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The Mahavamsa

The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka

Chapter 34 - The Eleven Kings

After his death MAHÁCÚLÍ MAHÁTISSA reigned fourteen years with piety and justice.

Since he heard that a gift brought about by the work of a man’s own hand is full of merit, the king, in the very first year (of his reign), went in disguise and laboured in the riceharvest, and with the wage that he received for this he gave food as alms to the thera Mahásumma. When the king had laboured also in Sonnagiri[1] three years in a sugar-mill, and had received lumps of sugar as wage for this, he took the lumps of sugar, and being returned to the capital he, the ruler of the earth, appointed great almsgiving to the brotherhood of bhikkhus. He bestowed clothing on thirty thousand bhikkhus and the same on twelve thousand bhikkhunis.

When the protector of the earth had built a well-planned vihara, he gave the six garments[2] to sixty thousand bhikkhus and to bhikkhunis likewise, in number thirty thousand. The same king built the Mandavapi-vihara, the Abhayagallaka (vihara), the (viharas) Vankavattakagalla and Dighabahugallaka and the Jalagama-vihara.

When the king (inspired) by faith had done works of merit in many ways he passed into heaven, at the end of the fourteen years.

Vattagamani’s son known as CORANAGA lived as a rebel under the rule of Mahácúla. When Mahacula had departed: he came and reigned. Those places, where he had found no refuge during the time of his rebellion, eighteen vihäras, did this fool destroy. Twelve years did Coranaga reign. And eating poisoned (food) that his consort gave him the evildoer died and was reborn in the Lokantarika-hell.

After his death king Mahacula’s son ruled three years as king, being known by name TISSA. But Coranaga’s spouse, the infamous Anulá, had done her infamous (consort) to death, giving him poison, because she was enamoured of one of the palace-guards. And for love of this same palace-guard Anula now killed Tissa also by poison and gave the government into the hands of that other.

When the palace-guard, whose name was SIVA, and who (had been) the first of the gate-watchmen, had made Anula his queen he reigned a year and two months in the city; but Anulä, who was enamoured of the Damila Vatuka, did him to death with poison and gave the reign to Vatuka. The Damila VATUKA, who had been a city-carpenter in the capital, made Anula his queen and then reigned a year and two months in the city.

But when Anula (one day) saw a wood-carrier, who had come to the house, she fell in love with him, and when she had killed Vatuka with poison she gave the government into his hands. TISSA (Daru Bhatika Tissa) , the wood-carrier, when he had made Anula his queen, ruled one year and one month in the city. In haste he had a bathing-tank made in the Mahameghavana. But Anula, enslaved by passion for a Damila named Niliya, a brahman who was the palace-priest, and eager to be united with him, did Tissa the wood-carrier to death giving him poison and gave the government into (Niliya’s) hands. And the brahman NILIYA also made her his queen and resigned, upheld constantly by her, six months here in Anuradhapura. When the princess Anula (who desired to take her pleasure even as she listed with thirty-two of the palace-guards)[3] had put to death Niliya also with poison, the queen ANULA herself, reigned four months.

But king Mahaculika’s second son, named KUTAKANNA TISSA, who had fled from fear of Anula and had taken the pabbajja returned hither when, in time, he had gathered an army together, and when he had slain the wicked Anula he, the ruler of men, reigned twenty-two years. He built upon the Cetiya-mountain a great building for the uposatha festival and to the east of this building he raised a thupa of stone, and in that same place on the Cetiya-mountain he planted a bodhi-tree.

In the region between the rivers he founded the Pelagamavihara and in the same place (he made) a great canal called Vannaka and the great Ambadugga-tank and the Bhayoluppala,[4] and moreover (he made) around the city a wall seven cubits high and a trench. When he had burned the licentious Anula in the palace (upon the funeral pyre), he, withdrawing a little (distance) from thence, built a new palace. In the city itself he laid out the Padumassara-park. His mother entered the order of the doctrine of the Conqueror when she had just cleansed her teeth. On a plot for building[5] belonging to his family he founded a nunnery for his mother: and this was therefore known by name Dantageha.[6]

After his death his son, the prince named BHATIKABHAYA, reigned twenty-eight years. Since he, the pious ruler of the earth, was the brother of king MAHADATHIKA he was known on the island by the name Bhatikaraja, Here[7] did he carry out the work of repairing the Lohapasada and built two vedikas for the Mahathupa, and the (hall) called the Uposatha (hall) in the (vihära) named after the thüpa.[8]

