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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



UNDER the rule of the king Dutthagamani the subjects in the kingdom lived happily; Salirajakumara was his famous son.

Greatly gifted was he and ever took delight in works of merit; he tenderly loved a candäla woman of exceedingly great beauty. Since he was greatly enamoured of the Agokamaladevi, who already in a former birth had been his consort,' because of her loveliness, be cared nothing for kingly rule. Therefore Dutthagamani's brother, SADDHA TISSA, anointed king after his death, ruled, a peerless (prince), for eighteen years. He finished the work on the parasol, and the plaster-work and the elephant-wall' of the Great Thüpa, he who won his name by his faith. The magnificent Lohapäsada caught fire from a lamp; he built the Lohapasada anew, seven stories high. And now was the pasada worth (only) ninety times a hundred thousand. He built the Dakkhinariri-vihara and the (vihara) Kallakalena, the Kalambaka-vihara, and the (vihara) Pettahgavalika, (the viharas) Velangavitthika, Dubbalavapitissaka and Duratissakavapi, and the Mutuviharaka He also built viharas (from Anuradhapura) to Dighavapi, one for every yojana (of the way).

Moreover, he founded the Dighavapi-vihara together with the cetiya; for this cetiya he had a covering of network made set with gems, and in every mesh thereof was hung a splendid flower of gold, large as a waggon-wheel, that he had commanded them to fashion. (In honour) of the eighty-four thousand sections of the dhamma the ruler commanded also eighty-four thousand offerings. When the king had thus accomplished many works of merit he was reborn, after his death, among the Tusita gods.

While the great king Saddhatissa lived yet in Dighavapi his eldest son Lanjatissa built the beautiful vihara called Girikumbhila; and Thulathana, a younger son of this same (king), built the vihara called Kandara. When his father (SADDHA TISSA) went to his brother (Dutthagamani at Anurãdhapura) THULANTHANA went with him, to bestow land for the use of the brotherhood upon his vihãra.

When SADDHA TISSA died all the counsellors assembled, and when they had summoned together the whole brotherhood of bhikkhus in the Thuparama, they, with the consent of the brotherhood consecrated the prince THULANTHANA as king, that he might take the kingdom under his protection. When LANJA TISSA heard this he came hither,' overpowered him, and took the government upon himself. Only for one month and ten days had Thulathana been king.

During three years did LANJA TISSA use the brotherhood slightingly and neglect them, with the thought: 'They did not decide according to age.' When, afterwards, he was reconciled with the brotherhood, the king built, in atonement, spending three hundred thousand (pieces of money), three stone terraces for offerings of flowers to the Great Cetiya, and then did the lord of the land, with (the expense of) a hundred thousand, have the earth heaped up between the Great Thupa and the Thuparama so that it was level. Moreover, he made a splendid stone mantling to the thupa in the Thuparama, and to the east of the Thupurama a little thupa built of stones, and the Lanjakasana hail for the brotherhood of bhikkhus. Moreover, he had a mantling made of stone for the Khandhakathupa. When he had spent a hundred thousand for the Cetiya-vihara he commanded that at the (consecration) festival of the vihara called Girikumbhila the six garments be distributed to sixty thousand bhikkhus.

He built the Arittha-vihara and the (vihara) Kunjarahinaka, and to the bhikkhus in the villages he distributed medicines. To the bhikkhunis he ordered to give rice as much as they wanted. Nine years and one half-month did he reign here.

When Lanjatissa was dead his younger brother named KHALLATA NAGA reigned six years. Round about the Lohapasada he built thirty-two exceedingly beautiful (other) pasadas to make the Lohapäsäda yet more splendid. Round the Great Thupa, the beautiful Hemamali, he made as a border a court (strewn) with sand and a wall. Moreover, he built the Kurundavasoka-vihara, and yet other works of merit did the king carry out.

A commander of troops named Kammaharattaka, overpowered the ruler, king KHALLATA NAGA, in the capital itself. But the king's younger brother named VATTA GAMANI killed the villainous commander and took on himself the government. The little son of his brother, king Khallatanaga, whose name was Mahaculika, he took as his son; and the (child's) mother, Anulädevi, he made his queen. Since he had thus taken the place of a father they called him Pitiraja.

