Opinion

Challenge to Buddha Jayanthi Stamp Selection Board

A few days back, a morning daily carried news that a set of 50 stamps depicting Buddhist historical and cultural events and shrines was issued on May 5, 2006, in celebration of the 2550 the Vesak festival. Writing on the May 13, Francis Gunesekera refers to the 24th stamp which depicts. "Writing Dhamma on Ola Leafs and the Aluviharaya at Matale". There is no problem of selecting places like Mahiyangana, Nagadeepa, Deeghavapiya, Thuparamaya, Ruwanwaliseya, Mihintale and so on except Aluvihare, near Matale.

Recent research has revealed that writing down Dhamma on ola leaves during the reign of King Vattagamini Abaya took place not at Aluvihare, near Matale, but at the ancient Alulena Cave Temple at Kegalle in Dakkhinadesa. Since the publication of the Introduction to Sidath Sangarawa by James de Alwis (a Christian) in 1852, there had been a tradition and wrong belief that the Tripitake was committed to writing at Aluvihare. This unsubstantiated tradition was spread throughout world for nearly one and half centuries, that is up to 2000 A.D.

In 1880, Lawrie in his Gazetteer referred to Western scholars like Turn our and Olderberg leaning on the traditional "Aluvihare belief", which was not true and had been rejected as a myth (Lawrie's Gazzeteer Vol II-Page 32).

Prof. S. Paranavitane, the great historian and archaeologist of Sri Lanka, has explicitly and categorically shown that Aluvihare has no connection to the event of writing the Tripitaka. It is pertinent to cull out his own words from the University of Ceylon, History of Ceylon (Vol. 1-Part I-Page 172).

"Later tradition asserts that this was done at Aluvihare in the Matale District, but the earlier historical writings do not connect Aluvihare with this event". (University History Ceylon-Vol 1-Part-1 Page 172).

So are we to believe in the study and teaching of history, the earlier sources or later traditions? Why do these so-called learned scholars (Advisory Board to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication) reject Prof. Senarath Paranavithana's view?

Present historians and archaeologists like Prof. Nandasena Mudiyanse, Prof. Malini Eandagama. Prof. M. U. de Silva, Prof. R. H. R. Gunawardana and Ven. Puravidya Chakravarthi Ellawale Medhananda Thero, too, accept that the Tripataka was committed to writing at Alulena in Matule (Attanagoda) settlement near Kegalle.

Matule and Matale are two different places. Matale is located in Uttara Malayadesa. Pali sources like Manorathapurani, Sarasangaha, Jinakalamali confirm that Mandalarama (present-Wattarama) and Alokalena (present-Alulena at Attanagoda) were in Dakkhina Malayadesa and they are connected with the writing of Dhamma on ola leaves.

Prof. Malani Eanadagama of the History and Archaeology Department, Sri Jayawardanapura, University, has explicitly clarified in Sabaragamuwa Vamsakatha that Alulena at Kegalle is the acceptable place where the Tripitaka was written down.

Ven. Valamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Nayaka Thero, Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya, Ven. Prof. Dewalegama Medhananda Thero of the same University had confirmed that Alulena view is true and correct. (Source of Literature, Historic Alulena at Kegalle by G. R. Gunawardana Banda).

Therefore, the actual place connected with this event is Alulena. As facts are, why didn't the members of the Advisory Board to the Ministry of Post select Alulena shrine and why did they want to give priority to Aluvihare at Matale?

Is the Stamp Selection Advisory Board not aware of the latest researches in history? For what reason did they select Aluvihare? And why did they

Did they attempt to undermine or subdue the heritage of ancient Four Korales in Kegalle district?

G. G. Gunawardana
Ussapitiya

 

 

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