by Sibani Barman | 2017 | 55,946 words
This page relates ‘Contribution of Mahinda & Sanghamitta’ of the study on the Dipavamsa conducted by S. Barman in 2017. The Dipavamsa is the base material of the Vamsa literatures of Ceylon (Srilanka or Sri-Lanka) writtin the Pali language.
Chapter 3 - Contribution of Mahinda & Saṅghamittā
One of the greatest epoch-making events in the history of Buddhism was the appearance of ‘Aśoka the great’ in the third century B.C. Aśoka convened the Third Buddhist Council, and one of the outstanding work done by him was to sent missionaries to various parts of India and the neighbouring countries, after this council on the advice of Moggaliputta-Tissa, to preach and propagate the sublime teachings of the Buddha. At that time, Mahinda, Aśoka’s son, was assigned the task of preaching the Dhamma in Sri-Lankā. Mahinda was thirty two years old when he undertook the mission to Sri-Lanka.
Birth of Mahinda and Saṅghamittā and their entrance into the doctrine:
Mahinda is the noblest son of Emperor Aśoka, the son of Bindusāra. His mother was Devī, daughter of a Seṭṭhi or a businessman in the town of Vedissa. After 204 years of the Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha, Mahinda the descendant of the Maurya family was born. His sister Saṅghamittā was born after two years 7. When Mahinda was ten years old, his father put his brothers to death and passed four years reigning over Jambudīpa. He was fourteen at the time of coronation of his father. Mahinda was ordained at the age of twenty and Saṅghamittā at the age of eighteen.
A time came in the life of King Aśoka when he had changed abruptly and started doing many creditable works. It is asserted that, once the king wanted to be a relative of the Saṃgha (sāsanadāyāda) but was refused by the great Thera Moggaliputta-Tissa. The wise Thera explained him that, a person cannot be a family member of the religion bestowing wealth only. It is necessary to offer the issue of his own body, which is his son or daughter and causes them to receive the pabbajjā ordination to be a real kinsman of the Faith.
Mahinda and Saṅghamittā, agreed to receive the pabbajjā ordination immidietly. In fact, it was the wish of both to enter into the Saṃgha since many years. Mahinda resolved to receive the pabbajjā ordination since the time of prince Tissa’s pabbajjā and Saṅghamittā since her husband Aggibrahmā’s ordination.
But King Aśoka wanted to confer on Mahinda the dignity of prince reagent, yet he did consent to his ordination seeing the later is of greater dignity. Thus Mahinda and Saṅghamittā, dear son and daughter of the great King Aśoka, distinguished above all others by intelligence, strength and beauty, ordained with all solemnty.
Mahinda received the pabbajjā and upasampadā ordination in one day. The prince’s master (Upajjhāya) was the great Thera Moggaliputta Tissa, who was then sixty years old. The ordination was conferred on him by the Thera Mahādeva and the Thera Majjhantika pronounced the Kammavācā (ceremonial-words) at the time of upasampadā ordination. Mahinda met the highest goal of meditation or became an Arahat and attained Paṭisaṃbhidā on the very same day.
Saṅghamittā was ordained in the same day together with her brother Mahinda at the age of eighteen. Dhammapālā and Āyuupālā were her Upajjhāya and Ācariya respectively. After receiving pabbajjā ordination, Saṅghamittā began to exercise herself in Sikkhā precepts. In time she became free from āsavas.
Mahinda studied all the suttas of Theravāda collected and settled in the two convocations. From Moggaliputta-Tissa he learned the three sciences (tisso-vijjā), six super natural faculties (chaḷa-viññā) and four analytical doctrines (caturo-paṭisaṃbhidā) and all the Piṭakas with their whole meaning and the doctrine.
After four years from his upasampadā, Mahinda had to take care of one thousand disciples of his teacher Moggaliputta Tissa, when he went to Ahogaṅgā Mountain to spend a retired life. At the cocluding moment of the Third Buddhist Council patroned by his father King Dhammāśoka under the presidentship of the king’s spiritual advisor Moggaliputta-Tissa, Aśoka launched a vigorous campaign to preach and propagate the teachings of the Buddha, outside India. Nine delegations were chosen by the council for the purpose and Mahinda was programmed for the task in Lanka.
Mahinda’s mission to Sri-Laṅkā:
Mahinda, Aśoka’s dearest son was assigned the task of preaching the Dhamma in Sri-Laṅkā. At that time he was thirty-two years old and had been a monk for twelve years. He was accompanied by the Theras Iṭṭhiya, Uttiya, Bhaddasāla and Sambala. Mahinda did not set out for his mission immediately following the decision taken in the council like other delegates. He took several years to arrive in Lanka. Being a king’s son, he was aware of the fact through royal messengers that King Muṭasiva, who was very aged, was ruling the Island of Lanka at that time. The old king would not allow the advent of a new religion leaving his old belief. He waited for the appropiate time, until young and energetic Devānāmpiya-Tissa became king. He kept watching the situation that was prevailing in Sri-Lanka and waited for the best time he would set about his mission.
The Dīpavaṃsa states that in Aśokan India, there were Brahmanas, Niganṭhas, Acelakas and many other sectarians apart from Buddhism. Mahinda collected informations about the existing religious practices of the Island of Lanka at that time, which he would have to face when introducing a new religion. The chronicles and other records represent Sri-Lankā as tribal state of the yakkhas, the nagas, pisācas, rākkhasas and their various religious practices.
They also hold evidences of the existences of the hermits and paribbājakas or Brahmanical wandering ascetics. The Hindu god Uppalavaṇṇa or Viṣṇu was worshipped with great admiration. In connection with the arrival of Pāṇḍuvāsudeva, the Mahāvaṃsa says, when his thirty two companions appeared in the disguise of menndicant monks, the local people extended at once proper homage to them, which show they are used to offer periodical offerings to them. The Mahāvaṃsa also records that King Pāṇḍukābhaya built three temples for the Niganṭhas Jotiya, Giri and Kumbhaṇḍa. Thus Jainism had existed at that time. But Buddhism, became such a strong a force against Jainism that, it disappeared entirely 350 years later when King Vaṭṭagāmaṇi Abhaya destroyed the Giri monastery built by the King Pāṇḍukābhaya and erected Abhayagiri Vihāra on the same site.
It is unneeded to say therefore that there existed crushing challenges in Sri-Lanka that Mahinda had to face when spreading the teachings of the Buddha and outstanding strategies needed to be employed to bring all the forces under control and to carry out a mission that has survived for over 2500 years.
King Muṭasiva died during the seventeen years after coronation of Aśoka. Both Indian inscriptions and the chronicles of Sri-Lankā produce the fact that, there was an exchange of embassy between the Emperor Piyadassi Aśoka and King Devānāmpiya-tissa before the departure of Mahinda on his mission to Sri-Lanka. Both of them sent stately precious gifts. But apart from worldly things, Aśoka conveyed to his distant friend the most appealing words of the Buddha on the welfare of mankind and piety, and requested him to enbrace Buddhism in three refuges like him.Which made deep impression on the King Devānāmpiya-tissa. His ministers consecrated him for the second time fulfilling the desire of King Dhammaśoka.
