The Trustworthiness of the Mahavamsa


THE Indian Historical Quarterly

Vol.VI, No.2, 1930.06

p. 205 The "Great Chronicle" of Ceylon, the Mahavamsa, is generally divided into two main parts, the Mahavamsa in the narrower sense of the word and the so-called Culavamsa, the "Little Chronicle". The end of the first part is easily recognised at ch. XXXVII, v. 50 where the history of king Mahasena's reign terminates (362 A.C.). Here in all our manuscripts we read the words Mahavamso nitthito and in most of them also Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasambuddhassa clearly indicating the end of a work and commencement of a new one. The Dipavamsa, which appears to be a groundwork of the Mahavamsa, similarly ends with the death of Mahasena; the Mahavamsa Tika also does not extend beyond ch. XXXVII, v. 50. Nevertheless the end of the Mahavamsa must have been mutilated. Each chapter of the chronicle has a final stanza composed in an artificial metre, and we expect such a stanza also at the end of the whole poem. But its last half sloka simply runs as evam punnam apunnam ca subahum so upacini, and the Culavamsa begins with the verse asadhusamgamen' evam yavajivam subhasubham katva gato yathakammam so Mahasenabhupati. It is clear that the compiler of the Culavamsa has intention- p. 206 ally veiled the break, and it is difficult to find it out without the help of the Dipavamsa, the Tika, and the manuscripts. The Culavamsa, as far as I now can see, consists of three different portions.(l) According to the opinion which hitherto was generally accepted, the first part of the Culavamsa ends with the reign of Parakkamabahu II (end of ch. 85). Tradition calls its compiler Dhammakitti. This name occurs more than once. Wickremasinghe(2) identified our Dhammakitti with the Thera bearing that name who is mentioned in 84, 11. He was a famous monk, living in Tambarattha. King Parakkamabahu II invited him to Ceylon to help him, no douht, in purifying the church. Malalasekera following Wickremasinghe says(3): "The history of the island from the reign of Mahasen A.C. 302 [sic] to the time of Pandit Parakkamabahu of Dambadaniya [=P.II] was compiled by Dhammakitti II under royal patronage". But I succeeded in finding out unquestionable traces of a break in our chronicle after 79, 84. In four of the manuscripts the words namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasambudddhassa are inserted and a fifth manuscript has three division marks after v.84, as is generally done at the end of a pariccheda. Now just at 79, 84 the history of the reign of Parakkamabahu I comes to an end, and the preceding verses contain a summary of the meritorious works performed by the king, probably an extract from his Punnapotthaka. It is, therefore, clear that Parakkamabahu I was the favourite hero of the compiler of the first portion of the Culavamsa, that this portion ends with his death A.C. 1186, and that the chapters 80 following constitute a second ---------------------- 1. I do not take into consideration the final chapter 101 which has been added by Sumangala and Batuwantudawa, the authors of the editio princeps. 2. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum, P.31. 3. The Pali Literature of Ceylon, p.142. p. 207 part compiled by another chronicler. Further it now becomes probable that the compiler of the first portion of the Culavamsa (37, 51--79, 84) was not Dhammakitti II, mentioned in 84, 11, but an older Thera bearing the same name, perhaps the author of the Dathavamsa, Dhammakitti I, who lived under Parakkamabahu I about the end of his reign and under his immediate successors. The exact date of the composition of the Dathavamsa, according to the introductory stanzas compared with Culavamsa 80, 49f., is the year 1211 A.D. (1) The second part of the Culavamsa does not end with Parakkamabahu II's reign (89,71), but it extends to ch. 90, v. 102 or 104 (Parakkamabahu IV, 1303-1333). This is clearly shown by the manuscripts. One of them abruptly ends at v.102. In another manuscript the portion of the leaf after v. 104 is left blank and the sequel begins on a new leaf. Two manuscripts have a double division mark after the same verse. The difference in the manuscript regarding the final verse of the second part seems to prove that the compiler of the following portion again intentionally mutilated the end of the preceding one and composed the two stanzas 103 and 104 in order to make the break unnoticeable. The third and last part of the Culavamsa extends from the reign of Bhuvanekabahu III (Ch. 90, v.5) to that of Kittisirirajasiha (1747-81). We learn from the chronicle itself (99, 76ff.) that it was composed at Kittisirirajasiha's direction, as the Mahavamsa on examination proved to be deficient. It ended with the kings of Hatthiselapura (now Kurunegala). This perfectly agrees with what I said above about the break in the manuscripts after the history of Parakkamabahu IV, for, this king had in fact his residence at Kurunegala. The author of the last part of the chronicle probably was ---------------------- 1. Malalasekera (p. 66) says that the Dathavamsa was written in the twelfth century. This appears to be a slip of the pen. p. 208 the thera Tibbotuvave Sumangala who had come from Siam to Ceylon and played an important part in the Buddhist church in the second half of the 18th century. The whole Ceylon chronicle, therefore,consists of four parts: I. Mahavamsa--chs. 1--37, 50 ; 544 B.c.--362 A.C. II. Culavamsa : 1st portion chs. 37, 51-- 79, 84; 362 A.C.--1186 A.C. 2nd ,, ,, 79, 85-- 90,102; 1186 A.C.--1333 ,, 3rd ,, ,, 90, 105--100,292; 1333 A.C.--1781 ,, The author of I is Mahanama, of II.1, Dhammakitti, of II. 3, Sumangala ;the author of II. 2 is unknown. I need not say that, if we try to inquire into the question of the trustworthiness of the chronicle, each part must be treated separately. As to the first part (chs. 1--37,50) I shall confine myself to a few remarks, as the matter has been fully dealt with in the Introduction to my translation of the poem.