Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 892 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.

The sacred tooth of Buddha was publicly exposed on sacred days in the capital with gorgeous ceremonies, which he recounts, and thence carried in procession to “the mountains without fear;” the road to which was perfumed and decked with flowers for the occasion; and the festival was concluded by a dramatic representation of events in the life of Buddha, illustrated by scenery and costumes, with figures of elephants and stags, so delicately coloured as to be undistinguishable from nature.[1]

[Footnote 1:  FA HIAN, Fo[)e] Kou[)e] Ki, ch. xxxviii. p. 334, &c.]



[Sidenote:  A.D. 302.]

The story of the kings of Ceylon of the Sulu-wanse or “lower line,” is but a narrative of the decline of the power and prosperity which had been matured under the Bengal conquerors and of the rise of the Malabar marauders, whose ceaseless forays and incursions eventually reduced authority to feebleness and the island to desolation.  The vapid biography of the royal imbeciles who filled the throne from the third to the thirteenth century scarcely embodies an incident of sufficient interest to diversify the monotonous repetition of temples founded and dagobas repaired, of tanks constructed and priests endowed with lands reclaimed and fertilised by the “forced labour” of the subjugated races.  Civil dissensions, religious schisms, royal intrigues and assassinations contributed equally with foreign invasions to diminish the influence of the monarchy and exhaust the strength of the kingdom.

Of sixty-two sovereigns who reigned from the death of Maha-Sen, A.D. 301, to the accession of Prakrama Bahu, A.D. 1153, nine met a violent death at the hands of their relatives or subjects, two ended their days in exile, one was slain by the Malabars, and four committed suicide.  Of the lives of the larger number the Buddhist historians fail to furnish any important incidents; they relate merely the merit which each acquired by his liberality to the national religion or the more substantial benefits conferred on the people by the formation of lakes for irrigation.

[Sidenote:  A.D. 330.]

[Sidenote:  A.D. 339.]

Unembarrassed by any questions of external policy or foreign expeditions, and limited to a narrow range of internal administration, a few of the early kings addressed themselves to intellectual pursuits.  One immortalised himself in the estimation of the devout by his skill in painting and sculpture, and in carving in ivory, arts which he displayed by modelling statues of Buddha, and which he employed himself in teaching to his subjects.[1] Another was equally renowned as a medical author and a practitioner of surgery[2], and a third was so passionately attached to poetry that in despair for the death of Kalidas[3], he flung himself into the flames of the poet’s funeral pile.

Project Gutenberg
Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook