Posted by: lrrp | May 30, 2008

Portuguese: Religious conversion and ending Tamils’ Sovereignty

Chapter 01

This episode depicts the heroism of the Tamils, as well as the barbarity of the Portuguese, who enslaved the Tamils. Therefore, fighting against oppression and suppression is not something new to the Tamils. However, the Karava leader Sinna Meegampillai is no more with us, but his sprit lives on with each Tamil, even today.

It must be pointed out that after 1560; the Portuguese began destroying the ancient Hindu Temples and the Lord Buddha’s sacred Tooth Relic. Destruction and vandalism by the Portuguese gathered momentum, immediately after the capture of the Tamil Kingdom in 1621.

Filipe de Oliveriya, the Portuguese Governor, who was acclaimed for destroying more than 500 Hindu Temples. Brutal acts of vandalism and destruction carried out by the ruthless Portuguese were, unfortunately being compromised and tolerated even today, without any whimper by the international community. Barbaric destruction by the Portuguese has to be condemned, universally. Tamils today demands unconditional apology and reparation for the damages.

The pink color Royal Standard, with recumbent bull, crescent and the rising sun, given by Irama (Rama) to the first Arya Chakaravarthy, fluttered high and aloft, in the proud land of the Tamils, for well over 2500 year long period, displaying loftily their sovereignty and independence. At last, it was brought down forever, on 11 February 1621, when the kingdom fell permanently in the hands of the Portuguese.

Nearly, 1200 heads of the Tanjore Nayakar’s troops were lopped off, at the last confrontation that ensued at Atchuvely. The fatalities included Tamil rebels, who joined forces to retrieve the kingdom from the Portuguese. Ultimately, Portuguese managed to hold on with their prized possession, “the Tamil kingdom,” until 21 June 1658, on which day; the Dutch captured and brought the kingdom under their rule.

Filipe De Oliveriya

Earlier, when the Portuguese captured the last king Cankli Kumaran (Sankli Kumaran), the kingdom was incorporated with the crown of Portugal. Those Tamils, who were converts to Christianity, shifted their allegiance towards the new colonial rulers. When the kingdom came under the Portuguese possession, Christian Mudaliyars and the Christian Tamil chieftains, without hesitation, gave their allegiance by oath, for the subjugating the kingdom to the Portuguese overloadship.

Filipe De Oliverya, the commander of the Portuguese army, moved his base to Nallur, on 2 February 1621, and proclaimed himself, the Captain Major – the highest Portuguese army official in the region and the governor of the Kingdom. On the same day, most of the Hindu shrines, including Nallur Kandasamy Kovil were razed down on the explicit orders of the fanatic – Oliveriya. Portuguese and the Lascarins (hired Sinhalese mercenaries in the service of the Portuguese) from the South, looted Nallur Kandasamy temple, burnt it down and removed even the stones from the foundations, to build a Christian church at Nallur and a fort in Jaffna.

Oliveriya was acclaimed by the Portuguese, as a greatest savior of Christianity, for his feat of destroying more than 500 Hindu temples. The Portuguese historian, Father Fernoa De Queyroz acclaimed him, “God of the Sword.”

When Filipe De Oliveriya became the Governor of Jaffna, he ruled the Kingdom with a strong hand, ruthlessly and with arrogant resolve. He proclaimed that people continuing with the practice of Hindu religion and rites, are anti-Christians, an act punishable by law. Under his hierarchy, the Society of Jesus – the Roman Catholic missionary, constructed nearly thirty Catholic churches by vandalizing and demolishing Hindu temples. He introduced compulsory proselytizing. Franciscan Friars converted more 6000 Tamils to Christianity.

The destruction of famous Hindu temples such as the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil (Nallur), Kailasanathar Temple (Nallur), in 1575 Muneswaram Temple, Chilapam (Chillaw), in 1588 Vishnu Temple in Devinuwera, Tirukethieswaram Temple, Mathoddam (Matota) and in 1622 Tiru Konesar Temple, Thirukonamalai (Trincomalee), caused great frustration, dissension and restlessness in the hearts and minds of the Tamils.

Oliveriya also burnt down “Saraswathy Mahal,” – the oldest museum and the library, that housed precious and the most valuable historical documents, depicting the origin, history, literature, arts, science, medicine, culture, civilization and other details of the Tamils and of their proud ancestry. Once this ancient museum cum library was burnt down, up to date, the Tamils are left without any authentic records of their antiquity.

