Dipavamsa (study)

by Sibani Barman | 2017 | 55,946 words

This page relates ‘Twelve Kings’ 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 4i - The Twelve Kings

Mahādāṭhika Mahānāga’s son Āmaṇḍagāmaṇī-Abhaya became king for nine years and eight months (21A.D.-30 A.D.). His younger brother Kanirajānu-Tissa killed him for the throne. He had two children: a son Cūḷābhaya and a daughter Sīvalī. Iḷanāga was his nephew.

Āmaṅḍagāmaṇī erected a chatta over the previous chatta, that is, heightened the cone crowning of the Mahāthūpa and also built pāda-vedikā and muddha-vedikā there.

He made an inner courtyard (kucchi- ājiram) and inner verandah (kucchi-alindam) to the Lohapāsāda and to the uposāthagāra of the Thupārāma and a beautiful pavilion for the both. He also built the Rajatalena-Vihāra and the Mahāgāmeṇḍi tank to the south of Anuradhapura, which later he gave for the use of Dakkhina-vihara.

He was the first to issue an order of “mā’ghāta” or non-killing of animals all over the Island. He planted all kinds of vines everywhere. Once he gave robes (batthacuṃbaṭa) and alms bowls filled with maṅsakumbhaṇḍaka fruits (pumpkins), to the monks of all the Saṅgha and thereafter he was known by the name of Āmaṇḍagāmaṇī. He is also referred to as Āmaṇḍa and Āmaṇḍya.

His brother Kaṇirajānu-Tissa (30-33 A.D.), having killed him succeeded to the throne, and reigned for three years. He once settled a dispute concerning the uposatha-house in the Cetiya-vihāra.

About sixty monks had not accepted his decision. Kaṇirajānu-Tissa ordered to capture these monks who were found guilty of high treason against him with proof (sahoḍḍe) and they were thrown down the caves of a rock called Kaṇira in Cetiya-pabbata (Mihintale).

After Kaṇirajānutissa’s death, Āmaṇḍagāmaṇī’s son, prince Cūḷābhaya (33-34 A.D.) reigned for one year. The king built the Cūllagallaka-vihara on the bank of Goṇaka River to the south of the capital. The Dīpavaṃsa mentioned that Cūḷābhaya built the Gaggārārāma. After the death of Cūḷābhaya, his younger sister Sīvalī (34 A.D.), the daughter of Āmaṇḍa, also known as Revati, reigned four months.

But Āmaṇḍa’s nephew named Iḷanāga (34-44 A.D.) dethorned Sīvalī and raised the parasole of sovereignty in the capital.

In the first year of his reign when he went to take his ceremonial bath in Tissavāpi, became angry in seeing that the Lambakannā were not there. As a punishment they had to repair a road along the bank of the tank, leading to the Mahāthūpa, under the supervision of the Caṇḍālas.

The Lambakaṇṇas revolted and seized the throne. It is said that the king was rescued from his prison by his state elephant and that he escaped to Rohaṇa. Three years later the king returned from exile, and defeated the Lambakaṇṇas at the battle field of Haṅkārapiṭṭhi near Kapallakkhaṇḍa-dwāra. Again, Iḷanāga attained the water festival at Tissavāpī and made the Lambakaṇṇas drag his chariot in his triumphal procession. Reaching the palace the king ordered to behead them. But on his mother’s intervention he let them go having their noses and toes cut off.

[Note: From the chronicles it appears that the Lambakaṇṇas were probably the inhabitants of Ceylon. They seem to be a powerful clan and had to perform certain duties in the process of consecration of a king. According to some Sinhalese chronicles (e.g. Saddhammaratnākara and the Pārakumbā-Sirita) the Lambakannas of Ceylon were a branch of the Moriyas of India. According to these chronicles Morian prince Sumitta, one of the escorts who brought the Bodhi-Tree from India—and Morian princess Sumana, who was a nun at one time, ordained under Sanghamitta are supposed to be ancestors of the Lambakaṇṇas of Ceylon. The kings of Ceylon down to the time of Parakkamabahu VI were descendants of this clan.In Ceylon the Lambakaṇṇas had settlement in Rohaṇa. A clan of Lambakaṇṇas also lived in South India in the 12th century A.D. (Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, Malalasekera, G.P. vol ii, p. 774.)]

