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BEr{TOTA UNNAI{s}l AI\i} ?'r{E \4/d[,ApANA RABEtr"IJON

(ir{4? -.- 1843)


Anrrrun. C. Dnp. E.A. (London)

Life A[ember Jtl,S (SD])
In 1842, in the arsa$ bstvieen tr{.andy and tsndutrla, c*irtering
round Walapate, therc was unrest. A Pre1.*nder was moviilg
about stirring the peoptre tr: r*bellior,r. He $/as, t'letainert
nnd after sornetime released, v,'ithout a trial. He returnettr to the
same area about the same periocl in i843 and resuflred his trcaselnahtre
activities. ftre was again seized with several of his supportors,
detained and chalged in the giuprerile Court, for Trea:ion *rid other
allied offences and vras "rentenecd to 14 years harcl labour. This
attenrip[ to seize por,ver and drive av/ay the British frorn the country,
$ons referred to as f.he Walapane Rebellion.

{lenfota Llnnamsel.

The rnoving spirit in this R.ebellion r.vas the flerson popularly

known as Eentota (Jnnanse. He was born in the village of Warakana
in the Raigam Koraie arad his full name was Kolonne Appuhami-
lage l)on Floris de Silva Gooneraine. He was the son of the
Police ltidane of lVarakana. F.Ie rnarried the daughter of Don
$a"irnan de Silva Appuharny of Induruwe-a distiller af Arrack.
In the early 1830's he gave up his lay life and became fl, Samenerfl
nnd donned yellow robes. I{is ordination took place in the Debe'dda
Fansala in Raigam trfurale, near, Fanadura.

Soon after he went to Jaffna and accornpanied a Frince to

Tanjore. This Frince was said to be a cousin of the last Kancl;ran
Iiing, Sri Wickrema Raja Singha. They travoiied as rnonks.
After a three day stay in Tanjore, Eentota (Jnnanse rehrrned to
the trstrand, via lla.rneswaran and Talaimannar and frorn ttrere came
to Anttradapura ancl finally to Kandy. FIere, in 1840, he received
the higtrer orrJination-Upisarnpada-at the lvIaiwatte Temple and
took the religious narne, Chandrajothy Seelarvansa Saranankara
unnailse. But after a short tirne he gave up being a rnonk and
56 BtrNTorA LllJNAI'isE AND THE I\IAL'APA'NE REBELLION JpLTRNAL R. A. S. {SnI t rrUra) Vot. XXIX {N..s.) 19s4 57

