James De Alwis.

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

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century after Christ."

f 'Eka sesha': 'one left out,' /. c, the omission of one to
designate the same by another, v/hich has been mentioned; or,
conversely, the expression of one name to designate another
omitted name of the same genus or family ; as Asvinu ' the two
Asvin,' in the dual, designate 'the Physicians of heaven, a;;d twin
sous of the sun, or child) en of the constellation Asvini, ' who arc
sepai-ately named Nasatya and Dasra.

C



10 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

' The term trishu (denotes") the three genders ; and
dvayoh tlie male and female. (Where a certain)
gender is expressly negatived, the remaining ones (are
meant); and, where woi'ds ending in fu (occur, or)
atha, &c,, they do not refer to the preceding (words).'

As already intimated the work is divided into three
parts ; the first treats on celestial, the second on
terrestrial, and the third on miscellaneous, objects.
Each part is sub-divided into several sections ; but the
whole book may be regarded as a Dictionary of Syno-
nymes, except the 3rd and 4th sections of part third,
the former alone being devoted to homonymous terms,
and the latter to indeclinable particles. The entire
work contains 1212 gutJids of, chiefly, 32 syllables,
tliough occasionally we meet with longer metres.
Some MSS. which my Pandit has examined, con-
tained two or three stanzas which are omitted in the
printed editions.*

In addition to the Translation and the Text of the
Abhidhanapadipika, published by Clough, a second
edition of the same was printed in 1865, by a Buddhist
priest named Subhuti. Both these editions, as well
as the original, are deficient, for want of an Alphabetical
Index,^ — a deficiency which the late Rev. D. J. Gogeidy
endeavoured to supply; but his Dictionary has not



* After tlie above desciiptiou it is uimecossaiy to state the
space which this work occupies in Oia MSS., as they vary, accord-
ing to the size of the leaves on which they arc written. A copy
in my possession, with four stanzas to the page, contains 15'2 leaves.



ATTANAGALUVANSA. 1 1

been published. It is however now being revised by
the Kev. J. Coles of the Church Missionary Society,
and will, it is hoped, be published in the early part of
next year.



Attanagaluvansa.



Amongst the many historical Avorks extant in Ceylon,
is the Pali work above indicated, written in very
ancient times upon the authoi'ity of 'old historians and
ancient legends.'

According; to the established usage of all eastern
nations, it opens with an adoration, which is the usual
Buddhistical one, and proceeds to an invocation,
between which and that in the Sdhitya Darpana there
seems to be much agreement. Although this book is
entitled the Attanafjaluvihdrovansa, 'the history of the
Temple of Attanagalla'; yet, as a prelude to that which
is the chief subject matter of the work, the writer
devotes several chapters to depict the history of Sri
Sanghabodhi, whose decapitation at the place above-
mentioned led to the erection of a Temple which still
exists; and who was the onlv one from amono'st the
Sovereigns of Ceylon to whom the historian has devoted
an entirely separate work.

He was one of three Princes, connected Avith each
other, of the Lambakanna (Lamini, Sinh.) race, who
had their domains at Mahiyangana in Bintenna, a
place still knov/n by that name. Sanghabodhi's father



12 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

Sela-Abhaya is alone mentioned here, but in a rock-
inscription at Mihintala,* liis parents are both named —
the father as Abaya-Sela (the same names inverted),
and the mother as Devugon.

In the Attanagaluvansa Selabhaya is simply called
a •' Khattiya' (prince) ; bnt he was, probably a provincial
chieftain or sub-king. For, both the inscription above-
mentioned and the Sinhalese version of the Attana-
galuvansa, designate him 'monarch.'

It vv^ould seem from the historv under notice, and
from the particulars given in the Mahavansa that
Sanghabodhi and his associates Sanghatissa and
Gothabhaya, repaired to Anuradhapura, and soon
became established in high favor at the Court of the
reigning prince (Wijaya Indu A. D. 241,) obtaining
from him the highest offices of the state, and enjoying
his unlimited confidence. They were not, however,
long in subjection to Wijaya Indu; for scarcely a year
expired from the time they had entered into his service,
when Sanghatissa, procuring Gothabhaya to assassinate
his benefactor, ascended the throne.

Sanghabodhi, it would appear from the Attanagalu-
vansa, (vide cap. iii. § 6), was no party to this foul
deed; and the general character given of him in the
Dipavansa, as ' a good and pious prince,'! goes to sup-
port that statement. Yet such a belief is inconsistent
with the version of the transaction in the Mahavansa,

* For the original see Sidatsangara, p. xxxvi.
f Sanghabodhi'ti namer.a Raja, asi susilava ;
Dve vassaneva so rftjn rajjan karesi Khattiyo.



