Daleena Samarajiwa narrates a
modern fairytale in which a small pink quartz heart led her to a
Once upon a holy summit
Namal Uyana happened to me, as in a fairytale. Returning to Sri
Lanka after nine years to grieve the death of a relative, I had
no plans for leisure travel. I had learned energy healing in Hong
Kong, and my teacher had gifted me a beautiful little pink quartz
heart to use for healing my family. I carried out a healing ritual
diligently every morning, and then one day, breakfasting after such
a session, I glanced through a newspaper and saw a half-page photo-spread
of a magnificent rose quartz mountain. I felt compelled to visit.
What better than to wander among a vast expanse of pink quartz,
whose high frequency energy vibrations are said to heal all forms
of heart-felt damage.
search of tranquillity
It was a five-hour, 158 mile drive from Colombo to the
Anuradhapura. Both myself and the friend who was accompanying me
felt relaxed as we took off, distancing ourselves from the noise
of the city and entering the luxuriant countryside.
was a fiery day when we reached Namal Uyana at noon. A lone man
sat in a solitary guard-post beside a large overhead sign that read
Jathika NaMal Uyana. I asked for Ven. Wanawasi Rahula Thera, the
legendary monk/keeper of the pink quartz mountain and its surrounding
Na (ironwood) forest. The man pointed to a figure lounging in a
deck chair in the patio of the only house nearby.
monk questioned me; I told him that the quartz mountain had drawn
me, but as a writer I was interested in writing about the site.We
chatted awhile and he took us into the hall of the hermitage and
played a DVD of a documentary of the forest. I showed him my pink
quartz heart and he showed me a chunk of quartz from the mountain.
He too used the quartz for healing.
tale of Na
Ven. Vanavasi Rahula Thero had arrived at Namal Uyana
12 years ago, to meditate in the forest. He built himself a little
tree-house, 40 feet above the ground in the branches of a Mora tree
which kept him safe from wild beasts. It was his home for almost
a year, after which he moved to the hermitage built of cheap woods
from neighbouring villages. He is now firmly established as head
monk of the forest: its guardian.The role has been designated to
monks for thousands of years. It's a role he believes he carried
out in a previous life 800 years ago.
companion and I set off into the forest, accompanied by a young
monk guide. We took the route leading to a white Buddha statue atop
the mountain. The Na (Ironwood) tree proliferates in this forest.
The national tree of Sri Lanka, it is revered as the abode of deities.
Three Buddhas - Sumana, Revana and Sobitha - are said to have attained
enlightenment under Na trees, and it is believed that the future
Maitreya Buddha will do the same. Its every part is used in the
Ayurvedic medical system practised in Sri Lanka. The monk pointed
out other plants with medicinal uses: more than 70 other varieties
grow in the forest, about 85 percent of its plant life, is said
to have medicinal value.
We skipped over stone pillars and ancient foundation stones
lying amidst the foliage. When Rahula Thero first came to the forest,
he did not realize the extent of its natural and historical treasures
- ruins of an ancient monastery that received the royal patronage
of King Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 B.C.E) and granite foundations
of very old buildings were strewn on a section of the forest bed.
A square Buddha statue, an ancient shrine and palace, a moonstone,
a well, latrines, and even a begging bowl are among them. It is
said that a meditation centre for Buddhist monks once existed there.
Two references to the use of Namal Uyana for human habitation have
been found on inscriptions on stone slabs, one at the ancient historical
capital, Anuradhapura. Many of these sites are unprotected and Ven.
Rahula says that illegal excavations are carried out at night.
the beginning of the eighth century, a section of the forest became
what probably was the world's oldest recorded human sanctuary. Anyone
fleeing their enemies or on the run from even the king was entitled
to sanctuary in this forest, which was under the sole jurisdiction
of Buddhist monks. The king had no automatic right of arrest. Legend
has it that outlaws and the persecuted seeking sanctuary in Namal
Uyana were transformed into Na trees. Closer to fact was that they
were obliged by the monks to plant and care for the trees. Indeed,
the semi-orderly formation of the forest strongly indicates human
climbed a gentle mountain slope. The stone glistened whitish pink
in the sun. The monk said the quartz was brightest after a rain.
The Buddha statue atop the mountain was pure white, disappointingly
not of pink quartz but a synthetic fibre.
