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.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Gurugalhinna Megalithic Cemetery

Gurugalhinna Megalithic Cemetery (also known as Gurugalhinna Pre-historic Burial Site) is an ancient burial site situated in Hamillewa in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka. It is located on the wayside of Anuradhapura-Trincomalee highway about 8.5 km distance from Kahatagasdigiliya town.

The Gurugalhinna burial ground is believed to have existed during the period between the 7th-century B.C.- 3rd century A.D. Excavations done in the 1980s have revealed that this could be the burial place of the people of the human settlement of the Yan Oya basin.

It is conjectured that about 100 tombs had been located at this site. The remains of the dead that were deposited in a clay pot has been placed here in a recess formed by rock slabs placed encircling it and the top of it is sealed by another rock slab.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 31 January 2022
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Dharma Vijaya Vishrama Salawa

Kirigala Ambalama
Kirigala Ambalama (Photo credit: Google street view)

Dharma Vijaya Vishrama Salawa (also called by some as Kirigala Ambalama) is an old pilgrim rest located at Sagara Palansuriya Vidyalaya near the Kirigalamukalana forest reserve on the Padukka-Ingiriya Road in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka.

History
This pilgrim rest can be identified as an Ambalama, traditional resting places built by locals in ancient times to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country. 
 
The Dharma Vijaya pilgrim rest has been built at the present site for the convenience of travellers in 1957, commemorating the 2500th Buddha Jayanthi (the 2500th anniversary of the passing away of Buddha).

The structure
The pilgrim rest is a brick and mortar building similar to a small house. 

Location Map
This page was last updated on 19 February 2022
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Sunday, 30 January 2022

Sirimal Ranawella

Gallage Sirimal Ranawella (1921-2021) was a Sri Lankan epigraphist and historian.

Life events
Ranawella was born in Koggala on 16 October 1921 and at the age of one, he was adopted by his aunt Roslyn Amarasinha (JRASSL, 2010). He completed his early education at Unawatuna Sinhala Buddhist Mixed School in Galle from 1927 to 1939 (JRASSL, 2010). After passing out of school, he worked as a clerk and as an overseer before joining the Ceylon Police service as a policeman where he worked for almost 10 years (JRASSL, 2010).
 
While working in the police service, he joined the Zahira College and later Pembroke College to follow an Advanced Level (A/L) course of study (JRASSL, 2010). In 1953, at the age of 32, Ranawella entered the University of Peradeniya and studied Sinhala, Sanskrit, and Pali and specialized in Sri Lanka history (JRASSL, 2010). After university education, he worked at Dharmaraja College in Kandy as an assistant teacher from 1957 to 1958 (JRASSL, 2010). He then worked at the Sinhala Encyclopedia as an assistant editor and joined the Department of History of the University of Kelaniya in 1959 (JRASSL, 2010). In 1966, he obtained his PhD from the University of London (JRASSL, 2010).
 
Ranawella worked at the University of Kelaniya for nearly 20 years as an Assistant Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Associate Professor. He joined the University of Ruhuna in 1977 as a Professor of History and became the Acting Vice-Chancellor there in 1988 one year before his retirement. Ranawella devoted his time for reading of Sri Lankan inscriptions after his retirement from the university (JRASSL, 2010). He revised, re-edited or freshly edited 581 inscriptions of the late Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Kurunegala, Gampola and Kandy periods and published them in the Inscriptions of Ceylon volumes of the Department of Archaeology (JRASSL, 2010).
 
Ranawella died on 26 December 2021 at the age of 100.

Awards
# Degree of D.Lit (University of Kelaniya, 2000)
# Sir Obeysekara Memorial Medal (Royal Asiatic Society, 2010)
# Uruma Pranama (Ministry of National Heritage, 2012)

Bibliography
Ranawella has published more than 10 books and over 244 articles in various journals and encyclopedias (JRASSL, 2010).

Books
# A political history of Rohana from c. 991-1255 A.D. (Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of London, 1966) 
# Inscriptions of Ǟpā Kitagbo and kings Sena I, Sena II, and Udaya II  (Author publication, 1999) 
# Inscriptions of Ceylon.Volume V Part I  (Department of Archaeology, 2001) 
# රෝහණ රාජ්‍යයේ ඉතිහාසය  (2003) 
# Inscriptions of Ceylon.Volume V Part II  (Department of Archaeology, 2004) 
# Dictionary of Sinhala Epigraphical Words   (Department of Archaeology, 2004) 
# Inscriptions of Ceylon.Volume V Part III  (Department of Archaeology, 2005) 
# Sinhala Inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum  (Department of National Museums, 2005) 
# Inscriptions of Ceylon.Volume VI  (Department of Archaeology, 2006) 
# මායා රට ඉතිහාසය (2016) 
# History of the kingdom of Rohana  (Department of Archaeology, 2018) 
 
References
1) JRASSL, 2010. The Award of Sir S. C. Obesekere Memorial Medal to Prof. Sirimal Ranawella. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka New Series, Vol. 56. pp.123-125.


