The Theravāda Lineage Home PageAnalytic Summary
The Theravāda Lineage
Introduction, mainly about Dates
[Note. – A.B. stands for Anno Buddhi; As Sans. Buddhah̤, Pāli Buddho, will be in Latin Buddhas, I adopt the form above given for the genitive singular, in preference to Buddhæ, which some use, but which, it seems to me, cannot be defended on linguistic analogy. A.C., for Anno Christi.]
[v] The “Nikāya Saṅgrahaya” is a history of Buddhism in India and Ceylon, from its rise under Sākya Muni to the twentieth century of its existence. This history was written by Dharmakīrti II, [The author’s name is given in the text itself as Dharmarakṣita, which later became Jayabāhu. Dharmakīrti was his title when he became head of the Saṅgha]. Chief Hierarch of Ceylon, in the reign of Vīrabāhu II, of whom we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Dharmakīrti was the greatest scholar of his day in Ceylon, and was one of those rare men of learning and genius whose greatness is for all time and for all climes. His work therefore, necessarily a standard work, is of the utmost importance to us, not only from its interest as a history of religion which it professes to be, but also as an authentic record of events relating to the past. Perhaps it is in this last respect that its main use to us lies at the present day. For it gives the names of all the kings of Ceylon from Vijaya to Vīrabāhu II, calls attention to the principal events in the reigns of those who had most concerned themselves with the welfare of the tradition, [Text: Church (with a capital C), see my Preface]. and in the case of memorable occurrences, gives their dates wherever these are known. The value of the work, therefore, for purposes of comparison with other chronicles in connection with investigations into the history and antiquities of Ceylon, is self evident. But its use is not limited to investigations connected with this Island alone. The earlier part of the work is full of facts and dates having reference to India, and as throwing light on the history of that country during the Buddhistic period, its aid seems invaluable.
The social evolution of India, which had reached its climax at the time Prince Siddhārtha was born, presents a curious phenomenon to the rest of the world. The country had been civilized for ages; it had long attained a high state of material and intellectual development. Religion was a living force everywhere, and exerted the greatest influence on life; but unlike in other parts of the world, this influence was directed not only to regulate the moral conduct of individuals, but also to regulate the social organization of the community. In this organization [the] caste system was the leading feature, which, [vi] thus sanctioned by religion, was the more baneful in its effects on those who were less favoured. It was a distinct national evil, and had continued to grow until the obvious iniquity of its dispensation came to be felt not only by those who had to suffer for the accident of birth, but even by those who were supposed to benefit by it. The strain on all classes, of society brought on by the rigidity which this artificial and unnatural system had acquired, was getting to be well-nigh intolerable, and it was felt on all hands that some sort of change was necessary. Either the system had to be swept away or its influences had to be so modified as to be least harmful. But the question was, “Who was to lead?” Obviously an ordinary man as leader in such a case would be out of the question. For the matter concerned all classes of the community, and the higher grades of the community cannot be reached by the ordinary man. A prince alone could exert the necessary moral influence and command the respect due, and a prince was required to take the lead. That prince was found in the scion of the Sākya race, Prince Siddhārtha, who became Gotama Buddha.
The religion of the new teacher was based upon logical principles of right and wrong, and rested on a broad ground of equal justice to all. “As ye sow so shall ye reap” was the keynote of the new religion, and righteousness proceeding from universal benevolence was its leading principle. In its system love was the universal bond which united all humanity, and indeed all sentient beings, together, and no distinction was recognized between man and man beyond that which is implied by the difference of righteousness in degree. Such a doctrine coming at such a time and from such a person, who, to become its propounder, had renounced the splendours of a throne, appealed at once to all orders alike – to the lower by the genuine and active sympathy it extended to them, to the higher by the manifest justice of its principles. Within a short time the religion of the Enlightened One was completely established in the kingdom of Magadha, then the premier kingdom in India, with the king himself as the best follower of the new faith. Wholesale conversions began to take place in all directions, wherever the Buddha visited, and the moral and social regeneration of a vast portion of humanity went on, till in the forty-fifth year of his ministration the Buddha shook off the trammels of a material existence and attained the blissful state of Nirvāṇa.
