Mahavansa/Chapter 24

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Mahavamsa: The Great Chronicle of Lanka,

Translated from Pali by Wilhelm Geiger, 6th Century BC to 4th Century AD.

Published by Ceylon Government, Information Dept. Colombo, 1912.

Chapter 24 The War of the Two Brothers

SKILLED in (guiding) elephants and horses, and in (bearing) the sword and versed in archery did the prince Gamani dwell thenceforth in Mahagama. The prince Tissa, equipped with troops and chariots did the king cause to be stationed in Dighavapi in order to guard the open country. Afterwards prince Gamani, reviewing his host, sent to announce to his father the king: `I will make war upon the Damilas.' The king, to protect him, forbade him, saying: `The region on this side of the river is enough.' Even to three times he sent to announce the same (reply). `If my father were a man he would not speak thus: therefore shall he put this on.' And therewith Gamani sent him a woman's ornament. And enraged at him the king said: `Make a golden chain! with that will I bind him, for else he cannot be protected.'

Then the other fled and went, angered at his father, to Malaya, and because he was wroth with his father they named him Dutthagamani.

Then the king began to build the Mahanuggala-cetiya. When the cetiya was finished the monarch summoned the brotherhood. Twelve thousand bhikkhus from the Cittalapabbata (vihara) gathered together here, and from divers (other) places twelve thousand also.

When the king had celebrated the solemn festival of the cetiya he brought all the (ten) warriors together and male them take an oath in the presence of the brotherhood. They all took the oath: `We will not go to (thy) sons' battlefield'; therefore did they also not come to the war (afterwards).

When the king had built sixty-four viharas and had lived just as many years he died then in that same place.' The queen took the king's body, brought it to the Tissamaharama in a covered car and told this to the brotherhood. When the prince Tissa heard this he came from Dighavapi, and when he himself had carried out with (due) care the funeral rites for his father, the powerful (prince) took his mother and the elephant Kandula with him and for fear of his brother went thence with all speed back to Dighavapi. To acquaint him with these matters the whole of the ministers, who had met together, sent a letter to Dutthagamni. He repaired to Guttahala and when he had placed outposts there he came to Mahagama and caused himself to be consecrated king. He sent a letter to his brother (asking) for his mother and the elephant. But when after the third time he did not receive them he set forth to make war upon him. And between those two there came to pass a great battle in Culanganiyapitthi: fell many thousands of the king's men. The king and his minister Tissa and the mare Dighathunika, those three, took flight; the prince (Tissa) pursued them. The bhikkhus created a mountain between the two (brothers). When he (Tissa) saw it he turned about, thinking: `This is the work of the brotherhood of the bhikkhus.'

When he came to the Javamala of the river Kappakandara the king said to his minister Tissa: `I am spent' with hunger.' He offered him food that was placed in a golden vessel. When he had set aside of the food for the brotherhood and had divided it into four portions he said: `Proclaim the meal-time.' Tissa proclaimed the time. When, by means of his heavenly ear, he who had taught the king the holy precepts, the thera (Gotama), dwelling in Piyangudipa, heard this he sent the thera Tissa the son of a householder, thither, and he went there through the air. Tissa (the minister) took his almsbowl from his hand and offered it to the king. The king commanded the portion for the brotherhood and his own portion to be poured into the bowl. And Tissa poured his portion in likewise, and the mare also would not have her portion. Therefore did Tissa pour her share too into the bowl.

The king handed to the thera the bowl filled with food; and hastening away through the air he brought it to the thera Gotama. When the thera had offered their share in morsels to five hundred bhikkhus, who partook of the food, and had (again) filled the bowl with the fragments that he received from them, he caused it to fly through the air to the king. (The minister) Tissa who saw it coming received it and served the king. When he himself then had eaten he fed the mare also; then the king sent the almsbowl away, making of his own field-cloak a cushion to bear it upon.

Arrived in Mahagama he assembled again a host of sixty thousand men and marching into the field began the war with his brother. The king riding on his mare and Tissa on the elephant Kandula, thus did the two brothers now come at once together, opposing each other in battle. Taking the elephant in the middle the king made the mare circle round him. When he, notwithstanding, found no unguarded place he resolved to leap over him.' Leaping with the mare over the elephant he shot his dart over his brother, so that he wounded only the skin on the back (of the elephant).

Many thousands of the prince's men fell there, fighting in battle, and his great host was scattered. `By reason of the weakness of my rider one of the female sex has used me contemptuously'; so thought the elephant, and in wrath he rushed upon a tree in order to throw him (Tissa). The prince climbed upon the tree; the elephant went to his master (Dutthagamani). And he mounted him and pursued the fleeing prince. The prince came to a vihara and fleeing to the cell of the chief thera, he lay down, in fear of his brother, under the bed. The chief thera spread a cloak over the bed, and the king, who followed immediately, asked: `Where is Tissa?' `He is not in the bed, great king'; answered the thera. Then the king perceived that he was under the bed, and when he had gone forth he placed sentinels round about the vihara; but they laid the prince upon the bed and covered him over with a garment and four young ascetics, grasping the bed-posts, bore him out as if (they were carrying) a dead bhikkhu. But the king, who perceived that he was being carried forth, said: `Tissa, upon the head of the guardian genii of our house art thou carried forth; to tear away anything with violence from the guardian genii of our house is not my custom. Mayst thou evermore remember the virtue of the guardian genii of our house!' Hereupon the king went to Mahagama, and thither did he bring his mother, whom he greatly reverenced. Sixty-eight years did the king live, whose heart stood firm in the faith, and he built sixty-eight vihäras.

But the prince Tissa, carried forth by the bhikkhus, went thence unrecognized' and came to Dighavapi. The prince said to the thera Godhagatta Tissa: `I have done ill, sir; I will make my peace with my brother'. The thera took Tissa, in the habit of a servitor, and five hundred bhikkhus with him and sought the king out. Leaving the prince above on the stairs the thera entered with the brotherhood. The monarch invited them all to be seated and had rice-milk and other (food) brought (to them). The thera covered his almsbowl, and on the question: `Wherefore this'? he answered: `We have I come bringing Tissa with us.' To the question: `Where is the traitor?' he pointed out the place where he stood. The Viharadevi hurried thither and stood sheltering her young son. The king said to thëthera: `Itis known to you that we are now also your servants. If you had but sent a samanera of seven years our strife had not taken place (and all had ended) without lose of men.' `O king, this is the brotherhood's guilt, the brotherhood will do penance.'

`You will (first) have (to do) what is due to (guests) arriving. Take the rice-milk and the rest.' With these words he offered the (food) to the brotherhood; and when he had called his brother hither he took his seat with his brother even there in the midst of the brotherhood; and when he had eaten together with him he gave the brotherhood leave to depart. And thither too he sent his brother to direct the work of harvest; and he too, when he had made it known by beat of drum, directed the work of harvest.

Thus are pious men wont to appease an enmity, though heaped up from many causes, even if it be great; what wise man, pondering this, shall not be of peace-loving mind toward others?

Here ends the twenty-fourth chapter, called `The War of the Two Brothers', in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

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