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Examples of Classical Metres
Mahāvaṁsa & Cūlavaṁsa
Over seventy examples of classical Pāli metres as found mainly in the colophons to the chapters in the Mahāvaṁsa, and its continuation, the Cūlavaṁsa.
in the edition by
The text of the summary verses from Mahāvaṁsa that is presented here is meant to illustrate some of the main Classical metres that were employed in the Medieval period. In Indo-Āryan verse composition from the Vedas onwards it was customary to end poems written in one kind of metre, with a summary verse in another.
This tradition was continued in the Mahāvaṁsa, which was written predominantly in the Classical Siloka metre. At the end of each chapter (pariccheda) there is a summary verse usually written in one of the elaborate Classical Samavutta or Aḍḍhasamavutta metres.
The summary verses in this work normally take the form of a moral exhortation, indicating the lesson that can be learned from the foregoing narrative, though they sometimes merely summarize the action.
Wilhelm Geiger’s edition of the text, which has been very carefully established, especially in regard to the metre, has been followed here, except that it has been slightly repunctuated to accord with the standards employed in other documents on this Website. Please note that in this edition:
1) Vowel elision is not marked.
2) Consonants that have arisen in sandhi are joined with a hyphen to the following word.
3) The quotation marker is written separate from the preceding word.
At the moment only the verses up to chapter 73 have been prepared (up to the end of Book I of Cūlavaṁsa in Geiger’s edition). Chapters 40, 43, 47, & 71 are not included here as the chapter itself, or the summary verse is missing from the edition.
The verses from Mahāvaṁsa and Cūlavaṁsa in the edition by Wilhelm Geiger are published here by kind permission of the Pali Text Society, who retain the copyright.
last updated: July 2005