The concept of Atamasthana

Even during the time that Buddha lived in this Helabima, the people in the Buddhist world had a practice of worshipping Atamasthana. The most ancient text called Hasthasalieni written in Lanka says that following the eight-fold path found in Buddha Dhamma it was the practice of worshipping the Atamasthana in this Helabima from the very ancient times. The historical texts say that the kings such as Walagambha, Bahathiya, Dutugamunu, Vijayaba, Maha Parakramabahu and also Nissankamalla had tried to visit at least some of these eight great places situated in this Helabima, had visited these places in royal parades. It is not mentioned in the history that any of these kings of Heladiva had gone on pilgrimage to Atamasthna in India or Barath Desha. In the Parinibbana Sutta, Buddha recommended four places to be visited and that would have been the basis for this Buddhist concept of Atamasthana. Hence there are no any doubts over the fact that worshipping of eight numbers of sacred footprints and eight numbers of offshoots of Bo tree would have been the basis for the Buddhist concepts such as Atamasthana and Ashtapala Bodhi[1].

It is this original practice of worshipping Atamasthana was the basis for worshipping Atamasthana situated in Anuradhapura which is followed by Buddhist world even to this date. Even King Asoka who introduced Buddhism to India wanted to establish this practices, he built eight places, i.e. models and trained his people to honor and respect them.

The book called Lalithavisthara written in India says that the concept of worshipping Atamasthana had gone later in to the Hinduism and Vedic religions. In order to wash away their sins, the Hindus and the Brahmins in India had named and gone on pilgrimages to eight ferries, Theerthas, the Indian King Shiladithya too had gone in to these places on pilgrimages, says the Sanskrit book “Divyavadana”. This concept of worshipping Atamasthna is very clearly mentioned in the Indian history book written by the great Indian historian Professor A L Basham.

It’s a fact that there had been eight places built for the Buddhists to worship in this Helabima, Janbudveepa, even in many eras prior to Anuradhapura. These Atamasthna had been changed from time to time. The Sinhala Pirith Potha [2]what is currently used by us very clearly says that these places were changed from time to time. The “Vihara Asna found in this Pirith Potha highlights these Atamasthana situated in different eras and in different regions, they are mentioned separately and written in lines. It is not possible to decide the period of the beginning of the writing of these Atamasthana, but the names of the places which were worshipped in the respective eras are taken into paragraphs and are written them down.

Now, carefully look in to the names of the sacred places, the Viharas worshipped in the ancient times, mentioned in the Vihara Asana. These names are taken in to one category, one line. The Atamasthana such as “Jethavana Vihara,Kapila Vihara, Isipathanaarama monastery, Kusinara monastery, Poorvarama monastery,  Dakshinarama monastery & Uththararama monastery and  Silumini Seya are taken in to the list of Viharas worshipped in particular one ear which is prior to the Anuradhapura era (i.e. the era of Buddha). The Kapila Vihara, the monastery called Kapila, mentioned here is the ancient Buddhist Centre which was situated near Veluvanarama monastery in Rajagala.

The absolute truth suggested from this is that, once the sacred places carrying these names had been placed in this ancient Helabima and they had been blessed by Buddha. Someone is taking unsuccessful attempts to suppress out our Hela history claiming that these Viharas, monasteries belong to India or to Maha Barath. We as genuine Buddhists living in our Helabima should understand this. Why were these written in our Pirith Potha?

When time goes on, based on the easy pronunciation the names such as Isipathanaarama monastery, the city of Rajagaha, Jethavanarama monastery, Kusinararama monastery were changed in to Isinbassagala, Rajagala, Ritigala and Budugala respectively and people used these names in common. Discovering all these places for the use of the Buddhist world, letting them to pay their homage to these sacred places with Saddha[3] in mind, introducing these places and being united with the Buddha Shakthi are the objectives of writing this book.

When the time that Gautama Buddha was living in this Helabima, in Janbudveepa, he recommended eight great places for the followers of Dhamma to go and pay their homage. For a very long period of 600 years and more, even prior to the growth of the kingdom of Anuradhapura, the rulers of the country, members of the royal families and also the people in the country paid their homage to these eight great places. For easy identification and easy access, these most sacred Atamasthana are explained as follows.

1. The place where the Gautama Buddha attended in to his Enlightenment, the most sacred  Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi and its location.

This sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi which is commonly known as the sacred Siri Maha Bodhi in Hiriwadunna is situated in the very center in this Helabima, in this Lankadeepa. Or in other words it is situated in the Madya Mandala. If we consider the latitudes and the longitudes where Lanka is fitting in to, join the four corners of an imagined four-sided square with intercrossing two lines and take the very center point of it. This point is exactly where the sacred Bodhi tree of Hiriwadunna is resided. Anyone can reach this place of serene beauty by turning to the left from the 110 km post of DambullaHabara road and walking for another one kilo meter on the gravel road. It should be mentioned here that it is from the very ancient times that this sacred Bodhi tree is called Sudu Bodhiya[4].

“ Jayo munindassa – subodhi mule
Ahosi maarassa – parajayohee”

In this stanza which is used in worshipping the Bodhis “subodhi” was a special name used in the past for this white Bodhi. No any Bodhi tree in Lanka or in any place in the world is called Sudu Bodhi (the white Bodhi). Even to this date, annually, this Sudu Bodhi tree shows its presence to the world as a white offshoot of a Bodhi tree from the very root of the sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi for every Wesak Poya Day or a day closer to that.

footprint

The sacred footprints of Gautama Buddha were originally placed near the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Hiriwadunna. Today they are placed in front yard of the museum in Anuradhapura. Here both sacred footprints of the Buddha and also the sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi are engraved and presented.

