Marriage alliance between King Mahinda IV (956-972) of Sri Lanka (Mihindukulasuriya is one of the main Karava clans. Mihindu is the Pali version of the Sanskrit name Mahinda) and princess Sundari of the Indian Kalinga dynasty lead to subsequent claims by Kalinga royalty to the Sri Lankan throne. The Kalinga rulers intermarried with Kshatriya familes in Sri Lanka and styled themselves as Vichaya kulingai (from the line of Vijaya) Ariyan ( Ariyan = Oriya from Orissa region) from Sinhapur (and possibly lion city – Sri Vijaya empire in the Malay peninsula ).
According to Indian historian Benarji, 20,000 families had been sent over to Java by the King of Kalinga. Chandrabanu who invaded Sri Lanka in the 13th century with 'Javaka' armies is believed to be from this settlement with Singapur as its capital. As Banu means Sun, Chandrabanu's name signifies his Solar and Lunar dynasty ancestry as do the Karavas with their Chandra Surya clan descent. The king referred to as Ugra Singan in the Vaipavamalai is most probably this king.
According to some sources, Kurukule Parakramabahu VI (1412-1468) of Kotte who claimed descent from the Baratha Kula Surya dynasty in his Padakada Sannasa was a son of Chandrabanu. And according to some historians there was a Singai Nagar (Sinhapura) near Vallipuram (Rasanayagam p 309). Vijaya-kula-suriya is an exclusively Karava clan name.
The Arya Chakaravarthi Kalinga Dynasty established lion symbolism in Sri Lanka and used names such as Singai Ariyan ( Singai=Chingai = Simha = Singha = Lion). This practice was continued by the Singhe dynasty of Jaffna.
Some of the kings from the Singhe Dynasty of Jaffna are:
Rule by Champaka Perumal, a Vicery of king Parakramabahu VI (1412-1468) of the Kotte kingdom. This was (Xemba Perumal / Sapumal Kumara, son of Karava General Manikka Thalevan who fell in the Mukkara Hatana battle. This prince was adopted by King Parakramabahu VI as his own Son. The coins issued by this ruler incorporate the Lion symbol of the Singhe Dynasty of Jaffna into the contemporary 'Kalinga ruler's massa' coins used in the the south. (See illustrations on right)
An ola record documenting Prince Sapumal’s Karava ancestry had been preserved for centuries, along with many Kaurava flags and historical documents by a Hindu Karava family in Tamankaduva, Anuradhapura. It had been removed by Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake with assurances of publication. It was never published and cannot be traced any more.
According to the Vanni Rajavaliya ola manuscript, the Prime Minister of Parakramabahu VI , Sinha Surya Nattu Devarir, was also from the Karava Sigha dynasty.
Prince Nallurutun who married Ulakudai Devi (daughter of Parakramabahu VI) could also be from the Singhe dynasty and from Nallur for him to be named as Nallurutun. Their son Prince Jayabahu ( = Jayasuriya) ascended the Kotte throne as Vira Parakramabahu VII (1467-1470)
1565-1570 Kurunchi Waniyyar (He is described as a usurper as he wasn't from the ruling royal family. However the fact that he managed to ascend the throne indicates that he may have been a warrior chief. His name also suggests that he too was a Karava, not from the ruling Singha clan but from the Kuru / Vanni Kula Karava clan.
In 1591 the 'Nallur convention' transferring the Kingdom of Jaffna to the Portuguese is signed by Karava nobles.
Pararajasekaran's death resulted in a crisis about royal succession when Cankili II murdered the 3 year old royal successor’s regent and usurped the throne. He promised to co-operate with the Portuguese. The Karava Mudaliyars and Nobles rebelled and when Cankili ordered his men to arrest them, they too joined the Karava Mudaliars. Cankili had to flee to Kayts. Cankili later overthrew the Mudaliyars with help from the Naik of Tanjore, under the command of the Karava chief Varuna Kulattan.
Portuguese missionaries concentrated on first converting the leaders and rulers of the people. They used them as examples for other gentiles to follow (Jesuit annual letter of 29/12/1606 from Cochin, Perniola II.254). In 1623 the Portuguese baptised King Pararajasekaran IX’s two queens as Dona Clara da Silva and Dona Antonia da Silva, several nephews of the king, nine Patangatims and all other chief persons of the Karava caste.(Perniola Portuguese period III)
The Karava families of Tisseveerasinghe, Puvirajasinghe, Puvimanasinghe and Philip trace their descent from the Singhe Dynasty as follows:
It is interesting to note that just like their Sinhala speaking kinsmen in the south of the island, members of the above Singhe family too had Suriya clan names such as Warnasuriya and Kurukulasuriya. When Arumuga Navalar, the rabid Vellala propagandist from Jaffna translated the Skanda Purana, he has omitted all references to the Varunakula / Kurukula from it as these were Karava clans. (Kurukula Charitaya part II page 388 ) Arumuga Navalar had dedicated his life to make the Vellala caste the premier Tamil caste and to keep all other Tamil castes out of religious and political power.
Modern historians lament about the lack of information on the Kotte period. However Mudaliyar Wijesinghe who translated the Mahavamsa during the British period has noted that original pages were missing from the ola leaf book and fictitious pages were found in their place.
