Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. have been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Galmaduwa Viharaya, Kandy

Galmaduwa Viharaya (also known as Gedige Viharaya or Gal Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Kalapura road about 850 m distance from the Kalapura junction on Kandy - Mahiyangana road.
Galmaduwa Viharaya, Kandy

History
The temple is believed to be constructed by Meegastenne Maha Adikaram under the direction of the queen of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha [(1747-1782) Rajapakse, 2016]. Bricks containing masonry marks in Brahmi letters of Anuradhapura period (377 B.C. 1017 A.D.) are said to be found from the site (Abeywardana, 2004).

Image house
The stone built image house of Galmaduwa Viharaya is the main attraction of the temple. A Hindu architectural design based on the Tanjore tradition is prominent in this building (Abeywardana, 2004; De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). 

The square shaped building is about 80 feet in width and length (Rajapakse, 2016). The lower storey is built of stone and the upper storeys of brick and stone masonry in seven diminishing steps to represent a vimana (Seneviratna, 1983). A large seated Buddha statue is found inside the shrine room. The masonry-work roof and interior walls of the shrine room have been decorated with Kandyan era paintings (Rajapakse, 2016).

A protected site
The Galmaduwa Viharaya situated in the village of Naththaranpotha in the Pathadumbara Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 27 August 1948.
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References
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.110-111.
2) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.52.
3) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.101-102.
4) Seneviratna, A., 1983. Kandy: An Illustrated Survey of Ancient Monuments, with Historical, Archaeological, and Literary Descriptions Including Maps of the City and Its Suburbs (No. 10). Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Sri Lanka. p.148.
5) The Gazette notification of Ceylon. No: 9898. 27 August 1948.

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This page was last updated on 21 September 2019

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ginthupitiya Old Kovil, Colombo

Ginthupitiya Kovil (or Jinthupitiya Sri Sivaraja Vinayagar Swamy Kovil) is an old Hindu shrine located at No. 99 Ginthupitiya Street, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka.
Ginthupitiya Old Kovil, Colombo

History
The history of Ginthupitiya Kovil can be dated back to the beginning of the 19 century. The temple and the building known as 'Ramlal Maharajah Dharma Chatram' which had been used to accommodate devotees visiting the Kovil have been built in 1813 (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

However, due to the recent renovations, some parts of these historic buildings have been altered (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

A protected site
The old Kovil, rest house and its road belonging to No. 11 C of the Ginthupitiya Grama Niladhari Division in the Colombo Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 22 November 2002.

References
1) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.30.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1264. 22 November 2002.

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This page was last updated on 10 September 2019

St. Joseph's Church, Negombo

St. Joseph's Church, Thillanduwa  (also called as Malwatta Palliya) is a Catholic church located in close proximity to Negombo town, Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.
St. Joseph's Church, Thillanduwa

History
The origin of St. Joseph's Church, Negombo can be dated to the latter part of the 19 century. The church is said to be started in 1868, as a small cadjan hut erected at the present location (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The foundation stone of the new church building was laid in 1871, and it was opened for worship in 1902 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

Church building
The church building mainly bears architectural features belonging to the Gothic style (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The thick walls, decorative columns, the wide nave and sculptural works of the building have caused to increase the beauty of the church.

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.122.

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This page was last updated on 26 May 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Godapitiya Mohideen Jummah Mosque

Godapitiya Mohideen Jummah Mosque (or Porwai Muhiyaddeen Jummah Mosque) is a Muslim religious place located in Matara District, Sri Lanka.
Godapitiya Mohideen Jummah Mosque

History
The origin of Godapitiya mosque is not clear (Abeyawardana, 2004). The old mosque which was standing at this site had been damaged due to the riots occurred between Sinhalese and Muslims in 1914 (Wikramaratne, 2015). The mosque was reconstructed again to the present state in 1915. It is said that the mosque was constructed within one year employing 68 masons (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Monuments
The pond which is used for ablution is believed to be built prior to the construction of the mosque and has been built using the blocks of granite (Wikramaratne, 2015). However, the pond was tiled over recently, resulting the old granite blocks invisible (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015).