Thus ground for Buddhism was prepared. Mahinda made his mind ready to go for his mission to the Island of Lanka. He asked consent from his father to leave, bade farewell to his teacher and the Saṅgha. Then he went to Dakkhiṇāgiri and took with him the four theras and Saṅghamittā’s son, the miraculously gifted Sāmaṇera Sumana. Six months passed away in the mean time. From there he went to his birth place Vedisagiri, to visit his mother, the queen Devī and stayed in Vedisagiri Vihāra. He stayed there one more month and preached his mother Devī, and visited other relatives. The son of a daughter of Devi’s sister (a youth) named Bhāṇḍuka, who having heard the doctrine preached by Mahinda to Devī, had obtained the stage of anāgāmī started staying with the theras.
During this time in Vedsagiri for a month, Mahinda thought that in the great festival of second time coronation of King Dvānāmpiya-Tissa commanded by his father Aśoka, the Sri-Lankan king would have some idea about the splendour of the Buddha’s teachings by the Indian envoys. So the time will be the most suitable for his mission. In the last month of summer, on the full moon day of the month Jeṭṭha i.e.on the uposatha-day of the month
Jeṭṭha, Mahinda reached Sri-Lankā. His party was composed of seven. Four other theras and another two who were in close relations-Sumana Sāmaṇera, the son of his sister Saṅghamittā and Bhāṇḍuka upāsaka, the son of his mother’s sister’s daughter. The chronicles say that, they rose up in the air like swans and stationed themselves on the pleasant cloud like Missaka-mountain, on the Sīla peak at Ambattha. It was in the eighteen regnal year of Aśoka. At that time the moon was in the star of Anurādhā and Jyeṣṭhā.
The entry into the capital:
The Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa, tell us that the first meeting of Mahinda and the King Devānāmpiya-Tissa who was on a hunting expedition (a national festival there), took place on the Missaka-pabbata, now known as Mihintale, about eight miles to the east of Anurādhapura, on the full moon day of the month of Jeṭṭha.
Devānāmpiya Tissa had already heard of Buddhism from his friend Aśoka though they had never seen each other. Devānāmpiya-Tissa when saw the theras on the Missaka-mountain in a mysterious moment with shaven heads in yellow robes of dignified mien and distinguished appearence, became astonished and inquired who they were and where they had come from! During their first conversation, Mahinda mesmerized the King and his companions. The king laid aside his bow and arrow and sat near him. In order to estimate the king’s intelligence and capacity to understand, Mahinda asked some questions. According to Rev. Walpola Rahula, this test can be regarded as the first intelligence test recorded in history and though simple and easy at first glance, required a clear and acute mind to answer it.
Walpola Rahula comments and describes on the first meeting of the king Devānāmpiiya-Tissa and Mahinda as follows: “Mahinda was convinced that Devānāmpiiya-Tissa was intelligent enough to understand the teachings of the Buddha and proceeded at once to preach the Cūlahatthipadopama-Sutta to him. The selection of this sutta by Mahinda for his first sermon was very appropriate.
The sutta gives a clear idea of the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha and describes how one is converted to Buddhism and becomes a Bhikkhu. It also describes in detail the holy life of a Bhikkhu, the sublime qualities he practises and possesses, things from which he abstains, the various stages of development of his life and the attainment of Arhatship which is the final achievment of Buddhism. The Sutta contains almost all the principal teachings of the Buddha such as the Four Noble Truths. Apart from a general knowledge of Buddhism, it was necessary for Mahinda to convey to his host who knew nothing about Buddhist practices, an idea of the Saṅgha and their mode of life, so that the king might learn how to treat his new guests. At the end of this sermon, Devānmpiya-Tissa and his retinue expressed their willingness to embrace the new faith. Later on the same day he preached the ‘Samacitta-sutta’. After his conversation with Devānāmpiya-Tissa, Mahinda asked Sumana-sāmaṇera to announce the preaching of the Dhamma. This announcement was heard throughout the Island of Sri-Lankā”.
Cūlahatthipadopama-Sutta says that a broad and large footprint of an elephant does not always signify that it belongs to a very large elephant.There may be other possibilities.It is necessary to identify and eliminate the mistakes at first. These are referred to as the Truth-finder’s Footprints. It gives an account of almost all the principal teachings of the Buddha. Jāṇusoṇī, having heard this sutta from Pilotika, whom he met in a carriage, became a follower of the Buddha.When Mahinda delivered this sermon to Devānāmpiya-Tissa; they became glad and embraced the religion of the Buddha. (Dictionary Of Pali Proper Names, Malalasekera, G.P. vol. i, p. 907.; Dipv. xii, 57; Mhv. xiv, 220)
‘Samacitta’ implies to Tranquil Mind. The sutta was preached by Sāriputta at the Migāramātupāsāda. It is said that, a large number of Devas of Tranquil Mind requested the Buddha to allow them to listne the aforesaid sutta which was preached on the person who is fettered both inwardly and outwardly. The Buddha agreed, and told Devas to stand keeping a space not greater than the point of a gimlet, and that too, without crowding each other. This is because they have trained themselves to be tranquil in the sense and in the mind.Such tranquality leads to tranquality also of body, speech, and thought. Followers of other school do not know this teaching.
The sutta explains that the monk who keeps the pātimokkha restraints is proficient in the practice of right conduct, seeing danger in the slightest faults—such a one is reborn among the Devas and is therefore a ‘Returner’. Thus he is fettered inwardly to the self. Others there are who are born in Deva-worlds and there become ‘anāgāmis’. These are fettered outwarldly. Yet others are proficient in revulsion, in the ending of sensuality, of any existence and become ‘anāgāmis’.(Ibid. vol. ii, p. 1040; Mhv. xiv, 36-41.)]
Devānāmpiya-Tissa became very happy in learning that Mahinda was the son of his distant friend Aśoka. Mahinda refused the invitation of the king to his capital and preferred to stay on the mountain with his companion at that night. At that night Mahinda, after examining the village bounary (sīmā) conferred the Pabbajā ordination on Bhāṇḍuka. At the same time Bhāṇḍuka received the Upasampadā ordination and attained Arahatship.
Next morning Mahinda and his companions entered the capital Anurādhapura. They rejected the king’s chariot which is not suitable for a monk. It is said that, they travelled through air and descended to the east of the city alighting on the site where the first thūpa (later Paṭhamacetiya) stood.
They were received by the king and taken into the royal house. Seeing the arrangements made for Mahinda’s entertainment, soothsayers predicted complete success for his mission. At the same time Mahinda also realized that he had won over the first hurdle and the path for propagating the Dhamma and the establishment of Buddhist Saṅgha had become easy.
