23: The Levying of the Warriors

FOREMOST in strength, beauty, shape and the qualities of courage and swiftness and of mighty size of body was the elephant Kandula. Nandhimitta, Süranimila, Mahäsona, Gothaimbara, Theraputtabhaya, Bharana, and also Velusumana, Khañjadeva, Phussadeva and Labhiyavasabha: these ten were his mighty and great warriors. ((The story of the ten paladins of Dutthagämani is treated also in the Rasavähinï II, p. 78 foll. (Ed. by SARANATISSATHERA, Colombo, 1901 and 1899.)-1-))

King Elara had a general named Mitta; and he had, in the village that he governed, ((Kammantagäma, i.e. ‘Village of labour’ or ‘activity’. ‘I think the word is equivalent to the nindagama of the present day. It is a village the tenants of which are liable to render services to the landlords.’ WIJESINHA, Mah., p. 88, no. 4.-2-)) in the eastern district ((Possibly the name of the village is Khandaraji. Rasav. II. 8028 seems to bear this out.-3-)) near the Citta-mountain, a (nephew, his) sister’s son, named after his uncle, whose secret parts were hidden (in his body). In the years of his childhood, since he loved to creep far, they ((That is the boy’s parents.-4-)) were used to bind the boy fast with a rope slung about his body, to a great mill-stone. And since, creeping about on the ground, he dragged the stone after him and in crossing over the threshold the rope broke asunder, they called him Nandhimitta. He had the strength of ten elephants. When he was grown up he went into the city and served his uncle. Damilas, who desecrated at that time thupas and other (sacred memorials), this strong man used to tear asunder, treading one leg down with his foot while he grasped the other with his hand, and then (he would) cast them out (over the walls). But the devas caused those dead bodies that he cast out to vanish.

When they observed the diminution of the Damilas they told the king; but the command `Take him with his prey !’ ((The reading should be, without doubt, sahodham ganhathenam, cf. J.R.A.S. 1910, p. 860; J.P.T.S. 1910, p. 137. Skt, sahodha. The Tika has hit the meaning with the paraphrase sabhandakam. The Rasavah. II, p. 8015 makes the characteristic alteration to sahasa ganhathenam, a proof that the phrase was no longer understood in its original sense but had fallen into a stereotyped use. Cf. also Jat. iii. 5910.-5-)) they could not carry out. ((Since they did not succeed in finding out the doer of the deed.-6-)) Nandhimitta thought: `And if I do thus, it is but the destruction of men and brings not the glory to the doctrine. In Rohana (( See note to 22. 6. -6-)) there are still princes who have faith in the three gems. There will I serve the king, and when I have overcome all the Damilas and have conferred the overlordship on the princes, I shall make the doctrine of the Buddha to shine forth brightly.’ Then he went and told this to prince Gamani. When this latter had taken counsel with his mother he received him with honour, and with high honours the warrior Nandhimitta continued to dwell with him.

King Käkavannatissa caused a guard to hold the Damilas in check to be kept continually at all the fords of the Mahägangä, Now the king had, by another wife, a son named Dïghäbhaya; and he gave the guard near the Kacchaka-ford ((See note to 10. 58.-7-)) into his charge. And to form the guard this (prince) commanded each noble family within a distance of two yojanas round (to send) one son thither. Within the district of Kotthiväla, in the village of Khandakavitthika, lived the chief of a clan the headman named Samgha who had seven sons. To him, too, the prince sent a messenger demanding a son. His seventh son named Nimila ((Rasavahim: Nimmala or Suranimmala. The first part of the latter name is derived from sura ‘spirituous liquor’, and must (according to II, p. 841-2) refer to the drinking prowess of the hero.-8-)) had the strength of ten elephants. His six brothers who were angered at his bent toward idleness, wished that he might go, but not so his mother and his father. Wroth with his other brothers he went, in the early morning, a distance of three yojanas, and sought out the prince even at sunrise. And he, to put him to the test, entrusted him with a far errand: `Near the Cetiya-mountain in the village of Dväramandala is a brahman named Kundali, my friend. In his possession is merchandise from over-seas. ((The reading samuddaparabhandani, in a Sinhalese MS., is only a conjecture, but is probably the correct reading.-9-)) Go thou to him and bring hither the merchandise that he gives thee.’ When he had thus spoken to him and had offered him a meal he sent him forth with a letter. He travelled, yet in the forenoon, nine yojanas from that place hither ((Here, as frequently, taking the standpoint of the author, who lives in Anuradhapura.-10-)) toward Anurädhapura and sought out the brahman. `When thou hast bathed in the tank, my dear, come to me,’ said the brahman. As he had never yet come to this place ((I.e. to Anuradhapura.-11-)) he bathed in the Tissa-tank, and when he had done reverence to the great Bodhi-tree and the cetiya in the Thuparama he went into the city; when he had (then) seen the whole city and had bought perfumes in the bazaar, had gone forth again by the north gate and had brought lotus-blossoms from the lotus-field he sought out the brahman, and questioned by him he told him of his wayfaring. When the brahman heard of his first march ((I. e. the distance covered in the morning from Kacchakatittha to Dvaramandala.-12-)) and of his march hither ((That is, to Anuradhapura and from there back to Dvaramandala.-13-)) he thought, full of amazement: `This is a man of noble race; if Elara hears of him he will get him into his power. Therefore must he not dwell near the Damilas, he must rather take up his abode with the prince’s father.’ When he had written in the same sense he gave the written message into his hands, and giving him Punnavaddhana-garments ((Tika : anagghani evamnamikani vatthayuganiti ‘precious pairs of garments bearing that name ‘.-14-)) and many gifts (to take with him), and having fed him he sent him (back) to his friend. He came to the prince at the time that the shadows grow longer and delivered up to the king’s son the letter and the gifts. Then rejoicing (the prince) said: `Honour this man with a thousand (pieces of money).’ The other servitors of the prince grew envious, then ordered he to honour the youth with ten thousand (pieces). And when (according to his charge) they had cut his hair and bathed him in the river, and had put on him a pair of Punnavaddhana-garments and a beautiful fragrant wreath, and had wound a silken turban about his head, they brought him to the prince, ((Vethayitva, a verb common to both and governing the accusative, must be supplied to punnavaddhanayugam and gandhamalam.-15-)) and the latter commanded that food from his own stores be given him. Moreover, the prince bade them give his own bed worth ten thousand (pieces of money) to the warrior as a couch. He gathered all these together and took them to his mother and father and gave the ten thousand (pieces of money) to his mother and the bed to his father. The same night he came and appeared at the place of the guard. When the prince heard this in the morning he was glad at heart. When he had given him provision for the journey and an escort and had bestowed on him (as a gift) ten thousand (pieces of money) he sent him to his father. The warrior brought the ten thousand to his mother and father, gave it to them and went into the presence of king Kakavannatissa. The king gave him (into the service of) the prince Gamani, and with high honours the warrior Süranimila took up his abode with him.