Nor did his death stop the progress of the new religion. It continued to spread and extend, bringing new regions under its sway till, two centuries later, we find it propagated [vii] throughout the length and breadth of India under the loving care and patronage of the great Emperor Aśoka, whose edicts remain up to the present day to attest to his zeal.
But it seems that the country which was to identify itself most closely with the new faith was to be our own Island of Ceylon. Aśoka’s son and daughter, who, fired by the zeal of their parent had taken to the yellow robe, selected this Island for the field of their labours, and an easy mission they found in it. Aśoka himself sent over with the ascetic princess a branch of the sacred Bodhi-tree under which Buddha had attained omniscience, and this was planted at the royal city of Anurādhapura to endure for millenniums. A few centuries later the text of the Buddhist scriptures, which had continued to be handed down orally, was reduced to writing at Aḷuvihāre in Mātale. Buddhism, from its introduction up to date, has flourished in Ceylon, and in Ceylon its sacred language, Pāli has been cultivated and preserved in its purity.
Shortly after the death of Buddha the first work of his disciples was to hold a Council, and settle the canon. A hundred years later another Council was held under the patronage of King Kālāśoka, who then ruled Magadha, and something over a hundred years still later a Third Council was held under Aśoka the Emperor.
Some critics, including among others such an eminent writer as Major-General Alexander Cunningham, are disposed to regard the Second Council and its patron Kālāśoka as a mere myth. If Kālāśoka was the same as Kaniṣka, their argument becomes intelligible. According to the Chinese pilgrim Hwan Thsang [Xuan Zang], Kaniṣka ascended the throne four hundred years after the Nirvāṇa of Buddha, and according to Tibetan books it was even later. Therefore, Kaniṣka could not have patronized a Council held three centuries earlier. This proceeds on the assumption that Kaniṣka of the fifth century A.B., and Kālāśoka of the second century A.B. are one and the same person. I have seen nothing to warrant such a conclusion. On the mere ground of probability alone, the idea of a fabrication seems inadmissible. For what can be gained by palming off a Council at such an early date on the authority of which nothing is claimed to rest? Then, again, there is the circumstantiality of detail with which the story is told: how corrupt practices had found their way into the Order, how the orthodox members of the tradition were determined to stamp them out, where the trouble was rife, who the chief actors were, how the royal favour was fought for, and how in the end the right prevailed. Such details in sober writings seldom proceed from imagination.
[viii] But probability is not all. According to the story as given in the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, the abuses which led to this Second Council and the issue of the dispute were the very causes of the cleavage between the Northern and Southern traditions of Buddhism; and we know from the acrimony with which each has ever since regarded the other, as well as from the story of the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya and other sources, that from the moment of their separation these traditions were at deadly feud, never thinking together, never making common cause. Yet these two traditions, so completely estranged for twenty centuries past, are agreed on this one point: that early in the second century of the Buddhist era a king by the name of Aśoka did live and reign. The southern tradition calls him Kāla Aśoka (Aśoka the Black), and the northern tradition simply calls him Aśoka. See Cunningham, Inscriptions of Aśoka, p. viii. Here then the two traditions are on common ground with reference to the main fact, and the only possible explanation of their agreement is that Kāla Aśoka was known to the tradition before it separated. It may be objected that the king referred to by the Northern Buddhists is the emperor who lived in the next century. But this objection cannot hold, since in the Avadāna Śataka, the northern tradition also speaks of Aśoka of the third century A.B., whom we know to be the emperor, making definite mention of the fact that he ascended the throne two hundred years after the Nirvāṇa of Buddha. Cunningham, Inscriptions of Aśoka, p, vi. It is therefore clear that Kālāśoka of the kingdom of Magadha was not a mythical personage but a real king. This point being settled, the question with regard to the historicity of the Second Council which turns on it must be considered as settled also. We are now able to construct a table of the kings who reigned in Magadha from the time of Buddha to the end of the empire of Aśoka:
TABLE Compiled mainly from the accounts of the Mahāvaṁsa and the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya.
Date of Accession
Name of King
Length of Reign
Put to death by his son Ajātasattu.
Put to death by his son Udāyibhadda
Put to death by his son Anuruddha
Father and son reigned in succession. The first put to death by the second; the second put to death by his son Nāgadāsa
Deposed by the populace, which had risen against a parricidal race
The Susunāga Dynasty
Minister to the last, raised to the throne by the people.
