The Amarasuriya family of Galle descends from the Kshatriyas warrior royalty of the Indian region. Arana (A+rana) means given up war and as such ‘Arana Vachcha’ means a Kshatriya from the Vachcha kingdom who has given up war. Vachcha / Vacca is the former name of Kausambi, the city to which Nemi Sakkaram transferred his capital from Hastinapur the city of the ancient Kauravas of the Mahabharata.
As the meaning and significance of the word Vachcha had been lost during the British period, the word Vachcha appears to have got corrupted Vachchi and mistakenly equated with Kochchi giving rise to the erroneous assumption that the royal ancestor of the family was a Malayali from Cochin. The word Vachcha is also found in the Karava family name Vachcha-nattu Devage – Meaning ‘the Lord of Vacca’
The Karava families who bear this name claim that they are descendants of Vice Regent Vachchanattu Devarir who arrived from the Kuru Mandala Coast in south east India for the Mukkara Hatana - a battle that took place in the 15th century in the Kotte kingdom. See mukkara_hatana
These Vachcha-nattu Devage families are concentrated in Kalagedihena of Siyane Korale and Achchan Kulam (probably a corruption of Vachcha Kulam meaning Tank of the Vachchas) in Jaffna. Another analogous Karava family name is Aranwatta Vaduge which appears to be how the Arana Vachchi name of these families got localized over the years. The word Vachcha could also be derived from Wattu. A Rajput tribe called Wattu still exists in the subcontinent. They claim descent from Rajpal, the son of the Rajah of Sialkote. See : family_names
The ancient Puranas of India state that the Vatsa kingdom was named after a king Vatsa. from Kasi rata (Kasi kingdom). The Ramayana and the Mahabharata attribute the credit of founding its capital Kausambi to a Chedi prince Kuśa or Kuśāmba. The Puranas state that after the washing away of Hastinapura by the Ganges, the Bharata king Nicakṣu, the great-great grandson of Janamejaya, abandoned the city and settled in Kausambi. This is supported by the Svapnavāsavadattā and the Pratijñā-Yaugandharāyaṇa , written by Bhāsa. Both of them have described the king Udayana as a scion of the Bharata family (Bhārata-kula). The Puranas provide a list of Nicakṣu’s successors and it ends with king Kṣemaka
The genealogy of the Amarasuriya family of Galle Click here
This genealogy is of particular historical interest to Karavas as it illustrates how a Kshatriya migrant with connections to Hastinapur of the ancient Kauravas, married into the Kshatriya community of Sri Lanka which itself claimed connections to the ancient Kauravas and had migrated from India many centuries ago and had assimilated as natives by then. (See migrations of Karavas) . According to the traditional four-fold caste system (Raja, Bamunu, Velenda, Govi – royalty, priests, traders and workers) the Kshatriyas were the foremost ‘Raja’ (royal) caste. Marrying into any of the other three castes would make a Kshatriya a half caste and he would lose his Kshatriya status. As such they invariably married within their Kshariya caste. The close knit traditions, customs, kin-groups and clans of the Kshatriyas made it impossible for the three lower grades to marry into the Kshatriya community and get accepted as equals.
The surname Amarasuriya is the name associated with Kshatriya Aran-Vachcha Thomas de Silva's investiture as a Muhandiram. It appears to have been derived either from ‘Arana’ of the original Aranavachchi name or directly from Amara which is an alternate name for Indra the god of the Kshatriyas. Indra's capital was named Amaravati and that is where Kshatriya warriors were believed to go and live forever after death. See surya_clans . Suriya is means Sun and in names of Karava families it was used to denote their origin from the royal solar clans of the Indian region.
Above Mohandiram Thomas de Silva Amarasuriya (b. 22/10/1847, m. 1869, d. 14/05/1907 ) married Donna Christina Lamabadu Jayasuriya of Koggala
Above: Henry Amarasuriya, son of Mohandiram Thomas de Silva Amarasuriya of Galle and Donna Christina nee Jayasuriya of Koggala born 1872
Above: Mrs Caroline de Silva Amarasuriya daughter of KC Juanis de Silva of Gintota and Galle
Above : The entrance to “Amaragiri” the ancestral mansion of the Amarasuriya family of Galle. and below, photos of parts of the sprawling walauwwa. The family gifted it to the government of Sri Lanka and it is now a Teacher training College
Above: woodwork on the roof of “Amaragiri walauvva” the ancestral mansion of the Amarasuriya family of Galle.
Above: An older Valauwwa of the Amarasuriya family of Galle from 20th century impressions of Ceylon
Above: The Monrovia factory owned by the Amarasuriya family, and
Below: another of the many tea factories owned by the family
Above: Thomas Amarasuriya (b. 17/6/1907, m. 1932, d. 5/5/1979) married Lucille Gwendolyn, daughter of M. J. C. Fernando of Moratuwa. Tribute
Above: Mahendra Amarasuriya. See website
Above: Hemaka Amarasuriya
Kshatriya Maha Sabha, Sri Lanka