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The Theravāda Lineage
Analytical Summary [In the original publication this section was called the Analytic Survey. It is more of a Summary, though, as the author tells us in the first paragraph, so I have changed the title to better indicate the contents].
[xxi] The following review is intended to present in a concise form the story of the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya, with such comments, observations, and historical details as will make the story clearer and more intelligible. It must be remembered that the work treated of is primarily a history of religion, and that if we glean any extraneous facts from it, these only occur as incidental to the story. In this review therefore the reader must expect to find the thread of the narrative running mainly in the religious connection.
The author at the commencement of his work informs us of the sources of his information. These, he tells us, are old records, his own knowledge of contemporaneous events, and tradition. The old records evidently account for the chronology of the history, which is esteemed as most reliable.
He then begins from eons before by way of introducing us to the personality of the Great Teacher whose religion is to be the subject of his discourse. At a time inconceivably remote, Sumedha, the son and heir of a wealthy Brāhmaṇa family, forsook wealth and the world, and retired into the forest to practise contemplation. Chance brought him before the inspiring presence of Buddha Dīpaṅkara, where, forming the resolution to become a Buddha himself, he received a declaration of the future consummation of his hopes. He it was who in our own age became Gotama Buddha.
Born as a prince of the Sākya clan in Kapilavatthu, a city of Northern India, on the borders of Nepal, Buddha entered on his mission in the thirty-fifth year of his age, and ministering to the spiritual wants of mortals for forty-five years, he at the end of that time attained the supreme beatitude, the bliss of Nirvāṇa.
[B.C. 478] No sooner was the Master dead and gone than his rigid discipline began to find grumblers. This at once moved his disciples to action. They decided to hold a Council and settle the canon, so that what was orthodox might be clearly fixed, and undesirables might be shut out. The Council was held under the patronage of King Ajātasattu of Magadha, in great state, and after seven months the whole text of [xxii] the Buddhist scriptures was settled, and arranged in three sections called Piṭakas or Treasuries. This was the First Buddhist Convocation.
[B.C. 378] We are next given the list of kings who followed Ajātasattu on the throne of Magadha, up to the time of Kālāśoka, the seventh from Ajātasattu. The tenth year of this prince’s reign coincides with the completion of the first century from the death of Buddha.
At this time abuses began to appear in the tradition, showing themselves among the monks at Ujjain. This fraternity had invented ten new indulgences, which would have seriously impaired the discipline of the Order. Some of these innovations appear to our lay minds to be of a momentous character. For instance, the Ujjain fraternity declared that it was allowable to use salt preserved in horns, even if it had been once tasted. Then, again, they would stretch a point and touch money with their own hands, instead of by proxy. These and other practices, each as dangerous as another, created a profound sensation. Though they touched the religion but externally, their revolutionary character required immediate action, and the orthodox leaders were soon in the field. The Ujjain camp, however, had seen the best point of advantage in the royal protection. This they secured, and they were in a fair way to win.
[B.C. 373 This date is arrived at from the date of the next Convocation (under Aśoka), held 125 years after, which is made up as follows: 118 years during which the canon remained uncorrupted (p. 7. infra), and 7 years during which the religion was in decadence (p.8).] But the king’s sister was a nun, who was in the right side of the question; and the king having dreamt a dream which somewhat perturbed him, she converted him to a proper view of the situation. The Second Convocation was held, and the heresy was crushed. But though crushed, it was not stamped out. The defeated party made a secession and formed a school of their own, named Mahā Sāṁghika, which was to develop in time into the Mahā Yāna, or the northern Buddhist tradition.
[B.C. 255] Within a period of 100 years the Mahā Sāṁghika school had grown and branched off into seventeen schisms. Of these, the Vajjiputta Nikāya later figures in the history of Ceylon Buddhism (p. 12). It had doctrines and scriptures of its own, though these had no effect on the teachings of the orthodox tradition, which remained uncontaminated for 118 years from the Second Council.
