Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Abhayagiri Slab Inscription of Kassapa V

Abhayagiri Slab Inscription Kassapa V
Abhayagiri Slab Inscription of King Kassapa V is found erected in the premises of Bodhigharaya III of Abhayagiri Monastery in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. The Abhayagiri Slab Inscription of King Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D.) can also be seen beside this inscription.

The slab
The rectangular slab is about 5 ft. 6 inches high and 3 ft. 6 inches wide (Ranawella, 2001). The inscription is inscribed in 56 lines of writing, each within a ruled space (Ranawella, 2001; Wickremasinghe, 1912). The edges of the slab are marked by a moulded framing (Wickremasinghe, 1912).

Content
The language and the script of the record are Sinhala of the 10th century A.D. (Ranawella, 2001). It has been engraved in the 6th regnal year of a king styled Debeseva ja Salameyvan Abahay, the son of King Buddas Sirisangboy Abahay and Queen Sangbanday (Ranawella, 2001). Scholars have identified him as King Kassapa V [(914-923) Ranawella, 2001; Wickremasinghe, 1912].

The purport of the record was to register a set of regulations promulgated by the king concerning the administration of several monastic establishments attached to Abhayagiriya and Mihintale monasteries (Ranawella, 2001). The regulations have been laid down for the guidance of the royal officers, the temple officials, and the resident monks of those places (Ranawella, 2001). The content of this record agrees with the facts about Kassapa V mentioned in chronicles (Ranawella, 2001; Wickremasinghe, 1912).

The Abhayagiri Slab Inscription of Mahinda IV
Reign: Kassapa V (914-923 A.D.)                                                          Period: 10th century A.D.
Script:
Medieval Sinhala                                                                        Language: Medieval Sinhala
Content: The inscription begins with a eulogy of the king. It then says that the king built the Kasub Raja Maha Viharaya and Sangsen monastery attached to Mirisaweti Viharaya and provided accommodation to 500 monks in the Vihara with the four requisites. The construction of a hospital in the inner city and the construction of Silameghavanna Pabbata Vihara in Abhayagiri Viharaya is also recorded. Mention is made to the economic services rendered by the king and the writing of canonical verses on gold plates etc. and to the prohibition imposed on royal officials to enter into the villages, Pirivenas, Padhanagharas and Bhikkhuni monasteries belonging to Abhayagiriya, Mihintale, Eth Vehera and other monasteries during the 6th year of his reign. The legislation was also imposed to prevent the entry of carts, oxen, buffaloes into such premises and the cutting of trees as well. It is also decreed that a budget be presented on the expenses of the Abhayagiri Vihara image house, Stupa, Bodhighara, Ratnaprasada, Alms Hall etc. It also contains details of practices, religious rites, legal matters required to be followed by the monks. The record further says that the practices followed from the past should be continued in the same manner and reports thereon should be prepared and submitted to the monks.
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

References
1) Ranawella, S., 2001. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part I. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-9159-21-6. pp.329-336.
2) Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1912. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). London. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. pp.41-57.

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