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 4j - The Twelve Kings

After the death of Mahallakanāga his son Bhātikatissa (141-165 A.D.) ruled for 24 years. He built a wall around the Mahāvihāra, erected two vihāras, viz: the Gavaratissa-vihāra and Bhātikatissa-vihāra and built the tanks: Mahāmaṇivāpi and Randhkhaṇḍakavāpi, and also built an uposathāgāra in the Thūpārāma. He provided lavish gifts to both Bhikkhu Saṅgha and Bhikkhunī Saṅgha.

After the death of Bhātikatissa, his younger brother Kaniṭṭhatissaka (165-193 A.D), ruled for years. Being pleased with Mahānāga Thera of Bhutārāma, he built the Ratanapāsāda at Abhayagiri. He also built at Abhayagiri a wall, and a maha-parivena. In the Maṇisoma-vihāra, he built a mahā-parivena and a cetiya. He also built a cetiya at Ambatthala, restored a temple at Nāgadīpa. In Mahāvihāra he built 12 great four sided pāsādas and demolishing the boundary of the Mahāvihāra, he made a row of pariveṇa named Kukkuṭagiri and a road leading to Dakkhiṇavihāra. He added a plastering to the Dakkhiṇa-vihāra and a refectory, removing the boundary of the Mahāmeghavana. Among his other works were the Bhutārāma-vihāra, the Rāmagoṇaka-vihara, the Nandatissārāma, the Anulatissa-pabbata-vihāra, the Niyelatissārāma, the Pilapiṭṭhi-vihāra, and the Rājamahā-vihāra. He built Uposathāgāra in 3 following places: the Kalyāṇi-vihāra, the Maṇḍalagiri-vihāra and the Dubbalavāpitissa–vihāra.

He had two sons Khujjanāga and Kuñcanāga.

After the death of Kaniṭṭhatissa, his eldest son and succesor Khujjanāga (193-195 A.D.) reigned two years. He was slain and replaced by his own brother Kuñcanāga.

Kuñcanāga reigned one year (195-196 A.D.). During his reign a famine known as the Ekanālika famine is reported to have occured, but the king is said to have maintained an alms giving for 500 bhikkhus uninterruptedly. No literary works provides any information why the famine is called Ekanālika famine. Probably, the name is due to the fact that, nāli was an ancient measure used to signify a small quantity, and people had to depend on that reduced amount of food for their sustenance. He was deposed by Sirināga.

Kuñcanaga’s queen’s brother, Sirināga l, was his commander-in-chief. He rebelled against the king and defeated him. He then reigned in Anurādhapura (196-215 A.D.) for nineteen years. He ercted a parasole over the Mahāthūpa, rebuilt the Lohapāsāda, keeping it within five stories, and restored the steps leading to the Bodhi-Tree.

Sirināga remitted the Kulambana tribute of families throughout the Island. His son was Tissa later known as Vohārika-Tissa.

After the death of Sirināga, his son Tissa reigned twenty-two years (215-237 A.D.). He was called ‘Vohārika’ because of his knowledge of Law and tradition. He was the first in this country who made a Law that set aside bodily injury as penalty. He patronized Deva Thera of Kappugāma and Mahātissa of Anurarāma. He built the Sattapannakapāsāda in the eastern temple of the Mahabodi Tree and erecteed parasols of eight Thūpas and walls round six vihāras. On days when the Aryavaṃsa was being read, he held alms giving throughout Ceylon, and freed the bhikkhus who were in debt giving 3 lakh pieces of money. He suppressed the Vetulya heresy with the help of his minister Kapila.

He was killed by his brother Abhayanāga.

Abhayanāga conspired against the King Vohārika-Tissa with the assistence of his uncle Subhadeva. Getting the assistance of the Damiḷas, he overthrew and killed Voharika-Tissa. Abhayanāga reigned for eight years (237-245 A.D.). He set up a pāsānavedikā round the Mahā-Bodhi, distributed cloths to the Bhikkhus of the Island.

After the death of Abhayanāga, Sirināga ll, the son of his brother Vohārika-Tissa reigned for two years (245-247 A.D.). He restored the wall round the Bodhi Tree and built the Hamsavaṭṭa of the Bodhi-Tree temple.