[B.C. 264 For chronological purposes, however, Aśoka’s reign is generally reckoned from the year of his installation, A.B. 218 = B.C. 260.] King Kālāśoka, under whom the Second Council was held, [xxiii] had been followed on the throne by his ten sons, and these by nine princes of the Nanda dynasty. The famous Candragupta then seized the throne and became the founder in Magadha of the royal dynasty of the Mauryas. He was succeeded by his son Biṇḍusāra, and in the year 214 of the Buddhist era Biṇḍusāra’s son Aśoka ascended the throne of Magadha, which he soon made the imperial throne of India. Aśoka’s dominions were very extensive, and his power strongly consolidated. He was undoubtedly the greatest prince of his age. But it is not alone in his capacity as a monarch that his greatness was conspicuous; whatever he did, wherever he went, he showed himself the first among men. And as in other things, so in religion. Brought up in the Brāhmaṇic faith he was brought casually into contact with Buddhism, and his powerful mind was charmed by the tenets of a creed which not only recognizes reason as the most ennobling gift of man, but actually invites its exercise for the proper investigation and apprehension of religious truth. Aśoka was not long in becoming a convert to Buddhism, and, as may be expected from a man of his wholehearted character, his conversion meant a great deal. He at once placed himself at the head of the Buddhist tradition, the most devout follower and the most enthusiastic promoter of the new faith. Such was the fervour of his religious zeal, and such the depth of his devotion, that, not content with building eighty-four thousand royal monasteries in different parts of India and endowing them, nor with spending a lakh [100,000] daily on doles to the priests, and other acts of charity, he made his son Prince Mahinda and his daughter the Princess Saṅghamittā, gifts to the faith, so that they might devote their lives to its promotion and glory.
But while Buddhism was on one side gaining a powerful patron, it had been on another side steadily losing ground. Under the name Tīrthakas were comprised several sects, known in later times as Jainas, representing older religious systems, which in Buddha’s days had been bitterly opposed to him. The new religion had spread in spite of them, not by crushing them; and the jealousy and the hatred engendered by its success had by no means undergone diminution. So long as Buddha lived these Tīrthakas found themselves helpless, although their prestige was being ruined. They could prevail against any teacher, but against a royal prince whose wisdom was backed up by his high birth, they found fighting useless. But after the death of Buddha, although the tradition found [xxiv] royal patrons, the spell of a protecting royalty had not always been present. The Tīrthakas now found their chance. They knew that the Buddhist monks had by their rules of conduct to be mild and patient with the faults of others. So, counterfeiting Buddhist monks themselves, they entered the monasteries and made themselves at home. Being there, they adopted tactics which made the performance of canonical rites pertaining to the purity of cloister life, impossible, with the result that the priesthood became more or less disorganized and religion began to decay.
[B.C. 248 Mahāvaṁsa, ch. V.] Nothing but gradual extinction was in prospect for the new religion, when the powerful aid of the imperial convert Aśoka came, never too soon, to the rescue. The zealous monarch found a zealous organizer in Tissa, the son of Moggali, the greatest name in the Buddhist tradition, next to that of Buddha himself and his immediate disciples. With the effective co-operation of this prince of the tradition, the king called a convocation of monks, and had the scriptures recited for nine months and thoroughly revised. This was the Third Buddhist Council.
The Tīrthakas were now expelled from the Saṅgha, but they did not abandon all hope. They found that Buddhism was the popular religion, and that some sort of connection with it was necessary to give them a status. They knew, too, that the Buddhist tradition had had a split in earlier days, and that, although the orthodox hierarchy had turned them out, the Mahā Sāṁghika was still open to them for whatever plans they might yet devise. Though with some differences from the orthodox tradition, the Mahā Sāṁghika had up to now preserved its character as a Buddhist cult. But the Tīrthakas under false pretences now sought and obtained admission into its ranks as monks, and after learning all it had to teach, they worked upon it with matter of their own, and subverted not only its doctrines, but also its discipline. The Mahā Sāṁghika school now underwent disruption. Hitherto it had existed as a collective name for seventeen different cults (see p. 6), with more or less related doctrines. This bond was now broken. Some of the branches lost their individuality and sank into others, while some acquired distinctive characters which sharply separated them from the rest. Thus, it came to pass that, as a new product between Buddhism and Jainism, the seventeen branches of the Mahā Sāṁghika now reappeared as nine different sects, of which that of the Vaitulyas is the best known in Ceylon. All these fraternities were laborious workers and produced an [xxv] extensive literature, the Vaitulyas setting forth their doctrines in a Piṭaka of their own, which was called the Vaitulya Piṭaka.
[B.C. 29] Notwithstanding all these schisms, however, the tenets of the orthodox faith as settled at the Third Council remained in purity for 219 years (p. 10).
