Dīpavaṁsa
[The Chronicle of the Island]

VII. The Council of the True Faith

1. There was a great assemblage from all parts of Jambudīpa, eighty koṭis of Bhikkhus, ninety-six thousand Bhikkhunis, the greater part of the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis possessing the six (supernatural) faculties.

2. The Bhikkhus, by the greatness of their magical power levelling the surface of the earth, producing (the miracle called) the world-show, made visible the (84000 consecration-) festivals, worthy of veneration.

3. The king standing on [155] the Asokārāma, looked over (the whole of) Jambudīpa; by the Bhikkhus’ magical power Asoka saw everything.

4. He saw all the Vihāras built all over the earth, the raised (?) flags, the flowers and arches and garlands, –

5. the plantains, the filled jars adorned with various flowers; he saw the whole extent of the great continent, the pomp all over the four quarters.

6-7. Delighted, glad, looking at the festivals which were being celebrated, at the assembled fraternities of Bhikkhus and the assembled Bhikkhunis and the beggars receiving rich alms which were prepared for them, seeing all the eighty-four thousand Vihāras, which were honoured (by festivals of consecration), –

8. Asoka joyfully made known to the fraternity of Bhikkhus: “I am, venerable Sirs, a relative of the religion of the teacher Buddha.

9. Great liberality has been shown by me out of reverence (?) for the Fraternity.

10-11. By expending ninety-six koṭis, a great treasure, eighty-four thousand monasteries have been erected by me in honour of the (84000) sections of the Truth taught by the most excellent Buddha. 1 have daily made offerings of four lacs: –

12. one Cetiya offering, one to the (Bhikkhu) called Nigrodha, one to the preachers of the Religion, one for the requirements of the sick; boiled rice is distributed constantly every day, just as the Mahāgaṅgā (gives her water).

13. I cannot find any other greater act of liberality. My faith is most firm; I am, therefore, a relation Ed. note: dāyāda, it more correctly means: one who inherits, or benefits from, (the Faith). of the Faith.”

14-16. After having heard the word spoken by king Asokadhamma, learned Moggaliputta who was well versed in the Scriptures, a clever decider of cases, answered the question of Asokadhamma, in order to secure a comfortable existence to the Fraternity, for the sake of the propagation of the Doctrine, and because he, the wise one, had learnt the future destiny (of the Faith): “The donor of the requisites (for the Bhikkhus) remains a stranger to the Faith, –

17. but that man who gives up his son or daughter, the issue of his body, and causes them to receive the Pabbajjā ordination, becomes really a relation of the Faith.”

18-19. King [156] Asokadhamma, the ruler of the earth, having heard this speech, addressed both prince Mahinda, his son, and his daughter Saṅghamittā: “I presently shall be a relation of the Faith.” Both children hearing what their father had said, agreed, (saying:) –

20. “Well, Sire, we agree, we will do what you have said; make us quickly receive the Pabbajjā ordination, become a relative of the Faith.”

21. Mahinda, Asoka’s son, had completed twenty years, and Saṅghamittā might be eighteen years of age.

22. When Asoka had completed six years, both his children received the Pabbajjā ordination, and Mahinda, the enlightener of the Island, received at once the Upasampadā ordination; –

23. at the same time Saṅghamittā began to exercise herself in the Sikkhā precepts. He (Mahinda) was like Moggaliputta a great teacher of the doctrine of the Theras.

24. Fifty-four years (after Moggaliputta’s Upasampadā) Asokadhamma was crowned; (six years?) after Asoka’s coronation, when Moggaliputta had completed sixty (?) years, Mahinda received the Pabbajjā ordination from Moggaliputta.

25. Mahādeva conferred the Pabbajjā ordination on him and Majjhanta the Upasampadā; See Mahāvaṁsa, p. 37, l. 2. these were the chiefs who acted compassionately towards Mahinda in (those) three ways.

26. Moggaliputta, his Upajjhāya, taught Mahinda, the enlightener of the Island, all the Piṭakas, their whole meaning, and the Doctrine.

27. Ten years after Asoka’s coronation Mahinda had completed four years (after his Upasampadā), and had become a teacher of the whole scripture as handed down, and he had many pupils.

28. Mahinda studied and retained in his mind the well propounded, well divided Sutta (collection) as it had been settled at the two convocations, the doctrine of the Theras.

