Gongalegoda Banda and Puran Appu

In the opinion column of the "The Island" newspaper of 08.07.2004, Mr. Gamini Dullewe of Colombo, has referred to a letter by one Mr. Edward Gunawardena, and has also given his own opinion on the above two national heroes, G.D. and E.G. treat these two men, as common robbers, thieves, and thugs, and G.D., even compares them to, today's Beddagana Sanjeeva and Gonawila Sunil.

Whom did they rob? Did they rob the Sinhala people? They attacked Kachcheries, where the Britishers were bosses and gave to the poor and needy. What did the Britishers rob? They robbed our country, and grabbed our Kandyan peasants lands for a song. Under a fraudulent and infamous Waste Lands Ordinance, they purchased lands for about Rs. 1/50 per acre, by present day standards. Patriotic Kandyans like the Monarawela’s, Keppetipola’s, ordinary Kandyans, and even Dullewas fought to save this country from the Britishers, but they were soon overwhelmed. What happened next? Some of the kith and kin of the above and other Kandyan chiefs turned traitor, to the king, seized the last king of Kandy and his Queens from their hiding place, tortured, humiliated treated them as dirt, common robbers, and thieves and "crowned" it all by spitting on the king’s face, bound them and ignominiously handed them over to the British. Thereafter some of these Kandyan chiefs signed the infamous Kandyan Treaty in 1815, conceding our country on a platter to the king of England. Thus ended the rule of the independent Monarchs of Sri Lanka after more than two thousand years. In the treaty the British promised to protect the country and among other things the "Religion of the Boodhoo, and the rights of the people."

Before long conditions and promises in the Treaty were forgotten, unfair taxes imposed on the people, and the land grab stated above took place, whole villages were plundered, their houses set on fire, cattle and livestock seized. Were they not the real robbers?

It was at this time somewhere in 1818, that some remaining patriotic people of the Land started to rebel. There were no Kandyan chiefs to lead them, Gongalegoda Banda, and Puran Appu took up the challenge. Gongalegoda Banda and Puran Appu were low country non-govigama men, probably why G.D., and E.G., are piqued, and have dragged caste too against these two valiant men. Others like Kudapola Unnanse a patriotic Buddhist priest realised that to feat an army you need a recognised chief, or a king. He therefore crowned Puran Appu, king, so that he could lead what was left of the depleted patriotic Sinhala peoples army. These two valiant people led the patriotic freedom fighters, against the British and made the supreme sacrifice trying to regain the independence of our country. So did the brave and valiant Ven. Kudapola Unnanse who was shot in his robes by the British.

I must make reference to G.D.’s comment on the Gongalegoda Bandas statue at the entrance to New Nuge Road, Peliyagoda, in full Kandyan chieftains regalia and the street name board. The kith and kin of the above two heroes are proud of their ancestors deeds. Can G.D. and E.G., be proud of their own ancestors who betrayed the last king of independent Lanka and our country to the British? I am only sorry that Gongalegoda Bandas kinsmen put up his statue in Kandyan Regalia, instead of his low country dress, as the same "Someone" who whispered to G.D. about "Peliyagoda Dennis" whispered to me that the Kandyan jacket was of recent origin after the arrival of the Portuguese and borrowed from the jacket of Matadors (Bull fighters) in Spain’s, Madrid.

Finally I request G.D. and .E.G., to read Dr. K. D. G. Wimalaratnes letter in "The Island" of 2nd July 2004 on this subject. The Buddha said "Pujacha pujaniyanam" Honour to whom honour is due.

B. D. Perera