Saturday Magazine

The Discovery and Conquest of Ceylon by Portuguese –– II

Sinhalese and their religion

by Deepthi Anura Jayatunge

Adams Peak (1505 AD)

There is a mountain named Peak Of Adam, celebrated through the heathendom of India and Ceylon. All round the peak and the two mountains neighbouring, there are large mines of cat’s-eyes. Ceylon breeds elephants in such abundance, that they are met with herds of two hundred to three hundred. Many are the birds’ fowls, ducks, geese, peacocks, wild ducks, herons of different shapes; different kinds of doves, pigeon, partridges, quails, woodcocks, parrots, blackbirds, and birds of pray. In the rivers there are large alligators, in the jungle fiercest snakes, and the leeches. In the mountains and rivers there are plenty of precious stones, sapphires, amethysts, topazes, hyacinths, chrysolites, cat’s-eyes, and rubies and some times diamonds.

Riches of East

What more can Hollander seek or desire than to master and enjoy without opposition the drugs and the spiceries and the riches. It is not a question of herrings and codfish, but of diamonds, pearls, seed pearls, rubies, gold, silver, pinchbeck, copper, white & black cloves, cinnamon pepper, cardamoms, galingale , musk , silk, tapestry, wrought cloth, and other immense riches and manufacture which God distributed over these vast regions of and seas: and one who masters these at least by commerce can astound the world, notes Queyroz.


The mode of courtesy is five, raise both hand above the head and fall headlong to kings, raise both hands above the head to governors, raise both hands to the breast for equals, showing both hands of the palms and this is a courtesy used by religious to princes, and to show the right palm by superiors to the inferiors.


Up to twelve years their dress is the dress of innocence, after that common women folk wear piece of cloth, white, red or striped, half around the waist and the other above the shoulders. Rich womenfolk wear jewels on their breasts; the richest wear jewels, ivory, glass, silver, or gold on their arms and feet.

Prince and rich folks, bind their hair, and piece of white cloth with red borders, tied at the waist reaching the knees, and a white sheet above it, on the toes rings of silver or gold, little boys wear a chain of gold or silver or some metal around their waist. The soldiers and farmers they wrap a cord around their loins from which they hung-up a piece of cloth one palm broad the end is tied to the same cord, covering their natural nakedness. Many of them wear nothing on their heads. The Lascarines wear short breeches.

Their Meals

As for the substance of their meals, the Bragmane penitents, the religious, and the learned cannot eat meat and fish, and eggs are also called and considered meat. Only Pareas and low cast can eat beef. : Because it is the greatest infamy in these countries. Kings and grandees sit down on fine cloth laid on the floor, which is first sprinkled with liquid cow-dung and wiped with a piece of cloth. And with out this ceremony no respectable pagan will eat. They eat with an enamelled gold plate with a saucer of the same kind. Before ending the meals King sends thereof what he pleases his wives, who cannot eat with their husbands and served by Eunuchs, small boys, or women. The food of the commoner is boiled rice with a bit of dried salt-fish.

Indians and their faith

In India early morning they grasp the tail of a cow and see as they say Goddess ‘ Laxmi’ is there, then with both hands they take some urine and drink a good draught of it. They also drink a mixture of milk, butter, whey, urine and dung of the cow to pardon their sins. ‘They marry when their wife has her first menses; there are filthy purifications, which needs cleaned by Europeans and which the devil had put in to their heads to ridicule all the mysteries of our Holy Faith’.

Sinhalese Marriages

Sinhalese also have taken from the Malavares the most barbarous custom that exits among the nation; for its common practise for four Brothers or more to marry one single woman, and on the contrary one single man may marry many sisters. And the youngest ever holds the first place in authority and power in the house and even in love. But in order to separate, each ones wish is sufficient, who takes what was brought to the house hold, may go back and marry at pleasure; and if they had children, the males are entrusted to the father and the females to the mother: and if all are males or females they divide, each one taking what falls to him by lot; and Benito da Silva magistrate of Ceylon says there appeared before him a women married to eleven brothers to complain of the ill treatment she received from so many, and begged in good earnest to be relived of some of them. And as they were still subjected to their laws and customs, he asked her whether two would be enough for her, and she replied that she would take four; choosing whose she liked, the case was settled. Such are the fruits of Paganism.


