The Six Kings – Culavamsa Chapter 38

So after the Ruler Mahasena[1] had in consequence of his association with impious people, done good and evil all his life, he went according to his doing ((P. gato yathákammam “he went according to his kamma” a frequent expression (cf. JáCo. I 10911, 15313, 1786; II. 31311 etc.) with reference to the five gati or forms of rebirth … 1. in Hell, 2. as animal, 3. as peta “ghost”, 4. as man, 5. as deva ,,god”. Here one must bear in mind that kamma “doing” is for Buddhist readers or hearers a technical term, the conception for the sum of all our good and evil deeds in the latest as in the former existences. Our rebirth, our whole fate is determined by kamma which is distinctly held to be something concrete-2)). Therefore should the wise man shunning from afar as a poisonous serpent, the company of the impious, do speedily that which tends to his own salvation. Thereupon his son Sirimeghavanna[2] became king, bestowing like Mandhatar[3] all kinds of blessings on the world. In the Mahavihara which Mahasena fallen under the influence of evil people, had destroyed, he gathered together the whole of the bhikkhus, went thither himself, greeted them respectfully, seated himself and asked them full of reverence: “What then has been destroyed by my father in company with Samghamitta?” The bhikkhus answered the Lord of men: “Although thy father strove to bring about the removal of the boundary[4], he was unable to do so, as there were still bhikkhus within the boundary. Seven bhikkhus namely, were hidden here in an underground room. The minister Sona and the still worse Samghamitta[5] influenced the king and determined him to do evil. They destroyed the splendid seven-storeyed Lohapasada[6] as well as various other buildings and carried off (the material) to the Abhayagiri (-vihara)[7]. In the court of the Cetiya[8] where four Buddhas had sojourned, the deluded ones had mungo beans planted; behold (in its consequences) the intercourse with fools.” When the King heard of these doings of his father, he being averse himself from all association with fools, had everything which his father had destroyed, restored in its original form. To begin with, he set up the Lohapasada, making visible as it were, the magnificent palace of Mahapanada[9] on (the island of) Sihala.

He built up all the demolished parivenas[10] and fixed the revenues of the helpers of the monastery[11] as heretofore. The wise (Sirimeghavanna) refilled the vihara which had become sparsely inhabited through his unwise father having stinted it of necessaries. In the vihara begun by his father in Jotivana[12] the monarch had all unfinished work completed. Now when the Ruler of men had heard from the beginning the whole history of the Thera Mahinda, the (spiritual) son of the Ruler of the Samaras (Buddha), he felt a believing joy in his merit in having brought the island to the faith and thought: “Of a truth the Thera is lord over the island”. He then had an image of gold made corresponding with the size of Mahinda and brought it to the Ambatthala-cetiya[13], so called after the mango tree of the Thera[14].

There he left it on the eighth day. But on the ninth day he took a great host like to an army of the gods, as also the women of the harem and the inhabitants of the town, save the watchmen, gathered together also all the bhikkhus in Lankadipa, and freed the people who were in prison in the town. Then he instituted a great almsgiving for all living beings, and celebrating with all offerings a matchless sacrifice, he went forth to greet the master of the island, the best son of the Master (Buddha), as the King of the gods (Sakka) had aforetime (greeted) the Master[15]. He had the street from the Ambatthala-cetiya to the town put in order even as the road from Vesali to the town Savatthi, and by the spending of a whole fortune on this occasion, as the King (Asoka), the father of the Thera (had done) on the arrival of the Thera Moggaliputta[16], he satisfied the poor, travellers and beggars by instituting a great almsgiving and the bhikkhus by (the gift of) the four necessaries[17]. Then the Illustrious One with the wish: the people shall see the arrival of the Thera, lifted up the image amid great reverence, descended from the mountain (Missaka), (and) while he placed himself at the head (of the procession), made the bhikkhus surround it on all sides – the golden image of the Thera shone as the golden Mount Meru[18] rising out of the milky sea (shines) when irradiated by the evening glow – and showed it to the people with the thought: Even thus the Leader of the World went forth to Vesali to preach the Sutta[19].