King Muchalinda in the tribe of Naaga made a Vajrasana at the Bodhi tree which is to be used by the Buddha for his Enlightenment. This Vajrasana is still there, permanently fixed to the very base of the Bodhi tree. You too can go there and get it verified that this Vajrasana is permanently fixed to the root base of the Bodhi tree in a way that no one can shake out, change or destroy it.

The Vihara Asna says that this place is none other than the most sacred monastic ground called Uththaraaraama which was visited and honored by kings and queens. Thousand of Bhikkus had lived in this place, including the Bhikku called Jatila Kashyapa. Today this place is well protected as an archeological reserve and also as an Aaranya Senasana owned by a particular forest-dwelled Order.

This is the first place found in the list of Atamasthana and in order to know more details about this place please read the first book as well.

2. The Lumbini where Prince Bosath was born.

The kings who lived in Heladiva in the ancient times arranged the caves found in this sacred place with Kataram[5]and offered them to Gautama Buddha. This sacred place which is very significant among the other places in Atamasthana is situated in the Bambaragala Raja Maha Vihara, Wewagama Raja Maha Vihara, as we call it now, in Theldeniya Secretarial Division in Mahanuwara district.

Even to this date there are more than 50 caves with Kataram in this Raja Maha Vihara grounds, including the Indasaala Cave, and out of them there are 14 caves with 14 inscriptions written in the Hela language which was used in the very ancient time. Gautama Buddha lived in this Indasaala Cave situated in Bambaragala Raja Maha Vihara in the 16th year of his Enlightenment. This was identified as the Indasaala cave with the help of a rock-cut inscription found in this cave. Based on the available ruins of the paintings it is proved even to this date that this cave had been adorned in a way then Buddha could spend his rainy season there.

Gautama Buddha preached the Sakka Pannha Sutta found in the Deega Nikaya in the Tripitaka Canon when he was resided in this Indasaala Cave. This is mentioned very clearly in the Tripitaka Canon. Professor Paranavithana also had identified and declared this place as Indasaala Cave. It was to a  king lived in the city of Vedeha who was a descendent of the Chakravarti Dynasty or Sakkassa Deva or a king descendent from the ancient Chakravarti Dynasty in Heladiva who was also addressed by the people as “Devayan Wahanse” i.e. your majesty, that Gautama Buddha preached this Sakka Pannha Sutta in this Indasaala Cave. Even though the Panith Sutta had been preached in this same Indasaala Cave to another king from the same Chakravarti Dynasty called Panith, today it is not available in the Tripitaka Canon. Later, the God Sakra[6] was also called Sakkassa Deva.

There are Sal trees in the grounds of this Raja Maha Vihara even to this date and there is one special Sal tree which is older than 3000 years. It was under this Sal tree that the birth of Prince Gautama Siddhartha was occurred. It is very clear that the kings of the Sakkassa Dynasty who reigned that area in the past had built a special Vihara in memory of the birth of Sidduhath and had paid their homage to that Vihara. There is one ancient book in this Bambaragala Raja Maha Vihara, it contains an illustration which depicts a sacred footprint of Buddha placed in one Vihara built in the grounds of this Raja Maha Vihara and the kings in the past and also the people of the country had come there to pay their homage to this sacred footprint which was blessed by Gautama Buddha himself.

 bambaragala

The rock temple engraved with Kataram still stands over at the birth place of Prince Sidduhath at Lumbini.

It should be highlighted that this Vihara had been revered by the people in Heladiva as one of Atamasthana until the period of Mahanuwara kingdom. One of the places of Atamasthana called Silumina Seya mentioned in the Pirith Potha was no anywhere else but this place. It can be seen that there had been a Seya of that nature in the past, later it had been destroyed and disappeared.

The route direction to this place and some more information about that had been mentioned in the first place and please read that as well.

 Bambaragala-Vihara-Indaseela-Guhawa-2

(image from https://plus.google.com/106399378553854476756/about)

The birth place of Prince Sidduhath, the cave Indasaala in Bambaragala Raja Maha Vihara.

3. The Migadaya in Isipathana where the very first sermon of the Buddha was held

The sacred ground where the Damsak Pawathum Sutta was preached is known today as Isin Bassagala Raja Maha Vihara and it is situated near Madawachchiya in the district of Anuradhapura. During the time that Gautama Buddha was living, this place was popular among the Buddhists in Helabima  as Isipathanaarama monastery. A very long period like eight hundred years, the ancient Buddhist kings and the people had used this place as one significant place among other Atamasthana to go and pay their homage

Thought this rock plane is not having a great height, hundreds of thousands of people can gather there at once. The natural cave called Arahant Guha[7] is situated in the east slope of this rock and it was the meditating and dwelling place for the great five disciples of the Buddha. This can be seen even to this date. A well with everlasting supply of water is also situated there. There is a very peculiar line of banyan trees stretching to the east side of the Arahant Guha, it is actually a massive banyan tree which has covered a large area. Next to the banyan tree is a deer forest stretching over an area of 100 acres. Even to this date that one can notice the visits of animals like deer and peacocks to the deer forest. This is natural scenery for wild life.

When the time that Gautama Buddha preached his very first teaching of Dhamma, this place was ruled by a king called Saathaagira of the Yakkha tribe. King Hemawatha was a friend of King Saathaagira. And also it is necessary to mention here that in the past this place was coming under the kingdom called Kasi.