The large bowl which is placed at the mosque is considered as a valuable artifact. During the Dutch period, it had been used to make sugar at the land called 'Paradoova' (Wikramaratne, 2015). According to the folklore, a boat had been used to bring that bowl to the mosque from its original location (Wikramaratne, 2015).

Two tombs belonging to an Islamic religious leader and his disciple are also found inside the mosque.

Incidents
Tamil Tiger rebels, (LTTE) a military group designated as a terrorist organization, carried out a suicide bomb attack near the main entrance of the Godapitiya Jumma mosque, on 10 March 2009. 15 persons were killed and at least 50 others injured (News reports from BBC: 10 March 2009; and Sunday Times: 15 March 2009).

A protected site
The ‘Dharga’ part of the Godapitiya Mohideen Jumma Mosque on No. 308 of the Godapitiya Grama Niladhari Division in the Athuraliya Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 30 December 2011.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. p.62.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1739. 30 December 2011. p.1091.
3) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. pp.54-55.

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This page was last updated on 26 May 2019

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Baobab Tree, Mannar

Baobab Tree, Pallimunai, Mannar
The Baobab tree located in Pallimunai, Mannar District is said to be one of the oldest and largest trees in Sri Lanka. It is believed to be planted in 1477, by Arabian sailors who visited the island (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018). The tree is about 7.5 m in height and has a girth of about 19.51 m (Asanga & Nishantha, 2018).

Baobab in Sri Lanka
Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) is not a native to Sri Lanka but several baobab clusters are found mostly on Mannar and neighboring areas (such as Delft, Wilpattu, etc.) in the north-west of the island. They are believed to be introduced to Sri Lanka by Arab traders (Vandercone et al., 2004). Baobab is called locally as "Aliya-gaha" (elephant-tree) by Sinhalese and as "Perukka" by Tamils (Vandercone et al., 2004).

According to Vandercone et al. (2004), about 40 baobab trees survive in Sri Lanka, of which 34 have been identified on the island of Mannar (Vandercone et al., 2004). Due to its rarity, antiquity and limited distribution, baobab is a protected tree in Sri Lanka (Vandercone et al., 2004).

An archaeological protected tree
The Baobab tree in Pallimunai village situated within the Grama Niladari Division of Pallimunai west-84 in the Mannar Divisional Secretary Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 28 April 1955.
More Baobab trees More Baobab trees
Attribution
1) Mannar Baobab by David Stanley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

References
1) Asanga, M. V. G. K.; Nishantha, I. P. S., 2018. Mannarama Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-10-9. p.68.
2) The Gazette notification of Ceylon. No: 10758. 28 April 1955.
3) Vandercone, R., Sajithran, T.M., Wijeyamohan, S. and Santiapillai, C., 2004. The status of the baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) in Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. Current Science, pp.1709-1713.

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This page was last updated on 15 September 2019

St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade

St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade
St. Anthony's Shrine at Kochchikade (also known as Kochchikade Palliya) is a popular Catholic church in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Many people, both Christian and non-Christian, visit this shrine, particularly at the times of the annual feasts.

History
The church was built during the colonial period as a place of worship for the catholic devotees who lived in Colombo area (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). It is said that during the Dutch period (Dutch Ceylon: 1640 - 1796) the catholic religion had been proscribed in the territories held by Dutch and therefore, worshiping the Catholicism had become a difficult thing. However, harassment faced by Catholics conduced the then Dutch governor Willem Maurits Bruyninck (1739-1742) to allocate a plot of land (where the present church stands) for building a shrine for Catholics. On the received land, a small chapel was built by Fr. Kaithano Antonio (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The miraculous statue of St. Anthony which is venerated today in the church has been brought in 1822, from Goa, India (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Devotees believe that this statue has super natural powers which can relieve them from their problems. Presently, it has been installed in an arch-shaped glass case.

Some believe that St. Anthony's Shrine at Kochchikade is standing on a site previously dedicated to Goddess Pattini (Stirrat, 1982).

