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DuṠṠhagāmaṇi Abhaya

(101 bc — 177 ad)


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(r. 101–77 bce).

King of Sri Lanka and the hero of the Mahāvaṃsa, in which his battle against the non-Buddhist Damiḷas (Tamils) is celebrated and justified. He was the son of Kākavaṇṇatissa and Vihāradevī, whose antenatal cravings showed that he would be a great warrior. He was called Gāmaṇi-Abhaya and his father gathered at his court the most famous warriors of the land to be his tutors. From an early age he showed signs of audacity and bravery, and resented the confined limits of his father's kingdom, in particular the fact that his father constantly refused him permission to fight the Damiḷas. For this reason he once fled to the hills from where he sent his father a woman's garment, to indicate that he was no man. This earned for him the nickname of Duṭṭha meaning ‘wicked, spoilt’. At his father's death he fought his brother Tissa for the possession of the throne and after winning it he prepared himself to march against the Damiḷa king Eḷāra. One after the other, Duṭṭhagāmaṇi defeated all the Damiḷa troops and in a single close battle he slew Eḷāra. After this celebrated victory Duṭṭhagāmaṇi began his great works of piety. He first built the Lohapāsāda and then began his greatest achievement, the Mahā-thūpa.erected on a site traditionally said to have been visited by the Buddha during his third visit to Sri Lanka. Before the Mahā-thūpa was completed Duṭṭhagāmaṇi fell ill and, at the age of 68, he died. It is said that after his death Duṭṭhagāmaṇi was born in the Tuṣita world where he awaits the appearance of Maitreya Buddha.of whom he will be the chief disciple.

Subjects: Buddhism.


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