Mayura Sandesa-INTRODUCTION

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Mayura Sandesa

INTRODUCTION


IT is quite obvious from the colophon that this poem was originally named “Miyura Sandesa” (the “Peacock’s Messge”) by the poet himself.But during the course of the gradual evolution of verse and prose in the Sinhalese language it would appear as if names of Sanskrit origin more became the lips of the Sinhalese than Sinhalese names. Popular usage won the day and hence the Sanskritic from “Mayura” The nomenclature of “Sandesa” was first assigned to poems of this type by the ancient poet Kalidasa, to whom belongs the honour and credit of having written the first “Sindesa” poem-“the Megha Dutta”-the “Could-Messenger”.Kalidasa makes a beautiful romance the theme of his poem.


First Sandesa Poem[සංස්කරණය]

A yakkha of Alaka who was in the service of King Kuwera, having once courted the displeasure of his royal master, was banished by the latter for a period of one year. “For one full year,” ordered Kuwera. “thou shalt remain away from this city.” Thus compelled to leave his kith and kin and most of all his pretty young bride the yakkha had to spend several months in great sorrow in the mountainous region of Ramagiri.


The rainy season was fast approaching and the yakkha was in great anxiety thinking that his loved one. being bereft of his love and caresses during this period, would in her sorrow unbearable, put an end to her own life. The sorrow of separation had almost driven him mad. There was no means at his command of intimating to his loved one that he was alive and that he would return to her at the close of his period of banishment. One day, however, when he was in gloomy contemplation of his sad lot. he espied a rain-could in the sky. He had become so distracted in mind owing to his deep sorrow that little realising


(42) That only a live thing could carry a message, the yakkha addressed the rain could as a friend and began to relate to it his tale of woe. He addressed the could thus : “Thou art the wretch’s aid, affliction’s friend, To me, unfortunate, thy succour lend; My lonely state compassionate behold, Who mourn the vengeance of the god of gold; Condemned amidst these dreary rocks to pine, And all I wish, and all I love, resign. Where dwell the Yakkhas in there sparkling fields, And Siva’s crescent groves surrounding gilds, To her who mourns in Alaka my fate,” (Wilson’s translation)

Thus the great poet Kalidasa describes most vividly the route to be taken by the could from the Himalayas southwards. In imitating this type of poem most Sinhalese poets have adopted the artifice of making each line of a quatrain to thyme with the name of the place described. The rhyme of Kalidasa’s verse on the other hand, is most musical and apt, while his description are most natural. Even when writing of the regions of the Himalyas untrodden by man, he is quite graphic in his word paintings and sublime in his imagery. Reading his descriptions it is impossible to believe that the poet is writing of places he had never seen. The route to the yakkha’s abode is described in a manner with can only be done by the masters of the house himself’ Tired with wailing and weeping for her loved one the yakkha’s wife is found sleeping. The cloud messenger has a peep at her through the window, awakens her by making a nise like subdued thunder, and delivers her husband’s message.

The poem concludes with a the following blessing on the messenger:-

“With welcome news my woes tumultuous still,

And all my wishes tenderly fulfil
 Then to whatever scenes invite thy way,

Waft thy rich stores, and grateful glooms convey And ne’er may destiny, like mine, divide Thy brilliant spouse, the lightning, from thy side!”

(Wilson’s translation)

This in brief is a sketch of Kalidasa’s poem, Even at the present day if fascinates all lovers of poetry, Its equal does not exist. Poems like the Hansa duta (The swan’s message,) which were written in imitation of this poem, can in no way be compared with it. Sinhalese writers of Sandasa poems have attempted to play the sedulous ape to the world famous poet Kalidasa. They, however, do not weave any original romance into their poems but make them messages to suit their particular purposes.

In the present instance the poet himself explains how the Mayura Sandes came to be waitten. It is an appeal to the god Utpalawarna to protect King Bhuwanekabahu, his Queen, his three Ministers Alagakkonara, Wirabahu and Dewa, his other Ministers, the army and the Sangha (Vs.154-162). This appears at a glance to be the general theme of the poem but diving deeper into the work other reasons for its compilation are made evident. The poet’s praise of Alagakkonara is boundless. The whole of the Sinhalese nation, apart from the poet, is bound by a deep debt of gratitude to this great hero who having driven Arya Chakkrawarti to the North fortified Jayawardhanapura and made the Sinhalese territory safe. The poem itself is a votive offering of gratitude and thankfulness to this hero.

That Alagakkonara built Jayawardanapura itself evokes the following tribute from the poet:


පු ර ස ක් වළට ගල් හිම් පවුරු පෑයෙති ප ර ස ක් වළෙකැ වැනි පර සතුරෝ ඉතිනි


[“The stone ramparts round the City (Jayawardhanapura) being like unto the great wall that encircles the Universe it appears that as if our foes have been thrown out from this Universe”] Eight verses are taken up with a the description of the prowess of the powerful Governor and these eight verses may be said to contain in compact from matter sufficient for eight volomes.


The chief monarch himself is described in three verses Yet for all they cannot be said to apply specially to him. It can only be inferred to which king reference is being made. This clearly shows that poet’s heart was over flowing with his admiration of and gratitude to Alagakkonara and that this work was written mainly to praise him. And historians do not deny that the great leader is really deserving of such boundless expressions of gratitude.

The Author[සංස්කරණය]

The name of the write of this poem is first revealed in the Dipankara edition of the Mayura Sandesa. Up to this time the poet’s name was unknown. In two of the old MSS of the poem that came to the hands of tha Rev. Dipankara the author’s name was given in the colophon as follows:


“කි වී සු රු මතැ කිරුළු යුරු රැඳි නැණිනි සරූ

ගුණි සු රු ගුරුළු දැම් ඇදුරිඳුට මුනුබුරූ

කි ‍වි සු ‍ රු කිවි පුවළ කිවි රස බ‍ස මඟැරූ

මෙ ම සු රු මියුරු ස‍ඳෙස යැ කළ රස’සැ පිරූ


(“This Mayura Sandesa, containing but little poetical merit was composed after studying the works of great bards of old by the poet Kaweeswara, a grandson of the great scholar Gurulugomi, who was like unto a crown on the head of the assembly of poets and unto Ganeswara in his great wisdom,”) It is evident from the above that this poem was written by a poet named Kaweeswara, a grandson of that great scholar Gurulugomi. It is also stated that another work of the same poet, a description of the city of Polonnaruwa, had come into the hands of Rev. Dipankara Thero. But unfortunately we have not seen it. That its publication has been so far withheld does not speak much to the credit of present possessor of the MS. If the MS. Is incapable of revision the next best thing to be done is to have it published in its original form, By doing so the publishers will be rendering a distinct service to Sinhalese Literature. Its publication will certainly give more clues to determine the


Identity of the author of Mayura Sandesa and it is to be hoped that this fact alone would encourage the owners of the MS to publish it. Gate Madaliyar Gunawardhana, however, in his edition fo Mayura Sandesa, does not take into account the colophon which gives the name of the author. In the Dipankara edition this verse if given in the following revised from:


“කි වි සු රු මත කිරුළු යුරු රැඳි නැනින සරු

ගුණ සු රු ගුරුළු ගැම් ඇදුරිඳුට මුනුබුරු

කි වි සු රු කිවි පුවළ කිවි රස බස මහරු

මේ මියුරු මියුරු ස‍ඳෙසය කළ රස සපිරු”


Gate Mudaliyar Gunawardhana deletes this verse altogether from his edition for following reasons: (1) That the verse is contained in only two of the sixteen MSS. Collected by Rev. Dipankara Thero, but is not found either in the remaining fourteen MSS. Or in any of previous edition, thus showing that the verse is a later interpolation. (2) That the use of the two epithets නැණිනි සරු (full of wisdom) ගුණ සරු (full of virtue) in the same verse in describing the same subject is not in keeping with the rules of good versification. (3) That following the phrase මියුරු මියුරු ස‍ඳෙස (a pun on the word මියුරු the first as an adjective “ sweet” and second “peacock,” there is also the phrase රස සපිරු making it nothing but an example of tautology; (4) that the word “ස‍ඳෙස” is inflected, the form being complete in itself and to use the form ස‍ඳෙසය is redundant. (5) That the word සපිරු connoted that the verses were filled with sweetness by someone, whereas the rhythm and sweetness of a verse must be inherent in the verse itself and connot be filled in as herein suggested.

Gate Mudaliyar Gunawardhana is undoubtedly a scholar, yet for all he has one shortcoming. It is his cast of mind that makes him to consider as a big fault in others the very idioms and forms of language which he considers as correct on his own works, Let us for instance take some verses from the Gunawardhana editon which we ourselves have accepted. Special mention must be made of verses 153, 154 and 163. Gate Mudaliyar Gunawardhana does not tell us in how many MSS.


Examined by him these verses appear. They have not been found in MSS. Collected by former editors of this poem, Then how are we to classify them? Whether as interpolations or originals? Rev. Dipankara’s greatest sin is that he stated the facts and taking advantage of it Gate Mudaliyar Gunawardhana wants to ignore him altogether. The use of the epithets නැණින් සරු - ගුණ සරු in the same verse and referring to the same subject is certainly not in keeping with the rules of good versification. And what can we say of Gate – Mudaliyar Gunawardhana who considers the inclusion of such verse in a previous edition as a great fault but allows verses containing similar faults to be published in his own edition? For example verse 146 in his edition reads as follows;


සිරි කත මත නුමුත මලිගිය මල් සෙයිනි

පැහැ රළ පැහැර නැගි තුනු යිදු මුතු ලෙසිනි

දැඩියෙන් අසුර සෙන් යස ඇලුණා සෙයිනි

තෙටුණෙය සතත සරණත නිය කැන් සිරිනි


The repetition of the word “සෙයිනි” (like) in the first and third lines is not at all elegant. Again verse 136 reads as follows:


ග ති නු පු ලේ පැහැ ගත් හිම‍ි නළල් තලේ

රැ ඳි නි ම ලේ රන් පට රඳන ඇම කලේ

උ දු සු නි ලේ ගන පැහැනවල ගත වෙලේ

කි ව වි දු ‍ලේ කිම දිලියෙනු ද ඇම කලේ


The use of words ඇම කලේ (always or at all times) in the second and fourth line in the same sense displays but poverty of expression. The colophon already quoted becomes quite acceptable when the first word මියුරු in මියුරු මියුරු is interpreted as “sweet” and the phrase රස සපිර is taken as full of elegance or “taste”. Nevertheless Mudaliyar Gunawardhana will not tolerate such a verse. It is not impossible to define the word සපිර correctly. The poet had no share in the revision made by Rev. Dipankara. Therefore, we can leave the revision


Alone, and by paraphrasing the original line to read රස සපිරු මියුරු ස‍ෙඳස we get the meaning that the poem “is full of beauty and sweetness” and not filled with sweetness by someone else.