Building
The front facade of the building shows the typical church architecture. The line of arch-shaped entrances, the square towers and decorated walls have increased the beauty of the facade. The doors and windows have been made following the Gothic style (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

Incidents
On 21 April 2019 (Easter Sunday), an Islamic suicide bomber exploded himself inside the church building during the Easter service. On the same day another two churches and three luxury hotels were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings. The attacks were carried out by Islamic suicide bombers who are believed to be associated with National Thowheeth Jama'ath, a local Islamic group with suspected foreign ties. More than 250 people were killed, including 40 foreign nationals (News reports from BBC: 22 April 2019 and 11 May 2019).

Attribution
1) St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade by AntanO is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References
1) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.43.
2) Stirrat, R.L., 1982. Shrines, Pilgrimage and Miraculous Powers in Roman Catholic Sri Lanka. Studies in Church History, 19, p.391.

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This page was last updated on 19 May 2019

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ruwanveliseya Dagoba Slab Inscription of Gajabahu I

Ruwanveliseya Dagoba Slab Inscription of Gajabahu I
Ruwanveliseya Dagoba Slab Inscription of Gajabahu I (112-134 A.D.) was discovered at the Ruwanveli Dagoba at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (Muller, 1984) and is now on the display at the National Museum of Colombo.

The inscription contains six lines and has been engraved on a slab of stone, measuring 7 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft. 6 in. by 5.5 in. (Ranawella, 2005). Eminent archaeologist Senarath Paranavitana had published his observations regarding this inscription as follows;
Of all the inscription of Gajabahu so far brought to light, this is the only one that refers to him with that epithet in addition to his full personal name of Gamini Abhaya. The Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa both refer to him as Gajabahuka-Gamini, omitting 'Abhaya' from the personal name. The occurrence of the epithet Gayabahu (Gajabahu) in a contemporary inscription gains in value when it is considered that the fame of king of a Ceylon of that name had reached literary circles in South India and the author of the Tamil poem Cilappatikaram makes him a contemporary of the Cera king Cenkuttuvan who, in his turn, is referred to in some early Tamil poems as the contemporary of the Cola king Karikala.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1983. p.86.
Content
The inscription records about the foundation of the monastery of Dakini Abhaya Araba (Pali: Dakkhina Abhaya Arama) by King Gajabahu, the grand son of Vasabha and son of the great King Tissa. Having performed the ceremony (of water pouring) with the golden vase he had granted the overload's share of income of (the tank) Varuvaki for the purpose of spreading carpets in the Uposatha-house of that temple (Paranavitana, 1983). The water-tax (of the same tank) had also been given to supply the four monastic requisites to the monks living there (Paranavitana, 1983).

  • Ruwanveliseya Slab Inscription of Gajabahu I

    Period : 2nd century A.C.
    Transcript : Sidha Vahaba rajaha manumaraka Tisa maharajaha puti maharaja Gayabahu gamini Abaya..........>>


    Translation : Success! The Great King Gajabahau Gamini Abaya, the grand son of King Vasaba and son of the Great King Tissa..........>>
    Citation : Ranawella, 2005

References
1) Muller, E., 1984. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi. p.27.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions, 2 (part 1). Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.86-87.
3) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.ix,1-2.
 
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This page was last updated on 28 June 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Sri Pushparama Viharaya, Balapitiya

Sri Pushparama Viharaya, Balapitiya
Welithara Sri Pushparama Viharaya (also known as Amarapura Mulagandhi Nikaye Mulasthana Nayaka Pansala) is a Buddhist temple situated in Balapitiya, Galle District, Sri Lanka. It is located about 1.4 km distance from Balapitiya bus station facing the Colombo-Galle main road. The temple is belonged to the Mulaghandi Sect of Amarapura Nikaya.

History
Existing evidences indicate that this temple was established in 1803 (Ranchagoda, 2015). The construction work of the Stupa has been commenced in 1909.

