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. has 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.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dhathukanda Sri Jinendrarama Viharaya

Dhathukanda Sri Jinendrarama Viharaya
Dhathukanda Sri Jinendrarama Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Kalalpitiya village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. 

The temple
The temple has been constructed at the top of a rock in the area. It consists of a Stupa, an image house, a Bodhi-tree, and a recently built large meditating Buddha statue. The rock summit can be reached through two flights of stairs set in two different directions. On the summit, near the large meditating Buddha statue, is a site with the ruins of an ancient structure. Fallen stone pillars, two granite slabs of Korawak Gal (balustrades), and washed-off debris of buildings are found on that site.
 
A protected site
The place with ruins of buildings, place with the evidence of a settlement of pre-historic era and the flight of steps carved on the natural rock at Kalalpitiya Dhathukanda Sri Jinendarama Purana Raja Maha Vihara situated in Grama Niladhari Division No. 343, Kalalpitiya in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Aththanagalla are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 March 2016.

Dhathukanda Sri Jinendrarama Viharaya Dhathukanda Sri Jinendrarama Viharaya Dhathukanda Sri Jinendrarama Viharaya
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References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; Extraordinary. No: 1957/18. 9 March 2016. p.5A.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Maimbulkanda Gallen Viharaya

Maimbulkanda Viharaya
Maimbulkanda Purana Gallen Viharaya (or Maimbula Gallen Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple located in Ranpokunugama in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. 

The temple
The temple is situated on a high-ground and consists of a Len-viharaya (the cave temple: an image house built within a cave), a newly built Stupa and a Bodhi-tree. The lower-ground is connected to the upper-ground through a flight of steps consisting of a large number of granite slabs. Some of these slabs contain the names of unknown people, probably the donors who contributed in constructing that flight of steps.

Len Viharaya
The Len-viharaya is the main attraction of the temple with archaeological value. It houses several Buddha images in meditating and standing posture. Some of these images are apparently old but they have been colored with modern-day paintings. The ceiling of the cave is adorned with paintings probably belonging to a modern period.

A protected site
The cave temple with ancient frescoes and sculptures within the premises of Maimbula Gallen Vihara in Maimbula Ranpokunagama Village belonging to the Grama Niladhari Division No. 350, Maimbula in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Aththanagalla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 7 July 2016.

Maimbulkanda Gallen Viharaya Maimbulkanda Gallen Viharaya Maimbulkanda Gallen Viharaya
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References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; Extraordinary. No: 1974/16. 7 July 2016. p.5A.

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Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya

Attanagalla Viharaya
Attanagalla Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Attanagalla village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
Details about the history of Attanagalla Viharaya can be found in the Hatthavanagalla-vihara-vamsa, a Pali work of the 13th century (Wikramasinghe, 1900). It contains a mythical account of  King Sirisamghabodhi (252-254 A.D.) who is said to have lived in Hatthavanagalla (present Attanagalla) in retirement after the usurpation of his kingdom by King Gotabhaya [(254-267 A.D.) Wikramasinghe, 1900]. As mentioned in the text, but without historical foundation, King Sirisamghabodhi gave up his life here by offering his own head to a peasant so that latter might get from Gotabhaya the price set for securing Sirisamghabodhi's head (Liyanagamage, 1963; Nicholas, 1963). It is traditionally believed that the cremation of Sirisamghabodhi was taken place at this site (Liyanagamage, 1963). 

However, on the authority of the Maha-vamsa-tika, it has been pointed out that this event (Sirisamghabodhi's supreme act of self-sacrifice) took place in the south of Issarasamana Viharaya in Anuradhapura and not in the present Attanagalla Viharaya (Liyanagamage, 1963). Some believe that this incident may actually happen at Haththikuchchi Viharaya in Kurunegala District (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

According to chronicles, King Gotabhaya built a Vatadage on the spot where Sirisamghabodhi was cremated and King Upatissa II (517-518 A.D.) erected a 5-storeyed Prasada at the site (Nicholas, 1963). King Parakramabahu II (1236-1271 A.D.) repaired the Vatadage and also built an octagonal image house and a Cetiya over the spot where his father had been cremated in the temple premises (Nicholas, 1963).

The temple
Attanagalla Vatadage
The temple consists of an image house, a Stupa, a Bodhi-tree, a pond, and a Vatadage.

Attanagalla Vatadage
The Vatadage at Attanagalla Viharaya has been built by enclosing a Stupa inside it. The roof of it consists of two decks and is supported by stone pillars in two concentric circles. The inner side of the outer walls is adorned with murals of Buddhist themes.