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This page was last updated on 1 May 2022
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Balabowa Ambalama

Balabowa Ambalama
Balabowa Ambalama (Photo credit: Google street view)

Balabowa Ambalama is an old wayside rest situated in Balabowa village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country. 

The structure
The Balabowa Ambalama is roughly a square-shaped structure built of brick and mortar. The roof which is covered with semi-cylindrical clay tiles (Sinhala Ulu) is held by 4 pillars at the corners. Connecting these pillars, a short wall goes around the structure with an opening for the entrance at the front.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 31 January 2022
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Saturday, 29 January 2022

Kok Abe Archaeological Site

Kok Abe Archaeological Site is a ruined Buddhist monastery site situated on the wayside of Medawachchiya-Horowpathana road, about 12 km distance from the Horowpothana town. 

History
The early-Brahmi inscriptions discovered from the site indicate that this ancient monastery had been in existence from the pre-Christian era (Paranavitana, 1970). The monastic structures at this place have been built during the early Anuradhapura Period. However, the builder of this monastery is unknown.
 
Vadakahagala-hinna (Kok-ebe) inscription
Period: 3rd century B.C. -1st century A.D.           Script: Early Brahmi           Language: Old Sinhala
Transcript: (1) Parumaka-shaba-puta upashaka-Rakiya lene (2) agata-anagata- (3) catu-disha-shagasha
Translation: The cave of lay-devotee Raki, son of the chief Saba, [is given] to the Buddhist monks of the four quarters, present and absent.
Citation: Paranavitana, 1970. p.13.

Megalithic burial ground
The remains of a megalithic burial ground have been exposed by archaeologists near the ruined site of the Buddhist monastery (Mendis, 2017).

The site
The excavations done at this site in the 1980s by the Department of Archaeology have exposed the ruins of an ancient Stupa, a Bodhighara, an Asanaghara and other monastic structures. All these monuments have been presently conserved.

References
1) Mendis, T., 2017. New Light to the Proto Historic Iron Age in Sri Lanka. A new excavation of proto history burials site at Kokebe in the North-Central Province. pp.49-70.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1970. Inscription of Ceylon (Vol. I). Department of Archaeology Ceylon. p.13.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 25 February 2022
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Kiuldeniya Ambalama

Kiuldeniya Ambalama is an old wayside rest near Kivuldeniya village in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka.

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country. 

As mentioned on the front wall, the Kiuldeniya Ambalama has been built in the Buddhist year 2474 (1930 A.D.)

The structure
The Kiuldeniya Ambalama is roughly a square-shaped structure built of brick and mortar. The roof which is covered with calicut clay tiles is held by 4 pillars at the corners. Connecting these pillars, a short wall goes around the structure.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 29 January 2022
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Friday, 28 January 2022

Asanaghara in Sri Lanka

The Asanaghara shrine at Rajagala
Asanaghara is a type of ancient Buddhist structure found in several places in Sri Lanka. They have been built to house an Asana (a seat or throne) which symbolizes the Adamantine throne (Vajrasana) of the Buddha on which he attained enlightenment (Perera, 1976).
 
History
In the early period of Buddhism, Asanas were venerated by Buddhists as a sacred object as it was considered a symbolical representation of the Buddha. In Sri Lanka, edifices housing Asanas were built during the period of Anuradhapura (from 377 B.C. to 1017 A.D.) several such shrines have been found in sites associated with Bodhi Tree Shrines or Stupas (Bandaranayake, 1974).
 
The structure
Asanaghara shrine at Hatthikuchchi Viharaya
It is apparent that the Asanagharas (Asana = seat, Ghara = house) have been built according to a particular architectural plan and design. The only object of veneration in an Asanaghara shrine was a throne in the shape of a large rectangular slab of stone, smoothly chiselled, set up on a raised platform (Beligatamulla & Siyambalapitiya, 2016).

Distribution of Asanaghara shrines in Sri Lanka
Asanaghara shrines have been discovered at a number of places scattered in various districts of the country. 
 
