First Buddhist Cheitiya – Stupa in the world:
A Trust Fund
will be inaugurated today at the Girihanduseya Premises to develop the
infrastructure of the Great Stupa Girihanduseya. Royal Patronage is
given to this event.
Agga Maha Panditha Kotugoda Dhammawasa Anunayaka Thera, President of Sri
Lanka Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha Assembly Ven Tirikunamale Ananda
Anunayake Thera Chief Incumbent of Nithupathane Girihanduseya Stupa
Shastrapati Ven Devinuwara Chandima Thera, ministers and former Minister
Milinda Moragoda will participate in this ceremony.
Girihanduseya Stupa in Tiriyayagama in Kaddakulam Pattu, netting in a
mountain top in Neethupathpana in the Trincomalee District, is supposed
to be the first Buddhist stupa and shrine, constructed in Sri Lanka as
well as in the world. Therefore, for Buddhists, and the general public
this site is very significant and important. According to Mahavamsa, the
Great chronicle, Thuparama Dagaba or stupa, was built after the official
introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during Devanampiyatissa Era. The
ancient historical stupa, presently known as Girihanduseya is vital to
Buddhists as inside this stupa, Buddha’s Hair Relics were enshrined.
During the week-end, my wife and I, visited this great religious
site. It was a pleasant drive all the way. Through Habarana, Junction,
we drove to Trincomalee our first stop. We were passing through
villages, one after the other, each vibrant with life and excitement,
now, due to the development projects and programmes under taken by the
Government. There is a big flow of Tourists to this area and now it is a
hub of busy activities.
Two Indian traders Tapassu, Bhalluka
The story woven round Girihanduseya is amazing. It is believed, the
Buddha after the 50th day of gaining the Sammasambuddhatvaya,
Enlightenment, the Bliss of Nibbana, accepted alms from two Indian
traders – Tapassu and Bhalluka, two North Indian traders who lived in a
city of Pushkaravat. They offered (Vilanda kenda mixed with honey) a
porridge to the blessed one. Buddha accepted the alms. After partaking
the meal, the two traders, requested the Awakened one, to present them
with some sort of a souvenir to remember the Blessed One. The Buddha
very kindly offered the two dayakas or lay disciples a lock of hair from
his head to them.
Cordial relationships existed between India and Sri Lanka
The great country India, from time immemorial, maintained very
cordial and friendly relationships in the ancient times, and still they
continue uninterrupted. India and Sri Lanka had close ties
diplomatically on matters of politics, economy, culture, religion and
Tracing the ancient history of Sri Lanka, the beginning of the
Sinhala Nation began with the arrival of Prince Vijaya from India.
Buddha himself visited this island thrice to Mahiyangana, Nagadipa and
Kelaniya respectively. According to reports the Enlightened One settled
disputes and wars.
Through diplomatic relations the two countries – India and Sri Lanka
maintained Trade as a source of income to both countries. Sri Lanka,
possessed many natural resources such as gems, diamonds. Probably the
Indian traders have frequently visited Sri Lanka. The East and Northern
part of Sri Lanka was considered as the “Rice-Bowl of Asia.” Many Indian
Traders would have exchanged their goods, according to the “Barter
System”. Therefore, we can truly behave, the visit of the two Indian
Traders during the period of Buddha to the present Trincomalee District,
for Trade Exchanges.
According to the great pious monk, an authority on Archeology – Ven
Ellawela Medananda Thera MP, believes, these two traders, Tapassu and
Bhalluka may have arrived through a ship from India by sea, and must
taken the route through a place called Galwaraya and arrived in
The historical facts woven round Girihauduseya is like a fairy tail.
According to the verses written in Sanskrit – the Rock Edicts found
around this premises reveals that Tapassu and Bhalluka – the two traders
were responsible in constructing this cheitiya, namely Girikanda Chaitya.
Giri means Rock mountain. Even today, people around Nitupathpana believe
that this Girihanduseya is guarded by many gods and Avalokitesvara and
Manjusri Bodisatvas – or aspirant Buddhas. There is an amazing story
behind Girihanduseya Cheitya. The two traders Tapassu and Balluka, who
were blessed to receive the “Hair locks of Buddha – Keshadatu, for
safety, they hid the Hair Relics in a place in the mountain Girikanda.
After they finished their Trade Mission, in Nittupathpana Trincomalee
District, they want to take with them their most valuable precious
souvenir the Hair Relics home. Behold! What has happened. The bowl where
the Hair-Relics were kept could not be removed from the place as it was
stuck to the rock.
The two traders after they completed their mission, tried him to
remove the Hair Relics, but they were not successful. Ultimately, they
discussed with the villagers and decided to construct a stupa, covering
the valuable “Saririkadhatu” - relics collected from the body of the
Thus the first Buddhist stupa was constructed in Sri Lanka.
Incidentally this was the first Buddhist Dagaba constructed in the world
too. According to historical resources, the king Girikanda and King
Aggabodhi Sheilamagha, who ruled Anuradhapura in 733 BC was in charge of
the Nithupathpana area in Trincomalee district. Presently the personnel
of the Defence’ Forces actively participate in all religious ceremonies
connected with Girihandu seya.
It should be mentioned here, religious shrines, churches and kovils
experienced some sorts of unnatural, unbelievable phenomena and
I presume, this may be due to veneration of thousand of devotees to
these holy places. Of course, scientifically you are unable to prove it.
But miracles do happen, I believe.
There was an interesting story woven round a pregnant mother. Out of
the joy emanated from extreme devotion and respect to Buddha (Buddha
Lambana Preethiya) how she worshiped the Girihanduseya. This story is
found in Buddhagosha’s Visuddhimagga.
A certain young pregnant woman requested her parents to take her to
witness a festival of lights at the Girihanduseya stupa. As her
condition was very delicate, the parents advised her to witness the
glamour from the foot of the mountain as it is a risk to climb the stupa.
The parents left she was witnessing the festival of lights with
extreme devotion. Suddenly in few minutes he was alighted to the
mountain top by some divine power.
When the parents saw her in the compound of Girihanduseya stupa, they
were amazed. It was truly a miracle.
Due to foreign invasions, the people and the monk, drifted to safe
places and Girihanduseya stupa lost its prestine glory as it was covered
by a jungle.
It was due to the great effort and sacrifice made by the Maha Sangha
– Buddhist monk and specially late Venerable Dharmakeerthisri Gandara
Ananda Nayake Thera Chief Incumbent of Neethupatapane Girihanduseya,
today the Sri Lnakan Buddhists were fortunate to worship the most sacred
Hair Relics of the Buddha.
Presently the chief priest, incumbent Ven Dr. Devinuwara Chandima,
scholarly monk, of Girihanduseya, following the footsteps of his
illustrious teacher Gandara Ananda Thera is taking all possible steps
and measures to improve the infrastructure of Girihanduseya stupa.
It should be remembered for the part thirty two years, the devoted
great Buddhist monks and villagers of Nithupathpana under many difficult
trying conditions taking a life risk guarded Girihanduseya, where the
blessed one’s Hair Relics were enshrined. Probably the unseen gods
guarded the Hair Relics of the Buddha and Avaloketeshvara and Manjushri.