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The Mahavamsa (`Great Chronicle`, Pali Mahāvaṃsa) (5th century CE) is an epic poem written in the Pali language. It relates the history of Sri Lanka from its legendary beginnings up to the reign of Mahasena of Anuradhapura (A.D. 302) covering the period between the arrival of Prince Vijaya from India in 543 BCE to his reign (277–304 CE). It was composed by a Buddhist monk at the Mahavihara temple in Anuradhapura about the fifth century A.D.
The contents of the Mahavamsa can be broadly divided into four categories:
The Buddha`s Visits to Sri Lanka: This material recounts three legendary visits by the Buddha to the island of Sri Lanka. These stories describe the Buddha subduing or driving away the yakkhas and nagas that were inhabiting the island and delivering a prophecy that Sri Lanka will become an important Buddhist center. These visits are not mentioned in the Pali Canon or other early sources.
Chronicles of Kings of Sri Lanka: This material consists of genealogies and lineages of kings of Sri Lanka, sometimes with stories about their succession or notable incidents in their reigns. This material may have been derived from earlier royal chronicles and king lists that were recorded orally in vernacular languages, and are a significant source of material about the history of Sri Lanka and nearby Indian kingdoms.
History of the Buddhist Sangha: This section of the Mahavamsa deals with the mission sent by Emperor Ashoka to Sri Lanka, the transplantation of the bodhi tree, and the founding of the Mahavihara. It includes the names of prominent monks and nuns in the early Sri Lankan sangha. It also includes accounts of the early Buddhist councils and the first recording of the Pali canon in writing. This is a significant source of material about the development of the early Buddhist community, and includes the names of missionaries dispatched to various regions of South and Southeast Asia, some of which have been confirmed by inscriptions and other archaeological evidence.
Chronicles of Sri Lanka: This material begins with the immigration of King Vijaya from India with his retinue and continues until the reign of King Mahasena, recounting wars, succession disputes, building of stupas and reliquaries, and other notable incidents. An extensive chronicle of the war between the Sinhala King Dutthagamani and Tamil King Elara (861 verses in the Mahavamsa compared with 13 verses in the Dipavamsa) may represent the incorporation of a popular epic from the vernacular tradition.
While much of the contents of the Mahavamsa is derived from expansions of the material found in the Dipavamsa, several passages specifically dealing with the Abhayagiri vihara are omitted, suggesting that the Mahavamsa was more specifically associated with the Mahavihara.
Buddhist monks of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya maintained chronicles of Sri Lankan history starting from the third century BCE. These annals were combined and compiled into a single document in the 5th Century while Dhatusena of Anuradhapura was ruling the Anuradhapura Kingdom. It was written based on prior ancient compilations known as the Atthakatha (sometimes Sinhalaatthakatha), which were commentaries written in Sinhala.[page needed] An earlier document known as the Dipavamsa (4th century CE) `Island Chronicles` is much simpler and contains less information than the Mahavamsa and was probably compiled using the Atthakatha on the Mahavamsa as well.
Authorship of the Mahavamsa is attributed to a monk called Mahānāma by the Mahavamsa-tika (see #Related Works). Mahānāma is described as residing in a monastery belonging to general Dighasanda and affiliated with the Mahavihara, but no other reliable biographical information is known. Mahānāma introduces the Mahavamsa with a passage that claims that his intention is to correct repetitions and shortcomings that afflicted the chronicle compiled by the ancients- this may refer either to the Dipavamsa or to the Sinhala Atthakatha.
A companion volume, the Culavamsa `Lesser Chronicle`, compiled by Sinhala monks, covers the period from the 4th century to the British takeover of Sri Lanka in 1815. The Culavamsa was compiled by a number of authors of different time periods.
The combined work, sometimes referred to collectively as the Mahavamsa, provides a continuous historical record of over two millennia, and is considered one of the world`s longest unbroken historical accounts. It is one of the few documents containing material relating to the Nāga and Yakkha peoples, indigenous inhabitants of Lanka prior to the legendary arrival of Prince Vijaya from Singha Pura of Kalinga.
As it often refers to the royal dynasties of India, the Mahavamsa is also valuable for historians who wish to date and relate contemporary royal dynasties in the Indian subcontinent. It is very important in dating the consecration of the Maurya Emperor Ashoka, which is related to the synchronicity with the Seleucid Empire and Alexander the Great.
Indian excavations in Sanchi and other locations, confirm the Mahavamsa account of the empire of Ashoka. The accounts given in the Mahavamsa are also amply supported by the numerous stone inscriptions, mostly in Sinhala, found in Sri Lanka. K. Indrapala  has also upheld the historical value of the Mahavamsa. If not for the Mahavamsa, the story behind the large stupas in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, such as Ruwanwelisaya, Jetavanaramaya, Abhayagiri vihāra and other works of ancient engineering would never have been known.
The Mahavamsa first came to the attention of Western readers around 1809 CE, when Sir Alexander Johnston, Chief Justice of the British colony in Ceylon, sent manuscripts of it and other Sri Lankan chronicles to Europe for publication. Eugène Burnouf produced a Romanized transliteration and translation into Latin in 1826, but these garnered relatively little attention.:86 Working from Johnston`s manuscripts, Edward Upham published an English translation in 1833, but it was marked by a number of errors in translation and interpretation, among them suggesting that the Buddha was born in Sri Lanka and built a monastery atop Adam`s Peak.:86 The first printed edition and widely read English translation was published in 1837 by George Turnour, an historian and officer of the Ceylon Civil Service.:86
A German translation of Mahavamsa was completed by Wilhelm Geiger in 1912. This was then translated into English by Mabel Haynes Bode, and revised by Geiger.
Historical and Literary Significance Edit
Historiographical sources are rare in much of South Asia. As a result of the Mahavamsa, comparatively more is known about the history of the island of Ceylon and neighboring regions than that of most of the subcontinent. Its contents have aided in the identification and corroboration of archaeological sites and inscriptions associated with early Buddhism, the empire of Ashoka, and the Tamil kingdoms of southern India.
The Mahamvasa covers the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, beginning with the time of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. It also briefly recounts the history of Buddhism in India, from the date of the Buddha`s death to the 3rd Buddhist council where the Dharma was reviewed. Every chapter of the Mahavamsa ends by stating that it is written for the `serene joy of the pious`. From the emphasis of its point-of-view, and being compiled to record the good deeds of the kings who were patrons of the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya, it has been said to support Sinhalese nationalism.
Besides being an important historical source, the Mahavamsa is the most important epic poem in the Pali language. Its stories of battles and invasions, court intrigue, great constructions of stupas and water reservoirs, written in elegant verse suitable for memorization, caught the imagination of the Buddhist world of the time. Unlike many texts written in antiquity, it also discusses various aspects of the lives of ordinary people, how they joined the King`s army or farmed. Thus the Mahavamsa was taken along the Silk Road to many Buddhist lands. Parts of it were translated, retold, and absorbed into other languages. An extended version of the Mahavamsa, which gives many more details, has also been found in Southeast Asia. The Mahavamsa gave rise to many other Pali chronicles, making Sri Lanka of that period probably the world`s leading center in Pali literature.
šri lanka pali jezik mahabharata tilak arkticka pradomovina veda indijska filozofija istorija indije sri lanke ep epovi legende sri lanke mitovi mitologija indijski indijska hinduizam istok ...