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Four Historic Bo Trees (Trincomalee)

Trincomalee four historic Bo trees
Trincomalee four historic Bo trees (Photo credit: Google street view)

Four Historic Bo Trees (Sinhala: ත්‍රිකුණාමලය පැරණි බෝ ගස් සතර) are found in Trincomalee town, Sri Lanka. They were planted in 1753 in commemoration of the arrival of the group of ordained Siamese (Thailand) monks headed by Ven. Upali Maha Thera during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1781 A.D.).

The Buddha Sasana and the Theravada Upasampada system in the country had started to deteriorate gradually during the Kandyan Period and the Buddhist temples were begun to fill with non-ordained monks called Ganinnansela whose behaviour did not conform to the Vinaya, monastic discipline accepted for the Buddhist monks. In such an environment a few Kandyan kings made several attempts to re-establish pure Theravada Buddhism in the country by bringing ordained monks from abroad such as Burma (Myanmar) and Siam (Thailand) but they all failed in the end.

Again during the reign of Sri Vijaya Rajasinha (1739-1747 A.D.), a delegation was sent through a Dutch ship to Siam by the king under the guidance of Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera (1698-1778 A.D.) to bring ordained monks to establish the Upasampada system (higher ordination) again in the country. However, this mission failed as several members of the delegation died when the ship they travelled on sank on the way to Siam. In 1745, another delegation was dispatched by the king and they successfully reached Siam, but could not conclude the negotiations due to the untimely death of Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe in 1747. After hearing the death of the Sri Lankan king, the Siamese King Borommakot (1733-1758 A.D.) hesitated to send Siamese monks to Sri Lanka without knowing what the attitude of the new king would be in this matter. 

Kirti Sri Rajasinha succeeded the Kandyan throne in 1747. Under the advice and guidance of Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thera, he sent a third embassy to Siam in 1751 with the help of the Dutch East India Company who had control of several maritime areas in the country. This mission became successful as the King of Siam Borommakot accepted the request of the Sri Lankan king and sent back a delegation of ordained monks, headed by Upali Maha Thera to Sri Lanka. Upali Maha Thera landed in Sri Lanka at the Trincomalee port on 14 May 1753.

Upon hearing the news of the arrival of Siamese monks, King Kirti Sri Rajasinha sent his ministers to pay their respects to the visiting monks. Accordingly, a large stage was erected on land near the Trincomalee harbour to welcome them and four Bo trees were planted at the four corners of the stage to commemorate the day of this historic event.

A protected site
The four ancient Bo trees and the land situated within the limits of Dockyard road to the North, Vanniyar Lane (Vannigar Road) to the East, Nelson theatre to the South and Green Road to the West in the Trincomalee Grama Niladhari Division in the Kadawath Satara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 13 March 2009.
See also

1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1593. 13 March 2009. p.314.

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This page was last updated on 2 July 2022

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