Preaching hall
The preaching hall of this temple can be identified as a special structure with archaeological value (Ranchagoda, 2015). The design of this building is considered unusual as it differs from the typical Buddhist architecture found in other temples in the country. It resembles architectural characteristics very similar to a Christian church (Ranchagoda, 2015). The front facade and the pointed arches of doors and windows indicate that the design of this building was based on colonial church architecture (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Inside the building, two wooden staircases which begin from the two sides of the main hall lead into the balcony and run round the inner hall (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine and the Dhamma discourse hall within the precincts of Velitara Sri Pushparama Maha Vihara situated within the Grama Niladhari Division of Welithara in the Balapitiya Divisional Secretary Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Attribution
1) Sri Lanka 2010-11 (5333716400) by weakestlink is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.96.
2) Ranchagoda, T. O., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Galla Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-53-4. pp.17-18.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.524.

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This page was last updated on 14 May 2019

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Kustarajagala

Kustarajagala
A statue of Bodhisattva known as Kustarajagala (lit: the Rock of the Leper King) is found sculptured on the face of a large rock boulder situated in Weligama, Matara District, Sri Lanka. Located in close proximity to Weligama Agrabodhi Viharaya, the statue is considered as one of finest Mahayana sculptures found in the country (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Folklore
The exact history of this statue is not clear but several folklore associated with Kushtarajagala describe how the present name and the statue was originated. According to one story, a Sinhalese king who suffered with a skin disease ("Kushta" in Sinhalese) had constructed this statue after his illness was cured at this site (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Another story tells that, an Indian king who was suffering with a skin disease came to Agrabodhi Viharaya and made a vow at the shrine of God Vishnu to offer alms if he recovered from his disease. After getting cured, the king had fulfilled his vow and carved his image here to commemorate the miraculous cure that he obtained (Abeyawardana, 2004).

History
It is believed that this statue had been sculptured during the reign of King Agbo IV [(667-683 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015]. Depending on the morphological features it bears, the statue has been dated to the 7th - 8th centuries A.D. (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Statue
The statue has been sculptured inside a niche on the rock and is 383 cm in height. The upper body of the statue is bare but the neck is adorned with several necklaces (Wikramaratne, 2015). The lower part of the body is covered with a Dhoti (a costume) and a decorative girdle (Wikramaratne, 2015). The right hand of the statue depicts the Vitarka Mudra while the Kataka Hastha Mudra is shown by the left hand. The hands and the legs have been adorned with bangles and anklets. The head dress has been elaborately decorated and contains four miniature figures of Dyani Buddha (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015).

The statue clearly shows the Mahayana concept that prevailed in the country during the 6th-7th centuries A.D. (Wikramaratne, 2015).

Attribution
1) Avalokiteshvara, Weligama 0699 by G41rn8 is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.55-56.
2) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. pp.7-8.

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This page was last updated on 12 May 2019

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Arpakkam Inscription of the Fifth Year of Rajadhiraja II

A Tamil inscription belonging to the fifth regal year of the Chola ruler Rajadhiraja II (c. 1166-1178 A.D.) has been found in the Tiruvalisvaram temple at Arpakkam, a village situated in Kanchipuram District of Tamil Nadu State, India (A.R.E., 1889; Rangacharya, 1919). This inscription is considered very important as it confirms the Sinhalese expedition against the Pandya country in the 12th century A.D. (Rangacharya, 1919).

Inscription
This inscription is found inscribed on the south wall of the central shrine in the Tiruvalisvaram temple (Subrahmanya Aiyer, 1928). It contains a record dated to the fifth regal year (probably 1171) of Chola King Parakesarivarman alias Tribhuvanachakravartin Rajadhirajadeva (Rangacharya, 1919; Ray, 1960).

