The abduction of a royal family from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was mainly under the rule of the three nations of Dutch, Portuguese and British. We are aware of the fact that during the British Administration, they captured the final King of this country and extradited him to Vellore. These are the best known stories in history. However there are many nooks and corners hidden in history. When peeping into these nooks and corners, Consultant Dr. Ajith Amarasinghe revealed a number of wonderful facts. He raked through and peeked into the nooks and corners of history which have only slightly come to light and filtered the facts very meticulously.

At the same time, quite logically. About two or three weeks ago we disclosed the relations that the administrators of our country had with China. There were extremely sensitive matters there. Now we reveal stories that are beyond the stories we know. The only King who was captured and taken overseas was not merely King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe. Some troops who had arrived from China before that had abducted a king who ruled this country.

This incident is the story of why Consultant Dr. Ajith Amarasinghe went in search of such history. In a book he had read in his younger days it had been stated that China had abducted a king from Sri Lanka.
In 1411 AD, the king of this country was Weera Alakeshwara. His kingdom was located in Raigama. The place where the palace of King Weera Alakeshwara was located is situated where the Pathahawatte Pushkaraarama Temple is now, which is in close proximity to the Galenigama Exchange of the Southern Expressway.

King Alakeshwara was not at all pleased about the things that were being done by a Chinese navy group who arrived in this country during this era, from time to time. Due to some news the king received in A.D. 1411 the king trembled with anger. The news was that a group of Chinese navy personnel had landed in Sri Lanka at the Beruwala harbour. The king who was enraged by this, sent a group of fifty thousand Sinhala troops led by one of his sons or a relative ‘Nayak’ to Beruwala to fight the Chinese Navy. Three hundred ships full of Navy personnel had arrived in this country. There were twenty four thousand soldiers in them. The head was a Chinese Chief who was an Eunuch named “Zheng – Hei”.

When the Sinhala king’s troops surrounded the Chinese soldiers, ‘Zheng –Hei” accompanied by two thousand soldiers used another method and entered the country and raided the king’s palace. Then they entered the palace and abducted the royal family and took them away to China.

This incident is not mentioned in the Mahawamsa which is the Sri Lankan primary source tome but it is stated in the volumes Rajawaliya, Sadhdharamarathnawaliya and Alakeshwara War. However, what can be clearly identified from these sources is only the fact that there was such a war. There is no doubt about that war. Further information is clearly stated in the Chinese emperor’s records and in books authored by the Chinese Navy personnel who travelled in these Chinese ships. Anyhow the facts that can be obtained from sources in Sri Lanka and those which can be approved as accurate and Chinese records reveal information on these historic relations.
According to what appears in the Sadhdharmarathnakaraya which was written a short while after these events took place it is written that the king who was taken to China was Weera Alakeshwara and it clearly indicates that this king ruled from RaigamNuwara.

(Nissanka Alakeshwara of the Kotte Kingdom could be the grandfather of this Weera Alakeshwara.)
The records in China have been in the Chinese language and they were translated to English only recently. According to these, Emperor ‘Ming –Shielu’ who ruled China during this era has stated as follows in his daily report of 6 July 1411 A.D.

“Eunuch ‘Zheng-Hei’ (Xheng Hei) and others were sent to various countries in the Western seas as Ambassadors and King Ya – lie – ku – nai –er who captured Sri Lanka and the members of the royal family were presented to the King’s Council today. Previously ‘Zheng-Hei’ and others were sent as Ambassadors to our friendly countries and when they arrived in Sri Lanka, Ya – lie – ku – nai – er had behaved in a disrespectful way that insulted them. Although an attempt was made to harm Ya – lie – ku – nai –er, ‘Zheng-Hei’ who understood the situation left the place. This Ya – lie – ku – nai –er acted with enmity towards neighbouring countries and he obstructed Ambassadors and had stolen goods. As a result of these activities, our friendly countries suffered. Later when ‘Zheng-Hei’ returned to Sri Lanka the Sri Lankan king strategically brought him and his son ‘Na – yan’ inland and then asked ‘Zheng-Hei’ for various things including gold and silver. ‘Zheng-Hei’ had not agreed to this request.

