Enlightenment: Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Buddhism and Sri Lanka are closely related to each other. However before one can understand the connection between both of them it is important to gather some information prior to it. Buddhism came to Sri Lanka from India and before we jump to learn the history of Buddhism in the country, you must have a look at what happened that resulted in the birth of Buddhism here.

In India, Buddhism originated in the sixth century. During this time Buddha preached a sermon some of the most intellectual teachings. The preaching was given at Isipathan (Benares). With the passage of time the teachings of Buddha started spreading to other parts of the country and soon most of the people in North India started following the teachings of Buddha. Everyone from a merchant to a peasant became followers of Buddha and it was a time tough for people who were following old theories.

Afterwards in 483 B.C. the death of Buddha made people realize that how important he was to them. These people wanted to follow the teachings of Buddha throughout their lives but sooner a group of people known as Vajji Bhikkus started raising their own points of indulgence. But the followers of Buddha disagreed on them and proved that the teachings of Buddha are only true. After getting challenge from different sects throughout the century, in the end they were successful in proving that teachings that Buddha gave to them were superior of all.

Then winning over all these sects, missionaries were asked to move to different countries and spread Buddhism over there as well. Out of all those countries where the missionaries went, Sri Lanka was the one. The person who came to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism was Mahinda who was the son of Asoka. At that time, the king of Sri Lanka was Devanampriya-tissa. The emperor came here to spread Buddhism already knew that he would be able to achieve success in his mission. He got this confidence due to the amiability shown by the king of Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka along with other countries missionaries were successful at spreading the teachings of Buddha. By this time the relations amongst Emperor Asoka and King of Sri Lanka were quite good. In fact Sri Lanka was one of those countries where Asoka sent his messengers to tell them the strategies planned by the emperor for the mission known as Dharma Vijaya.

After this many efforts were made by Asoka and Devanampriya-tissa to spread Buddhism amongst people of Sri Lanka. During this there was a need to hold public meetings and assemblies. But Sri Lanka was not having much spacious buildings at that point of time. Soon after the spread of Buddhism in the country new buildings that were quite spacious were built. The sanitary conditions in Sri Lanka also improved greatly during the spread of Buddhism. Developments were seen in the irrigation system used in the farms. In brief one can say that the overall condition of Sri Lanka improved drastically during this period. Due to the availability of facilities, more and more people started coming here and residing here. Buildings were constructed for the followers of Buddhism so that they do not have to face any kinds of difficulties during their stay.

During the reign of this king Buddhism spread rapidly. The mission was so successful that other regions also got influenced and some of them included Jambukola, Candanagamma and Kaajaraagamma. After this there were many descendants of these great people who made Buddhism an integral part of lives of people in Sri Lanka.

Current Development in Buddhism

It has been seen that currently the trends in the followers of Buddhism has changed a lot. In today’s time the countries that have largest numbers of followers of Buddhism include China, Thailand, Myanmar, While and few more. If we talk about Sri Lanka then you can find Buddhism as an important part of people’s lives. There are many magazines and newspapers that are dedicated completely to Buddhism. The teachings of Buddha once given to the people of Sri Lanka still prevail in their minds and hearts.

There are many buildings in the country that were built during the time when teachings of Buddhism were given to people and you can find some of them even today.

Some of the places one can visit to know more about Buddhism in Sri Lanka include:
• Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi: this is the branch of the sacred Bodhi Tree in Gaya. The branch was brought to Sri Lanka in third century during the spread of Buddhism.
• Ruwanveliseya Dageba which is situated in Anuradhapura.
• Gal Vihara in Polonnaruwa.
• Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy.

All these places are reminiscent of Buddhism and if you are a follower of Buddhism then surely these places will be great to visit.

Read more about buddism in Sri Lanka



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