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terrors and be happy. Let him therefore who knoweth himself strive to attain Nirvána, the real state of happiness and the highest immortality.

Thus endeth the thirty-ninth chapter, entitled "An Account of two Kings," in the Mahávansa, composed equally for the delight and amazement of good men.


THERE can be no doubt that Kásyapa committed suicide in the field of battle, for the text is very clear on the point, and admits of no dispute whatever; but there is some obscurity as to the manner in which he did it. The words of the text run as follows::

Rájá chetvá nikaranena so

Sisan ukkhipiyákásan churikan kosiyan khipi. (Chap. XXXIX., v. 27.)

The order of the words in Páli prose would be

So rájá nikaranena sisan chetvá ákásan ukkhipiya churikan kosiyan khipi;

the literal translation of which would be, "The king having cut off (his) head with (his) knife, threw it (the head) into the air, and put the knife into its sheath." This is clearly absurd, at least the throwing by him of his head into the air after it had been cut off, and the sheathing of the knife subsequently. The only way of avoiding this ridiculous supposition is to construe the passage in the way I have translated it, viz. :

So rájá sisan ákásan ukkhipiya, nikaranena chetvá, churikan kosiyan khipi;

which would be, “The king having raised his head towards the sky (i.e. raised his head up), cut it (the neck) with a knife, and put the knife into the sheath." As no grammatical difficulty stands in the way of such a construction, I have, after much consideration, and with due deference to the opinions of others who hold otherwise, adopted this rendering.

It would appear that the commission of suicide by kings and princes in despair after defeat, or at the prospect of defeat, in the field of battle, was common at this period, and that it was generally regarded as an act of chivalry.

When Prince Kásyapa, the noble son of the old blind King Upatissa, made his last gallant and desperate stand in defence of his father, seeing that the elephant he rode on was giving way through sheer fatigue, and that there was no hope of escape, it is said that he killed himself by cutting his own neck. Here, too, a construction that would appear

plausible at first sight would launch us into a sea of absurdity. The incident is narrated in the 24th and 25th verses of chapter XLI., thusHatthárohassa datvána, chinditvá sisam attano

Punchitvá lohitan katvá kosiyan asiputtakan
Hatthi-kumbhe ubho hatthe thapetvána avatthari.

A strictly literal translation of this passage would run thus :—

66 Having cut off his own head and given it to the elephant-driver, he wiped off the blood from the sword, and after putting it into the scabbard rested both hands on the head of the elephant and extended himself."

In order to avoid the absurdity which such a rendering would involve, we are bound to put a somewhat forced but very reasonable and natural construction on this passage, viz., "Having given the elephant in charge of its rider, he cut his neck and wiped off the blood from the sword," &c. Such a rendering requires only the supply of an ellipsis to make the construction grammatically and strictly accurate, viz., Hatthárohassa (hatthin) datvána.

A third instance of suicide on the field of battle occurs later on in chapter XLIV. Jetthatissa defeated and dethroned Aggabodhi III. surnamed Siri Sanghabodhi, who fled to India and returned five years afterwards with a Tamil army to recover his throne. A pitched battle was fought between these two rivals near the great tank Kaláveva. Jetthatissa's army was worsted, and although he displayed marvellous feats of valour to retrieve the day, fighting single-handed with many a Tamil warrior, yet all his heroic efforts were of no avail; and at last, seeing a warrior by the name of Veluppa advance to fight him, Jetthatissa, who was quite exhausted, took out the knife which he had kept carefully hidden in his betel-purse, and cut his own throat. The incident is thus described in verses 111 and 112 of chapter XLIV.:— Veluppa Damilan náma disvá yujjhitum ágatan Tambulatthaviyan hatthe rakkhanto churikan tadá Tato nikkaranin sammá gahetvá sisam attano

Chetva hatthimhi appetvá churikan kosiyan khipi.

"Seeing a Tamil named Veluppa coming forward (to the combat), he drew out a knife which he carried carefully in his betel-purse, and cut his neck, and having laid himself down on the back of the elephant, returned the knife into its sheath."

Here, too, it is quite possible, and even correct, to translate, "He cut off his head, and having laid it on the back of the elephant, returned theknife into its sheath." But I do not think that any person, having a due regard to the possible and the impossible, will venture on such a translation.

The next instance of an act of suicide in the field of battle is that of Prince Mahinda, related in chapter L. The prince did his best to stem

the torrent of the wild horde of Tamils that was advancing against the capital, but, finding himself overpowered, and being unwilling to fall into the hands of the enemy, he cut his own neck; and his immediate retinue followed his example::

(Verses 23, 24.)

Tasmá varan me maranan mayá ev’eti cintiya Hatthikkhandha-gato yeva chindi so sisam attano Tan disvá bahavo síse tattha chindiņsu sevaká. "Better is it, therefore, that I should die by my own hand.' So saying, he cut off his head (cut his neck) even as he sat upon his elephant, and many of his faithful followers seeing this cut off their heads also."

This is clear enough, and presents no difficulty whatever.

The last instance which I shall quote is the famous single combat between the two brothers, Dátháppabhuti and Moggallána II., wherein the former was defeated and cut his own neck. This passage is

important, as it gives us a clue to understand the usual expression Attano sisan chindi, he cut off his own head.'

