May 5th, 2018
As I start my dreamtrip finally today, I have come to your beloved country Srilanka to begin this chapter. It was interesting to find way straight from Colombo Airport to your temples based in Kelaniya – a beautiful green suburb of Colombo along the banks of Kalyani Ganga – the river which blesses all.
We in India have a saying “Ghar Kaa Bhedi Lanka Dhaye” – the insider of the house causes the destruction of Lanka referring to the secrets of Ravana’s security arrangements you passed to the side of Rama to eventually cause the destuction of Lankan forces against the Vanara forces of Kishkindha (Hampi, Karnataka). I often thought that you would be perceived as a despicable character in your home country, but how wrong was myself. Not only that your coronation by Lakshmana the brother of the hero Rama of Ramayana well remembered by the people here, you are also considered the protector god of Buddhism for the island.
This was rather surprizing for me to understand given that I always thought Buddhism came to the face of planet during times of Buddha thousands of years after Krishna who himself was there thousands of years after Rama (your contemporary protaganist). So were you considered a major hero post your rule in the island nation that for millenia people kept remembering your good rule (even in nearby Kerala, people remember Mahabali’s benign rule even now) and later post conversion to Buddhism during times of Gautam Buddha, they declared you as the guardian diety of Buddhism.
Or even another remote possibility makes me wonder about the 28 Buddhas who lived before the times of Gautam Buddha and belonged to different kingdoms all over India and they may have started the seeds of Buddhism in the island nation much before Buddha and one such Buddha might have been your contemporary and you may have taken his teachings as the words of wisdom for the island. At least the Sehluvila Vihara in extreme west of island records the visits of 3 such ancient Buddhas to the island nation.
Either way, it leaves me no doubt that indeed after the removal of Ravana the powerful Rakshasa king whose rule glorified this island as the Golden Lanka due to prosperity, your glory as well continued and in many ways outshined that of Ravana. Also this city of Kalyani continued to remain a glorified city.
Such was the glory of the city that even before the origin of Sinhala culture, when Naga King Maniakkar (I presume they were governing the coastal regions of the island) was superbly impressed with Buddha’s great work in mediating peace between warring factions of Naga tribes, he invited Gautam Buddha here in the island who came via sea to the port city along with 600 Arihants (enlightened beings) and spent good time walking around the island and blessing the denizens with his discourse.
Even the famous Paraviya Sandeshaya compiled by the renowened Sinhalese scholar Rahula Thero describes the glory of the city through your mouth to a pigeon
”Enter, O Selalihini, the great city of Kelaniya,Whose beauty from moment to moment is ever renewed.Forests bell-hung banners enclose its fine dwellings,And glittering gems are set on its pinnacles’ tips.
As the sun at dawn unfolds the lotus-flowerWith abounding love all my intent unfold.Go live, O Selalihini, a hundred years with friends and kinsfolk,Just as you may please with blessings attained.”
As I came to your beloved city, I was mesmerized by the meditative calm around this place of great antiquity. The discipline of wearing white by the devotees, the silence with which all devotees would sit together and join in the chants, the selfless acts of cleaning the temple grounds, the burning of lamps in unison, the smell of the incense sticks – all of them reminding of a continuous tradition running from millenias in a place of extreme antiquity running back to great mythological times revered in the Indian subcontinent.
I was amazed with the smiles with which I was greeted by the priests, the management, the worshippers – rather the whole ambience around myself. As I depart from here, my belly was full of excitement for many more such adventures on the go I hope to find in my journey.