Atuwa, Teeka, Tippani and Sammatha

The most supermandane Buddha Dhamma preached by Gautama Buddha using Maghadi verses were analyzed & described as Artha & Darma by some disciples of the Buddha, The Eighty Great Disciples[1], and were taken in to the texts in Hela language and called Hela Commentaries. Writing Atuwa, the commentary for the doctrine of the Buddha dates back to Gautama Buddha’s time and it helped the Sinhala people to understand Dhamma easily. Most of ancient Hela books highlight the fact that those days there had been many Atuwas in use, namely, Budu Kali Atuwa written in Rajagala, Hela Attha Kathaa, Maha Attha Kathaa, Seehala Attha Kathaa and Kurundi Attha Kathaa. These are the most original Attha Kathaas and they were used in the ancient times. The most intellectual great disciples of Buddha such as Agra Sravaka[2] Arahant Sariyuth Thero, Arahant Maha Kachchayana Thero and Arahant Maha Kotathitha Thero lived in the city of Rajagaha (Rajagala in Ampara) in this Helabima wrote these Attha Kathaas, they and Lord Buddha were contemporaries. The true and genuine Buddha Dhamma which would help the Sinhala people to direct them on the path of Nibbana was written, simply and completely, in Hela language in these Hela Commentaries.

Mahavamsa says that even after the Parinibbana of Gautama Buddha these Sinhala Commentaries, which were written and kept in the places such as Ruhuna & Rajagala in the east, Jethavanarama in the city of Savath, were taken and stored in Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura during the reign of King Dutugamunu. Arahant Mahinda Thero,in his first visit, from Rajagala in Ampara (the city of Rajagaha), introduced the Buddha Dhamma to Anuradhapura and in his second visit to Anuradhapura he had brought one Sinhala Commentary (Atuwa) called Budukeli Atuwa with him, Mahavamsa says further. This commentary had been written in Rajagala. In this manner, from time to time, a large number of books such as Hela Atuwa & other precious Hela texts written & stored in the Buddhist institutes and libraries located in Ruhuna, eastern region and other regions of the country were taken from them and stored in Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura. Atuwa books written in Hela language were stored in Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura and Buddhagosha Thero who came to Lanka in Buddha Varsha 984[3] translated some of them in to Pali language.

In this process the supermandane sacred Buddha Dhamma written in the Sinhala Attha Kathaa by the Noble Bhikkus was transformed in to the concepts of religions of gods. It was the process of writing them in a way which would then be embraced by the ordinary world, ordinary people. Hence, Hela Commentaries which were analyzed and written in Sinhala, which were understood by the people who knew Sinhala, were mixed up with the religious concepts based on the divine life, and specially, modified & wrote up in Pali Language so then it would go hand in hand with the famous Pathanjali[4] theological concepts prevailed those days in India. It is stated in the history that including Vishuddhimagga, Bhikku Buddhagosha had written 17 books, finally, he left the country after contriving to set all the Sinhala books on fire which were stored in the library of Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura and it says that their weight was similar to the weight of seven elephants.

