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H3.01   Restoration of Mahiyangana stupa begins - Buddha is said to have visited Mahiyangana nine months...

H3.02   Rankoth Vihara - The hallowed Buddhist Shrine of Panadura

H3.03   Historic Tantirimale Viharaya - Ven. Sanghamitta Therani and her retinue..

H3.04   Pillar Edicts of King Asoka - large number of edicts carved on rocks and stone pillars...

H3.05   The most sacred symbol of Buddhists : Dhammacakka is not a cog-wheel

H3.06   The Compassion of Buddha - design and the construction of the Southwestern Asian Buddha...

H3.07   Awakening a Sleeping Buddha - An Afghan archaeologist hopes to find...

H3.08   Buddhist relics unearthed in Taxila - Archaeological site of the Gandhara civilisation...

H3.09   Phases of early Buddhism in South India and Sri Lanka - The cause for this contrasting outcome...

H3.10   The Kapilavasthu Buddha relics and Sir Alexander Cunningham

H3.11   History of Mihintalava - The Sinhala civilisation dawned at Mihintalava...

H3.12   Adam's Peak, the mountain of Sacred Footprint of Sri Lanka: The History

H3.13   Sri Pada: Shrouded in legend and history

H3.14   Nalanda: The world's first university

H3.15  Abhayagiriya: The conservation of an archaeological edifice

H3.16   Tracing the origins of Rankoth Vihara - At its inception ‘Rankoth Vihara’ was known as ‘Galkande Vihara’...

H3.17   The Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka - Buddha is believed to have visited Lanka thrice and...

H3.18     Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka - According to Mahavamsa, Buddha could foresee...

H3.19   Did the Buddha visit Sri Lanka? Point of view

H3.20   Buddha's visit to Nagadeepa - Historical records reveal the Buddha's second visit...

H3.21   Buddha’s visits to Sri Lanka indisputable - Certain historians especially those prejudiced...

 

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H3.01    Restoration of Mahiyangana Stupa Begins

Gaveshaka continues to record significant events in September


Years of neglect following the decline of the ancient Sinhalese kingdom led to most of our historical treasures being ruined. The monumental work by the kings including the multi-storied royal palaces, huge Buddhist stupas and massive tanks and reservoirs were totally abandoned. The spread of diseases like malaria, made the situation worse when people left the 'Raja Rata' which was once labeled the granary of the east, and moved to other parts of the country. Mahiyangana on the banks of the Mahaveli river was one such place which was totally neglected.

Mahiyangana is a holy place for the Buddhists. The stanza to worship the sixteen places hallowed by the visits of the Buddha starts with 'Mahiyangnam Nagadipam, Kalyanam Padalaanchanam...' referring to Mahiyangana, Nagadipa, Kelaniya and Sri Pada following the order of the visits.

Mahiyangana stupa prior to restoration

Mahiyangana is mentioned first, since the Buddha is said to have visited Mahiyangana nine months after his enlightenment on the full moon of 'Phussa' (Dec – Jan). Foreseeing that the Dhamma would be established in Sri Lanka he came to dispel the members of the 'yakkha' clan. Having preached to them, the Buddha had promoted the 'yakkhas' to move over to another island called Giri.

In the gathering of the devas listening to the Buddha was Saman deviyo – God Saman, who was very impressed with the preaching. He requested the Buddha to leave behind something to be used as an item of worship. The Buddha gave him a lock of hair which he enshrined in a dagoba at the present site of the Mahiyangana stupa. Thus Mahiyangana became the first ever stupa to be built in Sri Lanka. And it happened during the lifetime of the Buddha.

The stupa was enlarged by Arahat Sarabhu to a height of 12 cubits after receiving and enshrining the collar bone relic of the Buddha taken from the funeral pyre. For the greater protection of the shrine, King Devanampiyatissa's brother, Prince Uddhaya Culabhaya covered it over and made it 30 cubits high. King Dutugemunu (161–137 BC) who was living in Mahiyangana while fighting the invading forces of the Cholas from South India, enlarged the stupa to 80 cubits high. It was subsequently rebuilt by Vijayabahu I.

An inscription dating from the 10th century gives an example of the unexpected benefits of pilgrimage. When King Udaya IV visited Mahiyangana on pilgrimage some of his subjects begged an audience with him and informed him of numerous malpractices in the local market. The king consequently ordered his officers to draw up new regulations for the better running of the market.

Sorabora wewa

Several of the kings of Kandy made pilgrimages to Mahiyangana. King Narendrasinghe went twice and King Veerawickrama performed the whole pilgrimage on foot. By the 19th century, Mahiyangana was a forgotten place and even access was most difficult. The whole area was virtually abandoned until recent times. Even after the roads were built, one of the most difficult routes was the road from Kandy to Mahiyangana passing Teldeniya and Hunnasgiriya. One had to negotiate 16 hairpin bends which was no easy task for drivers. Now the road has been widened and the bends are no longer a problem.

Mahiyangana stupa today

Restoration of the Mahiyangana stupa was talked about after Independence when a society was formed in 1949 to liaise with the Department of Archaeology and undertake the work. Restoration was started by Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake in September 1953.

Today Mahiyangana presents a totally different picture from what it was a few decades ago. It is a prosperous town in the Uva province and occupies a strategic position in the region. One can turn right and go to Bibile and turn left and proceed to Girandurukotte. Mahiyangana is 42 km from Kandy.

Sorabora wewa at Mahiyangana is a tank built by King Dutugemunu. Legend says that Bulatha, the person who cooked food for Dutugemunu's armed forces carried the rocks one by one on his shoulder and built the tank.

The sluice of the tank is considered a marvel because it has been built utilising the massive rock around it. The date of construction is mentioned as 162 BC on the display board set up by the Irrigation Department.

Today it irrigates about two thousand acres of paddy. The main dam is 1590 feet long.

Close to Mahiyangana is the Vedda country. Going along the road to Padiyatalawa, one can turn at the 90th km-post and reach Dambana village, the main location of indigenous people. It is close to Maduru Oya national park.

The annual Mahiyangana procession attracts large crowds. A highlight of the perahera is the participation of the Vedda community.

08 09 2007 - Sunday Times

 

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H3.02    Rankoth Vihara - The Hallowed Buddhist Shrine of Panadura

 

The total subjugation of Sri Lanka deprived the country of its independence. However, it gave the people the will and strength to fight the colonial rulers. The colonial rulers tried to drive a wedge between the people and the Buddhist clergy, for they realised that the alienation of the masses from the temple and the influence of bhikkhus is necessary to weaken any protest against them. Yet, the bhikkhus did not shirk the responsibility that had traditionally devolved on them.

The Rankoth Vihara

The bhikkhus gave leadership to the people and rekindled patriotism and religiosity. Many bhikkhus and monastic institutions played a key role in the national and religious awakening, the Rankoth Vihara in Panadura played a vital role in this endeavour.

Founding of Rankoth Vihara

Rankoth Vihara blossomed into what it is now from small beginnings. It was founded in 1810 by Ven. Batapola Kalyanatissa Thera, the chief disciple of the Most Venerable Sri Kataluwe Gunaratana Mahanayaka Thera, the founder of the Amarapura sect. The vihara was set up in a small hut in a quarry at Panadura. Hence it was known as the Galwale Pansala meaning 'the temple in the quarry', it was later called as Galkande Vihara.

In 1890 when the pinnacle of its Stupa was gilded it came to be known as Rankoth Vihara.

According to tradition the spot where the Vihara is built is a place of sanctity. There was a waterlogged place in the quarry which was inhabited by a large number of frogs. Cobras came to the spot to feed on frogs. One day the frogs attacked a cobra till it retreated. The carters who witnessed this miraculous happening, considered the spot suitable to construct a temple.

When Ven. Batapola Kalyanatissa Thera decided to settle down at this spot people applauded his courage to set up a temple. This was the time when there was a new rich class of Buddhists who were engaged in business, trade and other enterprises. With the generous support of the Buddhist entrepreneurs, the new temple was developed.

Subsequent developments

In 1821, a two-storied Sanghavasa was constructed; it was in 1863 that the Stupa was built on a huge rock, with the Bodhi tree just below it. The Buddhist devotees were so interested in developing the vihara complex that they lined up from the Panadura beach up to the temple and passed baskets of sand from hand to hand they had dug from the beach, so that the construction could be expedited.

It was in 1865 that the Buddha relics were enshrined in the dome of the Stupa. By 1894, a new shrine room was added to the temple complex. In 1930 the work of the "preaching hall" was completed. The new rampart around the Bodhi tree was completed in 1981. In 1987 the International Library was built to mark the academic contribution by Ven. Prof. Sri Moratuwe Sasanaratana Anunayaka Thera.

Most of the rapid development took place when Ven. Walpita Gunaratanatissa Thera headed this monastery, and the development work continues even at present.

Modern Buddhist revival

The Panadura Rankoth Vihara occupies an important place in the modern movement for Buddhist revival. Five great religious debates were held between the Buddhists and Christians in the 18th century. The fifth was held at a spot in close proximity to the Rankoth Vihara on August 26 and 28 1873 coincidentally its prime mover was Ven. Walpita Gunaratanatissa Nayaka Thera.

The chief spokesman for the Buddhists was the indefatigable debater, Ven. Mohottiwatte Gunananda Nayaka Thera.

The Christians were represented by Rev. David de Silva, and a catechist called Rev. Sirimanne. As a result of this debate the famed American, Sir Henry Steele Olcott visited Sri Lanka and guided the surging revivalist movement of Buddhists pioneered by the bhikkhus and the educated laity of Sri Lanka. This event itself has been significant enough to carve a special niche for the Panadura Rankoth Vihara in the annals of the modern Buddhist revivalist movement in Sri Lanka.

The Panadura Rankoth Vihara is remembered for securing the right of registering of Buddhist marriages by registrars of marriages which put an end to the colonial practice which made it mandatory that all marriages should be registered in the churches. Ven. Walpita Gunaratanatissa Nayaka Thera gave inspiration and leadership to the laity and collected signatures of the people and petitioned the British Government opposing the discriminatory law that was imposed on the Buddhist by the British authorities.

Sir Edwin Arnold, the author of "Light of Asia" visited the Rankoth Vihara and recorded that Henry Steele Olcott visited the temple and delivered a lecture.

Illustrious lineage

Rankoth Vihara has been fortunate to have the following eminent bhikkhus at its helm. Ven. Batapola Kalyanatissa Mahanayaka Thera (1810 - 1841), Ven. Walpita Sirisumanatissa Nayaka Thera (1841 - 1857), Ven. Walpita Gunaratanatissa Mahanayaka Thera (1857 - 1920), Ven. Panadure Gnanawimalatissa Nayaka Thera (1920 - 1929), Ven. Karagampitiye Jothiratana Anunayaka Thera (1929 - 1958), Ven. Prof. Moratuwe Sasanaratana Anunayaka Thera (1958 - 1981), Ven. Prof. Kahapola Sugatharatana Nayaka Thera (1981 - .....).

These prelates are illustrious members of the Sangha and some of them have been either the Mahanayakas or Anunayakas of the sect. The last mentioned two prelates have shown exceptional erudition as evidenced from the fact that both of them have attained professorial positions in the University of Kelaniya (formerly Vidyalankara University).

Ven. Prof. Moratuwe Sasanaratana is held in very high esteem as one of the eminent Buddhist scholars of modern times.

Monastic education

Rankoth Vihara has done yeoman service not only to the Buddhist revival activities but also to monastic education. The history of its Pirivena, Sri Sugatha Vidyalaya dates back to 1896. Its first principal was Ven. Weligama Sri Sumanagala Mahanayaka Thera. He was succeeded by Ven. Panadure Gnanawimalatissa Nayaka Thera. Some of the Mahanayakas of the Sect were students of this Pirivena.

Among its illustrious students are Aggamaha Pandita Beruwela Siriniwasa Mahanayaka Thera, Ven. Rajakeeya Pandit Kahanda Modara Sri Piyaratana Mahanayaka Thera, Ven Rajakeeya Pandit Ambalangoda Dhamma Kusala Mahanayaka Thera and Ven. Prof. Moratuwe Sasanaratana Thera. The fame of this Pirivena was such that in the early days the Most Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera himself had conducted religious examinations at this centre of education.

Laity's contribution

The Buddhist laity of Panadura contributed immensely to the development and sustenance of this Vihara. While the public contributed their mite, the affluent and the educated generously shouldered its developmental projects. Thus, it could be rightly said that the Panadura Rankoth Vihara amongst its many facets serves also as a symbol of the religiosity and devotion of the Panadura Buddhist population.

03 10 2010 - Sunday Observer

 

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H3.03    Historic Tantirimale Viharaya
 

In ancient chronicles Tantirimale was known as Tivakka Bamunugama. Prof. J.B. Dissanayaka in his treatise "Tantirimale ascribes Tivakka Bamunugama" to a brahmin after whom it was named.

In ancient times villages were named after its creators. Upatinagama as named after Upatissagama, a Minister in the Royal Court.

Ven. Sanghamitta Therani and her retinue on their way to Anuradhapura with the Sacred Bo-Sapling, took abode temporarily at Tivakka Bamunugama.

Of the original eight saplings of the Sacred Bo-Tree at Anuradhapura, one was planted at Thivakka Bamunugama on Royal decree. This is an acknowledged of the high position commanded by Tivakka Bamunu at that time. It is this Bo-Sapling which has grown to its fulls status, survives upto date. According to another school of thought Tantirimale was also known as Tantrayanaya, a version of Buddhism observed by some people.

Epigraps written in Brahmical letters one found at the old Tantirimale Temple. Though the murals in a cave close to Tantirimale do not represent any Jataka story, it is supposed to be the work of the oldest inhabitants of Sri Lanka.

At the end of Anuradhapura period misfortune dawned upon Tantirimale with numerous enemy invasion taking place.

At his initiative people were re-settled around the temple and Tantirimale turned to be the cynosure of Buddhist revival.

Recent civil disturbance had its impact at this temple as well. However, the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the country paved the path for the devotees to throng to Tantirimale again, Ven. Tantirimale Chandraratne Thera said.

On Poson Poya Day a religious program will be conducted under the patronage of 'Silumina' and 'Dinamina'.

The Ven. Thera thanked ANCL Chairman, Nalin Ladduwahetty, Attorny-at-Law, Editorial Director, Bandula Padmakumara and the Lake House staff for their active involvement.

Tantirimale is accessible through Maha Vilachchiya, a distance of 36 kilo metres and also along Medawachchiya-Mannar Road and Gajasinghapura.


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H3.04    Pillar Edicts of King Asoka

Lionel Wijesiri

King Asoka, father of Arahat Maha Mahinda Thera was the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty. He has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary kings in world history. His given name was Asoka but he assumed the title Devanampiya Piyadassi which means "Beloved-of-the-Gods, He Who Looks On With Affection." The British historian H.G. Wells once said: "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history ... the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star."

Although Buddhist literature preserved the legend of this king, definitive historical records of his reign were lacking.

In the nineteenth century, a large number of edicts carved on rocks and stone pillars were discovered in India, proving the existence of King Asoka. These edicts, found scattered in more than 30 places throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are mainly concerned with moral principles Asoka recommended, his conversion to Buddhism, his personality and his success as a king.

Most of them are written in Brahmi script from which all Indian scripts and many of those used in Southeast Asia later developed. The language used in the edicts found in the eastern part of the sub-continent is a type of Magadhi, probably the official language of Asoka's court. The language used in the edicts found in the western part of India is closer to Sanskrit and the edicts in Afghanistan is written in Aramaic and Greek. King Asoka's edicts, have survived throughout the centuries because they are written on rocks and stone pillars. These pillars in particular are testimony to the technological and artistic genius of ancient Indian civilization.

The inscriptions have been divided into few categories: Major Rock Edicts - Fourteen edicts and the two separate edicts found at sites in Kalinga. Minor Rock Inscriptions - The Minor Rock Edict, the Queen's Edict, the Barabar Cave Inscriptions, and the Kandahar bilingual Inscriptions - The Pillar Edicts.

The Fourteen Rock Edicts were the major edicts, and issued the principles of the government. Some of these edicts speak of the principles of dharma and religious toleration. The Minor Edicts is a summary of Asoka's instruction of dharma, talking about the purity of thoughts and other good morals of life. The Seven Pillar Edicts deals with some achievements of Samudragupta.

The Pillar Edicts

Following is a summary of the contents found in the seven pillar edicts as adapted from the book - "Buddha's World". The translation is not a literal one. The emphasis has been on providing a readable version of the original inscriptions.

1st Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: It is hard to obtain happiness in this world and the next without extreme love of Dhamma, much vigilance, much obedience, much fear of sin, and extreme energy. But, through my instructions, care for Dhamma and love of Dhamma have grown from day to day, and will continue to grow. My subordinates too, whether high or low or of middle station, endorse it and practise it sufficiently to win over the wavering, and likewise do the frontier official. For this is my principle: to protect through Dhamma, to administer affairs according to Dhamma, to please the people with Dhamma, to guard the empire with Dhamma.

2nd Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: Dhamma is good. And what is Dhamma? It is having few faults and many good deeds, mercy, charity, truthfulness, and purity. I have given the gift of insight in various forms. I have conferred many benefits on man, animals, birds, and fish, even to saving their lives, and I have done many other commendable deeds. I have had this inscription of Dhamma engraved that men may conform to it and that it may endure. He who conforms will do well.

3rd Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: One only notices one's good deeds, thinking, 'I have done good', but on the other hand one does not notice one's wicked deeds, thinking, 'I have done evil', or 'this is indeed a sin'. Now, to be aware of this is something really difficult. But nevertheless one should notice this and think, 'Cruelty, harshness, anger, pride, and envy, these are indeed productive of sin.' let them not be the cause of my fall. And this one should especially notice, thinking, 'This is important to my happiness in this world; that, on the other hand, for the next.'

4th Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: Just as one entrusts his child to an experienced nurse, and is confident that the experienced nurse is able to care for the child satisfactorily, so my rajukas (rural officers) have been appointed for the welfare and happiness of the country people. In order that they may fulfil their functions fearlessly, confidently, and cheerfully, I have given them independent authority in judgment and punishment. But it is desirable that there should be uniformity in judicial procedure and punishment.

5th Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: When I had been consecrated for twenty-six years I forbade the killing of a large number of species of animals, On the eighth, fourteenth, and fifteenth days of the fortnight, on the days of the star Tisya and Punarvasu, on the three first full moons of the four-monthly seasons, and on festival days, bulls, goats rams, boars, and other animals which it is customary to castrate are not to be castrated. On the days of the stars Tisya and Punarvasu, on the first full moon days of the four-monthly seasons, and on the fortnights following them, cattle and horses are not to be branded. In the period [from my consecration] to [the anniversary on which] I had been consecrated twenty-six years, twenty-five releases of prisoners have been made.