29. Moggaliputta instructed Mahinda, the son of Asoka, in the three sciences, (the doctrine regarding) the six (supernatural) faculties, the four analytical doctrines.

30. And Tissa Moggaliputta continuously taught Mahinda, his pupil, the whole Piṭaka of the Āgamas [157] (i.e. the Sutta-Piṭaka).

31. When (Asoka) had completed three years, (the story of) Nigrodha (happened), after the fourth year (he put his) brothers (to death), after his sixth year Mahinda, the son of Asoka, received the Pabbajjā ordination.

32. Both sons of Kontī, the Theras Tissa and Sumitta, who possessed the great (magical) faculties, attained Parinibbāna after Asoka’s eighth year.

33. Those royal children received the Pabbajjā ordination, and both Theras attained Nibbāna.

34. Many Khattiyas and Brahmans declared their intention of becoming lay disciples, and great gain and honour accrued to the faith of Buddha; –

35. the schismatics and heretics lost both gain and honour. Paṇḍaraṅgas and Jaṭilas, Nigaṇṭhas, Acelakas, and others –

36. resided (in the Buddhist Vihāras) during seven years; the Uposatha ceremonies were performed by incomplete congregations; saintly, clever, and modest men did not appear at the Uposatha ceremonies.

37. When a hundred years and (another) hundred and thirty-six had elapsed (after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha), sixty thousand Bhikkhus dwelt in the Asokārāma.

38. Ājīvakas and sectarians of different descriptions ruined the Doctrine; all of them wearing the yellow robe injured the doctrine of the Jina.

39. Surrounded by one thousand Bhikkhus, Moggaliputta, the chief of the school, who possessed the six (supernatural) powers and the great (magical) faculties, convened a Council.

40. Wise Moggaliputta, the destroyer of the schismatic doctrines, firmly established the Theravāda and held the third Council.

41. Having destroyed the different (heretical) doctrines and subdued many shameless people and restored splendour to the (true) faith, he proclaimed (the treatise called) Kathāvatthu.

42. From that Moggaliputta Mahinda, who was the pupil of that teacher, learnt the true religion.

43. (Moggaliputta) taught him the five Nikāyas and the seven sections (of the Abhidhamma); he the hero, the clever one learnt from his teacher the two Vibhaṅgas of the Vinaya, the Parivāra, and the Khandhaka. [158]

44. When the second century and thirty-six years more had elapsed (since the Buddha’s death), again a most dreadful schism arose in the Theravāda.

45. In the city of Pāṭaliputta ruled prince Dhammāsoka, a great king, who was a believer in the faith of Buddha.

46. He bestowed great gifts on the Saṅgha, the best and most excellent of congregations; in one day he expended four lacs.

47. One he gave in honour of the Cetiyas, another for the preaching of the Dhamma, one for the requirements of the sick, one to the Saṅgha.

48. Infidels, sixty thousand in number, seeing this gain and these great honours, furtively attached themselves (to the Saṅgha).

49. The Pātimokkha ceremonies in the monastery of the Asokārāma were interrupted; a minister who ordered the Pātimokkha ceremonies to be performed, killed (some) of the Saints.

50. In order to destroy the infidels, many disciples of Buddha, sixty thousand sons of the Jina assembled.

51. At that convocation the son of Moggali was the president, a great chief, similar to the Teacher; he had not his like on earth.

52. The king asked the Thera about the case of the slaughter of the Saints; having performed a miracle, he satisfied the desire of the king.

53. Having received the Doctrine from the Thera, the king destroyed the Bhikkhu emblems of those who had furtively attached themselves (to the Saṅgha).

54. The reckless infidels, performing the Pabbajjā rite according to their own doctrine, injured the faith of the Buddha just as (men mix) pure gold (with baser metals).

55. They all were sectarian, opposed to the Theravāda; and in order to annihilate them and to make his own doctrine resplendent, –

56. the Thera set forth the treatise belonging to the Abhidhamma, which is called Kathāvatthu. A similar punishment, a similar destruction of an opposite doctrine never occurred.

57-58. After having promulgated the treatise called Kathāvatthu which belongs to the Abhidhamma, the presiding Thera, in order to purify his own doctrine and (to establish) the Faith for a long time, selected one thousand Arahats, choosing the best ones, and [159] held a Council.

59. In the monastery of the Asokārāma which had been built by king Dhammāsoka, this third convocation was finished in the space of nine months.

Here ends the Council of the true Faith which lasted nine months.