(1) 1. There is a good number of fables, legends and tales of marvels in the Mahavamsa, and we must in each particular case attempt to find out whether there is in the narrative an historical kernel or not. It is, for instance, evident that the story of the three visits of the Buddha to Lanka in ch. 1 is purely legendary, invented at a later time in the island itself in order to legitimate its sanctity. But we stand on a firmer ground in regard to the report of the three Buddhist Councils (chs. 3-5). It is not necessary to assume that the report is correct in all its details. But the fact itself can hardly be called into question. The Northern Buddhist tradition mentions only two Councils, but the confusion that exists in this tradition regarding the date of the Second Council does not recommend it as more trustworthy than the Southern tradition.(2) ---------------------- 1. The Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of Ceylon translated, London, Pali Text Society, 1912, pp. xiiff. 2 See Mhvs. trsl., pp. lixff. p. 209 There is also some discrepancy between the Mahavamsa on the one side, and the Jaina books and the Puranas on the other concerning the list of Indian kings preceding Asoka. Chiefly the name of Kalasoka occurring only in the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa is much disputed. But at least the names and facts mentioned in Mhvs. 5. 15ff., are accepted as true history even by such scholars who otherwise look upon the Ceylon chronicles with the utmost scepticism.(1) The passage runs thus: Nava Nanda tato(2) asum kamen' eva naradhipa te pi dvavisa vassani rajjam samanusasisum./ Moriyanam khattiyanam vamse jatam siridharam Candagutto ti pannatam Canakko brahmano tato/ navamam Dhananandam tam ghatetva candakodhava sakale Jambudipasmim rajje samabhisinci so./ So catuvisa vassani raja rajjam akarayi tassa putto Bindusaro atthavisati karayi Bindusarasuta asum satam eko ca vissuta Asoko asi tesam tu punnatejobaliddhiko/ It is sufficiently proved by this and similar passages that the compilers of the Dipa- and Maha-vamsa did not arbitrarily invent the narratives, but took their information from a source which not only contained legends and fables but also good historical tradition prevailing in India. We would cast away the good with the bad, if we neglected the Ceylon chronicles in the reconstruction of the Indian history during the period from the Buddha's death to king Asoka. 2. The oldest period of Sinhalese history from Vijaya to Mutasiva (Mhvs. ch. 6---ch. 11,6) is rather obscure. The story of Vijaya's descent from a lion is a typical legend of totemistic character and explains his clan name Sihala. The colonisation of Ceylon by a group of immigrants from India ---------------------- 1. Smith, Early History of India, pp. 110ff. 2. i. e. after Kalasoka, I do not lay stress upon the exactness of the numbers. p. 210 may be taken as historical, and perhaps also the name of Vijaya as their leader. But not even the question from which part of India the colonists came can be answered in an unobjectionable manner. The reports in the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa can hardly be harmonised. The chronology is certainly arranged with the purpose of arriving at a chronological coincidence of Vijaya's landing in Ceylon with the year of the Buddha's death. What the chronicle tells us about the deeds of Vijaya and his immediate successors is a mixfure of sound tradition and legends, and it is impossible to disentangle all the difficulties. 3. Things change for the better during the reign of Devanampiyatissa. There is a widespread tradition in Ceylon, the fundamental tradition of the whole ecclesiastical history, (1) that king Devanampiyatissa was a contemporary of king Asoka, (2) that Buddhism was first preached in Ceylon under king Devanampiyatissa, and(3) that it was preached by Mahinda, a son of king Asoka. We may, of course, criticise the details of the narrative in Mhvs., chs. 13-20, but to contest the fact itself, pure and simple, would not be criticism but sterile scepticism. The missionary work of king Asoka, as it is described in Mhvs. 12, 7-54, has received a striking corroboration in inscriptions of relic-urns discovered in Sanci where some of the names mentioned in Mhvs. and Dipa. occur.(1) The name of Mahinda as the missionary sent to Ceylon is confirmed by Hiuen-tsang, who, however, calls him not a son but a brother of king Asoka. The planting of the Bodhi-tree at, Anuradhapura can also be taken as an historical fact, since sculptures on the East gate of the Sanci tope seem to be representations of that event.(2) These representations would only be 100 to 150 years later than the event itself. After all, as to chronology, the date of Deva- ---------------------- 1. See Mhvs. trsl., p. xix. 2. Grunwedel, Buddhistische Kunst in Indien, pp.72-73; Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, p. 302. p. 211 nampiyatissa's coronation, 236 years after the parinirvana, belongs, I think, to those reliable single dates which were handed down by tradition from generation to generation and which, together with the facts that are supported by external testimony, must serve as a skeleton of Sinhalese chronology. We should renounce all attempts of forming an idea of Ceylon history if we reject without hesitation all those dates as worthless invention. 