Dipavamsa (study)

by Sibani Barman | 2017 | 55,946 words

This page relates ‘reign of Devanampiya-Tissa’ 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 4d - The reign of Devānāmpiya-Tissa

Full title: Introduction and Development of Buddhism in the reign of Devānāmpiya-Tissa (307- 267 B.C.)]

Muṭaśiva left ten sons and two daughters, of whom the second son Tissa was choosen as the most worthy to succeed him. He is represented as exceedingly pious prince, and due to this reason, was surnamed Devānāmpiya-tissa (247-207) B.C, that is, Tissa the delight of the gods. On his succession to the throne many wonderful miracles are related to have occurred, such as, the precious gems and stones formerly buried in the earth rose to the surface by their own energy; treasures also rose from the ocean and cast themselves on the shore of Laṅkā, the bamboos reared themselves from the earth bearing gems, precious metals and flowers of the richest and most delightful hues and many other extraordinary wonders had happened which welcome and reflect the merit of the king 109.

Devānāmpiya-tissa thought that, only his friend Dhammāśoka is worth to have these priceless treasures and resolved to send some of them as priceless gifts to his contemporary Dhammāśoka of India, with whom he had long been on terms of friendship.

An embassy, led by his nephew Mahāriṭṭha was despatched to Pāṭaliputta, and the emperor showed the ambassadors every mark of honour. He sent back with them all the requisites for a coronation, with instructions to celebrate the inaugaration of the Sinhalese king, whom he invited to embrace Buddhism. On return of the embassy, the king was solemnly crowned a second time.

Arrival of Mahinda:

The chief event in the reign of Devānāmpiya Tissa was the arrival of Mahinda in Ceylon. He arrived at the head of a mission in the year of the King’s second coronation. Mahinda met the king hunting on the full moon day of Jeṭṭha. The king welcomed him with great honour and embraced the new religion at once, to which Aśoka had already drawn his attention and being influenced by the elequence of Mahinda. Mahinda preached and explained the Culahatthipadopama-Sutta and mesmerized the king. Devānāmpiya-Tissa embraced Buddhism with respect.Following his example a large number of his subjects, entered the Order.

Devanampiya-Tisa’s earlier religion is not known. Due to the close proximity of the Island, people of South India used to travel back and forth throughout human history. From the time of Vijaya a strong connection developed between the two countries gradually. The Pāṇḍyas of South India that came to Ceylon in the early days originally migrated from the central India the place of the Buddha’s life long activities. It is quite probable that they have brought some knowledge of the Buddha and his teachings in Ceylon in those days. Both Oldenberg and Malalasekera agree that–no Buddhist edifice had been mentioned among the religious buildings erected by Pāṇḍukābhaya. It was due to the fact that, the Buddhist chroniclers had the tendency to concentrate all attention on Mahinda. It may be so happen that the Buddhist monks were known to the people but they were very few in numbers to erect any religious edifice and to constitute a definite religion before Mahinda’s arrival.

Mahinda asked several questions to Devānāmpiya-Tissa and realized that the king was intelligent enough to comprehend the Dhamma and preached the Cūlahatthipadopama-Sūtta. The sūtta deals with the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha and mentions how one takes the refuge of the three gems and accepts Buddhism in his Bhikkhu life. It 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. It also describes the life of a real Bhikkhu, the restrictions which he maintans, ill-practices which he abstains from, the qualities he gained following the path. Following these, the Bhikhu gets further developments, till his mind is completely free from the āsavas or defilements, and then he realises the Truth-finder’s real quest and finally attains the highest goal of Buddhism that is Arahatship. 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.

On the evening Mahinda asked Sumana-sāmaṇera to announce the preaching of the Dhamma, which was heard throughout the Island. Gradually it reached the Brahmāloka and a large number of Devas came there. Then Mahinda preached the Samacitta-Sutta. The Sutta was originally preached by Sāriputta at the Migāramātupāsāda on the person who is fettered both inwardly and outwardly. Here also, the Devas listened the preacing, standing quietly, keeping a space with each other not greater than a small tool, not making crowd.

