Monday, October 5, 2015

King Seethawaka Rajasinghe - the Monarch who suffered from PTSD

      Prince Tikiri Bandara (The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe) 

Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunge 

King Seethawaka Rajasinghe (Tikiri Bandara ) the 16th century monarch of Sri Lanka was a great warrior who came to the battlefield at the age of 16. He fought against the Portuguese invaders and witnessed many deaths and destruction. He was a fearless fighter who used effective war tactics and overpowered the fully equipped and fully trained Portuguese war machine. King Seethawaka Rajasinghe ruled for 39 years from 1554 - 1593 AD. He was a military genius and a strategist.  One Portuguese historian compared him with Hannibal.

In 1562, the Battle of Mulleriyawa took place and Tikiri Bandara fought against the 16th Century Super Power – Portuguese war machine.  The Portuguese army was led by Captain Major Afonso Pereira de Lacerda and Captain Major Jorge de Meneses Baroche. The conflict took place outside Colombo on the southern bank of the Kelani River. Tikiri Bandara attacked the Portuguese army like a thunderbolt. The invincible 16th-century superpower was on the verge of defeat in front of his sword. According to the Rajavaliya - a 17th-century historical chronicle of Sri Lanka, more than 1600 Portuguese and support troopers (Lascarins) perished on the Mulleriyawa battlefield.

At the height of his military success, King Seethawaka Rajasinghe gathered 100,000 soldiers and attacked the   Portuguese Fort in Colombo.  The Portuguese were desperate. Fear and famine fell upon them. Despite the attacks, the Portuguese were able to get external naval support from Goa. The battle was a fiasco and the King became furious. He suspected most of his Generals and assassinated them one by one. King Seethawaka Rajasinghe poisoned his right-wing man Wicramasinghe Maha Senevi then Weerasundara Bandara. These Generals helped him in numerous battles.

Following the long years of combat Tikiri Bandara alias King Seethawaka Rajasinghe was exhausted and obviously suffered from battle fatigue.  In the later years, his mental health was declining. King Seethawaka Rajasinghe became extremely suspicious and showed outbursts of anger, irritability, deep mistrust, alienation, emotional numbing, and various other PTSD-related symptoms. There were clear personality changes in him. With these changes, the great warrior launched a chain of terror against his own people creating a deep void in the hearts and minds.

 He acted as a tyrant and used brutal methods to punish people. He never felt any remorse or compassion. King Seethawaka Rajasinghe even killed his own father King Mayadunne who ruled the Kingdom of Sitawaka from 1501 to 1581. This despicable act could be interpreted as a reaction following emotional anesthesia, which is evident in PTSD.  He banished his religion, embraced Hinduism, and murdered thousands of his subjects who refused to follow Hinduism. 

King Seethawaka Rajasinghe destroyed Buddhist temples and killed Buddhist monks by drowning.  His emotions were unstable. Very often, he acted with sudden rage. Gradually he alienated himself. He had no close associates and the King became an isolated and a broken man. After many battles, he was physically and mentally worn out. Many aristocrats had left him because they could not stand his false accusations and outrageous behavior. The Great Warrior had become another victim of combat stress.   

His final battle took place in Kandy. He had to face Konappu Bandara ails the King Wimaladharmasurya the son of Weerasundara Bandara. One time Weerasundara Bandara was King  Seethawaka Rajasinghe's faithful supporter.  Weerasundara Bandara helped  King Seethawaka Rajasinghe to fight the Portuguese.  However, King Seethawaka Rajasinghe unreasonably suspected Weerasundara Bandara and killed him. The battle was atrocious. King Wimaladharmasurya proclaimed that he would take revenge for killing his father.   

King Seethawaka Rajasinghe lost the battle. While retreating he fell down from the horse and sustained an injury. A bamboo prick pierced his leg and after a few days he died may be due to tetanus or septicemia. Thus, a legend came to an end. He was called the Lion of Seethawaka who brought fear to the Portuguese invaders. He was a liberator but later became an enigma. Maybe PTSD ruined his inspiration and his goals in life. If these personality changes did not occur, he would have been one of the great heroes in Sri Lankan history.

The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe's Palace 

                                                                        The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe's Tomb 

                            Seethawaka Kingdom - Seethawaka Palace


  1. Whenever I read the history, I always had this doubt in my mind that this guy (even in his hay days) must have had some serious mental illness. Thanks for proving me right :) Yes. He could have listed as a one of greatest worriers in the history unless he ruined his own glory later in the day.

  2. This is just a lighthearted observation:

    "Rajasinghe" seems to have been an unlucky name as far as royal mental health was concerned.

    Rajasinghe the Second was quite eccentric. He too became quite despotic and cruel, especially after the rebellion against him and his narrow escape.

    Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe too was off his rocker and a drunkard at the last stages and made it easy for the British.

    There were a few other Rajasinghes and if I'm not mistaken one was quite a playboy ( Rajadhi Rajasinghe? )

    1. Rajasinghe the Second was famous for his incest and he was a cruel man sometimes did killings for amusements.

      Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe was an alcoholic

  3. Not only Seethaavaka but also Rajasinha the second has shown abnormal behaviors as everybody can distinguish but when we scrutinize personal lives and political activities of monarchy it seems that vast majority enjoyed abnormal desires we called serious mental disorders..

  4. Wonderful Observation. There were many more.

  5. Jaka must have missed this part of the history. Otherwise he would have fabricated MR-Seethawaka R story instead MR-Prince Siddhartha story.

  6. I have always wondered why the king behaved like this. This must be the reason & was the King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe of Kandy had the same problem? Or he was a womanizer ? Thanks for the interesting Post.

  7. The King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe of Kandy was addicted to alcohol


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