These stories describe the Buddha subduing or driving away the yakkhas and nagas that were inhabiting the island and delivering a prophecy that Sri Lanka will become an important Buddhist center. These visits are not mentioned in the Pali Canon or other early sources. Chronicles of Kings of Sri Lanka: This material consists of genealogies and lineages of kings of Sri Lanka, sometimes with stories about their succession or notable incidents in their reigns. This material may have been derived from earlier royal chronicles and king lists that were recorded orally in vernacular languages, and are a significant source of material about the history of Sri Lanka and nearby Indian kingdoms. History of the Buddhist Sangha: This section of the Mahavamsa deals with the mission sent by Emperor Ashoka to Sri Lanka, the transplantation of the bodhi tree , and the founding of the Mahavihara.
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These stories describe the Buddha subduing or driving away the yakkhas and nagas that were inhabiting the island and delivering a prophecy that Sri Lanka will become an important Buddhist center. These visits are not mentioned in the Pali Canon or other early sources. Chronicles of Kings of Sri Lanka: This material consists of genealogies and lineages of kings of Sri Lanka, sometimes with stories about their succession or notable incidents in their reigns.
This material may have been derived from earlier royal chronicles and king lists that were recorded orally in vernacular languages, and are a significant source of material about the history of Sri Lanka and nearby Indian kingdoms. History of the Buddhist Sangha: This section of the Mahavamsa deals with the mission sent by Emperor Ashoka to Sri Lanka, the transplantation of the bodhi tree , and the founding of the Mahavihara.
It includes the names of prominent monks and nuns in the early Sri Lankan sangha. It also includes accounts of the early Buddhist councils and the first recording of the Pali canon in writing. This is a significant source of material about the development of the early Buddhist community, and includes the names of missionaries dispatched to various regions of South and Southeast Asia, some of which have been confirmed by inscriptions and other archaeological evidence.
Chronicles of Sri Lanka: This material begins with the immigration of King Vijaya from India with his retinue and continues until the reign of King Mahasena , recounting wars, succession disputes, building of stupas and reliquaries, and other notable incidents. An extensive chronicle of the war between the Sinhala King Dutthagamani and Tamil King Elara verses in the Mahavamsa compared with 13 verses in the Dipavamsa may represent the incorporation of a popular epic from the vernacular tradition.
These annals were combined and compiled into a single document in the 5th Century while Dhatusena of Anuradhapura was ruling the Anuradhapura Kingdom. It was written based on prior ancient compilations known as the Atthakatha sometimes Sinhalaatthakatha , which were commentaries written in Sinhala. The Culavamsa was compiled by a number of authors of different time periods. As it often refers to the royal dynasties of India , the Mahavamsa is also valuable for historians who wish to date and relate contemporary royal dynasties in the Indian subcontinent.
It is very important in dating the consecration of the Maurya Emperor Ashoka , which is related to the synchronicity with the Seleucid Empire and Alexander the Great. Indian excavations in Sanchi and other locations, confirm the Mahavamsa account of the empire of Ashoka. The accounts given in the Mahavamsa are also amply supported by the numerous stone inscriptions, mostly in Sinhala, found in Sri Lanka. Indrapala  has also upheld the historical value of the Mahavamsa.
As a result of the Mahavamsa, comparatively more is known about the history of the island of Ceylon and neighboring regions than that of most of the subcontinent. Its contents have aided in the identification and corroboration of archaeological sites and inscriptions associated with early Buddhism, the empire of Ashoka , and the Tamil kingdoms of southern India. Every chapter of the Mahavamsa ends by stating that it is written for the "serene joy of the pious".
From the emphasis of its point-of-view, and being compiled to record the good deeds of the kings who were patrons of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya ,  it has been said to support Sinhalese nationalism. Its stories of battles and invasions, court intrigue, great constructions of stupas and water reservoirs, written in elegant verse suitable for memorization, caught the imagination of the Buddhist world of the time.
Thus the Mahavamsa was taken along the Silk Road to many Buddhist lands. An extended version of the Mahavamsa, which gives many more details, has also been found in Southeast Asia.
Political significance[ edit ] The Mahavamsa has, especially in modern Sri Lanka, acquired a significance as a document with a political message. The British historian Jane Russell  has recounted how a process of "Mahavamsa bashing" began in the s, especially from within the Tamil Nationalist movement.