We have now arrived at a point in time in the history when it becomes necessary to pause and take a glance at the history of Ceylon. About the time of Buddha, this Island had been inhabited by a semi-barbarous race, of men, whom the Āryans of India, in the pride of their superior civilization, contemptuously called Yakṣas, or goblins. In the year that Buddha died, in fact on the same day as that memorable event, Prince Vijaya, a roving character from Southern Bengal, This is according to the books. But there is more evidence, philological, ethnological, and circumstantial, to believe that he came from the west of Northern India. landed on the shores of Ceylon with seven hundred followers, and within a short time made a conquest of the Island. Laṅkā, as the Island was then called, was now rescued from its isolation, and brought in contact with the civilizing influences of India. The king allied himself by marriage with the Court of Madhura, while his followers were favoured with a liberal contingent of high-born maidens from the same country, to be their wives. Thus, with the indigenous population on one side, an Aryan stock from Northern India on the second, and a Dravidian stock from Southern India on the third, we find the beginning of the Sinhalese nation in the meeting of three elements, which in time combined and produced a race whose long and brilliant history challenges comparison with the best in the world.
Two hundred and thirty-six years had passed from the landing of Vijaya, and five kings had followed him, when Devānampiya Tissa came to the throne of Laṅka, destined to make it famous in the history of the religion now revolutionizing life on the continent. At this time the fame of Aśoka as a mighty prince was world-wide, and Devānampiya Tissa lost no time in courting his friendship. The overtures were warmly embraced by the diplomatic Aśoka, and imperial ambassadors were soon in Ceylon to anoint the king of that Island as their master’s friend and ally.
[B.C. 242] At the same time as Moggaliputta Tissa, the primate of Aśoka, saw in Ceylon the most promising field for the propagation of the new faith. He was just then sending out missionaries to all parts of Asia, and to Ceylon he paid the special compliment of sending the emperor’s own son, the great Thera Mahinda. The mission was from the first a great success. The king and one [xxvi] of the royal ladies, the Princess Anuḷā, became converts, and within a short time the nation followed their example. A branch of the sacred Bodhi-tree was sent over by Aśoka, and with its planting at Anurādhapura the lasting symbol was given to the firm establishment of Buddhism in Ceylon.
During the lifetime of Devānampiya Tissa, his brother Mahānāga had established himself in Ruhuṇa, which now became a principality, with Māgama as its capital. On the king’s death, another brother, Uttiya, succeeded to the throne at Anurādhapura. In the eighth year of this king’s reign Mahinda, the apostle of Buddhism in Ceylon, died. His name still survives in [the place name] “Mihintale.” Lit. the plain of Mihidu or Mahinda. But the mellowing influences of Buddhism on the king and the country soon began to tell their tale. The pious Buddhists had evidently begun to be wary of professions, however noble, which involved the taking away of life, and thus we find Tamiḷ officers now in the employ of the Sinhalese sovereign, in high places of trust in the army. King Uttiya was followed on the throne by his brother Mahasīva, and he by his brother Sūratissa, a pious man, who was put to death by Sena and Guttika, two foreigners employed as captains of his cavalry, who thereupon usurped the throne. The act of these two traitors and the success with which it was accomplished were the cause of untold evil and much suffering to Ceylon, for many centuries to come; for they excited the avarice of other and more powerful adventurers from India. who from that time forward often tried their fortune in Ceylon.
The two usurpers were put to death by Asela, a prince of the royal house; but very soon an invasion was made in force by Eḷāra, a Tamiḷ nobleman from India, who made himself master of the king’s country. Eḷāra, though a foreigner and a conqueror, ruled as a most just king, as Cnut did in the West more than a millennium later; and he earned the good will and the admiration of his subjects, if not their actual loyalty. He was reigning in peace at Anurādhapura.
A remnant of the Sinhalese power was still surviving in the principality of Ruhuṇa, which we have seen was founded by Mahānāga, the brother of Devānampiya Tissa. Fourth in descent from Mahānāga was Duṭugemuṇu [Pāḷi: Duṭṭhagāmaṇi], who as soon as he attained to his principality, took steps to try conclusions with Eḷāra. The contest was long and severe. Eḷāra’s power was great, but Duṭugemuṇu was stern and determined, and Sinhalese patriotism had rallied on his side. The indomitable courage [xxvii] and the dogged perseverance of the Sinhalese prince reduced town after town held by the foreigner, till at last the decisive battle was fought within sight of Anurādhapura. Eḷāra was killed, and Duṭugemuṇu, both as conqueror and representative of the old royal stock, ascended the throne of united Laṅkā. While a great warrior on one side, Duṭugemuṇu was on the other a devout Buddhist. The remains of the brazen palace at Anurādhapura and of the Mirisavæṭi and Ruvanvæli This name should be properly Ruvam-meli, being the Sinhalese equivalent of the Pāli Suvaṇṇa-māli given in the Mahāvaṁsa. Suvaṇṇamāli Cetiya means “the shrine of golden chains.” So does Ruvammeli Sǣya. stūpas still attest to his piety and to the greatness of the resources which were at his command. He did much for the religion, and, according to the belief of his times, his soul was actually conveyed on his death by angels to heaven. Yet strangely enough the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya makes no pause to give an account of the religious works of his reign, merely mentioning his name among others to be passed over. Perhaps it is to be accounted for by the plan of the work. The author is dealing with the main current of the history of Buddhism, which was still flowing in India, and he takes us over these names to carry us on to that point where the head of the current reaches Ceylon.
