British Crown; their having afterwards voluntarily ceded their country and transferred their allegiance to his Britannic Majesty, and their loyalty and zealous services since, with the terms of the Convention of the 2nd of March 1815, may all meet with generous consideration, and that such consideration may operate so far in favour of the Kandyans as to save their country from dismemberment and from being incorporated with the maritime districts, so that it may continue to subsist in its ancient integrity as the Kingdom of Kandy and retain its celebrated name of Sinhala”.

@@@ 372 @@@ 364 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “The Petitioners also’deprecate with earnestness bul with the profoundest submission the abolition of the Adikar, : Dissave and others, which were instituted in times of high antiquity and have always been regarded with veneration us accessories of the constitution of their country. Should how- ever your Majesty deem these native offices to be no longer necessary and decide on their being abolished as inutile, the Petitioners would humbly crave the enactment of an Ordi nance to the effect that such of the Petitioners’ countrymen us have held or were eligible to hold the aforesaid native offices, ~ should be also eligible at present to serve the office ol Assistant Government Agent, inasmuch as they are already conversant with the main duties of such offices, such as the collection of the Grain revenue etc. and that in process of time, such of them as attain a competent knowledge of the English language, and of business, should be eligible also to some of the higher Civil Appointments, and that until such new appointments be made, the present holders of the offices of Adikar and other superior native appointments should be continued therein with their respective salaries, emoluments, and honours undiminished. And your humble Petitioners as in duty bound, shall ever pray”.

  • Notes appended by the Governor for the benefit of London Colonial Office: (a) The Kandyan reinforcement did not reach Colombo till three days before the surrender of that place. (b) This rejoicing was at the expulsion of a foreign enemy, whohad been constantly assailing and encroaching on the Kandyan territory. (c) The cause of this war, which took place within six years and a half after the surrender of Colombo in 1796 will be found in the Public Records.The barbarities practised by @@@ 373 @@@ (d) (e) THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1835 365 the Kandyans both before and after the declaration of the war, and their perfidy towards the detachment under Major Davy’s command which surrendered to them, was such as to preclude the possibility of maintaining friendly relations with the Kandyan King. An armed neutrality was therefore kept up till March 1815, when the last King was deposed, and the Kandyan Provinces were taken possession of by the British Government in Ceylon, and a Convention was subsequently entered into. Sir John D’Oyly’s correspondence was carried on chiefly with Ahelapola First Adikar who was then the Dissave of Saffragam, and who, fled to Colombo on his correspond- ence being detected, and the mass of the people rejoiced at the invasion of the country by the English, more from the desire of deposing the tyrant who reigned over them, than from any preconceived notions of the principles by which the English would govern the country. It was only Ahelapola and the chiefs of Saffragam and Three Korales who repaired to Colombo. Mollegodde, late First Adikar, commanded the Kandyans who were sent to oppose the English. The 8th Clause however of the Convention reserved “always the inherent right of the government to redress .

grievances and reform abuses in all instances whatever, whether particular or general, where such interposition shall become necessary”. But before any innovation whatever was made and while the Chiefs still exercised their power in the fullest measure, the rebellion of 1817/ 8 broke out, in which almost all the Chiefs and the lower orders joined. In Sir Brownrigg’s Minute of September 1818, the history of the rebellion and the necessity of altering the provisions of the Convention of 1815, both immediately and prospectively, are fully and ably de- tailed–and those alterations involved the gradual aboli- tion of the high offices in the country. That Minute will afford the best answer possible to the pretensions set forth L @@@ 374 @@@ 366 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH in this Memorial. From the date of that Minute no inno- vation has been made in the Institutions of the land, which has not also been an abridgement or surrender of the power of the government for the general benefit both of the higher and lower orders of the Kandyans– including the large body of the Chiefs’ families who are not in office. In whatever degree the power of the chiefs-in office may have been prejudiced, the government has al the same time in a still greater degree resigned its own rights and privileges.

(g) This release from the obligation of compulsory labour, benefitted every class in the nation, including Chiefs’ families, as is acknowledged in the answer to the present governor’s speech addressed to the Chiefs in office on the 24th January 1833. The parties prejudiced were the Chiefs and Headmen in office, which offices, they held not by hereditary right, but at the pleasure of the govern ment, and moreover the losses they sustained as public functionaries were to a certain extent indemnified by pecuniary compensation. The hereditary rights of the Chiefs, and established right of the nation at large over the tenants of the respective villages, have been preserved inviolate in the King’s order in question.

(h) These subdivisions and partitions, as they are styled, were recommended by the Commissioners of Enquiry for the purpose of more thoroughly amalgamating the Kandyan and the Maritime districts.

These Assistant Agents have full powers to address grievances and as District Judges they have as much jurisdiction as they possessed as Judicial Agents. And as services to the Crown’are abolished there no longer exist the same reasons for appealing to the Principal Agents for redress, the grievances formerly complained of having resulted almost exclusively from the operations exer- cised by the local Headmen in exacting Rajakaria, or compulsory services, either for government or for public @@@ 375 @@@ (k) M THE CONSPIRACY TRIAL OF 1134 Wi festivals and the temples. Moreover under the [ormer judicial system, all the ultimate important decisions, both in the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction, were made at Colombo by the Governor on recorded evidence, without a public hearing, or the aid of a jury or Assessors. Now all the decisions are made in the respective Circuits by the Supreme Court, and in open court–and the parties have also the privilege of employing a Proctor to plead for them. The grievances complained of, therefore, in this place, are not only unfounded, but are decidedly the reverse of the truth. These evils did exist under the former system, but they have been most successfully remedied by the New Charter.

It has been decided and promulgated that none of these high offices shall be abolished in the time of the present holders of them–and future generations are admissible to the still higher offices hitherto exclusively held by Euro- peans. In confirmation of this assurance one Maritime Chief was, as is well known, appointed District Judge in the Colombo District–although his death unfortunately frustrated that appointment.

So far from this assertion being founded in fact, were nominal lists to be prepared of all the Chiefs and Head- men in office at the breaking out of the rebellion, it would be found that nine-tenths at least joined the rebel cause.

Sir Brownrigg’s Minute sufficiently develops this part of the Kandyan history.

(m) It is an act of absurdity rather than of bad faith to imply that the late changes were introduced as a National punishment for the rebellion of 1817. The framers of this document must have been fully aware that these changes were introduced solely for the benefit of the people at large, and that the government sustained in consequence aloss of revenue, as well as of many feudal privileges.(2) SOURCE: (2) CO54/140.

@@@ 376 @@@ 9. THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER T KANDYAN DISTRICTS By now, it would be clear to the reader, that | Kandyans were at the receiving end of policies calculated destroy their independent existence as a political entity, i to demolish their social and economic identity. Their pries . hood had been branded as inveterate rebels, their religion Iy been degraded to demoniacal heathenism, their chiefs hud been deprived of their power and influence, and the caste (leg which bound the Kandyan society together had been cul loose. They were being served up a diet of carrot and stick, (i) the one hand, they found that they were being elevated from the depths of feudalism by reforms such as, the abolition of Rajakaria and slavery, and freed from the shackles of casle, which became progressively enhanced by the infusion of the money economy. On the other hand, their mundane lil¢ experience amounted to a deep sense of loss–loss of thels lands, loss of their customs and traditions, and loss of the influence of their religion and degradation of their moral fibre. Their confusion was compounded by the lack of any enlightened leadership from among their countrymen. No – leader appeared to guide them on a forward march, assimi lating the best the British could offer, and elevating and integrating the best practices they already possessed. They had no choice in their affairs. They had no one to help them to take advantage of the opportunities which might have existed. They were left to drift helplessly into disintegration, – They even distrusted the headmen in their ranks as stooges of the British, and were not afraid fo say so in their petition presented to Tennent in Kandy. They were an easy prey (0 any charlatan, to any demagogue. It was regrettable that the last pages of their nearly four hundred year independent existence and history were, at this time, being written in Kandyan blood by the colonial British.

@@@ 377 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 369 The events in the Kandyan provinces would become much clearer, if one first looked at some of the background legislation which took place at about this time and the prevail- ing social and political scene.

H Ordinance 11 of 1842 was passed giving government backing for the erection of an Anglican Church in Kandy. It also gave the power to the Governor to contribute as much as £1500, and the power to appoint the three trustees. Not to be outdone, the Scottish Presbytarians too lodged a claimed for land in Kandy for a church for themselves and a grant of £1000. This was followed by Ordinance 9 of 1844 to promote the building of places of Christian worship and to provide for the maintenance of Christian ministers at such places. The Government’s contribution to church buildings was not to exceed £ 4000 in any one year. Ordinance 13 of 1845 was passed to regulate the temporal affairs of the Presbyterian church in Kandy. An Episcopal church was built in Kandy between December 1842 and December 1845 costing £4291.

The Goverment’s contribution towards this project was £ 1500 in 1843, £ 600 in 1845 and £ 200 in 1847. That this was happening at a time when Buddhism was under attack both in Ceylon and in Britain, could not have escaped the notice of the Kandyans. They had no voice in this matter. At the same time as Christians were helped in this way, it was clearly incorrect for Wodehouse to have claimed in Novem- ber 1843, before the Kandyans, that no other religion received uny allowances from his government (ch 3).

Crime and drunkenness was rampant in Kandy. The existing police nor the courts could deal with them adequately – und speedily. As Campbell himself reported, ” the condition of the administration of justice is a subject of universal complaint . .. The delays and practical denial of justice both in civil and criminal matters, is, I am certain, unparalleled in @@@ 378 @@@ 370 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH any country . . . rules of practice are calculated to benefit the – Proctors. .. Thereis nosummary form of procedure for smull – or simple cases . . . . in consequence where a poor man has i claim for 10 or 15sh . . . besides the heavy payments (o Proctors . . . it is impossible for him to escape a three week attendance at the court. . . The consequence is that justice I8 ineffect almost denied to the poor. .. The same is the case with Police cases . . . This I can say without hesitation, that if the revised charter does not soon give the means of improvement, the colony, principally the interior, will be in an excited state” (1). Skinner too was scathing in his attack on the vexatiouy postponements and protracted procedures of the courls Legal reforms did take place in the mid 1840s, but it took some time before its beneficial effects could be felt by the Kandyans. A. C. Buller, the Government Agent in Kandy, also adverted to this fact. In his report on the rebellion of 184§ he pointed out that the impossibility of obtaining justice was a potent source of discontent. In cases involving land, the litigants, whether successful or not, often got ruined by the fees they had to pay their lawyers; in all probability, the land was mortgaged to nearly its full value to enable the successful litigant to pay the fees and ‘frequently the land is sold to pay the debts contracted in consequence of the suit’. According to Pannebokke Unnanse, who produced a report on the 28th of August 1848 for Torrington on the causes of rebellion, people had complained that to dispose land to the extent of one Pala to four children, they had to obtain stamps worth 8R$ or 12sh and pay notarial fees ranging from 4 to 6R$ (6 or 9 sh). To sue for apiece of land worth 100R$ or £7, they were obliged .

to pay the Proctor £3, and both parties had to buy as much as 30 stamps. The loser had to pay the proctor, which usually ‘left him with no means to live in the world’. (land producing 4 Pala = 1 Amuna, 1 Amuna = 5 bushel).

The Kandyans were the main victims of crime com- mitted by the indigent coolies, the profligate low-country- | | @@@ 379 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 371 men, and tortious acts perpetrated by the greedy European planters. The apprehension of the criminals, and obtaining of justice, was a matter of chance, with all odds stacked up against them. Given this situation, it was no surprise, that they looked for extra judiciary means to redress their griev- ances.

Governor Campbell confidentially consulted the Chief Justice on his Ordinance, which embodied his intention to abolish caste as a determining factor in the impannelling of jurors of the courts. Before the publication of the Ordinance, the Chief Justice, in turn, made a emphatic statement on it from the Bench in Kandy to the effect, that no distinction of caste could be allowed to exist in the juries, and that the highest and the lowest caste should make up their minds to sit together. The consequence was that the Kandyans ascribed to the Government a determination to abolish caste by law.

Their feelings were aroused. In the first draft of this Jury Ordinance 19 of 1844. the Governor admitted that “some indiscreet observation from the Bench created such a strong [eeling in the interior that I considered it safer to abandon it for the time” (2). He had power in the Ordinance to defer its operation in the interior for five years. When it was finally passed, as the situation had calmed down, this power was ubandoned. This was another case of levelling down which irritated the Kandyan elite. It was an unmistakable signal to (hem that their days of superiority had come to an end. This feform soon filtered down to other social structures and contributed significantly to the breaking up of the integrity of the caste-based Kandyan society. This ordinance was, no oubt, a progressive measure, but as pointed out earlier there were no Kandyan leaders enlightened enongh to use it to enhance the lot of the Kandyans. Instead the Kandyans feparded it as a rod on their backs.

Governor Mackenzie in 1839 reported on the unsuit- ubility of young men appointed to government posts in @@@ 380 @@@ 372 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Ceylon. He found that the nouveau arrive had no qualific tions, no experience of the work of the complicated dutiey Collector of Customs or Fiscal. If appointed as disl District Judges, they had noknowledge of Roman Dutch luw no knowledge of ordinances nor of the Rules and orders of (| Supreme Court. None of them had any knowledge of 1 native languages. He recommended a probation period of 4l to nine months (3). Four years later the situation had deteriorated that the civil service was openly proclaimed to inefficient and incompetent, and the tone and temper of (I service had fallen to a very low level.

In 1843, the Colonial Secretary, Anstruther wrole § Report to the Governor pointing out the inefficiencies I volved in the collection of revenues, the audit of publig accounts, the lack of ability of members of the legislature an the incompetency of many Government Agents. He disaf proved of the fact of promotion based on seniority without any regard for merit or qualification. He found them not only wanting in ablility, but also had a deplorably low tone uf feeling for their obligations. He called for strong measures of remedy.

Anstruther perceived that the rapid changes in (he country required an able and devoted civil service to merely cope with the day – to-day work of the Government, let along channel such changes for the benefit of the colony. He sadly admitted that “the inefficient condition of this Governmenl arising from the Principal Officers, including, I admils myself “were” unequal to discharge the duties imposed upii them by the rapid advance of the colony”.

“The public complain that the Government is inef/| cient and barely equal to struggle through the ordinary routine without being able to cope with any great question or 1 attempt the numerous improvements which are required”(5).

@@@ 381 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 373 Anstruther saw clearly the vast changes taking place in the colony. He argued that the British “have combined a large Asiatic population and a rapidly increasing European population, each in the most difficult stage to govern…the Asiatics in varying degrees in a state of transition.. Educa- tion and European ideas in many parts were rapidly advanc- ing. Old institutions and customs in many places had broken down, they are to be replaced by new [ones] of a very different character, the adoption of which will be a matter of extreme difficulty. All remains of despotic (though often very benefi- cial) restraints [had been] done away [with], and freedom so fully established, that the native cannot easily distinguish it from licence. European settlers were pouring into the colony, occupying waste lands and introducing large capital; these persons too of a class generally restless, dispose to discontent and impatient of control, careless in general of the rights and interests of the natives, among whom they are located, have the means of making themselves heard in a far greater degree than the natives, who are therefore in a greater measure (lependent upon the moderation and impartiality of the Gov- ernment, who must therefore be most cautious, that they are not led by representation of European settlers into measures injurious to the native population”(5).

As many civil servants were engrossed in their plant- Ing pursuits, the Government was left without information of what was passing in the country. To him such activity was Incompatible with the constantly pervading duties expected 0l them as public servants. As had been pointed out earlier, Anstruther himself was a coffee planter. He resigned in early #45 to devote his entire attention to planting and other siness interests.

Major Skinner pointed out that “the want of inter- urse with, knowledge of, and sympathy in the people, kept @@@ 382 @@@ f 374 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH many of the local European functionaries so completely in the dark as regarded their (the people’s) social condition”, that the warning he gave of the impending Matale and Kurunegaly rebellion, a year before it happened, “was disregarded, if nol disbelieved”(4). The same lack of knowledge made them exaggerate events, and made them regard almost every a4 sembly of the people as a seditious activity. They weie incapable of fair and objective assessments of the grievances and the needs of the people. : Anstruther warned that “there is considerable danger…that all real power in the colony would virtually come torest in the hands of European settlers, with many paris of the island neglected and in a state of anarchy. And (0 suppose that the natives would have weights enough of themselves, to prevent such a result, without the watchful care and considerate protection of the Government being habitu ally extended to them, is mere delusion”(5). The Kandyans not only had no one among them to represent their case, they could not also depend on the civil servants to be considerate towards their interests. The civil servants had themselvey become their exploiters. This was also the admission of Governor Campbell.

In submitting Anstruther’s report to Lord Stanley, the Governor enjoined, “I consider one of the principal causes of apathy and indifference of some of the civil servants, to the attention and devotion which they owe to the duties of their respective offices, –arises principally from the inadequacy of their pay, and those appointed since 1832, have no retiremen or pensions to took to, –the consequence is that a greatcr number of them have become proprietors of coffee and sugar estates, and [ may say, that much of their time and attention is devoted to them, and the public suffer in consequence–added @@@ 383 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 375 to this every necessary of life, as well as house rent has increased fifty percent owing to the great influx of population and capital, and the temptation is so great to those who are inadequately paid and have families to support..[and such are not averse] to entering into speculations which promise and hold out the fair prospect of fortune”(6).The Kandyans did complain, did write petitions, and use personal contact, but to no avail. “It will hardly be credited” wrote Anstruther, “to what extent this change has attracted the attention of the natives particulatly of the interior–having been personally known to a great number of Kandyans..for twenty years.they speak to me with great freedom, and it is most painful to observe the tone in which they speak of the public servants who now come under their observation. They com- plain loudly of their ignorance and neglect of their laws, rights and interests. Whenever anything goes wrong..they tell me that I must redress their grievances, for when I am gone, they will have no one to speak to”(5). In 1845/6, an attempt was made to reform the civil service which became a progressive exercise as the years passed by. What was relevent to the Kandyans was the fact that their welfare and their interests were not urgent issues. Nor were there any credible advocates to promote their cause. Their degenerate condition was ripe for exploitation by any imposter who could offer them even the shadow of their past glory.

The defeat of the British Raj in Kabul coincided with plenty of rumours of insurrection in Kandy that the Governor had to turn down Lord Ellenborough’s request for help in India. Campbell argued that he needed his small army in Kandy. He was soon proved right.

A pretender to the throne of Kandy appeared in Upper Dumbara with Polgaspitiye Duggeneralle as his Chief minis- ler. He traversed the country collecting funds and arms and @@@ 384 @@@ 376 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH exciting the people to rebellion. The country was in such #§ state of excitement that the coffee planters found, that they could not attract the coolie labourers. The coolies we apprehensive about the impending disturbances, and the possis ble repercussion it might have on them. The planters appealed to the Government for troops to apprehend the rebels. On the 26th of April 1842 troops reached Dumbara and arrested the rebels with arms in their hands, and soon after, the country returned to normal. As the evidence against them was insul- ficient and unreliable for a conviction, all the prisoners were subsequently freed.

