Sastrawela Viharaya

Sastrawela Viharaya
Sastrawela Viharaya, also known as Ratrawela Viharaya or Maninaga Pabbata Bodhigiri Viharaya (Sinhala: ශාස්ත්‍රවෙල විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated in the Panama area in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

At the beginning of the 1st century A.D., the area extending approximately from Pothuvil to Panama was a district of Rohana called Kalayana-kannika (Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983). As mentioned in Mahavamsa, in this district, King Mahadathika Mahanaga (9-21 A.D.) built a temple named Maninaga Pabbata Vihara and according to the view of Nicholas, the present site known as Ratrawela or Sastrawela Viharaya could be that temple (Medhananda, 2003; Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983; Withanachchi, 2013). As revealed by a rock inscription of the same king, this site had been known at the time as Bohogiri Nakapavata (Medhananda, 2003; Paranavitana, 1983).

There are about three (or probably more) inscriptions at the site. Of them, one is a cave inscription while the other two are rock inscriptions (Medhananda, 2003). The cave inscription has been written in Early Brahmi Scripts belonging to the period between 3rd-century B.C.-1st century A.D.

Script: Early Brahmi                                                     Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: Bena putha budarakitha theraha nagaya janapathika upasika baguya lene devaputhaha thinibithaha sapathikaha cathudisa sagasa dine
Translation: This inscription records the donation of a cave to the Buddhist priesthood by Buddha Rakkhita Thera, Nagaya, Upasika Baguya, Deva puta, Thinikitha and Sapathika.
Citation: Medhananda, 2003. pp.132-133,465.

Of the two rock inscriptions, one has been completely faded away (Medhananda, 2003). The other one which comprises eight lines of writing was copied by the Department of Archaeology in 1934 (Paranavitana, 1983). Dated to the reign of King Mahadathika Mahanaga (9-21 A.D.), this inscription registers a donation made to the Bohogiri Nakapavata Vihara by Naka-maharaja (Mahadathika Mahanaga), the son of Putakana Gamini Abaya, and the grandson of Devanapiya Tisa-maharaja (Paranavitana, 1983).

Reign: Mahadathika Mahanaga                    Script: Later-Brahmi                    Language: Old Sinhala
Content: Success, a monastery named Nagapabbata built at Bohogiri (Bodhigiriya) by King Mahadathika Mahanaga, the son of King Kutakanna Tissa, the grandson of King Devanampiyatissa was donated to the Buddhist monks coming from the four directions. The income from the places named Aganagama Wewa, Velamukha, Akamukaka and Hupikadaka were offered for the use of the monks of the monastery.
Reference: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the State Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

The site
A large number of ruins of the ancient Buddhist monastery are found scattered on the temple premises (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013). They include the remains of a colossal brick-built Stupa (and other small Stupas), fragmented statues, walls, pillared buildings, ponds etc. (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013). Also, the drip-ledged caves, rock-cut steps, inscriptions and fragments of cave paintings are among the other monuments of archaeological interest (Medhananda, 2003; Withanachchi, 2013).

1) Medhananda, Ven. Ellawala, 2003. Pacheena passa - Uttara passa: Negenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala bauddha urumaya (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-686-112-9. pp.129-134,465.
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). pp.22-23.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon, Late Brahmi Inscriptions. Volume II, Part I. Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka. pp.36-37.
4) Withanachchi, C. R., 2013. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Ampara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-44-5. pp.24-25.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 4 June 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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