MATHEMATICS IN THE MAHAVAMSA.

 

From the cover of SOCIAL HISTORY OF EARLY CEYLON-H ELLAWALA

The great ancient Chronicleof the Sinhalese the Mahavansa and the Dipavansa provide  a reader with many clues about the mathematics known to the ancient world. The Dipavansa gives us the words used for the power of tens.

The Pali version of the Powers of Ten.

The Pali version of the Powers of Ten.

The English translation of these numbers is according W. Geiger.large numbers sinhala

All our Kings had Brahmanas as their Purohitas. They were  personal advisors, they consecrated the King, educated them in Military and Religious affairs and also in Political sciences[H Ellawalla].In some instances they acted as  the chief Justice. The were paid in ancient India 48,000 Panas  per year. They accumulated great wealth.

The Mahawansa states that Upatissa was a Brahmana of King Vijaya  founded Upatissagama , from where he reigned until the arrival of Panduvasdeva after the demise of King Vijaya. Then Umaagga Citta  entrusted Prince Pandukabaya to Brahmama Pandula, who educated the Prince in arts and sciences necessary for a King. Pandula gave him 100,000 coins to raise the first Infantry Battalion of 500 soldiers [battaya’s]. King Panduakabaya  appointed Pandula’s son Brahmana Canda as his Purohita.

King Devanampiyatissa according to have sent a Brahmana Dvija  in the four man delegation under his nephew Arittha to Asoka Court. But according to Dr Paranavitane  two  inscription of that period names a Brahmana name Gobuti as his teacher and his Chief Physician as speculated  after reading two inscription found at Piccandiyava. Perhaps Dvija was his son or close relative of Gobuti, as the Purohita title ran in the family.

Was Mathematics a subjects were  known to Brahmana Gobuti ,in addition to been a Physician?. Was deductive Reasoning which is now a subject taught to elementary students,  taught to Prince Tissa in some basic form ?.

From the Cover of book -Social History of Ceylon- H Ellawala

Perhaps the King made tutor ,Brahmana Guboti proud by answering two Deductive reasoning Question of Rev Mahinda, the Son a Emperor Asoka asked  to test the IQ of King Devanampiyatissa[250-210 BCE]. Can these two questions be  placed in the category of  Venn’s diagrams on deductive Reasoning. These were taught to us, as University student in the 1950’s. Now these are taught to elementary students.

The mathematics of deductive reasoning is perhaps best described Lewis Carroll..

the powers to detect fallacies, and the to tear to pieces flimsy argument which you will so continually encounter in books, in newspapers, in speeches, and even sermons, and which so easily delude those who have  never  taken the trouble to master the fascinating Art. Try it . That is all I ask of you”.

It is an important factors that can be deduced from the 5 Cent Text the Mahawansa  is the choice of question by Rev Mahinda to test The Prince Tissa before him perching a sermon of sorts described as Cülahatthipadüpama-suttanta.  Perhaps it a very basic of Deductive reasoning question?.

Why the principle of Buddhism was not put across to the  inhabitants of then Lanka Dipa  during his visits to the Island ?. A Verse in Dipavansa describing the Island

In chapter 1 verse 18-20
” Lankadipa is an exquisite country, endowed with a beautiful climate, fertile, a mine of treasure, which was visited by former Buddhas and had been inhabited by multitude of saints. Perceiving the most excellent island of Lanka, a dwelling place fit for saints [perhaps in the ancient caves donated to them that is still to be seen and inscribed over drip ledges the names ect] , the Compassionate one whom well understand the right and wrong time thus thought. In present time the Yakkhas, Bhutas and Rakkhasas inhabit Lanka-dipa, who are too low for adopting the doctrine of the Buddha……..”

About 250 years later the .Mahawansa describes  the success of introduction of doctrine to the King, kinfolk and the inhabitants of the Island in Chapter XIV verse 16

To test him that most wise (Thera Mahinda) now asked a subtle question, and even as he was questioned the monarch answered the questions severally.

‘What name does this tree bear, O king?’

‘This tree is called a mango.’

‘Is there yet another mango beside this?’

‘There are many mango-trees.’

‘And are there yet other trees besides this mango and the other mangoes?’

‘There are many trees, sir; but those are trees that are not mangoes.’

‘And are there, beside the other mangoes and those trees which are not mangoes, yet other trees?’

‘There is this mango-tree, sir.’

‘Thou hast a shrewd wit, O ruler of men!’

‘Hast thou kinsfolk, O king?’

‘They are many, sir.’

‘And are there also some, O king, who are not kinsfolk of thine?’

‘There are yet more[2]of those than of my kin.’

‘Is there yet any one besides the kinsfolk and the others?’

‘There is yet myself, sir.’

‘Good! thou hast a shrewd wit, O ruler of men!’

When he had known that he was a keen-witted man, the wise thera preached to the monarch the Cülahatthipadüpama-suttanta.

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