Then the king had sent fifty thousand troops surreptitiously to ravage goods belonging to ‘Zheng-Hei. ”Zheng-Hei’ who became aware of it got together with his friends and gathered the Chinese battalion and began sending them to ships. Then they got to know that their path had been obstructed. Then ‘Zheng-Hei’ called his troops and addressed them thus:

“As a majority of (enemy) armies have gone to the ships there is no room for a huge army to remain in the midst of the country. Our traders and soldiers have been abandoned near the ships and they must be in fear. If the Sinhala enemies attack them, their purpose would be achieved.”

Then ‘Zheng-Hei’ told his troops to approach the ships through a different path and personally gathered two thousand troops, traversed a different route and entered the royal city and attacked. During this attack they captured the city, as well as’Ya – lie – ku –nai –er’ and members of his family and leaders alive. Although the Sinhala Army attacked the Chinese troops from time to time, subsequent to several brutal attacks, ‘Zheng-Hei’, presented the Sinhala king and his royal family to the Chinese King’s Council. Chinese Ministers said that this royal family should be killed. However, the emperor who saw how defenseless the Sinhala king was ordered that he be given food and water. Then the Chinese Emperor instructed that if there was an intelligent member among the royal family members to hand over the administration of Lanka to that person.”

Anyhow in addition to the Chinese royal records a Chinese Naval officer, FeiHsin who had joined in the battle had written then and published H sin –Cha’s Zheng – Lan or the Complete Expedition of the resplendent vessel and facts disclosed through that are extremely significant.
“I travelled with eunuch leader, Chief Ambassador, ‘Zheng-Hei’ and the others from his Naval Room in 1409 A.D. to Champa. Java, Malacca. Samudra, Lanka, Newlorn, Kochin, Calicut and other countries.
Our objective was to place marks of our commandment in these countries and to present gifts to foreign administrators and their subjects. In 1411 A.D. we returned to the capital ‘Nanjing’.

At the same time in 1409 A.D. the emperor ordered the eunuch leader, Chief Ambassador ‘Zheng-Hei’ to distribute among the Buddhist temples, gold, silver, sacred offerings, pot silk and flags woven out of gold thread. At the same time according to our emperor’s plan, we established a stone inscription to prepare the required background for maintaining a peaceful State administration. The king and his chiefs were presented with gifts. The king of Lanka in ingratitude attempted to harm the Chinese Army. By then the eunuch leader, Chief Ambassador ‘Zheng-Hei’ and others had prepared a plan and invisible to the enemy army (Sinhala Army) small groups of three or four were readied and got them to wear mouth bands and sent them forward. (Getting soldiers to wear mouth bands is a battle strategy that Chinese follow so that sounds from the mouth would not emit.) With a signal shot at midnight, with much effort and a brutal attack they captured the king. In 1411 A.D. He was taken to China and presented at the State Palace. He requested for the forgiveness of the emperor which he received and he was able to return to his own country.

Consultant Dr. Ajith Amarasinghe speculates that, the trilingual stone inscription which was discovered in the town of Galle could be the one that the Chinese had established.
At the same time, according to reports of the Chinese King’s Council, on the 13th of September 1411 A.D. it has been noted that soldiers who fought with Lanka cleverly were provided with promotions and gifts. Relatives of soldiers who died in the war were also presented with gifts.

Fifteen years after this incident on 16 July 1426 A.D., according to the State Council reports, Shu –she – song and three other soldiers from Lanka had reported independently to the State Council. Accordingly, the conclusion that can be drawn is that when the king of Lanka was taken to China, Chinese soldiers were imprisoned in Lanka.
Anyhow, China had attacked the King of Lanka who ruled from Raigama. Dr. Ajitha Amarasinghe said that among all of these facts there is another important fact that can be identified. That is that these records include details about the very first shot fired in Lanka.

By Sandaresi Sudusinghe

Courtesy: Ceylon Today


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