4. We now gradually approach the time which may be called historical in the true sense of the word. The numbers given in the Mahavamsa for the reigns of the successors of Devanampiyatissa-10, 10, 10, 22 (or 12), l0--appear, it is true, somewhat schematic but it would be altogether groundless to doubt the historical character of the traditions about Elara and Dutthagamani. The former was a Damila. He came to Ceylon from the Cola country and seized the kingdom (Mhvs. 21, 13). It certainly tells in favour of the fairness of the Sinhalese chroniclers that they judge the usurper from a remarkably objective standpoint by emphasizing that he ruled with even justice towards friend and foe. And they also speak with similar impartiality about less dominating personalities like the Damilas Sena and Guttika, who had conquered king Suratissa: rajjam dhammena karayum (Mhvs. 21, 11). Dutthagamani is the national hero of the Sinhalese people. Even today, as I noticed when I was touring in Rohana in January and February 1926, many tales of Dutugamunu are current in this province about the place from which he started and those which are hallowed either by some important event of his life or by his mere presence. Such popular traditions are also mixed with the historical account in our chronicle but it is easy to separate the two elements, and we have hardly any reason for calling into question the genuineness of the main facts. These facts are (1) the war of Dutthagamani with his brother Saddhatissa about the sovereignty of Rohana, and the reconciliation p. 212 of the twin brothers; (2) the campaign against the Damilas who had occupied northern Ceylon and Anuradhapura; (3) the defeat and death of king Elara in a single combat with Dutthagamani and the great chivalry exhibited by Dutthagamani at the time of his burial; (4) the restoration of the national Sinhalese kingdom; (5) the foundation at Anuradhapura of the Maricavatticetiya, the Lohapasada, and the Mahathupa. All these facts are told in the Mahavamsa in a sober and reliable form. We must not forget, however, that the Mahavamsa is not a dry chronicle in the modern sense of the word, but a poem. In a poem, embellishments and somtimes also exaggerations may occur. But within these limits I have the strong impression-and whoever reads the Mahavamsa without prejudice will have the same--that the author at least wished to tell the truth. He is perhaps sometimes misled by his education and by his conviction, on account of his priestly mode of viewing things, but he never tells a falsehood intentionally. 5. The same holds good with the last chapters 33 to 37. Nay, the historical character of the account stands forth even in a bolder relief in this part of the chronicle. The dissensions and quarrels within the Buddhist community are, of course, described from the standpoint of an orthodox Theravadin, but we get a vivid picture of them and of the ecclesiastical history of that period. Very few passages only can be found out, indeed, which invite our criticism. Even the greatness of the last king of the old dynasty, Mahasena, who was no doubt a ruler of high qualities, is not entirely obscured in the chronicle, although he was at a certain period of his reign a reckless adversary of the Theravada. Things alter and become more complicated when we pass over to the Culavamsa. Mahanama, the compiler of what we call Mahavamsa in the narrower sense of the word, was a comparatively simple-minded author. He treated exactly with the same material as his predecessor, the author of the Dipa- p. 213 vamsa. This work chiefly seems to be a collection of verses quoted from the various Atthakathas and other works of the Poranas which existed in Ceylon and were composed--in the prose parts-in old Sinhalese language. Mahanama enlarged and adorned the narration by details which he found in those prose parts of the Atthakatha, or which he knew by oral tradition. He is entitled to the name of a poet but all refinements of a very high order were far from him. The compilers of the three parts of the Culavamsa were to a great extent influenced by the Indian kavya literature and by the rules of the Indian poetics, the alamkara. This influence is considerably stronger in the second part than in the first, composed by Dhammakitti, and stronger again in the third portion than in the second. The reliability of the three portions and their value as historical sources is also different; it decreases, generally speaking, from portion to portion, while on the other hand, the language becomes more artificial and sometimes even abstruse. Nevertheless there are some features which are common to all the three portions, viz., (i) The want of originality and the monotony of the representation are remarkable. Nearly all the descriptions of a battle or a festival and so forth are purely schematic and composed after a fixed model. In 78, 56ff. king Parakkamabahu I is described determining the boundary (sima) of a monastery. The passage shows a considerable resemblance, even in the wording, to the description in 15, 188ff. of the same act performed by Devanampiyatissa.(1) In the latest portion of the chronicle the descriptions of processions and feasts performed in honour of the tooth relic (cf. e.g. 99, 42ff., 53ff.;100, 1ff., 24ff.) are as alike as two peas. They are mere repetitions consisting of a number of conventional phrases, and the compiler clear imitates similar passages found in the preceding portion (85. 112ff.; 89. 