Vernon Corea is a direct descendant of Edirille Bandara – King Dominicus Corea. The Daily News in Sri Lanka published a bookreview on Edirille Bandara – The Fall of A Warrior published in Colombo in 2006 and written by Sarath Kumarawardane.
HISTORY: King Parakramabahu VI of Kotte Kingdom (1412-67 AD) unified the entire Island of Lanka under his reign in 1450. The country remained so under a unitary rule upto 1477. After the demise of the king, kingdoms of Jaffna and Kandy fell out of Kotte’s rule.
In 1505 the ship in which a Portuguese fleet commander Lourenco de Almeida travelled in his expedition was dashed into Colombo by strong winds.
Almeida soon realized the strategic commercial importance of the island and implored for an audience from Vira Parakrama Bahu the king of Kotte. The king gave him a courteous audience.
The Portuguese made use of the politeness extended and soon returned and established a regular and formal contact with the king.
In 1518 they were allowed to put up a fort at Colombo and trading concessions too were permitted by the successor, king Vijayabahu.
In 1521 three sons of Vijayabahu, the reigning king of Kotte, assassinated their father and divided the kingdom among them. The eldest brother Bhuvanekabahu, ruled at Kotte, and the other two became kings of independent kingdoms Sitawake and Raigama.
An agreement in 1543 between Bhuvanekabahu and king of Portugal had guaranteed the protection of King Bhuvanekabahu’s grandson prince Dharmapala on the throne and the defence of the kingdom and in return the Portuguese were to be confirmed with all their privileges and to receive a tribute of cinnamon.
Kotte’s last king was Don Juan Dharmapala and with his death in 1597 sovereignty passed to the king of Portugal according to an agreement between Portugal and Sinhala chiefs under Dharmapala..
Set amidst this backdrop, comes the simple and readable narrative on Edirille-rale (Bandara) published under the authorship of Sarath Kumarawardane.
The 40 page book deals with in brief life story of Edirille-rala who is said to have served as a warrior under Portuguese during the time of Don Juan Dharmapala, king of Kotte in 1580s and later realizing the peril the countrymen were exposed to under Portuguese Edirille-rala defected to Sinhalese forces to add his contribution to liberate the country. In this work, author Sarath Kurarawardane aptly portrays Edirille’s last battle and his fateful end.
Another notable contemporary of Edirille-rala in the era was General Azevedo who earned a record of valiant achievements in combat and strategy.
From the outset of their imperialist domination, Portuguese Army carried on warfare and ruled the maritime belt with hatred and cruelty against the inhabitants.
Appointing General Azewedo to the task in charge of internal warfare in Lanka was nothing short of crowning the expansionist agents to commit ruthless atrocities against the hospitable countrymen who had no choice other than rising against the terror.
Edirille-rala is supposed to have built a stronghold on the Uduwara Hill by the bank of river Kaluganga at Uduwara about 9 miles north of Kalutara on the road towards Anguruwatota a well-known waterfront used for transportation of personnel and merchandise during civil wars and at the time of peace over many centuries down in the ancient history. Uduwara Hill was Edirille’s base wherein he lived with his consort, servants, guards etc.
Once Edirille left his stronghold with all his men on a tactical reason. The plan backfired and his stronghold was overrun by Portuguese soldiers.
Edirille made a valiant attempt to reoccupy the stronghold in vain as the Portuguese established their prowess and war tactics cunningly to defeat him. Edirille’s soldiers ran away hither and thither under the belief that their leader too had left the battle front fearing the hostile attack.
He could not regroup with the soldiers. His stallion was frightened hearing the deafening sound of drums and crackers Portuguese staged strategically to make the enemy believe that Portuguese army was at hand, poised to mount a merciless assault on Sinhalese soldiers.
Men and resources
Edirille lost everything, his men and resources needed for the battle. The stallion bolted leaving Edirille, fallen on the ground. Edirille walked on, all alone and helpless under heavy rain and stormy wind. There was no shelter or human being to find.
He waded through puddles of mud and grime, dejected with pain from injuries and bruises on his body and moved forth along narrow pathway in the uninhabited jungle. Edirille saw a massive tree of unusual height and girth.
Probing around, he found an opening at the base of the tree. He hid his sword and official paraphernalia in it. Edirille next managed to climb the tree with the support of a creeper and spotted at some distance a hut on an elevated ground with surroundings waterlogged.
The following morning Edirille traced the hut in which one old woman lived. When Edirille asked for some food, he received a plateful of jak fruit cooked.
He introduced himself to the woman and said he would collect an army and go against Portuguese and slept outside the hut on a structure built out of sticks to serve as a chair or sofa for lying down.
By this time Portuguese had proclaimed that whoever provided information leading to the arrest of Edirille would be generously rewarded. The woman’s son carried the message to the nearest army camp at Anguruwatota. Edirille was immediately taken prisoner with hands and feet manacled.
The author takes several pages to tell the tragic end of the warrior Edirille-rala who bravely fought for the freedom of countrymen against Portuguese.