The archaeological and historical heritage of Abhayagiriya Viharaya

Abhayagiriya Viharaya _50x50_143330426611.jpg



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.












1.2  Beginning

    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.    











1.3   Development


    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”








1.4  Declension

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.


Abhayagiriya  Project


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. 




















2.3  Caskets

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.















2.4  Lankaramaya

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.
















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