Buddha's visit to Nagadeepa
Bak poya falls on April 9 :
As the historical records reveal the Buddha's second visit to Sri
Lanka had taken place during the month of Bak more than two thousand
five hundred and ninety years ago.
As mentioned in the Mahavamsa, in the fifth year (523 B.C) of Supreme
Enlightenment, the Buddha had visited Nagadeepa in Lankadeepa (Sri
Lanka) to settle a dispute between Mahodara and Chulodara -uncle and
nephew who were at war with each other over a gem studded throne.
During the Buddha's stay Jethawana he saw in his Divine Eye the
disaster about to take place in Nagadeepa and arrived there on Bak
Amawaka Poya day (fifteen days prior to Bak Full Moon Poya Day).
Mahodara was then a mighty king in Nagadeepa (a Naga-kingdom in the
ocean that covered five hundred `yojanas'. His younger sister,
Thirachchika was married to a Naga King of the Vaddhamana mountain.
Chulodara was their son.
Thirachchika's father gave her one of his most valuable jewels- a
gem-studded throne before his death.
Mahodara had been displeased with this from the beginning and his
anger grew worse when the throne was owned by Thirachchika's son in the
end. Mahodara decided to declare war against Chulodara, his nephew.
A Deva named Samiddhi Sumana who dwelt in Rajayatana tree (a Banyan
tree) in Jethawana too had joined the Buddha during his visit to
Nagadeepa, the Mahavamsa reveals.
The Deva in fact had uprooted the tree and had held it like a parasol
over the Buddha! The Buddha had made no objections as he knew that the
god had lived in Nagadeepa in one of his previous births. In an another
birth he had seen Paccekabuddhas taking their meals under the same
Kiripalu tree. The sight made him happy and he offered them leaves to
cleanse their alms bowls.
The merit was strong enough for him to be born in the same tree in
the Jetawana Garden as a god. The Buddha brought him to Lankadeepa
together with the tree as he knew that the tour will benefit him
As the Buddha arrived in Nagadeepa the Nagas were about to declare
war. The Buddha hovered there in mid-air above the venue and in order to
alarm the Nagas called forth dread darkness over the battle-ground.
Next the Buddha had spread light abroad in order to comfort those who
were in distress and anxiety.
The Nagas were overwhelmed by happiness to see the Buddha who was
hovering in mid-air. They raised their hands and worshipped the
Enlightened One. He then preached to the Nagas in order to make them
understand the evils of hatred.
The Buddha narrated to them Jathaka stories like Karkoluka, Pandana,
Latukika, Wattaka which showed the evils of hatred and the importance of
living in harmony. Chulodara and Mahodara discarded their weapons , and
offered the gem studded throne to the Buddha. The Enlightened one who
was in mid-air then alighted on the earth and sat on the throne.
The Mahavamsa finely describes how the Nagas offered him dhana.
Thousands of Nagas established themselves in the three refuges
(Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) and in the moral precepts.
Naga king Maniakkhika of Kelaniya who was the uncle of Mahodara
(mother's brother) too was among the ones who came to participate in the
In fact Maniakkhika had become established in Buddha, Dhamma and
Sangha (three refuges) and in the moral precepts during the Buddha's
first visit to Sri Lanka- to Mahiyangana. The Naga -king who was
overwhelmed by the Buddha's power of compassion thanked him profusely
for settling down the dispute which otherwise would cost millions of
"The Compassion you showed is great". He told the Buddha. "Thatagatha,
we would have all been consumed to ashes had not the Buddha intervened.
May your compassion yet light also specially on me". Thus Maniakkika
slowly revealed his intention of seeing the Buddha visiting his kingdom
in Kelaniya if he intends to visit the country again. The Buddha
remained silent and it indicated that he had accepted the invitation.
The Naga King then asked for an object of worship and as a result the
Buddha gave over the Rajayathana tree and the gem studded throne to him
to do homage. Historical records state that Maniakkikha planted the
Rajayathana tree on that very spot as a sacred memorial.
"Since the Thathagatha has used these two, paying homage to them will
bring about blessings and happiness" the Buddha had told the Nagas
before returning to Jethawana on the same, Bak Amawaka poya day.
Nagadeepa Stupa was constructed by Chulodara and Mahodara and it is
still there in Nagadeepa in Jaffna district.