James De Alwis.

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

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" 'At the close of that existence fin the Brahma Avorld) he
was regenerated a man, at the commencement of this creation,
by the process of 'opapatika.' From the circumstance of
mankind being then afflicted with unendurable miseries,
resulting from the uncontrolled state of the sinful passions



THE MAHAWANSA. 107

which had been eugeiidered, as well as from the consterna-
tion created by the murder, violence, and rapine produced
by a condition of anarchy, a desire manifested itself among
men to live subject to the control of a ruler. Hiiving met
and consulted together, they thus petitioned unto him (the
Buddho elect), 'O great man! from heucefoj'th it belongs
to thee to provide for our protection and common weal.'
The whole human race having assembled and come to this
decision, the appellation was conferred on him of 'Maha-
sammato,' ' the great elect.'

" Valuable as the comments are on the genealogy of the
Asiatic monarchs — the descendants and successors of Maha-
sammato, — they are still only abridged and insulated notes
deduced (as already noticed) from the Pitakattaya and the
Atthakatha ; to which justice would not be done in this
limited sketch of the buddhistical annals. As a proof,
however of Mahanamo's general rigid adherence to the data
from which his history is compiled, I may here advert to
one of the instances of the care with which he marks every
departure, however trivial, from the authorities by which he
is otherwise guided. He says, in reference to the twenty-
eight kings mentioned in the 6th verse : 'In the Atthakatha
composed by the Uttarawiharo priests, omitting Chetiyo, the
son of Upacharako, and representing Muchalo to be the son
of Upacharako, it is stated that there were only twenty-seven
rajas, whose existence extended to an asankya of years.'

" The account of the first convocation on religion, after
Gotamo's death, is so clearly and beautifully given in the
third chapter, that no explanatory comments are requisite
from me. For detailed particulars regarding the construc-
tion of the convocation hall at Rajagaha, and the proceedings
held therein, tlie Tika refers to the Samanlapasada Attha-



108 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

katha on the Dighaiiikayo, and the Sumangala wilasini
Atthakatha.

" The fourth and fifth chapters are the most vak;able in the
Mahawauso, with reference to the chronology of Indian
history. It will be observed that in some respects, both in
the names and in the order of succession, this line of the
Magadha kings varies from the Hindu genealogies.

'• The rest of the fifth chapter, containing the account of
Asoko's conversion — the history of Moggalii^uttatisso, by
whom the third convocation was held, as well as of that
convocation, is full of interesting matter, detailed with
peculiar distinctness, on which the comments of the Tika
throw no additional light.

" At this stage of his work, being at the close of the third
convocation, Mahanamo abruptly interrupts his history of
India, and without assigning any reason in the sixth chapter
for that interruption, resumes the history of Lanka, in con-
tinuation of the visits of Buddho, given in the first chapter,
commencing with the landing of Wijayo. His object in
adopting this course is sufficiently manifest to his readers,
when they come to the twelfth chapter. In the Tika, how-
ever, he thus explains himself for following this course,
at the opening of the sixth chapter.

"'As soon as the third convocation was closed, Maha
Mahindo, who was selected for, and sent on, that mission, by
his preceptor Moggaliputto, who was bent on establishing
the religion of Buddho in the different countries (of Jambu-
dipo) came to this island, which had been sanctified, and
rescued from evil influences, by the three visits paid, in
aforetime, by the supreme Buddho ; and which had been
rendered habitable from the very day on which Bhagavva
attained pariuibbanan.