A protected site
The ancient image house in the premises of the Attanagalla Vihara in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Attanagalla is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 1 November 1996.

Attanagalla Viharaya Attanagalla Viharaya Attanagalla Viharaya
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References
1) Anuradha, R.K.S.; Kumari, A.S., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kurunegala Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-37-2. p.75.
2) Liyanagamage, A., 1963. The Decline of Polonnaruva and the Rise of Dambadeniya, (Circa 1180-1270 AD). Doctoral dissertation, SOAS University of London. pp.48-49.
3) 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.120.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 948. 1 November 1996.
5) Wikramasinghe, D.M.D.Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. p.70.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

Deraniyagala Cave, Sigiriya

Deraniyagala Cave, Sigiriya
Deraniyagala Cave (also known as Cave no. 7) is a cave situated in the premises of Sigiriya fortress in Matale District, Sri Lanka. The cave has been named after P. E. P. Deraniyagala, the scholar who recorded the paintings in this cave for the first time.

History
The drip-ledge of the cave indicates that this cave was an abode of forest-dwelling Buddhist monks belonging to the first monastic phase before King Kassapa (477-495 A.D.). 

Paintings
Faint traces of several female figures are found drawn on the ceiling of the cave. They are similar in the style to those found in the main caves of the Sigiriya rock, except that they are full-figure representations. Traces of foliage and the spreading branches of trees are found in the background below the female figures (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

Depending on the colours used and ornaments drawn, these paintings have been dated to the late 6th century (Chutiwongs et al., 1990).

Faint traces of female figures Faint traces of female figures Traces of foliage and the spreading branches of trees
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References
1) Chutiwongs, N., Prematilleke, L., Silva, R., 1990. Paintings of Sri Lanka: Sigiriya: Colombo, Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka, Centenary Publications, Central Cultural Fund. pp. 37-47.

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Nagadeepa Viharaya

Nagadeepa Viharaya
Nagadeepa Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated on the island of Nagadeepa/Nagadipa (Tamil: Nainativu) in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. The famous religious shrines, Nagapooshani Amman temple, and the Buddha Walawwa are also located near to this temple.

History
Ancient Nagadeepa
Nagadeepa is referred to as Manipallavam or Maninaga island as well (Dias et al., 2016). The place is mentioned in several early Sri Lankan chronicles such as Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa and in ancient Tamil Sangam literature of Tamil Nadu (India) such as Manimekhalai.

Nagadeepa is first mentioned in connection with the story of the Buddha's second visit to Sri Lanka (Nicholas, 1963). The inhabitants of here were Nagas who are said to have been related to the ruling Naga family at Kelaniya (Nicholas, 1963).

Legends
According to Sri Lankan chronicles such as Mahawamsa, the Buddha in the fifth year after his enlightenment visited Nagadeepa in Sri Lanka to settle a dispute that had to be arisen between two royal kinsmen of Naga clan Chulodara and Mahodara (nephew and uncle) over a gem-studded throne. After the appearance of the Buddha, the Nagas who were about to war with each other stopped the war and paid homage to the Buddha.

A deity named Samidhi Sumana who was residing in a Rajayathana tree (Kiripalu tree) adjacent to the Jetavanarama temple (at the time Buddha was living in Jetavanarama temple) is said to have come to Nagadeepa with the Buddha by holding his uprooted residence-the Rajayathana tree as an umbrella (parasol) to him.

The Indian Tamil epic Manimekhalai also describes the Buddha's intervene in settling a dispute between two Naga princes over a gem-set throne seat on an island known as Manipallavam.

Royal patronage
The Buddha is said to have returned to Jetavanarama leaving behind the gem-studded throne and the Rajayathana tree for the veneration of the Nagas. In the second century A.D., King Bhatikatisa (143-167 A.D.) is said to have built the Palu-da-ge at the foot of the Rajayathana tree and King Aggabodhi II (571-604 A.D.) had erected the Unnalomaghara dwelling to the Rajayatanadhatu Vihara (the Palu-da-ge and the Rajayatanadhatu Vihara are the same) as well as an umbrella for the Amala Cetiya (Nicholas, 1963).

Modern temple
The establishment of modern Nagadeepa temple was pioneered by a Buddhist monk named Randombe Somasiritissa Thera who visited the site for the first time in 1939 (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012). He met lady devotee Mallika Seneviratna at Bambarakele Sri Maha Viharaya in Nuwara Eliya and with the help of her husband D.A. Seneviratna, the construction works of the modern temple were commenced in 1940 (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012). The Stupa of the temple was unveiled  in 1943 (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012).

