Sunday, January 31, 2021

Res Vehera (Sesseruwa)

Res Vehera
Sesseruwa Viharaya (popularly known as Res Vehera) is a Buddhist temple situated in Sesseruwa village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

History
Although the ancient name of this temple is not known, the history of this site expands from the pre-Christian era to the Kandyan Period (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Nicholas, 1963). A large number of cave inscriptions written in early-Brahmi scripts have been found from the site. Of them, Prof. Senarath Paranavitana has published 29 inscriptions in his book issued in 1970 (Paranavitana, 1970).

Script: Early Brahmi                                                         Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Devenepiya-maharajhaha Gamani-Abayaha jhita Abi-Anuridiya parumaka-Raki-jhaya lene
Translation: The cave of Princess (Abi) Anuradhi, daughter of the great king Gamani Abhaya, the friend of the gods, and wife of the Chief Raki.
Notes: According to the view of Nicholas, this inscription has been done by the daughter of a king who, in all probability, is King Vattagamani Abhaya [(89-77 B.C.) Nicholas, 1963].
References: Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1970.

Besides the early-Brahmi cave inscriptions, a few inscriptions of the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. and Vaharala inscriptions have been found from the temple premises (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 2001).

The Sesseruwa Buddha statue
The monastery extends in an area of about 1200 acres (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015). The ruins of ancient buildings and other structures have been identified at the site. The Dharma Salawa (the preaching hall) and the image houses display artistic features of the Kandyan Period (Anuradha & Kumari, 2015).

Among the numerous monuments found in the temple premises, the most popular one is the colossal image of the Buddha in stone depicting the Abhaya Mudra. It is 39 feet 3 inches high and has been carved out inside a rock-cut cavity (Nicholas, 1963). The height of the head of it (7 feet 4 inches) is the same as the length of the foot (Vanarathana, 1990). The right-arm is 12 feet 2 inches long and the palm is 4 feet 8 inches (Vanarathana, 1990). This statue is 5 inches taller than the famous Buddha statue of Avukana in Anuradhapura (Vanarathana, 1990).

This statue, according to the view of some scholars, is a creation by King Mahasena [(274-301 A.D.) Vanarathana, 1990]. The "Mahasena Patima" that is mentioned in Culavamsa is said to be the statue of Resvehera (Vanarathana, 1990).

A protected site
The colossal Buddha image and inscriptions located in Sesseruwa Resvehera Vihara premises in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Pothanagama are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 16 December 1949.

Attribution

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. pp.50-51.
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.98.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Volume I: Early Brahmi Inscriptions. Department of Archaeology Ceylon. pp.78-79,98.
4) Paranavitana, S. 2001. Dias, M. (Ed). Inscription of Ceylon: Volume II. Part II. Archaeological Survey Department. pp.294-295.
5) Vanarathana, K. (Mahanayaka Thera), 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section I: Sculpture and carvings of Sri Lanka from the 1st to 5th century A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. pp.28-29.
6) The government gazette notification. no: 10054. 16 December 1949.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 10 April 2021
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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