Weliwita Asarana Sarana Saranankara Sangharaja whose birth is remembered as the saviour of Buddhism , yet he was also accused of a conspiracy to bring down a Siamese Prince and oust King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe. It was alleged that Sangharaja Welivita Asarana Saranankara Thera was behind this move with the monks of the second delegation, from Thailand or Siam to bring down a Prince to replace the King.
n the “Neville Collection “ at the British Museum the Harispattu Rajawaliya alias Ingrisi Andukatha, confirms that there was a plot to assassinate
King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, nothing more than that he was also worshipping Hindu Gods and has ash on his forehead.
This also brings us to the point as to the demise of Upali Maha Thera. There is a monument in Adhana Maluwa alleged to be erected over the ashes of Upali Maha Thera. But the graduate school of Mahachulalongkormaraja Vidlayala , University of Thailand which is supported by the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand, says that the Elder Upali Thera went back to Siam or Thailand in 1755. A second delegation was sent to Sri Lanka to replace the first one in which a vagabond Prince was included in the delegation, for the purpose of arranging him to be King of Sri Lanka.
But, credit should be given to Adigar Pilimatalawe for having saved Sri Lanka from crowning a Siamese King.. Likewise Adigar Meegastenne saved King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe from committing a ‘ sin ‘ against a group of Buddhist monks both of Sri Lanka and Siamese by getting them freed from execution.
All this happened with the coming of the second delegation to Sri Lanka at the request of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe himself on a suggestion made by the Sangharaja Welivita Pindapathika Asarana Saranankara Thera. The suggestion was made by the Thera on the grounds that there were no Pali books on the subject
of meditation. This second delegation afters its arrival in August 1755 had conferred Upasampada or High Ordination on around 300 Samanera Thera’s.
"It is an accepted fact that King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe did much for the benefit of Buddhism to give it its rightful place in the country"
If one goes back to the reign of King Kuena of Siam, monks from Lanna headed by Elder Medankara had come to Sri Lanka to obtain Higher Ordination, returning to Lanna with two monks during the reign of King Tilakaraja. These two gurus in Lanna, one by elder Medhankara and the other by elder Sumana.
But, so happened that during the reign of King Kirth Sri Rajasinghe, Sri Lanka had to obtain Higher Ordination from Siam. This was in 1753, during the reign of King Boromakot of Ayutthaya, who was termed as the Maha Dharmaraja or Great Dhamma King. The capital of Ayuthaya was founded in 1350 - the meeting place of several rivers and later developed into a City of International Trade.
It is an accepted fact that King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe did much for the benefit of Buddhism to give it , its rightful place in the country. But, the accusation against the King , especially by the Sangharaja himself was that he was still holding on to saivite rites.
A painting which adorns the wall of the cultural center at Sangharaja pura at Weliwita
The second delegation was led by Visuddhacariya Thera, though it stayed in the country for a short time, much happened during this period. The short stay was marked with a threat to the life of the King himself. The Kandyan Court itself had its own rivalry, intrigue and was rung by a few Chiefs. All these activities had been conveyed to Siam or Thailand by either the members of the Sangha who came with Elder Upali Maha Thera or by someone who had direct contact through the Dutch. They were ruling the maritime provinces. These incidents would have given the Siamese King a thought to rule the country with the ulterior motive of taking the Sacred Tooth Relic to Siam.
The arch schemer in this episode who wanted the King out of the Kingdom was the Bathvadana Nilame and also the Dissave of Sabaragamuwa, Samankodi. Yet the plot to kill the King failed and he had a suspicion on Welivita.
The rebel Chiefs were intent in getting Pathiya Bandara to be the King of Kandy, but others with the influence of the Siamese Buddhist monks were of opinion to get a Siamese Prince to do away with the saivite practices of the King.
The Statues of Sangharaja Weliwita and that of Upali Maha Thera who brought the rites of Upasampada to Sri Lanka. The Statues are a donation of 18 Buddhists from Thailand and is at the Malwatta Maha Vihare.
It is more than evident of the short stay of the second delegation of the Siamese monks for a period of August to October. These monks had to leave the Kandyan Kingdom on short notice , though they brought with them 57 books on meditation. Their presence was not to the liking of the King.
It so happened that the second delegation was to be welcomed by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe himself at Malwatta Maha Vihare. The activists against the King saw a grand opportunity which they did not want to miss. They selected a place outside the Simamalakaya and a special dais was constructed for the King.
The ceremony was so planned by the disgruntled Chiefs and by the Malwatta Maha Sangha, alleged to be with the connivance of the Sangharaja. The plot to kill the King was a simple plot, but they did not realise that the Kandyan Kingdom had intrigue and tale carriers among them. The plan was for the organizers to prepare a seat for the King and without any covering on the seat and place Bannana bark on it so that anyone sitting on it would fall down.
The organisers arranged a pit to be dug right underneath the dais and below the very place where the seat was to be. They fixed on the pit ‘ Kitul ‘ spikes so that anyone falling into the pit would be spiked.
"Credit should be given to Adigar Pilimatalawe for having saved Sri Lanka from crowning a Siamese King.. Likewise Adigar Meegastenne saved King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe from committing a ‘sin’ against a group of Buddhist monks"
On the day the ceremony was held, the King came with all the pomp and pageantry to the spot, but without sitting on the seat offered to him, he ordered that coverlets on the seat be removed. The King saw, what has been conveyed to him by Adigar Pilimatalawa amd immediately, Samarkodi Maha Nilame, Udugampola Adigar, Matihappola Dissave and Moladanda Battanrala be executed immediately
The King felt that the same punishment should be given to the Maha Sangha for being traitors to the Kandyan Throne, but better counsel prevailed, when it was pointed out by Meegastenne Adigar not to partake in a sinful act against the Maha Sangha. This saved the life of the Sangharaja Thera and Venerable Tibbotuwawe Thera who were banished to Kehelwela where they lived for sometimes until the anger of the King subsided.
He also wished that the Siamese Sangha should also be executed but it is said that they were deported through the Dutch back to Siam or Thailand. In both these instances, it was Meegastenna Adigar who advised the King.
Another school of thought on this episode, points out that the Siamese monks were banished into the jungles and would not be allowed in any area where people gathered and it is said they wondered right round the country and died in places that are they lived. The Dutch did not think of taking them to Siam as they did not want to displease the King.
Thus ended an episode, when the country would have had a Siamese King. The base for all these manoeuvres were that the Kings of Siam was bent on securing the Sacred Tooth Relic for themselves, but this did not come to pass.
The home in which Sangharaja Pindapathika Asarana Sarana Weliwita Saranankara was born
( Photographs by L.B.Senaratne )