article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa’,
the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
The death of King Mahasen
1. Minneriya Tank is the most important tank built by King Mahasen.
A number of canals were cut to take the waters of this tank , to
the neighbouring fields. Cultivation prospered and a good harvest
was obtained every year. The granaries were full and the country
was self-sufficient in food. King Mahasen is the 54th great king
of Sri Lanka. He ruled the country for 27 years and passed away
in 301 AD.
His son, Prince Kitsirimevan succeeded him. His coronation was celebrated
amidst the blessings of the monks of all three sects (Nikayas).
Kitsirimevan was a pious king. The first thing he did, after his
accession to the throne, was to convene a meeting of all the monks
of Mahavihara. They were treated with the highest of veneration.
He asked them what destruction his father had caused, being misguided
by the monk Sanghamitta.
The monks spoke thus. "O Great King. He did a lot of evil deeds.
He employed Minister Sona to ruin the Brazen Palace (Lohapasada)
and some other temples. Listening to that Chola priest, he used
the compound of Ruwanveli Chetiya for growing grain". King
Kitsirimevan was badly moved by all that he heard. He begged pardon
from the monks, on behalf of his father.
He started repairing the temples of Mahavihara. He spent a lot of
wealth on the reconstruction work and saw to it that Mahavihara
was once again full of Buddhist monks. Jetavana temple was completed
by him. After learning of the services rendered by Arhant Mahinda,
he was instrumental in organising a procession to honour him. He
had a life-size statue of Arhant Mahinda sculptured in gold.
During the time of Emperor Asoka, when the Third Buddhist Council
was held, Moggaliputtatissa Thera was conducted to the venue in
procession. In the same manner, King Kitsirimevan arranged to take
the statue of Arhant Mahinda, accompanied by other monks, from Mihintale
to Anuradhapura. Devotees crowded on either side of the road to
see the procession. The entire city took on a festive mood. Finally,
the statue was taken to Mahavihara.
King Kitsirimevan spent lavishly to have an annual procession, where
this statue was taken along the streets. He made an order that this
procession should be held every year, hereafter. In the ninth year
of his reign, Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha came to Sri Lanka
- from Kalinga in India. They brought with them the Sacred Tooth
Relic of the Buddha. He accepted the relics, paying all honour and
The Sacred Tooth Relic was placed in the gem-studded casket. It
was kept in the 'Damsak' room of Rajarama built by King Devanampiyatissa.
Thereafter, that room came to be known as the Temple of the Tooth.
The king was overjoyed to have this sacred relic. He spent an immense
amount of money and held a procession in its honour. Thereafter,
once a year, the Sacred Relic was taken to Abhayagiri temple for
veneration. The king ordered that all ceremonies associated with
the Sacred Tooth Relic should be duly performed continuously.