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Saddhā Tissa

King of Sri Lanka (77‑59 B.C.). He was the brother of Duṭṭhagāmaṇī and was about a year younger. When he was ten, at the ceremony of initiation, he was forced to make a vow that he would never fight against his brother; but when his father, Kākavaṇṇa Tissa, died, he seized the throne in the absence of Duṭṭhagāmaṇī. Up to that time he had been in charge of the Dīghavāpi district. Duṭṭhagāmaṇī now made war upon him, but was defeated at Cūḷaṅgaṇiyapiṭṭhi. Later the tide turned, and Tissa had to flee to a monastery. Duṭṭhagāmaṇī surrounded the monastery, but some young monks carried Tissa out on a bed, covered up like a dead body. Duṭṭhagāmaṇī discovered the ruse, but refrained from action. Through the intervention of Godhagatta Tissa Thera, the brothers were reconciled, and, thereafter, seem to have been devoted to one another.

After Duṭṭhagāmaṇī’s conquest of Anurādhapura, Tissa seems to have returned as governor of Dīghavāpi. When Gāmaṇī lay dying, Tissa was sent for to complete the work of the Mahā Thūpa, that the king might see it before his death. This he got done by means of temporary structures, cunningly devised. He was enjoined to retain unimpaired all the services on behalf of the religion inaugurated by his brother, and, when the latter died, he was succeeded by Tissa, who ruled for eighteen years. He rebuilt the Lohapāsāda after it was burnt down, and erected many vihāras — Dakkhiṇāgiri, Kallakālena, Kalambaka, Pettaṅgavālika, Velaṅgaviṭṭhika, Dubbalavāpitissaka, Dūratissaka, Mātuvihāraka, and Dīghavāpi. He built a vihāra to every league on the road from Anurādhapura to Dīghavāpi. He had two sons, Lañjatissa and Thūlathana.

Tissa was reborn after death in Tusita, and will be the second Chief Disciple of Metteyya Buddha. Mhv.xxii.73, 83; xxiv2 ff; xxxii.83; xxxiii.4‑17; Dpv.xx 2, 4 ff.

He was a very pious king, entirely devoted to the cause of religion. Various stories are mentioned about him in the Commentaries (See, e.g., Kālabuddharakkhita). He once walked five leagues to Maṅgana to pay his respects to Kujjatissa ) (AA.i.384 f). On another occasion, he gave snipe to a novice from Kanthakasāla-pariveṇa who would, however, accept only very little. Pleased with his moderation, the king paid him great honour (AA.i.264). He seems to have been specialty fond of the monks of Cetiyagiri (See VibhA.473). He was, apparently, also known as Dhammika Tissa. Dhammika Tissa once distributed one hundred cartloads of sugar lumps (guḷa) among twelve thousand monks. A seven year old novice was sent by a monk who had just come to Cetiyagiri from Anurādhapura to fetch for him some sugar, about the size of a kapittha fruit. The attendant offered to give him a plateful, but the novice refused to take so much. The king heard the conversation, and, pleased with the novice, sent a further four hundred cartloads of sugar to be given to the Order (e.g., SA.iii.48). See also the story of Kukkuṭagiri.

2. Saddhātissa.– A minister. He once gave to Piṇḍapatika-tissa Thera of Sudassana-padhānasāla a bowl of food that he had bought for eight kahapaṇas. The monk became an Arahant before eating it. The deity of the king’s parasol applauded and King Saddhā Tissa having sent for him gave him the district of Vaḍḍhamanananagara. Later he shared with 30,000 monks water brought to him by the devas during a drought. The king hearing of this gave him Antaraganga. Sometime afterwards he became a Stream-winner, gladdened by the sight of 12,000 monks walking round Ambatthala-cetiya clad in robes given by him. Ras.ii.9 f.