Buddhangala Monastery – බුද්ධංගල ආරන්‍ය සේනාසනය

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The stupa which enshrines the relics of Sariputta and Moggalana theros at Buddhangala monastery

The stupa which enshrines the relics of Sariputta and Moggalana theros at Buddhangala monastery

The Buddhangala Monastery lies deep in the jungles about 7 kilometers off Ampara. The Monastery covers 1280 acres covering 5 rocks where the remains of the ancient monastery can be seen.

This area belonged to the Digamadulla Kingdom which was started by Prince Dighayu in the 4th century BC. All though the beginning of this monastery is not documented, Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thero states that the history of is monastery is as old as the Digamadulla Kingdom.

Lost in the history, covered by thick jungle infested with wild animals, exposed to the elements for over thousands of years, this monastery was brought back to life in 1964 by a young brave bikku called Kalutara Dhammananda, (incumbent high priest today) who traveled through the thick jungles and cleared the area with the assistance of Buddhists in the area.

This hermitage came to prominence due the relics unearthed during excavation of the original stupa. Among them was a 4 inch gold casket with 3 golden lotus flowers standing on its stems with carefully placed relics on each of them. The centre flower was tallest and two bo leaves on the other two stems had the names “Sariputha” and “Maha Moggalana” inscribed on them. How these relics of the two chief decipals of Buddha came to Sri Lanka is not known, but it is believed this would have been given by a private donor who probably had them in custody for some time. The relic casket shows characteristics of 5th century work but the inscriptions on the golden bo leaves are said to be belonging to Pre – Christian Era.

A new stupa was built and uncovered by President W. Gopallawa in 1974 but very little attention was given to preserving this site by the government. The chief priest along with Buddhist government servants working in the area prevented number of attempts by the Muslims and Tamils to encroach the monastery including an attempt to build a tank called “Hijra” inside the Buddhangala Sanctuary.

The monastery faced another dark era when the Tamil Tiger Terrorists started ethnic cleansing in the areas under their control chasing away all Sinhalese and destroying and killing any who opposed them. Lying in the middle of the Jungle where terrorists roam, the bikkhus refused to leave this important buddhist shrine even under the threat of death. During these dark 30 years in the Sri Lankan history, the Sri Lankan army protected the site and its occupants and only after the defeat of the LTTE in 2009, that the general public could visit this site without a fear.

The original name of Buddhangala is not known, one belief is that the name is derived due the shape of the rock formation, which looks like Buddha in a lying position. The tamils and the the muslims who now occupy the land surrounding the hermitage area calls this “Buddhankalei” and the current Sinhalese name Buddhangala could have been derived from this.

Also See

Map of Buddhangala Monastery

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites.

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.


Driving Directions To Buddhangala

Route from Colombo to Buddhangala in Ampara 1

Route from Colombo to Buddhangala in Ampara 2

Though : Kandy-Mahiyangane-Padiyatalawa
distance : 320 km
Travel time : 6-7 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Ratnapura – Beragala – Wellawaya – Monaragla
distance : 340 km
Travel time : 6-7 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

Route from Ampara town to Buddhangala

distance : 8 km
Travel time : 30-45 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

Buddhangala Monastery

History

The history of Buddhangala runs to period akin to the Digamadulla Kingdom, which was in the northern part of Rohana. The Aryans of the Shakya Family in the Eastern parts of India were the people who colonized Digamadulla. It was Prince Dighayu, a brother of Bhaddakachchana who started the colony of Digamadulla. It was his son Dighagamini, who married Chitra, the sister of the brothers who were the heirs of Rajarata. The two provinces of the country became united after Dighagamini brought Chitra to Digamadulla. We must not forget that Lord Buddha visited “ Digha nakha” (Dighavapi chetiya) in one of his visits to Shri lanka.

These incidents took place before the introduction of Buddhism to the country. The next mention about Digamadulla is when saddhatissa, the brother of Dutthagamani was sent there for the cultivation of the area. Though chronicles say it this way, the inscription of Digamadulla, reveals that its history goes back to Mahanaga and his sons, Yatalatissa and Gotabaya. Though according to chronicles, Gotabhaya was the son of Yatalatissa, inscriptions reveal that both of them were brothers being the sons of uparaja Mahanaga.