Considering the question from this point of view we cannot see anything much in the so called defects pointed out by Gate Mudaliyar Gunawardhana. Ii is true that the colophon verse is not found in any of the MSS. we have seen. But this alone is not sufficient reason the delete it altogether. For instance in the Gira sandesa we have come across five verses which are not found in any of the other editions of this poem. But external evidence is not needed to show that they belong to the poem. We do not think that an impartial critic would discard a verse contained in only one out of a hundred copies of the same MS for the simple reason that it is not found in the other ninety-nine copies. For reasons already stated we have included the verse giving the author’s name in the present edition and have made whatever corrections deemed necessary therein.

There is another fact to show that this verse is not an interpolation. In both the MSS referred to by Rev. Dipankara the sage Gurulugomi is referred to as ගුරුළු දැමි (Gurulu Dami.) Rev. Dipankara who thought it incorrect revised it to read ගුරුළු ගැමි (Gurulu gami). Although this correction had been made taking into consideration the form ගුරුළු ගොමි yet it is not so much needed. In works like “Nikaya Sangrha” the form දැමි is used. The term ගොමින් means “Maha Upasaka.” If the verse had been the composition of a later writer then he too would have adopted the same line fo argument as the Rev. Dipankara and would have used the term ගුරුළු ගැමි.


Date of the Poem[සංස්කරණය]

It now behoves us to find out when this poem was written. From the following verse it is apparent that it was composed during the reign of a king named Bhuwaneka Bahu.


 සිරි සිත බා තරැ පොලඹා රැදි		නිතොර 
 රුපු ගජබා මුල් නො තබා ගත්	          කෙසර
 ලක ඔලඹා සි රි සු ල බා කළ		  මෙපුර
 දින මහබා බු ව නෙ ක බා රජ                  පවර


The King referred to in this verse is Bhuwaneka Bahu V. Althongh there is no special mention made in the Mahawansa of the regnal years of this king yet there is other evidence to believe that he reigned for a period of 20 years from A.B.1914 to 1934. It can therefore, be definitely said that the Mayura Sandesa must have been written during this period, i.e. within the 20 years previous to 545 years from now.


The Oldest Sinhalese Sandesa[සංස්කරණය]

This is therefore, the oldest Sandesa poem in the Sinhalese language. Commentators of the Sinhalese Grammar, the Sidath Sandara මොනරිඳු එ කල්හි පුල් සලගැ නවා ගනි (“O! peacock take rest then on a Sal-tree (Shorea Robusta) in bloom.”)

The “Sidat Sangara” was written before the Mayura Sandesa during the reign of Parakarama Bahu II. If the above statement is correct then therer must have existed another Mayura Sandesa previous to this work. It is even impossible to imagine that such a work may have been although some are of opinion that it was in blank verse (ගී) Whatever that poem may have been one thing is certain and that is that it was never seen by the writer of the present Mayura Sandesa. Had he come across it then there is not the least doubt that self-respect at least would have compelled him to make use of a bird other than the “Mayura” or peacock to convey his message. It is not possible to think that a great poet like the writer of this poem who abhors plagiarism would condescend to borrow ideas or title from a previous writer. Nor was there a dearth of other birds which could have been selected for this particular purpose. During that period birds such as the Parrot, the Swan, the Cuckoo (Kokila) the Gracula (Selalihini) and the Pigeon had not yet been commissioned to go on such errands.


The Tisara Sandesa must have been written at least 20 years after the composition of this poem. Poems like


the Parawi (Parrot), Kowul (Cuckoos’s), Selalihini (Gracula), and “Hansa” (Swan) Sandesa were written later’ The Tisara Sandesa belong to the period of Parakrama Bahu who ruled at Datigama, while the other five poems belong to the period of Parakrama Bahu VI. Who ruled at Jayawardhanapura. The Sawul Sandesa (Cock’s Message) by Alagiyaawnna Mukaweti brings to a close the story of the Sandesa poems of old.


Sir D.B. Jayatilaka’s Contention[සංස්කරණය]

That the Tisara Sandesa was written about thirty years previous to the Mayura Sandesa during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu V is the opinion of Sir D.B. Jayatilaka. This view needs careful consideration, The reasons given by Sir D.B. Jayatilaka are as follows:

(1) King Parakrama Bahu VI ascended the throne in A. B. 1953 and the King who ruled before him by the name of Parakrama Bahu must, therefore, be reckoned as Parakrama Bahu V.

(2) Although the name of the writer of the Tisra Sandesa is not specially mentioned therein the Pali poem, Wuttamala written during this period, gives the name of the author as Gatara Sthavira, a pupil of Wilgammula Sangharaja who is said to have resided at the Datigama Vihara. Tha fact that both poems contain laudatory verses referring to King Parakrama Bahu of Datigama clearly shows that the Tisara Sandes and the Wuttamala were written during he reign of this king.

(3) There is no mention made in books or other records that there had lived either a priest of the Wilgmmula sect as the chief of the Buddhist Priesthood or any one of their pupils as the chief of the Gatara Piriwena, after the reign fo Parakrama Bahu V.

(4) The Rev. Wilgammula Thero who wrote several books during the reign of Parakrama Bahu IV was elected


Sangaraja in A. B. 1876 (Kelaniya Inscro). The King who reigned by the name of Parakrama Bahu after Parakrama Bahu IV, while the Ven’ble Wilgammula Maha Sthavira was still alive, was Parakrama Bahu V.

(5) That no mention is made of Jayawardhanapura in Tisara Sandesa while the city is well described in the Mayura Sandesa is because it had not been built at the time the former poem was written.

(6) That the age of Tisara Sandes is evidenced by the peculiar idiomatic usages in the language of this poem and other internal evidence.

(7) That according to the Saddharma Rathnakara grandson of Senalankadhikara Senewi named Parakrama Bahu had been a petty ruler for about two years between the reigns of Bhuweneka Bahu V and that of Sri Parakrama Bahu of Kotte, following the reigns of the two brothers Wira Bahu and Wira Alakeswara. Whether that king ruled at Datigama or at some other place there is king ruled at Datigama or at some other place there is no mention whatever made in books or other records.

Let us now examine these statements, carefully.

(1) According to Sir D. B. jayatilaka himself the author of the Saddharma Rathnakara states that between the reigns of Parakrama Bahu V and VI there had been a ruler by the name of Parakrama Bahu. Why should he not be taken into account?

(2) “Wilgammula” and “Gatara” are not named of individuals’ There were eight sects of the Buddhist Priesthood well-known in history and “Wilgammula” was the name of one of these sects just as “Uturumula” and “ Mahanetpamual.” Whoever was elected the Chief High Priest of the sect in those days assumed the name of sect. Thus the Ven’ble Uturumula Maha Thero was chief of the Uturumula sect and the Ven’ble Wilgammula Maha Thero was the chief priest of the Wilgammula sect. “Gatara” was the name of a Piriwena would adopt its name as a matter of course. So long


As the “Gatara” Piriwena existed the Principal or Chief of the Piriwena would continue to be known under that name. This is proved from the record in the stone inscription of Wilgammula Maha Thero at the Kot Siri Mewan Kelani Wihara’


මතු ඇති වන බන්ධු පරම්පරාවේ ගතාර පිරිවෙන් සිටිතැනින් විසිනුත්, රජ යුව රජ ආදින් විසිනුත් මෙ පින් කම් අනුමෝදන් වැ චිරාත් කාලයක් පැවැත්වියැ යුතු.


(Preface to Perakumba Sirita –page 17)

[“By sharing in the merits of this pinkama may the future successors to the Gathara Piriwena descended from our clan, the King, sub-King and other ministers live long.”] It will thus be seen that it would have been just as easy to have hit upon a Wilgammula priest or a principal of the Gatara Piriwena as any other ordinary person.

The Wuttamala does not speak of a pupil of a Sangharaja Wilgammula having been the Principal of the Gatara Piriwena or that a Wilgammula Sangharaja had lived at Datigama during this period.

(3) It is only by drawing up a complete list of the Buddhist heirarchy that it could be definitely determined that there had been no Sangharaja of the Wilgammula sect after the reign of King Parakrama Bahu V. Unless this is done it can be averred by the one with as much emphasis that there was such a Sangharaja just as it can be denied by the other. It is left to both sides to prove their respective contentions from books or other records. Yet, what’s the necessity for this? There is no need to prove the existence of a Wilgammula Sanghara during this time to show that the king by the name of Parakrama Bahu, described in the Tisara Sandesa is after all not. Parakrama Bahu V. Who is it that states that the Sangharaja of that period was of the Wilgammula sect? Whatever may be found on other books one fact is made clear in the Wuttamala and that is, that therer was no Sangharaja of the name of Wilgammula during this period. The author of the Wuttamala describes the city of Datigama, King Parakrama Bahu, the regions of the Asrama, the chief priests who lived in cities and those who lived in the forest. He devotes seven verses (51-57) to the Sangharaja. Whoerver may have been the Sangharaja at the time the author clearly proves that he was not one of the Wilgammula sect.

Of the chief priests, who dwelt among the people, mentioned in the Wuttamala, are the Sailantaramula Maha Thero (Verse 42); Senapathimula Maha Thero (Verse 43); Maha Nethraparsadamula Maha Thero (Verse 54); and Wilgammula Maha Thero Verse 45 refers to the last as follows:


සදාසෙසදෙහිප්ප‍වත්තො‍රුමෙත්තො

තිසිකඛානුරකඛාතිදකෙඛා සපඤෙඤ

රණානං අවාසො ගුණානං නාවාසො

සරොග‍ාමමුළවහථෙරො විරාජෙ


(“Here resides the learned Thero Sarogamamula whose boundless compassion encompasseth all beings, who is a devout obsever of the triple precepts of the Sangha, in whose mind sin finds no shelter, and in whom are found all virtues”) The hermit-priests Wanaratana, Dharmakirti and Bhuwenaka Bhuja are also similarly mentioned. The Sangharaja of the period is praised in glowing terms; yet, there is not a single word referring to a Sangharaja of the Wilgammula sect.