6th Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: When I had been consecrated for twelve years I had an inscription of Dhamma, engraved for the welfare and happiness of the world. Whoever follows it should obtain progress in Dhamma in various ways. Thus do I provide for the welfare and happiness of the world - in the same way as I bring happiness to my relatives, both close and distant and work for it, so do I provide for all sects. I honour all sects with various kinds of reverence, and I consider visiting them in person to be most important. When I had been consecrated for twenty-six years I had this inscription of Dhamma engraved.

7th Pillar Edict

Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi says: This idea occurred to me. In the past kings sought to make the people progress ... but they did not . . . How then could people be made to conform to Dhamma and increase their interest in it? . . . How could I elevate them through devotion to Dhamma? I shall make them hear proclamations of Dhamma, and instruct them with the knowledge of Dhamma. When they have heard this, the people will endorse it and will be elevated, and will progress greatly in Dhamma.. For this reason there have been proclamations of Dhamma and many instructions of Dhamma were ordered, and my administrators were appointed over many people; they will admonish them and explain Dhamma to them.

On the roads I have had banyan trees planted, which will give shade to beasts and men, I have had mango-groves planted and I have had wells dug and rest houses built at every eight kos. And I have had many watering places made every-where for the use of beasts and men. I have done these things in order that my people might conform to Dhamma.

My officers of Dhamma are busy in many matters of public benefit; they are busy among members of all sects, both ascetics and householders. I have appointed some to concern themselves with the Buddhist Order, with Brahmans and Ajivikas, with the Jainas .... and with various sects. There are many categories of officers with a variety of duties, but my officers of Dhamma are busy with the affairs of these and other sects.

Whatever good deeds I have done, the world has consented to them and followed them. Thus obedience to mother and father, obedience to teachers, deference to those advanced in age, and regard for Brahmans and Sramanas, the poor and wretched, slaves and servants, have increased and will increase.

The advancement of Dhamma amongst men has been achieved through two means, legislation and persuasion. But of these two, legislation has been less effective, and persuasion more so. I have proclaimed through legislation for instance that certain species of animals are not to be killed, and other such ideas. But men have increased their adherence to Dhamma by being persuaded not to insure living beings and not to take life. I have done all this so that among my sons and great grandsons and as long as the sun and moon endure, men may follow Dhamma.

We have no way of knowing how effective King Asoka's reforms were or how long they lasted but we do know that monarchs throughout the ancient Buddhist world were encouraged to look to his style of government as an ideal to be followed.

King Asoka has to be credited with the first attempt to develop a Buddhist polity. Today, with widespread disillusionment in prevailing ideologies and the search for a political philosophy that goes beyond greed, hatred and delusion, King Asoka's edicts may make a meaningful contribution to the development of a more spiritually based political system.


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H3.05    The Most Sacred Symbol of Buddhists : Dhammacakka is not a cog wheel

Nemsiri Mutukumara

India, or Jambudvipa (Dambadiva in Sinhala to the millions of predominantly Sinhala Buddhist pilgrims visiting to pay homage to Buddha Gaya, the sacred place where Bodhisatta attained Supreme Enlightenment as Sakyamuni Gothama Buddha, Isipatana in Varanasi where the sublime Teaching was first proclaimed as the wheel of Righteousness and Kusinara where the Sakyamuni Buddha passed away into Parinibbana at Lumbini in Nepal where Bodhisatta - the-Buddha-to-be was born, failed to maintain and protect the Buddha and His Teachings, Sri Lanka within a matter of two-and-half centuries took upon herself the sacred historic task of accepting wholeheartedly and cherishing the Buddha, the Buddha, Dhamma and Buddha-putras in a manner unprecedented in human history.

Led by the King and the Court to the lowliest and the humblest considered them as custodians of the Buddha Sasana right throughout for 2311 years from the day of the advent of Arhat Thera Mahinda who arrived at Mihintalava and met the ruling monarch King Devanampiyatissa.

Sakyamuni Buddha is represented by His Dhamma and His disciples are the Dhammadutas whose duty is to "Wander, for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, for showering forth compassion on the world; for the good, for the gain, for the welfare of gods and men." Vinaya Pitaka 1, 23)

He has already delivered the message of Truth He discovered to His erstwhile colleagues with whom He was searching for the Truth when He met them at the Deer Park in Isipatana in Varanasi on the Esala fullmoon day two months after He realized the Truth at Buddha Gaya.

Sakyamuni Buddha proclaimed the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta which embodied the Noble Eightfold Path - the Ariya Atthangika Magga and the Four Noble Truth (Catur Ariya Sacca).

The Buddha on His way from Buddha Gaya to Varanasi to preach the Dhamma, meeting a stranger on the way when asked whither the Buddha was giving, said unto the stranger, that "he was proceeding to the city of Kasis in order to set rolling the wheel of the Dhamma. This is the first time that this idiom is used to refer to the preaching of the Dhamma and it is used by the Buddha Himself at the very beginning of his Ministry. The forward or progressive revolving movement of the wheel is indicative of advance and extension. (Encyclopedia of Buddhism: Vol. IV Pg. 470)

"Dhammacakkam pavattitam appativattiyam" the Buddha said: which means, that this Truth - universal message of the Buddha shall remain unchallenged everywhere, at all times. None would be able to challenge its veracity and turn it back.

With the first sermon, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, came into being the wheel of the Law.

In a further explanation, the Encyclopedia of Buddhism Pg. 472 states: "Here the wheel, obviously intended to represent the Buddha aniconically, is honoured with a garland which is pendent from its hub in keeping with the canonical tradition of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta ...... A group of visiting pilgrims, some on foot and others in a chariot drawn by four horses, are shown circumambulating the shrine (i.e., performing pradakshina). An elephant leads part of the group who appear to be coming out having completed their pradakshina. Two persons are shown standing within the shrine in the posture of adoration. On the roof of the shrine the words bhagavato dhamma cakkam: 'Buddha's Wheel of the Law' are inscribed.

The Wheel which turns independently is synonymous with the Buddha.

For several centuries, the Wheel and the Bodhi Tree became symbols of homage and veneration until the Buddha image was sculptured during the reign of Emperor Kanishka (78-101 A.C.E. After the Common Era). Under his auspices the Fourth Buddhist Council was held in his capital Purushapura which is now called Peshawar.

In his capital, Emperor Kanishka built a stupa - considered to be one of the largest of its kind in India eliciting wonder and admiration for many centuries.

Dr. Debala Mitra, Director General of Archaeological Survey, India, in her monumental masterpiece, titled "Buddhist Monuments" states with the Fourth Buddhist Council emerged a liberal interpretation of the Dhamma was evolved, the image of the Buddha, a manifestation of bhakti, which incidentally met a genuine spiritual craving and devotional impulse of the masses.

Gandhara and Mathura followed by Taksa-sila, in the North-West, Amaravati and Nagarjun's Konda, Goli and Gummadiduru in Andhra Region went on carving slab after slab with figures of the Buddha whom they had so far represented by means of symbols only."

(Buddhist Monuments Pg. 14)

For nearly five centuries, the Wheel and the Bodhi Tree flourished in Viharas and Cetiyas as the highest object of worship.

One of the earliest Wheel Symbols are found in the Sanci Stupa.

"A Wheel of considerable proportions is placed firmly on two-tiered pedestal, the whole monument reading to a height well above the heads of the standing worshippers. The presence of deer, freely mingling in the congregation is reminiscent of the deer park (Migadaya) at Isipatana. This undoubtedly marks an early aniconic representation of the preaching of the first sermon."

(Encyclopedia of Buddhism: Vol. IV Pg. 472)

In almost all cave sculpture during this period, the image of the Buddha was not portrayed.

Archaeologist-Historian Vincent A. Smith says "Images of the Buddha were not known in the time of Asoka and are consequently absent from his sculptures. The Teacher is represented by symbols only, the empty seat, the pair of footprints, the wheel."

(Asoka - the Buddhist Emperor of India Pg. 138)

In the Barhut Stupa of the First Century B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) also shows the Wheel placed on a pedestal in a specially built place.

"It is to be noted that even at this early stage, parts of the wheel, its hub and the rim are ornamented with floral decorations. Here the wheel obviously intended represent the Buddha aniconically, is honoured with a garland which is pendent from the hub in keeping with the canonical tradition of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta ........

A group of visiting pilgrims, some on foot, and others in a chariot drawn by four horses, are shown circumambulating the shrine (i.e. performing pradakshina). An elephant leads part of the group who appear to be coming out having completed their pradakshina. Two persons are shown standing within the shrine in the posture of adoration. On the roof of the shrine the words bhagavato Dhamma cakam: "Buddha's Wheel of the Law' are inscribed. Zimmer, in his "Art of Indian Asia" Pl. 36c identifies this scene as King Prasenajit driving in a chariot to worship the Sacred Wheel. A scene very similar to this is depicted on a railing of the same stupa (see EB III 4. PL CXII). The total composition of the scenes, with vehicles, men and animals on the move, and persons depicted in the postures veneration reflect the idea of a cetiyacarika or a pilgrimage to a holy shrine referred to in the same sutta (D.II.P. 141).

"Thus in Buddhist Art where the concept of the Dhammacakka reached its peak of development, it plays a dual role. It has a symbolic value where it stands aniconically, like the Bodhi Tree and the Stupa to represent the Buddha and a narrative value where it depicts the preaching of the First Sermon of setting in motion the Wheel of the Law - Dhammacakkapavattana.

(Encyclopedia of Buddhism: Vol. IV P. 472. Jotiya Dhirasekera)

(Professor Jotiya Dhirasekera, after retirement has entered the Sacred Order of the Bhikkhu Sangha. He is now in his 11th year as Professor Bhikkhu Dhammavihari.) In as much as the Buddha is revered and devotedly venerated as 'Accariya Manussa', the Dhamma, the Buddha delivered, is universal and 'it holds good irrespective of the appearance or otherwise of the Buddhas in the world', and the Buddha was synonymous with The Dhammacakka (Pali) and (Dharmacakra (Sanskrit) and Damsak (Sinhala).

People all over the world look up to Sri Lanka which gave the world the written Tipitaka and protect and maintain the original Bodhi Tree's Southern Branch in Anuradhapura, the Buddha, Dhamma and the sacred emblems and symbols associated with the Teaching in its authentic and unadulterated form.

Two such sacred symbols are the six-colour Buddhist Flag and the Wheel of the Dhamma or the Dhammacakka.

In 1950, eminent Buddhist Prelates and leading Buddhists from many parts of the world descended on Lanka to set up an International Buddhist Organisation. They belonged to all three Buddhist fraternities - Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana (the Lamas). They were unanimous in most of their deliberations. The six-colour Buddhist Flag, that Sri Lanka presented to the world Buddhists as the Flag of Buddhists was adopted as the official Flag of the new organisation - the World Fellowship of Buddhists - WFB.

The Dhammacakka with eight spokes was accepted as the Emblem of the WFB. These two symbols are now known throughout the world and with great joy and satisfaction the two emblems - in cloth, paper, wood and plastics are depicted on days of Buddhist festivals.

The Buddha Day in April in Japan, the Vesak Day in May around the globe, the six-colour and the Wheel of the Law create every Buddhist locality a new look - a look of peace and harmony.

Regrettably, since of late, the very Sri Lankans who consider the country as "the repository of the Buddha Dhamma. It cherished the name and the teachings with surpassing, affection for two thousand years and a quarter from that day when King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 BCE) received them on behalf of his people from the saintly son of the Indian Emperor Asoka" (D.T. Devendra: The Buddha Image and Ceylon P-1) have totally and miserably failed to depict the Dhammacakka - the Wheel Emblem in its correct form.

What is shown in flags, plastic billboards, gateways to many viharas and Buddhist Centres, Letterhead designs and above all the advertisements on Vesak Poya Day. Newspapers in all three languages Sinhala, Tamil and English show beyond an atom of doubt that those items have generated from totally ignorant sources.

Unashamedly, the Wheel Emblem is drawn as a Cog-Wheel resembling the logo of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

We shall not hesitate, at this stage too - as we did a few days after Vesak to offer our most profound expression of gratitude on behalf of all Buddhists to the "Daily News" for publishing the six-colour Buddhist Flag and the Wheel of the Truth - Dhammacakka emblem in its authentic form.

This writer has written to those Advertising Agencies and their patrons as well, drawing their attention to their callous and most ignoble attitude to the most sacred object of worship of the Buddhists.

Unlike the six-colour Buddhist Flag, the Wheel of the Truth symbol need no standard.

The only standard the Wheel should illustrate is simply a Wheel and Not a Cog-Wheel.

Within the Wheel there can be spokes from eight which indicates the Noble Eightfold Path; Eight worldly conditions, Ten to show the Dasa Raja Dharma and so on. Now the "Daily News" has given the lead. Let us follow the noble example.

18 06 2003 - Daily News

 

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H3.06    The Compassion of Buddha

 

Choe Chong-Dae

 

Seoul, South Korea -- I have had a couple of opportunities to visit the famous British Museum in London. Having been able to appreciate countless valuable collections of artifacts in museums all throughout the world, I was nevertheless particularly fascinated by a unique ancient statue on display at the British Museum; that is, the "Standing Statue of Buddha," sculptured in Gandhara (now in northwestern Pakistan) during the Kusan Period, in the 3rd century A.D.

The majestic Buddha image in that statue appears as bold as the image of Apollo, and is sharply dressed in garments resembling those on Greek and on Roman imperial statues. This impressive Buddhist figure was definitely influenced by Hellenic art styles, characterized by heavy linear depiction of draped-clothing folds, by strong muscular physiques and by deep-set facial features, including masculine nose and wavy hair.

Although I sincerely and respectfully feel the Standing Statue of Buddha is unique I nonetheless strongly felt, on viewing it, as if I were standing in front of one of the graceful Buddha images from the ancient Shilla Kingdom in Korea. The Gandhara region has long been a major crossroads of cultural exchange between the East and West - ever since Alexander the Great's expedition to India - thereby producing the first Buddhist images in the East, influenced by the Hellenic culture and art. It is therefore pointed out by many scholars the remarkable Gandhara Buddhist culture had played significant roles as a "bridge" between the Western and Eastern cultures, thereby creating a unique civilization in all its glory and splendor.

Recent art historians have surmised the design and the construction of the Southwestern Asian Buddha images originated from two different areas of the Indian subcontinent - namely, Gandhara and Mathra - with the statues intended as objects of Buddhist worship. According to historical records and to archaeological research, Silla Buddhism in Korea was introduced from what is now northern India and Central Asia through the Northern Silk Road and routes in northern China which had been established as trade routes between East Asia and the Middle East ever since the Scythian expansion toward East Asia commencing in the 5th century B.C. - thereby resulting in cultural influences even on the Silla Buddhist images, here in Korea.
I am not an adherent to Buddhism. But I have visited numerous ancient Buddhist temples over the years, due to my quite enthusiastic interest in the Buddhist cultural heritage. My most recent fond memory and endearing image of travels to monasteries associated with Buddhist artworks of great tranquility and beauty are those of the "Katpawi" Buddha, on Mt. Palgong in Taegu.

The Katpawi Buddha statue - with a large octagonal stone hat, on his head - is nestled atop the Kwangbong peeak at the eastern end of Mt. Palgong. It is a seated Buddha of Medicine from the 7th century A.D. during the Silla Dynasty, gazing out over the southern foothills of Mt. Palgong. The thin lips of his closed mouth and his stout body give the impression of majestic mercy. With its quiet smile, the image gave me a sense of human warmth, and thereby it reminded me of the Gandhara Buddha.

According to legend, those who pray to this Katpawi Buddha, on the first and fifteenth full days of each month on the lunar calendar, will achieve their desires. It is, thus, well-known for its efficacy in relation to people's prayers. Particularly when the annual date for entrance examinations for universities rolls around, the Katpawi is more crowded than ever with people coming from throughout Korea. During my recent visit to the Katpawi Buddha, surprisingly enough I came across some of my colleagues who are Christian but had been offering respects to this Katpawi Buddha, and prayers for their wishes, due to their belief that the Buddha has mythical superpowers. I assume any achievement of their desires, after praying at the Katpawi Buddha, resulted from Buddha sharing with them his compassion, and his mercy, in view of the sincere respect of the Buddhist image they displayed - regardless of differences in religions.

In the course of the history of mankind many saints were born, and they had devoted themselves to saving people from suffering. Having transcended the community of nations and of tribes the founders of religions, such as Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammad, or Confucius, have enlightened us with universal truth leading to eternal solutions of life, and of the afterlife. Although their teachings, and expressions, differ from each other, there are similarities amongst their teachings, in terms of general truths sharing compassion, tolerance, mercy, benevolence and love. These founders of religions have therefore been highly admired by many people, regardless of their religion.

Pope John Paul II, who recently passed away, was highly revered by many people, as a great spiritual leader, across religious, and political differences - because he made great contributions to the peace of the world by dissemination of love, peace and reconciliation around the world. We could learn a lesson from the late Pope and great saints, who made great contributions by sharing, with us, their compassion, mercy, harmony, peace and love for all of us, no matter which belief we profess - transcending religion, race, ideology, philosophy and nationality.

It was a great pleasure for me to see, once again, the Gandhara "Standing Statue of Buddha" - now on exhibition at the Seoul Art Center, together with various artifacts from the British Museum. Both of the said statues - namely, the Katpawi and Gandhara Buddha images - were so instrumental in bridging East and West, in ways that share us with us the Buddha's compassion.

The writer is president of Dae-kwang International and Korean representative of Compagnie Cotonniere of Paris, France. He is also a founding member of the Korean-Swedish Association.
 

09 05 2005 - The Korea Times

 

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H3.07    Awakening a Sleeping Buddha

 

Marc Kaufman

 

An Afghan archaeologist hopes to find an ancient 1,000-foot-long statue in the Bamian Valley where the Taliban blew up two huge cliff-side Buddhas

Bamiyan, Afghanistan -- The world looked on helplessly four years ago as Islamic zealots destroyed two enormous standing Buddha statues overlooking Afghanistan's Bamian Valley, but recent explorations at the ancient site have led researchers to conclude that all may not have been lost. A third, much larger statue  a 1,000-foot-long sleeping Buddha may still be buried nearby.

