sri padaya

The range of Samanala Mountains which is honorably illuminated in central uplands is about 2243 meters high. Among all the sacred Buddhist places in Sabaragamuwa, Adam’s Peak is prior as it is believed that Lord Buddha’s sacred left foot-print is imprinted there on peak. In reference to Mahawanshaya (a celebrated history of the dynasties of the kings of Ceylon), during his third journey to Sri Lanka Lord Buddha has set the sacred foot-print on top of the Adam’s Peak by Sumana Deva’s (God Saman) invitation who descended from divine lineage to be the mayor of the region at that time. He achieved the great state of fruition after listening to Lord Buddha’s preaching and, from then on, he was worshiped, honored and respectfully titled as “Sumana Saman Devi Raja” by people of Sabaragamuwa region. Through Esala Maha Perahara ceremony annually held by Maha Saman Devale in Sabaragamuwa also with royal patronage and assistance, Buddhist community even today expresses their gratitude and greatly admires his service for the whole Buddhist community in Sri Lanka.

In the bygone period of kings, it was really hard and very dangerous to make a pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak through dreadful, murderous and menacing wild. How hard the pilgrimage was that, as folklores indicate, people gave up their desire for life, shared full right of their property among their children and made vows to god Saman expecting life-security before they start the journey. One must have to make a very difficult journey about 8 miles through a narrow foot-path, which is considered as Raja Mawatha that lies through Palaabathgala in Ratnapura. As far as the difficulty is concerned, the path through Erathna from Kuruvita to Adiyalama is also not inferior to the previous. The Hatton-Nallathanni road, which is comfortable to a certain extent as there is the capability of making half of the journey by vehicles, is more famous today.

The sacred sculpture of Saman Deva, the sacred relic-shrine and god’s ornaments are taken in procession starting from Galapoththawela Raja Maha Viharaya in Pelmadulla and ending up in the sacred Sri Pada compound. The path of this procession is the easiest Hatton Nallathanni road. That gives the commence to the season of worshiping the sacred foot-print of Lord Buddha at Adam’s Peak, and for the pilgrims it makes a spring out of season.

Though the fragrance of fresh breeze purified by the dews of drizzle, the pleasant view of ever-green forests, the never-ending songs of little birds, the beauty of various types of Orchids which are endemic only in Sri Pada, the rareness of herbal plants like Kidaram (Amorphophallus campanulatus), Jatamansa (spikenard or Nardostachys jatamansi), Ayanuwel, Iyanuwel, Kudahedaya (Lycopodium squarosum), Mahahedaya (club-moss or Lycopodium phlegmaria), Iraraja (Zenxine regia), Sandaraja (Hypericum japonicum) and Wanaraja (forest-King or Anaectochilus regalis) which add more to the value and beauty of Sri Pada and also the darkness and dreadfulness of wild, which is always there hidden under the silence and calmness of the jungle, are disturbed by the pilgrims, the scene of their unity making a sacred procession from bottom up to the peak of Sri Pada through the forest, adds mare life, more beauty and most of all humanity illuminating the darkness of wild. These pilgrims come from every corner of Sri Lanka and unite to make the journey successful helping each other by being kind and friendly even without knowing the whereabouts of each other. Their devotion, humanity and piety fill the whole forest with beauty, life and compassion. On the other hand, this sacred place becomes an alluring, magnificent paradise which attracts tourists.

The feat of climbing to the peak of Sri Pada with a great difficulty suffering from freezing coldness, the attainment of worshiping the sacred foot-print of Lord Buddha with a great devotion, and the performance of observing the magnificent view of sunrise called “Ira Sevaya”, while resting a little near ever-lightening lamp for all the year (Dolos mahe pahana), are unforgettable experiences that rise the enthusiasm, appreciation and allegiance in mind.

This wonderful season of Sri Pada pilgrimage ends in six months. God’s ornaments are brought back in  procession to Thalpoththavela temple at Wesak poyaday in May. Thereby the whole environment that was filled with echoes of the entreaty of “Sadu” and peoples’ voices goes back to its usual calmness and silence of Mother Nature and once again it becomes a kingdom of wild animals. During off season, due to the threat of heavy rain, lightning strikes and attacks of wild animals, it is entirely impossible to worship Sri Pada.

Among the royals who have cleared the path to Sri Pada that was almost covered by a thick forest, the service King Vijayabandu I (1055-1111 A.D.) had rendered is very important and note-worthy. He has done a memorable service for the convenience of pilgrims by erecting wayside rests and alms-halls mile by mile, constructing the way by building bridges and stair-cases, building up a parapet-wall around the compound of Sri Pada and providing land and village grants for the maintenance of Sri Pada. Information about his great service is recollected in Gilimale and Ambagamuwa epigraphs, which were erected by this great King and also in some descriptions in Mahawanshaya (name of a celebrated history of the dynasties of the kings of Ceylon).

It is also mentioned that King Parakumba I has built a pagoda in the name of God Saman and King Parakumba II has built bridges and reconstructed the road on behalf of pilgrims. The service done by King Kirthi Sri Nishshankamalla is also historically note-worthy. He presented a village named Gilimale to pilgrims and supplied enough food and also constructed the road to make the odyssey more comfortable. This factor is verified in the content of epigraphs that were erected all over the country by this great King and proved by the content of Panduwas Nuwara enthroning letter. His pilgrimage to Sri Pada has been appreciated and honored even in the Rameshwaram letter.

Sri Pada is denoted as Adam’s Peak by Christians, Sivanolipadam by Hindus and Al Ruhun by Muslims. Likewise all Sri Lankans irrespective of their religion worship Sri Pada considering this place as very holly and sacred in the light of their own beliefs.

From the King Alexander the Great, who has added iron chains in constructing the road to Sri Pada to facilitate most of the foreigners who visited this sacred place time to time, have written various interesting, socially and religiously very epoch-making tidings about Sri Pada. Ibn Batuta, Suleiman (Islamic), Barbosa, Kwerose, Ruberio (Portuguese), Robert Knox, John Davy (English), Fa Hien, Wajira Buddhi, Xuanzang , Chingo (Chinese) and Hayet (Germen) are also few of them who visited and made important documentations about Adam’s Peak. Apart from them, governors like Robert Brownrigg and Wilmot Horton and more famous people like Henry Marshal and Skinner too have left important written reports on what they have seen.

The jurisdiction of Sri Pada which was authorized by Buddhist monks taking much effort and a long time has unfortunately gone into the hands of Hindus in the reign of King Sithawaka Rajasingha. In this era, properties of Buddhist people have been disgracefully looted from them. Over the strong attempt of venerable Pindapathika Asarana Sarana Saranangkara Thero, Sri Pada has been again turned into a right of Buddhist in the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha. Sri Pada, as a right assigned to Pelmadulla Vehalle Dhammadinna ascetic generation, even today, is authorized by throes of that generation.

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