The colophon states:


සරසිගාමමූළ මහාසාමිනො භාගි‍ෙනෙය්යfන ගතාරාභිධාන

උපතපස්සිනා රචිතං වුත්තමාලස‍ෙන්‍දස සතකං සමතතං


[“Here ends the Wuttamala consisting of a hundred verses, composed by the junior monk Gatara, a nephew of the Ven. Sarasingamamula Maha Thero.”] The author of the Pali Poem is thus shown to be a nephew of a Wilgammula Maha Thero; but the Maha Thero mentioned above is not the same Wilgammula Thero mentioned in the poem. Unless it is presumed either that the Wilgammula Thero, who was elected Sangharaja in A. B. 1876 and on whose instructions the inscriptions at the


KitSiri Mewan Temple were carved, was at a alater date deprived of his sect and lived at Datigama as plain Wilgammula Thero, or else that there was another Wilgammula Thero during the time of the Wilgammula Sangharaja, it is not possible to group the Wilgammula Sangharja, the head of the Gatara Piriwena, the Wuttamala and the “Tisara Sandesa” as having all belonged to the reign of King Parakrama Bahu V.

(4) Whether during the life-time of the Wilgammula Maha Thero already mentioned there had been a king by the name of Parakrama Bahu (after Parakram V) the author of the “Wuttamala” himself bears ample testimony to the fact that there was no Sangharaja of the Wilgammula sect at the time that poem was written.

There is a poem called “සඳ කිඳුරු දා” (Sandakinduru Da) composed by a Rev. Wilgammula Maha Thero. The colophpn verses giving the name of the poet are as follows:


රන් ගිරි සිරි අසල්

මල් පලරමින් මන කල්

තුන් බෝ සැදි විසල්

පසිඳු දෙනගමු වෙහෙරැ හැම කල්


“‍වසන පිළිවෙත් සරු

සඟ ගණ සමඟ පියකරු

සදහම් දැරු මහරු

සියල් සතරෙහි සුර ඇදුරු යුරු


පරපුරැති නිකසළ

මහ තෙරිඳු ‍විල්ගම් මුළ

පර වැඩ පිණිස කළ

        මෙ කවි වඩනා දනන් මන	දොළ


(“ The famous vihara of Denagamuwa with its three Bodhis the Bo-tree, Dangoba & Image) and surrounded by numerous trees full of fruits and flowers was like in splendour to the abode of the gods.”


“May this poem, composed for the good of others by the Rev. Wilgammula Maha Thero, of spotless lineage, deeply learned in the revered Dhamma and like unto Brahaspati in his knowledge, living with the rest of the virtuous community in that Vihara, fulfill the herarts’ desires of the people.”)


It is not stated when this poem was written, no king is mentioned here; yet from the language o the poem it may be determined that the poem was written somewhere close to the reign of Parakrama Bahu VI. The Wilgammula Thero who wrote the සිංහල බොධි ‍වංශය (Sinhala Bodhiwansa) is quite another priest. Though some writers are of opinion that this poem was written during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu II there is not the least evidence to support this view. The සිංහල බොධි ‍වංශය (Sinhala Bodhiwansa) was written during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu IV and there is room to believe that “සඳ කිඳුරු දා” was written during the reign of King Parakrama Bahu of Datigama and the author of this poem was no other than the Wilgammula Thero in the Wuttamala (වුත්තමාලාව). This is not the place to discuss the evidence of language. All facts point to the conclusion that this poem was written after the Tisara Sandesa (තිසර ස‍ෙන්දeශය ) but before the Kawya Sakhara (කාව්යi ශෙඛරය.)

(5) The Jayawrdhanapura mentioned in the Mayura Sandesa is not mentioned in the Thisara Sandesa for the simple reason that the route taken by the peacock was not taken by the swan. The City of Colombo and the spot where the river joins the ocean which are described in the Thisra Sandesa are not mentioned in Mayura Sandesa. Are we, therefore, justified in coming to the conclusion that these two places had been wiped off the map by the time the Mayura Sandesa was written?

Those were troublous times. The country was swarming with enemies of Parakrama Bahu of Datigampura. Their stronghold was Jayawardhanapura. The writer of the Tisara Sandesa had but shown how well acquainted he was with the feeling in the country at the time, in not making the swan to proceed through an enemy city.

Let us for a moment examine the routes taken by the three birds, the swan, peacock, and the cuckoo, as mentioned in the respective Sandesa bearing their names. All three of them had kelaniya on the north and Kalutota (Kalutara) on the south. The following were the routes taken:-


Swan’s Peacock’s Cuckoo’s


Kalutota Kalutota Kalutota Panadura Bolgoda Potupitiya Moratuwa Widagama Panadure Mapapatana Raigama Moratuwa Pitu-ulgamuwa Salpita Attidiya Colombo Sangarama Pepiliyana Modera Yatiyana Jayawardhana Jayawardhanapura Alut patana Kith Sirime Wehera Kontagantota Wattala Maskeliya Maskeliya Kelaniya Kelaniya Kelaniya


Whether Jayawrdhapura did come into the route taken by the swan or not is of little consequence in determining the dates of these two poems, as a careful study of those routes will prove conclusively that the Mayura Sandesa is the older poem. During the regime of Alagakkonara the high-way ran through Raigama. After his successful wars against Arya Chakkrawarti the maritime districts came into greater prominence as a result of these places being more frequented by the army. Herein lies sufficient reason for the author to make the swan take a different route from that taken by the peacock. (6) Another reason given by Sir D. B.Jayatilaka to prove that the Tisara sandesa is the older poem is that it contains several words and forms of language which are archaic or obsolete. Four such instances are quoted : -


ඉමි පැරැකුම්බා නරනිඳු හට තොස්න මමි තුර එම්බා දුන මැන මේ අස්න

-(Verse 6)


The word “ඉම්” in the above verse is quoted as the first instance


නෙකාලයේ ඇසිරූ කළ ලොවැ ස්සන

උ දා ලයේ කුළු දි තොස සල ස්සන


“කුළු දි” is the second instance.


සොඳ රු වි නි යුතු ඉති තනිඳු එම මුනි නිවෙස බැබැළේ

වැ ඳ තොසිනි ඕනුදු අසදු කුළු දෙන ලෙස මනදොළේ”

-(Verse 124)


In the above “කුළු දෙන” and “ඕනුදු” are quoted as the third and fourth instances respectively. Let us examine them carefully. The word “ඉම්” which should correctly read “හිමි” meaning “Lord”, referring to the next word පැරැකුම්බා, is supposed to be the older from of හිමි, whereas it is clearly a copyist’s errors. It is stated in the foot-note that this word occurs as හිමි in other MSS. Wherever it occurs in other verses* in this work the word is correctly given as හිමි. If it was an older form why was it not spelt ඉමි throughout? Earlier writers, such as Pandita Parakrama Bahu, Gurulugomi and others, have used the form හිමි in their writings. So that if the age of the poem is to be determined on the evidence of a word like this it may also be argued that the Tisara Sandesa was written prior to the Kaw Silumina, Amawathura, etc. Let us take the two instances කුළු දී and කුළු දෙන as one. Granted that this phrase is found in the Tisara alone it is not correct to judge the of the poem from this one example. The Rev. Sri Darmarama Nayaka Thero in his translation of Dhammapada has the following:- “මනස පෙරදැරි හ වෙයිනෑ අරූ කඳ,”

using the word වෙයින් to mean වේදනා or pain. This is an obsolete form of the word. No poet since the days of Sri Rahula has used this form. Can it, therefore, be argued that the


(Verse 163) “කියමින් හිමි නිරිඳුන් සොමි තියු ගී රස බසිනි” (Verse 178) “අසනු තොසේ මැනැවි ය හිමි සවන් යොමා”


Rev Sri Dharmarama belonged to an earlier period than all the other poets subsequent to Sri Rahula? Then there is also the classic example of that great scholar Gurulugomi-the language in whose writing was older than that which prevailed in his day. Even at the present day some writers use older forms of language which are not in current use, in their writings.

	In the fourth instance the word ඕනුදු does not suit the text at all. To write නතිඳු බැබළේ (Lord Natha flourishes) in the singular and to use the plural form ඕනුදු (ඔවුනුදු) අසදු (implore them) referring to the same person is a gross violation of all rules of grammar. That the poet himself would have made such a blunder it is impossible to believe. Apart from these no internal evidence has been led to prove that the Tisura is the older poem; neither have we come across any such in the work.

The fact that even a writer like the author of Saddharma Ratnakara has stated that following the reigns of the two brothers Wira Bahu and Wira Alakeswara, one Parakram Bahu had, even for a short time held a governorship or vice – royalty of some importance lends strong support to our case. Parakrama Bahu Epa could not possibly have lived in an age far off from that of the author of Saddharma Rathnakara although there is nothing to prove that the author had seen Parakrama Bahu Epa. On the other hand there is also no evidence to the contrary; both had however, lived within the same period. In mentioning in his book that a Parakrama Bahu had lived during this particular period the author is not repeating a rumour but is recording a fact.And we have now to find out what sort of a ruler he was. That this period of the country’s history is rather obscure is generally accepted. Our great chronicle, the Mahawansa, does not mention Wira Alakeswara even by name; mere mention is only made of the kings Bhuwenaka Bahu IV, Parakrama Bahu V,Wickrama Bahu III,Bhuwenaka Bahu V, and Wira Bahu ;it is not possible to ascertain from the Mahawnsa even the exact regnal years of these kings; although longer description are given in the Pujawali it is alla a tangled mass; and the Nikaya Sangraha concludes with the reign of King Wira Bahu. There


Are references, however, in different poems, but owing to the fact to the several kings or princes of the same name had lived within the same period or within a few years of each other it is difficult to identify them correctly. Under the circumstance, it is best to obtain the testimony of the author of the Saddharma Rathnakara himself. He states;


“කුමාර අලකෙශ්වර යැ,...වීර අලකෙශ්වර යැ, ඔහු මල්වූ වීරබාහු ඈපාණෝ යැ, ඔහු ගේ පුත්ර විජය ඈපාණෝ යැ, ඔහු ගේ මල් වු තුනයෙය යැ, - ඔහු ගේ මහලු පිතෘ වු පළමු කී වීර අලකෙශ්වරයන් රයිග‍ම පුරයෙහි දි මල් වූ වීරබාහු ඈපාණන් හා යුඬයෙන් පැරැදැ දෙශන්තර ගත වැ නැවැතැ අවුත්, මෙහි දොළොස් හවුරුද්දක් රාජ්යයය කුළ ඉකිබිති, පුරාකෘත කර්ම,යෙන් වීන මායමට අසු යැ ගිය සඳැ - පළවු කි සෙනෙවි රදුන් ගේ මුනුබුරු වු පරාක්රවමබාහු ඈපාණෝ යැ යි, යන මේ ස දෙනා ඇවෑමෙන්, අප බුදුන් පිරිනිවි එක් වා දහස් නව සිය අට පනස් වනු පොසොන් මසට, ලකැ සසුන් පිහිටි එක් සහස් සත් සිය දෙ විසි අවුරුද්දෙක් පිරුණේ යැ. එ කල්හි ශාක්යක කුල පරම්පරානුගත අමිත ශ්රිෙ වික්රෙමාන්විත පරාක්රකමබාහු මහ රජ තෙමේ ශ්රි ලංකා දිවිපහෙහි රාජ්යර ශ්රි්යට පැමිණි‍යේයැ.”


