Posted by: lrrp | October 10, 2005

Authentic work on Sitawaka kingdom Book Review by R. S. Karunaratne.

Authentic work on Sitawaka kingdom

Sithavaka Rajadhaniye Unnathiyeda Avanathiyeda Samahara Ansha Pilibanda Vimarshanayak
Author: Prof. Risiman Amarasinghe
Author publication
Ramindu Mahala, Seeduwa North, Seeduwa
268 pp Price Rs. 680

Researchers appear to be a dying breed. With consumerism taking hold of society the majority are looking for projects that bring quick results.

Against such a deplorable situation Prof. Risiman Amarasinghe’s indepth research on the rise and fall of the kingdom of Sitawaka comes as a welcome publication. He has spent a long time tracing the sources and consulting every available book to compile and present his thesis.

Some of his source books have not been printed yet. For example, Sitawaka Rajasinha Rajja Kalaya can be sited. He has also had recourse to two other unpublished books, namely, Sitawaka Hatana and Sitawaka Sannasa.

Among the other sources used by the author are Medagoda Sannasa, Maniyamgama ola leaf, Tikiri Rajjuru Bandara Asthana’s birth certificate and Shailendrasinghe’s ola leaf. He has given a useful introduction to all these sources.

Prof. Amarasinghe has referred to a number of published books, such as, Rajavaliya, Alakeshwara Yuddaya, Konsthantheenu Hatana, Savul Sandesha, Mandaram Pura Puvatha, Asgiri Thalpatha and Chulavamsa.

What is more, he has researched the books written by foreigners like Fernao de Queyroz and Pauloda Trinidade. In addition, the author has made use of a large number of research papers and books written about the Sitawaka era by local writers. As a result, the book has become an authentic reference book today.

At the beginning of the book Prof. Amarasinghe analyses the political set-up of the country during the 16th century. Then he pays attention to the expansion of the Sitawaka kingdom.

While substantiating his claims with historical evidence, he describes how the Kotte kingdom was divided among Buvanekabahu, Pararajasinghe and Mayadunna after the Wijayaba Kollaya.

History of any country is full of myths, legends and half-truths. The author has been very cautious to point out such instances in his book. For instance, it is said that Bhikkhus were persecuted during Sitawaka Rajasinghe’s rule.

However, Prof. Amarasinghe is of the view that only the Bhikkhus who were involved in anti-government activities might have faced the wrath of the king. He rejects the view that the king got Bhikkhus killed.

The book also devotes a section to highlight the economic progress in Sitawaka. The author points out that the kingdom got its revenue from the sale of cinnamon, coconuts, arecanuts, elephants, gems and pepper.

Chapter 8 describes how Sitawaka Rajasinghe waged his numerous wars. The king’s army consisted of foreign mercenaries and soldiers recruited locally. He also gives a graphic account of the arms and ammunition used during the war.

The book comes with 13 maps and a useful bibliography. Therefore it is an ideal companion to anyone who is interested in our history and undergraduates and graduates preparing for higher studies.

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