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UPULVAhI SHRINE AT DEVINUVARA

By
S. PaneNevIrANA, Ph. D.
Archaeological C owmissi an e r

tnc oldest docurnent mentioning Devinuvara (Dondra) is an inscription'


o{ Ni63arikamalla (rr87--rrgd a.n.) where re{erence is made to it
together qith other holy placel of great antiquity. It occurs as a shr?ne
tulich #faireacly celebraled in his-time and its antiquity must go back to
ser.'eral centuries before this king. The Pali form of the name, Deva-
rxagara, is mentioned for the first time in the Mahauarhsa" with reference
to iire reign of Vijayabahu I (ro58--rr14 e.o.). Here, too, the mention
is of the restoration of an old vihira, not the establishment of a new one.
The Mah,duazfzsa seems also to have an earlier reference, but under a
diflerent name. A recentiy discovered Sth century inscription in the
grounds of the Devundara vihdra re{ers to the olcl monastic institution
by the name of Kihirili-pirivana. Kihirali would be Khaclirali in Pali
and a Khadirali-vihara is said to have been founded by Dappula n
(S. Dapulu sen, 65o e.o.), a Rohana Prince.:
Tire chronicles contain a few references to kings during the r3th ancl
r4th centuries who either built new shrines or repaired the old ones here.
From these it rvould appear that royal favour was lavisired more ora the
vihd"ra than on the shrine of the god.
The r5th century saw l)evinuvara at the height of its fame. Arr.
epigraph+ tells of envovs who brought gifts from the Chinese En-rperor
to the Lord of Tennavarai, as the god is styled in the record. Indian
merchant princes, r,vho had probably settled down at Devinuvara, built
therein shrines for the gods they worshipped. The vihara continuecl to
flourish as before. Upulvan had attained to the position of the Sinhaiese
national god. It had been to him thats Sakka delegated the task of
plotecting the Island of Lanki-a task for which Sakka himself assurred
responsibility at the behest of the Buddha.
Ciatastrophe overtook the famed city in the r6th century rvith the
atlvent of the Portuguese. Fired by fanaticism, they initiated the
tlestruction of its holy piaces. In t587 Thom6 de Souza destroyed them.
Ihe ruins at Devinuvara had come to the notice of British travell.ers
as far back as a century, or more, ago. An account6 of them in r84o r,vas
rt'ritten by Major Forbes. Three decades later, T. W. Rhys Dar"ids,
nrst deciphered and publishedT two Sinhalese inscriptions of the r5itrr

t. Epigraphia Zeylaniro, \'ol. l, p. r3..:.


u. Ch. 6o, v, .59.
3. .Mahduariosa, Ch. 45, v. 55.
4. Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. III, p. 33.5 ff.
.: Mahduathsa, Ch.7. v.5.
". llleuen Yeays in Ceylon, Vol. II, pp. t7u--17a.
r /' lndian Antiquarl,, Vol. I, p. 329 and I.R.A.S., C.8., t87ot-7r p. 25ff. &
-"/t-_72, p.57 tr.
38 JoURN-{L R.i\.s. (crlvlori) lVor. XXXVIII
century and lftiller merely reproducecis Rhys Davids' reading of them. &
The reaciings need revision in the light of advances since made in our
kr-ron'iedge of Ceylon epigraphy. u
$
;).

E. ll. Ayrton, Ar-chaeological Commissioner, studied the antiquities F


in rgr4 and his diary of the tour, as edited by Mr. John l{. Senaveratne,
rvas duly published.o The notes, though not containing the archaeo-
logist's considered judgement, deserve our attention.
Subsequent to the proclamation of the Galge site as an Archaeological
Reserve, A. M. Hocart, Archaeological Commissioner, made preparations
preiiminary to conserving the monumellt but the work remained in rtl
l

