Leonard Pinto – Being a Christian in Sri Lanka: historical, political, social and religious considerations

Balboa Press, Carlsbad, Califórnia, USA, 2015 ISBN 978-1452528632





Conversions and further involvement of Portuguese in Sri Lanka helped Mayadunne to upgrade his strategy in fighting with his brother, king Bhuvanekabahu of Kotte. From a family squabble between two brothers to grab elder brother’s land, the ambitious Mayadunne cleverly maneuvered it to a war between local Buddhist Sinhalese and foreign Christian Portuguese. Mayadunne’s battles of aggression now transformed into a war against the Portuguese and he annexed large parts of the Kotte kingdom. An army led by Mayadunne’s son, Rajasinghe I, besieged Kotte and defeated the Portuguese in 1562 in a hard contested battle in Mulleriyawa. Rajasinghe’s army besieged Colombo fort from 1563 to 1564 and again from 1579 to 1580. The Portuguese received reinforcements and food, and the Sinhalese army was badly beaten. Many Sinhalese commanders were killed in the battle and Rajasinghe and the remaining soldiers fled away. As the Portuguese were celebrating victory, Mayadunne died in 1581 and was succeeded by his son as King Rajasinghe I. The Buddhist chronicle Chulavansa states that Rajasinghe was responsible for the death of his father Mayadunne. Rajasinghe rejected Buddhism, when Buddhist monks told him that according to Buddhist teaching there is no forgiveness, but punishment in the next birth for murdering his father. Rajasinghe retaliated by becoming a Hindu, as Hindu priests told him that he could be forgiven by offering animal sacrifices. On the advice of the Hindu priest Arittakeevendu Perumal, Rajasinghe launched a campaign of destruction of Buddhist temples and torture of Buddhist monks. He even handed over the shrine of Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) to the Saivite priests.

The following year, Rajasinghe took Kandy. King Karalliyadde Bandara of Kandy fled with the royal family to Trincomalee with his queen and several others of the royal family. He died of smallpox, leaving behind his one-year old daughter, princess Kusumasena Devi, and her nineteen-year old nephew Yamasinha. The princess was taken to Mannar by the Portuguese and entrusted to the care of Gabriel Colaço and his wife Catarina de Abreu. She was baptized as Dona Catarina and brought up as a Catholic. Yamasinha was sent to Goa and baptized as Don Filipe. King Rajasinghe appointed Virasundara Bandara, a Kandyan from Peradeniya, to oversee Kandy. But, his administration was short lived. Rajasinghe executed him for failing to obey his orders to persecute Buddhist monks of Kandy. Rajasinghe then appointed Nikkapitiye Bandara to this post. Visasundara Bandara’s son, Konappu Bandara, left Peradeniya and found refuge with the Portuguese. He enjoyed the hospitality of Dharmapala of Kotte and the respect of the Portuguese. Konappu Bandara was sent to Goa for violating laws of the kingdom, but received military training while in exile. He became a Catholic and was baptized as Don Juan of Austria. He married the daughter of Tanunita Rala, a distinguished officer of the palace of Kotte, but she died shortly.

By 1592, the Portuguese had taken control of Kandy from Rajasinghe through the skillful leadership of commander Don Juan (Konappu Bandara). The Portuguese installed Don Filipe Yamasinha Bandara on the throne of Kandy and gave him the support of a force under the command of Don Juan. Now back in Kandy, sent there by the Portuguese, the former Konappu Bandara was commanding troops from the newly constructed fort of Gannoruwa. Don Juan’s desire to be the king of Kandy was strengthened by the support he received from the Kandyan leaders and the Buddhist monks. Within a year, king Don Filipe died suspected of being poisoned by Don Juan. The Portuguese proclaimed Don Filipe’s twelve-year old son, Don João, as king of Kandy. But, commander Don Juan overthrew him and proclaimed himself as Vimaladharmasuriya I, the Buddhist Sinhala king of Kandy. He attacked the Portuguese and made them to leave Kandy.

In 1592, Rajasinghe came to Balana and attacked Kandy once again, but was routed by Vimaladharmasuriya’s forces. While retreating from a battle, Rajasinghe died of blood poisoning from a bamboo splinter.... Jayaweera Banda,- the treasurer of Rajasinghe, declared himself the king Sitawaka, but the kingdom disintegrated after Rajasinghe. The Portuguese recaptured much of the land of Kotte kingdom and emerged as a strong power in the island. Rajasinghe’s favourite general, Manamperi, joined the Portuguese. The royal princes were captured, including Nikkapitiye Bandara, who died in Coimbra, Portugal in 1608. Jayaweera Banda conspired with the Portuguese to take over Kandy, marry Dona Catarina and become the king of Kandy. When Konappu Bandara broke away from the Portuguese, Jayaweera Banda promised Konappu Bandara a lower kingdom. Later, the Portuguese discovered Jayaweera Banda’s double- dealings and they executed him.

In 1594 the Portuguese brought the Sinhalese Kandyan Princess Dona Catarina from Mannar and tried to place her on the throne with the help of an arm led by General Pedro Lopes de Sousa. After fighting with the Portuguese forces at Balana, Vimaladharmasuriya retreated to Wellassa. The Portuguese forces successfully entered Kandy and enthroned Dona Catarina, but soon alienated themselves from the Sinhalese, as Portuguese officers surrounded the young queen. The Sinhalese general Manamperi was suspected of treason and slain, which led to the desertion of the Sinhalese in the Portuguese arm. Vimaladharmasuriya, who was already in Kandy defeated the Portuguese army in the battle of Danture on 9 October 1594. Portuguese general Pedro Lopes De Sousa was killed and the captured Portuguese were treated with cruelty; fifty were mutilated and sent to Colombo, claiming ‘one Portuguese eye for five Sinhalese killed.’ Vimaladharmasuriya took Dona Catarina as his queen, securing a royal link to the throne. The Portuguese directed their forces to Colombo, expecting a Sinhala uprising, but that occurred only in Sitawaka.



The first missionaries to arrive in Sri Lanka were the Franciscans in 1543, and they were active in Kotte and Jaffna. Jesuits arrived in 1602, Dominicans in 1605 and Augustinians in 1606. They introduced the western style of mass education in Sri Lanka. Then, education was available only to the elite in pirivenas or the children of the rich, who could bring a pandit teacher home to teach. The missionaries built and conducted schools, orphanages and infirmaries. The disgraced Don Juan Dharmapala had funded a college in Colombo and primary schools in suburban towns, hoping to build colleges in every town (Francis 1913).