The punishments are severe, immersing in water after tying the hands of the victim behind, making then walk on fire barefooted, beating with horse whips after tying their hand so tight; some time blood gushes out of fingers, rubbing the skin with bricks, being thrown naked on thorns, tie torches with oil on all the fingers of their hands. Among them they kill to a man is no more than killing a mosquito: any person, who kills, can redeem himself by paying 50 larines to the judge. But in case of theft; if he happens to be caught with the goods: will be impaled on a pole, which passing through his body comes out from his head; and if the theft is a minor one, according to the quality of the crime, they cut off his ears, hands, or nose.

Records of Sinhalese scriptures ( Lord Buddha )

There was born in India a son, to the king of many provinces, a very handsome boy. Astrologers told the king that he would go travelling about the world teaching a new law & doctrine. He taught the worship of only one God, penance, and mercy. It is false that he gave them the ten precepts of the commandments, adding two not to drink wine nor kill any living thing.

He taught the transmigration of souls, a Dogma common to all Asiatic heathendom; adopted by Pythagoras in Italy and by Plato in Greece. They say he impressed on the Peak of Adam the footprint. The worship they pay him is to prostrate themselves on the ground three times repeating the words ‘Buddum Sarano~ Gachao~, as if to say: Buddum be mindful of me.

When the time of his incarnation, descended from Heaven and entered through the right side of the Princess Moye (Maya) his mother, who at the same time saw a dream: he riding upon a white elephant, with six tusks and she saw him in her womb; as if in a vase of glass.

As soon as he was born, he stood up and turned without help; to the four quarters, and took seven steps in each of four directions: and from his footprints there sprang at once water lilies. Towards each side of the world he uttered these words: ‘In Heaven and on earth I am the only Superior, wherefore let the Angels and Saints and the earth serve and venerate me.

He later asked’ what was the root of death, and spent six years in penance without eating anything save a grain of gingerly. At the time he sat at the Bo tree, the chief of the demons made war on him by means of female Devils. After this he became free from all that to which human nature is subject.

Commandments of Lord Buddha

His commandments were not to kill, steal, fornicate, bear false witness, drink wine, murder, not to praise one self at another’s cost, not to be avaricious, not to be wrath, and not to appeal ill of him and his precepts.

Preaching of Lord Buddha and King Ashoka in India

Once a female devil that had 500 little devils: were also feeding on human flesh. The youngest of them whom she loved very much: was seized by Fo (Lord Buddha). She searched her son all over the world, and she was told you who have so many children grieve so much, for one son; how about for others whom you eat: having only one son.

After his death he told that a king (Asoka) would build 84,000 towers to adore him, and this would be followed by 60,000 kinglets who would do the same.

Toot Relic of Lord Buddha

King Parakramabahu VI ( 1412- 1467 AD ) of Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte built 3 storied temple and placed the tooth relic and paid homage. The Patricide King Rajasinghe ( 1581-1593 AD ) embraced Saivism to save him self from sin of patricide and started to destroy Buddhist temples and burn dhamma books and torture bikkus and therefore tooth relic was taken to up country ( Kandy ) for safety. King Wimaladhsrmasooriya ( 1592-1603) alias Konappu Bandara built a 3 story temple in Kingdom of Siriwardhanapura ,Senkadagala and brought the tooth relic from Delgamu Viharaya and made diversified offerings.

This tooth relic was hidden inside a ‘Kurakkan Gala’ at Delgamuwa Viharaya, near Kuruwita, for a long time. It is said that the person (Hiripitiye Rala) who was in charge of the Relic, had dreamed that a Brahmin clad in white ordering him to ‘forget his love for the magnificent city of Kotte, and take the Tooth Relic towards the inland for safety. He took the relic to the Somarama temple at Seethawaka and then to Delgamuwa.

