Kirti Sri Raja Singha

Kirti Sri Raja Singha was Vijaya Raja Singha’s wife’s eldest brother from Madurai. Hence another Brother-in-law to throne, thus the second of the South Indian line. He was a tender young man when he succeeded his brother-in-law, and it was not until the year 1751 that he ascended the throne as Kirti Sri Raja Singha.

He devoted the first few years of his reign to the advancement of literature and religion. The king, later with the Dutch assistance got down to learning Bhikkus from Siam (Thailand) for the purpose of advancing Buddhism in Sri Lanka, also building the Raja Maha Vihara (Gangarama) was built at Kandy. Kirti Sri built the existing inner temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, and caused the Mahavansa chronicle to be continued from the time of Parakrama Bahu IV down to his own reign.

Attack on Dutch Forts

In 1761 King Keerthi Sri Rajasinha attacked the Dutch garrisons and forts at Matara, Katuwana, Tangalle, Marakade and Urubokke, completely destroying them, and killing Dutch while some surrendered and ended up as prisoners.

In order to revenge the humiliation, the new Dutch governor Van Eck had immediate plans to attack Kandy, but the weakness in fortification and garrison forbade the Dutch. Later they did attack in 1764 and in 1765. Hence, in the early part of 1763 the Dutch were only consolidating their positions and gradually expelling Kandyans from the territories taken over from Dutch. Throughout 1763 the King continually sought peace and sent his envoys to discuss terms. The Governor wished the King to cede the three four and seven Korales and Puttlam and hand over the entire coastline of island to the Dutch. The king was not agreeable to any demand that diminished his sovereignty and was deliberately delaying a settlement hoping for help from the English in Madras after his discussion and negotiations with John Pybus 1762.

Meeting with the British

The King in mid 1762 sought help from George Pigot, Governor of Fort St George Madras for assistance. The British eager to obtain the monopoly of trading in cinnamon, pepper, betel nut (puwak) from the Kandyan Kings also wanted to expel the Dutch from the coasts. A reason to call on the British for assistance by the Kandyan King in 1762 was that after the treaty of Paris, the Dutch poured troops into Sri Lanka. They were bent on capturing Kandy from six directions (1764). Anticipating such a scenario the King sent an envoy to the English Governor of Madras to assist him in expelling the Dutch. This envoy, a junior Kandyan Official in the military made a clandestine trip to Madras Fort, and the English responded by sending their councilor Mr Pybus.

John Pybus, a writer of the British East India Company, sailed to Kandy with a backup of five ships and about 200 armed men. A British vessel brought Pybus to Trincomalee on 5 May 1762. The Dutch knew of the arrival of Pybus through their spies and they were kept informed of his movements. Pybus took an exhausting covert trip to meet the King on 24 May 1762. After several talks without any conclusive decisions Pybus left after a month. The King gave him a ring, sword, a gold chain with breast jewels and left the country crossing the river at Puttalam pass while the The Dissawa who accompanied Pybus presented the ships commander Samuel Cornish a gold chain and a ring in the name of King "Keerthi Sri Rajasinha "."

John Pybus in his notes described the King as a man of tolerable stature, reddish in complexion and very brisk in his movements. Pybus was amazed as to how the kandyans had managed to fight a war with Dutch and had captured Matara Dutch Fort. He wrote that "They had put every European to the sword except two officers who are now prisoners of the country."

Marriage

He married the daughter of one Nadukattu Sami Nayakkar in 1749. He further married three more Nayakkar queens from Madurai, but had no children, but had six daughters and two sons by his favorite Sinhala lady (Yakada Doli), daughter of the late Dissave (Headman) of Bintenna, granddaughter of the blind and aged Mampitiya Dissave. Both his sons survived the king and his daughters’ married Nayakkar relatives of the king. Mampitiya’s sons claim for the throne was overlooked and the choice fell on the king’s brother who was living in court.

The king died on January 2, 1782, of the injuries caused two months before by a fall from his horse after a reign of 35 years which the people saw as a great religious revival, and had a sentimental attachment to the King.


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