[B.C. 137] The great Duṭugemuṇu was followed by his brother Saddhātissa, and he by his four sons when in the reign of the fourth son, Vaṭṭagāmaṇi, the country was again over-run by a horde of Tamiḷs under seven leaders. The king, had to seek safety in flight, and five of the Tamiḷs held the reigns of Government in succession for fourteen years. At the end of that time the king regained his own, and reigned in prosperity for twelve years. This period of reign of Vaṭṭagāmaṇi is famous in the Buddhist annals of Ceylon. It was also a stirring time. The king, grateful for his deliverance from the Tamiḷs, founded several religious institutions, the most notable among them being the Abhayagiri Vihāra, which later on begins to occupy a prominent place in history. And in his reign the Buddhist scriptures, which were up to now transmitted orally, were reduced to writing, at the rock temple of Aluvihāra in Mātale. But the most notable religious event of the reign is the split which took place in the Ceylon Buddhist tradition founded by Mahinda.
[B.C. 89] The head priest of Abhayagiri Vihāra, a special favourite of the king, met with the censure of the priests of the Mahā Vihāra, a foundation of Devānampiya Tissa, with whom evidently the ecclesiastical [xxviii] authority resided; and this led to the rupture. Mahadæliyā-tissa, a pupil of the disgraced priest and a man of spirit, broke away from the Theravāda Nikāya (the name for the orthodox tradition of India and Ceylon), and with 500 followers formed at Abhayagiri Vihāra the headquarters of a new sect. This sect within a short time embraced the doctrines of the Vajjiputta Nikāya, one of the seventeen branches of the Mahā Sāṁghika schism (p. 12), and came to be known as the Dharmaruci Nikāya, from an eminent teacher of the name of Dharmaruci of the Vajjiputta sect. This was the first schism in Ceylon.
Twenty-nine sovereigns had followed Vaṭṭagāmaṇi, when in the year A.C. 209 Compare the date in the Mahāvaṁsa table (English), A.C. 215, and for its discrepancy see my remarks on pp. xiii, and xiv., supra. Note also the chronological discrepancies throughout, between this work and the Mahāvaṁsa tables. Vohāratissa came to the throne. In this reign the schismatics of the Dharmaruci sect, who occupied Abhayagiri Vihāra, embraced the Vaitulya Piṭaka, the handiwork of the Tīrthakas in the time of Dharmāśoka (p. 12). Vohāratissa, however, was a strong king. He caused the false Piṭaka to be seized and had it consigned to the flames.
[A.C. 252] The sixth king from Vohāratissa was Śrī Saṅghabodhi, a prince in whom the ideal of religious devotion was reached. He made a gift of his head to a poor man in order that the poor man might get wealth [in the form of a reward] from Goṭhābhaya, who had seized the throne; and by this act he became a religious hero for all time. Subsequent sovereigns were proud to assume his name as a mark of honour.
[A.C. 255] But Goṭhābhaya, though the villain of the tragedy just mentioned, proved to be a stern upholder of religion. In the fourth year of his reign the Vaitulya heresy again broke out in the same old place, Abhayagiri Vihāra, which, it will be remembered, was the seat of the Dharmaruci Nikāya. Goṭhābhaya came down strongly upon the heretics. He burned their books, branded the recalcitrant, and expelled them from the country. A section of the fraternity who, under a priest named Sāgala, had kept out of the movement, now removed to Dakkhiṇagiri Vihāra, [Text, here and elsewhere: Dakuṇu Vehera]. where they came to be known as the Sāgaliya sect, the name being justified only by the secession, and not from any apparent change of principles from the Dharmarucis.