became a Christian, trraptised by Rev' Joseph llarris o[ the

Preparation for the Rebellioni.
Missirrn' Though tre was comrnonllr referred to as Bent'ota Unnanse-
s'BeniaI"aHee*tllnrs' Qr 'Heera' However Bentota Unnanse was attracted by the plan because
or Don Floris, tie derogatory terms
luwa" stuck to him. it coincided with his lif'e's desire of ridding the country of the British.
Besides he was to have a leading role in this with the prospect of
lfhe Plnn of the Rebellion;. heing a second King. I{e accordingiy fell in with the scheme.
Bentota (Jnnanse again clonned the yellow robes of the rnolrk
anrl attended a Pinkamiet the Beligala Vihare, in ihe Four Karales' By now, the Chiefs o1'Dumbara, I{ervaheta, Walapane, Uva
There he met Moragolla (Jwranse, the pupii of Dehigama Unnanse' Wellasse, Bintenne, Nuwara Kala"wiya, Vanny, Udunuwara, Yati-
Moragolla (Jnnsnse-took hirn aside, to the juugle close by to speaK iluwara, Gampola, Dolosbage, Tumpane, Harispattu, the Four,
to hiri more seci"etly. F{e disclosed to hirn a plan thc't was 91 t"tt Three and Seven Korales, had pledged their support and sent dele-
to drir,e away the siitlsli and make the country free again. +1o"1): gates with presents to 1.he l(ng. A gun had been fired a.t an auspi-
there was u tlose relation of the last King in the fietrd tr-r take over iious hour. Besiries, s{eps had been taken to win over the Malays,
1"he country. suardiug the Badulla Fort, by promise of re'.vards. A large fcrtce
lr,'as treing got reacly for a surprise night attack.
The plan was to attack Badulla, by night rvith a iarge.force'
neartry 10,b00. <lrawn from Maiale, Hariipattu, Turnpane.-"9.Y11: Bentota (Inntinse toured the area of operatlon rvith lvloragolla
and tlke it by surprise. A.fter disposing of tne Eritish and ail those the dispcrsition of the people arrd preparing
Lhffianse, observing
'v,lho offered resistance, this for"e wouTA join the {.Jdunuwara and thenr for the rising. I-{e visited the Seven Korales and f)umbara
Yatinurvara people and cut o{T Kandy' This would heral<1 a and. Matale. Froru Matale he went to Makultenne Temple, to
general uprising. The people o1' the Four Karsles irnd Sabara'ga-
I)ankande and to l-aggala. He proclaimed himself the King and
irrrr*u, 'would Jtop the-Nlail Coach and cut off communications people came and prostrated before him. The people of Laggala6
'lvith Colombo. These two forces rvould combine and rnarcir up to told him how on an ealier occasinn when they wero making prepara-
the Peradeniya bridge and enter tr{ancly. After the capture of Kandy tions to rise, their cattle were seized. This tirne they would wait
this force would divide, one traalf to aitack Colomtro fiom t'he North till a start was made and then join. He found that he had support
and the other half liont the South. The people of the lorvcountry ' from several priests, severai chiefs and from the ordinary folk
lvho have not been sounded yet, wor.rld 6e drawn in. This attack
wrruld drive the British to the sea. Moragolla (Jnnan,se asked,him This tour of the areas where the people were waiting to support
to join and assured him thal he woulcl bJ made the second King' an uprising caused uneasiness. People began to get excited and
apprehensive. The Cofl'ee Planters? found it difficult to get labour.
The F'abtre of the Jackala. Very soon the presence of a Pretender in these areas reached the
After giving ear to this plan, tsentota (Jnnqnse told h'loragoila ears of the Government. At first the Government treated the
(h'tnqnse thit hJwas reminded of the story of thc jackal, caught in- a information they received as idle rumour.s It was only when an
snare. Since jackal fables were many Bentota {Jnnqnse related the important Chief informed the Colonial Secretary, that notice was
story. A jackal caught in a snare aapeaied to a Brahinin, Who was taken. Further probing yielded more information. By the 29th
passsing try to release hirn antl promised to silow him a place rvher.e April, it was learnt that the Pretender had much support in Upper
ihere w=as'gotd. The Erahmin agreed and tied the jackal in !i1 I)umbara. On the 2nd May it was learnt that the Fretender was at
sharvl and iarried him to the place pointetl out. The ja.ckal told Siteda SiyaPattu"the people of which had assembied and joined the
the Brahmin to keep looking ai thr r,,tr till the anirnals came with cause of the Pretender".e The people of Pallepella and \Vendaruwe
the gold. He clid so and was blinded and the jnckal cscaped. were with the Pretender. The Wendarwve Korala rvho had some
Bentota (hmanse told Moragolla LInnanse, that if he gave of ttrre Kings robes was supporting hirn." That some of the late
his story and joined hirn, hii plight woulrJ be that oi the Bra.hmin, King'srotres were concealed in the house of the Wendaruwe
who lvas left in a helpless condition. Besides what Kingdorn had Korale'l0 The people of Gangala, Walapane, Laggala and Hewaheta
he to give him. were also orr his side.
58 BENToTA u\rr.{'ANsE Ax.rI} TrrE wAL,dpANE r{EBE[]\
JolJRr{AL !r. A. s. (sttI muxa) vot. xxIX {N. J.) 59
The Captune ot'the Rebels.
L]ltimately, in January 1843,1e it was decided to tak-e nofurther
lhe two batctries of }v{alaysrl scrnr. to scize the Freterrder on action. Bentota [Jwtsnse ancx his companions vlere released fcrr
?-0thA.pril reccived very littlc support in rheir" task. The inf,crrmarion i{ant of evidence. This action had some effect in tliat it checked
they had rvas that Folgaspiti-va Dugganaralarx ryas the Fretender"s ihe prevaiti'g excitement. "Thus it appears that in 1842, tlrt:
chief supporter. Soine peoplo of th*; area seizetl this ma.n with u*lruru of' Eentota (Jnnfirse was sufficient to check the excitement
\veapons in his harids. This upset the supportcrs of thc Fl.etender it ttt*r spreaci throughout a considerable portion of the Brovince.e0
"t lt Was not deterrelt enough and created the unfavourable
3g.d immediately the assembling of people rvas stoppad. The
impression that the Government was aflraid to act and the laW
King hearing of this fled to Bintenire, sholting that he il'as a tiinicl
lllan. Bentota Unnanse went in searclr. of hirn and lvas seized near t elptess"tt This encouraged tsentnrta (Jnnanse to rnake another
Weragantota on 7 h4ay,13 by tlie Gomagoda ,Aratcky. He was then atteruPt.
said to trre in riisguise.i+ Iie ura"s not ipera.tirrg in rhe r*'bes *f a
monk, but in the dress rvorn by Frinces, viz., a clol_h coverirrg the
lower br:dy up to the ankles" n turban covering his head and alliither "ttrre tr{.ebellion is resumed.
cloth cast over his shouiders. This endecl the reirellion.
Beniota (Innanse with a few companions frrsi went to l{ewaheta'
The Llrerest in the countryo len'Jing to thls _iLt*erupt. ;\{ter visiting Marasinne, Ehelamalpe, Maturata, Toppitiya -and
Por:galrnade,-h* *u*. to Badulla to sound the people' . From trrere
In the districts oi $y'al;rperne, Kt"rhoka Kurale, Maturata, *n ti* 5th day he came to Nuwara Eliya' I{ere, while he rvas
Wendarurva and Hewaheta, a spirit of disaffeutit'rn to the Govern- iuif,ing to the ionstable, a lowcountry Sinhalese ma' in liquor carne
rnent exisled. Being off ths b,-'aren track snd outrlr.ncliih arcas ue i*"fti* and told hiirl, "You are the person who are making
there rVas iirtle contact with EuroXreans and the iu.illrerc,n of the disturhance in the country, cailing yourself a King"'2z Bentota
Chiet's counted. The Chiefs in this area encouraged the spirit of" Unnanse v;as tahen aback ty this arrd left Nuwara Eliya' immedia-
disloyalty, and their influence was used to encouragi rebcllici. ..Irr Giy. fii- next important visit was to Haputale to meet the Gan-
the Walapane, Kohoka, Maturata and Wendarui'ua fror,t/c,s, it had iiarya xorota. Tire Karalawas a*,ay at the tirne anrl till his return
been used, with effect, in nreparing the people to dse in rebellion,,.ls home he lem:ri*ert in the Ju'gle. Oir his return he rnet hirn. The
Arrd the tsuddhist clergy were, t-oi ttre moit part, rtr.isconte*ted. vrifh Karala told him that he understood that there was a King with
the prevailing state r:f things. ,.Their religirin was fast lailing. their th**. {f he briugs hirn he will supply him with a i000 men' tsen-
eerelnoaies are ill attended, the o{xerings aro l"ew, and little atiention t.ta unrucznse -,vfnt to Archdeacon-dlenie'sgs estate inFussellawa.
is paid.. to the Tcmples, which are rt,rmllittg arvay and decaf ing rvith r,r,hers t,he Frince v,,as residing and oame with him to rneet' the Ksrslu.
Again the Karalqwas not uihou*u and whiie he waitecl for 6irn,
thc rr:ligion itself"-ld rherre were, theref'oie, man.v Burtdhist ilonks
to suppoi:t rebellion. The comnnon folk lvere trtrso clissatisfied. Korskf s wifE sent word to him to he carelul as the .f{rrraldz was