A gold-plated Buddha statue donated by the Myanmar Navy was placed in Nagadeepa temple in 1955 (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012). As a result of the communal unrest that erupted in 1958, this statue as well as the other establishment of the temple including the Stupa were destroyed and vandalized by the locals (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012). However, the temple was restored with the support of the then government.

The temple was again threatened in the 1980s due to the activities of the "Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam" (LTTE), a Tamil secessionist group designated as a terrorist organization by a number of countries (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012). On 31 March 1986, the image house of nearby Buddha Walawwa temple was destroyed by a bomb planted by the LTTE rebels (Vijithadhamma Thera, 2012).

The Bodhi tree and the image house
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References
1) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. pp.201-202.
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.83.
3) Vijithdhamma Thera, 2012. Nagadeepaya Eda-Ada (In Sinhala). Published by the author. pp.24-43.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Dedigama Eth Pahana

Dedigama Eth Pahana
Dedigama Eth Pahana (meaning: Elephant lamp) is referred to a unique hanging lamp discovered from Dedigama Suthighara Stupa, Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. The lamp is presently on the display in the Polonnaruwa Gallery at Colombo National Museum.

History
In 1951, two Eth Pahana lamps similar in design were discovered from the upper relic chamber of Suthighara Stupa at Dedigama (Jayawardana & Peiris, 2009; Udayakumari, 2016). This Stupa has been identified as the ancient Cuthighara Dagoba built by King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.) in the 12 century A.D. (Nicholas, 1963). According to Mahawamsa, King Manabharana, the father of King Parakramabahu I, used Punkhagama (present Dedigama) as the capital city of the southern locality. It is mentioned that King Parakramabahu I was born there and afterward, he built the Cuthighara (Suthighara) Stupa of 120 cubits (180 ft) tall on the site of the house in which he was born (Nicholas, 1963). 

As it was found from the relic chamber of Suthighara Stupa, the Eth Pahana lamp has been dated by scholars to the reign of King Parakramabahu I; to the 12 century A.D. (Jayawardana & Peiris, 2009).

The lamp
The lamp has been made out of bronze and predominantly represents a figure of an elephant (hollow cast) carrying two mahouts on its shoulder. The elephant is 12.6 cm tall and 6.1 cm wide and stands on the top of a dish base (oil receptacle) with a diameter of 23 cm and a height of 8.5 cm (Jayawardana & Peiris, 2009). The elephant and the two mahouts are held in position by a movable Makara Thorana (the Dragon arch) locked onto the elephant. The total height of the lamp is said to be about 28.5 cm.

The chain by which the lamp is hanged is decorated with a female dancer, a male cymbal player and, a drummer. The end of the chain is decked with an open-hooded cobra forming a hook for hanging the lamp.

Technology
A sufficient quantity of oil should be present on the receptacle of a lamp if it is needed to be lit for a long period. In the Eth Pahana lamp, the elephant stands on the oil receptacle (R) and its belly (B) acts as a vessel and a reservoir for the oil. It is possible to remove the elephant figure from the oil receptacle and a pipe (P) has been provided on one of its front legs. By inverting the elephant figure, oil could be poured into the belly of the elephant through the given pipe and the oil stocked in is automatically closed by a valve within. After fixing the elephant figure on the lamp, the stocked oil is started to flow out as droplets onto the receptacle through the elephant's genital organ (O) when the level of the oil in "R" goes below the bottom level of the "P" in the leg due to the consumption of oil by the burning lamp-wick. The air that enters the elephant belly through the opening of "P" builds up the atmospheric pressure inside the belly and causes the oil inside to drip out onto the receptacle. The oil flows even after the opening is covered with oil until such time that the air pressure inside the belly goes below the atmospheric pressure by an amount equal to the pressure developed by the height (H) of oil inside the elephant.

This sequence of events has been demonstrated and proved using the real lamp at the National Museum of Colombo (Jayawardana & Peiris, 2009).

References
1) Jayawardana, C. and Peiris, K., 2009. Ancient micro scale hydraulic elements in Sri Lanka. Engineer - Vol. XXXXII, No. 03. The Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka. pp.51-56.  
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.123. 
3) Udayakumari, P.A.N. 2016. Relationship between Elephant Figure and Hydrostatic Principle of Eth Pahana in Dedigama. In: International Conference on Asian Elephants in Culture & Nature, 20th – 21st August 2016. p.22.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Batatotalena Cave