When Gotabhaya was ruling at Magama, Kavantissa was administering Digamadulla. As Dutthagamani rose against his father, Kavantissa who was at Magama, the former had to flee to Kotmale allowing Saddhatissa to control Digamadulla. It was he who was more established at the place.

In an inscription I found at Madenakanda in Ampara, Digamadulla was known as “Pochina-rajaya” (The Eastern Kingdom) in the pre Common Eras. Saddhatissa’s mother is knoun there as “Abi Savera, the mother of Pachina bumi raja”. My finding corroborates with Paranavitana’s idea avout her. The Eastern Province today belonged to the “Eastern kingdom” of the Pre Common Centuries and it was the area stretched from Mahaveli to Kumbukkan Oya, that was a pure Sinhala kingdom. The Eastern kingdom came into prominence in the time of Saddhatissa.

An inscription belonging to the Pre Common Centuries bears the name “Degavapi porana”. This was found close to Dighavapi. Porana means “town”. This inscription further says of a merchant. We can conclude that the Dighavapi area was a flourishing trade centre during the Pre Common times. Saddhatissa who came here, not only sowed paddy in the area, but also the Sinhala Buddhist culture. It can be seen well from inscriptions and other Buddhist ruins in places like Samanagala, Rajagala and Ilukpitiya. Many commentaries of the early centuries relate glorious stories about the religious and cultural development, during the period of Saddhatissa. The periods of Saddhatissa and after words his sons, were more prosperous than the period before him. Therefore we can, with much veneration and respect from all classes of people.

In studying the history of Buddhangala the following sources come to our help:

  • Caves with drip ledges
  • Other stone architecture and sculpture
  • Bricks with and without inscriptions
  • Coins and other treasures
  • Clay vessels-and
  • Inscriptions.

“Buddhangala” cannot be an ancient name. How the place came to be known in that name is difficult to assert. The rock at a distance resembles a Buddha statue in sleeping posture. The Tamils and Muslims name it as “Buddhan-Kalei”. Present devotees may have used the same term in devotion.

Though a name cannot be found, we are sure of its existence from Pre Common times. The inscriptions on the cave brow represent that of the earliest style. The two words “Karajikagala vahike” are transliterated by some as Karandahela Vihara, but “Karajikagala” is not a word that belongs to any other language. It is a pure sinhala word. Further speaking “Gala” and “Hela” are two different words. Also the word “Vahike” cannot be taken as “Vahirake” thinking that the scribe dropped a letter thinking that the scribe dropped a letter while inscribing. There fore I am of opinion that “vahike” is “Villager”. It is there fore not so doubtful to take Karajikahala as the former name of this place.”Digatiha” in the document is Dighiti in Pali.

The donor in the second inscription is Sujata. He is the son of Uttiya. Both were “Chief” (Parumaka) Uttiya is an Accountant (Ayaka). He is the accountant of Chitradevi. It is not certain whether ”Devi” is an epithet. If it is so this the first time I saw the word with the name following the word Chitra; thus giving her a title to be a queen. The fact that a “Parumaka” becoming an officer under a “Devi” also proves that “Chitra” to be a lady of the royalty.

The third inscription tells of a son named Digamita, his father being a member of a village council (Gamika) It is unfortunate that the inscription is not in proper order. Gut the names, the three inscriptions give:-Chitadevi, Digati and Digamita, are of immense value, as they take us back to the period of the early founders of Digamadulla-Dighayu, Dighagamani and Chitra. It is up to future scholars to prove that Buddhangala is a place found by these early rulers of a Shakya family.

The Bricks used for some buildings suggest that some of the belong to the pre Common era. It is certain that the monastery was in very advanced condition during the 6 th and 7 th centuries.The letters we findd in various sizes of bricks fall into the above said periods. The circular shaped bricks cannot be of the stupa. They can b3long to a building of small size.

