James De Alwis.

A descriptive catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, & Sinhalese literary works of Ceylon online

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M. UTA. S.,












K. C. M. G.,




It is my pleasing duty to inscribe this work to you,
for the compilation of which you did me the honor to
appoint me, and for the prosecution of which you have
placed at my disposal much of the assistance of which
I was in need.

I shall not speak of my own work in terms of appro-
bation, — it is for the public to decide on its merits;
nor is it within my province to enhance its value by
any allusion to the trouble it has entailed on me, —
for that too may be judged of by others: but, apart
from the mode in which the work has been executed,
permit me to say that, from its very design, it will
open to the reading public a means of obtaining rare
and valuable information. If the orient pearls for
which Ceylon has been famed from all antiquity, are
still highly prized amongst the nations of the world,
the intellectual [tcarls which Oriental scholars of


many nations will be enabled to gather from Lanka's
Store-house of Literature, which you have founded,
and the key to which is here presented, will not,
I hope, be esteemed as less precious or valuable.

Confident that nothing will more enduringly bind
the hieraory of Your Excellency to the present and
future generations of the native Sinhalese, than " Tee
Sanskrit, Pali, and Sinhalese Library" which
you have established, it is to me a source of sincere
pleasure that I have been enabled to complete, at least,
one volume of the Descriptive Catalogue during your
Government; and I indulge the hope that, as an Index
of the Library, it will set before the world a correct,
though feeble, ** description" of the now fading, but
still rich, literature of the Country, over the Govern-
ment of which you have presided for the last five years,
with great credit to yourself, and lasting benefit to
all classes of the people.

I have the honor to be.

Your Excellency's

Most obedient and faithful Servant,


Nai- Villa,
28th June, 1870.


Preface ... ... ... ... ... Ix. — xxx.

Abhiclh6.napaclipika ... ... ... ... 1

Attanagaluvansa . . ... ... ... 11

Kachchayana's Pali Granimai- ... ,.. ... 39

Netti-pakarana ... ... ... ,,. 70

Biilavatara ... ... ... ... ... 78

Gadaladeni-Sanna ... ... ... ... 80

Dhatu-Manjusa ... ... ... ... ... 82

Namavaliya .. ... ... ... ... 87

Maha Vansa ... ... .. ... .. 93

Dipavansa ... ... ... ... ... 118

Anuruddha S'ataka ... ... ... ... 168

Bauddha S'ataka ... ... ... .. 172

Sinhalese Sanna ... ... ... ... ... 174

Vritta Malakhya ... ... ... ... 175

Vritta Ratnakara Panchlka ... ... ... 177

Riipasiddhi ... ... .. ... ... 179

Moggallana Vyakarana ... ... ... ... 183

Vuttodaya .. ... - ■ ... ... 186

Janakiliarana ... .. ... .. ... 188

Kaviyasekara ... ... ... ... 196

Selalihini Sandesa ... ... ... ... 209

Parevi Sandosa ... ... ... ... 216

Sidat Sangar.4 .. ... ... ... ... 221


Letter from Professor Max Miiller to the Secretary of

State for the Colonies ... ... ... ... 227

Remarks on the Spelling adopted in Roman character 234

Report of progress of Volume the Second ... ... 236


*^'That Ceylon is one of the ])i-incipal seats of Bud-
dhism, that Buddhism is one of the most important
religions of mankind, that the Buddhist priests possess
a sacred literature which dates from several centuries
before the Christian era, — all this is perfectly well
known. But it is less well known that though, since
the beginning of this century, Ceylon has been an
English colony, hardly anything has been done by the
Euolish Government to collect these interestino; relics
of an ancient literature, to deposit them in our public
libraries, and thus to i-ender them accessible to Oriental
scholars; while the French Government — nay, it would
seem an individual French gentleman — has, during the
last six years, accomplished all that could be desired."*
Such was the reproach cast on the English Go-
vernment by the Saturday Review of the 28th of
July, 1866. Three years had scarcely elapsed from
that date before Sir Hercules Robinson, the Governor
of Ceylon, alive to the importance of the subject, has

* " Du Bouddhisnie et de s<i Litteniture a Ceylan et en
Biimauis. CoUectitm de M. Grimblot, Yice-Cousul de France i
Ceylon. Par M. Bartli61eniy Saint-llilaire. Extrait du ' Juuruul
des Savants,' 1SC6.



taken the necessary steps to establish a Public Library
of Oriental works, accessible, upon certain terras, both
to the inhabitants of this Island, and to those Oriental
scholars in Europe, who, I believe, will frequently avail
themselves of it.