THE MAHAWANSA. 109

** 'Accordingly, at the expiration of two hundred and
thirty-six years from that event, and in the reign of Dewa-
iianpiyatisso, (Mahindo) arrived. Therefore (the Maha-
wanso) arresting the narrative of the history (of Jambudipo)
here, where it was requisite that it should be shown how the
inhabitants of this island were established here ; with that
view, and with the intent of explaining the arrival of Wijayo,
it enters (at this point), in detail, into the lineage of the said
Wijayo, by commencing (the sixth chapter) with the words :
'In the land of Wangu, in the capital of Waugu, &c.' "

"The Tika adds nothing to the information contained in the
Mahawanso, as to the fabulous origin of the Sihala dynasty.
There are two notes on the first verse, on the words 'Wan-
gesu' and 'pure,' which should have informed us fully as to
the geographical position of the country, and the age in which
the Wangu princes lived. They are however unsatisfactorily
laconic, and comprised in the following meagre sentences.

" ' There w-ere certain princes named Wangu. The country
in which they dwelt becoming powerful, it was called
' Wangu,' from their appellation.

"'The word 'pure' 'formerly,' signifies anterior to
Bhagawa becoming Buddho.

"All that can be safely advanced in regard to the contents
of the sixth chapter is that Wijayo was descended, thi-ough
the male branch, from the rajas of Wangu (Bengal proper),
and, through the female line, from the royal family of Kalinga
(Northern Circars) ; that his grandmother, the issue of the
alliance above mentioned, connected herself or rather eloped
with, some obscure individual named Siho (which word
signifies 'a lion'); that their son Sihabahu put his own
father to death, and established himself in Lala, a subdivi-
sion of Magadha, the capital of which was Siliapura, probal'ly



110 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

the modern Synghaya on the Gunduck river ; (in the vicinity
of which the remains of buddhistical edifices are still to be
found) ; and that his son Wijajo, with his seven hundred
followers, lauded in Lankd, outlawed in their native land,
from which they came to this Island. I shall hereafter
notice the probability of the date of his landing having been
antedated by a considerable ternij for the purpose of support-
ing a pretended revelation or command of Buddho, with
which the seventh chapter opens.

"The fabulous tone of the narrative in which the account
of Wijayo's landing in Lanka is conveyed in the seventh
chapter, bears, even in its details, so close a resemblance to
the landing of Ulysses at the island of Circe, that it would
have been difficult to defend Mahauamo from the imputation
of plagiarism, had he lived in a country in which the works
of Homer could, by possibility, be accessible to him. The
seizure and imprisonment of Ulysses' men and his own
rencontre with Circe, are almost identical with the fate of
Wijayo and his men, on their landing in Lanka, within the
dominions of Kuweni.

" The narrative is too full and distinct in all requisite details,
in the ensuing three chapters, to make any further remarks
necessary from me.

"The twelfth chapter contains the account of the dispersion
of the buddhist missionaries, at the close of the third convo-
cation, in B.C. 307, to foreign countries, for the purpose of
propagating their faith. I had intended in this place to
enter into a comparison of the data contained in Professor
Wilson's sketch of the Raja Taringini, with the details
furnished in this chapter of the Mahawanso, connected with
the introduction of buddhism in Cashmir. The great length,
however, of the preceding extracts from the Tika, which



THE MAHAAVANSA. 1 1 1

has already swelled this mtroduction beyond the dimensions
originally designed, deters me from undertaking the task in
the present sketch. I shall, therefore, now only refer to the
accordance between the two authorities (though of conflicting
faiths) as to the f\\cts of that conversion having taken place
in the reign of Asoko ; of the previous prevalence of the
naga worship ; and of the visitation by tempests, which each
sect attributed to the impiety of the opposite party ; as
evidences of both authorities concurring to prove the histori-
cal event, here recorded, that this mission did take place
during the reign of that supreme ruler of India.

"In entering upon the thirteenth chapter, a note is given
in the Tika, which I extract in this place, as containing
further particulars of the personal history of Asoko ; and I
would take this opportunity of correcting a mistranslation, by
altering the passage 'she gave birth to the noble (twin) sons
Ujjenio and Mahindo,' into 'she gave birth to the noble
Ujjeniau prince Mahindo.' The other chiMicn born to
Asoko at Ujjeni, alluded to in a former note, were probably
the offspring of different mothers.