The small presemtations belong to one particular period. The two plain moonstones suggest it. Similar moonstones are found at Situlpavva, Monaragala and Rajahala. The moonstone with the lotus flower design, said earlier, can belong to the 6 th century. The guard stones and the balustrades can be of the same age. The clay works, coins and other exhibits need further examination. The golden casket found here deserve much attention. If is up to learned and experienced scholars to compare this with the casket found at the Kotavehera at Dalivala.

The Buddhangala relic casket, with a pinnacle and square portion (Devata Kotu) can also be compared with such a one found at Mihintale. The sculptural work in this resembles that of the 5 th Century. But the Brahmi letters inscribed in the golden bo-leaves belong to early centuries. Both Prof. Paranavitana and Dr. Saddhamangala Karunaratna have given their ideas about these. The practice of inscribing letters in relic caskets was in vogue in Indian too. The sanchi and Sonari caskets bear inscriptions as “Sapuripasa”, “Kasapa Gotasa” “Sapurisa”, Samajjamasa” etc.

How the relics of the two principal disciples came here is not recorded any where. Even the right Tooth Relic of the Buddha and the relics of Ven. Mahakasspa have no evidence of coming here. We can presume that they were for some time owned by responsible personalities and had them in their private custody and later given to be enshrined. A stupa in which the relics of Ven. Mahinda and Ven. Itthiya were enshrined is found in Rajagala close to this place. An inscription also proves this fact. It is no doubt that people of Dighamadulla had a high respect to these great missionaries, and also it can be ascertained that they visited this area during their life times. At a time of one of their visits they may have presented Lord Buddha,s relics to the shrine at Buddhangala. The relics at Krajikagala (or recent Buddhangalacan be these. There is information in chronicles to prove this fact.

The founder of the Vatadage (The circular relic house) is unknown up to date. But a philosophical idea that he had, when he started constructions can be forwarded here. The central lotus flower in the casket to be of a height more than the two by the sides reveals that the Buddha always headed the priesthood. The stupa, the terrace and the rock that bore it represent the Maha Meru mountain.

The status of the four guardian gods were found among the rubble at the door steps of the Vatadage. The plaque with the elephant carving was on the Eastern side door step. It proves the architectural customs of the past. We can believe the other symbols were correctly on the other sides. Therefore it proves the idea of guardian gods.

Four statuettes of the four animals we see in Anuradhapura moon stones, were found by Mr. H. C. P. Bell at the Vijayarama. They were buried at the four entrances of the sides they claim to own by tradition. Thus-elephant = east, horse = north, lion = south, bull = west. The foru grardian gods also protect these sides. In describing the universe, Buddhist tradition says that the four directions with animals.

To descrive this philosophy, The “Triple Gem” (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha) shines on the “Maha Meru” Mountain. Any evil force that comes towards is stopped by the Guardian Gods protecting the four directions. The un-ending blessings of the Triple Gem floats over the four directions. It is the call of the world.

Devotees always had ideas of this nature. Shri Ramachandra Kavya Bharati who came to Kotte from Gauda, saluted the Stupa with a votive phrase of this nature. The inscription at Tiriyaya gives a picturesque presentation of how the venerable place should be respected.

Buddhangala is said to be situated in the “Malavatthu” area mentioned in chronicles belonging to the Polonnaruwa period. Mr. Codrington is of opinion that Malavatthu was to the west of present Dadayamtalava. The Mahavansa states that Parakuramabahu Great had his wars in the area of Malavatthu. An inscription at Rajagala mentions a place called “Malatte”. A small area close to Buddhangala is known today as Malvatta. These await more research.

It is sad to say that non Buddhist elements ravage this sacred area, in the name of agriculture. Terrorism too is affected in recent years. Some recent buildings used by pilgrims are in dilapidated conditions. Valuable tress are cut down. The many acres that were allotted to the game sanctuary are encroached by non Sinhala people with the help of political leaders.

Not only the Sinhala people or the Buddhists, but lovers of Archaeology and culture should thank the present incumbent high priest for the self – less courage he has taken to open to the world a wonderful culture that was once flourishing in the east of the country.

