The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
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It was planted in 288 BC, and is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. Today it is one of the most sacred relics of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and respected by Buddhists all over the world.
In the 3rd century BC, it was brought to Sri Lanka by Sangamitta (Pali; Skt.: Sanghamitra) Thera, the daughter of Emperor Asoka and founder of an order of Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. In 288 BC it was planted by King Devanampiya Tissa on a high terrace about 6.5 m (21.3 ft) above the ground in the Mahamevnāwa Park in Anuradhapura and surrounded by railings.
Several ancient kings have contributed in developing this religious site. King Vasabha (65 - 107 AD) has placed four Buddha statues in four side of the sacred tree. King Voharika Tissa (214 - 236 AD) added metallic statues.
The present wall was constructed by Ilupandeniye Athtadassi Thero during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha, to protect it from wild elephants which might have damaged the tree. The height of the wall is 10 ft (3.0 m); with a diameter of 5 ft (1.5 m); length from north to south is 388 ft (118.3 m) and east to west 274 ft (83.5 m).
Two statues of Lord Buddha can be seen in the image-house; a stone-standing-statue is in the right side of the stone wall. The cobra-stone is a very rare creation, showing the embossed figure of cobra. Several monolith heads with plain incisions are in this religious site.
Ruins of an ancient building called Mayura Pirivena (Mayura Monastery) have been found to the south-west of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and the ruins of a stupa called Dakkhina Tupa (Southern Monastery) can be seen nearby.
The above facts have already been established. While digging the earth for the purpose of reconstructing the present wall recently, a rubble wall with its foundation created by King Gotabhya and a rock-laid terrace together with a lattice wall constructed by King Kirthi Sri Meghavarna were found. These findings were preserved at places where they were and are now opened to public since January 2010.
Two branches of the sacred tree were broken down due to storm in 1907 and 1911. A lunatic cut and fell down a branch in 1929. Tamil terrorists shot and killed several Buddhists on the upper terrace in 1985 known as Anuradhapura massacre.