After the meal, royal household people mainly ladies assembled to see Mahinda. He told them stories from the Petavattu and the Vimānavattu, two Pāli texts which deal with the spirits of the dead in the peta-loka and the deva-loka according to their past karma. Walpola Rahula remarked that ‘this must have appealed to the audience already possessing faith in the spirits of the dead, and would have made Buddhism agreeable and acceptable to them. It explained their belief in a more satisfactory manner. Mahinda ended his sermon by expounding the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism according to the Saccasaṃyutta.
Mahinda was successful in realising them how dreadful was saṃsāra, the cycle of births and deaths to which they were endlessly subject. Anulā, (the consort of the king’s younger brother, the sub-king [uparāja] Mahānāga, who dwelt in the royal palace) and her five hundred companions became sotapannas listening this discourse.
After that, large number of people started coming to listen to Mahinda’s lecture. The wise thera had chosen the suttas matching the mental status and beliefs of the listeners.The first was Devadūta-sutta, which says the effect of good and bad works done by a person. It describes the tortures of hell and makes men the follower of true path as well as stop from doing wrong works. Mahinda preached the Devadūta-sutta in the state-elephant’s (Maṅgal- Hasti) stable to accomodate the people desirous to see the theras. But the elephant’s hall was also too small for the people who had assembled there. They prepared seat for the theras outside the southern gate, in the pleasant Nandana-garden.In the evening he preached the Bālapaṇḍita sutta i.e. the discourse of the fool and wise man which teaches that a man with lack of wisdom commit evil and suffer both in his life time and after death. The wise man, on the contrary, refrains from evil, does well and achieves happiness in both worlds. The suttas were planned to develop the moral side of religion. To have a happy life meritorious deeds are required without any fault. It brought to his audience a new mental picture, relating new spheres of divine life. One thousand women who listen to him became sotāpannas.
Acceptence of the Mahāmeghavana (future Mahāvihāra):
After the discourse Mahinda and his companions wanted to go back to the mountain. The king cordially requested them to stay at Nandanavana, because the mountain is far away. But Mahinda answered, ‘staying too near the city is not fit for a monk’. On the pressing invitation of the king, Mahinda and his companions turned back and made their residence at the royal pavilion of the Mahāmeghavana which was neither too far nor too near the city. The spot where he turned back a cetiya was built afterwards near the river Kadamba and is called Nivatta-cetiya (turning back cetiya). The Mahāmeghavana was southwards from the Nandanavana and the king led the thera to that park through the east gate.
Devānāmpiya-Tissa visited the theras as soon as the morning came to know about the place, and when he came to know that it was pleasant and relaxing, he offered the Mahāmeghavana to the Saṅgha, pouring water from a vase over the hand of Mahinda as a symbol of the gift.
The donation marks the material security necessary for the spiritual life of the monks. Mahinda became sure that Buddhism would be established in sri-Lankā.
Mahinda at once started planning about a monastery for the Buddhist monks at the site of Mahāmeghavana. He was the son of Magadhan-Empire; had born and brought up in large cities, like Pāṭaliputra, seen great monasteries like Aśokārāma built by his father and Cetiyagiri (modern Sāñci) in Vidisā built by his mother. The Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa draw our attention towards miracles in a stylish manner with embellishments and exaggerations.
It is asserted that, earthquake had happened eight times after eight different important decisions. Mahinda started walking round Mahāmeghavana along with Devānāmpiya-Tissa and at the sametime he was preparing a lay out of the future Mahāvihāra. At first he located a site proper for a mālaka for Acts of the Saṅgha. Then he chose a lake in the park with a room for warm baths (Jantāghar) of the monks, a spot near gateway of the royal palace was chosen for planting of the Bo-Tree, the Mahamucalamālaka for the Uposathatha hall of the Saṅgha, a place named Pañhambamālaka was marked where gifts offered to the Saṅgha would be divided, a place named Catuusālā for a refectory for the Saṅgha and finally he chose a level spot near a pond named Kakudha, fit for the Mahāthūpa. These were probably the main features for an arāma or a monastery of that time.
After accepting Mahāmeghavana, Mahinda preached the Aggikkhandopama-sutta which describes the nature and purpose of a Bhikkhu’s life, and the great merit achieved by a giver.
A Bhikkhu should be honest and live a saintly life, so that the donors who provide them necessities of life may be benefited. Walpola Rahula thinks that, Mahinda delivered this sermon just after the donation of the most beautiful and pleasant Mahāmeghavana for the Buddhist Sangha, to make the Sri-Lankan king understand that, on whom he showed so much generosity were worthy of such treatment and the king would be rewarded for such great deeds.
On the third day, Mahinda had preached the Āsīvisopama suttawhich warns a person about the kinds of people around us and these kinds are compared as the four kinds of snakes in the world: the venemous but not fierce; the fierce but not venemous; the one that is both; the one that is neither. Similarly there are four kinds of persons: some get angry quickly but with a short duration; some get angry slowly but anger lasts for a long time; etc. It also describes the path and the obstacles which have to overcome to attain nibbāna. Four fundamental elements—the four Mahābhutas (earth, water, fire, air), are compared to four snakes; which are constantly followed by upādāna or attachment. It is one of the links of the Paṭiccasamuppāda, produced by desire (taṇhā) and consists of four elements: Kāmo, diṭṭhi, silabbataṃ, attavādo. The Kamma works through Upādāna. The Khandas are generally called upādānakhandhā. The destruction of upādāna constitutes Arahatship. An Arahat is called anuppādāno.
The King Devanampiya-tissa expected that after establishing the expensive as well as the excellent monastery, the Dhamma of the Buddha has been established in the Island of Lanka. But Mahinda told him that, it would not be established without a firm boundary within which all the monks will act jointly as a single section.
In the fourth day, Mahinda preached Anamatagga sutta, which says about Saṃsāra whose beginning and end are alike i.e, unthinkable. It is a necessary and possible quality of a yogi to understand the beginning and end of Saṃsāra.
In the next morning, the king decided to fix the limit of the Sangha. A golden plough was tied together with the two state elephants Mahāpaduma and Kuñjara. The marking of line made by the furrow indicated the limit or sīmā of the Sangha. The procession of the king with his men started marking from a ford near the Kadamba River and after having a round over the city finished at the same place.
After that Mahinda fixed the inner boundary-marks necessary for the Sangha. Drvānāmpiya Tissa expressed his desire that the city should be included in the sīmā, so that he himself, his retinue, and his subjects could live ‘within the Order of the Buddha’; and this was done accordingly.
It is recorded in the Samantapāsādikā that: Mahinda told to the king that, “the Sāsana would be established in the Island, when a son born in Sinhal (Tambapaṇṇidīpa) of Sinhalese parents, becomes a monk in Sihal, studies the Vinaya in Sinhal and recites it in Shalese, then the roots of the Sāsana will be deep set”.
On the fifth day he delivered Khajjaniya-sutta, which says a learned disciple was remembering his past lives and realises how in the past, he was under the sway of the body, feelings, perception, activities and consciousness; how he is still under their command and will be so in the future too, if he be clinged with them. Thus realising, he gradually attains freedom and becomes aware that he is free.
