Significance of Duruthu Poya : Blessed visit Rupa Banduwardena | Daily News


Significance of Duruthu Poya : Blessed visit Rupa Banduwardena

Mahiyangana Chetiya is given much significance not only because it is the first stupa built in Sri Lanka, but also it is the first one built by a divine being on the spot where the Buddha made his first visit to the island.

The Deepawansa, Samanthapasadika and Mahavamsa the three great ancient chronicles written after the Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha, Sakyamuni Gautama, give a detailed account of his sacred visits to this Dhammadweepa. It is very interesting to note that it has developed a tradition unique in its origin and advancement of Buddhism throughout. It is recorded when Thathagatha visited the island he foresaw that the doctrine He discovered and preached in Jambudweepa will be preserved in its pristine purity by the devotees in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka indeed stands as a well-renowned country as Dharmadweepa since its inception here when Buddhism had already declined in its place of birth. Sri Lanka had the good fortune of being blessed with the presence of the living Buddha - the most sacred event in human history. Not once but thrice on various occasions. These sacred visits have preceded the introduction of Buddhism by Mahinda Thera in 247 BC. In the pre-Mahinda era, the greatest blessing to the island was Buddha’s first visit to Mahiyangana in the 9th month after the enlightenment.

Imperial influence

The above-mentioned chronicles reveal that the Buddha arrived in the Mahanagavana, the splendid park in Mahiyangana, on the right bank of river Mahaweli. What was the area like when Buddha arrived could be concluded by the descriptions made by the imperial masters centuries later? Richard Brooke in 1832 the first Englishman to explore Mahaweli which is according to him was the biggest river in Ceylon.

“It flows through most of the wildest and also some of the most beautiful areas in Ceylon. The country through which Mahaweli flows beyond doubt extensively cultivated and any casual observer visiting must be surprised at the vast manual labour spent in the construction of canals and tanks now totally neglected.

One of the main high ways in Kandyan times followed the course of Mahaweli eastward from the capital to Alutnuwara”. It is said that Alutnuwara or Mahiyangana was an important river port.

Pre-Christian Sinhala literature poetry and history gives it great importance. Then one can just imagine how Mahaweli-Mahiyangana must have been during Buddha time.

Tribe subdued

Early chronicles provide definite evidence of the tribes living here. The island at the time of Buddha’s visit was inhabited by Yakkas and Nagas referred to as Amanussa. Here the reference may probably be to the primitive state of civilization in the island. Buddha himself is said to have rid the island of the Yakkas and made it suitable for human habitation. Because as mentioned earlier, Buddha was aware that in this island his teaching was to flourish.

However, the sudden appearance of the Perfect One in yellow attire radiating the glow (Budu res) the Yakkas who were overwhelmed with their rough behaviour, had thrown away their weapons and listened to Buddha and finally they have had the good luck to be blessed with the teachings of the Buddha. They have now become good and useful citizens. Chronicles reveal how the Great Master arrived at Mahiyangana on Duruthu full moon day by air to restore peace among the war-stricken Yakkas who were driven away to Giri Dripa. Again it is in the Vijaya episode that we hear much of the Yakkas much later.

First Stupa

Subsequently, He preached Dhamma to a great gathering of gods. God Mahasumana of the Sumanakuta Mountain (the guardian god) who on this occasion attained the state of Sotapanna, after listening to the sermons of the Buddha requested Him, to give something to worship, before his departure. He gave him a handful of hair from His head as an object of worship. God Mahasumana placed it in a golden casket and later enshrined in a stupa embedded with blue stones built at the place where the Great Master was seated at Mahiyangana, considered the most sanctified spot, in the vicinity of Mahaweli. This was built to the height of seven riyanas (a measure).

Mahiyangana Chetiya is given much significance not only because it is the first stupa built in Sri Lanka, but also it is the first one built by a divine being on the spot where the Buddha made his first visit to the island.

This had been improved at various stages. After the Parinibbana of the Buddha and the distribution of the sacred relics, the remaining neck relic (Greeva Dathu) was brought to Sri Lanka by Arahant Sarabu a pupil of Ven. Sariputta and enshrined in Mahiyangana stupa raising it to 12 riyanas. Later it was built to a height of 30 riyanas by king Uddaculabhaya, King Devanampiyatissa’s brothers’ son.

Still, later king Dutugamunu built a mantle chetiya over it completing it to a height of 80 riyanas which exists to this day as an amazing marvel, and a landmark gift to Buddhist heritage. Today it has become the most sanctified and venerated place of worship by the devotees and also a national treasure. 

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