[“Kumara Alakeswara………..wira Alakeswara, the latter’s bother Wira Bahu Epa, his son Eijaya Epa and his younger brother Tunayena his paternal uncle the aforementioned Wira Alakeswara having been defeated in battle by his younger brother Wira Bahu at Raigama fled the country and having later returned reigned here (Raigama) for twelve years; as the result of a sin committed during a previous birth he was caught in a trap laid for him by the Chinese and was carried away by them-and Parakrama Bahu Epa the grandson of the afore-mentioned general. The close of the period of these six brings the year the A. B. 1958 or the 1722 nd year after the establishment of Buddhism in Ceylon. In that year the great and victoriaus monarch Parakrama Bahu who was descended from the Sakya race, ascended the throne of Lanka.”]

There is, thus, no doubt whatsoever that Parakarama Bahu Epa mentioned herein was himself a king. The author differentiates between those who even for a short time, ruled the country


From those who did not and further shows how the fifferent kings and princes were related to each other. He, himself, belongs to that section of the people which bore allegiance to Parakarama Bahu VI of Jayawardhanapura and which was in opposition to Parakrama Bahu Epa and, therefore, this testimony of one from the hostile camp deserves greater consideration. It helps to prove that between the reigns of Parakrama Bahu V and Parakrama Bahu IV there had lived another king by the name of Parakrama Bahu. Having had such powerful enemies like the Ven. Widagma Maha Sthawira it is no wonder that even his name was not included in the list of king of the period. There is sufficient evidence in the Tisara Sandesa and the Wuttamala to prove that this king Parakrama Bahu lived at Datigama. Verse 179 of the Tisara Sandesa states:-


ස‍ව් ඉසුරින් සුසැදි - කිහිරැලි පුල් සුරිඳු සඳ

සුරිඳුන් අතිනෙවරැ වර ලදුවත් සුදුසු නිරිඳුන් ඇතෝතින් ලක රැකුමට පහසු

එ බැවින් දැන් වැජැඹ් - පැරැකුම්බා නිරිඳු සඳු

සත රැකැ ලක එක සත් කරනුව වෙසෙස වෙත යොමු කැරැ නිති වන තම කුලුණු ඇස

ලස නො වැ විරිඳු සෙන් මන් බිඳිමින් නැවැත ය ස තෙද දිගා රූ සිරි දෙවම්න් සමත ලෙස සිතු රකුතු මැනැවැ යි එ සුරිඳු ගෙ වෙත වැ ස මෙ මැ ලෙසට අයදී දීයුණමින් හිත


[“O Lourd Utpalaarna, it is indeed true that through Sakra’s favour thou hast taken this island under thy protection. Thy work would be made easier only if there were one king ruling supreme over the country. Therefore, thou needst not search for a new king but by giving greater power to our present King Parakrama Bahu and by dispersing his enemies mayst thou bring Lanka under one regal umbrella and thus protect her.”] The country was divided into several petty kingdoms at the time. King Parakrama Bahu mentioned here-the Parakrama Bahu Epa of the Saddharma Rathnakar- does not appear to


Have had a large and powerful following, while the prince who became king as Parakrama Bahu VI had strong support. The author of the Tisara Sandesa, who devoted to the former therefore appeals to God Utpalawarna to grant him greater power. Internal evidence too proves that the Mayura was written earlier than the Tisara Sandesa. In the former poem the message is addressed to a god. The dance of the nautch girls is one of the coustomary observances at Hindu Temples. Even the great poet Kalidasa, in his poem, gives an elaborate description of the nautch girls of Mahakala Dewale. The author of the Mayura Sandesa too give free play to his imagination in describing the nautch dances when writing of the Dewale. On the other hand the Tisara Sandesa is addressed to the King Parakrama Bahu of Datigama. The king’s court is no dancing hall. Nevertheless the poet in his desire to emulate and, if possible, to excel the descriptions of nautch dances in the Mayura Sandesa converts the court into a dancing hall by his inopporture introduction of dancing here. This is not in keeping with the dignity and respect due to a court, specially of an Oriental monarch where royal etiquette is more minutely observed than elsewhere. At a later date the writer of the Kokila Sandesa commits a similar faux pas by introducing dancing at the king’s court at Jaffna.


The following examples will show how the Tisara imitates the Mayura Sandesa in describing the dances. In the Mayura the dancing hall is thus described:-


රඟ මඞලේ ඉසි පුල් මල් ඇඳිලි පැහැනවලේ තුරු දිළි නුබ කියැලි -(Verse 123) [“The stage strewn with handfuls of full blown flowers was like the sky aglow with glittering stars.”]

Inspired by this work the Tisara Sandesa has:-

නඳනා හිමිඳුට පුද කළ නිමලී මලිගිය මල් සැදි රඟ බිම සුනිලී කිරි සිඳු අළලන සෙමෙ රසිනුදුලී දිය බිඳු රැඳි වෙන් උරැ සිරි කියෙලී -(Verse 165)


[“The brilliant blue stage decked with pure blooms of Malathi (Jasmine) flowers, offered to the lord of pleasing countenance was in beauty like the broad chest of Wishnu coverd with glistening drops of water, as he churned the milky ocean.”] “The beauty of the dancing girls (in the Mayura Sandesa) is such that it is more cooling than collyrium to the eyes and gives as great pleasure )to the beholders) as that which the peacock experiences when it sees a rain could” :-


සීලස රූ රසයින් නෙතැ ලන්නේ

 		  වේ තුව මේතුට මේ දුටු	                 වැන්නේ

-(Verse 133)


Apart from the beauty of the simile itself the exquisite manner in which the poet has reproduced the rhythm of the dance in the cadence of the verse is much to be admired. The Tisara Sandesa imitates it thus:


රඟ දෙති සතුවා ලිය මේ ලෙසටා ඒ දුටු නෙත‍ටා රස ඳුන් කුමටා

								-(Verse 172)


[“When damsels gaily danced this wise,

   Beholders needed no collyrium for their eyes.”]


Is it now fair to state that the Mayura had followed the Tisara Sandesa? The author of the latter was quick at imitation and even plagiarism, while the former had always spurned these. In the Tisara are ideas and descriptions borrowed wholesale from the Kaw Silumina, Sasadawata etc, but the poet has been clever enough to hide his obligations to a poem which was written only 20 years earlier; nevertheless he has tripped in one place. In verse 151 of the MayuraSandesa the poet explains how difficult it is to sing the praises of God Utpalawarna adequately:


 සෙත යදි සක් හට දෙන දිගු බිතැ		ඉසිරි

පිරි මුළු සක් වළැ පුල් සුරිඳු යස සිරි ලෙස වෙසෙසක් කැරැ නත නා හටත් සරි

          ව ත ද හ සක් තව ලදුවත් වනත		 බැරි  _(Verse 151)


[The glory of God Utpalawanna is spread throughout the world and supplicants who ask favours in his name have their prayers answered in all quarters where his greatness is known .Were I to be givean a thousand more mouths as a special favour, thus making me similar even to Ananta, it will not be possible to describe adequately his glory.”]


We may compare this with the following from the Tisara sandesa:-

ප ත එ පුරෙහි සිරි සර වෙන වෙන වනත ස ත නතුරින් කිවි පොහොසතැ යෙති අනත ව ත දහසක් තව සිවුවන මැවුව මුත නැත නො සමතැ සිත ඇති මුවිනි පවසත -(Verse 150)


[“Poets say that only the Naga Ananta, of all beings, is clever enough to describe the glory and prosperity of that city. Even then it seems to me that he would not be able to describe them fully unless Brahma gave him another thousand mouths.”]

In the Mayura Sandesa the rhyming is effortless, easy and spontaneous, revealing the master mind; while in the Tidara Sandesa it is laboured and often clumsy. Numerous examples can be quoted to prove the superiority of the one and the laboured style of the other. Here is one of the labourd, halting rhymes from the Thisara Sandesa:


වෙ තැ ම‍ා රු තු මා එ ඇ මා න හ මා

සැ දි මා නැඇමා ල බ මා බ ඳ මා

ව ත ම‍ා බැලු මා ලෙ ස මා නොබ මා

නෙ තැ ම‍ා නයොමා ය ව මා ව නැ ම‍ා

-(Verse 137)


[“Oh my friend, enjoy thou the beauty of the huge trees in that region but do not delay to explore all the sights of this great forest; direct thy eye on the road as far as thou canst see and straight speed thy way.”] (63) In contrast to the above is the following from the Mayura Sandesa:-


ස රා සි රි න් රැකැ සිටි රජ දොරා දො රා

ව රා ස දි න් දු ක ඳු රු දි ව යු රා යු රා

නි රා කුලෙන් සත රැකි වැ ම සු රා සු රා

පු රා බැතින් නැමෙමින් නම කරා ක රා


[“The god who in all his splendour presides over the divine service at the threshold of the temple, Who, like the sun, dispels the darkness of sorrow from the mind of men, Who protects mankind with jealous care, Bow thou unto him (the god referred to above) in deep veneration.”]