The history of this work may be briefly stated in
the language of official correspondence.

On the 7th of December, 1868, Mr. H. S. O. Russell,
the Government Agent of the Northern Province, after
alluding to the measures which were then being taken
in India for the discovery and preservation of the
Records of ancient Sanskrit Literature, suggested to the
Governor "that possibly some not unimportant contri-
bution to the cataloo;ue of MS. works in the Sanskrit
language, might result from an inspection of the library
shelves of Pansalas in Ceylon."* On the receipt of this
letter, it was placed in the hands of Mr. L. De Zoysa,
Chief Translator to Government, and a well-read
Oriental scholar, for his observations, which will be
found embodied in the following


Mr. Dickson having requested me to offer any observations
I may wish to make in regard to Mr. Russell's proposal
respecting the discovery and preservation of the records of
Ancient Sanskrit Literature, I venture to submit the following
remarks for consideration : —

* Government Gazette.


I do not think it probable that the inspection of the library
shelves of the Pansalas of Ceylon, is likely to add any Sanskrit
manuscripts of any importance, to the Catalogue that is
being prepared in India ; nearly, if not all, the Sanskrit
manuscripts extant in this country, being importations from
India. i

But if some such scheme as that adopted by the Indian
Government be applied not only to the Sanskrit, but also to
the Pali and Sinhalese manuscripts in this country, there is
every reason to believe that many important historical and
other works which are not now accessible to the learned, may
be brought to light. Several destructions of literary records
of Ceylon in ancient times, are recorded in the Maha Wanso,
and other historical works; and the number of important
original works now extant in the country is not very great.
In almost every Sinhalese, or Pali work on History, Grammar,
General Literature, &c., now extant, references are made to
moi'e ancient works on those subjects, but which either exist
no longer, or are not generally accessible. It is however, the
general belief, that many valuable and important manuscripts
which are unknown to the learned in Kandy, or the Low
Country, do exist in some of the Buddhist Pansalas, and other
places in the outlying Districts of the Kandy an Provinces, espe-
cially in those of the North-Western Province, whence some
manuscripts of great value, and formerly not known in the
country, have been recently added to the list of works now
generally known. Amongst these may be mentioned an
ancient Sinhalese copy of ' Winayartha Samuchchaya,'
containing a summary of the Winaya Pitaka ( Laws of the
Buddhist Priesthood), written in a very chaste style, con-
trasting most favorably with the bombastic style of niod(M-n
Sinhalese writings; and a histoiy of Kelics of Buddha, con-


taining interesting information respecting parts of tlie Island,
wliich are now comparatively unknown.

Should the proposed inspection of the Buddhist Libraries
of Ceylon bring to light any works on history not known at
present, the interest that may be excited by such discoveries,
and the benefits to be derived thereby, will not be confined
to Ceylon, but will be shared by the learned in India and
Europe. It is now generally believed that the ancient
historical records of the Sinhalese are far more valuable and


authentic than those of other Indian Nations. The Maha

Wanso, (History of Ceylon), translated into English by the

late Hon'ble George Turnour of Ceylon, has been pronounced

by high authority, to be " the most valuable historical record

we possess in relation to ancient India. "

I may also be permitted to add, that most of the Buddhist

Priests in the interior parts of the Kandyan Provinces, iu

whose charge the Potgulas (Libraries) are preserved, arc

very illitei'ate and ignorant, and do not know what manuscripts

exist in their Pansalas, and it is therefore essentially necessary

that all the manuscripts in their possession, should be

inspected by competent persons, who take an interest in the

work, and catalogued in the manner proposed by the Indian


Respectfully submitted,

L. De Zoysa,

Chief Trans, to Govt.
Colonial Secretary's Office,
Colombo, 12th Januaiy, 1869."