Inspired by the writings of a Chinese pilgrim almost 1,400 years ago, Afghanistan's foremost archaeologist is leading a dig within view of the cliff walls where the two Buddhas once stood. The initial goal is to find the ancient monastery that the Chinese traveler Xuanzang described around A.D. 630, and then the gigantic reclining Buddha that he said was inside.

The leader of the dig, Zemaryalai Tarzi, is optimistic that important discoveries lie under the soil, and he will return to Bamian this summer to continue the excavation.

If the reclining Buddha is there, Tarzi and others say, the statue would be a major archaeological treasure and would help restore the Bamian Valley to the top ranks of world heritage sites.

"If indeed Xuanzang's tales are true," Tarzi says, he is digging for "the largest reclining statue ever made in the artistic world." Because the pilgrim was remarkably accurate in describing the gigantic size and location of the two standing Buddhas, Tarzi says there is good reason to believe his account of the reclining Buddha, as well.

To some, the search is a quixotic one. If the ancient Chinese pilgrim is to be believed, the sleeping Buddha is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall. How could such a monumental structure disappear underground, some ask, and how could it be salvageable if it still exists?

ANSWERS AND EVIDENCE

Tarzi has possible answers: The statue could have been deliberately buried centuries ago by devotees to protect it from invading Muslim armies, or it could have been covered after a major earthquake. But more important, his team has begun uncovering at the site clay figures and sophisticated structures that lend support to his grand theory.

Last summer, the dig uncovered a wall that Tarzi is convinced is part of the ancient monastery that housed the huge statue. Excavators also have discovered several dozen sculptures of Buddha heads and other statue fragments, some dating as far back as the 3rd century. At the very end of the digging season, Tarzi found evidence as well of what he believes may be part of a huge statuary foot.

He is aware of the professional skepticism surrounding his quest some have said the reported size of the structure has been misunderstood, while others suggest that the reclining "statue" may have been an outcropping of rock that reminded the religious of a sleeping Buddha but he insists the evidence is clear.

The work is sufficiently tantalizing that the government of France and the National Geographic Society have funded Tarzi's efforts, and the dig will be featured in a television special.

After problems with a local warlord stopped work several summers ago, Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave his formal approval for the dig and has helped supply 24-hour security for the site. An organization founded by Tarzi's daughter Nadia, the San Francisco-based Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology (www.apaa.info), is also raising money for the joint Afghan-French dig.

Afghanistan is overwhelmingly Muslim now, but for centuries it had a flourishing Buddhist culture. One of its highest expressions was at Bamian a fertile valley high in the Hindu Kush.

Once a way station along the Silk Road between China and the Middle East, researchers believe Bamian was home to monasteries housing as many as 5,000 monks at its zenith in the A.D. 500s and 600s. They also believe Bamian was the site of some of the first statues to ever show the face of Buddha, who had previously been represented as a footprint or an umbrella.

By the 10th century, the area had converted to Islam, which generally views human representations as idolatry, but for centuries afterward the Bamian Buddhas remained a central and widely embraced part of Afghan heritage and culture. While several earlier rulers considered the statues sacrilegious and inflicted minor damage, only the Taliban and al-Qaida took concerted action to destroy them.

QUEST BEGAN LONG AGO

In March 2001, they used artillery, bombs and ultimately dynamite over several days to bring the statues down.

Tarzi actually began his quest for the sleeping Buddha well before the Taliban came into the world, even before his homeland began its descent into war and chaos in the late 1970s. He oversaw earlier efforts to repair and stabilize the standing Buddhas which were more than 170 and 120 feet high, respectively and was well aware of the report by the Chinese monk Xuanzang of the reclining Buddha. But he did not feel any real urgency back then.

Instead, he fled Afghanistan with his family in 1979, and lived, studied and taught archaeology in France for more than 20 years. He did not return to his country until 2002, after the huge niches cut into the cliffs that face the town of Bamian had been emptied of their ancient treasures. Less well known is that the Taliban and looters also stripped ancient frescos and other artwork from hundreds of rooms and corridors dug into the cliffs alongside the giant Buddhas.

Tarzi has no illusions about what condition the reclining Buddha will be in if he finds it. Reclining or sleeping Buddhas ? created to represent the Buddha as he prepared to enter nirvana are generally in close contact with soil and mud. In addition, it was most likely made of mud and plaster and would have degraded significantly below ground.

But discovering a pristine, gold-covered statue was never the hope. Rather, Tarzi's goal is to uncover and highlight the archaeological importance of a site many thought had been destroyed forever.

"The Bamian Valley was one of the most important places along the Silk Road and is just filled with undiscovered finds," said archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, a National Geographic Fellow and expert on the region. "Whether Tarzi uncovers this particular statue is important, but there's a lifetime worth of other discoveries, too."

In March 2001, the Taliban used bombs and dynamite to bring down the statues more than 170 and 120 feet high, respectively. They also stripped ancient artwork from hundreds of rooms dug into the cliffs.

Bamian was believed to be the site of monasteries housing as many as 5,000 monks.

12 02 2005 - Washington Post

 

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H3.08    Buddhist relics unearthed in Taxila

 

 

WAH CANTT, Pakistan -- The archaeology department's preservation and restoration team has discovered eight antiquities consisting fragments including the sculpture of future Buddha, god Indra and his bodyguard dating back to the first century AD.

The antiquities had been discovered during the preservation work at the ancient and world famous archaeological site of the Gandhara civilisation locally known as the Dharmarajika Stupa and monastery which dates back to 3rd century BC to 5th Century AD situated about 3.5 kilometers north east of the Taxila Museum.

The department officials had confirmed that these antiquities include landmark, precious and rare discovery of a statue depicting ?the reappearance of Buddha?. According to the Buddhist mythology, Buddha would reappear before the end of the universe and the newly discovered fragment depicts the scene.

According to Buddhist belief another Buddha, Maitreya - the future Buddha, will come to earth at a specific time by leaving Tushita heaven to establish the lost truths in their purity. He is the only Bodhisattva known to Hinayana and Mahayan sects of Buddhism. Bodhisattva means a sentient or reasonable being. Bodhisattvas like the Buddha are honoured. It is said that a monk artist from Swat valley visited Tushita heaven to meet Bodhisattva Maitreya and carved the image when he returned to earth.

Another precious and exclusive discovery is the statue of god Indra. The Indra god was the god of nature and according to the Buddhist mythology and Vedic Pantheon the thunder god Indra had attained a prominent position. Buddhist adopted numerous gods from Hinduism but modified their characteristics and importance.

Sidhartha, Buddha, visited Indrasala cave and was asked some philosophical questions, which he answered very easily, thus god Indra and Brahma entreated Buddha to start preaching Buddhism. Another remarkable discovery is the statue depicting the bodyguard of Buddha, which was named in Buddhism as VajraPani.

The fragment of Corinthian capital was also discovered. Corinthian order was used in Magna, Garcia and Sicily from early third century. Its bell shaped capital enveloped with acanthus leaves characterises it. It became favourite order of the Romans. It said that a certain Greek sculptor got the inspiration after he saw a basked full of acanthus leaves over the grave of a beautiful Corinthian girl.

Two female headless figures, one of which depicts three segments of relief of Buddha are also included in the new discoveries. The archaeologists after the preliminary examination of these newly discovered antiquities here at Sub Regional Office in Taxila said that these newly discovered fragments were made of grape black schist and green phylite. The antiquities come from the early stage of the fist or second century AD.

The site where these new discoveries had been made had a significant status in Gandhra civilisation. The Dharmarajika stupa and monastery were probably the earliest in Pakistan, archaeologists said. Either 'Dharma Raja' or the righteous King Ashok of Mauryan dynasty in the 3rd Century BC, built the stupa. The stupa was a source of inspiration and a place of attraction from the beginning of the Buddhist religion and was later reconstructed during the time of King Kanisha, in the 5th Century AD.

Sir Johan Marshall explored the site first in 1920s and a large number of precious antiquities including fragments were discovered.

22 11 2004 - Daily Times

 

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H3.09    Phases of early Buddhism in South India and Sri Lanka

Rajitha Weerakoon

 

Sri Lanka, having preserved Buddhism in its purest form since its introduction in 236 BC, was undisputedly the key player in the 2600th Sambuddhathva Jayanthi celebrations. But what caused Buddhism to flourish in Sri Lanka as opposed to the country of the Buddha’s birth where Buddhism has little relevance today?

The cause for this contrasting outcome was traced by Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne, the Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Peradeniya and former Director-General of the Central Cultural Fund during a lecture tour in Chennai some years back when he spoke on “The social base of early Buddhism in South India and Sri Lanka”. During a subsequent interview, he spoke about the shared historical legacy of Sri Lanka and Southern India when he identified the social formations in the two countries at the time of the early spread of Buddhism and the period prior to this era. His study was based on historical and archaeological research.

Tracing the technological, cultural and subsistence patterns between Sri Lanka and South India, Professor Seneviratne travelled back to prehistoric times, long before the birth of ideologies so the picture of the gradual development was clear. He stated that some very early sites from the Middle Stone Age of the Megalithic Period discovered in Sri Lanka dating to around 30,000BC (which have been extensively cross-dated) suggest that the settlers may have descended from India. Sites discovered had been identified as similar to those in Tirunaveli District and elsewhere in the southern most parts of India.

The next is the period around 1000 BC when the intrusions took place in the early Iron Age at the time the Protohistoric Megalithic black and redware culture existed. But the critical elements that kicked off the beginnings of history in Sri Lanka Professor Seneviratne stated was the commencement of the use of metal and ceramics, the introduction of domesticated varieties of animals and plants especially paddy and the initiation of the earliest village culture with small crafts like bead and pottery-making taking place.

The most interesting aspects of this culture he pointed out were the introduction of burial cults or the memorials. The associated ceramic ware called black and redware bear the postfiring graffitti marks. This phase continued into the early historical period, chronologically identified as the 4th and the 3rd centuries BC when North Indian ideologies like Buddhism and Jainism entered South India and Sri Lanka.

Trade routes

Archaeological evidence from Amaravati, an ancient city which was situated in Southern India, where luxury items such as Northern black polishedware were discovered reveal that there were intrusions from Northern India to the South prior to the Mauryan period. These movements had taken place between the 6th century BC – the time of the Buddha and the 3rd century BC through the Southern trade routes. The Dhakshinapatha or the Southern trade routes mentioned even in Kautilya’s Arthsastra were functioning along the east coast of India’s looping trade network. The long-distance trade network was coming from the Gangetic delta to the South touching Sri Lanka. Ideologies were travelling along these trade routes. The episode of the trading brothers – Thapassu and Bhalluka, documented as the first to be converted by Buddha during His Lifetime who after the conversion and their trade deals arrived in Sri Lanka and built the first sthupa – Thiriyaya, illustrates this point.

According to Professor Seneviratne, either specialized traders were carrying trading items or there was a down-the-line exchange where items were moving on their own from community to community and from one centre to another. The chank (conch) shell, a specific luxury item found in the Gulf of Mannar was found in the Northern Indian excavated sites. The trade of pearls, again from the Gulf of Mannar is mentioned in early Indian Pali texts. Later, the Jataka stories make mention of the long distance trade network. By the 3rd century BC which was the Mauryan Period in India, inscriptions of Settis – the merchant bankers were found in Amaravati.

Professor Seneviratne attributes the flow of ideologies from Northern India to the trade network. What perhaps the Mauryan Empire did however was to become a catalyst and provide a greater fillip for the more organised expansion of Buddhism. Monks were travelling as missionaries or groups of people were taking the message of the Buddha with the clout of the Mauryan Empire. The adoption of the title of Devanampiya (Beloved of the Gods) by the then rulers – the epithet given to Asoka, suggests this.
There were suggestions that some of the Kerala chieftains took titles that translated as Devanampiya. In the inscriptions of the Adiyamans in the Northern areas of Tamilnadu, the Adiyamans called themselves as Sathyaputhra, which was the name given in Asokan inscriptions to “southern neighbours.”

The intrusion of Buddhism in the 4th and the 3rd centuries BC from Northern India brought not only a doctrine but also a whole new culture – a new language medium, may be even a script, a new way of living, architectural constructions and technology.

During the Mauryan Era in the meantime, there was a shift of human settlements in South India from the peripheral hills towards the plains and the river valleys of Krishna, the Cauvery and the Tamirapani in the East. This may have happened probably for greater agricultural production to a kind of demand situation with specialisation of products coming in.

Spread of ideologies

With the southern expansion of the Mauryan Empire, the long-distance trade routes expanded. The Northern Indian ideologies thus flowed out to the South with the Jains, the Ajivakas and the Buddhist clergy moving along the trade-routes, some along with merchants mingling with the people. They had to preach to a settled agricultural society as the teachings would not have had any relevance to a hunting-gathering society. Professor Seneviratne stated that in South India however, Buddhist practices changed over the years from those practised in Sri Lanka due to the emergence of Mahayanism and the resurgence of Brahminic practices. Mahayanism had a social appeal at a personal level. But unlike Mahayanism, Brahmanism incorporated the pre-Buddhist cults and deities into its fold more effectively, particularly during the time of land grants of the feudal period. Under Brahminism, it is suggested that priests may have started the process of land reclamation for agriculture. With tribal areas having all kinds of cult practices, the Brahmin priests may have moved into such socially backward areas as these were locations where they were able to practise their doctrine.

The Buddhist clergy on the other hand who were countering such practices could not move into these areas, away from their main base – the urban centres. And with more and more South Indian rulers opting for a Brahminic identity, state patronage to Buddhism gradually decreased. Thus along with the shift of trade patterns, Buddhism in South India came to an end.

Whereas in Sri Lanka, Professor Seneviratne stated, the picture totally differed as Theravada Buddhism was faithfully practised by the more orthodox Sri Lankans. Mahayanism introduced much later found it difficult to compete with the Theravada Buddhism. And unlike in South India, Sri Lanka did not have a strong tradition of pre-Buddhist cults and practices and what existed was incorporated successfully into Buddhism. Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka not only visited urban areas but also ventured into remote areas and hills along trade routes.

The monasteries by the first to the 3rd centuries AD which had expanded in Sri Lanka incorporated all the areas into their network and thus ran huge establishments even carrying on trade in order that these provided the sustenance while the state continued to be their chief patron.

29 05 2011 - Sunday Times

 

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H3.10    The Kapilavasthu Buddha Relics and Sir Alexander Cunningham

 

Upali K. Salgado

 


An unforgettable event of recent time was the veneration of Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha’s relics that had been found about one hundred and fifty years ago, at Kapilawasthupura, the home of the Great Master. The unshakeable devotion or Sardha, Buddhists displayed, standing patiently in very long queues, each over three kilometers long for about eight hours, and also the spirit of giving dane, and karuna, shown during day and at night time by simple folk to comfort the weary devotees with handouts of biscuits and water was truly heart warming. When seeing all this activity happen, I silently gave thanks to a famous British Archaeologist, Gen. Sir Alexander Cunningham, KCIE, CSI. He was born in 1814 and served in British India, being decorated in 1847 when the Anglo Sikh war took place. Remembering him today, 127 years after his demise, this story will interest many a Buddhist.

Archaeologists are known to be a special "breed of people", who by training in their specialized fields of excavations, research, methods of preservation of artifacts etc, and knowledge of epigraphy, are said to have divine eyes to decipher the buried unknown of past civilizations. Sir Alexander Cunningham, was a genius who dominated the Indian scene of Archaeology from 1860 to 1885. During his stewardship of 15 years as Director General of Archaeology, he was responsible for excavations of the ruins at Buddha Gaya, at Saranath, Mohenjadaro and Harappa (Pakistan) in Sanchi (situated in Bopal State) and even in Tibet. Perhaps, his best known work is related to Buddha Gaya.

Cunningham lived and worked under trying conditions in north India, where there are extremes of climate. He slept in Marquee moving from site to site in gypsy fashion, armed for his work with implements which by today’s standards could be referred to as archaic. He travelled for days across uncharted terrain on elephant back armed with a gun for his safety, assisted by a gang of Indian coolies. He was given limited finances by the Colonial Government. Being an adroit he found out what the Dhameck Stupa is at Sarnath, by driving from the top of the stupa a metal shaft 145 feet deep inside to locate a stone inscription, which when identified later by the Royal Asiatic Society, indicated was "a standard homage to the Buddha." Upto that time many Indians and the British believed the large mound of earth, with beautiful frescos on one side was a monument to a King. It was here that the Buddha had preached to his five ascetic friends, the historic First Sermon – the Dhamma Chakkappa-Wattana Sutta.

It is known that Sir Alexander Cunningham moved from there to Buddha Gaya, which the Chinese explorer Hsuan Tsang had in the fifth Century referred to in his records. An Englishman, Hamilton in 1802, saw for himself that the Holy Site was in a dilapidated condition, under the control of a Hindu overlord. M.P Chowdry MA, LIB in his Short History of Buddha Gaya states, "It is gathered from a rock edict within the premises that the temple was built in the 2nd century BC, whereas from an engraving on the wall of the building it dates to the Sunga period. Some say, the temple was built earlier than that. Historical records state that the Emperor Ashoka had after the Kalinga war, embraced Buddhism to mitigate the sufferings of his repentance for bloodshed, and often visited the Maha Bodhi and poured milk on the holy tree, after his second wife Tissa Rakkita had caused that the tree be destroyed, because of her loneliness, when the Emperor constantly visited the place. Ashoka had then built the temple which was first known as the "Vajraman Gandhakuti Vihar." Having Gupta architecture, the beautiful temple is 170 ft tall and 43 ft wide. The Temple had been renovated several times by the Kaniska kings of the Kusan dynasty in the 2nd Century AD, King Meghavanna of Lanka in 388 AD, King Mindau of Burma in 450 AD, Mahipal of the Pala dynasty in 1010 AD, Penta-Go Gee of Burma in the 12th Century, and once again in 1333 A.D. by the Burmese pilgrims who visited there on pilgrimage. Several serious attempts were made by Muslim rulers to destroy the Temple and the Bodhi tree.

Sir Alexander Cunningham had restored the Sandstone floor, and the central Alter beneath where lies the original Vajirasana (Diamond Seat of the Buddha). Being an Engineer, he rectified several haphazard constructions done by devout Burmese pilgrims. He had also rescued from the Hindu Saivita Mahantha, a beautiful Buddha image and several Buddhist artifacts that were in his possession.

Today, the Buddha Gaya Temple has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. After a stay of three years at Buddha Gaya, Cunningham decided to move on to Kushinara (modern Kasi Nagar). Cunningham was again guided by the writings of Hsuan Tsang who had made extensive and accurate notes on the site he saw, several centuries before. The Hindus who were in the area were not at all concerned about the holy spot. In about 1865 Cunningham commenced his excavations later, his Assistant Archibald Carlyle made more discoveries.