In the verse quoted from the Tisara Sandesa there are four eliwatas (එළි වැට)* or rhyming instances. So engrossed has the poet been in the rhyme that he has paid but little attention to the structure and meaning of the verse; its construction is faulty and wanting in elegance. The verse from the Mayura Sandesa contains four rhyming instances as in the previous verse, but its rhyme is natural and effortless, while the simile is most elegant. We shall quote a further example from the mayura Sandesa to illustrate the poet’s mastery of rhyme (එළි වැට) which is a characteristic of Sinhalese poetry of the later period :-


		  වෙන් හස් ක ර න විකුමන් මන්වමින්		කි රා

ම න් හස් ද ර න රජ දම් ම්ණි නිදන් ව රා

ර න් හස් ස ර න සිරි ලක් සර සිරින් ස රා

ස න් හස් ක ර න කැමිඳුන් මන් රිසින් පු රා


[“(He) who out-weighs Wishnu in his valour and glory, Whose mind is like unto a seal set over the Treasure-house of political wisdom,


An eli-wata (එළි වැට) is a rhyme that generally occurs in a quatrain; its chief characteristic is that at a given point or points (instances) the same letter or letter are repeated in all the four lines.


Who in splendour is like unto a golden swan floating on thelake-Srilanka, (O God) fulfil the desires of the Minister in charge so the Royal grants.”]

There are seven rhyming instances (එළි වැට) in this verse and yet how profound is its meaning! How sublime are the similes and how beautiful the imagery. In the Mayura Sandesa the description of the peacock and its capability to undertake such a mission are given in one verse of then lines (දස පද සැහැල්ල) and in a quatrain following it; the Tisara Sandesa takes one verse of ten lines and three quatrains to describe its messenger- the swan. Reference is also made to a story of Bodhisatwa. This is obliviously an attempt to improve on the pattern of the older works and gives us another proof in support of our contention that the Mayura Sandesa is the older poem. The peacock is not advised to start its journey at an auspicious moment and neither is it acquainted with signs of “good omen” that it might meet with. Verse 25 states:


ග හ න් වියතැ වියැකෙන සිටි සිටි තැනිනි

ව හ න් කරත මල් මුවරඳ සල් හිසිනි

ප හ න් ස‍ඳෙහි රිවි කැන් උදය’ග උඩිනි

ප හ න් සඳින් වඩු අම්බුලුවා කඩිනි


[“When the stars are just fading in their places in the sky, When the sweet fragrance of flowers is being gently wafted over the trees, When the sun is shedding its early rays over the Eastern heights Proceed thou from Ambuluwakada with heart full of pleasure.”]

The Tisara Sandesa gives more elaborate instructions to the swan. (Verses 25 & 26):-


  		  සො‍ඳේ තඞින් පිය පිය යුවළ		         පිරිමැදේ

මැ ඳේ කිවින් පරසිදු මේ අසුන් සදේ

ස ‍ඳේ අම සෙ තබමිනි මිතුර මන‍ නදේ

න ‍ෙඳ් වඩන් ‍මේ පුර වරිනි ඉරි උදේ


දි ඟා වඩන මෙන් ගුගුරති ගජ තුරඟා

ර ඟා පැ පෑ යෙති එති බොළඳ කොමළඟා

ළ ඟා පවති මඳ නල සුවඳ පෙර මඟා

ම ගා සතෙ‍ාස ලබ සුබ නිමිති මන රඟා


[“O! friend, trim thy pair of wings with thy graceful beak, the message which is to be announced in the assembly of poets Keep thou in mind, as the nectar in the moon And joyfully start from this city at early dawn.” The elephants are trumpeting aloud and horses are neighing as if wishing thee long life. The young maidens move hither and thither in comely dance, The fragrant breeze will surround thee on thy way, Observe these signs of ‘good omen’ and be thou happy!”]


The peacock starts from a Royal city and the poet has the opportunity of describing Royalty. There is no king in the city from which the san proceeds on its journey and hence the poet hits upon Gou Uthpalawarna. The general theme is too artificial. It appears as if the Tisara Sandesa was composed to describe in greater detail a route already taken by a previous messenger! Thus all evidence point to the fact that the Tisara was written after the mayura Sandesa. Further all the MSS. of this great poem are bristling with copyists’ and other errors to a greater degree than those of the Tisara. This very fact too may be counted in favour f the claim of the Mayura Sandesa to be the older poem.


Length of the poem[සංස්කරණය]

The present edition of the Mayura Sandesa contains 164 verses. Prose passages too have been consecutively numbered. The Gunawardhana edition contains only 162 verses, as verse 91 and the colophon have been rejected by Gate-Madualiyar Gunawardhana as interpolations. Without counting the prose passages there are 162 verses in the first Dipankara edition while several have been added in the second edition. Verse 91 rejected by Mudaliyar Gunawardhana reads as follows:


අ ති න් කොමළ බැවිනළ තදයැ රන්දමා නෙතින් බලන සිරි කො ද ඉඳුවරන්දමා ග ති න් නො සරි ‍වනුයෙන් සුරසර’න්දමා ඉ ති න් මෙ ලො වැ උවමට කියනු කින්දමා

[“Their shapely hands surpass a golden gridle in beauty and softness, Eyes in luster to which the manel beareth no comparison. Inferior as the divine ladies are in beauty leave them alone. What is there then in this world with them to compare!”]

This verse is found in all the MSS.known hitherto but Gate-Mudaliyar Gunawardhana will not touch it. He gives his reasons: From the word “කින්ද මා” alone he rushes to the conclusion that it is the work of a poetaster! It is not clear to whom the verse refers. This is the only fault he has found in it. How unreasonable the criticism is will be apparent at a glance from our notes to the verse. If we were to argue that “බෙන්තොට” is derived from “බෙම්තොට” it will shatter one of Gate-Mudaliyar Gunawardhana’s pet theories. He holds it as unscientific to assume that the labial nasal “ම” followed by the dental-nasal “න” changes, in the course of usage to the dentalnasal “න”. Were he to read the verse correctly assuming that “කිම්ද” had changed into “කින්ද” following the above rule, his former theory would fall to the ground. Does he, therefore, kick this verse overboard merely in order to uphold his own theory?

As already mentioned several verses appearing in the Gunawardhana edition are not found in any of the other editions. We have not come across these in any of the MSS. examined by us. One of these is verse 153 which we have included in our edition as it is very apt and appears to have belonged to the original. The last quatrain in verse 154 was also discovered by Gate-mudaliyar Gunawardhana. Rev.Dipankara had unhesitatingly attached the verse beginning “දිලී කගවි” (Verse 158)in his edition) as part of this ten-line verse (දස පද සැහැල්ල)


And given his interpretation thereof accordingly. We have adopted the version given by Gate-Mudaliyar Gunaardhana. Although there are slight variations in the text of the first four line verse (163) it is found in all the MSS. Rev. Dipankara had only taken the first four lines and given it as a quatrain. The other six line were discovered later by Gate-Mudaliyar Gunawardhana. We have included this verse too in our edition after making necessary corrections to the best of our ability. We have entirely omitted the following verse found in the Dipankara edition as it does not bear the least resemblance to the rest of the work:-


 මේ හසුන් පඩුර දි සිරි දෙන			 විපුල් වන
 ක ර මි න් මිතුරු කොඳ නඳ ගුණ		ළකල් වන

සියොතුන් සියො වැ සිය නෑ යස විපුල් වන

ය ස සි න් පවතු මොනරිදු සඳ උදුල් වන


[“Having conveyed this Message-offering pregnant with blessings And thus giving pleasure to thy “Kunda”-like friends of pleasing virtue, Along with birds of great-renown-thy relations, May thou, O brilliant Peacock ! prosper in all splendour.”]


The route[සංස්කරණය]

Of the birds employed to carry messages of this type. Mentioned in Sinhalese poetry, the cuckoo (in Kokila Sandesa) is the only one who was commissioned to undertake a alonger journey than the peacock in the present poem. No auspicious hour is selected for the start and no signs of “good omen” to be met with on the journey are mentioned. Let us follow it on its journey. One day at dawn the peacock is made to start on its journey from.”Gangasiripura” (Gampola) It is just requested to leave Ambuluwakada early in the morning. Passing Bulathgamuwa, Dikpitiya, Alapalawala, Gurugoda, Arandara, Dorawaka, Attanaglla, Opathella and Weboda it reaches Kelaniya at night-fall. After worshipping god Wibhishana at Kelaniya and invoking blessinghs on the King, his Ministers and others, the peacock is to rest on the roof of the


Palace and start at early morn for Mana-oya. Pssing Maskeliya it worships at the Kith Siri Mewan Temple and reaches Jayawardhanapura. Through Sangarama and Salpita it comes to Raigama, where the Minister, Alagakkonar, resided at the time. Having paid its respect to Alagakkonara and his brother, Dewa Swami, the bird takes its rest for the night in one of the parks. Starting again early the following morning it soon comes across the broad expanse of the lagoon (Pandura Ganga) at Bolgoda, shortly after leaving Widagama. Crossing the lagoon its course lies through Kalutota (kalutar), Beruwala, Bentota, Pratherakaya, Welitota, Totagamuwa, Welithuduwa, Bentota, Paratherakaya, Welitota, Totagamuwa, Welithuduwa, Galle, Miripenne and Lanumodera. It spends the night at the last named place. Resuming its journey the following morning, the peacock comes to the “Manawiya Pokuna.” Its next station is Weligama and pursuing its journey further it flies over the Nilwalaganga at Matota and finds itself at Uggalbewula at dusk. The poet describes to the peacock the beauties of the sun-set, of the moon lit night, and of sunrise at this place. The following morning it travels through the forest-clad region; reaching Uggalbewula Wihara it pays respect to the incumbent and proceedingh through mawathmaduwa it comes to Dewunuwara (Dondra). This long journey takes the peacock four full days and several hours of the fifth day.


Beauties of the poem[සංස්කරණය]

There is no more beautiful poem in the Sinhalese language than the Mayura sandesa. Lofty thoughts are clothed in mellifluous verse while the description of people and places are most superb. In each of these qualities the poem excels.