This regional King Saathaagira built a small Dagaba in the very middle of this rock plane where Gautama Buddha held his very first sermon and used it for his worshipping activities. Later, an offshoot of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi tree in Hiriwadunna was taken and planted in this place. This most ancient sacred Bodhi tree is well protected and still surviving there for anyone to go and pay the due respect and honor. Somewhere closer to that period, a pair of sacred footprints of Buddha which was blessed by the Gautama Buddha is enshrined and built a Vihara.

 footprint2

The sacred footprint of the Buddha still stands over at the Isinbassagala Raja Maha Vihara.

This Vihara was used for worshipping and this place was popular as one of the places of Atamasthna in the past. This place is named as Isipathanaarama monastery in the Vihara Asna in the Pirith Potha.

This place had been worshipped by the kings of the Naaga tribe as well. This is proved by a rock slate which is engraved with figures of cobras and cobra heads.

After the Enlightenment of the Buddha, it was this sacred place gave the birth to the very first Sanga[8] and the sixty disciples of the Buddha Sasana[9] of this Buddha who listened to the very first sermon of Gautama Buddha. Hence the origination of this Buddha Sasana was occurred in this sacred place. Later, all the kings, the Counts and the people in Helabima  considered this place also as one place of Atamasthana and paid their homage for a long period of time.            

4. Kusinara, where the Gautama Buddha attended in to his Parinibbana.

The Kusinara monastery (Budugala) of charming beauty is situated in the upper bank of the river Walawe in the vicinity of the Kalthota Divisional Secretariat, near Balangoda, in the Rathnapura district. In the past, this region was reigned by the kings of the Malla Dynasty, Gautama Buddha attended in to his Parinibbana in this small city which was popular as the city of Kusinara and today it is known as Budugala.

The area called Rajawaka today situated near Budugala was the capital city of the kingdom of Malla. That day, the areas coming under the kingdom of Malla were stretching from Ambilipitiya to the richest upper region of river Walawe.

Anyone going to the city of Kusinara in Budugala today and the environment what he experiences there will remind him, even to this date, the phrases in the Maha Parinibbana Sutta. This Kusinara is a small city protected by nature. Even though Ananada Thero invited Gautama Buddha not to attend to his Parinibbana in this city but in a place like the city of Rajagaha, city of Champa, city of Shrawasthi or any other main city, Buddha did not accept it and passed away in this same city.

 budugala

(image from http://trips.lakdasun.org/moon-walkers-on-a-quest-of-their-own-kalthota.htm)

The ruins of Raja Maha Vihara in Budugala.

In this manner, Gautama Buddha attended to his Parinibbana in the Sal grow called Upawarthana of kings of Malla and the crematorium made to cremate the body of  Buddha can still be seen there. Today this can be observed in the land which is very closer to the Budugala Vihara, or in other words, in the archeological reserve situated next to the Budugala Vihara. At the cremation of the Buddha, these kings of Malla received the most sacred tooth relic and some other relics of the Buddha. For the first time in this Helabima , the kings of Malla built a chamber for the most sacred toot relic and for other relics in this city of Kusinara in the kingdom of Malla and made arrangements for the people to come and pay their homage to these relics of the Buddha. Even to this date the ruins of this chamber of the sacred tooth relic can be seen there in Budugala. An offshoot of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Hiriwadunna was planted at a particular place closer to this, five Stupas called Panchawaasa too were built in this place and made arrangements for people to come and pay their homage to them. Hence this place too was considered as a place of Atamasthana.

Gautama Buddha attended in to his Parinibbana in a cave which was engraved with Kataram. In this same cave a pair of sacred footprints of Buddha which were blessed by Buddha himself was placed and worshipping of them were started in that period itself. Because of this, the city of Kusinara too came under the Atamasthana in Helabima. Prince Dantha and princess Hemamala, the last members of the Malla Dynasty, did not have the strength to give the required protection further to the sacred tooth relic of Buddha, they were not in a position to continue with the custom of offerings & other religious activities conducted for the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. By this time the kingdom of Anuradhapura was well developed and ruled by the powerful kings. They secretly brought the sacred tooth relic of Buddha to Anuradhapura and handed over it to the ruler of Anuradhapura, King Kithsiri Mewan. Until such time it was not written in the history that the custom of worshipping the sacred tooth relic of Buddha was conducted in the kingdom of Anuradhapura.

Hence, by the time of King Kithsiri Mewan the kingdom of Anuradhapura turned in to the full fledged Buddhist capital city in Helabima. The offshoot of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi tree, the pair of the sacred footprint of the Buddha, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha and also all the Hela Atuwa texts were taken down to Anuradhapura from Ruhuna. This was by the time of 303 AD.

5. The Jethavanarama Monastery in the city of Savath

The area covered with the mountain range and filled with the historical ruins called Ritigala today in the Anuradhapura district was known as the Jethavanarama monastery in the past and was considered as one of the places in Atamasthana.

In his initial stage, after his Enlightenment, the Gautama Buddha spent his life in Veluvanarama monastery in the city of Rajagaha. Later, the Count Anepidu spent his great wealth and built the magnificent Jethavanarama monastery in the Naa forest in the Ritigala Peak. After that, near 20 years of the latter part of his life, Gautama Buddha lived and preached his Dhamma in this centre in the Jethavanarama monastery in the Ritigala Peak.

In the ancient times, the kingdom called Kosol was coming under Devahela in Helabima  and the city of Savath was the capital city there. Today there is a thick jungle in the eastern region next to Ritigala and in the ancient times it was the capital city of the city of Savath in the kingdom of Kosol. The city of Savath was disappeared from the trails of the history as this region was fully covered by the thick jungles for a period 1000 years and more.