Batatotalena Cave
Batatotalena Cave (Sinhala: Batathota-lena) is a Buddhist cave temple situated in Kuruwita in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of this site is linked by locals to the Lord Buddha. Some believe that Diwa Guhawa or Bhagawalena associated with the Buddha's third visit to Sri Lanka is identical to this site (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The cave is about 20 ft tall (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967). Within the cave, a small Stupa, an image house, and a Vishnu Devalaya shrine can be seen. The image house is the main shrine and has been erected between the Vishnu Devalaya and the Stupa. The front wall of the image house is decorated with a Makara Thorana (a dragon arch) and other murals. The entrance door is guarded by two statues of door-keepers. Inside the image house is a reclining Buddha statue of about 21 cubits long. This statue is believed to be a construction belongs to the reign of King Nissankamalla [(1187-1196 A.D.) Abeyawardana, 2002]. However, some of these constructions show artistic features belonging to the early Kandyan period (Abeyawardana, 2002). Some work of repairs on the present shrine have been done in 1908 (Gnanawimala Thera, 1967).

A small pond created by the water that drips through the inner cavities of the cave roof is also found at the entrance of the cave.

A protected site
The Batathota Lena cave situated in Batathota village in Kuruwita Divisional Secretariat Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 27 July 2001.

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.10-11.
2) Gnanawimala Thera, K., 1967. Saparagamu Darshana (In Sinhala). S. Godage Saha Sahodarayo. p.15.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1195. 27 July 2001. 

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Kala Wewa

Kala Wewa
Kala Wewa is a twin reservoir complex (Kala-Balalu Wewa) situated in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

History
The Kala Vapi or the Kala Wewa was constructed during the reign of King Dhatusena [(459-477 A.D.) Arumugam, 1969]. Historical sources reveal that King Mahinda II (777-797 A.D.) improved and strengthened the work (Arumugam, 1969).

The present reservoir was restored in 1887 and in 1939, it was enlarged by 6 ft (Arumugam, 1969). The breaches in 1957 were repaired in 1958 and the twin reservoirs Kala Wewa and Balalu Wewa were merged together to form one large reservoir (Arumugam, 1969).

In 2015, the reservoir was rehabilitated by the Dam Safety & Water Resources Planning Project.

Reservoir
The reservoir has been constructed across the Kala Oya and the Jaya Ganga. It has a capacity of 100,000 Ac. ft (123 million cubic meters) and has facilitated with a stone-made spillway and three main sluices (Yodha Ela, Goda Ela, and Balalu-wewa). The water of the reservoir brings to the Nuwara Wewa reservoir in Anuradhapura by an ancient 54 miles (86.90 km) long canal called Jaya Ganga or Yodha Ela (Arumugam, 1969) which has a fine slope of 6 inches per mile. 

The Kala Oya valley has been dammed by a 5 mile (8.04 km) long earthen embankment of about 60 ft high (Arumugam, 1969). 

Balalu Wewa

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References
1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. pp.17,342-343.

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Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Kelaniya Viharaya
Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Kelaniya in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. It is considered as one of the most sacred 16 Buddhist sites (Solosmasthana) in the country by local devotees.

History
Ancient Kelaniya
The name Kelaniya (or Kalyani) is found in ancient chronicles such as Mahawamsa as one of the abodes of Nagas who, according to chronicles, is a class of super-humans taking the form of serpents and living in a subterranean world (Paranavitana, 1961). The name is also found in a pre-Christian inscription in Mandagala in Hambantota District and in a 5th-century inscription at Diyagama near Kalutara (Nicholas, 1963).

Legends
According to chronicles, the Buddha in the eighth year after his enlightenment visited Kelaniya in Sri Lanka with his followers on the full moon day of Vesak and this visit was done upon the invitation by the Naga King Maniakkhika. It is said that the king built a Stupa here by enshrining the gem-studded throne on which the Buddha was seated while preaching Dhamma to the king and his followers. The Stupa in the present Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is believed to be the monument that holding this sacred gem-studded throne.

Foundation of Kelaniya Viharaya
However, the exact history of the foundation of Kelaniya Viharaya is obscure (Nicholas, 1963). Local Pali chronicles are silent about the foundation of Kelaniya Viharaya but Sinhalese chronicles say that Yatalatissa (reigned in the 2nd century B.C.) constructed Kelani Viharaya and a palace and reigned there (Nicholas, 1963). However, the details revealed by the Pali chronicle Mahawamsa that Yatalatissa ruled in Rohana and not at Kelaniya are confirmed epigraphically (Nicholas, 1963). The Pujavaliya (a Sinhalese classic written in the 13th century) mentions that Kavantissa of Ruhuna (205-161 B.C.) as the builder of the Stupa of Kelaniya Viharaya (Nicholas, 1963).

