28: The Obtaining of the Wherewithal to Build the Great Thupa
SPENDING a hundred thousand (pieces of money) the king hereupon commanded a great and splendid ceremony of gift for the great Bodhi-tree. As he then, when entering the city, saw the pillar of stone raised upon the place of the (future) thupa and remembered the old tradition, he became glad, thinking: `I will build the Great Thupa.’ Then he mounted the high terrace (of his palace), and when he had taken his repast and had lain down he thought thus: `At the conquering of the Damilas this people was oppressed by me. It is not possible to levy a tax; yet if without a tax I build the Great Thupa how shall I be able to have bricks duly made?’
As he thus reflected the devata of the parasol observed his thought, and thereupon arose a tumult among the gods; when Sakka was aware of this he said to Vissakamma: `King Gamani has been pondering over the bricks for the cetiya: Go thou a yojana from the city near the Gambhirariver and prepare the bricks there.’
Thus commanded by Sakka, Vissakamma came hither and prepared the bricks in that very place.
In the morning a huntsman there went into the forest with his dogs; the devata of the place appeared to the huntsman in the form of an iguana. The hunter pursued it, and when he came (to the place) and saw the bricks, and when the iguana vanished there, he thought: `Our king intends to build the Great Thupa; here is an aid thereto !’ Thereupon he went and told (this thing). When the king, to whom his people’s good was dear, heard his welcome words he, glad at heart, bestowed on him a rich guerdon.
In a north-easterly direction from the city, at a distance of three yojanas and near Acaravitthigama, on a plain covering sixteen karisas (of land) there appeared nuggets of gold of different sizes; the greatest measured a span, the least were of a finger’s measure. When the dwellers in the village saw the earth full of gold, they put some of it into a gold vessel and went and told the king of this matter.
On the east side of the city, at a distance of seven yojanas, on the further bank of the river and near Tambapittha, copper appeared. And the dwellers in the village there put the nuggets of copper into a vessel, and when they had sought the king they told him this matter.
In a south-easterly direction from the city, four yojanas distant, near the village of Sumanavapi many precious stones appeared. The dwellers in the village put them, mingled with sapphires and rubies, into a vessel and went and showed them to the king.
In a southerly direction from the city, at a distance of eight yojanas, silver appeared in the Ambatthakola-cave. A merchant from the city, taking many waggons with him, in order to bring ginger and so forth from Malaya, had set out for Malaya. Not far from the cave he brought the waggons to a halt and since he had need of wood for whips he went up that mountain. As he saw here a branch of a bread-fruit-tree, bearing one single fruit as large as a waterpitcher, and dragged down by the weight of the fruit, he cut the (fruit) which was lying on a stone away from the stalk with his knife, and thinking: `I will give the first (produce as alms),’ with faith he announced the (meal) time. And there came thither four (theras) who were free from the asavas. When he had greeted them gladly and had invited them with all reverence to be seated, he cut away the rind around the stalk with his knife and tore out the bottom (of the fruit), and pouring the juice which filled the hollow forth into their bowls he offered them the four bowls filled with fruit-juice. They accepted them and went their way. Then he yet again announced the (meal) time. Four other theras, free from the asavas, appeared before him. He took their alms-bowls and when he had filled them with the kernels of the bread-fruit he gave them back. Three went their way, but one did not depart. In order to show him the silver he went further down and seating himself near the cave he ate the kernels. When the merchant also had eaten as he wished of the kernels that were left, and had put the rest in a bundle, he went on, following the track of the thera, and when he saw the thera he showed him the (usual) attentions. The thera opened a path for him to the mouth of the cavern: `Go thou now also on this path, lay brother!’ When he had done reverence to the thera he went that way and saw the cave. Standing by the mouth of the cave and seeing the silver he struck upon it with his axe, and when he knew it to be silver he took a lump of the silver and went to his freight-waggons. Then leaving the waggons behind and taking the lump of silver with him the excellent merchant went in haste to Anuradhapura and told the king of this matter, showing him the silver.
In a westerly direction from the city, at a distance of five yojanas, near the landing-place Uruvela, pearls in size like to great myrobalan fruits, mingled with coral, six waggonloads, came forth to the dry land. Fishermen who saw them piled them together in a heap, and taking the pearls together with coral in a vessel they went to the king and told him of this matter.
In a northerly direction from the city, at a distance of seven yojanas, in a cave opening on the Pelivapikagama tank, above on the sand, four splendid gems had formed in size like to a small mill-stone, in colour like flax-flowers, (radiantly) beautiful. When a hunter with his dogs saw these he came to the king and told him: `I have seen precious stones of such and such a kind.’
The lord of the land, rich in merit, heard, on one and the same day, that the bricks and the other (treasures) had appeared for the Great Thupa. Glad at heart he bestowed due reward upon those people, and appointing them forthwith as watchers he had the treasures all brought to him.
Merit, that a man has thus heaped up with believing heart, careless of insupportable ills of the body, brings to pass hundreds of results which are a mine of happiness; therefore one must do works of merit with believing heart.
Here ends the twenty-eighth chapter, called `the Obtaining of the wherewithal to build the Great Thupa’, in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.
- See note to 18. 24.-1- [^]
- See note to 7. 44.-2- [^]
- To Lanka or to Anuradhapura.-3- [^]
- Or ‘ a great thupa ‘.-4- [^]
- Where the Rajatalena-vihara (Mah. 35. 4) was afterwards built, now the Ridi-vihara (Silver Monastery), to the north-east of Kurunaegala, cf. E. MULLER, Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, p. 39 ; TURNOUR, Mah. Index, s.v. Ambatthakola ; RHYS DAVIDS, Ancient Coins, &c., p. 17. The distance between Anuradhapura and Ridi-vihara is 55 miles = 95 km. as the crow flies.-5- [^]
- Pana should probably be altered to puna.-6- [^]
- According to our passage the site of Uruvela seems to be near the mouth of the Kala-oya, which is distant about 40 miles, as the crow flies, from Anuradhapura.-7- [^]
- The Pelivapi is the present Vavunik-kulam, a little over 50 miles north of Anuradhapura. The river, of which the damming-up has formed the tank, is called Pali-aru. PARKER, Ancient Ceylon, pp. 256, 365-366.-8- [^]