The grant of Arpakkam village to Swamidevar by Edirili-Sola-Sambuvarayan is mentioned in this inscription (Rangacharya, 1919). According to its content, a Sinhalese army came from Sri Lanka invaded the Pandimandalam (the Pandya country) by dethroning King Kulasekhara from Madurai and then began battle against the samantas (feudatories) of King Sri Rajadhirajadeva (Rangacharya, 1919; Ray, 1960). The prospect of war spreading to the districts of Tondi and Pasi, make fear in the hearts of the people of Solamandalam (Chola country). Edirili-Sola-Sambuvarayan who approached to a holy man, Swamidevar requested to avert this calamity by doing prayers, sacrifice and worship (Rangacharya, 1919). On the request of Sambuvarayan, Swamidevar (also known as Umapati-deva or Jnana-Siva deva - a native of Dakshina Lata in Gauda-desa) performed the relevant ritual for Siva for 28 days and at the end of it, a news received that the entire Sinhalese army led by dandanayakas Jayadratha and Lankapuri had suffered defeat (Rangacharya, 1919; Ray, 1960). In the gratitude of that Sambuvarayan granted the Arpakkam village to Swamidevar.

The inscription also mentions that the Ramesvara temple had been damaged by the Sri Lankan army (Karashim, 2012).

Sri Lankan chronicle
The Sri Lankan chronicle, Culavamsa also gives a narration about the Sinhalese expedition against the Pandya country during the reign of King Parakramabahu [(1123–1186 A.D.) Liyanagamage, 1963]. According to the chronicle, during the time of Rajadhiraja, a dispute was arisen between the two Pandyan princes, Kulasekhara, son of Sri Maravarman Vallabha and Parakrama Pandya over the succession to the throne of Madurai. When Madurai was besieged by Kulasekhara, Parakrama sought the military assistance from Sri Lanka (Liyanagamage, 1963). 

Parakramabahu, the king of Sri Lanka prepared an army and appointed his general Lankapura as its commander. He ordered Lankapura to lead his forces to Madurai and reinstate Parakrama as the king. However, before they set out from Sri Lanka, Parakrama had been killed by his rival Kulasekhara (Liyanagamage, 1963). Without dropping out the expedition, Lankapura sailed to Madurai to defeat Kulasekhara and to place a scion of the family of Parakrama on the throne (Liyanagamage, 1963).

As in the Arpakkam inscription, Culavamsa also mentions the names Tondi and Pasa (Ray, 1960).

References
1) A.R.E., 1889. - Annual Report on South Indian Epigraphy, Calcutta. No. 20.
2) Karashima, N., 2012. The Past as known from Tamil Inscriptions: Village Community and Challenge to the Caste System. In Traces of the Past:” The 2012 Annual Tamil Studies Conference, Toronto, Ontario. pp.11-12.
3) Liyanagamage, A., 1963. The decline of Polonnaruva and the rise of Dambadeniya, (Circa 1180-1270 AD) (Doctoral dissertation, SOAS University of London). pp. 108-110.
4) Rangacharya, V., 1919. A topographical list of the inscriptions of the Madras Presidency, collected till 1915: with notes and references. Vol. I. Madras. p.45.
5) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. p.482.
6) Subrahmanya Aiyer, K.V., 1928. South Indian inscriptions (Texts): Vol. VI: Miscellaneous inscription from the Tamil, Telugu and Kannada countries. Archaeological Survey of India. pp.188-190.

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Sri Muthumariamman Temple, Matale

Sri Muthumariamman Temple, Matale
Sri Muthumariamman Temple (or Sri Muthumariamman Kovil) is a popular Hindu shrine located in the middle of Matale town, Sri Lanka. 

Sri Muthumariamman Temple, MataleThe temple is famous among both Hindu and Buddhist people in the area. The Hindu goddess of rain and fertility, Muthumari Amman is venerated here by Hindus while Buddhists venerate this temple as a place dedicated to goddess Pattini, the patron deity of fertility and health (Abeyawardana, 2004).

History
The history of Sri Muthumariamman Temple can be traced back to the 19th century (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Festivals
The annual Theru festival of Sri Muthumariamman Temple, Matale is said to be one of biggest Hindu festivals in Sri Lanka. Beautifully decorated chariots are used during the festival time to convey statues of Hindu deities around the town. The festival ends with traditional water cutting ceremony.

Attribution
1) Muthumariamman tempel matale 2017-10-18 (1) by Z thomas is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0
2) This image (Matale Sri Muttumariyammankovil 108 feet tower) has been released into the public domain by its creator, Umapathy.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.147-148.