In the fifth month after he was thus anointed king, a young brahman named Tissa, in Rohana, in the city (that was the seat) of his clan, hearkened, fool that he was, to the prophesying of a brahman and became a rebel, and his following waxed great. Seven Damilas landed (at the same time) with their troops in Mahatittha. Then Tissa the brahman and the seven Damilas also sent the king a written message concerning the (handing over of the) parasol. The sagacious king sent a written message to Tissa the brahman: 'The kingdom is now thine, conquer thou the Damilas.' He answered: 'So be it,' and fought a battle with the Damilas, but they conquered him.

Thereupon the Damilas made war upon the king; in a battle near Kolambalaka the king was vanquished. (Near the gate of the Tittharama he mounted into his car and fled.

But the Titthäräma was built by king Pandukabhaya and it had been constantly inhabited under twenty-one kings.) As a nigantha named Giri saw him take flight he cried out loudly: 'The great black lion is fleeing.' When the great king heard that he thought thus: 'If my wish be fulfilled I will build a vihara here.'

He took Anuladevi with him, who was with child, thinking: 'She must be protected,' and Mahacula also and (his son) the prince Mahanaga, also thinking: 'They must be protected.' But, to lighten the car the king gave to Somadevi his splendid diadem-jewel and let her, with her own consent, descend from the car.

When going forth to battle he had set out, full of fears, taking his little son and his two queens with him. Being vanquished he took flight and, unable to take with him the almsbowl used by the Conqueror, he hid in the Vessagiri forest. When the thera Mahatissa from Kupikkala (vihüra) saw him there, he gave him food, avoiding thereby the giving of an untouched alms. Thereon the king, glad at heart, recording it upon a ketaka -leaf, allotted lands to his vihära for the use of the brotherhood. From thence, he went to Silasobbhakandaka and sojourned there; then he went to Matuvelanga near Samagalla and there met the thera (Kupikkalamahatissa) whom he had already seen before. The thera entrusted the king with due carefulness to Tanasiva, who was his attendant. Then in the house of this Tanasiva, his subject, the king lived fourteen years, maintained by him.

Of the seven Damilas one, fired with passion for the lovely Somadevi, made her his own and forthwith returned again to the further coast. Another took the almsbowl of the (Master) endowed with the ten miraculous powers, that was in Anuradhapura, and returned straightway, well contented, to the other coast.

But the Damila PULAHATTHA reigned three years, making the Damila named Bahiya commander of his troops. BARIYA slew PULAHATTHA and reigned two years; his commander-inchief was PANAYAMARAKA. PANAYAMARAKA slew BARIYA and was king for seven years; his commander-in-chief was PILAYAMARAKA. PILAYAMARAKA slew PANAYAMARAKA and was king for seven months; his commander-in-chief was DATHIKA. And the Damila DATHIKA slew PILAYAMARAKA and reigned two years in Anuradhapura. Thus the time of these five Damila-kings was fourteen years and seven months.

When one day, in Malaya, Anuladevi went to seek her (daily) portion the wife of Tanasiva struck against her basket with her foot. And she was wroth and came weeping to the king. When Tanasiva heard this he hastened forth (from the house) grasping his bow. When the king had heard what the queen said, he, ere yet the other came, took the two boys and his consort and hastened out also. Putting the arrow to his bow the glorious (hero) transfixed Siva as he came on. The king proclaimed (then) his name and gathered followers around him. He obtained as ministers eight famous warriors, and great was the following of the king and his equipment (for war).