abeyance till ry47. The building was in such an advanced state of


':lilapidation, when the Department undertook conservation, that the
oniy satisfactory mauner of dealing with it was to dismantle it completely
and to reconstruct it according to the old design. A number of stone
slabs rvas missing and in order to preserve in position the stones in the
upper courses the gaps were filled in with brick masonry and covered with
a composition so as to imitate stone.
(At this stage Dr. Paranavitana gave a detailed architectural descrip-
tion of the building.)
No evidence having a bearing on its identity came to light during the
conservation of the monument. We may, therefore, study the literary
references to it in order to ascertain whether there is any light thrown by I)E\.INUVARA C;Ai,CIi :
IJeIorc conservatiorr
them on this point. Four SandSa poems contain important references
to Devinuvara in the r4th and tJth centuries. Of these Sri Rahula's
Faraai-sandeia (r5th century) gives the most important topographical
information. The Bird Messenger is made to follow a route, which had
most probably been followed by the author himself, and finally deliver
Jlis message to Upulvan at his abode. It was instructed to approach
llevinuvara along the sea-beach in the evening and to spend the night at
ihe V.'iile-madama which adjoined a GaneSa shrine. At darvn the bird
ivouid be awakened by the music of the morning service at this fane and
it was asked to begin the day with a visit to the vihara which term, in
the period's literature, meant the entire establishment. .

Next followecl an individual account of the holy places to be.visited


at the vihara. 'fhese werel--
(t) The dagiba within the Vatadage,
(.2) The Bo-tree,
(:) The Shrine of the Recumbent Buddha hnage,
(+) The Shrine of the Seated Buddha Image,
(S) The three-storeyed Galaturumula-pdya, where the Elders of
the Church resided.
The ciescription indicates the extensive nature of the establishment'
The next place of interest is given as the Mavatmaduva, after admirin9
whichit .u* to spencl nigh all"day in seeing the spiendid sights of the

E. ,4tr,ci.ent Inscriptions i.n Ceylon, Nos. r-59 & 163.


9. Ceylott. Antiquaru & Literaty Regi.ster, Vol. VI, pp. IN U\._{R.{
Nc;. Io6__Iq}48I UPULVAN SHRTNE AT DEVINUVARA 3{}
city.- At clusk it \\ras then to arrive at its destination, the shrine of
upulvan icalled Raja-g1:, the King's House), rvhen the .iiii"i-aor."
rlautclr girls wa. timed to beginl ot tn.
'lhe Kokila-sand\la,'o the latest of the four, mentions in its ciescriptioli
t.liat the vihara was in the centre of the tolvn ancr a street i*,riJ-uo"""n
to irave existed between it and trre valle-madam"--*l,i.h
that Devin'vara hac.r extendecl torvards trrl sea '.o"la-,;#ri"r-.
lvritten his poem. "ft;;"s; R;;rrtu no,i
Tlre texts of the x[ayara ancr the Tisara sandisas are not
lvell preser'eri.
These four accornts estabiish that in the r4th ancl
r5th centuries tirere
were 3 distinct groups of sanctuariesl__
r. The GanaSa shrine ancl possibly other Saiva,places of wors^i;r
existed the beach. (A rest_hous" ii, pifgri_. oru,'
attached.on
to them).
z" Further inland was the ancient vihdra.
3. The. Upulvan shrine wrrich the authors consicrered the
distinctive feature of the place.
-lhe vihdra
seems to. have been separatecl from the upurvan
shrine by
fhe--town and, at a later crate, the At.,t-nidry. r"y
\rille-maclama.
u.i*."r'ii'a'ci the
lt is remarkable that tr-re actual remains revear three distinctly.
reparated areas. Madam-v:ila remincls one of the
the ruins at the so-cailed Sirhrrasana ur. p.otntly va]le-maclama
ih";;;ffi;
arcl
tnadama. Kirvilvatta doubtless marks the iite or ir-,. viilre_
,l he remains in the vicinity
C"n..ra kJvil a^ri
of the Saiva shrines.
About half a mile north from the Maclam_v5lla, remain-s of ancient
i,uildings are found scatterecl over a co'siderable area in n"a
u-urro tlr*
irremises of the modern vihara. An elaborately carved doorwav to ttr,-,
cast of the moclern rlevale to be thc 'r"-. u, tnol wii.t, t,o.t
rmbellished the tu'o-storeyecl,appears
,shri'e .f the Recumbent Buddha built' oil
,'r,. 611rsp- ot parikramibal,,.,- u (r234- tzi;; N;;;'ini'ri;_,r". i. .
\[t, i eutts, rvltli,rll' \'ic\\ from f lrc sel,t .r:catherecl edictal inscrip_tion_c.,f KittaJCabocitriot
ttonar.ra,'who gou.i*re.t
i i]::",::s:^r,t pf llula t1. 1so7.:)^g3"nii,rg i*n.,u,ritic. io'ce ririn Jirr.,_.. .
r:r l(rl-l(lD,{ to K,trlrtll-Drri\-ana Of Girir.ala. -l.lre sfonc \vas
I, ' r''itlrin tlre limir. "oi', ltd rlgl'll;1 ;< :-
tlre r"iigi"". ll,.rirrtio,, rr.itlr rcgar,t ,o ,rl,i.t'
tlrc e'clict rvas issued. It is mo'st
orouuui* tirat thc. mocrern vilrara is
'hc old,Kilrirrili-pirir:ana rvhicliir,;"t ri*,r.a'bv Diipulu Se'. rhu_c tr.rc
I'iri-ase " I(ihiri]i. tr ipulvan of Giriheralpura t'
l!r'.{ )lnes intellieible. ' of ir" porir,;_ior,aeso,.
"{-he
site o{ one o{ the shrines of the old vihira
clescribecl bv Sr:i l{5hul;r
iill the pieini... ,ri,:,,.' i,,,i. i.
;t:l'"T:;r.1g1iyi*trlin "i'ti,.;;;;;;
'"" alaflagc rvrrosc sirc is markcd rry the pr.eseni-rlay,1ag;iba.
'rr' t torriains tlrc morlr,rn i-isnu J"vain.'":ff,"'_t,rinn Bu1 tr,i_
ol [.pulvarr, tu u.Jri,..