When the above correspondence, together with an
endorsement* of approval by Mr. John F. Dickson,

* " I fidly agree vvith the Chief Translator tliat it would be
desirable, in the intei'csts ollcaniing ami historical research, to make


Assistant Colonial Secretary, was laid before Lieutenant-
General S. Hodgson, the Officer then administering
the Government of Ceylon, he issued a Circular* to
Government Agents of Provinces, indicating '-the
possibility of accurate catalogues of MSS. in the
Pansalas being obtained," and inquiring what steps
could be taken for ascertaining- the contents of the
libraries of the various Pansalas, " with a view to the
discovery of any interesting or unknown MSS., Pali
and Sinhalese as well as Sanskrit." Whilst the Native
Headmen were in correspondence with Buddhist priests,
and were actually preparing lists of MSS. (which have
been since forwarded to me) in accordance with the
above official requisition, Mr. John Murdoch, the
Agent of the Christian Vernacular Education Society,
with that praiseworthy anxiety which he has ever
evinced in the promotion of Keligion, Literature, and
Science, addressed the following letter to Government.

"I have the honor to submit to His Excellency the
Governor, a copy of a classified Catalogue of priuted Tracts
and Books in Sinhalese.

While the above Catalogue will be useful for some
purposes, Oriental scholars wish information respecting the

enquiry in Ceylon for unknown Pali and Sinhalese, as well as for
Sanskrit manuscripts, and I beg to submit this paper for the
favorable consideration of the Colonial Secretary.

John F. Dickson."
* See Gazette; letter 4th Feb., 1869.


numerous works which still exist only in manuscript, in the
possession of temples cr individuals, scattered over the
Island. The obtaining of a complete list of the books extant
in Sinhalese and Pali can be obtained only through the uid
of Government. Such an enquiry, embracing the whole
Island, would form an important department of the work of
the Archfeological Commission. To conduct it successfully,
requires a competeut scholar, familiar with the literature of
the country, and whose other engagements permit him to
devote the requisite time to the investigation. Portunately
the right man is available, — James De Alwis, Esq., has
written the best account of Sinhalese literature which has been


published, and is well known to Oriental scholars, from his
works on Grammar and Buddhism. I have reason to believe
that his services would be gladly rendered for such an object.

In the first instance, it would simply be necessary to print
a classified Catalogue of the Manuscripts. A statement
explanatory of the object in view, should be published in the
Government Gazette. Copies should be forwarded through
the Government Agents to all the Buddhist Temples and the
Native Headmen. The Commissioner might send them to
any other parties likely to afford assistance.

The following information should be obtained regarding
each work : —

1. Where found.*

2. The Title, with the name of the Author, if known.

* Since a collection of MSS. is now bein<j made, it is not
necessary to state tliis though the fact will be noticed in the case
of rare MSS. preserved in certain old Teniple.s, and which the priests
are rel""tant to part with.

■Preface. xv

3. The size : number of leaves, with the length and
number of lines in each page. If incomplete, should be

4. The subject.

The replies should be forwarded to the Commissioner. A
classified catalogue, according to the arrangement suggested
by Messrs. Winter, Jones and Watt of the British Museum,
might then be made out and printed. The number of MSS.
existing of each work, so far as indicated by the replies,
might be mentioned.

Copies of the catalogue might be forwarded to Oriental
scholars, and books which they considered valuable might be
collected. In some cases the owners would be sufficiently
patriotic to give them up for such a purpose. When ne-
cessary, MSS. might be purchased or copied.

The result of the researches of the late Mr. Turnour lead to
the hope that some important works might thus be brought
to light. It has already been proved that the historical
literature of the Si^ihalese is the most valuable in the East.
Should the enquiry shew that nothing further of importance
existed, even this would be of some consequence. In a
broader view, however, the investigation would certainly be
interesting as an index to the national mind.

The expense would be very trifling, and the catalogue
would be prized by Oriental Scholars throughout the world.
Lists of books in the languages of India are in progress ; but

* I have attended to this as a rule, but have departed from it
only in such cases as where the size of the ola did not give an
accurate idea of the extent of writing, or where the bulk was
ascertainable from the mention of the number of anushtab verses,
banavaras, gathas, stanzas, etc.