Thetr chenus and grazing grouud.s have beeli swallovded up by the tlving to betra.y them.ea Bcntota (Jnnsnse, then, spoke 1o i3*
estates. Though there -was work in estates, this work ivas not pii*c"e Telegu and the Prillce returned to Glenie's estate' Tlte
attractive to them. Their very existellce vras threate:nsd. Besides Korale, on his-return showed that he was Y{:ry disappointed with
they l'ailetl to get justice "cLue to the rapacity of pr*ctors".l? This xhat had happened.
was ther*fr,rre f*rtiie grouuctr for rebellion.
The next importnnt visit w;ls ttl Eadulla in eariy h{ay' O3
The Release of' Ilentota LTnnanse. this visit he was seen aild spoken to, by NIr' Layard, thess Agent'
lines to contact the fuIalay etnrcers'
and had then visited tXre lv{alay"day,
Ecnl.ota (htnanse lairguished in the Kirnciy jail till {he Govcnr- FIe failed to rneet thern that but met thern rnear the srvoilen
urent cornpleted ir:rquiries and de*ided on the further steps to be river next day. Fle offered betei to the leader and over a chew of
{aken..But there lvere some unavoidable delays. The
eueen,s lr*t*l O;."toueO tris ptau antl promisert to give them better ternr's if
Advocatels iS{r. Temple) who was handling this inquiry,tell ill. thel, cocperated. ,{U tnis conversation was in Jv[alay'so
60 (snl r-aNr'r) vol. XXIX (N' S.) 1984 61
J0{JRNAL R. A" s'

