Pasgama Natha Devalaya situated in the village of Hewawissa within Patha Hewaheta, is a popular Devale dedicated Natha Deity with a long history. The devalaya and the Pasgama Rajamaha Viharaya lies next to each other. Even though the history of this temple extend back to the Anuradhapaura period, people are more drawn to the Devalaya instead of the temple.
Origins of the deity Natha is somewhat debated. This is one of the few mainstream deities who doesn’t have a Hindu origin. The concept of Natha originated from Avalokitesvara’ in Mahayana Buddhism. Avalokitesvara is the bodhisattva of of infinite compassion and mercy.
Although Mahayana Buddhism was in existence within Sri Lanka, Mahayana bodhisattva was not incorporated to the popular Buddhist culture until late medieval Gampola era (A.D. 1341-1415). This resulted in the transformation of Avalokitesvara’s identity. Thereafter, Avalokitesvara was known in Sri Lanka almost exclusively as Natha, a shortened form of one of his best-known epithets, Lokesvara Natha. Though the bodhisattva’s original identity was soon forgotten, Natha eventually became a powerful national deity of political legitimation in the up-country Kandyan capital during the ensuing centuries.
King Gajabahu I (112-134) of Anuradhapura kingdom is believed to be the benefactor who built the temple and donated land for its maintenance.
However according the chief incumbent thero of the temple, this temple has been built by king Wattagamini Abhaya (89-77 BC) better known as king Walagamba. There is a rock inscription in Hewawissa where it is stated that King Watta Gamini Abhaya had come to Pasgama and constructed a wall round the Bodhi tree at the Pasgama Raja Maha Viharaya (Udugama, 2007).
Pasgama Natha Devalaya lies just next to the temple. It has been built by king Wickramabahu III (1357-1374) of Gampola kingdom. King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781) has donated 3 pela to the Devale (Lawrie, 1898).
The Raja Maha Viharaya was in ruins during the time of King Rajasinghe II (1635 – 1687) according to writings in ancient Talipot leaves and many items from the Viharaya were handed over to the Natha Devalaya by the King. During King Veera Parakrama Narendrasinghe (1707 – 1739), the devalaya was improved while King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781) had made improvements to the viharaya.
In 2017 iit was reported that a footprint depicted to be of God Natha has been retrieved in the premises of Pasgama Natha Devale. This stone which was near a mango tree had been there for centuries, but no one have taken any notice of this stone or the imprint on it, yet with the developing Natha Cult , this has come to the fore. Today a seperate shed has been built to protect this stone from weather.
Earlier the viharaya and devalaya conducted two separate peraheras. However, during the time of King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, they were combined as one and continue as such upto the present time. This perahera is conducted yearly after the Sri Dalada Maligawa Perahera in Kandy.
- Holt, J. (1991) Buddha in the crown : avalokiteśvara in the Buddhist traditions of Sri Lanka. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Abeyawardhana, H. A. P. (2004) Heritage of Kandurata: Major Natural, Cultural, and Historic Sites. Kandy: Kandurata Development Bank, in association with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
- Lawrie, A.C. (1898) A Gazetteer of the Central Province of Ceylon, excluding Walapane – Volume II. Colombo, Sri Lanka: George J A Skeen.
- Udugama, U. (2007) The many legends surrounding Pasgama Raja Maha Viharaya, Sunday Times. Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. Available at: https://www.sundaytimes.lk/071202/KandyTimes/kandytimes_0000027.html (Accessed: December 11, 2022).
Map of Pasgama Rajamaha Viharaya and Natha Devalaya
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
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Traveling Directions to Pasgama Rajamaha Viharaya and Natha Devalaya
|Driving Directions from Kandy to Pasgama Rajamaha Viharaya and Natha Devalaya|
|Though : Haragama – Appallagoda|
Distance :25 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map