The “Buddhangala High Priest” – so known by as a respect and love by the peace loving people – Ven. Kaluthara Dhammananda Then in name, who came here in 1964, has done marvelous work for the upkeep of this valuable ancient religious place. He mentions the help given by the Police, River valleys Development Board, Divisional Secretariat, Court, Other Government establishments and the people of the area, with gratitude. I further mention the assistance given to the high Priest by his “Saddhiviharika” the Rev. Batayaye Ariyawansa Thera in each and every good and difficult fortune they met with in the process.

Out thanks should go to both the venerables, for the part they played and now play, over the protection of a site where the Triple Gem is shining in live condition. Their activities in protecting the place from treasure hunters while hundreds of such places have faced vandalism in their hands, is commendable. The ‘Aranya Sadhaka Samiti (Hermitage Rehabilitation Society) should be thanked in this respect.

It is with great responsibility, I mention here, that the sole ownership of Buddhist Archaeological Sites should be vested in the hands of the Buddhist clergy. It is regrettable to say that Archaeological rules stand against them more than the vandals. The only remedy to protect the Buddhist Archaeological sites is to hand them over to responsible Buddhist Clergy and help them with government funds for the renovations and the upkeep of such places.

I take this opportunity to salute all the priest hood, renouncing a comfortable life in their urban or country side temples, who had come to places like Buddhangala infested with wild beasts and surrounded by thick forest for their part in keeping up the places of cultural value. Not only that bur the security, economic help and the leadership that they give to the hundreds of innocent villages in the mouths of terrorism must be revered. To quote the very same words (being in then hospital bed, along with many villagers who were attacked by the LTTE) of Rev Ampitiya Seelawansa Tissa Thera, The Gigh Priest of Velgam Vihara ;-

“Priests in developed areas get Dana (Alms) from people, but here we give ‘dana’ and medicine to people let it be kanfi”

I conclude saying to all the Buddhist world, “Your attention should reach not only Buddhangala, but also the hundreds of religious sites that are forested and are met with vandalism in the the hands of terrorists and treasure hunters”

“Katam pura kenachideva sadhuna – Sadhatukam rammavaram giragge

Nidhaya Buddhappa mukhagga savakam – Namami Buddhangala Chetiyaggam”

(Constructed on the top of the Beautiful rock Enshrining the sacred relics of Lord Buddha and disciples, By a virtuous being of old done, This noble Buddhangala Chetiya, I venerate with devotion)

– Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thera

Ruins

The rocks where ruins are; are mentioned thus:

  • Rock A- in which the stupa and Image House are built.
  • Rock B- in which the destroyed resting hall stood
  • Rock D- The rock to the south of B
  • Rock E- in which the hall is built for the chanting of discourses
  • Rock F – where caves are seen

The most interesting ruins are found or Rock A. The undermentioned ruins are seen around the stupa and the Image House.

1. Three Sculptured stone Pillars

One measures 3′ 1 ½” in length, 1′ 0½” in breadth and 7” in thickness. The others measure 3′ 5” and 1′ 11” in length respectively. The second pillar is presently attached to the flight of steps where the incumbent high priest resides. The third is attached to the flight of steps to the stupa.

2. Door frames

(Many of them are at present attached to flights of steps)

  1. 6′ 7½” in length, 1′ 3” in breadth, and 6” in thickness. The holes in which the upright pillars were inserted, measure 8” × 4”. The breadth of the door thus seems 4 feet.
  2. 7′ 2” ×1′. 6½” and 7½” in thickness. Holes measure 9” ×4” The breadth of the door being 4′. This stone is now seen attached to the flight of steps at the southern corner of the stupa.
  3. Stone pillar at the present flower altar near the stupa: 6′ 11” ×0′. 11” ×0′ 04”. Size of the hole 7½” ×8” with a depth of ½”. The width of the door could be 3 feet. There are two other square holes in the centre of the pillar’s broad side to put a latch.
  4. Door frame pillar lying at a side of the stupa compound: 6′ 3½” ×1′ 2½” ×0.5”. Holes measure 8 ½” ×8” Breadth of the door 3′.