  1. There is not the slightest doubt that with v. 51 the work of the continuator of the old Mahavamsa begins. We must assume that originally an ornate strophe followed 37, 50 as conclusion of Mahanama’s work. The continuator like his successors (cf. 79. 84; 90. 102), veiled the gap. The content of the lost strophe is apparent from v. 51-52, as also from the last verse of the Dipavamsa (22. 76), which Dhammakitti seems to have taken as his starting-point. -1 [^]
  2. King Siri Mekavana Aba is mentioned in the Inscription of Debel-gala (20 miles E. N. E. of Anurádhapura) which is dated in the first year of his reign. ED. MULLER (AlC., p. 30) attributes the inscription to the king Gothabhaya (Mhvs. 36. 98). There are however, not far from Debel-gala at Timbiriveva two further inscriptions in which our Sirimeghavanna is undoubtedly mentioned. BELL, ASC. VII th Rep. 1891 = SP. XIII 1896, p. 50. Sirimeghavanna is further mentioned in a Chinese source, in the Hing-Tchoan of Wang Hiuen-tse under the name of Chi-mi-kia-po-me (“cloud of merit”). He is said to have sent two Bhikkhus to India to the King San-maon-to-lo-kiu-to, that is Sa- mudragupta (who reigned according to V. A. SMITH approximately between 345 and 380 A. D.), asking him to provide shelter there for the Sinhalese monks who were on a pilgrimage to the sacred tree at Bogaya, Cf, SYLVAIN LEVI, JAs. 1900, p. 316 sqq.; J. M. SENAVERATNE, JRAS. C, B. XXIV, Nr. 68, 1, p. 75; H. W. CODRINGTON, Short History of Ceylon, p. 29.-3 [^]
  3. A legendary king of the dynasty of Mahasammata, son of Uposatha. His story is told in the Mandhatu-Jataka (Nr. 258 = JaCo. II 310 ff.),. which is again quoted in DhCo. III. 2405. The name Mandhatar occurs already in the Rigveda, In the Anguttara-Nikaya (A. II. 17) Mandhatar is described as aggo kamabhoginam.-1 [^]
  4. P, simay’ ugghatanam. What is meant here is the boundary of the enclosure of the .Mahavihara. The verb ugghateti means “to put on one side, to set aside”, as for instance, ghatikam, the door bolt, Vin. II. 20710, III. 11924; then “to open, undo”, for instance, kavatakam Mhvs, 35. 25; sihapanjaram JaCo. I. 12417, Il 3115; thupam Thvs. 3918; lastly “fo make known, to reveal”, eg. atitabhavc DhCo. IV. 512. The removal of the boundaries would only have been legal, if the bhikkhus themselves had given up the vihara.-2 [^]
  5. The Thera Samghamitta belonged to the Vetulla sect and worked together with his lay disciple Sona for the advantage of the Abhayagiri-vihara against the bhikkhus of the Mahavihara. See Mhvs, 36.110 ff., 37,1 ff.-3 [^]
  6. The Lohapasada was laid out by King Devanampiyatissa as dwelling for the inmates of the Mahavihara (Mhvs. 27. 4 ff,). There are 1600 monolithic stone columns still standing which formed the frame work of the lowest storey. As the inmost pillars are the strongest, and had thus evidently the heaviest weight to bear, we may suppose the building to have been a stepped pyramid. The upper storeys were apparently of wood and were covered with plates of copper. Hence the name “Brazen Palace”. The word pasada is applied to all larger buildings of several storeys. The meaning “palace” though not always appropriate, is of course so whenever, as below v. 62, the pasada of a prince is meant. That the Lohapasada was in the main built of perishable material is proved by the fact that under Saddhatissa (77-59 B. C.) it was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt. 1 [^]
  7. Abhayagiri is without doubt the northern of the three large thupas in Anuradhapura, Jetavana the eastern, not conversly. The question was admirably treated recently by A. M. HOCART (Mem. ASC. I. 10 ff.). A reference might still be made to Mhvs. 37. 33 where it reads: Mahaviharasimante uyyane Jotinamake Jetavanaviharam so variyanto pi karayi.This of course is applicable only to the eastern not to the northern thupa. 2 [^]
  8. Regarding the untranslated termini (here cetiya) see Mhvs. trsl., Appendix D, p. 292 ff. Cetiya and thupa are used synonymously for the bell-shaped structures designed to hold relics. The fundamental form was without doubt the burial mound. 3 [^]
