Notes on Jaffna 5 – “Puthaththampi Nadakam” by Davidu

“Puthaththampi Nadakam” by Davidu.

No. 5. Writes Mr. Brito:-

Nadakam is drama. The distinction into comedies and tragedies does not obtain in Tamil. Generally speaking, in all dramatical compositions, there are a birth, marriage and death. But there is no drama without a scene of the endurance of fomented evil or a scene of female devotion. Nor is there one which ends without poe­tical justice being done to all parties. The author of the present Na­dakam is as is stated in it, one Davidu, son of Juvan Costan of Man­totte. But he gives us neither the date of his work nor that of the events which he dramatises.

The events of the drama as summarised by Mr. Brito are as follows:-

The Dutch Viceroy of Colombo sent Anthony Amral as Governor of Jaffna and one Andirado, a man of the Kurnkula caste, as Amral’s Mu­thaliyar. Amral appointed Puthaththampi a Velalan of the Karala section, as second Muthaliyar, and one Sinne Ulanthes as Captain of the fort. Andirado made improper advances to Puthaththampi’s wife, which she not merely rejected, but subjected Andirado’s messengers to a degrading punishment. In order to avenge himself, Andrado had a letter framed purporting  to have been written by Puthatbthampi and Sinne Ulanthes and directed to Kirthi-singkan, King of Kandy, offering to betray the Country to him. The letter was, of course, intercepted and its bearer acted his part exactly as had been arranged. Puthaththampl was con­demned on the strength of this letter and was, by the procurance of Andirado, executed without a moment’s respite. Sinne Ulanthes was then absent at Kayts building the sea-fortress. On his return he learnt the fate of Puthaththampi and, for fear of falling by an unjust sentence, com­mitted suicide. But Puthaththampi’s brother-in-law Kayilayappillai Vanni­yan of Kachchaiturai, went to Colombo and made a representation to the Viceroy, upon which both Anthony Amral and Andirado were ordered to go to Colombo to defend themselves. On the way, Amral wilfully threw himself into the sea and was drowned. Andirado was killed by an ele­phant at Musali or Pandaratharthoppu. Puthathampi left behind a wi­dow and a son named Sothinathan. The widow committed suicide through grief.

The discrepancies in this account as compared with that given in the Vaipava-Malai are apparent enough. The latter work is silent as to the names of the Governor of Jaffnapatam and of his brother, and says nothing of the King of Kandy. The names given in the Nadakam seem to be creations of the poet. In the list of Dutch Governors given in Histories of Ceylon, there is not one bearing the name of Anthony Amral. Ribeiro makes mention of a Portuguese Governor of the name of Anthonio de Amral C. Menezes, who was in command of Jaffnapatam and Man­nar in 1658. Sinne Ulanthes is not a name. It is only a com­bination of two Tamil words, sinne, little or young, and Ulanthes Dutch. To a simple, soft brained man, the younger brother of a Dutch Magnate would certainly be ‘Sinne Ulanthes’ or young Dutch. Our author was composing a Nadakam, in which fiction plays an important part, and what cared he about correct names? Sinna Ulanthes was in keeping with his ignorance and suited his intelligence. So he coined the name. Kirthi-Singkan or more properly Kirtisree-Raja-Singhe, king of Kandy, came to the throne in 1747. Just fancy a man living in Jaffna in 1658, offering to betray his country to a King of Kandy living in 1747. It is doubtful if so egregious a mistake was ever made by an his­torical tiro. But it is useless and tedious to inquire into the blun­ders of ignorance. Mr. Brito himself has said of the author of this Nadagam :- Our author seems to be so ignorant a man that he uses the name Amral probably on the principle that all steamers are known to the vulgar in Ceylon by the name Pearl, as Pearl was the name of the first steamer they were acquainted with. But as Mr. Brito notwithstanding his scathing con­demnation of the author, has summarised the work for illustrating the Vaipava-Malai, let us at least note the main points of differ­ence between the two accounts. The Vaipava-Malai says that Andrado and Puthathamby were Co Modliars. The Nadagam states that Puthathamby was only Second Modliar and says nothing about the dinner, the blank paper and the signature. The Vaipava­-Malai represents Puthathamby alone as offering assistance to the Portuguese, while the Nadagam associates Sinne Ulanthes in framing the treasonable letter to the king of Kandy. In the Vaipava-Malai Sinne Ulanthes is the intimate and powerful friend, who might have saved Puthathamby from execution. In the Nadagam he is a poltroon committing suicide through fear. Fin­ally the Vaipava Malai says that the death of the Governor of Jaffnapatam was accidental, while the Nadagam makes it willful. Let the reader judge between the two accounts and form his opinion.

Details from the book Notes on Jaffna, American Ceylon Mission Press, Tellippalai, Ceylon 1923. The entire appendix has been used to discuss the Andrado – Poothathamby story.