On the death of Goṭhābhaya, his son Jeṭṭhatissa succeeded to the throne (A.C. 265). He was followed in A.C. 275 by his brother Mahāsena. In the reign of this king great religious commotions took place. The king was won over by an emissary [xxix] of the heretics, who for reviving the Vaitulya doctrines had been driven into exile in his father’s reign, and a violent persecution of the orthodox tradition now took place. The priests were scattered, temples were razed to the ground, and the brazen palace (p, xxvii.), the proudest ornament of the capital, was destroyed. But the persecuted tradition was not without friends. The queen stood for it, and the minister Meghavarṇa Abhaya brought the king to a more reasonable frame of mind. The Malaya and the Ruhuṇa provinces gave shelter and their moral support to the oppressed, and in the end all the makers of the mischief had to suffer. Mahāsena was not a bad king at heart. He was a staunch friend, and that was his failing. To help his friends he would go out of his way even to the extent of persecuting others. He did much for his country by constructing many tanks and doing other public works. Mahāsena was not successful in his attempts to suppress the Mahā Vihāra, the first Buddhist foundation in the Island. Yet he succeeded in building within its limits Jetavana Vihāra, [Text, here and elsewhere: Denā Vehera]. which now became a seat of the Sāgaliya sect. King Mahāsena was followed on the throne by his son Kitsirimevan, whose reign was rendered memorable by the arrival in Ceylon of Buddha’s tooth-relic from India. Our author has not thought it necessary to chronicle this event – a silence which, considering the importance of the event, is rather remarkable.
[A.C. 432 Mahāvaṁsa tables.] Kitsirimevan had been followed by three kings when Mahānāma came to the throne. His, too, is a famous reign. In it, the great Commentator Buddhaghosa came over from India and wrote in Pāli the commentaries on the Buddhist scriptures, which had been composed in Sinhalese by Mahinda. [Saying “composed” makes it sound like Mahinda himself was the commentator, but the usual view he is he translated pre-existent commentaries, although he may have also added to them]. With the death of Mahānāma the old dynasty of Sinhalese kings founded by Vijaya comes to an end.
Mahānāma unfortunately had formed a Tamiḷ connection, which, again, was the precursor of much evil to the country. Sotthisena was the son of the king by a Tamiḷ mistress, and on the king’s death he ascended the throne. But he was promptly assassinated, and two kings had reigned one year each when a Tamiḷ invasion soon came. Paṇḍu became the founder of a dynasty which reigned for twenty-seven years, counting six princes in the succession.
Dhātusena, a young Buddhist monk who had disrobed himself to become his country’s champion, fought the Tamiḷs, killed their princes one after another, and founded a new Sinhalese dynasty. He is represented in the Mahāvaṁsa as a [xxx] Maurya by descent, this being probably suggested by the similarity of his fortune to that of Candragupta, who founded the Maurya dynasty of India (see pp. xi. and xxiii.).
[A.C. 453] Six kings had followed Dhātusena when Abaheraṇa Salamevan came to the throne. In his reign a fresh attempt was made to revive the Vaitulya doctrines, the movement again originating at the old centre of disturbance, the Abhayagiri Vihāra, now active for the fourth time. But it was very little of a success. Some members of the Jetavana fraternity, the less informed ones, were won over, it is true. But all intelligent men held aloof, and in the absence of influential support, the cause gradually sank into insignificance.
We see no more of the excitement of schisms and heresies, and the orthodox faith now prevails in the land in its even tenor for at least two centuries. Then we come to the reign of Matvaḷasen, This is Sena I, of the Mahāvaṁsa, whose date of accession is given in the table (English translation) as A.C. 846, a difference from the date here given of twenty-seven years. who ascended the throne A.C. 819. This king was so unfortunate as to embrace the doctrines of the Vājiriyas [Vajrayāna] (p. 18), and in consequence became so unpopular with his subjects that they apparently forsook him during a Tamiḷ invasion, and he had to flee to Polonnaruwa, where he died. According to the Mahāvaṁsa, he submitted to the terms of the invader, and returning to the capital reigned in peace. The Mahāvaṁsa makes no mention of the king’s apostacy from the tradition, but says that he died at Polonnaruwa. – Mahāvaṁsa, ch. L.
[A.C. 838] The next king, Mugayinsen (Sena II), was a very vigorous monarch. He more than wiped out the disgrace of the late invasion and the humiliation of his uncle by a conquest of Madhura, where all that the Sinhalese had lost was recovered. At this time Buddhism in Ceylon was represented by four different Nikāyas or divisions: the old Theravāda Nikāya, representing the pristine tradition and having its chief centre at the Mahā Vihāra; the Dharmaruci Nikāya, which differed little from it except in the ten indulgences, and the spurious doctrines supporting them, and which was originally established at Abhayagiri Vihāra (p. 12); the Sāgaliya Nikāya, which had branched off from the Dharmaruci, and which occupied the Dakkhiṇagiri Vihāra and the Jetavana (pp. 13, 16): and the Vaitulya Vāda, pure heresy manufactured by the Tīrthakas, which had its adherents both at Abhayagiri Vihāra and the Jetavana. The first having always existed as the state tradition, the king now made the other three formulate their ritual, and enjoined their strict [xxxi] conformity to religion. This may be considered as the deathblow to the survival of the three new Nikāyas. It is true they thereby received a constitution, but it was a constitution which deprived them of their expansibility and the power to adapt themselves to the changeful fortunes of their struggle. From this time forth, therefore, they begin to decay, and they linger on till the time of Parākramabāhu the Great, when that mighty monarch bids them cease and they are heard of no more.
