Sirisangabo is the most popular Sri Lankan king. His story, resembling a fairy tale, is told in the Mahavamsa chronicle, as a lesson of utmost Buddhist devotion. Much later chronicles add details to ornament the Sirisangabo biography even more. So the story goes:
When Sirisangabo and his friends Gotabhaya and Sangathissa travelled to Anuradhapura to serve the then ruling king, a blind man, hearing their footsteps, exclaimed, that he heard walking three kings. The last in of the travellers was Gothabhaya, who returned to the blind man and asked him, whose reign will last in the end? The answer was: ”That of the last one”. Gothabhaya did not reveal this to his friends.
After serving King Vijaya some time, Sangathissa overthrew the king and killed him and ruled in Anuradhapura four years. Then he was poisened by his troops.
Sirisangabo was the next to ascend the throne. He was so committed to the Buddha's teachings of non-violence that he exiled criminals instead of executing them and burnt already dead bodies in the disguise of the criminals, trying to continue to deter the people from wrongdoing.
When a demon called Rakthakshi (“one with bloody-red eyes”) began to devour people, King Sirisangabo presented himself to be eaten instead of his people. The demon refused to do so, but he agreed to accept offerings from the people instead of devouring them.
When finally Sirisangabo's chancellor Gothabhaya conspired and led an armed rebellion against him, Sirisangabo could not bear the thought of a bloodshed that would result from a fight for his power. So he decided to abdicate and to live a calm life as a forest hermit.
Neverthelss the new King Gothabhaya feared the return of the rightful king. Hence he offered a bounty rewarding the person who would bring him the head of Sirisangabo.
A poor peasant, who knew the hideout of the resigned king, went to Sirisangabo’s forest, determined to kill him to receive the bounty. When he was accompanied by one man who asked him what he was looking for, he did not recognize Sirisangabo as the former king and revealed him his attentions. They sat down and the peasant shared his meal with Sirisangabo. At the end of the meal Sirisangabo felt obliged to give something in return for it. But having nothing to offer him, Sirisangabo decided the man should be rewarded by that bounty and revealed his identity and offered him his head. Terrified, the poor peasant refused to kill the abdicated king. But Sirisangabo, insisting he felt obliged to show some reciprocation and to pay attention to the hardships of the peasant, decapitated himself and handed over is own head.
all Sri Lanka blog articles
by region, by topic
and A-Z here...