Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Mahabodhivamsa

Mahabodhivamsa (lit: History of the Great Bodhi Tree) is the earliest extant literary work on the sacred Sri Bodhi-tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (Jayawardhana, 1990).

As mentioned in its introduction, Mahabodhivamsa is a Pali work recording the history of the Great Bodhi Tree and an adaptation of a previously existing work in Sinhalese on the same subject (Jayawardhana, 1990). It doesn't mention the name of its author but the acknowledge tradition is that Ven. Upatissa is the author of this literary work (Jayawardhana, 1990).

Mahabodhivamsa contains 12 chapters,

  • Chapters of Mahabodhivamsa (Jayawardhana, 1990)

    1) Abhisambodhiathã - The story of Dipankara Buddha followed by several other accounts
    2) Anandabodhikathã - Planting of the Ananda-Bodhi by Ananda Thera
    3) Dasabala-parinibbãna kathã - Story of Passing-away of the Buddha
    4) Pathama-sangiti kathã - About the first council
    5) Duthiya-sangiti kathã - About the second council
    6) Tatiya-sangiti kathã - About the third council
    7) Lankãvatarana kathã - Arrival of Arahant Mahinda in Sri Lanka
    8) Nagarappavesana kathã - Story of entering the city (of Anuradhapura)
    9) Mahãvihara patiggahana kathã - Acceptance of the Maha Viharaya
    10) Cetiyagirivihãra patiggahana kathã - Acceptance of the Viharaya at Mihintale
    11) Dhãtvãgamana kathã - Recieving of the sacred relics of the Buddha
    12) Dumindãgamana kathã - Bringing of the southern branch of sacred Bodhi-tree at Bodh Gaya in India


The last chapter records the planting of the sacred Bodhi-tree at Anuradhapura. It further mentions the eight places where the first saplings of that Bodhi-tree were planted (Jayawardhana, 1990).

  • Eight saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi

    1) Jambukola-pattana
    2) Tavakka-brahmana gama
    3) Thuparama
    4) Issara-samana' rama

    5) Pathamaka-cetiyatthana
    6) Cetiya-pabbata
    7) Kacaragama
    8) Candanagama

The Simhala Bodhivamsa (a related work of Mahabodhivamsa) reveals the places where the thirty-two saplings that sprang after the first eight saplings were planted.

  • Thirty-two saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi

    1) Malwessa Vehera
    2) Tantrisamala Vehera
    3) Muhudubada Mahajalika Kevulgama
    4) Kottiyarama
    5) Polonnaruwa
    6) Matale Rusigama
    7) Ruhunurata Magama
    8) Vilvala
    9) Mahiyanganaya
    10) Nainge Vilgamvehera near Seruwila
    11) Uva Badulle Muthiyangana
    12) Buthala Happoru Vehera
    13) Ruhunurata Sithulpawwa
    14) Vanavasa Vehera to the west of Tangalu Vehera
    15) Veligamvehera
    16) Paragoda

    17) Meddegama
    18) Ganegama
    19) Kotmale Pusulpitiya
    20) Mayarata Wathura
    21) Beligala
    22) (?) Pepiliyana
    23) Bellanwila
    24) Vandurawa
    25) Vattarama Raja Maha Viharaya
    26) Sulugalla
    27) Resveruwa
    28) Katiyawa
    29) Giriba Vehera
    30) Yapahu Sindaragiri Pawwa
    31) Kasagalu Vehera
    32) Ambalawa Rahatgal Vehera


Two editions of the Pali Mahabodhivamsa have been published: one in 1890 (Colombo) and the other in 1891 by the Pali Text Society of London (Wikramasinghe, 1900).

Related works
  • Mahabodhivamsa-granthipada-vivaranaya - A Sinhalese commentary work composed to explain the difficult terms in Mahabodhivamsa.
  • Dharmapradipikã or Mahabodhivamsa-parikathã - A sub-commentary work on Mahabodhivamsa, written by Gurulugomi.
  • Simhala Bodhivamsaya (Elu-Bodhivamsaya) - The Sinhalese translation of Pali Mahabodhivamsa by Vilgammula Maha Thera (Wikramasinghe, 1900).
  • Sulu Bodhivamsaya (Minor chronicle of the Bodhi-tree) -  The Sinhalese translation of Pali Culabodhivamsa. Written in the 7th year of King Rajadhirajasingha (1781-1798 A.D.) by Ven. Sumangala, a pupil of Attaragama Bandara (Jayawardhana, 1990).
References
1) Jayawardhana, S., 1990. A survey of literature on the sacred Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 35, pp.23-52.
2) Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. pp.xviii,22,157.

This page was last updated on 2 January 2021
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