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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

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Unique gift to Buddhist literature

Ven Totagamuwe Sri Rahula Sangaraja Thera:

Maveni Bilinda -

Wara wara langata kenda

Duk sepa kumanda -

Asana nirido wena koinda

There cannot be any Sinhalese who has not heard the above sonnet so popular among the people of Lanka. It will be immortal as long as the nation exists. It was recited impromptu by a child of seven years when he was introduced to Parakramabahu VI of Kotte, by his mother Seelawathie alias Swarnawathie who was residing in Randombe near Ambalangoda in a palace in the land then known as Indaneyaya. The ola leafs describe her as a Saligama Brahamin lady (Sri Lankadeepa Warnana - Dr. O.M. Obeysekera).


Remains of Ven Totagamuwe Sri Rahula Sangaraja Thera

The child was Jayabahu alias Weerasundara who later on became a legend in the history as the Sangaraja and Sadbhasa Parameswara Totagamuwe Sri Rahula the well known poet laureate, astrologer, physician, scholar and a versatile and erudite monk Lanka has ever produced. The felicitation volume issued by Rev. Gammeddegoda Punnyasara the present incumbent of Totagamuwa Maha Vihara on the occasion of issuing a first day cover on 23-02-1977 states that he was the son of Wickramabahu born to a princess from Keerawella, sister of the queen of Parakramabahu VI of Kotte and who was later known as Jayabahu alias Weerasundara.

Much has been written by various scholars about his literary work, abilities to employ devils and other super-human powers and his intellectual prowess. My attempt here is to place some historical facts about this genius from Dumbara on his six hundred and second (602nd) birth day which falls on 8th May. If there was no rivalry and distrust among the Kings of Kotte Venerable Sri Rahula would have produced at least two more books to enrich our literature.

The rivalry surfaced when he helped Jayabahu the son of Ulakudaya Devi of Selalihini Sandesaya fame to become the King of Kotte after the demise of his grandfather Parakramabahu VI. This rivalry and division was an open secret in the kingdom at that time.

Though Buvanekabahu attempted to harm Sri Rahula on several occasions he could not succeed in his attempts as the Maha Thera was popular with the people and people gave him the necessary protection or in today’s parlance his security was guaranteed by his followers. When he becomes the target of Kotte Kings he moved to the village Ambana presently in the Elpitiya electorate and dwelt in Kindurugala cave where he spent the rest of his life. The rest of his services in medicine, astrology and other literary works continued from there.

Another reason for the Kotte Kings rivalry was the fact that the Thera was born with strong planetary positions in his horoscope. The horoscope was second only to that of a Buddha’s and had he remained a layman he would end up as a Chakravarthy King.

When I showed the Thera’s horoscope to Dr. Arlis the famous mathematician/astrologer in Kandy he said that the planetary position was second only to that of a Buddha. He said that Gautama was born on Tuesday the 8th on the Vesak full moon day and Rahula Thera was born on 8th Sunday in the month of Vesak on a Atawaka poya day.

Born on 1408 May 8th Sunday 6.38 a.m. His corps remained in Kindurugala cave venerated by the people in the area until it was removed to Goa by a Portuguese named Francis Xavir. This corpse treated with medicine will last for thousand years without decay according “Praneeth Vruhat Jataka” book written by Maharishi Varahamihira. There was tension among the people of the area the day the corpse was removed. The people in the area protested against the removal but the King of Kotte at the time Dharmapala allowed Xavir to remove the body to Goa. The folklore in the area bears testimony to this incident.

His corpse should be brought to Lanka as done in the case of the skull of Keppetipola.

The Polonnaruwa kingdom inaugurated by Maha Vijayabahu (1055-1110) which lasted over a century fell due to Maga’s (1215-1236) invasion. The damage to the Sinhalese was worst than the damage caused by present day Prabhakaran. The Kings and Queens of Polonnaruwa fled for safety to places like Rakkitipe in Diyatilaka Korale and Bopitiya in Hewaheta.

This intruder Maga was challenged face to face and chased away by Bodhiraja of Galahitiyawa in Dumbara who later on inaugurated the Dambadeniya Kingdom as Vijayabahu III. His son who was also known as Kalikala Sahitiya Sarvagna Pandit Parakramabahu II (1236-1270) ruled for about twenty five years.

It was during his reign that a Malay intruder named Chandrabanu invaded this country. Parakramabahu entrusted the responsibility of driving away the intruders to his nephew Veerabahu. Veerabahu drove away the Malays to Javakkotte in the North.

The present day name of this place is Chavakachcheri. Veerabahu who was a Duke at the time went to Dondra to make offerings to Upulvan God in Dondra for blessings received to chase the intruders.

 

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