His son was Vijayakumāra. He reigned for one year (247-248 A.D.) after his father’s death. He was killed in his palace by the three Lambakaṇṇas of Mahiyaṅgana: Saṅghatissa, Saṅghabodhi, and Goṭhābhaya. It is said that, once these three friends were walking down a street of Anurādhapura city in search of work to the king. Hearing the sound of their footsteps a blind fortune teller near Tissavāpi said that he could hear footsteps of three future leaders of the country. Being asked by Goṭhābhaya, the fortune teller said that, the person who was coming last would be endured. Keeping in mind the blind man’s premonition Goṭhābhaya went on with the other two and he was the person who was coming last.

After slaying Vijayakumāra, Saṅghatissa reigned for four years (248-252 A.D). He set up a parasole on the Mahāthūpa and did other works of merit. Having heard from the Thera Mahādeva of Dāmahalaka of the merits of giving rice-gruel, he arranged for a regular distribution of it. He used to visit Pācinadipaka in order to eat Jambu fruits there, and the people, annoyed by his visits, poisoned him.

He was succeeded by Saṅghabodhi generally known as Sirisaṅghabodhi who reigned for two years (252-254 A.D). He was a rightous hero. The king observed five precepts. He set up a salākā house in the Mahāvihāra. When he heard that the people of the Island are suffering due to a severe drought, his heart shaken with pity and he lay down on the ground of the Mahāthūpa or the Ruvanvalisāya and resolved not to rise there from until sufficient rain fall occur to lift him from the earth. Rainfall occured but the king refused to rise because he was not floating on the water. The king’s officers closed up the pipes which enabled him to float and the king rose up.

He released criminals condemned to death and burnt the bodies of dead in place of the criminals to impress his people that law and justice are present in the country.

He is said to have removed an epidemic caused by the Yakkha Rattakkhī. The symptoms of the disease were red eyes and high fever. He offered the demon his own flesh to eat but it refused. The yakkha left the king’s territory promising him an offering in every village.

When his friend and treasurer, Goṭhakābhaya, rebelled he did not want to cause the loss of human lives. He left the throne to anyone who desired it and himself adopted the life of an ascetic. Gothakābhaya, being afraid of the fact that people might have recall Siri Saṅghabodhi, set a price on the head of the disappeared king. Later, Sanghabodhi gave his head in gratitude to a poor man who gave him a meal, so that the man could win from the king the price which he had been set on his head.

The legend of the king surrendering his head is famous in Ceylon. No millitary glory was associated with his name or any statesmanship which can brought prestige to the country nor did he do any public work for the welfare of his people yet he achieved a parmanent place in the heart of the Sihala people and forms the theme of a Pāli chronicle, the Hatthavanagallavihāra vaṃsa.

Thus Goṭhakābhaya, also known as Meghavaṇṇābhaya ruled for thirteen years (254-267 A.D.). He was the last of the three Lambakaṇṇas who siezed the throne from the King Vijayakumāra. He built a new palace, a splendid pavilion of stone in the Mahāvihāra, renewed the pillars of the Lohapāsāda, set up a vedī of stone around the Mahābodhi.

He built the Meghavaṇṇābhaya-vihāra and renovated all ruined buildings in the Island. He restored the Thūpārāma, the Ambatthala-vihāra, the Maṇisomarāma, the Maricavaṭṭi-vihāra, and the Dakkhiṇa-vihāra.

He banished from Abhayagiri-vihāra sixty monks who had accepted the Vetulla heresy. A Coḷa monk, Saṅghamitta, who knew the practice of exorcism of spirit and so forth, was the pupil of a banished monk came and attends an assembly in the Thūpārāma. He defeated in discussion the Thera Goṭhābhaya, who was the king’s uncle, living in the Saṅghapāla pariveṇa, and became the king’s favourite. King Goṭhābhaya was the father of one of the greatest kings of Sri-Lankā, King Mahāsena, his younger son. The king had two sons Jeṭṭhatissa and Mahāsena. The king made the monk Saṅghamitta as the mentor of the two young boys. But Saṅghamitta was against the Mahāvihāra monks who were Theravādins. The king did many things on the advice of the Monk Saṅghamitta against the Mahāvihāra monks. Two sons of the king Gothakabhaya grew under the monk Sanghamitta. But the younger son Mahāsena was his favourite. Due to this reason prince Jeṭṭhatissa bore ill-will to him.

After the death of Goṭhābhaya, his elder son Jeṭṭhatissa became king (267-277 A.D.). He was a cruel man. He killed all the ministers who were disloyal to his father and earned the title of “The cruel”. Saṅghamitta monk left the country knowing that King Jeṭṭhatissa did not like him. He rebuilt the Lohapāsāda, which had been left unfinished by his father, to a height of seven stories and renamed it the Manipāsāda, from the costly jewels he offered in it. He also built the Pācinatissapabbata-vihāra and the Alambagama tank. He reigned for ten years. After King Jeṭṭhatissa’s death, his brother Mahāsena ascended the throne.

