Mahānāma, 5th century CE
Transl. W. Geiger, 1912


Chapter VII

WHEN the Guide of the World, having accomplished the salvation of the whole world and having reached the utmost stage of blissful rest, was lying on the bed of his nibbāṇa, in the midst of the great assembly of gods, he, the great sage, the greatest of those who have speech, spoke to Sakka[1] who stood there near him: 'Vijaya, son of king Sīhabāhu, is come to Laṅkā from the country of Lāḷa, together with seven hundred followers. In Laṅkā, O lord of gods, will my religion be established, therefore carefully protect him with his followers and Laṅkā.'

When the lord of gods heard the words of the Tathāgata he from respect handed over the guardianship of Laṅkā to the god who is in colour like the lotus[2].

And no sooner had the god received the charge from Sakka than he came speedily to Laṅkā and sat down at the foot of a tree in the guise of a wandering ascetic. And all the followers of Vijaya came to him and asked him: 'What island is this, sir?' 'The island of Laṅkā,' he answered. 'There are no men here, and here no dangers will arise.' And when he had spoken so and sprinkled water on them from his water-vessel, and had wound a thread about their hands[3] he vanished through the air. And there appeared, in the form of a bitch, a yakkhiṇī who was an attendant (of Kuvaṇṇā)[4].

One (of Vijaya's men) went after her, although he was forbidden by the prince (for he thought), 'Only where there is a village are dogs to be found.' Her mistress, a yakkhiṇī named Kuvaṇṇā, sat there[5] at the foot of a tree spinning, as a woman-hermit might.

When the man saw the pond and the woman-hermit sitting there, he bathed there and drank and taking young shoots of lotuses and water in lotus-leaves he came forth again. And she said to him: 'Stay! thou art my prey!' Then the man stood there as if fast bound. But because of the power of the magic thread she could not devour him, and though he was entreated by the yakkhiṇī, the man would not yield up the thread. Then the yakkhiṇī seized him, and hurled him who cried aloud into a chasm. And there in like manner she hurled (all) the seven hundred one by one after him.

And when they all did not return fear came on Vijaya; armed with the five weapons[6] he set out, and when he beheld the beautiful pond, where he saw no footstep of any man coming forth, but saw that woman-hermit there, he thought: 'Surely my men have been seized by this woman.' And he said to her, 'Lady, hast thou not seen my men?' 'What dost thou want with thy people, prince?' she answered. 'Drink thou and bathe.'

Then was it clear to him: 'This is surely a yakkhiṇī, she knows my rank,' and swiftly, uttering his name, he came at her drawing his bow. He caught the yakkhiṇī in the noose about the neck, and seizing her hair with his left hand he lifted his sword in the right and cried: 'Slave! give me back my men, or I slay thee!' Then, tormented with fear the yakkhiṇī prayed him for her life. 'Spare my life, sir, I will give thee a kingdom and do thee a woman's service and other service as thou wilt.'

And that he might not be betrayed he made the yakkhiṇī swear an oath, and so soon as the charge was laid on her, 'Bring hither my men with all speed,' she brought them to that place. When he said, 'These men are hungry,' she showed them rice and other (foods) and goods of every kind that had been in the ships of those traders whom she had devoured.

(Vijaya's) men prepared the rice and the condiments, and when they had first set them before the prince they all ate of them.

[7]When the yakkhiṇī had taken the first portions (of the 26 meal) that Vijaya handed to her, she was well pleased, and assuming the lovely form of a sixteen-year-old maiden she approached the prince adorned with all the ornaments. At the foot of a tree she made a splendid bed, well-covered around with a tent, and adorned with a canopy. And seeing this, the king's son, looking forward to the time to come, took her to him as his spouse and lay (with her) blissfully on that bed; and all his men encamped around the tent.

As the night went on he heard the sounds of music and singing, and asked the yakkhiṇī, who was lying near him: 'What means this noise?' And the yakkhiṇī thought: 'I will bestow kingship on my lord and all the yakkhas must be slain, for (else) the yakkhas will slay me, for it was through me that men have taken up their dwelling (in Laṅkā).[8]'

And she said to the prince: 'Here there is a yakkha-city called Sirīsavatthu; the daughter of the chief of the yakkhas[9] who dwells in the city of Laṅkā has been brought hither, and her mother too is come[10]. And for the wedding there is high festival, lasting seven days; therefore there is this noise, for a great multitude is gathered together. Even to-day do thou destroy the yakkhas, for afterwards it will no longer be possible.'