1) Abhayagiri Bodhigharaya III        (2) Allewewa                              (3) Erupotana
(4) Gan-arambe                                 (5) Ganewewa                            (6) Kotagamuwa
(7) Hammillawetiya                          (8) Katuwannawa                      (9) Kok-ebe
(10) Mahanaga Pabbatharamaya  (11) Manik Vatadage                (12) Naigala Viharaya
(13) Pihimbiyagollewa                     (14) Pulukunawa Viharaya       (15) Rajagala
(16) Rajangane Hatthikucchi          (17) Seruvila Viharaya              (18) Tantirimale Viharaya
(19) Uttimaduwa                               (20) Veheragala                         (21) Yatala Vehera

Reference
1) Bandaranayake, S., 1974. Sinhalese monastic architecture: the Viharas of Anuradhapura (Vol. 4). Brill. p.178. 
2) Beligatamulla, G.; Siyambalapitiya, N., 2016. Preaching Identity: Cultural Meaning of FurnitureIn Religious Contexts in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Design Journal 01 (03). p.19.
3) Perera, A.D.T.E., 1976. Asanaghara Shrines of Ancient Sri Lanka: Who built them, the Buddhists or pre-historic Yakkhas?. Journal of the Sri Lanka Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 20, pp.31-41.

This page was last updated on 25 February 2022
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St. Joseph Girls' College, Kegalle

St. Joseph Girls' College is a government girls' school situated in Kegalle, Sri Lanka.

History
The school was first established in 1909 as a convent affiliated to St. Mary's Church (Abeyawardana, 2002). Since then, it was developed into a leading educational institute in the area by the Catholic Church until it was taken over by the government in 1960 (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Facilities
At present, the school has common facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, libraries, playground, conference rooms, indoor stadium etc. Classes are conducted for girl students from grade 1 to grade 13.
 
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. p.51.
 
Location Map
This page was last updated on 28 January 2022
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Thursday, 27 January 2022

Manalkadu Dutch Church

Manalkadu Dutch Church
Manalkadu Dutch Church (Photo credit: Tom J, Google street view)

The ancient Manalkadu Dutch Church is found near the present St. Anthony's Church in the coastal village of Manalkadu in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. The church presently remains in an evocatively ruined and roofless state, half-buried in the sand dunes.

History
During the period between 1640-1796, most of the coastal areas in Sri Lanka were controlled by the DutchThe ruined church at Manalkadu is said to have been built by them in the 18th century. 
 
A protected monument
The Manalkaadu Dutch Chruch on No. 418 of the Manalkaadu Grama Niladhari Division in the Wadamarachchi Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 30 December 2011. 

References
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1739. 30 December 2011. p.1090.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 1 February 2022
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Malé Friday Mosque

Malé Friday Mosque
Malé Friday Mosque (also known as Malé Hukuru Miskiy) is an old mosque in the city of Male, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives. It remains in UNESCO's Tentative World Heritage List since 2008.

History
The mosque was built in 1658 during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar I (1648-1687 A.D.), replacing an old mosque that was reportedly constructed by Sultan Mohamed Bin Abdullah (the first Muslim Sultan of Maldives) upon his conversion to Islam in 1153  (Fewkes, 2019; Jameel, 2018). Although there is not much information about that original mosque, some details about this mosque can be extracted from the notes of the Moroccan traveller Ibn Batuta in 1343. This mosque is said to have been renovated by Sultan Ahmed Shihabuddeen in 1338. 

The construction works of the new mosque over the old were commenced in 1656 and finished in 1658 under the patronage of Ibrahim Iskandar I. After his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1668, Ibrahim Iskandar I ordered to add a minaret (Munnaaru) and a gateway to the mosque. The construction of the minaret was completed in 1674 and was said to closely resemble the minarets of Mecca of that time.

The thatched roofs of the mosque were replaced with corrugated iron sheets in 1904 during the second succession of Sultan Mohammed Shamsuddin III (1903-1934 A.D.). In 1963 the roofs were dismantled and replaced using teak wood and the old corrugated iron sheets were replaced with aluminium.

The mosque complex
Surrounded by a boundary wall, the mosque complex consists of the main mosque building, a large minaret, three coral stone wells, a sundial and a cemetery with mausoleums and tombs of past sultans and dignitaries (Jameel, 2018). The main mosque building has a hypostyle layout extending in an area of about 240 square meters (Jameel, 2018). It is built on a highly decorated coral stone plinth with coral stone walls and timber roof structure. The three tired roof has a highly decorated coffered ceiling with stepped recesses. Many columns and other structures of the building are made from coral stone and have been decorated with fine carvings. Some of these coral works displays features related to Buddhist tradition (Fewkes, 2019).