19ff.). At ---------------------- 1. See my translation of the Culavamsa, II, p.108, n.6. p. 214 the same time in one of these descriptions (100, 1ff.) he strives to show also his botanical knowledge or rather his knowledge of the kosas and of the botanical names contained therein. Such details of the chronicle must therefore be estimated as only poetical embellishment without any historical value. (ii) The compilers of the three portions of the Culavamsa have each his favourite hero whom he wishes to extol and to glorify. As already Dr. Rhys Davids has rightly observed,(l) each new chronicler hurries over the kings preceding his favourite and then enlarges at length on the events of that monarch's reign. Dhammakitti's hero is Parakkamabahu I (1153-86), that of the second chronicler is Parakkamabahu II (1225-69) with his son and co-regent Vijayabahu IV, and Tibbotuvave Sumangala's favourite is Kittisirirajasiha (1747-80). In the first portion of the history, Parakkamabahu's reign occupies 18 chapters(62-79) and 241 pages of my printed translation, that of his predecessors--nearly eight centuries--fills 24 chapters and 2 231 pages. In the second part of the chronicle the disproportion is still more remarkable. There the history of Parakkamabahu II and of his co-regent comprises 8 chapters and 58 pages, that of his predecessors, from 1186 to 1225 A.D. 2 chapters and 18 pages. There is also a short appendix belonging to this part which describes the reign of the immediate successors of Vijayabahu IV (Bhuvanekabahu I to Parakkamabahu IV, 1272-1333 A.D.) in 102 verses on 9 pages. Finally in the most recent part of the chronicle the history of the reign of the favourite king Kittisirirajasiha is dealt with in two long chapters (99 and 100) in 45 pages, and that of all his predecessors from 1333 to 1747 A. D. in 8 chapters in 44 pages. The peculiar character of the chronicle must be kept in mind when we try to criticize its reliability. It is clear that in the passages where the chronicler deals with the deeds of his favourite hero, scepticism is justified, for the --------------------- 1 See Malalasekera, Pali Literature of Ceylon,p. 142. p. 215 panegyrist is always prone to make exaggerations, suppress facts or even to invent stories. There can be no doubt, for instance, that in his report of Parakkamabahu I's campaigns in Southern India, Dhammakitti suppresses the fact of the failure which overtook the expedition after its first success. (1) The narrative in the Culavamsa ends abruptly. But we learn from South Indian inscriptions that Parakkamabahu's general was finally defeated and his head with those of his officers was nailed to the gates of Madhura. There is also a great difference between what the Mahavamsa tells us about Parakkamabahu II's reign and what we learn from South Indian inscriptions. According to the chronicle the king's army freed the whole island of Lanka from the Pandyas (83.48) and Parakkamabahu is described as the absolute monarch in Ceylon. But the inscriptions tell us that about the middle of the 13th century, i.e., just at Parakkamabahu II's time, Ceylon was invaded by the Pandyas, that several kings were reigning there at that time, that one of them was killed and another was forced to pay tribute. This at least shows that Parakkama could never unite the whole island under his rule.(2) Finally I need not add much to the history of Kittisirirajasiha, the favourite hero of the last chronicler. Except the very interesting passage 99, 108-139 where the military events of the year 1765 are dealt with,(3) chapters 99 and 100 have purely a panegyric character. The king is praised therein as the liberal patron of the Buddhist church and as faithful adherent of the holy doctrine. All the failures during his reign are passed over in silence. However we must not be hasty in our conclusions. Even such passages, where the favourite king is glorified, may contain a kernel of historical truth. This especially holds good for the chapters dealing with the life and the deeds of -------------------- 1 See my translation of the Culavamsa,II, p. 100, n.I. 2 See H. W. Codrington, Short History of Ceylon, pp. 77, 87. 3 See also 99, 155-166. p. 216 Parakkamabahu I. He is depicted, no doubt, by Dhammakitti as a model king endowed with all the royal virtues and with a full knowledge of the Niti literature. Nevertheless I have tried to show(1) by an analysis of the history of the king's youth, how with cautious criticism we can find out the actual course of the events. Chapters 70 to 79, as even the most careful critic must admit, are rich in historical information about the reign of Parakkamabahu the great. First the campaigns of the king, (chs. 70-72), his struggle against Gajabahu and Manabharana for the kingdom, and then (chs. 74, 22--75), his various expeditions against the rebels in Rohana are described by the chronicler in detail. But obviously he derived his knowledge of all these particulars from reliable documents. A good deal of the numerous geographical names occurring in the report has been identified by Mr. H. W. Codrington.(2) If with the help of these identifications we carefully examine the statements of the chronicle, we never meet with serious contradictions or with impossible things, but we are able to understand the strategical plan of each campaign and its tactical performance as well as the course of the single events whether the king's army met with good or temporarily even with ill success. It may be sufficient to refer to the explanatory notes which I appended to such passages in my translation of the Culavamsa. Parakkamabahu's expedition to Ramanna, i.e. Burma (76.10ff.) is also mentioned in the Devanagala inscription.(3) The name of the port Kusumi, occurring in both the Culavamsa and the inscription, is certainly the same as Kusumanagara, in Burmese corrupted to Kusmein, the old denomination of --------------------- 1 In the Introduction to my translation of the Culavamsa, vol. I, pp. iv ff. 2 Mediaeval Topography, Ceylon Historical Association, 4, 1925; Notes on Ceylon Topography in the twelfth Century. JRAS. Ceylon Branch, xxix, No. 75, pp. 62ff, 1922. 3 H. C. G. Bell, the Kegalla District, pp.73ff. p. 217 the town Bassein on the western side of the Irawadi Delta.(1) The name of one of the two leaders of the expedition, Kitti (76. 60), also occurs in the inscription. The second one, Aditta, seems to have died in Ramanna or soon after his return to Ceylon, for he is never mentioned again, neither in the chronicle nor in the inscription. It is hardly doubtful that the report in the Culavamsa of the Ramanna campaign is much exaggerated, as the Burmese chronicles have nothing to say about such a catastrophe having overtaken their country. Regarding the other great military undertaking of Parakkama, his expedition to Southern India under general Lankapura, it has been already said above that its final failure has been suppressed in the Culavamsa. The fact itself however is confirmed by South Indian inscriptions.