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Mahinda

(c. 282—222 bc)


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(c.282–222 bce).

monk son of Emperor Aśoka of Magadha and brother of the nun Saṇghamittā. He was ordained at the age of 20 and on the same day is said to have become an Arhat. After some years spent in the study of the Dharma he took over the duties of his retiring preceptor who had left 1,000 disciples. At the ‘Third Council’ (see Council of Pāṭaliputra II) held in 250 bc under Emperor Aśoka, Mahinda was charged with the mission of bringing the Buddha's teachings to Sri Lanka. Once he reached the island he began his mission by first converting King Devānampiya Tissa, to whom he preached the Cūlahatthipadopama Sutta. Later, he sent an embassy to his father requesting some relics of the Buddha. At Mahinda's suggestion, Devānampiya Tissa sent another embassy to Aśoka, asking for Saṇghamittā to come to Sri Lanka with other nuns so that female converts could be ordained in the Saṃgha.and requesting a branch of the Bodhi Tree. The request was granted, and Saṇghamittā and other nuns arrived in Sri Lanka with the branch. During the last part of Devānampiya Tissa's reign, Mahinda is said to have advised the king to build several monasteries (vihāras). He is also said to have taught the commentaries to the Tripiṭaka in the Sinhalese language, after translating them from Pāli. Mahinda continued to live in Sri Lanka after the death of Devānampiya Tissa and he died there at the age of 60. His body was cremated and a cetiya was erected on the cremation spot over half of his remains, the other half being distributed in stūpas elsewhere.

Subjects: Buddhism.


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