During the Portuguese period, St Anthony’s College conducted by the Franciscans was a notable school in Colombo. In the three Franciscan schools attached to monasteries, religion, good manners, reading, writing, arithmetic, singing and Latin were taught. The Jesuits also had colleges in Jaffna and Colombo, all offering free high education, pioneering free secular education in the country. Franciscans also provided education to orphaned boys at Mutwal, Jaffna and Navagamuwa near Hanwella. The religion was taught in Sinhala at Malwana school and in Tamil at Kammala school, across Maha Oya. There were twenty-five parish schools run by the Franciscans and twelve parish schools run by the Jesuits in Jaffna.

The Jesuits added singing canticles to the teaching of religion, a method that St Francis Xavier used in India. Historian, Queyroz (1688) wrote of Fr Antonio Peyxoto, who composed several plays in Sinhala and Tamil. Taking the performing arts beyond mere chanting, Jesuit missionaries introduced drama and theatre to Sri Lanka. Gomis (2009) found records of plays that were staged in Colombo, Chilaw, Kammala and Tellippalai.

Missionaries also introduced Sinhala language and grammar to the western world through the books they wrote in Portuguese. They include the Ars Cinglensis Linguae (The theory of the Sinhala Language) by Emmanuel de Costa and Arte e Grammatica de Lingua chingala by the Jesuit priest, Fr Pierre Berguin. Another Jesuit, Fr Matthew Pelingotti wrote twenty-six lives of saints, a Catechism and Passion of Jesus Christ in Sinhala. Alagiyawanne (Mukaveti), a Catholic literary scholar wrote the famous Subaslzitliaya during the Portuguese period. There were also Tamil literary works produced by Catholics, such as Santiago major ammanai in 1647 in praise of St James the Great and Ulattippattu and Tiruccelvar Kavyam (Gomis 2009).

Besides their contribution to education and literature, the Portuguese language also added a few words to the Sinhala language and introduced their food, plants, games, music, engineering, construction and architecture. Some of the Sinhala words derived from Portuguese include, gudama (warehouse), pethsama (petition), rippa (lath), almariya (cupboard), mesa (table), koppa (cup), saya (skirt), kalisama (trouser), iskola (school), achchiaru (pikle), bibikkan (cake), pera (guava) and gova (cabbage). Present day Sinhalese Baila and Kafferina are derived from Portuguese melodies. Portuguese also introduced the western dress (e.g. Covering the upper body of women, long sleeved blouse, skirt, trousers) and social life. As Christianity does not permit polygamy, polyandry and patricide these practices were banned in the local Christian community, and rejection of these practices gradually became the norm among the more cultured’ in the society. The legalistic approach in observing commandments, church laws, sacraments and beliefs, as well as the emphasis on Christian concepts of sin, conscience, hell, heaven, purgatory and forgiveness at confessions added discipline and ethics to the Christian community. As inter—religious interactions occur with social interactions, some of these values must have interacted with similar values in other religions, upgrading the moral and ethical standards of Sri Lankans.

Portuguese had a significant impact on the royal families of Kotte, Sitawaka, Kandy and Jaffna kingdoms. This impact has been both spiritual and material, and often they combined the two aspects in the management and governance of the land they ostensibly claimed by agreement and war. Among the key royal family members who became Catholic were Don Juan Dharmapala and Vidiya Bandara of Kotte, Konappu Bandara, Jayaweera Bandara, Karalliyadde Bandara, Yamasinha Bandara, Dona Catarina, Kumarasmghe and Wijepala of Kandy, Nikkapitiye Bandara of Sitawaka and Pararasekeram IX, Dona Clara da Silva, Dona Antonia da Silva and Don Constantino of Jaffna kingdom. Some of these conversions would have been genuine and others politically motivated. It is clear that the baptism of Jayaweera Bandara, Vidiya Bandara and Konappu Bandara were voluntary, but politically motivated, as they gave up Christianity at the opportune time. Others would have accepted Christianity with some conviction, for they lived and died Christians. Some of them went further to embrace priesthood and religious life. Dona Clara da Silva and Dona Antonia de Silva joined the nuns of St Augustine as Sr Dona Maria and Sr Dona Izabel, and the latter ended as the prioress of the convent of St Monica in Goa. When Vimaladharmasuriya allegedly poisoned Yamasinha Bandara and ousted his son Don João, he fled to Wahakotte with his grandmother and from there to Mannar, where Fr Francisco de Oriente looked after him. Then he came to Colombo, and with Nikkapitiye Bandara, studied at St Anthony’s College under the care of Fr Jeronimo de Espirito Santo. From Colombo, they went to the Franciscan College of the Magi at Bardes Goa, where they studied for fifteen years and were ordained deacons. They then went to the University of Coimbra, Portugal to continue their studies. Nikkapitiye Bandara died at the Franciscan monastery in Portugal, but Prince Dom João of Kandy became a Catholic priest and was known as the ‘Black Prince.’ He lived in Telheiras and built the Church of Our Lady of the Gate of Heaven, which exists to this date.

The most vilified king of Sri Lanka by local historians is Don Juan Dharmapala for bequeathing his kingdom to the king of Portugal, followed by his grandfather Bhuvanekabahu VII for inviting the Portuguese to be involved in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. Dona Catarina, the queen of Kandy, is considered by some as a pawn of the Portuguese, and by others as a true Buddhist Sinhalese, who turned to her people of Kandy. A few consider her to have been exploited by King Vimaladharmasuriya I and later by King Senarath for their ascent to power. She was about thirteen years when the Portuguese brought her to Kandy and Vimaladharmasuria grabbed her from them. Their marriage would have been a happy one, as they had many common things, including the Sinhalese and Kandyan ancestry, Portuguese language and Christian background. Vimaladharmasuriya built a chapel and allowed Franciscan friars to enter the royal palace and teach their children to read, write and speak Portuguese (Dewaraja 2002). But, her life with King Senarath, an ex-Buddhist monk was miserable. Dona Catarina hated Senarath, when she realised that he had poisoned Mahastanne, her eldest son by Vimaladharmasuriya. She asked the Portuguese General Azevedo, if she could live in Malwana, close to Colombo. She spent her last few years in a palace in Wellimantota in Kegalle and died on 20 July 1613 at the age of thirty—five. She was given a Catholic burial with a pearl rosary in her hands and a Bible by her side. Before her death she called Marcellus de Boschouwer (Dutch ambassador) and Kuruvita Rala and gave them the custody of her children.

