The Passing of Arahat Mahinda

from the Extended Mahāvaṁsa, Chapter XX. The Complete Emancipation of the Elders
ExtMhv 43-64 cf. Mhv 29-47

Stupa (Mural at Wat Pho, Bangkok)

(Mural at Wat Pho, Bangkok)

After the King Devānampiyatissa’s passing, his younger brother, well-known as Uttiya, also born of King Muṭasīva, ruled righteously.

The Elder Mahinda was the Light of Laṅkā, a leader of a great crowd, who light up the Island of Laṅkā, who propogated the supreme Dispensation of the Victor consisting of proper study, practice and penetration. He who was like the Teacher, 1 benefitted many in the world in Laṅkā, with a virtuous crowd of wise monks in the Community, in the eighth victorious year of the King Uttiya, within the Rains Retreat, after he had dwelt sixty years near the Cetiya mountain, on the eighth day of the bright half of the month Assayuja, 2 that passionless Elder, who increased the light, 3 attained Emancipation.

As the passionless Mahinda passed on the eighth day it was agreed upon that his name be given to the eighth day. 4

Hearing that, King Uttiya was affected by the dart of grief, and after going, worshipping and lamenting the Elder a great deal, he had the body of the Elder quickly laid out in a golden casket that had been sprinkled with perfumed oil.

translator’s note: the text here is translated from the Extended version of the Mahāvaṁsa, for more information see the preface to this series. Where the extended version and the original differ the text is italicised.

He placed that perfect casket on a golden bier and lifted it, and while making righteous ceremonies with a great flood of people who had come together from here and there, he made various offerings with a great army of people.

Going through the city’s decorated path, that had many decorations, they lifted and carried the bier along the Highway, and lead it to the Great Monastery, together with the assembly, and placed the decorated bier there.

The Guardian of the World celebrated in the Mango Question enclosure for seven days with arches, flags and flowers, with pots full of incense, adorned for a distance of three leagues around the monastery.

This was through the power of the King, but the whole Island was decorated through the power of the gods.

The Lord of the World made many offerings for a week, then in the easterly direction, in the Elders’ enclosure, he made circumambulation of the fragrant pyre near the Great Sanctuary, and led the delightful bier to that place and placed it on the pyre, paying his final respects.

After lighting the fire, and sprinkling with perfumed water, the Lord of the Earth, right there in the Elder’s cremation spot made a Shrine and deposited the relics there, as was fit.

The Ruler of Men had half of his relics deposited in the Cetiya mountain, and deposited the rest of the relics in all the monastic Sanctuaries, and he made offerings day by day.

The place where the sage’s body had been laid is called, out of respect for him, the Seer’s Courtyard. Thenceforth after bringing the body of the Noble Ones from three leagues all round, they were burnt in that place.

End Notes

1 I.e. the Buddha.
2 Around October.
3 Or perhaps: who increased the (virtue in the) Island.
4 It seems each day of the lunar month had a name specially assigned to it, and they gave Mahinda’s name to the eighth day of the month.


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