Having heard the Kapi-Jātaka from Mahāpaduma-Thera of Tulādhāra vihāra, Iḷanāga restored the Nāga-Mahāvihāra and enlarged it. During his exile in Rohaṇa, the king built two tanks, the Tissa and the Dūra. He gave land for the maintenance of his state elephant, who had helped him, and the tract of land is called Hatthibhoga. Iḷanāga reigned for full six years, that is, the rest of his life as king in Anuradhapura.

He was succeeded by his son Chandamukha Siva (44 A.D.-52 A.D.). He reigned for eight years and seven months. He built a tank near Manikāragāma which he gave to the Issara-samaṇārāma.His wife was Damiḷadevi, who alloted her own revenues from that village to the same vihāra. He was killed by his younger brother Yasalālaka-Tissa at the festival-sports at the Tissa-vāpī.

Yasalalaka-Tissa ruled as king for seven years and eight months (52 A.D.-60 A.D.). He was a very jovial king. His gate-watchman, Subha, son of Datta, bore a strong resemblance to him. The king sometimes exchanged his role with Subha, the door keeper, and enjoyed the fun. This fun ultimately led him to his ruin. Subha gradually lost his fear and respect for the crown and planned to make this joke a reality. One day, when the ministers came and offered their respect to Subha, the gate keeper in disguise of king, the real king who was standing at the door could not help laughing.Subha reacted readily, charged the real king for laughing, and ordered the guard to slay him, before the truth was discovered. Subha then became king and ruled for six years (60 A.D.-66 A.D.).

Though Subha came into power being a traitor to his friend Yasalalaka-Tissa, he led a righteous life and spent a lot towards the cause of the religion. He built the Subharāja-parivena, the Valli-vihāra, at Uruvelā, to the east of the city, the Ekadwāra-vihāra, and the Nandi-gāmaka-vihāra at the mouth of the Gaṅgā.

Meanwhile a rumour spread in the city that, a person named Vasabha will kill the King Subha and will come into power. Subha was utterly frightened and commanded that anyone in the Island who bore the name of Vasabha should be slain. Hundreds of youth were killed for no reason at all. Out of fear, he entrusted his daughter to a brick worker, and also his mantle and royal insignia into his care.

Ultimately Subha was deposed by Vasabha. Vasabha discovered Subha’s daughter’s identity and married her to his own son Vaṇkanāsika-Tissa. Her good fortune was owing to a meal she had given to an Arahant thera.

Vasabha (66-110 A.D.), was a common man of Lambakaṇṇa clan, who lived at the north of the country (Uttarapassa), in a village. Child Vasabha was working for his uncle, who was a general of Subharāja’s army. Having heard the king’s order, that anyone bearing the name Vasabha would be killed, Vasabha’s uncle tried to surrender him to the king’s court.

But, he was saved by the general’s wife, Pottha, who told him of the plot against his life, and helped him to escape. Vasabha fled to Mahavihāra in hiding. He gathered an army secretly. When he was ready enough to fight against Subharājā, started seizing villages of the border side and gradually won Rohaṇa. After two years he marched towards the capital and killed both Subharājā and his uncle in battle and became king. He made Potha his queen. Soothsayers told him that he would live only for twelve years. Being afraid the king invited the Bhikkhu-Saṅgha and asked the monks to show the way of lengthening his life. By the monks’ advice Vasabha was engaged in many acts of merit. He started his campaign mainly in twofold ways: construction and restoration of temples and vihāras; and construction of reservoirs. He reigned for forty-four years.

The king bestowed the three garments for all the Saṅgha in the Island after every three years. In 32 places, he distributed milk-rice with honey; in 64 places he gave lavish gift of mixed alms, had lighted thousands lamps in 4 places, viz: Cetiya-pabbata, Thupārāma, Mahāthūpa, and in the temple of the Mahā Bodhi-Tree.

