Wednesday, May 1, 2019


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 about 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 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 Arhant 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 about the planting of the sacred Bodhi-tree at Anuradhapura. It further mentions about 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

Two editions of the Pali Mahabodhivamsa have been published: one in 1890 (Colombo) and 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).
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 6 June 2020
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