The Deputy Queen’s Advocate, Mr. Temple investl gated this case. He found that the prisoners had been holding nightly meetings in the jungle. At such meetings, one of thelr number encircled by an enclosure of white cloth had been introduced as their new King, about to drive the British out of the country. Another stood outside the enclosure and had acted as the medium of communication between the King and the people who gathered there out of curiosity. The medium had solicited help and presents from the people. This, Mr, Temple believed, was more for enriching themselves than for fighting the British. He was of the opinion that the other Kandyan chiefs were not involved. It was, in his view, ridiculous attempt, bound to signal failure. He expected thal his investigation alone would have tranquilised the country. I would have shown the determination of the Government to put down all treasonable activities, and the leniency shown to the prisoners by releasing them against security, would ensure their future good behaviour.

The mountain mass between Kandy and Badulla was found to be suitable for coffee cultivation by about the end of 1840, and prospective planters were on the march there to @@@ 385 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 377 stake out enough land suitable for that purpose. As was seen earlier, the Kandyans were not very pleased with this inva- sion. They assembled at various places at different times to protest about the changes. The Government looked upon thesé assemblies as seditious meetings. It became a self- fulfilling prophesy.

In 1843 amonk by the name of Chandragotty Selewansa Saranankara got together some followers, collected funds, arms and amunition and attempted the recruitment of Malay soldiers to fight against the British. He was captured by Major Rogers and tried before Capt. Kelson the District Judge, and found guilty of treasonable practices and ‘conspiracy calcu- lated to create alarm and distrust’ in the Badulla district. He was sentenced to death by hanging in September. The sen- tence was later commuted to imprisonment with hard labour for fourteen years.

Inthis climate of distrust, the Government was alarmed at the ever increasing import of arms into the country. It tried to reduce the imports by insisting that the merchants should get prior permission from the Governor before any orders were placed with exporters in London. As many exporters simply shipped the guns to Ceylon without prior orders, this regulation became impracticable. The shrewd new Colonial Secretary, Sir E. Tennent considered it as a lucrative source of revenue. His attempt to collect this revenue caused much trouble for the Government and deep resentment among the gun-owners.

Governor Campbell left the country on the 19th. of April 1847, and a month later, Lord Torrington arrived by the steamer ‘Haddington’ on the 28th of May to take over the Governorship of the island. His Colonial Secretary, Sir E.

@@@ 386 @@@ 378 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Tennent was also relatively new to the island and its affairy, He had arrived on the 29th of November 1845.

Prior to his departure from England, Torrington had found from the accounts submitted to the Colonial Office in London, that Ceylon was expected to have a surplus revenue of about £200,000. He was looking forward to using this surplus to effect reductions in taxation and improvements in the infra- structure of the economy. Both Torrington and the officials at the Colonial Office who briefed him forgot, that there was only one certainity about the future and that was uncertainity. The reality was heavy deficits of £81,802 for 1846 and £78,638 for 1847, and a virtually bankrupt treasury.

There were many reasons for this parlous state of affairs. On the revenue side, the income from the sale of land had fallen drastically with the slump in coffee cultivation (see Chapter 6). To alleviate the distress of the coffee planters, the export duty on coffee had also been repealed. The export duty on cinnamon had been a good earner for the Government in the past. Now the survival of the cinnamon industry was under threat by the competition from Chinese and Indian cassia and _ Javanese cinnamon. The duty on it had to be greatly reduced from 12d. to 4d a pound to save the industry. Further the differential import duties on foreign items were reduced to the same rate as those on British goods. According to Earl Grey “the total loss of income from these reductions was calculated to exceed £40,000″(7).

On the expenditure side, there were ‘many commit- ments which the Government could not abandon or repudiate.

The road building programme could not be curtailed. The new investers in virgin forest land expected that some of their purchase money would be spent on roads, in the districts @@@ 387 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 379 where they embarked on coffee plantations. The inclement weather and the rapidity of reforestation also imposed on the Government the necessity of completing the roads once the construction had started. The alternative was the abandon- ment of the half completed roads. This involved the sheer waste of money already spent, and the stark increase in expenditure, if and when those roads had to be constructed again. Reforestation and torrential rains would have made them all completely new and expensive projects.

The 1845/6 civil service reforms included, among other things, restructuring, salary increases and pension pro- visions. “Lord Torrington found, on his assumption of the Government, that the annual fixed charge of the Civil Estab- lishment had been augmented by not less than £40,000 since the year 1841, a large part of this increase being the conse- quence of a complete re-modelling of the civil service of the colony..made by the authority of Lord Derby in 1845″(8).

There was no immediate reduction possible here without causing deep resentment and injustice to the civil servants, besides damage to their morale.

In a desperate effort to bridge the gaping hole in his budget, Torrington resorted to drastic measures. He enforced rigid economy in public expenditure, and postponed every expense which could be deferred. He also looked for new taxes to replace the ones he had been forced to repeal. “Above all to a measure… by which the general revenue should be relieved from a part of the expense of making and keeping up roads throughout the Island, by converting this into a local charge under local superintendence”(9). This was the notori- ous Road Ordinance of 1848. Torrington also pleaded with the London to abolish the military payment of £24,000 a year lo the Imperial Treasury. This was refused.

@@@ 388 @@@ 380 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Tennent had proposed to replace the existing paddy tax by a land tax based on acreage to be collected by civil servants. This was a direct impost and would have yielded u higher revenue, but by the same token, it would have been burdensome on the peasants. They would have had to pay the same rate of tax on land whether it produced a crop or not, an whether the crop was the highly remunerative coffee of merely a subsistence crop. This proposal was intensely an vociferously opposed in the press. It was dropped because of insurmountable practical difficulties, such as the fractional holdings of land and the unaffordable survey cost of land–u survey was necessary to impose ‘a fair rate of tax on each variety of soil and produce’.

In a lengthy paper, Torrington argued that the “diffi- culties of detailed survey in amountainous and jungly country will be found to be very considerable..Holding property jointly by heirs, in undivided tenure so that the enjoyment of it ‘proindiviso’ goes on from generation to generation until the interest of any one individual may become at least almosl infinitesmal”(10). He quoted the example of a person holding 1/2200th part of a coconut tree being sold in execution.

Torrington was not against this tax. He was only pointing out the difficulties which needed to be sorted out before such a tax could be levied. He also suggested a Board for Land Settle ment for resolving these problems.

There were seven new Tax Ordinances between Janu- ary and end of May 1848. The first was the Gun Tax. It imposed an annual licence of 2sh.6d on each firearm. This tax was strongly objected to by the Kandyans. They argued that their firearms had already paid a heavy import duty, and they needed them to protect themselves and their crops from the ravages of the wild animals. Many of their best guns were @@@ 389 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 381 worth at most 15sh in the second-hand market, while most people possessed very inferior ones, not worth even the tax they were asked to pay on them. The remote villagers who needed the guns were subsistence farmers, and had no means of paying the tax. Some of them rarely, if ever, possessed a coin.

The gun-owners were required to assemble with their guns, on an appointed day at the principal town where the Government Agent’s Office was situated. There the guns were to be stamped, registered and taxed. They had to fill up an application form in English for this licence. This was obvi- ously something beyond those illiterate farmers, and the Kachchery clerks, to whom they turned for help, extorted another additional ten to twenty pence at the start, (but came down to six pence later), for their services in filling up the forms. Almost all of these peasants lived in remote villages.

They had to walk for several days to get to the designated towns, the time so lost by them was nobody’s concern. On arrival they were infuriated to find that the Agents’ Offices did not have enough forms, and were kept waiting for days, until forms arrived from Colombo or Kandy. They were thus forced to spend more money to subsist themselves, and sleep rough, as all these towns had no overnight accommodation for them. “No wonder” wrote one observer, “that this monstrous injustice drove the natives into riot, and that in some instances they broke their guns to pieces in the presence of the Govern- ment Agents”(11).

Mr. Strachey, at the Colonial Office, noted that the fire-arms in Ceylon was an agricultural implement. Succes- sive Governments had encouraged the farmers to use them to drive off the wild beasts and to protect their crops. It was hopeless to extend cultivation in some districts without these @@@ 390 @@@ 382 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH weapons. “It therefore appears to me somewhat hard upon the people to turn round upon them and tax their guns which are as necessary as their ploughs; and hardly safe to do so, considering the feeling with which the sense of this hardship will inspire the people, and the temptation to use the gun in resisting the tax laid upon it”(12).

Augmentation of Stamp Duties followed soon after, The three classes of documents on which stamp duties had to be paid were; (a) commercial agreements, (b) judicial pro ceedings and (c) probate and letters of administration. All these categories were expanded to include any item which had hitherto been omitted. Torrington stated that he had “every reason to believe that the revenue will be increased without in any way adding to the real burden of the people”(13). The taxpayers did complain that it was a burden and wanted il repealed.

The others were the Shop Tax of £1 per year passed on the 10th. of April and the Tax on Carriages and Boats also of £1 per year, and a Registration tax £1 per year on Palanquin and other Carriages let on hire. All these taxes did not directly affect the Kandyans, except to the extent that they were passed on by the payers as part of the consequent enhanced cost of their services. They affected the low-countrymen and the Muslim traders. They were not happy with them either. They held public meetings to protest and petitioned against these taxes. One such meeting was held at Borella junction which nearly ended in a serious riot. 4 Actax of 1shadog per year was also passed on the 13th.

of April. All owners of dogs had to take out licences for their dogs. This paticular tax originated at the time of Campbell in 1842. He pointed out that there were many rabid dogs in town @@@ 391 @@@ w THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDY AN DISTRICTS 383 and that they were a public nuisance. They were killed once ortwice a year. Usually the owners were notified to tie up their dogs for ten days and during that time all strays were destroyed. The Legislative Council had proposed this tax with a view to putting down a nuisance rather than for revenue purposes. Torrington’s tax too had the same objective.

Strachey agreed with the underlying motive of abate- ment of a nuisance for this tax. In India, where he was previouly employed, he had found that the village dogs were communally owned. He assumed the same was true of Ceylon.

This he thought would prevent anyone paying any tax on any of the animals. As the villagers were fond of these animals, the effect on them would be ‘a serious and obnoxious inroad upon their feelings and habits’. In reality this was an impractical tax.

[t was easy to let the dogs loose and deny ownership. It was also very expensive to collect or enforce.

Some Kandyan villagers regarded their dogs as work- ing animals. They used them for hunting or for scaring off wild animals from their dwellings as well as from their crops.

As a taxable item, the dog had no value for the Kandyans. As aliving being, their religion fobade them to be killed. “Tax us, said they, for our guns or for our houses, or our bullocks, but don’t insult us by making us pay for a pariah dog”(14).

The last and the most troublesome tax was the Road Ordinance passed on the 13th of April, to make provision for the formation and improvement of the means of communica- tion in the island. It was the work of P. E. Wodehouse, the Acting Colonial Secretary before the arrival of Sir E. Tennent.

According to this Ordinance, every male in the island between the ages of 18 and 55 had to perform six days of labour on the roads, or pay a tax of 3sh in commutation. Two- @@@ 392 @@@ 384 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH thirds of this labour or its equivalent in commutaion money was to be spent on ‘principal roads’. These were roads serving the plantations, though this was not explicitly stated. The balance one-third was to be utilised on minor or village roads, Municipal organisations were to be established (0 implement this tax. Provincial Road Committees with the Government Agent of the Province as Chairman, assisted by the Commissioner of Roads or one of his assistants and two other non civil servants were given the charge of ‘principal roads’.

The District Committee appointed by the provinciul organisation was to take charge of the minor roads. These Committees had to make out the lists of persons liable to road service. They were to be helped in this by ‘Division Officers’, who were to be elected by the householders in the ‘division’ into which the ‘districts’ were to be sub-divided. It way regrettable that there was no Kandyan leader to exploit this principle of election, elementary though it was. It was in tended to extend this principle of election, though in its actual working, after the rebellion of 1848, it was quietly forgotten, On principal roads, the work done should be within twenty miles of the residence of those who were called upon to work on it, and on minor roads within seven miles. This provision was intended to pacify the feelings of the village taxpayers. As they could see that some benefits did accrue to their village, it was the hope, that they would therefore ignore the sweat and toil involved in working on the Principal Roads’. i Penalty on conviction for refusal was fixed at £5 as maximum. Penalty for wilful neglect or disobedience at 10sh., Ahouseholder who could not procure the attendance for work of any of his inmates had to pay 6sh.

@@@ 393 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 385 The only persons exempted from the universal appli- cation of this enactment were the Governor, the military stationed in the island and the Indian immigrant labourers in search of, or actually employed for the time in agricultural labour. The Buddhist monks were not exempted nor were the Christian missionaries. At the start, Torrington cynically admitted to Grey that he was perfectly aware of the implica- tions of not exempting the Buddhist clergy. He expected them to procure substitutes, such as the temple land tenants to work for them, or use the temple revenue as commutation. He did later recognise that this would amount to a tax on temple revenues, so far exempted from taxation by all the Governors.

If one needed an example of a crass and deliberate violation of all the undertakings given to Buddhists, this was it. Protests by the Buddhist clergy was inevitable.

A Petition signed by 550 Buddhist monks from Galle district was sent direct to Earl Grey in September 1848. The petitioners stated “that the rites of the Buddhist religion prevent its priests particularly possessing money or other property..They are prevented from cutting solid ground….pulling out, cutting or otherwise destroying plant, herbs or tree whatsoever….They are prohibited from all manner of work, or labour for their own maintenance, or worldly prospects, or assist others in work, but for the benefit of the soul; and no priest should walk out of the temple without proper robes.Should they violate either of these rites, they are no priests, and according to religious principles, they cannot be saved…. to commute the labour for yearly pay- ment, they are disqualified, for they possess no money or other property which are essential to convert into money, nor can they beg for pecuniary assistance. They do not deny that there are priests who possess temples and property, but the produce thereof is always used for the improvements of such @@@ 394 @@@ 386 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH temples at the discretion of the local principal inhabitants. But most of the priests in the island possess no temple or other property….It is therefore utterly impossible to pay tax in money”.

“That the Buddhist priests are, during 18 hours daily fasting, and are allowed 6 hours commencing 6am to seek for meals and enjoy before 12 atnoon…. being well accustomed to this fasting, they do not appear weak in body or form, but they are actually unfit for labour”.

“That 316 years before Christ, Buddhism was estab lished in Ceylon, and Buddhist priests and their places of worship have been always excluded from all labour and taxes by the Kings of Kandy, as well as by Portuguese and Dutch, and also by the merciful Government till the passing of the present Ordinance. No Ordinance.was ever passed in Ceylon imposing any labour or tax on priests.according to the Convention [signed] when Kandy was taken in 1815..the Religion of Buddha was declared inviolate and its rites, ministers and places of worship were to be maintained and protected. Should the petitioners not be exempted from this oppressive tax, they will be compelled to work, whereby they would not only infringe the rites of their Religion, but would also violate the same completely, and their prospects in the world to come blighted, for which they have been labouring all their lives”(15).

Chastened ashe was by therebellion in July, Torrington had to accede to the monks’ petition, and explain his change of heart to Earl Grey. “A Buddhist priest is disqualified by the nature of his vows from possessing money and also perform- ing manual labour, and the attempt to compel him by law to do either the one or the other, was calculated to lead to grave @@@ 395 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 387 consequences by giving him a handle for misrepresenting the intentions of the Government. It was both equitable and expedient that he should be relieved from that obligation”.

  • “Exemption was given not as priests of a religious order but as professed mendicants whose vow of absolute poverty it was practically necessary to respect. It was not given to other priests because they are not mendicants by obligation or incapable of manual labour, while the Buddhist priest is prohibited from even turning up the soil. We could scarcely compel them to do that which they are prohibited from doing by their religion”.(17). The Anglican Bishop of Colombo alone protested against this exemption granted to the Buddhist priests. He wanted all the Christian priests included in the exemption. He brought to bear the familiar Imssmnary arguments in his letters. “Last year having solemnly disavowed and formally discontinued all connection with Bu?dhlst religion, it is neither equitable nor consistent now to exclude Christian ministers from privileges granted to Buddhist priests.It was a positive discouragement and hindrance to all missionary effort for the diffusing of truth and for the enlightenment and real improvement of the Smhalcse people…A Christian (Government cannot confer special immunities on the profes- sors of a false creed without disparaging those of the true religion.By tacit concurrence the Government seem to aid in exalting an atheistic and idolatrous priesthood above the Apostolic ministry of the Gospel of Christ”(18). Torrington did not accept any of these arguments. He could not agree with the Bishop that the exemption might be represented to the Buddhist laity as a distinctive tribute to the excellence of their religion. For, the “Buddhist priests do not @@@ 396 @@@ 388 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH openly discuss the comparative merits of religions. They make no effort to convert others..but well- inclined to resis( the attempts of others to depress their position…. To extend exemption to all ministers would lead to no end….and impugn the principle of universality of application to every person resident in the island”(17). Thus Clause 9 was introduced exempting Buddhis! priests on the ground that “the tenets of Buddhism prohibits the Priests of that Religion performing labour of the descrip- tion contemplated, and forbid to such priests the acquisition of money or other property”. Earl Grey at the Colonial Office warmly welcomed the Road Ordinance. He considered it as relieving “the Colo- nial Treasury from a heavy burden, and to provide for an extension and improvement of the means of communication”.

He was also a firm believer in direct taxes, and the salutary effect they would have on the masses to exert themselves more than was required to procure a mere subsistence. He too was of the opinion that the natives were lazy, and that this measure would get them working. In granting the Ordinance his approval, he expressed his “entire approbation of the principle on which it is founded” and hoped “that it may be productive of very important advantages to the Colony”(16).

One of his close advisers at the Colonial Office, had a different point of view. To Mr. Strachey, it was an unwiedly, unpopular and an unprofitable scheme. He expected the natives to resist it with pertinacity and unanimity. “Nine-tenth of the whole male population of the island have a direct interest in combining to resist this law. Who will believe among the natives that this measure is not the forerunner of the revival of the entire system of forced labour, so solemnly @@@ 397 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 389 discarded in 1833 as hateful and oppressive to the people, and incompatible with the prosperity of the island? Who among them will not resent as an injustice the direct taxation of their labour while the European planter is simultaneously favoured by the exemption of the coolies…and the removal of the export duty on coffee? Why they will ask, if their taxation was resolved upon–was the mode chosen the most repugnant to their feeling and the most pregnant with abuse?…”(12). He also argued that due to time lost in travelling to and from work, it was an unprofitable tax. “we incur a waste of half the proceeds and make the burdens of the people double”; and incurred the large expense of keeping an establishment to enforce this law. He pointed out that the composition of the Provincial Committees were only European and that the native feelings were inadequately represented in it. He pre- dicted that if the “Ceylon Government pressed on with this measure, we must be prepared to hear of renewed distur- bances”.