On the sixth day he preached Gomayapiṇḍī-sutta 77i.e. the discourse on the clod of cow dung’. The Buddha showed his disciples taking a pellet of cowdung in his hand that the personality in any one’s life time even as small as that pellet is unstable.
On the seventh day, he preached the Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta. It was the first sermon preached by the Buddha to Pañcavaggiyas at the Migadāya in Isipattana, on the full moon day of Āsāḷha.The sutta contains the fundamental principles of the Buddha’s teaching—the avoidance of the two extremes of an ascetic and the four Aryan truths including the Noble eighfold path.
According to Walpola Rahula, ‘the notion of establishing the Sāsana or Buddhism as an institution in a particular country or place was first conceived by Aśoka himself. He was the first king to adopt Buddhism as a state religion, and to start a great spiritual conquest which was called Dhamma-vijaya. Buddhism was the first missionary religion and Aśoka was the first missionary king to send out missions for the conversion of other countries. Like a conqueror and a ruler who would establish governments in countries politically conquered by him, so Aśoka probably thought of establishing the Sāsana in countries spiritually conquered (dhamma-vijaya) by him. Resourceful organiser or psychologist as he was, he felt it necessary to adopt some sort of ceremonial which would indicate a concrete form to ordinary folk the ‘establishment’ of the religion in their midst”.
It is clear that a sīmā is necessary for Acts of the Sangha, where the recitation of the Vinaya is essential.Thus the establishment of the Sāsana was initiated by the establishment of the Sangha which is not possible without a sīmā and the recital of the Vinaya.
After that Mahinda converted a great number of people to Buddhism. From that time onwards, the Mahānandana-vana was called as Jotivana, as this was the place where the Dhamma was first shined.
Mahinda stayed in Anurādhapura for 26 days in the Mahāmeghavana. During this period great changes took place. The King built a pāsāda for the Thera in the Tissārāma or Mahāmeghavanārama. He had the bricks of clay dried speedily with fire and the dwelling house became dark-coloured and therefore they named it the Kālāpāsāda pariveṇa.
After that, the king Devānāmpiya Tissa built a number of buildings for the upliftment of the Dhamma in the Island. He erected a building for the great Bodhi-Tree, Lohapāsāda 83, a salākā house, a decent refectory, many pariveṇas, bathing tanks and buildings for repose, by night and by day, and so forth. Among these some pariveṇas were especially made for Mahinda, like: Sunhāta-pariveṇa; Dīgha-caṅkamana, the Phalagga-pariveṇa; the Therāpassaya pariveṇa 89; the Marugaṇa-pariveṇa 90; the Dīghasandasenāpati-pariveṇa. The Mahāvihāra, which was built by the king Devānāmpiya-Tissa, was consists of these buildings. The Mahāmeghavanārāma is henceforth known by the name Mahāvihāra.
The acceptance of the Cetiyapabbata-Vihāra:
After the establishment of the Mahavihara, Mahinda started thinking to build another Saṅgha on the Missaka-pabbata. Accordingly, on the thirteenth day of the bright half of the month of Āsāḷha, after the lunch in the king’s house and after preaching Mahāppamāda-sutta, Mahinda left Anurādhapura and went to Cetiyapabbata.
King Devānāmpiya-Tissa went there to bring the Thera back to the city. But Mahinda informed the king that, he is there to spend the rainy season and to show the king the necessity of a monastery in Cetiyagiri he preached the Vassūpanāyika-khandaka. The same day the king’s nephew Mahā-Ariṭṭha, the chief minister, with fifty-five others joined the Order of the Saṅgha. Thus there were sixty-two monks in the Missaka pabbata to spend the first rainy season.
Since there were no houses, Devānāmpiya-Tissa had made sixty-eight caves or aṭṭhasaṭṭhiya, rock cells, in the neighbourhood of the present Kaṇtaka-cetiya cleared and prepared for their use. When the work on the rock cells was finished, on the full moon day of Āṣāḷha the king presented the vihāra to the theras. Mahinda established the boundaries for the thirty-two mālakas and the vihāra. In the very same day he confers the Upasampadā on all those who were eagerly waiting for it after getting pabbajjā in the Tumbaru-mālaka.
In the mean time queen Anulā, (the consort of the king Devānāmpiya-Tissa’s younger brother, the sub-king Mahānāga) and her five hundred companions attained sotāpatti (the first stage of sanctification), listening the sermons preached by Mahinda in the first day of his entry in the royal palace. They expressed their desire to join the Saṅgha as nuns, after attaining the second stage of salvation. But Mahinda informed the king that, according to the rules of the Vinaya only women are allowed to confer pabbajjā on women’. He adviced the king to send a message to his father Emperor Asoka to bring his sister Saṅghamittā Therī, who is well experienced in this matter, along with renowned bhikkhunīs, and also to bring with her the southern branch of the Bodhi-Tree. The king agreed to do so.
After the rainy season, at the conclusion of Pavāraṇā ceremony and at the full moon day of Kattika Mahinda suggested to Devānāmpiya-Tissa the idea of building a cetiya to enshrine the relics of the Buddha. Sumana Sāmaṇera went to Asoka, his grand father, as a representative of Mahinda and Devānāmpiya-Tissa and managed to obtain for Ceylon the right collar bone and a large quantity of other bone relics together with the alms bowl of the Buddha. These relics were kept at first at the Missaka pabbata, and from that time the mountain was called Cetiya-pabbata. The elephant bearing the Collar bone relics of the Buddha stopped near the Mahejja-vatthu and was enshrined in the Thupārāma Dāgobā which was the first Cetiya built in Ceylon.
Dr. Sandhya Bhattacharya in her ‘State of Buddhism in Ceylon (Sri-Laṅkā) as depicted in the Pāli Chronicles’ stated that, “Mihintale became known by the name Cetiyapabbata or Cetiyagiri at the time when the commentaries were written. Missakapabbata was Cetiyapabbata and this is modern Mihintale (Mahinda-Thala). Here Mahinda gave his first sermon. Many shrines were erected there. This Missakapabbata or Cetiyapabbata contained three peaks. The Ambatthala dagoba occupied its place just below it. This Ambatthala had been identified with the Therambatthala of the Visuddhimagga and this was the place where the Mahārohanagutta used to live. There were many caves in the Missakapabbata and one of the caves was known as the Mahindaguhā, ‘Cave of Mahinda’. Buddhaghosa refers to Hatthikucchipabbhara and Mahindaguhā as places for meditation. The Papañcasudāni describes the name of another cave at Cetiyapabbata and this was Piyangi. From the very beginning the Cetiyapabbata occupied a very important place in the religious world of Sri-Lanka. Here Mahinda used to stay during the first rainy season. Here a sapling from the seeds of the branch of the Bodhi-Tree which was brought by Sanghamitta was planted a “Forty li to the east of the No-Fear shrine”, there is the sacred mountain and Mahinda died here. From the commentaties we learn that the Thera Maliyadeva used to live in the Cetiyapabbata during the reign of King Duṭṭhagāmaṇī and here he delivered the Chachakka sutta and about sixty theras obtained Arhatship.The thera Kala Buddharakkhita used to live here in the reign of Saddhā-Tissa, the brother of Duṭṭhagāmaṇī. It is said that the king used to observe the uposatha-sila or the eight precepts in this Vihāra during the reign of King Kuṭakaṇṇa-Tissa. Cetiyapabbata occupied an important place as a prominent centre of Buddhism in the reign of Bhātiya. King Mahādāṭhika-Mahānāga was a successor of Bhātiya and in his time a great pujā called giribandhapujā was held at the Cetiyapabbata. Even Fa-hien the Chinese traveller refers to the Cetiyapabbata.
