Mahavansa/Chapter 25

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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 25 The Victory of Duttha Gamani

WHEN the king Dutthagamani had provided for his people and had had a relic put into his spear' he marched, with chariots, troops and beasts for riders, to Tissamaharama, and when he had shown favour to the brotherhood he said: `I will go on to the land on the further side of the river to bring glory to the doctrine. Give us, that we may treat them with honour, bhikkhus who shall go on with us, since the sight of bhikkhus is blessing and protection for us.' As a penance the brotherhood allowed him five hundred ascetics; taking this company of bhikkhus with him the king marched forth, and when he had caused the read in Malaya leading hither to be made ready he mounted the elephant Kandula and, surrounded by his warriors, he took the field with a mighty host. With the one end yet in Mahagama the train of the army reached to Guttahalaka.

Arrived at Mahiyangana he overpowered the Damila Chatta. When he had slain the Damilas in that very place he came then to Ambatitthaka, which had a trench leading from the river, and (conquered) the Damila Titthamba; fighting the crafty and powerful foe for four months he (finally) overcame him by cunning,' since he placed his mother in his view. When the mighty man marching thence down (the river) had conquered seven mighty Damila princes in one day and had established peace, he gave over the booty to his troops. Therefore is (the place)called Khemäräma.

In Antarasobbha he subdued Mahakotta, in Dona Gavara, in Halakola Issariya, in Nalisobbha Nalika. In Dighabhayagallaka he subdued, in like manner, Dighabhaya; in Kacchatittha, within four months, he subdued Kapisisa. In Kotanagara he subdued Kota, then Halavahanaka, in Vahitta the Damila Vahittha and in Gamani (he subdued) Gamani, in Kumbagama Kumba, in Nandigama Nandika, Khanu in Khanugama but in Tamba and Unnama the two, uncle and nephew, named Tamba and Unnama. Jambu also did he subdue, and each village was named after (its commander.)

When the monarch heard (that it was said: ) `Not knowing their own army they slay their own people', he made this solemn declaration: `Not for the joy of sovereignty is this toil of mine, my striving (has been) ever to establish the doctrine of the Sambuddha. And even as this is truth may the armour on the body of my soldiers take the colour of fire.' And now it came to pass even thus.

All the Damilas on the bank of the river who had escaped death threw themselves for protection into the city named Vijitanagara. In a favourable open country he pitched a camp, and this became known by the name Khandhavarapitthi.

Since the king, in order to take Vijitanagara, would fain put Nandhimitta to the test, he let loose Kandula upon him (once) when he saw him coming towards him. When the elephant came to overpower him, Nandhimitta seized with his hands his two tusks and forced him on his haunches.

Since Nandhimitta fought with the elephant the village built on the spot where (it came to pass) is therefore named Hatthipora.

When the king had (thus) put them both to the test he marched to Vijitanagara. Near the south gate befell a fearful battle between the warriors. But near the east gate did Velusumana, sitting on his horse, slay Damilas in great numbers.

The Damilas shut the gate and the king sent thither his men. Kandula and Nandhimitta and Suranimila, at the south gate, and the three, Mahasona, Gotha and Theraputta, at the three other gates did their (great) deeds. The city had three trenches, was guarded by a high wall, furnished with gates of wrought iron, difficult for enemies to destroy. Placing himself upon his knees and battering stones, mortar and bricks with his tusks did the elephant attack the gate of iron. But the Damilas who stood upon the gate-tower hurled down weapons of every kind, balls of red-hot iron and molten pitch. When the smoking pitch poured on his back Kandula, tormented with pains, betook him to a pool of water and dived there.

`Here is no sura-draught for thee, go forth to the destroying of the iron gate, destroy the gate !' thus said Gothambara to him. Then did the best of elephants again proudly take heart, and trumpeting he reared himself out of the water and stood defiantly on firm land.

The elephants' physician washed the pitch away and put on balm; the king mounted the elephant and, stroking his temples with his hand, he cheered him on with the words: `To thee I give, dear Kandula, the lordship over the whole island of Lanka.' And when he had had choice fodder given to him, had covered him with a cloth and had put his armour on him and had bound upon his skin a seven times folded buffalo-hide and above it had laid a hide steeped in oil he set him free. Roaring like thunder he came, daring danger, and with his tusks pierced the panels of the gate and: trampled the threshold with his feet; and with uproar the gate crashed to the ground together with the arches of the gate. The crumbling mass from the gate-tower that fell upon the elephant's back did Nandhimitta dash aside, striking it with his arms. When Kandula saw his deed, in contentment of heart he ceased from the former wrath he had nursed since he (Nandhimitta) had seized him by the tusks.