Capt. Henderson considered it “the most obnoxious of all the taxes…. This was really a heavy sum [3sh = 15d in decimal currency] for many of the people to pay, and when it is considered that roads are of no service to the Kandyans, their jungle paths answering every purpose, and being much more conducive to that seclusion and retirements in their villages, of which they are so fond, it is no wonder that they displayed great aversion to the ordinance. They looked upon it as a measure entirely calculated for the benefit of the coffee planters and other Europeans, while it tended to introduce low country people into their villages, and destroy the privacy they so much courted”(19).

Copt. J. Forbes, the ex-Government Agent and ex- coffee planter expressed similar views. To him the Dog tax @@@ 398 @@@ 390 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH was “absurd, because impracticable; impolitic because irritat- ing; and would have been ludicrous, had it not been mischevious…The Gun tax was impolitc and an irritation, although the Government say that it has been amended since the disturbances, I must point out that the amendment brings back the law to what it formerly was in the Kandyan country- – a law which was always cheerfully acquiesced in. The guns of the Kandyans were registered; and so far from their being prohibited from the use of firearms….gunpowder was sold to the natives of Matale….from the principal stores of the British Government”.

“The Road Ordinance.embodied a breach of faith and treaty, and an insult to the religion of the people, by subjecting the Buddhist priests to compulsory labour…the actual existence of an unclothed or attenuated pauper is sufficient cause why he must pay as high a tax as the wealthy capitalist or the Colonial Secretary, who draws £2500 per year from the revenues of the island. Those who cannot raise 3sh.

are to be amenable to the lash and labour for 6 days. Such is now the condition of our once free fellow-subjects in Ceylon, and to make it more intolerable to them…strangers from India in search of, or employed in agricultural labour are not only exempted but medical attendance is afforded to them at the public expense…these Malabar coolies plundered the villages….complaints had been made of their pilfering and vagrancy by the villagers….”. The Colonial Secretary, how- ever, proposed to reward them by “locating a race of Malabars.on the lands forfeited by the rebels”.

“In 1849, 40,000,000 pounds of coffee have passed by the roads to the coast from the mountains of Ceylon; yet the trifling duty formerly paid on this great article of export was remitted, in the face of a deficient revenue; a road, gun, dog, @@@ 399 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDY AN DISTRICTS 391 shop and other taxes were imposed to make up the deficiency to which this remission contributed. Every male, from 18 to 55 years of age, is now by the Road Ordinance, to work 6 days or pay 3 sh,; therefore, if I take the population at a million and a half, and that of the Europeans, not exempted, at half a thousand, we shall at once see thatit was removing amoderate indirect taxation from European capitalist, to inflict a large direct taxation on the native”.

“After the disturbances the Dog Tax was abandoned, the Gun Tax was amended to what it was formerly practised, and never objected to; and the Road Tax amended by exempt- ing Buddhist priests, but otherwise made more unjust or arbitrary than its original form–the discontent excited by direct imposts is almost always out of proportion to the quantity of money collected”(20).

Rather shaken by the attacks upon him and his tax policies, Lord Torrington was forced to reconsider the whole system of taxation after the rebellion, as to whether any of the taxes were objectionable in principle, unproductive in their results, and oppressive in their mode of operation; and these were his conclusions.

Stamp duty, he maintained, would add very consider- ably to the revenue. It was a fair and legitimate tax, and there was no ground for any alterations. He ignored the protests against it by the merchants and lawyers, who argued that it added considerably to their burdens.

As regards the Gun tax, he accepted that there were difficulties in carrying outits details. He blamed the Kandyans for crowding into towns, and making the processing of appli- cations on the same day impossible; this necessitated their @@@ 400 @@@ 392 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH stay in towns overnight at considerable expense and loss of time to the villagers. He also accepted that many of the guns were useless and valueless except as curiosities and had been kept as heirlooms in families. Many preferred to destroy their guns, others concealed their guns and some others had sold their guns absolutely for a mere trifle. “It is possible to enforce but some discontent and annoyance might arise, and the revenue not as large as anticipated.. the Bill is to be amended by striking out the word annual –compulsory but one regis- tration and one payment”.

“The Dog tax had not been successful, the necessity for the destruction of dogs continues as imperative as before”.

He wanted the Police be given the arbitrary power to enter houses to search for dogs for putting them down as the natives would not voluntarily kill them. He requested that the Bill, as it stood, be repealed. : He recommended that the Shop tax too be repealed.

He pointed out that it had aroused much complaint and frequent petitions. That this tax was paid by the industrious moormen, who had argued in their many petitions against it, that they already paid a large portion of the Customs Dues, the Police Assessments and contributed to the Road Ordinance.

The Shop Tax therefore had made them unequal, had discour- aged new traders and prevented fair competition. The Gover- nor pointed out that “the revenue was small and not easy to collect, it affords a handle for complaint”(21). In his private letter to Lord Grey, he admitted that the revenue derived from the gun, dog and shop taxes was only £6000 in 1848.

Ordinances 20 and 21 of 1848 repealed the Dog Tax and Shop Tax, and 22 amended the Gun Tax. The Governor was accused both in Ceylon and in Britain as having caused @@@ 401 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 393 the rebellion by his insensitive tax policies. He vehemently denied that his tax policies had anything to do with the rebellion; and submitted that “the repeal of these ordinances and the modification of some others has been regarded in its true light by the mass of the people, not as a concession to popular clamour and tumult on the part of the Government, but as a pledge on the part of the Government to deal equitably and mildly with all classes of the inhabitants, to consult their wants and their feelings in the spirit of candour and imparti- ality”(22). No record of such consultation of the people existed. He was no doubt forced by the rebellion to rethink his policies and attitudes towards the Kandyans, and this included his tax policies.

His rapid change of mind on taxes rankled even his mentor Lord Grey. He considered it impolitic and injudicious and feared that it would have a very bad effect in the parlia- mentary discussions on both his and Torrington’s positions.

“The decided approval [ had given to your measures” he wrote in a private letter to Torrington, “will now of course be turned against me, and the pains I had taken to show them to be sound, will now only afford to our opponents the means of represent- ing my judgement upon the whole affair to have been ludi- crously erroneous”.

“In spite of all our arguments to prove the taxes unconnected with the rebellion, it will now be said that you have yourself practically confessed the truth to be otherwise by repealing the most obnoxious ordinances. In matters of finance it is always dangerous to be unsteady in your policy- -to lay tax on one day and take it off the next, necessarily leads to the conclusion that you have either in the first instance acted hastily, inconsiderately or that you have afterwards yielded to clamour against your judgement and tends to destroy confi- @@@ 402 @@@ 394 K THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH dence in your government, but to do this when the new taxes are said to be the cause of insurrection is to give your opponents plausible grounds for inflicting bloodshed which has taken place to your want of ordinary prudence.. n(23) This hard-hitting letter caused Torrington great surprise and much pain. As he himself admitted, it ‘came upon him like a clap of thunder’. He had expected praise and what he got was censure, nevertheless, he admitted that he would have acted in the same manner, if the circumstances were repeated all over again. Such was his aristocratic arrogance.

The Ordinance 14 of 1848 amended the original Road Ordinance granting exemption to Buddhist priests and includ- ing irrigation tanks and channels on which labour would be expended for their restoration. He estimated that anything between 400,000 to 500,000 people were liable to road service and that at even 1sh. the tax would amount to a large sum. He explained to Lord Grey that this Ordinance “does not make it necessary that each year labour or money must be required, or new ones are wanted. Probably each year less would be wanted and the commutation would be still lower.

Depend upon it, it is a great measure when once fully in operation but it will require great care and caution to carry it out”(24). In 1849 commutation was fixed at 2sh. 3d per man in the Central, Western and North-Western provinces, at 2sh.

in the Southern and Eastern provinces and 1sh. 6d in he Northern province.

Another event which excited the Kandyans was the effort made by the Government to collect sufficient, reliable and relevant information for the Blue Book. By the circular of 3rd. December 1847, the Government announced its intention to provide the largest amount of information on all subjects connected with the welfare and the progress of the colony, @@@ 403 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 395 subjects of revenue, mode of collection and improvements in the resources of the provinces. Among others, this statistical return had thirty questions pertaining to the economic situa- tion. This aroused the suspicion of Kandyans and others, who consttued them as an attempt to obtain information to impose thirty new taxes on them. Rumours had it, that one such tax was to be on the breasts of women. Agitiation began to gather momentum against the Government’s tax policies both in Colombo and Kandy.

The Governor wrote to Lord Grey that “in endeavour- ing to obtain acensus of the population, a report was about that 30 new taxes were to be put on, and women and children were to be taxed and womens’ breasts measured. Proper means had been adopted to explain the intentions of the Government to the people and Tennent had gone up to Kandy and will see the Chieftains there and at other places, and point out the advan- tages they will derive”(25).

At this point, it is appropriate to focus our attention on events in Colombo, before we return to Kandy and the meetings held there by Tennent.

Governor Campbell had enacted in February 1846 that all verandahs which obstructed the streets should be removed without compensation. Where they were not ob- structions, the owner could purchase the land on which such verandahs stood from the Government at a price varying from 3d to 9d per square foot. This measure was very unpopular with the Colombo natives. They organised petitions and protests against this measure. It affected the merchants and (he Burgher community. Their protests were led by a burgher barrister named Richard Morgan and Dr. Christopher Elliot, the editor of “The Colombo Observer’ and a medical practi- tioner there.

@@@ 404 @@@ 396 % THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Torrington lacked tact and civility in handling this question. He was discourteous and brusque in treating the deputations who called upon him to present a petition and protest against this law. He was inflexible and intransigent and passed the measure embodying terms which were con- trary to the advice given by London. He was prepared to give compensation on the removal of verandahs which had stood for over fifty years and so proved by documentary evidence, Others, built within the last fifty years, if allowed to stay undemolished, had to be purchased from the Government at the prices fixed in 1846. The Colonial Office, on the contrary, had advised him to pay moderate compensation where veran- dahs removed had stood for more than twenty to thirty years.

The Burghers were the largest English speaking com- munity in Ceylon at that time and served the Government in many capacities. They also filled many professional positions in the country. Their self-interest, in the normal course of events, would have ensured support for the Government; but the way Torrington treated them on the verandah question alienated them. He was contemptuous about the Burghers, and evinced a trace of racial prejudice in his reference to them in official dispatches, and in a private letter to Lord Grey, he wrote that “they are half-caste or white-brown descendents of the old Dutch and Portuguese rulers. They have neither European or Ceylonese feelings, no principle of nationality whatever; their minds are consequently not filled with en- larged views in general, and the peculiarity of their position engenders an uneasiness of feelings which is ndt traceable in their minds to any distinct appreciable cause–but the estab- lishments of newspapers and the low personalities of one of them, ‘The Colombo Observer’, gives food for their queru- lousness”(26). The Burgher community reacted by sending a @@@ 405 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 397 Memorial to Earl Grey in April 1849, protesting against the disparaging remarks, and demanded an Official Inquiry into the allegtions made by Torrington, that they were inciting the Sinhalese into rebellion. As might be expected, Earl Grey “took the side of the Governor and privately reminded him of the danger of bringing down his high office into disrepute by his unnecessarily discourteous manner towards his subjects.

This was not the first time he was warned of his arrogance.

Torrington also lost the support of some of the politi- cally active Europeans in the country over the role of the unofficial members in the Legislative Council. The Governor wanted to retain control of the Council, while the Europeans demanded a greater measure of self-government, which they argued was the inalienable right of all British subjects. They were led by Dr. Elliot, Richard Morgan and G. Ackland. They petitioned the Colonial Secretary in London demanding that the Legislative Council be placed under the control of the unofficial members, and that the official members should have the freedom to speak and to vote on issues according to their judgements, and not according to the instructions of the Government. The Colonial Office resisted the demands and advised the Governor to be tactful and curteous in his dealings with the members of the Council.

Dr. Elliot and his newspaper were the self-appointed public auditors of the officials of the Government. His col- umns took to task any peccadilloes of any government offi- cial. The Governor was its prime target. The Governor’s aristocratic arrogance and petulance as well as the many controversial issues of the times provided ample amunition for the columns of ‘The Colombo Observer’. At times it degenerated into a personal vandetta between Dr. Elliot and the Governor. It was likely that the newspaper did sap the @@@ 406 @@@ 308 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH respect due to the office of the Governor among its restricted readers, by its, at times, venomous and relentless attacks on the Governor. There could be no doubt, however that it did rattle the Governor himself, to whom Dr. Elliot was an ‘infernal rascal’. The Governor, in a private letter wrote of Dr, Elliot that “his paper thrives by feeding the vulgar appetites for slanders, and he is quite unscrupulous as to the nature and correctness of the statements he admits into his organ…It is admitted by all the respectable inhabitants that “The Colombo Obsever’ has done more real injury to the island than the worst measures of Government could have done”(27).

The propaganda war between the two did not abate until the recall of Torrington from the island . Its details need not detain us as we are more concerned about what happened in Kandy. In this respect there was one item which appeared in the newspaper which was of significance. On the 3rd of July 1848 it published a letter by an ‘Englishman’. This letter portrayed the French rebellion of 1848 as an example to follow, and called upon the people to refuse to pay the new taxes, and to agitate for democratic reforms. It also pointed out that the French had already granted these reforms to the people of Pondicherry, which it had colonised. It demanded to know why such changes were not possible in Ceylon, and whether the Ceylonese were so backward that they did not deserve them. This letter was later translated into Sinhalese and distributed among the Kandyans. The impact of this latter on the Kandyans remained debatable as many Kandyans were illiterate, and as the extent of distribution was unknown. It probably did stir the ones who got hold of it, and were able to study its contents.

Before returning to the events in Kandy, one ought also to look at an incident which took place in Colombo two @@@ 407 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 399 days prior to the rebellion. On the 26th of July 1848, a crowd of about 3 to 4 thousand people assembled at Borella with the ostensible intention of marching in protest against the taxes to the Governor’s residence, and of handing over a protest petition*to the Governor himself. The police were under orders to prevent the large crowd from entering the town itself. This they could not enforce with the small force of about forty men. The police suffered casualties in the ensuing scuffles and were driven back. The troops, which had been on standby in case of such trouble, were immediately marshalled by Torrington, and he himself led them to oppose the advanc- ing protestors. A serious riotous encounter was averted by the appearance of Dr. Elliot at the scene. He persuaded the crowd to disperse quietly and to permit him to present their petition to the Governor. The petition demanded the repeal of all vexatious taxes, and warned the Governor of non-payment of taxes if he persisted in his policies. This open’defiance of the Government by the ordinary people would certainly have given a fillip to any rebel in the lurking and encouraged him lo raise the standard of revolt.

In the Kandyan provinces rumours of further taxes had inflamed the feelings of many a villager. Dumbara was the worst affected. Mr. Buller, the Government Agent of Kandy went over to Dumbara on the 4th of July to explain the Government’s policies and to restore calm over there. The villagers came to see him without their headmen. The follow- ing tete-a-tete took place: –They told him that Mr. Turnour, the previous Rev- enue Commissioner, had advised them to redeem in perpetu- ity the taxes on their lands by the payment of 10 years’ tax, and that this would exempt them from all taxes in the future. Buller pointed out that they were mistaken, and had misunderstood what Turnour had told them. As a government servant, @@@ 408 @@@ 400 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Turnour could not make any promises for the future. He and his successors had to comply with whatever orders they received from the Government.

–They charged the Dog tax to be reprehensible and stated that they would petition the Queen. Buller requested them to hand over the petition to him so that he could give it to the Colonial Secretary in person, and obtain a reply almost immediately.

–They complained bitterly against the Road Ordi- nance as the reimposition of Rajakaria. As they had redeemed the Paddy Tax, they should not be taxed again. As acapitation tax, it was beyond their means to pay. One man pointed out that he had 8 persons within his house, all liable to pay this tax and that he had no means whatever of paying it. Buller explained that all would not be required to work at the same time for 6 days, and that 6 days in the year was not at all a hard task for them.

–They objected to being sent away from their districts to work on the roads. Buller assured them, that by law, they could not be required to work at any distance beyond 20 miles from their village. It was the duty of the Committee to endeavour to apportion the labour of each village to that part of the road that was nearest to it. The opening of roads was beneficial to them and improved their country.

–They charged that there would soon be thirty new taxes based on the Blue Book returns, .their women and children would also be taxed, and it was for this purpose that information was obtained. Buller countered that he was wholly unaware of such proposals. It was merely a rumour without any foundation spread by designing parties, who wished to injure them by creating dissatisfaction in their @@@ 409 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 401 minds. The Blue Book returns were required for making a realistic assessment of the resources of the country and for making recommendations for the improvement of cultivation of the country.

–The Shop tax they said would include their washermen, blacksmiths and carpenters. This was forth- rightly denied by Buller.

–They complained that their buffaloes and pigs were being shot and buried by the owners of adjoining coffee estates. Buller assured them that he would instruct the police superintendent to investigate these allegations.

–They complained that they had no place to cremate/ bury their dead. Buller told them that he would direct the Ratemahatmaya to select a good spot for that purpose.

–They wanted a suitable piece of land to pasture their cattle. The Ratemahatmaya was directed to report on the land they desired for this purpose.

Buller reported to the Colom,al Sccretary that ” appears that a report had been spread, Fhat fomhe purpose of identification, the breasts of the women: ncmto be measured in same way that dogs and guns were to bg, and the idea of this has of course given great offence . .. .. They said we are not satisfied with our headmen. They are for the Government and do not say what we wish. We all want to be present at the meeting with the Colonial Secretary”.

“In the two districts Dumbara and Udunuwara the excitement had been the greatest. I have every reason to believe that it has been allayed by the conference that has @@@ 410 @@@ 402 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH taken place, and that the erroneous impressions they hudl received have been quite done away with, and that it will all subside in the petition they intend to present on Saturday” (28).

Buller also reported that the vagrant Denis had lived in the village. He had gone about collecting money and had walked away with £5 belonging to a priest collected for the repair of his temple. This Denis was later found to be one of the chief rebels against the British.

Buller was wrong in his conclusion that he had paci fied the Dumbara villagers. On the 6th of July they marched into Kandy without giving any notice to anyone. This time they were joined by people from other districts. Their objec| was to hold another conference with Buller, at his office in the Kachchery, protesting against the taxes, and to hand in a petition. As they were a fretting clamorous crowd of about 4 thousand, Buller adjurned the meeting to the esplanade opposite the Maligawa, so that he could address them from the Octagonal of the Maligawa. The clamour of the crowd drowned his speech.

prais 0] In his‘g?% ivfétds, this was what happened. “Matters began to assuing a..frious appearance, many of the crowd becoming excited from drink or endeavouring to excite others … Every mild measure that could be suggested to induce the people to disperse was attempted but failed. The police were then directed to exert themselves for that purpose, but the body was far too small to have any effect on the crowd, by which, they were surrounded – – and it was soon perceptible that without the presence of the military, all such attempts would not only be futile but tend to irritate the mob and make them mischevious. Every attempt to seize any of the ringlead- @@@ 411 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 403 ers was met by the most determined resistence, and the crowd commenced arming themselves by tearing off the smaller branches of the trees. On one occasion the Acting Superin- tendent of police (Locu Banda Dunuwilla Dissave) was knocked down from his horse by a violent blow on the head, and one of his constables was severely hurt. Under these circumstances, after consulting the officials present, Isent for the army. The presence of the Company of the 15th Regiment was sufficient to enable the police to clear the place “(29).

