Third Samadhi Statue and the Asanaghara (අනුරාධපුර තෙවන සමාධි පිලිමය)

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This Samadhi Statue along with the ‘Bodhighara’ (Bo tree Shrine) and the ‘Asanaghara’ (the shrine of the Buddhas Seat) is located close to the Ratnaprasada and belongs to the Abayagiri Aramic Complex. The origin of this statue is unknown.

What is important in this location is that all three symbolic representations of Buddha belonging to three different eras can be found there. The oldest representation is the ‘Asana’ also called ‘Vajrasana’ ( the seat of the Buddha ) which is a long slab of stone. This is the most ancient form of Buddha worship. The ‘Asana’ represents the seat that the Buddha sat when he attained Nirvana. The shrine that the ‘Asana’ was kept and worshipped is called ‘Asanaghara’ and this type of worship is called the ‘Asana Vandanava’

Here the Asana was a 5.5m x 1.83m slab of stone and has been kept on a brick pedestal. The Shrine ( ‘Asanaghara’ ) is a brick building supported by 13 feet stone pillars.

The next stage of the representation of the Buddha was the ‘Sri Pathul Gala’, which is basically a stone carved with the footprint of Buddha. People used this object to represent the Buddha in worshiping him. At present, there are 5 such stones on this site.

The final stage of representation of Buddha was in the form of Buddha statues.

Today you can see that some of the ‘Sri Pathul Gala’ objects have been used as building material and used in the structure itself. This was probably done during an expansion or a reconstruction stage when the people were worshiping Buddha Statues.

During excavation, the torso of a Buddha statue was found and kept on a pedestal at the far end. A stone pedestal suggests that there probably had been another standing Buddha statue on the site.

Behind the ‘Asanaghara’ is the pit where the Bo Tree would have been. The great traveler monk Fa-Hien who visited Sri Lanka in the 5th century describes a great bo-tree in Abayagiri monastery which is a branch of the original Sri Maha Bodhi in India.

A former king of the country had sent to Central India and got a slip of the patra tree which he planted by the side of the hall of Buddha, where a tree grew up to the height of about 200 cubits. As it bent on one side towards the south-east, the king, fearing it would fall, propped it with a post eight or nine spans round. The tree began to grow at the very heart of the prop, where it met (the trunk); (a shoot) pierced through the post, and went down to the ground, where it entered and formed roots, that rose (to the surface) and were about four spans round. Although the post was split in the middle, the outer portions kept hold (of the shoot), and people did not remove them. Beneath the tree there has been built a vihara, in which there is an image (of Buddha) seated, which the monks and commonalty reverence and look up to without ever becoming wearied. ……….

Record of Buddhist Kingdoms by Fa-Hien
Translator: James Legge

Record of Buddhist Kingdoms by Fa-Hien
Translator: James Legge

This Bodhighara is believed to be the shrine of the bo-tree which is described above. There are also two massive stone inscriptions now conserved at the site. These inscriptions are attributed to King Kassapa V (914-923 AC) and King Mahinda IV ( 956-972 AC). Administrative rules and regulations for the Abayagiri Monastery are inscribed on them.

Also See

Map of the Third Samadhi Statue and the Asanaghara

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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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

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Driving Directions to Third Samadhi Statue and the Asanaghara (Anuradhapura)

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala-Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map

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