The cylindrical-shaped minaret of the mosque is made from plastered coral stone and painted in white with decorative calligraphy and metal bands. The cemetery has a number of mausoleums and tombs of past sultans, princes and other dignitaries of the country. The mausoleums have been built using decorated coral stone works with an interlocking coral carpentry system (Jameel, 2018). The tombs which are also made of coral stones are decorated with carvings and Jeli Thuluth calligraphic inscriptions (Jameel, 2018).

Malé Friday Mosque .
Attribution
1) Male' Hukuru Miskiy 1 by Zairon is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 
 
References
1) Fewkes, J.H., 2019. Locating Maldivian Women’s Mosques in Global Discourses. Springer. pp.84-86.
2) Jameel, M.M., 2018. Coral stone architecture of Maldives: a brief overview. Bulletin of Miho Museum. Vol. 18. pp.17-27.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 1 February 2022

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil Archaeological Ruins

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil
The ruined Ambalama (Photo credit: Google street view)

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil is a Hindu temple situated in Vathiri village in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Ruins
The ruins of several ancient structures such as a pond, a moat, an Ambalama (an old wayside rest), a well and several other stone creations are found within the temple premises as well as on the opposite side of the road in front of it. 

Vathiri Madam
The ruins of an old Madam (or Ambalama) can be seen on the opposite side of the road. The roof of this building is no more but six hexagonal pillars and part of the walls made of limestone are still existing. Near this building is a well probably made for the water convenience of the people who stayed in the Madam.

Madams are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, they were spread all over the country.

Madams in the Jaffna Peninsula is generally different from similar structures in other parts of the country. It consists of five components given below (Ragupathy, 1987);
1) Madam: the Ambalama itself
2) Sumaithangi: a stone platform used to keep the goods carried on the head, shoulder or waist of the traveller. Traditionally, the stone is said to be erected as a symbol of prayer, vowing for the soul of a mother who dies pregnant to rest in peace.
3) Aavuranchikkal: a stone erected for the cattle to relieve themselves from an itch called Thinavu by rubbing against the stone. It was constructed by means of a single stone with a height of 3 or 4 feet.
4) Keni: a big well meant for the cattle to quench their thirst.
5) Kinaru: a well constructed to quench their thirst of both people and cattle.
 

A protected site
The old pond and moat in the Temple of God Gana (Pillayaar), doss house, well and other stone creations nearby in the No. 377 of village Vathiri in the Nelliyadi East Grama Niladhari Division in the Karawaddi Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 30 December 2011.

Vathiri Pillayar Kovil
The modern Vathiri Pillayar Kovil (Photo credit: Google street view)

References
1) Ragupathy, P. 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna, An archaeological survey. Published by Mrs. Thilimalar Ragupathy. Madras. p.156. 
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1739. 30 December 2011. p.1090.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 12 March 2022
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Tashichho Dzong

Tashichho Dzong
Tashichho Dzong (lit: The fortress of the glorious religion) is a Buddhist monastery complex and fortress located on the northern edge of the city of Thimphu next to the banks of the Wang Chu River (or Raidāk River), Bhutan. It is considered the most important dzong in the country as it has been the seat of the government since 1952. It presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. 

History
Although the Tashichho Dzong was constructed between 1961-1969 on the order of third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1952–1972 AD), there was an old Dzong (fortress) in Thumpu built in the 13th century by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, a Tibetan Buddhist who played a significant role in the early spread of the Drukpa school to Bhutan (Chand, 2017). It was enlarged in 1755 by Chhogyal Sherab Wangchuk, the thirteenth Deb [(1744–1763 A.D.) Chand, 2017].

Attribution
 
References
1) Chand, R., 2017. Social ecology of immigrant population and changing urban landscape of Thimphu, Bhutan. Journal of Urban and Regional Studies on Contemporary India, 4(1), pp.1-12.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 1 February 2022

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Aru Kaal Madam (Ambalama)

Aru Kaal Madam
Aru Kaal Madam (Photo credit: Google street view)

The Aru Kaal Madam (lit: Six Pillar Choultry) is an Ambalama (an old wayside rest) situated in Vannarpannai in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

History
Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country.

