Dasa Maha Yodayo: Therapuththabhaya | Sunday Observer

Dasa Maha Yodayo: Therapuththabhaya

20 January, 2019

A son was born to Rohana, a wealthy merchant in ancient Ruhunu Rata.Their village was called Kethiyagama (Kataragama) and was in the shadow of the Kelepau (Kotagala) mountain. The parents named him Abhaya. The parents were also influenced by the name of an ancient king of Magama, Rhuhuna in naming their son. This king’s name was Gotabhaya.

History has it that when Abhaya was about 12 years old he had the strength of ten or twelve elephants. He could also easily carry ten or twelve of his playmates. He used to carry great stones for the fun of it, and also kick them to a distance. These actions of Abhaya amazed those who saw it.

When he was around 16 years of age he was presented with a Yagadhawa by his father. This is an implement made of metal or metal and wood. A large metal round or ball with pointed spokes is attached to a block of metal or wood, sometimes with a chain. (Yagadhawa designs can vary) This can be used to break coconuts and other fruit by twirling it above one’s head.


The Yagadhawa could be used even to fell trees. Abhaya revelled in the Yagadhawa breaking fruit from tall trees and felling mighty trees to the ground.

At this time there was a very pious Bhikkhu named Maha Sumana Thera. He travelled through Ruhuna Rata preaching the Dhamma. He was an excellent preacher who could keep his audience spellbound. Maha Sumana Thera impressed Abhaya’s father so much that he got disgusted with lay life, gave all his wealth and worldly belongings to his son and received ordination as a bhikkhu.

As a youth Abhaya always followed what his father did. He also wanted to become a bhikkhu and told his father about his wish to become a bhikkhu. His father who always acceeded to Abhaya’s requests promptly made arrangements to have him ordained as a Samanera or novice bhikkhu. Since his father was an elder bhikkhu and he was the son, everyone started calling Abhaya, Therapuththabhaya hamuduruwo (the bhikkhu's son, Abhaya the priest). A short while after he became a bhikkhu, Therapuththabhaya’s father attained Arahathhood.

After a while , Therapuththabhaya Thera took up residence in the Sathpadura temple near the Sappaduru Oya in Ruhuna. With the aid of people in the area the Thera began a large coconut and king coconut (thambili) plantation meant for the use of the temple and the Maha Sangha (monks). Under Therapuththabhaya Samanera’s supervision the plantation flourished.

One day Therapuththabhaya Samanera had to leave the Sathpadura temple to attend to some work outside the temple. On this day, the Warrior Giant Gotaimbara and his friends passed the temple on their way fot an audience with the King. By the time they got to the temple they were very tired and thirsty. Seeing no one at the temple or the coconut plantation they entered the temple premises.

Gotaimbara with his mighty hands shook the coconut and king coconut tree and brought the fruits down at the same time breaking many palm fronds from the trees. He also uprooted some trees.

Young coconuts

Gotaimabara and his friends dashed the young coconuts (kurumba) and king coconuts (thambili) on the ground to break them open. Then they ate the sweet flesh of the fruit and drank the cool juice. By now Gotaimbara and his friends had really desecrated the temple premises. Feeling tired and sleepy the young men went to sleep in the temple without bothering to clear the mess they had made.

Therapuththabhaya Samanera returned to the temple and was furious when he saw the desecrated premises. He asked the abiththaya (acolyte) of the temple as to what had happened. The acolyte said that Warrior Giant Gotaimbara and his friends were responsible and that they were sleeping there. A fuming Samanera vowed to teach the culprits a lesson they would never forget.

The Samanera got hold of Gotaimbara in a vice-like grip and dragged him along the ground scolding him and punishing him. Gotaimbara asked for forgiveness for his bad behaviour and promised to clean the temple premises.


Therapuththabhaya Samanera then let Gotaimbara go. The culprits cleaned up the place and went on their way. The ancient book Rasavahini states that the Samanera and Gotaimbara became firm friends after this incident.

Gotaimbara met King Kavantissa and was drafted into the army. He also told the King about the great strength of the Samanera and the King sent for the Samanera asking him to join the Army.

Theraputthabahaya Samanera agreed , gave up his robes and joined the Army as a Warrior Giant. When King Dutugamunu waged war against King Elara, Warrior Giant Therapuththabahya played a mighty role. He used his Yagadawa to strike the enemy. Having played a key role in the victory against King Elara Therapuththabhaya joined King Dutugamunu to celebrate the victory0.

The King offered much wealth and other valuable gifts to him but Therapuththabhaya declined them, and went back, and donned robes again.He lived near the Kirindi Oya at Ihala Panjali Pauwa . After some time he became an Arahath. According to folklore, 500 bhikkhus were there with Arahath Therapuththabhaya.

During King Dutugamunu’s last hours Arahath Therapuththabhaya and his entourage travelled to Anuradhapura to be at the dying King’s side. (The Mahavamsa states this while legend has it that the Arahath and his bhikkhus travelled through the air to Anuradhapura). The Arahat preached the Dhamma and comforted the King before the King breathed his last.