22: The Birth of Prince Gamani

WHEN he had slain Elara, DUTTHAGAMANI became king. To show clearly how this came to pass the story in due order (of events) is this[1]1:

King Devanampiyatissa’s second brother, the vice-regent named Mahanaga, was dear to his brother. The king’s consort, that foolish woman, coveted the kingship for her own son and ever nursed the wish to slay the vice-regent, and while he was making the tank called Taraccha she sent him a mango fruit which she had poisoned and laid uppermost among (other) mango-fruits. Her little son who had gone with the vice-regent, ate the mango fruit, when the dish was uncovered, and died therefrom. Upon this the vice-regent, with his wives, men and horses, went, to save his life, to Rohana.[2]

In the Yatthalaya-vihara[3] his wife, who was with child, bore a son. He gave him his brother’s name.[4] Afterwards he came to Rohana and as ruler over the whole of Rohana the wealthy prince reigned in Mahagame.[5] He founded the Nagamahavihara[6] that bore his name; he founded also many (other) viharas, as the Uddhakandaraka (vihära) and so forth.

His son Yatthalayakatissa reigned after his death in that same place, and in like manner also Abhaya, son of this (last).

Gothabhaya’s son, known by the name Kakavannatissa,[7] the prince, reigned there after his death. Viharadevi was the consort of this believing king, firm in the faith (was she), the daughter of the king of Kalyani.[8]

Now in Kalyani the ruler was the king named Tissa. His younger brother named Ayya-Uttika, who had roused the wrath (of Tissa) in that he was the guilty lover of the queen, fled thence from fear and took up his abode elsewhere. The district was named after him. He sent a man wearing the disguise of a bhikkhu, with a secret letter to the queen. This man went thither, took his stand at the king’s door and entered the king’s house with an arahant who always used to take his meal at the palace, unnoticed by that thera. When he had eaten in company with the thera, as the king was going forth,[9] he let the letter fall to the ground when the queen was looking.

The king turned at the (rustling) sound, and when he looked down and discovered the written message he raged, unthinking, against the thera, and in his fury he caused the thera and the man to be slain and thrown into the sea. Wroth at this the sea-gods made the sea overflow the land; but the king with all speed caused his pious and beautiful daughter named Devi to be placed in a golden vessel, whereon was written `a king’s daughter’, and to be launched upon that same sea. When she had landed near to (the) Lanka (vihara) the king Kakavanna consecrated her as queen. Therefore she received the epithet Vihära.

When he had founded the Tissamahavihara[10] and the Cittalapabbata (vihara)[11] and also the Gamitthavali and Kütali (vihära) and so forth, devoutly believing in the three gems, he provided the brotherhood continually with the four needful things.[12]

In the monastery named Kotapabbata there lived at that time a sämanera, pious in his way of life, who was ever busied with various works of merit.

To mount the more easily to the courtyard of the Akasacetiya[13] he fixed three slabs of stone as steps. He gave (the bhikkhus) to drink and did services to the brotherhood. Since his body was continually wearied a grievous sickness came upon him. The grateful bhikkhus, who brought him in a litter, tended him at the Tissarama, in the Silapassayaparivena.

Always when the self-controlled Vihäradevi had given lavish gifts to the brotherhood in the beautifully prepared royal palace, before the mid-day meal, she was used to take, after the meal, sweet perfumes, flowers, medicines and clothing and go to the arama and offer these (to the bhikkhus) according to their dignity.

Now doing thus, at that time, she took her seat near the chief thera of the community (in the vihara) and when expounding the true doctrine the thera spoke thus to her: `Thy great happiness thou hast attained by works of merit; even now must thou not grow weary of performing works of merit.’ But she, being thus exhorted, replied: `What is our happiness here, since we have no children? Lo, our happiness is therefore barren!’

The thera, who, being gifted with the six (supernormal) powers, foresaw that she would have children, said: `Seek out the sick samanera, O queen.’ She went thence and said to the samanera, who was near unto death: `Utter the wish to become my son; for that would be great happiness for us.’ And when she perceived that he would not the keen-witted woman commanded, to this end, great and beautiful offerings of flowers, and renewed her pleading.

