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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



AFTER king JETTHA TISSA's death, his younger brother MAHASENA ruled twenty-seven years as king. And to consecrate him as king, the thera Samghamitta came thither from the further coast, when he heard the time (of Jetthatissa's death). When he had carried out the consecration and the other ceremonies of various kihd, the lawless (bhikkhu) who would fain bring about the destruction of the Mahavihara won the king to himself with the words: 'The dwellers in the Mahavihara do not teach the (true) vinaya, we are those who teach the (true) vinaya, O king', and he established a royal penalty: 'Whosoever gives food to a bhikkhu dwelling in the Mahavihara is liable to a fine of a hundred (pieces of money).'

The bhikkhus dwelling in the Mahavihara, who thereby fell into want, abandoned the Mahavihara, and went to Malaya and Rohana. Thus was our Mahavihara desolate for nine years and empty of those bhikkhus who (else) had dwelt in the Mahavihara. And the unwise thera persuaded the unwise king: 'Ownerless land belongs to the king,' and when he had gained leave from the king to destroy the Mahavihara, this (bhikkhu), in the enmity of his heart, set on people to do so.

An adherent of the thera Samghamitta, the ruthless minister Sona, a favourite servant of the king, and (with him) shameless bhikkhus, destroyed the splendid Lohapasada seven stories high, and carried away the (material of the) various buildings from hence to the Abhayagiri (vihara), and by means of the many buildings that were borne away from the Mahävihära the Abhayagiri-vihara became rich in buildings. Holding fast to his evil friend, the thera Samghamitta, and to his servant Sona, the king wrought many a deed of wrong. The king sent for the great stone image from the Päcinatissapabbata (vihära) and set it up in the Abhayagiri (vihra). He set up a building for the image, a temple for the Bodhitree, a beautiful relic-hall and a four-sided hall, and he restored the (parivena) called Kukkuta. Then by the ruthless thera Samghamitta was the Abhayagiri-vihara made stately to see.

The minister named Meghavannabhaya, the friend of the king, who was busied with all his affairs, was wroth with him for destroying the Mahavihara; he became a rebel, and when he had gone to Malaya and had raised a great force, he pitched a camp by the Düratissaka-tank.

When the king heard that his friend was come thither, he marched forth to do battle with him, and he also pitched a camp.

The other had good drink and meat, that he had brought with him from Malaya and thinking: 'I will not enjoy it without my friend the king,' he took some, and he himself went forth alone by night, and coming to the king he told him this thing. When the king had eaten with him, in perfect trust, that which he had brought, he asked him: 'Why hast thou become a rebel?' 'Because the Mahavihara has been destroyed by thee' he answered. 'I will make the vihara to be dwelt in yet again; forgive me my fault,' thus spoke the king, and the other was reconciled with the king. Following his counsel the king returned to the capital. But Meghavannabhaya, who persuaded the king (that it was fitting to do this), did not go with the king that be might collect in the meantime the wherewithal to build.

One of the king's wives, who was exceedingly dear to him, the daughter of a scribe, grieved over the destruction of the Mahavihara, and when she, in bitterness of heart, had won over a labourer to kill the thera who had destroyed it, she caused the violent thera Samghamitta to be done to death as he came to the Thuparama to destroy it. And they slew likewise the violent and lawless minister Sona. But when Meghavannabhaya' had brought the building-materials (that he bad collected), he built several parivenas in the Mahavihara. When this fear had (thus) been calmed by Abhaya the bhikkhus coming from here and there again inhabited the Mahavihara. But the king made two bronze images and set them up on the west side of the temple of the great Bodhi-tree.

Being well-pleased with the hypocrite, the plotter, the lawless thera Tissa, his evil friend, who dwelt in the Dakkhinarama, he, although he was warned, built within the boundaries of the Mahavihara, in the garden called Joti, the Jetavana-vihara. Then he called upon the brotherhood of monks to do away with their boundaries, and since the bhikkhus would not do this, they abandoned the vihara. But now, to make the shifting of the boundary void of effect, if others should seek to do this, certain bhikkhus hid themselves in various places.'

Thus was the Mahavihara abandoned for nine months by the bhikkhus, and the other bhikkhus thought: 'We will begin to shift (the boundaries).' Then, when this attempt to shift the boundary was given up,' the bhikkhus came back hither and dwelt again in the Mahavihara. But within the brotherhood of bhikkhus a complaint touching an offence of the gravest kind was raised against the thera Tissa, who had received the (Jetavana) vihára. The high minister, known to be just, who decided (the matter) excluded him, according to right and law, from the order, albeit against the king's wishes.

The king built also the Manihira-vihara and founded three vihäras, destroying temples of the (brahmanical) gods: the Gokanna (vihara), (and another vihara) in Erakavilla, (and a third) in the village of the Brahman Kalanda; (moreover be built) the Migagama-vihara and the Gangasenakapabbata (vihara). To the west, he built the Dhatusenapabbata (vihara); the king founded also the great vihãra in Kokaväta. He built the Thuparama -vihara and the Hulapitthi (vihara) and the two nunneries, called Uttara and Abhaya. At the place of the yakkha Kalavela' he built a thüpa, and on the island he restored many ruined buildings. To one thousand samghattheras he distributed alms for theras, at a cost of a thousand (pieces of money), and to all (the bhikkhus he distributed) yearly a garment. There is no record of his gifts of food and drink.

To make (the land) more fertile, he made sixteen tanks, the Manihira, the Mahagama, the Challüra, and the (tank) named Khanu, the Mahamani, the Kokavata and the Dhammaramma-tank, the Kumbalaka and the Vahana, besides the Rattamalakandaka, the tank Tissavaddhamanaka, that of Velangavitthi, that of Mahagallaka, the Cira-tank and the Mahadaragallaka and the Kalapasana-tank. These are the sixteen tanks. On the Ganga he built the great canal named Pabbatanta.

Thus did he gather to himself much merit and much guilt.

The Mahavamsa is ended.

 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