PRINCE MOGGALLANA - BEHIND THE MASK [ Part 2 ]
The drama of blood which followed the initial reign of peace at the beginning of King Moggallana's reign heralded a long night of brutality. In the christian Bible there is a chapter in the book of "Revelations" which foretells the arrival of "Four horsemen of the apocalypse" at the end of days , to punish mankind for its wickedness and misdeeds. The reign of terror in the land this time came with just one horseman and that was King Moggallana himself. Over a period of time somebody or some persons had been whispering in the King's ear, regarding certain personnel in the court and others in the employ of the various ministries. Seeds of gossip they say kill the fragrance of the sweetest rose, and it did not take long before the King suddenly realised that many of the nobles and other staff in the kingdom were in fact associates of the late King Kasyappa. Worse, he was convinced that some of them who had served his father the great King Dhatusena, had actually helped in his brutal murder thus enabling his late step brother King Kasyappa to seize the throne. With this realisation, he was filled with rage and underwent a complete metarmorphosis for the worst. Writing in the Culavamsa the chronicler states "He gnashed his teeth and was filled with rage...." This gentle man who had begun a reign of peace with the best intention for his country and people, now became an avenger. Whoever influenced him in this direction had done their job well. His pent up anger burst forth like a dam in flood , and revenge was swift and severe. The chronicler writing in the Culavamsa does not skirt around the edges, nor does he mince his words. This is what he wrote : ".......HE HAD MORE THAN A THOUSAND OF THESE DIGNITARIES PUT TO DEATH. HE CUT OF THEIR EARS AND NOSES AND SENT MANY INTO BANISHMENT. THEREFORE HE RECEIVED THE NAME " RAKKHASA' ( Devil )......" The executions and mutilations had a profound negative impact on society. Whole families were torn apart. Fear was the key as one wondered who would be the next victim. There is no confirmation of this, but blame seems to fall on the evil Migara for influencing the King and starting this cycle of revenge. But suspicion is no proof and one cannot hold him responsible for the Kings actions. However the fact that Migara managed to acquire the same position ( Commander in Chief of the army ) under King Moggallanna as he had under King Dhatusena, speaks volumes for his diplomatic skills.
It was a Buddhist monk who finally saved the King from himself and helped to extinguish the flames of hatred and revenge in his heart. This learned monk ( whose name has not been recorded ) with some well chosen words preached a sermon to the King on the pious doctrine and the message of the Buddha. Like soothing balm on an open wound, the words of this monk had the desired effect on the King. His mellifluous words touched the heart and mind of King Moggallana and a gradual process of spiritual healing banished hatred and revenge resulting in atonement and repentance for the terror he had let loose on the land. The lion now became meek as a lamb and one of his first acts of atonement was to initiate a great alms-giving on the full moon day of Phussa between the months of December and January, a practice which continued for several years even after his death.
He then granted two Viharas in the vicinity of Sigiriya to the adherents of the Dhammaruci and Sagali schools. Like the Dhammaruci, the Sagalis are a sect found only in Ceylon. The Dhammarucis had their seat in the Abhayagiri Vihara. The Culavamsa also records that he built the Pabata Vihara which he handed over to the venerable monk Mahanama. Mahanama - mark this name well. It is a name that should be written in letters of gold, for it was the same venerable Mahanama who was the author of The Mahavamsa - a priceless record of our cultural and historical heritage.
After this period of terror when demons stalked the land, good triumphed over evil and weeping and lamentations ceased. Hope sprung eternal in noble and peasant alike, and King Moggallana ever repentant continued his rule for eighteen years. He died in 513 AD . The chronicler writing in the Culavamsa records his death in the following manner - with a reference to King Kasyappa - "Thus he, even though far better than the ferocious Kasyappa, was not able once his merit was exhausted to conquer approaching death as if he were but its slave....." And he ends with a word of advice to all, even to us 1500 years after his time " Therefore the wise, when they have conquered the fear of death will be happy...." After King Moggallana's death his son Prince Kumaradhatusena ascended the throne in 513 AD.
My next article will be on a tale that is heart wrenching at the start, but has a happy ending. I fleshed this story from the Culavamsa reading in between the lines of the Dhatusena - Kasyappa - Moggallana story as recorded in the Chronicle. It is a tale of emotion and drama with the human element very much in evidence. It is a story about a King, a humble charioteer, and a gatekeeper.
[ To be continued ]
Written by : Bernard VanCuylenburg