Even to this date the ruins found in the grounds of Jethavanarama monastery in the city of Savath clearly prove that thousands of Bhikkus who had experienced the fruitions in the supermundane path had lived there. What is significant in this sacred ground which was built by the Count Sudaththa is that all the Viharas and monasteries found there are made with solid rocks.

Now, the buildings which date back to this era are discovered from many areas in Helabima in Lanka. What can be seen in all these places is that all these most exclusive creations of solid rocks are made using one common technology and they had spread well across Helabima in the ancient times. In connection to the story of Ritigala, everybody talks about someone lived in Ritigala called Ritigala Jayasena. This Ritigala Jayasena is no one else but the chief technician who was in-charge of building of Jethavanarama monastery of the Count Sudaththa. The elders in Ritigala remind this name Jayasena even to this date with all the due respects and honor.

Following the same way that the Count Sudaththa built and offered the Jethavanarama monastery for the use of Gautama Buddha, another wealthy Count lived in the city of Savath also built and offered a similar magnificent monastery for Arahant Therani Yashodara as well. It was located in the place called “Maanaawa Kanda[10] today and is situated to the west side of Ritigala Peak. In the past this peak was known as “Meheni Aaraama Kanda”.[11] The “Maanaawa Kanda” is situated 1 km away from the Maradankadawala town. This town is situated very closer to Ritigala. It can be seen that an attempt had been made to build Viharas and monasteries as much as similar to the ones in Ritigala in this Maanawa Kanda monastery as well. Very large ponds filled with water, the caves, Viharas & monasteries and also other required facilities, chambers for the use of 500 Bhikkunis can be observed here in this place. As it was in Ritigala, it’s a very significant feature that all these too are built using solid rocks. It is very obvious that both these places are built in the same period using the identical technology. This historical sacred place called Jethavanarama monastery found in the Tripitaka Canon, Pirith Potha and also in Mahavamsa is known as Ritigala today and it was one of the Atamasthana that the Buddhists visited and paid their homage in the eras prior to Anuradhapura period. It is mentioned in the history that following the guidance of Gautama Buddha an offshoot of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi tree in Hiriwadunna was grown here, it was named as Ananda Bodhi[12], a pair of sacred footprint of Buddha too was placed there and people had paid their homage to them. This Ananda Bodhi was grown in the Naa forest which is situated to the north of the Gandakili[13] built for the use of Gautama Buddha which is known as the archeological site of Ritigala. Today this sacred Bodhi tree cannot be identified as it was covered and disappeared by the great jungle. The Ritigala Peak is surrounded by a mountain range and the history says that there had been another 8 sacred lands in these mountains.

6. Veluvanarama monastery – The city of Rajagaha.

In the ancient times, the city of Rajagaha was situated in a large area which is known today as the Rajagala Archeological ruins in Ampara – Maha Oya road in the district of Ampara. In this mother earth, the biggest Buddhist heritage of this Buddha Kalpa[14] was situated here in this place. That is in Rajagala in Ampara. The Veluvanarama monastery in the city of Rajagaha was the main center of the Buddhist world in the past and it was stretching over more than 1600 acres of land area and had all the facilities such as Aaramas, monasteries, Chaityas, large tanks, wild parks, Pirivenas[15], academies, hospitals, alms-giving halls etc. Most of the Eighty Great Disciples of Buddha entered in to the Order and spent the rest of their life in this wild park of Rajagala. Both Agrasrawakas[16]Arahant Sariyuth & Mugalan and also one of the wisest disciples of Buddha, Maha Arahant Maha Kachchaayana, spent most of their life and entered in to Parinibbana here at this city of Rajagala.

After the Enlightenment of Gautama Buddha, he has spent his first year at the Isipathanaarama monastery (near Madawachchiya) and after that, a very long period like 25 years, then and there, he had resided at the Veluvanarama monastery in the city of Rajagaha, the Tripitaka Canon says.

The kingdom of Magadha which was reigned by King Bimbisara was situated in this region. In the ancient times a very large area like Ampara district, a large area like Bibila and Madagama in Monaragala district, also another large area in the Badulla district were coming under the kingdom of Magadha. The Tripitaka is an incident occurred in this Helabima, but not in India. Even before the beginning of the kingdom of Anuradhapura, for thousand years, this kingdom of Magadha was the most developed kingdom in this Helabima. Canon written in this Helabima says that the ruler of Magadha, King Bimbisara, built the Veluvanarama monastery in the city of Rajagaha and offered it to Gautama Buddha by pouring water with a pitcher.[17] This The kingdom of Magadha did not experience any external invasions or any external cultural influences as it was situated far away from India and also as it was surrounded by a range of mountains & natural Lagoons in Madakalapuwa i.e. Baticcaloa. Because of this, from the time of the Sasana of Kashyapa Buddha, the Maghadi language was well secured and protected in this region of Magadha, this is the effect of the Darmatha. Today, the Veluvanarama monastery in Rajagala is covered by the thick jungles. But, the thousands of legendry ruins discovered from this area prove that it had been so rich and glorious in the ancient times.

When King Ashoka in India was searching the members of the royal families and assassinating them in total, Prince Mihindu and his three sisters escaped from there, came to Helabima  and saved their lives at the city of Rajagaha in the kingdom of Magadha. In today’s context that is in Rajagala in Ampar. That is a good example to prove that this sacred place had been a very safe place in the past. The Prince Mihindu, Princess Sangamiththaa and princesses such as Sumanaa & Sunandha came to the city of Rajagaha, learnt the Magadhi language, and learnt the Buddha Dhamma too from the academy in the Veluwanaramaya monastery in Rajagala. This is a solid proof that even after 280 years of the Parinibbana of Gautama Buddha that thousands of Arahants who had experienced the fruitions in the supermundane path had lived in this academy.