\r
33, I{. Pannatissa Thcra, }3orella 1945 (Revised Ed.)
thi.toritsa
1,1
iiesing[g'5 translationl Clr. XC, v.
_{\\
I'.tntlir \\'. R. 9.1.
\\'ijri ru.arrihana.s cdir ion (Panaclura, ri.;z-5) r,.
iVor-. \XXVIIl .fr cr. 106--1948 LpI]I-v-\N sERl\E r\T rlEViNll\:ARA 41
lOI]RNAI- 11..\.S. (Cr'vlox)
,,hrine, {or an architectural stucly of the Galg ieacls to the conclusiou
irtsutttt'tl tu lttvl occuf icd tlte same
llrr' \'isnu tlivale is 'ucce:sor' is al-o tlrat i.hr r]rritte ol t'pultan antl tlle ihat the building is clatcable to the Tth rtr Sth ccntury"
.itc. 'Ihc snririi(,rs fJ"tr- ?
".l'A"tUttfi'ii"tt institutioirs' trn the course of conservation rvorl< eviclence w.IS loultcl that the shrine
uihara of l)evi-nuva'ft*t"'tt"t l;ad bi:en reconstructecl at a date subsequent to its original foundation"
boelr a 'uh'i'lierv lartc rvitjrirt
tlre
. L'nulvatr'::hritt,'r'uulr'l ttot lravc Xuit-l' tl(irrq's House) '
'itr-,e Culaitantsa'7 and Pfi.ia"taliya'\ recorcl that the r-rriginal Upulvan shrine'
,,r(:cinct- oI tlrc uif'liJ"'Be"i'rg icf"rrcd .to "' .,,,:Ls in a dilapidatecl condition in the reign of Parikramabahu II and that
in thc citv as a parace clicl at a
musr, have occupie,i"fu."r;;: ffii;l i**r'ui of buiidings rvhicn' rr ir,as rebuilt froln thg foundation at the behest o{ t}iat king.
Floval Seat. rt -o't T;;;";;;ii'"ti a oi the gorl, -suclr a's. nautch ' t,4 detLtiletl stucl.t o;f the GalgE (rild
'j'ciudecl those set iJir-ri.ttar-tts
'n.'"" i-r""rr'io*,",f,
a_f ll'te cz:itlence ;t'or itlettti-fyiil,g tke