‘Forty li to the east of no-fear shrine there is the sacred mountain Mihintale, with a shrine on it called Bhadrika, in which there are about two thousand priests, among them is a shaman, the Reverend Dhammagupta, whom all the people of this country respect and look up to. He was dwelt in a stone cell for more than forty years; and by constant exercise of kindness of heart he has succeeded in so influencing snakes and rats that they will live together in the same cell without hurting one another.’
Many miracles had happened at the time of enshrining the relics of the Buddha. Seeing the royal impressive programme people had faith on the new doctrine. Prince Mattābhaya, the king’s younger brother received the pabbajā ordination with a thousand of his followers. A large number of people of the nearby villages like Cetāvigāma, Dvāramaṇḍala, Vihāravīja, Gallakapīṭha, Upatissagāma and many people from within the city gladly received pabbajā ordination.
King Devānāmpiya-Tissa sent his own nephew and minister Ariṭṭha to bring the Bodhi-Tree. Ariṭṭha set off for the business on the second day of the bright half of the month Assayuja (Āswina) from the Jambukola port and having passed over the great ocean reached the pleasant Pupphapura on the very same day.
Emperor Asoka was reluctant to send his own daughter Saṅghamittā on an overseas mission, but seeing Saṅghamittā’s earge to go to Sri-Lanka, he agreed. Several distinguished bhikkhunīs accompanied Saṅghamittā on her voyage to Sri-Lanka carrying the sapling of Mahabodhi together with the minister Ariṭṭha.
Queen Anulā and her five hundred companions started waiting for the arrival of Saṅghmittā observing dasa-sīla, and wearing yellow robes in a nunnery known as the Upasikā-vihāra which was built for them on one side of the city. The Mahā-Bodhi and Saṅghamittā arrived at Jambukola on the first day of the month Maggasira (Agrahāyan). The hall where the King was waiting for the arrival of the Bodi-Tree at the sea-shore was known by the name Samuddapaṇṇasālā.
The arrival of Saṅghamittā brought a radical change in both religious and materialistic life of Sri-Lanka. Emperor Asoka wanted to bring overall development in the Island. To accomplish his desire he sent skilled persons from every level of society. The Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa say that Aśoka appointed 18 persons from royal families, 8 persons from families of ministers, 8 from Brahmana families and 8 from the families of traders and likewise from the cowherds, hyena and sparrow-hawk clans, and also from the weavers, potters and from all the handicrafts, from the nāgas, the yakkhas to watch over the Mahabodhi.
After the plantation of the Bodhi-Tree, Anulā and her women companions received the pabbajā from the Theri Saṅghamittā and attained Arahatship. Saṅghamittā started staying at the Bhikkhunu-passaya alaso known as Upāsikā-vihāra. It was also known as Hatthāḷaka-vihāra since the convent was situated near the elephant post. Saṅghamittā caused twelve buildings to be ercted there, of which three, containing the mast, rudder, and helm of the ship which carried the Maha-Bodhi were most important. These buildings were named after them.
Prince Ariṭṭha also received pabbajjā with a retinue of five hundred men and attained Arahatship.
The planting of the Mahā-Bodhi had been executed with great ceremony. Representatives from all parts of the Island, together with large number of persons sent by Aśoka were present on the event of planting. The saplings of the Mahā-Bodhi were planted in Anurādhapura and its surrounding area.
One of the saplings was planted in Jambukola-pattana, one in the village of Tivakka-Brāhmana in the north, one in Kājaragāma (Kataragama) in the south, one in the Thupārāma, one in the Issaramaṇārāma, one in the court of the Paṭhama-cetiya, one in the ārāma of the Cetiya-pabbata and in Candanagāma. Later, other thirty-two saplings were distributed all over the Island.
Rev. Walpola Rahula claims that, ‘the bringing of the Bodhi branch and the relics of the Buddha along with his alms bowl (pātra) further strengthened the great cultural link between India and Ceylon. The planting of the Bodhi-Tree was symbolic of the establishmentof Buddhism and Buddhist culture in the Island. The relics of the Buddha were regarded as representing the Buddha himself, and their enshrinement was as good as Buddha’s residence in Lankā. The pātra-dhātu (the alms-bowl of the Buddha) was kept within the king’s house, and it became a national ‘palladium’ of the Sinhalese, just as happened later in the case of Tooth-Relic’.
Gradually the members of the Sangha went on increasing. Devānāmpiya-tissa established several monasteries besides the Mahāvihāra and Cetiyapabbata-Vihara. The place where the persons that entered the Saṅgha from khattiya or noble families lived became known as Issarasamaṇaka and the place where the Vessa caste entered the Saṅgha and dwelt became Vessagiri. The caves inhabited by Mahinda, in the vihāra built upon the Cetiya-pabbata vihāra on Mihintale were called the Mahinda-gūhā. Devānāmpiya-tissa also built a public refectory called Mahāpāli in Anurādhapura for the use of the Saṅgha. He is also said to have built a vihāra in Jambukola-paṭṭana in Nāgadīpa and the well-known Tissamahāvihāra’ and Pācinārāma.
Among these, establishment of the Mahāvihāra was regarded as the most outstanding wok of King Devānāmpiya-Tissa. It was a great cultural and religious centre and the chief stronghold of Theravāda Buddhism till 10th century A.D. With increasing popularity of Buddhism in Ceylon, the prestige of the Mahāvihāra monks increased and their power extended well beyond religion into the areas of worldly politics. The religious authority of the Mahāvihāra monks was challenged for the first time during the period of Vaṭṭagāmaṇi Abhaya in the 1st century B.C. by a group of monks who moved away and formed the Abhayagiri vihāra group. These two groups had an ever present rival. The centralised and distinguished authority of the Mahāvihāra gradually reduced and separeted into pieces by the 11th century A.D.
Another name of the Mahāvihāra is the Tissamahāvihāra or Tissamahārāma. The monks who lived to the south of the Mahāvali-gaṅgā, used to come to the Tissamaharama to spend the rainy season. In the same way monks living to the north of Mahāvali-gaṅgā used to assemble at the Mahāvihāra. In that period the monks engaged themselves in discussing the texts and commentaries which they learnt. Mahāsena also disturbed the Mahāvihāra monks in his reign.
