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Importance of Mahavihara as the centre of Theravada Buddhism

Mahavihara was the centre of Theravada Buddhism. It was responsible for the development
of Sri Lankan people according to their religion nationality and ethical background. This was a
monastery constructed by Devanampiyatissa. !t the very beginning" it was called Tissarama.
There were many Pirivenas in the Mahavihara monastery such as Thuparama, and Mihintale,
etc.
During the period of Devanampiyatissa" Mahavihara became a religious as well as a
cultural centre. It had close connection with the Maurya Kingdom in India. The Sri Lankan
developed their knowledge in Theravada Buddhism from Mahavihara.
Mahindathera observed that Sri Lankans were very poor in arts and crafts" therefore he
introduced 8 groups of arts and crafts. !s a result" Mahavihara was developed and various
architectural and sculptural developments took place. Mahavihara was responsible for all these
developments.
Mahavihara was the centre of literary development. Mahindathera wrote the
Sinhalatthakatha at Mahavihara. Thereafter many other books were compiled. The Bhikkhus
were bhanakas were responsible to protect the Tipitaka" while reciting until they were put into
writing. In this manner" the Mahavihara#s monks protected the hamma. $hen Buddhaghosa
came to Sri Lanka during the !
th
century !.D. Mahavihara monks did not give him to translate the
commentaries at once. They first tested him to find out his abilities" then only the task of writing
commentaries were given in this manner. They were very particular about protecting Theravada
Buddhism.
Mahavihara took a prominent place to grant freedom to the country. The Mahavihara
monks even helped the kings to fight against the Tamils. %or e&ample" they gave advice to King
utthagamini and walked with him in the warfront. Their aims were to safeguard the country
and religion. $hen King "alagamba was forced to go to the forest as a result of foreign attack.
$ith the help of Mahavihara monks" the kings were able to get back his kingdom. In this manner"
Mahavihara is the centre that is responsible to safeguard the Sinhalese kingdom.
%rom the time Mahavihara started" it was an educational centre. It promoted not only
religion but also various other #rts and $rafts. Most of the Sinhalese Kings received their
education under the Mahavihara monks.
Mahavihara was responsible for the protection of the purity of Buddhist dispensation
'sasana(. It never allows different opinions to enter Theravada Buddhism. Mahavihara monks
re)ected *%eretical vie&s.# The monks of Mahavihara were very particular that Therevada
Buddhism should not get corrupted during the period of +arakamabahu I. !ll three 'ikayas get
united. Mahavihara should be honoured for writing the first chronicle *ipavajsa.# Mahavajsa
was also written by a Mahavihara monk. This became the foundation for the development of
Sinhala and Pali Literatures" therefore we can appreciate the service of Mahavihara as a centre of
Theravada Buddhism" being important religiously, politically, educationally and architecturally(