"■ 'Prior to this period, prince Bindusaro, the son of Chada-
gutto of the Moriyan dynasty, on the demise of his father,
had succeeded to the monarchy, at Patiliputta. He had two
sons who were brothers. Of them (the sons) there were,
also, ninety other brothers, the issue of different mothers.
This monarch conferred on Asoko, who was the eldest* of
all of them, the dignity of sub-king, and the government of
Awanti. Subsequently, on a certain occasion, when he came



* "This is at variance with a preceding note, which made
Sumano the eldest of all Bindusaro's sons."



112 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

to Y>ay his respects to him (the monarch), addressing him,
'Sub-king, my child ! repairing to thy government, reside
at Ujjeni,' ordered him thither. He, who was on his way
to Ujjeni, pursuant to his father's command, rested in his
journey at the city of Chetiyagiri, at the house of one Uewo,
a settho. Having met there the lovely and youthful
daughter of the said settho, named Chetiya dewi, and becom-
ing enamoured of her; soliciting the consent of her parents^
and obtaining her from them, he lived with her. By that
connection she became pregnant ; and being conveyed from
thence to Ujjeni, she gave birth to the prince Mahindo.
At the termination of two years from that date, giving birth
to her daughter Sanghaniitta, she continued to dwell there.
Bindusaro, the father of the sub-king, on his death bed,
calling his son Asoko to his recollection, sent messeugers to
require his attendance. They accordingly repaired to Ujjeni,
and delivered their message to Asoko. Pursuant to those
instructions, he hastened to his father by rapid stages, leaving
his son and daughter, in his way, at Chetiyagiri ; and
hurrying to his father at Pataliputta, performed the funeral
obsequies of his parent, who died immediately on his arrival.
Then, putting to death the ninety-nine brothers of different
mothers, and extirpating all disaffected persons, and raising
the chhatta, he there solemnized his inauguration. The
mother of the thero (Mahindo), sending her children to the
king's court, continued to reside herself at the city of
Chetiyagiri. Tt is from this circumstance (that the author
of the Mahawanso has said), 'While prince Asoko was
ruling over the Awanti country.'

" The Tika affords no new matter, as far as regards the
interesting narrative contained in the fifteenth, sixteenth,



THE MAHAWANSA. Il3

seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth chapters. The
twentieth chapter contains a chronological summary of the
reign of Dhammasoko, at the opening of which the TIka
gives the following note, affording another proof of the
minute attention paid by the author to prevent any misappre-
hension in regard to the chronology of his history.

"After describing the arrival of the bo-tree, and preparatory
to entering upon the chapter on the subject of the theros
obtaining 'parinibbauan,' the account of the death of the
two monarchs, Dhammasoko and Dewananpiyatisso, is set
forth (in the Mahawanso in these words) : ' In the eighteenth
year of the reign of Dhammasoko, the bo-tree was placed in
the Mahameghawanua pleasure garden.'

"(In the Mahawanso it is stated), 'these years collectively
amount to thirty-seven.' By that work it might appear
that the total (terra of his reign) amounted to forty-one years.
That reckoning would be erroneous ; the last year of each
period being again counted as the first of the next period.
By avoiding that double appropriation, the period becomes
thirty-seven years. In the Atthakatha, avoiding this absurd
(literally laughable) mistake, the period is correctly stated.
It is there specified to be thirty-seven years."

The untranslated portion of the Mahawansa contains
sixty-two chapters; (vide an Analysis of the same in
Tumour's Mahawansa^ p. xci.) There is not the same
facility for translating this portion which Mr. Turnour
had for the rendering of the first thirty-eight chapters
into English ; for, not only is there not a gloss or tika
to the untranslated part, but the work itself is found
in almost inextricable confusion ; and the only hope of
securing a correct copy of the text is by careful inter-

Q



11-1 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

comparison with old MSS. lu different parts of the
island, and with copies, if procurable, from Siam and
Amarapura.

