Maha-vansa is the title of two celebrated works written in Pali, and relating to the early history of Ceylon (q.v.). The older work was probably composed by the monks of the convent Uttaravihâra at Anuradhapura, the capital of Ceylon. Its date is uncertain, but it apparently preceded the reign of Dhatusena (459-477), as that monarch ordered it to be read in public, a circumstance which seems to prove the celebrity it already enjoyed in his time. The later work of the same name is an improved edition and continuation of the former. Its author, Mahânâma, was the son of an aunt of the king Dhatusena, and he brings down the history of Ceylon, like his predecessor, to the death of Mahasena. A first volume of the text of the latter Work, "in Roman characters, with a translation subjoined, and an introductory essay on Pali Buddhistic literature," was published by the Hon. George Turnour (Ceylon, 1837). See also Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, 2:15 sq. (Bonn, 1852).

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