On the Chronicles of Ceylon

by
Bimala Churn Law

A judicious appraisal of the various Chronicles that were written in Sri Lanka, assessing their chronology, literary and historical character.

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I. Chronological Position

II. Literary Position

III. Historical Position

 

Foreword to the Digital Edition

The Sri Lankan monastic tradition is outstanding in having kept good, and for the most part accurate, records of its history, particularly in regard to two types of lineage: that of its kings and that of its monastic elders, and recording their good works for posterity.

The great Bengali scholar Bimala Churn Law was renowned for his studies of ancient Indian history, and particularly for his Buddhist studies. He also made a number of very useful translations of texts, including three from the Vaṁsa literature, and so was very familiar with this area of study.

In the present work he has made a judicious appraisal of the various Chronicles that were written in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon, as it was known in his day), from different angles, assessing their chronology, literary and historical character.

What follows is a transcription by my good helper Donny Hacker of B. C. Law’s book as it was published in 1947. The final proofing and corrections were made by myself. I have made some small changes, like breaking up some of the longer paragraphs, and making headings of the works described and appraised, which was absent in the original, but otherwise the work is basically as published.

Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
June 2017

 

Preface

[iii] In this treatise an attempt has been made to present a careful and exhaustive study of the chronicles of Ceylon in a spirit of scientific research. In 1908 Geiger made a critical study of this subject for the first time in his work on The Dīpavaṁsa and Mahāvaṁ and their Historical development of Ceylon. In 1928 G. P. Malalasekera published a book on the Pali Literature of Ceylon (J.R.A.S. publication, Prize Publication Fund, Vol. X) and in 1933 I, in my History of Pali Literature, dealt with the same topic. In the present book my treatment is different from that of the previous writers. In three chapters I have discussed the chronological, literary, and historical position of the chronicles in Pali and Sinhalese. I have tried to utilize all the available materials, which may be gathered from ancient and modern literature on the subject. This work is, I believe, new in its treatment, and will remove a long-felt want. I shall consider my labour amply rewarded, if it be of some use to scholars interested in the Ceylonese chronicles.

Bimala Churn Law,
Calcutta,
43 Kailas Bose Street,
February, 1947.

 

Bibliography

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