Thursday, December 13, 2018

Buddhangala Aranya Senasanaya

Ancient ruins at Buddhangala Viharaya
Buddhangala Aranya Senasanaya (also known as Buddhangala Raja Maha Viharaya, Buddhangala Thapovanaya) is a forest hermitage located in the village of Buddhangala in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Buddhangala - Ruhunugama road about 7.5 km distance from Ampara town.

As the presence of less decorated Sandakada Pahana (moonstone), Korawak Gal (balustrades), Muragal (guard stones) and stone pillars, the history of Buddhangala can be dated to the early Anuradhapura era (Anuradhapura period: 377 BC to 1017 AD). Several cave inscriptions found from the temple premises indicate the existence of an early Buddhist monastery at the site. From these inscriptions, two were copied and published by professor Senarat Paranavitana in his book "Inscription of Ceylon (Vol 1)" (Paranavitana, 1970).
Buddhangala cave inscription (Uttiya lena)

Period        : 2nd - 1st centuries B.C.
Scripts       : Early Brahmi
Language  : Old Sinhala
Transcript : Karajhikagala vahike bata 
Digathiha lene niyate shagasha
Translation : The cave of lord Digati, resident
of Karajhigala is donated to the Sangha
Reference : The information board at the site
by  the  Department  of  archaeology  and the
State ministry of cultural affairs.
Brahmi letters (Digamitta lena), Buddhangala
The second cave inscription also records about a donation (the cave) given to the Sangha (Buddhist monks) of four quarters (who were present and absent) by the chief Sujata, son of chief Uti, the revenue collector of Cittadevi (Paranavitana, 1970). Here the person named Citta devi is according to some authors could be the same one (or has a relation) who is mentioned in the cave inscription of Uttara Jayamaha Viharaya (Suseema Thera, 2015), in where that name is mentioned as Racita or probably Cita (Dias, 1991).

The ruined Buddhangala temple was re-discovered in 1964, by a Buddhist monk named Kalutara Dhammananda Thera. 

Archaeological ruins
The temple complex is situated on a rock outcrop extending over a large area. Several rock caves with drip ledges are found at the western part of the rock. A retaining wall made of rubble and plain Muragal and Korawak Gal can be seen at the eastern slope (Withanachchi, 2013). The main rock plateau where an ancient Vatadageya was located is abundant with a number of archaeological ruins. Sandakada Pahana, Korawak Gal, guard stones, stone pillars, Nidan Gal (treasure stones) and a large collection of other artifacts such as fragments of clay bowls, bricks, potteries, turrets and bronzes have been unearthed from the informal excavations carried out during the early 1970s. A golden casket containing relics was discovered on 29 September 1972, from the excavations done in the ancient Vatadageya site (Suseema Thera, 2015).
Artifacts found from the Viharaya Ruins at Buddhangala monastery
This casket is said to be contained three lotus carrying small bowls of corporeal relics (Suseema Thera, 2015). The bowls were covered with caps and two of them had Bo leaves inscribed with Brahmi letters. These writings have been read as "Shariputhasa Mahamugalana" (Suseema Thera, 2015), the names of the two main Arhants of the Buddha, Seriyuth (Shariputta) and Mugalan (Moggallana). The third lotus was said to be fixed at a higher position than the other two and therefore it has been assumed that the third bowl contains the relics of Buddha (Suseema Thera, 2015). Today, these relics have been deposited in a special chamber of the Stupa and are exhibited for the public on Poson Full Moon Poya Day.

The forest surrounding the Buddhangala monastery is a protected area, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 01 November 1974.
Ruins of an ancient building Buddhangala Viharaya The Stupa of Buddhangala Viharaya
Temple ruins at Buddhangala Remains of ancient Vatadageya, Buddhangala Viharaya
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. p. 4.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.36.
3) Suseema Thera, D., 2015. Agasawda weda hindina pujaneeya Buddhangala wana senasuna (In Sinhala). Published by the editor. ISBN: 978-955-986-09-1-4. pp.41,43,54.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 134. 01 November 1974. p. 907.
5) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhalese). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. pp.37-38.

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