Royal patronage
Kelani Viharaya is said to have existed during the reign of King Dutugemunu [(161-137 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963]. According to historical sources, King Kanittha Tissa (167-186 A.D.) had built an Uposatha-house in Kelani Viharaya and King Voharika Tissa (209-231 A.D.) had erected a parasol on the Stupa of the temple (Nicholas, 1963). After the 3rd century A.D., there are no references in chronicles or epigraphs to the Kelaniya Viharaya until the 12th century A.D.

The inscriptions by King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) record that the king had visited Kelani Viharaya and effected repairs there (Nicholas, 1963). The Kelaniya Stupa which had been destroyed later by Tamils (Magha of Kalinga) was restored by King Vijayabahu III (1232-1236 A.D.) with further repairs on other buildings (Nicholas, 1963). King Parakramabahu II (1236-1272 A.D.) also effected major restorations at Kelaniya Viharaya (Nicholas, 1963).

According to the Kelani Vihara slab inscription established in 1509 A.D., the temple which had been in a dilapidated state for a time was repaired by King Vira Parakramabahu VIII [(1490-1509 A.D.) Rohanadeera, 2007]. However, in the 16th century, the Kelani Viharaya was destroyed by the Portuguese who arrived in Sri Lanka in 1505 A.D. In the 18th century, under the patronage of King Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1782 A.D.) the temple was repaired and improved (Ranawella, 2015).

Reformation of Burmese Buddhism and Kalyani inscriptions
During the reign of King Buvanekabahu VI (1470-1478 A.D.), the ruler of Burma (present Myanmar) King Dhammazedi (1471-1492 A.D.) sought the assistance of the Sinhala kings to re-institute the Theravada ordination in his country. In 1476, a group of Burma monks and their disciples were sent to Sri Lanka, where they were re-ordained at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara (Ko, 1892). When they returned to Burma King Dhammazedi was very pleased and he built a chapter house and named it Kalyani-sima (Kalyani ordination hall) and recorded the history of this mission on slabs of stone. These slabs are preserved to this day and are popularly known as Kalyani inscriptions (Ko, 1892).

Inscriptions
A few slab and pillar inscriptions has been unearthed from the temple premises. Besides these inscriptions, a copper plate charter issued by King Kirti Sri Rajasingha in Saka year 1701 (1780 A.D.) was also in the possession of the Kelaniya temple (Ranawella, 2015).

Kelaniya Vihara slab inscription of Vira Parakramabahu VIIIKelaniya Vihara slab inscription of Vira Parakramabahu VIII
Period: 16th century A.D.
Reign: Vira Parakramabahu VIII (1490-1509 A.D.)
Script: Sinhala
Language: Sinhala
Content: This inscription is dated to 2051 B.E. (1509 A.D.), the 19th regnal year of King Vira Parakramabahu VIII. It records that the king had involved in repairs and restoration works in Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya which was in a dilapidated state for a time. According to the inscription, the Stupa, the 5-storeyed Pasada (Pas-mahal Paya), and other structures such as the Trivanka-geya, Thel-katara-geya, Samadi Pilima-geya, Na Pilima-geya, Sala-pilima-geya, Sivuru-dageya, and toilets of Kelaniya Viharaya had been repaired under the patronage of the king. A stone parapet and a flight of steps with a Sandakada Pahana (a moonstone) had also been added to the temple newly.
References: Rohanadeera, 1996; Rohanadeera, 2007.

Kelaniya Vihara slab inscription of Mapitigama BuddharakkhitaKelaniya Vihara slab inscription of Mapitigama Buddharakkhita
Period: 18th century A.D.
Reign: Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1782 A.D.)
Script: Modern Sinhala
Language: Modern Sinhala
Content: This inscription is dated to 2322 B.E. (1779 A.D.). It records the work of repairs and donation of lands to the Kalyani Chaitya by Mapitigama Buddharakkhita Thera, incumbent of the temple as the successor of his teacher Attadassi Thera. It further says that the temples of Kitsirimewan Kelaniya and Doranagoda Vihara (probably Doranagoda Sumathindarama Viharaya) which had been in ruins for a time were also repaired and improved. According to the inscription, the support of the Kandyan king (Kirti Sri Rajasingha) had been obtained for this benevolent deed.
Reference: Ranawella, 2015.

The temple
Located near to the bank of Kelani Ganga River, the temple has been built on a raised terrace that can be accessed via four flights of steps set in the four directions. The main entrance to the temple premises has been given a majestic appearance by constructing two large decorated pandols. A large Stupa, a Bodhi-tree, an image house, and a number of other sacred edifices are found within the temple premises.

The temple was refurbished during the first half of the 20th century, under the patronage of philanthropist Helena Wijeywardena.