Hugh Neville the respected British historian has noted on the Janawamsaya " I have a rare version which contains an authentic passage referring to the Karava caste, suppressed now from most copies. ...and doubtless comes from the same source as the other traditions regarding Vijaya, fund in the Jafna chronicles, but now unknown to he Sinhalese" ( reproduced in Ariyapala 1969 Appendix V)
Another interesting name used by the ancestors of this family is Satrukulasinghe. True to the royal ancestry of this family, this name appears to be derived from Sath+Ru+Kula+Singha where Sath is a frequent term used in Sri Lankan literature for Kshatriya; Ru for Rivi Kula ie. Solar dynasty; Kula meaning caste and Singhe for Singhe dynasty. A 16th century ola grant by a king named 'Patra Aba Sat Ru Raja' is reproduced in the Paranavitana felicitation volume (pg 149)
Over the years the family has lost the significance of thename Satrukulasinghe and now assume that it meant 'conqueror of enemy clans' It's possible that a similar situation in the past resulted in converting this name to Ethirmanna Singam. However, the Rajavaliya says that a King named Edirimanasuriya ruled from a city known as Mundakondapola (Rajavaliya 234). Mundakondapola is situated 8 miles from Kurunegala on the Puttlam road, in the Hatara Korale , the old ‘Kuru country’ (parana Kuru Rata) of the Karavas.
The Portuguese historian JoãoDe Barros (1496 - 1570) speaks of the Crown Prince of Jaffna being conspicuous on a certain occasion by the white shield which he bore. (C.B.R.A.S. Journal Vol. XX.). This reference confirms that the white shield displayed on the Karava main flag was an important symbol to the Singhe dynasty too as much as it was for the kings of the sourth.
Many other Jaffna families too now claim descent from the Royal family of Jaffna. However as all of them are from the Vellala Caste, and not from the royal Kshatriya caste, their claims cannot be historically correct. Until Sri Lanka's traditional social structure was destroyed and inverted by Dutch and British colonial officers, cultivators were the slaves and serfs of Sri Lanka's feudal society. (see Govigama and propogation of the Govi supremacy theory). 18th century Dutch adminisrators settled many Vellalas as labourers on their tobacco farms. And old timers say that the word Vellalar is derived from Vella+Ara meaning white man's slave.
Portuguese historians such as Queyroz have noted that The Bellalas (Vellalas) were very poor, weak and never bore arms. As such the kings had been obliged to keep a garrison of Badagas (Vadugas) from Tanjore ( Cosme p 48). Portuguese historians have also mentioned that a Headman could buy a Vellala by paying 30 Chakaran and that a foreigner could buy a Vellala by paying 15 to 20 Chakaran according to his means. These sales were a source of revenue for the Portuguese ( Cosme p58)
The 20th century rise of the Tamil Vellala caste was lead by the Ponnambalam-Coomaraswamy Family of Colombo. And the ascendance of that family commenced with a Coomaraswamy (1783-1836) from Point Pedro joining the seminary that Governor North started for producing interpreters. See Mudaliyars
Rasanayagam Mudaliyar C 1926 Ancient Jaffna
The Singhe Dynasty of Jaffnapatam Chevalier Dr. St John Puvirajasinghe K.S.G. Jaffna
Extracts from Chapter 4 of Portuguese: Religious conversion and ending Tamils’ Sovereignty.
By: K. T. Rajasingham
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 ………
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…………………………..
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………………………………………..
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………………..
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 (ie. Pulle from Megamu = Negombo, the enclave of Karava Surya Clans) 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. (Courtesy Asian Tribune )
Above: a common 'massa' coin of the Kalinga kings of Sri Lanka. These were used in Sri Lanka from the 10th century to the 16th century
and below: the 15th century 'massa' coin issued by Prince Sapumal incorporating the lion symbol of the Karava Singhe dynasty. of Jaffna.
In the south of the country, the Lion was a royal symbol only for overseas born Kalinga kings. See Lion Myth
Above: Gate Mudaliar Manuel Tamby St. John Puvirajasinghe (b. 13/03/1812 d. 26/05/1888
Above: Mrs. M. J. Puvirajasinghe nee Bibianna Puvimannasinghe in her ancestral ornaments. Each chain around her neck has its own symbolism. (See Karava customs for Siri – Bo Mala worn exclusively by southern Karava ladies). In addition she wears five items of jewelry each on her wrists, forearms, nose and hair. Wearing jewelry was a privilege of royalty.. Commoners of feudal Sri Lanka weren't allowed, and couldn't afford, to wear jewelry.
Above: Mudaliyar Michael Joseph Puvirajasinghe (b. 26/01/1853 d. 17/07/1924)
The Coat of Arms of the Singhe families as reconfigured during the British period incorporating the symbols used by their royal ancestors appears on the top right corner of the portrait.
Below: A contemporaneous Sri Lanka flag that closely matches the Sun, moon and lion symbols on the coat-of-arms of the Puvirajasinghe family
Below: The Royal symbols of the Singhe Dynasty as compiled by an artist from the previous century. This artist has converted the 'white shield' of royalty into a globe.
Photograph of the descendants of the Singhe Royal Dynasty of Jaffna taken at the investiture of Dr. St. John & Mrs Mercy Puvirajasinghe as Chevalier Knight and Lady of the order of St. Gregory the great. The roof of his residence can be seen in the background, top left. Click for larger image
Below: The scores and lyrics of the Tisseveerasinghe, Puvirajasinghe, Puvimanasinghe and Philip family Anthem. Click image to zoom.
A Lion flag of the Karava. This one is from Ratalawewa and is illustrated in Raghavan's Karava of Ceylon..
Another ancient Simha (lion) flag of the Karava community from Manampitiya near Polonnaruwa in the north west of Sri Lanka
Another old Simha Flag from Sri Lanka
Kshatriya Maha Sabha, Sri Lanka