Bhadrasena Koraṇḍa Maṅgura Sarvañjaha Jālika Usabhaka Sañjaya Koravya Nandiwardhana Pañcamaka
Reigned in succession 22 years
The Nanda Dynasty
Uggasena Paṇḍuka Paṇḍugata Bhūtapāla Govisa Dasasiddhaka Kevaṭṭaka Dhanapāla
Nine brothers. Reigned in the order of their seniority. The last was contemporaneous with Alexander the Great, and is known to Western historians as Dhana Nanda. He was treacherously put to death by his minister Cānakya, who raised Candragupta to the throne.
The Maurya Dynasty
Visited the camp of Alexander the Great on his invasion of India, and there learnt the art of war and the diplomacy which, within a few years, helped him to win his throne. As king he was a contemporary of Seleucus Nicator, with whom he concluded a treaty in 305 B.C.
Aśoka the Emperor
Crowned after he had reigned 4 years in the year 218 A.B.; reigned from that date 37 years, dying in 255 A.B.
We have new to consider the mutual correspondence between the Buddhist and the Christian eras. According to the Buddhist calendar of Ceylon [Śrī Lanka], Burma [Myanmar], and Siam [Thailand], which form the southern tradition, the current year of the Parinirvāṇa (i.e. in 1908 A.C.) is 2451. This would give us 543 B.C., as the easement of the Buddhist era. But we have seen that Aśoka ascended the throne in 214 A.B., and that he reigned 41 years. His reign is thus embraced between the years 214 and 255 A.B. According to the calendar of Southern Buddhists this period will correspond to 329–288 B.C. But we find that Aśoka in one of his edicts makes mention of five Greek princes who were his contemporaries, Shāhbāzgarhi, Khālsi, and Girnār inscriptions. and three of whom began to reign later than 288 B.C. The following are the princes, with the dates of their accession: [xi]
Antioka (Antiochus II, of Syria)
Turamaye (Ptolemy II, Philadelphus of Egypt)
Antikina (Antigonus Gonatas of Macedonia)
Maka (Magas of Cyrene)
Alikasandare (Alexander II of Epirus)
Now, since Alikasandare came to the throne of Epirus in 272 B.C., and he and Aśoka were contemporaries, it is plain that Aśoka could not have been dead by 288 B.C. We have seen from the table [above], that Aśoka came to the throne 52 years after the accession of his grandfather Candragupta. Now the date of Candragupta’s accession can be fixed by the Christian era within very narrow limits. He made his famous visit to the camp of Alexander the Great in 327 B.C., the year of Alexander’s invasion of India, and at that time he was a private man. Alexander died in 323 B.C., and his Indian possessions came to be administered by satraps. All went on well till a Greek officer murdered an Indian prince, which set Indian feeling aflame. Candragupta, who was a bold and ambitious man, now saw his chance. He organized a national movement against the Greeks, and conducted it with such good effect that within a short time he found himself at the head of a State which had thrown off the Greek yoke. This was facilitated, as we may easily suppose, by the struggle for power in Asia proceeding at the time between Alexander’s generals Antigonus and Eumenes, which made the Macedonians hold on the Indian provinces extremely weak (B.C. 317). From Candragupta’s rise into power, we must allow at least one year to have passed before he was called, as a popular leader, to fill the Magadhese throne. We thus come to the year 316 as very nearly the earliest date assignable to that event. According to our table, this date was the year 162 of the Buddhist era. We therefore find that on historical evidence we shall be correct within a few months of the earliest date possible, if we place the Parinirvāṇa of Buddha in the year 162 + 316 = 478 B.C., Compare the same result as arrived at by General Cunnigham, in the preface to his Inscriptions of Aśoka, where he deals with the subject much more fully. thus making: a difference of 65 years from the date assigned by the Southern Buddhists. When this error is rectified, all the historical facts known to us at once begin to fall into their [xii] proper places. Thus, not only does Seleucus Nicator become a contemporary of Candragupta, but all the Greek princes whose names have been already mentioned become the contemporaries of Aśoka; for Aśoka’s reign, as we have seen, was from 214 to 255 A.B., and this according to our rectification will be 264 to 223 B.C.
