Mihintale – the Cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Mihintale, Places to visit in Anuradhapura, Dagoba in Sri Lanka

Mihintale

“TISSA TISSA” the voice echoed in the ears of mighty King, no one dared to call him by his name because he was the King, and the King was surprised to hear that someone was calling him simply by his name. The king raised his head and carefully directed his eyesight in the direction, where the voice came from, a bald-headed person standing on the nearby huge granite rock, looking at him, the king surprised, he had not seen the stranger before. The foreigner was not alone; he was with another 5 persons, who were standing in a row behind him.

The stranger started to question the King asking, “Tissa what is this tree?” asked the foreigner, “it is a mango tree” was the answer of the King, “are there any other trees in the forest except this mango tree?”, “Yes, there are many other trees in this forest other than this mango tree” answered the King. Presumably, this had been a part of the first QA in the world, which took place in 3rd century BC in Sri Lanka. The stranger, who questioned the King, was none other than the son of Indian Emperor Ashoka and the King was Devanapmpyatissa, who ruled the island in 3rd century BCE. This had been the first encounter of a Buddhist monk with a Sri Lankan ruler.

Buddhism was formally introduced to the island in 3rd century BCE by Monk Mahinda, who arrived the island from then Buddhist nation India.  Monk Mahinda was the messenger sent by Emperor Asoka to Sri Lanka to introduce the valuable teaching of Buddha to the island.

The Buddhist temple complex of Mihintale is situated on the plateau of the Missaka Mountain. The history of Mihintale and the Missaka mountains goes back to the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, 3rd Century BC. The most important incident that made Mihintale so important was the introduction of Buddhism.

Mihintale is considered to be the cradle of Buddhism and it is visited by thousands of Buddhist every day. Tens of thousands of Buddhist in the island gather to Mihintale on the Full moon day of June in order to commemorate incident that led the introduction of Buddhism.

Visiting Mihintale is not purely a religious activity but also it is an opportunity to experience the rich historical past of sri Lanka. However when the neighbouring historical city of anuradhapura included in most Sri Lanka tours, Mihintale is left out from most Sri Lanka tour itineraries because it is not a popular tourist hotspot like Anurdhapura.

The monastery complex of Mihintale was initiated by Monk Mahinda, who was sent to Sri Lanka on a Buddhist mission by King Ashoka from India. King Devanampiyatissa met monk Mahinda and his companion who on the plateau, after a lengthy discussion between monk Mahinda and the King, the King was converted to Buddhism. Same time Buddhism became the national religion of the island.

After the introduction of Buddhism monk, Mahinda lived for many years on the island, while helping the King to establish the religion firmly on his soil. On the other hand, King Devanampiyatissa had facilitated all physical requirements to spread the religion and the large monastery complex for the monks in Mihintale.

Some of the Attractions

Diva Guhawa (Cave of Mahinda)
There are more than 60 granite caves within the borders of the monastery complex, they had been used by the Buddhist monks. There is some writing in some of the caves done in early days with Brahmi-letters.

Pokuna (bathing place)

After the Ambasthala Dagoba towards the western direction of it is the flight of steps which leads to the pond. It was used by the monks who were in the monastery in the early days. The pool was cut into solid rock and it is guarded by mythical five hooded cobra.

Dining hall

Large spacious hall intended to be used for dining and could accommodate a large number of monks. There are gruel boat and rice boat still in the spacious room that was used in the early days.

Conference hall

Next to the dining hall is the assembly hall of the monastery complex. The building was in square shape and built using stone pillar. There are four entrances to the building North, East, West and South. The seat in the middle of the building located above the rest of the seats and intended to be used by senior monks.

Aradhana Gala

This place is identified as the place, where the first sermon took place on the island in 3rd century BC. On top of the mountain is the Ardhana gala (invitation stone). Mountain which holds the Aradhanagala is located on the other side of the Dagoba. Mahasaya is one of the main religious attractions of the Monastery that is built in the water bubble shape.

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