Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Magul Maha Viharaya

Ancient ruins at Magul Maha Viharaya
Magul Maha Viharaya is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Lahugala in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along Pothuvil - Siyambalanduwa road about 14 km distance from Pothuvil town.

History
The history of Magul Maha Viharaya is assumed to be related to the reign of King Kavantissa (205-161 B.C.) who ruled the principality of Rohana when Elara (205 – 161 B.C.), an invader from India was ruling the Anuradhapura Kingdom. It is said that the royal marriage between King Kavantissa and Vihara Maha Devi, the daughter of King Kelani Tissa, was held in this site.

However, two inscriptions found from the site say that a queen named Vihara Maha Devi restored the ruined Runu Maha Vera founded by King Dasen-kali (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1934). Therefore, from the details given in the inscription, it is believed that the ancient name of Magul Maha Vihara was Runu Maha Vehera (Rohana Maha Vehera) and it was originally founded by King Dhathusena [(c. 516 to 526 A.D.) Paranavitana, 1934]. However, chronicles do not mention King Dhatusena with the establishment of this temple but Mahawamsa and Pujavaliya record that a Vihara named Ruhunu Vehera (Rohana Vehera) was established by Dappula I (c. 650), a ruler of Rohana (Paranavitana, 1934). He had built Ruhunu Vehera to honour the Maha Thera of Pasanadipika Vihara which is today identified with a large isolated rock called Neelagiriya, located south of Lahugala (Nicholas, 1963). According to Paranavitana (1934), Runu Maha Vera of these two inscriptions and Ruhunu Vehera of the chronicles are doubtless identical even though there is a discrepancy on the name of the founder (Paranavitana, 1934).

Vihara Maha Devi, the name of the queen who is mentioned here is the chief consort of both King Parakramabahu V (1344/5-1359) and King Bhuwanekabahu IV [(1344/5-1353/4) Paranavitana, 1934].

Magul Maha Vihara slab inscription
Period : 14th century A.D.
Scripts & language : Medieval Sinhala
Transcript : (Svasti)  [Sri  Si]ri  lak-hi  rajaka[la]
Dasen-kali   raja   daruvan   da   karavu   Runu 
maha vera.......>>
Translation : Hail!   The    Runu    Maha  Vera
founded   by    Dasen   kali    who   reigned  in
prosperous Lanka.......>>
Content : This  inscription records  that  Vihara
Maha Devi, the chief consort of the two brother
kings named  Parakumba, who  vanquished the
Colas and  governed the  Ruhuna,  restored  the
ruined  Ruhunu  Maha Vihara founded  by  King
Dasen    kali     and     provided    requisites   for
maintenance  of  Sangha and  attendants. Also
the  Viharadevi Pirivena  founded  in  her  name
(Viharamahadevi)  attached to  this  monastery
should  be  known   and  all  these   institutions
should  be   maintained   continuously   by   the
future kings
Reference :  Paranavitana, 1934
Magul Maha Vihara slab inscription
Magula Maha Vihara pillar inscription Magula Maha Vihara pillar inscription
Scripts & language : Medieval Sinhala
Transcript : <<......Vihara maha devin bim pisa
karavu Runu maha vera......>>
Translation : <<......the Runu maha vera, caused
to be entirely rebuilt by Vihara  maha devi......>>
Content : Vihara Maha Devi, who was the chief
consort   of   the    two   brother   kings   named
Parakumba,  restored   the  ruined  Runu  Maha
Vera.   This   dedication   to   the   Dharmaratna
should    be    enjoyed     and    maintained    by
meritorious people coming in the future
Reference : Paranavitana, 1934
Other inscriptions and ruins
A medieval Sinhalese inscription belonging to the 9th-10th centuries A.D. has been found on a stone slab fixed to the outer wall of the Stupa foundation (Dias, 1991). Another slab with an inscription of 8th-10th centuries A.D. is found fixed in the outer Prakara of Magul Maha Vihara and it was copied by the Archaeological Department in 1935 (Dias, 1991).

A large number of archaeological ruins can be seen at the present temple premises. Ruins of a Bodhighara (Bodhi-tree house), an image house, a chapter house, a Stupa and a parapet wall demarcating the boundary of the temple have been identified and conserved by the Archaeological Department.
Magul Maha Vihara Sandakada Pahana

The Sandakada Pahana (moonstone) found  in
Magula   Maha   Viharaya  is  belonged   to  the
Anuradhapura  period   and  considered  as  an
eminent  piece  of  work.  It  depicts  a  row  of
elephants with a rope  across  their  belly. Two
human   figures  (probably mahouts)  who  are
found on  the back of two  of  these  elephants
have  made  this  artifact   unique  among   the
moonstones found in other places in Sri Lanka
Reference :  Wisumperuma, 2012
Magul Maha Vihara Sandakada Pahana
A protected site
Magula Maha Viharaya situated in the village of Lahugala, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Lahugala is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 26 March 1954.
The Stupa Ruins
A Muragala (guard stone) The inner parapet
References
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp. 44,59.
2) Nicholas, C.W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval. Journal of the Ceylon branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New series, Vol. VI, Special number. Colombo. p.23.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1934. Two inscriptions of Vihara Maha Devi from Magul Maha Vihara. Epigraphia Zeylanica being lithic and other inscription of Ceylon. Vol. IV. Archaeological survey of Ceylon. London. pp.161-169.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 10657. 26 March 1954.
5) Wisumperuma, D., 2012. Religious Use of Elephants in Ancient Sri Lanka. GAJAH. p.17.

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