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Temple

Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara

  Province Uva
  District Badulla
  Nearest Town Mahiyangana
  Period During the period of Buddha alive.(6th century BC)
  Ruler God Saman

Introduction

This Cetiya (stupa) was built during the lifetime of Lord Buddha enshrining the lock of hair given by Him to God Saman an occasion of His first visit to Sri Lanka, 9 months after attaining enlightenment. It is the first ever stupa to be constructed in Sri Lanka.

It was enlarged by Arhat Sarabhu to Cetiya 12 cubits high after receiving and enshrining the collar bone relic of the Buddha taken from the funeral pyre. The son of King Devanampiyatissa's brother, for greater protection, covered it over and made it thirty cubits high. King Dutugemunu -(161-137 BC). Dwelling there, while fighting the invading forces of the Tamils enlarged it to eighty cubits high. It was subsequently rebuilt by Vijayabahu 1 (1055-1110 CE) and restored again during modern times.

Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. It is one of the Solosmasthana, the 16 sacred religious locations in Sri Lanka.

History

Buddha's visit

Historical sources, including the ancient chronicle Mahavamsa, record that the Buddha visited the Mahiyangana area in the ninth month after he attained enlightenment, which was his first visit to the country. According to the Mahavamsa, Sri Lanka was inhabited by yakshas at the time. It says that the Buddha subdued the yakshas there and held a discourse on Dhamma with them. They were then sent to an island named Giri so that the country would be "purified" and Buddhism could be established there later on, where it would prevail "in all its glory". A Yakka chieftain named Saman (who is now regarded as a deity) attained Sotāpanna (Sovan) after listening to the Buddha's discourse, and asked for a token from the Buddha that they could worship in his absence. The Buddha had given him a handful of hair from his head, which Saman later enshrined in a small stupa, 10 feet (3.0 m) in height. This was the first stupa to be built in Sri Lanka.

After the parinirvana of the Buddha in 543 BC, an Arahant named Sarabhu brought the Buddha's left clavicle bone, which had been recovered from the funeral pyre. This relic was also enshrined within the same stupa, which was enlarged to a height of 18 feet (5.5 m).

Several kings have since renovated and enlarged this stupa, including Dutthagamani who raised it to a height of 120 feet (37 m). Other rulers such as Voharika Tissa, Sena II, Vijayabahu I and Kirti Sri Rajasinha have carried out repairs and maintenance work at the temple. In 1942, a society was formed for the renovation of the temple under D. S. Senanayake. Reconstruction work began in 1953 and ended in 1980 with the completion of a new pinnacle for the stupa.