by Wilhelm Geiger | 94,941 words

Sinhalese history is authenticated by the concurrence of every evidence that can contribute to verify the annals of any country – “Ceylon” Pearl of the East by Harry Williams...

Chapter 12 - The Converting Of Different Countries

WHEN the thera Moggaliputta, the illuminator of the religion of the Conqueror, had brought the (third) council to an end and when, looking into the future, he had beheld the founding of the religion in adjacent countries, (then) in the month Kattika[1] he sent forth theras, one here and one there. The thera Majjhantika he sent to Kasmira and Gandhara, the thera, Mahadeva he sent to Mahisamandala. To Vanavasa he sent the thera named Rakkhita, and to Aparantaka the Yona named Dhammarakkhita; to Maharattha (he sent) the thera named Mahadhammarakkhita, but the thera Maharakkhita he sent into the country of the Yona. He sent the thera Majjhima to the Himalaya country, and to Suvannabhumi he sent the two theras Sona and Uttara. The great thera Mahinda, the theras Itthiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Bhaddasala his disciples, these five theras he sent forth with the charge: ‘Ye shall found in the lovely island of Lanka the lovely religion of the Conqueror.’

At that time in Kasmira and Gandhara[2] did the naga-king of wondrous power, Aravala, cause the rain called `Hail’ to pour down upon the ripe crops, and cruelly did he overwhelm everything with a flood. The thera Majjhantika went thither with all speed, passing through the air, and wrought (miracles such as) walking on the surface of The water in Aravala’s lake and so forth. When the nagas beheld it they told their king with fury about this thing.

Then full of fury the naga-king brought divers terrors to pass; fierce winds blew, a cloud gave forth thunder and rain, thunder strokes crashed, and lightning flashed here and there, trees and mountain-tops were hurled down. Nagas in grisly forms terrified (beholders) on every side, he himself spat forth smoke and fire threatening in different ways.

When the thera by his wondrous power had brought all these terrors to naught, he said to the naga-king, showing his eminent might: `Even if the world together with the gods came seeking to terrify me, they would not be equal to me (in strength) whatever fears and dread (they may arouse) in this place.[3] Nay, if thou shouldst raise the whole earth with the ocean and the mountains, thou mighty naga, and shouldst hurl them upon me, thou couldst in no wise arouse fear and dread in me. It were surely but thy own destruction, thou lord of serpents.’

Then to him, humbled by these words the thera preached the doctrine, and thereupon the naga-king came unto the (three) refuges and the precepts of duty,[4] and this likewise did eighty-four thousand serpents and many gandhabbas, yakkhas and kumbhandakas[5] in the Himalaya. But a yakkha named Pandaka with (his wife) the yakkhini Harita and his five hundred sons obtained the first fruit (of sanctification).[6]

‘Henceforth let no anger arise as of old; work no more harm to the harvest, for living beings love their happiness; cherish love for beings, let men live in happiness.’ Thus were they taught by him and they did according to (this teaching). Then the lord of serpents made the thera sit upon a jewel-throne and he stood near, fanning him. But the dwellers in Kasmira and Gandhara who had come to worship the naga-king acknowledged the thera as the mightier in working wonders,[7]  and when they had paid the thera reverence they seated themselves on one side near him. The thera expounded to them the dhamma, (namely) the Asivisupama (Äsivisupama).[8]  The conversion of eighty thousand persons took place[9] and a hundred thousand persons received the pabbajja from the thera. Since then Kasmira and Gandhara shine with yellow robes and prize above all the three things.[10]

The thera Mahadeva who had gone to the Mahisamandala.[11] country preached in the midst of the people the Devadutasuttanta.[12] Forty thousand (persons) made pure (in themselves) the eye of the truth and yet forty thousand received from him the pabbajja-ordination.

The thera Rakkhita, who had gone to Vanavasa,[10] preached, floating in the air in the midst of the people, the Anamataggasamyutta.[11] The conversion of sixty thousand persons took place, thirty-seven thousand in number received the pabbajja from him. Five hundred, viharas were founded in the country. Thus did the thera establish there the religion of the Conqueror.

The thera Dhammarakkhita the Yona, being gone to Aparantaka[15] and having preached in the midst of the people the Aggikkhandhopama-sutta,[16] gave to drink of the nectar of truth to thirty-seven thousand living beings who had come togdther there, he who perfectly understood truth and untruth. A thousand men and yet more women went forth from noble families and received the pabbajja.

The wise Mahadhammarakkhita, who had gone to Maharattha,[17] related there the jataka called Mahanaradakassapa.[18]  Eighty-four thousand persons attained to the reward of the path (of salvation), thirteen thousand received from him the pabbajja.

The wise Maharakkhita who went to the country of the Yona[19] delivered in the midst of the people the Kalakarama-suttanta.[20]  A hundred and seventy thousand living beings attained to the reward of the path (of salvation); ten thousand received the pabbajja.

The wise Majjhima[21] preached in the Himalaya region whither he had gone with four theras, the Dhammacakkappavattana-suttanta.[22] Eighty kotis of living beings attained to the reward of the path (of salvation). The five theras separately converted five kingdoms; from each of them a hundred thousand persons received the pabbajja, believing in the doctrine of the Sammasambuddha.

Together with the thera Uttara the thera Sona of wondrous might went to Suvannabhumi.[23]  Now at this time, whenever a boy was born in the king’s palace, a fearsome female demon who came forth out of the sea, was wont to devour (the child) and vanish again. And at that very moment a prince was born in the king’s palace. When the people saw the theras they thought: ‘These are companions of the demons,’ and they came armed to kill them. And the theras asked: ‘What does this mean?’ and said to them: `We are pious ascetics, in no wise companions of the demon.’ Then the demon came forth from the ocean with her following, and when the people saw them they raised a great outcry. But the thera created twice as many terrifying demons and therewith surrounded the demon and her following on every side. She thought: ‘This (country) is come into possession of these (people),’ and, panic-stricken, she took to flight.