King Mahāsena was an important king in the history of Ceylon. He ruled twenty-seven years as king (277-304 A.D.). After his consecration, his teacher, Saṅghamitta, came back from India with the intention of introducing Mahāyāna Buddhism in Ceylon firmly. He convinced the king Mahāsena that the Mahavihāra monks are unlawful and the Vinaya had been wrongly interpreted by them. The Mahavihāra monks were unable to survive in the capital city, by a decree of the king that—- ‘no one should give alms to the Mahāvihāra monks’. They left Mahāvihāra and went to Rohuṇa. The Mahāvihāra left deserted for about nine years.The king being greatly influenced by his mentor destroyed the Mahāvihāra and the Lohapāsāda and enriched Abhayagiri-vihāra by the assistance of a ruthless minister Soṇa who was also an adherent of the monk Saṅghamitta. Mahāvihāra which was built by the King Devānāmpiya-Tissa for the use of the great Thera Mahinda was despoiled almost 600 years later during the time of King Mahāsena. By the assistance of Saṅghamitta Thera and the minister Soṇa, the King committed many wrong deeds. These destructive activities made the Sihala Buddhist people go against the King Mahāsena. But later his friend and minister, Meghavaṇṇābhaya, convinced him of his error. The king apologized for his wrong deeds and promised to reconstruct the Mahāvihara and started patronizing the religion.

One of the king’s wives, who was the daughter of a scribe, killed with the help of a labourer, the thera Saṅghamitta and the cruel minister Soṇa when they came with men to destroy the Thūpārāma.

Meghavaṇṇābhaya, the friend and minister of the king, built several pariveṇas in the Mahāvihāra. Bhikkhus who left Mahāvihāra came back to dwell there.

Soon after, however, the king fell under the influence of a monk, named Tissa, and built Jetevanavihāra, in a garden named Jothiya, which formed the boundary of the Mahāvihāra. The Mahavihara monks protested. More ever, the king tried to alter the boundary of the Mahāvihāra. Some monks, who did not want this change, left the city, in protest. Mahāvihāra was deserted once again. A few monks were hiding in and around the border to watch the interesr of the monk Tissa. After long nine months, the Mahāvihāra-Bhikkhus returned. But, a complaint to the effect touching an offence of the gravest kind was raised against the thera Tissa by the Mahāvihāra-monks. The king appointed a minister to inquire over the matter. Tissa was proved guilty and was expelled from the Saṅgha against the wish of the king. The king remained quite and impartial recollecting the bad memories of the past. But this event brought about a division among the monks of the three main temples, and three sects, namely the Mahāvihara sect, the Abhayagiri sect and the Jetavana sect came out. The king built Manihirā, Gokaṇṇa, Erakāvilla, Kalandagāma, Migagāma, Gaṅgāsenakapabbata, Dhātusenepabbata, Kokavāta, Thūpārāma and Huḷapitthi vihāras and two nunneries—Uttara and Abhaya.

He built a thūpa at the place of the ‘devale’ built by the King Pāṇḍukābhaya to honour the Yakkha Kaḷavela, and restored many ruined buildings.

He also built sixteen tanks and a great canal called Pabbatanta.

The sixteen reservoirs built by the King Mahāsena are: Maṇihīra, Mahāgāma, Challūra, Khānu, Mahāmaṇi, Kokovāta, Dhammaramma, Kumbālaka, Vāhana, Rattamālakaṇḍaka, Tissavaḍḍhamānaka, Velañgaviṭṭhi, Mahāgallaka, Cīra, Mahādāragallaka, and Kālapāsāṇa.

In the process of develpoment, it has been seen in many cases that, in a village a temple had been established at first then a tank. King was strongly adviced by the Buddhist monks and the survival of the king greatly depends on how far he followed those advices. King Mahāsena’s period was a golden era in the Island of Lanka but not for Buddhism. King Mahāsena was the first to destroy the Mahavihāra yet after his death people made him a god and call him Mahāsena Deviyo or Minneri Deviyo.

Sirimeghavaṇṇa was the son and successor of Mahāsena.

According to both Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa, King Mahāsena gathered much merit as well as much sin in his life and finished their records upto his reign.

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