FLAG - Part IV
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Here remains to be considered the collective significance of the insignia of the Kaurava Vanse in the light of the history of this people in India and in Ceylon. One of the oldest traditions is recorded in a version of the Janavansa (see the Taprobanian: April 1886).
"After time had thus passed in the 207th year after our Buddha had gone to Nirwana, at the time when Devanipiyatissa Narendraya was reigning over Lakdiva, Dharmasoka Narapati of Dambadiva sending to Sri Lankaduipa together with the victorious Maha Bodin and the prince and princess Mahinda and Sanghamitta, archers employed. In bow-craft and people accustomed to fight with swords, javelins, pikes, shields and the like, who said, ' the pearl umbrellas, white canopies and chamara are our services - while the princes our kin are going it is not proper for us to stay'- forty-nine in number these also came for the Bo Mandala business.... Thus because princes who attained the kingship from time to time belonged to this race and attained it, Bhuwanekha Bahu on account of the dangers that arose from foreign enemies, bringing to this Lakdiva from the city Kanchipura, ninety-five of them in number, showed them royal kindness and established them there. From that time, keeping everything that was needed, appointing the five doers of service, he protected them."
This statement in the Janavansa explains quite coherently the possession and use of the royal emblems by the Kaurava Vanse, confirmed as that statement is by the assertion of Barrados in. 1613 that these were royal symbols "which the former kings conceded to this race of people, that, being strangers, they should inhabit the' coast of Ceilao." Pridham represents the "five doers of service" as attached to the Kaurava Vanse, confirming the ancient tradition in this particular.
The Janavansa statement that " princes who attained the kingship from time to time belonged to this race and attained it," implies that the Karave people are Kshatriyas, and the concession of the royal symbols by the former kings, spoken of by Barrados, implies, in my opinion, not so much a bestowal of the symbols, as permission, in view of the strict local sumptuary laws, to use in Ceylon symbols to which Karave warriors were already entitled, identical emblems being used by kindred people in India.
I have already stated my reasons for believing that the use of the sun and moon emblems was the privilege of descent rather then the reward of merit. Neville speaks of the Makara as the special emblem of the Varnakula which like the Kurukula, is merely a clan of the Kaurava Vansa, in India as in Ceylon. The probability therefore is that the Makara flag, too, which tradition asserts was bestowed with the sun and moon flag by the king on the tribe, was really brought over by the clan to whom it belonged.
Members of the Varnakula, and the Kurukula (a Varnakula-thungen and a Kurukula-Naik) appear to have occupied the throne of Madura as late as the 12th century A. D. (Taylor Indian Hist. Mss. I. 201). It would seem that as late as the 17th century Karave chieftains ruled semi-independent principalities in South India (see Hunter "History of Indian Peoples," for the independence of the S. Indian chiefs or nayiks of the 16th century); and some of the Karáve chiefs in South India were powerful enough even in the 17th century for the kings of Ceylon to value their assistance in war.
In 1618 when the "pugnacious Carias" (Pieris: Port: Era) of Ceylon were harassing Chankili, King of Jaffna, the king applied for assistance to the Naique of Tanjore, who sent to his assistance one of the pugnacious Carias of India, Varna Kulatta (i.e. Varnakula Adittá). "the chief of the Carias, the most warlike race in the Naique's dominions" (De Queiroz). Two years later the same chief reappeared off the coast of Jaffna, again in a pugnacious mood; Faria Y Sousa referring to him as the "Chem Naique, that king of the Carias who had previously come to Chankili's assistance."
In 1656 while another Varnakula Aditta, Manoel d'Anderado, one of the pugnacious Carias of Ceylon, (whose full name was Varnakula Addita Arsa Nilaitte - a name borne also by Rowels, the Lowes, and the Tamels, Karáve families of Chilaw), was guarding the pass at Kalutara with his lascoreens, for the Dutch against the King's troops, the King Rájasinha, on his side made overtures for assistance to one of the pugnacious Carias of India - the Patangatin of Coquielle (Baldaeus). Two years later, the same Manuel D'Anderado "signalized himself before Jaffnapatam" (Baldaeus). These incidents of the 17th century symbolize in epitome the history of the Karáve people in previous centuries, from the legendary days of the despatch by a Cholian King of an expedition "under a Kurukula captain" to obtain snake-gems from Ceylon for Kanakai, the bride of Kovalan, to the most recent times. From the 6th to the 8th century, when, according to the historian Dharma Kirtti, Ceylon was in the throes of civil war, three rival houses contending for the throne, each importing numbers of soldiers from S. India, Kurukula and Varnakula captains and men must have been in great demand.
By the end of the 8th century, Ceylon was full of these "Demillos" demanding the highest offices in the state, and apparently getting them, the Sinhalese being too weak to resist. In the 12th century it was a chief named Aditta, (Bell: Kegalla Report, p. 74), a Tamil Commander of high rank in the army, who led a great naval expedition to Burmah, when the coast of Ceylon "was like one great workshop, busied with the constant building of ships". There can be little doubt that it was Karáve men who manned this expedition, the Sinhalese though an island race, being strangely averse to sea-faring.
Two centuries later an expedition led by Karave chieftains from the Coromandel coast rescued the fort of Puttalam for the Sinhalese King. Two centuries later, on the Sinhalese King's conversion to Christianity, he appears to have relied on Karáve soldiers for the security of his throne. The pescodores or "fishermen" are very prominent in the stirring times of the Portuguese, fighting on one side or the other, or on both by turns. One pescador by his "skill in war" on the royal side rose to be Prince of Uva and a regent of the kingdom. (See Baldaeus for the text of the royal, patent of 1613 appointing Kuruvita-rála, Prince of Uva, a Regent, the King on his death-bed ordering all the estates of the realm to take the oath of allegiance to the two Regents till the Crown Prince came of age and "to show them the same respect as to our own person").
A number of Karáve ge names which have come down from these times indicate their owners' military occupation at this period, such as Totahewage, Guardiahewage, Guardiawasan, Marakkalahewage, Hewakodikarage etc.
In Dutch times, the Karáve people stubbornly remaining Catholic, were not in favour, and their honours and privileges were curtailed. But Dutch governors still instructed their lieutenants' that "the Carias... being the most courageous, are to be employed for all purposes of war," and some descendants of the earlier chieftains, such as the Anderados, the de Fonsekas, and the Rowels, continued to remain in power and prominence.
In British times there has been no fighting in Ceylon, but the Karave people
to give evidence of possessing what Hunter describes as "the Inexhaustible vitality of the military races of India."
It will be noticed that most of the Portuguese writers (De Queiroz, Barrados, etc.) and some Sinhalese writers, speak of the Karave people as a race. And it will be evident that the Kaurava Vanse, strictly speaking, is not so much a caste as a tribe, consisting, as we have seen, of a number of clans. Dr. Paul Pieris has drawn attention to one of the tribal characteristics of the Karave people - its tendency, even at the present day, "to act as a corporate whole". My view of the Karave flag is that it is a tribal flag, its royal emblems indicating the Kshatriya origin of the tribe. But if, as Mr. E. W. Perera seems to suggest, the flag is indicative of occupation on a caste basis, the only occupation Indicated by the emblems on this flag is the occupation of the Kshatriyas or Warriors.
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