King Moggallana I. (497–515) was the third monarch of the Moriya dynasty of the Anuradhapura kingdom. The founder of this royal dynasty was Moggallana’s father Dhatusena. Since Moggallana was born of Dhatusena’s royal consort, he was the heir-apparent to the throne. But his elder brother Kassapa, who was born of a woman of a lower caste, usurped the throne and killed their father Dhatusena. Fearing for his life, Moggallana decided to take refuge in India. Kassapa, fearing the return of his brother, built the citadel of Sigiriya. After collecting troops, Moggallana returned to Sri Lanka after eighteenth year of his exile. Kassapa decided to confront his brother, but in the battle he was abandoned by his army and committed suicide. Moggallana cremated his brother with due respect and ruled his people with justice
But Moggallana punished the court officials he suspected to have been his brother’s followers. According to the chronicles, he put to death more than a thousand of them. He cut of the noses of others, and many were banished from the capital. But later on, he was calmed when he listened to the Buddhist teachings. Moggallana is credited with having carried out many meritorious acts of a pious Buddhist king, such as repairing many monasteries.
Moggallana decided not to reside in Sigirya but to shift the capital back to Anuradhapura. Sigiriya was handed over to the Buddhist Sangha to be used as a monastery. Forest monks had been dwelling their already for centuries before Kassapa used it as his palace. The area of Kassapa’s palace in Sigiriya, reconverted to a monastery, was given to a monk called Mahanama.
It was in the time of Moggallana, that a monk of this name - maybe the same Mahanama or a second one - wrote the ancient chronicle called Mahavamsa, which narrated the Buddhist history of the island till the reign of Mahasena. The following chapters including the the reigns of Dhatusena, Kassapa and Moggallana were written in much later centuries. One commentator says that Mahanama finished his work in the third year after the death of King Moggallana. He had ruled for 18 years and was succeeded by his son Kumara Dhatusena.
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