C.P. Bell, the first British archaeological commissioner of Sri Lanka, declared seven acres of her burial ground as an archaeological site. But, the Sri Lankan archaeological commissioners who came later reduced that area to half an acre, and recently a developer was allowed to encroach on to the site (Fernando, undated). Attempts to construct a historical monument there have been discouraged by some (Aryatilake undated), and the perpetually lit lamp and a mausoleum built by Kuruvita Rala in memory of Dona Catarina were allowed to disappear by subsequent government agents.

On the positive side, unintentionally the Portuguese also had made some contributions to the Buddhist-Sinhalese of Sri Lanka. Dona Catarina, who played a key role in restoring the Buddhist Sinhalese identity through her marriage to Vimaladharmasuriya was brought up by the Portuguese. Vimaladharmasuriya built the current temple of the tooth and brought the tooth relic to Kandy. It was the Portuguese who saved Vimaladharmasuriya (i.e. Konappu Bandara) and Dona Catarina (Kusumasena Devi) from the death threats of a Hindu Sinhalese king, Rajasinghe I. It was the Portuguese who trained John of Austria (i.e. Vimaladharmasuriya) in discipline, warfare and governance in Goa, and Dona Catarina in ethics, governance, royal protocols and etiquette in a convent. As the king and queen of Kandy they applied the skills that they learnt from the Portuguese in the establishment of a Buddhist-Sinhala kingdom in Kandy. Recognizing the value of education and skills that the Portuguese friars were teaching, both king Vimaladharmasuriva and king Senarath ensured that their children were taught by Franciscan friars, and even allowed them to teach Latin and Catholic religion. These kings held the Franciscan friars in high esteem, including the military chaplains who were captured while giving the last rights to dying soldiers in battlefields. They were invited to the king’s table for meals and made ambassadors to discuss peace agreements with the Portuguese (Francis 1913).




As conversões e uma maior penetração dos Portugueses no Sri Lanka levaram Mayadunne (Rei de Sitavaca) a aumentar a sua estratégia na luta contra seu irmão, Bhuvanekabahu, Rei de Kotte. A partir de uma discussão familiar entre os dois irmãos para apanhar algum território ao mais velho, Mayadunne teve a esperteza de evoluir para uma guerra entre os Budistas Chingalas locais e os Portugueses Cristãos estrangeiros. As batalhas de agressão de Mayadunne transformaram-se numa guerra contra os Portugueses e assim conseguiu ele anexar largas extensões do reino de Kotte. Um exército comandado pelo filho de Mayadunne, Rajasinghe I, cercou Kotte e derrotou os Portugueses em 1562 numa dura batalha em Mulleriyawa. O exército de Rajasinghe cercou a fortaleza de Colombo de 1563 para 1564 e de novo de 1579 para 1580. Os Portugueses receberam reforços e comida, e o exército Chingala foi duramente derrotado. Muitos comandantes Chingalas morreram na batalha e Rajasinghe fugiu com os seus militares sobreviventes. Quando os Portugueses celebravam a vitória, Mayadunne morreu em 1581, sucedendo-lhe seu filho como Rei Rajasinghe I (conhecido pelos Portugueses como Rajú). A crónica Budista Chulavansa diz que Rajasinghe foi o responsável pela morte de seu pai, Mayadunne. Rajasinghe rejeitou o Budismo, porque os monges Budistas diziam-lhe que de acordo com os ensinamentos Budistas, não havia perdão, mas sim castigo numa outra vida pelo assassinato do pai. Rajasinghe retaliou tornando-se Hindu, já que os sacerdotes Hindus lhe diziam que ele poderia ser perdoado oferecendo sacrifícios de animais. Seguindo o conselho do sacerdote Hindu Arittakeevendu Perumal, Rajasinghe lançou uma campanha de destruição dos templos Budistas e de tortura dos monges Budistas. Ele até entregou o templo de Sri Panda (o Pico de Adão) aos sacerdotes Saivitas.

No ano seguinte, Rajasinghe conquistou Kandy. O Rei Karalliyadde Bandara de Kandy fugiu com a família real para Trincomalee, com a Rainha e outros membros da família real. Morreu de varíola, tal como a Rainha, deixando a sua filha de um ano de idade, a princesa Kusumasena Devi, e o seu sobrinho Yamasinha, de 19 anos. A princesa foi levada para Mannar pêlos Portuguesese confiada ao cuidado de Gabriel Colaço e de sua esposa Catarina de Abreu. Foi baptizada como Dona Catarina e criada como Católica. Yamasinha foi enviado para Goa e baptizado como D. Filipe. O Rei Rajasinghe nomeou Virasundara Bandara, um Kandyano de Peradeniya para tomar conta de Kandy. Mas a sua administração durou pouco tempo. Rajasinghe executou-o por não respeitar a sua ordem de perseguir os monges budistas de Kandy. Rajasinghe nomeou então Nikkapitiye Bandara para este posto. O filho de Virasundara Bandara. Konappu Bandara, deixou Peradeniya e refugiou-se entre os Portugueses. Gozou da hospitalidade do Rei Dharmapala de Kotte e ganhou o respeito dos Portugueses.Konappu Bandara foi enviado para Goa, por ter violado as leis do Reino, mas recebeu instrução militar enquanto esteve no exílio. Tornou-se Católico e foi baptizado como D. João de Áustria. Casou com a filha de Tanunita Rala, um distinto oficial do palácio de Kotte, mas ela morreu dentro de pouco tempo.

Em 1592, os Portugueses tinham tomado o controle de Kandy das mãos de Rajasinghe, pela talentosa perspicácia do comandante D. João (Konappu Bandara). Os Portugueses instalaram no trono de Kandy D. Filipe Yamasinha Bandara e deram-lhe uma força sob o comando de D. João. De regresso a Kandy, para ali enviado pelos Portugueses, o mesmo Konappu Bandara tinha o seu posto de comando no recém-construído forte de Gannoruwa. O desejo de D. João de ser Rei de Kandy era reforçado pelo apoio que recebia dos chefes Kandyanos e dos monges Budistas. No espaço de um ano, o Rei D. Filipe morreu, suspeitando-se que tivesse sido envenenado por D. João. Os Portugueses proclamaram D. João, o filho de D. Filipe, de 12 anos, como Rei de Kandy. Mas o comandante D. João destituiu-o e proclamou-se como Vimaladharmasuriya I, o Rei de Kandy, Chingala e Budista. Atacou os Portugueses e obrigou-os a abandonar Kandy.

