Icon befitting Mahavamsa Buddha at Rambodagalla | Sunday Observer

Icon befitting Mahavamsa Buddha at Rambodagalla

Year 2017, battered mankind relentlessly. Man turned against man in violent encounters. Enraged nature devastated the world with fire, water, wind and at times, even with land and mud-slides. Nuclear threats loomed over life. Helpless hoards of terror-driven migrants, were mercilessly claimed by the waiting sea, in their thousands. In most instances, wailing, weeping, lamenting and screaming formed the human anthem of the year we passed.

Meanwhile, for the first time in the long - 94 year history of the prestigious TIME magazine, Great Bill Gates was invited to be Guest Editor for its January 15, 2018, issue. Gentle Genius Bill Gates, assures mankind, that, in spite of the frightening scenario unleashed by 2017, the world is certainly getting better.

This, I thought, was an optimistic nudge given to us, by a leading humanist philosopher, to indulge in a session of self-appraisal, to discover our positive achievements, in the midst of depressing, chaotic times.

In the light of these reflections, we in Sri Lanka have to focus our attention, with a tinge of guilt perhaps, on a colossal, glorious monumental creation that is an unprecedented adornment, not only for our perennial, indigenous culture, but also for the totality of the Human Cultural Heritage. I say, “with a tinge of guilt”, because we have left this massive achievement neglected and unsung for quite some time now.

This unparalleled colossal creation I have in mind is the massive Samadhi Buddha Statue, hewn out of the solid, living rock. The location is Rambodagalla, in the vicinity of Kurunegala city.

Compassionate

When you take an in-depth view of all the factions involved – the sculptural techniques, the aesthetic appeal, the creative proportions, impressive skills that have gone into it, the spiritual aura, comparative historic positioning, its awe-inspiring yet compassionate presence, one cannot help but state that the creation belongs strictly to the Mahavamsa tradition.

This sacred statue can invariably take its place, in the ranks of the Samadhi Statue, Avukana Images, Gal Vihara Icons and aesthetically, the glory of Sigiriya.

The history of the emergence of the Giant Stone statue, has an epic background to it. In the first instance, the original concept stems from a noble humane attitude that should set an example to multitudes of people in our day in a variety of lands.

The ‘seed’ of the colossal spiritual structure goes back, specifically, to March 16, 2001. On that day, an appalling act of diabolical proportions, shocked and benumbed the souls of the civilized world. The giant historical Buddhist statues of the Bamian Valley were destroyed with explosives by an anti-human extreme group.

This tragic loss, affected even the keenly sensitive young people. A group of Dhamma students at the Dhamma School at Rambodagalla was highly agitated and would not be comforted. A far-sighted, compassionate Bhikkhu leader guided the troubled children, by inculcating in their young minds that in terms of the eternal words of the supremely Enlightened Buddha “hatred can be overcome only by non-hatred”.

Then and there, these young devotees decided they should set up a compassionate shrine, to offset hatred.

The leading priest, Ven. Egodamulle Amaramoli Maha Thera, as if divinely inspired, pointed to the massive rock boulder, and proclaimed to the young students: “We will convert this rock into a giant statue of the Buddha”.

That living Rock had occupied that site, perhaps for a billion years, entering the vagaries of the sun and rain, weathering all changes.

Determination

The agitated students, surprisingly underwent a transformation, and prodded by unshaken determination, they started a fund. A few months later, they came to the monk and said, “Ven Sir, we have collected funds to build the Samadhi Buddha Statue”, The collection of the innocents amounted to only Rs. 1,358 making the hearts of elders melt with indulgent pity.

It is at this juncture, that the real miracle occurs.

Divine guidance, perhaps, led the Mahanayaka Thera, to D. Eassuwaren, Chairman Eassuwaren Brothers. From the initial meeting, until his recent demise, Devanayagam Eassuwaren remained the Nayaka Thera’s unswerving, steady, unshaken patron, friend and guide. Eassuwaran, an ardent Hindu displayed an exemplary commitment to a cause, when he went all out with his lavish munificence to see that the priest’s colossus Buddha Samadhi project succeeded fully. He was instrumental in obtaining the services of the leading stone sculptor of India, Bharata Padma Shri Muttiah Sthapathie and his team of experts.

In his true greatness, this master sculptor donated his services entirely free for this massive Buddhist sculpture.

He has been so thoroughly dedicated to this sculpture of the Samadhi Buddha, that he described it as his masterpiece. Besides, this was the first and the last Buddha Statue he sculpted.

The work on this massive and legendary Samadhi Buddha Statue, was initiated on September 13, 2002, which rises to a height of 67.5 feet.

Today, the Rambodagalla Samadhi Buddha statue is the world’s largest Granite marble Buddha image.

After about eight centuries, this is the first occasion when a colossal Buddha statue has been sculpted in Sri Lanka, with due deference to classical standards.

It must be quite clearly emphasized that this sacred Samadhi Buddha statue is not merely a great Buddhist Icon. It symbolizes the discipline of non-hatred, and monuments a glorious instance of noble inter-religious amity. Devanayagam Eassuwaran, strongly entrenched in his traditional Hindu faith supported this sacred Buddhist shrine, with uninhibited generosity.

He was already awarded the Sri Lankan state honour Deshabandhu.

Buddhists all over the world should duly recognise his patronage to Buddhism.

Our uninhibited adoration is the offering we can make to the Buddhist prelate Rev. Edogamulle Amaramoli Mahanayaka Thera for accomplishing a Buddhist determination.

Project

Nandadasa Rajapaksa, Head of DSI has contributed substantially towards the success of this historic and spiritual project, almost from the beginning, with an admirable devotional zeal.

If it is really possible, the state could include this Buddhist achievement, in the modern extensions of our national chronicle – Mahavansa.

A pilgrimage to the massive image of the Samadhi Buddha, will be a high act of merit to any Buddhist, since, visiting the Rambodagalla sacred site, is a veritable to return to Mahavansa Days. 

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