Archibald Carlyle concentrated his efforts to the site where the present Nirvana (Jayanthi) Vihara is in Kusinara (upstate). They excavated to find the single Red Sandstone figure of the reclining Buddha 6.1 metres long. It has been chiselled out of a single block of stone. When the Jayanthi Vihare was been rebuilt in time for the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations, under the instructions of President Rajendra Prasad and Shri Jawaheral Nehru (1954), the original reclining Buddha was untouched and preserved. The Viharage was enlarged and was given a new Architectural look, in keeping with traditional ancient Buddhist art, as seen at the Ajantha caves. The stupa built by King Asoka, behind the Viharage was renovated in 1954 and earlier in 1927 renovated by the Burmese people. It was then painted gold colour with a Chattya (umbrella) on top. When the writer first visited Kusinara in 1946, I remember it was a neglected place with hardly any devotee. Today, the Chaitya has been painted white.

Archaeologist Archibald Carlyle excavated the Adhana Stupa (previously known as the Ramabhara Stupa) where he found in 1910, a brick chamber containing a copper vessel and a copper plate, which indicated it was where the Buddha had been cremated. The inscription in Sanskrit said it was at the Nidhana site and was deposited by one Haribala, who had installed the Nirvana statue, referred earlier. There was also inside the brick chamber, silver coins of the Gupta period I and another plate with word Priyadharshana (the Buddha).

The last site Sir Alexander Cunningham gave his attention to was at SANCHI. He discovered the Buddha Relics of Sanchi Maha Stupa, and also those of His disciples Sariputta and Maha Moggallana. On this picturesque hillock there are several beautiful stupas dating to the 3rd Century AD stone Gateways carved out of granite, depicting Jataka stories and the bringing of the Bo sapling to Anuradhapura by Sangamitta Therani. The Archeological Park was greatly developed by Sir John Marshall, MA, who did much to preserve the Buddha heritage between 1928 and 1940.

All these stout hearted Archaeologists have illuminated the whole of Bihar, Uttara Pradesh and Bhopal States where Buddhist relics were buried for centuries. Their work was only the beginning. After India became a Republic, the Indian Archeological Survey forged ahead using modern technology, to unearth the grandeur there was of a Buddhist civilization buried for many a century.

This story is a tribute to a British pioneer Archaeologist who gave all of us, an educative, captivating factual insight in to the glorious history of the Buddhist Civilization in ancient India.

29 09 2012 - Island

 

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H3.11    History of Mihintalava

 

The Sinhala civilisation dawned at Mihintalava known as Mihintalava today. As reported in our Chronicles it was 2311 years ago or say two hundred and thirty six years after the passing away or parinirvana of the Buddha on a bright full-moon day of the month of Poson, that Arahant Mahinda with his companions visited this island.

He appeared on the Missaka mountain at Mihintalava bringing with him the sublime teachings of Gautama Buddha. It was after this event that the Sinhalese people who lived in this island of Sri Lanka received a way of life and a philosophy for life.

The long and proud journey of the civilisation of the Sinhalese people thus began on the summit of the Missaka mountain which is now called Mihintalava. This is in fact a unique incident in the annals of mankind.

It was due to this unique event that Sri Lanka became the centre of Theravada Buddhism and Buddhist civilisation.

The story of the advent of Elder Mahinda and his companions to Sri Lanka is chronicled in the Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa and also in Samantapasadika, the commentary on Vinaya.

After the Third Great Council held at Pataliputra under the distinguished patronage of Asoka the Venerable Moggaliputtatissa Mahathera having observed that the noble teachings of Buddha would take root in the neighbouring kingdoms, sent missionaries to those countries in the month of Kattika (October-November).

Accordingly Mahinda and his companions Istiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Bhadrasala were sent to Sri Lanka with the request that they should go to this island and establish the Buddhist dispensation there.

Having spent a month in the city of Vedisa the Thera of great miraculous power on the Uposatha day of the month of Jettha (May-June) rose to the air from the monastery with the four Theras Sumana and Bhanduka the two laymen also came along with the Theras and stood on the Sila-peak in the noble and lovely Ambastala of the beautiful Missaka mountain.

Missakapabbata

The Misskapabbata became Cetiyapabbata because of two reasons. One reason could be the presence of several Stupas on the mountain and the other reason may have been that Cetiyagiri at Ujjeni was the birthplace of Mahinda Mahathera.

In course of time Cetiyapabbata became Mihintalava or Mihintalava because of the association of Thera Mahinda with the mountain. Important events took place during the few days following the arrival of Thera Mahinda to Sri Lanka.

The establishment of the Maha Vihara; the great monastery, the future centre of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka took placed on the day following Thera Mahinda's visit to Sri Lanka. The establishment of religious boundaries that included the city and the establishment of the Bhikkhu order are some other important events.

After this the Thera with his retinue returned to Mihintalava where the sixty eight caves were being prepared for occupation. Ever since then, Buddhism in Sri Lanka began to prosper owing to the activities that took place on the mountains of Mihintalava.

The oldest known monuments at Mihintalava are thought to be the caves near the Kantaka Cetiya. As mentioned earlier these were the caves prepared for the missionaries as well as for the first Sinhalese Bhikkhus who entered the order of Sangha.

They were constructed on the orders of King Devanampiyatissa. The number of caves thus built was sixty eight. The Brahmi inscriptions above the drip-ledges of these caves show that they were not only donations of the king himself, but also of members of the Royal family as well.

These inscriptions that belong to the third century B.C. reveal some important facts about early Buddhism in Sri Lanka. They also provide important details about the evolution of the Sinhalese language and its alphabet in the early stages.

These inscriptions also tell us about kings, members of the Royal family and about the provincial rulers. They provide us too information on how the rulers propagated the new teaching in its introductory stages.

It is clear from these inscription that the epithets Gamini - Tisa or Devanampiyatisa refer to the famous Devanampiyatissa, and Gamani Uti to his brother Uttiya. Another inscription refers to a Gamani Tisa. According to Paranavitana Gamini Tisa may be King Saddha Tissa the brother of King Dutugemunu.

King Uttiya, who succeeded his brother Devanampiyatissa (250-210 B.C) followed the footsteps of his elder brother. He made substantial improvements to Cetiyapabbata or Mihintalava.

Besides the donation of caves to the monks he also had the fortune to perform the funeral rites of Mahinda Thera who passed away during his reign. The death of the Thera occurred at Cetiyapabbata and the body was taken with great honour to the capital city of Anuradhapura and cremated there.

A part of the ash and bone relics was deposited at Cetiyapabbata and the King built on it the Mahinda Cetiya. The Mahavamsa described this event as follows: "In the eighth victorious year of the King Uttiya the restrained Thera, being sixty years was observing lent at the Cetiyapabbata and on the eighth day of the bright half of the month of Assayuja passed into Nibbana. Hence is the day named after him."

The Culavamsa records that Sena (833-853 A.D). assigned to the Cetiya mountain the productive Kanavapi tank. King Sena II (853-887 A.D) is given the credit for building a hospital on the Cetiya mountain.

The inscriptions erected by him at Mihintalava describe the land grants he had made to the Vihara and also some rules governing the management of this establishment. The Mihintalava inscription by Mahinda IV (956-972 A.D) gives details about the management of the monasteries during the period.

This inscription itself is sufficient to show the interest taken by the king to maintain the Cetiyapabbata Vihara. The period that followed immediately after this King was not peaceful at all.

Internal and external political disturbances disrupted the development work of the country and the rulers had no time to devote themselves to the propagation of the Buddhist dispensation but were forced to protect the country from foreign invasion.

It is also relevant to mention here that the Cetiyapabbata Vihara at Mihintalava which was the victorious ground of Theravada Buddhism became a centre for Mahayana activities after about seven centuries from the beginning.

By about the seventh or eighth century it also became an active centre for Tantrism. It can be seen that Mihintalava remained under the influence and guidance of the Bhikkhus of the Abhayagiri Vihara at least till the tenth century.

When the capital was shifted from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa at the beginning of the eleventh century, the interest in Cetiyagiri on the part of the rulers became less. However, after a great and decisive battle fought by Parakramabahu I (1153-1186) the country at last found some peace.

He was then able to concentrate on the agricultural and spiritual life of the people. Thus we find in the Culavamsa that Parakramabahu the Great had sixty four thupas on the Cetiyagiri rebuilt and had restored to the old buildings whatever was decayed or fallen apart.

The story of Cetiyapabbata or Mihintalava does not end here. After almost seven hundred years Mihintalava emerged from wilderness again. This happened about a century ago when the thick jungle began to be cleared.

The credit for the rediscovery of Mihintalava goes to the British archaeologist H. C. P. Bell (1890-1912) who started work at Mihintalava in 1891. He was followed by A. M. Hocart (1922-1927) and the Sri Lankan historian and archaeologist Senarat Paranavitana (1931-1956).

The three scholars mentioned above were responsible for the present glory of Mihintalava. They cleared the jungle and removed the earth that had covered the monuments at Mihintalava for centuries and brought it to its present condition.

The jungle which had enveloped the monuments of Mihintalava during centuries of neglect was being pushed back when our story begins. The majority of the monuments were crumbled heap of brick and stone covered with the dust of centuries. Giant trees grew over the buried monuments.

The impressive flight of steps, which led to the main hill, exposed at the time, was found much disturbed. The jungles of Mihintalava still give shelter to many wild animals.

Inscriptions on the brows of the many caves and elsewhere were being collected eagerly by the department. The biggest job undertaken at Mihintalava during the period was the excavation and conservation of the Pre-Christian Dagaba, Kantaka Cetiya. 

lakehouse.lk/mihintalava/

 

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H3.12    Adam's Peak, the mountain of Sacred Footprint of Sri Lanka: The History


(Butterfly Mountain) (Adam's Peak) (Samanthakuta, meaning Domain of God Maha Sumana Saman)

 

The mountain has been climbed for at least 1000 years. King Vijayabahu (1055-1100 AD) built shelters along its route, work continued by Parakaramabahu the 2nd (1125-1169 AD) who cleared jungle & built a road & bridges to the mountain. Marco Polo commented on the chains provided for pilgrims in the 13th century, while Muslim traveller Ibn Battutah visited in the 14th century & described the two approach routes still used, labeling them the Adam & Eve tracks.

Sri Lanka's world famous Holy Mountain is the ultimate center of the attraction, epitome of pilgrimage where devotees from all parts of the little island engage in the annual pilgrimage. Their voices echo and re-echo from their innermost hearts in the cold clammy atmosphere with resounding chanting "Karunawai" (meaning compassion, a Buddhist ideal) as they ascend or descend.

When considering the mountain's history it lends a certain feeling of a supernatural aura brooding, a hidden divine power. On the 8th year after Enlightenment, Buddha visited Kelaniya at the request of the Naga King Maniakkika. On this occasion it is said that Buddha was accompanied by 500 monks. After His sojourn at
Kelaniya Buddha visited three other places, namely, Digavaapi, Kataragama and this beautiful mountain in the Central highlands, 7360 feet high. Here the Buddha left the trace of His left foot at the summit on a gemstone, on the request of God Maha Sumana Saman, the guardian of the Peak.

Some Christians say the "footprint" in the rock atop the rust-red, peak is where Adam first set foot (hence is called Adam's peak) on earth after being exiled from
Eden. Other Christians say it is the Footprint of St. Thomas, who brought Christianity to Southern India in the 1st century AD, while to Hindus it is the Footprint of Lord Siva (hence called Sivan Adipadham or Sivanolipatha Malai), while some of Sri Lanka's Muslims call it the Footprint of Al-Rohun (Soul).

While beliefs of some depend on mere faith, the claims of the Buddhists alone refer to recorded history and partly legend. Buddhists, who have covered the original "print" with a larger than life concrete copy, say it was made by the Buddha on his third visit to Sri Lanka.

Whichever legend you care to believe, the fact remains that the mountain has been a pilgrimage site paid homage by kings & commoners alike for over 1000 years.
King Parakramabahu & King Nissankamalla provided ambalama (resting places) up the mountain to shelter the weary pilgrims. The "season" for pilgrims is during the calm bright months from January to April.

Geographically Adam's Peak is important as the
main watershed of Sri Lanka, four of the principal rivers of the Island, including the River Mahaweli, the longest & the largest, having their source from this mountain, and falling to the sea on the eastern, western and south eastern coasts. The districts to the south and the east of Adam's Peak yield precious stones-emeralds, rubies, sapphires, etc, for which the Island has been famous, and which have earned for its ancient name of "Ratnadvipa".

Butterfly migration
In the crisp air and sunshine, legions of brave yellow and white and jewel coloured butterflies are in their final flight to the summit as if these lovely ephemeral creatures, a sublime creation of nature were in the company with the pilgrims. At the end of their ascent, they die there in waves, providing another phenomenon, hence is called Samanala Kanda meaning Butterfly Mountain. Merciless black death takes over all of those lovely butterflies as all of us would be taken over. Only the death is definite. All else is indefinite & impermanent. Be kind to all. Don't murder. May all murderers swiftly recover from their maladies! It kills me to see you killing my race: human.

History

Buddhist devotees who climb the Peak regard God Maha Sumana Saman as their benevolent protector. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Devanam Piya Tissa (307-266 B.C). He was the grandson of King Pandukabhaya (437-366 B.C), the pre-Buddhist founder of Anuradhapura, capital of Lanka, which lasted for 1500 years up to the middle of the 9th century AD.

It is believed that the first person to discover the Sacred Footprint was
King Valagambahu (104-76 BC) while he was in exile in the mountain wilderness, better known to our people as "Sri Pada Adaviya" (Domain of Sacred Footprint), to escape the marauding Cholians. He had been led to the summit of the mountain by a deity in the guise of a stag. Thereafter not only ordinary pilgrims but Royalty with their court retinue paid homage to the Foot Print of the Buddha from ancient times. The Sinhalese kings alone, in their devotion and persistence made the Peak accessible to the crowds of devotees who annually trekked the mountain.

The first historical mention about Sri Pada comes during the reign of Vijayabahu.
Professor Senarath Paranavitana states: "It is in the reign of Vijayabahu" (1065-1119 AD) we have the earliest historical evidence in chronicles and inscriptions by the cult of the Footprint on Adam's Peak. It is recorded of this monarch that he, having seen the difficulties undergone by the pilgrims on their way to worship the Buddha's footprint on Samanthakuta dedicated the village named 'Gilimale' to provide for their needs. Stone inscriptions of Vijayabahu have been found at Gilimale and Ambagamuwa confirming the statement of the chronicle.

The thousands of pilgrims who make their annual pilgrimage to Sri Pada today perhaps do not realize the difficulties their ancestors had to undergo in order to pay their need of homage at the Sacred Foot Print. Whatever route they undertook to ascend the Peak their difficulties must have been almost insurmountable.
Marco Polo (1254-1324 AD) who visited the Peak in the 14th century remarked that in places flights of steps were out in the rocks but none upwards and towards the summit.
 

The mountain has been climbed for at least 1000 years. King Vijayabahu (1065-1119 AD) built shelters along its route, work continued by Parakaramabahu the 2nd (1250-1284 AD) who cleared jungle & built a road & bridges to the mountain.

King Nissankamalla
(1198 AD-1206 AD). is stated to have visited the Samanthakuta with his four-fold army and worshipped the Footprint with great devotion. He had re-granted the Village Ambagamuwa and it has been recorded in an inscription found in a cave known as Bhagavalena. He had constructed a concrete slab to protect the Footprint.

A Pali poem "Samantha Kuta Vannama" by a monk named Vedeha in the 13th century confirms the increasing interest shown by the Sinhala-Buddhists to the cult of this Footprint. In our recorded history, a good number of ancient kings have visited the mountain from time to time. Parakramabahu the 2nd (1250-1284 AD) visited the Footprint and paid homage.
His minister, Devaprathiraja constructed roads leading to the mountain and installed iron chains on iron posts to make the ascent easy and conducted great festivities in celebrating to worship of the Footprint. Parakramabahu's son, Vijayabahu, and other kings like Vikramabahu, Vimaladharmasuriya (1592-1603), his son King Narendrasinhe (1705-1737) were among Sinhala Kings who had visited the Footprint to pay homage.

King Vimaladharmasuriya constructed a silver umbrella over the Footprint.
King Sitawake Rajasinhe (1581-1593), the ferocious warrior king, who strode in to battle against Portuguese at the age of eleven & throughout his reign inflicted heavy defeats on Portuguese at Mulleriyawa (Mulleriyawa marshy land had turned into a red flood with the blood of the slaughtered Portuguese) & held the Portuguese Fort in Colombo under siege (besieged Portuguese were reduced to survive on slaughtering dogs & chasing cats & rats for meat), had also visited the Footprint. Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe (1738-1745 AD) had also visited the mountain. King Kirthi Sri Rajasinhe (1746-1778) during whose reign, Buddhist renaissance took place had visited the Footprint and restored to the temple properties frozen by King Sitawake Rajasinhe, who was told, by the Buddhist monks, that patricide was an almost eternal sin & couldn't be redeemed during his lifetime. Kirthi Sri Rajasinhe also donated the village, Kuttapitiya and the copper plate charter in support of this donation is still in existence.

Among the artifacts devised to ascend then almost inaccessible peak were massive iron chains affixed to stanchions of the same metal secured to the bare rock face. The chains were secured to the stanchions with rivets of iron and bronze. Commenting on the ancient artifacts on Sri Pada, the Englishman
Robert Percival, who served with the British garrison in Colombo in the early nineteenth century, notes: "The iron chains on the rock face of Adam's Peak have the appearance of being planted there at a very early date, who placed them there or for what purpose they were set up there is difficult for anyone to know". The beliefs and superstitions of the natives present difficulties. Whatever it is, all evidence indicates that the Peak was in the limelight long before the recorded history of the Island. Remains of these artifacts are still evident. Early pilgrims to the peak made use of these chains to hoist themselves up to the summit.