Having given all the information worthy of notice
regarding this ancient History, we may state that
Tumour has translated and published the first thirty-
eight chapters, and also the fifty -ninth. It was publicly
stated that he had also translated ten other chapters,
but these have never been published. Mr. L. De
Zoysa, Mudaliyar, has also published a translation of
the Ixviiith and Ixixth chapters in the C. B. Royal
Asiatic Society's Journal for 1856 — 58.

Not only as a specimen of the third part of the Maha-
wansa by Tibbottuvawa, but as furnishing evidence of
the wanton destruction of the ancient literary records
of this country, which, according to another historian,
*'were burnt in heaps as high as cocoa-nut trees," we
here present, with a translation.

Cap. XCIII.

Atha tassachcliaye tasmiu samudd'asanna ratthake
Jayawaddhana kotth'adi pasiddha nagaresuhi
Tahin tahin vasantesu Suriya vansaja rajusu
Maya dhanavho raj'eko asi tejo janadhipo
Tass'atrajo balo dsi Eajasiho'ti namako
Gantva tahin tahin yuddhau katvana aggahi jayan
Jayaggaho mahabalo attano pitaran'^^icha
Gha tetva saka hattha so rajja'maggahi dummati
Sltavaka nagarasmin Eajasiho'ti vissuto
Pasanno sasane kinchi kalamhi kusalan karan
Danan datv'ekada raja malm there apuchchhi so



THE MAHAWANSA. 115

PItu gbatakapdpa'han kathan nasemi bhitiko

Tada thera tassadhamman desetvana visarada

A'radhetun asakkonta duttha chiltan kubuddhino

Kata papan viua setun nasakka'ti giran sute

Dandappa Lata matteua kuddbo ghora viso viya

Sivabbattike'pi pucbcbbitva sakka'ti katbitan giran

Amatan viya sutvana kayan limpetva cbbarikan

Sivabbattin gabetvana nasento jiuasasanan

Bbikkbu Saughancba gbatento jbapento dbammapottbake

Bbindapetvana arame saggamaggam'pi cbbadayi

Sansarakbanubbuto'va micbcbbadittbiu auanhi so

Sumana kutambi uppannan sabban labban bi ganbilun

Niyojesi tabiu papa micbcbbadittbika tapase

Evan adbammiko balo gahe tabban ajaniya

Agabe tabbakan gayba maba dukkbau aganhi so

Tadd, rdjabbayen'eva uppabbajj insu bbikkhavo

Sausara bbiruka tesu gata asuu tabin tabiu

Sabba loka bitan buddba sasanan hi suuimmaLan

Dbansetva'k^si rajjan so pubba puiiiia baleni'dha

A'na balena yuttova sabba Linkatalan hi so

Katvana attano batthe rajjan akasi papiko

Evan rkjabalen'upeta mahipo dassetva ana balan

Katva so sakalan apuiiuanicbayan marassa hattban gate

Ittban papa kuditthi moha vasage adinavan janiya

Bhita sabba pamada bbavarabila sadbentu atthan babun.

Iti sujanappasada sanvegatthaya kate Maba-vanse IMaya
Dhanavba rfija dipako nama te-navutimo paricb.cbbedo.



" Thereupon after his demise there, when several
Princes of the Siirya race were resident in different



116 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE,

localities in Jayawaddhana Kottha, and other cele-
brated cities adjacent to the sea, there was a mighty and
supreme king named Mayadhanu. He had a valiant
son named Raja Sinha, who, having gone to different
places, waged war, and achieved victory. This vic-
torious, but very unwise and wicked person, having
(next) killed his father with his own hand, ascended
the throne ; proclaimed himself Raja Sinha of Sitavaka ;
and, for a short time, did meritorious acts in devotion
to (Buddhism) religion.