This now enables us to adjust the chronology of Ceylon, which at present seems to be artificial, at a very important period of the national history. We are informed in the Mahāvaṁsa that Devānampiya Tissa and his brothers reigned between them 102 years – a length of time which becomes difficult of belief when we consider that it was all covered by one generation. We may take it as a fact, however, as stated in the Mahāvaṁsa, that Devānampiya Tissa ascended the throne in the eighteenth year of the reign of Aśoka in India, by which seems to be meant the eighteenth year from the emperor’s coronation. According to our revision therefore the accession of Devānampiya Tissa to the throne of Ceylon will be in the year 242 B.C. After the last of his brothers had reigned, we find Eḷāra, a high-born Tamiḷ from India, conquering the kingdom and reigning righteously for 44 years, at the end of which time he was still a good and vigorous warrior. Here, too, the artificiality shows itself. It seems therefore that the historian who, in giving dates, had to account for a difference of 65 years according to the accepted era of his tradition, did his best by distributing the difference See the distribution of ten years apiece among the brothers. among the reigns of Devānampiya Tissa and his successors up to Eḷāra, and that the correction must therefore be applied to this period. The period to the end of Eḷāra’s reign is 146 years. When corrected therefore it will be 146 – 65 = 81 years; so that this period ends 81 years after the accession of Devānampiya Tissa, i.e., in the year 161 B.C., the year when Duṭugæmuṇu [Duṭṭhagāmaṇi] became sovereign, and when a new era began in the history of the Sinhalese nation. It is from this point downward that we are on firm ground with regard to our chronology by the old equation of the Buddhist era. Up to this point and from the accession of Devānampiya Tissa, the re-adjustment of the chronology can be only conjectural; and up to the accession of Devānampiya Tissa every event has to be shifted forward by 65 years.
But the question may be asked, how it is that the error stops short at Duṭugæmuṇu, and does not run throughout the whole of Sinhalese history, and how it is that a general displacement of dates does not take place, affecting the accuracy [xiii] of Buddhist chronology within our own times? This, however, is only an apparent objection which on analysis vanishes. The fictitious commencement of the era, having been established long ago, there must be some point in its history where people began to refer actual dates to that commencement, and to measure distances of time from it; and reducing these dates to another standard, we have to take into account not the original standard as it should have been used, but that standard as it has been actually used. This use we find to have been established from the commencement of the new era under Duṭugæmuṇu, who, for his national work, may be called the Alfred of Ceylon; and all calculations from that point downward are, therefore, correct by the fictitious equation now obtaining, viz., with a constant of 543 years as the excess over the Christian era. The constant of 478 years only applies where the true date of the Nirvāṇa is required to be fixed, or where our chronology has to be re-adjusted for what may be called our legendary period, i.e., up to the time of Duṭugæmuṇu. That chronology, so re-adjusted, will be as follows:
Name of King
Commencement of Reign
Eighty-one years for the seven reigns.
Sena and Guttika
Thus, at the end of this period the reign of Duṭugæmuṇu will commence in the year 317 of the Buddhist era as it ought to be, or 382 of that era as it is, being in either case the year 161 before Christian era.
