The archaeological and historical heritage of Abhayagiriya Viharaya
Anuradhapura Abhayagiriya Viharaya exists nearly thousands years ago. It had been held from bc one century to eleven century. According to inscription about ‘’Abhayagiriya Sinhala Bikku Aramaya” was found . It was an international institute which pervades branches in foreign countries.
Gunavermon, king of kasmeera and pahion thero in China. Came here for religious education.It opened to world giving ideologies and various philosophies like as current university concept and methods. Abhayagiriya was second only to government.
Abhayagiriya inscription of fifth king Kasup said that ‘’Rathnaparasadaya’’ in abhayagiriya viharaya looked as a god palace’’. It was same to all part of Abhayagiriya. It could be given so many special artistics to prove them.guardstone , moonstone pair pond and Samadhi image could be presented as examples to confirm its worth. It was spread about five hundred acres.
Ancient capital of Srilanka was Anuradhapura. Abhayagiriya was called Uththara Vihara. Because It was situated in north to Athulnuwara, where the king’s palace established.It was built by king Walagamba (bc 89 – 77) .He was a son of king Sadhdhathissa, who was younger brother of king Dutugamunu. According to Mahavansaya , tamils attacked to Anuradhapura and king Walagamba escaped from there.When he was going a naked ascetic insulted him.After wining the war king had built Abhayagiri viharaya on the ascetic’s monastery and worshipped to Kuppikalathissa thero , who helped him to win war.A statement of Mahavansaya , that telling Abhayagiriya was named with adding names of king Wattagamini and Giri ascebic. But It might be the statement that opponent made to insult Abhayagiriya. In these days many monasteries named with ‘ giri’ , for example ‘’wessagiri’’, ‘’megagiri’’ and ‘’chethiyagiri’’. But the king Abhaya made it associated with rock or mountain so that it may be named as Abhayagiriya.
King Walagamba built this viharaya with twele residence. It was improved in number of residence ,number of bikkus and foreign connections.According to parhian thero, 2000 bikkus were at maha vihara and it had been improved to 5000.
In reign of king kithsirimevan the Dhaladha was belong to Abhayagiriya. Daladha was exhibited to the people nearly three months after helding perahera from Athulnuwara to Abhayagiriya.Abhayagiriya was developed to four institutes which called Uththaramula, Kaparamula, Mahanethpamula and Vahadhumula
There was a bikkunee monastery at the Abhayagiri vihara.According to Chineese sources Thisara bikkune and others had gone to China and they started higher ordinations in china.Now belives that ‘’Bikkunee aramaya’’ could be the ‘’Lankaramaya”
In ce 1017 south Indian invaders attacked Abhayagiriya. They subsided rajarata.This was the start point of Abhayagiriya declension.King Maha Wijayaba rescued the country and he changed control center to Polonnaruwa.After that monks went to Polonnaruwa The people and rulers left Rajarata due to Maga’s invension. So that this vihara became ruined. Monks also went to secure places like Malaya. But educated bikkus get service to promote religion and literature.As example a great book ,’’ Poojavaliya’’ was written in Dambadeniya era by Mahanethrapasadha thero.Weedagama Gunananda pirivena, Where ‘’ Lovadasagarawa’’,’’ Budhugunalankaraya’’ books were written descend from Abhayagiriya.Sri Rahula thero, a great bikku,who was the owner of Thotagamuwa Vijayaba pirivena.descend from Abhayagiriya.
1.5 New enlightment
However Abhayagiriya was got attension under the British ruler.He requested a report about Abhayagiriya, in ce 1884. Mr S.M Baros submitted a report confirming it simply .Then in ce 1894 Mr,J .De Smeeder gave a planning report describing ruins. In 1890 Archiological commissioner, Mr bell and authority of Archaeological confirmed it simply.When the cultural triangle was started, only ‘’Kuttampokuna” and a hall east to almshall were conserved.
In ce 1901 Mr Walisinghe Harischandra did so many awakening activities to hire up and promote this holy place.In 1909 Dharmarama thero at Horana in 1918 Sobitha thero at Polonnaruwa and Kadhihare Gunarathana thero made temples and had lived there.Until recently Abhayagiriya and ‘’Jethawanaramaya’’ had recognized incorrectly.But it could be corrected by word ‘’Uththaramahawetha’’.Which was mentioned in a letter of Kanittathissa (ce 2 century) invented near the south gate of Abhayagiriya sthupa.
Anuradhapura Abhayagiriya project is one of projects that started under the Unesco cultural triangle scheme Polonnaruwa.Alahana pirivena Mahanuwara, Dambulla,Sigiriya are the other projects starting by U.S.C.T.S. These all projects are conducted by middle cultural fund .Dr Roland Silva who pioneering to start middle cultural fund.He was the first director general of middle cultural fund . Professor Senaka Bandaranayake is the general director of now.