He replied: 'How can I slay the yakkhas who are invisible?' 'Wheresoever they may be,' she said, 'I will utter cries, and where thou shalt hear that sound, strike! and by my magic power shall thy weapon fall upon their bodies.'

Since he listened to her and did even (as she said) he slew all the yakkhas, and when he had fought victoriously he himself put on the garments of the yakkha-king and bestowed the other raiment on one and another of his followers.

When he had spent some days at that spot he went to Tambapaṇṇi. There Vijaya founded the city of Tambapaṇṇi and dwelt there, together with the yakkhiṇī, surrounded by his ministers.

When those who were commanded by Vijaya landed from their ship, they sat down wearied, resting their hands upon the ground and since their hands were reddened by touching the dust of the red earth[11] that region and also the island were (named) Tambapaṇṇi[12]. But the king Sīhabāhu, since he had slain the lion (was called) Sīhala and, by reason of the ties between him and them, all those (followers of Vijaya) were also (called) Sīhala.

Here and there did Vijaya's ministers found villages. Anurādhagāma was built by a man of that name near the Kadamba river[13]; the chaplain Upatissa built Upatissagāma[14] on the bank of the Gambhīra river, to the north of Anurādhagāma. Three other ministers built, each for himself, Ujjenī, Uruvelā, and the city of Vijita[15].

When they had founded settlements in the land the ministers all came together and spoke thus to the prince: 'Sire, consent to be consecrated as king.' But, in spite of their demand, the prince refused the consecration, unless a maiden of a noble house were consecrated as queen (at the same time).

But the ministers, whose minds were eagerly bent upon the consecrating of their lord, and who, although the means were difficult, had overcome all anxious fears about the matter, sent people, entrusted with many precious gifts, jewels, pearls, and so forth, to the city of Madhurā[16] in southern (India), to woo the daughter of the Paṇḍu king for their lord, devoted (as they were) to their ruler; and they also (sent to woo) the daughters of others for the ministers and retainers.

When the messengers were quickly come by ship to the city of Madhurā they laid the gifts and letter before the king. The king took counsel with his ministers, and since he was minded to send his daughter (to Laṅkā) he, having first received also daughters of others for the ministers (of Vijaya), nigh upon a hundred maidens, proclaimed with beat of drum: 'Those men here who are willing to let a daughter depart for Laṅkā shall provide their daughters with a double store of clothing and place them at the doors of their houses. By this sign shall we (know that we may) take them to ourselves.'

When he had thus obtained many maidens and had given compensation to their families, he sent his daughter, bedecked with all her ornaments, and all that was needful for the journey[17], and all the maidens whom he had fitted out, according to their rank, elephants withal and horses and waggons, worthy of a king, and craftsmen and a thousand families of the eighteen guilds, entrusted with a letter to the conqueror Vijaya. All this multitude of men disembarked at Mahātittha; for that very reason is that landing-place known as Mahātittha[18].

Vijaya had one son and one daughter by the yakkhiṇī; when he now heard that the princess had arrived he said to the yakkhiṇī: 'Go thou now, dear one, leaving the two children behind; men are ever in fear of superhuman beings.'

But when she heard this she was seized with fear of the yakkhas; then he said (again) to the yakkhiṇī: 'Delay not! I will bestow on thee an offering[19] by (spending) a thousand (pieces of money).' When she had again and again besought him (in vain) she took her two children and departed for Lankapura, though fearing that evil should come of it.

She set the children down outside and went, herself, into that city. When the yakkhas in the city recognized the yakkhiṇī, in their terror they took her for a spy and there was great stir among them; but one who was violent killed the yakkhiṇī with a single blow of his fist.

But her uncle, on the mother's side, a yakkha, went forth from the city and when he saw the children he asked them: 'Whose children are you?' and hearing that they were Kuvaṇṇā's he said : 'Here has your mother been slain, and they will slay you also if they see you: (therefore) flee swiftly!'

