Mihintale Slab Inscriptions and the Relic House (4වන මිහිඳු රජුගේ මිහින්තලේ පුවරු ලිපි)

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There are the ruins of a Vihara to the right adjoining the Alms Hall and situated on higher ground. This is called Dage in Sinhalese meaning a relic house.

The inscription of King Mahinda IV belonging to the tenth century is installed on the two sides of the entrance to this Vihara. The relic house is a square building.

It is quite possible that this relic house had an upper story as well. If that was so, it is quite reasonable to believe that the upper story was a wooden structure and decayed over time. However, some of the stone columns have remained intact so far.

The ground floor may have been put to use as an image house and the upper storey for the safekeeping of the Buddha relics. The domical-shaped small Stupas on the four sides of the relic house bring glamour to this place.

It is also quite evident from the inscription of King Mahinda that this relic house had enjoyed a certain prestige in the tenth century.

The inscription in two parts to be seen on the two sides of the relic house was by King Siri Sangboy Abahay, now identified as Mahinda IV who ruled the country from 956 to 972 A.D.

Being a detailed description of how a well-organised Buddhist monastery operated in the 10th century, these 2 tablets have attracted the attention of many historians since the late 1800s. The first trained epigraphist, Dr. P. Goldschmidt, appointed in 1874 was soon able on palaeographic grounds to fix its correct age and to identify its author, Siri Sangbo Abey, with Mahinda IV (956 to 972). The full text of the inscription was for the first time published by Muller in 1880 and thereafter many authors have published various documents on these inscriptions. (Wickremasinghe, 1912)

The first part of the inscription sets with rules and regulations of the monastery, the contents of which are similar to those in the Jetavanarama Sanskrit inscription.

The second part deals with the compensation of the servants. It will be seen from this that no service was exacted without paying for it either in money or in the shape of grants of land or food-stuff.

Complete Translation of the Mihintale Slab Inscriptions

SLAB A. 

On the tenth day of the waxing moon of the month of Vap (September/October) in the sixteenth year after the raising of the canopy (of dominion) by the Great King Sirisanghoy Abahay, who, after having enjoyed the dignities of Apa and Mahaya and in due course attained to the Kingship and has been illuminating the Island of Lanka; and he who was born of the womb of the consecrated Chief Queen Deva of the same royal line unto the Great King Abahay Salamevan, the noble Ksatriya who was descended from the royal line of Okkdka, the pinnacle of the Ksatriya family, ‘ : 

These regulations have been instituted, after having summoned a vast assembly of the great community of monks residing at the Sagiriya and at the Abhayagiriya monasteries, and having made them agree to (adopt) the former code of regulations, which were instituted at Sagiriya earlier by his kingly brother, and also the code of regulations (observed) at Abhayairi-vehera, after consulting fitting persons and (both parties) agreeing that it is worth instituting the same at this (Sagiriya) monastery in respect of the great community of monks, the officials and the servants living in this monastery, their (respective) duties, receipts and disbursements (of revenue), thus making them attentively uniform. 

That the monks residing in this monastery shall rise at the time of early dawn and shall meditate on the four protective formulae, and after having finished the act of cleansing the teeth, shall wear and cover themselves with their robes as prescribed in the Sikakarani and shall go down to the alms-hall attached to the inner-monastery, and after reciting the Mettaparitta, collect gruel and (other) food. To the monks who are unable to go to the alms hall through illness shall, when recommended by the physicians be granted (their) shares of food and raiment.

The monks who reside in this monastery and read the Vinayapitaka shall be given five shares of food and raiment; to the monks who read Suttapitaka,-seven shares of food and raiment; and to the monks who read Abhidhammapitaka, twelve shares of food and raiment. 

The requisites, which were determined and assigned to the monks by the lay patrons, shall be given without causing any omission thereof. That those who make their presence and permanently reside here shall enjoy (the benefits of) the villages and land belonging to all the avasas situated within this monastery, but they shall not enjoy the same jointly with its (other) avasas in the cluster. : 

Other than the monks issuing orders jointly when reprimanding the employees, the issuing of orders to and reprimanding the employees shall not be done singularly by individuals. 

The monks residing in this monastery shall by no means enjoy (the benefits of) the fields, orchards etc. in any place attached to the inner monastery. They shall not allow their relatives to commit any high-handed acts in any place attached to the inner monastery. The monks who infringe these customs shall not live in this monastery. 