The Aru Kaal Ambalama
A six-pillared shelter built on a 70 cm high platform, a well, a water tank, a few short pillars (Aavurancikal and Cumaitanki) are found at this Aru Kaal Madam premises.

Ambalamas in Jaffna have unique features
Ambalama in the Jaffna Peninsula is called Madam and it is generally different from similar structures in other parts of the country. It consists of five components given below (Ragupathy, 1987);
1) Madam: the Ambalama itself
2) Sumaithangi: a stone platform used to keep the goods carried on the head, shoulder or waist of the traveller. Traditionally, the stone is said to be erected as a symbol of prayer, vowing for the soul of a mother who dies pregnant to rest in peace.
3) Aavuranchikkal: a stone erected for the cattle to relieve themselves from an itch called Thinavu by rubbing against the stone. It was constructed by means of a single stone with a height of 3 or 4 feet.
4) Keni: a big well meant for the cattle to quench their thirst.
5) Kinaru: a well constructed to quench their thirst of both people and cattle.
 

References
1) Ragupathy, P. 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna, An archaeological survey. Published by Mrs. Thilimalar Ragupathy. Madras. p.156.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 12 March 2022
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Christ Church, Baddegama

Christ Church is an Anglican church situated in Baddegama village in Galle District, Sri Lanka. It is maintained by the Colombo Diocese. 

History
Robert Mayer, a missionary of the Church Missionary Society made a tour with his party along the Gin Ganga river in search of a suitable place for building a new church and at Baddegama they spotted such land and chose it for their purpose (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The construction works of the church were commenced in 1821 with the help of George Winter and were finished by 1822 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). A verandah was added to the church in 1945 by Bishop Lakdasa de Mel (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.125.

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This page was last updated on 25 January 2022
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Monday, 24 January 2022

Jean Arasanayagam

Jean Solomons Arasanayagam (1931-2019) was a Sri Lankan poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist and painter.

Life events
Born on 2 December 1931 to a Burgher family as Jean Solomons she received her schooling in Kandy and graduated from the University of Ceylon (Nimavat, 2011). She obtained an M.Litt from the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) in Literary Linguistics and worked as a lecturer at the English Teacher's College, Peradeniya (Ranaweera, 1991). In 1961 she is married into a Tamil named Thiyagrajah Arsanayagam lived in Navaly (Ranaweera, 1991; Sjöbohm, 1992). With the beginning of ethnic riots in the 1980s, Jean’s family had been victimized and was forced to flee the war zone as refugees in 1983 (Nimavat, 2011).
 
Arasanayagam's poems and short stories were published in a number of journals and anthologies in Sri Lanka and abroad (Ranaweera, 1991). Her works have been translated into several languages such as Danish, Swedish, French, German and Japanese (Nimavat, 2011). Besides being a poet, she was also a painter. Her paintings were once featured in the Asia Magazine as well as displayed in several exhibitions held in the Commonwealth Institute (UK), the Paris Biennale (France), and Lionel Wendt [(Sri Lanka) Ranaweera, 1991].

Arasanayagam died on 30 July 2019 in Kandy at the age of 87.

Publications
Poetry
# Kindura (1973)
# Poems of a season beginning and a season over (1977)
# Apocalypse'83 (1984)
# A colonial inheritance and other poems (1985)
# Out of our prisons we emerge (1986)
# Trial by Terror (published in New Zealand in 1987)
# The reddened water flows clear (published in the United Kingdom in 1990)
# Shooting the Floricans (1993) 
# Women,  All  women (2000)

Prose works
# The cry of the kite (a collection of short stories published in 1983)
# The outsider (published in Japan in 1987)
# Fragments of a Journey (1992)
# All is burning (1995)
# Peacocks and Dreams (1996)
# In the Garden Secretly and other Stories (2000)
# Dragons in the Wilderness (2008)

Awards
# The Sri Lanka Arts Council Prize for Non-fiction (1984) for Bhairava: A childhood in Navaly
# The Sri Lanka Arts Council Prize for Poetry (1985)
# The Triton College International Award for poetry (1990) 
# Premchand Fellowship of the Sahitya Akademi, India (2014)
# Sahityaratna award of the Sri Lankan government (2017)
 
References
1) Nimavat, D.B., 2011. The Cassandras in Exile: A Study of the Diasporic Sensibility in the Poetry of Meena Alexander, Sujata Bhatt, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Moniza Alvi and Jean Arasanayagam (Doctoral dissertation, Saurashtra University). pp.223-238.
2) Ranaweera, E., 1991. Some literary women of Sri Lanka. Women's Education and Research Centre. pp.1-3.
3) Sjöbohm, A., 1992. "Someone smashed in the door and gave me my freedom": On the writings of Jean Arasanayagam. World Literature Today, 66(1). pp.35-38.


