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

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 712 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.

[Footnote 1:  A narrative of the efforts made by the Portuguese to introduce Christianity, and by the Dutch to establish the reformed Religion, will be found in Sir J. EMERSON TENNENT’S Christianity in Ceylon; together with an exposition of the systems adopted by the European and American missions, and their influence on the Hindu and Buddhist races, respectively.

Those who seek to pursue the study of Buddhism, its tenets and economies, as it exhibits itself in Ceylon, will find ample details in the two profound works published by Mr. R. SPENCE HARDY:  Eastern Monachism, Lond. 1850, and A Manual of Buddhism, in its Modern Development, Lond. 1853.]

PART V.

* * * * *

MEDIAEVAL HISTORY.

CHAPTER I.

CEYLON AS KNOWN TO THE GREEKS AND ROMANS.

Although mysterious rumours of the wealth and wonders of India had reached the Western nations in the heroic ages, and although travellers at a later period returning from Persia and the East had spread romantic reports of its vastness and magnificence, it is doubtful whether Ceylon had been heard of in Europe[1] even by name till the companions of Alexander the Great, returning from his Indian expedition, brought back accounts of what they had been told of its elephants and ivory, its tortoises and marine monsters.[2]

[Footnote 1:  Nothing is more strikingly suggestive of the extended renown of Ceylon and of the different countries which maintained an intercourse with the island, than the number and dissimilarity of the names by which it has been known at various periods throughout Europe and Asia.  So remarkable is this peculiarity, that LASSEN has made “the names of Taprobane” the subject of several learned disquisitions (De Taprobane Insula veter. cogn.  Dissert. sec. 2, p. 5; Indische Alterthumskunde, vol. i. p. 200, note viii. p. 212, &c.); and BURNOUF has devoted two elaborate essays to their elucidation, Journ.  Asiat. 1826, vol. viii. p. 129. Ibid., 1857, vol. xxxiii. p. 1.

In the literature of the Brahmans, Lanka, from having been the scene of the exploits of Rama, is as renowned as Ilion in the great epic of the Greeks.  “Taprobane,” the name by which the island was first known to the Macedonians, is derivable from the Pali “Tamba panni.”  The origin of the epithet will be found in the Mahawanso, ch. vii. p. 56. and it is further noticed in the present work, Vol.  I. P. 1. ch. i. p. 17, and P. III. ch. ii. p. 330.—­It has likewise been referred to the Sanskrit “Tambrapani;” which, according to LASSEN, means “the great pond,” or “the pond covered with the red lotus,” and was probably associated with the gigantic tanks for which Ceylon is so remarkable.  In later times Taprobane was exchanged for Simundu, Palai-simundu, and Salike, under which names it is

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