eoul,l"i"ri'i".-tl* ir', a cor',,',' of tlre tsu'ldhist i,r,Lltu,ntcn,t u;ith thefi'pulz'ntt sh,ritte'ttill lte exhattsli,t.:ely sel out in an' Archaeo-
:i,lr. l.'c-c "ili is not morc thi-n roo [t' 2ical Sqrt'ey fititlicatirtn u'hiclt is ulrdev pleptration).
p1lflrrtPrV. lr'" tr't"'i'oii'.lf i""nt'..tent 'lorale 1o lr"[icr'9 tfat the
it,i.-ituo'*iblc
lrorrr the base ol 'r'"''lii!lr'"'.o""1 ..figl.ulu""-i"iii'i'*""i'' lnm'tu'it
it.rrrrcl .lrrirre. ot r,., iridip,''r,1,.'rt
i;"";" l.ierr locatc'l close to cach otlter'
rrrcornpaliblc in tr'n'*i"i' :;;l;l rvas actually o11 1l1ii *p'rt'
'f'cre is ,'"ti,t
'fhe conclusio'-' i' i"""'toile tltat thrj old Llpulvan shrine was not'
"uitt"}"t'J'ir ^i"trt"'Ja,".rn11"
irl"#,i"t"ilil itt" Viut-to dcvale nor'v stantls'
frorn Poltuguc:e Sotlrcci that thc
E,r'itlcncc rvhiclr may bc a'lrlucctl
;'frin an .hri,'" o"ufi'"'r"ir'"''ii..,"1 l::,'i'1';il :it5;f 1fl';''IflX, "in1
ltti tliruose,"] ot. De Qucvroz's t-elerencc"
yrii';;"r;;-io tru* been built on rhe site of the
i,ortuguese beiievccl nut' i"itnn"t personal observatioir
,,r-,pulvan shrine. Lr""a;;y.-;;;; 'l'lrere is no cvidc:tce
,lcstructiorr.
,',1 ncarly a cenruri lii.i a" S"rla'. the.existence of shrines three
ihat the Portuguesl t;;;;';;" "f ;1 Devinuvara was the -of
Upulvan
t,iifferent cuits. Th""ii";i;J1;;^;";;t;to tatte tttat everv shrine the!
:hrine and it ;"i;;;i"i;t thern connected with Upulvan'
u,as
tlestroyed, in their ;Ci;;"ty zeal'
rvas

oI Devinuvara shorvs thc Pagoda ii't" lJevile) irr


.\ l)ortugue'e mapr4 l-ti''i;;;'-Ti'e origirral map bears rt tlate
llte sante place asutt of
-lhrcrluent t,, the pl'iotl'i" "fr'itit'int r"t'"ilt;
tinaii5' lost
ih"t 'control
tnt ki'g of
ot o"tuiSri
:ire tlistricts .oo''u-'oiuin;";;;' h9 ;b#;ed c'-'ntlol 'ttt"t of tle maritime
Kanclv restorecl th";;;i;';'1t;" of the
u clrawing'6
ilistriits. portn"r,"tji"ii"'i;;';;bii.uti,,i--.o"tui,tt 'lisplaynd accord
rie'arion of rt," engl';r.''.\',.1'ii*tu.atty."tnJ'i;;i;t": rristcnce
,',,11 riitlr tltrt<t'of tf;'K:";;;;
buil'ling''arr'1 are e'idcn'-e oI the
ij:iti"ttt" spot as it erists today'
o{ the Vienu,re"altilli#;ffi;;i;t.},at
x{ tiie ancient Lipuhra' shri're is.'ot.l_"ln:"j'fl,J,tu :,t:t^,ft'|]3tfi.H3;
ll :: #i-f ilIl L 3 l;;ru;
i; ;ii',''* t "i"in g'ai.'
ffi:1i:i{lx]i ;ffi;Galg6
nimeci or Galgane"
of tlie past. Thit is";i;;oi'lta 'ntilt"
slrrine o{ Upulvan'
I propose to irlentify the Galg with the hisioric
seenrs r.eflected
'Tlris iclentilrcation agrees rvel] rvith t]re traclitiolr, lvhich
r""- *r'"' founrled the(Llpuh'an
in the tlattdt:nns'i,' irl;;?'.;;'D;;;ir
C4tlon (translation bY Fr' S' G'
The 7-etttporol antt Spirituat ConEtest
o-f
r 3.
r, ra s.J.)' l'. J5' 7 ' 5'
'I't'ta. (Colonbo' r9?b)
Ct:t-lon' f)r. I]anl Ii. Fieris'
Port:ugtteie llaps ati(i Platis oJ
L"late 2.1. C'[ilat:airsa LI lGeiger), Cib. E5, v. 8.5.
t i. OP. tit. lid" r89.5 lludl. B. Gunasekara, p" 47.
111. Oh. cll. Plate