The statue depicts Sage Kapila or King Parakramabahu and Pothgul Vihara - Polonnaruwa

The statue depicts Sage Kapila or King Parakramabahu

Kamandalu - the seed garland and the goblet. In the clusion these two items in this statue one cannot come to the cone that this is the statue of Agastya. 1he other iconographic tures such as the conical head of tangled hair, long mous long beard, prominent belly, upavta, age and wisdom course saw in some degree, but again the prominent belly absent. Nowhere in the island have we discOvered anything similar to this statue though a small relief on the outer wall of the Siva devale No. 1 is compared with it. The worship of Aga is never mentioned in the literature in the past. Also we have no Ousacte evidence to prove that his cult was popular. 

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The statue

Those who believe that this statue represents sage Kapila also believe that Parakramabahu I had a Kapila Vihara built in honour of the sage as reported in the chronicle. If the identity of Kapila could be established, then the monastery in the adjoining premises could be easily named Kapila Vihara. This is not possible under the present circumstances. There is no doubt that the statue is connected with the adjoin- ing building which is a Buddhist monastery. As the modern name suggests, if it was a Monastic Library Potgul Vehera then this statue with its simplicity should represent the figure of a scholar Brahmin priest carrying a palm leaf book in both hands symbolising both scholarship and wisdom. The figure no doubt is the work of a South Indian sculptor and the ola-book also represents the short fat type commonly used in India, and not the long ones of Sri Lanka. 

Of a Pandita Brahmin priest

The statue is simple and without ornaments. The jatamakuta Is nothing but a knot with hairs tied together. The moustache and the beard in the typical South Indian style depict the maturity and wisdom of a scholar. If we believe that during the period of Parakramabahu, who himself was a scholar,
learned and definitely Brahmin priests who were well versed in the Vedas and Vedangas were invited to this country to promote learning here, and he himşelf went through the ceremony upanayana, then why am i not pôssible to recognise this state that of a scholar Brahmin priest? This was also a period of Indians ruling the country with the Colas and ending with the numerous Kalingas Andhra Pradesh. Therefore it is reasonable to believe that the Polonnaruva period was one that had the most amount of Brahmanical cults and beliefs followed and practised by almost
every king or queen that governed. 

Cremation ground of King Parakramabahu the Great

starting the of The identity of this statue can be solved without much it.
culty if we accept the above position and recognise this as one of a Brahmanical scholar priest carrying an old book in his hands. More ideas can emerge with regard to the identity of this statue in the future. The statue gives the impression of having a direct connection with the vihara. Just near the statue on the eastern side is seen a pile of earth resembling a ruined database This has not been identified to date. Praranavitana believed that declines These were the cremation grounds of Parakramabahu the Great. Could this be the city or commemorative monument put up by the grateful people enshrining his ash? Future archaeologists may determine this. Let us now move on to the Potgul Vehera.

Potgul Vehera

As the Sinhala name of this monument suggests this was the Monastic Library. Potgula means a library and vihara means a temple or monastery. We are not quite certain whether this was the older name of the monument, but it looks recent. This site was excavated in 1906 by the archaeological department. Bell, who first excavated this site, thought that this was the Mandala-mandira or circle house built by Parakramabahu I to listen to the Jataka - stories or birth stories of Buddha which were related by the is a With arch by r man Para a teacher light The present monastery as we see it today 1s laid out in four terraces. The lower two as you approach the rock sculpture are like ambulatories around the upper two terraces. The third hi np nen terrace has nine buildings. The entrance to these buildings faces the fourth and the topmost terrace. As we can see, these nine buildings must have been the living cells of the monks. This vihara complex has three entrances: from east, south and westing
Veh actively. 

