The Legend of the Nandas (Buddhist Version)

Subsequent to Kalasoko, who patronised those who held the second convocation, the royal line is stated to have consisted of twelve monarchs to the reign of Dhammasoko, when they (the priests) held the third convocation. Kalasoko’s own sons were ten brothers. Their names are specified in the Atthakatha. The appellation of “the nine Nandos” originates in nine of them bearing that patronymic title.

The Atthakatha of the Uttaravihara priests sets forth that the eldest of these was of an extraction (maternally) not allied (inferior) to the royal family; and that he dwelt in one of the provinces: it gives also the history of the other nine. I also will give their history succinctly, but without prejudice to its perspicuity.

In aforetime, during the conjoint administration of the (nine) sons of Kalasoko, a certain provincial person appeared in the character of a marauder, and raising a considerable force, was laying the country waste by pillage. His people, who committed these depredations on towns, whenever a town might be sacked, seized and compelled its own inhabitants to carry the spoil to a wilderness, and there securing the plunder, drove them away. On a certain day, the banditti who were leading this predatory life having employed a daring, powerful, and enterprising individual to commit a robbery, were retreating to the wilderness, making him carry the plunder. He who was thus associated with them, inquired: “By what means do you find your livelihood?” “Thou slave,” (they replied) “we are not men who submit to the toils of tillage, or cattle tending. By a proceeding precisely like the present one, pillaging towns and villages, and laying up stores of riches and grain, and providing ourselves with fish and flesh, toddy and other beverage, we pass our life jovially in feasting and drinking.” On being told this, he thought: “This mode of life of these thieves is surely excellent: shall I, also, joining them, lead a similar life?” and then said, “I also will join you, I will become a confederate of your’s. Admitting me among you, take me (in your marauding excursions).” They replying “sadhu,” received him among them.

On a subsequent occasion, they attacked a town which was defended by well armed and vigilant inhabitants. As soon as they entered the town the people rose upon and surrounded them, and seizing their leader, and hewing him with a sword, put him to death. The robbers dispersing in all directions repaired to, and reassembled in, the wilderness. Discovering that he (their leader) had been slain; and saying, “In his death the extinction of our prosperity is evident: having been deprived of him, under whose control can the sacking of villages be carried on? even to remain here is imprudent: thus our disunion and destruction are inevitable:” they resigned themselves to desponding grief. The individual above mentioned, approaching them, asked: “What are ye weeping for?” On being answered by them, “We are lamenting the want of a valiant leader, to direct us in the hour of attack and retreat in our village sacks;” “In that case, my friends (said he) ye need not make yourselves unhappy; if there be no other person able to undertake that post, I can myself perform it for you; from henceforth give not a thought about the matter.” This and more he said to them. They, relieved from their perplexity by this speech, joyfully replied “sadhu;” and conferred on him the post of chief.

From that period proclaiming himself to be Nando, and adopting the course followed formerly (by his predecessor), he wandered about, pillaging the country. Having induced his brothers also to co-operate with him, by them also he was supported in his marauding excursions. Subsequently assembling his gang, he thus addressed them: “My men ! this is not a career in which valiant men should be engaged; it is not worthy of such as we are: this course is only befitting base wretches. What advantage is there in persevering in this career, let us aim at supreme sovereignty?” They assented. On having received their acquiescence, attended by his troops and equipped for war, he attacked a provincial town, calling upon (its inhabitants) either to acknowledge him sovereign, or to give him battle. They on receiving this demand, all assembled and having duly weighed the message, by sending an appropriate answer, formed a treaty of alliance with them. By this means reducing under his authority the people of Jambudipo in great numbers, he finally attacked Patiliputta (the capital of the Indian empire), and usurping the sovereignty, died there a short time afterwards, while governing the empire.

His brothers next succeeded to the empire in the order of their seniority. They altogether reigned twenty two years. It was on this account that (in the Mahavamsa) it is stated that there were nine Nandos.

Their ninth youngest brother was called Dhana-nando, from his being addicted to hoarding treasure. As soon as he was inaugurated, induced by miserly desires the most inveterate, he resolved within himself: “It is proper that I should devote myself to hiding treasure;” and collecting riches to the amount of eighty kotis, and superintending the transport thereof himself and repairing to the banks of the Ganges,—by means of a barrier constructed of branches and leaves interrupting the flow of the main stream, and forming a canal, he diverted its waters into a different channel; and in a rock in the bed of the river having caused a great excavation to be made, he buried the treasure there. Over this cave he laid a layer of stones to prevent the admission of water, poured molten lead on it. Over that again he laid another layer of stones, and poured a stream of molten lead (over it), which made it like a solid rock, he restored the river to its former course. Levying taxes among other articles, even on skins, gums, trees, and stones, he amassed further treasures, which he disposed of similarly. It is stated that he did so repeatedly. On this account we call this ninth brother of theirs, as he personally devoted himself to the hoarding of treasure, “Dhana-nando.”

MAHAVAMSA COMMENTARY

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