All door frame pillars are plain

3. Stone seats : There are two stone seats among the ruins near the stupa. Another seat half completed lies at the foot of the rock. The first two measure 6′.5” ×3′ 0” ×6” and 6′.4” ×2′.10” × 6” respectively. The third measures 6′. 11” ×2′ 2”.

A square pit one inch deep is dug in the centre and I may presume that it was to hold a cushion.

4. The usual stones : The stool stones used to put relics (Yantra stone) at Aniuadhapura and other places are square in shape with many square holes in the centre. But a stone we find here is rectangular in shape with a circular hole in the centre. A lid also made of stone lies close, that can be considered to be used to cover the hole after filling it with valuables.

5. Umbrella stone : The umbrella stone and the “Yupa sthambha”: The umbrella that was once over the stupa lies by a side measuring 9′ 9” in the round. The Yupa sthambha or the central pillar in which the umbrella stood, is 4′.7” long and 2′ 3” square. The top most 2 ½” is shaped in order to fit the umbrella stone. Out of the 4′.7”of the whole length, the section that was buried inside the stupa is 2′ 6” and that portion of the pillar is roughly kept so that plaster is will fastened.

6. Moon Stones : Three moonstones are found. Two are lying at the stupa premises with other pieces of ruins. The third is near the wall of the terrace, covered with grass and other rubble. The first and the third are 4′ 11” In the round and the breath from the centre is 1′ 9”. It is 2′ 4” in length at the last flight of steps. No sculpture is found carved.

The other moonstone is broken into pieces. Being larger than the above two, it measures 6′ 2” inches at flight of steps, and the breadth is 2′. 9½” Circular lines are engraved while the lotus petal designs are not found.

7. Balustrades and Guard stones : Two Balustrades said to be attached to the main flight of steps are now at the Southern entrance to the Image house. The length at the foot is 5′ and the height is 2′ 11′ the elephant figure with its trunk inside mouth can be seen in the balustrades and no other carvings are seen on either side.

Two quards stones are found at the ancient flight of steps. They are still in their previous position, Semi circular at the top, no other sculptures are seen in them

8. Stone Foot Prints : Two Foot Prints of the Blessed One are found. One (4) is lying with the other remaining sculptural pieces. Square in shape, the carvings are gibing way. Other Foot Print (B) that is kept inside the shrine room is of great value. The stone slab that it is inscribed is circular in shape, being 11′.8” in the round. Three circular lines are engraved at the brim of the stone, to represent the Triple Gem – ie: Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. There is a circular hole, 2 inches in breadth and 2 ½” inches in depth at the under side of the stone. Some believe that once there were relics inside it.

9. Stone Pillars and steps : Though only five pillars on the terrace are in standing position at present, there are more than sixty of them strewn all over, some broken too. In the recent renovations some have been used to construct the side walls. The upper part of each of the pillars are10”×10” square. The pillar heads are not to be seen. The pillars are not of smooth finish. More than 75 slabs of stone that were used for flights of steps too are strwn all over.

10. Flight of steps and the ancient parapet wall : To the east of the terrace for the present compound of the vihara, and 35′ down, is found ruins of an ancient parapet wall. Though is dilapidated condition, when taken as a whole it is about 131’in length. Another 85 feet of the same wall is fully ruined. This whole structure can be the eastern side of the ancient terrace where the stupa and other buildings stood. The earlier said guard stones and the balustrades belonged to the entrance made in this wall.

11. Mounds with stone pillars : There are two such mounds in front of the Image House, and near the ancient parapet wall. The mound to the right side has five stone pillars. One can understand that the building that was once here was constructed out of brick. The rock in which this mound stands is very steep on one side. Most of the remains have been washed away downwards. An idea can be gathered as to this mound once being a small stupa.

The second mound stands 59′ away to the north of the parapet wall. Sixteen stone pillars, four in one row, suggest that this was a large building. Some pillars have a distance of 5′ 9” in between, while some others are7′ 10′ apart. Studying their positions one can conclude that there were at least nine roons in the building. Was it a meditation house?

