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The riots were rapidly put down by the British colonial government, but later this turned through various movements into the civil war in Sri Lanka which ended in 2009.
Various writers have called into question the morality of the account given in the Mahavamsa, where Dutugamunu regrets his actions in killing Ellalan and his troops.
It also briefly recounts the history of Buddhism in India, from the date of the Buddha's death to the 3rd Buddhist councils where the Dharma was reviewed.
Every chapter of the Mahavamsa ends by stating that it is written for the "serene joy of the pious".
This is considered by some critics as an ethical error.
Buddhists may also assert that killing an elephant is less skillful and wholesome than killing an ant.
In both cases, however, the intent must also be considered.
It was written based on prior ancient compilations known as the Atthakatha, which were commentaries written in Sinhala.
An earlier document known as the Dipavamsa(4th century CE) "Island Chronicles" is much simpler and contains less information than the Mahavamsa and was probably compiled using the Atthakatha on the Mahavamsa as well.