The Portuguese conquest of the Kingdom became possible, when the Tamil chiefs revolted against the traditional monarchs, due to their shift in allegiance, after conversion to Christianity. Portuguese managed to create a strong loyal group of Catholics, who provided them with the intelligence reports and reconnaissance to counter the moves of the kings. Portuguese also used the Sinhalese mercenaries for combat, as well as to guard the Tamil Kingdom.

Kingdom of the Tamils

People inhabited the Jaffna a peninsula even before the Irama – Iravanan (Ravanan) war. Before the arrival of Vijayan – the mythical, so called, progenitor of the Sinhalese race; the peninsula has been formed geographically, and populated. Anthropologists, geologists and other scientists are of the view, that the landscape pattern of the peninsula is a mixed quality of many physical features, with a marked characteristic of a limestone region, with red-yellow latosols soil in the central region of the peninsula and regosols (sandy) soil, along the Northeastern coast, with very flat terrains. On the surface, it had blown sandy tracks in the northeastern portion. In the absence of natural forest, except for a few scattered thorny bush tracks within the peninsula, it is difficult to estimate the terrestrial resources. There are no natural fresh water resources, such as lakes or rivers in the peninsula. The only possible source of water left for those inhabited on the region is to sink deep into the earth crust for the ground water.

The peninsula is of Miocene and quaternary formation. The limestones in the area are heavily faulted and segregate the aquifers into series of isolated blocks forming a number of ground water basins. To obtain water from the underground, technical knowledge, expertise and strong implements were needed. As the people who lived in the peninsula survived for ages, it became clear, that they had the expertise, skill in rhabdomancy to divine the water located underground and strong implements to sink in for water that lay beneath the limestone bed. A.M. Hocart, former Archeological commissioner of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) writes, “From the Eolithic Age, we jump straight to Iron Age. We do not know when Iron was introduced into Ceylon.”

According to historical research, people in the sub-continent began using iron implements around 3000 BC. Therefore, those people who inhabited the Northern portion of Sri Lanka, after it emerged a distinct geographical entity, were fully aware with the usage of iron and used iron implements to sink wells to draw fresh water from the underground resources that lay beneath the limestone belts.

Portuguese historian Father Fernao de Queiroz, wrote about the Tamil Kingdom as follows:

” This modest kingdom is not confined to the little district of Jafnapatoa, because to it are also added the neighboring lands and those of Vanni, which is said to be the name of the Lordship, which they held before we obtain possession of them… and outside it there stretch the lands of Vanni crosswise from the side of Mannar to that of Triquilemale (Trincomalee) and – beyond.”

Arrival of the Portuguese

Portuguese arrival to Ceylon was merely an accident. Their arrival was a rude quirk of destiny. In 1505, when Vira Parakrama Bahu VIII (1484-1509) was the king of Kotte, Senasammata Vikramabahu (1469-1511) was the king of the Hill country and Pararajasekaran (1478-1519) was the Tamil king, in the Northeast; a Portuguese fleet, under the command of Captain–major Don Lourenco de Almedia, forced by winds and waves was tossed into Cali (Galle,) the harbor, located in the Southern coast. He learnt that this was the famous island of Celio (Ceylon) and he sailed on to Colombo, the port in the Kotte Kingdom.

News of the arrival of a strange fleet reached the king. Rajavaliya, a Buddhist chronicle, describes the arrival of the Portuguese as follows:

“There is in our harbor of Colombo, a race of people, fair of skin and comely withal. They don jackets and hats of iron: rest not a minute in one place, but walk here and there. They eat hunks of stone (bread) and drink blood (wine). They give two or three pieces of gold and silver for one fish or one lime. The report of their cannon is louder than the thunder when it bursts upon the rock of Yugandhra.”

Hearing the news of the arrival of the strangers, the King decided to receive them. Messengers were sent with gifts of fruits to receive the aliens. Don Lourenco was pleased with the goodwill gesture of the King. He dispatched Fernao Cutrim, one of his captains of the fleet, as his envoy to Kotte. However, the Portuguese envoy did not meet the King or had an opportunity to converse with him, but he was given the assurance that the King would be pleased to form an alliance with the Portuguese.