King Devānāmpiya-tissa reigned for forty years. During his kingship the Island of Laṅkā flourished to a great extent. He had no son. After his death his brother Uttiya succeeded the throne. He reigned piously for ten years. The Dīpavaṃsa claims that, Mahinda came to Ceylon when he was a young man of twelve and died at the age of sixty at Cetiya-pabbata,, during the period of vassa retreat there, on the eighth day of the bright half of Assayuja. It was the eighth regnal year of King Uttiya.
His body was brought in procession, with majestic honour, to the Mahāvihāra and placed in the Pañhambamālaka, where homage was paid to it for a whole week. It was then burnt on a pyre of aromatic firewood on the east of the Therānambandha-mālaka, to the left of the site of Mahā-thūpa. The remains of his body were collected and a cetiya was erected on that spot over half the remains. The other half being distributed among the thūpas built on Cetiyagiri and to other different places. The place of cremation is called Isibhumaṅgana. From that day onwards, for many centuries, the remains of holy men who lived within a distance of three yojanas were cremated on that place.
It is stated by Rev. Walpola Rahula that, the religious age of a bhikkhu is generally calculated from his upasampadā which he receives usually at the age of twenty. Therefore to know the actual age 20 must be added. The Dīpavaṃsa states that Mahinda arrived at the Island of Lanka at the age of twelve. Actually he was then thirty two years of age. Similarly he died when he was saṭṭhivasso or at the age of sixty, actually means, he was then at the age of eighty.
The full moon day of the month of Pussa is observed by the Sri-Lankan Buddhist as an auspisious day till date, because on that day, the most precious gift sent by Emperor Asoka, the Buddha Dhamma was brought to Sri-Lanka by the Thera Mahinda. The Dhamma and the Sangha established by Mahinda with the unbounded patronage of King Devānāmpiya-Tissa brought about a great change in the lives of the common people of Sri-Lanka. The Sangha established by him played a great role in preserving the teachings of the Buddha and the renaissance brought about by them moulding the society in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings survived more than two millennia.
Rev. Rahula opines that: “Mahinda’s arrival in Ceylon can be regarded as the beginning of Sinhalese culture. He brought to Lankā not only a new religion but also a whole civilization then at the height of its glory. He introduced art and architecture into the Island along with saṅghārāmas and cetiyas. He can be regarded as the father of the Sinhalese literature. Buddhaghosa says that Mahinda brought to the Island of the Sinhalese the commenteries of Tripiṭaka and put them into Sinhalese for the benefit of the people of the Island. He thus made Sinhalese a literary language and inaugurated its literature. It is probable that he introduced the Aśokan alphabet as well.
The remarkable success of Mahinda’s mission and the unusually rapid spread of Buddhism in the Island were due to many reasons. Mahinda’s arrival was the consummstion of a series of social, cultural, and diplomatic relations between India and Ceylon. Devānāmpiya-tissa was eager to earn the friendship of Aśoka. After the king of Ceylon and the important ministers who were his relations had accepted Buddhism, the rest was plain sailing. Although there were a number of various small religious groups scattered about the country, there was none systematically organised or powerful enough to oppose the new faith. On the other hand, Buddhism offered to the people of Ceylon a new order of life which was far superior to that which they had known and followed so far. The example of the simple saintly life of the monks who devoted their time for the good of the many was an inspiration to the king as well as to the peasant. The code of morality that the new religion taught was certainly conductive to a happy and peaceful home-life.
Medium of communication with the Sinhalese offered but little obstruction to the work of missionaries. If we compare the language of the Aśoka’s inscriptions and the inscriptions of Ceylon in the 3rd centuey B.C. we can say that the two languages were similar. There were slight differences between the two, but it was possible for the speaker in one language to follow without much difficulty the ideas expressed in the other.
Preaching seems to have been the chief method of propagation. Ārāmas with cetiyas and Bodhi-Trees as object of worship were established in important villages for the recidence of monks. These became centres of knowledge, and propagated Buddhism and Buddhist culture. One would expect Mahinda to have followed methods of religious propaganda in Ceylon similar to those of Aśoka in India. But two factors are conspicuous by their absence. Aśoka established a large number of edicts for the propagation of his Dhamma. But in Ceylon not a single Dhamma-lipi established by Devānāmpiya-tissa, either on rock or pillar, has so far been discovered. And no department of Dharma-mahāmātras was established by Devānāmpiya-tissa in Ceylon as had been done by Aśoka in India. Why did Mahinda not advice Devānāmpiya-TIssa to publish Dhamma-lipis in Ceylon following his father’s practice in India? Was it because Ceylon was too small and the inhabited area so limited that the king’s orders could quickly be proclaimed throughout the country? Perhaps there was no need for such methods of propaganda in Ceylon, as the Bhikkhus applied themselves untiringly to the spread of Buddhism throughout the country.”
The rationalized and disciplined life of the Sangha guided by a strict code of ethics became the most powerful device to bring an abrupt change in the society. Large numbers of people, many of them are not literate, entered into the Sangha just to learn the Dhamma which was new to them. It was the era of oral tradition. The Dhamma was preached in Pāli. Though Mahinda used Sinhala language, but the rest including Saṅghamittā Therī preached in Pāli. Having deep interst to learn the Dhamma, people started learning Pali. In this way, the monasteries turned into study centres. A country, where people were not habituated in any kind of learning, started studying Pali and the Dhamma. Many renowned scholars came out of them.
Plantation Mahābodhi was another outstanding idea of spreading the Dhamma. King Devānāmpiya-Tissa invited all the regional leaders to join the sacred ceremony of planting the Mahābodhi, and gifted each one of them a sapling to be planted. As a result, all the religions in the Island were made to involve actively performing the religious practices of Buddhism, symbolizingthe presence of the Buddha.
Contribution of Saṅghamittā:
Arrival of Saṅghamittā was a revolutionary event in the religious life of women of Sri-Lanka. The establishment of the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha by Saṅghamittā brought a new direction in their life and helped them to come out from a wild culture to a civilized social cultural life.
The Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa highly illustrated the arrival of Saṅghamittā in Sri-Lankā. Mahinda invited her to come and ordain the women of Sri-Lankā. Emperor Aśoka was unwilling to send his daughter on an overseas mission but seeing the eagerness of Saṅghamittā he finally agreed. A number of nuns accompanied her in the voyage to Sri Laṅkā carrying the Bo sapling, together with the Minister Arittha. Dr. Lorna Dewaraja opines that, ‘This was a very courageous action on the part of Sanghamittā. In an age when rigid Brahmanic ideas regarding women were prevailing in society it was indeed an act of great courage for a woman of royal birth to embark on a hazardous voyage unaccompanied by any male member of her family. She was indeed a liberated woman to defy the challenges of a male-dominated society’.
In the legends Saṅghamittā is portrayed as re-performing a task played by nuns in the mythical times of the previous Buddhas Kakusandha, Konāgamana and Kassapa. Like Saṅghamittā the former nuns also brought the Bodhi-Tree and planted those at different places in Sri-Lankā. Plantation of Bodhi-Tree has a tremendous effect on the religious mind of Sri-Lankan people. It acts as if the Buddha himself is present where the Mahābodhi is.
