Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Vaidiyatilleka Rajakaruna Rajavaidiya Gopala Mudaliyar family of Uda Rata were also popularly known and called as Behethge Mudiyanselage Odayar Nilame of the Kandyan Provinces.

The arrival in Sri Lanka of the two male ancestors of the Uda-Rata family had taken place during the reign of Parakrama Bahu II (1230 AD). According to traditions handed down from generation to generation, these two ancestors, were, for some years living in the town called Gop, situated towards the Northern part of Bombay in the Sind Province. They were ordered by the Ministers of the Delhi Sultanate (Sultan Muizzudin) to leave for Sri Lanka at the invitation of a Sri Lankan Monarch, one Parakrama Bahu.

Thereafter the term Gopala was assigned to the names of their descendants by the Singhalese Kings. This is evidenced by the inscriptions on a tombstone found in the burial place of a mosque in the Kegalle District.

The Odayar family has maintained a brief account of the actvities connected to their services rendered to both the Singhalese Kings and British Rulers.

In the field of medicine, they occupied a unique position and have been the recipients of the highest honor through one member after another being conferred the rank of Behethge Muhamdirams by the Singhalese Kings. They also held the ranks of Army Commanders and rendered loyal service to the Kings. An important reference to this is given on page 330 of the History of Ceylon in the Portuguese Era by Dr. Paul Peiris.

Vaidiyatilleka Rajakaruna Haji Muhandiram Sheikh Muhammad Odayar, a Unani Physician by profession, is a descendant of the pioneer Moorish Royal Physicians who came to Ceylon as early as the fourteenth century. He descends from some of the distinguished men who adorned the public services of the Island from the timeof the ancient Sinhalese Kings dating from the reign of Sri Sangabo and Sri Parakrama Bahu. Reference to this family is made on page 99 of the Getaberiya Sannasa of Antiquarian Research in Kegalle.

One of his earliest ancestors was the eminent scholar and scientist, AbuBakr Muhammad Abdul Malik Ibn Thufail of North East Granada, Spain.

Muhandiram Muhammad’s forefathers were all Unani Hakims (medical practitioners). In 1672 his great-great-grandfather, Rajakaruna Behethge Mudiyanse Abdul Qadir, a popular physician at that time, was holding the rank of Adigar. His great-grandfather, Palkumbure Vaidyatileke Rajakaruna Gopalana Mudiyanselage Behethge Segu Muhammad Odayar, was a Royal Physician and served as a member of the Royal Court. His grandfather, Segu Madar Odayar, another practitioner of the Unani system of medicine, was a Head Aratchi of Parana Kuru Korale, where he received many rewards for his services. Sheikh Abdul rahman Pediliyar, the Muhandiram’s father, too carried down the tradition of his forefathers in the sphere of medicine and his was a household name in every Sinhalese home although due state recognition failed to come his way.

Born in the year 1885, Haji Muhandiram Muhammad Odayar, continued the noble service of his proud ancestors. He started the practice of medicine in 1902 and has proved himself a distinguished son of the soil by his aid to the poor and his munificent endowments for several charitable purposes. [Culled from Sailan Vol 2 No 1 June 1955]


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