12. Ponds and flights of steps : A natural pond that never dries up in any drought is situated on to the right side of the rock. A rock cut flight of steps helps one to descend to the pond,

The other four rocks are to the western slope of this rock. In the western side is another pond. Two rock cut flights of steps lead to this pond, one contains 15 steps, the other 13. At the foot of the last step is a flattened square area of live rock. Square holes are cut around, the purpose being to plant pillars into them. There fore it suggests that it was a small building, that was used to keep robes and other requisites while bathing.

All the five rocks have flights of steps to ascend to them. Stones of various sizes and shapes made for carious purposes are seen around in abundance.

13. Dog and crow symbols : A work of immense interest can be found to the northern side of rock B. The surface of the rock is flattened and shaped to carve a rectangle of 10′.10”×15”.0” It is 3” deep from the ordinary rock surface. Four square holes are dug on the four corners.

In the exact centre another pit of the nature of a basin2′ 8½” in diameter is cut, the centre of which has another hole cut with a diameter of 1½” and a depth of 19”. The symbols of a crow and a dog are sculptured at the northern side. The four square holes may suggest of a roof over four wooden pillars.

The above symbols deserve mention. The same symbols at the bottom, with the sun and moon signs at the top are seen in many inscriptions mentioning about donations. The sun and moon represents the order or request – as the case may be – of the donor to allow enjoyment of the said grant till the planets exist. The dog and the crow tells that any who disregards this laws will be born in the future world as dogs and crows. The idea is told by words in some documents.

I have my own ideas about this building. It can be the place where paddy and other grains were husked for the use of the mendicant priests at the Buddhangala Hermitage. The symbols are an advice to any who misappropriate the grants. Another example of this nature can be seen near the caves at Vala-ellu-goda kanda close to dombagahawela.

14. Bricks : Bricks used for carious purposes are seen strewn every where in the premises. But I only deal here of some bricks exhibited inside the shrine room. They are of the sizes of 1′ 4”×0′.8” or 1′.6”×0′.8”. They bear the letters “’ W ‘ ‘ i ‘ ‘ m ‘ ‘ K ‘ in them. They were probably attached to the three terraces of the stupa.

Another set of bricks, circular in shape, too are exhibited. They also have “’ i ‘ ‘ , ‘ ‘ y ‘ ‘ l ‘ and ‘ I ‘ on them. The swastika symbol too can be recognized. Some letters can be thought of as signatures. Bricks of this nature are found in many places in the country.

15. Clay figurines and other finds. : Only one clay statuette is found, though the head is missing. The height is only 3”. The breadth at shoulders is 3.2”. The belly n the round is 8½”. This can be considered as the traditional weight bearer (bhayirava) in eastern sculpture. The big bead-necklace found in statuettes elsewhere is not seen here.

Another exhibit is the clay pinnacle. Being 11.2” in its present height, its upper point is decayed. The circumference at the bottom level is 1′.3”. Inside centre is hollow. There are many pinnacles of which one deserves special mention. The usual cone shape is at the top, the lower part is made in such a way to show the square portion we see at an ordinary ancient stupa. A clay pot 3½” in diameter at the mouth and 1′ 1½” at the centre and a pitcher 3½” in height and1” 6” in the round are the other finds. These last two items were found close to the pond. They say they were found at a depth of about 16feet. Pieces of bowls, pots and other pottery too were found.

16. The Stupas : There are ruins of more than foru stupas. Two are built on rocks A and B. Rubble was used to construct these. Early stupas at Rohana were constructed with granite rubble. The Rajagala stupa in which Ven. Mahinda There’s ashes were enshrined was made of this rubble. Early Anuradhapura buildings also were constructed in the same manner. This indicates that, before they learnt the art of making bricks, masons of very ancient times used rubble to construct buildings like stupas and walls. Buddhangala ruins therefore belong to a very early period.

Another mound that can be thought of as a stupa is found near the ancient parapet wall close to the bottom of rock A. A large quantity of brick in this structure is strewn at the lower level of the high ground.