ATTANAGALUVANSA. 13

which, ill the language of Mr. Tumour's translation,
p. 229, runs as follows :

' These three persons, on their reaching the capital,
were most graciously received by the monarch Wijaya
in whose court they were established, and employed
in offices of state. Conspiring together, they put to
death the raja Wijayo in his own palace ; and two of them
raised (the third) Sanghatisso, who was at the head of
the army, to the throne.'

Sanghatissa I'eigned only four years, at the termina-
tion of which he was poisoned by the people, who could
no longer bear the oppression of the exactions made
during his royal excursions to the Eastern Provinces,

Upon the death of Sanghatissa, Gothabhaya, who
was destined (according to the prediction of a blind
sage) to reign longer than his two associates, requested
Sano-babodhi to assume the reigns of Government. But
he declined this high honor ; and his denunciation of
principalities, dominions, and powers, as recorded by
the historian in a beautiful speecli, is couched in
oriental imagery, and exhibits a thorough knowdedge
of man and his depraved nature, — a fact however, not
borne out by his subsequent conduct. Sanghabodhi
was soon prevailed upon by the priesthood to accept
the pressing invitation of the people. The historian
here dwells on the principles of good Government, as
having been enunciated by the prince's precej^tor,
Nanda, to whose previous discourse on the duties of
Man, and the necessity for the early formation of right
principles, nearly an entire chapter is devoted.



14 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

The policy however of Sanghaboclhi's government
was characterized by great weakness. After he was
crowned, lie continued to evince, as he had done before,
greater devotion to the interests of reliiiion than to
the affairs of the state. This from

' A man on earth devoted to the skies,'

was scarcely unexpected. He mixed not with the world,
and could not therefore distinguish the local from the
natural man. He was too much absorbed in relio:ious
affairs, to enable him "to track the silent march of human
affairs, and to seize with happy intuition on those great
laws which regulate the prosperity of empires." His
meditations did not permit him to reconcile principles
to circumstances, or to devise measures in anticipation
of the effects which state-affairs had upon " the entangled
relations and awkward complexity of real life."

Buddhism, moreovei', manifested an antagonism to
good Government. The principles of the former con-
flicted with those of the latter. The exercise of those
duties which a state policy demanded, threatened the
destruction of all religious merit. The enthusiasm
and rigid piety of so great an adherent of Buddha as
Sanghabodhij permitted not a departure from the duties
prescribed by his religion, — even where the majesty
of the law demanded the infliction of punishment.
And the consequence was, as may be easily expected,
that, having forgotten ' the highest virtue of a king,
(which) is the protection of his subjects,'* the old

* Manu, vii. § 144.



ATTANAGALUVANSA. 15

existing Ordinances for the repression of crime, the
promotion of the comforts of the poor, and tl.e security
of their person and property, became disregarded.

" When the malefactors were brought to the prison
of the capital," says the historian, " as the king's vows
precluded the possibility of their being executed, they
were secretly released at night after condemnation, and
the corpses, furnished by the usual casualties of a
populous city, were exhibited at the place of execution,
on gibbets and impaliiig poles, as the victims of violated
laws." Thus, says the historian, a pious king not only
successfully repressed crime, but also gave the criminal
time and opportunity to reform.

The contrary hovy^ever was indeed the result. Crime
increased in the same proportion that Sanghabodhi
neglected to punish the otfender. '• The whole frame
of society was disorganized." The whole country
became the scene of plunder, and a prey to lav/less
banditti who infested its environs, encouraged by the
unbounded charities of the reigning prince. iSTor was
this all. A famine and a pestilence soon made their
appearance ; and to the sufierings of the people from
these causes, the historian adds those arising from the
ravages of a cannibal, who, in the usual phraseology
of Oriental exao'iieration, he describes as a monstrous
'•' demon" of extraordinary appearance and magnitude.

Suchx a state of things could not continue for any
length of time. Gothabhaya, impatient to become a
king, and availing himself of the weakness of his friend,
and the feebleness of his Government, plotted his



16 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE,

destruction. He collected an army from amongst the
marauders that pillaged the country, and prepared for
war.