Ancient Buddhist Architectural and Architectural Decorations of the Potgul Vihara in Ceylon

The whole monastery 1s built on a square ground and bounded by a wall. 1he main door entrance is on the east side. But the present approach 1s Irom the northern direction. The topmost terrace could be approached by a flight of steps in the eastern direction. This is bounded by a parapet wall. The main building at the centre 1s a circular shrine the roof of which was a dome but has collapsed. The plaster on the walls with patches of paintings is still in-tact and the acoustics remain excellent even today. On the four cornerS of the terrace are seen four dagabas, 18
ft. in diameter, which further strengthen the idea that this monugment was essentially Buddhist though it is difficult to identify definitely. We are fortunate to observe at least in a few places the presence of plaster work on the bricks at the lower level of the monument. Another interesting feature is the drainage system
associated with the monument. Each side is provided with two stone drains to let the rain water out through the parapet wall. The eastern retaining wall of the entrance stairway is adorned with a hastiprakara or a elephant wall as in Ruvanveliseya at Anuradhapura. Introducing some remarkable features found in the Potgul Vehera, the University History of Ceylon says that "it IS a rotunda, approximately 157 ft. in circumference at the base, with an oblong vestibule attached on the east side. Much of its architectural decoration has disappeared. The edifice was roofed by means of a corbelled vault. At a somewhat later date, mandapa had been added by Candravati, the second queen of Parakramabahu. The inscription recording this fact fails to en-tighten us with regard to the identity of this interesting monument, which certainly was not meant to be a library as its modern name m plies". Commenting on the architectural features of this monu-
ment, Raja de Silva observed that this is "remarkable evidence Or the influence of Cambodian architecture on monastic build- g construction in 12th century Polonnaruva. The monastery of Baume in Cambodia is very similar in layout to the Potgul Vehera"gul Veia to an
We will bring this brief description of the Potgul Vel end by reproducing a note made by Bell in 1906 anu making a reference to the inscription found at the site of a unique monument. He says that "this structure is perhaps uni in the ancient Buddhist architecture of Ceylon. Certainly other ruin at all like it has been yet discovered in the Island Commenting on the architectural features he says that "ithi record points to the "Kambodian Quarter" of the old city proh ably lying to the south. What more natural than to find further evidence of Khemer influence in the isolated Monastery estab.
lished a mile or more distant from the city enceinte on this side" ique
An inscribed door jamb of the pavilion probably built by queen Candravati, the second queen of Parakramabahu, records in twenty-four lines in the Pali language that this monument was originally built by Parakramabahu and that his second queen caused the erection of the mandapa, probably after the death of
the king. The record in the Pali language has the following sentence: "tasséva nara devassa dutiyam yā aggatam gatā sā rajini Candavati tāya kārita mandap" meaning "she who has attained to the position of the second head (queen) of that very king (is) Rajini Candavati. By her, the mandapa was caused to be
built" We will now get back along the Parakramasamudra reservoir bund to the Rest House area which was the Royal Park of the Polonnaruva kings. Before that, it is necessary to make a brief reference to the Great reservoir in front.


Parakramasamudra the sea of Parakramabahu was the pride of this great king built it by combining two earlier reservoirs that existed in the area, one of which was Topaveva built by the king Upatissa in the fourth century and the other Dumbutuluveva. This man-made reservoir extends to the south and west or
the ancient city and provided the water for the population as wel d for the thirsty rice fields in and around Polonnaruva. This Bga" tic reservoir covers an area of more than nine square miles a

Parakrama Samudra and the Rest House

the bund itself is eight and a half miles long and forty feet high. Even today this great reservoir imitates about twenty-eight square miles of rice fields. The identity of this reservoir built by Parakramabahu was retained, though Nissankamal la wanted his name to be associated with it, perhaps following a minor repair that he may have attended to. The remains of an ancient dagaba on a small island in the Topaveva were discovered by Bell in 1909. Among the findings were a yantragala, which contained bronze images of seven lokapalas, cast bronze animals associated with the four cardinal directions, and a reliquary or a Mahamerugala and a brick yantragala. Noting the great services rendered by Parakramabahu in the development of imitation in the country during this period, let us now proceed towards the Rest House area to consider the rest of the ruins in the southern
area of the ancient city. We will discuss the irrigation works of Polonnaruva in a separate chapter.


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