The largest and the important stupa among all is the recently renovated one. Though in bell shape today, its earlier shape could have been somewhat different. Many still live, who saw the forested ruins of the area, before the recent re-habilitation. Some of them remember two circular rows of stone pillars around two stupas. They believe that spiritual powers roam in the vicinity on auspicious days. Wild elephant venerate the stupas. Those who came in search of treasure were driven away by unseen powers. One such person fell down from a precipice to succumb. Any who come here with a mind full of devotion may get his wishes come right. To revert into the veterans’s experiences. The two rows of pillars around the stupa may stand to prove of a stupa ghara (an umbrella like roof above the stupa) with four entrances on the main corners, with all architectural and sculptural qualities. Therefore we invite further excavations. Symptoms around the building show that this main stupa stood on a rectangular platform. If this platform was on a terrace that was around it, this whole structure can be thought of as a magnificent building being a great pride to the whole of Rohana. A chetiyaghara, on a rectangular platform on a rock; this can be the only early example in the southern Sri Lanka . A devotee who intends to venerate this stupa must climb the rock with the aid of the live flight of steps. At the first stage he may ascend to the terrace around the stupa. He will again climb anther flight of steps to reach the stupa compound. The earlier mentioned balustrades and the moon stone with its stone steps could have been a proud architectural and sculptural presentation here.

17. Stone slabs at the terrace compound

As many slabs of different sizes are seen around, we can presume that the flat surface around the stupa was paved with these slabs. Random samples of such stones are seen around, half buried.

18. Finds

During renovations conducted at the stupa, many buried things were found that were there made out of metal. They are at present exhibited inside the shrine room. A small statue of 7” in height stands on a plane 3.8” long and 1” thick two small elephants are on either side. The human figure is bent at the waiste and knees (Tri-vanka). Left hand is close to the left of the breast. Right hand is in a saluting posture. The upper part and the lower art of the body is clothed the navel is seen. Four other statues considered to be of the four guardian Gods are among the exhibits. The first among them is 4” in height. One hand is on the hip, the other is a little raised. The second has a walking stick in one hand and some circular object in the other. It is four inches in height. The third stature being 5½” high, holds a book in one hand while the other rests on the bosom. The fourth is 3.8” is height. It has a cane like object in one hand. All statues wait scientific attention.

Cobra Statue : A three hooded cobra image made of metal with a height of 2.6: is among the exhibits. The breadth of the hood is 2.2” A swastika seal 1.6” which is considered as a lucky symbol, a goad and seven statuettes of guardians too are seen. If the idea among people of the eight guardians could be thought of, one other statuette may still be lying under earth.

Many other pieces and small sheets of metal with diagrams in them are there. The medium size of one piece is about 1” ×1.3”. The carvings of elephant, bull and the horse are in them. It is strange that the lion is missing. A talisman case in the shape of a drum, made of pure gold is another exhibit. Nothing can be seen inside except clay. But the two Brahmi Letters “ b ” and” . ” are seen inscribed on the outside. Four other small gold leaves too are seen. All these can be donations of devotees at the time of the enshrining of relics in the stupa.

The Golden Casket : The most valuable find among the ruins is the Golden casket with the relics of Lord Buddha and the two disciples. It is great abort this place that relics of this nature were not found any where else in the country. They were enshrined in the Circular relic house.

The casket, in the form of a stupa, has its pinnacle, semi-circular body and the three terraces. Inside the stupa like casket, were three golden lotus flower standing on their stalks. The flower in the centre was a little higher then the other two. The flower on the left side was the shortest among them. On the two lotus flowers on either sides were two bo-leaves made of gold. The relics of the two disciples were on them. The words “Sariputasha” and “ Maha Moganala” were inscribed in them. The highest among the three flowers contained the relics of the Buddha. It is interesting to note that the casket in its full form is only 4” in height. But the clever craftman who finished it, did it with such care.

19. Coins

Many kinds of coins were found. Among them are the coins named “Kahavanu”. There are altogether 42 coins that deserve careful examination.