Abhayagiri project was started in ce 1981 september 02. Its excavation and research activities were done by history and Archaeological faculty of Sri Jayawardanapura university.conservation affairs and environmental design were done by Surath Wickramasinghe Architech company.
Professor Chandra Wickramage worked as the director of Archiology from ( ce 1981 to ce 1987). Professor S.B Hettiarachchi worked from 1987 to 1992. After that professor T.G Kulathunga worked as a director.
2.1 Abhayagiriya sthupa
According to inscription made by king fifth kasup (ce 914-23).Some special places were mentioned .They were called as Abhayagiriya vehera Pilmage isa,Dhagab isa,Mahabogay isa,ruwanpahahi isa, bathgey isa.Dhagab Isa was Abhayagiriya sthupa..In addition to them other four sthupas could be seen there.
One of Abhayagiri sthupa Uththaramahawetha was built by king Walagamba.It was expanded by king Gajabahu (ce 112-134) Restricted wall built with bricks was founded in cultural triangle excavation when doing infront of western entrance.After king Gajabahu it was reconstructed by rulers many time.Today can see the two stones on the compound.A flag top of sthupa was converted to be a pinnacle till 8 th century.At last king Parakumba reconstructed it. It was mentioned at the second part of Mahawansaya.A copper coin mentioned name of king Parakumba which was found under the stones kept infront of western entrance.and the arts belonged to polonnaruwa reign seen on eastern entrance were certified that statement.
Mr. H.C.P Bell confirmed the pinnacle keeping cement mix with concreate.Then authority confirmed south and west doors.In 1957 a large part of square enclosure (hathares kotuwa) and womb.were broken and collapsed on eastern entrance and on starecase which build to reconstruct the top.
Now It is 75 meters high.Down terrace diameter is 120 meters.Land which under the sthupa and compound is 14 acres.Cultural triangle is getting act to prevent it destruction.
2.2 Sripada Mark
Cultural triangle found a special mark of Sripada.It’s carvings are not expel up .It looks like natural foot which imprint in clay symbols of sacred foot stones, circle of Buddhism are used to show Buddha before creating images. But meaning of Sripada mark is not, It means that Lord Buddha had come here .Pahion thero mentioned that Lord Buddha came to Srilanka and kept sacred foot on Anuradhapura and Abhayagiriya had been built on that area.
Very uncommon caskets were found covering with soil mound in 1996.A fair and dark blue glass casket which kept in a clay caskets was been found in a room of western entrance.Relics were kept in a crystal casket inside the glass caskets.Three terrace in glass casket were made by glass bangles.The womb was made by glass vessel like as a bowl.Square garden was on it.There were holes in square garden and flags to fix flagbar.This was the only one caskets in Srilanka with these features.Mahawansaya says that entrances had made by king Gajabahu in second century.After that king Kanittathissa made them,according to inscription of kings .These glass may be manufactured in Abhayagiraiya land.So many evidence about that glass manufacture was used at the Abhaygiriya Which keeping in lime casket. A gold casket was found near eastern entrance .Relics were kept in a crystal casket.It was found on the other side.Gold caskets same to these were found in Ruwanwaliseya inscription before half century.
According to Mahavansaya king Walagamba made a sthupa named as ‘’silasobbakandaka’’ north to Ruwanweliseya.It is belived that it may be Lankaramaya.King made ‘’Manisomaramaya’’ to memorize her wife Somadevi.Some one says that they were same king Kanittathissa had made a ‘’chethiyagara’’ around the ‘’Manisomaramaya’’.Its ruins were stopped there.The ruins of circular house encircling a sthupa remained as carved stone pillar around the sthupa. ‘’Manikuparamaya’’ may be a ‘’Manisomaranaya’’ Archiological authority constructed that ‘’Dagaba’’ and its diameter is 12 meters.Its shapes got difference under the construction.
2.5 Edifice Sthupa
This was recognized as king Dutugamunu’s cemetery and ‘’Idikatuseya’’.It is clear that this is owned to Polonnaruwa ‘’Sathmahal Prasadaya’’ series. But excavation done in 1918 revealed it was not the cemetery of king.
2.6 Mahayana sthupa
When it was excavated it looked as a mound . It was west in ‘’Athpokuna’’.It was built on four stages in Siyam These sthupa could be seen .A stone of yupa that owned to old sthupa was discovered and ,it was installed near the sthupa.The lead tray which written Mahayana charm was found.
3.1 Image House/ Temple Tooth
A main image house was mentioned in fifth king Kasup’s Abhayagiriya inscription.It was not recognized properly.It might be the monument which found nearly unclear the tar road among ‘’bodigaraya ‘’ ,’’uposathagaraya’’ and “almshall’’. There could be seen floor which laid by limeboards and stages which made by limestone.This place might be the exhibition hall which exhibits tooth of relic and other vonerable wealth.