(2) The name Kulottunga of the Cola king in these inscriptions corresponds to the Kulasekhara of the chronicle. Chapters 73. 12ff. and 78.5ff. contain an account of the church reforms of Parakkama. If is confirmed by an inscription of the king in the Galvehera at Polonnaruva.(3) There is also some similarity between the two accounts externally. Both start with the schism of the Buddhist order under Vattagamani. Both speak of the intention that the Order now should be stable for 5000 years. In both Mahakassapa is mentioned as president of the council, and a parallel is drawn between the church reform in Pataliputta under Dhammasoka and that under Parakkamabahu. Finally I have to add a few words about the buildings erected in Pulatthinagara (Polonnaruva) by king Parakkamabahu. They are enumeratad in chs. 73, 55ff. and 78, 31ff. The description in our chronicle is reasonable and well intelli- --------------------- 1 Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, s. v. Cosmin. See also. s. See also Major R.C.Temple,Indian Antiquary, xxii, 1893, p.18. 2 See Smith, Early History of India, p. 340; H. W. Codrington, Short History of Ceylon, pp. 62, 74. 3 Ed. Muller, Ancient Inscriptions of Ceylon, p. 54; Wickremasinghe, Epigraphia Zeylonica, II, 256ff. p. 218 gible. Mr. W Codrington has rightly observed(1) that the arrangement is topographical running from south to north. It is indeed possible to identify most of those buildings with ruins, detected and excavated in Polonnaruva. The citadel and the royal palace therein (73, 60) can be traced with certainty. The palace was an imposing building although the thousand chambers attributed to it in the chronicle are a poetical exaggeration. To the Jetavanarama (78, 32) correspond the ruins of the so-called Quadrangle, and among them the Vata-da-ge to the "round temple of the tooth relic.'' The Alahana-parivena (78, 48) seems to be identical with the group of ruins, now popularly but wrongly called Jetavanarama. To it belongs the image-house Lankatilaka which even now, as far as I know, bears this name among the inhabitants of the place. The Uttararama (78, 72) with its three grottos (guha) is no doubt the so-called Gal-vehera. Not far from it an immense heap of ruins, overgrown with jungle and looking like a natural hill, represents the site of the Mahathupa or Damilathupa (78, 76). We now come to that portion of the chronicle where in ch. 37, vv. 51-60 the history of seventy four kings is described beginning with Sirimeghavanna who ascended the throne about 362 A. D., and ending with Vijayabhu I, who died 1194 A. D. It therefore covers seven and a half centuries. The chs. 61, 62, 63 containing accounts of the reigns of Jayabahu Vikkamabahu and Gajabahu make for the transition to the history of Parakkamabahu I. I do not hesitate to call just those chs. 37 to 60 perhaps the best and most reliable parts of the whole Mahavamsa. Its statements are so often confirmed by external testimonies even in details, that, according to my conviction, doubts about its general trustworthiness are not justified. This does not mean, of course, that we must abstain from all historical criticism. But if, for instance, the same events are related --------------------- 1 Short History of Ceylon, p.74. p. 219 in the chronicle and in a contemporary inscription, we may take this as a sufficient corroboration of the former account. Thus we learn from the Mahavamsa that king Vijayabahu I conquered the Colas (58, 59), fetched bhikkhus from Ramanna (59,4), erected a beautiful and costly temple for the tooth relic (60, 16), distributed alms three times to the poor of a weight equal to that of his body (60, 21), and took care to improve trade-route from the province of Uva to the sacred Sumanakuta, the Adam's peak (60, 64ff.). Now we read in the Ambargamuva inscription of king Vijayabahu that he drove away wholly the darkness of Tamil forces and brought the whole island of Lanka under one canopy and the same inscription tells us of numerous works performed by him for the furtherance of the worship of the Adam's peak. (1) The other particulars mentioned above, are confirmed by a Tamil inscription in Polonnaruva.(2) There we are told that Vijayabahu invited priests from Aramana, that he, through his senapati Deva, had the temple of the tooth-relic built at Vijayarajapura, and that he bestowed thrice his own weight upon the three Nikayas. I may add that in the Tamil inscription a reign of fifty-five years is attributed to the king in full accordance with the Mahavamsa (60, 71). In a similar manner the restoration of the Maricavattivihara at Anuradhapura, done by Kassapa V (908-918 A.D.), according to the Mahav. 52,45, is confirmed by the slab inscrip- --------------------- 1 Wickremasinghe, Epigraphia Zeylanica, II, pp. 202ff, 216, 217. 2 The so-called Velaikkara-inscriptions, written about thirty or forty years after the king's death. The Velaikkara, p. Velakkara were a group of Dravidian soldiers or a military clan and accompanied king Rajendra Cola I to Ceylon. Then they served the Sinhalese kings as mercenaries who had especially taken over the guarding of the tooth relic, Wickremasinghe, II, p, 242ff.; Culav., I, P. 257, n.5. The Velakkara are first mentioned in the chronicle just at Vijayabahu's time (60, 36). p. 220 tion of the king found in his capital.(1) There is also in this inscription (lines 3-4) the interesting notice that the king who was the son of Sena II and his queen Sangha immediately after his birth received the consecration of Yuvaraja,(2) and the prince is called de-biseva-ja, the son of the twice-anointed queen.