In the mean time the commotion of an insurrection
reached the king's ears ; and he instantly left the city in
diso-nise, abdicatino* the throne in favor of him who
had been instrumental in placing him on it. But
Gothabhaya was disliked by the people. Suspecting
therefore the stability of his power so long as the
people's favorite was suffered to remain in the country,
he offered a reward for Sanghabodhi's head. At this
time the latter was enjoying the solitude of an hei'mi-
tage in Attanagalla in the Sina Korale of the Western
Province, with the contemplation of exercising those
religious duties, especially the Dana paramita (which
includes the sacrifice of life,) in expectation of attain-
ing to a Buddhaship.

Mr. Turnour, who was probably indebted to the
Kajavaliya for the matter in the following passage,
(see Ceylon Almanac for 1834, p. 175) says, "Many
heads, obtained by mui'der and assassination, had been
produced before the usurper (Gothabhaya,) by persons
who successively forfeited their own heads for the
imposition they had attempted to practise. Siri
Sanoabo hearing of these enormities, resolved to put
an end to them by sacrificing his own life. In this
frame of mind he met with a peasant who had fled
from his home, horrified at the suggestion of his wife,
of destroying the king. He revealed his distress to his
disffuised sovereign, lu order tliat the reward aiiwht



ATTAXAGALUVANSA. 17

be secured to this mau, the king avowed himself, and
with his ov/n hand severed his head {iora his body."
But the Attanagaluvansa omits the matters stated in
the early part of this extract, and contradicts those
given in its conclusion, especially as to the visit of the
peasant having been originated by the suggestion of his
wife ; and as to the pre-knowledge of Sanghabodhi
re^ardino; the hi^h reward wdilch had been set on his
head. All tliat the Attanagaluvansa authorizes us to
state, is, that the king accidentally met a poor peasant
travelling by his hermitage; and, whilst partaking
with him las meal, heard the proceedings of his
soi-dlsant friend. Heartily glad at tlie opportunity thus
presented of carrying his designs into effect, viz., of
'propitiating' his own life, the ctfestruction of which he
pi'ohibited in others, he requested the peasant to accept
his head. The latter indignantly protested against
being considered an assassin, or one capable of murder ;
and declined the offer. But he was soon prevailed uj)on ;
and the result was, that the king himself severed liis
head from his body, and j^rescnted it to the traveller.
On its being taken before Gotliabhaya it sprang up (as
predicted by Sanghabodhi) into the air. and proclaimed
to the suspecting king, that ' it was the identical licad
of king Sanghabodhi.'

The history then proceeds to narrate tlie events
connected with the death of Sanghabolhi's queen in
the same forest in which the king's corpse was found ;
and the cremation of the royal couple with that
pomp and grandeur to which their high station entitled

D



18 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

them. Then follows a narrative of the erection of
monumental and religious edifices by Gothabhaya,
upon the spot where Sanghabodhi had perislied : and
the history concludes with the high munificent
attentions v/hich they had received from successive
Sovereigns by way of maintaining the Temple of
Attanagalla, from whence the appellation of this
little history is derived.

The reader is doubtless aware of the loc;ility indi-
cated by the name of Attanagalla. It is a village
in the Sina Korale, in the Western Province, and its
delightful scenery, as it presents itself in passing from
the Maritime Province into the Kandyan country, is
but imperfectly described in the record before us.
" There," says Forbes,* " the Imbuland Muruta trees,
covered with scarlet and pink flowers, or the blaze of
Avhite blossoms on the Nagaha trees, form a beautiful
variety to the heavy green of continuous forests ; and
cocoanut-trees are only seen in plume-like tufts near
villages, of which they are the valuable ornament and
certain index."

In the seventh chapter of the work under notice is
found a graphic description of the Forest as it stood
many centuries ago. The picture is indeed nnt over-
drawn. When, some years ago, I visited th.is part of
the country, my eyes rested on a scene which I could
not soon or easily forget. Its greatest attraction was
the stately Forest. Whilst I stood amazed at the pro-



Eleven Years in Ceylon, vol. i. p.



ATTANAGALUYANSA. 19

dicious hei'^lit to which the trees ha.l oTown, straio'ht
from the ground, the eye lingered with delight on the
?' pillared shades," thick with their dense green foliage,
and laden

"with their pendent fruits and lowers."