The monk who looks after the Fraternity, the warden of the monastery, the Chief Administrator, the revenue officer, the almoner, the clerk of the monastery, the registrar of caskets and the purser of the caskets; all these persons shall assess the work along with the monks of the two Fraternities at the Abhayagiriya (monastery) who have come to assist them and attend to the matters concerning the income and expenditure etc. (of the monastery), both inside and outside. 

For the purpose of compensating for whatever may have been squandered by those officials engaged in matters concerning the income and expenditure etc. (of the monastery), both inside and outside, security shall be obtained from suitable tenants and they be deposited in the Office. 

if there are any relatives of the monks of this monastery who had been employed (here) they shall not be retained in service, the employees, who are to be sent away, shall do so after the recovery of whatever had beet registered (in their names) 

Caskets with locks shall be deposited in the Relic house, after having sealed them in the presence of the officials of the Relic house with the seal of the officials of the Office, Apart from the case of any one of the officials of this monastery going to attend to some service appertaining to the monastery in another place, there shall [always] be not less than three persons in attendance from amongst those employed at the place where the alms is kept the place where raw rice is issued and at the place where the forenoon gruel and (other) food are prepared.

Whatsoever cloth that belongs to the Relic house of the inner monastery shall neither be lent out nor they be sold. The officials shall not engage the men who are being employed for service at the monastery for their own services; nor shall such men be engaged for service at other places. 

The officials of the inner monastery shall look after the payala (of land) in Damgamiya, assigned for the purpose of attending to the repairs of the Katu-maha-saya, and (they) shall attend to the repairs of that dagaba. They shall guard the Kiriband-pavu dagaba and grant the two kiriyas in Algamiya, which had been set apart for the purpose of its safeguard. 

The Relic-house, the Image house of the auspicious colossal stone image (of the Buddha), the House of the Great-bodhi tree, the Nayinda shrine, the House of the goddess Mininal, the Katu-maha-saya, the Kiriband-pavu dagaba, and the dagabas’ on the upper and the lower rocks attached to the inner monastery: — all the offerings made at all the aforementioned places and one hundred kalandas of gold as well as ten yahalas of paddy (collected) from the inner monastery—all these shall be utilized annually for the repairs to all edifices, such as the dagabas of this monastery. 

The pursers of incense and flowers (dum-mal-assamun) shall appropriate for the monastery the confiscated houses (ge-dand), petty-fines (ko-dand), grain tax (kara), and wages paid in lieu of the turns of service (pereli-var bala) (which are derived) from the two villages, Guta and Karanda, which are attached to the Relic-house and the Image-house. 

One-third of (the produce of) trees and plants belonging to Kiriband-pavu, the house-rent of the (houses) in the monastic land, the irrigable land adjoining the reservoir (named) Manu, the two irrigable lands in the upper side and the lower side of the Lahiniya-pavu and its monastic land, the land around the lake (named) Pahana and the land around the pond at Porodena—the income derived from all these places shall be appropriated by the monastery. 

The ground rent shall be levied in a fitting manner by the monastery from the tenants who live on the monastic lands, but it shall not be levied from the servants and the officials of the monastery. 

If those who have put on yellow robes commit acts, such as buying and selling etc., and slaying life, which are inconsistent with the dress they have put on, they shall not be permitted to live around the rock. 

The officials shall not, other than on behalf of the monastery, accept minor toll dues (sudasunvat). The villages and lands appertaining to this monastery should permanently be settled in kara tenure, but they shall not be given on lease (patta). 

Other than the three days ‘service by turn’ no other service by turn, such as at the uposataha festival, shall not be appropriated. Other than what is given as maintenance land (jivel) to the officials and the servants of the monastery, they shall not enjoy (the benefits of the land given as) mortgage, pamanu, leases, kara fields, orchards etc., situated in places belonging to the inner monastery. 

The officials, who have gone to the monastery on business, shall not accept any means of subsistence from (the people of) the District other than the impost of raw rice given by the farmers in accordance with the former custom. They shall also not accept presents from tenants, nor shall the officials take domesticated oxen from them and have their own fields cultivated. 

The kara fields, which are held by the farmers in hereditary succession shall not be taken away unless (it is proved that) they are unable to maintain them. They shall not enter gardens and cut down trees, and shall not commit any illegal acts. 

Unless permission and consent have been given by the Office, the trees with utility value, such as talipot and mi, grown in all the villages and lands belonging to this monastery shall not be permitted to be cut down. 

Should there be any offence committed by the tenants, it shall be assessed and a fine shall be determined in accordance with the custom of the village, and the culprits shall be made to perform work in a reservoir undertaking a marked portion of work, sixteen cubits in circumference and one cubit in depth, in lieu of the fine thus determined. If this work had not been performed, the fine, which was determined, shall be levied. 