Buller also pointed out that none of the headmen were present, and that had they been there, the crowd could have been controlled. Their absence, he concluded, was a concerted arrangement, and that they were deeply implicated in brining about this illegal demonstration. He was aware that the crowd would assemble again in larger numbers, but the army would take measures to aid the police in preventing the recurrence of such a turbulent meeting. He furnished the Superintendent of Police with a list to swear in number of Special Constables.

“The people objected to being represented by the headmen at the forthcoming meeting with Tennent, nor could they be induced to appoint any spokesman on their behalf. I have informed them that it is not in my power to cancel any Ordinance . .. .. But anything they need to communicate to the Government would be duly attended to by the Colonial Secretary, provided if it be madp in a proper manner”(29).

On the 8th of July two Declarations were published.

The first Order announced that men with arms in their hands, would, on no account, be permitted to enter Kandy, and would be liable to punishment if such an attempt was made.

Any representation to the Colonial Secretary should be made in writing, or a deputation of 5 or 6 from each Korale would @@@ 412 @@@ 404 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH be received by the secretary, to whom explanations on any point would be given by the Secretary. A large concourse of people was undesirable and inconsistent with public peace, and to prevent any trouble Special Constables would be appointed.

The second Order declared it untrue, the report circulated amongst the people that the Blue Book returns were for imposing further taxes on them. It stated that no new taxes were in contemplation beyond those recently enacted.

On the 8th two unsigned petitions were handed over to Tennent at the meeting. Both reiterated their grievances against the taxes : 1. The Petition from the citizens of Dumbara “The sentiments of the people of Dumbara and others of the island of Ceylon who are assembled here this day, as of others who are not in this place, are embodied in the following Petition.” “First, in 1815, we captured and surrendered to the British, the person of our late King because he oppressed us, and did us injustice, but we did not then do any injury to the English Government, but cheerfully submitted to it”.

“The English had attempted to conquer Kandy twice before, but were defeated with much loss of life because the people were then all satisfied with the Gpvernment of their King. But it appears that we are now made to suffer from year to year greater injustice, oppression, wrongs, lossesetc. than we had ever endured under the Sinhalese government, and we have reasons to fear that still greater injustice will be inflicted upon us”.

@@@ 413 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 405 “Second, heretofore we have patiently endured much injustice and other difficulties, but we have consoled our- selves with the belief that the Government would at length grant us relief, but instead of that we deeply regret to find that our difficulties are every year more and more increased”.

“Third, that the Government has altered the laws and customs in force at the British accession is evident from the following facts. Soon after the establishment of this Govern- ment, we paid one-tenth of the produce of our paddy-fields, according to an appraisement of our crop made every year.

The Government then required to pay a stipulated amount whether the lands were cultivated or not. We obeyed. We were then told to redeem our paddy lands by paying ten years’ tax at once, by which we were given to understand that we should be exempted from further tax. Many of us complied with this request”.

“Fourth, on certain occasions when the Government required it, we performed Rajakaria service to Government, but then the taxes on our lands were pro tempore remitted. We were also then required to work on the roads opened by Government, but it was on the understanding that as soon as that work was over, no service will be extracted from us. In 1835, sometime after the trial of late Mollegodde Adikar and others for alleged High Treason, a proclamation was pub- lished to the effect that ‘the English Government wished the welfare of the people, and that no labour would be exacted from them’–But then we ask, what we have done since that period, that the Government should not only retain all the former taxes on our fields etc., but should also re-establish the Rajakaria system, which had been once abolished, and im- pose three new taxes. We cannot understand what crime we have committed to deserve so great a punishment”.

@@@ 414 @@@ 406 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH “Fifth, reasons why we cannot pay the newly imposed taxes–We have purchased guns at prices varying from £3 (o £4 for the protection of those very crops on which a tax is levied by the Government. The Government has imposed tax on them. We do not know with what object. Whether to prevent us from having or using them, to destroy our meany of livelihood, or to subject us to losses or with other motive, On account of the provisions of this Ordinance, we have been obliged to sell some of our guns at 6d each, and we shall find extreme difficulty in protecting our crops without firearms”, “We pray then, that the practice of renewing the licences for guns every year, may be abolished, but a licence when once granted may be made permanent”.

“Sixth, we consider the Ordinance which requires us to pay a tax on our dogs a great disgrace to us. We cannol afford to pay atax on athing of no value. We will not therefore take any licence at all for our dogs”.

“Seventh, even the Poll tax we cannot pay. Many people find it difficult to pay the tax on the paddy-fields, and are obliged to incur debts on this account, nay there are arrears due to Government from mere inability to pay. This being the case, how is it possible that we could afford to pay more taxes” Gentlemen who receive large salaries from Government will of course be able to pay as they cannot be in want of money, we cannot afford to pay the same to Government”.

“Eighth, it is easy for Councils of Government (o impose taxes, but they do not take into consideration our difficulties and hardships, because they have nofeeling for us.

Their object seems to be in one way or other to benefit the Government”.

@@@ 415 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDY AN DISTRICTS 407 “Ninth, these Councils have established a Police from which we the people derive no benefit whatever. We suffer much evil, and much losses from the appointment of Proctors.

And when the Government requires money for various things, they pass enactments every year, the tendency of which is to reduce us to poverty and want, but they never impose any burden upon the Europeans. Even if any enact- ment is passed having some tendency to benefit the people, that, the Government soon finds a pretext to repeal”.

“Tenth, by these circumstances we are led to fear, that the Government intends to make us poor and wretched. If it is not so, if the Government still wishes our welfare, still feels for the people, may it please the Government to abolish the new taxes, and afford us redress for the other grievances we have mentioned” (30).

  1. The Second Petition. “In 1815 the people of Lanka voluntarily transferred the sovereignty of the kingdom of Kandy to the King of England, and a solemn Convention was then entered into – between H. E. Governor Sir Robert Brownrigg acting on behalf of H. M. King George the Third, and His Royal Highness George, Prince of Wales Regent on the one hand, and the Adikars, Dissaves and others ‘on behalf of the Kandyan nation on the other hand. We have seen with much regret that some of the articles of the Convention violated of late by the English Government”. j “By that Convention, the English Government under- took the protection of the ‘Church and State’ of the Kandyan nation. But it has not only altogether abandoned the Church, but has also begun to oppress the people by the imposition of unjust taxes etc.”. @@@ 416 @@@ 408 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – “The Government first exacted a tax of one-tenth of the produce of the paddy-fields when cultivated. This tax wis nextextended to all the paddy fields whether cultivated or nol, Another tax was then Lmposed on high lands (chenas) alse when cultivated with grains”. “Formerly the Govemment charged only one copper chally as a toll on the ferries. Now they charge four”. “We were formerly required to work on the Govern ment roads, elephant kraals etc., but the Government itsell had abolished the Rajakaria or forced labour”. “We are also given to understand that a tax upon out dogs and a Poll tax of 3sh per head, have already been determined upon; and that many more taxes are in contempla tion”. “We beg to submit our inability to pay these new taxes, and we pray that we may be required to pay only one-tenth of the produce of paddy–fields when cultivated, but we will not pay, because we cannot, any other new taxes whatever- though it be at the expense of our lives”.
  • “We pray that this our prayer may be mercifully considered”(30). The Colonial Secretary arrived in Kandy to explain and to pacify the people into accepting the government’s tax policies. On the 8th of July he held a series of meetings. The first was with the officials and the Kandyan chiefs. At this meeting it was resolved first to restore law and order in Kandy most firmly and vigorously. ‘Tennent explained to the chiefs their responsibility to Government which expected them to communicate freely @@@ 417 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 409 with the people, to keep them carefully informed of all public acts, which it was their duty to carry into execution; and by their example and influence to check excitement and to prevent illegal demonstrations. The chiefs assured him their cooperation to maintain order and to convey his message to their people. Tennent was certain that the present excitement was ascribable to the ignorance of the people as to the scope and provisions of the Ordinances, which had never been suffi- ciently explained to them, whilst their alarms and apprehen- sions had been excited by the most absurd rumours circulated by political agitators. He found that the Blue Book returns had been repre- sented to the people to be preliminary to an extensive impo- sition of thirty new taxes. He had issued the Second Declara- tion categorically denying any such intentions. He suspected the Buddhist priests to be the unseen promoters of agitation. Their influence was greatest in Dumbara, and the two petitions had originated with them. It was also in Dumbara that the excitement had first manifested itself. He found a great obstinacy on the part of the people to demonstrate and protest against some apprehended injustice.

They were unarmed and not prone to violence. Only a small minority were violent through intoxication. These were arrested, and after recovery, expressed shame and remorse for their actions.

He had suspended the Ratemahatmayas of Uda Dumbara and Pata Dumbara. In his view they had failed to counteract the false impressions which had misled their @@@ 418 @@@ i ‘410 . THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH people. They had equally forfeited the confidence of the Government Agent and the people. They should be held out as deterrence to other chiefs against failure in their duty to Government.

He suspected that many headmen were not only dis- satisfied with the new taxes but were also displeased that the Road Ordinance drew no distinction between their own rank -and that of the ordinary people. It had levelled them down, a situation which annoyed them greatly.

Some chiefs had done their duty in their districts. No one from such districts had come to demonstrate. He applauded those chiefs and guardedly expressed his dissatis- faction of others. : At 1pm the chiefs and the headmen assembled again at the Great Hall, and outside in the esplanade, there was a crowd of about 4 thousand people. Tennent addressed them.

His speech was uncompromising and combative. He was not prepared to make any concession to the pleas of the people.

He wanted total and absolute obedience to the tax ordinances.

‘ Hetold them that the government was well aware that the measures passed were advantageous to the people; it was the misconception or ignorance of Government’s intentions which had led to the present situation. It was the duty of the Chiefs to have explained them fairly to the people, but they had not done so. | The alarm over further taxes was unfounded. The Blue Book returns were necessary to show London the grow- ing wealth and improvement of the colony. In the past it had been merely guesswork, but now realistic inquiries had been made to produce a true and correct picture. This was not made with the intention of taxing the people. : @@@ 419 @@@ ” THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 411 The taxation on dogs was not for revenue purposes, but to reduce the number of dogs, which had become a public nuisance in the towns and on all roads. Once the people knew that they had to pay for the number of dogs they kept, they then would not rear so many, and public annoyance would then cease.

The tax on guns had a twofold objective. Firstitaimed to reduce the number of guns in the hands of improper people, and secondly, its purpose was to make people, who kept guns for amusement purposes, contribute something towards the revenue for the privilege of using them. Ineffect, thislaw was aboon on the people, for it made it legal for them to keep and use guns,whereas after the rebellion of 1817/18, it was illegal to possess guns, and the transgressors were flogged and imprisoned.

Tennent did not doubt the loyalty of the Kandyans. He knew that they appreciated the blessings they enjoyed under the Government. It had given them the protection of good laws. It had established Courts of Justice. It had opened up the country by roads. It had encouraged cultivation, had doubled the value of every man’s fields and established security for life and property. Old laws obstructing progress had bccn repealed.

Now anyone could keep a gun for amusement or protection. This was a privilege they had never before enjoyed. Was 2sh 6d too much to contribute towards public revenue for such a privilege ? At this point Goompane Aratchy of Dumbara interjected to say that it was not too much to pay once. His people wished to have one registration and one payment. They could not afford to pay every year for keeping a gun.

He was floored by Tennent, who asked him which they preferred, the old law to keep no gun, or the new one to @@@ 420 @@@ ” 412 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH register them? The new one to pay 2sh 6d annually or the old one to be flogged for possessing fire-arms? : Tennent also told them that Government required revenue from this source because it had repealed other taxes which had operated injuriously on the trade of the natives in coffee and cinnamon. Coffee used to sell at 84sh, but now fetched only 24sh a cwt . To assist the industry the Govern ment had repealed the export duty on it. The Government had also lowered import duties on article which they consumed, their clothes, their brass and iron-ware. They could now buy everything cheaper and sell everything better than before. To make up the loss in revenue and to carry on the costly improvements, government required more money to spend among the people. j One grand object was to open up every district by roads, and to connect all towns, villages and ferries by roads.

This would increase the value of every man’s land. At this point Butawattegedere Kangany interrupted to say that peo ple had no time to spare to labour on the roads, nor had they the money to pay commutation if they were unemployed.

Tennent told him that the Kandyans had two harvests each year, and asked him how many days he did labour before and after each harvest. Kangany replied that he did labour about 30 days before and 15 days after the harvest. This was sweet music to Tennent’s ears, and he told him that out of 12 months, you worked three. Surely out of other nine you could give 6 days to make roads for yourself? Kangany persisted that the people were very poor that they did not have 3sh to pay in commutation. Tennent had a knockout argument for this too. He pointed out that the coffee estates in the neighbour- hood employed labourers in the picking season at 1sh a day.

~ Three days labour there would pay the tax instead of six days @@@ 421 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 413 labour on the roads. Resistance to work imposed by the colonialists was simply a weapon of the weak against colonial subjugation. Mr. Tennent would not have understood their unwilliness to work. From their point of view, the Kandyans had every reason why they should refuse to work to enhance British dominance over them. Incidentally the Kangany’s reply ignored the continuous incidental work necessarily connected with agriculture.

Not one shilling of this revenue would be applied for anything other than the improvements in the districts in which the tax was collected. So everyman in reality would be working for himself. They would not be driven to work as was the case under Rajakaria. Every householder would have a vote to elect their District Committee. This body would regulate all the work to be done in the construction of roads and would superintend the actual work.

It was not a poll tax or any degrading impost upon one rank from which another was exempt. Every rank would equally work–chiefs, headmen, judges, Government Agents, magistrates and the Colonial Secretary were all liable, and equally prepared to unite with the people in ennchmg every district of the island.

Had these been explained properly, the people would not have objected, but had not been done so by the headmen.

Tikiri Banda, the younger brother of Locu Banda, said that he had explained things to his people and they therefore had not come to Kandy to protest. Tennent thanked him for exerting his influence on his people, and preventing their minds from being abused by false rumours.

It was the object of the Government to select as chiefs, men whom the people looked up to for their intelligence, who @@@ 422 @@@ 414 : THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH could guide and direct them by their personal influence.

Anyone who was either destitute of these qualification, or who possessing them, failed to exert his influence, way wanting in his duty to Government, which appointed him, and whom, he professed to serve faithfully.

The people of Wallapone too were excited, Andrewaway, the Ratemahatmaya had gone among the peo- ple, explained and calmed them down. These people did not come to Kandy. He had done his duty. He should be publicly thanked and the Governor would be notified of his efforts.

Tennent concluded by saying that “the Government so far from exacting taxes unnecessarily, desire nothing but the receipt of such a revenue from proper sources, as will enable them to repeal all taxation, that now press heavily on their agriculture and on their trade, and to extend their income in such a manner as to secure the prosperity, the wealth and happiness of every inhabitant in Ceylon”(30). ‘ At S5pm the meeting ended, and boosted by the bombast of his gloating rhetoric, the noble knight had enough courage to walk leisurely through the crowd, which had already begun to disperse in the most orderly manner. Some, he admitted, even saluted him, and voluntarily assured him of their satisfaction with his explanation. He was well pleased with the outcome.

At 6pm the prelates of Malwatte and Asgiriya at tended by twelve other priests called on Tennent. He told them that Government had information, that some of the younger priests had been engaged in exerting the recent commotion, and such proceedings on their part was unbecoming of their position in relation to the Government, and incompatible with their expectation of protection from it. They should discour- age all such attempts to the utmost of their power.

@@@ 423 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 415 The prelates disclaimed any such conduct on their own part, and deprecated and disbelieved it on the part of their colleagues. They promised to send emissaries immediately to apprise the priests in the outstations of their duty to Govern- ment, and to encourage them in every manner to exert their influence on the people in support of the Government.

On the 10th Tennent held another meeting with the leading Kandyan villagers without the presence of the chiefs or the headmen. He reported that at this meeting people were more forthcdrning, and that there was full discussion of the issues involved, and that these folks went away quite satisfied with his explanations. His mission to explain the new ordi- nances, then extended to the northern part of the old Kandyan province.

On the 10th Locu Banda reported that when he went up to Dumbara, the people expressed their remorse for the attack on him, and had assured him of cooperation with the police in the future.

This, apparently as far as Tennent was concerned, was the end of the episode which nearly reduced Kandy to the turmoils of a full-blown rebellion against the Government.

Yet when he came to produce his report of his tour on the 4th of August, the rebellion had already broken out, and this compelled him to reflect on the state of affairs in the Kandyan provinces, which he had helped to calm down so recently.

LLike so many before him, Tennent admitted that the Kandyans were neglected by the British. He accepted the necessity of using the loyal native chiefs for the purpose of government of the province. “The error” he reported “is the neglect of the people by the European authorities, and their abandonment to the influence of their headmen without any precaution or correction of its abuse. Periodical circuits and personal visits, @@@ 424 @@@ 416 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH attention to complaints, and inquiry into abuses on the spot would assure the natives of protection against oppression and undue assumption, and teach them confidence in the vigilance as well as the justice of a British Government. But unfortu- nately these expedients are sparingly applied. More frequent intercourse with Europeans and the general diffusion of education would soon quicken the apprehension of the na- tives, and enable them to judge for themselves of the truth or probability of popular rumours or official misrepresentations; butitis aremarkable proof of the neglect of which I complain, that in the central province, the seat of disorder at the present moment, the promotion of education and the establishment of schools has been so overlooked, that only five government schools are to be found in the whole Kandyan kingdom, and two of these are within the town of Kandy itself– and out of £12,354 voted for the purposes of general education, only £793 are expended on the entire of central province, and but £252 on the North-Western including the Seven Korales and Kurunegala, the other seat of the recent insurrection. Thus while the tendency of our recent policy has been by abolishing unjust distinctions to bring down the power of the chiefs to the level of the people, we have forgotten the still more important duty of elevating the people to the level of the chiefs….We have not amongst the people….any controlling check what- ~ ever, nor any countervailing authority to detect abuses and encourage the well-affected. We have no Press, no paid Police, noresident Justices, noitenerant Catechists, no School- masters, in short, no class whose intelligence and independ- ence would be a restraint upon the assumptions or misrepre- sentations of the chiefs”(31). He also drew attention to the difficulties experienced by the distant villagers inobtaining justice due ‘to the unequal distribution of our Judicial and Civil establishments over the face of the country’.

The Governor wrote to Earl Grey, before the rebel- lion, praising Tennent’s considerable tact, judgement, and his @@@ 425 @@@ THE GATHERING STORMCLOUDS OVER THE KANDYAN DISTRICTS 417 persuasive powers which had removed the errors in the minds of the Kandyans, and had returned them to have faith and confidence in the Government, and had helped to restore calm and peace in the interior.