The Figs and the Palms which grew up together
reminded me of the Cocoa-nut and the Bread-fruit which
rose, as it were, in love's embrace in the south-v/est
coast of Ceylon. The Talipot, the Na, the Sapan,
the Hedawaka, the Ketakala, the Del, the Milila, the
Godapara, (not to mention other timber-trees enume-
rated in the text), were all here seen sIde-by-side with
the Katu-imbul, the Goraka, the Veralu, the Kaju,
the Erabadu, etc, etc. There were also climbing
plants in endless variety, lUie Pota, the Kirindi,
the Kiritilla, and the Kiri-anguna* entwined them-
selves /ound the trunks as they clambered up in search
of liofht. The ferns and the orchids, which thrived
luxuriantly in the hollows of old trees, waving their
brilliant foliage, seemed as if they were the cultivation
of some nymph of the forest. Nothing could exceed
the beauty of the flowing tresses of the Hcdaya, of



* Speaking of tliis plant \_Giimnema lactiferum] Sir Emerson

Tennent, says "it is a creeper used medicinally by the Natives,

but nevc7- as an article o//oofZ."— History of Ceylon, vol. i. p. 102.
This is an error. It is a pot-herb commonly used by all classes
of the Si^ihalese. There are few places in the Western Province
where it is not cultivated. The 1'emple premises contain a
beautiful creeper ; and the writer sees, just as he is now writing,
another in his own town residence.



20 DESCIiirTIVE CATALOGUE.

Avliich two species were met within the cold and mossj
clefts of trees that never saw the light of the sun.
Under the shade grew the Vana-Raja. Revelling in
the rich and luxurious vegetable mould, which lay
several feet thick, this dwarf " King of the Forest"
spi'ead out its leaves, " the most exquisitely formed in
the vegetable kingdom, and whose colour resembles
dark velvet approaching to black, and reticulated over
all the surface with veins of ruddy gold."* It is diffi-
cnlt to realize the beauty of the distant landscape along
the streams and marshes of the forest. The graceful
Bambu was surrounded by the magnificent Asoka.
The pale azure of the Sal, which deeply contrasted
with the burnished green of tlie delicately tinted foliage
of the Siarabahi on tli# hillocks, and both with the deep
emerald brushwood below, — waved over the Gloriosa
Superba (Xiagala), wliose matchless flowers festooned
the adjacent heaps of verdure; whilst the Muruta
overshadowed the Bandura, which grew luxuriantly
beneath the pink-clad branches of the former. Nothing,
again, could surpass either the splendour of the flowers,
or the beauty of the leaves. Some of the latter by
themselves exhibited the hues of the former. The
scarlet shoots of the Na, for instance, vied in beauty
with the gorgeous flowers of the Katu-imbul, the pink
clusters of the IN'Iuruta with the ripe leaves of the



* Sir James E. Tennent, from whom 1 quote the above descrip-
tion, calls it " a terrestrial orchid (the AncedocMlus seiacenH.)" — See
liis History of Cevlon, vol. i. p. 103.



ATTANAGALUVANSA. 21

Kottamba, the pale yellow C'hampac with the tawny
Veralu, and the snow-v/hite blossoms of the Idcla
with the tender buds of the Musseuda.*

Such were the charms with Avb.ich the Forest \\^s
invested six-and-twenty years ago, as I beheld it
at the confluence of the Levano'am and tlie Hulo'am
becks, which converging into one rivulet, take a
westerly direction near this forest, from whence it is
called the Attanagalu Oya. My second visit vras not
manv months a<xo, and it is not surnrisinii to observe
that the physical change which has progressed through-
out many districts of the Island has also affected this
part of the country. The stately jungle has partially
disappeared before the ketta-cutting of Native culti-
vation ; extensive Cocoa-nut plantations, one of which
may be seen immediately adjoining the premises of the
Temple, have displaced tlie timber trees ; creepers of
the sweet-potato have taken the place of the flower-
trees of the marshes; large plantations of the Mauritius
and West Indian Pines are met with, together with
those of the Rambutan and the Mango; houses and
botiques have sprung up here and there; and the
Moorish botique-keeper and the itinerant tradesman

* This creeper (^Mussenda frendosa) produces cream-white leaves,
a colour very rare in the vegetable kingdom. Their beauty as
seen over green verdure, and close upon the Gloriosa siiperha, is
euchanling, and surpasses anything I have seen in the jungles
which line the principal roads of this (Western) Province. The
flower is also very pretty, and being similar in shape and size
to the ear-rings of the Sinhalese, thoir little children wear it in
their eai's.