The poet’s vocabulary is very vast. His supreme mastery over versification was due to his fearless originality. In the use of words and pharases he was untrammelled by precedents so long as such words and pharases suited his composition. What a beautiful, conception is revealed in the word “මේතුට” in verse 132, (having pleasure in a rain-cloud) a synonym for the peacock, which is well-known to dance in exultation with all its tail feathers fully spread, at the signs of approaching rain. Equally graphic and apt are the words අතළ (bank-less) (verse 141), සරපා (verse 114) a name for Brahma, meaning one having a lotus as his abode. පා සයුර means the “Milky Ocean” to which frequent reference I made in Hindu mythology. The Sanskrit word ‘නීරන්ධ්රh’ (faultless) quite naturally transforms itself into “නිරන්දර”, “නව මිණි දෙරණ” (verse 17) and “නවරතන දෙරණ” both meaning “land of the nine gems” are picturesque epithets used to refer to this land of Lanka, Further such examples can be quoted galore.

To any other person who writes such sweet verse full of deep meaning and containing three or four rhyming instances (එළි වැට) in each, grammar would be often prove a serious stumbling block. One would be often tempted to elude or to set at naught all rules of grammar. Even at the present day there are many so-called poets who, being unable To give correct expression to their mediocre ideas, as compared with the lofty thoughts expressed in this poem, err grossly in their grammar. But the author of mayura Sandesa does not appear to have experienced the least trouble in this respect. All rules of composition and grammar were like a handful of plastic clay in his hands. Whatever figure he wished to model or whatever thought he wished to express there was a ready flow of expressive language in keeping with all rules of composition.

Because of his mastery of the grammar of the language even the most difficult contructions- which baffle other poets-do not give him the least trouble. In verse 15 he is able to add the suffix “අන්” to the word “දෙවි” making it thus read “දෙවන්” (divine) because of his incomparable knowledge of grammar, “ලෙවන්” (of humanity) is a similar construction; no one but a supreme master of the language would dare to use the form “නෙතුවෙන්” (with the eyes) in verse 80; what knowledge of grammar is displayed in the form “හිවානෝ” (129); there is the grace of simplicity in the sentence “ ‍”මේ දුටු වැන්නේ තුට” yet how beautiful is its construction; similarly the use of such forms as (135) “දැරැ” (bearing), (143) “නෙළේ” (is deceived),(152) “දහම් ගන්වා” (exacting obedience to law), all display the poet’s mastery of all the rules of grammatical construction.

The poet has displayed remarkable originality and genius in his figures of speech and, like Kalidasa, has been extremely clever in the invention of suitable similes and metaphors. Some of them may be mentioned here:

(Verse 7) The clouds of dust raised by horses dashing along the roads of Gangasiripura (Gampola) appear to hide the sun fro sight. The flags fluttering in the wind disperse the dust making room for the rays of the sun. (19) The rays of light emanating from the eyes of those who look at the Queen are like so many fishing lines; while the eyes of the Queen are like tow fishes that elude these lines. (28) The bodies of the golden - coloured women walking in the green fields are like fishes of lightning among blue clouds. (42) Merit is the chariot that carries one to heaven. (52) The shadow of the wall is reflected in the water of the moat and on the crystal – wall is reflected the likeness of the moat. (64) The wind raised by Alagakkonara rushing into battle and brandishing his sword causes the enemy to shake like trees, their hearts to quiver like the tender leaves and the weapons in their hands to fall off like withered leaves. (75) When you see women do not imagine them to be collyrium and put them, in your eyes. (77) One need not acquire merit and go to heaven after death. There are two heavens in this world itself. They are the two cities on either banks of Bentota river. (94) Fishes splashing about in the waters of the Nilwalaganga are like prolonged flashes of lightning (97) When Lady Night purses him, the sun rushes to rest lest he might be tempted to commit adultery. (98) When the cocks come down from the trees and strut round the hens the lake laughs with lotus mouths. (122) When the


Golden – coloured women sing, it is like the sweet voice of the Cockoo emanating from a bower of golden creepers. The prowess and majesty of a king are such that one can make the red-sea a milky sea and the other the milky sea a red-sea. (158) War is the ‘ Bali-ceremony’ performed to appease the Yakkha-the sword. (161) The valour and glory of the Minister in charge of the Royal grants far out-weight that of Wishnu. His mind is like the seal set on the Treasure-house of political wisdom.”

A simile or metaphor which does not show exquisite poetical charm never emanates from this poet. Most poets of lesser caliber use elaborate and far-fetched similes practically forcing them into the verse. The author of the Mayura Sandesa freely distributes his riches throughout the poem. It would appear as if beautiful and apt similes had sprung up spontaneously and taken their places in the poem without arousing the ire of the poet. They feel it a compliment to have a place in such an elegant poem; yet they are in themselves incapable of adding to the poet’s conceptions of the beautiful.

Let us for example take the following beautiful illustration of the poet’s sublime imagery (Verse 40):-

	“The places in Kelaniya are built of blue sapphire. Music from various instruments is heard in them. A palace in turn is compared to a rain-cloud and to a friend. The gems in the palace shine brightly; they are like the flashes of lightning in the rain-cloud or like the eyes of a friend. The music emanating from the palace is like-the thunder accompanying the rain-cloud or the words of a friend. “ We do not know of any other poet who has expressed such an idea so beautifully.

Another feature of the poem is the use of ‘apt alliteration’s artful aid’ to highten the beauty of the verse. Possessed as he is of an amazing vocabulary the poet does not exert himself in finding rhymes. They come to him quite naturally. Where there are but few rhyming instances (එළි වැට) alliteration enhances the beauty of the verse; while in places where both Are combined the poet reveals his marvellous powers of composition and his keen appreciation of the music of words. As illustrating his use of alliteration we may take Verse 6:-

තුඟු සුලකුළු පහ පැහැ සර තර පවර සැදි දොරැ ‍දොරැ බිහි ‍දොර දද අඹළ ඹර සෙන් සිවුරඟ මේ මඟ මඟුලින් නිතොර දනු සිරි පිරි ගඟ සිරි පුර වර මොනර

[“Consisting of tall and stately mansions gleaming brilliantly, Adorned with flags waving in the wind over gateways and doors, With the four-fold army parading the streets in festive strain, (By these signs) Know ye O Peacock! The city of Gangasiripura overflowing with wealth and glory.”]

A close examination of this verse reveals the beauty of the words. It appears as if the words had been selected after measuring their length and breadth, weighing them and paying attention to their respective merits. No gaps are allowed to break the flow of the verse. It would also seem that the rhyming instance had been placed at the end of the verse the more to enhance its sweetness. Verse 145 is as follows:


 පසිඳු සිඳුරු කර සිඳුරැ යි දුර			 මතමා

සොඳුරු සිනිඳු රසුඳුළ යුවළ දහතමා උසස පෙදෙස සිහිනැ යැ යනු අඩු‍ව තමා මොනර කර යැ සරි වම් යම්කමක් තමා


[“The proverbial trunk of the elephant, in my opinion, will not bear the least comparison, because there is a hole (fault) in it;

For nothing is so graceful as the shapely calf (of God Uthpalawarna);

“It is indeed true that the upper portion (of thy neck) is thinner,

“”Even then, O peacock! It is the only thing that will bear comparison in the least. “]

It will be noticed that immediately following the word “පසිඳු”the next word is “සිඳුරු” (elephant) giving an attractive repetition of sounds. The word සිඳුරු would appear to have been evolved to be specially used in this instance. Following these the sounds are repeated in සිඳුර (hole); a word more suitable to the context is not to be found in the whole of the language. But it stop here. It is followed by දුර (far) and we have the following repetition of sounds showing the use of alliteration at its best; පසිඳු-සිඳුරු-සිඳුරු-දුර-‍ෙසාඳුර-සිනිඳු-රසුදුළ-යුවළ.The words would appear to group together of their own accord in order to deprive the poet of any credit. As further example of alliteration we would leave phrases such as “උසස-පෙදෙස-“, “සරි නම් යම්තමක් තමා” to speak for themselves. We ourselves are powerless to describe their beauty.

Rhetoricians say that indirect expression (ව‍sෙක්රාyක්ති) is the very life of poesy. Hence to say that there is indirect expression in a poem is not second to saying that there is a poem within a poem. “Indirect expression” may be divided into two classes, the ordinary and the specially elegant. Where a specially elegant figure occurs in a verse its exquisite poetic charm is boundless. In certain instances the author of the Mayura Sandesa adds greater elegance and charm to an indirect expression by the dexterous manner in which he weaves it into the poem. The following are some examples from the poem:

In verse 73 the poet speaks of the damsels of Bolgoda having so held the peacock’s eye as to make it impossible for it to look in any other direction; or in other words it means that the peacock was hypnotized by the beauty of these damsels. What a sublime expression! Again in describing mawath-maduwa the poet, punning on the word “මාවත්” (a face like unto the moon), says that those who came there wishing for women with faces as beautiful as the moon were always rewarded; or in plainer language it means that there were always to be found in Mawath-maduwa women comparable in facial beauty with the moon and capable of fulfilling the heart’s


Desire of those who came in search of them. How deeply hidden is the real meaning and how beautifully is it expressed! The poet uses freely similes well known in poesy. Yet in his hands they suffer. “……..a sea-change Into something rich and strange.” Who does not usually compare the face of a woman to the moon or the lotus? But how well does this poet introduce such similes can be seen from years No 8:-

      දිසි මිණි නිල් සැඳැලියැ  වත ලිය      			කමල
      දැකැ නො මලව පුල් පියුමැ යැ කැරැ			කුහුල
      සඳ පිළිබිඹු තුරු සෙන් සමඟින් 				සකල
      උසුරන ලොබින් බට වැනි බට පියුම්			   අල

[“The reflection of the moon and stars on the balcony floor of blue –sapphire was such as if the moon, having seen the lotus-like faces of the women promenading on the balcony, had suspected them to be lotuses that had not closed their petals at its rising, and (enraged by this) had come down to the pond accompanied by its multitude of stars to uproot the lotus bulbs.”] It is usual for poets to compare elephants to mountains. To this poet too they appears to be the same but with a slight difference. Verse 54 describes them thus:-


රු ව න් බඳ පොරොදු බැඳැ කඳු සැරැහුමෙනි

        ලෙවන් තුටට යන එන ගජ වෙ	 	 	මැදිනි

ගු ව න් මිණි උවම් මේ හිම් තෙද බෙලෙනි රු ව න් අකර පැතිරි ගිරි සරන වැනි


[“Decked with gold ornaments studded with gems, The elephants passing to and fro on the highways to the Delight of the people, Were like mountains over which mines of gold had spread themselves, walking about, As a result of the glory of the Minister (Alagakkonara) who was like unto the sun.”] (75) At one place at least on its journey the peacock is to enjoy royal pleasures an comforts,


න ඳ ව සයුර ලෙළ රළ සළු ‍ සලන්නේ සොඳව සුපිපි තුරු සේ සත් සෙ වන්නේ ර ද ව ලබන සැප එකතින් ලබන්නේ ර ඳ ව මියුරු සයුරසැ මිරිපැන්නේ (Verse 82)


[“The rolling waves of the ocean will be like ‘chowries’ Fanning thee, The trees in full bloom will provide thee with parasols, Here certainly wilt thou find pleasures and delights that Are only accorded to a king, Therefore, rest thee, O peacock! On the sea-beach of Miripenne.”]