“I do not apprehend” he wrote to Lord Grey, “any disturbance or any further renewal of excitement. But I shall not fail to take every proper precaution to prevent mischief on the one hand, and to adopt on the other every reasonable and judicious means to remove from the people all causes of just or well-founded complaint. If on closer examination, any of the new Ordinances shall appear to require amendments and to be capable of being improved in the detail without surren- dering the principles of them, I shall take the matter into mature deliberation… Atpresent it appears to me, that they have been partlally misunderstood or designedly misrepre- sented”.

“I shall not be diSposéd to yield anything whatever to clamour or excitement or to let it be imagined that the threat of violence can intimidate the Government”.

” I feel assured that public tranquility will continue uninterrupted”(32).

The reader would have already seen in the body of this chapter the many arguments against Tennent’s assertions in defence of the new taxes. Nevertheless some ‘reiteration is due. The Kandyan villagers were not traders, but peasant farmers. They were quite satisfied with producing just enough to meet their daily needs. Any surplus was providential and stored up for a rainy ‘day. They were not yet geared to producing for surplus or for profit. Hence any tax on them had to be paid out of current production which was only just enough to meet their current consumption. Therefore a tax was a tax on current consumption, which in turn meant its @@@ 426 @@@ 420 Sy THE KANDYANS! LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Skinner, ‘Fifty Years in Ceylon’, p224 CO54/211, Anstruther’s Report on the Civil Service, 19 Oct. 1843 C0O54/210, Campbell to Lord Stanley, 21 May 1844 Earl Grey, ‘Colonial Policy’, Vol.2 p170 ibid., p166 ibid., p170 CO54/124, Torrington to Earl Grey 16 May 1848 J. Henderson, “The History of the Rebellion in Ceylon’, p5 C0O54/249, Memo by W. Strachey, 9 Sept 1848 CO54/245, Torrington to Earl Grey, 9 Feb 1848 J. Henderson, op. cit. p3 CO54/251, Petition by the Buddhist priests, 13 Sept 1848 CO54/248, Earl Grey to Torrington, 6 May 1848 CO54/252, Torrington to Earl Grey, 15 Nov 1848 CO54/252, Bishop’s letters of 13th and 28th Nov 1848 J. Henderson, op. cit. p5 J. Forbes, ‘Recent Events’ p9 CO54/252, Torrington to Earl Grey, 14 Nov 1848 CO054/257, Torrington to Earl Grey, 8 Jan 1848 K. M. De Silva, ‘The Rebellion of 1848’ p124 ibid. p120 ibid. p89 ibid. p81 ibid. p82 CO54/249, C. R. Buller to Colonial Secretary, 7 July 1848 ibid. 6 July 1848 C0O54/249, Tennent’s Reportof his Meetings in Kandy, 8 July 1848 C054/250, Tennent’s Report on his tour, 4 Aug 1848 CO54/241, Torrington to Earl Grey, 9 July 1848 J. Forbes, op. cit. p9 CO054/250, Torrington to Earl Grey, 14 Aug 1848 @@@ 427 @@@ 10. THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA From 1843 onwards, from the time of Chandragotty Unnanse’s conviction for treason, rumours abounded in Kandy, of a Pretender lurking in the interior. The first credible report to reach the Governor came from Locu Banda, the Assistant Superintendent of Police in Kandy, on the 29th June 1848. He reported to W. D. Bernard, Governor’s Private Secretary, that one of his sergeants, whom he had sent to Dumbara on duty, had informed him of the prevailing rumour in that country. It was about a certain person, who traversed the country, claim- ing himself to be a Prince, and had been urging the people to insubordination to British rule. This Prince had been in Kegalle, in the Four Korales quite recently, and was now on his way to Kataragama temple. Locu Banda himself did not believe this report. However, he warned that this rumour could be manipulated by discontented persons to create dis- turbances, and in his view, the Buddhist priests were the source of this rumour and the fomentors of the disturbances.

It should be noted here that after the conspiracy trial in 1835, Locu Banda had been reinstated in the estimation of the British, and he had become a practising Christian. He was not the only Kandyan chief to become a Christian.

The next report on the pretender came from D. David, the Ratemahatmaya of Belligal Korale on the 23rd of July 1848. This report categorically stated that there was a Pre- tender to the Kandyan Throne concealed in the jungles be- tween Matale and Dambulla. He was collecting arms and amunition. He was assisted by the Kandyan chiefs and all those people who were disaffected with the Government by the recent tax ordinances. His large body of followers were divided into two parties; one party would rush down to @@@ 428 @@@ 422 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Kurunegala to collect more forces,1 and .then proceed vin Kegalle to Kandy plundering the country on their way there; ~ theotherparty, consisting of the people of Matale and Dumbara, would assemble at the latter place, and storm Kandy. The 15th of August was the appointed day for this rebellion. He could not assess the veracity of this rumour,but urged the Govern- ment to take the necessary precautions. He had tried to meel the eldest brother of the Pretender on his way into Four Korales from Seven Korales, but this vagrant had avoided him on hearing of a possible confrontation with him.

The third report to reach Bernard brought bad news. It came from Locu Banda on the 25th of July. It stated that several reports had reached Kandy that a great number of people were assembled with swords and guns at Matale for the purpose of creating alarm. The authorities in Kandy had resolved to keep quiet until the mob had committed some criminal offences, so as to enable them to bring the culprits to justice. He still maintained that at least one half of those ~reports was untrue, but advised caution. He also stated that convicted villains were joining hands with desperate Kandyans to disturb the peace in the villages.

A small party of police officers headed by Locu Banda was sent to Matale, he reported on the 27th that the Pretender had been crowned at Dambulla on the 26th, the postal commu nications had been cut off, and crowds of armed people were assembling from all direction. He requested further urgent assistance. Mr. Buller, the Government Agent at Kandy, also received similar information from other sources.

On the 27th Buller proceeded to Matale (about 16 miles north of Kandy) to asses the situation for himself. A few miles into his journey, he met Mr. Waring, the Police Magistrate of Matale, fleeing towards Kandy for assistance.

Waring told him, that about noon that day, a riotous body of @@@ 429 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 423 armed people had entered Matale.” The Police force had retired, as it was totally inadequate to deal with such a body.

The crowd had then proceeded to attack and destroy the public buildings, including the magistrate’s residence and the rest- house. They had also set fire to the bazaar. His estimate of this crowd in support of the Pretender was about 4000. Buller immediately returned to Kandy, and after consultation with his officials, called upon the army to send forthwith a strong force to Matale torestore peace, and to apprehend the culprits.

For the safety of Kandy itself, he issued orders for the enrolment of 50 Special Constables.

In his report to Torrington, Buller stated that “at about 12 o’clock the rabble entered the town of Matale beating tom toms, blowing horns and armed with guns, spears and swords.” One of his informers, Mr. Macfarlane had himself “seen the mob in the act of battering down the doors and windows of the rest-house”(1).

On the 28th, Buller himself went accompanied by the troops, to Matale. Capt. Lillie was in command of the troops.

He was an old experienced officer, and was assumed to be well-acquainted with the country and its inhabitants. It was in two detachments. The first company had 1 captain (Capt.

Lillie), 2 subalterns, 4 sergeants, 1 bugler and 100 rank and file of H. M. 15th Regiment. The second company headed by Capt. Watson had 4 subalterns, 4 sergeants, 2 buglers and 100 rank and file of Ceylon Rifles Regiment. Most of the ordinary troopers were Malays. By the time the troops crossed the river at Katugastota, it was past midnight of the 28th.

They met no one for a while on their march to Matale.

“About nine and a half miles from hence’ narrated Capt..

Lillie to Col. Drought, “a shot was fired within a few yards of the troops, But no one was hit . . . . it was pitch dark with @@@ 430 @@@ 424 THE KANDYANS’ LA.ST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH a drizzling rain until the day broke at the rest-house at Ballakaduwa. Half a mile further on, two or more shots were fired close in rear of it, but as from where they were fired, I think, they were merely intended to give warning of the approach of the troops, as they could not, from the position they were fired, hit any of the men. Half way down the pass ashot was fired froma gingall gun . . . . it was from a distance off. asignal. Soon after daylight, and a mile off Matale, being with the advanced guard, I saw some natives armed on the road leading to Wariyapola, and some on the side of the Matale road close in my front. As I approached them, those next to me seemed disposed for a parley, and I went up to them without any molestation, and left some of my troops to look after them, and went for Mr. Buller.. .. who was close in my rear. I told him of the circumstances, and he came with me, and we went to the natives who seemed to command the party. Ithen asked for his instructions . . . . I was directed to make them prisoners. When they perceived a party moving on their flank, which I ordered to get in the rear, they made an attempt to escape, but almost all those in the front were secured. When this was perceived by the insurgents in the jungle on the hill from 200 to 300 yards distant, they commenced firing, and the balls were hitting the trees about, and one of the 15th Regiment was slightly wounded. I then ordered the Rifles under Capt. Watson to enter the jungle on their flank and to endeavour to intercept them. They soon came up with a party, and a conflict ensued, in which the rebels were completely routed, with a loss of 6 killed and several wounded ; 8 of the latter were made prisoners. The jungle was completely cleared. . . I was informed that a large party of insurgents had taken possession of the bungalow of the Wariyapola estate (see Diagram) : I determined at once to march with the Rifles to attack them. It was about a mile and ahalf fromthe highroad. .. . Just as we got close to the house, @@@ 431 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 425 SELECT COMMITTEE ON CEYLON { T face page 18) Lrkatr o e S o an adanaimas’: Cithe ‘ra-,–m’-.-t dopre door Fangle ) N?36. Ordered, by The Housc of Commons.tohe Printad J4% Fol 1881 @@@ 432 @@@ e { o il i | i 426 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH we saw the natives running from it, and made a rush forward – with the men in front. During our advance we were fired at by some of the insurgents in the adjoining jungle on its flank; but I am glad to say, without any casualty on our part. Three of _ the natives were shot at this bungalow, one attempting (o make his escape from the window of the upstairs floor. There we found the palanquin of the Pretender, which the Rifles broke into pieces before I could save it. We captured 30 pounds of gun-powder. Here I found Mr. Baker, the Suprintendent of the estate, tied by the legs and arms to the verandah railings and suffering from great torture from the tightness of the ropes and his position. Ihad himreleased from his bands, his skin was quite discoloured. He was removed “with the party to Matale where he received medical assistance from Dr. Rambaut”.

“I reached Matale before 9am. . … We found Mr.

Waring’s house, the rest-house completely plundered, and all the furniture broken into pieces, the doors and windows treated in the same manner. The bazaar was also being much plundered, almost all the natives had abandoned it and had gone into the jungle. They soon returned when they ascer- tained that we were in possession of the town”.

“I am disposed to think that the lesson the insurgents received yesterday will have the effect of quelling the rebel- lion in the Matale district . . . the well- disposed have gained confidence– and the reports from the vicinity state that the insurgents are dispersing and abandoning the Pretender. So quiet did I find things that I have ordered the Company of the 15th Regiment to join HQ, and they will be in Kandy this afternoon with the prisoners and captured arms. Thave left the Rifles to hold Matale, which I consider quite sufficient for this purpose, now that the loyal subjects are offering their support.

@@@ 433 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA ;1-27 I shall be most happy that this may prove to be the result of my expedition”(2). The Governor, however, kept the district under the severe regime of Martial Law till the 10th of October 1848 Buller also made a similar report of the expedition to Torrington. He listed that 60 loaded guns and several swords were seized, and 43 were taken prisoners. It was the Malay soldiers who went into the jungle to fight the Kandyans secreted there, and they did mercilessly slaughter the Kandyans in the dark shadows of the jungle. The numbers killed were understated by these reporters.

In Matale the scene presented was one Buller had never witnessed before. ” The rabble had in the most wanton manner destroyed every particle of furniture and smashed all the crockery and bottles and tore to pieces every book and paper, they could lay their hands on. Mr. Waring’s House is completely ransacked and rendered wholly useless. The iron chest is also broken in, and the two small ones, one of which contained stamps and the other the private property of Mr.

Waring. were also broken in. The court house records are also completely demolished and even the poor bazaar people had not been allowed to escape–but have suffered as much as other public buildings and property. The person that has been crowned is David– aman of Harispattu, brother of Denis, and there is now ample evidence against him, should he be apprehended. I beg to recommend a reward of £50 for his capture. Purang Appoo also is amongst the gang and was active in pillaging the bazaar . . . ” ‘ ~ “The following estates 4 miles from Matale have had their bungalows ransacked–Maculoowe, Maddewelle, Asgiria and Nicketenne . . . The number of rebels in one part is calculated at about 500 to 600. The rest are now much @@@ 434 @@@ 428 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH scattered, and I trust, now will not return to their commradesy after the reception they have met with, which I trust may be asalutary warning to them . … The Dewe Nileme has not a4 ~yet made his appearance, but he is said to be in his house al Asgiri Korale . . . . several of the prisoners are severely wounded”(3). ; On receiving these reports, Torrington declared Mar- tial Law in Matale on the 29th of July, and proclaimed reward of £100 (later increased to £ 150) for the capture of the Pretender.

A very different version of events was given by u soldier eye-witness. He wrote that the men who stood under – the jack tree “were panic-struck. There they stood with their guns in their hands without attempting to fire on us or fly . .

… Had the riflemen been led up in a soldier -like way, and formed in front of the rebels, the latter on being summoned, would have at once surrendered, and no lives would have been lost . . . . However, this was not done . . . . The firs Riflemen who came up began firing into the body of the Kandyans. These did not appear to resist . . . . . The Malayy now used their bayonets and krises, one who stood near me plunging the whole blade of the latter weapon into the chesl of the Kandyan, till his hand rested on the chest of the man . … of all those Kandyans who stood under that tree, few or none escaped unwounded and most of them probably mor tally as the poisoned Malay krises were very freely used . . .

I think I am pretty accurate in stating that the panic-struck mob under the large tree, did not make use of their fire arms”(4). ; ~ Lt. Henderson also described the assault on the bun galow as one of chasing the rebels who had already taken to flight. “I ran round to the rear of the building, but found they @@@ 435 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 429 had disappeared among the bushes at rear of the building, and into the rear jungle. AsI was returning to the front a native made a spring from a side window in the upper floor. Iraised the rifle and covered him . . . at that moment one of our men, who stood close to me, shot him while in the air”.

“I ran to the front, rushed up the flight of steps, and simultaneously with several of the Malay soldiers, burstin the door and entered the room. Immediately on entering, shots were fired, and bayonets thrust into a palanquin which stood in the centre of the room, and going to the spot, 1found that aman who had hid himself in it, had been killed. The Malays immediately broke the palanquin into pieces”(4) They also mistakenly assumed that the dead man was the Pretender.

Lt. Henderson also testified to the lack of control exercised by the British army officers over the Malays and their blood-thirstiness. He wrote of one Malay soldier who had armed himself with a Birmingham bill-hook, and had gone about splitting the skulls of all he could lay his hands on without any restraint.

The story of the bazaar and several houses burnt at Matale, was “a pure fabrication” wrote Lt. Henderson. “Fire was not resorted to by the natives in any one instance, and this, I consider a great mark of forbearance on their part, especially as the bungalows and stores of coffee planters, whom they look upon as enemies, were completely in their power”.

In Matale itself the troops butchered many unarmed Kandyans for marching into Matale. According to Henderson, while the troops were resting at the sacked resthouse in Matale, “people unarmed marched down the street. They nppeared to be entering the town, ignorant of what had @@@ 436 @@@ 430 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH occurred in the early part of the morning. Our men fired on them, four fell..one of our men actually fell out of the ranks to bayonet a native who had been shot through the breast, and ~was lying writhing on his back”(4).

On the 31st of July, Buller sent another report to Torrington, informing him that the measures taken had been so far successful, the followers of the Pretender had dispersed and some had concealed themselves in the jungle.

To prevent the plunder of estates in the vicinity, he had issued them with swords and buffaloes, and had advised the estate managers not to venture out, but if they had to, then, to move in groups of 8 or 10. He had sent a force of 15 – constables, and more would follow, to recover the property stolen from the estates and other buildings.

The Pretender was hiding in the caves of Hunasgiriya accompanied by Doretiagalla of Ukkuwella. Two or three parties were on his trail and would soon capture him.

His general impression was that the Dewe Nileme had played a double part, which he was loath to believe. At the same time, in his favour, a party antagonistic to the Nileme, had reported that the Nileme had gone with about 100 of his people to apprehend the Pretender, but as the latter was strongly guarded by about 2000 armed men, he had retreated to the jungle, and his party had deserted him. It was also rumoured that the Nileme had refused the highest official position in the Pretender’s Government. Nevertheless the ‘{\Iilemc remained a prime suspect.

Buller also reported that Golahella Ratemahatmaya’s tenants as well as his relations were attached to the Pretender.

Golahella had been inattentive to orders from him, and had ] @@@ 437 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA . 431 deceived him, by reporting that he was at Dambulla as he was directed, when in fact, he had never left the house. Golahella had enormous possessions in that part of the country, and held influence over his numerous tenants. Had he chosen, he could have seized the Pretender with the support of the Dewe Nileme, or at least held a check over the Pretender and his party. Buller recommended that Golahella be suspended pending an inquiry into his conduct.

Buller had ordered all Ratemahamayas to report on all the headmen in their districts who had been absent from their villages without satisfactory explanation. They would be dismissed and their property would be confiscated.

In many places mail had been interrupted and steps had been taken to restore communications. All the private boats had been commandeered to prevent improper use by the insurgents, and to make them available for the usc of the Government. ‘ All the English persons who had gone missing earlier had safely returned. The rebels had done them no harm. The prisoners were kept under guard and the turbulent ones were put in iron. | Finally, Buller suggested a reward for Bopeygodde Adries for the care he had taken of some English ladies, and commended to the Governor the services rendered to him by Jayatilleke, the Interpreter Mudaliyar.

Could it be possible that a gory and bloody slaughter took place in the jungle near Wariyapola estate? Capt. Watson maintained in his evidence to the House of Commons Commit- tee on Ceylon (HCCC), that his forces faught hand to hand @@@ 438 @@@ 432 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH with the rebels in the dark shadows of the jungle. How could it then be possible that not a single of his soldiers was injured, let alone be killed? Could it be, that the Malay soldiers simply used their Krises to stab to death the insurgents, whom they had surrounded, without taking them as prisoners? Was this the hand to hand fight? We could not know the answers (o these questions, except for Henderson’s admissions, and the fact that the Governor admitted to Grey that “it has since been ascertained that the total number killed and wounded amounted to little less than 200″(5). In addition to this, there were also the statements made by witnesses as well as the prisoners in the Supreme Court trials for treason. They stated that they met Capt. Lillie on the road with the intention of surrendering to him. This was why they had not fired on the troops but had come forward to parley with Capt. Lillie, who in his report quoted above, did admit, that he was able to approach the armed men on the road unmolested. Later, Mr. M’Christie, the barrister witness at HCCC, claimed that the military officers did not fairly make returns of the killed and wounded, and that very many more were killed than was reported. Holes were dug in which vast numbers were thrown, and that 47 were thrown into one hole in Kurunegala (Q7491).

