Indikatu Seya (Mihintale)

Indikatu Seya
Indikatu Seya (Sinhala: මිහින්තලය ඉඳිකටුසෑය) is a ruined Buddhist Stupa located in the ancient monastery complex of Mihintale in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

The builder of this Stupa is unknown. However, folklore says that the Stupa at this monastery was built by enshrining the needles that had been used to stitch the robes by the Arhats of Mihintale. 

Scholars have tended to believe that this Stupa is a work of the 8-9th centuries A.D. A large number of copper plates containing a Sanskrit inscription of the 8-9 centuries A.D., two copper coins of the Polonnaruwa Period, some South Indian coins, a Setu coin, and four-petalled lotus of copper have been recovered from the inner chambers of this Stupa (Dhammaratana, 2000; Paranavitana, 1933). The discovery of late South Indian coins inside a casket of this Stupa indicated that this monument has been restored at a recent date, probably during the Kandyan Period (Paranavitana, 1933).

The Stupa
Indikatu Seya before conservation
The Indikatu Seya Stupa which depicts the structural features of the Mahayana tradition has been built on a square brick-built platform of about 1.67 m high (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). The length of one side of the platform is 12.2 m (40 ft.) and the diameter of the Stupa is 6.1 m (Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004). A flight of steps provide access to the platform from the east and it has been decorated with moonstones, guard stones and balustrades.

The ruins of a  Panchawasa building, an image house, a hot bathhouse and a large stone-faced pond are also found in the vicinity of the Stupa.

Indikatuseya copper plate inscription
The conservation work of the Stupa commenced in 1923 (Jayasuriya, 2016; Paranavitana, 1933; Wikramagamage, 2004). During the excavations, 91 copper plates containing a portion of the Mahayana Buddhist Sutra titled Kasyapa Parivarta were discovered from the relic chamber of the Stupa (Dhammaratana, 2000; Dhammika, 2008; Paranavitana, 1933; Wikramagamage, 2004). Written in the Sanskrit language, the Sinhala script used for this inscription has features of the time of the 8-9th centuries A.D. (Dhammaratana, 2000; Wikramagamage, 2004). From this inscription, it was suggested by scholars that the Indikatu Seya Stupa was a Mahayana Stupa constructed by enshrining the Dharma Dathu [(relics of the doctrine) Jayasuriya, 2016; Wikramagamage, 2004].

Indikatuseya gold plate inscription
A thin gold scroll containing a Sanskrit Mahayana epigraph written in Sinhala and Devanagiri characters is said to have been discovered from this Stupa by A.H. Longhurst (Dhammaratana, 2000).

See also

#) extends its gratitude to Lalith Kekulthotuwage for providing the necessary photographs required for this article. All the photos are published here with the permission of the author.

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.300-319,353-356.
2) Dhammika, B. S., 2008. Sacred Island; A Buddhist pilgrim’s guide to Sri Lanka. Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN: 978-955-24-0271-5. p.99.
3) Jayasuriya, E., 2016. A guide to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN: 978-955-613-312-7. pp.61-62. 
4) Paranavitana, S., 1933. Indikatusaya copper plaques. Epigraphia Zeylanica. Vol. III. pp.199-212.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka, pp. 171-172.

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This page was last updated on 21 October 2023

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