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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 he had slain Elara, DUTTAGAMANI became king. To show clearly how this came to pass the story in due order (of events) is this: King Devanampiyatissa's second brother, the vice-regent named Mahanaga, was dear to his brother. The king's consort, that foolish woman, coveted the kingship for her own son and ever nursed the wish to slay the vice-regent, and while he was making the tank called Taraccha she sent him a mangofruit which she had poisoned and laid uppermost among (other) mango-fruits. Her little son who had gone with the vice-regent, ate the mango-fruit, when the dish was uncovered, and died therefrom. Upon this the vice-regent, with his wives, men and horses, went, to save his life, to Rohana.

In the Yatthalata-vihara his wife, who was with child, bore a son. He gave him his brother's name. Afterwards he came to Rohana and as ruler over the whole of Rohana the wealthy prince reigned in Mahagame. He founded the Nagamahavihara that bore his name; he founded also many (other) viharas, as the Uddhakandaraka (vihära) and so forth.

His son Yatthalayakatissa reigned after his death in that same place, and in like manner also Abhaya, son of this (last).

Gothabhaya's son, known by the name Kakavannatissa, the prince, reigned there after his death. Viharadevi was the consort of this believing king, firm in the faith (was she), the daughter of the king of Kalyani.

Now in Kalyani the ruler was the king named Tissa. His younger brother named Ayya-Uttika, who had roused the wrath (of Tissa) in that he was the guilty lover of the queen, fled thence from fear and took up his abode elsewhere. The district was named after him. He sent a man wearing the disguise of a bhikkhu, with a secret letter to the queen. This man went thither, took his stand at the king's door and entered the king's house with an arahant who always used to take his meal at the palace, unnoticed by that thera. When he had eaten in company with the thera, as the king was going forth, he let the letter fall to the ground when the queen was looking.

The king turned at the (rustling) sound, and when he looked down and discovered the written message he raged, unthinking, against the thera, and in his fury he caused the thera and the man to be slain and thrown into the sea Wroth at this the sea-gods made the sea overflow the land; but the king with all speed caused his pious and beautiful daughter named Devi to be placed in a golden vessel, whereon was written 'a king's daughter', and to be launched upon that same sea. When she had landed near to (the) Lanka (vihara) the king Kakavanna consecrated her as queen. Therefore she received the epithet Vihära.

When he had founded the Tissamahavihara and the Cittalapabbata (vihara) and also the Gamitthavali and Kütali (vihära) and so forth, devoutly believing in the three gems, he provided the brotherhood continually with the four needful things.

In the monastery named Kotapabbata there lived at that time a sämanera, pious in his way of life, who was ever busied with various works of merit.

To mount the more easily to the courtyard of the Akasacetiya he fixed three slabs of stone as steps. He gave (the bhikkhus) to drink and did services to the brotherhood. Since his body was continually wearied a grievous sickness came upon him. The grateful bhikkhus, who brought him in a litter, tended him at the Tissarama, in the Silapassayaparivena.

Always when the self-controlled Vihäradevi had given lavish gifts to the brotherhood in the beautifully prepared royal palace, before the mid-day meal, she was used to take, after the meal, sweet perfumes, flowers, medicines and clothing and go to the arama and offer these (to the bhikkhus) according to their digrity.

Now doing thus, at that time, she took her seat near the chief thera of the community (in the vihara) and when expounding the true doctrine the thera spoke thus to her: 'Thy great happiness thou hast attained by works of merit; even now must thou not grow weary of performing works of merit.' But she, being thus exhorted, replied: 'What is our happiness here, since we have no children? Lo, our happiness is therefore barren!'

The thera, who, being gifted with the six (supernormal) powers, foresaw that she would have children, said: 'Seek out the sick samanera, O queen.' She went thence and said to the samanera, who was near unto death: 'Utter the wish to become my son; for that would be great happiness for us.' And when she perceived that he would not the keen-witted woman commanded, to this end, great and beautiful offerings of flowers, and renewed her pleading.

When he was yet unwilling, she, knowing the right means, gave to the brotherhood for his sake all manner of medicines and garments and again pleaded with. him. Then did he desire (rebirth for himself in) the king's family, and she caused the place to be richly adorned and taking her leave she mounted the car and went her way. Hereupon the samanera passed away, and he returned to a new life in the womb of the queen while she was yet upon her journey; when she perceived this she halted. She sent that message to the king and returned with the king. When they two had both fulfilled the funeral rites for the samanera they, dwelling with collected minds in that very parivena, appointed continually lavish gifts for the brotherhood of bhikkhus.

And there came on the virtuous queen these longings of a woman with child. (This) did she crave: that while making a pillow for her head of a honeycomb one usabha long and resting on her left side in her beautiful bed, she should eat the honey that remained when she had given twelve thousand bhikkhus to eat of it; and then she longed to drink (the water) that had served to cleanse the sword with which the head of the first warrior among king Elära's warriors had been struck off, (and she longed to drink it) standing on this very head, and moreover (she longed) to adorn herself with garlands of unfaded lotus-blossoms brought from the lotusmarshes of Anuradhapura.

