11: The Consecrating of Devanampiyatissa

AFTER his death his son, known by the name of MUTASIVA, the son of Suvannapali (Suvannapälï), succeeded him in the government, which was (then) in a peaceful state. The king laid out the beautiful Mahameghavana-garden, rich in all the good qualities that its name promises[1] and provided with fruit-trees and flowering-trees. At the time that the place was chosen for the garden, a great cloud, gathering at an unwonted season, poured forth rain ; therefore they called the garden Mahameghavana.
Sixty years king Mutasiva reigned in splendid Anuradhapura, the fair face of the land of Lanka. He had ten sons, each thoughtful of the other’s welfare, and two daughters equal[2] (in beauty), worthy of their family. The second son, known by the name Devanampiyatissa, was foremost among all his brothers in virtue and intelligence.
This DEVANAMPIYATISSA became king after his father’s death. Even at the time of his consecration many wonders came to pass. In the whole isle of Lanka treasures and jewels that had been buried deep rose up to the surface of the earth. Jewels which had been in ships wrecked near Lanka and those which were naturally formed there (in the ocean) issued forth upon the land. At the foot of the Chata-mountain there grew up three bamboo-stems, in girth even as a waggon-pole.[3] One of them, ‘the creeper-stem,’ shone like silver; on this might be seen delightful creepers gleaming with a golden colour. But one was the ‘ flower-stem ‘, on this again might be seen flowers of many kinds, of manifold colours, in full bloom. And last, one was the ‘ bird-stem ‘ whereon might be seen numbers of birds and beasts of many (kinds) and of many colours, as if living. Pearls of the eight kinds, namely horse-pearl, elephant -pearl, waggon-pearl, myrobalan -pearl, bracelet-pearl, ring-pearl, kakudha fruit-pearl, and common (pearls) came forth out of the ocean and lay upon the shore in heaps.
All this was the effect of Devanampiyatissa’s merit. Sapphire, beryl, ruby, these gems and many jewels and those pearls and those bamboo-stems they brought, all in the same week, to the king.

When the king saw them he was glad at heart and thought: ‘My friend Dhammasoka and nobody else is worthy to have these priceless treasures ; I will send them to him as a gift.’ For the two monarchs, Devanampiyatissa and Dhammasoka already had been friends a long time, though they had never seen each other.

The king sent four persons appointed as his envoys : his nephew Maharittha, who was the chief of his ministers, then his chaplain, a minister and his treasurer,[4] attended by a body of retainers, and he bade them take with them those priceless jewels, the three kinds of precious stones, and the three stems (like) waggon-poles, and a spiral shell winding to the right, and the eight kinds of pearls. When they had embarked at Jambukola[5] and in seven days had reached the haven[6] in safety, and from thence in seven days more had come to Pataliputta, they gave those gifts into the hands of king Dhammasoka. When he saw them he rejoiced greatly. Thinking: ‘Here I have no such precious things’ the monarch, in his joy, bestowed on Arittha the rank of a commander in his army, on the brahman the dignity of chaplain, to the minister he gave the rank of staff-bearer, and to the treasurer that of a guild-lord.[7]
When he had allotted to the (envoys) abundance of (all) things for their entertainment and dwelling-houses, he took counsel with his ministers considering (what should be sent as) a return-gift ; and he took[8] a fan,[9] a diadem, a sword, a parasol, shoes, a turban, ear-ornaments,[10] chains,[11]) a pitcher, yellow sandalwood, a set of garments that had no need of cleansing, a costly napkin, unguent brought by the nagas, red-coloured earth, water from the lake Anotatta and also water from the Ganges, a (spiral) shell winding in auspicious wise,[12] a maiden in the flower of her youth, utensils as golden platters, a costly litter, yellow and emblic myro-balans and precious ambrosial healing herbs, sixty times one hundred waggon loads of mountain-rice brought thither by parrots, nay, all that was needful for consecrating a king, marvellous in splendour; and sending these (things) in due time as a gift to his friend the lord of men sent envoys also with the gift of the true doctrine, saying : ‘I have taken refuge in the Buddha, his Doctrine and his Order, I have declared myself a lay-disciple in the religion of the Sakya son;[13] seek then even thou, O best of men converting thy mind with believing heart refuge in these best of gems !’ and saying moreover : ‘(Consecrate my friend yet again as king,’ he dismissed his friend’s ministers, with many marks of honour.