In between these important visits, he traversed the entire For this ihey were not quiteready' The heavy rains from lptil":
assernble and get about'3r
area of operation, contacting the people and arranging for their ir';r;;l;-it oimcutiu tontionturiontomore
ior p"opt6
than an atlack on hirn'
assembling, when called upon to do so. In some places he tarried Therefore he desired 'fhe Ambanwellaas
longer to make preparations. F{e rnade gunpowder at the house of Some of his supportett;;;;;d
to kill him'
the Basnaika NilamezT at Bogamuwa. There was a good flat peoote were so disPosed'
stone here and they rnade two parrahs of gunpowder. He, also
made gunpowder at the house of Garuwa,28 having received enough (Jnnanse wentto Arukwatte and people
On the 5 June Bentota
!ttt1.him'--He was then told
salt and saltpetre. This powder was placed in a chatty pat, the that
gathered there to -t;;;J
mouth of which was covered with a deer skin. A11 this and iterns
Andraweu'e r*u,
him' He then look l0 'swords'3r
p'"p*iing io tJltt
such as, a bundie of swords, pikes and wooden handles, and metal one rot and said 'Let us go'
and distributed them,'*Jt;t Tl1:tf
the Kurundu ova' He left
blades for pikes were kept r,vith the Gallinde Aratchltzs and were in near
frh.y";ils,Jar* io m" )ilLo7o*o
the custody of ttrr people of Arukwatte. his men here and f"rundu Oya with Ulpenge Dingirala
and went to sound
trtt Dissawe'36 With the help of a
They neecled nearly 20,000 guns3o for this ventule. Thev liacl
so-betvueen he learnt iftot tftJ Dissawe.fias surprised that with'so
in hand only 321 guns. Feople were, therefclre asked to turn up going to seize a resolute character like
when called, each one bringing his orxn gun ancl arnmunition.
f;;;;"d;;;;;";'rhry weret"iA iLern that when they had seized
t\ndra'rvewe Koralu' ff"^ tlat
In all the places he visited he was respectlully received, providetl ffi;;;; ih*y rhoulO seize him also, to give the impression
meals and Houses were decorated and seats on which ;;';;; uitt oppoutd to them':? ' By the.tirne Unnanse
learnt thit both Andrawewe and the
he sat were covered with white cloth. People flocked to him to *"t i"ir.t .l iiii*r lit nua
about his activities' He
prostratc and pay homage a.s to a King. This sort ol reception was Dissawe had informeJ ttt" Cov"rnments8
common and he was convinced that he had support for his venture. #* tutitn.O that the Dissawe was playing a double game'
At all these places he had the assurance of support with rnen and people who w'ere
materials. He had only to give fir,e days notice for the people to Betrtota (Jnnanse left behind the Arnbanwella
gather. The people of Matale were, however, hesitant. Owing ,"yf;lt;;-ihey rvoutO not eat their rice tiil they had seized Andra-
-h the Hewaheta people he moved towards
to the past bitter experiences they wouid come out when a start wewe, and taklng oniy
*"tt was sent.ahead to scout round and
had been made. Andrawewe's house'
was at home' This man did not
irliJ-""r ivhether Andrawewe when they got to the-house'
Changes in the Plan of Attack. ;;i;t;. It was an hour betbre sunrise
his men and himself
Bentota (Jnngnse surrounded the house with
Bentota Unnanse seirsed that his movenrents in and a.bout wenttothetiontcompound.Therewasa"flatstonethere.3gThis
Badulla in early May had roused the suspicions of the Government. was immediately covered with a white cloth
for hirn to sit on it'
to be a Teacher
He had therefore to alter his plan by starting with an attack on P;;ei;;;; .u# th.r"' A lowcountrywhere tLrc said
Korqls was' he said
Nuwara Eliya instead of Badulla. While he was preoccupied with carne out of the house' When asked
this alteration something unexpected dernanded his immediate the. Korales'wife and daughter'
lr" *a, ,tol tnere' Then appeared
bowed' they begged and they
attention. He received information that Andrawewe Korala,3z ift."" *tt- tittroughly frightened' they,
rvas planning to thwart his scheme by seizing him. Andrawewe him
iilf"; til; th.y U. nit killed. They to kill him and burn
totrd that the Korsla
corning his
Korala was known to be very pro-government and besides he l-,'as & had information that peopte were
pretender, Bentota (Jnnanse told her'
strong and forceful character. Before doing anything else he had house and he fled. the
to be neutralised" "[ was told Andrawewe lvarrted to sEize me and' thereforeofI injuring
came to
**" hi- and speak to him and not with the intention
Bentota Unnqnse knew well enough that any attempts to him".ar The Fretender asked the people who gathered-to return to
neutralise Andrawer've would reach the ears of the government and ti;; villag;;. He himself left the place with the Hewaheta rnen to
they would har,e to follow up with the attack on Nuwara Eliya. join the others near the ambalama"
J()URNAL R. A. s. (snt Vo!. XXIX (N. S.) 1984 63
Andrawewe received information of the impending attack, $'as only then that the Government decided to act. Major Rogers
iu the nick ol time, aerd escaped",I{is neighbour Kalunaide had
was ordered to go out into the area and make inquiriei and iake
trricked up the information ofthis attack, and went with another action to capture the rebels. Captain Kelson had already got hold
blacksmrith neighbour and knockecl at Audraw'ewe's door and said of Gallegoda Dissawe and some others and was making inquiries.
"Be quick aud open the doors, fhe Sinhalese King and his whole
party are coming to iay hold of rnaster, better get, out of the way".a2 The Gathering of People to start the Rebellion.
Fromptly Andrawev/o and his vrif'e Kirirnenika started off in tFre
direction ofl the paddyfi*lds. X{i:re they pa.nt*d., he going, in the The Pretender, Bentota [lnnanse knew that he had now to act
direction of Nuwara Hliya. and she returning to Kalunaide's house. fast and ordered a muster at Arukwattebl on ll Jun'e. Garuwa's
Only Andreas de Soysa Appuharny,as tire tut.:r of' A.trdral-.rewe's threshing floor was the venue. Here, on the llth, seated on a log
son stayed behind in the house. Towards <trawn, this man fu.eard covered with a white cloth, Bentota (Jnnanse, decked in the many
some one cailing owt 'tWohottale, fr{okoftale". He cauac orrt and red cloths he had with him, for the King's robes were available to
saw a monk and ir:nother man rvhorn the monk $aid vias a f.{ing. him, in great splendour received the homage of the people. people
lte paid homagc to him. Then the Koyala"s rvife and dau,gh.ter forrned a circle round him, while Denisoz and another stood bn
came there. The King siroke to them and left the rrlace with his either side with swords in hand. The people who had gathered,
rnen. b{o harrn rvas doni to ;rnyr:ne and no damage"was tlo,re tc went down on their knees before him, with folded hands and paid
propertY. him homage. After this demonstration of loyalty he withdrew
into the jungle close by and food was taken to him there.
Goverruurent Action :
Then came the gathering of the people at pannala, lor the
The nervs of tlne attemilt to get at Andr;r.rve.,v* Korttkt r*lacirqd attacl( on Nuwara Eliya. Bentota (Jnnanse sent Banhetty Aratchi
the Go,,rernment in an exeggsrated i'*rm. Though no harm was and Garuwas3 to collect the people. A pointed stick, a sign of
Elone even to his plopcr'{.y, tlte Goriernrnenl t}rrtught thaf sonrcthting authority was given to each of them for the purpose. There was a
*,orsc had hai:rpenecl. T'he Go"rernment nr)vr naouerl, though ittrey noticeable reluctance on the part of the people to assemble. Some
coulc.l, have donc s* eariier rvith. more profit" Since A, it lroal were making excuses. Rasambalagama /4,ratchi who came there
knolvn tr"hat a Pretender rvas iit this area stirring up the peolile ttr with about 30 men said they would come tomorrow. "We have
rebeiiion. trn *arly i'if;t'r, froin the in{'orniitl.i*n. r',4riah reachr:cl irii'll, now our paddy in the threshlng floor, but tomorrow we will go with
Bulier,,rs the Go'r*rrir-ment A"gent Csntrel Fnrvincc, thcuglrt that, the Iou:1.64 People had to be pressed to join. Actually taken by hand.
rebels rvere plaruring t* ir.ttack the treasure i.he Malay offioers were Denis played a leading part in this. People were kraaled in and
taking trr Bu.duila. FXe infrrrmed Major Rogers, the Governrnent stockaded toprevent theirescape. Some were actually escaping.
Agent oi Nuwata Eliy*. Later in the sarne rnoilth {-oku Bandaa! Kumbalgama Arstchi came there with his men. When he was
the irew Superilitenderrt ofl Folice iirfbrmed Buller that Gallegoda asked to give his men, he said "I arn a servant of Government and
Dissawe was supportii.rg the retrels. Captain Kelson,ao the District I cannot, I shall report this to the Government tomorrow".66 and
ito, left with his men. Bentota angered by the behaviour of the people
Judge Nuwara Eliya, had inforrned Eulier of the activities of
Bentota Unnanse. When Euilsr informed the Colonial Socretary kicked an He realised that the Government was aware
he was toid "take no steps without the euthority of the Govern- of his plan and decided to call off the rebellion. He gave each man
ment, exccpt in case of- emergsncy.".4? 'fhey rvere not treating his gun and dismissed them.
Bullers'informatiorl rvith the seriousness it deserved. I{e iriforrned
The reluctance of the people was mostly due to the action
the Colonial Secretary again. Tiris time Fieicher in
UV the Government. Already Captain Kelson was holding
Colombo treated the in{'ormr.iioq with some concern but not jvtrajor Fk:n
uauegoda Dissawe in custody and questioning him and others.
Rogcrs, wtrro was at tsaclulia. On the 5 June Andraweweas Major Regors was in the area looking for thi rebels and giving
wanted i2 rnene ter help hin to seize Bentota dLnnanse. On the 6ts t'oku Banda and his men all the assistance in tracing the leading
June the anleged attack oil Andralqevre's house lvas reported. Xt rebeh. With a few companions Bentota {Jnnanse -crossed thl
mxra"} XXN S.) 19S4 65
iLl{JRl:lAL R. A. S. (Snl Val, (r-Y.

