57. THE TIPITAKA BEING COMMITTED TO WRITING ON OLA (PALM) LEAVES DURING THE REIGN OF KING VATTAGAMANI ABHAYA
From the time of Buddha's life down to the time of King Vattagamani's reign, the Tipitaka forming the teachings of the Blessed One were handed down from generation to generation of monks by word of mouth, by being learnt by heart. During the reign of King Vattagdmani, however, trouble was given by Brahmana Tissa, who rose up in arms and there was also inference from Kings who were disbelievers in the Buddhist religion. The monks could not get enough food for their meals and had to make extraordinary efforts to retain in memory whatever parts of the Buddhist scriptures they had already learnt by heart.
This was a matter for anxiety as, if the monks in future could not commit the Tipitaka scriptures to memory and recite them, the scriptures might disappear altogether. They therefore sought the assistance of King Vattag-amani and held the Fourth Buddhist Council by committing the Tipitaka to writing on ota (palm) leaves.
The expression "Writing committed to palm leaves" has come into usage with reference to this first act of the letters of the alphabet being written down on ola (palm) leaves.