In the Kulumbari-district ((Kulumbarikannikaya ; cf. Nakulanagakannikayam, Mah. 23. 77; Kalayanakannikamhi, Mah. 34. 89; and Huvacakannike, Mah. 34. 90. Rasav. II. 8619 reads Kadalumbarikannikaya.-16-)) in the village Hundarivapi lived Tissa’s eighth son named Sona. At the time when he was seven years old he tore up young palms; at the time when he was ten years old the strong (boy) tore up great palm-trees. In time Mahasona became as strong as ten elephants. When the king heard that he was such a man he took him from his father and gave him into the service of the prince Gamani that he might maintain him. Receiving honourable guerdon from him, the warrior took up his abode with him.

In the region named Giri, in the village Nitthulavitthika, there lived a son of Mahanaga strong as ten elephants. By reason of his dwarfish stature he was named Gothaka; his six elder brothers made a merry jest of him. Once when they had gone forth and were clearing the forest to lay out a beanfield they left his share and came back and told him. Then forthwith he started out, and when he had torn up the trees called imbara and had levelled the ground he came and told (them). His brothers went and when they had seen his amazing work they returned to him praising his work. ((The Rasav. II. 88 foll, tells yet another story of Gothaimbara, that he subdued a yakkha named Jayasena and then went among the monks. The ‘dwellers in the Uttaravihára ‘ are mentioned as the source of this story.-17-)) Because of this he bore the name Gothaimbara, and him too, in like manner, the king commanded to stay with Gamani.

A householder named Rohana, who was headman in the village of Kitti near the Kota-mountain, gave to the son who was born to him the name of the king Gothabhaya. ((Samánanámam káresi, lit. ‘made of him of like name with…-18-)) At the age of ten to twelve years the boy was so strong that in his play he threw like balls for playing stones that could not be lifted by four or five men. When he was sixteen years old his father made him a club thirty-eight inches round and sixteen cubits long. When, with this, he smote the stems of palmyra or coco-palms, he felled them. Therefore was he known as a warrior. And him, too, did the king in like manner command to stay with Gamani. But his father was a supporter of the thera Mahásumma. Once when this householder was hearing a discourse of Mahásumma in the Kotapabbata-vihára he attained to the fruition of (the first stage of salvation called) sotápatti. With heart strongly moved ((Jatasamvego, the conception of samvega is the negative side to the positive pasáda. See note to 1.4.-19-)) he told this to the king, and when he had given over (the headship of) his house to his son he received the pabbajjá from the thera. Given up to the practice of meditation he attained to the state of an arahant. Therefore his son was called Theraputtabhaya. ((I.e. Abhaya, the son of the thera. The Rasav. II. 947 foll. states that the son was already a sámanera, then relates a story from which it appears that in strength he was even superior to Gothaimbara.-21-))

In the village of Kappakandara ((A river of this name in Rohana is also mentioned, Mah. 24. 22, besides a monastery, Rasav. II. 8811, 9412.-22-)) a son of Kumára ((Thus Rasav. II. 9628: Kumáro námeko kutumbiko.-23-)) lived named Bharana. In time, when he was ten to twelve years old, he went with the boys into the forest and chased many hares; he struck at them with his foot and dashed them, (smitten) in twain, to the ground. Then when he, at the age of sixteen years, went with the village-folk into the forest he killed antelopes, elks, and boars in like manner. Therefore was Bharana known as a great warrior. And him did the king in like manner command to stay with Gámani.