The Governor took a unique view of the rebellion. He alleged that all the chiefs and priests were involved, that it was a cunningly planned combination nurtured for a long time to throw off the British yoke. To him the ‘confessions’ made by some of the prisoners suggested that “at the very time our troops were on the march to Matale during the night, the jungle on both sides of the road was filled with thousands of armed men–nearly 20,000–who watched our troops as they passed, but whose purpose it was not to attack them as they advanced, but to cut them off from their retreat to Kandy. In fact, the engagement with our troops at Matale would seem to @@@ 439 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 433 have been brought on by accident. The real plan of the rebels being–as reported–to draw as many of our troops as possible out of Kandy, and then to make a simultaneous rush into town from various points on a Sunday, while the people and many of the soldiers were at church”(5). At best, this could only be a speculation, because, above all, the Kandyans had no recognised rebel leader of ability, who could organise and plan a concerted campaign as described by the Governor; and the number of active insurgents estimated by the military men in the frontline never exceeded 6000. In any case, according to the best available estimates, the total population of Matale was in the region of 30,000, of this only 4000 at most could be under arms at any one time, was the opinion of Henderson; and Anstruther regarded the Governor’s estimate of armed men as a ridiculous exaggeration'(Q7702).

On the 28th of July military assistance was also sought to restore law and order in Kurunegala in the Seven Korales (about 26 miles north-west of Kandy). A Detachment of 30 men and 2 officers under the command of Lt. Annesly was sent there. His first report to Col. Drought was penned at 2pm on the 30th of July. It stated that “about 4000 rebels ap- proached our post about 1pm from the Colombo road. I went out with a sub-division for about 100 yards, and left 2nd Lt.

Bovill to protect the Court-house and the Treasury. I opened afire upon them, they immediately fled in confusion, there are a few killed and wounded, and not a man of ours touched.

There is a report that another body of men are about 3 miles off on the Puttalam road”(6)..

His second report written at Spm stated that the “rebels again approached my post at 3pm from Colombo road. I drove them over the bridge about a mile from my post. They would not allow us within gun shot, but made a great noise and fired upon us several times without effect”(6).

@@@ 440 @@@ 434 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Mr. Templer was the Assistant Government Agent Kurunegala. His report to the Colonial Secretary on the 30th of July was more informative. He stated that “we have had n wvery serious riot here, just as the people entered on one side, the Ceylon Rifles Regiment came in on the other, but before they could interfere, the Kachchery, the Court-house and the jail were all entered into and everything broken, records destroyed and scattered all over the place or burnt”.

“We have had a skirmish in which about 10 Kandyans were killed and some wounded and 19 taken prisoners”.

“I have applied for another force from Kandy to keep down any further riot. My headmen are nearly all, implicated in the affair. An Aratchy has been killed”.

“The Treasury has not been touched. Mr. Gibson and myself had to leave as quickly as we could, and were fortunate enough to fall in with the Detachment just a mile off”.

“Troops are, I hear, on the march from Colombo. If not, please send some as fast as possible. No time to be Jost”(7). | ‘According to the Governor the Kachchery al Kurunegala had been entered and plundered, all the records and papers were either torn or burnt. The mob was in the act of trying to break open the cash chest, when the troops advanced upon the building. The Court-house of the District Judge had been plundered, and the whole of the records destroyed, the public bazaar had been burnt down and nearly every house in the place damaged. The jail had been broken open and the prisoners liberated. Nevertheless, he could not have made a mistake in the grisly body count which differed from that of Mr. Templer. “The crowd of armed men”, he @@@ 441 @@@ f THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 435 wrote to Earl Grey, “took to flight leaving 9 or 10 killed on the spot, and many wounded, 26 dead bodies were afterwards buried; about 20 prisoners were taken. In spite of this severe lesson, the rebels entered the town again two days afterwards on the Ist instant, about 4000, but retired on being attacked by the Rifles suffering some loss, and a second attempt on the same day was equally unsuccessful. The small detachment of Rifles suffered no casualties”(5).

Martial Law was proclaimed in Kurunegala on the 31stof July, and a reinforcement of 150 men of the Rifles and 2 divisions of the Road Pioneers for commissariat, marched from Colombo to Kurunegala under the command of Major Layard.

~ On’the 2nd of August Torrington also published an Address to all the Sinhalese Inhabitants, and especially to those who resided in the Central Province (see insert). In it, he pointed out, that the citizens had acquired many benefits through the mildness, the justice and the impartial protection of the British Government. He charged them that they knew the answers, which he expected to be favourable, to the few rhetorical questions he raised. Had the Kandyans been given a chance to reply, at least for couple of those questions, concerning the protection of their property and the instruction of their children, the answers would have been a resounding negative. He threatened condign punishment to the rebels, promised rewards to the informers, and urged the people to return to their villages. They did not readily oblige, because they were afraid of the army and its henchmen. Only a handful had the courage to return home.

This was followed by a Proclamation by Col.Drought on the 8th of August, It threatened the seizure of the property @@@ 442 @@@ 436 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH BY HIS EXCELLENCY TIIE GOVERNOR.

AN ADDRESS to all the Native Singhalese Inhabitants, and especially to those who reside in the Central Province and the adjacent Korles.

-z . ‘o e ———— YOU well know, that Her Majesty the Quees appointed me to adnfhister the Gover t of this Country; to enlt obedience to the Laws which have been enacted for the benefit of all classes of the inhabitants, and to alford protection to the welt-disposed and industrious people. You well know (|t|mugh some of you may have been wrongly taught to forget for a little while) the many benefits which’ you have acquired through the mildness, the justice amdl the impartial protection of the British Government.

Ilas not your property been respected and your wealth become inereased? Ilave not your families begn proteeted and your childreninstrueted 7 Have you been cruelly oppressed or unjustly punished 7 you know the truth and you can answer for yourselves, I i + Wiy then have some of you followed evil counsellors, and violated the laws? | Many have already suffered scverely – for their treuchery and violence: and I tell you that many more will be severely punished if they do not remain peice- ably in their homes and obey the laws.—IRobbers have gone abrond destroying the property of inocent and harmless people, and spreading fear among the defenceless inhabitants 3 their erimes must be severely punished, and 1 will use all the power which is entrusted to me to bring the olfenders to justice and to protegt the innocent.

But there are many good and honest wmen, to whomn these evil-doings are hateful ; mnu{ have already done good service to Govermment, and have gladly aided the authoritics in preserving the public. peace and in hringing the offenders to justice. Lo all of these, and to all the Chiefs and Headmoen who have proved themselyes good and faithful subjects, and have rendered assistance to Govern- ment for the preservation of peace, and the protection of inmveent people, 1 pive my best thanks. You have deserved well of the Government and of your fellow- countrymen; you will reap your reward.

1 call upon all such good men as I have spoken of, to continne their efforts for the public good: I call upon you to endeavour to trace out the olfenders, and to give such information to the Officers of the Government, as may enuble them to scize and to bring to justice the wicked men who go about deceiving the minds of the people and leading them through ignorance to commit erimes. I promisé you that those good men, who give useful information to Government which shall lead to the detection and apprehension of evil-doers, shall receive full rewards, in proportion to the value of the assistance which they give.

My word is true.

But you also know that in some Districts Martial Law lhas heen proclaimed, and that immediate and severe punishment will be inflicted upon all those who collect together in numbers with arms in their hands, or who are found com- mitting violenee upon unarmed people, or robbing the native villages or the houses of ‘the Euglish inhabitants. No merey must be shewn to them, resistance will ! be useless, and will only eause severer punishment to follow, for 1 am deter- ; wined that the public peace shall be preserved, and innocent people protected.

If your have any thing to say to me, or any reguest to make, I will listen to you hereafter when obedience to the Jaws has been enfurced, and yon have returned quictly to your homes. The British Government is a mild and just Government, but it will yield nothing to violent and Iawless people. Let such then beware.

1 warn you that wherever any Headman or any other person whatever shall be found openly resisting the Government and assisting or encouraging others to rebellion, his property’ shall be confiseated, and the value of it shall be divided lmon?“thute who have been i:f’llred or ruined by the violence of the evil-doers.

t to the quiet and well-disposed inhabitants the wimost. protection shall be afforded, their property shall be preserved, and they will be distinguished us good and loyal subjects of Iler Majesty the Queew.

TORRINGTON.

Queen’s Iouse,—Colombo 2d August, 1848.

SCURCE: C054/250, Archives at Kew, London.

@@@ 443 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 437 PROCIL‘AMATION, —, e R MY ORDER OF Lr. COL. DROUGHT, COMMANDANT OF HER MAJESTY’S FORCES IN THE KANDIAN DISTRICTS NOW sUBJECT TO MARTIAL-LAW It is harehy proclaimel that in all the Kaudian Districts now un- der Murtial-Law [ have ordeced the seizure aud attachment of the lands, houses, and other property, of all the persons of whatever rank or description, wha have joined in the wicked rebellion against the authority of Her Mujesty the Quecn, aud 1 hereby call upon all loyal subjects to assist the officers »)puivted Ly me to carry my orders into effect, Aud 1 further hereby command all loyal sulijects of ITer Majesty the Queen, to keep themselves apart from those concerned in this rebelliu; for whosoever shall be found 10 have aided the rebels or supplied them with food or other provisions, is liable 1o coudign pun-~ intrnent, an b will forfeit s lanls, amd property, aud “will be treated in all other respects as a rebel, And L also biereby declare to all junncent aud_loya, subjects who may chance to be absent from tleir liouses, Lut who Liave not Leen engaged in any wct ol treason c¢r reblery, during the present insur- rection, and can account for tleir akscnce, that tley are not Ly this my Proclymation prohibifed from retuimng 1o resme [ossession of their property, and reaile in peace in their houses.

T. A. PROUGHT.

Lt Col. Commauding the Troops in tke Kandian Provinces Kopody, August Sth 1818 : BOURCE: C054/258 @@@ 444 @@@ 438 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH – of the rebels and their supporters, and urged the people (0 assist the armed forces. It too called upon the innocent 1o return to their homes and villages. Col.Drought reported that it had a salutary effect. Soon after publication of this Procla- mation, many had returned with confidence to their farms and villages, and had resumed their usual avocations. If this was the truth, then the prolongation of Martial law into October was inexcusable.

In the same dispatch quoted above. Torrington re ~ ported that all the Europeans in Kandy who possessed arms, ~ had put themselves at the service of the Government for the protection of the town, and also to enable the release of the soldiers for duty in Matale and Kurunegala. He complimented ~ the behaviour of the coolies, some of whom had protected their masters’ property against plunder. Mr. Hanna, one of the Police Magistrates, had visited the estates in the disturbed parts of the country, and had distributed arms and provisions to the occupants. Many secret agents had been employed to obtain information on the movements of the rebels.

Col. Drought had obtained possession of the keys to the shrine of the Tooth Relic in Kandy from the Buddhist priests and the Dewe Nileme. In the presence of Buller, he had it examined to assure himself that the Relic had not been purloined to convert it to a signal for rebellion, as happened in 1817/18. He still retained the keys and had prohibited for the present, all worship and all ceremonies at this temple.

Buller took the opportunity to suggest to Tennent that the moment was opportune to remove the Relic either to Colombo of to England, and to sell the jewels to finance the suppression of the rebellion. He wanted the Maligawa to be converted into a commissariat store. He also wanted the Maha Devale to be taken at once for public purposes, and the people ~ be directed to remove all the property of that Devale to @@@ 445 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 439 Alutnuwara Devale in Four Korales, to which it originally belonged. The Vishnu and Pattini Davales, he suggested, should be removed to a piece of land half-way between the town and the Katugastota ferry. His object was to throw open the Esplanade, and to remove all excitement and danger caused by the religious meetings and ceremonies held there.

If his suggestion was acted upon, then the interference by the army in their religious ceremonies, which invariably annoyed the devotees, would also cease. The Government was other- wise too preoccupied with the rebellion to give any serious consideration to this suggestion made by the Government Agent of Kandy.

The Government anticipated many petitions and some trouble if the faithful were prohibited from worshipping at the Temple, and if access to the Relic was prevented during the Sinhalese New Year on the 11th April 1849. Thus an open barred-iron-door, similar to a grating in a strong room was erected at the expense of the Temple. This enabled the outer door to be left open during the day-time; the people had a perfect view of the Karanduwa, and were able to deposit their offerings upon a table inside the room by passing them between the open bars.

According to Torrington, the insurrection had now become the work of villains. The evidence was the fact that “one of the most desperate robbers in the island (Purang Appoo), who had more than once escaped from jail, and for whose apprehension a reward has long been offered by Government, was an attendant upon the person of the pre- tended King. He had long been the terror of that part of the country. But he has fortunately been captured, tried by Court Martial and immediately shot, exclaiming at the last moment that, ‘if the King had three men about him as bold and determined as myself, he would have been master of Kandy’.

Several other persons had also been captured and shot”(5).

@@@ 446 @@@ 440 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The Suprintendent of Police, Mr. Colepeper had al- ~ready commented that “the great body (of rebels) consisted of thieves and robbers. The ‘King’ himself a free-booter and hix Adikar, a Ratemahatmaya, who was dismissed on suspicion of being concerned in a murder. Purang Appoo, his sword bearer was practising the same line of life about two years ago in the neighbourhood of Badulla. He assembled about 15() followers and robbed the villagers as he proceeded from place to place. I caused the Police to go in pursuit of him, but he dispersed his followers and escaped before they reached Badulla, and if the ringleaders of Matale mob are properly described by me, they are all of them of the character and description of the ‘King’, Purang Appoo and outlaws”(8).

Werahendigey Franciscoe Appoo, alias Purang Appoo was tried by Court Martial on the 8th of August 1848 for rebelling and levying war against the Queen, for attempting (0 shoot one Don Cornelis and for carrying a loaded gun. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The main evidence against him was led by Don Cornelis. He was supported by two others, Appoobutty and Ramasamy. In his defence, Purang Appoo said that he was selling cloth at Raltotta village when he heard of a rebellion in Matale. He had gone to Matale only to verify this rumour. Having found that it was true, he ~ had returned to his village. There he heard of the plunder of the ~village and of the people on the road by the Malabar coolies So he went there and on reaching the Tappal station, he way ordered to stop, which he did, and was seized. He could prove ‘that he was on an estate on the day the rebels entered Matale, The Court found him guilty and sentenced him to be shot (o death. Some Malabars were tried later, Appoobutty and Ramasamy among them, for plundering and stealing prop erty. They were found guilty, but shown mercy because ol their help in apprehending Purang Appoo.

@@@ 447 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 441 It oughttobe observed that the Court Martial could not prove that Purang Appoo was guilty of having directly taken part in the rebellion. Mr. Stewart, the Deputy Queen’s Advo- cate was the Judge Advocate at Purang Apoo’s trial. He admitted to Torrington that “in one of the trials, that of Purang Appoo, the active part, he was known to have taken in the rebellion, was not proved, and I mentioned my opinion that it would be proper to have such evidence. But the Court did not consider it necessary under the other circumstances estab- lished”(9).

On the 4th of August, Torrington received from Major Layard the news of the capture at Kurunegala of one of the Pretenders named Dingiralle of Hanguranketty. He was tried by Court Martial, convicted and shot immediately before being confirmed by a superior military officer, and then ‘left suspended from a tree for a period’ of four days. Capt. Bird was a member of the panel of judges of the Court which tried this prisoner. It was an extraordinary irregularity in proce- dural justice, that he, not only confirmed the sentence, but also directed its execution. According to Col. Braybrooke this was contrary to all military usage (Q5911). Kalu Banda, the late Ratemahatmaya of Ukkuwella, who was captured at the same time, had insufficient incriminating evidence against him, and was held in prison pending further investigation.

Dullawe, the Dewe Nileme was the highest of the native chiefs, the lay head of the religion of the people, and was the only survivor of all those chiefs, who signed the Convention of 1815. He had been regarded by the British as a loyal subject to-date. On this occasion, Torrington ex- pressed his doubts to Earl Grey in the dispatch quoted above.

Torrington believed that Dullawe was not only cognizant of the intended insurrection, but also had played his part in @@@ 448 @@@ Yol 442 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH getting it up. The probability was that in his old age, he could have been made a tool by designing men. The whole of his large property had been sequestrated prior to final confisca- tion. The evidence then available against him was insufficient for a conviction. Torrington was convinced that not a single Kandyans chief could be trusted, and that a new organization of the whole system of Government, in which the chiefs had no role to play, was required, and put into operation immedi- ately. Yet he was quite happy to quote the many supporting letters from the Kandyan chiefs, in support of his policy of repression and the continuance of Martial law.

The Government’s treasury was virtually bankrupt, Torrington had no funds to finance the suppression of the rebellion, and to pay the troops be had got down from India.

He had to raise a loan with the Oriental Bank to “supply with – silver money in such sums as from time to time may be required, not exceeding in the whole £50,000 sterling, to be repaid on or before 31st December with interest not beyond the rate of 5% per annum”(5).

In the meanwhile, the Governor had good news from Mr. Sims who reported from Tumpane that all was quiet in several areas adjoining Kurunegala. A few insurgents had been arrested by him in possession of plundered articles. He also suggested for Governor’s consideration that the confis.

cated lands and houses should be made over to the Malabar coolies, who would gladly accept them on any terms. This was an outrageous suggestion, which was originally conceived by Tennent, but not acted upon due to the exigencies of the situation.

In an effort to extricate himself and his recent tax policies from being blamed for the rebellion, the Governor cast about for plausible excuses. Chandragotty, the monk @@@ 449 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 443 prisoner and rebel of 1843, provided him with some arguable points in his defence. This prisoner had told him that “if you wish to remain masters of Kandy, you should place cannons at the four entrances to the town with a guard of English soldiers, call in all the fire-arms which the Kandyans possess, prohibit the sale of gun-powder and flints, and lastly never trust a Kandyan of any kind”. Such was the wondrous effect of imprisonment on a Kandyan rebel who had now become a turncoat.

That the Pretenders were not Malabars, but low- country Sinhalese. The setting up of a ‘King’ was intended merely as a sign or signal for revolt. It was merely a symbol of authority, not for the sake of the individual so elevated, but in the hope of establishing upon his downfall, the independent authority of the chiefs and priests.

When asked why the Kandyans resorted to rebellion, Chadragotty had answered that in former days, the chiefs could do as they liked with the people under them. Now they hated having lost this power. Yet the people revered them, and were ready to follow them. The people were stupid that they did not know what they really wanted. The present hostile feeling of the priests was due to the policy to depress or to withdraw all countenance from Buddhist religion, or perhaps, .

rather the superintendence of their affairs, and the appoint- ment of lay managers of their Devales equally with the priestly head of their Vihares.