Side by side with these new Nikāyas there had also been introduced into Ceylon at this time a fourth Nikāya, the badge of which was as novel as it was picturesque. This was the blue robe, which distinguished its brethren from all the rest. Their creed is represented as highly erotic and bacchanalian in character, their god being love, and wine the chief excitant of devotion. Evidently they were a religious sect who favoured marriage and more liberal ways of living in their ranks, and their picture has been overdrawn for us by their more austere religious opponents. This sect, however, was violently persecuted in India, and came into no prominence in Ceylon. It only receives passing notice at the hands of our historian.
We now pass over a period of l25 years till we come to the reign of Mahinda V. This king was a weak monarch, who, not paying sufficient attention to his revenue, found himself with an empty treasury and the pay of his troops in arrears. The troops revolted, and the king sought safety in flight to Ruhuṇa (A.C. 974). Within a short time the country was going through the throes of the worst foreign invasion and conquest it had ever yet witnessed. The king of Colā, who had broken the power of the rival kingdom of Pāṇḍi and was aiming at a southern empire, found the time very opportune for directing his attention to Ceylon. He accordingly sent over an army, which, meeting with little or no organized resistance, had little else to do than oppress, destroy, and plunder according to their way. The temples and relic shrines received the chief attention of these vandals. These were broken into and despoiled of their treasures, consisting of gold, silver, and gems of enormous value. The king and all the regalia were taken and carried away to Colā, and Ceylon now became a province of the Colian kingdom (A.C. 978), so to remain till it was recovered by Vijayabāhu I in A.C. 1064. Religion had declined exceedingly during the eighty-six years of the Tamiḷ occupation, so much so that Vijayabāhu found it difficult to get together five ordained priests to form a chapter for religious purposes. His first care [xxxii] was to send presents to Rāmañña This was the early name for the whole of Burma except the Shan States. But on a great part of the country being conquered by the people now represented by the Burmese, the name shrunk to the remainder, which was represented by the country of Pegu. Pegu, however, was itself conquered and brought into a subject position, when the name reverted to its original significance. Here it is used in this first and last sense, as meaning the country of Burma. Compare Mahāvaṁsa, chapters LX and LXXX, where the king of Rāmañña is spoken of as the king of Arimaddanapura. Arimaddanapura was Pugān, the present Pagan, the ancient capital of Burma. and get from that country twenty elders and books to help the revival of the tradition. Chapters were now formed and many monks ordained, and within a short time the tradition was fully restored. This was the first time that Ceylon had applied to a foreign country for religious aid. From Ceylon religion in Burma had been assisted in early days; Burma now repaid the debt.
Vijayabāhu had fought the Tamiḷs seventeen years before he took his seat on the throne, and from that date he reigned fifty-five years. The total length of his actual reign was therefore seventy-two years. He died in A.C. 1119, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. On his death Ceylon became a prey to internecine conflict among members of the royal family, and so continued until the accession of Parākramabāhu the Great in A.C. 1153 This must be understood to be the date that Parākramabāhu became virtual master of the king’s country by conquest. He, however, did not assume the sovereignty till the death of his kinsman Gajabāhu II, nine years later. Compare the date assigned to the fourth year of his reign, p. 21, infra. (p. 20).
This king was the greatest, the mightiest, the most illustrious son of Laṅkā. With its wonderful elasticity and richness of natural resources, the Island had within less than a century recovered from all the effects of the late Colian occupation. It had not only recovered, it had even grown in power; and this in spite of a long and bloody civil war, by which Parākramabāhu had literally cut his way to the throne. No sooner had he consolidated his power at home than he thought of a vigorous foreign policy, by which the late odds in favour of the Colians might be reversed on their own soil, and the honour of Ceylon made to shine again in all its glory. Having been offered an affront by the king of Burma, he sent one army to bring that prince to his senses; and in pursuance of his policy he sent another army to operate in South India against the king of Colā, who, still dominated that part of the continent. Within a short time Parākramabāhu was not only king, but also an emperor. Burma paid [xxxiii] him tribute, and the late great Colians were using coins bearing his superscription. The village of Paṇḍu Vijayaka, in which a colony of Brāhmaṇas was planted in honour of the emperor, probably still exists in Southern India to attest to the glory of his name and the power of the Sinhalese arms.