Em 1592, Rajasinghe veio a Balana e atacou de novo Kandy. Mas foi derrotado pelas forças de Vimaladharmasuriya. Quando se retirava da batalha, morreu do veneno de uma lasca de bambu. Jayawira Banda, o tesoureiro de Rajasinghe, declarou-se Rei de Sitavaca, mas o reino desintegrou-se após a morte de Rajasinghe. Os Portugueses reconquistaram muito do território do reino de Kotte e ganharam um poder muito forte na ilha. O General preferido de Rajasinghe, Manamperi, juntou-se aos Portugueses. Os príncipes reais foram capturados, incluindo Nikkapitiye Bandara, que morreu em Coimbra, Portugal, em 1608. Jayawira Banda conspirou com os Portugueses para conquistar Kandy, casar com Dona Catarina e tornar-se Rei de Kandy. Quando Konappu Bandara rompeu com os Portugueses, Jayawira Banda prometeu a Konappu Bandara um reino menor. Mais tarde, os Portugueses descobriram o jogo duplo de Jayawira Banda e executaram-no.

Em 1594, os Portugueses trouxeram a Princesa Kandyana Chingala Dona Catarina de Mannar e tentaram colocá-la no trono com a ajuda de um exército comandado pelo General Pedro Lopes de Sousa. Depois de lutar contra as forças portuguesas em Balana, Vimaladharmasuriya retirou para Welassa. As forças portuguesas conseguiram entrar em Kandy e colocaram no trono Dona Catarina, mas logo aborreceram os Chingalas, porque os oficiais portugueses rodeavam a jovem Rainha. O General Chingala  Manamperi foi suspeito de traição e morto por isso, o que levou à deserção dos Chingalas que estavam com os Portugueses. Vimaladharmasuriya que já estava em Kandy, derrotou o exército português na batalha de Danture em 9 de Outubro de 1594. O General português Pedro Lopes de Sousa foi morto e os portugueses capturados foram tratados com crueldade; cinquenta foram mutilados e enviados para Colombo, dizendo “um olho de um Português por cada cinco Chingalas mortos”. Vimaladharmasuriya tomou Dona Catarina como sua mulher, assegurando assim uma ligação ao trono real. Os Portugueses concentraram as suas forças em Colombo, esperando uma sublevação Chingala., mas estra só se deu em Sitavaca.



 Os primeiros missionários a chegar ao Sri Lanka foram os Franciscanos em 1543; eram activos em Kotte e Jaffna. Os Jesuítas chegaram em 1602, os Dominicanos em 1605 e os Agostinianos em 1606. Foram os missionários que introduziram o estilo de educação de massas no Sri Lanka. Até ali, a educação apenas estava disponível para os pirivenas, isto é, os filhos dos ricos, que podiam pagar a um professor para ensinar em casa. Os missionários construíram e geriram escolas, orfanatos e enfermarias. D. João Dharmapala (que caiu em desgraça) tinha fundado um colégio em Colombo e escolas primárias nas cidades suburbanas, tentando construir colégios em todas as cidades (Francis, 1913).

Durante o período português, o Colégio de Santo António dirigido pêlos Franciscanos foi uma escola notável em Colombo. Nas três escolas Franciscanas, ligadas aos Mosteiros, ensinavam-se religião, boas maneiras, ler, escrever, contar, canções e Latim. Também os Jesuítas tinham colégios em Jaffna e Colombo, que ofereciam todos elevada educação gratuita; foram os pioneiros da educação gratuita não religiosa no País. Os Franciscanos ensinavam também educação a meninos órfãos em Mutwal, Jaffna e Navagamuwa, perto de Hanvella. A Religião era ensinada em Cingalês na escola de Malwana e em Tamil na escola de Kammala, junto de Maha Oya. Havia vinte e cinco escolas paroquiais dirigidas pêlos Franciscanos e doze escolas paroquiais dirigidas pêlos Jesuítas em Jaffna.

Os Jesuítas juntavam cânticos ao ensino da Religião, um método que S. Francisco Xavier usou na Índia. O historiador Fernão de Queirós (1688) referiu Fr. António Peixoto, que compôs várias peças em Cingalês e em Tamil. Preferindo a arte de representação aos simples cânticos, os missionários Jesuítas introduziram drama e teatro no Sri Lanka. Gomis (2009) encontrou registos de peças que foram apresentadas em Colombo, Chilaw, Kammala e Tellippalai.

Os missionários também fizeram conhecer ao mundo ocidental a linguagem e a gramática cingalesas, através dos livros que eles escreveram em Português. Entre esses, a Ars Cingalensis Linguae (A teoria da Linguagem Cingalesa), de Emanuel da Costa e Arte e Grammatica de Língua chingala, pelo padre Jesuíta, Fr. Pierre Berguin. Outro Jesuita, Fr. Matthew Pelingotti escreveu trinta e seis livros de santos, o Catecismo e Paixão de Jesus Cristo em Cingalês. Alagiyawanne (Mukaveti), um professor literato católico escreveu o famoso Subaslzitliaya durante o período Português. Também houve obras literárias em Tamil produzidas por Católicos, tais como Santiago major ammanai em 1647 em louvor de S. Tiago o Grande e Ulattippattu e Tiruccelvae Kavyam (Gomes 2009).

Para além da sua contribuição para a educação e literatura, a língua portuguesa adicionou algumas palavras à linguagem cingalesa e introduziu os seus alimentos, plantas, jogos, música, engenharia, construção e arquitectura. Algumas das palavras derivadas do Português são gudama (armazém), pethsama (petição) rippa (ripa, tabuinha), almariya (armário). Mesa (mesa) koppa (copa), saya (saia), kalisama (calça) iskola (escola) achchiaru (picle) bibikkan (bolo) pera (pera) e gova (couve). Hoje os cingaleses Baila e Kafferina derivam de melodias Portuguesas. Os Portugueses introduziram também o modo de vestir ocidental (por exemplo, cobrir a parte superior do corpo das mulheres, blusas de manga comprida, saias, calças) e a vida social. Como o Cristianismo não permite a poligamia, a poliandria, e o parricídio, estas práticas foram banidas na comunidade Cristã local, e a rejeição destas práticas tornou-se gradualmente norma entre os mais cultos da sociedade em geral. O ponto de vista legal na observância dos mandamentos, leis da Igreja, sacramentos e crenças, bem como a ênfase nos conceitos de pecado, consciência, inferno, céu, purgatório e o perdão nas confissões, deram disciplina e ética à comunidade Cristã. Como as interacções entre-religiões,  são acompanhadas de interacções sociais, muitos destes valores terão interagido com valores similares noutras religiões, elevando os padrões morais e éticos dos habitantes de Ceilão.

