A mind-altering voyage to Anuradhapura
Spiritual experience through the ancient capital of Lanka
Veidehi Gite, November 28, 2021
Embrace this chapter as you might an ancient sacred site, leading you from one clue to another. On a sunny and stifling afternoon, halfway through Jaffna onwards Habarana - it felt instinctive to take a halt at Anuradhapura, the most ancient capital of Sri Lanka. Stone Stupas, enormous Dagobas, temple ruins, and biblical springs: the heritage sites of Anuradhapura are one of South Asia’s most evocative archaeological wonders.
Undeterred by the pilgrimage, Anuradhapura is also a military passage that otherwise is a welcoming small town that makes for a good, relaxing place to spend an extra day. It's the perfect place to be free, to find peace in the restful ancient capital of Sri Lanka.
Over here, the flurry of Sakwala Chakraya lifts the star-gate map at Ranmasu Uyana while the empyreal bell-shaped temples project lights on Buddhist culture. Every corner of Anuradhapura talks to you, mostly chanting the glyphs of Buddhism, statecraft, and collective beliefs.
Uncrowded, Anuradhapura is quiet, divine, yet throws you into the finery of historical exoticism. The electromotive force surrounding the rock carrying the sculpted impression of Sakwala Chakraya is noted to be remarkably powerful. Soon enough, I was sitting in Padmasana, in a cross-legged lotus pose of the ancient Buddhist asana, channelising all my concentration focussed on the central chakra of Sakwala. A few minutes into the meditation, the air slowly rose from the ribs to the chest up into the crown of my head, and I felt a strong force pulling me into the mysteries of the inane rock that is worshipped by several monks aspiring to travel to a different world.
Getting baked under the hot Lankan sun while marching circuitously around Ruwanweliseya, the external sonances faded away in silence. As the scene unfolded, a massive white bell-shaped stupa made of stone appeared to reveal the profane fascination of Sinhalese King Dutugemunu. The Mahathupa built in 140 BC handed-down stories from the glorious past that this hemispherical structure depicts reflecting the Buddhist values.
My visit to this spiritual capital of Sri Lanka made me understand the parapet of ascendency that ensued post the defeat of the Chola King Elāra. And why Ruwanwelisaya amassed the respect of an Atamasthana or a Solosmasthana? Ruwanwelisaya, also prized as Swarnamali or Rathnamali Seya in Pali, is one of the tallest ancient monuments in the world. At 338 ft elevation and 950 ft diameter, Rathnamali Seya gives an impression of an artistic past.
Legend has it that Lord Indra brought the golden throne; Lord Brahma granted it the supernatural parasol of supremacy, and Arhat Indagutta built a metal awning over the universe and, monks chanted Sutta Pitaka to activate Ruwanwelisaya. Meanwhile, and until the conclusion of Gautam Buddha’s exemption, each ghee lamp within the Mahathupa sparkled. The sandalwood perfumed clay stayed moist, and all things made of gold sustained its shine. It was this collective meditation that resulted in converting 120-million people into arahants. In a conversation with monk ABC, I learnt that the original relics are resting in a stone-sealed chamber that even an earthquake cannot stagger.
The impenetrable woods surrounded the Ruwanwelisaya stupa until the 19th-century. Now that it's corporally visible, one can visit the same to experience spiritual freedom. Irrespective of where you begin your Anuradhapura itinerary, conclude the day by visiting the sacred tree of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in the Mahamewna Gardens. Sri Maha Bodhi is the product of the first Bo-Sapling that Sri Lanka received. The Sri Maha Bodhi transcends Anuradhapura into a trajectory, like a sacred space that inspires a moral life. Circling its roots took me on an inner journey. The voyage forced me to question my inner self. And the feeling of introspection intensifies when you see the unperturbed stillness of the monks quietly meditating in one of the corners.
The remains of Anuradhapura are one of the most impressive sites of Asia composed of architectural and archaeological marvels with gigantic brick towers, crumbling temples, humongous dagobas and archaic pools. However, the current day Anuradhapura is strikingly accessible and an engaging, magnificent tourist place with resorts, monuments, palaces and monasteries all around.
Follow Veidehi at www.krazybutterfly.com