The Great Arahant Mahinda Thero who entered in to the Order and learnt Dhamma in the city of Rajagaha, who experienced the fruition of the supermundane path was a member in a royal family in India. He was a very close relation of King Ashoka. But, he was not a son of King Ashoka, clearly says the great Indian historian Professor A L Basham.

Arahant Mahinda Thero came to the kingdom of Lankapura situated in Anuradhapura to introduce Buddha Dhamma when he was living in the city of Rajagaha in Ampara. In other words it was from Rajagala to Anuradhapura. Until this time period, it was not even possible to see a single disciple of Buddha in the north India as it was filled with riots, fear of war, disputes and confusions etc. Even King Ashoka was able to see a disciple of Buddha for the first time near river Kaveri after the war of Kalinga. By this time, driven by the influence made by Helabima, Buddha Dhamma had spread out to the regions in south India till river Kaveri. As the power of Dharmma Chakra[18] held in Isinbassagala had gone even up to the regions which were boarded by river Kaveri, by this period, the disciples of Buddha lived even in regions in India up to river Kaveri.

It a fact that Arahant Mahinda too had gone to India when King Ashoka gave up the war and became a devotee of Buddha Dhamma. But it is proved by the inscriptions in Rajagala in Ampara that Arahant Mahinda Thero had come to Helabima  again, spent the rest of his life in the city of Rajagaha where he entered in to the Order, attended in to Parinibbana there and his ashes had been deposited in that place itself. Presently 48 inscriptions had been discovered from the archeological site in Rajagala and one inscription out of them, which is  engraved in a solid rock, says very clearly that ashes of Arahant Mahinda Thero had been deposited in that place. This inscription engraved in a solid rock is placed next to a Chaitya. Now this Chaitya had been destroyed by the treasure hunters and even to this date it can be seen some ruins of it. It is also proved that this Seya is nothing but the Seya of Arahant Mahinda.

Writing of Hela commentaries for the sacred Buddha Dhamma and also storing of the Hela commentary texts were done in the Buddhist academy situated in the sacred grounds of Veluvanarama monastery in Rajagaha. These Hela commentaries were written in ancient Hela language. These were written during a time period which was hundred years in advance to the writing of Tripitaka Canon. In the same period that Gautama Buddha was living, the Hela commentary called Budukeli Atuwa had been written. The Mahavamsa also says that the most intellectual Arahant Maha Kachchaayana Thero had initiated the writing of Budukeli Atuwa commentary and Arahant Mahinda Thero had brought it with him when he came to Anuradhapura.

Meheni Sangamiththaa too entered in to the Order at one monastery established for nuns which was situated near the sacred grounds of Veluvanarama monastery in Rajagala. Her two sisters, Sumanaa and Sunandaa too entered in to the Order at this same place. Later, they disrobed and got married to a prince called Bodhigupptha, says the Bodhi Vamsa. Meheni Sangamiththaa started her journey of taking in procession an offshoot of the sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi of Hiriwadunna by the pageant to Anuradhapura from Veluvanarama monastery in Rajagala in Ampara. Hiriwadunna is situated in between Rajagala and Anuradhapura.

Some of the Eighty Great Disciple of Buddha, such as Arahants Sariyuth and Mugalan, had entered in to Parinibbana even before the Parinibbana of Gautama Buddha. Following the instructions given by the Gautama Buddha, some Chaityas were built at the grounds of Veluvanarama monastery in the city of Rajagaha in Rajagala to deposit the sacred relics of the great Arahants. After the Parinibbana of these great Arahants, their sacred relics were deposited in these Chaityas. By now, more than ten Chaityas of this type had been discovered from the archeological site in Rajagala. All these Chaityas are burrowed and destroyed by the treasure hunters. It is because these sacred relics were enshrined in golden caskets. Treasure hunters had destroyed the Chaityas in order to steal the gold..

As it was practiced in other Atamasthana, a pair of sacred footprints of Buddha blessed by Gautama Buddha was enshrined in a Vihara in the city of Rajagaha (Rajagala) as well and the Buddhists lived there used to pay their homage to this Vihara. Even to this present day, this pair of sacred footprint of the Buddha is still placed at the archeological site of Rajagala. One can compare this pair of sacred footprint of Buddha with others placed in the museum in Anuradhapura, Salapathala Maluwa in Ruwanweli Maha Seya & Isinbassagala and can identify the similar features of them. In the past, the kings, the Counts & the people in the kingdom of Magadha also took an offshoot of Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi tree of Hiriwadunna, planted it in the city of Rajagaha and used to pay their homage for it. This particular sacred Bodhi tree must be living still somewhere in the great jungle in Rajagala.

The Parinibbana Sutta clearly says that Bhikkus and Bhikkunis who had experienced the fruition of the supermandane path had lived in 28 Aaramas situated in the city of Rajagaha. The Parinibbana Sutta in the Tripitaka Canon says that in prior to the final journey from the city of Rajagaha to the city of Kusinara for the Parinibbana, Gautama Buddha had assembled all the Bhikkus & Sangas resided in 28 Aaramas in Rajagala, had informed about it and had started the journey to Kusinara.

Our attention should be given to one special thing in Tripitaka Canon written in Lanka – Helabima  – and also in Mahavamsa (paragraph 3) written in Lanka.

