THE king Devanampiyatissa who had arranged a waterfestival for the dwellers in the capital, set forth to enjoy the pleasures of the chase. Attended by forty thousand of his men he went on foot to the Missaka-mountain. The deva of the mountain who desired to show the theras to him, appeared there in the form of an elk-stag browsing in the thicket. When the king saw him, he thought: `It is unseemly to kill an unheeding (creature)' and he struck out a sound from his bowstring; the stag fled towards the mountain. The king pursued, but the stag in his flight drew near to the thera. When the thera came into the prince's view the (deva) himself vanished.
Thinking: `If he sees too many (people) he will be too much afraid,' the thera let (the king) see him alone. When the king beheld him he stood still terrified. The thera said to him: `Come hither, Tissa.' Then, from the calling him by his name, Tissa, the king thought forthwith: `(That is) a yakkha. `Samanas are we, O great king, disciples of the King of Truth. From compassion toward thee are we come hither from Jambudipa,' thus said the thera. When the king heard this fear left him. And remembering the message of his friend, and persuaded that these were samanas, he laid bow and arrow aside and approaching the sage he exchanged greeting with the thera and sat down near him.
Then came his people and surrounded him and the great thera caused the others who had come with him to become visible. When the king beheld these too he said: `When did these come hither?' The thera answered: `(They came) with me.' And he asked moreover: `Are there in Jambudipa other ascetics like to these?' The other said: `Jambudipa is gleaming with yellow robes; and great is the number there of arahants learned in the three vedas, gifted with miraculous powers, skilled in reading the thoughts of others, possessing the heavenly ear: the disciples of the Buddha.'
(The king) then asked: `By what way are you come?' And since the answer was: `Neither by land nor by water are we come,' he understood that they had come through the air.
To test him that most wise (thera) now asked a subtle question, and even as he was questioned the monarch answered the questions severally.
`What name does this tree bear, O king?'
`This tree is called a mango.'
`Is there yet another mango beside this?'
`There are many mango-trees.'
`And are there yet other trees besides this mango and the other mangoes?'
`There are many trees, sir; but those are trees that are not mangoes.'
`And are there, beside the other mangoes and those trees which are not mangoes, yet other trees?'
`There is this mango-tree, sir.'
`Thou hast a shrewd wit, O ruler of men!'
`Hast thou kinsfolk, O king?'
`They are many, sir.'
`And are there also some, O king, who are not kinsfolk of thine?'
`There are yet more of those than of my kin.'
`Is there yet any one besides the kinsfolk and the others?'
`There is yet myself, sir.'
`Good! thou hast a shrewd wit, O ruler of men!'
When he had known that he was a keen-witted man, the wise thera preached to the monarch the Cülahatthipadüpamasuttanta. At the end of the discourse he, with the forty thousand men, came unto the (three) refuges.
In the evening they brought the king's meal to him. Although the king knew that these (bhikkhns) would not eat then he invited the sages to the meal, with the thought: `It were seemly at least to ask them.' When they told him:
`We do not eat now,' he asked concerning the time. And when he was told the time, he said: `We will go into the city.'
`Go thou, great king, we will stair here.'
`If that be so, then must this young man come with `us.'
`This (youth) is one who has attained the goal, has grasped the doctrine and waits for the pabbajja, (therefore) must he abide near us. We wish to bestow on him the pabbajja now; depart then, O king.' Then, when he had taken leave of the theras with the words: `To-morrow I will send a waggon, do you enter it and conic into the city,' he took Bhandu aside and asked him what the theras intended (to do). And he told the king all. When (the king) heard the thera's name he was full of joy and thought: `This is blessing for me.' And now the king, whose fear had left him because Bhandu was a layman, knew that these were human beings. Saying:
`Let us bestow on him the pabbajja,' the thera bestowed on young Bhanduka, within the boundaries of that village and within that group (of bhikkhus), both the pabbajja and the upasampada-ordination, and even in the same moment he attained to the state of arahant.
