The 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 destructions. He was a fearless fighter who used effectual war tactics and overpowered the fully-equipped and fully-trained Portuguese war machine. The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe ruled 39 years from 1554 to 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 Alfonso 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 super power was in the verge of a defeat in front of his sword. According to the Rajavaliya – 17th Century historical, chronicle of Sri Lanka, 1,600 Portuguese and support troopers (Lascarins) perished on the Mulleriyawa battlefield.
At the height of his military success, the 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. The King Seethawaka Rajasinghe became extremely suspicious showed outburst of anger, irritability, deep mistrust, alienation, emotional numbing and various other Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder-related symptoms (PTSD). 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. The 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.
The 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 made himself alienated. 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 Portuguese. However, King Seethawaka Rajasinghe unreasonably suspected Weerasundara Bandara and killed him. The battle was atrocious. The King Wimaladharmasurya proclaimed that he would take the 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, maybe 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. May be PTSD ruined his inspirations and the goals in life. If these personality changes did not occur, he would have been one of the great heroes in the Sri Lankan history.