21: The Five Kings

UTTIYA’S younger brother, MAHÄSIVA, reigned after his death ten years, protecting the pious. Being devoted to the thera Bhaddasäla, he built the noble vihara, Nagarangana, in the eastern quarter (of the city).

Mahasiva’s younger brother, SURATISSA, reigned after his death ten years, zealously mindful of meritorious works. In the southern quarter (of the city) he founded ((The verb on which the accusatives in v. 4 foll, depend is käresi in 8.-1-)) the Nagarangana-vihara, in the eastern quarter the vihära (called) Hatthikkhandha and the Gonnagirika (vihara); on the Vanguttara-mountain the (vihara) named Pacinapabbata and near Raheraka the (vihara) Kolambahalaka; ((It is called Kolambalaka in Chapter 33, and was situated (cf. note to that passage) not far from the north gate of Anuradhapura.-2-)) at the foot of the Arittha (mountain) the Makulaka (vihara), to the east ((According to the Tïkä to the east of Anurädhapura near Dahegallaka.-3-)) the Acchagallaka (vihara), but the Girinelavahanaka (vihara) to the north of Kandanagara; these and other pleasing viharas, in number five hundred, did the lord of the earth build on this and the further bank of the river, ((I. e. the Mahaweliganga.-4-)) here and there in the island of Lanka, before and while he reigned, during the period of sixty years, piously and justly, ((Sädhukam, i.e. according to pious aims, dhammena without oppressing the people.-5-)) devoted to the three gems. ((Three Jewels, also called the Three Treasures, the Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem
i. Buddha (The Enlightened or Awakened One), ii.Dharma (The Teaching) and iii.Sangha (The Community)-6-)) Suvannapindatissa was his name before his reign, but he was named Süratissa after the beginning of the reign.

Two Damilas, SENA and GUTTAKA, sons of a freighter who brought horses hither, ((This is perhaps the meaning of assanävika (lit. ‘horse-seafarer’). The Sinh. Thupavamsa has as-næviyakuge putvu; the Pujavaliya : Lak-diva-ta asun gena asvacari-de-bæ-kenek; the Rajavaliya: Lak-diva-ta asun gena asuru-de-bæ-kenek.-7-)) conquered the king Süratissa, at the head of a great army and reigned both (together) twenty-two ((Following the reading duve dvavisavassani. See the Introduction, 8. -8-)) years justly. But when ASELA had overpowered them, the son of Mutasiva, the ninth among his brothers, born of the same mother, ((Asela’s eight brothers are enumerated in the Tika. They are named Abhaya, Devanampiyatissa, Uttiya, Mahasiva, Mahanaga, Mattabhaya, Suratissa, and Kira -9-)) he ruled for ten years onward from that time in Anuradhapura.

A Damila of noble descent, named ELÄRA, who came hither from the Cola-country ((Southern India (Chola-Country)-10-)) to seize on the kingdom, ruled when he had overpowered king Asela, forty-four years, with even justice toward friend and foe, on occasions of disputes at law.

At the head of his bed he had a bell hung up with a long rope so that those who desired a judgement at law might ring it. The king had only one son and one daughter. When once the son of the ruler was going in a car to the Tissa-tank, he killed unintentionally a young calf lying on the road with the mother cow, by driving the wheel over its neck. The cow came and dragged at the bell in bitterness of heart; ((Lit. ‘With embittered heart.’ Note the play on words in ghattesi ghattitasaya. The Tika paraphrases the last word: puttasokena kupitacitta -11-)) and the king caused his son’s head to be severed (from his body) with that same wheel.

A snake had devoured the young of a bird upon a palm-tree. The hen-bird, mother of the young one, came and rang the bell. The king caused the snake to be brought to him, and when its body had been cut open and the young bird taken out of it he caused it to be hung up upon the tree.

When the king, who was a protector of tradition, albeit he knew not the peerless virtues of the most precious of the three gems, ((Cf. the note to 21. 8. By ratanaggassa is meant the Buddha, with whom the doctrine of the ratanattaya originates.-12-)) was going (once) to the Cetiya-mountain to invite the brotherhood of bhikkhus, he caused, as he arrived upon a car, with the point of the yoke on the waggon, an injury to the thüpa of the Conqueror at a (certain) spot. The ministers said to him: `King, the thüpa has been injured by thee.’ Though this had come to pass without his intending it, yet the king leaped from his car and flung himself down upon the road with the words: ‘Sever my head also (from the trunk) with the wheel.’ They answered him: `Injury to another does our Master in no wise allow; make thy peace (with the bhikkhus) by restoring the thupa’; and in order to place (anew) the fifteen stones that had been broken off he spent just fifteen thousand kahapanas. ((Cf. note to 4. 13. -13-))

An old woman had spread out some rice to dry it in the sun. The heavens, pouring down rain at an unwonted season, made her rice damp. She took the rice and went and dragged at the bell. When he heard about the rain at an unwonted season he dismissed the woman, and in order to decide her cause he underwent a fast, thinking: `A king who observes justice surely obtains rain in due season.’ The guardian genius who received offerings from him, overpowered by the fiery heat of (the penances of) the king, went and told the four great kings ((These are the four guardians of the world, the lokapala who usually appear near Indra in the brahmanic pantheon : Dhatarattha, Virulhaka, Virupakkha, and Vessavana, rulers, in the above order, of the east, south, west, and north.-14-)) of this (matter). They took him with them and went and told Sakka. Sakka summoned Pajjunna ((Skt. Parjanya, the god of rain.-15-)) and charged him (to send) rain in due season. The guardian genius who received his offerings told the king. From thenceforth the heavens rained no more during the day throughout his realm; only by night did the heavens give rain once every week, in the middle watch of the night; and even the little cisterns everywhere were full (of water).

Only because he freed himself from the guilt of walking in the path of evil did this (monarch), though he had not put aside false beliefs, gain such miraculous power; how should not then an understanding man, established in pure belief, renounce here the guilt of walking in the path of evil?

Here ends the twenty-first chapter, called `The Five Kings’, in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

One Response to “21: The Five Kings”

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