That he might enter the town close behind him Kandula the best of elephants turned (to Nandhimitta) and looked at that warrior. But Nandhimitta. thought: `I will not enter (the town) by the way opened by the elephant' and with his arm did he break down the wall. Eighteen cubits high and eight usabhas long it crashed together. The (elephant) looked on Süranimila, but he too would not (follow in) the track but dashed forward, leaping the wall into the town. Gona also and Sona pressed forward, each one breaking down a gate. The elephant seized a cart-wheel, Mitta a waggon frame, Gotha a cocos-palm, Nimila his good sword, Mahasona a palmyra-palm, Theraputta his great club,' and thus, rushing each by himself into the streets, they shattered the Damilas there.

When the king in four months had destroyed Vijitanagara he went thence to Girilaka and slew the Damila Giriya.

Thence he marched to Mahelanagara that had a triple trench and was surrounded by an undergrowth of kadamba flowers, possessed but one gate and was hard to come at; and staying there four months the king subdued the commander of Mahela by a cunningly planned battle. Then nearing Anuradhapura the king pitched his camp south of the Kasa-mountain. When he had made a tank there in the month Jetthamüla he held a water-festival. There is to be found the village named Pajjotanagara.

When the king Elara heard that king Dutthagamani was come to do battle he called together his ministers and said: `This king is himself a warrior and in truth many warriors (follow him). What think the ministers, what should we do?' King Elara's warriors, led by Dighajantu, resolved: `Tomorrow will we give battle.' The king Dutthagamani also took counsel with his mother and by her counsel formed thirty-two bodies of troops. In these the king placed parasol-bearers and figures of a king;' the monarch himself took his place in the innermost body of troops.

When Elara in full armour had mounted his elephant Mahäpabbata he came thither with chariots, soldiers and beasts for riders. When the battle began the mighty and terrible Dighajantu seized his sword and shield for battle, and leaping eighteen cubits up into the air and cleaving the effigy of the king with his sword, he scattered the first body of troops. When the mighty (warrior) had in this manner scattered also the other bodies of troops, he charged at the body of troops with which king Gamani stood. But when he began to attack the king, the mighty warrior Süranimila insulted him, proclaiming his own name. Dighajantu thought: `I will slay him,' and leaped into the air full of rage. But Süranimila held the shield toward him as he alighted (in leaping). But Dighajantu thought: `I will cleave him in twain, together with the shield,' and struck the shield with the sword. Then Süranimila let go the shield. And as he clove (only) the shield thus released Dighajantu fell there, and Suranimila, springing up, slew the fallen (man) with his spear. Phussadeva blew his conch shell, the army of the Damilas was scattered; nay, Elara turned to flee and they slew many Damilas. The water in the tank there was dyed red with the blood of the slain, therefore it was known by the name Kulantavapi.

King Dutthagamini proclaimed with beat of drum: `None but myself shall slay Elara.' When he himself, armed, had mounted the armed elephant Kandula he pursued Elara and came to the south gate (of Anuradhapura).

Near the south gate of the city the two kings fought; Elara hurled his dart, Gamani evaded it; he made his own elephant pierce (Elara's) elephant with his tusks and he hurled his dart at Elara; and this (latter) fell there, with his elephant.

When he had thus been victorious in battle and had united Lankã under one rule he marched, with chariots, troops and beasts for riders, into the capital. In the city he caused the drum to be beaten, and when he had summoned the people from a yojana around he celebrated the funeral rites for king Elara. On the spot where his body had fallen he burned it with the catafalque, and there did he build a monument and ordain worship. And even to this day the princes of Lanka, when they draw near to this place, are wont to silence their music because of this worship.

When he had thus overpowered thirty-two Damila kings Dutthagamani ruled over Lanka in single sovereignty.

When Vijitanagara was destroyed the hero Dighajantuka had told Elara of the valour of his nephew, and to this nephew named Bhalluka he had sent a message to come hither. When Bhalluka had received (the message) from him he landed here, on the seventh day after the day of the burning of Elara, with sixty thousand men.

Although he heard of the king's death after he had landed yet, from shame, with the purpose: `I will do battle,' he pressed on from Mahatittha hither.' He pitched his camp near the village Kolambahalaka.