rir,er t,r tr)umbara. He moved rapidly all the time aware ttrrat the
Ponice were afier him. .11,t one point he lcarnt ihat Ccinstable This sase63 came up for irial in Supreme Court, tsadulla on 5th'
Banda u'as looking for him. When he came to Kahalles? he sarv Trh, 8th, 9th, 1lth, 12th and 13 Se-pterrber 1843' 'Iustice Mr'
the Gandhaya Korala drinking coffee with some Malays F{e Stark with a Jury (7 Natives and 6 Europeans) presided" hdr'
knevl they were wating for him. [Ie upbraided thr: Koralaforhis ielby led evidence while h,lr. V/ilmot appeare4 for the accused.
treachery and yeilded to arrest. With him 19, including Ulpenge Th*i" W"r. 30 rvitnesses in this case including the O{ficial witnesses '
Samuel F{ollowell, Secretary, District Coui't Nurvara Eliya,
Dingirala were arrested on the r'varrants sent by Captain l{elson.58
Buller knew that there was another Fretender to tre arrested. Ou eoidence regarding the productions in this case. The FroductionsEa
his directions Denis was arrested as the sther Pretender. wsre :*-

l. Fact'et 5. Eundie ot"Fikes with handles'

The action to chesk this R.ebellion did not end with these arrests. 6. Bundles of Fikes without handles'
Loku Eanda, whose rvork in rounciing up the accused was highiy
2" Chntty
commended, was of the view that vigilance should continue tiil the ]" Bundle of 4 swords 7. Two arrows and bolv'
PerEhera was over'. For it rvas duririg ihis t'estival that Kandyans
from villages flocked into Town. Tlw Fera.herc rvas t* begin on 4. Facket. 8. Bundle of 5 sr','ords.
28 July. He wanted permission to emirlol' nloro peons and stated
that this lvas not "from any fear of arry disiurbance, which I see no 9. /r gun, a caP and a fan'
reason to beiieve but merely to procure a foLr.:e beforehand for ttre
safety of the Town on the occasion and assistance iil case n'lf'emer- Iirom the statments. ilrarJe there lvas evidenr,e of plepararon ot
gency".6e tstrller, teio, thought tirat vigilance shcluld contillue till !sunp{-}w'ier, coliecting of arms and ammunition, gathering o^f people
the Perq.hera !va.s ovcr. Po\ice peons tioru Colomtlo lvere sent to it*a'irt*po*tion for attack, There was no evidence of a plan
assist during the Perqkera. tr'r" was reported "that the Ferahera was an.l of the accused acting togetller in the furtherance of this plan'
ill-attended and that because it was generally known the Govern' 'rlt* ttr:' act committeniy itiem was the surrounding of Andra-
nlent was in possession of the intentions of the disaffected". Also, ,".-r,rr', house.,Ttris was a move to win him over to their side' There
people could not infiltrate into Kandy "there being Poiice peorls from wi:s no elamage to property or in.iury to persotls' Denis who was
Colombo at each of the fbrries".60 rir:scrih*rl as a prete'dea *uu .ro ttrrre ihott ir- sword-bearerco of
B:nLota {Jnnartse