He repaired many ruined vihāras and thūpas over the whole Island. Among the religious buildings erected by him were the Mahāvalligotta-vihāra, the Anurārāma-vihāra and the Mucela-vihāra. Being pleased with the sermons preached by the monks of Valliera-vihāra he built the Mahāvalligotta-vihāra and gave it to them. He donated 1008 karisa of land of Heligāma near Mahāgāma to the Anurārāma-vihāra. A share in the water of the Āḷisāra canal had been alloted to the Muccela-vihāra of Tissavaḍḍhamānaka. Uposathāgāra were built in Issarasamana, Galambatirtha and Kumbhigallaka vihāras. He also arranged for the income for the maintenance of these vihāras. In Mahāvihāra, he built a row of pariveṇa facing the west and restored the ruined Catussālā. 4 statues of the Buddha were kept in a chamber in the courtyard of the Mahābodhi-Tree. Queen Pottha also built a splendid Thūpa and a temple near the Bodhi and offered it to the Saṅgha.

The king patronized the monks who were engaged in literary works and wise preachers. All over the city, he organized the alms to the poors and medicine as well as hospitality for the sick monks.

He tried to develop the agriculture and thereby economy of the country. He is said to have built eleven reservoirs for the purpose of irrigation, viz: Cayanti, Rājuppala, Vaha, Kolambagāmaka, Mahānikkhavaṭṭi, Mahārāmetti, Kohāla, Kālivāpi, Cambuṭi, Cāthamaṅgaṇa and Aggivaḍḍamānaka. He also built twelve canals.. Scholars are of opinion that Vasabha was the first king who built large reservoirs.

Vasabha used improved technology to develop irrigation system. Large perennial rivers were blocked by dams to creat big reservoirs; and water from these was delivered to distant cultivation fields through canals.

The king also built bathing tanks inside the city and brought water to them by tunnels. Water tunnel built by Vasabha has not been found. If it be true, then Vasabha’s tunnel would be the world’s first tunnel.

He raised a high wall around Anuradhapura to protect it from the attack of the enemies. At the four gates of the city he built fortress-towers.

Vasabha patronised Cetiyagiri and it flourished during his rule. Vihāras were built even in Nagadīpa (modern Jaffna-peninsula). A gold plate inscription, discovered in a land close to Visnu-Devale refers to a minister named Isigira who ruled Jaffna under King Vasabha’s supremecy.Vasabha managed to rule the country for 44 years and he performed forty-four Vesak festivals.

During his time the country was prosperous in all respect.

Vasabha gave his son Vankanasika’s marriage to Subharaja’s daughter, who was brought up in a brick-worker’s house.

Vaṇkanāsika-Tissa was the son and successor of Vasabha (110-113A.D.). He built the Mahāmaṅgala-vihara near the river Goṇa, and his wife Mahāmattā saved money to build a vihāra in honour of a monk. He reigned for three years and his son was Gajavāhukagāmaṇi.

After Vaṅkanāsikatiss’s death his son Gajabahukagāmani also called Gaja Bāhu (113-135 A.D.) reigned for twenty-two years. He was a great patron of Buddhism. He founded the Mātu-vihara in honour of his mother, the Rāmauka-vihara and the Mahejasana sala. He made additions to the Abhayattura-Mahathupa, made improvements to the four entrance ways of the Abhayagiri-thupa, and constructed the Gamanitissa-reservoir to provide Abhayagiri-vihara with food. He made a mantle for Maricavaṭṭi-vihāra.

In Sinhalese chronicles, like Rājāvaliya, he is credited with having invaded the Coḷa kingdom to avenge a raid made on Ceylon and with having introduced the cult of the goddess Pattini into Ceylon. Ancient Coḷa inscriptions mention that, King Gajabāhu attendd a Pattini pujā in South India with a Coḷa King. This confirms King Gajabahu’s visit to Coḷa country.

After Gajabahu’s death the king’s father-in-law Mahallaka-Naga reigned for 6 years (135- 141 A.D.). He built 7 viharas: Sejalaka, Goṭha-pabbata, Dakapāsāṇa, Sālipabbata, Tanaveli, Tobbalanagapabbata and Girihālika. He was succeeded by his son Bhatika-Tissa.

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