One day, this timid conscience-stricken king, after
feeding the Maha theras, inquired of them: ' How shall
I get over the sin of Patricide?' Thereupon, though
these talented priests preached the dhamma to him,
they were nevertheless unable to satisfy the wicked
mind of this foolish (prince); and when he heard the
reply that it was impossible to get rid of the sin which
he had committed, he was provoked like a venomous
(serpent) that had been struck with a stick.

Making the (same) inquiry of Saivites, but hearing
their reply, that *it was possible,' he was (filled with
joy) as with ambrosia. Daubing his body with ashes,
and (thus) embracing the faith of Siva, he destroyed the
religion of Buddha, murdered Bhikkhus, and Sangha,
burnt the sacred works of Buddha, pulled down monastic
establishments, raised a barrier to heaven, and, as if
he had raised a (lasting pillar) monument to Sansara
[never ceasing circle of existence], became a heretic.

He placed sinful heretical (Tapasa) Fakirs at the
Sumana Mount [Adam's Peak], and directed them to



THE MAHAWANSA. 117

take all the revenues derivable at that (establishment.)
Thus this unjust and foolish personage, not knowing
what was fit to be taken, and taking what was improper
to take, entered into (paths) of great distress.

At this period (some of) the bhikkhus, from a dread
of the king, left the priesthood; and others, from fear
of Sansara, resorted to different countries.

This sinful king (however), having destroyed the
unblemished religion of Buddha, which was profitable
to the whole world, continued to reign by reason of
his previously acquired merit, and by means of his
great powers, secured the rule of the whole of Lanka
into his hands.* Having thus exhibited his powers,
and having also amassed a large amount of sin, he
entered the hands of death.

May the (righteous), thus knowing the danger of
sin, ignorance, and false religion; and, with dread,
forsaking all conditions of procrastination, accomplish
great felicity.

Here (ends) the ninety-third chapter of the Maha-
wansa, entitled 'the Dynasty called Mayadhanu,'
composed equally for the delight and affliction of
risrhteous men."



o



Having already noticed the Tika to the Mahawansa,
it only remains to give a specimen of the work; and
we subjoin the following passage with a translation,
referring to the text at p. 229.

* I have here omitted certain repetitions.



118 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

Tliupassa miiddhani tatha 'nagghan vajira cliumba-
tan-ti ; tatlieva maha tliupassa muddhani satasaliassag-
ghanikan maha maninclia patittliapetwa tassahettha
asani upaddava viddhansa natthan adhara valaya miva
katva anagghan vajira chumbatan* cha pujesi'tif attho.
That is; "Thuj^assa muddhani tatha'nagglian vajira
chumbatan" means, "having in like manner placed a
large gem, of a lac in value, on the top of the great
thupa, he fixed (literally, offered) below it (/. e. below
the gem), for the purpose of destroying the dangers of
lightning, an invaluable diamond chumbata, (having
made it) like a supporting ring, (or annular rest.)"



Dl'PAWANSA.



Though the Mahawansa is at present "the most
authentic" history of Ceylon, it is by no means the
only existing historical record, nor the most ancient.

* The word chumbata is compounded of chumba ' to kiss,'
and ata ' to go.' This is sometimes used with, and sometimes
without, an affix. If with an affix, (when a euphonic change is
intended) it takes navu, which is changed into aka. See Balava-
tara, p. 113. Thence, the word itself is written chumbataka. See
also Pali Nighandu.

•)■ A respectful term ; and means ' placed,' or ' fixed as an
offering ' in a religious point of view. This is a very common
expression. See Bengal Asiatic Society's Journal, vi. note at
p. 755. In vol. vii. of the same work, at p. 259, Mr. Prinsep
defines this term "propitiated by puja."