The Case : |'he Verdict was : The First prisoner guilly lry his ovrn confession
u[hcrs not guilty.
Captain Kelson and Major R.ogers cornpicted their inquiries
without rnuch delay. Their inquiries irrcluded the confession of T'he Sentence was That the F'irst Prisoner be drarvn to the place
Bentota ( This was made on 28 June 1843 belbre Captain of execution on wednesday l5th November next and hanged by
Kelson, District Judge Nuwara Eliya. Mr. H. C. Selby, Deputy the neclc till dead. This sentence was commuted to 14 years hard
Queen's Advocate, was present when this confession was recorded' Lrt-lour"
All the precautions required by Law, when recording such a state-
ment. were observed. In his confession, Bentota (Jnnanse made sorne noteworthy
tbservations culled from his erperiences' These were t"
ttoriCl'uttu ate rebels". . ' ' . . "If the Governrnent wish to keep Kandy'
Beritota (Innanse with Il oihers wcre charged in Supreme Court they silould place cannon and lights at the eirtrances' with a guard at
Badulla, in the caso 'Queenoz vs Chanclrajothy Seqlawansa Saranan- ;;it; ilgiish soldiers, but not soldiers of a;1Y other :ration"'-
kara (Jnnanse,' for'freason and allied ofi'ences. Ilenis was the 12th '"and shoulf, call in all ihe guns vrhich the Kandyans possess and
accused in the case" ptt*ni itt" sale of gunpowd;r and flints""' "and lastly not to tru::t
i'* Kandyan of anY kind"'o
,!oURNAL R' S. A. lSnl laxx.r) Vat. XXIX(N. S.) I9s4 5V

A. stronger case would have been made out if the 1843 attempt
itsway. In this rebellion, to assemble the people for the attack on
was considerecl a continuation of rhe 1842 attempt. This, ire fact
rvas so. A.fter the first attempt was foiled and Bentota Unnanse
Su**u Eliya rvas difficult. Feople had to bn kraaled in and
stockadr:d to prevent their escape...
was released, he returned to resume his activities, from where he
left off. He was the leader in both attempts, his supporteres were
tlre sarne, the area of operation was the same, the time selected was The Froductious, however, were suggestive of a contemptible
the same and the plan of the Rebellion was the same. The move- nttempt. T0 fight a rebellion, even then with bows and arrows
ments and doings of Bentota (Jnnanse, in 1843, rvere in keeping with urra pif.*t wer6 old fashioned. But there were- guns a plenty in
this plan. the c-ountry and people were expected to report rvith their own
unO uttt,orittitit"'. 'ihose who- had no eiuns were to be provided
The Government view of this Rebellion. with guns. Before calling off the rebellion, Bentota Unnqnsg
handei over the guns to tf,e people antl dismissed them' This is
The Gol'ernment considered this a contemptible attempt at rvhy only one gun was available as a production'
Rebellion. "I enclose the Judges notes, which were transmitted to
me fiom which it will be perceived that the atternpt to create distur-
bances was extremely conternptible, nevertheless as such conspira- ilentota l.Innanse as the Preteniler.
cies, if they deserve the na.rne, are calculated to create alarm and
dismay, as the person now convictedcausedveryconsiderablealarm Frorn the very start Bentota (Jnnanse showed that he was an
last yea"r".61 This is because nothing serious happened. Firstrain uduentorous individual who was firertr with a strong desire to rid
preventecl the crossing of rivers and the movements of people, This the country of the English. For. this ho was prepared to sacrifice
is supported by Ben ota Unnansewhc said'The heavy rains, however rnuch, even his life. He was a gifted man wilh a working knowledge
stopped us, as we could not cro3s rivers".68 And by Buller oit# lutgoages spoken in the country. Sinhalese, of course,. he
who reported "The districts mentioned would have risen, but the would have known. He was able to speak to the Malabar Prince
continuous heavy rains frorn April to July prevented people from ln f.i"g"" He would have spoken to the Agent Lgrald, in English,
crossing the rivers".6e Besides the Government action, thwarted when h"e met him in Badulla. He conversed with the Malay officers
the attempt. in Malay"

This was. an attempt made in fhe manner of the earlier rebellions tsrsides he had a commanding personality and the penetrating
where there was a Pretender to do all the finghting and taking of look rvhich could corv down the Kandyan peasants. A feature which
risks" while a Prince lurked in the background, waiting for the Loku Banda, the Superintendent of pofi"e had and, used in his
opportunity to mount the throne. In the first Rebellion, 1817 dealings with the Kandyans. This quality has been described thus'
1818, the Pretender was a member of the Kandyan nobility. But
- "LokriBanda, was a siout, handsome, well made man, with a st'rn
by 1843 the country ran short of notables, what with the massacr- intelligent e1a, which seemed absolutely to blaze as he addressed
ring done during and after the first rebell{on. This scarcit}' is lis fe-llooV-cbuntrymen. It was an eye Well calculated to make
accounted for, thus by Lawrie, "The story of the English rule in nralefactors qouk" in the old days of the Kandyan .dlnasty"'I2
the Kandyan country during 1817 and 1818 cannot be related Such an eye Bentota [Jnnanse had, as evidenced by a witness in the
without shame. In l8l9 hardly a member of the leading families, case. TLe First prisoner (meaning Bentota Unnanse) put on an
the heads of the people remained alive ; those whorn the sword awful look, otherwise how could he have got people to him"'1s
and gun had spared, cholera and small-pox and privations hacl
slain bv hundreds".?o After this, in one rebellion Kristna Retty,rr
described as a cooly was the Pretender, in this it ws a low-country I{e was ph-vsically very-fit. He was able to traverse this difficult
adventurer. And the devastation of the country side after the first country without falling iil' It is recorded that he swam across
rebellion terrified the Kandyan villagers so much that in areas like swoilen river:i on ,*nttil occasions. After calling off the rebellion
Matale, the pecple did not want to join till the rebellion was well on he swam across the Kurundu Oya intn Dumbara'
;prrRNAL R. A. s. (snl lnxxl) t'otr. XXIX(N. 1984