Before quitting the subject of chronology it may be useful to call attention to a point which goes far to account for slight discrepancies in dates found by reckoning from one reign to another. To take a concrete example: the great King Parākramabāhu II of Dabadeniya, according to the Mahāvaṁsa ascended the throne in the year 1783 A.B. But the [xiv] Attanagaḷuvaṁsa, a work contemporaneous with the event recorded, gives the year 1779 A.B. As the contemporary authority must prevail, the second year must, of course, be accepted as the correct one. Is the Mahāvaṁsa then wrong? The answer is that it is not wrong; only we are wrong in the computation. For it often happens that in computing by the lengths of reigns, or by intervals between other events, the year which forms the link is counted twice over, once as the end of the first series, and once again as the commencement of the second series. This may be illustrated by a typical case. In the 20th chapter of the Mahāvaṁsa we are informed as follows:
“In the eighteenth year of the reign of Dharmāśoka, the Bodhi-tree was planted in the Mahāmeghavana pleasure garden. In the twelfth year of that period, the beloved wife of that monarch, Asandhimittā, who had identified herself with the faith of Buddha, died. In the fourth year from her demise the Rājā Dharmāśoka, under the influence of carnal passions, raised the princess Tissārakkhā to the dignity of queen-consort. In the third year from that date, this young vain creature, who, thought only of the charms of her own person, saying ‘This king neglecting me, lavishes his devotion exclusively on the Bodhi-tree,’ attempted to destroy the great ‘Bodhi’ with a thorn of the Maṇḍu-tree. In the fourth year from that occurrence, this highly-gifted monarch Dharmāśoka fulfilled the lot of mortality. These years collectively amount to thirty-seven.” Now, a cursory reader will add up all the figures given above and find that the total amounts to 41, and not 37 as stated by the author, and he will think that the author as made a mistake. But if we take care to observe that the first event recorded took place in the eighteenth year of Aśoka’s reign and the second event in twelfth year commencing from that point, we shall find that this twelfth year is the twenty-ninth year of the aggregate series and not the thirtieth, the fourth year from that point the thirty-second of the series, and so on to the end till the last year is reached which is found to be the thirty-seventh of the total series. I have shown elsewhere (“Guttila Kāvya Varṇanā,” Introduction, p. 7) how recent chronology of Ceylon, in which all our antiquarians, including Mr. Bell, seem to have experienced much perplexity, can be neatly adjusted by attention to the principle here explained.
Reference has been made to two slightly conflicting dates with regard to the accession of Parākramabāhu II, and it has been shown how the discrepancy may be accounted for. It may be worth mentioning that with regard to this very event Turnour has fallen into a curious error which cannot be so [xv] explained. He places the accession of the king at 1266 A.C. which, by the Buddhist era, will be 1809 – a difference, on the authoritative statement of the Attanagaḷuvaṁsa of thirty years. Now the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, after recounting various great events of this king’s reign, ends the account by saying that at that date 1,809 years had elapsed since the death of Buddha (p. 23), and it seems to me that Turnour’s date is due to a misapprehension. He had evidently seen the date in the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya and taken it for the initial year of the reign.
We now pass on to a question of antiquities. It is thought by some that the royal city which stood on the place now marked by the little township of Cotta was in existence as early as the first half of the fourteenth century A.C. Colonel Yule in his “Cathay” states that Koṭṭe Jayawardhanapura, near Colombo, is first mentioned as a royal residence about 1314; and De Marignoli makes reference to Koṭṭe in Ceylon as a place where he had been in 1339. On these two statements the above opinion is based. The statement in “Cathay” seems to leave no doubt that the place meant is the present Koṭṭe, since it is near Colombo. Now, how far is the Colonel’s statement useful as probative evidence? To answer this question we have to observe that his statement consists of two propositions, viz.: (1) that Jayawardhana Koṭṭe is near Colombo; (2) that it is first mentioned as a royal residence in 1314. The first of these propositions is correct, as we know, and the truth of the second may be accepted on the Colonel’s authority. But the point is, was the Colonel aware when he made the first proposition in connection with the second, that he was anticipating a question of identity which was likely to arise? Or did he, merely locate the Jayawardhanapura of the second proposition in a place which he thought was but too well known, as most of us would have done till some time ago? It seems scarcely possible to resist this second conclusion, and if we therefore divest the Colonel’s statements of the identification to which he has unconsciously led himself, his statement simply amounts to this: that in the early part of the fourteenth century Jayawardhana Koṭṭe is first mentioned as a royal residence; that a Koṭṭe did exist in those days is shown by the statement of De Marignoli, who visited it in 1339. But what do these statements go to prove? They simply go to show the truthfulness of the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, which says that the city which was built by Alakeśvara towards the end of the fourteenth century was called not Jayawardhanapura but New Jayawardhanapura, plainly in contradistinction to an old city of the same name. It is [xvi] suggested that Alakeśvara only fortified and beautified the old city. Neither can this theory stand. For both in the Mahāvaṁsa and in the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya the site selected by Alakeśvara for the new city is called not Old Jayawardhana Koṭṭe, but Daragamuwa, a village.