At the invitation of the king, Mahinda and his people came to Anurādhapura where they were received by the king. After receiving meals at the royal house Mahinda described stories from two Pāli texts, the Peta-vattu and Vimāna-vattu to the ladies of the royal house where princess Anulā was present. They tell the stories of persons born in the Peta-world owing to various misdeeds and in the Deva-world, i.e, heavenly world as reward for some meritorious act performed in a previous life. Mahinda also explained to them the four noble truths according to Saccasamyutta.

He also reminded them that Samsāra was dreadful and also said about the cycle of births and deaths. He then delivered the Devaduta-sūtta, which speaks of the results of good and bad actions and the Bālapaṇḍita-sutta which mentions that–foolish people do evil and for this reason suffer both in this world and hereafter. These sūttas delivered by Mahinda helped the people of Sri-Lankā to understand the teachings of the Buddha and they were able to develop their spiritual ideas properly.

Mahinda then accepted the Mahāmeghavana as a gift from the king and announced that Buddhism would be established in Sri-Lanka and delivered the Aggikhandopama-suttawhich refers to a bhikkhu’s virtuous and holy life. Both Dīpavamsa and Mahāvaṃsa mention that Buddhism would be flourished in Sri-Lanka after the establishment of a sīmā for the Uposatha and other acts of the Buddhist Sangha there. According to Samantapāsādikā, Mahinda told, “When a son born in Ceylon studies the Vinaya in Ceylon and recites it in Ceylon the roots of the Sāsana are deep set”. Devānāmpiya-Tissa’s desired to live within the shelter of the Order of the Budda. Thus Anurādhapura, his capital was included in the sīmā.

Mahinda resided at Anurādhapura for 26 days. He gave nunber of sermons and was successful to convince the people of Sri-Lankā about the transitoriness of life, the dreadful nature of Samsāra and the attainment of Nibbāna.

Mahinda also delivered the Dhammacakka-pavattana-sūtta which discusses the Buddha’s fundamental teachings. From Anurādhapura he went to Missaka pabbata to stay there for the Vassa or rainy season and expounded to the king the Vassupanayika-khandaka, which says that, during rainy season the bhikkhus are forbidden to travel, but should live together in a vihāra.Devānāmpiya-Tissa’s nephew, the chief minister Mahā-Ariṭṭha, who stood near the king, having heard this, joined the Saṅgha with fifty-five other people. The king presented Kaṇṭaka-cetiya for the use of Mahinda and other monks. This was the begining of Cetiyagiri-vihāra, another great institution of early Budhist Sri-Lankā.

Saṅghamittā and women disciples:

When the women of the palace, led by Anulā, wife of the uparājā, Mahānaga, expressed a desire to become nuns, Devānāmpiya-Tissa sent another embassy to Aśoka asking him to send Sanghamittā, together with the right branch of the sacred Bodhi-Tree.This branch miraculously severed itself from the parent tree and, together with Saṅghamittā, was conveyned down the Ganges and arrived in Jambukola, where it was received with all honour by Devānāmpiya-Tissa. From Jambukola it was taken in procession to Anurādhapura and was planted in the Mahāmeghavaṇa. The king instituted in its honour a festival which was observed for many centuries. For the use of Saṅghamittā and the nuns the king erected the Hatthāḷaka-Vihāra and the Upāsika-Vihāra with its twelve mansions.

Works done by Devānāmpiya-Tissa:

Devānampiya-Tissa dedicated to Mahinda the Nandanavana and the Mahāmeghavana. In the Mahāmeghavana he built the famous Mahāvihāra which for many centuries remains the centre of the orthodox religion in Ceylon. The dedication of the Mahāvihāra took place in the two hundred and thirty-six years after the death of the Buddha. The king’s next pious work was the creation of the Cetiyapabbata-vihāra and he latter built the Thupārāma, containing the Buddha’s Right collar bone.