20. Caves with inscription

There are six caves. Five of them have drip ledges cut on their brows. One drip ledge is constructed recently using cement. A cave of the shape of an umbrella is a pleasing sight. The inside is modified with brick walls. No inscription could be seen at the drip ledge as a lengthy piece of it is broken and fallen down. The rock towards the west has three caves. We can see that they were used as residing places of bhikkhus as walls have been built inside. The largest of the caves is about 68′ long and has a height of 15½”. The breadth is 25′. The inscription in it reads: Karajhikagala vahike bata digatiha lene niyate shagasha (donated to the sangha is the e cave of Lord dighati of the village of Karajhikagala ) Another cave has this inscription

Chita deviya ayaka parumaka utiputa parumaka shujha tasha lene agatha anagata chatudisha shagasha (donated to the sangha of the four quarters come and not come, is the cave of chief Sujata, son of chief Uttiya, the accountant of chitradeve)

Two other caves, close to the present assembly hall bear inscriptions. One is now the residence of the manager. The other is the alms hall. The chief incumbent priest resides here too. The inscription reads. “Gamika /shivaputa diga mita – ha” (Digha mitra, the son of Gamika Shiva)

21. Other Inscription

Other than the earlier said cave inscriptions, there are another two inscription, there are another two inscriptions, one kept on the terrace in front of the cave and the other on the compound of the stupa. Letters are weather-worn in the former, and the latter is at present attached to the side wall of the stupa. No idea can be taken about what is said in them.

22. Ruins close to the site.

There are many places of historical and religious value around Buddhangala Remains of two stupas can be seen about a kilometer to the north. One can also see stone ponds both natural and man made, in the same stretch of rocks running to a distance from Buddhangala. The two stupas stand close to each other on one rock span. One of these has met with great destruction and almost all stone and brick are strewn all over. The other, about 20′ in height has faced ruin in the hands of treasure seekers. The village of Malvatta is situated to the North East, Many ruins are found there too. Stone pillars, slaves, bricks and ruins of a stupa are among them.

Early Sponsors

Earlier said inscriptions mention about those who sponsored the place. One cave was donated by Digati(pali – Dighiti) who had the title lord (Bata) The donor of another cave was Shujahata (The Prakrit Presentation of the Pali word Sujata). Sujata and his father were chiefs (Parumaka). Another name is given as Digamita (Dighamitra) who was the son of a village chief.

Language and Culture

The language found in these inscriptions is {Prakrit Sinhala. The “ t ” sound shows the nominative case. The “y” and “T” which are the derivation of “I” in the dative and genitives cases and “g” of the feminine dative case can be seen in the language of the day. The cultural aspects too of the time can be understood by examining the inscriptions.

Present State

Buddhangala was forested for a long time and was not inhabited by man for some hundreds of years. Infested with wild beasts, it was surrounded by thick jungle on all sides. It was in 1964, that today’s incumbent High Priest Ven. Kalutata Dhammananda, in his flourishing young age, cane here. With his organizing ability he started the construction work by forming the “Hermitage Rehabilitation Society”

Buddhangala DagabaThe dilapidated stupa was re-constructed, and a vihara was built. It is pleasing to see that the age old cave temples are now in their perfect order. Many caves are the residing places of the priests.

The cylone that appeared in 1978 resulted in the destruction of the “Dharma Shala” (Preaching Hall). But today it is again in perfect order due to the help and assistance given by the River Valleys ‘ Development Board. Another Building is constructed now on one of the rock tops to be used as an indoor stage for the chanting of “Paritta” (the discourses of Lord Buddha). A “Bodhighara” (circular wall around the Bodhi tree) is another construction.

Plans are being drawn for the separation of 640 acres for a game sanctuary, while many suitable places from the same premises will be used as meditation galleries. One can imagine the serene atmosphere in the area, where innocent animals roam freely hearing the chantings of sabbe sattha niddukkha hontu” (May all beings be without fear and sorrow!).

An annual religious festival takes place in the month of “Poson” (June). Thousands of devotees as well as visitors from the country and abroad come to participate in the ceremonies, without any difference of faith or creed.

A tradition of non violence, especially adhering to the five precepts taught by Lord Buddha, ie – non – killing, non – stealing, non – lieing, non – participation of unlawful sexual behaviour, and non – taking intoxicants, the the devotees enjoy the true calm and serene happiness of life during this festival season. You will meet the monks in meditation who will lead you towards that supreme bliss of mind.

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