Kushtarajagala Bodhisattva Statue

Kushtarajagala Bodhisattva Statue
A statue of Bodhisattva known as Kushtarajagala (lit: the rock of the Leper King; Sinhala: කුෂ්ඨරාජගල) 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 one of the finest Mahayana sculptures found in the country (Abeyawardana, 2004).

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

Another story tells that a foreign king who was suffering from a skin disease (leprosy) 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 fulfilled his vow and carved his image here to commemorate the miraculous cure that he obtained (Abeyawardana, 2004). 

It is believed that this statue was 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 headdress has been elaborately decorated and contains four miniature figures of the Dhyani Buddha (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015). According to S. Paranavitana, this statue depicts Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara (Nicholas, 1963).

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

A protected monument
The Kushtarajagala located in the lands named Kushtaragala-watta and Egoda-watta in the village of Weliwela in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Weligama is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 4 June 2004.

Kushtarajagala Bodhisattva Statue
1) Avalokiteshvara, Weligama 0699 by G41rn8 is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0
# LankaPradeepa.com also would like to thank Lalith Kekulthotuwage and V. M. Vidanapathirana for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the authors.

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) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.71.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1344. 4 June 2004. p.15.
4) 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 18 November 2023

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