More such examples may be quoted: (Verse 83) The peacock resting on the very top of the “Kinihiri-tree” (Cochlosperum Gossypium) in full bloom is like a blue sapphire set on the top of a crown of gold. (84) The forest that prevented the sun-light falling on to the ground is like a houses of green. The “Watakay” lowers (Pandanus Fascicularis) in bloom are the lamps lit therein. (90) When beautiful women are gazing it were as if the beams of light from their eyes pulled the object towards them: (91) A golden chain cannot be compared to the arms. The arm is soft and graceful. The chain is hard. The blue lotus cannot be compared to the eye. The eye can see but not the lotus. (112) The image-house in the forest is like unto a diadem on the head of the forest queen. (112) The tender leaves of the Bo-tree are red, the leaves green and the trunk white; it were as if the red, green and white rays from the Buddha’s eyes, as he gazed on the tree in gratitude immediately after attaining Enlightenment, had been absorbed by the tree.


The two “chowrie” fans and the parasol were always regarded in the Orient as the highest emblems of royalty. (76)

(117) Why is the flowers of the plantain-tree small? Why is the flower pointed downwards? The plantain-tree must yield place to the soft round limbs of women. Its mouths (flowers) become small through shame at being beaten by women; therefore it turns its face (flowers) downwards through shame. Epigrammatic expression is a trait of a great poet. Is this quality not inherent in the author of the Mayura Sandes? Verse 19 has the following:-


ලෙවන් බැලුම් කිඳු නිල් යොත් ලුව ද නුවන් යුවළ මන් යුවළෙකි එහි නො බද


“People cast their glances which are like unto fishing-lines. The Queen’s eyes are two fishes which elude those lines.” Hear the poet wants to express that the Queen was so beautiful that she was the cynosure of all eyes. However much others may look at her the Queen will not look at any one of them, thus signifying that she was one who observed a very strict vow of chastity.

Again in Verse 23 he has

“රැකුම් කැතුම් ලොව ඔහු බැම ලියෙන් පත”

“Mankind his brow benevolent protection lends.” How deep is its meaning!

In Verse 50 the women of Sangarama and Salpita are described as being above scandal even if they lived, like Rama’s wife, in another’s abode. Thereby he reveals the whole story of the Ramayana in one sentence. Women’s virtues are beyond description.

Even with all his great poetical powers it is amazing to find how restrained the poet is in his description. Generally some poets allow their imagination to run riot in describing a city, forest, evening, morning, aquatic, sports, dancing, a king, a chief tan or god. The author of Mayura Sandesa was well a ware that exaggeration would diminish even the existing beauty of the composition.


He describes the Royal city (Gampola) in five, and the palace in seven verses. The usual ramparts and moats are not there. Then what did he describe? (6) The mansions are lofty and bright, (7) There are pandals at every door; flags flutter in the wind: the four-fold army (elephants, cavalry, charioteers and infantry) are engaged in sports.(8) The dust raised by the hoofs of horses racing on the road hide the sky from view.(9) The moon-lit balcony is blue. On the highly polished floor are seen the reflection of the moon and the stars. (10) At each door there is a bright lamp burning. Like in other great cities there are courtesans here. The fair courtesans decked themselves in white-flowers roam in the night. (11) The roofs of the mansions are of silver and the pinnacles are of gold. They shine like the silvery beams of the moon and the golden rays of the sun respectively. (12) On the four sides of the palace there are stone pillars and golden circular ventilators; the floors are solid and large; the towers are of carved coral; the roofs are covered with sheets of gold; the walls glisten their bright plaster.

The city of Kelaniya is described in five verses (34-36,40 and 41) No special features of the city are mentioned. The mansions are tall and spacious; the women are beautiful; the light of the golden pinnacles of the mansions illumine the highways and hence courtesans walk along them with fear. Jayawardhanapura (kotte) was at that time a fortified city (43-49) The chief features to be mentioned therein are the warriors and the elephants. The newly built rock rampart is exceedingly strong.

The city which is described most loftily is Raigama (51-56). All worldly wealth and noble pleasures are found therein. Military orders to the city guard are given by trumpet and drum. The rampart is white and large. The moat is deep and full of clear water. The bazaars are held in tall mansions. There are crystal vessels full of gold and gems. Elephants with caparisons decked with gems promenade the streets. The residential houses are very tall. The women are so beautiful as even to charm the gods.


Weligama then was a sufficiently important town to deserve special mention (89-92). Very wealthy people lived there. The streets are broad and well-kept. No other city had such streets. The women are so beautiful that beholders become powerless to depart from the place. They are incomparable in their beauty.

The city of Dondra and its women are then described (116-119). It abounds in plaintain groves. The incomparable beauty of the women will kindle the desires of any man.

The forest scene described in the Mayura Sandesa is that of Uggalbewula. Here the bucks, regardless of their own hunger, lowered the branches of trees with their mouths so that the does may eat the tender leaves. Screened by the branches monkeys play about jumping hither and thither. Elephants in ichor are found in different spots. Creepers encircle the trees and on their branches are monkeys; bees flit from flower to flower; at the foot of water-fallsis collected the white sand brought down by the current; trees like the Banduwada, Mora, Aththana, Kala, Kolom provide. Shade; dropping their blooms as the wind blows they stand ever green. The dew falling from the young ‘Midel’ tree is like the tears of sorrow that it is shedding at being aware of the time that the deer will come to eat its tender leaves; when it is swayed by the breeze it appears to be sighing and the quivering of its tender leaves is like the quivering of its own heart.

The peacock started on its journey in the morning. How the stars were just fading in the sky and the flowers were beginning to open their petals are only mentioned. It was night-fall when it reached Kelaniya. The poet described the rising of the moon in the east, the evening flowers in bloom, bees departing from the flowers at evening, and how the time for Cupid had arrived. The dawn of the flowing day is just mentioned. It was evening when it reached Raigama. The only description at this stage is that of the setting sun. The next day is begun with the rays of the morning sun dissipating the veil of darkness; bees are embedded in flowers and the


Music of the mansions is like unto the roar of the rain. However, in none of these places was the poet tempted to make a special description.

It would appear as if the poet had determined in following a set plan-to extol the beauties of the Evening, Night and Morning at one particular spot.

When the peacock reached Uggalbewula the blood-red glare of the setting sun was reflected on the tree-tops. Other peacocks roosted there for the night. Our friend too, after making the acquaintance of a comely pea-hen of noble birth, repaired to a bower with her to roost. The sun after his diurnal journey across the blue vault comes down low in the western sky. The ocean attempts to lave his tired limbs with its waves by drawing the sun closer to it. Lady night with her cloud-breasts wrapped in a mantle of darkness comes as if pursuing the sun. The sun hides his rays as if withdrawing his hands, and thus shows to the world that to escape from being tempted to commit adultery is an inherent quality in his family. Lady Night is afraid that her husband, the Moon, Peeping through the branches o trees may have seen her flirtation. So that before she can be accused of misconduct she tramples on the fiery could of Evening and stamps out its embers and proves her chastity. The stars begin to appears like Jasmine petals strewn on the path of her husband, the Moon, by Lady Night. She next rests with her husband in their couch the sky. Having dispelled the great sorrow of darkness Lady night now Moon-lit shines with a heart full of pleasure. The previous evening the moon by striking them apart with its beams had separated a pair of ruddy gees. As he had to suffer for this sin ere soon, his beloved wife Lady Night and his satellites-the stars begin to depart. The moon itself becomes gradually grey in colour like a hare.

In no other poem are Evening, Night and Morning developed into such a beautiful story. How natural is the description and yet how charming? How wonderful!

The poet does not stop here. He adds another description of exquisite poetical charm. The cocks and hens roost on one


tree; the whole night is at their disposal for their amours, yet the cock birds had not taken this advantage but waited till they came down from their roost in the morning to strut round the hens. The pond close by which observed this indecorous flirtation could not help smiling; the lotuses are her mouths; and the opening of their petals is her smile. It is indeed difficult to imagine how this brilliant idea to express that the lotuses bloomed in the morning had struck the poet’s mind. The pond which saw the antics of the cock-birds only smiled. In the reader of refined taste this allegory not only provoke a smile but gives him a taste of the exquisite poetical charm of the work. The pond’s smile pleased the peacock a well, holding tightly to a branch of the tree on which it was roosting, it rapidly flapped its wins causing the dew-drops on its feathers to fall to the ground, crowed aloud and greeted the sun with its dance. Having thrown out its wings and his desire for his mate for a night, the peacock winged his way. Four verses (85-88) are devoted to the description of aquatic sports in Manawiya pond. The poet tells the peacock that trave-worn as it is will be refreshed immediately it sees the pretty women bathing in this pond. Over-shadowed with trees the sun light does not fall on it and hence the water is cool. The women dive and swim in its waters. The golden coloured women swimming in the blue waters are like flashes of lightning in a rain-cloud. The young men standing on the edge of the pond think to themselves: “The Rshi Agasthya swa the brilliance of the gems at the bottom of the ocean by drinking all its waters. If Brahma enabled us to drink off the waters of this pond we too would be able to see the brilliance of the gems in the girdles around the waists of these women.” When poets say that a woman’s face is like the lotus and that her eyes are like the blue lilies some call them liars. Now the peacock itself could ascertain the truth of the poet’s description as the faces of the women and the lotuses in the pond can be seen in close proximity; their eyes and the blue lilies too can be compared close to each other.