The Governor added to the above statements, that “the formation of coffee plantations, the invasion of the secret haunts in which the half civilized Kandyan formerly de- lighted, by a host of Europeans and Malabar coolies, contrib- uted not a little to disturb the habits, and interfere with the customs of the Kandyans. Prejudiced as they were and strongly @@@ 450 @@@ 444 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH tinctured with the pride of caste, they forgot the benefity gained, remembered the privileges lost. Abuses they have undoubtedly suffered in many instances at the hands of the newcomers”. He concluded this lenghty report by quoting question one Kandyan chief had asked him, namely, “if you neither respect our religion, nor have regard to our customs, what is the benefit to us of the British Government? This | cannot forget, and this chief is now dismissed and suspected to be implicated”(5). No matter the accumulated grievances of the Kandyans, and the many arguments adduced by the Governor to exonerate himself from being held responsible for the rebellion, his oppressive tax policies, imposed s0 insensitively, were without doubt the immediate contributory factors which hastened the Kandyans to rebellion.

It was alleged that the Pretender was crowned at the Dambulla temple. The voluntary statement (he was not cau tioned) made by the Chief Priest, Ambulambe Unnanse, on the 12th August 1848, did not admit to any coronation, but only a Pirith ceremony. He was an old man of 70 years and had served at Dambulla over the last 60 years. He had six other ordained priests with him. Four of these priests were arrested, and later tried for treason by the Supreme Court. The jury accepted their plea that they acted under duress and pro nounced-them not guilty– a result, most unwelcome to the Government.

According to Ambulambe Unnanse, on the 26th ol July, some unknown men came to the Pansala and announced that the King and a great number of people had come to the temple, and demanded the keys t6 the temple. The keys were sent immediately in the hands of a junior monk. Soon after Ambulambe himself followed. He saw many armed guards on the steps to the temple, and in the temple compound about 700 to 800 men armed with guns and swords. The lamps were lit @@@ 451 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 445 in the temple. Within the Maha Devale, where the offerings were made, sitting on a carpet with a pillow on his side, he saw the Pretender. Ambulambe Unnanse was asked why he had nQt come sooner, to which, the priest had replied that he was inhis bath at that time. The next question was ‘are you attached to the religion of the Buddha or to the Government?’. The priest had replied that he was attached to both. This provoked the following conversation and the sequence of events.

“Why, when a King was coming to the temple, did you not decorate it, and open the doors? I said, had I known it in time, I would have done so. He became angry and asked me if I wished to go into the jungle. I replied, I had no such wish.

He requested me to let him see my face. He looked at my face and asked, ‘why do you argue with me?’. He became very angry with me. He then asked me ‘don’t you know what happened to Parunatelle Unnanse?’. [This was a monk who had a part in making Kannesamy the last King of Kandy. Later he fell out with the king and was beheaded for alleged intimacy with a woman]. I said, I do know. He then said ‘which sword do you think is the sharper–the English or the Sinhalese?’. I replied, they are both sharp–they will both cut.

He now became more angry. He told me I was not to speak in this manner in the future… I left him in the Vishnu Devale with the other priests when he was about to take his meal which the people had prepared for him”.

…. I returned to the temple 4 or 5 hours afterwards.

[ found him inside the temple, opposite the image of Vishnu, – the curtains had been removed. I was informed by the priests..that during my absence, the King had made offer- ings to Buddha, and had also made a Declaration before the image of Vishnu to the following effect; T do not lie, I am not an imposter. I am a grandson of King Kirti Siri, to the truth of which I call heaven and earth and the Kataragama God to @@@ 452 @@@ f 4:16 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STANDVAGAINST THE BRITISH witness, and if this is false, my head will burst and lightning will strike me’. On my arrival he took out a small piece of Pusskola (note) from his waist and placed it on a chair opposite the image of Vishnu, and then took it out and read it aloud– Sreewickkreme Saraawe Siddhi–. He desired us to perform Pirith for him. I said at first that I did not know to perform this service for a King. He replied that I was an old priest and must know. Upon this we performed the service. He stood opposite to us in the temple. We stood in a row 7 or 8 priests and recited Pirith. All this we did through fear. What could we do against such a crowd of people? After the ceremony was over, he returned to the carpet.. He asked for two palanquins to be delivered to Lenadore Aratchille and Ratwatte Banda. There was but one and that I gave–that was the one taken by the troops in Matale. Before daylight the King and his people left Dambulla for Matale with the beat of tom toms. This is all I know. I did nothing after the King had gone”.

& … I do not know who was the King. He spoke Malabar. He spoke Sinhalese tous….He was like a Sinhalese man.. He spoke like a learned man in Sinhalese, and spoke it without any foreign accent. He was of a light colour.. All the people said he had cat’s eyes. He had whiskers and mustachios, the latter curled up, but no beard. He was of the middle size, rather stout in figure and good looking. He appeared to be about 37 years of age, more not less. He had on’ his head a stripped yellow silk turban, a white jacket extended as far as his waist. He wore a whité cloth with gold border in ~ the Sinhalese way. He had a ring on the forefinger of his right hand. I could not send any information..because the roads -were being watched by the King’s people”(10). This statemen! was later produced in evidence against the Dambulla priests at their trial in the Supreme Court.

gl @@@ 453 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 447 The British interpreted the Pirith ceremony as that of a coronation. They were helped to this conclusion by the annonymous letter delivered to Jayatilleke Mudaliyarin Kandy.

It said that “Denis and his brother entered the interior of the temple .and approaching the image of Maha Vishnu and kneeling before it, made the following declaration; ‘T and my brother are no ordinary persons, we are princes descended from the royal family of Kirti Siri; if this be an untruth, may Divine vengeance visit us, may the curse of God rest upon “Upon this the priests of the temple pronounced the hymns of victory and blessings over a vase full of water and annointed Denis King of Kandy. People then prostrated before their King and rose against the Government. There is hardly anybody in Matale who is not concerned in this rebellion..The priests and tenants of Dambulla Vihare are the leaders..I do not think that the recent rebellion is owing to the imposition of new taxes.the object of the rebels is to conquer the country from the English”(5).

The auther of this letter was probably present at Dambulla when the ceremony took place. The reliability of his report was questionable to the extent that he was mistaken in one very important point. It was not Denis who was ‘crowned’, it was his cousin brother Davita (David). This confusion as to the identity of the Pretender persisted for a – while.

The British also found two Olas (proclamations) cir- culated by the pretender, calculated to arouse the people against the British and to intimidate named British agents.

The first one was addressed to Mollegoddeya Gamepalle and Madeniya of the Four Korales. It declared that “the Royal.

family is not extinct. The English Queen has it in contempla- @@@ 454 @@@ 448 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH tion to destroy the great temple in Kandy. The individuals we have named and also Millewa (Locu Banda), are endeavour- ing to do us injury. We will not permit them to do so. The two former are slaves and profess the Christian religion, the latter is descended from the Portuguese, who bear affinity to the English. The houses of these three men shall be burnt, and they shall be put to death. Inhabitants of Four Korales be warned. This is written by the gracious order of the King who preserves the great and other temples”.

The second Ola was addressed to Palugaswene Ratemahatmaya that “on the receipt of this, without any delay cause the roads to be blocked and well watched by armed men.

” That you do report what number of places are guarded and the number of arms are so stationed by you–which being done, you should send a report to the palace at Fort Matale, where His Highness resides–in default of which, you must not complain, if His Highness should visit you with his displeas- ure”. The King did not get the opportunity to express his pleasure nor his displeasure, he was captured on the 21st of September. Col. Drought produced a dossier on the Pretender, in which, he too confused him with Denis, the cousin brother of the Pretender.

According to Col. Drought, the Pretender was a low- country Sinhalese, also called Gonegallegodde Banda. He had been tried for high treason in 1843 at Badulla, but had escaped conviction. He was also involved in the disturbances in Kandy on the 6th of July. He had been practising indigenous medicine. At Kandy, he had stayed at the Maligawa, and the priests had provided him food, and many Kandyans had paid homage to him there as their King.

Golahella Ratemahatmaya had sent the King armed men and clothing for his use and had told him that the Maha @@@ 455 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 449 Nileme and himself would join the King at Ballakaduwa. The Pretender had been invested with the sword of the state and proclaimed King of Kandy at Dambulla.

After the affray at Wariapola estate, the Pretender had hid himself in the Eleadua jungle, (the very spot, where he was later captured). Dullawe Maha Nileme had sent him provi- sions there. From there, he had gone to Kurunegala to lead a second attack on that town. As he was defeated there, he retired to his jungle hideout and remained there until his capture.

Col. Drought described the sequence of events which led to the capture of the Pretender as follows. “On the 21 st of September, the Pretender King was taken on the information given by a man who was in the habit of taking him his curry and rice, and who at last became so much alarmed for his own safety, that he came to Capt. Watson, and informed him that he would show him where the King was, provided he would give him assistance, but that no European could be of the party. Capt. Watson sent six Malay soldiers dressed as na- tives, two mudaliyars and a headman with the guide. The party left Matale, so as to arrive at the place of concealment just at dark, which was his feeding time. The guide went in first and took him his curry and rice as usual. The Malays crept in afterwards, and when in the middle of his meal, they seized him. He struck and struggled with effect and got up on the side of the rock, but was soon pulled down, thrown on the ground, bound and conducted into Matale at9 o’clock the same night”.

“The cave in which he was, is described to be in a very large rock, situated in a very thick jungle, about eight miles from Matale, leading to the Elkaduwa district, so high as to command a view of the surrounding country. There was only @@@ 456 @@@ 450 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH one follower with the King at the time of his capture. He was stationed on the top of the rock to keep watch; it is supposed that he must have fallen asleep, and awakened by the noise of the arrest, had made his escape. The Pretender had a worn and jaded appearance”(11).

In his sometimes contradictory statements made im- mediately after the capture, the prisoner had denied in toto that he was elected King by the priests or that they had performed the Pirith ceremony. The priests, however, had confronted him, and had sworn that he was the identical man who participated in the Pirith ceremony at Dambulla.

Col. Drought described the man as “five feet five and a half inches in height, complexion light brown, eyes hazel, hair dark brown, beard and mustaches dark brown, marks slight scar over the left temple, age forty, well-proportioned, and of intelligent countenance”(11).

Immediately after his arrest the Pretender made a statement implicating Dullawe Maha Nileme and Golahella Ratemahatmaya. He admitted that they sent him presents as well as people with arms. He also named many other headmen as his followers. It was these followers who persuaded him to raise a rebellion. They appointed him King pro tem, and that he was to be later rewarded with the position of an Adikar. It would be difficult to attach any credence to this statement. It was made in extenuating circumstances to explain away his position. Later, he notonly contradicted his admissions; it was also found to be without substance, at least as far as the involvement of the above named two Kandyan chiefs. These two chiefs were arrested for the second time on the reliance of the confession of the Pretender. An investigation did not unearth enough evidence of involvement by the chiefs, and both chiefs were discharged.

@@@ 457 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 451 The Pretender was tried for High Treason before the . Supreme Court on the 27th of November. He had pleaded guilty and was found guilty. He was sentenced to death with a recommendation for commutation. His sentence was com- muted to transportation for life, and a severe public flogging at Kandy preparatory to his exile, so as to make a lasting impression upon the minds of the Kandyans. This flogging was later attacked in the House of Commons as an unneces- sary and unwarranted measure of inhuman cruelty.

The Pretenter submitted a statement to the Supreme Court subsequent to the trial. It was not exculpatory. It alleged that he had been an unwilling instrument of scheming con- spirators against British rule in Kandy. It also blamed the new taxes and the perception of 32 other taxes for the insurrection in the district. It pleaded for his pardon.

STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY GONGALAGODA BANDA TO THE SUPREME COURT, 1.12.1848 “In consequence of some disagreement at our house at Gongalagoda in Udunuwara, I was induced to go and live with the eldersister of my father-in-law, who lives at Kaduwela in Matale. Whilst living there, persons who were in office acquainted the poor people, that Mr. Buller had established 32 taxes, on which account, the people of the four provinces formed themselves into a rebellion”.

“At this time I was living at Matale, and it is true that one Dingiralle of Hanguranketty, [the executed Pretender at Kurunegala], and the people of Matale collected themselves together, imposed themselves upon me false and fraudulent stories, misled me, and went with me to Dambulla, where the following persons, namely, Lenadore Aratchille, Pallegawa Aratchille, the priest Giranagama Unnanse, Elleherra Corale, Aratchille of Kunamaduwa, Lekamralle Ettipola Banda, @@@ 458 @@@ 452 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Bowatte Holeapelle Kawralle, Ukkuwella Kiri Banda, – Kappuralle and Rateralle of Ukkuwella, Neyareepola Adikarme, and Badal Muhandirame of Kaduwela, Melpitiye Corale and all others of Matale–having conspired together– presented to Lenadore Aratchille three clothes, one jacket and asilk cloth to be used as a turban. They requested him to dress . me with the same, which being done, they then procured a palanquin, and nominated me as their Head, notwithstanding my refusal, and conducted me from Dambulla to the Wariapola estate”. ‘ “The people attempted and wanted to set fire to the Tappal stations between Dambulla and Gongawela (Matale) and to destroy the people living therein and to plunder, but | did not allow them to commit those wrongful acts. These people came foremost to Gongawela and plundered the prop- erty there. L hastened after them, directing them not to plunder property, and flogged the guilty. Seeing that they could not be prevented, I cut two men in their hands with a sword, which put .a stop to the plunder. The people likewise wanted to destroy the houses, the Court House, the Kachcheri and the ~ people. I1allowed no opportunity for carrying those intentions into effect. I was requested by them to come to Kandy, but I refused saying, ‘you have acted according to your own will without listening to what I said that no injury should be done to anyone’, saying so, I went to the Wariapola estate. A gentleman was then brought there by them, whom, they wanted to kill, but I saved him and did not permit him to be killed. Having come to know that in consequence of my having prevented them from committing all these aggressions, and of having chastised their own people, and thereby pre- vented the plunder, that they intended to take away my own life, and had conspired together to constitute someone else as their Head, I deserted them. This is all the offences or wrongs, I have committed”(12).

@@@ 459 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 453 The Pretender then invoked the gods and the mercy of the Government and implored for his pardon and the restora- tion of his property, and compensation for his house which had been burnt down by the army. His statement did not change an iota of his sentence.

Torrington went to Kandy on the 16th August and in his subsequent report to Earl Grey, he pointed out that it was necessary to impose vigorous and energetic measures to vindicate the law by exhibiting the severity of justice. At the same time, the wounds with which the social condition of the people had been long afflicted needed to be conciliated, so that the germs of future mischief inherited from the past might be eradicated. These remained as a mere pious hope and empty words.

He issued a Proclamation on the 18th of August, in which he declared that if all the people then concealed in the jungle returned to their villages, they would receive every protection and assistance from the authorities in resuming possession of their lands and houses. They ought to do so within 20 days, and lands and property of all those absent without proper and satisfactory account would be declared forfeited and confiscated to the Crown. It was not a strange matter, that this clause did not apply to the Europeans who had not yet returned to their estates, even though the proclamation had not exempted them from its application.

The military had extensively enforced the sequestra- tion of lands of persons known or suspected of being impli- cated or absent from home. This was used partly as a measure of terror and partly as one of protection. The Kandyans however perceived it as outright confiscation.

Torrington also pointed out that there was no inherent power of confiscation of the property of even the traitors @@@ 460 @@@ 454 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH convicted under Martial Law, therefore his soldiers had to ac| with caution. He suggested a Bill of Indemnity to hold the authorities blameless for all bona fide acts done under Martial Law to come into operation on the same day that Martial Law came to anend. He proposed also a Bill of Attainder to assume the power to confiscate the property of the convicted rebels.

According to Torrington the condition in the country was yet not conducive to remove Martial Law. It was a wholesome check on evil propensities to convince the Kandyans that it was hopeless to rebel, but beneficial to be law abiding.

He maintained that the army had taken numerous prisoners, scarsely any of the principal chiefs or headmen, The chiefs had clearly done their utmost to avoid committing themselves but eager enough to cause the minor headmen to be implicated.

He continued that the ‘King’ and his brother had so far eluded capture, but were being hunted from place to place and cave to cave. He was an insignificant individual of low caste, neither a Malabar nor a Kandyan, but alow-country Sinhalese, Martial Law, therefore had to be enforced, at least, until the Pretender was captured. As seen earlier the Pretender was captured on the 21st of September.

Torrington derided the duplicity of the Kandyan chiefs, They had played a double part. The more they were trusted, as was the case when they were public servants, the more dextrous they became in concealing the betrayal of that trust.

On the 4th of September the Supreme Court had tried four Dambulla priests for officiating in the coronation of the Pretender, but the jury had accepted the defence plea that they had acted under duress, and had freed the men. This acquittal, @@@ 461 @@@ ‘THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 455 according to Torrington, was injurious to the public interest.

He had taken immense trouble to compile the list of jury of fair – and respectable persons. Yet they had shown extraordinary . leniency. They had not, Torrington lamented, entirely com- – prehended the importance of the case brought before them.

On the other hand the cases before the Court Martial invariably led to convictions and speedy decisions. This was highly salutary to impress on the rebels that the Government possessed summary powers certain in its operation than the ordinary process of civil courts. Thus the mildness of the civil court was counteracted ‘by the certainity and the wholesome terror inspired by Martial Law”. To Torrington, it was neces- sary to use terror as a weapon to bring the Kandyans to submission.

Buller had plenty of time to reflect on the events by the time he came to compile his lenghty report to the Governor, explanatory of the principal events leading to the rebellion.

David the Pretender, according to Buller, was a low-caste from a village five miles off Colombo. He had married into a Kandyan family and was looked down upon by the Kandyans, until Galgodde Ratemahatmaya had represented him as a descendant of one of the ancient kings. Buller was sure that 2 this Pretender was unconnected with any Royal family. He was set up as a mere tool by the chiefs. He had been crowned on the 26th of July at Dambulla in the presence of about 400 men. Later his supporters had swelled to about 3000, and it was these men who had attacked Matale. He was now secreted in a cave in the thick jungle off Matale and would be soon seized by the army.

Buller asserted that the Kandyans believed almost everything their priests told them. They accepted their priests’ @@@ 462 @@@ 456 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH version that the total British army in the island consisted of ” only the few men stationed in Kandy, and they could be conquered in the same manner as was the victory over Major Davy in 1803. The people were also persuaded that the English bullet was as harmless as water, it killed the people only because they turned their backs to it. Thus the people were left to the baneful influence of the priests. This was all the more so, because there was only one school in Kandy, one inGampola and one in Badulla–a population of about 211,000 souls were without any liberalising British education.

Buller maintained that the Kandyans had suffered by the evil consequences of ardent spirits introduced into Kandy.

There were 133 taverns. They spread the vices of drunkenness and gambling and the consequent crimes of robbery and murder. Buddhist religion had declined, and many temples had been ruined because the Government had ceased to maintain them as per Clause 5 of the Convention of 1815 and – Clause 21 of the Proclamation of 1818. The rights of the temple lands, and their claim to about 100,000 acres remained yet unresolved. Many temples had also been dispossessed of lands, which the Government alleged, were usurped by the priests of the temples.