. Other than the revenue derived from the lands, which are given to the employees as maintenance lands, all the other revenues derived from all the places in the villages and from the lands belonging to this monastery, shall be entered in the register bona fide with the concurrence of the officials of the Office. 

Whatever is spent daily on the maintenance of the Main refectory, on employees, and on the renovation works shall be entered in the register and a statement of accounts shall be made.

with the concurrence of the Office Staff and those who ought to be signed them shall place their signatures there and then those sheets of accounts shall be placed in a casket under lock (and key). Every month the account sheets (so deposited) shall be made public and a full statement of accounts shall be prepared from them. From the twelve statements of accounts (so . prepared) during the year, a balance shall be compiled at the end of each year, which shall be read out in the midst of the community of monks and be thus finally disposed of. The houses of the officials who infringe these regulations shall be confiscated and they shall be dismissed from the service. – 

SLAB B

To the monk who is in charge of the Fraternity one naliya of raw rice daily for the religious discourses at the beginning of the vassa season on one kalanda and four akas of gold a similar amount for the religious discourses at the closing season of the vassa season. 

To a Chief Executive Officer, five kiriyas of maintenance land and a naliya of raw rice daily, fifteen kalanda of gold for the Blessing Ceremony as flower allowance. The Bursar, Clerk of the monastery, the Clerk of caskets, the Keeper of caskets the Almoner to each of these five kiriyas of land. 

To the Warden of property, one kiriyas and two payas of land and two admanas of raw rice To a decorator, two payas of land and one admanas of raw rice. To the Master of the festival one kiriyas of land and a share (of food) from Damiya, and three kalanda and two akas of gold for the Blessing Ceremony as flower allowance.

To a land surveying official, one kiriya of land and a share (of food) from Damiya one kalanda of gold for cloths for the Mahasomanassa festival of the Mahabodhi. To a supplier of earthen alms bowls, one paya of land and two patas of raw rice. To a Pitassam officer and to a supply officer of the royal household — to each of these, one kiriya of land, a share of food from Damiya and two admanas of raw rice.

To an Ol kamiya, two payas of land and one admana and two patas of raw rice. To a Pere-valiya of the meditation hall, two payas of land and a share of food from Damiya; and one kalanda of gold for clothes (required) for the Ratanasana festival of the Mahabodhi. 

Toa Pere-valiya of the Mount, two payas of land and a share of food from Damiya. To a Chief canal officer, two payas of land, and one admana and one pata of raw rice, and to each of the eleven Canal-officers, two payas of land, each a share of food from Damiya, four domesticated working elephants, each an admana of raw rice, and each two payas as divel land. Those who make robes for the monks of this monastery at the close of the vassa season shall divide what they receive (as fees) among those employees who made those robes. 

To each of the two Pursers of the monastery, two payas of land, and one admana and one pata of raw rice. To a chef carpenter two payas of land, and an admana and two patas of raw rice, and to a carpenter, two payas of land and one admana of raw rice.

To the senior female attendant, a paya of land and an admana and two patas of raw rice. To the lady administrator of the refectory, a paya of land and an admana and two patas of raw rice, to the Director of the female servants, two payas of land and to each of the twenty-four hired female servants, one paya of land and one kalanda of gold at the close of the vassa Season yearly for clothes. To a Supply officer of the monastery, one Kiriya (of land) and an admana of raw rice.

To each of the twelve servants who are employed as cooks, one Kiriya and two payas of land from Talolagama, and to a Head servant, an admana and a pata of raw rice; to a servant who procures firewood and cooks food, three admana of raw rice; to a servant who brings firewood, but does not cook, and to a servant who goes on errands, two admana of raw rice each; to a servant who cooks on firewood fetched by others, one admana of raw rice. 

To a senior official of the pavilion,”* two payas of land and an admana and a pata of raw rice, and to each of the other eleven officials attached to the pavilion, two payas of land and an admana and a pata of raw rice. 

To each of the five potters who supply daily five earthen yala (pots), one kiriya of land; to an alms-bow! maker who supplies ten alms bowls and ten water pots monthly, two kiriyas of land and two admana of raw rice, and to the woman who supplies monthly a water-strainer, one kiriya and two payas of land. 