That story is about the arrangements of first Dharma Sangayana.[19] The Mahavamsa says that first Dharma Sangayana was held in the city of Rajagaha after the completion of three months of the Parinibbana of the Buddha. It was written in Mahavamsa in this manner as it was the history of this Helabima. Anything happened in India was written in Mahavamsa. Anyone who has a clear mind and can think with a balanced mind can understand this well. If a Dharma Sangayana of this nature had been scheduled in India that day, there shouldn’t be any valid reason for them to be recorded in the texts and documents written in India, but in the texts written in Lanka. The Sapthaparni Cave situated in the grounds of Veluvanarama monastery arranged by King Ajaasath for the first Dharma Sangayana can still be seen at the archeological site in Rajagala. The Mahavamsa and Tripitaka Canon say that this main cave and six more caves around it were the residing places for the 500 Arahants who came there to participate in the first Dharma Sangayana. The umbrella shaped cave, known as Kudagala[20] cave today, situated among the other caves in Rajagala is an extraordinary creation to be seen at Rajagala. Any one goes to Rajagala today can observe this Sapthaparni cave with his own eyes, compare it with the description given in the Mahavamsa and understand the truth. All these information are found in Mahavamsa written in Lanka. It is because all these incidents were relevant to this Helabima. It is only the hard core followers of false ideas, Michaa Drushtika, would still try to pass these true incidents occurred in this Helabima to India. A huge rock stretched over 500 acres is situated to the eastern border of the archeological site of Rajagala. Any one goes there can observe this even to this date. This huge rock situated at the rear side of the Piyangala Aaranya Senasana is nothing but the Gijjakoota Parvatha mentioned in the Tripitaka. There are numerous caves engraved with Kataram, in and around the base of this Gijjakoota Parvatha. The Tripitaka says that this Gijjakoota Parvatha is situated near the border of Veluvanarama monastery in the city of Rajagaha. Anyone wishing to go there today, all the information stated in the Tripitaka over the Gijjakoota Parvatha and the city of Rajagaha can be seen with his own eyes and get them confirmed.

A water spring with a continuous flow of crystal clear water, ideal for drinking, can still be seen at a place called Seetha Wanaya[21] in the base of Gijjakoota Parvatha. A massive solid rock – made water tank with a shape of a begging bowl which dates back to the same period can be seen even to this date at the grounds of Veluvanarama monastery. This tank had been used to store the pure drinking water for the use of the monks lived there. It should be mentioned that in this rock-made begging bowl can stored more than hundred gallons of water.

Nearly 28 no of ancient inscriptions written in Hela letters which were used even prior to the Anuradhapura period are discovered from the archeological site in Rajagala. The Department of Archeology had failed to analyze and decide the exact time period of these rock letters. The scholars think that these are the letters in Hela language which had been used in one particular ear which is older that the Anuradhapura era.

All the constructions (all these archeological ruins) in the city of Rajagaha found during the reign of kingdom of Magadha in prior to the Anuradhapura era, i.e. the ear that Gautama Buddha was living, had been made using hundred percent solid rocks. In that ancient ear where Gautama Buddha was living, the foundations of all the sacred places in this Helabima  had been made using solid rocks. As it was in Rajagala, we can observe a set of constructions with a similar pattern in all the places such as Budugala, Ritigala, Hiriwadunna, Thiriyaaya, Maanawa Kanda, Isinbassagala and Maaligaavila as well. These creations are not made with bricks.  All the models made in India were constructed with bricks. It should be highlighted that the foundations of all the sacred placed in the ancient Helabima were made with solid rocks.

The archeological ruins in Rajagala which became solitude later were destroyed by the treasure hunters and they robbed all the precious gold and jewels enshrined in them. This archeological site in Rajagala was never ever destroyed by the Indian invasions. These were not destroyed by the Dutch, Portuguese or the British. The old historians such as Codrington and H C P Bell did not know any information about them. Even Professor Paranavithana did not see all the ruins in the city of Rajagaha which were stretched over a very large area like 1600 acres.

The large area in Ampara district covered by a circle of mountains such as Rajagala, Nilgala, Buddangala, Samangala and Nuwaragala is not colonized yet and it was the city of Rajagaha, the capital city of the kingdom of Magadha. Now, it can be confirmed that this is the location of Veluvanarama monastery, offered to Gautama Buddha, and 28 surrounding other Viharas & monasteries. After the destruction of the original Hela kingdoms in Ruhuna & the east, when the city of Anuradhapura became the capital city, this region in Rajagala too was covered by the jungle. All the kingdoms such as the kingdom of Magadha, the kingdom of Lichchavi, the kingdom of Vajji and the kingdom of Sakya were suppressed by the thick jungles and disappeared even without leaving any trace of them. Even though the Mahavamsa and the Tripitaka Canon carried clear information about these places, later, all these places were considered as of the places situated in India. It is because the scholars who wrote books later did not have any source to imagine about them and by this time the medieval Buddhists knew about the model places built by King Ashoka in India. Because of the effects of the Darmatha these archeological sites were secured in this manner and that helped the Hela Buddhists living today to go and see these sacred places.

In the ancient past, people from foreign lands came to the city of Rajagaha to learn the sacred Buddha Dhamma of Gautama Buddha which helped to direct them on the path of Nibbana. This city of Rajagala in Helabima, what is known as Rajagala today, was the headquarters, the main centre for Buddha Dhamma in the ancient Buddhist world. Even after the Parinibbana of Gautama Buddha, this centre was in progress for another long period of thousand years. Later, it got destroyed, bereaved and became desolate and no one could guess a positive reason for that. Even to this date this area is not occupied by people.

