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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



FOREMOST in strength, beauty, shape and the qualities of courage and swiftness and of mighty size of body was the elephant Kandula. Nandhimitta, Süranimila, Mahasona, Gothaimbara, Theraputtabhaya, Bharana, and also Velusumana, Khañjadeva, Phussadeva and Labhiyavasabha: these ten were his mighty and great warriors.

King Elara had a general named Mitta; and he had, in the village that he governed, in the eastern district near the Citta-mountain, a (nephew, his) sister's son, named after his uncle, whose secret parts were hidden (in his body). In the years of his childhood, since he loved to creep far, they were used to bind the boy fast with a rope slung about his body, to a great mill-stone. And since, creeping about on the ground, he dragged the stone after him and in crossing over the threshold the rope broke asunder, they called him Nandhimitta. He had the strength of ten elephants. When he was grown up he went into the city and served his uncle. Damilas who desecrated at that time thupas and other (sacred memorials), this strong man used to tear asunder, treading one leg down with his foot while he grasped the other with his hand, and then (he would) cast them out (over the walls). But the devas caused those dead bodies that lie cast out to vanish.

When they observed the diminution of the Damilas they told the king; but the command 'Take him with his prey they could not carry out. Nandhimitta thought: 'And if I do thus, it is but the destruction of men and brings not the glory to the doctrine. In Rohana there are still princes who have faith in the three gems. There will I serve the king, and when I have overcome all the Damilas and have conferred the overlordship on the princes, I shall make the doctrine of the Buddha to shine forth brightly.' Then he went and told this to prince Gamani. When this latter had taken counsel with his mother he received him with honour, and with high honours the warrior Nandhimitta continued to dwell with him.

King Kakavannatissa caused a guard to hold the Damilas in check to be kept continually at all the fords of the Mahäganga, Now the king had, by another wife, a son named Dighabhaya; and he gave the guard near the Kacchaka ford into his charge. And to form the guard this (prince) commanded each noble family within a distance of two yojanas round (to send) one son thither. Within the district of Kotthivala, in the village of Khandakavitthika, lived the chief of a clan the headman named Samgha who had seven sons. To him, too, the prince sent a messenger demanding a son. His seventh son named Nimila had the strength of ten elephants. His six brothers who were angered at his bent toward idleness, wished that he might go, but not so his mother and his father. Wroth with his other brothers he went, in the early morning, a distance of three yojanas, and sought out the prince even at sunrise. And he, to put him to the test, entrusted him with a far errand: 'Near the Cetiya-mountain in the village of Dvaramandala is a brahman named Kundali, my friend. In his possession is merchandise from over-seas. Go thou to him and bring hither the merchandise that he gives thee.' When he had thus spoken to him and bad offered him a meal he sent him forth with a letter. He travelled, yet in the forenoon, nine yojanas from that place hither toward Anurädhapura and sought out the brahman. 'When thou hast bathed in the tank, my dear, come to me,' said the brahman. As he had never yet come to this place he bathed in the Tissa-tank, and when he had done reverence to the great Bodhi-tree and the cetiya in the Thuparama he went into the city; when he had (then) seen the whole city and had bought perfumes in the bazaar, had gone forth again by the north gate and had brought lotus-blossoms from the lotus-field he sought out the brahman, and questioned by him he told him of his wayfaring. When the brahman heard of his first march and of his march hither he thought, full of amazement: 'This is a man of noble race; if Elara hears of him he will get him into his power. Therefore must he not dwell near the Damilas, he must rather take up his abode with the prince's father.' When he had written in the same sense he gave the written message into his hands, and giving him Punnavaddhana-garments and many gifts (to take with him), and having fed him he sent him (back) to his friend. He came to the prince at: the time that the shadows grow longer and delivered up to the king's son the letter and the gifts. Then rejoicing (the prince) said: 'Honour this man with a thousand (pieces of money).' The other servitors of the prince grew envious, then ordered he to honour the youth with ten thousand (pieces). And when (according to his charge) they had euf his hair and bathed him in the river, and had put on him a pair of Punnavaddhana-garments and a beautiful fragrant wreath, and had wound a silken turban about his head, they brought him to the prince,' and the latter commanded that food from his own stores be given him. Moreover, the prince bade them give his own bed worth ten thousand (pieces of money) to the warrior as a couch. He gathered all these together and took them to his mother and father and gave the ten thousand (pieces of money) to his mother and the bed to his father. The same night he came and appeared at the place of the guard. When the prince heard this in the morning he was glad at heart. When he had given him provision for the journey and an escort and had bestowed on him (as a gift) ten thousand (pieces of money) he sent him to his father. The warrior brought the ten thousand to his mother and father, gave it to them and went into the presence of king Kakavannatissa. The king gave him (into the service of) the prince Gamani, and with high honours the warrior Süranimila took up his abode with him.

In the Kulambari-district in the village Hundarivapi lived Tissa's eighth son named Sona. At the time when he was seven years old he tore up young palms; at the time when he was ten years old the strong (boy) tore up great palm-trees. In time Mahasona became as strong as ten elephants. When the king heard that he was such a man he took him from his father and gave him into the service of the prince Gamani that he might maintain him. Receiving honourable guerdon from him, the warrior took up his abode with him.