  • Another grievance of the Kandyans, (as noted in the – previous chapter), was the inability to obtain justice expedi- tiously at a fair cost. Most of the rebels were the ones, who were most constant attendants at courts, and had been reduced to poverty in consequence. Another source of discontent, according to Buller, – was the employment of lower orders in positions which were the exclusive privilege of chiefs. This, however, he argued, should be increased to reduce the influence of the chiefs. In @@@ 463 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 457 fact the headmen, who were recently appointed by him, remained loyal and kept their districts tranquil; whereas those in office for 20 to 30 years had joined the rebels and should be djsmissed. Buller reported that the Kandyans were moved by the vague idea of the advantages to be derived from having a King professing Buddhism, who would not only protect but also maintain their religion inviolate. It was not the new taxes which were obnoxious. It was undoubtedly true they were not pleased with direct taxation. The circumstances of the many new ordinances been promulgated at one and the same time, had induced them to rise when they did. Had not the sparks of disaffection been most industriously scattered amongst them for years past, it would not have been possible for them to spread the flame so widely in so short a time. These seeds of disaffection had been sown since 1842, and had been going on quietly for years. When he had informed Colombo of it, it was considered a mere chimera and figment of his imagination. From his calulations the taxation per head per year was only three and three quarter pence. This was not very heavy. Nor was the method of collection oppressive as com- pared with the practice prevailing in the maritime provinces, where it was sold by public auctions. In the interior, each cultivator knew the exact amount of his tax, who collected it, and it was entered in the deed, a copy of which he held. Buller too was surprised by the acquittals of rebels tried by the Supreme Court. He wrote approvingly of the Court Martial for its prompt and energetic processing of trials and the execution of many rebels. He concluded his report that excitement had not yet abated, and that it would be injudicious to remove the troops from Matale, Dambulla and Kurunegala. i | | i) | @@@ 464 @@@ biase THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Some of these statements were contradictd by some witnesses ~at HCCC. Neither Anstruther nor the Chief Justice could accept that this rebellion was the result of a well-planned and long hatched conspiracy concocted by the chiefs, the priests and the people. On the request of Torrington, an influential priest, Panebokke Guneratne Unnanse toured the disturbed districts to ascertain the causes of disaffection. His report contained the following points: 1. TheGovernmentshould nothave abandoned the Maligawa and the Devales.
  1. The Government should not have made them equal nor given equal power to the low castes and to those of ancient and high families.
  2. The roads through the villages had brought vagabonds and drunkards who used obscene and insulting language and scandalised the villagers. They also stole crops from gardens and slaughtered the cattle of the villagers for their meat.
  3. Wherever taverns were established, the neighbouring – inhabitants became drunkards, used obscenities, resorted to gambling, committed robberies and murders. This led to the degradation of the Kandyans themselves.
  4. The coffee estates were left without fences. Any cattle entering them were shot or tied and the owners were made to pay £1 to £2 per head fortheir release by the European proprietors. After the coffee estates were established on the hills, the neighbouring wastelands were prevented from being cultivated on the ground that they were Crown property. The ancient rights of the people to commons were simply abolished. @@@ 465 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 459 6. Letters of disposition of family property, required travel- ling long distances to where the Courts were situated and expensive stamps. Similarly any law suit meant paying very high fees to Proctors and the subsequent ruin of the – litigants. ‘ .
  5. The new taxes were very unpopular and the expectancy of further taxes based on the statistical survey, was provoca- tive and vexatious.
  6. There were noregisters of births, and many who were over 55 years of age, could not prove it to the satisfaction of the Government. The only thing they had were their horo- scopes, and those were unacceptable. Hence many old men were judged to be below 55 years of age, and became liable to tax under the Road Ordinance.
  7. It was the ignorance of those who explained the recent Ordinances, which created the disaffection among the Kandyans.
  8. The imposter named David or Gongalagodda Banda of Peliyagoda had taken advantage of the excitement of the people over the new taxes and had raised this rebellion (13). By the 2nd of August, armed rebellion was virtually over. The Pretender was a fugitive, and many of his supporters were either in jail or were in the process of being rounded up.

A few were still in hiding. In short, there was no fighting or armed resistance to the military, though a few thugs took advantage of the situation to commit robberies from the houses left empty by the frightened villagers. These were, according to Col. Braybrooke, the marauders who accom- pany a military force, servants of the officers, servants of the soldiers and their followers, who committed much moree @@@ 466 @@@ 460 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH mischief than the military themselves (Q5712). Some ex- pected the Martial Law to end at least by the early part of August. According to Henderson “the insurrection had been put down when the natives first encountered the troops, but Martial Law had been proclaimed, and was continued, chiefly . that an ordinance or act of indemnity might be passed by the Council to shield the military from the effects of any of their acts”(14). The Governor and his advisors persisted in enforc- ing Martial Law till the 10th of October. During this period Capt. Watson was given virtually a carte blanche to seques- trate and/or confiscate the property of all those who were absent from their homes and therefore suspected of complic- ity with the rebels.

Col. Drought, by a letter dated 8th August, directed Capt. Watson “to take possession of all lands, cattle and other property belonging to [suspected] persons, and make over their lands in charge of respectable persons, notbeing Sinhalese, who will be answerable to the Government for the crops now growing thereon, on such terms of remuneration to them- selves as may be fair and reasonable, not exceeding one half of the crops which may be reaped by them”. In another earlier letter of 5th Aug. 1848, Col. Drought wrote to Capt. Watson “you will consider yourself authorised to take possession of any property of any absent insurgents, and make arrange- ments as to the standing crops as will be requisite to render them available to the Crown. In fact, you will consider – yourself invested with full authority on that object in every particular”. Armed with such extensive powers, a regime of terror was enforced. Capt. Watson and his henchmen wroaght havoc with impunity in the provinces under Martial Law. It was a licence for looting and arson.

They sequestrated as well as confiscated the property of anyone, whom, they did not fancy, with little or no regard @@@ 467 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 461 for their innocence or guilt. Capt. Watson issued dire Procla- mations on his own authority (see inserts), and burnt down many houses. Later, when the grave consequences of his illegal actions became apparent, he denied that he had partici- pated in any such illegal actions. Two of his troopers, Lt.

Brooks and Lt. Henderson did admit that they did burn down houses on the orders of Capt. Watson. Letters from Capt.Watson with the words “as to burning houses, I do not hesitate to do so in any bad case, but not generally” were produced to countermand his denials, that he did give such orders. He also maintained that the Proclamations were for- + geries and alleged that Tikiri Banda Dunuwilla was the man responsible for them.

Two Judges from the Madras Presidency, W. Morehead and J, Rhode, in the capacity of Royal Commissioners inves- tigated the Proclamations issued by Watson. Their conclusion in August 1850 was that the Proclamations were prepared in Capt. Watson’s office, were signed by him, and were issued in accordance with his orders, at Matale in August 1848. Yet no action against Watson was taken. He was covered by the Indemnity Bill.

Lt. Henderson wrote that “immense quantities of grain, jewelry, brass utensils, buffaloes and other cattle were taken, also money, large quantities of precious stones, gold and silver articles, handsomely mounted daggers and swords.

Some of them were appropriated by Capt. Watson for himself, and officers who were with him”. Watson himself had pur- chased cattle and other property at rock bottom prices, and gave the excuse that no one bid against him. Cheques given by European purchasers of paddy were later found to have been endorsed by Watson to his wife. When questioned on this, he claimed that he had to reimburse his wife for the supplies she @@@ 468 @@@ 462 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH /f/( ‘ 1{44″4/4,4._…2 s e.GTa-‘ot-la 5″3)6J &mm : E“!%M ) & G‘b—-’)’aomh R { ‘?.f’?t et e ‘\‘,??j NG jq 7 g e %&-?m : [(Smnslidn) %A—w it S o W%&W W Cocch fantort ahutl Lo AU D brfoci by 2o fiaentde | J%W?l Z’ Lps” w.?m?dé»?;fdnf wm— ; MM @@@ 469 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 463 fdin, p IS @..bp&tt! ltg.&!!??d.hgz? e S g eit mmt.l iy oo Tqx.%.\@\w\ S .,,\ Sodosy 53 &?.?u nvrl.?? n.%v «DS ??%%!%d?vcvlmu&qug Iw FA A e humn\a\ma Aaces §x\k!.\a. el L e G .f\m.,.,%m\v \4. cighosn Aot o G e, iAo 2L, e e it ALl L s Mo llast oot Nn“‘{\u“i @@@ 470 @@@ THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH P AR S B B eV xS L mm_.fi.?.

n(seurab.uu!\x !Q..ur..’!?orj\ .hrvs;mo?u.x!i prale ¥ lptb\nqnb e v el p0em wL L.ra,{shnti c\h o \Nm.is\‘&h\nt ks o L s o SO h\»@\t&&&&\&\n?\b @@@ 471 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA it tone F e PR e I?i&b?bf@&@l!!b b!lD.Lnw ‘.SOMW%.N\O ?O?ab:b»hd 2 bt i?ktf\ }.v‘ @a!\s\ l.lvNl.\aa.\l.?.ams 4 P Rt ki i ey .?arf.,b.s_eG{ 1 frrions ‘will bo Hllid ard firon Teonfrecatrd.

£ B ot Ho Sfpcecs commmurnte 465 @@@ 472 @@@ 466 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH had bought for the mess. He did not show what those supplies were. “Mr. Mackelwie found an earthen vessel full of gold and silver coins in Maha Nileme’s (Dullawe’s) house. He threw a handful of it among the soldiers, and they scrambled for it”(15). He cited as example of looting, the capture of Bastian Appoo’s father at Katugastota ferry, with Kandyan jewelry hidden in a bundle, and money in rupees worth £72. Bastain Appoo was the head servant to Capt. Watson at Matale.

Golahella. Ratemahatmaya, in his Petition to Torrington claimed that those items belonged to him, and that they were looted when his house at Paldeniya was dug up by Watson’s men. Appoo senior was a small boutique keeper, who according to his wife had gone out that morning with only 3sh.

6d to buy chillies for the shop. She admitted that they were very poor people to whom Rs. 7 was great wealth and £72 was beyond even their dreams. Her version of the family’s finan- cial circumstances was completely contradicted by her hus- band’s story, that he was taking his family’s savings to Kandy to buy a property. He was detained for a couple of days and discharged without any trial.

It was true that Lt. Henderson had protracted disputes with Capt. Watson, Tennent and Torrington. This to some extent might have coloured his allegations against all three of them. Hume and Bailey in the House of Commons attacked Watson. They condemned his behaviour towards the Kandyans as “acts of atrocity more suitable for the destruction of mad dogs than becoming proceedings which involved the lives of human beings’. Nevertheless, it was a fact that many Kandyans did accuse Capt. Watson of embezzlement and extortion; his soldiers of robbery, extortion and rape. Don Gabriel (Watson’s interpreter) and Mackelwie were accused by many for their imprisonment without cause, and subsequent release after the payment of the amount of money demanded by them. These @@@ 473 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 467 receipts were never accounted for. Angunawilla Banda ac- cused Watson for his false imprisonment for two days and his subsequent release after the payment of £8. The Queen’s Advocate too accused him of having in his possession articles looted from the Kandyan homes. It was also a fact that Capt.

Watson’s superior officer, Col. Drought and the Governor did their best to cover up the misdeeds as bona fide actions warranted by the exigencies of the situation. Somehow these allegations were never investigated with a view to punishing the culprits. The army too had looters among its ranks. Col.

Cochrane tried a corporal and a private for plundering the Dambulla temple and the pansala and sentenced them to imprisonment. Major Layard too tried two men of the 37th Regiment for the same offence and sentenced them to trans- portation. Gen. Smelt annulled the whole proceedings as null and void and returned the soldiers to their regiments for normal service (Q5952). What chance would the Kandyans ‘ have had against such cover up? The statement of accounts submitted by Capt. Watson was as follows: £ £ Proceeds of sale of sequestrated property… 616 .

Disbursements and expenses of sale…… 516 Expenses disallowed by the Auditor General. (13) A a0 Balance unaccounted for by Capt. Watson… Sl & 1 He alleged that Lt. Tingall, who was in charge of his accounts, stole the whole balance amount. The Auditor, however, found that Tingall had stolen only £63 and Capt.

Watson was accountable for the balance of £50. Further among the proceeds of sale in Kandy, no details were given of the articles sold amounting to £173 and the money was yet to be received.

@@@ 474 @@@ 468 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH The Auditor General observed in his official report, that the receipts and expenditure should have been brought to account by the Government Agent at Kandy and not left in the hands of Capt. Watson. Regarding the statement of paddy sold (for £95) in Matale, the Auditor reported, that the statement did not give the quantities sold and the rate per bushel. He could not, therefore, make any judgement on the correctness of the sums brought into account.

: Consequent on this report an investigation did take place on the 30th of August 1849, almost a year after these events, concerning the accounts, receipts, sale and appropria- tion of the proceeds of sale of the sequestrated property by Capt. Watson, It was conducted by a Committee of the Executive Council headed by the head of the army, General Smelt. It was primarily an exercise in dextrous public rela tions to placate London, where the HCCC had begun a searching investigation into the administration of Torrington and his handling of the rebellion.

  • The Committee did not pronounce on the legality or illegality, propriety or impropriety of the actions taken by Watson and his men, but confined itself to facts which the Auditor had already commented upon. It obliquely exoner ated Watson by pointing out that Col. Drought had assumed full responsibility for having authorized all Watson’s pay ments, except Mackelwie’s pay after the 10th of October, when the Martial Law ended. The Committee posed two questions, the answers to which; it suggested, should be left to Earl Grey at the Colonial Office. The first question was, how far was Watson justified in acting as he did with respect to those receipts and disburse ments, or Col. Drought in authorising him so to act. The @@@ 475 @@@ – THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 469 second, by whom and in what ways was the money still unaccunted for, was to be paid; and on whom should fall the compensation to parties whose properties had been seques- trated, but who had not finally forfeited it on conviction before * a Court of Law. Here is proof, if oné needs it, that property belonging innocent Kandyans were sequestrated and sold. The Committee accepted that according to all com- mon rules, the property sequestrated of the unconvicted should not have been appropriated, and that the civil Govern- ment should have assumed responsibility for them from the very start. It urged in defence of Watson’s arrangements that “left as he was at a time of public disturbance and danger, and in the very heart of the disaffected districts, to exercise a necessary discretion in all matters relating to his public duty, and without the assistance of any civil officer of the Govern- ment on the spot, he could not perform his military duties statisfactorily, without having recourse to summary proceed- ings, and acting on the spur of the moment. The authority of his Commanding Officer may also be fairly pleaded by a soldier in time and situation such as these were, for acts which though not strictly of military nature, were yct authorized by his superior officer”.
  • It concluded its whitewash as follows “it may not be amiss to add that considering the desirableness of avoiding even the shadow of collision between the military and the civil authorities, considering the emphatic manner in which Watson had been recommended by all concerned, and considering the expediency of referring a decision on which matters of per- sonal feeling and professional honour might not be or might seem to be involved, we have purposely abstained from any @@@ 476 @@@ 470 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH direct enunciation of opinion”(16). To the Kandyans, this investigation was a wholesale whitewash and an utter waste of time and effort. Torrington submitted these reports to Earl Grey and justified Watson’s disbursements as bona fide actions which were most conducive to public good. A greater part of receipts had been expended on the repair of jails and other public buildings, the erection of barracks for the soldiers and the hire of the services of Mackelvie as a guide and supervisor of sequestration at £200 per annum. He observed that “due to the peculiar and responsible position Capt, Watson was placed, the difficulties he had to contend, and the zeal displayed in the active discharge of public duties, induce me to think his case is deserving of the utmost consideration and indulgence”, and asked whether Watson should be held discharged from all – further responsibility respecting the balance unaccounted for, and therefore should not the Government make restitution from its funds to the owners of sequestrated property(17). Strachey at the Colonial Office was not amused. He was scathing in his attack on the deficient and incompetent accounts produced by Watson, and influenced Grey to insist on obtaining proper accounts or a compelling explanation as to why such accounts could not be obtained. Watson was not discharged until he had complied with Grey’s orders, and Torrington was permitted to pay compensation out of govern- ment funds. This aspect of the evil effects of Martial Law and the plunder of the property of Kandyans could alone fill many volumes. It would, however, be sufficient for the purpose of illustrating the sufferings of the Kandyans, to quote the final summary submitted by Lt. Sayers, the Deputy Assistant Commissary General, to Torrington: @@@ 477 @@@ THE 1848 REBELLION IN MATALE AND KURUNEGALA 471 ‘ Total number of cases in which property was SEACSEIRIBA LUl e bl e e U ey e R 431 i SR Total value of property sequestrated…… 9341 Value of property of these convicted of High Treason by Supreme Court (1048) 8293 Lands, houses etc, restored to owners…. 7250 Cashirestored,.c… i aiiNiiiy 21 Property sold and proceeds restored…. W2z, (8293) These figures were far below the amounts claimed by the victims. They concealed the fact that many received paltry sums in compensation. The priests of Dambulla for instance received £25 when their losses were more than £500, owners of cattle worth £9 or more, received only 8d in compensation.

Kotmale Unnanse recived £6 for goods which he valued to be worth more than £150. Another priest Ratdalgodde Unnanse received £3 for goods worth over £ 75. In their petitions they listed all the items missing from their Pansala. Kotmale Unnanse claimed in his petition that to him “some of the articles were of infinite value, for besides the sacredness attached to some of them, they were the accumulated gifts of the pious during three generations of priests. The images and brass and copper ware and silk robes, and many other articles, possessed an intrinsic value, and the books cannot be replaced without considerable expense in employing copyists…I could not endure the indignity that has been offered to my religion and to my person; my priestly habiliments, the images and furniture of my temple have been exposed as the property of the vilest criminal. Everything has been taken from me, except the dress I stand in”(18). He was the priest of the Gonegodde temple, the village connected with the Pre- tender David. He was also charged for High Treason before the Supreme Count and was acquitted.

@@@ 478 @@@ 472 THE KANDYANS’ LAST STAND AGAINST THE BRITISH Dullawe Maha Nileme and Golahella Ratemahatmaya were arrested twice and their property were sequestrated and the moveable property, whether perishable ornot, sold. Both were not charged both times due to insufficient evidence.

After an inquiry both were discharged and only a fraction of the value of their property was restored to them. Golahella claimed that currency alone valued at £7000 was taken from him. In one pot he had £ 600 worth of silver coins, and his other jewelry and ornaments were priceless. A ringbelonging to him could be found on the fingers of Capt. Watson’s wife.

His petition had no effect.

The Supreme Court held a special session in Kandy to try the prisoners taken before the declaration of Martial Law.

The location where the court sat was declared exempt from Martial Law for this purpose. From among the hundreds of prisoners, the queen’s Advocate, H. C. Selby selected 34 for trial because, as he put it, ‘their offcial rank, influence and participation deserved punishment’. The jury acquitted 17, and convicted 17 of high Treason and were sentenced to be executed, but recommended mercy for six named individuals by way of commutation to transportation.