Disclaimer
By accessing this website, we hope that you are accepting the following disclaimer notice.
The information published in this biography has been extracted from reliable sources but we, Lanka Pradeepa (lankapradeepa.com) assume no responsibility or liability for any inaccurate or outdated content on this page.
This page was last updated on 1 May 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

Moonstones at Abhayagiri Panchavasa

Sandakada Pahana I
The two most exquisitely carved Sandakada Pahana (moonstones) in Sri Lanka is found in two monastic residential complexes (Panchavasa) located adjacent to each other in the premises of Abhayagiriya Monastery Complex in Anuradhapura District. 

Sandakada Pahana is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. It is considered a unique feature of the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.

Sandakada Pahana I
Mahasen's Palace
The first Sandakada Pahana (moonstone) is found at the foot of the steps leading to the centre building of the monastic residential complex which is commonly identified by many as the Mahasen's Palace or Mahasen Maligawa (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). Although it is called a palace, archaeologists have identified this as a monastic residential complex (a Panchavasa) which is also known as Pirivena, Prasada or Arama. It consists of a principal residential unit with four small associated residential units at the four corners, water closets and urinals. The Sandakada Pahana at this complex has been dated by scholars to the period between 7-8 centuries A.D.

Sandakada Pahana II
Sandakada Pahana II
The second Sandakada Pahana is also found at the foot of the steps leading to the main building of the monastic residential complex which is incorrectly identified as the Queen's Palace or Biso Maligawa (Wikramagamage, 2004). According to the view of Prof. Senarath Paranavitana, this is the most exquisite artistic creation of a moonstone found in the country.

Interpretations
Scholars have given many interpretations to the carvings appearing on the moonstones (Wikramagamage, 2004). As explained by Prof. Senarath Paranavitana, the most outer ring of the moonstone that containing a stripe of Palapethi represents the world in the flames of desire (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). The next stripe containing the figures of four animals; elephant, lion, bull, and horse, symbolizes the four states of life; birth, ageing, illness and death (Jayasuriya, 2016). The thick creeper in the next ring represents craving and the line of swans in the next inner ring symbolizes purification or differentiating the good and evil (Wikramagamage, 2004). After that is another stripe showing a small and less-thick creeper which indicates the diminishing of craving. The half lotus in the most inner part of the stone represents Nirvana or the supreme bliss. However, this interpretation by Paranavitana has been rejected by certain other scholars (Wikramagamage, 2004).

Queen's Palace Queen's Palace .
References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.26.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.104-105.

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Sunday, 23 January 2022

Bodhighara in Sri Lanka

Nillakgama Bodhigharaya
Bodhighara (lit: Bodhi-tree shrine) is a type of Buddhist structure in Sri Lanka built around the sacred Bo tree (Ficus religiosa) in Vihara and monasteries. The Sri Lankan Bodhigharas of the Anuradhapura Period are considered the only extant examples so far discovered in the entire Buddhist world, of the hypothetical Bodhi-tree shrines referred to in ancient literature and depicted in the earliest Buddhist relief sculpture in India (Bandaranayake, 1990).
 
History
The Buddha attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in India, seated on a stone seat (Vajrasana or Asana) under a Bo tree. Thereafter, both the Bo tree (or Bodhi tree) and Asana became objects of worship of Buddhists, not only in India but also in other Buddhist countries in the region including Sri Lanka (Karunaratne, 1998).
 
Soon after the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Sangamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Asoka (c.268-232 B.C.) and sister of Arhat Mahinda Thera, brought the Southern Branch of the Sacred Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya to Sri Lanka (Bandaranayake, 1990; Nicholas, 1963; The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007; Wikramagamage, 2004). It was planted at Mahamegha park in Anuradhapura, on the ground earlier sanctified by the Buddha, by King Devanampiyatissa (247-207 B.C.) in the presence of a great multitude (Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004). As mentioned in the chronicle Mahavamsa, the first Bodhigara of the country was erected during this time and since then many kings built or repaired Bodhigharas around their kingdoms (Karunaratne, 1998). 

Presently, the Bodhighara has become an important element in every Buddhist temple in the country.
 