Fleeing with speed they went from thence to the Sumanakūṭa[20]. The brother, the elder of the two, when he grew up took his sister, the younger, for his wife, and multiplying with sons and daughters, they dwelt, with the king's leave, there in Malaya[21]. From these are sprung the Pulindā[22].

The envoys of the Paṇḍu king delivered up to the prince Vijaya the gifts and the (maidens) with the king's daughter at their head. When Vijaya had offered hospitality and bestowed honours on the envoys he bestowed the maidens, according to their rank, upon his ministers and retainers. According to custom the ministers in full assembly consecrated Vijaya king and appointed a great festival.

Then king Vijaya consecrated the daughter of the Paṇḍu king with solemn ceremony as his queen; he bestowed wealth on his ministers, and every year he sent to his wife's father a shell-pearl worth twice a hundred thousand (pieces of money).

When he had forsaken his former evil way of life, Vijaya, the lord of men, ruling over all Lankā in peace and righteousness reigned, as is known, in the city of Tambapaṇṇi, thirty-eight years.

Here ends the seventh chapter, called 'The Consecrating of Vijaya', in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.

[1] A name of Indra, king of the gods.

[2] Devass' uppalavaṇṇassa, that is Viṣṇu. The allusion is to the colour of the BLUE lotus (uppala).

[3] As a paritta, that is as a protecting charm against the influence of demons.

[4] The Ṭīkā says: Kuvaṇṇāya Sīsapāti-nāmikā paricāri-kayakkhiṇī. The Kambodian Mah. also gives the same name Sīsapātika.

[5] There, that is where Vijaya's man followed the bitch.

[6] Naddhapañcāyudho. The five weapons are, according to CLOUGH, sword, bow, battle-axe, spear, and shield.

[7] Instead of verses 26-84 the later (Sinhalese) recension has a somewhat divergent reading, the text of which is printed in my edition, p. 326 foll. Appendix A. Cf. ibid., Introd., p. xxxiv.

[8] To manussāvāsakāraṇā 'because of (my) bringing about a settlement of men', the Ṭīkā adds the words imasmiṃ dīpe 'in this island'.

[9] Lit. 'of the eldest yakkha.'

[10] The Ṭīkā calls the bride's father Mahākālasena, the bride Polamittā, the mother Goṇḍā. The names Kālasena and Polamittā occur also in the Kamb. Mah.

[11] The soil of Ceylon is composed of latent which crumbles into a red dust.

[12] A play on the word tambapāṇi, red hand.

[13] Now Malwaṭṭe-oya which flows by the ruins of Anurādhapura.

[14] This is probably to be sought on one of the right-bank tributaries of the lower Malwaṭṭe-oya. According to Mah. 28. 7 the Gambhīra-nadī flows 1 yojana (i. e. 7-8 miles) north of Anurādhapura.

[15] According to tradition the remains of the city of Vijita exist as those ruins which lie not far from the Kalu-wæwa (Kālavapi) about 24 miles south of Anuradhapura in the jungle. TENNENT, Ceylon, ii, p. 602 foil. I think the tradition is right, although PARKER, Ancient Ceylon, p. 237 foll., identifies Vijitapura with a suburb of Polannaruwa mentioned in the twelfth century A. D. As to the site of Uruvelā see 28. 36 and note.

[16] Now Madura, in the south of the Madras Presidency.

[17] The Ṭīkā explains saparicchadaṃ by paribhogabhaṇḍikaṃ samakuṭappāsādhanikaṃ vā. Cf. Skt. paricchada.

[18] I. c. 'the great landing-place' ; now Mantoṭa opposite the island Manaar.

[19] Since Kuvanna is a yakkhiṇī, she must receive like the devatās a bali or religious offering, oblation.

[20] I. e. Adam's Peak.

[21] The central mountain-region in the interior of Ceylon.

[22] Pulindā, a designation of barbarous tribes, is here evidently a name of the Wæddās. The tract of country inland between Colombo, Kalutara, Galle and the mountains is now called Sabaragamuwa from Skt. sábara; p. savara, a synonym of pulinda.