Saṅghamittā Theri and the Bodhi Tree were received at Jambukolapattana by a huge mass of people headed by the Thera Mahinda and King Devānāmpiya-Tissa. It was brought in procession to Anuradhapura. The journey took about 14 days to reach Anurādhapura, and was planted it in the Mahāmeghavana with great ceremony.
Dr. Lorna Dewaraja wrote that,...‘In the words of Paul E Pieris who was not a Buddhist, "It is doubtful if any other single incident in the long story of their race has seized upon the history of the Sinhalese with such tenacity as this of the planting of the aged tree. Like the pliant roots which find sustenance on the face of their bare rock and cleave their way through the stoutest fabric, the influence of what it represents has penetrated into the innermost being of the people till the tree itself has become almost human." The king and the people of Sri Lanka throughout 23 centuries have cherished this tree like a priceless treasure, the oldest historical tree in the world. Its hold on the people was so deep rooted that even the modern day terrorists thought that the best way to destroy the Sinhala psyche was to exterminate the Tree’.
The story of the transplanting of the Bodhi Tree is shown in a very convincing way in the sculptures of the gate of the Sāñchi Stūpa. Sāñchi is the birth place of Saṅghamittā and Mahinda. Saṅghamittā's memory was honoured by the people of Sāñci. Since the Sāñchi sculptures belong to the 2nd Century B.C. and the image is only about 100-150 years after the arrival of Saṅghamittā in Ceylon, it may be taken as strong confirmation of the event. The famous sacred Tree is standing in the soil of Sri-Lanka till date, bearing its witness of antiquity.
After plantation of the Mahābodhi Saṅghamittā performed the main purpose of her mission by ordaining Anulādevi and her followers and established the Bhikkhunī Sāsana in Sri Lanka. The appeal and confidence of the founder was such that the Sri Lankan Bhikkunīs became famous and well-educated women whose fame spread throughout the world and were invited like their founder by travelling overseas to spread the Dhamma.
Chinese sources assert that, they sailed to China and began a Chinese Order of Nuns which lasts to this day. They were expert in different sections of the Pāli Canon and taught their own specialized subjects all over the Island.
The Mahāvaṃsa states that, the ordination of Saṅghamittā was executed by two renowned nuns Dhammapālā and Āupālā as her Upajjhāya and Ācariya at that ceremony. According to the Vinaya, the ordination ceremony for new members requires the participation of at least ten nuns. Arrival of Saṅghamittā and other nuns made Sri-Lanka sufficient enough to perform these types of ecleciastical acts.
The Dīpavaṃsa states that Saṅghamittā and her companions started teaching at Anurādhapura.They taught the Vinaya Piṭaka, the five collections of Suttas and seven Pakaraṇas. However, the emphasis was given to the study and explanation of the Vinaya.The eminent nuns were adorned by different adjectives to qualify their names, viz, Mahāpānā, Mahāsayā, Paṇḍitā, Vicakkhanā, Vinaya-visārada and Saddhama-kovid etc.
But, it was the era of oral traditions. Pali was the language used by the clergy including Saṅghamittā Theri. Bhikkhunīs were most zealous to learn the Dhamma. Consequently they first learnt Pāli and which helped them to know the Dhamma. In this way they became capable to interact with male scholars. So, this was the first off-shoot of the steps taken by the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha in developing literacy which brought them equal honourable positions of scholars.
People of Ceylon continued to learn Pāli upto the commencement of written documentation. The first Pāli chronicle on the history of the Island was the Dīpavaṃsa. It was written by a group of Bhikkhunīs in the 4th century A.D. It was accepted by the scholars like, Wilhelm Geiger, G.P.Malalasekera etc. Obviously it was written to propagate the Dhamma, mostly in Pāli verse. The creation of the Dīpavaṃsa clearly shows the effect of Buddhism on the literacy level of the women. The women of the Island of Lanka first gained command on the then Pāli Language and then tried to compose a chronicle of 22 chapters, the Dīpavaṃsa. It has given a detailed description of the Bhikkhinī Sangha, beginning with the Mahā Pajāpati Gotamī Theri, through Saṅghamittā Therī, the names of all the members of the Bhkkhunī Saṅgha and their qualities.
The Dīpavamsa was not an individual effort but written by a generation of bhikkunīs over a long period of time. It also served as the main source of information to later chronicles like Mahāvamsa. The most important thing to be noted is that, the creation of Dīpavaṃsa signiifies to what extent the ladies of Sri-Lanka were influenced by the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha and thereby Buddhism following Saṅghamittā Therī -the founder of the Bhikkunī Sangha. The Bhikkunī Saṅgha initiated by Saṅghamittā Therī disappeared with the fall of Anuradhapura in 1017 A.D.
Saṅghamittā died at the age of fifty-nine, in the ninth year of the reign of king Uttiya in the Hatthāḷaka vihāra. Burial celebrations were held throughout Laṅkā as in the case of the Thera Mahinda, by the command of King, lasting one whole week. Her body was creamated to the east of the Thūpārāma near by the (later) Cittasālā, in sight of the Bodhi-Tree, on a spot pointed by the Therī herself before her death. Uttiya had a Thūpa erected over her ashes.
Little is known of the activities of nuns other than the enlightening and learning works. No chronicle gives any information, wheather the nuns were educated in the art of nursing the sick. Various informations show that richly endowed nunneries were established by kings and queens for the maintenance of the Bhikkhunīs. They too led a similar life to that of the monks.
Thus by the united exertion of Mahinda and his sister Saṅghamittā was Buddhism firmly rooted in Ceylon.Under their guidence and inspiration, the Buddhist Saṅgha in Sri-Lanka became an independent and truely national institution.
Notes regarding Pali terms:
Pabbajjā is a Buddhist technical term for giving up the household life and becoming a member of the Saṃgha. Literally, it means ‘going forth’. Eight is the lowest age at which a candidate becomes eligible for taking pabbajjā. (A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 305.) — cf. Mhv. v, 197; Dīpv. vii, 16-17
Upasampadā is the fullest possible admission to the Buddhist priesthood. After taking pabbajjā ordination a candidate remains a sāmanera or novice until he receives upasampadā. The minimum age required for a man to be qualified for upasampadā is twenty. A man cannot receive the upasampadā ordination without having pabbajjā. A boy who has become a sāmanera at eight will have to wait twelve years before he can receive upasampadā. On the other hand if a man join the priesthood at or after twenty, if he be otherwise properly qualified he may proceed at once for upasampadā ordination. (A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 532.) — cf. Mhv. v, 205; Dīpv. vii, 16-17
Kammavācā is an ecclesiastical vote or resolution. Here Majjhantika alone pronounced kammavācā’ which implies he was the president of the period when Mahinda was ordained.(A Dictionary Of Pāli Language, Childers, R.C. p..) — cf. Mhv. v, 206-207.; Dīpv. vii, 16-17
Upajjhāya and Ācariya are almost synonymous. Every novice on his entrance into the Saṃgha needs an upajjhāya ‘a master’ and an ācarya ‘a teacher’. An upājjhāya teach the novice on moral rules of conduct while an ācarya look after his spiritual life and progress. A pupil attached to an upājjhāya is known as a ‘saddhivihārika’ while that to an ācarya is called a antevāsika. (Buddhism In India And Abroad, Banerjee, Anukul Chandra, p. 161.) — Cf. Mhv. v, 208.