(3) In the Mahavamsa (51, 12) we read that Sena II consecrated his son uparaja in the most solemn form already on the day of name-giving,(4) and in 52, 11 and 37 Kassapa has the surname dvayabhiseka(sam)jata. The tenth century was a stirring time in Ceylon. The chronicler (52, 70ff.) speaks of an expedition to Southern India which was undertaken by Kassapa V (908-918) in order to support the Pandu king against his Cola rival. But a disease broke out in the army and Kasapa was compelled to bring his troops back. The campaign therefore ended without success. To these events South Indian inscriptions allude as Hultzsch has shown.(5) The Cola king Parantaka I, (907-947) actually boasts in the Udayendiram plates of having defeated the Pandya king and of having routed an army of the king of Ceylon. --------------------- 1. Wickremasinghe, Epigraphia Zeylanica, I, pp. 41ff, 51. 2. Sinh. : Yuvaraj bisev siri panana--Pali: Yuvarajabhisekasirim papunitva. 3. Wickramesinghe, Ep. Zeyl. I, p. 46, 50. 4. There is a slight difference between the two accounts. The inscription speaks of a consecration as yuvaraja, the chronicle of that as uparaja. In this case, I believe, the latter is even more correct than the former. For the yuvaraja, as far as I can see, is never consecrated. One becomes yuvaraja in virtue of the right of succession or is appointed to that position, if the king has no brother or son as legal successor. See Culav. transl., I, Intro. pp, xix f. But the abhiseka of an uparaja is often mentioned in the Mahavamsa. The conferring of this title upon a member of the royal family, often upon the yuvaraja himself, was apparently a matter of king's pleasure. At the time of Kassapa's youth the younger brother of Sena II, Mahinda, was yuvaraja in accordance with the Sinhalese law (51,13). 5. J.R.A.S., 1913, pp. 525 f. p. 221 During the reign of Dappula V (918-930), a Pandya king came to Ceylon to ask for Dappula's help against the Colas. Since the assistance was refused he betook himself to the Kerala country, leaving his diadem in Ceylon (Mahav. 53, 5ff). Under king Udaya II (942-950) a Cola king sent his army to Ceylon to fetch the Pandya crown (Mahav, 53, 40ff.) But although the Colas were victorious in battle and conquered the northern provinces, Udaya succeeded in escaping to Rohana with the crown and other treasures. The victorious Cola king was no doubt again Parantaka I (907-947), mentioned above, for he calls himself in his latest inscriptions conqueror of Ilam i.e, Ceylon.(1) In A.D. 981 the weak king Mahinda V ascended the throne of Ceylon. Since he was unable to pay them, tile Kerala and other mercenaries rebelled. Mahinda fled to Rohana, but in Northern Ceylon the mercenaries carried on a military dictatorship. The Cola king, turning the confusion in Ceylon to his own advantage, sent troops to tile island (Mahav. 55, 14 ff.). The Colas advanced on Rohana, captured the king and the queen alive and brought them with all their treasures to India. This took place in the 36th year of Mahinda's reign, i.e. A.D. 1017, The victorious Cola king was Rajendra Cola I, for he boasts in the Tirumalai Rock inscription(2) of having seized the crown of the king of Ilam (on) the tempestuous ocean; the exceedingly fine crowns of the queens of that (king); the beautiful crown and the necklace of Indra, which the king of the South (i.e. the Pandya) had previously deposited with that (king of Ilam); the whole Ila-mandala (on) the transparent sea." Thus by this inscription even that single statement in the Mahav. 53,9 thapetva makutadini "leaving behind the crown and so forth" is contirmed. --------------------- 1 Epigraphia Indica, VII, Appendix, p. 115, nos 691, 692, Hultzsch, 1. 1. 2 Epigraphia Indica, IX, pp, 229, 233 Hultzsch, l.l., pp, 522 f. p. 222 Rajendra Cola's predecessor, king Rajaraja I (485-1011) had also made war against the Sinhalese. The conquest of Ceylon is mentioned in an inscription of the twentieth year of his reign, i.e, A.D. 1005, It seems that he, like Parantaka, tried to capture the Pandya crown. But we know that the Sinhalese rulers guarded the regalia, the sadhana, with the utmost care, and they were apparently so carefully hidden in those disturbed times that even the great conqueror could not seize them. There is no account of Rajaraja's campaign in the Mahavamsa, it only relates the later events, the final catastrophe. Already in the second half of the ninth century king Sena II (846-880), according to Mahav. 51.27 ff., undertook a campaign against the Pandyas which ended with the capt ture and the plundering of their capital Madhura, and indeed his son Dappula V speaks of the victory obtained by his father over the Pandyas.(1) In a similar manner king Udaya II's (880-891) struggles in Rohana and Malaya (Mahav. 51, 94 ff.) are proved as historical by an inscription of his brother Kassapa IV, Parakkamabahu I's immediate predecessor Gajabahu (Mahav. 62, 19ff.) is, strange to say, not mentioned in most of the Sinhalese books on history. But in the Devanagara inscription(3) Parakkama expressly says that; he has brought Lanka under his dominion after having conquered two rivals, the first of whom is called Gajabahu; then follows a lacuna of about 7 or 8 akkharas which Bell has no doubt rightly supplied by Manabharana. Finally I may refer to a number of names of monasteries and of persons, mentioned in the Mahavamsa--some of them only once--and occurring also in inscriptions. The Kassapa- --------------------- 1 Ataviragollava pillar inscription, Wickramesinghe, Ep, Zeyl., IJ, p. 44, 48. 2 Ep. Zeyl., I, pp. 200, 204. 