The famous (king) sought out the thera Mahatissa of Kupikkala and commanded that a festival in honour of the Buddha be held in the Acchagalla-vihara. At the very time when the minister Kapisisa, having gone up to the courtyard of the Akasa-cetiya to sweep the building, had come down from thence, the king, who was going up with the queen, saw him sitting by the road, and being wroth with him that he had not flung himself down (before him) he slew Kapisisa. Then in anger against the king the other seven ministers withdrew themselves from him, and going whither it seemed good to them, they were stripped of their possessions by robbers on the way, and they took refuge in the vihara Hambugallaka where they sought out the learned thera Tissa. The thera, who was versed in the four nikayas, gave them, as he had received it (as alms), clothing, sugar and oil, and rice, too, in sufficing measure.

When he had refreshed them the thera asked them:

'Whither are you going?' They made themselves known to him, and told him this matter. But when they were asked afterwards: 'With whom will it be possible to further the doctrine of the Buddha? With the Damilas or with the king?' they answered: 'By the king will this be possible.' And when they had thus convinced them the two theras, Tissa and Mahatissa, took them forth from thence and brought them to the king and reconciled them one to another. The king and the ministers besought the theras saying: 'If our undertaking has prospered then must ye come to us, when a message is sent to you.' The theras agreed and returned each one to his place.

When the renowned king had come to Anuradhapura and had slain the Damila Dathika he himself assumed the government. And forthwith the king destroyed the Arama of the niganthas and built there a vihara with twelve cells. When two hundred and seventeen years ten months and ten days had passed since the founding of the Mahavihara the king, filled with pious zeal, built the Abhayagiri-vihara.' He sent for the (two) theras, and to the thera Mahatissa, who had first assisted him of the two, he gave the vihära, to do him honour. Since the king Abhaya built it on the place of the arama of (the nigantha) Giri, the vihara received the name Abhayagiri.

When he had sent for Somadevi he raised her again to her rank and built, in her honour, the Somarama, bearing her name. For this fair woman, who had alighted from the car at this spot and had concealed herself in a thicket of flowering Kadambas, saw in that very place a samanera who was relieving his need, using (decently) his hand for concealment. When the king heard her story he built a vihara there.

To the north of the Mahathupa this same king founded upon a lofty spot the cetiya called Silasobbhakandaka.

One of the seven warriors (of the king), Uttiya, built, to the south of the city, the so-called Dakkhina-vihara. In the same place the minister named Mula built the Mulavokasavihãra, which was, therefore, called after him. The minister named Saliya built the Saliyarama, and the minister named Pabbata built the Pabbatarama; but the minister Tissa founded the Uttaratissaräma. When the beautiful viharas were completed they sought out the them Tissa and gave them to him with these words: 'In gratitude for thy kindness we give thee these viharas built by us!

The them established sundry bhikkhus everywhere (in these viharas), according to their rank, and the ministers bestowed upon the brotherhood the different (things) useful to a samana. The king provided those (bhikkhus) living in his vihära with the (needful) things for use, so that nothing was lacking therefore were they many in number.

A then known by the name Mahatissa, who had frequented the families of laymen, was expelled by the brotherhood from our monastery for this fault, the frequenting of lay-families. His disciple, the them who was known as Bahalamassutissa, went in anger to the Abhayagiri (vihãra) and abode there, forming a (separate) faction. And thenceforward these bhikkhus came no more to the Mahavihara: thus did the bhikkhus of the Abhayagiri (viliüra) secede from the Theravada. From the monks of the Abhayagiri -vihara those of the Dakkhina-vihara separated (afterwards); in this wise those bhikkhus (who had seceded) from the adherents of the Theravada were divided into two (groups).

He (the king) built the cells of the vihara so that a greater number were joined together, for he reflected: 'In this way it will be possible to restore them.'

The text of the three pitakas and the athhakatha thereon did the most wise bhikkhus hand down in former times orally, but since they saw that the people were falling away (from religion) the bhikkhus came together, and in order that the true doctrine might endure, they wrote them down in books.

Thus did the king VATTA GAMANI ABHAYA reign twelve years, and, at the beginning, five months beside.

Thus does the wise man labour, when he comes to rule, for the bliss of others and for his own bliss, but a man without understanding does not render the possessions which lie has won, however great they are, blissful for both, being greedy of (more) possessions.

Here ends the thirty-third chapter, called 'The Ten Kings', in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the srene 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