After gaining such distinction in worldly matters, Parākramabāhu was not likely to have been satisfied unless he proved also a benefactor to the faith. He beautified his capital Polonnaruwa with grand vihāras, monastic schools, &c., the ruins of which still attest to their magnificence. But the most memorable act of his reign connected with religion is the inquisition into the tradition. By this act all nonconformists, whether Dharmaruci, Sāgaliya, or Vaitulya, were now finally expelled, and the three colleges brought into harmony. By the three colleges we are to understand here the Mahā Vihāra, the Bhagiri Nikāya, and the Jetavana; and by harmony it seems we are to understand conformity on the part of the latter two colleges with the doctrines of the first, which represented the orthodoxy of the tradition. The Theravāda Nikāya established during the time of Devānampiya Tissa thus finally triumphed, and though it has several times since been revived from Burma and Siam, it has never again been disturbed in Ceylon.
From this point the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya ceases to be of much interest as a history of religion, though it becomes considerably interesting as a record of general history. Hereafter convocation, though of endless importance to those concerned, becomes in our view a very tame affair, intended only to reform abuses within the Order itself; but to compensate for this, men and events now appear to us on the horizon of a period which we can view from our own times, and this heightens our interest in them.
[A.C. 1202] The ninth sovereign from Parākramabāhu the Great was Queen Kalyāṇavatī, in whose reign took place an event which has had far-reaching effects on the history, the social life, and the national character of the Sinhalese. Hitherto the Sinhalese were a united nation, who, if they sometimes bent before a storm of foreign invasion, raised their heads again in due season, when they saw to it that the stain on the national shield should be washed in crimson pools in the enemy’s own country. Though a small nation inhabiting a small country, they held their own against all odds, and even rose to imperial eminence among their rivals. But in the absence of foreign enemies internal discord had now appeared in the land, and a woman being at the head of the nation, her [xxxiv] minister, Ayasmanta, thought that the best safety of the throne was in a division of the people, with such barriers set as would prevent a coalescence. Thus the worst curse of any nation, caste, was introduced.
[A.C. 1215] Kalyāṇavatī had been followed by six equally weak sovereigns, when the last and perhaps the most ferocious Tamiḷ invasion took place. Māgha, a prince from Kāliṅga, with twenty thousand followers at his back, repeated on a more extended scale the vandalism of the Colians in Ceylon, adding to it cruelty of the most wanton and inhuman character. Temples and relic shrines were again despoiled and demolished; books were wantonly destroyed; houses plundered; men, women, and children treated with appalling cruelty. But, again, it was the same old story. Māgha became king of Ceylon as Kāliṅga Vijayabāhu, and had been joined by another adventurer, Jayabāhu, with an additional twenty thousand followers. But a national leader soon appeared in Prince Vijayabāhu of Dabadeniya, a scion of the old Śrī Saṅghabodhi stock, who, enthusiastically supported by the nation, found himself strong enough not only to check the usurper, but to have himself installed as king. In the next reign the Kāliṅgas and their allied Tamiḷs were evacuating the Island with all their ill-gotten wealth, when they were intercepted at Kalāvæwa and put to the sword [A.C. 1225].
But the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya finds the invasion of Māgha chiefly interesting on account of the terror it spread among the priesthood, who fled helter-skelter in all directions. King Vijayabāhu at Dabadeniya, as the national sovereign, found it his duty to afford them shelter and protection in his dominions, where, after he had established them, he held a convocation to purify the Saṅgha (p. 22).
[A.C. 1236] Glorious as the son and successor of Vijayabāhu was (Parākramabāhu II), he himself was not free from molestation. With the disappearance of the Kāliṅgas a new enemy now appeared on the scene, one Candrabhanu, a Malay prince, who for a long time continued to be a thorn in the side of the king of Ceylon. But within the last reign the Island had again recovered the full vigour of its greatness, and Candrabhanu was only able to waste himself in futile attempts. Parākramabāhu, who took a great interest in the religion, as his father had done, held a great convocation to purify the Saṅgha; and we now read for the first time of the existence of two sects within the Saṅgha, [It refers to the village dwellers, gāmavāsī, and the forest dwellers, āraññavāsī]. [xxxv] which act together in the greatest harmony (p.23). It would seem that these two sects only differed in the degree of rigour of their religious life, while they agreed on all doctrinal matters. As monastic orders they belonged to the same tradition as revived from Rāmañña under Vijayabāhu I. (pp xxxi.–ii., supra). [A.C. 1266]
[A.C. 1347] Our story now takes us over a period of eighty odd years till we come to the reign of Bhuvanekabāhu IV, who held his court at Gampola. In this reign the king’s minister Senālaṅkādhikāra Senevirat, himself descended from a royal stock, built the Laṅkātilaka Vihāra, and with the authority of the king held an inquisition into the Saṅgha (p.24).
