Bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka and the masses embracing Buddhism - History of Sri Lanka

Taking action to bring Buddhism to Ceylon by King Devanampiyatissa

King Tissa was greatly was he favoured ,that he came to be known as Devanam-piya Tissa, Tissa the De-light of the Devas. On the day he became king it was seen how much these devas loved him, for it is said that they caused wonders to appear on land and sea. The riches that had been hidden in the earth for ages-gold and silver, sapphires,rubies, and other precious stones-came up of their own accord for the king's use and pleasure. 
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The treasures that had been lost in the sea in ships that were wrecked near the coast of Lan-ka, came up of their own will and spread them-selves on the shore. which men gather with great trouble and danger
from the depths of the ocean, rose freely to thesur face and ranged themselves in a long line upon the beack anudhapura, the capital, another wonder happened. Three graceful bamboo stems sprang up. The first, which shone like silver, was encircled with creeping plants of golden hue. On the second clustered beautiful flowers, full-blown, and of many different colors The third stem was the stem of animals, and on it appeared the forms of various birds and beasts. When Tissa saw these Wonderful gifts he said, "My friend Dharmasoka and he only is worthy of such trea suresas these. I will send them to him.
The eight kinds of pearls On a mountain near Anura Two questions have now to be answered: Why was Tissa so greatly favoured ?
was this friend Dharmasoka ? The answer to the first question is that the devas favoured Tissa because he was the first Buddhist king of Lanka lese began to change their religion from Brah-manism to Buddhism. On that account the
priests who wrote about him said all they could in his praise, and described him as the favourite of the gods, who made wonders happen in Lanka when he became king.To answer the second question we must go back to India. Dharmasoka, or Asoka, as he is generally called, was a famous king in Northern India who had become a Buddhist,and who worked hard to teach Buddhism wherever he could. It happened that all his people were not agreed about the teachings of the Buddha, and therefore Asoka made the priests in India meet together at a great coun- cil, and there decide what the right teachings of Buddbism were.
Who It was in his reign that the Sinha- But another important thing was done at themeeting. Preachers were appointed to go to foreign countries and con-vert the peoples there to Buddhism. A high honour was kept for Ianka, for the preacher appointed to convert this island was no other than Mahinda, who was known as king Asoka'sOwn son.Carrying out his intention, Devanam-piya
Tissa sent Asoka the treasures he had obtained from land and sea in so remarkable a menner and in turn received costly gifts from the Indian king. In addition to his gifts Asokasent his friend this message: 

Bringing Buddhism from India to Ceylon

I have taken refuge in the Buddba, in his religion, and in his priesthood. his salvation." n other words, Asoka said he had become a Buddhist and advised Tissa to become a Buddhist too. Do thou also take refuge in
Some time after this exchange of presents took place, Tissa with a great number of
attendants was hunting near the Mihintale hill. Following an elk he came to a lonely
spot where, to his surprise, he found the elk gone, and in its place, a strange man standing. There were other men too with him, whom the King did not notice at the time. The stranger called to the king " Come here, Tissa." From the familiar way in which he spoke, the king thought that he was one of the friendly Yakkha chiefs; but he soon learnt the truth. the ministers and disciples of the lord of the true faith," said the stranger; "out of pity for thee, Maharaja, we have come hither from Jam-bu-dvipa." The lord of the true faith was, of course, the Buddha, and Jambu-dvipa was ana old name for India; the stranger was Mahinda himself, the son of the great Asoka. Tissa remembered at once the message he had received from the Indian king. hls bow and arrow, and sitting near Mahinda talked a long while about the new religion. The result was that Tissa and the thousands who accompanied him to Mihintale became Buddhists. Mahinda and the other preachers then came to Anuradhapura, where a suitable We are He laid aside dwelling-place was provided for them in the king 8 garden, away from the nois Bnd bus ness of tbe city. Every mark of hon our and reverence was shewn to them by the king. Whatever they wished was done.they required was freely given.became in a short time the roligion of the Sinhalese people, and even nany of the Nags tgibes acepted the new faith.
Whatevor Buddhism

Occurrence of Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka

that Buddhism had become the Now religion of the Sinhalese, it was necessary that places should be set apart for worship and for the residences of the priests and their atten-dants The priests loved to dwell in quiet places, undisturbed by the hurry and excite- nent of men engaged in business or pleasure; places well provided with shade and water, where they could walk or sit and think about Sacred things, and where they could train their pupils in the teachings of the Buddha. Tissa talked over the matter with Mabinda, and then agreed to mark out a portion of land which should ever after be sacred to the new religion. was done was made a great holiday. Notice of it was given to the people by beat of drums. On the appointed morning the king came dressed in his grandest robes, riding in his royal chariot, and escorted by companies of The day on which this marking out He went first to the temple where Boldiers. the priests lived, and with them went to the Spot where the inarking was to begin. whole city, every house and every street, was gaily decorated with flags and wreaths of Howers. Great arches of honour were put up at various places through which the grand procession should pass. Crowds of people cheered the king, the priests, the soldiers, annd the great ladies who went to the marking out of the boundaries. with a golden plough, drawn by two of the king's elephants, and the king himself held the plough. 

Establishment of the first Dagaba Thuparamaya or Maha Viharaya built in Sri Lanka

When the ground had been marked out, a Vihara, or monastery for the priests, was built within the boundary, with halls for preaching and for meditation, with bathing places, and with rooms for use by night and by day. This vihara became very famous
afterwards, and was known as the Maha Vihara. It is spoken of as "a great seat of
learning and the home of great men." The next thing required was a relic of the Buddha. Mahinda pointed out that there were no relics in Lanka to which the people
could make offerings, and he advised Tissa to ask for some from India. Messengers were at once sent to Asoka, who gladly sent to Lanka the right collar-bone of the Buddha and a bowl- ful of other relies. A great dagaba was then built over the spot where the collar-bone relie Was placed. This was the Thuparama Dagaba. the first dagaba that was built in Lanka.

Beginning of converting women to Buddhism

So many women were con verted to Buddh.ism that special attention had to be paid to them. younger brother, was one of the converts, and she with five hundred of her ladies asked per mission to enter the priesthood. Mahinda told the king that he had no power to ordain them. We are not allowed to ordain females. In the
city of Pataliputta (Patna) there is a priest ess. She is my younger sister, renowned under the name of Sanghamitta, and profoundly learned.
The Princess Anula, wife of the king'8 Write, king, to our royal father, begging that he may send her, and with her the right branch of the bo-tree of the lord of saints,itself the monarch of the forests. She will ordain these females." When the request was made to Asoka he was naturally unwilling to part with his
daughter; but as she felt it her duty to leaveher parents and her home for the sake of her religion, she was at length allowed to go.

Jaya Shri Maha Bo-Tree was brought to Anuradhapura

She brought with her the branch of the bo-tree under the shade of which the Buddha had found salvation, and which was there- fore sacred to all Buddhists. She was received here with the highest hon our, and the sacred branch was reverently taken to Anuradhapura and planted in the great garden attached to
the Maha Vihara And there the tree stands to this day, perhaps the oldest tree in the world. The princess Anula and her ladies were in due time admitted to the priesthood, and Sanghamitta was as active as her brother in spreading Buddhism throughout this land. For her the king built two viharas. She andMahinda lived for some years in Lanka after the death of Tissa, and when they them selvesdied, the king of that time had their bodies burned, according to the custom, with all the hon our that could be shewn to persons of such high position and of suchun selish and saintly character. 
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