When the king heard of his coming he marched forth to battle in full panoply of war, mounted on the elephant Kandula, with warriors mounted on elephants, horses and chariots, and with foot-soldiers in great numbers.

Ummadaphussadeva, who was the best archer in all the island (followed) armed with the five weapons, and the rest of the heroes followed him (also). While the raging battle went forward Bhalluka in his armour came at the king there; but Kandula, the king of elephants, to weaken his onslaught, yielded his ground quite slowly and the army with him drew also back quite slowly. The king said: `Aforetime in twenty-eight battles he has never retreated, what may this be, Phussadeva?' And he answered: `Victory lies behind us, O king; looking to the field of victory the elephant draws back, and at the place of victory he will halt.' And when the elephant had retreated he stood firm beside (the shrine of) the guardian god of the city within the precincts of the Mahavihara.

When the king of elephants had halted here the Damila Bhalluka came toward the king in that place and mocked at the ruler of the land. Covering his mouth with his sword the king returned insult for insult. `I will send (an arrow) into the king's mouth,' thought the other, and he let fly an arrow. The arrow struck on the sword-blade and fell to the ground. And Bhalluka, who thought `He is struck in the mouth,' uttered a shout for joy. But the mighty Phussadeva sitting behind the king, let fly an arrow into his mouth wherewith (as the arrow passed) he lightly touched the king's ear-ring. And since he made him thus to fall with his feet toward the king, he let fly yet another arrow at the falling man and struck him in the knee; and making him (now) to turn with his head toward the king, thus with swift hand he brought him down.' When Bhalluka had fallen a shout of victory went up.

To make known his fault Phussadeva himself forthwith cut off the lobe of his own ear and showed the king the blood streaming down. When the king saw this he asked: `What does this mean?' `I have carried out the royal justice upon myself,' he said (in answer) to the ruler of the land. And to the question: `What is thy guilt?' he answered: `Striking thy ear-ring.' `Why hast thou done this, my brother, taking as guilt that which was no guilt?' replied the great king, and in gratitude he said moreover: `Great shall be thy honourable guerdon, even as thy arrow.'

When the king, after winning the victory, had slain all the Damilas he went up on the terrace of the palace, and when, in the royal chamber there in the midst of the dancers and ministers, he had sent for Phussadeva's arrow and had set it in the ground with the feathered end uppermost, he covered the dart over and over with kahapanas poured forth upon it, and these he forthwith caused to be given to Phussadeva.

Sitting then on the terrace of the royal palace, adorned, lighted with fragrant lamps and filled with many a perfume, magnificent with nymphs in the guise of dancing-girls, while he rested on his soft and fair couch, covered with costly draperies, he, looking back upon his glorious victory, great though it was, knew no joy, remembering that thereby was wrought the destruction of millions (of beings).

When the arahants in Piyangudipa knew his thought they sent eight arahants to comfort the king. And they, coming in the middle watch of the night, alighted at the palace-gate. Making known that they were come thither through the air they mounted to the terrace of the palace.

The great king greeted them, and when he had invited them to be seated and had done them reverence in many ways he asked the reason of their coming. `We are sent by the brotherhood at Piyangudipa to comfort thee, O lord of men.'

And thereon the king said again to them: `How shall there be any comfort for me, O venerable sirs, since by me was caused the slaughter of a great host numbering millions?'

`From this deed arises no hindrance in thy way to heaven. Only one and a half human beings have been slain here by thee, O lord of men. The one had come unto the (three) refuges, the other had taken on himself the five precepts Unbelievers and men of evil life were the rest, not more to be esteemed than beasts. But as for thee, thou wilt bring glory to the doctrine of the Buddha in manifold ways; therefore cast away care from thy heart, O ruler of men!'

Thus exhorted by them the great king took comfort. When he had bidden them farewell and had given them leave to depart belay down again and thought: `Without the brotherhood you shall never take a meal,' thus our mother and father have caused to swear us in our boyhood at the meal. Have I ever eaten anything whatsoever without giving to the brotherhood of bhikkhus?' Then he saw that he had, all unthinkingly, eaten pepper in the pod, at the morning meal, leaving none for the brotherhood; and he thought: `For this I must do penance.'

Should a man think on the hosts of human beings murdered for greed in countless myriads, and should he carefully keep in mind the evil (arising from that), and should he also very carefully keep in mind the mortality as being the murderer of all, then will he, in this way, shortly win freedom from suffering and a happy condition.

Here ends the twenty-fifth chapter, called `The Victory of Dutthagamani', in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

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