Asoka And The Missions – Ānandajoti Bhikkhu (eng)

Asoka and the Missions

Edited by G. P. Malalasekera (1937 – 2481)
Translated by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu (August, 2012 – 2556)

Extended Mahāvaṁsa, Chapters XII-XIV, edited by G. P. Malalasekera, Colombo 1937. Reprinted by the Pali Text Society, Oxford, 1988. The text is reprinted here through the kind permission of PTS. for the variants: Mahāvaṁsa, Chapters XII-XIV, edited by W. Geiger 1908. Reprinted by the Pali Text Society, Oxford, 1958.

The manuscripts that the text is based on are all written in, or copied from, texts written in Cambodian script, and for that reason it is sometimes known as the Cambodian Mahāvaṁsa. However just because the manuscripts are in that script cannot be taken as evidence of its provenance without further indication, which appears to be lacking. Indeed all the evidence seems to point to the text being written in Śrī Laṅkā, as was the original text.

The text has extended the first section1 of the more usual Mahāvaṁsa in two ways: through addition and through rewriting, adding in further information, some of which is, at least prima facie, of importance, though we have no way of ascertaining its authenticity, as we cannot even determine the date of the text, beyond it being after Mahānāma’s text.

In the selections I have translated here the additions vary from one or two line insertions that clarify, or give additional information, needed for understanding the text; to whole blocks of information lacking in the original.3 The rewrites are generally also expansions, although occasionally they just rewrite one line or one verse with another, which the author thought clarified some point or other. In other cases, where a summary of spoken exchanges is given in Mhv. they are reproduced in direct speech in the Extended version of the text.

In my impression this is, for the most part, done in a quite seamless way, and I think if we only had the Extended version, it would probably pass as the work of one author, except in a small number of places where there are grammatical or organisational problems of one sort or another, though it is clear that the author of the Extended section hasn’t the same level of writing skill as Mahānāma.

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