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The Mahavamsa

The Great Chronicle of Lanka
from 6th Century BC to 4th Century AD

Translated from Pali
by Wilhelm Geiger



WHEN the thera Moggaliputta, the illuminator of the religion of the Conqueror, had brought the (third) council to an end and when, looking into the future, lie had beheld the founding of the religion in adjacent countries, (then) in the month Kattika' he sent forth theras, one here and one there. The thera Majjhantika he sent to Kasmira and Gandhara, the thera, MaMdeva he sent to Mahisamandala. To Vanaväsa be sent the thera named Rakkhita, and to Aparantaka the Yona named Dhainmarakkhjta; to Maharattha (he sent) the thera named MaMdhammarakkhita, but the thera Maharakkhita he sent into the cuntry of the Yona. He sent the thera Majjhima to the Himalaya country, and to Suvambhürni he sent the two theras Sona and Uttara. The great thera Mahinda, the theras Utthiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Bhaddasala his dig ciples, these five theras he sent forth with the charge: 'Ye shall found in the lovely island of Lanka the lovely religion of the Conqueror.'

At that time in Kasmira and Gandhära did the naga-king of wondrous power, Araväla, cause the rain called 'Hail' to pour down upon the ripe crops, and cruelly did he overwhelm everything with a flood. The thera Majjhantika went thither with all speed, passing through the air, and wrought (miracles such as) walking on the surface of The water in Aravä!a's lake and so forth. When the nagas beheld it they told their king with fury about this thing.

Then full of fury the naga-king brought divers terrors to pass; fierce winds blew, a cloud gave forth thunder and rain, thunder strokes crashed, and lightning flashed here and there, trees and mountain-tops were hurled down. Nagas in grisly forms terrified (beholders) on every side, he himself spat forth smoke and fire threatening in different ways.

When the thera by his wondrous power had brought all these terrors to naught, he said to the naga-king, showing his eminent might: 'Even if the world together with the gods came seeking to terrify me, they would not be equal to me (in strength) whatever fears and dread (they may arouse) in this place.' Nay, if thou shouldst raise the whole earth with the ocean and the mountains, thou mighty naga, and shouldst hurl them upon me, thou couldst in no wise arouse fear and dread in me. It were surely but thy own destruction, thou lord of serpents.'

Then to him, humbled by these words the thera preached the doctrine, and thereupon the naga-king came unto the (three) refuges and the precepts of duty, and this likewise did eighty-four thousand serpents and many gandhabbas, yakkhas and kumbhandakas in the Himalaya. But a yakkha named Pandaka with (his wife) the yakkhini Harita and his five hundred sons obtained the first fruit (of sanctification).

'Henceforth let no anger arise as of old; work no more harm to the harvest, for living beings love their happiness; cherish love for beings, let men live in happiness.' Thus were they taught by him and they did according to (this teaching). Then the lord of serpents made the thera sit upon a jewel-throne and he stood near, fanning him. But the dwellers in Kasmira and Gandhara who had come to worship the naga-king acknowledged the thera as the mightier in working wonders, and when they had paid the thera reverence they seated themselves on one side near him. The thera expounded to them the dhamma, (namely) the Asivisupama. The conversion of eighty thousand persons took place and a hundred thousand persons received the pabbajja from the thera. Since then Kasmira and Gandhära shine with yellow robes and prize above all the three things.

The thera Mahadeva who had gone to the Mahisamandala. country preached in the midst of the people the Devadütasuttanta. Forty thousand (persons) made pure (in themselves) the eye of the truth and yet forty thousand received from him the pabbajja-ordination.

The thera Rakkhita, who had gone to Vanaväsa, preached, floating in the air in the midst of the people, the Anamataggasamyutta. The conversion of sixty thousand persons took place, thirty-seven thousand in number received the pabbajja frbm him. Five hundred, viharas were founded in the country. Thus did the tbera establish there the religion of the Conqueror.

The thera Dhammarakkhita the Yona, being gone to Aparantaka' and having preached in the midst of the people the Aggikkhandhopama-sutta gave to drink of the nectar of truth to thirty-seven thousand living beings who had come togdther there, lie who perfectly understood truth and untruth. A thousand men and yet more women went forth from noble families and received the pabbajja.

The wise Mahadhammarakkhita, who had gone to MaMrattha, related there the jataka called Mahanaradakassapa. Eighty-four thousand persons attained to the reward of the path (of salvation), thirteen thousand received from him the pabbajjL

The wise Maharakkhita who went to the country of the Yona delivered in the midst of the people the Kalakarama suttanta. A hundred and seventy thousand living beings attained, to the reward of the path (of salvation); ten thousand received the pabbajja.

The wise Majjhima preached in the Himalaya region whither he had gone with four theras, the Dhammacakkappavattana-suttanta.' Eighty kotis of living beings attained to the reward of the path (of salvation). The five theras separately converted five kingdoms; from each of them a hundred thousand persons received the pabbajja, believing in the doctrine of the Sammasambuddha.

Together with the thera Uttara the thera Sona of wondrous might went to Suvannabhumi. Now at this time, whenever a boy was born in the king's palace, a fearsome female demon who came forth out of the sea, was wont to devour (the child) and vanish again. And at that very moment a prince was born in the king's palace. When the people saw the theras they thought: 'These are companions of the demons,' and they came armed to kill them. And the theras asked: 'What does this mean?' and said to them: 'We are pious ascetics, in no wise companions of the demon.' Then the demon came forth from the ocean with her following, and when the people saw them they raised a great outcry. But the thera created twice as many terrifying demons and therewith surrounded the demon and her following on every side. She thought: 'This (country) is come into possession of these (people),' and, panic-stricken, she took to flight.

When the thera had made a bulwark round the country he pronounced in the assembly the Brahmajala (suttanta).

Many were the people who came unto the (three) refuges and the precepts of duty; sixty thousand were converted to the true faith. Three thousand five hundred sons of noble families received the pabbajja and one thousand five hundred daughters of noble families received it likewise. Thenceforth when a prince was born in the royal palace the kings gave to such the name Sonuttara.

Since they did even forbear to enter into the bliss already won (such was) also the renunciation of the all-compassionate Conqueror they bestowed blessing on the world,' (going) here and there. Who should grow weary in (striving for) the salvation of the world?

Here ends the twelfth chapter, called 'The Converting of Different Countries', in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

 Top of Page | Index
 Chapter 01 | Chapter 02 | Chapter 03 | Chapter 04 | Chapter 05 | Chapter 06 | Chapter 07 | Chapter 08 | Chapter 09 | Chapter 10 |
 Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 |
 Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30 |
 Chapter 31 | Chapter 32 | Chapter 33 | Chapter 34 | Chapter 35 | Chapter 36 | Chapter 37

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last updated: 20-May-2003