Subsequently, Don Lourenco chose Payo de Souza as his envoy to meet the King of Kotte and negotiate a treaty. At an audience with the King, de Souza proposed a treaty. Accordingly, the King undertook to give tribute of four hundred bahars of cinnamon every year. Portuguese agreed to protect and defend the ports of the King. The treaty heralded the entry of the alien forces in the political arena of the country. Portuguese came to the East for the three-pronged purpose of “Commerce,” “Conquest,” and “Conversion.” Entry of the Portuguese changed the destiny of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), especially that if the Tamils, from being an independent proud Nation, to the present State of chaos, dissension and ethnic turmoil.

De Queyroz’s version about the Beginning of the Tamil kingdom

Father Fernao De Queyroz is the author of “The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon.” He was a Portuguese Christian clergy born at Amarante in Portugal in the Province of Entre Douro e Minho, in 1617.

He arrived in Goa, India in 1635. It appears that he began to write the book by about in 1671 and completed in 1686. The written work consisted of six books, but Father S.G.Perera, who translated the book from Portuguese to English, compiled the books into three volumes. The English translation was first published by the Ceylon Government Press, in 1930.

Father Pererea in his preface declared that the book to be second only to the Mahavamsa in its value for the history of Ceylon. The description found in the book is the most despicable account about the Tamils and warrants condemnation by the Tamils. Up to date, the Tamil historians who wrote the History of Tamils for their doctoral appellations have overlooked disparaging remarks, for reasons only known to them. It is very unfortunate and warrants outright condemnations.

Below the reader may read from, Book 1 Chapter 7: Description of the Kingdom of Jafanapatam:

“Before treating of the Kingdom of Candea, I shall speak of the Jaffnapatao, the whole which is also belong to the Crown of Portugal and wholly Christian. Its head lies in the form of a peninsula at the northern point of the island of Ceylon at 10 and two third degrees of altitude. Its name without corruption is said to be Jafana-en-Putalam, which means the ‘Town of the Lord of Jafana;’ and is the name of him who first peopled it. Others say the name was Jafana-Patanaoture, which means ’long harbor;’ whence its appears that it was called by mockery Napunay-Patanao, which translated means ‘Land of bad people.’ This land was for long years without cultivation and subject to the Emperors of Ceylon, and though it abounded in groves of trees, its inhabitants lived more on fish and games than on other fruits of their labor. Its government at the beginning was only that of Vidanas or stewards (abegoes), afterwards industry increasing and with it profit, it came to be governed by Araches and finally by Mudeliares. Under this (form of) government it remained for many long years until, with the progress of the natives and commerce of the foreigners, when the Court of Ceylon was already in the Metropolis of Cota, in the Reign of Mha Pracura Mhabau there came to that City a certain Panical, a foreigner, native of the mountains of Malavar from a village called Tulunar, an expert Master in arms, and for this reason he was welcomed by the King, and being by him raised to the dignity of Modeliar, was call Panical Modeliar. There he married and had two sons, who being educated in the Palace, were most beloved by the king, who afterwards considering that on the side of their Mother they had many kinsmen, that, as he had no heir, he had sworn in a grandson as his successor, and fearing that two brothers, being less well affected because if that what there was a foreigner in them and very powerful because of their kindred, would disquiet his Kingdom after his death, determined to kill them. He communicated this intention to one of his favorites, who advised him not to kill them, but to send with some titles of honor, the one who was more to be feared to subdue Jafanapatao, because the Modeliar whom he has placed there had seized the lands and had done many wrongs and violences (sic) to his lieges.”

“The King adopted this advice, and the Modeliar himself who had given it to him went on his order to call the son of Panical who was called Chamba-pera-Mali (Champaka-Perumal alias Sapumal Kumaraya). He gave him men, wherewith he became master of those lands with the title of Prince, ever acknowledging the King of Cota and paying him tribute faithfully. He, they say was the first who ruled Jafanapatao as King. In course of time there came some Bramanes, native of Guzarate, called Arus, who claimed Royal descent: and with the favor of the Nayaque of Madure they erected the pagode of Ramanacor, whence they began to have trade and friendship with the King of Jafanapatao, with one of them married a daughter of the King; and finally his descendents became heirs to that Kingdom. Of these the first who tries to free himself from the subjection of the King of Cota, was Ariaxac Varati, who being naturally proud and not brooking the haughtiness of the officers of that King, took the life of one who governed there, and the King of Ceylon preparing to punish him, they say, he went, to meet him at Ceytavaca and took him some verses whereon he so flattered him with praises of him and his ancestors that he left him completely vainglorious and satisfied, and the verse being helped by a goodly present, he not only made him desist from war, but also obtained Olas from him (what we should call Provisions) and the title of King of Jafanapatao, which his successors preserved paying in acknowledgment only some tribute: because this was the beginning of their greatness, his descendants from the name Aria, were called Ariavance, which means the generation of Aria.”