In the region named Giri, in the village Nitthulavitthika, thçre lived a son of Mahanaga strong as ten elephants. By reason of his dwarfish stature he was named Gothaka; his six elder brothers made a merry jest of him. Once when they had gone forth and were clearing the forest to lay out a beanfield they left his share and came back and told him. Then forthwith he started out, and when he had torn up the trees called imbara and had levelled the ground he came and told (them). His brothers went and when they had seen his amazing work they returned to him praising his work.' Because of this he bore the name Gothaimbara, and him too, in like manner, the king commanded to stay with Gamani.

A householder named Rohana, who was headman in the village of Kitti near the Kota-mountain, gave to the son who was born to him the name of the king Gothabbaya. At the age of ten to twelve years the boy was so strong that in his play he threw like balls for playing stones that could not be lifted by four or five men. When he was sixteen years old his father made him a club thirty-eight inches round and sixteen cubits long. When, with this, he smote the stems of palmyra or coco-paims, he felled them. Therefore was he known as a warrior. And him, too, did the king in like manner command to stay with Gamani. But his father was a supporter of the them Mahäsumma. Once when this householder was hearing a discourse of Mabäsumma in the Kotapabbata-vihara he attained to the fruition of (the first stage of salvation called) sotapatti. With heart strongly moved' he told this to the king, and when he had given over (the headship of) his house to his son he received the pabbajjä from the thera. Given up to the practice of meditation he attained to the state of an arahant. Therefore his son was called Theraputtabhaya.

In the village of Kappakandara a son of Kumära lived named Bharana. In time, when he was ten to twelve years old, he went with the boys into the forest and chased many hares; he struck at them with his foot and dashed them, (smitten) in twain, to the ground. Then when he, at the age of sixteen years, went with the village-folk into the forest he killed antelopes, elks, and boars in like manner. Therefore was Bharaua known as a great warrior. And him did the king in like manner command to stay with Gamani.

In the district called Giri, in the village of Kutumbiyahgana there dwelt, held in honour (by the people) there, a householder named Vasabba. His fellow-countrymen Vela and Sumana, governor of Giri, came when a son was born to their friend, bringing gifts, and both gave their name to the boy. When he was grown up the governor of Giri had him to dwell in his house. He had a Sindhu-horse that would let no man mount him. When be saw Velusumana he thought: 'Here is a rider worthy of me,' and he neighed joyfully. When the governor perceived this he said to him: 'Mount the horse.' Then he mounted the horse and made him gallop in a circle; and the animal appeared even as one single horse around the whole circle, and he sat on the back of the courser seeming to be a chain of men and he loosed his mantle and girt it about him again and again fearlessly. When the bystanders saw this they broke into applauding shouts. The governor of Girl gave him ten thousand (pieces of money) and thinking:

'he is fit for the king,' he gave him joyfully into the king's service. The king made Velusumana dwell near him, giving him honourable guerdon and favouring him greatly.'

In the district of Nakulanaga in the village of Mahisadomka there lived Abhaya's last son, named Deva, endowed with great strength. Since he limped a little they called him Khanjadeva. When he went a-hunting with the village-folk, he chased at those times great buffaloes, as many as rose up, and grasped them by the leg with his hand, and when be bad whirled them round his head the young man dashed them to the ground breaking their bones. When the king heard this matter, having sent for Khanjadeva, he commanded him to stay with Gamani.

Near the Cittalapabbata (vihara) in the village named Gavita there lived Uppala's son named Phussadeva. When he went once as a boy to the vihara with the (other) boys he took one of the shells offered to the bodhi-tree and blew it mightily. Powerful even as the roar at the bursting asunder of a thunderbolt was his tone, and all the other boys, terrified, were as if stunned. Therefore he was known by the name Ummadaphussadeva. His father made him learn the archer's art handed down in the family, and he was one of those who hit their mark (guided) by sound, who hit by (the light of the) lightning, and who hit a hair. A waggon laden with sand and a hundred skins bound one upon another, a slab of asana or udumbara-wood eight or sixteen inches thick, or one of iron or copper two or four inches thick he shot through with the arrow; an arrow shot forth by him flew eight usabhas over the land but one usabha through the water. When the great king heard this thing he had him taken away from his father and commanded him to stay with Gamani.

Near the Tuladhara-mountain in the village of Vihäraväpi lived a son of the householder Matta, named Vasabha. Since his body was nobly formed they called him Labhiyavasabha. At the age of twenty years he was gifted with great bodily strength. Taking some men with him he began, since he would fain have some fields, (to make) a tank. Making it he, being endowed with great strength, flung away masses of earth such as only ten or twelve men bad moved else, and thus in a short time he finished the tank. And thereby he gained renown, and him too did the king summon and, allotting him honourable guerdon, he appointed him to (the service of) Gamani. That field was known as Vasabha's Dam. So Labhiyavasabha abode near Gamani.

On these ten great warriors did the king henceforth confer honours like to the honours conferred on his own son. Then summoning the ten great warriors the king charged them:

'Each one find ten warriors.' They brought thither warriors in this way and again the king commanded these hundred warriors to levy (others) in like manner. They too brought thither warriors in this way and these thousand warriors did the king again command to levy (others) in like manner. They also brought warriors thither. And they, reckoned altogether, were then eleven thousand one hundred and ten warriors.

They all continually received honourable guerdon from the ruler of the land and abode surrounding the prince Gamani.

Thus when a wise man, mindful of his salvation, hears of the marvels wrought by the pious life, he should surely, turning aside from the evil path, evermore find pleasure in the path of piety.

Here ends the twenty-third chapter, called 'The Levying of the Warriors', 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