Sunday, January 13, 2019

Delgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya

The Kurahan grinding stone, Delgamuwa
Delgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya is a historic Buddhist temple located in the village of Delgamuwa in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. This temple has obtained a special place in the Sri Lankan history as it provided protection to the Tooth Relic of Buddha for over 40 years (Abeyawardana, 2002).

History
After the death of King Bhuvanekabahu VII (1521–1551 A.D.) and the designation of Dharmapala as the successor, the political stability of the country became unstable with the activities of Portuguese. At the time, Hiripitiye Diyawadana Nilame was the noble person entrusted with the custody of the Tooth Relic (Pieris, 1920). In one night he experienced a strange dream in which he was warned about the security of the Tooth Relic. Distressed by the dream, he secretly moved the relic from Kotte to Sitawaka and presented it to King Mayadunna [(1521–1581 A.D.) Pieris, 1920]. In the purpose of further protection, the Tooth Relic was moved to Delgamuwa Viharaya where it was hidden in a Kurahan Gala (maize grinding stone). 

In 1560, Portuguese claimed to have captured the Tooth Relic and had brought it to Goa, India (Hocart, 1931). Dom Constantino de Braganza, a Portuguese viceroy who obtained the alleged Tooth Relic, had pounded the relic in a brazen mortar and threw into the sea (Hocart, 1931; Pieris, 1920). However, the Tooth Relic captured by the Portuguese was an imitation carried by Veediya Bandara (Pieris, 1920).

Konappu Bandara who recorded a successful victory over the Portuguese at Danthure, near Kandy in 1592 ascended the throne as King Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592–1604 A.D). He brought the sacred Tooth Relic from Delgamuwa temple in Sabaragamuwa Province to safeguard it from the Portuguese army and placed the relic in a two-storied temple built in the neighborhood of the royal palace at Senkadagala [(present Kandy) Pieris, 1920; Seneviratna & Polk, 1992].

A protected site
The grinding stone which had used to conceal the Tooth Relic of Buddha, the ancient temple and the library of Delgamu Raja Maha Viharaya in the Kuruwita Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.  
A flower altar, Delgamuwa Viharaya The Stupa, Delgamuwa Viharaya
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.10.
2) Hocart, A.M. ed., 1931. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon IV: The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. Messrs. Luzac & Co. pp.3-4.
3) Pieris, P.E., 1920. Ceylon and the Portuguese, 1505-1658. American Mission Ceylon Press. Telippalai. pp.76, 86, 142.
4) Seneviratna, A. and Polk, B., 1992. Buddhist monastic architecture in Sri Lanka: the woodland shrines. Abhinav Publications. p.133.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 23 August 2019

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