7. The most sacred footprint of Buddha placed in Samanala Peak.

When the time Gautama Buddha was living the regions such as the Samanala Peak and the kingdom of Kururata were ruled by the regional king called “Samana”. King “Samana” invited Buddha to the kingdom of Kururata and Gautama Buddha spent one Vas Season[22] there. In this Vas Season, Gautama Buddha spent the time in the cave called Divaa Guhava in the kingdom of Kururata. This temple of rock cave known as Divaa Guhava today is the place arranged by King Samana for the Buddha to spend the Vas Season.

In the past, this kingdom of King Samana was filled with mountains stretched from Mahiyangana to Kuruvita. In this kingdom, Samanala Peak was one of the highest and the charming places. It was this King Samana who engraved a sacred footprint of Buddha on the top of this peak, got the blessings of the Buddha and let the people to come and pay their homage to this sacred footprint of the Buddha. King Samana learnt Dhamma from Gautama Buddha, attended to Sothapanna stage, the very first stage in the fruitions in the supermundane path, and later was elevated to the status of god by the people in Lanka.

It is clearly mentioned in our history that our ancient kings had worshipped the sacred footprint of Buddha placed in the Samanala Peak in their pilgrimages to Atamasthana even in the eras such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. King Nissankamalla who reigned the kingdom of Polonnaruwa had gone a pilgrimage to the Samanala Peak to pay his homage to the sacred footprint of Buddha. He had observed that the sacred footprint of the Buddha was not secured enough, he had made a shelter for the protection of the sacred footprint of the Buddha and enhanced it to the present day condition. Today we worship the rocky slate made by King Nissankamalla in protection of the sacred footprint of the Buddha. The sacred footprint of the Buddha which was blessed by the Gautama Buddha is placed safely eight feet under that rocky slate.

8. The most sacred footprint of Buddha in Mokkema

This eighth sacred footprint of Buddha is situated at the end of the Kalpitiya costal line. Kalpitiya was a region which was coming under the kingdom of Naaga in the ancient Heladiva. When Buddha visited to the kingdom of NaagaNaagadeepa – the people lived in the kingdom of Naaga, engraved a sacred footprint of Buddha on a fixed rock situated at the corner of the Kalpitiya costal line, got the blessings for it from Gautama Buddha and used to offer their worshipping for it. The Arabian traders who came to Lanka purely for the trading, noticed that the Naaga kings and the people in the kingdom of Naaga have built a Vihara on the widely spread rocky slate in the shore, had engraved a sacred footprint of Buddha there and pay their homage to it. They too started to pay their homage to this sacred footprint of Buddha.

When Portuguese came to Lanka, they converted the Muhudu Maha Vihara[23] in Mokkema in Kalpitiya in to a fortress and destroyed the stones and the Vihara. In the present day, this Mokkema in Kalpitiya is used as a naval base by the Sri Lanka Navy.  Even to this date the sacred footprint which was blessed by the Gautama Buddha is well secured in this place.

In the most ancient times, even before the dawn of Anuradhapura era, the Buddhist kings and people lived in this Helabima  paid their homage to the sacred footprint of Buddha and the sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi. A custom of worshipping the statues of Buddha was not practiced by the people in the ancient Helabima.  The sole objective of the Buddhist community lived in this Helabima was to follow Buddha Dhamma (to follow and live in the principles of Dhamma) and to realizing Nibbana. Even up to a period of 900 years of the Parinibbana of Gautama Buddha, they followed this custom of worshipping Atamasthana. Later, AtamasthanaAta Maha Sthana, The Eight Great Places – were built in the kingdom of Anuradhapura as well and started to worship them. This is because these ancient Atamasthana were located at very faraway places to Anuradhapura. It can be seen that another collection of Atamasthana had been built in Polonnaruwa as well. The Vihara Asna in the Pirith Potha says that the concept of Atamasthana was changed from time to time along with the shifting of kingdoms from place to place.

The worshipping of the statue of the Buddha was started in Lanka by the third or the fourth centuries. In the Mahayana Buddhism originated in India, worshipping the statues of Buddha was a very popular aspect. Since this custom was taken in to Helabima  as well, the Buddhists who live today had given the priority for worshipping the statues of Buddha. Many more ritualistic aspects, offerings and sacrifices of this nature found in the Buddhist culture were imported to Lanka from India. That created the back ground for the establishment of the idea that Buddhism was taken to Lanka from India. Based on this argument, it has to be accepted that many aspects practiced by the Buddhism in Lanka today had been brought down to Lanka from India.

The Mahayana Buddhism in India was in its peak in the reign of Guptha and also in the era of the Kushan Dynasty. The ritualistic performances, customs, the methodologies of recitations, organizing the pageants, offerings made using different sounds, beating of different drums and many more popular aspects in the god-based religions which enhance the faith of the general public gradually embraced by Helabima  and closed up Buddha Dhamma and the virtual path of realizing Nibbana. The ultimate result of this is the birth of a group of people in this Helabima  who believes in Buddhism which plays the role of just satisfying the social welfare and the basic mental needs of the general public and also considers Buddhism just as another aspect in the culture.

In this manner this sacred land where Gautama Buddha was born, which was eulogized with many different titles such as The Land of the Buddha, The Land of Dhamma, The Most Sacred Land in the World and The Island of Jewels was driven to its end.

In any of our history book, the Mahavamsa, Deepavamsa, Bodhivamsa, Thoopa Vamsa or any other text of this nature do not mention any name of any king in Helabima who had gone to India to worship Atamasthana.  A book called “ Arthasaalinie” written in this land, Lanka, says (very clearly) that the kings lived in Helabima  in the ancient times had organized royal pageants and gone to worship these Atamasthana which were situated within the vicinity of this Helabima.