Ceylon is the only Buddliistical country, except tlie soutli of
Burmali, under the British Government. A class of works
is found here not now procurable in India.

May I be permitted also to suggest, that all printers should
be required to supply at least one copy for payment of each
work published. The Director of Public Instruction might
append a short notice of the Native Press to his Annual
Report, It is true that the publications at present are
comparatively few in number and insignificant in character.
Still, they are more numerous than might be expected,
considering that only a very few years have elapsed since the
first press was owned by a native.

John Murdoch.
Colombo, 15th June, 1869."

The above led to the following notification in the
Ceylon Government Gazette of 17th July, 1869.

"The following papers suggesting that enquiry be made in
the interest of learning and historical research, as to the Pali,
Sinhalese and Sanskrit MSS. to be found in the Pansalas of


Ceylon, are published for general information ; and it is
notified that Mr. James D'Alwis having consented to collect
the desired information, all Government Officers are hereby
required to afibrd him all the information and assistance in
their poAver.

By His Excellency's Command,

Henry T. Irving,

Colonial Secretary.

Colonial Secrciary's Office,
Colombo, 1 2th July, 1869."


The above was followed by an official communica-
tion from the Colonial Secretary addressed to me,
dated the 15th July, 1869.

" I am directed by the Governor to inform you, that the
Government gladly avails itself of the services which you
have been so public-spirited as to place at its disposal for
the purpose of ascertaining what valuable and unknown
MSS. are to be found iu Ceylon."

As the Catalogue proposed by Mr. Murdoch would,
according to the above requirement, be necessarily
limited to " valuable and unknown MSS." ; and since
"valuable" was a relative term, and the value attached
to a work might vary according to the peculiar ideas
of each individual, it was not without some delibera-
tion that I resolved upon the plan of the work, I
clearly perceived that, even if I examined every book
In every Pansala in Ceylon, and yet found no MS. that
I considered either " valuable or unknown," my labours
for months, and perhaps, for years, would be in vain.
On the other hand, if I selected a few MSS., and
pronounced them "valuable or unknown," some one
might differ from me in opinion, and pronounce them
both " valueless and known."

It was moreover stated by several educated Natives,
as well as Europeans, in Ceylon, that "a simple list
of books with their titles and authors' names, and a
specification of the subject on which they treated,
would lead to no important results," and that what
they desired to have was " information respecting the
works" — information which " it was desirable to obtain

without reading an entire book." I therefore deter-
mined to make a Descriptive Catalogue of all the
MSS. which had their origin in Ceylon, and wrote the
following letter to Government : —

" 1 purpose to write a descriptive Catalogue of all the
Saniikrit, Piili, and Sinhalese books composed, and now
extant in Ceylon, and to print it in sheets as I proceed, and
finally to make an Alphabetical Index to the whole work.
This I find to be the object aimed at, not only in the Indian
papers, but in Mr. Murdoch's letter published in the Go-
vernment Gazette. A simple notice of only what I may
consider ' valuable or unknoAvn MSS.,' as required by your
letter, may not, I fear, secure the desired information, nor
lessen my trouble and labour, except in the mere writing out
of a description of each work. Besides, the many works
extant in this Island, though not possessing an interest to any
one particular class of readers, may yet be of service to
Oriental students in general. I shall therefore be glad to be
informed, whether the plan of the work which I propose to
adopt meets with His Excellency's approval."

Not content with a simple examination of libraries, and
the publication of a Catalogue, I took the liberty, at the
same time, of suggesting the formation of a Library,
and with what success the correspondence which follows
the subjoined proposal will sufficiently explain.

