SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Mendis, G. C. (1930) A historical criticism of the "Mahavamsa," Chapters I-XX. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (72MB)


The Mahavamsa is a Pali epic written about the sixth century A.D. in Ceylon. Its chief source was an old Sinhalese chronicle, which formed a part of the old Sinhalese commentaries on the Pali Canon. The Sinhalese chronicle seems to have been based on the older ballads in the Dipavamsa written by different persons during the early centuries of our era. These chronicles are indebted for some of their material to the Jatakas, the Asokavadana, some parts of the Pali Canon, and the Sinhalese commentaries on them. After the death of the Baddha his teachings and the rules he laid down were collected. They were amplified and added to as time passed. The first centre of Buddhism was Rajagaha, and then Vesali. Next it spread westwards to Kosambi, and from there north-west to Mathura and Kashmir and south-west to Vidisa and Ujjein. In course of time, though the continuity of the tradition was maintained. Buddhism in each new place became modified according to environment and influence of new teachers. Thus arose the different schools. The Theravadins, who went to Vidisa and Ujjein, reached Ceylon in the time of Asoka. They occupied caves at Mihintale, Vessagiri, Isurumuniya and other places. Before long the thupa built to the south of Anuradhapura and the Bo-tree in the Mahameghavana became centres of worship. The Vaddas, a tribe akin to the Irulas of South India were the first settlers in Ceylon then called Tambapanni. They retreated to the mountains when new peoples who spoke an Aryan dialect occupied the north-west, the south-east, and the territory watered by the Malwatte Oya and the Mahavaliganga. Many of the new-comers belonged to the Sinhala tribe, which gave its name to the people and then to the island Mantota was their chief port and Anuradhapura became their chief town. When Buddhism was brought to Ceylon the Sinhalese king was Tissa. He and his successor Uttiya supported the new religion.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:21

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item