Res Vehera (Sesseruwa)

Res Vehera
Sesseruwa Viharaya, popularly known as Res Vehera (Sinhala: රැස් වෙහෙර සැස්සේරුව විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in Sesseruwa village in Kurunegala District, Sri Lanka.

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 at the site. Of them, 29 inscriptions have been published by Senarath Paranavitana in his book issued in 1970 (Paranavitana, 1970).

Res Vehera Inscription of Anuradhi
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 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.

Among these inscriptions, there is a reference to a monk named Dhammaruci (Vanarathana, 1990). As there was a Mahayana sect by the same name, this monk is assumed to have belonged to that sect (Vanarathana, 1990). Monks having the same name have resided at Rajagala and Bowattegala as well (Vanarathana, 1990).

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

The Sesseruwa Buddha statue
Res Vehera
The monastery extends into 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 on 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; Vanarathana, 1990). The height of its head (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 of King Mahasena (274-301 A.D.) who was responsible for the colossal Jetavana Stupa (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.


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.

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This page was last updated on 20 November 2022
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