3 H.C.P.Bell, Report on the Kegalla District, p. 75. p. 223 girivihara (44, 98;48, 24) and the Macchatittha (48,24)are called Kasubgiri and Mastota in the slab inscriptions of Mahinda IV on the Mihintale hill (Ep. Zeyl., I, pp. 216, 221, 227). Mandalagiri(46.29 &c.) or Mandaligiri (71.3) may be b identified with the Madiligiri in an inscription discovered at that place (Ep. Zeyl., II, p. 28); Virankurarama (50,68) with the Virankura in a Vessagiri inscription (Ep. Zeyl., I, p. 23); Sarighasena (50.70) with the Sangsenarama in an inscription of Kassapa V (Ep. Zeyl., I, p. 51), and Kutatissa (51.74)with the Kulutisa-rad-mahavehera in a Polonnaruva inscription (Ep. Zeyl., II, p.50). From Mahav. 39.11 we learn that Kassapa I enlarged the Issarasamanarama and that he gave the new vihara the names of his two daughters Bodhi and Uppalavanna and of his own. In an inscription of Mahinda, IV in Vessagiri we really find the name Isuramenu-Bo-Upulvan-Kasubgirivihara (Ep. Zeyl., I, p. 31). Nala, the wife of prince Udaya, the brother of Sena I, is mentioned in Mahav. 50, 9 and in the Mahakalatteva inscription.(1) There also occurs the name of king Kassapa IV's chief scribe Sena who is mentioned in Mahav. 52,33, Kutthaka, the senapati of Sena II(61.88) is called senavirad Kuttha in two inscriptions.(2) The name of Vajiragga, general of Udaya II (51,105 &c.) also occurs in inscriptions in various forms (Ep. Zeyl. I, p. 193). There is a slight difference between the chronicle (5, 49) and the inscriptions (Ep. Zeyl., II, pp. 184ff., 194ff.) concerning the name of king Vikkamabahu II's queen Sunari or Sundari. I need nob say so much about the third part of the chronicle. Chs. 80 and 81, dealing with the history of Parakkamabahu II's predecessors, and again Ch. 90 dealing with that of his successors, have the same character as the portion composed by Dhammakitti. They are based on the same or similar documents. --------------------- 1 Ed. Muller, Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, no. 110. 2 Wickramesinghe, Ep. Zeyl., I, pp, 164 and 175. p. 224 Of king Sahasamalla's(1) coronation the exact date is given in an inscription. According to Fleet's calculation it took place on Wednesday, the 23rd August, 1200, and this is the first absolutely certain date in the history of Ceylon, The two queens Kalyanavati, daughter of Nissankamalla, and Lilavati, daughter of Parakkamabahu I, are mentioned in inscriptions (Ep. Zeyl., II, 94,111, 190; I, 176ff., II, 192ff.). The names of the latter and of her general Parakkama (Mahav. 80,50, 52) occur in the introductory stanza of the Dathavamsa(2) which was composed by Dhammakitti at the general's suggestion. There is some difficulty concerning king Kittinissanka or Nissankamalla (1187-1196). No Sinhalese ruler has left so many inscriptions as he, but in the Mahavamsa the account of his reign is finished in 9 verses (80, 18-26), There is, however, hardly a fundamental discrepanncy between the chronicle and the inscriptions. In the former, several of the meritorious works mentioned in the latter, are enumerated; as for instance, the adornment of the Jambukola-vihara now Dambul, his liberality towards the Church, and his pilgrimage to the Adam's peak. Others, like his campaigns against the Colas and other peoples of Southern India, are passed over in silence. There is no doubt that Nissanka was an eminent ruler, but he also was a proud man and the founder of a new Kalinga dynasty in Ceylon. The bombastic style of his inscriptions probably had tile object of increasing its prestige. The account of the chronicle is in this case, I think, nearer to truth than that of the inscriptions. Virabahu, Nissanka's son, and Vikramabahu, his younger brother (80, 21, 28), are mentioned in inscriptions (Ep. Zeyl., II, 111, 92). The decline caused by the usurper Magha (80, 58ff) also appears to be true history although external testimonies --------------------- 1 Mahav., 80.32. See the note in my transl. Culav II, p. 130, n. 2 Cf. Rhys Davids'edition in the Journ. Pali Text Sec, 1584, p. 109. p. 225 are lacking. The rule of Vijayabahu III(81, 10ff.) represents the national reaction against the tyranny of the foreigner. The Pandu king Kulasekhara mentioned in 90, 47 as a contemporary of Bhuvanekabahu I (1272-1283) is no doubt the Pandya Kulasekharadeva I (1268-1308), alias Maravarman, who has left several Tamil inscriptions in Southern India.(1) In one of them the name of his general Ariyacakkavattin (Mahav. 90, 44) also occurs.(2) The remaining chapters (82-88) however have a different appearance. They are dedicated to the favourite hero of the compiler of this part of the Culavamsa, Parakkamabahu II: (1225 1269). They resemble more a panegyric than a chronicle. The author intends to draw the picture of an ideal king. Parakkama is chiefly described as the devoted protector of the Buddhist Order who worships the sacred tooth relic and celebrates great sacrificial festivals in its honour, The description of the miracle performed by the relic (82, 41ff) is clearly the imitation of a similar passage in the old Mahavamsa (31, 96ff) and that of all the meritorious works done by himself or suggested by the king reminds us of a similar description in the latest portion of the chronicle. There may be an historical kernel in some of the narratives even in this part of the Culavamsa, e.g. in chapter 83 entitled subjugation of the hostile kings. But Parakkamabahu's victory is no doubt much exaggerated. We have seen above that he certainly never succeeded in governing over the whole island. The invasion of the Javakas, related in 83, 36ff can also be taken as an historical fact, and it is also credible that the king made his son Vijayabahu co-regent (88, 1ff), as coregency repeatedly occurs in the last centuries of the Sinhalese kingdom. Vijayabahu's name and that of --------------------- 1 See Epigraphia Indica, VII, Appendix, pp, 146 ff., nos. 911, 919, 920, 921. 2 See Codrington, Short History of Ceylon, p. 80. p. 226 his brother Bhuvanekabahu(87, 16) occur in a Yapahu in scription.