When the ministers had stayed five months, highly honoured they set forth with the envoys, on the first day of the bright half of the month Vesakha.[14] Having embarked at Tamalitti[15] and landed at Jambukola they sought out the king, when they arrived here on the twelfth day. The envoys handed the gifts to the ruler of Lanka ; the ruler of Lanka made them welcome with great hospitality.

But the envoys most faithful to their king consecrated the ruler of Lanka, whose (first) consecration had been held in the month Maggasira[16] on the day when the moon first shows itself, fulfilling the charge of Dhammasoka, yet again as king, they rejoicing in the salvation of their king (consecrated) him who rejoiced in the good fortune of Lanka.

Thus on the full-moon day of the month Vesakha the ruler of men, in whose name was contained the words ‘friend of the gods’,[17] bestowing good upon his people, held his consecration (as king) in Lanka, where in every place they held high festival.

Here ends the eleventh chapter, called ‘The Consecrating of Devanampiyatissa’ in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

  1. 1-Following the reading of the Burmese MSS. and the Tika namanugagunodito ‘eminent in the qualities corresponding to the name’. Mahameghavana means ‘grove of the great cloud’. The qualities which it possesses are such as accompany abundant rainfall: streams, trees with thick foliage, shade, coolness and so forth. Cf. the explanation of the Tika, Mah. ed., note on this passage. The Mahameghavana was situated south of the city of Anuradhapura, where now the Mahavihara stands. Between it and the southern wall of the city was another park, called Nandana or Jotivana. See 15. 1, 8; PARKER, Ancient Ceylon, pp. 272-274. [^]
  2. 2-Tika: anukula ti, samanavanna; ayam surupa ayam virupa ti vacanapacchinditum anaraha samanarupa ; annamanna-anukularupasampattiya samannagata ti adhippayo. The sense is: they were of equal beauty. [^]
  3. 3-This must be the meaning of rathapatoda, although patoda properly means ‘ goad, whip ‘. [^]
  4. 4-The Tika also tells us the names of Arittha’s three companions, namely Talipabbata (in Kamb. Mah. Hali), Tela and Tissa. These names are, we may conjecture, taken from the original source of the Mah., the old Atthakatha. [^]
  5. 5-A landing-place in northern Ceylon. See chiefly 19. 25. [^]
  6. 6-The haven of Tamalitti. See note to 11. 38. [^]
  7. 7-Very characteristic, and throwing light on court-life in India, chiefly in the fifth century A. D. The complimentary bestowing of titles and dignities was then the custom, just as at the present day. [^]
  8. 8-The accusatives in the text are all dependent on v. 33. From this point the things enumerated are merely either the insignia of a royal prince or such as are used for the ceremony of consecrating a king. [^]
  9. 9-Valavijani is a fly-whisk (Skt. camara) made of the hair of a yak’s tail. [^]
  10. 10-The Tika explains vatamsa (Skt. avatamsa) by kannapilandhana. See Vinaya Texts, ii, p. 347, note on C.V. I. 13. 1. In Thupav., p. 1723 pupphavatamsaka is rendered in Sinhalese malkada. [^]
  11. 11-That pamanga must be a band or chain is clear from the simile in Thupav. 317-19. The Buddha Dipamkara winds the girdle round his red garment as one might wind a golden pamanga about a bunch of flowers. The same simile occurs Mahabodhiv., ed. STRONG, p. 6210; cf. also C.V. 5. 2. 1 ; Sum. Vil. I. 8012 on D. 1. 1. 10. (To be read thus, Mah. ed., p. 355, line 29. [^]
  12. 12-Winding towards the right, dakkhinavatto ; cf. v. 22. [^]
  13. 13-I.e. of Buddha, sprung from the tribe of the Sakyas. See 2. 15 foll. [^]
  14. 14-See note to 1. 12. [^]
  15. 15-Skt. Tamralipti, a harbour in the region at the mouth of the Ganges, now Tamluk. At Tamralipti the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien embarked for Ceylon in the beginning of the fifth century A. D. See LEGGE, Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, p. 100. [^]
  16. 16-According to the Dip. 11. 14 and 38, the first coronation of D. was held in the second winter month under the Nakkhatta Asalha, and the second coronation on the twelfth day of the bright half of the Vesakha month. Cf. Introduction, para. 7. [^]
  17. 17-Devanampiyatissa means ‘Tissa, friend of the gods’. [^]
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