When he was yet unwilling, she, knowing the right means, gave to the brotherhood for his sake all manner of medicines and garments and again pleaded with him. Then did he desire (rebirth for himself in) the king’s family, and she caused the place to be richly adorned and taking her leave she mounted the car and went her way. Hereupon the samanera passed away, and he returned to a new life in the womb of the queen while she was yet upon her journey; when she perceived this she halted. She sent that message to the king and returned with the king. When they two had both fulfilled the funeral rites for the samanera they, dwelling with collected minds in that very parivena, appointed continually lavish gifts for the brotherhood of bhikkhus.

And there came on the virtuous queen these longings of a woman with child. (This) did she crave: that while making a pillow for her head of a honeycomb one usabha long[14] and resting on her left side in her beautiful bed, she should eat the honey that remained when she had given twelve thousand bhikkhus to eat of it; and then she longed to drink (the water) that had served to cleanse the sword with which the head of the first warrior among king Elara’s warriors had been struck off, (and she longed to drink it) standing on this very head, and moreover (she longed) to adorn herself with garlands of unfaded lotus-blossoms brought from the lotusmarshes of Anuradhapura.

The queen told this to the king, and the king asked the soothsayers. When the soothsayers heard it they said: `The queen’s son, when he has vanquished the Damilas and built up a united kingdom, will make the doctrine to shine forth brightly.’

`Whosoever shall point out such a honeycomb, on him the king will bestow a grace in accordance (with this service),’ thus did the king proclaim. A countryman who found,[15] on the shore of the Gotha-sea[16] a boat, which was turned upside down, filled with honey, showed this to the king. The king brought the queen thither and, in a beautifully prepared pavilion, caused her to eat the honey as she had wished.

And that her other longings might also be satisfied the king entrusted his warrior named Velusumana with the matter. He went to Anuradhapura and became the friend of the keeper of the king’s state-horse and continually did him services. When he saw that this man trusted him he, the fearless one, laid lotus-flowers and his sword down on the shore of the Kadamba-river early in the morning;[17] and when he had led the horse out and had mounted it and had grasped the lotus-blossoms and the sword, he made himself known[18] and rode thence as swiftly as the horse could (go).[19]

When the king heard that he sent forth his first warrior to catch him. This man mounted the horse that came second (to the state-horse) and pursued the other.[20] He (Velusumana), sitting on the horse’s back, hid himself in the jungle, drew the sword and stretched it toward his pursuer.[21] Thereby was his head, as he came on, so swiftly as the horse could, severed (from the trunk). The other took both beasts and the head (of Elara’s warrior) and reached Mahagama in the evening. And the queen satisfied her longings even as she would. But the king conferred on his warrior such honours as were in accordance (with this service).

In time the queen bore a noble son, endowed with all auspicious signs,[22] and great was the rejoicing in the house of the great monarch. By the effect of his merit there arrived that very day, from this place and that, seven ships laden with manifold gems. And in like manner, by the power of his merit, an elephant of the six-tusked race[23] brought his young one thither and left him here and went his way. When a fisherman named Kandula saw it standing in the jungle on the shore opposite the watering-place, he straightway told the king. The king sent his (elephant)-trainers to bring the young elephant and he reared him. He was named Kandula as he had been found by Kandula.

`A ship filled with vessels of gold and so forth has arrived.’ This they announced to the king. And he bade them bring (the precious things) to him.

As the king had invited the brotherhood of the bhikkhus, numbering twelve thousand, for the name-giving festival of his son, he thought thus: `If my son, when he has won the kingship over the whole realm of Lanka, shall make the doctrine of the Sambuddha to shine forth (in clear brightness) then shall just one thousand and eight bhikkhus come hither and they shall wear the robe in such wise that the alms-bowl shall be uppermost.[24] They shall put the right foot first inside the threshold[25] and they shall lay aside the prescribed waterpot together with the umbrella (made of) one (piece).[26] A thera named Gotama shall receive my son and impart to him the confession of faith and the precepts of morality.’[27] All fell out in this manner.

When he saw all these omens the king, glad at heart, bestowed rice-milk on the brotherhood; and to his son, bringing together in one both the lordship over Mahagama and the name of his father, he gave the name Gamani Abhaya.