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Gongawela Jummah Mosque, Matale

Gongawela Jummah Mosque
Gongawela Jummah Mosque is a Muslim religious place located in Matale town, Sri Lanka. It is said to be the oldest mosque in Matale town (Abeyawardana, 2004).

History
The tomb of Zain Ul Abdeen
The first mosque of Gongawela is said to had been located to the north of the present mosque building. It was abandoned by the Muslims due to the spread of an epidemic (Abeyawardana, 2004). The second mosque was built in the 1970s with the help of Malay residents. However, due to the limited space it had, a new mosque was constructed with donations received from the Muslim gem traders (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A tomb which is believed to be belonged to a Muslim saint named Zain Ul Abdeen is found in the premises of the mosque. He is considered as a royal personality who was expelled from Malaysia or Java in the 18th century (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Attribution
1) Front view of our great grand mosque. by Matalegrand is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
2) Zirath of ashaq zainool abdeen seenath raja awliya...matale by Matalegrand is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p.146.

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Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura

Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura
Sri Maha Bodhi (also called Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya) is a sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa) growing in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The tree is believed to have grown from the southern branch of the original Bodhi-tree in Bodh Gaya which provided shade to the Buddha for attaining Buddhahood. It was brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta Theri, the founder of the Bhikkuni (Buddhist nuns) order in Sri Lanka. The tree is considered to be the oldest historical living tree in the world (De Silva, 2004; Ferrer-Gallego et al., 2016).

Presently, the Bodhi-tree site is not only a place of worship but a terrain proclaimed by the Archaeological Department as protected territory (Wijesuriya & Weerasekera, 1997).

History
Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura
As described in the Pali chronicle, the Mahawamsa [(ch. xviii-xix) Geiger, 1986],  Sanghamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Asoka and sister of Arhant Mahinda, brought the southern branch of the sacred Bodhi-tree in Bodh Gaya (India) to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. (De Silva, 2004; Ferrer-Gallego et al., 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). It was planted at Mahamegha park in Anuradhapura by King Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 B.C.) at the site earlier sanctified by the Buddha (Jayawardhana, 1990; Wikramagamage, 2004). Thenceforth, the Bodhi-tree was venerated and protected by Buddhists through the subsequent millennia, even after the Anuradhapura Kingdom was abandoned (Coningham et al., 2013).

Beside the Mahawamsa, the Pali literary work known as Mahabodhivamsa also gives extensive accounts on the sacred Bodhi-tree in Anuradhapura (Jayawardhana, 1990). Both sources record about the planting of the Bodhi-tree at Anuradhapura as well as about the eight places where the first saplings of that Bodhi-tree were planted (Geiger, 1986; Jayawardhana, 1990).

Throughout the history, the Bodhi-tree received the royal patronage and attention of many Sri Lankan kings. King Sirinaga I (196-215 A.D.) renovated the flight of steps at the four entrances to the Bodhi-tree (Wikramagamage, 2004). King Abhayanaga (237-245 A.D.) built a stone pavement to it and King Sirinaga II (245-247 A.D.) reconstructed the ramparts. King Mahasena (277-304 A.D.) made two bronze images and set them up on the west side of the temple of the Bodhi-tree (Nissanka, 1994). King Mahanaga (569 - 571 A.D.) constructed a water canal around the sacred tree and King Sena II (866 - 901 A.D.) renovated it (Wikramagamage, 2004).

The stone rampart which can be seen today at the site was built by Illupandenye Atthadassi Thera who was the Disava of Anuradhapura (The chief of Anuradhapura District) appointed by King Kirti Sri Rajasinha [(1747-1782 A.D.) Wikramagamage, 2004].