Father Queyroz of the Society of Jesus writes this account after the departure of the Portuguese from the island of Ceylon. This is the worst anachronistic heresy forthcoming from a Christian clergy, who contributed in the conversation to Christianity, condemning the religions of the natives as heathenism. He managed to interpret the history of the Tamils to justify the Portuguese occupation and proselytization. However, this account has been overlooked without condemnation up to date, but it should not be allowed to pass, without recording the protest, against such discriminatory account, forever.

– Chapter 04 –

Death of Cankli

Details of how Cankli died were not found in any available records, but according to a few historians, it is said that he died in 1565, whilst a others write that his demise occurred in 1564. According to available records, in 1565, Cankli sent a battalion of Vadagar (Northerners) to fight along with king Mayadunne of Sitawaka (1521-1581) against the Portuguese. From this record, some historians conclude that he lived up to 1565 and after his death, king Puvirajapandaram, the natural son of Cankli succeeded in the royal name of Pararajasekaran.

Available records of those period points that the Kingdom was in the midst of severe political turmoil and uncertainty. In the same year, a usurper named Kasi Nainar or Kunchi Nainar drove away Puvirajapandaram and assumed the kingship in the name of Pararajasekaran. Kasi Nainar was unpopular, therefore the people contacted Jorge de Mello de Castro, the Portuguese Captain in Mannar to overthrow him and replace the rightful heir to thrown. De Mello took the opportunity to interfere in the politics of the Tamil kingdom, came to Jaffna, arrested Kasi Nainar, and jailed him. He arbitrated over the disputed succession of the Tamil kingdom, and found in favor Kasi Nainar’s rival, whose name is not recorded.

Once de Mello left Jaffna; Kasi Nainar’s loyalist got him released from the prison. He killed the new king and again ascended the kingship. Kasi Nainar’s sway was short lived, when Jorge de Mello hurried to Jaffna and had Kasi Nainar killed by a hired assassin and set his nominee Periya Pulle on the throne, under the royal name of Chekarajasekaran (1570-1582).

After a decade of exile, Puvirajapandaram (1582-1591) ousted Perriyapulle and regained the throne. He was forceful and deformed and carried plans to oust the Portuguese. He was character-wise a cast in the same mold of Cankli. Portuguese historians gave him the sobriquet of “Crooked King.” In 1591, he decided to attack the Portuguese fort at Mannar, which was an eyesore and to chase the Portuguese out of the Tamil kingdom. He formed an alliance with one of the naval opponents of the Portuguese, Cortimusa Marikar, a member of the famous Muslim Kunjali family, the hereditary admirals of the Zamorins (rulers) of Calicut. This alliance was formed to counter the Portuguese’s sea power.

Puvirajapandaram arrived in Mannar with Tamils and Telugu Vadakar warriors armed with cannon, muskets, firebombs and roquerios, but the fort withstood the day and night onslaught of the Tamil army. When the king retreated to Jaffna, the Portuguese commander Andre Furtado de Mendonca followed the king to Jaffna in 43 rowing vessels and 250 Thoneys (small wooden boats), with a company of 1,200 Portuguese and 3000 lascarins. Along with Wickremasinghe, the Lascarins chief, the Sinhalese Karava Mudaliyars, Manoel Pereyra, Pero Francisco and Diogo de Silva too went along in the company to fight the Tamil king. On 28 October 1591, fierce battle broke out and the Portuguese army advanced towards Nallur, destroying stockades on the way with a high mortality. Meanwhile Edirmannasinghan, Perriyapulle’s youngest son was spared by the Portuguese warrior Saimon Pinho and the incident is now found sculptured on a slab on the Maha Saman Devalaya at Ratnapura.

