series by Gaveshaka in association with Studio Times
More on Rajarata
Here is good news for Funday Times readers in the Rajarata. The
exhibition about which we wrote last week comes to your capital
city, Anuradhapura on August 8. You will be able to view the glory
of ancient Rajarata through photographs taken by the team of Studio
Times professional photographers for a month from August 8. The
exhibition will be held at the Nuwara Wewa Resthouse. You will be
able to organize a school trip to go and see the exhibition. May
be you could suggest it to your teacher as it would be a very useful
from the pictures depicting the splendour of Rajarata during the
time of the ancient monarchs, there will be pictures of many other
scenes as well. For example, the Wilpattu National Park, situated
just 18 miles away from Anuradhapura, will be featured with photographs
of birds and animals found in abundance there. Meanwhile, let us
continue to delve into the history of Rajarata a little further
event of great significance happened during the reign of Tissa,
the second son of Mutasiva who reigned before him. The introduction
of Buddhism to Sri Lanka was this notable event since it marked
the beginning of an entirely new civilization based on the teachings
of the Buddha.
Tissa, who later came to be known as Devanampiya Tissa (Tissa, the
delight of the gods), ascended the throne in 250 B.C, King Asoka
(known as Dharmasoka after his conversion to Buddhism) was the ruler
of India. They had been friends even before Tissa became king and
the first thing he did when he became king was to send envoys with
costly presents to Asoka. At the head of the delegation was his
nephew, Maha Arittha.
embarked at Jambukola on the northern coast of the modern Jaffna
Peninsula and reached Tamalitti after a voyage of seven days. They
spent another seven days to reach Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha
kingdom, from where they proceeded to the Maurya Kingdom where Asoka
ruled as its emperor. The delegation returned after staying for
five months bringing things given by Asoka for a royal consecration
and other presents.
month after his consecration, which in fact was the second since
he had been consecrated king earlier, Asoka’s son, Arahat
Mahinda arrived bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Buddhism was accepted
by the ruler as well as the people who embraced the religion.
king granted to the Sangha, the royal park, Mahamegha, which had
been established by Mutasiva. The consecrated boundaries were marked
by the king himself ploughing a furrow to mark them and the city
too included within the boundaries. Thus was established the Mahavihara,
which became a celebrated centre of Buddhist religion. Arahat Mahinda
and his disciples spent the ‘vas’ – rainy season,
in caves prepared for them in Mihintale, where they first arrived.
This was the beginning of the Cetiyagiri-vihara, another great monastic
institution of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
the suggestion of Arahat Mahinda, the king requested for a relic
of the Buddha from Asoka, who sent the right collar bone and the
alms bowl used by the Buddha along with several other relics which
were all deposited in the first ever stupa to be built in Sri Lanka,
the Thuparama dagabo.
Anula, the wife of the king’s younger brother Mahanaga, an
Uparaja (sub-king) sought permission to get into robes along with
500 other females, Arahat Mahinda told them that the rules of Buddhism
did not allow him to ordain females. He suggested to the king that
he ask Asoka to send the Arahat’s sister, Sanghamitta, who
herself had donned the robes, for the purpose. At the same time
a request was made for a branch of the sacred bo-tree, under which
Prince Siddhartha attained Buddhahood.
Theri came along with eleven others and was received with pomp and
pageantry with the king personally being present at the seaport.
A magnificent procession brought the branch of the bo-tree to Anuradhapura.
Entering the city through the north gate, it was taken through the
south gate to the spot selecting for planting it. In the presence
of Mahinda Thera, Sanghamitta Theri, the nobles and the public,
it was planted on the terrace prepared for it.
was the first great event in the early history of Buddhism in Sri
Lanka which left a deep impression and still evokes pious enthusiasm
among millions of Buddhists. The second was the bringing of the
sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. Princess Anula and her retinue
were ordained by Sanghamitta Theri who thus established the Order
of Nuns (bhikkhunis) in Sri Lanka. The death of Devanampiyatissa
in 210 B.C saw his younger brother Uttiya succeeding him to the