Os Portugueses tiveram um impacto significativo nas famílias reais dos reinos de Kotte, Sitavaca, Kandy e Jaffna. O impacto foi simultaneamente espiritual e material e muitas vezes abrangeu os dois aspectos na gestão e governo das terras que reclamavam, seja por acordos ou pela guerra. Entre os mais importantes das famílias reais que se tornaram católicos temos D. João Dharmapala, e Vidiya Bandara de Kotte, Konappu Bandara, Jayawira Bandara, Karalliyadde Bandara, Yamasinha Bandara, Dona Catarina, Kumarasmghe e Wijepala de Kandy, Nikkapitiye Bandara de Sitavaca e Pararasekeram IX, Dona Clara da Silva, Dona Antonia da Silva e D. Constantino do reino de Jaffna. Algumas destas conversões terão sido genuínas e outras por motivos políticos. É claro que o baptismo de Jayawira Bandara, Vidiya Bandara e Konappu Bandara foram voluntários, mas politicamente motivados e estes desistiram da Cristandade em tempo oportuno. Outros terão aceitado o Cristianismo com alguma convicção, pois viveram e morreram como Cristãos. Alguns foram mais longe e enveredaram pelo sacerdócio ou pela vida religiosa. Dona Clara da Silva e Dona Antonia da Silva ingressaram nas freiras de Santo Agostinho tal como a Dr.ª Dona Maria e a Sr.ª Dona Isabel; esta última terminou como Superiora do Convento de Santa Mónica em Goa. Quando Vimaladharmasuriya alegadamente envenenou Yamasinha Bandara e expulsou seu filho D. João, este fugiu para Wahakotte com sua avó e daí para Mannar, onde Fr. Francisco do Oriente cuidou dele. Depois veio para Colombo e com Nikkapitiye Bandara, estudaram no Colégio de Santo António, sob o cuidado de Fr. Jerónimo do Espirito Santo. De Colombo , foram para Colégio dos Reis Magos  em Bardes – Goa, onde estudaram durante quinze anos e foram ordenados diáconos. A seguir vieram para a Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal para continuar os estudos. Nikkapitiye Bandara morreu no Mosteiro dos Franciscanos em Portugal, mas o Príncipe D. João de Kandy tornou-se sacerdote católico e era conhecido como o Príncipe negro. Viveu em Telheiras e construiu a Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Porta do Céu, que ainda hoje existe.

O rei de Sri Lanka mais vilipendiado pelos historiadores locais é D. João Dharmapala por legar o seu reino ao Rei de Portugal, seguido pelo seu avô Bhuvanekabahu VII, por ter convidado os Portugueses a envolverem-se nos negócios internos do Sri Lanka. Dona Catarina, a Rainha de Kandy, é considerada por alguns como um joguete nas mãos dos Portugueses, e por outros como uma verdadeira Budista Cingalesa que teve por ela o povo de Kandy. Alguns acham que ela foi explorada pelo Rei Vimaladharmasuriya e depois pelo Rei Senarath para a ascensão deles ao poder. Ela tinha mais ou menos treze anos quando os Portugueses a trouxeram para Kandy e Vimaladharmasuriya lha tirou. O casamento deles terá sido feliz, pois tinham muita coisa em comum, incluindo a ascendência Singalesa e Kandyana, a língua portuguesa e as raízes Cristãs. Vimaladharmasuriya construiu uma capela e permitiu que os frades Franciscanos entrassem no Palácio Real e ensinassem seus filhos a ler, escrever e falar Português (Dewaraja 2002). Mas a sua vida com o Rei Senarath, um antigo monge Budista, foi miserável. Dona Catarina odiava Senarath, por ele ter morto Mahastanne, o seu filho mais velho de Vimaladharmasuriya. Ela pediu ao General português Azevedo se podia viver em Malwana, junto de Colombo. Ela acabou os seus poucos anos num palácio em Wellimantota em Kegalle e morreu em 20 de Julho de 1613 com 35 anos. Teve um funeral Católico, com um rosário de pérolas nas mãos e a Bíblia ao seu lado. Antes de morrer, chamou Marcellus de Boschouwer (Embaixador Holandês) e Kuruvita Rala e entregou-lhes a custódia dos seus filhos.

C.P. Bell, o primeiro Comissário arqueólogo Inglês no Sri Lanka, declarou sete acres do seu túmulo como sítio arqueológico. Mas os comissários arqueólogos do Sri Lanka que vieram a seguir reduziram a área para meio acre e recentemente um construtor foi autorizado a ocupar o local (Fernando, sem data), Tentativas de construir um monumento têm tido a oposição de alguns (Aryatilake, sem data) e a lâmpada perpétua e o mausoléu construídos por Kuruvita Rala em memória de Dona Catarina foram deixados desaparecer por subsequentes agentes do Governo.

Do lado positivo, sem querer os Portugueses deram também algumas contribuições para o Budismo Cingalês de Sri Lanka. Dona Catarina, que teve um papel central na restauração da identidade Budista Cingalesa pelo seu casamento com Vimaladharmasuriya foi para ali levada pêlos Portugueses. Vimaladharmasuriya constuiu o actual Tempo do Dente e trouxe a relíquia do Dente para Kandy. Foram os Portugueses que salvaram Vimaladharmasuriya (ou seja, Konappu Bandara) e Dona Catarina (Kusumasena Devi) das ameaças de morte de um Rei Hindu Cingalês, Rajasinghe I. Foram os Portugueses que educaram João de Áustria (ou seja, Vimaladharmasuriya) na disciplina, arte da  guerra e do governo em Goa, e Dona Catarina na ética, administração, protocolos reais e etiqueta no Convento. Como Rei e Rainha de Kandy, eles aplicaram os ensinamentos recebidos dos Portugueses no estabelecimento de um Reino Budista Cingalês em Kandy. Reconhecendo o valor da educação e ensinamentos que os frades Portugueses ensinavam, tanto o Rei Vimaladharmasuriya como o Rei Seanarath quiseram que os seus filhos fossem ensinados pelos frades Franciscanos e permitiram até que eles lhes ensinassem Latim e a Religião Católica. Estes Reis tinham os frades Franciscanos em alta estima, incluindo os capelães militares que foram capturados quando davam os últimos sacramentos aos soldados moribundos nos campos de batalha. Eram convidados para a mesa real para refeições e eram embaixadores para discutir acordos de paz com os Portugueses (Francis, 1913)






Sunday, January 03, 2016


The interplay of religions from then to now


Being a Christian in Sri Lanka, by Dr. Leonard Pinto, reviewed by Dr. Peter Tate


Dr. Leonard Pinto’s book, “Being a Christian in Sri Lanka: Historical, Political, Social and Religious Considerations” was recently launched in Sydney.