  9. A legendary king of the Mahasammata dynasty (Mhvs. 2. 4). An account of his splendid palace (yupa) is given in the verses Thag. 163-4 = Ja. II. 334 (Mahapanadajataka). It was sunk in the Ganges at Payaga, A legend relates of the Thera Bhaddaji that to prove his miraculous strength, he raised the palace with his toes out of the bed of the stream and showed it to the astonished people. (Ja. II. 333; Mhvs. 31. 7 ff). [^]
  10. Parivena (Sinh. pirivena) denotes now a building intended for the instruction of the bhikkhus. That parivena originally, or at any rate in early times, must have denoted more than the single cell inhabited by a bhikkhu is clear from 37. 172. – 1 [^]
  11. P. aramikanam. The aramika had to do work for the monastery and to keep it in order. See Vin. I. 206 ff. – Cf. Vin. II. 21123 ff. the grades ‘bhikkhu-samanera-aramika. – 2 [^]
  12. What is meant here is the Jetavana-vihara which was built according to Mhvs. 37. 33, by Mahasena in the Jotivana which lies outside the southern gate of the town of Anuradhapura (Mhvs. 15. 202. See the note on 37. 59.) A special Jotivana-vihara did not exist. Cf. also below 52, 59 with note. – 3 [^]
  13. Cetiyambathale (so also v. 69, 74). Probably a mere inversion for Ambatthalacetiye metri causa. The Ambatthalacetiya stands on a terrace of the Missaka hill, now Mihintale (8 miles east of Anuradhapura) below the highest summit, on the spot where according to the legend, the emissary Mahinda converted King Devanampiyatissa to the doctrine of the Buddha. – 4 [^]
  14. By the riddle of the mango tree (Mhvs, 14,17 ff.) the Thera Mahinda put the King’s discernment to the proof. Even now there are mango trees planted near the Ambatthalacetiya in memory of the event.- 5 [^]
  15. On the occasion of Buddha’s visit to the Tavatimsa-hea en. Cf. Divyavadana, ed. E. B, COWELL and R. A. NEIL, 401; ROCKHILL, Life of the Buddha, p. 80 f.; BIGANDET, Life or Legend of Gaudama the Buddha, I, p. 225 ff; TH. KERN, Manual of Indian Buddhism, p. 33. – 16 [^]
  16. The fetching of the Mahinda image by Sirimeghavanna is compared with that of Moggaliputtatissa by King Asoka, as it is described in Mhvs. 5. 245 ff. The Thera dwells in a hermitage on the upper Ganges. He is wanted to settle the disputes which have arisen in the Buddha Order. Only after many vain attempts does Asoka’s emissary succeed in persuading him to take the journey to Pataliputta where the King receives him with the highest honours. There follows the holding of the Third Council. – 17 [^]
  17. P. paccayehi catuhi, namely: clothing (civara), food (pindapata, dwelling (senasana) and medicine (bhesajja). – 18 [^]
  18. Meru or Sumeru is the mythical world mountain which rises in the centre of the earth, on whose summit lies the heaven of the Tavatimsa, of the 33 Gods, S. KIRFEL, Kosmographie der Inder, p, 16, 187 etc. – 19 [^]
  19. Verses 66-80 form one sentence. The subj. is manujindo in 66 taken up again by raja in 67, so in 70 and ayam in 72, verb, fin, dassesi in 80, obj. patibimbam in 68 (taken up again by tam in 77). The construction of the sentence is disturbed by the verb. fin. sobhatha in 79. I believe either that the whole of verse 79 was inserted later or perhaps better still that it is to be regarded as a parenthesis. The Sutta preached by the Buddha in Vesali is the Ratanasutta (No. 6 of the Khuddakapatha = v. 222 ff. or Culavagga 1 in the Suttanipata). Its previous history is related by Buddhaghosa (Kh. A. p. 158 ff.), appears also in the Mahavastu (I. 253 ff.) In Vesali, the capital of the Licchavi clan (T. W. RHYS DAVIDS, Buddhist India, p. 25 f.) bad plagues caused by evil spirits are rife. The terrified inhabitants appeal to the Buddha who is sojourning in Rajagaha. He comes, drives off the evil spirits and pronounces over Vesali the verses of blessing (Svastyayanagatha in the Mahavastu) of the Ratanasutta. It is now expressly insisted on that the street from Rajagaha to the Ganges and again on the territory of the Licchavi from Vesali to the Ganges was put in the most perfect order and decorated. I should therefore refer v. 74 also to the journey of the Buddha to Vesali, though in that case Savatthi would be erroneously substituted for Rajagaha. That there was a tendency to make Savatthi a dwelling place of the Buddha is shown by Mrs. RHYS DAVIDS’S acute observations on the Samyutta-Nikaya. (The Book of the Kindred Sayings trsl. by F. C. WOODWARD, III, p. XI f.) – 20 [^]
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