But the commentaries translated and written by Buddhagosha Thero, including Vishuddhimagga, were secured in Abayagiri Vihara. After the destruction of all the Hela Atuwa books stored in the library in Mahavihara monastery, after the demolishing & leveling down the Mahavihara monastery to the grounds and cultivating grain Ulundu[5], what was left here in this Lakdiva[6] was the Pali Atuwas written by Bhikku Buddhagosha.  After that, in the period of Anuradhapura & in the period of Polonnaruwa as well, all the Pali and Sinhala commentators who wrote various Atuwas, Tippani & Sammathas for them, used and followed the advises from the books, for example Pali Vishuddhimagga, written by the Buddhagosha Thero which were based on the wrong translations with worldly meanings, but not the genuine and correct sacred Buddha Dhamma. Because of this, by the time of Polonnaruwa era, the pure and sacred Buddha Dhamma was totally changed, modified and Nibbana was just limited to a mere wish, religious concept practiced in India were spread out rapidly across Heladiva. The sacred Buddha Dhamma of which the main aim was directing people for the realization of Nibbana was totally extinct with the effect made by the suppression of various religious concepts. What left behind was something to be believed in faith and it was called Buddhism. Accordingly, along with the destruction of Hela books stored in Mahavihara monastery by the fire, all the things which were highly praised by the Indian religious concepts and theological religions such as various rituals & customs, offerings, poojas, sacrifices, numerous Shanthikarmas[7], ritualistic songs & Stothras[8], poojas for blessings were spread out among the people in Lanka. Mahayana Bhikkus lived in Abayagiri monastery became the winners of the battle.[9] Bhikkus lived in the Mahavihara monastery were fully extinct. The sacred Buddha Dhamma of which the main objective is directing people for Nibbana and Hela Atuwa which were written in simple Hela language came to an end and a religion called Buddhism which is influenced by the concepts of religions based on gods and Amisa Poojas[10]was left behind for Lankan people in Helabima. It became their heritage.  The ones who followed the supermandane sacred Buddha Dhamma for Nibbana stepped in to the wild. The Mahayana group who had connections with Abayagiri Vihara who believed in the concepts of gods were gathered around the royal palace. That day, a group of Bhikkus who experienced all the luxuries of extreme ends which are far advanced than the luxuries enjoyed by a king or a Count were originated in Anuradhapura, in Lanka. By the time of Polonnaruwa era this situation became further worse. It is very clear that the sacred Buddha Dhamma was fully suppressed by the worldly concepts of theologies gradually. The books and texts based on Buddhist literature such as Poojavaliya, Kawsilumina and Buthsarana were written in this period. As far as the history of Buddhist literature is concerned it was in its golden era that these books were written. In this period Buddhist literature, Buddhist culture and art & craft came to their peak. The absolute result of all these was giving the priority for the religious concepts and Nibbana became just a wish. The sacred Buddha Dhamma was suppressed, rituals, customs and sacrifices were given the priority. All the periods came after this were so worse and by the time of Kandyan period,[11]Buddha Dhamma came to its total end and was fully extinct.

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[1] Asu Maha Srawaka – These are the most distinguished eighty disciples of the Buddha. Śrāvaka (Sanskrit) or Sāvaka (Pāli) or Shravaka means “hearer” or, more generally, “disciple”.

[2] Agra Sravakas – Sariyuth (Sariputra) and Moggallana were considered as the Agra-Sravakas or Chief Disciples of Buddha whereas the other disciples were called The Maha-Sravakas. Based on the capabilities they were appointed to these positions by the Buddha.

[3] Buddha Varsha – The yardstick which Buddhists use to calculate the span of years, began upon the death, or the Parinibbana of Buddha.

[4]Pathanjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice (150 BCE or 2nd c. BCE). According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana’s vārttikas (short comments) on Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī and of an unspecified work of medicine (āyurveda). (Read more in Appendix).

[5]Ulundu – Known as Udu in Sinhala language. The flour taken from Ulundu grain is a key base, commonly used for various foods in India. We can assume the reason for choosing this particular grain to grow on the grounds of Mahaviha monastery which was destroyed to ground due to the arrangement set up by the Indian Bhikku Buddhagosha.

[6]Lakdiva Lak is for Lanka, diva is for deepa or island. Lakdiva is the island called Lanka.

[7]This can be termed as a ritualistic practice, certainly based for the blessings of different deities, performed for a particular reason, specially for healings or for the wealth, prosperous status in crops, using many articles such as traditional drums, songs, costumes, food etc.

[8] Stotra or Stotram स्तोत्र is a Sanskrit word, for a hymn addressed to Divinity. It can be a prayer, a description, or a conversation.  (Read more in Appendix).

[9] Mahayana and Theravada – (Read more in Appendix).

[10] There are two different types of offerings. Material or hospitality or symbolic offerings (Pali: Amisa-Puja or Sakkara-Puja) and Practice offerings (Pali: Patipatti-Puja). (Read more in Appendix).

[11] Kingdom of Kandy (Sinhala: සිංහලේ රාජධානිය) was an important independent monarchy of the island of Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century. (Read more in Appendix).

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