Sunday, May 12, 2019


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).

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).

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).

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).

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

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


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