The mention of the name of Alakeśvara leads us to another question which has formed the subject of much discussion of late. It was believed till very lately that Alakeśvara, who as viceroy, was the most powerful man of his day in Ceylon, attained to the sovereignty under the title of Bhuvaaiekabāhu V. This belief was due to a passage in the Mahāvaṁsa which was written within recent times and which plainly bore that construction on the face of it. But it was discovered that the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya speaks of Bhuvaaiekabāhu V in terms which would go to show that he was Alakeśvara’s lord and sovereign, and the passage in the Mahāvaṁsa being then examined, it was found that it also admits of a reading in keeping with that construction. But the question when raised has met with some opposition. The objectors cite some authorities which we will consider later on. First we will glance at the evidence in support of the revised reading: (1) the Rājāvaliya, in its account of the Tamiḷ invasion under Ārya Cakravarti of Jaffna, speaks of Bhuvaaiekabāhu as king and Alakeśvara as his able general; (2) the translation into Sinhalese of the Attanagaḷuvaṁsa, in dedicating the translation to the general Satrusinha Kuñjara, says that the general enjoyed the favour of the minister Arthanāyaka, and of his brother the great minister Alakeśvara, supreme over the Island of Ceylon, Prime Minister to King Bhuvaaiekabāhu V, supreme over the three-fold Sinhala, lord of the nine gems; (3) the Mayūra Sandeṣa, a contemporary poem, speaks of the king, Bhuvaaiekabāhu, as reigning at Gampola, and of the viceroy Alakeśvara as residing at Rayigama.
All this is positive evidence. There is also negative evidence equally strong. In the Ganegoḍa Sannasa, King Bhuvaaiekabāhu is spoken of as a scion of the Solar dynasty. With regard to Alakeśvara all accounts agree that he belonged to a hill tribe of Southern India, known in Ceylon as Giri-vaṁsa.
We will now consider the authorities on which those who still hold to the old view rely. They contend (1) that the Rājaratnākaraya expressly says that Alakeśvara became king as Bhuvaaiekabāhu V; (2) that the Daḷadā Pūjāvaliya supports this view; (3) that in the translators preface to the Sinhalese Attanagaḷuvaṁsa, Alakeśvara, though called minister in one place, is in a subsequent place called king; (4) that De Couto unmistakeably speaks of Alakeśvara as having usurped the sovereignty.
[xvii] A very little examination, however, shows that these arguments are visionary. The supposed statement of the Rājaratnākaraya appears in the printed edition of that work. Colombo 1887. but is absent in the manuscripts. It is therefore presumed to be an interpolation of the editor, who evidently thought of supplying an apparent deficiency, from the Mahāvaṁsa as then understood. Since writing the above the revised edition published by the Government of Ceylon has come to hand. In that edition the statement referred to is entirely absent. Daḷadā Pūjāvaliya, is an unknown work, and its support, whatever the character of that support may be, scarcely counts for anything. In the preface to the Attanagaḷuvaṁsa, Alakeśvara is nowhere spoken of as king. He is described as supreme over the Island of Ceylon, but this is in the course of a panegyric which culminates in the central fact that he was prime minister to King Bhuvaaiekabāhu V. As for De Couto, he wrote more than a century later, and his authority can be only valuable as showing the folk-tales current in his day. His statement, moreover, has reference to a point of time admittedly subsequent to the reign of Bhuvaaiekabāhu V, De Couto speaks of how Parākramabāhu VI became king. There were seven kings or archons between Bhuvaaiekabāhu V and Parākramabāhu VI. See authority cited in “Guttila Kāvya Varṇanā,” Introduction, p. 4. See also succeeding paragraph of this essay. and cannot therefore touch the question at issue. But even taken for what it is worth, a folk-tale at the distance of a century clearly goes for nothing before authoritative contemporaneous statements such as we have on the other side of the question. We may therefore take it as an established fact that King Bhuvaaiekabāhu V, and Alakeśvara were not one and the same person, but that the second was the servant of the first.