The Mahāvihāra, at Anuradhapura was the chief seat of Buddhism in Ceylon for many centuries. The King Devānāmpiya-Tissa marked the boundary of it on the advice of the great Thera Mahinda, ploughing a circular furrow starting from a point near Gangalatittha on the Kadamba-nadi and ending again at the river. Mahābodhivaṃsa gives a vivd list of the places through which the sīmā of the Mahāvihāra passed. It passed through Pāsāṇatittha, Kuddavāṭakapāsāṇa, Kumbhakāra-āvāṭa, the Mahānīpa-tree, Kakudhapāli, Mahā-aṅgana-tree, Khujjamātalu-tree, Marutta-pokkharaṇī, the northern gate of the Vijayārāma-park, Gajakumbhaka-pāsāṇa, then passing Avaṭṭimajjha, Bālaka-pāsāṇa on the Abhayavāpi,Mahāsusāna, Dīgha-pāsāṇa, the left side of Caṅḍālagāma, the Nicasusāna to the left of Kammāradeva, Sīmānigrodha, Veḷuvaṅgana, round the hermitage of the Niganṭhas Jotiya, Giri and Kumbhaṇḍa, to the right of various hermitages of the Paribbājakas, by Hiyagalla, along the shrine of the Brahmin Dīyavāsa, through Telumapāli, Tālacatukka, to the right of the stables (assamaṇḍala), on to Sasakapāsāṇa and Marumbatittha. It then proceeded up the river to Sīhasināna-tittha, on to Pāsāṇa-tittha, ending at the Kuddāvaṭakapāsāṇa.

The Mahavihara contained numerous buildings like the Thupārāma, Mahābodhi-Tree, Mahā-Thūpa, and thirty-two Mālakas in it. Besides the buildings dedicated to the service of Buddhism, there were other buildings—such as, the hermitages of the Niganṭhas, the Paribbājakas, and the shrines of the guardian deity of Anurādhapura, in its early period.

In the time of Vaṭṭagāmaṇī, a schism took place among the Mahāvihāra monks. Some of the monks separated themselves from the Mahāvihāra and started staying at Abhayagiri built by the king. In course of time Abhayagiri grew in power and became a strong rival to the older Mahāvihāra monks. Mahāvihāra monks tried to preserve the teachings of Theravāda Buddhism in its perfect form, even when the Vaitulyavādins became very powerful in the religious world of Sri-Lanka.

Various kings made additions and alterations to the Mahāvihara during their reign. The Sammohovinodanī refers to Piyaṅguparivena as one of its buildings. A pavellion named Pañhamanḍapa was built for the discussion of questions.

Many monks who used to come from different parts of the lsland to pay homage to the Mahācetiya and the Mahābodhi, stayed at the Mahāvihara suffered a lot during the Bahmanatissa famine and several Tamil invasions. King Mahāsena also disturbed the Mahāvihāra monks in his reign. Fa-hien visited Sri-Lanka and he saw the flourishing condition of the Mahāvihāra. At that time, about 3000 monks used to live there. Among the other works of Devānāmpiya-Tissa, the buildings of the Issarasamaṇaka and the Vessagiri-Vihāras, a refectory named Mahāpāli, the Jambukola-Vihāra in Nāgadīpa, the Tissamahā-Vihara, the Pācinārāma, and the Paṭhama-thūpa.

He also built the Tissavāpi at Anurādhapura. The Culavaṃsa mentions also the Dhammacakka as having been built by Devānāmpiya-Tissa. It latter became the Temple of the Tooth at Anurādhapura.

Thus from traditional accounts it is clear that Buddhism was introduced and established in Sri-Lankā in the first year of the reign of Devānāmpiya-Tissa and it was eighteen year of the reign of the Indian Maurya ruler Aśoka. Thus 250 B.C. can be mentioned as the initial year of Devānāmpiya-Tissa. Mahinda died at the age of eighty at Cetiyapabbata in the eighth year of the reign of King Uttiya (267-257 B.C.), who was the younger brother of Devānāmpiya-tissa and was also the successor to the throne. Saṅghamittā also died at the age of seventy-nine, in the ninth year of the reign of Uttiya at the Hatthāḷaka nunnery at Anurādhapura. Uttiya performed their funerals with great honour and constructed stupas over their relics. The king himself died in the following year, after a reign of ten years.

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