The Mahavamsa, being a history of the Sinhala Buddhists, presented itself to the Tamil Nationalists and the Sinhala Nationalists as the hegemonic epic of the Sinhala people.
This view was attacked by G. Ponnambalam, the leader of the Nationalist Tamils in the s. He claimed that most of the Sinhala kings, including Vijaya, Kasyapa, and Parakramabahu, were Tamils. The Sinhala majority responded with a mob riot, which engulfed Nawalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya, and even Jaffna.
Various writers have called into question the morality of the account given in the Mahavamsa, where Dutugamunu regrets his actions in killing Ellalan [ citation needed ] and his troops. This is considered by some critics as an ethical error. However, Buddhism does recognize a hierarchy of actions as being more or less wholesome or skillful, although the intent is as much as or more important than the action itself.
Thus the killing of an Arahant may be considered less wholesome and skillful than the killing of an ordinary human being. Buddhists may also assert that killing an elephant is less skillful and wholesome than killing an ant.
In both cases, however, the intent must also be considered. An important thing to note is that Dutthagamani regretted his act, and this was also true of King Ashoka , who became a pacifist after a series of bloody military campaigns. While other scholars had assumed that the Mahavamsa had been assembled from borrowed material from Indian Pali sources, Geiger hypothesized that the Mahavamsa had been based on earlier Sinhala sources that originated on the island of Ceylon.
While Geiger did not believe that the details provided with every story and name were reliable, he broke from earlier scholars in believing that the Mahavamsa faithfully reflected an earlier tradition that had preserved the names and deeds of various royal and religious leaders, rather than being a pure work of heroic literary fiction.
He regarded the early chapters of the Culavamsa as the most accurate, with the early chapters of the Mahavamsa being too remote historically and the later sections of the Culavamsa marked by excessive elaboration.
Mendis was more openly skeptical about certain portions of the text, specifically citing the story of the Sinhala ancestor Vijaya as being too remote historically from its source and too similar to an epic poem or other literary creation to be seriously regarded as history.
Cross-cousin marriage is associated historically with the Dravidian people of southern India- both Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhala practiced cross-cousin marriage historically- but exogamous marriage was the norm in the regions of northern India associated with the life of the Buddha. No mention of cross-cousin marriage is found in earlier Buddhist sources, and scholars suspect that this genealogy was created in order to fit the Buddha into conventional Sri Lankan social structures for noble families.
Hermann Oldenberg , a German scholar of Indology who has published studies on the Buddha and translated many Pali texts, considers this story a "pure invention".
Smith Author of Ashoka and Early history of India also refers to this story as "a tissue of absurdities". The Dipavamsa is much simpler and contains less information than the Mahavamsa and probably served as the nucleus of an oral tradition that was eventually incorporated into the written Mahavamsa. The Dipavamsa is believed to have been the first Pali text composed entirely in Ceylon.
The Culavamsa contains three sections composed by five different authors one anonymous belonging to successive historical periods. A commentary on the Mahavamsa, known as the Mahavamsa-tika, is believed to have been composed before the first additions composing the Culavamsa were written, likely some time between AD and AD This commentary provides explanations of ambiguous Pali terms used in the Mahvamasa, and in some cases adds additional details or clarifies differences between different versions of the Mahavamsa.
Unlike the Mahavamsa itself, which is composed almost entirely from material associated with the Mahavihara , the Mahavamsa-tika makes several references to commentaries and alternate versions of the chronicle associated with the Abhayagiri vihara tradition. Its composition is attributed to an otherwise unknown monk called Moggallana and its exact date of composition and origin are unknown, but suspected to be Burma or Thailand.
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Voodoolabar From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Sinhalese language was also reported to be the 29th-fastest-growing language in Australia ranking above Somali but behind Hindi mahawansaa Belarusian. Mahawansa sinhala best known is mahawansa sinhala which is native to Sri Lanka. Senanayake have drawn widespread acclaim. Dear Chinappa, If you read my comment again you will see I was simply quoting from Britanica. I have mahawansa sinhala hesitation in recommending mahawajsa for the maximum number of titles which he deserves thoroughly:.
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The Temple of the Tooth was renovated during the Buddhist revival. The form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is known as Theravada school of elders. The Pali chronicles e. Due to the proximity and on some occasions similarity of certain doctrines, there are many areas where Buddhists and Hindus share religious views and practices. This can lead to the opinion that Buddhists have adopted religious elements from Hindu traditions in their religious practices.