The chief guest was Fr. Gerald Gleeson PhD, former professor of Philosophy and Theology at the Catholic Institute of Sydney and current Vicar General of Sydney Catholic Archdiocese. Special guest was Lal Wicrematunga, the Sri Lankan Consul General in Sydney.

Being a Christian in Sri Lanka is published by Balboa Press, Hay House USA, and distributed by Barnes & Noble and Amazon worldwide. The 570-page book with 16 Figures and 5 tables contains more than 450 references.

The primary focus of Pinto’s book examines the past and present socio-political and religious issues encountered by Christians in Sri Lanka.

Much of the work is placed in the context of the global challenges to Christianity and the Church today arising from the materialistic West, and their potential impacts on Sri Lanka.

Many issues faced by Sri Lankan Christians have historical, political, social and religious roots, and these are considered from an anthropological perspective.

Global issues take the reader beyond the shores of Sri Lanka to the contemporary ‘state-of-the-art’ and diverse fields of knowledge (including morals, science and religion) and their conceptual claims.

These are reviewed in the context of teachings of the Church and the Christian world-view (weltanschauung) today. Hence the book is multi-disciplinary in its approach.

Misconceptions on Christianity and Christians of Sri Lanka have been disseminated in Sinhala and English by various websites, books and media from Sri Lanka.

Pinto’s book explores the truth of many of these claims. The content of the book covers the period from the pre-historic Sri Lanka to January 2015.

Sri Lanka has a recorded Buddhist-Sinhalese history that goes back to more than 2500 years. The dominant Buddhist-Sinhalese civilisation has been intermittently interrupted by a number of South Indian invasions.

These invasions were military, diplomatic and social (such as the marriage of Sinhalese kings to Indian queens). The result was an assimilation of the Hindu religion into the local culture, particularly in the North. Islam came later to Sri Lanka, through the Indian and Arab traders.

During the Sigiriya period in the 5th century AD, there was a notable influence of St. Thomas’ Christians from India and Nestorian Christians from Persia on Sinhalese royal families.

However, it was after the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 that a large number of natives, including Sinhalese and Tamil kings and members of royal families embraced Catholicism. The reasons for their conversions were diverse.

The Portuguese colonised the maritime regions of Sri Lanka for approximately 153 years, the Dutch for 138 years and the British for 152 years until Sri Lanka achieved independence in 1948.

Contrary to the popular belief, the three colonisers did not initially ‘invade’ Sri Lanka. Rather, the Sinhalese kings and chieftains invited them into the country primarily to help neutralise the Muslim trade domination, fight rival Sinhalese kings, replace an existing coloniser or depose a tyrannical king.

But, once invited, the colonisers fought battles with opposing Sinhalese armies and enforced their presence on the country.

Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalism was born in the wake of South Indian invasions. By unifying the Sinhalese nation, a consolidated front to repel the Indian invaders could be established.

From the 16th century, the Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalism was directed to fight the western colonisers, the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. The Buddhist-Sinhalese movement led by Buddhist monks in 1860s, and later by lay leaders, took an anti-Christian orientation in rhetoric, debates, literature and processions, and in attacks by extremists.

Towards the end of the colonial period, an aspiration to develop a ‘Sri Lankan national identity’ unified Sinhalese and Tamil leaders, who collectively fought to free themselves from British domination.

During the Muslim riot of 1915, when many Buddhist-Sinhalese political leaders were imprisoned or killed, martial law was declared by the over-reacting British Governor Robert Chalmers. It was the Christian leaders, including Sir James Peiris and E. W. Perera and Tamil leaders, including Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, who came to the rescue of the imprisoned Buddhist-Sinhalese leaders.

The dynamics of nationalism gradually changed from a ‘Sri Lankan identity’ to a largely ‘Buddhist-Sinhalese identity’. This was primarily the result of the values, quality and thinking of political leaders, and populist strategies designed to win democratic elections. Following independence, the Kelaniya temple became the political nerve centre of the country.

Kelaniya Vidyalankara Pirivena played an important role in politics, dragging the country towards the left and providing a passage for Buddhist monks to enter politics.

Entry of the Buddhist monks into parliament was the result of atrocities by Tamil LTTE against the monks, their devotees and sacred places.

When Sri Lanka (Ceylon) gained independence from the British, it was in an excellent economic shape, with a well-developed civil service, police, legal system, governance, education and infrastructure.

It was in such good shape that the leaders in Singapore wanted to make their country another Sri Lanka.

However, when Singapore’s founder and architect, Lee Kuan Yew, saw the gradual degradation of the quality and values of Sri Lanka after independence, he said that Sri Lanka is a good example for bad policies.

Some of the bad policies were deeply rooted in the flawed ethno-religious divided identities, which claimed more than 100,000 lives within a period of 26 years.

Worse was still to come. A culture of bribery, corruption, nepotism and politicisation of all government systems, including the police, universities, civil service and the legal system meant that the State was run virtually as a family business from 2005 to 2014. The rights of minorities were suppressed and dissidents were abducted; in ‘white vans’ to their death.

Pinto’s book espouses the Sri Lankan identity of all its citizens as the foundation of national identity and the responsibility of State to all its citizens as a primary duty of the State.

At the ethno-religious tier of the hierarchy, Buddhist-Sinhalese identity is given the first place in culture. People are different by birth, appearance, beliefs, politics, abilities, professions and wealth.

Despite this, all people have equal rights in the State and need to be treated as valuable citizens. In attempting to enhance the Sri Lankan identity, the legends and myths that are used to boost the ethno-religious identity are critically assessed.

The content of Pinto’s book is structured to cover issues arising from within Sri Lanka and issues coming from the West, which have the potential to impact Christianity in Sri Lanka.

The first among the chapters that deal with Sri Lankan Christian issues introduces pre-history and history of the Sinhalese.

Chapter 2 focusses on the different forms of colonial Christianity and how Catholicism survived through the efforts of St. Joseph Vaz after the defeat of the Portuguese by the Dutch.

The ethnic war between the Sinhalese forces and the Tamil LTTE, and its impacts on the Church are discussed in Chapter 3. This chapter also refers to Christians as a binding force between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

Chapter 4 describes the services in education, health and welfare that the Christian institutions in Sri Lanka provide and the difficulties they underwent, following the nationalisation of schools

Chapter 5 describes some of the popular spiritualities adopted by Sri Lankans from a diversity of global Christian spiritualities.

The first chapter that deals with universal issues of Christianity is Chapter 6, which outlines the teachings of Jesus Christ and the historical problems of the Church. Chapter 7 explores the existence of God. Current theories on ethics and the failure of consequential ethics from the ethics of governance and ethics of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka are examined (Chapter 8).