And doing away with the tax appointed for himself he planted sumana and ujjuka-flowers[9] over a yojana of land round the city. And when the king had commanded that the Great Cetiya, from the vedika at the foot to the parasol at the top, be plastered with (a paste of) sweet-smelling unguent four fingers thick and that flowers be carefully embedded therein by their stalks, he made the thupa even as a globe of flowers. Another time he commanded them to plaster the cetiya with (a paste of) minium eight fingers thick, and thus he changed it into a heap of flowers. Yet another time he commanded that the cetiya be strewn with flowers from the steps[10] to the parasol on the top, and thus he covered it over with a mass of blossoms. Then when he had raised water by means of machines from the Abhaya-tank he, by pouring (masses of) water over the thupa, carried out a wateroffering. From a hundred waggon-loads of pearls, he, bidding that the mass of plaster be carefully kneaded together with oil, made a plaster-covering (for the Great Thupa). He had a net of coral prepared and cast over the cetiya, and when he had commanded them to fasten in the meshes thereof lotus-flowers of gold large as waggon-wheels, and to hang clusters of pearls on these that reached to the lotus-flower beneath, he worshipped the Great Thupa with this offering.

When he heard one day in the relic-chamber the sound of the arahants[11] chanting in chorus he made the resolve: `I will not rise up till I have seen it,’ and fasting he lay down at the foot of the stone-pillar on the east side.[12] The theras created a door for him and brought him into the relic-chamber. When the ruler of the earth had beheld all the adornment of the relic-chamber he went forth and made an offering of figures modelled with clay in close likeness to those (within).

With honeycombs, with perfumes, with vases (filled with flowers), and with essences, with auri-pigment (prepared) as unguent and minium; with lotus-flowers arrayed in minium that lay ankle-deep in the courtyard of the cetiya, where they had poured it molten; with lotus-flowers that were fastened in the holes of mattings, spread on fragrant earth, wherewith the whole courtyard of the cetiya was filled; with many lighted lamps, prepared with wicks made of strips of stuff in clarified butter, which had likewise been poured (into the courtyard) when the ways for the outflow had been closed up; and in like manner with many lamps with stuff-wicks in madhuka-oil[13] and sesamum-oil besides; with these things, as they were named, the prince commanded severally with each seven times offerings for the Great Thupa.

And moreover, urged by faith, he ordered year by year perpetually a great festival (for the renewing) of the plasterwork; and festivals also of the great Bodhi-tree (in honour) of the watering of the Bodhi-tree, and furthermore twenty eight great Vesakha-festivals[14] and eighty-four thousand lesser festivals, and also divers mimic dances and concerts, with the playing of all kinds of instruments of music (in honour) of the Great Thüpa. Three times a day he went to do homage to the Buddha and he commanded (them to give) twice (a day) continually (the offering known as) the `flower-drum ‘.[15]

And he continually gave alms at the preaching[16] and alms at the pavarana-ceremony, and (distributed) also, in abundance, the things needed for the ascetic, such as oil, molasses, garments and so forth among the brotherhood. Moreover, the prince bestowed everywhere land for the cetiya, to the end that the cetiyas might be kept in repair. And constantly the king bestowed food (as alms allotted) by tickets[17] to a thousand bhikkhus in the vihara (of the) Cetiya-pabbata. At five spots, namely, the three receiving -places,[18] called Citta, Mani, and Mucala, as also in the Paduma-house and the beautiful Chattapasada, offering hospitality to the bhikkhus who were harnessed to the yoke of the sacred word he provided them always with all that was needful, being filled with reverence for the religion. Moreover, all those works of merit which had been ordered by the kings of old regarding the doctrine, all these did king Bhatika carry out.

After the death of Bhatikaraja his younger brother named MAHADATHIKA MAHANAGA reigned twelve years, intent on works of merit of many kinds. He had kincikkha-stones[19] laid as plaster on (the square of) the Great Thüpa and he turned the sand-pathway round (the thupa)[20] into a wide court; in all the viharas he had (raised) chairs put up for the preachers. The king built the great Ambatthala-thupa;[21] since the building was not firm he lay down in that place, bethinking him of the merit of the Sage (Buddha), risking his own life.[22] When he had thus made the building firm and had completed the cetiya he set up at the four entrances four bejewelled arches that had been well planned by artists and shone with gems of every kind. To be fastened to the cetiya he spent a cover (for it) of red stuff and golden balls thereto and festoons of pearls.’

When he had made ready around the Cetiya-mountain a (tract of land measuring a) yojana, and had made four gateways and a beautiful road round about (the mountain), and when he had then set up (traders’) shops on both sides of the road and had adorned (the road) here and there with flags, arches, and triumphal gates, and had illuminated all with chains of lamps, he commanded mimic dances, songs, and music. That the people might go with clean feet on the road from the Kadamba-river to the Cetiya-mountain he had it laid with carpets the gods themselves might hold a festival assembly[23] there with dance and music and he gave great largess at the four gates of the capital. Over the whole island he put up chains of lamps without a break, nay over the waters of the ocean within a distance of a yojana around. At the festival of (consecrating of) the cetiya these beautiful offerings were appointed by him: the splendid feast is called here (in the country) the great Giribhanda-offering.