 

The Mountain of Sarandib

"We saw it from the sea when we were nine day's journey away, & when we climbed it we saw the clouds below us, shutting out our view of base. On it there are many evergreen trees & flowers of various colours, including a red rose as big as the palm of a hand. There are two tracks on the mountain leading to the Foot, one called the Baba track & the other the Mama track, meaning Adam & Eve. The Mama track is easy & is the route by which the pilgrims return, but anyone who goes by that way is not considered to have made the pilgrimage at all. The Baba track is difficult & stiff climbing. Former generations cut a sort of stairway on the mountain, & are fixed iron stanchions on it, to which they attached chains for climbers to hold on by. There are ten such chains, & the tenth is the "Chain of the Profession of Faith", so called because when one reaches it & looks down to the foot of the hill, he is seized by apprehensions & recites the profession of faith for fear of falling. From the tenth chain to the cave of al-Khidr is seven miles; this cave lies in a spacious place, where there is a spring which is also called by his name; it is full of fish, but no one catches them. Close to this there are two tanks cut in the rock on either side of the path. At the cave of al-Khidr the pilgrims leave their belongings & ascend for two miles to the summit of the mountain where the Foot is. The blessed Footprint, the Foot of our father Adam is on a lofty black rock in a wide plateau. The blessed Foot sank into the rock far enough to leave its impression hollowed out. It is eleven spans long. In the rock where the Foot is. there are nine holes cut out, in which the infidel pilgrims place offerings of gold, rubies & pearls..."
Ibn Battutah

The Mountain of Sarandib is Adam's Peak, to which Adam is supposed to have descended when expelled fro Paradise. Ibn Battutah visited Adam's footprint on its summit.

God Maha Sumana Saman

God Maha Sumana Saman is one of the four deities, who undertook to protect the island and Buddhism in Lanka, according to Mahavamsa, the great chronicle in Sri Lanka. Sakra, Natha & Upulvan are the other three deities.

During the Buddha's first visit to Mahiyangana he preached his doctrine to
celestial beings. One of the prominent figures at the assembly was Prince Sumana of the Samantha Kuta. Prince Saman attained the first fruit of the path of 'Nirvana' (Sotapatti Phala) and requested the master for an object for worship. The Buddha gave Him a lock of hair from his head and it was enshrined in the Mahiyangana stupa, the first Dagoba constructed in the Island during the lifetime of Buddha at the initiative of Prince Saman.

When the Buddha visited the island for the third & last time of Kelaniya, at the request of Prince Saman, the Buddha left the trace of His footprint on the mountain, according to Mahavamsa. Following his death Prince Saman became God Maha Sumana Saman. The god has never been identified as a Hindu God. There are two important and significant shrines constructed at Ratnapura and Mahiyangana dedicated to Maha Sumana Saman.

Visit of Alexander the Great

Ashraff, the 15th century poet describes the odyssey of Alexander the great to Sri Pada in his 'Zaffer Namah Skendari'. After landing in the Island and indulging himself and his retinue in orgies and revelry he explores the wonders of the Island. Here Alexander is known to have sought the assistance of the Philosopher Bolinas, a celebrated Greek occultist and magician, to climb the Sacred peak, then supposed to be zealously guarded by various deities. The belief that Alexander visited Sri Pada existed before Ashraff. Ibn Batuta, the romantic 14th century Arab pilgrim traveller from Tangiers in Morocco who sojourned in the Island visiting the Sacred Mount, refers to a grotto at the foot of the peak with the word "Iskander" inscribed on it. This 'Iskander' and 'Skendari' of Ashraff are identical; both names refer to none other than the celebrated Alexander the Great himself. Notes Batuta in his memoirs: "The ancients have cut steps of a sort on the vertical rock face, to these steps are fixed iron stanchions with suspended chains to enable pilgrims clamber up to the top with ease and minimum risk."

Apart from scanty and much belated Arab sources, history is strangely silent for over seventeen centuries on the visit of Alexander to the Island and his journey to Sri Pada. Neither the Great Dynastic Chronicle Mahawamsa nor any other historical record of significance refers to it. Records of Alexander's exploits were centered mainly in and around Persia and the Persian Empire, the legends and folklore of the early Persians were, as a matter of course, handed over to their Arab posterity.

 

 

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H3.13    Sri Pada: Shrouded in Legend and History

 

Aryadasa Ratnasinghe

 

 

"In that yle is a great Mountayne and thei of the Countrey seym, that Adam and Eve wepten upon that Mount a hundred Zeer whan thai weren driven out of Paradys."

- Sir John Maundeville.

 

Saman Deviyo as depicted at Kelaniya Vihara

The pilgrim season to the holy mountain Sri Pada (also known as Samantakuta, Samanhela, Samangira, Samanalakanda and Samanalagira), begins annually on the 'Unduvap' fullmoon day in December and ends on the 'Vesak' fullmoon day in May. During this open semester, pilgrims ascend the mountain to pay homage to the sacred footmark, which is considered holy by the Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Moslems alike, according to their individual beliefs. Therefore, Sri Pada is the only mountain in the world receiving benefactions and veneration of devotees belonging to different faiths.

The summit of the mountain is a small plateau, and according to measurements made by Lieut. Malcolm (the first European to ascend the mountain in 1816), "it is 74 ft. in length and 24 ft. in breadth," the total area being 1,776 sq. ft. On the summit there is a huge boulder, about 8 ft. high., atop which is found the sacred footmark. According to mythical conception woven into the fabric of native folklore, the real impression of the Foot lies under the boulder, on a blue sapphire. To prevent it from sacrilegious profanation, god Sakra had covered it with the boulder.

Offering brought to Saman Devale, Ratnapura

"The footmark is a superficial flow 68 in. long, and 31 in. and 29 in. wide at the toes and the heel respectively. It is ornamented with a margin of brass and studded with few gems. The cavity bears some coarse resemblance to a human foot, but the size is gigantic, and seems partly natural and partly artificial. There are little raised partitions to represent the interstices between toes." So says Dr. John Davy who had ascended the mountain in 1817. Landmark

Offerings left at the Bo tree at Maha Saman Devale, Ratnapura

This hallowed mountain, shrouded in legend and history, is situated 16 km. North-East of Ratnapura. It rises abruptly from the lower valley, to an altitude of 2,243m. (7,360 ft.) above sea level, and offers an unobstructed view over land and sea.

The mountain was the landmark of the ancient sea-faring Arabs, who came to Sri Lanka, to trade in gems, spices, ivory etc., and they, having sighted the conical mountain miles off shore, prayed to God for having brought them safely to the island.

They believed that atop this mountain lay the sepulchre of Adam (the first parent of the human race).

The famous itinerant Arab pilgrim Ibn Batuta alias Abu Abdullah Mohammed (1304-1377), had ventured to reach the summit of the holy mountain via Ratnapura, trekking the way by the banks of the Kalu-ganga, which discharges its confluence into the sea at Kalutara, having commenced his journey from Barberyn (Beruwala). Before him, the renowned Venetian merchant and traveller, Marco Polo (125401324), too had ascended the mountain to pay homage to the glorious Foot of Adam, on his way from China in 1292, before returning to Venice. It was while in China that he had come to know about the sacred footmark from Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan dynasty in China.

Buddhists believe that the footmark on the summit of Sri Pada is that of Buddha, who, during his third visit to Kelaniya, 2,580 year ago, kept the imprint of his left foot thereon as a relict worthy of veneration. He did so at the kind request of god Saman, the tutelary deity of the mountain wilderness, whose divine eye is supposed to cast upon Deraniyagala, Boltumbe, Ellakkala, Nivitigala and the mountain Benasamanalagala.

Saman Deviyo statue being brought in procession from Maha Saman Devale to Sri Pada at the beginning of the pilgrimage season

Seductive

The Christians believe that Adam, after being expelled from the Garden of Eden (Paradise), for eating the forbidden fruit, fell upon earth, and according to legend, had fallen on top of the mountain, where he is believed to have stood on one foot for one thousand years, to expiate his sin committed against the Creator, by eating the seductive fruit, despite warning given. This long ordeal had left the print of his foot on the mountain.

The Portuguese, who came to Sri Lanka in 1505, called the mountain Pico de Adam (anglicised Adam's Peak). They held the belief that St. Thomas the Doubter, having come to India, baptised Gondophorus, the Indo-Parthian king, and after leaving his footmark on the mountain, had ascended to Heaven. According to Christian view, he is not the author of the Gospel of St. Thomas (the logia containing early collections of sayings ascribed to Jesus). St. Thomas the Doubter was a disciple and a step-brother of Jesus, the most prominent figure in the Gospel of St.

John, where he is also known as Didymus, and portrayed as doubting the Resurrection of Christ, until he touched the wounds of the risen Christ. Early Christian tradition describes him as a missionary and a martyr in India.

The belief of the Moslems is similar to that of the Christians based on the Old Testament. They call the mountain 'Adam-malai' (Mount of Adam) in view of their belief that atop the mountain lies the sepulchre of Adam. The Hindus believe that the footmark is of Lord Siva, the third godhead of the Hindu 'Trimoorti' (the Holy Triad), the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. The god is supposed to have settled on the summit to shed his divine light upon mankind. Hence they call the mountain 'Sivanolipadam' (Foot of Siva's Light). The votaries of god Siva ascend the mountain beseeching divine help and providence to be born in the celestial abode, i.e., Mount Kailas.

Building that houses the holy footprint at the summit of Sri Pada

Apostate

The apostate Rajasinha I (1581-1592), in order to overcome his fear of patricidal sin for killing his father, the King Mayadunne of Sitawaka, and on the advice of the sectarian priest Arittakivendu Perumal, assigned the administration of the holy mountain to 'Andis' (a non-braminical Saiva sect) from South India. They collected a considerable revenue on offerings made to the sacred Foot, by way of gold, gems, jewellery, silver, cash, clothing etc. During the close semester, from June to November, these 'Andis' clad in yellow clothing, went from door to door, collecting offerings, on the pretext of developing and improving the paths leading to the summit via Hatton and Ratnapura, intoning the words "Siripade galpadi bandinata sammadam" (offerings for the construction of stone steps to Sri Pada). Later, King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1781), revoked the royal proclamation, and appointed Ven. Welivitiye Saranankara Sangharaja Maha Thera, to look after Buddhist interests of the holy mountain.

The open semester begins with the removal of the statues of God Saman, the replica of his divine white elephant and other sacred paraphernalia, lying secured at the Galpottawela Raja Maha Vihara at Pelmadulla, built by king Kirti Sri Rajasinha. According to ritual, the incumbent priest of Sri Pada and the working committee, composed of Buddhist clergy and laity, enter the shrine room of the devale, and a day before the fullmoon day, and after paying homage to the Buddha, take steps to remove the sacred items to the summit. En route, the procession stops at the Maha Saman Devale in Ratnapura, and a ritual is conducted by the 'kapurala' of the devale invoking the blessings of God Saman for a trouble-free journey.

On a poya (full moon) day in the pilgrimage season, the crowds on the steps to the peak can be so great that pilgrims may stand in a stationary queue for hours.

In the old days, the procession took the Ratnapura route, but now a motorcade leaves to the summit along the Hatton path via Ratnapura, Avissawella, Yatiyantota, Kitulgala, Ginigathena, Hatton, Dickoya and Maskeliya, terminating at the Delhousie bazaar (Nallatanniya) where vehicular transport facilities cease. As the fullmoon poya day dawns, they reach the summit and, after attending to formal rituals, the 'kapurala' places the statues dedicated to the God inside a niche below the footmark.

The two historic paths to the summit are the Hatton path via Maskeliya and the Ratnapura path via Kuruwita.

The Hatton path was, in the ancient days, known as the Rajamawatha, along which most kings had ventured to the summit via Ambagamuwa, Kehelgamuwa, Horakada, Dagampitiya, Makulumulla, Hangarapitiya and Seetagangula (parent stream of the Mahaveli-ganga), from where the actual ascent begins. This route came into prominence during the Gampola period (1347-1412), which followed the Mahaveli-ganga from Gangasiripura (now Gampola) and the first king to go on pilgrimage to Sri Pada, on this route, was Bhuvanekhabahu IV (1347-1352).

Pilgrims

The oldest route was the Ratnapura path, via Gilimale, Eratna, Kuruwita, Malwala and Palabaddala, to Seetagangula (parent stream of the Kaluganga). Even today, pilgrims consider this route as the difficult path, and highly infested with leeches due to dampness of the climate. Pilgrims have to toil up and down narrow passes up to Palabaddala, the last inhabited station en route.

In most places the path is narrow, rugged and rocky and densely wooded. This route came into prominence during the Polonnaruwa period and the first king who went on pilgrimage was Vijayabahu I (1058-1114).

He built rest camps for pilgrims along the path. The Ambagamuwa rock edict and the Panakaduwa copper plate bear testimony to his munificence. However, it was King Kirti Nissankamalla (1187-1196) who went on pilgrimage with his fourfold army.

Next to the holy footprint hangs a bell that each pilgrim is entitled to ring as many times as he has climbed the sacred mountain.

Seetagangula (the torrent of icy water) is an important landmark en route to the summit. It rushes from the woody height down a stream obstructed by masses of rock formation. Here, the pilgrims, after performing their ablutions, make a frugal repast, some rest for awhile chewing betel, and after observing 'pansil' and making obeisance to God Saman, and after trying 'panduru' (a coin wrapped in a clean white cloth as an offering for protection) they begin to ascend the mountain to reach the summit, with a break at the place called 'Indikatupahana', a popular rest camp. From this point, a long line of concrete steps leads to the summit.

In the old days, pilgrims ascended the mountain by stepping upon bare rock surface and clinging on to chains fitted to iron posts drilled into the rocky floor. John Still, in his book Jungle Tide, says how once a batch of pilgrims, fell into the precipice below when the railing they were holding on to broke loose, probably due to weight.

The most dangerous part of the climb was the point known as 'Mahagiridambe' where the pilgrims exposed to heavy wind were at risk of being carried away.

Pilgrims try to reach the summit before dawn to view the grand phenomenon known as the 'ira-sevaya' (the effulgence of the rising sun) puncturing the eastern horizon, like a ball of fire, casting a shadow of the mountain to fall on to the valley in the opposite direction, like a cone. The 'ira sevaya' is considered to mean the worship of the foot by the sun-god.

There is a huge brass lamp atop the mountain that keeps burning day and night, during the open semester, and it was an offering made by king Wickremabahu III (1360-1375). The oil from this lamp is taken away by pilgrims for medicinal purposes.

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H3.14    Nalanda: The world's first university

Nalanda, 55 miles southeast of Patna, is reputed to be the site of the world's first institution of higher learning, established in 427 A D India, China, Singapore and Japan are collaborating on a plan to restore and revive Nalanda International University. In January, China pledged $1 billion to jumpstart the project. In his keynote address to the 98th Indian Science Congress in Chennai on January 4, Nobel Prize winner Amarty Sen, chairman of the interim board of governors of Nalanda International University, reflects on Nalanda's contribution to propagating knowledge and understanding not just in ancient India, but also China, Tibet, Korea, Japan and as far west as Turkey.

The subjects of this talk is Nalanda and the pursuit of science, but before I go into that rather complex issue, I must say something about Nalanda itself, since it is still an obscure entity for most people in the world. Since the university is being, right now, re-established under a joint Asian initiative, the fact that Nalanda was a very ancient university is becoming better known. But how does it compare with other old universities in the world?

Well, what is the oldest university in the world? In answering this question, one's mind turns to Bologna, initiated in 1088, to Paris in 1091, and to other old citadels of learning, including of course Oxford University, which was established in 1167, and Cambridge in 1209. Where does Nalanda fit into this picture? "Nowhere" is the short answer if we are looking for a university in continuous existence.

Nalanda was violently destroyed in an Afghan attack, led by the ruthless conqueror, Bakhtiyar Khilji, in 1193, shortly after the beginning of Oxford University and shortly before the initiation of Cambridge. Nalanda University, an internationally renowned centre of higher education in India, which was established in the early fifth century, was ending its continuous existence of more than seven hundred years as Oxford and Cambridge were being founded. Even compared with the oldest European university, Bologna, Nalanda was more than 600 years old, when Bologna was born. Had it not been destroyed and had it managed to survive to our time, Nalanda would be, by a long margin, the oldest university in the world. Another distinguished university, which did not stay in existence continuously either, viz. Al-Azhar University in Cairo, with which Nalanda is often compared, was established at a time, 970 AD, when Nalanda was already more than five hundred years old.

That is enough vaunting of age (as you know, in India we take age quite seriously), and I hope you have got the point: We are talking about the oldest university in the world by a long margin, that is, if we do not insist on continuous existence. The university is being re-started right now and since I happen to have the difficult task of chairing its interim governing body, I am finding out how hard it is to re-establish a university after an 800 year hiatus. But we are getting there.

This meeting here gives me an opportunity to recollect the pursuit of science in old Nalanda which will inspire and guide our long-run, efforts in new Nalanda. I say long run, because mainly for cost reasons-indeed entirely for cost reasons-we cannot start the science faculties immediately (physical and biological sciences cost much more money than the humanities and the social sciences do). The recollection and more challengingly, assessment of the scientific tradition in old Nalanda are important right now, partly because we have to start thinking about the long run (even as we try to raise money for initiation and expansion), but also because a scientific attitude and disciplined thought are important for the entire conception of new Nalanda, including the teaching of and research in humanities (such as history, languages and linguistics, and comparative religion), as well as the social sciences and the world of practice (such as international relations, management and development, and information technology).

Let me identify a few questions about the pursuit of science in Nalanda. First, was the old Nalanda sufficiently large to be a factor in whatever pursuit it might have been championing? was it not merely a drop in an ocean of superstition and ignorance that some people see as the characteristic feature of the Indian old world: you only have to read James Mill's History of India, which was obligatory reading for all British civil servants sent off to run the Raj, to see how firm and politically important this conception of the past was in keeping modern India in check.

Well, Nalanda was an old centre of learning that attracted students from many counties in the world, particularly China and Tibet, Korea and Japan, and the rest of Asia, but a few also from as far in the west as Turkey, Nalanda, a residential university, had at its peak 10,000 students, studying various subjects. Chinese students in particular, such as Xuanzang an Yi Jing in the seventh century, wrote extensively on what they saw and what they particularly admired about the educational standards in Nalanda. Incidentally, Nalanda is the only non-Chinese institution in which any Chinese scholar was educated in the history of ancient China.

It is also important to recognize that while Nalanda was very special, it was still a part of larger tradition of organized higher education that developed in that period in India - in Bihar in particular. In addition to Nalanda, there were in the vicinity other such institutions, such as Vikramshila and Odantapuri. Indeed, Xuangzang wrote about them too, even though he himself studied in Nalanda. There was larger social culture to which Nalanda belonged and this is important to recollect in thinking about the tradition of Nalanda.