The nautch-dances at the Temple at Dewnuwara (Dondra) are described in twelve verses (122-466). First of all handfuls of white flowers are strewn on the blue stage by women. The music of various instruments is heard. The damsels stepping to music dance sounding their anklets; they cast coquettish glances with arched brows and twinkling eyes; they shake the bangles in their hands and at the same time they snap their fingers or whistle while singing; as they dance their gem- set ear-drops twinkle; their songs are attuned to the notes of the musicians; they dance in various ways; those who see them dancing with twinkling eyes, singing in rising notes and displaying their painted palms and soles, feel as if they are fanned by a breeze even in such a warm place (inside the temple). When they move their arms as they sing sweet songs they (arms) are like flashes of lightning; wherever they step on with their red-painted feet their foot-prints are left; when they raise their hands and dance it would appear as if their breasts too joined in the dance; their songs intoxicate the listeners; the beauty of these women which surpasses those of heavenly maidens is like collyrium to the eyes. The peacock who saw them was as much delighted as if it had seen a rain-cloud.

King Bhuwenaka Bahu is eulogized in three verses (14-16). The goddess of prosperity rests on his chest; he destroyed his enemies; increased the wealth of the island; obeys the teachings of the Buddha; gives his subjects all they desire; he is a glory to the Solar race; a diadem on the heads of the great; of great personal beauty and charm; he is described as being like unto another Sakkar (ruler of the heavens) in his splendour; wealth and righteousness.

The Queen (17-19) is of the Solar race. She is the mother of several princes who are heirs apparent to the throne, is virtuous, exert herself in good works for the benefit of the people, is of high charitable disposition and incomparable in beauty. She never even glanced at another man.


The sub-king is full of majesty; is handsome; and the people paid him loving homage. He is gifted with birth, charm, knowledge, virtue, renown and splendour. His prowess is very great. His brows portend weal or woe to the people. He is always engaged in working for the people. He is a source of constant joy to his subjects and of destruction to hi enemies.

Alagakkonara is the central figure in this poem. On many occasions by blowing his triumphant conch-shells he made enemy-generals to surrender his power and prestige were spread throughout the world; he was a great speaker and debate; people were astonished by the wealth of ideas found in his every utterance; all were benefited by his four-fold qualities of benevolence (charity, pleasing talk, social service, feeling of equality); he was very able as an administrator; his power was spread over the free kingdoms; he was very clever in finding out the special needs of each person and rewarding him accordingly; thus the income he received from lands and fields was very great; he showed his prowess to the whole island and spared not an enemy to withstand his sword; his very prestige and fame made the enemy to flee to the jungle; in battle, immediately the enemy saw his swordsmanship, they would lay down their weapons and surrender.

Dewa Swami is described in three verses(67-69). He had great faith in the Triple Gem; no miserly thought ever came to his mind; he was a source of great inspiration to the people and was like a sword in the face of the wicked; he was like unto one preparing for Buddhahood; he had a large following of good people; he helped to develop education in the country; he destroyed his enemies and helped the people by exercising the four noble qualities of benevolence. In the invocation to God Uthpalawrna slight descriptions are given of (153) King Bhuwaneka Bahu, and (154) the Queen; while slight references are made of (155) Alagakkonara, the Epa and Dewa Swami. Blessings are also called upon (156)


the Agampodi army; (157) the army at Wattala; (158) the mercenaries; (159) the mayor of the city; (162) both sections of the priesthood headed by Ven.ble. Dharmakirthi Maha Sthawira.

The God Uthpalwarna is described in 21 verses (134-152). His crown, hi frontlet, brow, eyes, ear-rings; mouth, chest, string of pearls, arms, palms, navel, the three furrows round the abdomen, the calves, the nails, are each separately described. His fame, dignity, benevolence, kindness, benignity and great charity are mentioned in their proper places.

Although in poetry involving rhyme (එළිසම්) it so happens that some poets pay more attention to words than to their meanings, it is not possible to say that the author of the mayura Sandesa had not paid sufficient attention to the meaning of his verses. This is the oldest available poem written in rhyming verse. Is it not a matter of wonder that a poem full of the beauties of various types of rhyme such as this has not been produced up to now? A science or art develops but gradually. It is evident from this poem that the art of versifying in this manner had reached its zenith during the time this poem was written and had gradually fallen into decadence since. The author of mayura Sandesa who whilst displaying his great prowess as an artist in sound simultaneously impregnated his words with deep and sublime thoughts, stands out unrivalled at the head of the long line of Sinhalese poets.

His descriptions do not disturb actual facts. We shall take one example for instance: At that time a king there was but in name. Those who were really in power were Alagakkonara and his two were really in power were Alagakkonara and his two brothers. (10) The gifts of the sun are given not to the king but to the sub-king. (23) Weal or woe to the people is portended by the brow is the sub-king and not of the king.


Criticism[සංස්කරණය]

Ours is not merely an eulogy of the poem but a criticism as well. We should, therefore, turn our attention now to the defects which are found in the work.

Of words defective in form we have to draw attention to the word “පුදා” only. In Pali and Sanskrit it occurs as “පූජා” (offerings) but in Sinhalese it should be “පුද.” Had the word “පූජා” itself been used we would have had no objection. Even the use of the form “පුදා” may be allowed. Yet the lengthening of the vowel “උ” in “පු” into “ඌ” is distressing. In that case the line may also be interpreted as follows:

“පින් කැරැ පු දවස්හි මැ පල උදා වන” Having expressed the following in Verse 15 in regard to the king.

“ලෙවන් රිසිය වන් දෙවනා දෙවන් මිණි”

[Like unto a celestial gem granting all desires of men} The poet repeats the following in the next verse:

“දෙන මන් රුවන් වන් දන මන නඳුන් වන [Like the celestial gem which gives wealth pleasing to mankind]

This repetition is a great defect in poetry.

Merely because the name of one of the three brother sub-kings was “දෙව් හිමි” the poet keeps on punning on the word until it loses its effect:

(67) “මැති රුවන් මෙ දෙව් හිමි තුරෙව් සැදි” [This noble minister Dewaswami who is in benevolence like unto the celestial tree]

(69) “දෙවි හිමි දන් දෙව් තුර පුර සරහන්ට” [Know ye the Minister, Dewaswami, who beautifies this city like the city like tree]

(155) “දෙව් තුරු මෙන් ලෙව් රුති දුන් නුදුන් යුත” (85)

[The Minister Deswami) who granted people all their desire, like unto the celestial tree, in a manner never done befor.]

The poet Kalidas ahs said that one blemish amongst a multitude of excellencess sinks to the bottom like the one spot amongst a multitude of beams of the moon.


The Commentary[සංස්කරණය]

“These commentaries must be consigned to the flames,” say some. It is not that we cannot guess the reasons for their impatience ! They do not care in the least to uphold their national pride, the grandeur of their literature and the nobility and vigour of their language.

What do they want? However mediocre their thoughts and ideas may be and however supine their language may be they only want to publish them to the world as works of eminence. These mediocrities fail to realise that if the commentaries are consigned to the flames then all our gems of classical literature must be offered to white ants, rats and moths. At the present day the Sinhalese language is like a dense forest. Those who wish to cross it clear their own paths. How mea are those who are bereft of that manliness to realise the need for the construction or the facilitating of the construction of a broad and pleasing highway through this forest for the use of all?

“All” here is used in the particular sense to mean all those who are really equipped for the journey. The crippled, the back boneless, the blind and others of this type are not eligible to this class. When we speak of a “language that every one” can use, the term every one includes those who realize that a language should be cultured, grammatical, and forceful. The rest are not included. Yet there are those at the present day who are of opinion that the Sinhalese language should be so simplified that it may be easily understood even by a negro who came from Africa only the other day.


To build a road the ground must be cleared of roots, stumps and stones. That is why a commentary is needed. He who says, “To clear the path is not our business! Let those who want to go take whatever paths they wish,” is not fit for the word. There will come a time when commentaries will not be needed. When the rules of grammar, composition and idioms are properly expounded what is the use of commentaries? Therefore it should not be forgotten that such a happy time would only come as a result of commentaries. Our efforts have been to make the commentary us useful as possible to students. Our views regarding grammatical rules is liable to change from time to time. This is because there is nothing to help us to lay down hard and fast rules at the moment. Whatever others may say we shall never hesitate to change our views and correct our opinions in the light of our own further researches. The same applies to our comments in this work. In the first verse although we had argued that the term මියුරස was evolved from the two words මියුරු රස by the elision of ‘රු’ we find that it is incorrect. The word මියුරස can be formed by adding the derivative suffix ‘අස්’ and yet retain the same meaning. මියුරු andමියුරස are the same* The term ‘ගල මිණි’ in verse 9 is found as ‘හළ මණි’in some MSS.’හරන ලද මැණික’ or “the gem that had been vomited )by the cobra)” is the meaning given thereto. Not that it is not applicable. Some people are of opinion that the cobra vomits the gem in its throat before it eats its food.* The phrase ‘මුළු සක් ලෝ’ (the whole range of worlds) in verse 58 can also be taken as ‘මුළු ලෝ සක්’ meaning the whole range of worlds.*


Previous Editions[සංස්කරණය]

For a considerably long period this poem had remained corrupt and unedited. It was but lately that its very name came to be known. That the eminent Oriental scholar, James de Alwis, had not known anything about this poem in his day is evident from his introduction to his Sidat Sangara. Mudaliyar Bartholomeusz Gunasekara who found the MS. Among the books of Maha-Mudaliyar Lewis de Zoysa edited this poem with the help and advise of Tudawe Pandit and had it published in A. B. 2427 (1884). This is an example which may be worthily followed by the present possessors of the MS. of the work entitled පොළොන්නරු පුර වර්ණtනා (a descrpiption of Polonnaruwa) by the author of the Mayura Sandesa. Twenty-five years later a second edition of the poem was brought out by another scholar, Dharmasena of Dodanduwa, no paraphrase was given in either edition. A further eight years later the poem was issued as a literary supplement by the Sinhalese paper, the “Sihala Samaya.” In this edition too no help was afforded to students to understand the poem.

The Rev. Welipatanwila Dipankar Thero published another edition containing a paraphrase in the same year the “Sinhala Samaya” edition was published. Thirteen years afterwards a second edition was published. This contains a large number of verses not included in the first Dipankara edition. Gate-Mudaliyar Gunawardhana, after much labour revised the whole text of the poem and published it with a new commentary about seven years ago. Rev. Amaramoli Thero of Vidyodaya Piriwena has also published an edition of the Mayura Sandesa last year. It is directly based on the Gunawardhana edition.


May 27, 1935

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