Rájá árabhi tan disvá chinditun sisam attano
Moggalláno'tha vandanto yáci m’evan kari iti
Yácamáne pi so mánan mánento chindi kandharan.
(Chap. XLI., vv. 52, 53.)

"And when the king saw this he proceeded to cut off his own head. Whereupon Moggallána raised his hands in supplication and besought him saying, 'Do not so'; but he gave no heed to the prayer, and, caring rather to obey the promptings of his pride, cut his neck." Here the expression Sisan chinditun, to cut off the head,' is used in the same sense as kandharan chindi, 'cut the neck.'

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I have entered into some detail in this matter, as I am aware that the learned editors of the " Mahávansa differ from me in their rendering of the Sinhalese version.

It might perhaps be objected that my construction of the three first passages is somewhat forced. Granting this for the sake of argument, I think it better to put even a forced construction on an obscure passage, and elicit sense out of it, wherever it is practicable, than to translate it in such a manner as to obtain, what might rightly be called, incredible



THIS as well as the two chapters immediately preceding, and a few that follow, are couched in language so brief and terse as to be almost oracular in some passages; and the one we are about to consider is not the least among them. The difficulty of attaching a definite meaning to it is rendered still greater by there being a variant reading of an

important word therein. The 34th verse, in which this occurs, is as follows:

Kuddho nihari


dáyan S


so "ghátakan pituno mama

Anuvattiņsvamaccáti"; tena rakkhasa námavá.

Literally-"He was furious with anger, saying, 'These ministers attached themselves to him who had slain my father,' and he protruded his tooth (dáthan). Hence he was called Rakkhasa."

The learned Sinhalese translators have, however, adopted the reading dáyan, and rendered the phrase by "He took away from them their inheritance." But it may be asked, why the confiscation of the inheritance or property of the evil-doers (which, under the circumstances, was a very proper thing to do) should render him liable to opprobrium, and procure him the undignified title of Rakkhasa, or "The demon"? Rather should not the barbarous action that followed the so-called confiscation of property-namely, the putting to death of one thousand officers, the cutting off the ears and noses of many, the banishment of a great number of them-justify the people in calling him a demon? The verse is complete in itself, and has no connection with the succeeding lines that describe the punishment and tortures inflicted on the followers of the parricide. I therefore prefer to adopt the reading dáthan followed by Professor Rhys Davids in his text and translation of this chapter, published in the Royal Asiatic Society's Journal of 1872; but I do not adopt his translation, because it is inconsistent with the context, and for other reasons which I shall presently explain. He renders the passage thus:

"Being angry with the priests, saying, 'They assisted at the death of my father, these baldheads,' he took away the tooth (relic), and thence acquired the name of 'devil.""

Now, Moggallána had no cause whatever for dissatisfaction with the priests; for, apart from the fact that they received him into the capital with due honour and respect, he must have known how they had refused to accept the gift of even a vihára offered to them by Kásyapa, on the ground that it was the gift of a parricide. (See verses 11 and 12.) Besides, it is evident that the learned Professor has based his translation here on a wrong reading of the word amaccá (ministers), which he reads muṇḍá (baldheads). Moreover, no correct writer would use dáthá for the Tooth-relic, although one or two instances of such use do occur in the admittedly faulty and ill-written portion of the Mahávansa, namely chapters 91-100. But no such use can be found in any other author, or in any other portion of the Mahávansa, although this word Tooth-relic occurs a great many times in the course of the work. I am therefore of opinion that what the writer means to convey by this expression is that Mogallána was so exasperated against these men 91-87


that he gnashed his teeth violently, so as to protrude one, and that he was therefore nick-named Rakkhasa, inasmuch as those beings are generally supposed to have two curved upper teeth protruding from the corners of their mouths; and they are, indeed, so depicted up to this day in the fresco-paintings and bali images of Ceylon. I have therefore adopted my translation in this sense.

I may add that the similarity of the old Sinhalese characters tha and ya, especially when written by a careless copyist, will easily account for the origin of the variant dayan.




N his (Moggallána's) death his son, the famous Kumára Dhátuséna, became king. His form was like unto a god, and he was a man of great strength. He made improvements to the vihára that his father had built, and caused an assembly of monks to be held in order to revise the 3 sacred canon. He purged also the religion of Buddha. To the great body of monks he gave the four monastic requisites, and satisfied them, and died in the ninth year of his reign after he 4 had performed many and divers acts of merit. Kittisena, his 5 son, then became king. He also, after he had performed divers acts of merit, lost the kingdom in the ninth month of his reign, for Síva, his mother's brother, killed him and became king. Síva began to perform many acts of merit, when he was killed on the twenty-fifth day of his reign by Upatissa, who, when he 6 had killed Síva, became king. And he made Moggallána's 7 sister's husband, Silákála, his general. This king bestowed offices on the people, and thereby gained their goodwill. And he gave his daughter in marriage to Silákála with a great dowry.


King Upatissa had a son called Kassapa, a mighty man of valour. And he took unto himself sixteen other valiant youths 9 for his companions. To give freely, and from the fulness of his heart, was his great wealth, and with his companions, who were like-minded with himself, he held fast to the principles of justice and lived a life of much action, and honoured his parents greatly. In process of time, Silákála's mind being led astray by the lust of dominion, he went to the southern Malaya country and 11 collected a large army there, and, laying waste the outlying districts, came near to the capital. When Kassapa, the king's


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