Clarification: The impression of Mahayana Buddhism in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Clarification: The impression of Mahayana Buddhism in Sri Lanka

I refer to the feature article, written by Mahil Wijesinghe, titled, “Evidence of Mahayanist in Sri Lanka”, on page 44 in the Sunday Observer of February 25, 2018. While I appreciate the account of the sculptures of Mahayana cult, I wish to point out that the following statement is incorrect.

“The beginning of Mahayana Buddhism in Sri Lanka was probably in about the year 100 B.C. This coincided with similar events in neighbouring India”.

I wish to bring the following facts to your notice:

The literary and archaeological evidence indicates that Mahayana philosophy was quite popular in Sri Lanka during the late Anuradhapura period. The propagation of Mahayana is connected first of all with the activities of the heterodox monks of the Abhayagiri Vihara at Anuradhapura. Naagarjuna who probably lived during 2nd century A.D. in South India was one of the main systematizer of Mahayana doctrines. It was during the reign of Voharikatissa (C.209-231 AD) that the Dhammaruchi monks of the Abayagiri Vihara became active in Sri Lanka for the first time.

(The golden age of sculpture in Sri Lanka by Ulrich VON Schoerer P. 59. Visual Publications Ltd. Hong Kong – 1992)

- Sirisaman Wijetunge, Former Asst. Director, Dept. of Archaeology