Then the thera ordered the samanera Sumana: `Announce ye the time of preaching the dhamma.' He asked: `How far, sir, shall I make the time to be heard when I announce it?' When the thera answered: `Over all Tambapanni,' he announced the time of (preaching the) dhamma, making it to be heard, by his miraculous power, over the whole of Lanka.
When the king, who was seated by the rock-basin at the Nagacutakka and was taking his repast, heard, the loud summons, he sent a message to the thera asking: `Has any misfortune come to pass?' He answered: `No misfortune has come to pass; the time was proclaimed for hearing the word of the Sarnbuddha.'
When the earth-gods heard the summons of the sämanera they echoed it and so the call rose up gradually to Brahma's heaven. Because of the summons there came together a great assembly of devas; and the thera preached before this gathering the Samacitta-sutta.
Devas without number were converted to the doctrine and many nägas and supanas came unto the (three) refuges. Even as when the thera Sariputta uttered this discourse so did the devas gather together to hear it from Mahinda.
On the morrow the king sent a waggon. The driver came and said: `Mount into the waggon, we will drive to the city.' `We will not mount into the waggon; go thou, we will follow thee.' Saying this they, full of holy desires, sent the driver away; and they rose into the air and by their miraculous power they descended to the east of the city in the place where the first thüpa (afterwards stood). And thenceforward to this day the cetiya that was built on the spot where the theras first alighted 1 is called the Pathamacetiya.
Since the women of the royal household, hearing from the king of the virtues of the theras, desired to see them, the monarch had a lovely pavilion built for them within the royal precincts, covered with white stuffs and with flowers and beautifully adorned.
And since he had heard from the thera that they would not sit upon raised seats, he pondered doubtfully: `Will the thera indeed sit upon a raised seat?' In the meantime the driver saw the theras standing there putting on their robes and in wonderment he came and told the king. Hearing all (this) it became clear to the king that they would not sit on chairs. And commanding: `Let the finest carpets be spread upon the ground,' he went to meet the theras, greeted them reverently, took the almsbowl from the great thera Mahinda's hand and led the thera into the city, as is the custom in hospitable welcome and homage.
And the soothsayers, when they saw the seats prepared, foretold: `The earth is occupied by these (bhikkhus); they will be lords upon the island.' Showing them honour the king led the theras into the palace. There, according to their rank, they took their seat on chairs covered with stuffs. The king himself served them with rice-soup and with foods hard and soft. And when the meal was finished, he himself sat down at their feet and sent for Anulä, the consort of his younger brother, the sub-king Mahanaga, who dwelt in the royal palace. When the queen Anulä had come with five hundred women and had bowed down and made offerings to the theras, she stepped to one side. The thera preached the Petavatthu, the Vimänavatthu and the Sacca-samyutta. The women attained to the first stage of sanctification.
And many people from the city, hearing from persons who had seen them the day before, of the virtues of the theras, came together desirous to see the theras and made a great stir at the palace-gates. When the king heard that and had been told, on asking, (why it was so,) he said, thoughtful for their welfare: `Here there is not enough space for all these men; let them cleanse the hail of the state-elephant, there shall the townspeople be able to look upon the theras. When they had cleansed the elephant's hall, and had adorned it speedily with canopies and so forth, they prepared seats there (for the theras), according to their rank. The great thera went thither with the (other) theras and when he had taken his seat, he, the eminent preacher, preached the Devadüta-suttanta. When the townspeople, who were come together, heard it, they were filled with faith and a thousand persons among them attained to the first stage of salvation.
When thus in the isle of Lanka the peerless thera, like unto the Master in the protection of Lanka, had preached the true doctrine in two places, in the speech of the island, he, the light of the island, thus brought to pass the descent of the true faith.
Here ends the fourteenth chapter, called `The Entry into the Capital', in the Mahavamsa, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious.
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Dhamma Without Rebirth? by Bhikkhu Bodhi