Abhayagiri vihara

Reviews (0)

| Average rating: 0 Write a review
Abhayagiri Vihāra was a major monastery site of Theravada Buddhism that was situated in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is one of the most extensive ruins in the world and one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage cities in the nation. Historically it was a great monastic centre as well as a royal capital, with magnificent monasteries rising to many stories, roofed with gilt bronze or tiles of burnt clay glazed in brilliant colors. To the north of the city, encircled by great walls and containing elaborate bathing ponds, carved balustrades and moonstones, stood "Abhayagiri", one of seventeen such religious units in Anuradhapura and the largest of its five major viharas. One of the focal points of the complex is an ancient stupa, the Abhayagiri Dagaba. Surrounding the humped dagaba, Abhayagiri Vihara was a seat of the Northern Monastery, or Uttara Vihara.

The term "Abhayagiri Vihara" means not only a complex of monastic buildings, but also a fraternity of Buddhist monks, or Sangha, which maintains its own historical records, traditions and way of life. Founded in the 2nd century BC, it had grown into an international institution by the 1st century AD, attracting scholars from all over the world and encompassing all shades of Buddhist philosophy. Its influence can be traced to other parts of the world, through branches established elsewhere. Thus, the Abhayagiri Vihara developed as a great institution vis‑a‑vis the Mahavihara and the Jetavana Buddhist monastic sects in the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Anuradhapura.

The architectural elements of the buildings excavated at Abhayagiri Vihara clearly reflect the social beliefs and religious practices prevalent at the time. Although Buddhism was the state religion and the principal doctrine followed by the majority of the population, the influence of other local beliefs, particularly Hinduism, were considerable, and are expressed in the architecture of the period. The design of entrances, for example, illustrates the practice of placing buildings under the protection of a guardian deity.

The two slabs erected on either side of the foot of the flight of steps leading to a building are known as guard stones (Muragal). They are usually carved, although plain guard stones have also been found. Among the Hindu symbols represented on these stones, the most common, apart from the Pot of Abundance and Kalpavrksa, is the figure of the Nagaraja, or anthropomorphic King Cobra. The best example of these, and one of the finest guardstones yet discovered, was found at the Ratnaprasada in Abhayagiriya, and illustrates the degree of perfection reached by the sculptors of Abhayagiri. Lotuses and punkalas are indicative of plenty. Representations of the lotus are of particular significance in agricultural societies where they symbolize the daughters of the guardian deity of rain. The elephant figure at the Eth Pokuna is also a symbol of water.

The principal Buddhist guardian deities are frequently indicated by the animal vehicles of the particular gods, particularity on the guard stones. A good example is furnished by the exquisite statues on either side of the entrance to Abhayagiri Stupa. The head‑dress of one of the statues is a conch while that of the other is a lotus. Representing Sanka and Padma, the two principal treasure houses of Kuvera, they are believed to have been erected to ward off any evil or danger that might threaten the stupa or its precinct. Even at present they are commonly believed to be endowed with mystic powers, and courts of law in Anuradhapura accept swearing before the statues as evidence in settlement of minor disputes between litigants.

The best example of a moonstone, a unique creation of Sri Lanka sculptors, can be seen at the foot of the steps leading to the Pancavasa commonly known as Mahasena’s palace. A smaller example, just as exquisitely carved, was found nearby at the Queen's Pavilion. Varying in shape and size and made of different kinds of stones, all are exquisite artistic creations. According to Paranavitana, the moonstone symbolizes samsara, the endless cycle of rebirth, and the path to freedom from the samsaric process leading to nirvana. He interprets the pattern of the outermost ring as flames, and the various animals shown in the other concentric circles as successive phases of man's passage through samsara.
Share with your friends:
Are you a journalist, photographer or videoreporter travel and have material for Abhayagiri vihara?

Sign up add Abhayagiri vihara to the list of places where you've been
Nearby points of interest
Kuttam Pokuna

Or register to write a comment for this diary
Languages: English - Italiano

About us - Conditions - Create a Business Account - Careers - Help - Privacy legacy -

Tripblend © 2012 - All rights reserved - Tripblend is property of Imagina Studio - P.Iva IT01083440329 - For more information: info@tripblend.com