This story is a continuation of the previous post…
Yet another 45 km ride towards the North West from Trincomalee was ahead of us. A road not better than yesterday was treating us harsh soon after Nilaveli. There was hardly any road to be found after this juncture.We had to pass an under-construction road for miles along the eastern coastway. We are heading towards Thriyaya a place just below Pulmudai and off Kuchchuveli. Thiriyaya is accessible on three roads. Of these, Padaviya – Pulmodai road has been left in the hands of the LTTE terrorists who refuse to open the road for the public until lately. Thiriyaya is 40 kilometers from Kumburupitiya on Trincomalee- Nilaveli – Kuchchaveli road. The last 15 kilometers of this road is terrible which we took on this journey. On the third road, Thiriyaya is 25 kilometers from Morawewa on Morawewa – Gomarankadawala road. The 12 kilometers from Gomarandawala is also in a terrible state. Also the makeshift bridge on the Yan Oya, which had been put up by the Army troops using the local resources, is barely passable.
We felt lot better having a peaceful sleep last night, we were ready to take on any bumpy road although none of us were taking off-road vehicles. This too was like a never ending road, passing small city after city and checkpoints. When we came to Yan Oya the bridge was still under construction. But there was a motor powered ferry working till evening 6.00 connecting two ends. When we reached Thiriyaya it was passed 12 and we had our lunch at the small navy base guarding the premises.
We came to Thiriyaya because it has a great history behind it extending to the time of Lord Buddha. If not for Thuparmaaya ;Thiriyaya –Girihadu Seya would be the first Dageba or Stupa built in Sri Lanka. Following data was extracted from the public domain regarding this historic place for our interested readers.
“Two merchants Thapassu and Balluka were fortunate enough to offer the very first alms giving to Buddha after he reached Buddha hood in 528 BC. Responding to their request, Buddha handed over to them his hair as a relic. According to a stone inscription dated to the eighth century found in the ruins, these two merchants carried the hair relic with them on all foreign business trips. Then these two merchants arrived in Lanka on a business venture. They placed the hair relic on a rock and went to collect some water and some wood. On their return, they couldn’t lift the container, which had the hair relic. Realizing that the spot was a blessed place, they decided, in accordance with the tradition, to build a Dagaba enshrining the relic. This was how Girihaduseya Dagaba was built in Thiriyaya in Sri Lanka, enshrining this hair relic given to the two merchants. This is another example of the diversity of the merchants who visited Lanka for business purposes. Another stone inscription belonging to the second century BC proved that this was a monastery as far back as 150 BC. Like all other Buddhist shrines, this place was also destroyed several times by the invaders and the traitors in Lanka.
In 407AD, Buddhaghosa, the greatest Buddhist commentator, recorded the beauty of the Girihaduseya Dagaba in the Thiriyaya Buddhist Temple. He said that just looking at the Dagaba was enough to feel peace and tranquility. He said Thiriyaya was a large Buddhist temple. The Great Vijayabahu, who liberated Lanka from the Chola occupation, restored the Buddhist temple.
In 1216 AD, in the dreaded 22nd invasion, the South Indian invader Kalingha Magha and the local traitors who hired him destroyed the whole complex. After that the South Indians called the place “Neethupathpana”. Some South Indian extremists began to call the place “Kandasamymalai”. The Thiriyaya Dagaba was restored in 1952 AD.
In 1985, The LTTE terrorists attacked the Kuchchaveli police station, which provided security to the Buddhist holy places in the area. Following this deadly attack, Thiriyaya was exposed to the terrorists. All Sinhalese in the area were wiped in ethnic cleansing, which was covered up by the powerful propaganda machine. The weak government institutions run by the incapable officials who had no imagination or the foresight to understand exactly what to do, simply sat on the problem. Facing certain death, all 15 Buddhist monks had to leave the temple. Since then, the racists who are trying to carve out a separate state in the north and the east had destroyed all what was left. That included the Vishrama Salawa, Bana Madura, Vihara Geya, and Sangavasaya.
Then the Sri Lanka Navy’s infantry units were assigned to maintain law and order in the area. These excellent troops did a very good job. The racists tried and continue to tarnish their image using the powerful propaganda machine to discredit them. But these brave young servicemen are ensuring peace and harmony for all within a multi-cultural environment against tremendous odds.’
In such historic background with Lords Buddhas relics enshrined we started climbing the small mountain where the ruins of Dageba is standing. Although the place is ruined much of it is still grandiose and breathtaking. Although a small climb it was steep and difficult for most of us especially having the lunch inside. When we reached the top everybody was gasping for breath but the surrounding view was soothing and spectacular. While taking a short rest our clan prepared for the pooja by hanging flags and garlands. The sun was harsh and the climate was humid and hot. Not an ideal time for a pooja or to relax outdoor but our determination taking this long journey from Colombo still unreachable to many gave us the courage and sraddha to stand all the trials.
Everybody took on to the Dgeba floor made up with stone which was hot as iron. Many got their feet burnt but kept on encircling the Girihadu Seya many times chanting Gatha. Then everyone came to a tree shade for further reciting of Gathas and Suttas. We couldn’t wait much longer because had to come back to catch the ferry before six. We left the place thanking the Navy and novice monk who’s taking care of this place. On our way back we stopped by Nilaveli beach for a break and returned to our rest for dinner.
We spent our Vesak full moon day and festival wholesomely. We enjoyed our Pooja proceedings to the Maximum. Its blessings and merits were received by many participated and heard. These pilgrims were never meant for pleasure or joy. We were focused on seeing these places and offer Lord Buddha with utmost devotion in escaping (ending) cycle of Samsara. We take this opportunity to many who helped us in many ways making this pilgrimage a success. Special blessings and thanks goes to Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Navy for their plenty assistance.
May you all observe these merits….Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!