The original Bodhi-tree, Bodh Gaya
After bringing the Bodhi-branch to Sri Lanka, the original Bodhi-tree in Bodh Gaya (Bihar, India) was destroyed, and has been replaced several times. King Ashoka’s (c. 268 - c. 232 B.C.) second wife, Tissarakkha who couldn't tolerate Asoka's favor for the Bodhi-tree, had pierced the tree with a mandu thorn. The regenerated tree was again destroyed at the beginning of the 7th century A.D. by King Sassanka (590-625 A.D.), a fanatical Sivaite and enemy of Buddhism (Schumann, 2004). A Bodhi-tree was again planted at the same place by Purnavarman of Magadha (Schumann, 2004). However, in 1876, the Bodhi-tree was uprooted by a storm that ripped through the Bodh Gaya (Schumann, 2004). The present Bodhi-tree is believed to be developed from the underground living roots.

Bodhi-tree
The Bodhi-tree is highly venerated by Buddhists because of its association with the Buddha. Thousands of devotees come and make rituals and offerings (such as eight fold objects and other votives) to the tree expecting positive changes in their life. Devotees from nearby villages annually gather here to conduct a ceremony called "Aluth Sahal Mangalya" in which they offer rice to the Bodhi-tree collected from their first harvest. People also think that the Bodhi-tree is capable of fulfilling the wishes of married women to give birth to children (Wikramagamage, 2004).

It is believed that the deity named Kalu Devata Bandara is the one who guard the Bodhi-tree (Wikramagamage, 2004). This has also become a motivating factor that attracting visitors to the site. By making offering to the Bodhi-tree, people expect the blessing of the deities.

Incidents
  • On 30 July 1929, a person named Jemis Appu (alias Jema) who was a carter at the central hotel of Anuradhapura had attempted to cut the Bodhi-tree (Wikramagamage, 2004).
  • Tamil Tiger rebels, (LTTE) a militant group designated as a terrorist organization, attacked the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi on 14 May 1985 and massacred 146 people (DeVotta, 2007).
Ancient structures at Sri Maha Bodhi temple People making wishes, Sri Maha Bodhi premises
Attribution
1) Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by imke.sta is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0
2) 20090731-174438 by StretchyBill is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

References
1) Coningham, R.A.E., Acharya, K.P., Strickland, K.M., Davis, C.E., Manuel, M.J., Simpson, I.A., Gilliland, K., Tremblay, J., Kinnaird, T.C. and Sanderson, D.C.W., 2013. The earliest Buddhist shrine: excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal). Antiquity, 87(338), pp.1104-1123.
2) De Silva, R., 2004. Reclaiming the Robe: Reviving the Bhikkhunī Order in Sri Lanka. Buddhist Women and Social Justice, pp.119-135.
3) DeVotta, N., 2007. Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist ideology: Implications for politics and conflict resolution in Sri Lanka. pp.38,77.
4) Ferrer-Gallego, P.P., Boisset, F. and Upadhyay, G.K., 2016. Lectotypification of the name of the sacred tree Ficus religiosa (Moraceae). Taxon, 65(1), pp.158-162.
5) Geiger, W., 1986. The Mahāvaṃsa, Or, The Great Chronicle of Ceylon. Asian Educational Services, New Delhi. pp.122-135.
6) Jayawardhana, S., 1990. A survey of literature on the sacred Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 35, pp.23-52.
7) Nissanka, H.S.S., 1994. Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka--the oldest historical tree in the world. p.7.
8) Schumann, H.W., 2004. The historical Buddha: the times, life, and teachings of the founder of Buddhism (Vol. 51). Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p.60.
9) Wijesuriya, G.; Weerasekera, H., 1997. Footprints of our heritage. Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO. ISBN: 955-9043-32-3. p.52.
10) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.54-58.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Basavakkulama Pillar Inscription of King Sena II

Basavakkulama Pillar Inscription of King Sena II
Basavakkulama Pillar Inscription is a Sinhalese inscription (9th century) found from the bund of present Basawakkulama tank, the ancient Abhaya Wewa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (Muller, 1984; Ranawella, 2005). It is at present found in the inscription gallery of Colombo National Museum.

Inscription
The quadrilateral pillar is 3.5 feet in height and only two sides are covered by the inscription (Ranawella, 2005). It had been broken into two pieces at the time of its arrival. However, the epigraph had been deciphered by Muller, before it was broken in to two pieces (Muller, 1984; Ranawella, 2005).