It can be mentioned very clearly that the King Ashoka in India too followed this ancient tradition of worshipping Atamasthana prevailed in Helabima, built Atamasthana in India as well and organized pilgrimages to them. What is highlighted in the inscription of Ashoka are the details of these pilgrimages made by King Ashoka. The Sanskrit texts such as Divyavadana[24] and Lalitavistara clearly say that these common Atamasthana built by King Ashoka for the use of all the religions, had become the Atamasthana of the religions such as Shiva, Vedic and Hinduism by the time of reign of King Shiladithya.

Next Chapter…


[1]The eight offshoots of sacred Jaya Sri Mah Bodhi. These were distributed, planted in different places, monasteries in Helabima.

[2] Pirith is the Sinhala word for Paritta (in Pali), which means protection. “It protects one from all directions”, is the traditional definition. This is the recitation or chanting of the words of the Buddha. Pirith Potha in Sinhala language is the book which contains Pirith.

[3] Saddha – the confidence. Based on the theological religious back grounds this term is interpreted as ‘Faith’ and it is totally wrong.

“Almost all religions are built on faith – rather ‘blind’ faith it would seem. But in Buddhism emphasis is laid on ‘seeing’, knowing, understanding, and not on faith, or belief. In Buddhist texts there is a word Saddha (Skt.sraddha) which is usually translated as ‘faith’ or ‘belief’. But Saddha is not ‘faith’ as such, but rather ‘confidence’ bone out of conviction. In popular Buddhism and also in ordinary usage in the texts the word Saddha, it must be admitted, has an element of ‘faith’ in the sense that it signifies devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma (Teaching) and the Sangha (The Order).”

Chapter 1 ‘The attitude of mind’ – “What the Buddha taught” Professor Venerable Walpola Rahula.

[4]The white Bodhi tree.

[5]Methodology of carving the drip ledges of the rock as a mean to block the waters flowing on the rock surface and dripping inside the cave. A roof is made under the Kataram, so the waters will flow on to the roof and would not go inside the cave.

[6] He is considered to be the king of deities.

[7]The cave for Arahants or the cave of Arahants.

[8]Sanga – The non-lay disciples of the Buddha. Here in this case it was the one who first entered in to the Sasana, the Order.

[9] Śāsana (Sanskrit), (Pali: sāsana) is a term used by Buddhists and Shaivites to refer to their religion or non-religion. It has a range of possible translations, including teaching, practice, doctrine and Buddha Śãsana, which means “the teaching of the Buddha” (of which there have been several).Since in Buddhism there is no divine god…..(Read more in Appendix).

[10] The mountain or the peak called Maanaawa.

[11]The peak of Meheni Aaramas or the peak where the monastery(s) of Meheni are situated. Meheni are the female Bhikkus or Buddhist nun.

[12]Ananda Bodhi – it was called so as it was Ananda Thero who initiated this task of planting this offshoot of the sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Jethawanarama monastery. It says in the history that people who come to see Buddha to Jethwanarama monastery had disappointed as Buddha had gone out by the time of their visit. They made a request from Ananda Thero, as he was the main attendant of Buddha, to set up any object of Buddha in Jethawanarama monastery to pay their homage especially in the absence of the Buddha. Ananda Thero discussed this matter with the Buddha and following the guidance of the Enlightenment One, this offshoot was planted in this manner in the grounds of Jethavanarama monastery.

[13]The personal chamber of the Buddha (also known as Gandhakutiya).

[14]A world-period. An inconceivably long space of time. An eon.

[15] Pirivena – A Pirivena (plural: Piriven) is a monastic college (similar to a seminary) for the education of Buddhist priests in Sri Lanka. These have been the centers of secondary and higher education in ancient times for lay people as well. Today 561 Piriven are founded and maintained by the Ministry of Education. Young priests undergo training at these pirivenas prior to being their Ordination. (Source-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

[16] Agrasrawakas – The chief disciples of the Buddha, Arahant  Sariyuth  Maha  Thero and Arahant  Mugalan Maha Thero.

[17] This is a custom practiced in the ancient times where donor give away the gift, it could be a new building as in this example, to the receiver by pouring water with a jug or a pitcher over the fingers of the receiver. The custom to be seen in a traditional Sinhala wedding today where the small fingers of the bride and the groom are tied up with a white thread and pouring waters on them by an elderly person could be influenced by this tradition.

[18] i.e. the first sermon of  Gautama Buddha was held in Isinbassagala.

[19]The council of Buddha Dhamma.

[20] Kuda (the umbrella) + gala (the rock or the cave).

[21]The cold forest.

[22]  Vas Season – the rainy season. In the ancient times Bhikkus did not travel in the rainy reason. Unlike today the weather was not disturbed in this manner. It rained heavy showers in the rainy season. The lands were covered with flood and no one could travel. Because of this, the Bhikkus did not travel out of the monasteries during this period, they worked toward the spiritual purification of mind. The villagers looked after them with food, medicine and other things. Even though weather patterns are changed now, methods of travelling are different to the ones used in the past, this custom is practiced even to this present day by the member of the Order.

[23]The costal Vihara or temple.

[24] The Divyāvadāna or ‘Heavenly Deeds’ is a huge collection of 38 legendary biographies and retellings of events in the life of the Buddha. The purpose of each story is to describe the results of good and bad deeds in former and future lives, but also to explain basic Dhamma in an entertaining way. (Read more in Appendix).

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