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Nagadeepa Rajamaha Viharaya, Nagadeepa (Nainativu) Island, Sri Lanka. Bak Poya Day, 19 April 2019

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 (550 BC), 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.
The Nagadeepa Purana Rajamaha Viharaya is a shining example of inter racial harmony in Sri lanka and this had been improved at various stages and ever since it has become the most sanctified place of worship by the devotees.

Nagadeepa (Nagadipa) or Nainativu is one of the islands belonging to the cluster of islands in the Palk Bay off Yapapatuna (the Jaffna Peninsula).

Reaching Nagadeepa (Nagadipa)
Access to Nagadeepa is from the village of Kurikattuwan (Kurikadduwan) of the island of Punkudutivu.The island of Punkudutivu is connected by a causeway over the Palk Bay to Kayts, the largest island of the cluster. Kayts is in turn reached by a longer causeway, again over the Palk Bay from the city Jaffna.

The Jaffna city is located 404 km north of Colombo in the northernmost Peninsula of Sri Lanka and can be reached via the A3 main road that is then linked to the main northern A9 motor road.

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.
Rajayathana Stupa
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.

Naga tribe
The Naga people were the aboriginal inhabitants, who ruled the coastal districts of mostly the Western and Northern Ceylon, particularly the Jaffna peninsula from the 6th century BC to 3rd century BC. The interchangeable names Nagar and Naka or Naga, meaning Cobra or Serpent were applied to and self-described by these snake - worshiping people.
According to the Mahavamsa the Nagas were a set of super natural beings whose natural form was a serpent, but they could assume any a form at will. There were three Naga Kingdoms as Wadunnagala (Kalpitiya) ruled by a Naga King called Choolodara, Samudra Naga Bhavana (Nagadeepa) ruled by a Naga King Mahodara and Kelani (Kelaniya) ruled by a naga King called Maniakkhitha and they lived as three separate Naga communities.

Stone inscription and stone anchor
From the jetty, you can walk south along the main road for about 10 minutes, turning left at the ‘Naaga Pooshani Amman' Hindu kovil. On to your left, on the seaside is a Bo Tree. About 200 meters north of ‘Naaga Pooshani Amman’ Hindu kovil is the beach. 300 meters into the sea from the beach, when you wade nearly waist high in to the waters (in low tide) is an old anchor and a large stone inscription of King Parakramabahu the Great (1164-1196 AD) of Sri Lanka.
In the inscription the great king had stipulated that all entering Nagadeepa should first enter Uraturai (Kayts) and secure help if required. This undoubtedly refers to merchants and pilgrims from India. The inscription also advises of the measures that should be taken in the event that the ships carrying Elephants or horses and other merchant ships are wrecked. The ancient anchor is made of stone. The ships of the Arabs had carried such stone anchors in the early years of trading.

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Pilgrimage to Nagadeepa

Written By: Web Editor
Date Posted: 3/11/2017
Number of Views: 2275


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