The following two chapters (Chapters 9 and 10) focus on Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalism, its impacts on minorities and propaganda activities against Christians, including anti-Christian literature. Chapter 11 considers Christians in Asia as a minority, who live in pluralistic societies, dominated by Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims, and reviews issues of these religions.

Chapters 12 and 13 discuss the impacts of modern philosophies of Marxism, materialism and science on religion. Chapter 14 recognises the value and meaning of prayer for inner peace and tranquility, found in all oriental religions, as well as in Christianity.

The final chapter (Chapter 15) espouses some ideas in moving Christianity forward in Sri Lanka.

Overall, Pinto’s book provides a detailed expose on Christianity in Sri Lanka. Despite its title, it is more than a religious text, and perhaps it is not even a religious text.

It uses religion as the catalyst to examine the complex and intimate relationship among the different religions and how they fit within the social, political and historical context of Sri Lanka, for which reason the publisher has classified it as a reference book on anthropology of Sri Lanka.



Colombo Telegraph

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

A summary of the presentation delivered to the Ceylon Society of Australia, Sydney on 25 Aug 2013

A Brief History Of Christianity In Sri Lanka

By Leonard Pinto

In recent years the History of Sri Lanka has become an important subject, not only because it is in school curriculum, but also because it has been used to shape politics and justify the ethno-religious basis for State policies. Sri Lankan history has been rewritten, amplifying Portuguese atrocities, making authoritative claims on myths and mere conjectures and overlooking historical facts and archaeological discoveries.

Some Buddhist monks and nationalists are preaching an exclusive Buddhist-Sinhalese history that ends in intimidation, verbal abuse and violence against minorities. Prof. W.I. Siriweera, (Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Peradeniya) expressed his concerns on the misuse of History in Sri Lanka in saying that “the challenge for Sri Lankan historians today is to study, teach and write history, stripped of its myths, distortions, deformations and communal or religious bias…We are one people. Patriotism should encourage living in harmony” (The Sunday Times, March 17, 2013).

The History of Christianity in Sri Lanka can be divided into 3 eras;

(1)    Pre-colonial (72-1505)

(2)    Colonial (1505-1948) and

(3)    Post-colonial eras (1948- current).

The history of the pre-colonial era is aptly described by Archbishop Emeritus Dr Oswald Gomis (2004), in his book, ‘Some Christian Contributions in Sri Lanka’. During the pre-colonial era, two groups of Christians, St. Thomas Christians and Nestorian Christians lived in Sri Lanka, and later they established union with the Catholic Church. Historia Ecclesiastica of Nikephoros Xanthopulos written from Constantinople (present Turkey) states that St. Thomas the Apostle of Jesus preached to Brahamins on a hill at Ginthupitiya in the island of Taprobane. In the 5th century during the Sigiriya period, 75 ships carrying Murundi Christian soldiers from Mangalore (India) landed in Chilaw at the request of queen Sangha to protect her son King Dhatusena, after he defeated the Pandyans. Migara, King Dhatusena’s nephew and the commander of army was a Christian. His wife, the sister of Mogalan and Kashyapa was also a Christian. The discovery of coins of King Dhatusena with Christian symbols, statues of ‘Abissheka Buddha’ (Paranavithana 1972) and a carved cross on a granite column in Anurhadapura testifies for the presence of Christians in the 5th century. This was the 3rd such cross to be discovered, as De Queyroz (1688), the Jesuit Portuguese historian referred to a cross discovered by the Portuguese in the ruins of St. Thomas Church at the Mouth of Kelani River, Mutwal. When the Anurhadapura cross was discovered in 1912, the Archaeological Commissioner R. Ayrton thought that it was a Portuguese Cross, as it resembled the 2nd cross, found at Kotte, and Kotte was associated with the Portuguese. Later W. Cordrington confirmed that Anuradhapura cross was indeed the cross of St. Thomas Christians found in Mylapore, Chennai and not a Portuguese or Nestorian cross as previously thought.

Cosmos Indicopleustes, an Egyptian monk who visited Sri Lanka in 550 wrote “The island has a church of Persian Christians who have settled there, and a presbyter who is appointed from Persia, and a deacon and a complete ecclesiastical ritual”. Muhammad Al-Idrisi, the Sicilian cartographer, who visited Sri Lanka between 1100 and 1166, found four of the16 advisors of the king were Christians. After Yahbalaha III, the Nestorian Primate accepted the union with the Catholic Church Fr. Jordanus Catalha arrived in Sri Lanka in 1329 and Fr. Giovanni de Marignolli as Papal Legate in 1348/49 to assist the Christians in the country. So, there were Christians in Sri Lanka before the arrival of Portuguese in the 16th century.

Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka by accident in 1505, and established friendly relations with King Vira Parakramabahu VIII. Portuguese were involved in trade for the next 13 years. In 1521 the three sons of Vijayabahu VI killed him, divided the kingdom to three and ruled from Kotte, Sitawake and Raigma. When the ambitious Mayadunne of Sitawaka became a threat to Kotte of Buvanekabahu VII, he requested military aid from the Portuguese. In 1542 King Buvanekabahu sent a delegation to Portugal with a silver effigy of Prince Dharamapala, his grandson to be crowned by the king of Portugal and Franciscan missionaries were welcomed in Kotte. When Don Juan Dharmapala died in 1559 without an heir, he bequeathed his kingdom to the king of Portugal, the greatest betrayal of the country. The invitation of the Portuguese for assistance turned into a Portuguese invasion, as Portuguese claimed the right to the kingdom.

When Rajasinghe I, son of Mayadunne invaded Kandy in 1581, King Karalliyadde Bandara, baby daughter Kusumasana Devi and nephew Yamasinghe escaped to Portuguese territory. Following the death of Karalliyadde Bandara, Kusumasana Devi was brought up by the Portuguese as Dona Caterina in Mannar. Yamasinghe became Don Phillip and went to Goa. When Rajasinghe I conquered Kandy and appointed Virasundara Bandara of Peradeniya to govern Kandy, Rajasinghe imposed the policy of persecuting Buddhist monks. Rajasinghe had embraced Hinduism after killing Mayadunne and monks have rebuked him that he will be punished in his next births. The Hindu priest Arittakeevendu Perumal had offered an alternative through animal sacrifices. As Virasundara Bandara did not obey king’s orders, he was killed and his son Konappu Bandara took refuge with the Portuguese. He was baptized as Dom John of Austria and trained in Goa. In 1592, Portuguese took over Kandy, installed Yamasinghe (Don Phillip) as the king and Konappu Bandara (Dom John of Austria) as the commander of the Gannoruwa Fort.  Shortly, Yamasinghe was poisoned by Konappu Bandara. When the Portuguese proclaimed his 12-year son, Dom Joao as king, Konappu Bandara overthrew him and chased away the Portuguese from Kandy.