The structure
The Bodhighara (Bodhi = Bo tree, Ghara = house) was a roofed structure over the circumambulatory path that ran around the sacred Bo tree (Bandaranayake, 1990; The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007). It was designed in a manner as to cover only the area around the tree, leaving an open space in the centre as the tree requires sunshine for its growth (Karunaratne, 1998). It was usually terraced on three or more levels, each enclosed by a railing (Karunaratne, 1998). Four cardinally-oriented flights of steps were provided to access the upper terrace. The placing of a stone Asana, which symbolized the Buddha, at the foot of the Bo tree was an important part of this type of shrine (Bandaranayake, 1990; The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007).

Relatively well-preserved Bodhighara shrines (with stone Asana) have been found at Nillakgama, Galigamuwa, Pulukunava, Rajangane, Padikemgala and in Abhayagiri (Bodhighara I, Bodhighara II, Bodhighara III) and Jetavana (Buddhist Railing) temples at Anuradhapura (The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007).

Attribution
1) නිල්ලග්ගම බෝධි ඝරය by Singhalawap is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Reference
1) Bandaranayake, S., 1990. The architecture of the Anuradhapura period 543 B.C.-800 A.D. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.27-28.
2) Karunaratne, L.K., 1998. The history of Buddhist architecture in Sri Lanka. The 1998 International Symposium on Design & Development of Buddhist Architecture. pp.85-96.
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.130-131.
4) The National Atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007. (2nd ed.) Survey Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-9059-04-1. pp.102,104. 
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.54-58.

This page was last updated on 23 January 2022
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Dharani House, Abhayagiriya

Dharani House
Dharani House is a ruined building situated in Abhayagiri Monastery premises in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

Dharani
A form of mystic incantations identify as Dharani (Dhammaratana, 2000). Paying homage to Dharani Sutras which are considered as protective stanzas was a ritual in Mahayana Buddhism. Several slab inscriptions containing Dharani Sutras written in Sanskrit of the 9th century A.D. have been found from this building (Dhammaratana, 2000). North-eastern Nagari script has been utilized to engrave these stones (Dhammaratana, 2000).

References
1) Dhammaratana, I., 2000. Sanskrit Inscriptions in Sri Lanka: A thesis submitted to the University of Pune in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sanskrit. Department of Sanskrit & Prakrit Languages, University of Pune, India. pp.373-386.

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Saturday, 22 January 2022

Amavatura

Amavatura (lit: Ambrosial Water) is a devotional biography of the Buddha composed by Gurulugomi, a commentator and philosopher who lived in the 12th century in Sri Lanka (Reynolds et al., 1994; Wikramasinghe, 1900). It is considered the first prose narrative among extant Sinhalese literary works (Suriyahetti, 1975).
 
Amavatura is called the life story of the Buddha by its author Gurulugomi (Suriyahetti, 1975). He has compiled it by emphasizing one of the nine virtues of the Buddha namely Purisadhammasarathi which means "guide of tamable beings" (Suriyahetti, 1975). The work has been divided into 18 chapters under the following headings;

1) Durdanta-damana               2) Svasantana-damana               3) Parasantana-damana
4) Grihapati-damana               5) Brahmana-damana                 6) Raja-damana
7) Angulmal-damana              8) Parivarjaka-damana                9) Manavaka-damana
10) Digambara-damana        11) Jatila-damana                       12) Tapasa-damana
13) Bhikkhu-damana             14) Naga-damana                        15) Yaksha-damana
16) Asura-damana                 17) Deva-damana                        18) Brahma-damana

References
1) Reynolds, F., Tracy, D. and Greeley, A.T. eds., 1994. Religion and practical reason: New essays in the comparative philosophy of religions. SUNY Press. p.124.
2) Suriyahetti, P., 1975. A syntactical study of the Amavatura. University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (United Kingdom). pp.1-7.
3) Wikramasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1900. Catalogue of the Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Museum: London. pp.29-31.


This page was last updated on 28 February 2022
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Alahana Pirivena

Alahana Pirivena
Alahana Pirivena (lit: Crematory Monastery) is the largest monastery complex located in the Polonnaruwa Ancient City, Sri Lanka.

History
The Pirivena was established by King Parakramabahu I [(1153-1186 A.D.) Jayasuriya, 2016; Nicholas, 1963; Wikramagamage, 2004]. Its name "Alahana" suggests that the site had been a former cremation ground and this has been confirmed by archaeological excavations carried out here in several places (Jayasuriya, 2016). The small Stupas at the site are believed to have been constructed on the cremation grounds of prelates or royals. 