The queen told this to the king, and the king asked the soothsayers. When the soothsayers heard it they said: 'The queen's son, when he has vanquished the Damilas and built up a united kingdom, will make the doctrine to shine forth brightly.'

'Whosoever shall point out such a honeycomb, on him the king will bestow a grace in accordance (with this service),' thus did the king proclaim. A countryman who found, on the shore of the Gotha-sea a boat, which was turned upside down, filled with honey, showed this to the king. The king brought the queen thither and, in a beautifully prepared pavilion, caused her to eat the honey as she had wished.

And that her other longings might also be satisfied the king entrusted his warrior named Velusumana with the matter. He went to Anuradhapura and became the friend of the keeper of the king's state-horse and continually did him services. When he saw that this man trusted hin he, the fearless one, laid lotus-flowers and his sword down on the shore of the Kandamba-river early in the morning; and when he had led the horse out and had mounted it and had grasped the lotus-blossoms and the sword, he made himself known and rode thence as swiftly as the horse could (go).

When the king heard that he sent forth his first warrior to catch him. This man mounted the horse that came second (to the state-horse) and pursued the other. He (Velusumana), sitting on the horse's back, hid himself in the jungle, drew the sword and stretched it toward his pursuer. Thereby was his head, as he came on, so swiftly as the horse could, severed (from the trunk). The other took both beasts and the head (of Elara's warrior) and reached Mahagama in the evening. And the queen satisfied her longings even as she would. But the king conferred on his warrior such honours as were in accordance (with this service).

In time the queen bore a noble son, endowed with all auspicious signs, and great was the rejoicing in the house of the great monarch. By the effect of his merit there arrived that very day, from this place and that, seven ships laden with manifold gems. And in like manner, by the power of his merit, an elephant of the six-tusked race brought his young one thither and left him here and went his way. When a fisherman named Kandula saw it standing in the jungle on the shore opposite the watering-place, he straightway told the king. The king sent his (elephant)-trainers to bring the young elephant and he reared him. He was named Kandula as he had been found by Kandula

'A ship filled with vessels of gold and so forth has arrived.' This they announced to the king. And he bade them bring (the precious things) to him.

As the king had invited the brotherhood of the bhikkhus, numbering twelve thousand, for the name-giving festival of his son, he thought thus: 'If my son, when he has won the kingship over the whole realm of Lanka, shall make the doctrine of the Sambuddha to shine forth (in clear brightness) then shall just one thousand and eight bhikkhus come hither and they shall wear the robe in such wise that the alms-bowl shall be uppermost. fhey shall put the right foot first inside the threshold and they shall lay aside the prescribed waterpot together with the umbrella (made of) one (piece). A thera named Gotama shall receive my son and impart to him the confession of faith and the precepts of morality.' All fell out in this manner.

When he saw all these omens the king, glad at heart, bestowed rice-milk on the brotherhood; and to his son, bringing together in one both the lordship over Mahagama and the name of his father, he gave the name Gamani Abhaya.

When, on the ninth day after this, he had entered Mahägama, he had intercourse with the queen. She became thereby with child. The son born in due time did the king name Tissa. And both boys grew up in the midst of a great body of retainers.

When, at the festival time of the presenting of the (first) rice-foods to both (children), the king, full of pious zeal, set rice-milk before five hundred bhikkhus, he, when the half had been eaten by them, did, together with the queen, take a little in a golden spoon and give it to them with the words: 'If you, my sons, abandon the doctrine of the Sambuddha then shall this not be digested in your belly.' Both princes, who understood the meaning of these words, ate the rice-milk rejoicing as if it were ambrosia.

When they were ten and twelve years old the king, who would fain put them to the test, offered hospitality in the same way to the bhikkhus, and when he had the rice that was left by them taken and placed in a dish and set before the boys he divided it into three portions and spoke thus: 'Never, dear ones, will we turn away from the bhikkhus, the guardianspirits of our house: with such thoughts as these eat ye this portion here.' And furthermore: 'We two brothers will for ever be without enmity one toward the other; with such thoughts as these eat ye this portion here.' And as if it were ambrosia they both ate the two portions. But when it was said to them: 'Never will we fight with the Damilas; with such thoughts eat ye this portion here,' Tissa dashed the food away with his hand, but Gämani who had (in like manner) flung away the morsel of rice, went to his bed, and drawing in his hands and feet he lay upon his bed. The queen came, and caressing Gamani spoke thus: 'Why dost thou not lie easily upon thy bed with limbs stretched out, my son?' 'Over there beyond the Ganga are the Damilas, here on this side is the Gotha-ocean, how can I lie with outstretched limbs?' he answered. When the king heard his thoughts he remained silent.

Growing duly Gamani came to sixteen years, vigorous, renowned, intelligent and a hero in majesty and might.

In this changing existence do beings indeed (only) by works of merit come to such rebirth as they desire; pondering thus the wise man will be ever filled with zeal in the heaping up of meritorious works.

Here ends the twenty-second chapter, called 'The Birth of Prince Gamani', 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