The second question to ask is the difficult one about the room for science in what was after all a religious institution. Nalanda was a Buddhist foundation, as were Vikramshila and Odantapuri, and surely the central focus of these institutions were studies of Buddhist philosophy and practice. The point to remember here is that by the nature of the philosophy of Buddha, whose focus of preaching was on enlightenment (the name given to Gautama, viz Buddha, itself means "enlightened"), there was a basic epistemic and ethical curiosity in the tradition of intellectual Buddhism that sought knowledge in many different fields. Some of the fields were directly related to Buddhist commitments, such as medicine and healthcare; others went with the development and dissemination of Buddhist culture, such as architecture and sculpture; and still others linked Buddhist intellectual queries with interest in analytical discipline.

Let me comment briefly on the last - not specifically with reference to Nalanda, but as a way of understanding better the Buddhist intellectual impact. One of the connections on which evidence of intellectual connections between China and India is plentiful is the impact of Buddhists in general, and of adherents of Tantric Buddhism in particular, on Chinese mathematics and astronomy in the seventh and eight centuries, in the Tang period. Yi Jing, who was a student of Nalanda, was one of many translators of Tantric texts from Sanskrit into Chinese.

Tantrism became a major force in China in the seventh and eighth centuries, and had followers among Chinese intellectuals of the highest standing. Since many Tantric scholars had a deep interest in mathematics (perhaps connected, at least initially, with Tantric fascination with numbers), Tantric mathematicians had a significant influence on Chinese mathematics as well.

Indeed, as Joseph Needham notes, "the most important Tantrist was I-Hsing (672 to 717), the greatest Chinese astronomer and mathematician of his time" Needham goes on to remark that "this fact alone should give us pause, since it offers a clue to the possible significance of this form of Buddhism for all kinds of observational and experimental sciences." Yi Xing (or I-Hsing, to use Needham's spelling), who was in fact never a student of Nalanda, but belonged to a tradition of which Nalanda was one of the results, was fluent in Sanskrit. As a Buddhist monk, Yi Xing was familiar with the Indian religious literature, but he had acquired a great expertise also on Indian writings on mathematics and astronomy.

Despite his own religious connection, it would be a mistake to assume that Yi Xing's mathematical or scientific work was somehow motivated by religious concerns. As a general mathematician who happened to be also a Tantrist, Yi Xing dealt with a variety of analytical and computational problems, many of which had no particular connection with Tantrism or Buddhism at all. The combinatorial problems tackled by Yi Xing included such classic ones as "calculating the total number of possible situations in chess." Yi Xing was particularly concerned with calendrical calculations, and even constructed, on imperial order, a new calendar for China.

Calendrical studies in which Indian astronomers located in China in the eighthy century, along with Yi Xing, were particularly involved, made good use of the progress of trigonometry that had already occurred in India by then (going much beyond the original Greek roots of Indian trigonometry". The movement east of Indian trigonometry to China was a part of global exchange of ideas that also went West around that time. Indeed, this was also about the time when Indian trigonometry was having a major impact on the Arab world (with widely used Arabic translations of the works of Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Brahmagupta and others), which would later influence European mathematics as well, through the Arabs (Gherardo of Cremona would make the first Latin translation of Arab mathematical texts that reported on Indian work in 1150, just before the time when Nalanda would come to its sudden end).

It is this general intellectual animation, including animation in analytical and scientific questions, that we have to appreciate in interpreting what was going on in old Nalanda that as a religious foundation, it nevertheless pursued general intellectual and scientific studies the products of which were of great interest also to people who were not religious, or did not share the religion of the foundations involved. Isaac Newton was religious - indeed very mystically oriented - and while he revolutionized the nature of physics, mathematics and optics, he had no problem with his religiosity.

The mixture of religion and science was by no means unique to Nalanda, and to illustrate with another example, it was the Christian university of Padua one of earliest of the extant universities in the world - that produced Galileo Galilei. To what extent such conflict arose in Nalanda, I do not know, but as more documents come to light, we may well find out whether there were tensions in the relation between science and religion in Nalanda. What is, however, absolutely clear is that this Buddhist foundation make much room for the pursuit of analytical and scientific subjects within the campus of Nalanda University.

A third question concerns the subjects that were actually taught in Nalanda. Here we do have a problem, since the documents in Nalanda were indiscriminatingly burnt by Bakhtiyar and his conquering army. We have to rely therefore of the accounts of students of Nalanda who wrote about what they had seen, and given the reticence of Indians to write about history, we have to rely mostly on the accounts of outsiders who did not share their reticence, such as Xuangzang and Yi Jing.

We do know that among the subjects taught, and on which there was on-going research, were medicine, public health, architecture, sculpture, and astronomy, in addition to religion, history, law and linguistics.

What about mathematics? As it happens the Chinese chroniclers from Nalanda, such as Yi Jing and Xuangzang, were not involved in mathematical studies. Those in China who were deeply involved in Indian mathematics, such as Yi Xing, did not train in Nalanda. There may have been others, in India or China or elsewhere, from Nalanda who were involved in mathematics (a subject that was flourishing in India in this period) and whose documents have been lost. However, we do know, from Indian accounts, that logic was a subject that was taught in Nalanda, and my guess is that eventually evidence would emerge on this part of the curriculum in Nalanda as well.

Further indirect evidence in the direction of the presence of mathematics in Nalanda curriculum was the inclusion of astronomy in Nalanda. Xuangzang comments on that, and refers elegantly to the observational tower that seemed to rest among the cloudy fog high up, and provided an eye-catching sight in the Nalanda campus.

In that period the progresses in Indian and Chinese astronomy were closely linked with developments with mathematics, particularly trigonometry. Indeed, all the Indian experts that the Chinese brought to China for astronomical work were mathematicians (one of these Indian mathematicians became the Director of the official Board of Astronomy of China in the 8th century).

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H3.15    Abhayagiriya: The Conservation of an Archaeological Edifice

 

Ravi Ladduwahetty

* Civil works initiated by the Central Cultural Fund spanning 30 years concludes end 2012
* First ever organised rehabilitation of the stupa, since original structure was built by King Walagamba in 89 BC
* Total of 53 million bricks used for Dome, only second highest after Jethavanaramaya’s 92 million

 

  

The first ever major conservation in its fullest of the Abhayagiriya Stupa, since it was built by King Walagamba in 89 BC, which commenced in 1982, will be completed after 30 years at the end of the year.

 

A further highlight of the conservation work was that no conservation was done, barring a few expansions of the Stupa Dome in the Polonnaruwa era in the 12th Century, minor conservation work done by then Ceylon’s first Commissioner of Archaeology H.C.P. Bell, where repairs were effected to the Square (Hathareskotuwa) in 1892 and subsequently minor repairs done to the Spire (Kothkerella) by iconic Archaeological Commissioner Dr. Senarath Paranavithana in 1957. There were also small repairs effected to the Basal Terrace by the Maha Nayaka of the Polonnaruwa Raja Maha Vihara in 1979.

 

However, if not for the minor conservation work undertaken in the interim, the entire structure may have collapsed by now. One of the drawbacks to a sustained conservation program until now, was the non availability of finance, technology and manpower along with state patronage.

 

However, some of the highlights of the monumental conservation work undertaken since 1982 period was the conservation works to the surrounding areas till around 1994. This include the conservation of the twin ponds, some of the temples, Repository (Dana Salas), monuments and the parallel infrastructure of the Abhayagiriya sacred area. The real conservation of the stupa started post 1994/ 1995 where it was a dense jungle which even included 17 varieties of trees as undergrowth. The systematic uprooting took over eight years from 1994 to 2002.

 

Some of the trees that had grown from the base of the stupa right to the Square included Veera, Kohomba, Sandalwood Kudu Miris (a shrub) and Ebony and other vegetation unique to dry zone. The North East and the South Western monsoonal rains and winds have really had a damaging impact on the dome and the former in particular in terms of rain and winds which have affected the North East and South West flanks of the Abhayagiriya dome.

 

Initial setbacks

 

The project was not without any temporary setbacks. The initial tests failed where the mixture was sprayed into the structure of the dome on a selected one metre wide strip from the square downwards but the error was rectified when the plaster was administered like a cement application on a one metre strip from below the square right across the dome which worked, Dorakumbura also explained in an interview with ‘The Island’ Sat Mag at the site last Saturday.

 

"A further highlight was that the trees and the roots were gradually removed section by section and the plaster was administered to fill in the cavities on a selected basis or else it all the trees were removed and the plastering done afterwards, then the entire dome would have been prone to soil erosion," he remarked.

 

The Abhayagiriya dome has consumed 53 million bricks, vis a vis the two other monuments in the Atamasthana- Jethavanaramaya’s 92 million ( which is also the largest / tallest brick monument in the world) and the Mirisawetiya (13 million) as published in the writer’s Sunday Island Roundabout cover story in 1995.

 

"The civil works of the dome is almost complete but the rearrangements of the stones of the Stone Paved Terrace, is only around 30% already completed . However, the gargantuan task now to be completed is the rearrangement of all the stones in the Stone Paved Terrace (Salapathala Maluwa) which have now been dismantled," Central Cultural Fund’s Director General Prof. Gamini Adhikari said.

 

 

Some of the additional work left in the dome, which is almost completed are the small areas in which the old plaster has been found and they have to be filled with the new plaster in the above mentioned recipe in the same ratios.

 

There were four masons who were associated with the project- B.A. Ariyaratne, Asoka Silva, P. Abeysinghe and Ratnatilleke who have been present at the site from the inception itself. No cement had been used in the conservation of the stupa and the plaster used has been a mixture of burnt ash, paddy husk ash, ant hill clay and grounded roof tile powder in the ratio of 1: 1:2:2 which conformed to best practices in archaeological conservation. Central Cultural Fund’s Ranjith Dorakumbura said that the strength of the plaster had been confirmed by the Engineering Departments of both the Universities of Peradeniya and Moratuwa.

 

"One of the cornerstones of archaeological conservation is the repair of the damaged structure without changing or destroying the original, an integral part of international charters of conservation. These are all the more evident as not only Abhagiriya, but the entire Anuradhapura city is an ICOMOS site," Central Cultural Fund’s Officer in Charge of the Abhayagiriya Stupa conservation project- Mettananda Hettipathirana said.

 

Dorakumbura also said that concepts of Bernard .M. Fieldon’s book on Historic Building Conservation have also been included in undertaking the Abhayagiriya project. " Some may criticize these international charters and that as Sri Lankans, we do not need to adhere to them, but historical, archaeological, religious and cultural values have all been embedded into the stupa in the civil works which spanned the last three decades," he said.

 

There were various divided opinions on how the stupa should look like. Some said that the stupa should be colour washed in lime akin to some of the other stupas such as Ruwanveliseya and Thuparamaya while the others believed that the original structure and image should be retained to preserve the archaeological and cultural aspects or otherwise, the former would have been a distortion of history, Central Cultural Fund’s Director General Prof. Gamini Adhikari said.

 

He also went on to say that originally Professor Nandadeva Wijesekera, and then Anuradhapura Atamasthanadhipathi -Ven Pallegema Gnanarathana Thera belived that Buddhist devotees do not like to worship broken and damaged statues and that religious fervor could not be developed that way and that the colour washing was mandatory to build that fervour. However, Dr Roland de Silva (later Founder Director General of the Central Cultural Triangle), Dr. Siran Deraniyagala ( later Archaeology Department’s Project Director of the Anuradhapura Citadel Excavation Project and subsequently, Director General of Archaeology) along with two Budhhist monks –Ven. Sirimalwatte Ananda Thera and Ven. Kamburupitiye Thera shot that theory down as they believed that the ancient archaeological values should be embedded into any stupa conservation.

 

UNIQUE FEATURES

 

One of the unique features of the Abhayagiriya Stupa which stands out is the presence of a Bahirawa Kotuwa adjoining the Devatha Kotuwa. (The Devatha Kotuwa is a structure which is between the Spire ( Koth Kerella) and the Square ( Hathareskotuwa). While almost all the stupas have the Devatha Kotuwa, there is also a Bahirawa Kotuwa at the Abhayagiriya Stupa which has eight images of Gods in its Devatha Kotuwa. This is believed to be in accordance with the belief in rituals and Hindu practices which prevailed at that time.

 

VALUE ADDITION TO LABOUR AND MAINTENANCE

 

The project which was started in 1982, had only 13 labourers and masons. There was no funding at that time and they worked

on the donations of the World Food Programme. Each of the employees were given a cash payment of Rs. 35 per day and dry rations of dhal, sugar, wheat flour, milk powder and dry fish. However, with the passage of time, World Food Programme funds stopped and it was the Central Cultural Fund which started paying the employees. There has been a value addition to the employment generation in the area and the number of labourers who are present at the site and the immediate environs, have grown to 202. However, they will continue to have employment at the site as maintenance work has to be done which will prevent the growth of trees and other shrubs inside the dome, once again. Although, the bulk of the undergrowth has been removed there would be the possibilities of remaining roots and seeds remaining in the dome which could germinate later. They have not been uprooted for the fear of erosion and fragmentation of the dome. The vectors are the birds who lie on the scaffolding and the winds which could germinate seeds.

 

SELF FINANCING

 

Another highlight of this project is that the Central Cultural Fund has used its own internally generated funds for the financing of such projects through the sale of tickets at the entrances to these monuments and especially to the tourists. These funds are remitted to the Treasury and parts of it are disbursed for the expenses in the conservation works at periodic intervals when the needs arise. However, there were instances where the funding had to be done by the Treasury at times with the Northern hostilities were at its height and there were no tourists at all.

 

A HIVE OF ACTIVITY

 

The project site was a hive of activity last Saturday. Over 200 masons and labourers working on the stone paved terrace and the inner wall. The scaffolding remained with over 20,000 steel pipes still on the structure which will be removed shortly. There was the open air lift crane which the writer and three officials climbed to a height of over 150 feet above the ground level to photograph the Square and the pinnacle. Strong winds gushed and the lift crane in mid air at over 100 feet, started shaking vigourously! The four inmates were getting blown away! The writer’s legs caved in and he almost fainted. All he did, was to offer a brief prayer!

 

18 04 2012 - The Island


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H3.16    Tracing the origins of Rankoth Vihara

 

Prof. G L Peiris

Rankoth Vihara

At its inception ‘Rankoth Vihara’ was known as ‘Galkande Vihara’. In village parlance it was called ‘Galwale Pansala’. It was when the pinnacle of the Dagoba of this vihara was anointed with gold around 1890 AD, it became famous as ‘Rankoth Vihara’.

Regarding the origin of this temple, there is an interesting story enshrined in folklore. In the area below the sacred Bo-tree, there was a large abandoned rock quarry which flanked the old Galle road and on the opposite side was a night-parking lot for laden carts. During the rainy season this quarry got filled with water and soon became the habitat of myriads of frogs.

Thereafter cobras began to lurk in the vicinity to prey on them. One day misfortune befell one of these cobras. The frogs attacked the cobra and the cobra succumbed to their attack.

There was a gentleman of importance from Panadura who happened to watch this fight between frogs and the cobra and this unusual happening prompted him to conclude that this was a ground blessed with victory and that if a temple was erected at this place it would assist greatly in the advancement of Buddhism. He accordingly got his friends and relations interested and built ‘Rankoth Vihara’ about 1810 AD.

During this time the pupils of the Most Venerable Sri Kathaluwe Gunarathana Maha Nayaka Thera, who was the founder of the Amarapura sect, were ministering to the religious needs of Buddhists all over the island. Ven Gunarathana’s senior pupil was Ven Batapola Kalyanatissa Thera. It was he who found Rankoth Vihara. After the demise of Ven Gunarathana Thera (1832-1841) he became the Maha Nayaka of the Amarapura sect.

The first contributors

As the great historian Weber has pointed out towards the end of the 18th Century, vast changes took place in the living conditions of the people of Sri Lanka. The humble agrarian lifestyle changed into an affluent one.

Entrance of Rankoth Vihara

Among this new rich, who also had the blessings of the powers that be, were persons dedicated to Buddhism who because of their wealth, learning and influence were able to make a decisive contribution to the founding of Rankoth Vihara. It is presumably one of these persons who would have witnessed the fight between frogs and the cobra.

In the old ‘pedigree chronicle’ preserved in the vihara the following account appears:

“Experiencing the serene joy emanating from the abounding holiness of the three most venerables Kathaluwe Gunarathanatissa, Batapola Kalyanatissa and Walpita Sumanatissa, who deigned to grace the town of Panadura with their presence, on the solemn invitation of Messrs Varusahennedige Fransiscu Sovisa Patabendirala, Ponnahennedige Lawrenthi Dias (teacher), Ponnahennedige Moses Dias, Mahawaduge Bastian Perera (renter), Varusahennedige Peduru Sovisa Vidane, Varusahennedige Juan Sovisa, Thelge Joronis Pieris (renter), the task of establishing this holy site was undertaken in the year 1810 AD with the help and support of other people of the locally.”

The first meeting to construct the present two-storied building for the residence of monks was held on the June 27, 1821. The dagoba has been constructed on a huge rock. Surrounding this a parapet wall about 30 feet in height has been built and filled with sand so as to enable the enclosed sanctum of the dagoba and vihara to be constructed.

Below this situated the sanctum of the sacred Bo-tree also enclosed by a parapet wall. Rumour holds it that to obtain the sand from the sea shore, a procession of devotees was formed stretching from the temple to the shore and the sand was passed in vessels from hand to hand.

The dagoba was built in 1863 and relics were interned in 1865. A letter sent by the Malwatte Maha Nayaka Thera regarding the accompanying ceremony states as follows. “To all those lay and priestly devotees who have inaugurated the construction of a dagoba in the Galvala Vihara at Panadura, greetings: unceasing donations without stint to the triple gem will invariably bring the blessings of both worlds. Ven Madagama Dhammarakkitha Mahanayaka Thera of Pushparama Vihara, Kandy.”

The building of the vihara also took place at this time. The inauguration ceremony took place in 1894. Jeremias Dias made a large contribution to the building fund of the vihara which was carried out under his auspices.

The preaching hall was constructed in 1930. The land for this purpose was donated by Jeremias Dias’s wife.

The persons who played a prominent part in its construction were P C H Dias and Jahannes Anthony Rodrigo. The Sri Pada building and the old water tank were built by my grandfather Walter Salgado his brother, Richard Salgado, Dick Dias, Robert Dias, Edmond Soysa, Charles Dias, Hugh Gunawardena and Theadore Gunawardena at the request of Meeripenne Jothipala Nayaka Thera of the Buddhist Ecclesiastical Court. The new parapet wall of the sacred Bo-tree was built under the auspices of the Maha Prajapathie Gothami Society in 1981.