To a physician, an allotment of land as a ninda (niya-paliya) from the hena consisting of thirty-two plots (de-tisa sena), and a share of food from Damiya, and to a physician who applies leeches, two payas of land and a share of food from Damiya. To a guardian of sheds, one kiriya and two payas of land, and a share of food from Damiya. To an astrologer, two kiriyas of land, and a share of food from Damiya, and to a barber, one kiriya of land, and a share of food from Damiya

To a Purser of the Relic-house, a leader of a gana, a Registrar of caskets, three Chief Officers of service by turns – to these officials, the maintenance village of Karandagama; to those who supply incense and flowers by turn, four shares of food from Damiya (daily). A payala of land from this village (of Karandagama) to supply oil for the lamps of the Relic house. To the two persons who place white flowers by turn in the Relic-house, two kiriyas from this village, and each a share of food from Damiya. To a grower of blue water lilies, who supplies flowers at the rate of one hundred and twenty a month, two kiriyas of land from Sapugamiya, and two kiriyas to a painter.  

To an administrator of a District who guards the Relic-house, one naliya of raw rice. To the six persons who supply incense and flowers to the Main shrine room of the Buddha, to doctrinal intellectuals who deliver religious discourses, to doctrinal intellectuals who are teachers, to six other doctrinal intellectuals – to all these, the village Gutagama, to the suppliers of flowers by turn to the main shrine-room of the Buddha, two payas of land from this village, and a share of food from Damiya. To the suppliers of incense and flowers in this village, two shares of food from Damiya

To a keeper of water-vases in the auspicious colossal stone Image House, and to a Purser of the Office — to each of them two payas of land, and one admana and two patas of raw rice, a pot which is utilized for keeping oil for the Buddha’s anointing ceremony, an unbleached cloth for filtering water; the same for the Image-house. 

To an Office clerk, a kiriya and two payas of land, and two admanas of raw rice; to a Chief Master-artisan, the Hena attached to Bond-vehera, and to two Master-artisans, to eight minor artisans and to two brick layers to all of thése, the village of Vadu-Devagama

To each of the two wood-cutters, one kiriya of land; to each of the two Master-lapidaries, three kiriyas of land; to each of the two blacksmiths, one kiriya of land; to the lime-burners, the village of Sunubol-Devagama; to six craftsmen, the village of Dunumugama; to a Chief land allotment officer of the office of reparation works, a kiriya of land, and an admana and a pata of raw rice, and to twelve land allotment officers, an admana of raw rice each, and two payas of land for maintenance. 

At Navaguna-mahasaya, Nateviya-mahasaya, and Ambulu-dagaba-to each of the three Guardians of these dagabas, two payas of land; to each of those who sweep, clean and guard the dagabas etc. at the upper and on the lower rock, and at the inner monastery of this monastery, be given one share of food per person from Damiya

To those men who perform duties at the Relic-house, at the Image-house and at the Refectory, as well as to the two laundry-men who wash clothes, the covering jackets, and head-gears— to all these persons, three kiriyas of land from the village Mangulava

The principal turn of service on roads, rents, and Melatsi tax of the villages and lands belonging to this monastery shall be taken over as the sole property of this very monastery. The Manggiva and Piyagiva tax collectors shall not enter (any place) here. The water shares which are issued from the Kanavava to all the places shall be utilized by this monastery only in accordance with ancient customs, which were in vogue when it was under the Demel system (of land tenure).

No villages or lands belonging to this monastery shall in whatsoever manner be mortgaged, or be given away as Freeholds. The gold money of those who have acquired the land shall be forfeited and assigned them back to the monastery, while those who transferred the lands shall be deported. 

These regulations which were thus instituted by this Order shall be observed without transgression.

(Ranawella, 2004)

References

  1. Ranawella, S. (2004) Inscriptions of Ceylon Vol V (part II). Colombo: Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka, pp 272-285.
  2. Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z. (1912) ‘THE TWO TABLETS OF MAHINDA IV AT MIHINTALE’, in Epigraphia Zeylanica : Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon – Volume I. Colombo: Government of Ceylon, Sri Lanka, pp. 75–113.

Also See

Map of The Relic House and the Inscription of King Mahinda IV

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Driving Directions to The Relic House and the Inscription of King Mahinda IV

Mihintale can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Traveling from Puttalam you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Mihintale. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala – Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to Mihintale (A3)Route 02 from Colombo to Mihintale
Through : Central Expressway – Badagamuwa – Dambulla
Distance: 223 km
Travel Time: 4.45 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google maps
Distance:15 km
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Route 03 from Colombo to Mihintale Route from Anuradhapura to Mihintale
Through: Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance: 231 km
Travel Time: 5.15 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map
Through: Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance: 231 km
Travel Time: 5.15 hours
Driving Directions: see on Google map

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