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Published: September 20th 2013
Guardstone at Sri Maha Bodhi
Guardstones are at the entrance to temples. The head of the figure on this guardstone is surrounded by 7 cobra heads, which, according to our guide, stand for the 7 shakras.
Anuradhapura: The Ancient Capital of Sri Lanka
We had a trained archaeologist as a guide taking us around some of the ruins of Sri Lanka's Anaradhapura, part of Sri Lanka's famed "Cultural Triangle", but between the speed of his accented English, the length of the names he was saying, and our lack of any framework of knowledge about the history, I was pretty puzzled when I set out to write this blog! Thanks to the internet for clarifying names and details. Please forgive me if I got something wrong.
Anuradhapura was named the first political capital of Sri Lanka in 380 BC by King Pandukabhaya. It remained such through to the 11th century AD, roughly 13 centuries.
Around 250 BC the Emperor Asoka of India sent his son Arhath Mahinda Thero to bring Buddhism to Sri Lanka, where, over time, he converted Devanampiya Tissa, the grandson of Pandukabhaya.
Mahinda's sister, Princess Sangamitta, brought as a gift to Sri Lanka a cutting (or sapling, sources differ on this) of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, and that tree has been tended continually from that day to this. It is still alive and growing at the
Cobra Headed Guardstone
Can you see the cobra heads now? Why cobras for shakras, I have no idea, but when being whizzed along by a guide there isn't always the chance to get the finer details!
Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, and is the oldest such descendent tree in the world.
So Anarhadapura is still very sacred to Buddhists; it still holds great spiritual significance.
In those early times, literally thousands of monks lived here, in at least two rival monasteries. It was a centre of learning and spirituality, in what were like the universities of the day.
In our one afternoon whirlwind tour, we only saw a small portion of this immense archaeological site, and when the heavy thunderstorm struck it was the end of photo time, so the later things are missing from the blog, like the beautiful Hindu Temple we also visited, but still, it was a fascinating tour. Dare I say enlightening? Well, perhaps in a less rarified sense of the word.
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