But we have not finished with this interesting reign and the period immediately preceding and following its close. To this period, which roughly embraces the last decade of the fourteenth century and the first decade of the fifteenth, belong several interesting historical problems which still await satisfactory solution. For instance, we are informed in the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya that in the twentieth year of the reign of King Bhuvaaiekabāhu V, that is to say, while the king was presumably still alive and in office (1396 A.C.), his cousin, Prince Vīrabāhu, became king as Vīrabāhu II. The received opinion is that he became king of the central part of Ceylon; but the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya does not seem to favour such a restriction, and the question yet remains to be answered whether the word king is here used in a loose sense for regent, [xviii] or whether it is intended to denote a true monarch. But the question does not stand alone, we learn from the Saddharma Ratnākaraya, a work written shortly after this period, that Vīrabāhu himself was preceded in his office, whatever the character of that office may have been, by his brother Vīra Alakeśvara, and before him by a son of Alakeśvara the viceroy. It is worthy of note here, too, that the viceroy himself ceases to be mentioned in contemporary records from this period. We also learn from the Saddharma Ratnākaraya that Vīrabāhu was followed in his office by two others, before his brother Vīra Alakeśvara returned from India (about 1398 A.C.) and regained his lost power. Within a few years we recognise Vīra Alakeśvara in King Vijayabāhu VI, who is captured by a Chinese general and deported to China. According to the Chinese chronicles, his son Parākramabāhu Ǣpāṇa succeeds him on the throne, and this is supported by the Saddharma Ratnākaraya, which says that the successor was a prince of the Mehenavaravaṁsa and was Ǣpāṇa. Vijayabāhu was of that vaṁsa, and we may fairly presume that his Ǣpāṇa would have been his son. According to the accepted Ceylon history, this successor was Parākramabāhu VI, whose long and glorious reign, covering over half a century, was the brightest period in the national annals nearest to the advent of the Portuguese. But here again contemporaneous accounts seem to unsettle long accepted history. In the Vutta Mālā, a Pāli poem composed at this period and highly eulogistic of the sovereign of the day, we read of King Parākramabāhu who held his court at Dædigama. In the Tisara Sandesa, a Sinhalese poem, we find the same king addressed in the same capital. In both these works the king is spoken of as the son of Sumitrā Devī. It seems that we may safely conclude that this was the prince of Mehenavaravaṁsa who succeeded Vijayabāhu VI, on the throne. For when we come to Parākramabāhu VI we find that he held his court at Jayawardhanapura, that he was of the Læmæṇi race, and that his mother was Sunetrā Devī, and not Sumitrā Devī; and further, according to the Saddharma Ratnākaraya, that he succeeded King Parākramabāhu of the Mehenavaravaṁsa.
Attention has been called to these few questions to show what an interesting field of inquiry is here. It is hoped that our scholars will find it worth their while to devote some time and attention, and try to unravel the tangled web in which the history of this period presents itself.
The translation of the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, presented in the following pages was made by Mr C. M. Fernando, Crown Counsel for the Island, with a view to elucidation of historical [xix] points which arose in the Adippola sannas case (D. C., Chilaw, No. 2,954). In the meantime, the Government of Ceylon having approved of a suggestion made by Mr. H. C. P. Bell Archæological Commissioner, for the revision of the Sinhalese text and translation of the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya and the Rājaratnākaraya, Mr. Simon de Silva, Mudaliyār of the Governor’s Gate, Mr. A. Mendis Guṇasekara, Mudaliyār and myself were appointed a Committee to carry out the work. Mr. Fernando was then good enough, at the request of Government, to place his translation at the disposal of the Committee. The text of the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, was revised by the Committee and has been published. But it was found that the rest of the work could be more speedily done if divided among the three members of the Committee, to be executed on their individual responsibility. This arrangement was accordingly adopted, and the present work fell to my lot. I need scarcely say that with the excellent translation of Mr C. M. Fernando, my work has been an easy one. I have, however, carefully revised the whole of the translation changing where change was necessary, filling up lacunas and giving footnotes where they seemed to be called for. For any mistakes therefore which may be found in the translation I alone am now responsible. The original work is so full of obsolete technical terms in some places, and in some places its language is so archaic, that I scarcely expect to have escaped falling into errors. I have particularly to mention the footnotes on pages 20 and 26, which are given, not by any means as authoritative pronouncements, but merely as suggestions. They are based partly on information I have gathered during my stay in the Kandyan country, and partly on philological interpretation. Our best scholars can offer no help to place their elucidation beyond doubt. Their final decision is therefore left to the reader himself.
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