The image house
The image house of Kelaniya Viharaya mainly has two parts, viz: the old shrine and the new shrine. Both shrines are presently in one building but under two roofs. The image house is roughly 150 ft long and 90 ft wide and stands on a stone plinth 3 feet in height. Its outer walls are adorned with ornamental freezes and Vimanas (the mansions of gods).

Kandyan era paintings
The image house can be entered through a flight of stone steps leading to the verandah and then to the middle chamber or the vestibule. The walls of the middle chamber contain paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan tradition. Jataka stories (stories that tell about the previous 550 lives of the Buddha), life incidents of the Buddha, the Sath-sathiya (the first week after the enlightenment), Solosmasthana (the 16 sacred shrines in Sri Lanka), and other Buddhist murals and sculptures are found drawn in horizontal strip of panels. Besides the walls, the wooden ceiling of this section contains paintings such as the planetary gods and the twelve zodiacal signs.

To the right of the middle chamber is the inner chamber or the sanctum of the old shrine. It contains a large reclining statue of Buddha and two seated Buddha statues. The statues are gold painted and the walls of this section are decorated with the figures of deities (Natha, Saman, etc.), and other Buddhist themes such as Suvisivivarana (24 assurances predicting Buddha-hood). The middle chamber and the inner chamber are considered as the oldest part of the Kelaniya image house and both sections contain murals belonging to the Kandyan tradition.

The new shrine can be entered directly walking forward through the middle chamber. It houses a gold statue of Buddha in the meditation posture. Large-scale paintings depicting the birth of the Sinhala nation ("The Buddha entrusting the protection of Buddhism in Sri Lanka to God Sakra, Landing of Vijaya") and other important events of the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka such as "King Devanampiyatissa presenting the Mahamegha Park to Arahant Mahinda by marking boundaries, Transcription of the Tripitaka into books at Alu Viharaya, Buddhagosa's presentation of the Visuddhimagga to the Sangharaja of Maha Vihara, King Kirthi Sri conferring the title of Sangharaja to Weliwita Saranankara Maha Thera by presenting him the ivory fan as the emblem of office, and the bringing of the Bodhi-tree by Theri Sangamitta, and the Tooth Relic of the Buddha by Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala" are found in this section.

To the left of this section is the outer chamber of the new shrine. It contains murals depicting the important events in the life of the Buddha as well as the history of Kelani Viharaya. The paintings include "Buddha's three visits to Sri Lanka (to Mahiyangana, Nagadeepa, and Kelaniya), The murder of the Maha Thera of Kelaniya-the consequent floods and the sacrifice of Princess Devi during the reign of Kelanitissa, Theravada tradition of ordination on the Burmese monks, and the destruction of Kelani Vihara by Magha in early 13th century and by Portuguese in late 16th century" etc.

The new shrine is widely famous for its attractive modern painting drawn by the native artist Solias Mendis [(1897-1975) Dharmasiri, 1990]. His paintings are considered to be one of the most important 20th-century contributions to the Sri Lankan tradition of Buddhist mural paintings that expands more than 2000 years (Dharmasiri, 1990).

Kelani Vihara paintings Kelaniya paintings
Stupa
The Stupa of Kelani Viharaya has been built in accordance to the Dhanyakara shape (the shape of a heaped pile of grains).

Duruthu Perahera
The temple is popular for its annual Perahera pageant (a procession) hold in January. It was inaugurated in 1927, by Don Walter Wijewardene to commemorate the Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka in the month of Duruthu (January) and to mark the commencement of the restoration work at Kelaniya in 1927.

A protected site
The ancient image house, Dagoba, rectangular two-story building known as Simamalakaya, ancient preaching hall, ancient Vibhishana Devalaya and inscriptions situated in Kalaniya Raja Maha Vihara premises in the Grama Niladari Division bearing No. 264 in Kelaniya Divisional Secretariat Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Kelani Viharaya

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References
1) Dharmasiri, A., 1990. Painting, Modern period (1815-1950). Nandadeva W. (Editor in chief), Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series (Vol. V). Painting. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.132.133.
2) Ko, T.S., 1892. The Kalyānī inscriptions erected by King Dhammacetī at Pegu in 1476 AD: Text and translation. Superintendent, government printing, Burma. pp.the "Contents" page, i-vi.
3) 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). pp.119-120.
4)  Paranavitana, S., 1961. The Arya Kingdom in North Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, Vol VII, Part: II. Colombo. p.181.
5) Ranawella, S., 2015. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. IX. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-9159-98-8. pp.58-62.
6) Rohanadeera, M., 1996. Dharma Parakramabahu IX-The Fake King of Ceylon Inflated by Portuguese Historians-A Historiographical Perspective. Vidyodaya J. Soc. Sc., Vol. 7. 1 & 2. pp.13-45.
7) Rohanadeera, M., 2007. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-64-3. pp.91-97.
8) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.122.