22 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

occupy tlie paths which were once infested by wild
beasts. Tiie elephants have altogether disappeared;
and but for a solitary tame beast, the property of Mr.
Christopher Dias, the Mudliyar of the district, who
has turned him to c;ood account, the siodit of one
would be a novelty to the rising generation of these
parts. The paths themselves, v\'hich were "narrow,
crooked, and v*inding," are no longer impassable and
covered over with the stretching arms of the surround-
ing jungle. A beautiful road, which commences at
or near the 27th mile-post of the great trunk road
to Kandy, intersects this part of the country. This
beautiful line, called the "Pasyala and Han wella road,"
which was opened in 1850 by the indefatigable and
zealous Mudliyar already named, passes betv/een the
Temple and the Oya of Attanagaila, and terminates
at the Hewa2;am Korale, at a distance of twentv miles.
As you proceed towards the south, and reach the 4th
mile-post on this road, you see on your left the site of
the Nivan Pokuna, or 'the Pond of Repose,' into which
the queen of Siri Sanghabodhi fell ia her wearisome
rambles in search of her royal husband. The progress
of sixteen centuries has converted this pond into a corn
field ; yet from its high embankments it still gives indica-
tion of its original character. A few yards farther take
the traveller to the Temple* grounds of Attanagalla,



* Of all the numerous writei's on Ceylon and its Antiquities,
none have made the most distant allusion to this ancient Temple,
except Tumour and Forbes. But even they never visited it,



ATTANAGALUVAXSA. 23

situated on tlie ria;}it hand side of the road. These
are by no means extensive, and their limited area, as
compared with the vast extent indicated in the Attaua-
galu^a i.-ia, induced me to inquire what had become
of the hirse domains attached to this monastery by
ostentatious kin2;s of old, as detailed in the history
before us. It appears, from the information received
in the course of my enquiries, that during the times of
the Portuguese, the priests as well as the people of this
part of the Island, had deserted their homes, and that
the lands owned by them had been taken by that
Government ; and that although the priests laid chum
to the extensive temple property wliich had been
srranted to tliem under Sinhalese sovereio-ns, vet thev
could only succeed in resuming possession of the mo-
nastery and the lands immediately surrounding it,
which, according' to a recent Government survey, do



although it was not farther than 28 miles from Colombo. The
former in his remarks on Sinhalese Inscriptions, (see Ceylon
Almanac for 1 83-},) notices that Sanghabodhi's head was buried with
great pomp at Attanagnlla, over which the usiirper raised a Dagoba,
which is still standing. The latter, in his Eleven Years in Ceylon,
at p. 188, afier alluding to the delightful scenery of Attanagalln,
says : — "At the Attanagalla Ova, the road approaches one of the
low ranges of iiilis which diverge in all directions from the moun-
tainous centre of the Island; and four miles oiF to the right is
situated the Rock of Attanagalla, surmounted by religious build-
ings. Tlie principal of these were erected about A. I). '248 by
Goloo Abbri, to the memory of King Sii'i Sar.gabo, who had .iban-
donod his throne and retired in disguise to this place, where he was
killed by a peasant In order to obtain the reward offered."



24 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

not exceed 26 acres. Entering this garden, wliicli is
fully planted with a variety of fruit trees, chiefly
Cocoa-nuts and other Palms, and many of the trees
mentioned in cap. vii. of the History, amongst w-hich
the Sal, the Kumbuk, and the Nawa are the most pro-
minent, we reached a rocky hill about 80 feet higher
than the surrounding country. AscendiuGi: a flight of
steps, about 25 feet high, of fine granite slabs, and
passing through large heaps of granite, the remains
of carved works and ancient buildino-s we entered the
lower terrace of the temj>le. Here is to be seen the
foundation of the five-storied structure originally erected
by Upatissa (cap. x. § 3), and subsequently rebuilt
and altered by Moggallana into one of three stories.

At })resent, it is a square building, 54x44 feet,
with four neat porches, facing the cardinal points.
Of the ancient granite pillars, upon which the oi'iginal
structure of five-stories was built, and of which up-
Avards of one hundred existed 26 years ago, there are
only IG now left, each nine feet higli On the soutli
of this hill is a large irregular building, probably
patched up fi*om time to time, but containing ample
evidence of its former splendour. This is used as a
residence of one of the two fraternities of priests,
amongst whom the establishment is now divided,
"Walpola Indrajoti being the chief over botli. Leaving
this, and proceeding Avestvvard, the traveller has again
to ascend a flight of 73 steps, 36 feet in height. Here
nothing attracts his attention more prominently than
the granite slabs that lie scattered on either siiie.



ATTANAGALUVANSA. 25

exhibitiniij f^iint traces of the skill of the Sinhalese
sculptor. Inscriptions are also found, but tliey are
so defaced and decayed that one cannot learn from
them anything beyond the fact that they once bore
some Deva Nagara characters. When once you get
upon the topmost terrace, tlie most remax'kable nf the


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Online LibraryJames De AlwisA descriptive catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, & Sinhalese literary works of Ceylon → online text (page 3 of 17)