[A.C. 1356] Bhuvanekabāhu was succeeded by Parākramabāhu V, and he by Wickramabāhu III. We have now come to comparatively modern times, and to a reign in which there appears in the history of Ceylon a man who perhaps makes the greatest figure in the latter days of the Sinhalese Monarchy. Niśśaṅka Alakeśvara, or, as he was known in Tamiḷ, Alagaikkonar, was a nobleman belonging to a hill tribe of Southern India, who was allied by marriage to Senālaṅkādhikāra Senevirat, the minister of Bhuvanekabāhu IV. Under Vikramabāhu III he occupied a high position as governor of a province, of which Perādeniya was the capital, and had already distinguished himself as a strong officer of the Crown. [A.C. 1369] Towards the close of that reign he, acting in the name of the king, held an inquisition into the Saṅgha and purged it of all offenders (p. 27). In the next reign, that of Bhuvanekabāhu V, [A.C. 1371] we find him as the king’s Viceroy of the low-country, with his seat of government at Rayigama. At this time the small kingdom of Jaffna had grown in power, and had even seized opportunities to establish its authority in certain seaports and other places of the Sinhalese country, where duty and toll were levied in the name of the Tamiḷ king. Alakeśvara’s haughty spirit could not brook this superior authority of a petty prince. He accordingly laid his plans to meet it. As the most important centres of the Tamiḷ authority were within his own province he knew that the issue of the struggle, when it came, would be decided there. His first care therefore was to build a strong fortification from which military operations could be conducted. This fortification, which was a great city with rampart and moat and all defensive war-like appliances, was called New Jayawardhanapura, of which the site is now marked by the township of Koṭṭe. Having completed his preparations he threw the gage to the king of Jaffna [xxxvi] by hanging his officers. War immediately broke out, and the Jaffnese with an immense force invaded the offending territory by sea and land. Alakeśvara, however, was as great a general as he was a statesman. He met the invading force at every point, and cut it off with immense slaughter. When the campaign ended, Jaffna, even with aid from India, had been thoroughly beaten, and Alakeśvara had become the greatest man in Ceylon. The space devoted to him and his achievements in the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya attests sufficiently to the importance of the place he now filled in the nation.
Alakeśvara was a sincere and devoted Buddhist, and built many vihāras, to accumulate merit (p. 27). Mr. P. Arunāchalam, C.C.S., in his beautiful “Sketches of the History of Ceylon” (Ceylon National Review, vol 1, p. 68), is inclined to believe that Alakeśvara was of Brāhmanic faith. The religious acts of the great viceroy, as in the Nikāya Saṁgrahawa, however, leave little room for such a supposition. The harmony of the Saṅgha established by him in A.C. 1369 continued up to the fifteenth year of the reign of Bhuvanekabāhu V, [A.C. 1386] when the Nikāya Saṅgrahaya came to be written and necessarily ended according to its original plan (p. 1). But a continuation takes place at the hands of the same author ten years later, which is presumably intended to be an appendix, and so explains the apparent historical gap at the point of resumption. Though the pervading personality where the story last broke off was that of Niśśaṅka Alakeśvara, we now hear no more of him. We see instead much apparent confusion and some degree of anarchy in the political situation. In the twentieth year of the reign of Bhuvanekabāhu V, Prince Vīrabāhu, a cousin of that monarch, becomes king of Ceylon as Vīrabāhu II. He proves to be a very popular sovereign, a great monarch, and a good ruler. But with our author, the new king’s principal point is his piety. We will not yield to a latent feeling of suspicion that this piety may have been induced in the king as much by political reasons as by a religious disposition. We will only say that the king’s elder brother thought he had a better claim to the royal dignity, and was seeking aid from South Indian courts while Vīrabāhu was winning golden opinions from his tradition. He devoted his principal son to the service of the tradition as a member of the Saṅgha, and he purified the Saṅgha by holding an inquisition. We apparently see part of his reward in the continuation of a chronicle which had ended five years before he came into power.
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