Like the Na tree, the quartz mountain is associated with
healing and is considered sacred. Pink quartz is associated with
the heart, the most powerful centre of the human energy system according
to Vedic knowledge and vibrational healing sciences.Energy healers
believe that pink quartz has a beneficial effect on human emotions
such as love thereby reducing stress. The stone's calming effect
promotes happiness, gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, kindness
and tolerance.It's ability to heal emotional wounds makes its presence
in Sri Lanka, a country that has experienced severe emotional trauma,
a great blessing.
quartz is also the stone of individual healing; It is said to have
the power to raise self-esteem and enhance all aspects of self-love.
It can also remove fear, resentment and anger, and heal childhood
traumas, neglect, and deprivation of love, in part by enhancing
quartz also has major physical benefits. It is used to strengthen
the heart and the circulatory system, enhance fertility and many
other ailments.It can reduce signs of aging by diminishing wrinkles,
spleen problems and fibromyalgia. It can also help one achieve and
maintain one's ideal weight, and ease childbirth. Some healers are
of the opinion that pink quartz promotes clarity of mind.
As we approached the hermitage, descending the quartz
mountain we were greeted by the sight of Ven. Rahula, seated on
the floor with a child in front flanked by a man and woman.The girl
was in a deep trance, incarnating as Pattini, a benevolent local
deity. She was describing historical events that took place in the
forest, the kings who had walked through it, and a visit of a famous
queen, Vihara Maha Devi. The monk invited me to sit in front of
the girl and ask her a question.
asked for some personal information and received amazingly accurate
answers. Ven. Rahula was instructed on his role as caretaker of
the forest. The name of the deity who guarded the area was mentioned
with great respect. After a while, the girl came out of her trance
and fell into the arms of the woman beside her.
met the girl the next day and my companion, the girl, her relatives,
the young monk and I set off into the jungle. We felt a strange
familiarity: the differences of upbringing, community, spiritual
girl and I held hands as we walked sidestepping elephant dung and
stopping to examine snake skin and hunt for colourful pink quartz
pebbles. The girl said we were sisters in a previous life. I told
her, in this life, given our vast age difference, she would be better
as a daughter. She seemed wise beyond her years.
was a six-hour trek, crawling through animal trails, scouring large
boulders and dry river beds.As I looked about for signs of a leopard.
I couldn't help noticing how safe I felt, as though the presence
of dangerous animals did not matter because they would not harm
me and we could co-exist in harmony.
last part of the upward journey, I clambered nervously up what must
have been 10-foot steep face of pink quartz, daring not to look
at the ground so far below my feet.
the noon-day sun I felt healthy, peaceful and calm. Surely it was
the magic of the pink quartz. The mountain is said to date back
more than 500 million years, and is also home of the largest collection
of fossilized plants dating back some 200 million years.
At the hermitage nearing the end of the visit, I had another
chat with Ven. Rahula Thero. An open and humble man, he was keen
to know more about the healing arts I had learned in Hong Kong.
He knew Buddhist healing techniques. He talked of his vision of
having a meditation and research centre in the forest, and welcomed
any party interested in conducting research or using this amazing
place for holistic purposes.He is making plans to educate his band
of monks in various natural healing arts. He is also aware that
the power of the site lies in its purity and is anxious to protect
Rahula Thero has worked hard to increase awareness of and protect
his forest. When he arrived, it was being denuded by chena cultivators
from nearby villages who would burn down the trees to clear land
for cultivation. It had also fallen prey to timber merchants.
was little public awareness of its uniqueness. Today, chena cultivation
and timber logging have almost ceased.The Namal Uyana Trust, set
up from donations from organizations and individuals and the proceeds
of the very nominal entrance fee, are used to uplift the lives of
the people of the surrounding villages.
15,000 villagers now receive electricity and water, and a programme
to provide brick houses for about 200 families who live in wattle
and daub huts is underway. Plans have already been drawn out for
the construction of a Community and Research Centre.
section of the forest, declared a reserve area, has already opened
to the public, and is drawing about 25,000 people, both foreign
and local, each month. Steps have been taken to declare the forest
a World Heritage site.
to educate the new generation about the need for environmental protection,
he has also succeeded in including pictures of the pink quartz mountains
in school social science textbooks. Ven. Rahula's dynamism has been
recognized and applauded by the government which has bestowed numerous
honorary titles on him. We parted with promises to keep in touch.
the way back, I reviewed the strange sequence of events that had
passed: Would I have visited the mountain if I had not had a small
pink rose quartz heart? What if I had not picked up the newspaper
that day? What were the chances of meeting that girl that afternoon?
I had changed the date of my trip three times before settling on
the date I met her. Momentarily, I considered adopting her. I know
there is more to life than satisfies reason: I was thankful that
magic is still alive.