Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ata Seta Len

Ata Seta Len
Ata Seta Len (lit: Sixty-eight caves) is a cave complex located in the ancient Buddhist monastery Mihintale.

The great chronicle Mahavamsa states that King Devanampiya Tissa (250-210 B.C.) had prepared 68 caves as dwellings for Bhikkhus headed by Arhant Mahinda Thera (Seneviratna, 1994). The early Brahmi cave inscriptions presenting below the drip-ledges of these caves confirm that the caves had been prepared for the use of the Buddhist monks during the pre-Christian era. 

The Mahavamsa further mentions that during the reign of King Kanirajanutissa (31-34 C.E.), 60 heretic monks who planned to kill the king were put to death by pushing them into a chasm named "Kanira". It is believed that the mountain which forms the Ata Seta Len complex could be that place mentioned in the Mahawamsa.

1) Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura: the monastic city. Archaeological Survey Department. p.236.

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