On 1987 February the international library building in the name of Ven Sri Sasanarathana Anunayake Thera was opened. The priests who held the position of Chief Incumbent of the temple are as follows:

1 Ven Batapola Kalyanatissa Maha Nayaka Thera (1810-1841)

2 Ven Walapita Sri Sumanatissa Nayaka Thera (1841-1857)

3 Ven Walpita Gunarathanatissa Maha Nayaka Thera (1857-1920)

4 Ven Pandithacharya Panadure Gnanawimalatissa Nayaka Thera (1920-1929)

5 Ven Karagampitiye Jothirathana Anunayake Thera (1929-1958)

6 Dr Rajakeeya Panditha Kahapola Sugatharathana Nayaka Thera (1981 onwards)

When Ven Karagampitiye Jothirathana Anunayaka Thera was old and infirm Ven Abhidammika Somarathana Thera of Panadure looked after the affairs of the temple as Managing Chief Incumbent.

The present improvements to Rankoth Vihara commenced during the period of Ven Walpita Gunarathanatissa Maha Nayaka Thera, Pulinathalaramaya of Kalutara, Patalirukkaramaya of Pinwala, Nagananda Vihara of Kovilagodella were also temples that came within the purview of his tenure as Chief Incumbent. A news item in the ‘Lakmina’ of June 17, 1920 states as follows about him:

At the end of his Viharadhipathiship, this most venerable and famous place of worship complete in every facility, stood out in stupendous splendour not incomparable with Rankoth Vihara constructed 740 years ago by King Parakramabahu the great, at Polonnaruwa. To this day temple keeps improving proclaiming the past meritorious services rendered by this most venerable priest.....”

The appointment of Buddhist Marriage registrars

Among the great religious and social activities carried out by Ven Gunarathanatissa Mahanayaka Thera, particular mention must be made of the fact that it was he who was instrumental in bringing about what came to be known as ‘The Great Panadure Debate’ and also of the appointment of Buddhist marriage registrars. The aforementioned newspaper also refers to these matters as follows:

“As a result of registering the marriages of Buddhists in churches under the law then prevailing a tendency was observed by the brother of Mudliyar Sri Chandrasekera, Mututantrige Lewis Fernando Alias Lewis Bass, that Buddhists became converts to Christianity.

He thereupon spent Rs 207 out of his pocket, visited 75 villages and collected 33,000 signatures and persuaded the British Government to install the present system of Marriage Registrars for Buddhists. Had this not been done, by now the Buddhist population would have been decimated to a handful.

The one person who was behind Lewis Bass giving him advice and encouragement was none other than Ven Gunarathanatissa Maha Nayaka Thera.”

The Great Panadure Debate

Ven Gunarathanatissa Maha Nayaka Thera was also the architect of the “Great Panadure Debate.” Reverend David de Silva preached a sermon on June 12, 1873 in the Wesliyan Church situated in close proximity to Rankoth Vihara, criticizing the fundamental tenets of Buddhism.

This came to the knowledge of Ven Gunarathanatissa Maha Nayaka Thera. After a discussion with P Jeramias Dias and Cornelis Perera Appuhamy, two chief contributors of the temple, he invited Ven Mohottiwatte Gunananda Nayaka Thera for a discourse at Rankoth Vihara and got him to reply to Reverend David de Silva. After this, he started a series of competing discourses in absentia both in the Wesliyan Church and at Rankoth Vihara.

This culminated in an agreement to hold a public debate on this matter. The proposal for a debate was sent by Peter Daniel, proctor of the Panadura Courts and by one Mathes Suwaris Gunawardena to Jeramias Dias (renter) and Kurukulasuriyage Cornelis Perera Karunaratne Appuhamy. This hand-delivered letter is preserved to this day at Rankoth Vihara.

In pursuance of this letter on and August 26 and 27 1873, this debate was held on the private property called Dambagahawatte belonging to Jeremias Dias. Ven Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thera was the chief debator for the Buddhists while the Christian faction was represented by both Reverends David de Silva and Sirimanne Kathiresu.

Prior to the debate, for several days data were collected by a series of discussions that took place on the upper floor of the residence of monks at Rankoth Vihara. It is stated that for this purpose several versions of the Bible, Sanskrit books and books containing the Thripitaka were made use of. Outstanding people of learning assisted.

Among those who participated at these discussions were the most Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera, Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera, Bulathgama Dhammalankara Thera, Ratmalane Sri Dhammaloka Thera, Waskaduwe Sri Subhuthi Thera and Pandit Sri Devarakkitha Batuwantudawe.

The land Dombagahawatte, in which this debate was held was later gifted by the wife of Jeremias Dias to her daughter Rosalin Emaly Rodrigo, on July 9, 1954 at the request of Karagampitiye Jothirathana Anunayaka Thera, who was then the Viharadhipathy of Rankoth Vihara, this property was gifted by her to the Panadura Buddhist Society.

Under the auspices of the Panadura Buddhist Society and at the behest of Ven Dr Moratuwe Sasanarathana Anunayake Thera, on August 26, 1973, at the centenary celebrations carried out with the participation of all the Buddhist temples and organizations it was decided that a commemorative edifice should be erected at the spot where the debate took place and for this purpose the foundation stone was laid by the Governor General William Gopallawa. After spending a great deal of money the Buddhist Society laid a concrete foundation.

However, due to various objections the matter came to a standstill thereafter, and the place is now covered with grass and scrub jungle.

A report of the Great Panadura Debate was published by John Caper in the ‘Times’. Thereafter it was published in book form in America by J M Sibles. A copy of this reached Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. It was this book that induced him to come to Sri Lanka. It is stated that he delivered a lecture in the lecture hall of Rankoth Vihara.

Sir Edwin Arnold

Sir Edwin Arnold, who was the author of ‘The Light of Asia’ visited Rankoth Vihara in 1886. In his book ‘India Revisited’ an account is given at pages 267-274 of a long discussion he had with Ven Weligama Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera. The tenor of this account reflects the esteem and veneration in which he held Weligama Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera. It was at this discussion that for the first time it was mooted by the said Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera that Buddha Gaya should be in the charge of Buddhists.

About the demeanour of the Sinhalese, Sir Arnold has stated thus: “I was received on behalf of Sri Lanka by a large number of Bhikkus clad in saffron robes residing in the temple presided over by the learned Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera by their speeches and pamphlets. These well-wishing Buddhists had decorated the large hall with coconut fronds and the path leading to it with flowers and multi-coloured leaves. The hall arrangements to welcome us and the hospitality accorded to us proclaimed the rare benign quality of the Sinhalese.”

As disclosed in the aforementioned book of Sir Arnold, even as far back as 1886 there had been a teaching Pirivena at Rankoth Vihara.

According to existing temple records however the present Pirivena was inaugurated on September 17, 1896.

The prime mover behind this was Jeremias Dias. According to the eighth administrative report of the Sri Saugatha Vidyala Pirivena of 1904 a great deal of information surrounding this pirivena is disclosed. Weligama Sri Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera was the first principal of this Pirivena.

He was succeeded by Ven Panadure Gnanawimalatissa Nayaka Thera. Several distinguished Mahanayaka Theras of the Amarapura sect studied in this Pirivena. Agga Mahapanditha Beruwala Sirinivasa Mahanayaka Thera, Rajakeeya Panditha Kahandamodera Sri Piyaratane Nayaka Thera, Rajakeeya Panditha Ambalangoda Dhammakusala Nayaka Thera, Dr Moratuwe Sasanarathana Nayaka Thera passed out of this Pirivena. At the initial stages, the Mahanayaka Thera, who was invited to examine the students at this Pirivena, was Ven Hikkaduwe Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera.

Pandithacharya Panadure Gnanawimalatissa Nayaka Thera was a monk well versed in Sanskrit. A large number of students, both lay and priestly, have studied under him. The most venerable Karagampitiye Jothiorathana Anunayaka Thera was proficient in Pali and the Vinaya doctrine. He translated into Sinhala the Pali book on Vinaya called the Mahvaggapali with explanatory annotations and did a great service to Buddhism. Besides this, he is the author of a large number of other works.

Ven Dr Moratuwe Sasanarathana Anunayaka Thera was a monk of great erudition who graced the 20th Century. Men of learning refer to him with awe for the depth of knowledge with which he has presented the Mahayana doctrine. Dr Needham (1978), Dr Trewalin (1976), Dr U M Bromley visited Rankoth Vihara because of his esteemed reputation. In the book of names of the world’s most learned men published in Germany, Dr Moratuwe Sasanarathana Anunayaka Thera’s name has been included. This is not only a credit to Rankoth Vihara but to the whole of Sri Lanka.

Dhamma School

The School of Dhamma was commenced at Rankoth Vihara on April 22, 1903. Its patrons were Ven Walpita Gunarathana Tissa Mahanayaka Thera and Pandithacharya Panadure Gnanawimalatissa Nayaka Thera.

Arthur V Dias, T Jeramanis Peiris, W Daniel Fernando, P C F Gunawardena, B Paulis Perera, B W Munasinghe, W C Fernando, L B Fernando, B C Perera, Arthur Salgado, John Cooray, J R Sri Chandrasekera, Albert A Fonseka, Oliver A Gunawardena are its early benefactors. From 1915 to 1945, for a period of 40 years Gilbert C Fernando rendered an unforgettable service to this Dhamma school. At present about 14,000 children are taught the Dhamma at this school. The first two Buddhist schools to be registered, Upadyaya Vidyalaya and Sri Sumangala Maha Vidyalaya were both started at Rankoth Vihara. The present incumbent Viharadhipathy of this historic Rankoth Vihara is Ven Professor Rajakeeya Panditha Kahapola Sugatharathana Thera.

12 10 2010 - Daily News

 

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H3.17    The Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka

Medamahanuwa Dhammasiri Thera


 

Both monks and laymen commemorate the 2011 Vesak Full Moon Poya day which marks 2555 years since the passing away (Parinirvana) of Lord Buddha. The Buddha in his state of Siddartha the Gauthama had travelled  a very arduous journey for Buddhahood, especially having starved for six-years to achieve the supreme truth in this world which was followed by achieving the ultimate bliss of enlightenment at the age of 35 - the details of which can be found in the Pali texts.

From there on, the Buddha, for the remaining 45 years of his life spread the message of the Dhamma throughout India and the rest of the world while walking alongside kings, queens, senators, ministers, prince,’ princess,’ farmers, traders, vendors, beggars, the rich and the poor.

He delivered sermons irrespective of the status of the persons who sought it. The entire Buddhist world is now ready to celebrate this festival after the end of 2555 years since the Buddha’s Parinirvana, in addition to the 45 years of his life which he dedicated to spread his message across the universe. It is no wonder that Sri Lanka continues to put special emphasis on Buddhism as it is the official state religion as the majority of people in the country are Buddhists.

The Lord Buddha is believed to have visited Lanka thrice and though there are different viewpoints expressed in this regard the majority of Buddhists believes, and are convinced that, the Enlightened One had visited this land and blessed it thrice at different times. According to historians most of the details regarding the Buddha’s visits to the country could be gleaned through archaeological records and Pali texts. Several literary texts written before the 4th Century BC also give information with regard to the Buddha’s three visits to this country.

Among some of those literary works are Deepavansa, Mahavansa, Samanthapasadika, Pujavali and Saddharmarathnavali. According to historians the three visits the Lord Buddha had made to this country were during times of dispute, and to settle these disputes that had arisen between two communities - the Yakka and Naga that had inhabited this island. Archaeologist Dr Shiran Deraniyagala has lucidly explained these details in   some books that were published in this connection. He has based his views after research carried out at three venues the Buddha is believed to have delivered his sermons to the Yakka and Naga clans.

It was during the time of the 5th Century and the 6th Century BC that the Buddha is said to have arrived in this country. During his visit, the two clans - Yakka and Naga are said to have been involved in the production of black and red ware, and animal and plant domestication. They are also said to have learned a technique in burials and these details have been unearthed from the Proto Historical Period. Professor Sudarshan Senevirathna has also endorsed this fact.

According to history, the two clans - Yakka and Naga are said to have spread right across the country and this land’s early civilization and transformation have been attributed to these clans.

The Yakka and Naga clans had been leading a cultured lifestyle though there were constant arguments, quarrels and brawls which had been the reason that the Buddha had made two visits to the country.

According to the Pali texts, the Buddha is said to have arrived here on a Duruthu Full Moon Poya day but the Deepavansa does not concur on one aspect as it states that he had in fact been here but not on the Poya day. 

According to the Samanthapasadika, the Buddha had been here the first time to settle a big dispute between the Yakka clans; the second time he had been here was to settle the quarrel that had erupted between Chulodara and Mahodara. The third and final time he had been here was following an invitation from King Maniakkika, with around 500 monks accompanying him. The Buddha had then visited Ruwanweliseya, Thuparama, Sri Maha Bodhi, Muthiyangana, Deegavapi, and Kelaniya temples while being in a deep state of meditation at the same time. 

The Buddha is also said to have etched his footprints at Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) and had offered a sacred lock of his hair to god Sumana Saman where he is said to have enshrined it at a temple at Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada premises. Furthermore, historical records point out to another clan called the gods or deities who have chased away the Yakka clan and had embraced the Dhamma preached by the Buddha. 

The state of the country’s society during the time of the Buddha’s second visit which had occurred during the 5th year of his Enlightenment has been described by archaeologists as the Semi-Development Social Background. 

The Buddha’s second visit coincided with a dispute that had arisen between Chulodara and Mahodara over a gem studded chair. The two nephews were from the Naga clan. Seeing the Buddha, the Naga clan including Chulodara and Mahodara had composed themselves and had immediately offered the chair to the Enlightened One. They had offered alms to the Buddha as well.

According to the Mahawansa, the Naga clan is said to have observed the five precepts after having listened to the sermons delivered by the Lord Buddha. While settling the dispute between the two nephews, another Naga King by the name of Maniakkika had extended an invitation to the Buddha to visit Kelaniya at a later time, which he did during his third and final visit to the country. 

On completion of the 8th year of his Enlightenment the Buddha had arrived in Kelaniya along with 500 monks to honour the invitation that was extended to him by Naga King Maniakkika.

There is one noticeable aspect during the three times that the Buddha visited this country - that is the erection of Chaithya’s or shrines in his honour at Sri Pada, Nagadeepa and Kelaniya. 

When Buddhists in this country are preparing to celebrate the 2600 Sambuddhathva Jayanthi it is prudent for all to consider how these different ethnic groups embraced this religion from that era and from which this country’s civilization has been transformed through the ages. 

The Buddha strived during his lifetime of 45 years after attaining Buddhahood to teach the importance of people searching for the truth and the upcoming Vesak Full Moon Poya day is an ideal time for everyone to make a commitment to lead a simplistic life. They should also endeavour to adhere to all the precepts espoused by the Buddha. In doing so they will be able to reap the benefits of the Buddha’s three visits to this hallowed land.

15 05 2011 - Lakbima

 

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H3.18    Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka

 

The significance of Bak poya is historical, since it marks Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka. This is noteworthy, as Bak is a month of national importance as well.

Buddha statue in Mihintale Picture by Lakshan Maduranga

According to Mahavamsa, Buddha could foresee an imminent war between two Naga Kings Culodara and Mahodara, uncle and nephew, over a jewel-studded throne that made him think of visiting Lanka for the second time. Professor Wilhelm Geiger explains the conflict in the translation of Mahavamsa:

“That same Naga Mahodara was then a King, gifted with miraculous power in a Naga Kingdom in the ocean, that covered half a thousand Yojanas. His younger sister had been given (in marriage) to the Naga-King on the Kannavaddhamana mountain; her son was Culodara.

His mother’s father had given to his mother a splendid throne of jewels, then the Naga had died and therefore this war of nephew with uncle was threatening and also the Nagas of the mountains were armed with miraculous power.

Mahavamsa also records that the Buddha was accompanied by a deity to Sri Lanka.

“The deva named Samiddhisumana took a rajayatana-tree standing in Jetavana, his own fair habitation and holding it like a parasol over the conqueror, he with the Teacher’s leave, attended him to that spot where he had formerly dwelt. That very deva had been, in his latest birth, a man in Nagadipa.

On the spot where thereafter the rajayatana-tree stood, he saw paccekabuddhas taking their meal. And at the sight his heart was glad and he offered branches to cleanse the alms-bowl.

Therefore he was reborn in that tree in the pleasant Jetavans garden, and it (the tree) stood afterwards outside at the side of the gate-rampart. The God of all gods saw (in this) an advantage for that deva and for the sake of the good which should spring (therefrom) for our land, he brought him hither (to Lanka) together with his tree.

Mahavamsa then relates how Buddha settled the dispute and the next development of events. “Hovering there in mid-air above battlefield the Master, who drives away (spiritual) darkness, called forth dread darkness over the Nagas.

Then comforting those who were distressed by terror he once again spread light abroad. When they saw the Blessed One they joyfully did reverence to the Master’s feet. Then preached the Vanquisher to them the doctrine that begets concord and both (Nagas) gladly gave up the throne to the Sage.

“When the Master, having alighted on the earth, had taken his place on a seat there and had been refreshed with celestial food and drink by the Naga-Kings, he the Lord, established in the (three) refuges and in the moral precepts eighty kotis of snake-spirits, dwellers in the ocean and on the mainland.

“The Naga-King Maniakkhika of Kalyani mother’s brother to the Naga Mahodara, who had come thither to take part in the battle and who, aforetime, at the Buddha’s first coming, having heard the true doctrine preached, had become established in the refuges and the moral duties, prayed now to the Tathagata: ‘Great is the compassion that thou hast [you have] shown us here, O Master!

Hadst thou [had you] not appeared we had all been consumed to ashes. May thy [your] compassion yet light also especially on me, O thou who art [are] rich in loving-kindness, in that thou shalt [shall] come again hither to my dwelling country, O thou peerless one’.

When the Buddha had consented by his silence to come thither [there], he planted the rajayatana-tree on that very spot as a sacred memorial and the Lord of the Worlds gave over the rajayatana-tree and the precious throne-seat to the Naga-Kings to do homage thereto. ‘In remembrance that I have used these do homage to them, ye Naga-Kings!”

Buddha’s calling forth dread darkness over the Nagas should not be misunderstood. The Buddha holds fame for being the Greatest Compassionate on earth. The concept bears a symbolic meaning; Buddha preached the dark side of the world, and the Naga tribes were scared just to hear and visualise them. That paved the way for them to a comfort later on.