When, on the ninth day after this, he had entered Mahägama, he had intercourse with the queen. She became thereby with child. The son born in due time did the king name Tissa. And both boys grew up in the midst of a great body of retainers.

When, at the festival time of the presenting of the (first) rice-foods to both (children), the king, full of pious zeal, set rice-milk before five hundred bhikkhus, he, when the half had been eaten by them, did, together with the queen, take a little in a golden spoon and give it to them with the words: `If you, my sons, abandon the doctrine of the Sambuddha then shall this not be digested in your belly.’ Both princes, who understood the meaning of these words, ate the rice-milk rejoicing as if it were ambrosia.

When they were ten and twelve years old the king, who would fain put them to the test, offered hospitality in the same way to the bhikkhus, and when he had the rice that was left by them taken and placed in a dish and set before the boys he divided it into three portions and spoke thus: `Never, dear ones, will we turn away from the bhikkhus, the guardianspirits of our house: with such thoughts as these eat ye this portion here.’ And furthermore: `We two brothers will for ever be without enmity one toward the other; with such thoughts as these eat ye this portion here.’ And as if it were ambrosia they both ate the two portions. But when it was said to them: `Never will we fight with the Damilas; with such thoughts eat ye this portion here,’ Tissa dashed the food away with his hand, but Gämani who had (in like manner) flung away the morsel of rice, went to his bed, and drawing in his hands and feet he lay upon his bed. The queen came, and caressing Gamani spoke thus: `Why dost thou not lie easily upon thy bed with limbs stretched out, my son?’ `Over there beyond the Ganga[28] are the Damilas, here on this side is the Gotha-ocean,[29] how can I lie with outstretched limbs?’ he answered. When the king heard his thoughts he remained silent.

Growing duly Gamani came to sixteen years, vigorous, renowned, intelligent and a hero in majesty and might.

In this changing existence do beings indeed (only) by works of merit come to such rebirth as they desire; pondering thus the wise man will be ever filled with zeal in the heaping up of meritorious works.

Here ends the twenty-second chapter, called `The Birth of Prince Gamani’, in the Mahavamsa compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

