Sacred City of Anuradhapura - 2 : Ruwanweli Saya Dagoba (Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka)

Ruwanweli Saya Dagoba is the holiest place that ranks with Sri Maha Hohi in Anuradhapura. They see the big dagoba painted in white from a distance as the landmark of Anuradhapra.

It was 110 meters high in the second century B.C when it was completed, but it has become smaller due to the transition and ruin afterwards. Now, it is55 meters high and 80 meters in diameter. The stupa with the bowl form that copied water bubble was set up on the platform of three steps that heaped up the stones and the bricks. The main body of the stupa was also constructed by laying up bricks. The legend says that, in order to prevent the subsidence, the elephants treaded the base of 5 meters deeps that was made from crushed Lyme stone and clay. Other legend says that, before laying up the bricks, the chest shape's room made from the vivid color stones was put inside the stupa and the bohdi tree of jewel and the golden Buddha image were installed there.

In India, a cube in the upper part was mainly used as a place for keeping Buddha's ashes, and the steeple on the cube that originally had the shape of the umbrella was a variation of symbol of nobility. Moreover, there is a theory that the object like the building facade that stands on the edge of Stupa is the oldest sculpture in Sri Lanka.

At the sunset time, in the precincts of Ruwanweli Saya Dagoba, I heard Piritha as the statement of a Sri Lankan Buddhism. It was not a live performance but transmitted from speaker. The sound by recitation and percussion instrument echoed through the sky growing dark. The monotonous and slow rhythm made the auditory sense faint, and the scenery that the white wall rising high before my eyes dimmed the brightness also made the sense of sight faint. I sat down there between about 1 hour. As I left me with the situation, my consciousness was also dimming. Its state was as if I had reached at the entrance of a kind of religious experiences or I had slipped to ancient time. When the sky grew dark entirely, Pritha finished and the dagaba was lighted up. The comfortable and usual evening returned.

In the next morning, Ruwanweli Saya Dagaba showed a dapple skin under bright light. It was clearly differenet from the appearance of the last evening that had lost the sense of material and the sense of solid under weak light. Was it a influence of the rain at the midnight ? As approaching, light blue paints sometimes came to be seen under the white paint. On the platform, there was a small workshop for mixing paints, and signs of light blue paint remained there. The secret way for purifying white to more unreal white not only in the evening but also under the strong daylight may be this light blue groundwork, and it may also be the way for enhancing more the sacredness of the dagaba even if reforming paint is necessary early.

To Japanese Version

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4 hours and half by train and 5 hours by car from Colombo. 3 km to Isurumuniya Vihara from the train station



Lonely Planet Guide 'Sri Lanka' (Lonely Planet Publication, 2006)
世界美術全集11 インド・東南アジア(平凡社、1953)
Mahavihara at Anuradhapura (T. G. Kulatunga, Tharanjee Prints, 2002)

2008.01 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos and English text

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Ruwanweli Saya Dagoba (140 B.C.)

Photo by Daigo Ishii