Puvirajapandaram tried to escape, but was captured and beheaded. The vengeful Portuguese army commander Andre Furtado de Mendonco ordered to put the decapitated head of Puvirajapandaram on a pike and plant in a public place for a few days to terrorize those who thought of opposing the Portuguese. When the king was beheaded, Medonco issued a proclamation calling upon the people in the Kingdom to resume their day-to-day business, stating that law, order and peace have already been restored in the kingdom. The same incident has been misinterpreted in the Yarlpana Vaipava Malai as follows:

“The Panankis next brought Sangkli to trial. Sangkli was placed before the seat of justice and charged first with having exercised regal powers without having been duly crowned: secondly, with having usurped the throne from his father: thirdly, with having murdered the princes of the realm: and fourthly, with having oppressed the people and massacred many of them. He was convicted of all the charges and sentence to be decapitated. The sentence was immediately carried into effect at the threshold of the nearest temple.” –Translated by C.Brito.

It was unfortunate that the poet laureate Maylvagana Pulavar was confused with the incident of Puvirajapandaram with that of Cankli. It should be remembered that the heroic King Cankli was never captured or even killed. In addition, it should be remembered that though Puvirajapandaram was captured and killed, his martyrdom is the best and highly laudable one. He died foe valiant cause to safeguard the Tamil kingdom from the ruthless colonial invaders.

Nallur Convention

Mendoca also summoned the Tamil chiefs and the Mudaliyars for a convention at Nallur. He then asked the assembled chiefs to submit to the King of Portugal’s suzerainty. He declared that he would maintain the distinct laws and customs of the Tamil kingdom. This offer was accepted and the two parties took oath of allegiance to the king of Portugal and the Portuguese commander on the advice of the Council consisting of the chiefs of the Kingdom, agreed to place on the throne Edirmannasinghan, the youngest son of PeriyaPulle.

Edirmannasinghan took the royal name of Pararajasekaran (1591-1617), according to the tradition. The new king had a very difficult task in his hand to accomplish, because he pledged to favor the spread of Christianity in his kingdom. He was to bear the full blast of the arrogant breed of officials, whose torturously insulting and patronizing behavior, it appeared almost to the point of servility. The young king developed a dual personality, one pro-Portuguese and another anti-Portuguese. The Viceroy in Goa was not happy with the attitude adopted by the king and was to go in person to wrest the control of the kingdom. Meantime the king had a natural death in April 1617.

His death resulted in a crisis about the succession. His eldest brother Asrasa Kesari was nominated as the regent for his 3-year-old son, which is said to have lasted until the end of 1617. But, this arrangement was short lived, when Arasa Kesari’s nephew Cankli Kumaran (Cankli II) hatched a conspiracy, assassinated his uncle and his supporters. The boy king’s life was spared with the idea of using him while usurping the reign of the kingdom from the Portuguese. Captain of Mannar was unable to intervene, but was satisfied by exacting a promise from Cankli Kumaran favoring the spread if Christianity and not to aid the rebels against the Portuguese rule.

However, Cankli’s future became very bleak, when Portuguese began to view Jaffna, a place of great strategic importance to their hegemony over the Sinhalese, because of their irresistible interest in capturing the Kandyan kingdom. The sudden appearance of the Hollanders in Batticaloa, contributed to the change in their dimension.

Cankli Kumaran – the last royal line of resistance

Furthermore, when Cankli Kumaran sought and obtained assistance from Ragunatha Nayakar (1604-1634) of Tanjore, to suppress the uprising by the Tamil Mudaliyars, he was also suspected of having established links with the Dutch. These factors compelled Constantino de Sa Noronha, the Portuguese Captain General in Ceylon, to dispatch a sentry to Jaffna, under Filipe de Oliveriya, to punish Cankli Kumaran, for his treachery.

The first contingent left from Colombo left in April 1919, in a fleet of eight, sailed under captains – Joao Madeira, Joao da Silva and Vitorio de Abreu, with 100 Portuguese and large number of Lascrins. Oliveriya was the overall command of the forces sent overland and after reaching Pooneryn (Poonagiri), he made a delayed and difficult crossing of the Jaffna lagoon, before arriving in the peninsula. Oliveriya initially sent three demands to Cankli Kumaran –

* To surrender the Vadakar troops of the Tanjore Nayakar,

* To surrender Varuna Kulattan, the Karava chief,

* To pay all moneys, he owed to the Portuguese sovereign.

When diplomatic wrangling failed, Oliveriya proceeded to combat the stiff resistance put up by Cankli Kumaran. At Wannarponnai, Cankli Kumaran’s forces were decisively defeated. He with his family set to sail to Tanjore to seek assistance from Ragunatha Nayakar.

