06: The Coming of Vijaya
IN the country of the Vangas in the Vanga capital there lived once a king of the Vangas. The daughter of the king of the Kalingas was that king’s consort. By his spouse the king had a daughter, the soothsayers prophesied her union with the king of beasts. Very fair was she and very amorous and for shame the king and queen could not suffer her.
Alone she went forth from the house, desiring the joy of independent life; unrecognized she joined a caravan travelling to the Magadha country. In the Lala country a lion attacked the caravan in the forest, the other folk fled this way and that, but she fled along the way by which the lion had come.
When the lion had taken his prey and was leaving the spot he beheld her from afar, love (for her) laid hold on him, and he came towards her with waving tail and ears laid back. Seeing him she bethought her of that prophecy of the soothsayers which she bad heard, and without fear she caressed him stroking his limbs.
The lion, roused to fiercest passion by her touch, took her upon his back and bore her with all speed to his cave, and there he was united with her, and from this union with him the princess in time bore twin-children, a son and a daughter.
The son’s hands and feet were formed like a lion’s and therefore she named him Sihabahu (sinhabahu), but the daughter (she named) Sihasivali (sinhasivali). When he was sixteen years old the son questioned his mother on the doubt (that had arisen in him): ‘Wherefore are you and our father so different, dear mother?’ She told him all. Then he asked: ‘Why do we not go forth (from here)?’ And she answered: ‘Thy father has closed the cave up with a rock.’ Then he took that barrier before the great cave upon his shoulder and went (a distance of) fifty yojanas going andcoming in one day.
Then (once), when the lion had gone forth in search of prey, (Sihabahu) took his mother on his right shoulder and his young sister on his left, and went away with speed. They clothed themselves with branches of trees, and so came to a border-village and there, even at that time, was a son of the princess’s uncle, a commander in the army of the Yanga king, to whom was given the rule over the border-country; and he was just then sitting under a banyan-tree overseeing the work that was done.
When he saw them he asked them (who they were) and they said; `We are forest-folk’; the commander bade (his people) give them clothing; and this turned into splendid (garments). He had food offered to them on leaves and by reason of their merit these were turned into dishes of gold. Then, amazed, the commander asked them, `Who are you?’ The princess told him her family and clan. Then the commander took his uncle’s daughter with him and went to the capital of the Vangas and married her.
When the lion, returning in haste to his cave, missed those three (persons), he was sorrowful, and grieving after his son he neither ate nor drank. Seeking for his children he went to the border-village, and every village where he came was deserted by the dwellers therein.
And the border-folk came to the king and told him this:`A lion ravages thy country; ward off (this danger) 0 king!’ Since he found none who could ward off (this danger) he had a thousand (pieces of money) led about the city on an elephant’s back and this proclamation made: `Let him who brings the lion receive these!’ And in like manner the monarch (offered) two thousand and three thousand. Twice did Sihabahu’s mother restrain him. The third time without asking his mother’s leave, Sihabähu took the three thousand gold-pieces (as reward) for slaying his own father.
They presented the youth to the king, and the king spoke thus to him: `If thou shalt take the lion I will give thee at once the kingdom.’ And he went to the opening of the cave, and as soon as he saw from afar the lion who came forward, for love toward his son, he shot an arrow to slay him.
The arrow struck the lion’s forehead but because of his tenderness (toward his son) it rebounded and fell on the earth at the youth’s feet. And so it fell out three times, then did the king of beasts grow wrathful and the arrow sent at him struck him and pierced his body.
(Sihabahu) took the head of the lion with the mane and returned to his city. And just seven days had passed then since the death of the king of the Vangas. Since the king had no son the ministers, who rejoiced over his deed on hearing that he was the king’s grandson and on recognizing his mother, met all together and said of one accord to the prince Sihabahu `Be thou (our) king’.
And he accepted the kingship but handed it over then to his mother’s husband and he himself went with Sihasivali to the land of his birth. There he built a city, and they called it Sihapura, and in the forest stretching a hundred yojanas around he founded villages. In the kingdom of Lala, in that city did Sihabähu, ruler of men, hold sway when he had made Sihasivali his queen. As time passed on his consort bore twin sons sixteen times, the eldest was named Vijaya, the second Sumitta; together there were thirty-two sons. In time the king consecrated Vijaya as prince-regent.
Vijaya was of evil conduct and his followers were even (like himself), and many intolerable deeds of violence were done by them. Angered by this the people told the matter to the king; the king, speaking persuasively to them, severely blamed his son. But all fell out again as before, the second and yet the third time; and the angered people said to the king: `Kill thy son.’
Then did the king cause Vijaya and his followers, seven hundred men, to be shaven over half the head and put them on a ship and sent them forth upon the sea, and their wives and children also. The men, women, and children sent forth separately landed separately, each (company) upon an island, and they dwelt even there. The island where the children landed was called Naggadipa and the island where the women landed Mahiladipaka. But Vijaya landed at the haven called Suppäraka, but being there in danger by reason of the violence of his followers be embarked again.
The prince named VIJAYA, the valiant, landed in Lanka, in the region called Tambapanni on the day that the Tathagata lay down between the two twinlike sala-trees to pass into nibbana.
Here ends the sixth chapter, called `The Coming of Vijaya’, in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.
- I.e. Bengal. E 2 [^]
- Sihabhuja in the text (metri causa!) which means the same as Sihabahu ‘Lion-arm’. [^]
- The shaving of the hair signifies loss of freedom. In Sinhalesemidi (= Skr. mundita ‘ shaven ‘) means ‘ slave ‘. [^]
- That is, ‘ Island of children, ‘from nagga ‘ naked ‘. [^]
- That is,’ Island of women.’ [^]
- Skt. Surparaka, situated on the west coast of India, now Sopara in the Thana District, north of Bombay. See Imp. Gazetteer of India, s.v. [^]