The inscription has been written in Sinhala language with scripts belonging to the latter half of the 9th century (Ranawella, 2005).

Content
This inscription mentions its inscribed date as the nineteenth regnal year of King Sirisangboyi Mapurmuka who has been identified as King Sena II [(853-887 A.D.) Ranawella, 2005]. It records a decree that prohibiting illegal fishing in the Abhaya-wewa (presently known as Basawakkulama) and mayor of the city (city of Anuradhapura) was held responsible for it. If he (the mayor) fails to arrest and punish those who engage in illegal fishing in that reservoir, the mayor was ordered to pay a fine of ten "hunas" of gold (Ranawella, 2005). Also, the caretaker of Mahavihara monastery at Anuradhapura had been ordered to send his monastic staff to confiscate the fishing nets of the culprits. In addition to that, the apprehend culprits had to submit themselves to do some manual work free at the reservoir (Ranawella, 2005).

References
1) Muller, E., 1984. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi. pp.55,78.
2) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.xi,10-14.
 
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This page was last updated on 28 June 2019

Mahabodhivamsa

Mahabodhivamsa (lit: History of the Great Bodhi Tree) is the earliest extant literary work on the sacred Bodhi-tree at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka (Jayawardhana, 1990).

As mentioned in its introduction, Mahabodhivamsa is a Pali work recording about the history of the Great Bodhi Tree and an adaptation of a previously existing work in Sinhalese on the same subject (Jayawardhana, 1990). It doesn't mention the name of its author but acknowledge tradition is that Ven. Upatissa is the author of this literary work (Jayawardhana, 1990).

Mahabodhivamsa contains 12 chapters,

  • Chapters of Mahabodhivamsa (Jayawardhana, 1990)

    1) Abhisambodhiathã - The story of Dipankara Buddha followed by several other accounts
    2) Anandabodhikathã - Planting of the Ananda-Bodhi by Ananda Thera
    3) Dasabala-parinibbãna kathã - Story of Passing-away of the Buddha
    4) Pathama-sangiti kathã - About the first council
    5) Duthiya-sangiti kathã - About the second council
    6) Tatiya-sangiti kathã - About the third council
    7) Lankãvatarana kathã - Arrival of Arhant Mahinda in Sri Lanka
    8) Nagarappavesana kathã - Story of entering the city (of Anuradhapura)
    9) Mahãvihara patiggahana kathã - Acceptance of the Maha Viharaya
    10) Cetiyagirivihãra patiggahana kathã - Acceptance of the Viharaya at Mihintale
    11) Dhãtvãgamana kathã - Recieving of the sacred relics of the Buddha
    12) Dumindãgamana kathã - Bringing of the southern branch of sacred Bodhi-tree at Bodh Gaya in India


The last chapter records about the planting of the sacred Bodhi-tree at Anuradhapura. It further mentions about the eight places where the first saplings of that Bodhi-tree were planted (Jayawardhana, 1990).

  • Eight saplings of Sri Maha Bodhi

    1) Jambukola-pattana
    2) Tavakka-brahmana gama
    3) Thuparama
    4) Issara-samana' rama

    5) Pathamaka-cetiyatthana
    6) Cetiya-pabbata
    7) Kacaragama
    8) Candanagama


Two editions of the Pali Mahabodhivamsa have been published: one in 1890 (Colombo) and other in 1891 by the Pali Text Society of London (Wikramasinghe, 1900).

Related works
  • Mahabodhivamsa-granthipada-vivaranaya - A Sinhalese commentary work composed to explain the difficult terms in Mahabodhivamsa.
  • Dharmapradipikã or Mahabodhivamsa-parikathã - A sub-commentary work on Mahabodhivamsa, written by Gurulugomi.
  • Simhala Bodhivamsaya (Elu-Bodhivamsaya) - The Sinhalese translation of Pali Mahabodhivamsa by Vilgammula Maha Thera (Wikramasinghe, 1900).
References
1) Jayawardhana, S., 1990. A survey of literature on the sacred Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 35, pp.23-52.
2) Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. pp.xviii,22,157, .