Portuguese burns a model of Tooth Relic

Widiya Bandara had carried a model of Tooth Relic with him, which Portuguese captured. They wanted to barter this with Burmese King but on the influence of Bishop of Cochin D Jorge Temudo, crushed it to a powder; and powder was burnt and the ashes were thrown to the ocean. Queyroz notes " Among the spoil of the city, was found the tooth of "Buddhun" which was one of the sacred objects of worship in the heathendom of south and Tartary " and Bishop of Cochin heard constant complains from the fathers of the St.Francis that the demon was in that little bone' Leaving aside the Theological points it was certainly a deed worth of a highborn and Catholic prince.

Their Religion Buddhism - according to Queyroz

They were taught the transmigration of souls, a Dogma common to all Asiatic heathendom, adopted by Pythagoras in Italy and by Plato in Greece. The Buddhist were taught following commandments, according to Queyroz, not to kill any kind of thing, Not to steal, not to fornicate, not to bear false witness, not to drink wine, not to murder, not to praise one self at another’s cost, not to be avaricious, not to be wreath, not to speak ill of Buddha and his disciples.

Religion according to Phlip Baldaeus Dutch Minister of Word of God in Ceylon

Baldaeus had informed the Sinhalese that the world had stood now for only 5425 years. They believe in Pythagorean theory of Transmigration of souls. They ( Sinhalese) had told Baldaeus that "a child cannot be born blind as he has not done any crime; and as God does not punish anybody without a Sin, this may be due to a sin child committed in his previous life."

Phillipus Baldaus was born in Delft Holland in October 1632, son of Baelde and Maria Junius, and the family was of Italian Origin. He choose the carrier of a missionary, married his cousin Maria van Eastel and at the age of 21 sailed for Batavia, in 1654, where his wife died after few months. He then married Elizbabeth Tribolet and came to Galle after the capitalisation of Colombo. Then he lived in Jaffna and took his work very seriously, and was well provided by the Dutch East India Company. In addition to his salary, he was entitled to draw, butter, wine, cheese, rice etc from company stores. Baldaeus reported that in 1663, there were 15,012 native children attending schools in Jaffna and 1,315 in Mannar and Vanni. He had certain disputes with Governor van Gones and sent to Europe in December 1666 on the ship ‘Venenbarg’, and died in 1671 after publication of his records.

Lord Buddha & Buddhism - According to Queyroz

Their Lord Buddam ( lord Buddha) has caused the Sun to stop, because in order to get some alms from heathens; they are wont to invent no smaller fables. They worship the Buddha’s footprint at Adams Peak. Around Sri Pada there is not a single poisonous reptile. In Pagodas it had its dancing women up to the year 1630 so that one may infer from it the profanity of heathenism and the purpose which leads them to their pilgrimages, because from that shameful practise they also draw revenue for their Pagodas. Precious stones here were allowed to dig once in twelve years allowing the sun to mature them.

Lesser Gods According to Queyroz

They also have seven lesser Gods, about whom they relate most indecent foulness and actions, Games( Lord Ganesh) whom they sculpture as an elephant from breast upwards. Rawana with many arms, thought others sculpture him as a monkey ( Hanuma~n). Katharagama God of vengeance, whom they sculpture with the snout of a pig, he must have been a Wild boar, notes Queyroz..

Burying their treasures and entrusting this to Bahirawaya for safety.

A great deal of wealth King and his grandees acquire they offer to their idols, and placing it in coffers of sweet smelling woods on the shoulders of their greatest friend or nearest relation, they climb the rock , dig a deep hole, wherein they bury it , and over that they behead the friend or relative who carried it, making a sacrifice to of everything to the idols (Bahirawaya).


Powered By -

Produced by Upali Group of Companies