He did not have much faith in the Princes who remained in the ,thereis every reasoll to apprehend that. the safety of the prionerr
background tiil everything was accomplished to come t'orlvard. ' In
the first atternpt the Friircc showed how timid he rvs by fleeing to ,,rill 'oe ill a great measure endangered; aud as, perhaps Chandra-
Bintenne, no sooner he serrsed trouble. Therefore, in the second iotirv Seelawansa Saranankara (Jnnanse convicted of treason and
attcrnpt he, himself, posed off as a Prince" frorn th.e very starl:. lerrtenced to 14 years imprisonment at hard labour may be disposed
Houses were decorated for his reception, seats were covered with io take so favouiable anbpportunity as ttrrat offered for effecting his
rvhite cloth for hirn to sit on. People prostrated before him and paid cscape, I beg to reQuc:;t tfierefore that I may be favoured with the
homage. Throughout the campaign, he maintained a kingly bearing requested '*La.rrantfor his rernoval to the gaol of Colornbo'"'60
and came to be referred to as "Cumara Deiyo".z* in'1849 the Fiscal Cotombo put up his gase for a remission of
sentence to the Go';ernor, for: good oonduct in Gaol. F{e had a
He kept Denis at a proper distance and did not allow him to 9 y.u.tu unexpired sentence tn: sJrve and his conduct was described
pose <iff as'a Pretender. People did not prostrate before trim and as-examplafy'8l What beca,rne of liim after this is rrot knorvn'
did not give him a plate?o for his meals. For him he was a sword-
bearer more than anything else. But the Government erroneously
assumed that he was the other Pretender. ,4"t the muster in Garurva's
threshing floor, when Bentota Unnanse appeared in all his glory,
he rebuked Denisro for standing doing nothing and got him to
stand on one side rvith a sword, while another man stood on
the other side with a sword. The people had already formed a
circle round him.
He lost faith in the Kandyan people. At the start they were
useful, because they were rebeis at heart. Towards the end they
became timid and undependable. He told the British not to trust
a Kandyan of any snrt. Later he remarked that the Kandyans had
no good feelings.zz
He was convicted on his own confession, which was corrobora-
ted in important particulars by the witnesses. He Was cautionetl
before it was recorded, tlut he was ready to take ful! lespon:ibility
for what he had done. "He is told that what he says may be used
in evidence against h;rn and says he knorvs that, but he thinks it his
duty to tell the whole truth for the information of the Government"?e
He was sentenced to death on this confession. His sentence was
commuted to a 14 year jail sentence with hard labour. He, thus,
playedtheleadership role, as Fretender, with dignity and distinctiou.