  1. On the insertion of the Dutthagamani epic see Dip. and Mah., p. 20 (English ed.). In the Nidanakatha (Jat. i. 503) the story of the dream of Maya before the birth of the Buddha is inserted with almost the same introducing words. See WINDISCH, Buddha’s Geburt und die Lehre von der Seelenwanderung, p. 156.-1- [^]
  2. The south and south-east part of the island.-2- [^]
  3. There is certainly better authority for the form Yatthalaya. However Yatthalaya gives an appropriate meaning to the name: ‘dwelling or temple of the sacrificer’. (Skt. yastar, p. yatthar and Skt. P. alaya.) Tradition seems to identify the monastery with the Yatagala-vihara to the NE. of Point de Galle. The Ceylon National Review, iii, p. 110.-3- [^]
  4. He was named (after his birthplace and Devanampiyatissa) Yatthalayakatissa.-4- [^]
  5. NE. of Hambantota near the place where the ruins of the Tissamaharama lie on the left bank of the Magama-river. The village at the mouth of the river still bears the name Magama.-5- [^]
  6. The Mahanaga-dagaba still exists in the ruins of Mahagama. See PARKER, Ancient Ceylon, p. 324.-6- [^]
  7. King Kakavannatissa also known as King Kawan Tissa.-7- [^]
  8. See note to i. 63.-8- [^]
  9. Or ‘as she (i.e. the queen) was going forth with the king’, according to the reading raññä saha viniggame of the Burmese MSS. ; the Tika seems also to agree with this.-9- [^]
  10. Cf. above the note to v. 8.-10- [^]
  11. The ruins of the Cittalapabbata, or, in the later form, Situlpaw-vihara lie 15 miles NE. of the Tissamaharama near Katagamuwa. See A. JAYAWARDANA in The Ceylon National Review, ii, p. 23 ; ED. MULLER, Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, p. 29. The monastery is mentioned once again in 35. 81, and in the Culavamsa 45. 59 under king Dathopatissa II, the first half of the seventh century A.D.-11- [^]
  12. See note to 3. 14.-12- [^]
  13. I.e. the ‘Air-cetiya ‘, which is still shown, not far from the Cittalapabbata-monastery. It is so named because it is situated on the summit of a rock. Cf. Ceylon National Review, ii; p. 24. See also note to 33. 68.-13- [^]
  14. A certain measure. According to Abhidhanappadipika =20 yatthi (‘staves’) each 7 ratana (‘cubits’). RHYS DAVIDS, Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon, p. 15.-14- [^]
  15. The Tika here contains a narrative, taken from the Atthakatha, of the finding of the boat ; cf. Dip. and Mah., p.37. The author of the Kamb. Mah. has versified and adopted it in his text.-15- [^]
  16. Gothasamudda (cf. 22. 85) is a designation of the sea near Ceylon. In Sinhalese the corresponding word is golumuhudu ‘the sea not far from the land, the shallow sea ‘ (CLOUGH, Sinh.-Engl. Dict., s. v.).-16- [^]
  17. The Tika explains the passage thus : Anuradhapurassa uppalakkhettato gahitam uppalamalam ca attano khaggaratanam ca gahetva pato va Kadambanadiya tiram netva kassaci asankito tattha thapesi ‘When he had taken lotus flowers gathered from the lotus-marshes of Anuradhapura, and his own precious sword, he brought it early in the morning to the shore of the Kadamba-river and laid it there down, without being afraid of anybody ‘.-17- [^]
  18. Attanam nivedayitva as elsewhere namam savayitvana (10.26; 33.65).-18- [^]
  19. Lit. ‘ with the swiftness of the horse.’-19- [^]
  20. According to the Tika Elara’s man-at-arms was named Nandasarathi, his horse was called Sirigutta, the horse stolen by Velusumana is called Vaha.-20- [^]
  21. Lit. ‘ To him who was coming at his back or after him.’-21- [^]
  22. The Tika explains dhaññam by paripake gabbhe mahapuññasampannam puññatejussadam ti va attho.-22- [^]
  23. The chaddanta (or saddanta) are supposed to be a particularly noble breed of elephants. Chaddanta is also a sacred lake in the Himalaya named after these elephants. Mah. 5. 27, 29. SUBHUTI, Abhidhanappadipika-Suci, p. 130: Chaddanto, nagaraja, tassa nivasatthanasamipatta Chaddanto saro.-23- [^]
  24. I.e. the alms-bowl shall not be covered by the folds of the garment. The twice repeated ca is striking. The author of the Kamb. Mahavamsa also feels this ; he alters ca to sa.-24- [^]
  25. The contrary would be an unlucky omen. This superstition still prevails among the modern Sinhalese. PARKER, Village Folk-tales of Ceylon, p. 14.-25- [^]
  26. Ekacchattayutam dhammakarakam niharantu ca. My translation is based on SUBHUTI’S interpretation (letter dated Colombo 2. 1. 1911). The dhammakaraka is a pot into which the water is strained before drinking; the strainer being called parissavana. See C.V. V. 13. 1; VI. 21. 3). ‘The waterpot and the umbrella (chatta) are two principal articles used by the monks when going out.’ Ekacchatta or ‘single umbrella’ is ‘an umbrella made of leaf, having its own handle ‘. According to SILANANDA (letter received from H. T. de Silva, Colombo 21. I. 1911) ekacchattayutam must be taken as ‘provided with one handle’ as an adjective belonging to dhammakarakam. The waterpots are made without or with a handle or neck. In this case the neck of the waterpot would be compared to a chatta on the top of a building.-26- [^]
  27. WIJESINHA, Mah., p. 87, n. 1, refers the words not to the boy but to the assembly present. He says : ‘It must here be borne in mind that it is customary with the priesthood to administer the confession of faith (sarana) and the five precepts (pañcasila)To THE ASSEMBLY before the commencement of any ceremony.’ But Mah. 24. 24 Gotama (cf. v. 28) is expressly designated rañño (i.e. of Duttha-gamani) sikkhaya dayako, with distinct reference to 22. 69. We take it then to mean that Gotama, from the very fact that he ‘receives’ the boy (patiganhati), expresses his willingness to become his teacher in the future.-27- [^]
  28. See note to 10. 44.-28- [^]
  29. See note to 22. 49.-29- [^]
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