When the thera had made a bulwark round the country he pronounced in the assembly the Brahmajala (suttanta).[24]

Many were the people who came unto the (three) refuges and the precepts of duty; sixty thousand were converted to the true faith. Three thousand five hundred sons of noble families received the pabbajja and one thousand five hundred daughters of noble families received it likewise. Thenceforth when a prince was born in the royal palace the kings gave to such the name Sonuttara.

Since they did even forbear to enter into the bliss already won- (such was) also the renunciation of the all-compassionate Conqueror- they bestowed blessing on the world,[25]  (going) here and there. Who should grow weary in (striving for) the salvation of the world?

Here ends the twelfth chapter, called ‘The Converting of Different Countries’, in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

Footnotes and references:


See note to 1. 12. As to the time of the third council, cf. the Introduction.


Gandhara comprises the districts of Peshawar and Rawal Pindi in the northern Punjab. Kasmira is the modern Kashmir.


The right reading appears to be yam ettha bhayabheravam. The construction of the sentence is, however, very difficult. For the explanation of the Tlka see Mah. ed., note on the passage.


See note to 1. 32 and 62.


Skt. kumbhanda, name of a class of supernatural beings under the rule of Virulhaka. The gandhabbas (= Skr. gandharva) are a class of demigods who are the attendants of Dhatarattha. Virulhaka, and Dhatarattha are two of the four great kings of the world (lokapala), the regents of the south and north.


I. e. the sotapattiphala. Cf. note to 1. 33.


Cf. Mah. ed., note on this passage, also 14. 20 with note. The positive mahiddhika stands for the comparative.


The asivisa-sutta of S. IV, pp. 172-175, or the asivisopama ’simile of the serpent’ of A. II, pp. 110-111.


See note to 1. 32.


Namely buddha, dhamma, samgha, the Buddha, his doctrine and his order. See note to 1. 62.


Mahisamandala is generally taken as the modern Mysore. But FLEET, J.R.A.S. 1910, p. 429 foll., has shown that this identification is hardly correct. He himself takes Mahisamandala as ‘ territory of the Mahisha’ of which the capital was Mahishmati. Agreeing with PARGITER he places this capital on the island of the Narbada river, now called Mandhata. See Imperial Gazetteer of India, s. v. Mahisamandala is, therefore, a district south of the Vindhyan mountains.


I. e. ‘ Discourse on the Messengers of God.’ See M. Ill, pp. 178-187 ; A. I, pp. 138-142. The suttanta deals with old age, disease, and death as messengers of Yama the god of death.


The Vanavasaka or Vanavasin are mentioned in the Mahabharata, 6. 366, and Harivamsa, 5232, as a people dwelling in southern India. See B.R., Skt. Wtb. s.vv. There is also a modern town Banavasi in North Kanara which seems to have preserved the old name. Imp. Gaz. of India, s.v.


S. II, pp. 178-193.


Skr. Aparanta ‘the western ends’, comprising the territory of northern Gujarat, Kathiawar, Kachchh, and Sind. FLEET, J.R.A.S. 1910, p. 427.


I. e. ‘The discourse on the parable of the flames of fire.’ A. IV, pp. 128-135.


Skr. Maharastra, the country of the Marathi.


FAUSBOLL, Jat. vi, pp. 219-255.


The Yonas (Skt. Yavana) are also mentioned, together with the Kambojas, in the Rock Edicts V and XIII of Asoka. They ‘ must mean the clans of foreign race (not necessarily Greek) on the northwestern frontier, included in the empire (of Asoka) ‘. V. A. SMITH, Asoka, p. 132, n. 2. It is remarkable that just at that time (246 B.C.) the Greco-Bactrian kingdom was founded by Diodotos. See SPIEGEL, Eran. Alterthumsk., Ill, p. 49 foll.


Probably by this title is meant the suttanta 24 of the Catukkanipata in A. II, pp. 24-26. The Kalakarama is supposed to be the place where Buddha delivered this discourse.


The companions of Majjhima, according to Dip. 8. 10, Smp. 317(19) MBv. 115 (5), and Tlka 222(5), were the theras Kassapagotta, Muladeva (Alakadeva), Sahadeva, and Dundubhissara. See the Introduction.


-I. e. ‘The discourse of the setting in motion the wheel of the doctrine.’ See M.V. I. 6. 17 foll. (= Vin. Pit. i, p. 10 foll.); S.V, pp. 420-431 ; S.B.E. xi, p. 146 foll.


The general opinion was, until recently, that Suvannabhumi ‘the gold-land’ is lower Burma with adjacent districts. But this is very doubtful, since it is a fact that Buddhism reached Burma from China in the Mahayana-form and not before the fourth century A. D. FLEET, J.R.A.S. 1910, p. 428, suggests that Suvannabhumi might be the country in Bengal called by Hiuen-tsang ‘ Ka-lo-na-su-fa-la-na ‘ = Karnasuvarna, or else the country along the river Son, a river in Central India, and tributary of the Ganges on its right bank, which is also called Hiranyavaha ‘the gold-bearer’.


I. e. ‘The Net of the Religious.’ D. I, p. 1 foll.


The sense is this : The theras had already attained to arahantship and were in possession of nibbana. Nevertheless they forebore to pass into nibbana, in order that they might first show the way salvation to the world. They thus followed the example of the Buddha who had practised the same renunciation (kaddhana). See M.V. I. 5. 2 foll. (= Yin. Pit, i, p. 4 foll.).

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