Sunday, June 9, 2019

Maha Saman Devalaya, Ratnapura

Maha Saman Devalaya, Ratnapura
Maha Saman Devalaya is a famous shrine dedicated to god Saman and situated in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by traveling along the Ratnapura - Panadura road about 3.5 km from Ratnapura town.

The temple is also popular for its annual pageant hold in July.

History
The history of Ratnapura Maha Saman Devalaya is running back to the period of Dambadeniya [(1220–1345 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2002]. It is believed that this shrine was built by Aryakamadeva, the chief minister of King Parakramabahu II (1236-1271 A.D.).

At the beginning it was a Buddhist temple of Theravada tradition called by the name of Saparagrama Viharaya (or Saparagamu Vehera). According to the account found in Saman Siritha (an old poetry work), a monk named Viharavasi Seelawansa who was on a pilgrimage to Sri Pada had a dream and found a statue of god Saman in a rock cave at Sri Pada mountain. He brought the statue to the Saparagamu Vehera amidst a ceremony and subsequently, the temple was started to called as Saman Vehera.

During the reign of King Parakramabahu II, a vow of constructing a Devalaya for god Saman was made at Saman Vehera by Aryakamadeva, if he was able to find a trove of gems in the area. After a successful gem expedition he built a three storied Devalaya for god Saman and gave jewelries, villages and workers for its maintenance. 

Again in the reigning period of King Parakramabahu VI (1415-1467 A.D.), Nilapperumalu, a descendant of minister Aryakamadeva, renovated the Viharaya and Devalaya with giving it 26 villages and jewelries. He also had established an inscription enacting a constitution for the temple.

In 1618, the Saman Vehera and Devalaya were destroyed and the debris had been put into the Kalu Ganga river by Portuguese. They constructed a church at the site and maintained it for 47 years. King Rajasinghe II (1629-1687 A.D.) captured the site in 1665, and reconstructed the Devalaya again. The shrine which is standing today at the site is said to be the structure erected during the 17th century by King Rajasinghe II.

Inscription
A stone plaque depicting a Portuguese standing over a prostrate foe has been found from the temple premises (Abeyawardana, 2002; Perera, 1922). It contains an inscription written in Portuguese language with Roman characters (Lewis, 1913).
Saman Devalaya Inscription

Language  : Portuguese
Script         : Roman
Text : Com esta rendi este, ha 23 (?) annos que ando na India, e ha 15 (?)
 que  sirvo  de  capitao;  e  taoque  (?)  os  reis....de....(?)  e  o  rei  de 
Jafanapatao, eu Simao Pinhao o venci.
Translation : With  this  (sword)  I  overcame  this  (man), it being 23 (?)
 years that I have been in India, and 15 (?) that I have served as Captain;
 and  as soon as  (?) the kings....and the kings of  Jafanapatao, I, Simao
 Pinhao, conquered him.
Citation  : Lewis, 1913.
Saman Devalaya Inscription
A protected site
The ancient Maha Saman Devalaya, Alapatha Walawwa (the ancient official residence of the Basnayake Nilame) and the Buddha shrine with ancient sculptures and paintings of the Ratnapura Maha Saman Dewala premises situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Dewalegava, in Ratnapura Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by the government Gazette notifications published on 27 June 1952, and 6 June 2008.

Ruins of a Stupa Sinhasana Mandapaya
Attribution
1) This image (Mural from Maha Saman Devalaya Ratnapura) has been released into the public domain through Wikipedia by its up-loader, Mayooranathan. The original photo taken by Mr. J. W. Robertson of the Survey Department was appeared on the Journal of the Ceylon Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, 1899. Vol. XVI. No.50. pp.84-85.

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. pp.11-12.
2) Lewis, J.P., 1913. List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon, of historical or local interest: with an obituary of persons uncommemorated. Colombo. pp.286-287.
3) Perera, S.G., 1922. The Saman Devale inscription. The Ceylon antiquary and literary register. Vol. VIII: Part. I. pp.1-5.
4) The Gazette notification. No: 10418. 27 June 1952.
5) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.527.

Location Map

This page was last updated on 14 September 2019

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