In 1594, Portuguese brought the 13-year old Dona Catarina to Kandy, hoping to make her the queen of Kandy. Konappu Bandara defeated the Portuguese at Danture and took Dona Catarina as his queen becoming king Vimaladhrmasuriya I. Dom Joao, the son of king Yamasinghe joined the Portuguese, studied at the University of Coimbra, Portugal and was ordained a Catholic priest. He was the parish priest of the Church of Our Lady of the Gate of Heaven that he built at Telheiras Portugal, which exists to date. The King of Portugal looked after him well, with a royal grant. Prince Nikapitiye Bandara of Sitawaka also studied at the University of Coimbra, but died before his ordination. Vimaladharmasuriy I instituted the Temple of the Tooth. As they were familiar with Catholic environment, they had their children educated by Franciscan priests. When Vimaladharmasuriy I died in 1604, his cousin Senarat, an ex-Buddhist monk married Dona Catarina. King Senarat poisoned Dona Catarina’s eldest son Mahastane by Vimaladharmasuriya, and she spent the rest of her unhappy life at Wellimantotta, Kegalle. Before her death in 1613, at the age of 35 she called Marcellus Boschouwer, the Dutch Envoy and Kuruwita Rala and handed over the children to their care. She was given a Royal Catholic funeral. The perpetually burning lamp and the Mausoleum built by Kuruvita Rala and the 7 acres archaeological site set aside by H.C.P. Bell, the Archaeological commissioner in Rock Hill Estate have disappeared.

Portuguese also invaded Jaffna in 1560 after King Cankili I of Jaffna Kingdom killed 600 Catholics, the ‘Mannar Martyrs’ for their faith. Fishermen of Mannar had invited St. Francis Xavier from Goa to preach and baptize them in 1543. Paranirupacinkam, the elder brother of Cankili and king Pararasesekeram, princesses Dona Clara and Dona Antonia and prince Dom Constantino of the Jaffna became Catholics. The Catholics of the Kandian royalties included Jayaweera Bandara, Karalliyadde Bandara, Yamasinghe, Dona Catarina and her sons Kumarasinghe and Wijepala.

Church law forbids forced conversion to Catholicism, then as it is now. The spiritual values that the missionaries preached, their example, preference for life-style and some fringe benefits may have contributed to their conversions. The destruction of temples by the Portuguese needs to be assessed in the context of thinking of people (paradigm) about 500 years ago, when idolatry was considered to be an evil and when there was no international Human Rights Law or International Humanitarian Law. War is a great evil, and we have experience its atrocities, even in the 21st century. The recent ethnic war in Sri Lanka killed more than 100,000 and fully destroyed 93 churches and affected 2076 Hindu temples and shrines. Sri Lankan kings made the mistake of fighting among the brothers for power rather than co-operating, invited a foreign military force and bequeathed Sri Lanka to a foreign country.

Vimaladharmasuriya I invited the Dutch to evict the Portuguese. Admiral Joris van Spilbergen landed in Batticaloa in 1602 and by 1658 Admiral Rykloff van Goens captured Jaffna, evicting the Portuguese from the entire island. The Dutch banned Catholicism, expelled all Catholic priests and took over Catholic churches and schools. After 30 years in 1687 an Indian priest, Fr. Joseph Vaz came to Mannar, disguised as a coolie. In 1689 Dom Pedro, a layman had secretly arranged Christmas masses to be celebrated in Jaffna houses by Fr. Vaz, when the Dutch apprehended the Catholics gathered for the mass. Dom Pedro was badly beaten; he succumbed to flogging, becoming the ‘first Martyr of Jaffna’. Fr. Joseph Vaz escaped to Puttalam and then to Kandy. He was imprisoned by king Vimaladharmasuriya II, but later he was released. When an outbreak of smallpox occurred and people fled, Fr. Vaz and Fr. Carvalho cared for the sick and buried the dead, without contracting the disease. Fr. Vaz was allowed to build a church in Kandy, but his church was destroyed in 1745 after his death in 1711. Another scholarly priest to arrive from India was Fr. Jacome Gonsalves, who learnt Sinhala from the Buddhist monks of Malwatte. He excelled in poetry and music, and wrote 22 books in Sinhala, 14 in Tamil, 4 in Portugues and 1 in Dutch. He introduced simile to the Sinhalese literature. The Nayakkar king, Sri Vijay Rajasinghe expelled all the Catholic priests from Kandy in 1746. When king Kirti Sri Rajasinghe went to war with the Dutch in 1762, they brought mercenaries from Europe that included Catholics. As a result, Catholics were allowed to practice their religion.

British were also invited to replace king Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe, the tyrannical king of Kandy, by the Kandyan chieftains who escaped to Colombo. Governor Thomas Maitland gave freedom of religions in 1806. British conquered the entire Sri Lanka in 1815. Interested in developing the colony, the government invited institutions that could help in education and welfare. As the pirivena education did not provide secular education, foreign missionaries were welcome. The American missionaries who went to Jaffna established the first medical school in the country in 1848, twenty-two years before the Colombo Medical School. Dr. Samuel Fisk Green translated 8 medical books, including Gray’s Anatomy to Tamil and opened a hospital in Manipay, before the Colombo Hospital was established. The government adopted the denominational school system, which helped the Christian schools to expand rapidly. In 1886 missionary nuns were invited to work in public hospitals.

A surge of nationalism against the colonialists occurred towards the middle of 19th century, which took diverse forms. The anti-Christian feelings were high among the Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalists, and the expression of such feelings in debates as in the Panadura debate of 1862 turned into a violent clash at Kotahena in 1883 and the burning of a Catholic Church in Anuradhapura in 1903. After independence, anti-Christian sentiments were institutionalized in the take over of the Christian schools in 1960, removal of nuns from all public hospitals and cancellation of visas of missionary priests, Brothers and Sisters.  During the 26 years of ethnic war, there was another surge of Buddhist-Sinhala nationalism, which was characterized by the direct involvement of monks in politics, particularly through Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). After the end of the war, triumphalism is directing Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalism in confrontational and mutually exclusive direction through radical organizations, such as Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balaya and Sinhala Ravaya. The government shows little interest in applying the laws of the country to Buddhist monks, for their political advantages. Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is handling these issues calmly, prudently and judiciously.