In the district called Giri, in the village of Kutumbiyañgana there dwelt, held in honour (by the people) there, a householder named Vasabha. His fellow-countrymen Vela and Sumana, governor of Giri, came when a son was born to their friend, bringing gifts, and both gave their name to the boy. When he was grown up the governor of Giri had him to dwell in his house. He had a Sindhu-horse ((Skt. saindhava ‘horse from the Indus country’,an excellent breed much prized in Indian literature.-24-)) that would let no man mount him. When he saw Velusumana he thought: `Here is a rider worthy of me,’ and he neighed joyfully. When the governor perceived this he said to him: `Mount the horse.’ Then he mounted the horse and made him gallop in a circle; and the animal appeared even as one single horse around the whole circle, and he sat on the back of the courser seeming to be a chain of men ((The Tíká (see Mah. ed. note on this passage) explains vassaharam va by ‘like an unbroken row of men holding together’. Vassa presupposes a Skt. varsan related to Skt. vrsan. The neuter gender in hara ‘string of pearls ‘, is striking. Cf. the Greek legend of Alexander’s horse Bukephalos.-25-)) and he loosed his mantle and girt it about him again and again fearlessly. When the bystanders saw this they broke into applauding shouts. The governor of Girl gave him ten thousand (pieces of money) and thinking: `he is fit for the king,’ he gave him joyfully into the king’s service. The king made Velusumana dwell near him, giving him honourable guerdon and favouring him greatly.

In the district of Nakulanaga in the village of Mahisadonika there lived Abhaya’s last son, named Deva, endowed with great strength. Since he limped a little they called him Khañjadeva. When he went a-hunting with the village-folk, he chased at those times great buffaloes, as many as rose up, and grasped them by the leg with his hand, and when be had whirled them round his head the young man dashed them to the ground breaking their bones. When the king heard this matter, having sent for Khañjadeva, he commanded him to stay with Gámani.

Near the Cittalapabbata (vihára) ((See Mah. 22. 23 (with note) ; Rasav. II. 1012.-26-)) in the village named Gavita there lived Uppala’s son named Phussadeva. When he went once as a boy to the vihára with the (other) boys he took one of the shells offered to the bodhi-tree and blew it mightily. Powerful even as the roar at the bursting asunder of a thunderbolt was his tone, and all the other boys, terrified, were as if stunned. Therefore he was known by the name Ummádaphussadeva. His father made him learn the archer’s art handed down in the family, and he was one of those who hit their mark (guided) by sound, who hit by (the light of the) lightning, and who hit a hair. A waggon laden with sand and a hundred skins bound one upon another, a slab of asana or udumbara-wood ((Skt. asana, Terminalia tomentosa and udumbara, Ficus glomerata.-27-)) eight or sixteen inches thick, or one of iron or copper two or four inches thick he shot through with the arrow; an arrow shot forth by him flew eight usabhas ((See note to 22. 42.-28-)) over the land but one usabha through the water. When the great king heard this thing he had him taken away from his father and commanded him to stay with Gámani.

Near the Tuládhára-mountain in the village of Viháravápi lived a son of the householder Matta, named Vasabha. Since his body was nobly formed they called him Labhiyavasabha. At the age of twenty years he was gifted with great bodily strength. Taking some men with him he began, since he would fain have some fields, (to make) a tank. Making it he, being endowed with great strength, flung away masses of earth such as only ten or twelve men had moved else, and thus in a short time he finished the tank. And thereby he gained renown, and him too did the king summon and, allotting him honourable guerdon, he appointed him to (the service of) Gámani. That field was known as Vasabha’s Dam. ((The Rasav. 11. 103 135 says: Kákavannatissamahárájá támánápetva mahantam sakkáram katvá udakaváragámamtass’ eva dápesi; tato pattháya so Vasabhodakaváro tipákato ahosi.-29-)) So Labhiyavasabha abode near Gámani.

On these ten great warriors did the king henceforth confer honours like to the honours conferred on his own son. Then summoning the ten great warriors the king charged them: `Each one find ten warriors.’ They brought thither warriors in this way and again the king commanded these hundred warriors to levy (others) in like manner. They too brought thither warriors in this way and these thousand warriors did the king again command to levy (others) in like manner. They also brought warriors thither. And they, reckoned altogether, were then eleven thousand one hundred and ten warriors.

They all continually received honourable guerdon from the ruler of the land and abode surrounding the prince Gámani. Thus when a wise man, mindful of his salvation, hears of the marvels wrought by the pious life, he should surely, turning aside from the evil path, evermore find pleasure in the path of piety.

Here ends the twenty-third chapter, called `The Levying of the Warriors’, in the Mahávamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

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