In Honour of Ehelapola

by K.S.Sivakumaran

I read a fine Historical Romance recently. But it is more than that and it is not a romantic story either. It is partly history and partly a treatise in defense of a historical figure during the Kandyan Regime in Lanka.

The icon in the estimate of the author was patriotic in his action in plotting against an ‘alien ‘. The hero is Ehelapola. And the ‘alien’ is the last king of Kandy, who was not a Sinhala.

Ehelapola’s name in full in the latter part of 18th century was Ehelapola Wijayasundara Wikkramasinha Chandrasekera Seneviratne Amarakone Wahala Mudiyanse. And the author is Dr. Raja C Bandaranayake. The title of the book is Betwixt Isles. This is a Vijitha Yapa Publications. It has 362 pages. And within those pages are found researched historical material. The Isles concerned are Sri Lanka and Mauritious.

Although the author justifies his writing this book as “The Story of the Kandyan Prisoners in Mauritius”, his stance betrays his admiration for Ehelapola, who is generally considered a ‘traitor’. But then these days history is written from different points of view even though seemingly presenting a façade of neutrality. Neutral historians would admit that there are a lot of missing pages on the recorded chronicles of Lanka.

The book is a scholarly book with exhaustive research and findings hitherto unknown to most readers of history. Therefore it is very valuable indeed and one admires the painstaking efforts this enterprising scientist cum historian has taken. One congratulates him.

Hugh Karunanayake says this in his foreword:

“Nearly 200 sovereigns ruled the island of Ceylon for a continuous period of around 2,300 years from different capitals, the last being Kandy… At the centre of it all was the Maha Nilame Ehelapola once the trusted lieutenant of the tyrannical last king of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasimha, and later to be his avowed enemy playing a key role in the latter’s capture and subsequent exile…The focus of attention of this work centres on the life of the Maha Nilame, and several other Kandyan chieftains who were excelled to Mauritius by the British…” That sums up what the book is about.

The book has well written 25 chapters in lucid language. Charts, Maps, Figures and Plans running to about 18 pages, a Legend to Frontpiece, 49 pages of References, and an Index are added valid material.

The author is a Professor of Anatomy and an international consultant in Medical Education. Although he is a Lanka born Australian, he loves very much his birth place.

I agree with the author what he says in his Prelude that “… in history, authorial speculation has as much a place in the pursuit of the truth, as scientific hypothesis has in its establishment. It is the author’s duty to examine all the evidence available and arrive at conclusions where possible, suggest possibilities where not.”

Seekers of truth would also consider this work for its value.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Print this page