As mentioned in chronicles, the limits of Alahana Pirivena had been marked by 10 boundary stones and it comprised; Lankathilaka Pilima Ge, Rupavathi Thupa, Subaddha Cetiya, Baddhasima Prasada, Khandasima, a Pasada and several other buildings (Nicholas, 1963).

The monastery
Alahana Pirivena is considered the largest monastery complex in Polonnaruwa. Located on a hillock, it is bound in the North by the Gal Viharaya and Gopala Pabbata in the South. It extends over more than 18 hectares and has a terraced layout (Jayasuriya, 2016). Kiri Vehera, Lankathilaka Pilima Ge, Baddhasima Prasada, and several small Stupas are located on the two upper terraces while the Monastic Hospital, ponds, and a number of residence monks' cells are located on the lower terrace.

The excavations done at the site by archaeologists have exposed a stepped pond with a unique design. According to the view of Prof. Prematilaka, the design of it is similar to the 14th century stepped pond at Hampi, Vijayanagar in India (Jayasuriya, 2016).

References
1) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. p.81. 
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.179. 
3) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.214.

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Friday, 21 January 2022

Kingdom of Gampola

Gadaladeniya Viharaya
The Kingdom of Gampola was the fourth kingdom in Sri Lanka that flourished on the island from the 14th to the 15th century (from 1341 A.D. to 1412 A.D.). It was known as "Ganga Siri Pura" as its environmental association with the Mahaweli Ganga river (De Silva, 1990).

History
The Sinhalese Kingdom which was first established in Anuradhapura in the 3rd century B.C. moved to Polonnaruwa in the 11th century A.D. and then to Dambadeniya in the 13th century A.D. Buwanekabahu IV (1341-1351 A.D.), the son of King Vijayabahu V (1335-1341 A.D.) of Dambadeniya ascended to the throne after his father and shifted the capital from Kurunegala to Gampola giving birth to the fourth kingdom of the country, the Kingdom of Gampola. The exact reason for the transition of the Sinhalese Kingdom from Dambadeniya to Gampola is unknown even though it was commonly considered as for defence (De Silva, 1990). 
 
The last king of Gampola was King Buwanekabahu V (1372-1408 A.D.). After his reign, Kotte emerged as the new and the fifth kingdom of the country. 

Rulers of the Gampola Kingdom
Buvanekabahu IV (1341-1351 A.D.)                       Parakramabahu V (1344-1359 A.D.)
Vikramabahu III (1357-1374 A.D.)                          Buvanekabahu V (1372-1408 A.D.)
  
Inscriptions
A number of inscriptions (including copper sheets and Sannasas) belonging to the four rulers of the Gampola period have been recorded by scholars (Ranawella, 2014; Rohanadeera, 2007; Wijesuriya, 1990).
 
King Buvanekabahu IV
Kitsirimewan Kelaniya Vihara slab inscription. # Gadaladeniya Rock Inscription of Dharmakirti Sthavira
# Malwattegala Rock Inscription
 
King Parakramabahu V
Magul Maha Vihara slab inscription
# Alawala Amuna Rock Inscription
# Hapugastenna Slab Inscription
# Pidurugalpotta Amuna Rock Inscription
 
King Vikramabahu III
# Ampitiya Rock Inscription
# Galgane Viharaya Pillar Inscription
# Vigulavatta Slab Inscription
 
King Buvanekabahu V
# Madawela Pillar Inscription
# Rangiri-Pihilla Rock Inscription 

Other inscriptions
Galle Trilingual Slab Inscription (between 1409-1415 A.D.)

Architecture
It served as the royal residence for more than three decades but like in Dedigama, there are no major architectural remains other than some remains of the palace buildings (De Silva, 1990). This suggests that Gampola was not a stabilized urban settlement with buildings constructed out of permanent materials (De Silva, 1990). Some major shrines built or renovated during the Gampola Period include Niyamgampaya Viharaya, Lankathilaka Viharaya, Gadaladeniya Viharaya and Embekke Devalaya (De Silva, 1990).
 
References
1) De Silva, N., 1990. Sri Lankan architecture during the period 1200-1500 A.D. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.77.
2) Ranawella, S., 2014. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. VII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-9159-62-9. pp.27-84.
3) Rohanadeera, M., 2007. Archaeological Survey of Ceylon: Inscriptions of Ceylon. Vol. VIII. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-64-3. pp.11-22. 
4) Wijesuriya, W., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section V: Inscriptions (1200-1600). Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. II: Inscriptions. pp.200-201.
This page was last updated on 6 May 2022
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