Unfortunately, adverse wind blew his boat towards Point Pedro, where he was accosted and captured. With him were his queen, children and his retinue. The Portuguese who entered the fleeing boat to arrest Cankli Kumaran; forcefully confiscated the 8,000 milreis (Portuguese currency) found in the boat and ran amok with the royalties in the boat.

They pulled out the jewels worn by the queen and the children. They pulled the earrings from their ear lobes by tearing the lobes, which left the women and children wailing with anguish and pain. When Cankli Kumaran saw the ruthless behavior of the Portuguese soldiers and their contumacy, he voluntarily took off his jewels and handed them to the Portuguese soldiers.

The Tamil kingdom fell in the hands of the Portuguese in June 1619, when Cankli Kumaran and his family were arrested and taken prisoners by the Portuguese. They were first taken to Nallur; from there, he was sent to Colombo with Oliveriya’s son-in-law Antonio da Mota Galvo. According to the Portuguese administrative arrangements, the jurisdiction of Jaffna came directly under the Viceroy at Goa. Therefore, Cankli Kumaran was transferred to Goa and imprisoned.

In Goa, he was tried for high treason by the Portuguese High Court (Relaco), found him guilty of all charges leveled against him and sentenced him to death. Ultimately, the last Tamil king was hanged in the year 1621.

Last Resistance

In 1620, Filipe de Oliveriya, the Captain Major of the Portuguese army was installed as the Governor of the kingdom. In the same year a Tamil Karava chief invaded the Portuguese and was beaten back.

Again an influential Karava chieftain called, Sinna Meegampillai Arachie, who was earlier an opponent of Cankli Kumaran, became Christian and baptized and named Dom Luis. He became disillusioned with the Portuguese take over of the Kingdom, crossed over to Tanjore with the two Tamil royal princesses and sought military assistance from Ragunatha Naik.

In March 1620, he returned by landing at Thondaminaru, with a big contingent of forces from Tanjore and laid siege of Nallur. Portuguese Governor in Colombo dispatched armed forces under the command of Luis de Teyxeyra de Machedo to support Oliveriya’s forces to break the siege and drive back Meegampillai. Tamil rebels in the Kingdom joined forces with Meegampillai, anyhow the Tamil rebels were defeated.

In November 1620, Meegampillai returned with another army of Tamilian soldiers with renewed vigor and vengeance to drive away the Portuguese. Portuguese who received advanced recce about the movements of the invading Tamil forces from Tanjore were prepared to meet them. Oliveriya and the Portuguese forces entered the sea and prevented Meegampillai’s forces from landing. When fierce fighting ensued, Oliveriya was seriously wounded when a Tamil soldier charged him with his spear. However, the Tamils have to retreat again. Finally, 2000 of the Tanjore soldiers landed on 5 December 1620, at Thondaminaru, under the command of Varuna Kulatan, but the war drag on until 11 February 1621, and finally the Kingdom had fallen into the hands of the Portuguese.

The bloody war saw to the end of the Tamil aristocracy and the sovereignty of the Tamils. Up to now, the Tamils have yet to recover from the loss of their sovereignty. Postscript:

According to the Portuguese historians, Cankli Kumaran was converted to Christianity along with his wife. He was baptized as Don Phillipe and his wife as Margrette. Ultimately, the last Tamil King was hanged in the year 1621.

The conversion of Cankli Kumaran and his wife to Christianity was a propaganda ploy of the Portuguese. In 1818, the Council of the Jesuit Society resolved that those converts to Christianity would be spared of their death penalty. Therefore, when Cankli Kumaran was hanged, it clearly shows that he steadfastly remained as Tamil and died as a Tamil without betraying the faith the Tami professed.

In the meantime, the wife and three daughters of Edirmannasinghan were converted to Christianity. Amongst the three children, the eldest daughter, the heir to the throne of the Tamil Kingdom was baptized and given the Christian name Dona Constantina, along with her two sisters. They had their education, at first in Goa and later sent to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal for higher education.

The fate of the Tamils were sealed, however when Dona Constantina and her two sisters, Dona Marie and Dona Isabelle signed the Royal Instrument of Transfer of their right to rule the Tamil Kingdom, to the King of Portugal. This act effectively ended the sovereignty of the Tamils in toto.

Revised version of: “11 February 1621: Tamils’ Sovereignty ended,” which appeared in the “Eelam Nation” in 1999.

by K. T. Rajasingham

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