(1) From the end of ch. 90, in its fourth and last part (II, 3), the Culavamsa gradually loses its value as an historical source. The introductory portion(ch. 90, v. 105ff, and chs. 91-93) has a rather fragmentary character. It extends over the time from A.D. 1333 to A.D. 1593, comprising the history of the kings from Bhuvanekabahu III to Rajasiha I. About the most eminent persons like Alagakkonara(91, 3ff), or Mayadhanu, the chronicler has little to say. king Dharmapala is not even mentioned. From the Culavamsa alone we hardly get a right idea of the disunion at that time of the Sinhalese kingdom; the chronicler pays regard to the Kandy court only. A very remarkable episode in the history of Ceylon the knowledge of which we owe to Chinese sources is entirely passed over in the chronicle.(2) King Vijayabahu VI, a scion of the family of Alagakkonara, was taken prisoner to China in A.D. 1409, and there was an interregnum of about six years in Ceylon. That we have a gap here in the chronicle clearly appears from the words introducing the history of the next king Parakkamabahu VI: tato aparabhagasmim then at a later time (91, 15). The heroic figure of Rajasiha 1 does not also stand forth so prominently as it deserves. In this case the reason is that the king renounced the Buddhist faith, went over to Hinduism and even persecuted the bhikkhus. It is noticeable that just the most important event within the whole period, the arrival on the island of the Portuguese (A.D. 1505 or 1506) is nowhere related. The Parangi are first mentioned a century later under king Senaratana (95, 4ff.) who was compelled by them to leave Kandy and to bring the tooth relic to a safe place. The chronicle alludes --------------------- 1 H. C. P. Bell, Arch. Survey Reports Ceylon, 1911-12, p. 63. 2 See my transl. of Culav. II, note to 91, 14 (p. 214, n. 2); Codrington, 1. 1, p. 85 f. 89. p. 227 here to de Azavedo's expedition against the Sinhalese capital A. D. 1611. In chapter 96 we also hear of victories gained over the Portuguese by Rajasiha II and of his negotiations with the Olandas. The most valuable part of the latest Culavamsa is however the passage 99, 108-139 dealing with the military events of the year 1765 which were so disastrous for the Dutch troops. But in all these passages we never find any information which is more accurate or more detailed than what we learn from Portuguese or Dutch records. We only see with a mixture of amazement and compassion how Sinhalese eyes looked at those events which initiated the break- down of their old and glorious kingdom. We hear of victories only and successful battles whilst in realty the Sinhalese power was rapidly declining. All failures or internal frictions and calamities are suppressed. The standpoint of the chronicle is one-sided to the utmost. It was the fiction in the Dutch period that the Olandas were servants of the Kandy king and entrusted by him with the protection of the coast of Lanka (96, 32; 100, 63). In diplomacy the foreigners were no doubt superior to the Sinhalese and perhaps also in recklessness and sometimes even in cruelty. We fully understand that Tibbotuvave Sumangala paid much more attention to clerical affairs than to foreign politics. Therefore those passages which deal with the messages sent to Burma and Siam by the kings Vimaladhammasuriya I and II by Vijayarajasiha and Kittisirirajasiha to fetch bhikkhus from those countries and thus to renew the ecclesiastical life in Ceylon (94, 15ff., 92, 8ff., 98, 87ff., 100, 54ff.) are perhaps of some historical interest. Besides we hear in the last --------------------- 1 We hear of such clerical relations between Birma and Ceylon already in the Kalyani inscription of king Ramadhipati of Pegu (1746 A. D.).Cf. Taw Sein Ko, Indian Antiquary xxii, 1893, p. 11,29,85, 150, 206, 236 (Major R.C. Temple, ib. p. 279). The Singhalese king who invited the theras from Birma to Ceylon is called in the inscription Bhuvanekabahu (vi, 1473-1480 A. D.) p. 228 chapters of the chronicle, chiefly in chs. 99 and 100 which are verbose panegyrics on king Kittisirirajasiha, again and again of splendid feasts and processions ever described with the conventional phrases--of the open-handedness of the kings, of costly presents dedicated to the tooth-relic, of noble monuments and buildings erected here and there-all in sad contrast with the real conditions of the kingdom, so near at that time to its ruin. To sum up the results of the inquiry: On the whole the Mahavamsa is a trustworthy chronicle and the foremost document of Ceylonese history, though of course a sound and cautious criticism can never be dispensed with. The value of the chronicle is different in its different parts. The first few chapters of its oldest portion (I) contain a mixture of legends and historical truth. It is however not too difficult to separate the two elements from one another; the account of Devanampiyatissa's reign seems to be historical time at least in the main features, and with Dutthagamani's we reach the firm ground of a trustworthy tradition. The first part of the Culavamsa (II, 1) is probably the most reliable portion of the whole chronicle although allowances for some poetical licenses must be made in the description of the character and the deeds of Parakkamabahu I. The second part (II. 2) is hardly inferior to the preceding portion but the exaggerations and embellishments in the account of Parakkamabahu II's reign appear to have increased in comparison with the corresponding passages of II. 1. The most recent portion of the Culavamsa (II. 3) is at the same time the most indifferent part. The narrative of the chronicle is incomplete and one-sided. The Portuguese and Dutch reports which now must be considered first, also require criticism, but they are at any rate more ample and exhaustive. Nevertheless even these final chapters of the chronicle are not without interest, as they allow us an insight into the mental condition of the Sinhalese people in that tragic period of decline.