Sikkhā implies Learning, specially the rules of morality, or the precepts to be adopted by one who is entering the Buddhist community either as a layman or an initiate. It was necessary for Saṅghamittā as she was not of prescribed age of twenty. (Pali-English Dictionary, Davids, Rhys, P. 708.)
Āsavas are defilements latent in all beings and are cited as the cause of all ignorance. (A Manual Of Abhidhamma (Abhidhammattha Sangaha), Thera, Narada, p. 409.)
Tisso-vijjā is the knowledge of the three great truths: aniccaṃ, dukkhaṃ, anattaṃ. There are also three other vijjās: pubbenivāsānussatiñāṇaṃ, i.e. to remember diverse existence in the past; sattānaṃ cutūpapāte ñāṇaṃ, i.e. to discern the arising and going of beings; āsavāṇaṃ khaye ñāṇaṃ, i.e. the knowledge of destroying the āsavas.(A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 571.) — Dipv. vii, 29.
Chaḷa-viññā or Cha-Abhiññā is higher knowledge, transcendent or super natural knowledge or faculty. There are five Abhiññās or super natural faculties possesed by Arahats: i) Iddhividhā or iddhippabbhedo i.e. different magical powers; ii) Dibbasotaṃ, i.e. the divine ear, clairaudience or power of hearing what is inaudiable;iii) Parassa-cetopariyañāṇam other’s thoughts; iv) Pubbenivāsānussatiñāṇaṃ or knowledge of former existence; v) Dibbacakkhu i.e. the divine eye. There are also six Abhiññās or chaḷabhiññā consisting of the above five, with the addition of Āsavakkhayakarañāṇaṃ or the knowledge which causes the destruction of human passion. (A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 5.)
Paṭisaṃbhidā literally means continuous breaking up i.e. analysis, analytic insight etc. It is always referred to as the four branches of logical analysis (catasso or catupaṭisambhidā). Attha: analysis of meaning; Dhamma: of reasons, conditions or casual relations; Nirutti: of meanings, in intension, as given in; Paṭibhāna: the intellect to which things knowable by the foregoing process. (A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 366).
Dakkhiṇāgiri is a vihāra in Ujjenī, Skt. Ujjayinī in the Gwallior state, Central India, was the old capital of Avanti.(Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note, v, 39). — Cf. Mhv. xiii, 3-5.
Vedisa is modern Bhilsā in Gwalior state, situated 26 miles north-east of Bhopal.(Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note xiii, 7) — Cf. Mhv. xii, 6-7.
Anāgāmī:—(The stage of anāgāmī is the third and last stage on the path of salvation leading to Nibbāṇa. An anāgāmī will not be reborn, either in the world of gods or men, but only in a Brahma world, where he will attain Nibbāṇa.Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note 6). — Cf. Mhv. xiii, 15-17.
Sotāpanno is a converted person, who has attained the first grade of sanctification i.e. one who has entered the stream (Skt. Srotam+ āpanna). (A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 483.)
Mālaka:—(Mālaka is a space, normally terraced, within which sacred functions were carried out. In the Mahāvihāra (Tissārāma) at Anurādhapura, there were 32 mālakas. Dīpv. xiv, 78; Mhv. xv, 192. The sacred Bodhi tree was surrounded by a mālaka. Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note, 29, p. 99) — Cf. Mhv. xv, 27-29; Dīpv. xiii, 39-42.
Jantāghara, a bathing place for hot sitting baths. Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note, 31, p. 99 — Cf. Mhv. xv, 30-31; Ibid. xiii, 43-45.
Catusālā is a quadrangular hall which served as a refectory for the monks. Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note, 47, p. 100. — Cf.xv, 47-50; Ibid. xiii, 60-64.
Mahathupa was built by King Dutthagamani and in later time was known as Ruwanweli-dagova= Pāli Hemamāli.. Mhv. xv, 167. — Cf. Mhv. xv, 51-168 ff; Ibid. xiv, 1-7 ff.
Salākā:— A salākā’ is a ‘slip’ of wood, bark, etc. and was distributed to the monks as tickets for the distribution of food given as a present to the monastery. The building where the distribution takes place is the salākagga or ‘salākā house’. Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note 206, p. 112. — Cf. Mhv. xv, 205.
Sunhata is the cell of a person, who is well bathed and purified. Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note 207. — Cf. Mhv. xv, 207.
Caṅkamana belongs to each Vihāra. It is a straight piece of ground cleared and levelled for the purpose of walking up and down upon for exercise and meditation. The ‘Dīpadipo’ who is the light of the Island is Mahinda. Mhv. geiger, Wilhelm, note 208. — Cf. Mhv. xv, 208.
Phalagga is the cell where Mahinda had sunk in meditation that brings the highest bliss. — Cf. Mhv.xv, 209.
Mahāppamāda-sutta, expresses the necessity of awareness, consciousness, etc, in every sphere of life. Dictionary Of Pali Proper Names, Malalasekera, G.P. vol. i, p. 123; Cetiyapabbata is the later name of Missaka pabbata due to the erction of many cetiyas or shrines there. Mhv. Geiger, Wilhelm, note 4, p. 114. — Cf. Mhv. xvi, 3; xvii, 23.
Rainy season includes four months, beginning with the full moon of Āsāḷha and ending with the full moon of Kattika (from the middle of June to middle of October). These four months are a period of retreat for the Buddhist monks who are prohibited to travel, but live in some place away from their monasteries, where they receive the cares of the faithful. According to Dickson, the Vassa was originally intended as a relief to the monks, who were supposed to live at the foot of a tree. This exposed residence became unhealthy during rainy season, and Buddha allowed them to build themselves huts as a protection against the weather. It is stated in the Mahāvagga that (Pat.xxviii), once the Buddha was living at Rājagaha. At that time the retreat had not as yet been instituted for the monks, but they went on their travels in winter, summer and the rainy season. People took offence. “How is it” they said, that the ascetic disciple of the Sakya prince go on their travels in the rainy season as well as in winter and summer, crushing the tender (springing) plants and destroying innumerable insects? To prevent this, the Buddha then instituted the Vssavāsa; A Dictionary Of Pali Language, Childers, R.C. p. 555. — Cf. Mhv. xvi, 9;
Dasasīlaṃ are the preceptes:1) not to kill any living being; 2) to refrain from taking the property of others; 3) not to commit adultery; 4) to avoid lying; 5) to drink no intoxicating drink; 6) only to take food at certain prescribed hours; 7) to avoid worldly amusements; 8) to use neither unguents nor ornaments; 8) not to sleep on a high or decorated bed; 10) not to accept any gold or silver. — Cf. Mhv. Ibid. xviii, 9-11.