" In the interest of Learning, Science, and Historical
research, I beg to submit for His Excellency's consideration,
the desirability of forming a Library of Pali, Sanskrit, and
Sinhalese works. In some of the Temples which I have
already visited, there are to be found duplicate and triplicate
copies of valuable MSS., and it may not be impossible to


purchase them, through the agency of Government Oflficials,
for a sum considerably below their cost price; and, it is also
probable, when it is known that the object of Government
is to preserve their records in the interest of the .Sinhalese
nation, as well as of Science and Learning, that many-
persons will be disposed to give up some of their duplicate
copies without charge. The expense too of getting copies
made of such of the works as may not be procured, as above
indicated, will not be great. If His Excellency should deem
such a collection desirable, it may not be difficult to procure
from Burma a complete set of all the works ou Buddhism,
which are identical with those in Ceylon, except in the
particular character used, which is the Burmese.

" Whether, however, a collection of MSS. is made at once,
or the scheme be postponed for a future period, it is very
desirable to procure from Burma a list of all the books,
which the people of that country have from time to time
obtained from Ceylon. It is believed, — and tradition supports
the belief, — that amongst those books are some of our most
valuable works, which are either rare at present or not
extant in Ceylon. And I may here mention, on the authority of
the late Mr. George Turnour, that the success of his translation
of the Mahawansa was attributable, chiefly, to a rare correct
copy of the Gloss, v/hich that gentleman obtained through
Nadoris de Silva, Mudaliyar, from the Burmau Empire."

From the Colomai, Secretary to Mr. J. Ai.wis.

Colombo, 25t]i Septeml)er, 1869.

I have laid liefore the Governor your letter of the 15th

I am desired to inform you, in reply, that the plan of tlie
work which you propose to adopt, as explnincd in tlic 3r<l


paragraph of your letter, meets entirely •with His Excellency*^
approval, and that the necessary instructions will be given

to place the Government Printing Office at your disposal.

» *****

As regards your proposal to form a Library of Pali,
Sanskrit, and Sinhalese Works, I am desired to state that
His Excellency would be glad to receive from you a detailed
statement of the steps necessary for carrying out such an
object, and its probable cost, both at starting and afterwards,

The Government Agents and Assistant Agents will be
instructed to furnish you with the particulars you require,
respecting number, situation, &c., of the Monasteries or

From Mr. James Alwis to the Colonial Secretakt,

8th December, 1 869,

I have carefully considered the subject of forming a
Pali, Sanskrit, and Sinhalese Library ; and I beg to state
briefly my views^ as to the steps necessary for carrying out
such a laudable object.

By far the most valuable and the most voluminous vi'orks,
which are comprised under the head of Tepitaka and their
Commentaries, may be procured for a sum not exceediuo-
£500. For their revision, I propose that the sum of £100
be laid out.

The learned High Priest of Adam's Peak is now engaged
with a Committee of learned Priests in the work of revision ;
and I beg to recommend that the same Committee be engaged
to furnish to Government, which they are willing to do, a


complete set of the books above-mentioned for a given price,
which can be ascertained and fixed upon hereafter.

All the other Pali, Sanskrit, and Sinhalese books in thi^-
Island, of which I shall furnish a List, need not cost more
than £600 ; and copies of them may be purchased or procured
through the instrumentality of the Government Agei>t of
Galle and his Assistants in the vSouthern Province — the only
part of this Island where Ola-writing is carried to perfection,
pnd where qualified copyists are to be founil.

In my previous letter I indicated that books might be
procured in different ways ; and I am still not without hope,
that many MSS. may be obtained without charge; but these
are details which may be left to the parties employed by
Government for the collection of books.

A Library, thus formed at a cost of £1,200, may be
attached to the Government Record Office. Three large
rooms (say 20 x 25 feet each) will contain all the necessary
shelves, which may be constructed of sheet iron, containing
a cell for each book, with a lid, whereon the name of the book
may be marked. The furniture, so far as I can judge, need
npt cost £300 ; and thus the entire expense of getting up a
Library will be no more than £1,500.

When once the Library has been established, the expense
of upkeep will be very trifling. The servants of the Eecord
Office alone will be sufficient to do the needful in respect of
the preservation of the books. The Library may be open to
the Public, subject to Rules whieh the Government may
deem proper to pi'escribe j and the only Officer who, so far
as I can foresee, will be required to carry out such Rules, is
a Librarian, whose salary peed not be more than £100 per

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Online LibraryJames De AlwisA descriptive catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, & Sinhalese literary works of Ceylon → online text (page 1 of 17)