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Ruins

Pashana Pabbatha Viharaya in Punniyadi

  Province Eastern
  District Trincomalee
  Nearest Town Nilaveli
  Period Unknown
  Ruler Unknown

Introduction

Pashana Pabbatha Viharaya in Punniyadi in Trincomalee (3rd to 4th centuries AD), a magnificent Buddhist rock temple that existed 2000 years ago! Pashana Pabbatha Viharaya in Punniyadi/Verugal (Kal-adi) which bears evidences of an existence of a flourishing Sinhalese Buddhist civilization in the area about two millennia ago is located 32 kms from the Seruvila Buddhist temple. The six inscriptions found in the temple with Brahami letters make references of a sophiscated civilization that flourished during the time with a network of banking systems and commercial cities. The temple is located on a top of a rock with a commanding view of all the directions. Atop the rock one can see a fascinating view of sea on the Southerly direction and on other directions acres of paddy fields, scores of houses built by NGOs for tsunami victims and the thick jungle that stretches for miles.

History

The six inscriptions on the rock are among the most important archeological ruins found in the place. Three of them, located close to each other, are on the western side of the rock on which the Stupa is located. Due to continuous treading on them the script of them has started to erase. The forth inscription is on a rock below with much worn out condition. The fifth and the sixth are on the rock behin The first inscription among the first three is relatively clear though some letters are worn out. It starts with words 'Amathe rakayame pahana pavatha vihara' and it goes on to refer about an offering of gold coins. According to one of the inscriptions this Buddhist temple/monastery has been built by king Mahadatika Mahanaga.( 9thto 21st BC). Number of inscriptions with this king's name has been found in several places in the Eastern areas of the country located close to sea. The most striking feature of the script written in the inscriptions in Pasana Pabbata Vihara is that the king is referred asMahadatiyanaka maharaja while in the inscriptions found close to sea he is referred as 'Naka Maharaja'. This is very clear evidence that this temple is dated older than 2000 years. As per the inscription the king has made the temple the beneficiary of water tenure from a nearby stream. The king has also made temple's lands exempted from the land tenure which had been imposed on the people in the area. An accompanying small inscription of the first inscription says that the king Mahadatika Mahanaga has bought a land and offered to the Pasana Pabbbatha temple.

The second inscription goes on to say that a minister named Rakhaya has offered the interest he earned out of depositing five hundred gold coins in a bank. This bank is appeared to have been linked with a commercial establishment. In Sri Lanka's historical records, foremost among the inscriptions which bear the reference about bank systems is the Thonigala inscription found written during the King Kithsirimevan (299-327). However, the Punniyadi inscriptions are older dated.

The third inscription mentions about a commercial city named'Thadavita'. It had a commercial centre named Manarama. It goes on to say that the King Mahasen(276-299) has offered what he earned from the interest depositing paddy from his own fields in a bank.

Another inscription says that what was earned from the interest depositing something (It is not exactly clear what was deposited) in a bank in a commercial city named Thubavatiya located east of the city was offered to the Mangala Chaittya(Mangala Stupa). So it is clearthat the Stupa now in ruins in Pasana Pabbatha Viharaya in Punniyadi was referred as Mangala Maha Chaittya.

The other inscription contains references that gold coins were offered to the temple for meeting the expenses for alms for resident Buddhist monks. As per these inscriptions it is clear that there had been major commercial cities in Seruvila area with a flouring bank system. It has been proved that all the names mentioned in the inscriptions are Sinhalese.

By judging all the details it can be summed up that the Pashana Pabbatha Viharaya built in early centuries has evolved into a magnificent rock temple with many Buddhist monks in residence. Archeologists are yet to read all the inscriptions which will give us more details about this magnificent temple.