While his companions went scot free, some like Denis, his
brother David and Dingirala?c to canva:ls for another rebellion,
Bentota Unnanse entered the Kandy gaol to commence his 14 year
sentence. But the Kandy gaol was not strong enough to contain a
character like him. He broke gaol but Was picked up and incarcera-
ted again. Buller, a"s Fiscal thought the Kandy gaol unsafe for a
prisoner like Bentota dInnan,re and recommended his transfer to
Colornbo. In June 1845 trre addressed tlre Colonial Secretary thus :
.rouRNAL R. A. s. (snr r"aNrl) Vot. XXIX (N"s.) l9B4 7l
References :
Ambalama nativ: rest house or halting place.
Arrack a strong drink-the iuice of the flower of the l. Sri Lanka National Archives Lot 18/2510-Buller's Report to
coconut palm, fermented and distilled. Government, dated 5 December l843-Statement of Bentota.
lJnnanse dated 10 Ma.y, 1842.
Aratchi headman in charge of a village, subordinate to 2. SLNA-611604, GA. CP (Buller) to Colouial Secretary 29 June.
a Korala. 1843.
Basnaike Nilame lay chief of a Devale (Hindu temple) in 3. SLNA-I8/2510-Statement of Bentota lJnnanse dated 10 May,
Kandy. t842.
Chena 4. rbid.
forest Iand brought into cultivation by the rbid.
slash and burn method.
6. Ibid.
Chatty pot a clay pot. ,'|
SLNA-5/29 Despatches-No 70 of 9 May, 1842.
Dissawe The governor of a P'ovince. The Government 8. rbid.
Agent is referred to as a Dissawe-an honorary
q SLNA.- I 8/25 1 O-Andrawerve's report of 29 May 1843.
title. 10. Ibid-2 May 1843.
Eeeraluwa 11. SLNA-5/29 Despatches-No 70 of 9 May, 1842.
a derogatory term used in reference t<l a disrobed
12. rbid.
13. Ibid, and Sl.NAl6/12369-7 May 1842.
Korala Headman of a Korale or Paltu. 14. SLNA-6/ I 8 1 2-1 3 February 1 843-Treason Trial Confession of
Kctrale a didsion consisting of two or more pdttus. Bentota Unnanse.
SLNA-18/2510 GA's report 6 December, 1843.
Moltottola a Kandyan headnan of various degrees of
16. Ibid-|3 June, 1843.
t'7. Ibid.
Pansqla residence of Buddhist monk. 18. SLNA-5/29 Despatches-No l7'l of 4 November, 1942.
Parrah a measure of capacit-v.-it is a cube nf 11.57 19. SLNA-6/18l2-Confession of Bentota Unnanre-28 June, 1843
inches. 20. SLNA-18i2510-Buller's Report dated 6 December 1843.
Pattu a subdivision of a Korale. 2l- rbid.
"!1 Ibid.
Peons members of the lowest rank of the Police Force ?? rbid.
upto 1845. the messagers of Government -/,+. rbid.
departments are called peons. ?{ Ibid.
Perahera a religious procession.-the most famous ireing 26. Ibid.
the Kandy perahera. Ibid.
Pinkama a meritorious act-a 28. Ibid-Statements of Dambukerre Daviya and D Garuwa to
Buddhist religious festival.
Suprerne Court on 6th and 7th September.
Police vidane police officer in of a village.
charge 29. Ibid.
Samanera a novice ; a monk who has not reached 30. SlNA-6/1999-Statement of Bentota lJnnanse on 5 December.
Upasampaclawa. 1843.
Upasampada ordination to the rank of a fully qualified monk.
31. SlNA-6ll8l2-Confession of Bentota Unnanse-28 June, 1843.
32. rbid.
Unnanse an honorific applied to Buddhist priests and 33. rbid.
others of social position. 34. rbid.
3s. Ibid.
"louRNAt R. A. S' (Snl LlNra) ltol. xxIX (N' s') 198'$ 73
72 - RNT*Ta l.IltlNr\l{sE ANi) 'rFlE wA[.A]]An*E REBEI-lI{:}fi
36. Ih[tl. under dat"e 30 June, 1843.
37. Ihid 7A" I-,awrie's Gazctteei: o{' the Ceni"ral Provinsc"
3n. {bid. 71. SlNA-Governmirlit Gaze'lte i6 Augusi 1822'
3q. Ihid. 7i. Pi"npret. G" i(.-llistory ot the Cevlon Folice Vol' l-Pagc 17?'
40. I!;id. ?3. SiNA-e1t Ai2-Stateme*i ol Dambukerre Daviya 6th. Strt*mbcr
"1.1. Iilid. 1843.
.42. Ibid. 74. SLNA-6117z5-Fiscal tr{andy to Cnlonial Secretary-23 June
43. .I&iai.- Sta.temeni-s of A.ndrea.s de Soysa '\r'puh.a'inv r"ril 1843.
Id-lrim.enike lRade {o S'.rpitm* Cortrt ort 9th:-":id trJth S*'rlemrr*r 75. SLNA-611gg9-statement of Br:ntota unnanse-8 December 1843
r 843. 76. SLNA-5/1812-Staternents of Dambukerre l)aviya and D'
44.. 5[-N.rr.-18125l0-Butrler"sBr:irr:rrt,6 Dscenr,i]tr 184i-{r lvlay 18''i'1. Garuwa.
45. ,rlrid i8th" 20th 2'th h'In"v, 184-4. 77. SLNA-6/19gg-Statrrnent of Bentota unnanse-8 l)ecernbeir
45. S{,NA.-18/2"ii0-Repori oi' Bt*iiorr daie'1 6 l)rc;;nr'bcr I f143--28 1843.
Ma-ri, 1843. ?8. Sl-NA-5ltSl2-Coni'ersioil of Bentota Unnaiiss-28 June 1843',
47. {bitl-2z N'{aY, 1843. 79. SlNA"-61i999-Statement of L' ts. Dunu-'viile 9 October 1848'
/t8. /1rid-5 .Iune, i343" g0. SI_NA-61'1726-Fiscal Ko"nd,v to colorr.ial secrehiry-4.lunc 1E46.
'19. i&id-5 June, 1143. S1. SLNA-6/1967-Fiscl Colornbo-January, 1[4'9'
50. J6,r1-6 Junu-', i8i13.
51 SLNA. 67'18i2 Crrnfe$pioii r.if E;ni.ofa l-jnlr:nie-18 Ju;re, 1ft:l
52. SI-NA= /18l2-statem.eni of Da.rn'uuk*rrrl. f)al'io,';r". *"+^.P
biruwa'ior Supl'r:me Ccrur:i 'rin 6th acrl Tfir S*l'irmirr'l iE43'
53. SLNA.-6/1312-Statements of D. Garu*'a a-nd Eairhel.t}' "\tatcl-iy
in Supreme Court on 7tl"iL a'rti Eih September tr843'
5,'4.. 'SlNA-6l1Sl2-Confession of Ben!.o'i.p" Unnanse o:q ?8 Jun*
I E43.
55. Sl'NA"-lbid.
56. Sl-NA.-6/18i2-$t-rJement urf J\dag;deia Vidarte on .ih SeI,r
tember, 1843.
57. SlhlA"-trll8i2-Confessioii of Eenti'rta" Ulrnans': -2 I 'Iuirs 1 rdi
5E" SI-}.14-611604-Repolt ,'ri tr]rlle;-date'1 29 'ir ne lE43 anci
SI-NA"-611?25-Fiscai {{arrdv lo Colo,rrrl Sfcrr:ial'-1'J3 hure,
i 8,{3.
59. SLNA"-{'/12370-Lef,Ler otr' I). i,. llarrt-la t$ Go!iern{)i' daf"sd
j7ili "[uly 1843.
171.trr JulY
60. 13 June i834'
.q[-.NA-18i2510-Bulier's .r*port-under
61. SLNA-6liSl2-Conlession ,jf Ee*t"ta trJirnanse-2g Ju*e, 1843.
62. 16irl. Treason Trial.
63. tbid.
64. Ibid.
65. SLNA.5/1812-Siatoments of Damhukerre llaviya arid D'
65. Sf-fVA".O/lSi2-Conies:ion of Benioi.a lJnna"nse-2&'Iun+' 1843'
67. SI-NA-5/30 Despatches-D 187 of October 184-1'
68. S LNA-61 1
gq9-Sii. r_e*rent of Bentota {,Jnnairse- I Dece*rirer I 843

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