Buddha’s visits to Sri Lanka are believed to be false and legendary in certain sects. One reason is that it is not contained in Thripitaka, the official document of Buddha’s life. Thripitaka contains more of philosophically important factors, rather than history. Buddha had been to Sri Lanka thrice: first visit to Mahiyangana, second to Jaffna, then called as Nagadipa, and third to Kelaniya.

The common question is that if Buddha had already been to Sri Lanka, not only once, but thrice, why did Arahant Mahinda visit Sri Lanka once again. Arahant Mahinda, of course, had a mission to fulfil: to establish the Upasampada Bhikku order. The suitable time was not ripe for Buddha to consider establishing the serious Bhikku order. However Buddhism was not alien when Arahant Mahinda set foot.

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H3.19    Did the Buddha visit Sri Lanka? Point of view


Ranjan Gooneratne
 

Mahanama, the author of the Mahavamsa refers to three visits by the Buddha to Sri Lanka. Is this historically correct? Did the Buddha ever visit Sri Lanka? To ascertain whether the description in the Mahavamsa has any basis, one has to study the life of the Buddha, as revealed in the Pali Canon.

Immediately after Enlightenment, the Buddha walked from Buddha Gaya to Saranath. From Saranath, He set out to wander by stages to Uruvela. At that time three ascetics with matted hair — Kassapa of Uruvela, Kassapa of the River and Kassapa of Gaya — were living at Uruvela. When the Buddha was living at Uruvela, Kassapa’s sacrificial ceremony fell due.

A painting at Kelaniya temple that depicts one of the instances that Lord Buddha is supposed to have visited Lanka to settle a dispuite between two factions

The Mahavamsa says, “Now, since a great sacrifice by Kassapa of Uruvela was near at hand, and since He (the Buddha) saw that this latter would fain have Him away .., the Conqueror in the ninth month of his Buddhahood, at the full moon of Phussa, Himself set forth for the Isle of Lanka…

“To this great gathering of the Yakkas went the Blessed One and there in the midst of that assembly, hovering in the air over their heads, at the place of the future Mahiyangana Thupa, He struck terror to their hearts, by rain, storm, darkness and so forth. The Yakkas, overwhelmed by fear, besought the fearless Vanquisher to release them from fear. Then, when He had destroyed their terror,… the Master preached them the doctrine.” (Geiger’s translation pages 3 and 4)

The suttas display the Buddha, as the incarnation of patience and peace, capable of working the miracle of transformation by His unshakeable equanimity and impeccable wisdom.

The Buddha would never have struck terror to their hearts. This idea that the Buddha struck terror to their hearts by rain, storm and darkness, Mahanama has taken directly from the Vedas. The Vedas tell us that Indra wields the thunderbolt and conquers darkness. He brings us light and life, gives us vigour and freshness. Heaven bows before him and the earth trembles at his approach “Yes, when I send thunder and lightning” says Indra “then you believe, in me.” (Radhakrishna Indian Philosophy Vol. 1 pages 35-36)

According to the Mahavamsa’s description of the first visit of the Buddha to Lanka, the visit should take place between the sacrificial ceremony and the deliverance of the fire sermon at Gayassi.

The Mahavamsa says the Buddha came by air to Lanka. The description of the first visit of the Buddha goes against the fundamental teachings of the Buddha. In Mahasihanada Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 12) Sunakkata made this statement before the vesali assembly: “The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of reasoning as it occurs to him, and when he teaches the Dhamma to anyone, it leads when he practices it to the complete destruction of suffering”.

Bhikku Bodhi in his commentary to this sutta says “Apparently he (Sunakkhatta) believes that being led to the complete destruction of suffering is, as a goal, inferior to the acquisition of miraculous powers”. In His rebuttal of Sunkattha’s assertion the Buddha says “the recluse Gotama teaches a Dhamma hammered out by reasoning, following His own line of reasoning as it occurs to Him-Unless He abandons that view, then he will wind up in hell”.

In the Kevaddha Sutta (Digha Nikaya Sutta 11 in Maurice Walshe’s translation), The Buddha says, He dislikes, rejects and despises the miracles of psychic power and miracle of telepathy. The Buddha was possessed of a quality of compassion, seldom seen among men. His sympathy was all embracing and spontaneous. The Buddha’s teaching is based and built on a conception of universal love and compassion for all living beings.

In the Vatthupama Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 7) the Buddha says, “he abides pervading that all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, abundant, exalted immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. He abides pervading one quarter with the mind imbued with compassion.”

“In the Lakkahan Sutta (Digha Nikaya sutta 30) it is stated, “the Tathagata rejects harsh speech, abstains from it, spoke what was blameless, pleasing to the ear, agreeable, reaching the heart, urbane, pleasing and attractive to the multitude.”

Therefore, if the Mahavamsa is to be believed, when Mahanama says, “He struck terror to their hearts by rain, darkness and so forth. The Yakkas overwhelmed by fear… we have to accept that the Buddha abandoned the fundamental tenets of the Dhamma merely for the sake of converting a set of ‘uninstructed wordings.’ He was, of all the historical personages of whom we possess any knowledge, one of the most consistent in thought, word and act.

He not only placed little value on the supra-rational knowledge and ecstasy to which ascetics and mystics were supposed to have access, but actually described their mental acrobatics as “the thicket of theorizing, the wilderness of theorizing, the tangle, the bondage.”

The Mahavamsa goes on to say that it was on His first visit that the “Master preached the doctrine”. There is no record of the doctrine the Buddha preached to the Yakkas. However, there is a record of the two earlier sermons the Buddha delivered at Saranath.

According to the Mahavamsa, the Buddha’s second visit to Lanka was in the fifth year of His Buddhahood “He set out to Lanka from Jetawana.” If the Mahavamsa account of the Buddha’s second visit is to be believed He should have come to Lanka before He left for Kapilavasthu.

In His second visit, the Mahavamsa says the Buddha brought about a reconciliation between the Naga kind Maniakkhika and Mahodora by preaching the “the doctrine that begets concord.” King Pasanedi was one of the most devoted lay followers of the Buddha. Pasanedi says “The dhamma has been made clear in many ways by the Blessed One, as though He were turning upright what had been turned upside down. (vide Kosalaamyutta in the Samyuta Nikaya.)

Yet the Buddha was not able to prevent King Pasanedi going into battle with Ajasathu. In the Paranibbana Sutta we find Ajasattu sending his chief minister Brahamin Vessakara to the Buddha to seek advice as to how he could attack the Vajians and bring them to ruin and destruction. The Buddha told him, “the Vajians will never be conquered by force of arms.” Still the Buddha was not able to dissuade Ajasatu resorting to various stratagems to destroy the Vajians.

It is strange therefore, that while the Buddha was not able to prevent His disciples from waging wars, He could bring about reconciliation between two kings in a foreign country.

The doctrine that “begot concord” is not found anywhere in the Pali Canon. It is also strange that this doctrine was not delivered to Kings Pasanedi or Ajasatu and thereby dissuade them from going to war. 
According to the Mahavamsa, the third visit of the Buddha to Lanka was in the eighth year of His Buddhahood.

The Buddha “set forth surrounded by five hundred arahats on the second day of the beautiful month of Vesak..” Again the doctrine He preached on His third visit to the island is not found in the Pali Canon. The Buddha’s famous statement in the Paranibbana Sutta, “I have taught the Dhamma, Ananda, making no inner and outer. The Tathagata has no teacher’s fist in respect of the Dhamma,” makes it clear that there is no esoteric teaching in Buddhism.

On a plain reading of the Buddha visits to Lanka as recorded in the Mahavamsa, it becomes clear that this account is not only false but goes against the teachings of the Buddha.

It is also established that from the day of His enlightenment till He passed away at Kusinara, the Buddha walked barefoot from Buddha Gaya to Kusinara. At the little village of Beluva the Buddha said (Paranibbana Sutta), “Ananda, I am now old, worn out, one who has traversed life’s path, I have reached the term of life which is eighty.” The version in the Mahavamsa that the Buddha came by air from Jetawana to Lanka should be rejected.

One other matter that should be considered in delving into the veracity of the Buddha’s visit as narrated in the Mahavamsa is that there was an intellectual awakening in India about a thousand years before the Buddha. Therefore, we find in India at the time of the Buddha’s birth the tendency of man to think rationally, to reduce the chaotic universe of his sense-impressions and intuitions to a coherent and logical order, was ingrained in the Indian mind. The Buddha, as Radhakrishna says, “tore away the Dhamma from His ancestral stem and planted in a purely rational soil.”

Even in such an intellectually fertile soil as in India in the fifth century B.C, soon after enlightenment the Buddha experienced an inner conflict as to whether He should ever teach the Dhamma because, in the words of Bhikku Bodhi, “He reflected the density of the defilements of beings and the profundity of the Dhamma. In the Brahmasamayutta in the Samyutta Nikkaya we find the following statement, “This Dhamma I have discovered is deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, not within the sphere of reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.”

There is no evidence that the Nagas and Yakkas, if such tribes ever existed in prehistoric Lanka, had any intellectual background capable of understanding the profound teachings of the Buddha. It is also a matter for surprise that while there is a record of the very first sutta preached to five ascetics, we do not find in the Pali Canon any reference to the three discourses delivered to the Nagas and Yakkas.

William Geiger regards the Mahavamsa as a conscious and intentional rearrangement of the Dipavamsa as a sort of commentary to this latter.” Geiger refers to R.O. Franks’ Dipawamsa and Mahavamsa where he says, “In the absence of any sources, the Dipavamsa must be considered as standing unsupported on its own tottering feet.” Therefore, according to Franke no historical value can be conceded to the Dipavamsa nor to the Mahavamsa.

Geiger also refers to V.A. Smith’s “Asoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India” where “the Ceylonese chronology prior to B.C. 160 is absolutely and completely rejected as being not merely of doubtful authority but positively false in its principal propositions.”

The account given in the Mahavamsa has no historical evidence to support the proposition that the Buddha ever visited this island . Biographer and literary critic Lytton Strachey once said, “ignorance is the first requisite of the historian. Ignorance which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and limits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art. Had Lytton Strachey ever read the Mahavamsa, he would have been delighted to realize that Mahanama had followed his observation to the very letter.

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H3.20    Buddha's visit to Nagadeepa

Samangie Wettimuny

As the historical records reveal the Buddha's second visit to Sri Lanka had taken place during the month of Bak more than two thousand five hundred and ninety years ago.

Nagadeepa Vihara

As mentioned in the Mahavamsa, in the fifth year (523 B.C) of Supreme Enlightenment, the Buddha had visited Nagadeepa in Lankadeepa (Sri Lanka) to settle a dispute between Mahodara and Chulodara -uncle and nephew who were at war with each other over a gem studded throne.

During the Buddha's stay Jethawana he saw in his Divine Eye the disaster about to take place in Nagadeepa and arrived there on Bak Amawaka Poya day (fifteen days prior to Bak Full Moon Poya Day).

History

Mahodara was then a mighty king in Nagadeepa (a Naga-kingdom in the ocean that covered five hundred `yojanas'. His younger sister, Thirachchika was married to a Naga King of the Vaddhamana mountain.

Chulodara was their son.

Thirachchika's father gave her one of his most valuable jewels- a gem-studded throne before his death.

Mahodara had been displeased with this from the beginning and his anger grew worse when the throne was owned by Thirachchika's son in the end. Mahodara decided to declare war against Chulodara, his nephew.

Nagadeepa Stupa

A Deva named Samiddhi Sumana who dwelt in Rajayatana tree (a Banyan tree) in Jethawana too had joined the Buddha during his visit to Nagadeepa, the Mahavamsa reveals.

The Deva in fact had uprooted the tree and had held it like a parasol over the Buddha! The Buddha had made no objections as he knew that the god had lived in Nagadeepa in one of his previous births. In an another birth he had seen Paccekabuddhas taking their meals under the same Kiripalu tree. The sight made him happy and he offered them leaves to cleanse their alms bowls.

The merit was strong enough for him to be born in the same tree in the Jetawana Garden as a god. The Buddha brought him to Lankadeepa together with the tree as he knew that the tour will benefit him immensely.

As the Buddha arrived in Nagadeepa the Nagas were about to declare war. The Buddha hovered there in mid-air above the venue and in order to alarm the Nagas called forth dread darkness over the battle-ground.

Next the Buddha had spread light abroad in order to comfort those who were in distress and anxiety.

The Nagas were overwhelmed by happiness to see the Buddha who was hovering in mid-air. They raised their hands and worshipped the Enlightened One. He then preached to the Nagas in order to make them understand the evils of hatred.

The Buddha narrated to them Jathaka stories like Karkoluka, Pandana, Latukika, Wattaka which showed the evils of hatred and the importance of living in harmony. Chulodara and Mahodara discarded their weapons , and offered the gem studded throne to the Buddha. The Enlightened one who was in mid-air then alighted on the earth and sat on the throne.

The Mahavamsa finely describes how the Nagas offered him dhana.

Thousands of Nagas established themselves in the three refuges (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) and in the moral precepts.

Naga king Maniakkhika of Kelaniya who was the uncle of Mahodara (mother's brother) too was among the ones who came to participate in the battle.

In fact Maniakkhika had become established in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha (three refuges) and in the moral precepts during the Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka- to Mahiyangana. The Naga -king who was overwhelmed by the Buddha's power of compassion thanked him profusely for settling down the dispute which otherwise would cost millions of lives.

"The Compassion you showed is great". He told the Buddha. "Thatagatha, we would have all been consumed to ashes had not the Buddha intervened. May your compassion yet light also specially on me". Thus Maniakkika slowly revealed his intention of seeing the Buddha visiting his kingdom in Kelaniya if he intends to visit the country again. The Buddha remained silent and it indicated that he had accepted the invitation.

The Naga King then asked for an object of worship and as a result the Buddha gave over the Rajayathana tree and the gem studded throne to him to do homage. Historical records state that Maniakkikha planted the Rajayathana tree on that very spot as a sacred memorial.

"Since the Thathagatha has used these two, paying homage to them will bring about blessings and happiness" the Buddha had told the Nagas before returning to Jethawana on the same, Bak Amawaka poya day. Nagadeepa Stupa was constructed by Chulodara and Mahodara and it is still there in Nagadeepa in Jaffna district.

sundayobserver.lk/2009/04/05

 

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H3.21    Buddha's visit to Sri Lanka indisputable

Upali S. Jayasekera

 

This has reference to the letter written by ‘CR’ and published in The Island of January 15 under the heading ‘Alexander the Great visits Sri Pada - far fetched’. He ends the letter with a sting in the tail contending that the Buddha’s visits to Sri Lanka, recounted in the Mahavansa, are not historical facts.

The Buddha paid three visits to Sri Lanka. However, certain historians especially those prejudiced against Buddhism tend to cast doubts over the historicity of the visits just as much as they do not give credence to the great Aryan Persian Civilization that has played a big role in the world including India and Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the emphasis on Arahant Mahinda’s visit during the Asoka period has resulted in sidelining or even ignoring the Buddha’s visits to the country and the Thathagatha’s personal introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, these same historians accept creations and resurrections that have no scientific acceptance or archaeological evidence, as true!

The Buddha’s first visit was in the ninth month after Buddhahood on Duruthu (January) Full Moon Day.(1 B.E. or 528 B.C.) That was to Mahiyangana where the Yaksa Clan of the entire island was meeting in the Mahanaga Garden. On this visit, the Buddha not only won the Yaksas/Raksas to Buddhism but also succeeded in getting the Naga clan King Maniakkhika of Kelaniya, who came to Mahiyangana to meet the Buddha, to embrace Buddhism. It is after this visit that a Stupa with some hair of the Buddha enshrined, came to be put up at the instance of Deva Clan Prince named Mahasumana of Sumanakuta mountain area. This Stupa, after the Parinibbana or passing away of the Buddha was transformed to be the Mahiyangana Cetiya after Thera Sarabhu, brought the collar bone of the Thathagatha from the funeral pyre and enshrined in it.

The second visit was in the fifth year of Buddhahood (5 B.E. or 523 B.C.). The Buddha on seeing an imminent war between two Naga Kings - Culodara and Mahodara, uncle and nephew, over a Jewelled Throne, visited Nagadipa (Jaffna), settled the dispute and handed over the custody of the Jewelled Throne to Naga King Maniakkika of Kelaniya. On this visit the Buddha was accompanied by Samiddhi Sumana, a representative of Persian King Darius, who came to be referred to as Sakka (Sakkra), the King of Kings of Deva clan. Samiddhi Sumana brought with him a tree from Jetawanarama, which was also presented to Maniakkhika who in turn constructed a Cetiya covering the Jewelled Throne in Kelaniya and also planted the Na tree which precints is Kelaniya Viharaya.

Having spent the seventh Vas (Retreat) period in Tavtisa (in Persia) at the palace of Persian Emperor in Persepolis, King Darius, referred to as Sakka (Sakkra), the King of Devas (Persians were Aryan Devas) and eighth Vas period in Bhesakala close to Sunsumara Giri in India. The Buddha visited Sri Lanka for the third time (that was the last time, too) at the invitation of King Maniakkhika first arriving in Kelaniya, in 9 B.E. (519/520 B.C.) with 500 of his followers.

It was on this third visit that the Buddha placed an imprint of his left foot on top of Sumanakuta (Samanalakanda) on the invitation of a Naga Prince named Sumanasaman as he left his foot imprints in Narmada and Saccabaddha in India. The Sumanakuta, after the arrival of the colonialists also came to be called Adams Peak.

Sumanasaman was appointed the lay guardian of Sumanakuta by the Buddha. It is that Sumanasaman who is now being considered as the guardian deity of Samanala kanda and referred to as Saman Deiyo. He is, in fact, no God in the sense looked upon by those whose faiths consider God as all powerful. In addition to visiting Sumanakuta, the Buddha paid visits to Anuradhapura, Digawewa, Tissamaharama and Kataragama. Deva Clan Prince Visala, Mahasena, Samanibhara and Mahaghosa were appointed guardians of these places by the Buddha. Accordingly, Kataragama Deiyo to Buddhists is not Hindu God Skanda, but Mahaghosa who functioned as the guardian of the Buddhist place of worship and came to be regarded as a deity due to his fearless and valuable services rendered.

Archaeological evidence at Mahiyangana, Kelaniya, Nagadipa and other places coupled with literary evidence and the history of the movement of the Aryan population prove the Buddha’s three visits to Sri Lanka, beyond any doubt.

 

   End of Aloka History Page 3   

 

 

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A Remainder

Human vanity can best be served by a reminder that, whatever our accomplishments, our sophistication, our artistic pretension, we owe our very existence to a six inch layer of topsoil – and the fact that it rains.

 

©Aloka 99-2012