Dl'PAWANSA. 119

One of the Pdli Records to which Mahanarao was
indebted for information, and from which he has
extracted two verses without alteration, is the Dipa-
wansa,

Mr. Tumour's conjecture, that this work* is the
Mahawansa of the Uttara Vihara priests, is entitled to
much weight. He says: —

" The author of the Mahawanso,f in his Tika, declares
more than once that he compiles his work from the SIhala
Mahawanso . and Atthakatha of the Mahawiharo, and from
the Sihala Atthakatha of the Uttarawiharo fraternities, as
well as from the Mahawanso of the Uttarawiharo priests.
The last mentioned of these works alone, as far as I am able
to form an opinion at present, was composed in the Pali
language, at the time Mahanamo compiled his Mahawanso.
I am induced to entertain this opinion from the circumstance,
that Mahanamo's quotations from that work alone are in the
metrical form, whereas all the translated quotations made by
Pali authors from Sihala authorities are invariably, as might
have been expected, rendered in prose. One of these quotations
consists of the identical two verses with which the Dipawanso
opens, and at the close of the Tika a reference is made to the
Dipawanso for explanation of the violation of the Maha-
wiharo consecration, in the reign of Mahaseno. For these
reasons, and as that work bears also the title of the "Maha-
wanso" or "the great genealogy," my Buddhist coadjutors
concur with me in thinking, that the Dipawanso now extant



* My copy is written in 328 pages, with 16 lines to the page,
•j- Pages xxxi., xxxii., xlii. and xliii. of the Introduction to the
Mahawanso.



120 DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

is the Pali Mahawanso of tlie Uttarawihtlro fraternity. In
fact the titles of Dipa and Maha, are indiscriminately given
to both these histories."

From the evidence which its contents furnishes, there
can be no reasonable doubt that the Dipawansa was
compiled from time to time by several official historio-
graphers, appointed by the State, as we learn from
tradition, as well as from the early Arabian travellers
in Ceylon.*

I have procured several copies of this, work, but
they are all in great confusion. Some of the Bana-
waras, into which it is divided, are deficient in the
necessary number of stanzas. The whole work is
confused in its arrangement; the same stanza being
repeated in several chapters, and sometimes several
times in one and the same chapter. Some of the verses
are also deficient, and perhaps owing to bad copyists,
very defective in language. Such appears to have been
the case, as remarked by Mr. Turnour in his essay on
the Indian Inscriptions,! even in the copy which he
obtained from Burma through the intervention of
Nadoris De Silva, Mudaliyar.

This leads me to believe that these defects of repeti-
tion, etc., are attributable chiefly to the compilers
themselves. I am the more confirmed in this belief,
not only by the repetitions with which all ancient
books, especially the Tepitaka, abound; but also by the



* Sir E. Tennent's History of Ceylon, i. p. 387, note.
t See Bengal Asiatic Society's Journal.



Dl'PAWANSA. 121

testimony contained in later writings as to their general
character. Mahanama in speaking of such works (of
which the Dipawansa was doubtless one) says, "that
in the Mahawansa composed by the ancients there are
defects both of prolixity and brevity. There are also
other inaccuracies deserving of notice." And Bud-
dhao-osa in referrino^ to the writers he was indebted to

for his Gloss, says, •*! translate the Atthakatha

into the Pali omitting only the frequent re-
petition of the same explanation."

The Dipawansa, as remarked by Turnour, from its
being quoted by the Mahawansa, is unquestionably a
prior work, but as its narrative extends to the reign of
Mahasena in a.d. 302, its priority cannot exceed 150
years.

The most remarkable feature in this history, is the
great effort which is made by its authors to complete
the links of the Theraparampara chain, or the genealogy
of the priesthood, and make them consistent with
chronology. This is, obviously, for the pui'pose of
shewin<T^ that the sacred teachings of Gotama had
been preserved in the memory of these successive
priests until they were recorded in the reign of Watta-
gdinini, as stated by the Dipawansa in the verses
given below, and which are also found quoted by the


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Online LibraryJames De AlwisA descriptive catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, & Sinhalese literary works of Ceylon → online text (page 9 of 17)