The Bak poya is historical, since it marks Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka. This is noteworthy, as Bak is a month of national importance as well.
Tissa Maha Viharancha - Bodhi Marichavattiyan
Sonnamali Maha Chetiyan - Thuparama - Bhayagirin
Jetavan Selachetiyan Tatha Kacharagamckan
Eathe Solassatanani Ahan Vandami Sabbada
In the above stanzea, the sixteen (16) most important sacred places of Buddhist worship on Sri Lanka soil are mentioned. Second in this list is Nagadipa, and island in the Jaffna peninsula. According to the Great Chronicle Mahavamsa, the name Nagadipa is connected with the visit of the Blessed one, Gautama Buddha. The enlightened one’s arrival in Sri Lanka, accompanied by Deva or Diety Samiddhisumana on a Bak Pura Pasalosvaka Full Moon Poya day to settle a war between two parties of the Naga community. The blessed One’s mission was to bring peace to this beautiful island. Poya Day, therefore is an important day for Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
It was on the Bak Full Moon Poya day, in the fiftieth year of his enlightenment, that the Buddha perceived with his divine eye, a dispute brewing between the two Sri Lankan Naga Communities led by two Naga Kings Chulodara and Mahodara.
Nagadipa Purana Rajamaha Viharaya
Nainativu island, Yapapatuna, Sri Lanka
According to the Mahavamsa, Mahodara ruled the Naga Kingdom of the sea. He gave his younger sister in marriage to the Naga King, the ruler of the mountain of Kannavaddamane. They were blessed with a son. His name was Chulodara. His mother’s father has given to his mother a magnificent Gem studded throne. This resulted in a war between the uncle and nephew in order to possess the "Manipalaga" Gem studded object.
Buddhism is the first missionary religion in the history of humanity, with a universal message of Peace for all mankind. It was on Bak Full Moon Poya Day, the Buddha, visited Sri Lanka, preached his doctrine to Chulodara and Mahodara at Nagadeepa, Northern Sri Lanka.
READ MORE ABOUT NAGADEEPA
The Nagadeepa Purana Rajamaha Viharaya is one of the sixteen most sacred places of worship by the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Pilgrims have been coming to the Nagadeepa since about the 1st century AC to worship at its famous Rajayathana stupa. The Rajayathana stupa was constructed by two warring Naga kings, Chulodara and Mahodara, at the site where Lord Buddha during His second visit to the country on a Bak Maha Amawaka Poya Day, five years after attaining Enlightenment, intervened and mediated in settling a dispute over the possession of a gem-studded throne. The precious throne was offered to the lord Buddha, was returned to the Naga Kings and was later enshrined in this Rajayathana stupa.
History records that the Nagadeepa Purana Rajamaha Vharaya was developed and reconstructed by pious kings, Devanampiyatissa, Dutugemunu and converted into a fully accomplished sacred place. During the period of Portuguese, Dutch and British all the Buddhist religious places were destroyed and the Nagadeepa Viharaya too has been subjected to it and Buddhists were deprived of worshiping these religious places.
In the year 1931 Ven. Randombe Somatissa Nayake Thero from Ambalangoda has visited this place and observed the ruins of the Rajayathana stupa and the Kiripalu Nuga tree and identified as the stupa constructed with the gem studded throne on which Lord Buddha has preached, and Thero then reconstructed this stupa with the support of donors to enabling Buddhists for their religious observances.
Praveenacharya Damma Kiththi Sri Venerable Navadagala Paduma Kiththi Tissa Thero the Chief Sanganayake of the Northern Province is the present chief Incumbent of Nagadeepa Purana Raja Maha Viharaya and he is a pupil of former chief Incumbent Rajakeeya Panditha the Late Most Venerable Brahmmana Watte Damma Kiththi Tissa Nayake Thero of Amarapura Nikaya.
Pilgrimage to Nagadeepa
The road from Jaffna city runs through a long causeway to the Kayts Island and from there by another causeway to the Pungudutivu Island. The total distance from Jaffna city to the Pungudutivu Island is 30 KM and there is a regular public and private bus service. The landscape is flat and sandy dotted with numerous Palmyra trees and is completely different from other places in Sri Lanka.
At the far end of Pungudutivu is the Jetty Kurikadduvan (KKD) from where the pilgrims have to take a ferry to Nagadeepa which takes about 15 Minutes. The Bus service and the ferry service are interconnected. The SL Navy oversees the boat service as the public and private boats are operating. There are two main Jetties to enter the Nagadeepa namely the Temple Jetty and the Kovil Jetty.
Nagadeepa Purana Rajamaha Viharaya
As we enter the Nagadeepa through the Temple Jetty we meet the Nagadeepa Purana Rajamaha Viharaya and is about ½ KM down the road. According to the Buddhist history the Lord Buddha has preached Dhamma to the Nagas on his visit to the Nagadeepa from this place. There are two shrine rooms at the Viharaya premises. The main shrine room is situated behind the Rajayathana Stupa and is constructed in the traditional Jaffna architecture. The second shrine room is smaller than the main shrine room and the Bronze Buddha statue gifted by the Burmese Government is enshrined in it. On the opposite side of the temple and off the road is the ancient Bodhi Tree.
According to the Buddhist history this stupa was constructed enshrining the gem studded throne which was subjected to the dispute among the two Naga kings and late offered to the Lord Buddha by kings after settling the dispute. The Rajayathana Stupa is painted in Silver color, it was due to the Stupa's limestone structure and the close proximity to the sea, which makes it constantly subject to the salty breeze and thus the silver paint protects the structure.