When the lord of the earth had commanded almsgiving in eight places to the bhikkhus who were come together in the festal assembly, he, with the beating of eight golden drums that were set up even there, allotted lavish gifts to twenty-four thousand (bhikkhus). He distributed the six garments, commanded the remission of the prison-penalties and he ordered the barbers to carry on their trade continually at the four gates. Moreover, all those works of merit that had been decreed by the kings of old and that had also been decreed by big brother, those did he carry out without neglecting anything. He gave himself and the queen, his two sons,[24] his state-elephant and his state horse to the brotherhood as their own, albeit the brotherhood forbade him.

To the brotherhood of the bhikkhus he gave gifts worth six hundred thousand, but to the company of bhikkhunis (such gifts) worth a hundred thousand, and in giving them, with knowledge of the custom, various possessions suited (to their needs) he redeemed (again) himself and the rest from the brotherhood. In Kalayanakannika the ruler of men built the (vihara) called Maninagapabbata and the vihara which was called Kalanda, furthermore on the bank of the Kubukanda-river the Samudda-vihara and in Huvacakannika[25] the vihära that bore the name Culanagapabbata. Delighted with the service rendered him in the vihãra that he himself had built, called Pasanadipaka, by a samanera who had given him a draught of water, the king bestowed on that vihara (a tract of land) in measure half a yojana round about, for the use of the brotherhood. And rejoicing likewise at (the behaviour of) a samanera in the Mandavapi-vihara the prince gave land for the use of the brotherhood to this vihara.

Thus men of good understanding, who have conquered pride and indolence, and have freed themselves from the attachment to lust, when they have attained to great power, without working harm to the people, delighting in deeds of merit, rejoicing in faith, do many and various pious works.

Here ends the thirty-fourth chapter, called `The Eleven Kings’, in the Mahavamsa compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

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- Footnotes:

1.

I.e. ‘Gold mountain,’ according to the Tika situated near Ambatthakola. On this see note to 28. 20. The rocky mountain that rises on the east of Ambatthakola bounding the valley of Nalanda-Dambul on the west is called Rangala. GEIGER, Ceylon, p. 155; ED. MULLER, Ancient Inscriptions, p. 36. The Dambulla-caves are also called Suvannagiri-guha in king Nissanka Malla’s inscription, ED. MULLER, I.I, pp. 92, 126.

2.

See note to 33. 26.

3.

The passage enclosed in brackets occurs in all the groups of MSS., but seems, as it interferes with the division of the slokas, to be a later addition. (See Mah. ed., Introduction, p. xxi.) kattum in kattukama is a pregnant expression for samvasam kattum.

4.

We fail to establish the names here because we do not know what is meant by antaragangaya. The expression hardly denotes the delta of a river, but perhaps rather the region between Ambanganga and Mahawaeliganga.

5.

Lit. ‘place for a house.’ I read kulasante. The Tika, too, renders its kulayatte by kulasantake.

6.

Lit. ‘ Tooth -house’

7.

I.e. in Anuradhapura.

8.

I.e. in the Thuparama.

9.

Tika: mahasumanani ca ujjakasumanani ca, namely two kinds of jasmine.

10.

The steps form the ascent from the ‘elephant-path* (cf. note to 33. 31) to the great terrace, on which the cetiya stands.

11.

Tadi is a synonym of araha.

12.

The Tika paraphrases pacinaddikamulamhi with pacinaaddikassasamipe, pacinadisayasilatthambhaussapitatthane.

13.

Oil pressed from the seeds of the Bassia Latifolia. The MSS. all have madhuka, and this should be the reading. In Skt. also the form madhuka exists beside madh 14.

See note to 32. 35.

15.

Tika : divasassa dvisu varesu niyatam pupphapujam ca akarayi.

16.

Very doubtful. The MSS. support the reading chandadanam. Perhaps chanda is here a synonym of sajjhaya.

17.

Salakavattabhatta, see note to 15. 205.

18.

Upatthana is ‘attendance, service’. Thus the allusion is to a place where people waited on the monks to offer gifts. The Tika calls the three places which are said to have been in the interior of the royal palace, Cittupatthanapasada, Maniupatthanapasada, and Mucalupatthanapasada.

19.

Cf. Skt. kinjaIka ’stamens of the lotus-blossom ‘. CHILDERS, P.D., s. v. ‘Kinjakkhapasano appears to be some sort of marble or other ornamental stone ‘.

20.

On the valikamariyada see note to 33. 31.

21.

On the Cetiya-pabbata (Mihintale). See PARKER, Ancient Ceylon, pp. 320-322. Cf. 13. 20.

22.

He ran a risk of being killed by falling stones during his meditation.

23.

On samajja see HARDY in Album Kern, p. 61 foll.

24.

Amandagamani Abhaya and Tissa.

25.

According to the Tika a district in Rohana.

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