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

Kithsirimewan Kelaniya Viharaya

Kithsirimewan Kelaniya Viharaya
Kithsirimewan Kelaniya Viharaya (also known as Egoda Kelaniya Viharaya) is a Buddhist temple situated in Kelaniya in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. It is built on the northern-bank of Kelani Ganga River and the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, the main Buddhist temple in Kelaniya is located on the southern-bank of the river.

Legends
According to chronicles, the Buddha in the eighth year after his enlightenment visited Kelaniya in Sri Lanka with his followers on the full moon day of Vesak and this visit was done upon the invitation by the Naga King Maniakkhika. It is said that the king built a Stupa here by enshrining the gem-studded throne on which the Buddha was seated while preaching Dhamma to the king and his followers. The Stupa in the present Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is believed to be the monument that holding this sacred gem-studded throne.

During this visit, the Buddha and his followers bathed in the Kelani Ganga River before partaking the meals offered by King Maniakkhika. On this occasion, the Buddha gave the Jalasatikawa (the bathing-cloth) he was clad in, to the king. This cloth was enshrined in another Stupa built by the king at the place where the present Kithsirimewan Kelaniya Viharaya stands. This Stupa was later renovated and enlarged by King Kiti Sri Meghavanna (also known as Kithsirimewan) in the 4th century A.D.

Inscriptions
Kitsirimewan Kelaniya Vihara slab inscription.Two inscriptions have been unearthed from the site. Of them one is a slab inscription and the other is a pillar inscription. The both inscriptions are presently erected near the entrance gate of the Stupa terrace.

Kitsirimewan Kelaniya Vihara slab inscription.
This inscription (left photograph) is found on a slab of about 6 ft. 4 in. tall and 1 ft. 10 in. wide (Ranawella, 2014). The slab has a slightly rounded upper part and the average thickness of it is about 7 in. (Ranawella, 2014). Fifty-one lines of writing are visible on the front face of the slab. Fifteen more lines along with the figures of a crow, a dog, the sun, and the moon are also found engraved on the right-hand side of it (Ranawella, 2014).

Prof. Sirimal Ranawella has given an account regarding this inscription as follows;
The inscription is dated A.B. 1887 (1344/5 A.D.), the same date as that of the Gadaladeniya and Lankatilaka rock inscriptions of King Bhuvanaikabahu IV (1341-1351), but no regnal year either of Bhuvanaikabahu IV or Parakramabahu V (1344-1359) is given therein. The inscription had been set up by an unnamed hierarch of the liniage of Gangatala Karambavalana, who was the head of Vilgammula fraternity at that time; it infrm us that this hierarch had attended to the repairs of Kitsirimevan Kalani-Viharaya with the patronage of a powerful minister named Alagakkonara, described as the tenth in succession from Nissanka Alagakkonara who himself belonged to a noble family of Vanci. S. Paranavitana who identifies this Alagakkonara as the minister of that name referred to in the Karagala inscription of the eleventh regnal year of King Vijayabahu V (1335-1341), incline to assigned ......>>
Citation: Ranawella, 2014. p. 22.
Kithsirimewan Kelaniya temple Kitsirimewan Kelaniya temple
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References
1) Ranawella, S., 2014. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. VII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-9159-62-9. pp.22-26.

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Memorial of Aranthalawa Massacre

Aranthalawa memorial
Memorial of Aranthalawa Massacre (also known as Monument of Aranthalawa Buddhist monks) is a memorial site situated in the village of Aranthalawa in Ampara District, Sri Lanka. It has been built to commemorate the killing of thirty-one Buddhist monks and three civilians in the village of Aranthalawa on 2 June 1987, by the cadres of "Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam" (LTTE), a Tamil secessionist group designated as a terrorist organization by a number of countries including India, the United States and the European Union (DeVotta, 2007; McCargo & Senaratne, 2020). The "Aranthalawa massacre", as this incident came to be known, is considered an event of violence that made clear the LTTE's capacity for ruthless action (Das et al., 2000).

Buddhist monks of Theravada tradition are incapable of defending themselves. Therefore, the harming of monk is considered to be one of the great offenses in Buddhism.  

The incident
Aranthalawa massacre
On 2 June 1987, a group of Buddhist monks (most of them were young novice monks) boarded on a bus from the Mahāvāpi Temple in Ampara for a pilgrimage to Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Deegalle, 2009). They were stopped near the village of Nuwaragalatenna by a group of armed LTTE cadres led by a leader named Reagan (Das et al., 2000). They ordered the driver of the bus to drive into the nearby Aranthalawa jungle and after the bus stopped, the LTTE cadres murdered 30 young novice monks and their mentor, Hegoda Indrasara Thera (DeVotta, 2007). Three civilians who were on the bus were also killed by the attackers.

A few monks, however, had escaped the massacre. 

Memorial museum
In 2013, a memorial museum was opened by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa on this site to remember the monks who killed by the LTTE (Ruwanpathirana, 2016). The bus in which the Buddhist monks were massacred is also being exhibited at the site.

Aranthalawa Massacre Aranthalawa Massacre Aranthalawa Massacre Aranthalawa Massacre Aranthalawa Massacre
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References
1) Das, V., Kleinman, A., Ramphele, M., and Reynolds, P., 2000. Violence and subjectivity. Univ of California Press. p.172.
2) Deegalle, M., 2009. Religious concerns in the ethno-politics of Sri Lanka. The Mahachulalongkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies, 2, pp.79-109.
3) DeVotta, N., 2007. Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist ideology: Implications for politics and conflict resolution in Sri Lanka. pp.38,77.
4) McCargo, D., and Senaratne, D., 2020. Victor’s memory: Sri Lanka’spost-war memory scape in comparative perspective. Conflict, Security & Development, 20:1. pp.97-113.
5)  Ruwanpathirana, T., 2016. Memorialisation for transitional justice in Sri Lanka. Centre for Policy Alternatives, Colombo. p.18.

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Hokandara Purana Viharaya

Hokandara Viharaya
Hokandara Purana Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Hokandara in Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

Archaeological monuments
The image house and the belfry are the main attractions of this temple with an archaeological value.  The image house is an octagonal-shaped building and consists of two sections: the inner shrine and the outer part. A large seated Buddha statue accompanied by two images of Sariputta (left) and Moggallana (right), the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha, are found inside the inner shrine. A small Devalaya shrine has also been built in the outer part of the image house.

The belfry
Hokandara temple
The belfry is located in front of the image house. At the bottom of this bell-tower, there are two plaques probably containing the years denoted in Buddhist and Christian eras. Of them, one plaque displays the number "2479" (if this number is taken as a Buddhist year, its complementary Christian year should be 1935) while the other plaque contains the number "1858" (if we consider this as a Christian year the corresponding Buddhist year of it should be 2402). These numbers may denote the construction date of the belfry (probably including the image house) or other establishment of the temple.

A protected site
The image house and the belfry located in the territory of the Hokandara Purana Vihara in Hokandara village in the Grama Niladari Division of Hokandara-North in Kaduwela Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 20 June 2014.

Hokandara Vihara Hokandara Vihara
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References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1868. 20 June 2014. p.503.

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Kumburulena Raja Maha Viharaya

Kumburulena Viharaya
Kumburulena Raja Maha Viharaya (also known as Kumburulena Sri Siddhartha Pirivena) is a Buddhist temple situated in Ridigama in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
The history of Kumburulena temple goes back to the early period of Anuradhapura era. Several early-Brahmi inscriptions belonging to the 2nd-1st centuries B.C have been found from the drip-ledged rock caves situated in the temple premises (Paranavitana, 1970). According to the view of Nicholas, Kumburulena was doubtless a part of the Ridi Viharaya (a nearby temple) entourage (Nicholas, 1963). 

The temple name Kumburulena is mentioned in the old Sinhalese text "Nampota" along with other nearby temples including "Segelena" and "Ridi-lena" (Ridi Viharaya).

Inscriptions
Prof. S. Paranavitana has read and published 7 early-Brahmi inscriptions discovered from the site (Paranavitana, 1970). Of them, there are two cave inscriptions by Majjhima, the director of the palanquin bearers of King Gamini Abhaya who, according to scholars, is probably King Vattagamani Abhaya [(89-77 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963].

Kumburulena cave inscriptions of Majjhima
Kumburulena inscriptionsPeriod: 2nd-1st centuries B.C.
Script : Early Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Maharajhasha Gamani Abayasa sivika adaka parumaka Majjhima(sha) (le)ne agata anagata (catudisha shagasha)
Translation: The cave of chief Majhima, Director of palanquins of King Gamini Abhaya is given to (the Sangha of all four quarters) present and absent.
References: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of Education.


Kumburulena Viharaya Kumburulena Viharaya Kumburulena Viharaya
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References
1) 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.106.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.69-70.

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