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near the end of the third century B.C. Its object was to commemorate a site at which the preceding Buddha, Kassapa, was said to have preached when he visited the fabulous Visālā Nagara, which was supposed to have been at that time the capital of Ceylon.
Another similar dāgaba to mark a place called the Nāga Malaka,' the Cobra Enclosure,' where the Buddha Kōnāgamana was believed to have preached, was erected in his father's life-time by Thūlathanaka, who was king in 119 B.C. This structure was to the southward of the last-mentioned one. Thus there were three that were roughly in a north and south line, that erected by Aśōka being in the middle, and the Thūpārāma dāgaba at the northern end of the line. Both these small works seem to have completely disappeared, unless a mound that is now surmounted by some well-cut pillars of a later ruin is one of them.
THE RUWANWAELI DAGABA
We next come to the period of King Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi (161–137 B.C.), who built two large dāgabas at Anuradhapura. As one of these was north of the Bō-tree, and south-east from the Thūpārāma dāgaba, there can be no doubt as to the identification of the building now known as the Ruwanwaeli or 'Gem-Sand' dāgaba, and formerly called also Hēmamāli, Sonnamāli, Ratanavali, and the Mahā-Thūpa, ' Great Dagaba,' even after larger ones had been erected. Owing to the interest with which the work was invested on account of its originator, and through its being the earliest of the greater dagabas at Anuradhapura, we possess a much more complete history of it and its construction than of any other early building, either in Ceylon or India.
Duṭṭha-Gāmiņi is described as dying in 137 B.C., before this work was finished, and his brother and successor, Saddha-Tissa (137-119 B.C.), is said to have completed it after his death. According to the narrative the dome itself was built during the life-time of Duṭṭha-Gamiņi to hold some undescribed relics of Buddha; and his brother constructed the spire,
its base, and an enclosing wall decorated with the figures of elephants.' We learn from the Mahāvansa (i, p. 114) that the original dagaba had the usual three basal ledges.
King Lajji-Tissa (119-109 B.C.), the son of Saddha-Tissa, then erected three stone' altars' at the dagaba, each costing one hundred thousand coins of some kind. The amount expended on them shows that the 'frontispieces' or wahalkaḍas must be referred to or included, and not merely the ordinary flower-altars. Up to this time the square round the dagaba had not been paved with stone slabs, since it is stated of the next king Khallāta-Nāga that 'enclosing the beautiful Great Thūpa Hēmamāli, he formed a square strewed with sand with a wall built round it' (Mah., i, p. 129).
In the reign of Bhātikābhaya (20 B.C.-9 A.D.) 'two basement cornice ledges' were built at the dāgaba. What these were is not quite clear; the remark does not seem to be applicable to the stone-work on the basal platforms which surround the dome, as these have no cornices. Some additional stone cornices on the wāhalkaḍas perhaps may be referred to.
The next king, Mahā-Nāga (9-21 A.D.), laid the flooring on the square round the dāgaba, and appears also to have made the lower outer square, which was 'strewed with sand, (Mah., i, p. 136). His son Amanda-Gāmiņi 'fixed a chatta [or umbrella-shaped top] over the chatta of the Mahā Thūpa, as well as cornices on the base and crown [tee] of that edifice' (Mah., i, p. 137). The first chatta may have been part of the original work of Saddha-Tissa. Evidently the spire had now two chattas, one superimposed over the other.
In the reign of Siri-Naga I (196-215 A.D.) we read (Mah., i, p. 144) of the construction of a gilt chatta at this dagaba; this apparently was a third one fixed above the other two. The Dipavansa attributes to his son Võharaka-Tissa (215-237 A.D). the construction of another also. Sangha-Tissa I (248252 A.D.) caused the chatta to be re-gilt, and we learn that on each of the four faces of the base of the spire [in reality the tee] there was a representation of the sun, in the centre of each of which the king placed a gem which cost one hundred thousand coins. A glass pinnacle was also placed on
the summit of the spire (which thus appears to have passed through the upper chatta), from a mistaken idea that it would prove a protection against lightning. Evidently the spires of some dagabas had been damaged by thunderstorms before this date, as might naturally be anticipated; they could not fail to be struck sometimes. A golden chatta was again constructed at this dagaba by Dhātu-Sēna (463-497 A.D.); this may have been merely a restoration of the former upper one. King Moggallana (608-614 A.D.) presented a new cloth covering to the dagaba; and Kassapa II (652-661 A.D.) fixed
a jewelled pinnacle on the spire, which again indicates that it passed through the uppermost chatta.
In the time of Kassapa V (929-937 A.D.) the second queen, Rajini, made an offering of a silken covering for the Hēmamālā cētiya' (Mah., ii, p. 80). This offering was repeated in the reign of Mahinda IV (975-991, A.D.).
The dagaba appears to have been damaged by invaders from southern India in the eleventh century, and with the other chief structures at Anuradhapura was repaired by Tamil prisoners of war during the reign of Parakrama-Bāhu I (11641197 A.D.). A relic of this work is to be seen in an inscription on one of the stones of the flooring of the enclosure :-Gaja
Bāhu sabhā pahanayak, a stone (presented by) the GajaBahu Assembly.'
It was again broken into by the invaders from Kalinga in the time of Magha (1215-1236 A.D.), and was restored for the last time in the reign of Parākrama-Bāhu II (1240–1275 A.D.). This work had been commenced by his father, who was unable to finish it (Mah., ii, p. 306).
The dagaba was then left to fall into ruin once more, by the neglect of centuries, and the spire, the greater part of the tee, and the upper part of the side of the dome slipped down in a high talus that covered all the base of the structure, which then became once more overrun with bushes and trees. At the beginning of 1873, its restoration was again undertaken by the energetic young Buddhist monk who was in charge of it, and it is still making slow progress, dependent on the subscriptions furnished by the large numbers of pilgrims who visit the old city at the annual and other festivals. The re-facing of the dome is not yet completed.
After the fallen débris had been dug away, and the support which it had given to the lower part of the cupola had been thus removed, a slip occurred of a section of the brickwork on the southern side of the dome; and on the occasion of a visit that I paid to the town at Christmas, 1886, I was surprised to find that this slip, which had taken place in 1885, had exposed the finished but unplastered surface of an inner dāgaba, round which a shell of brickwork, twenty feet thick, had been built. The mass of brickwork that had fallen consisted merely of this outer shell; the inner work was intact, and disclosed throughout all the exposed surface the original face-work of unbroken and evidently undisturbed bricks, all laid as headers,' with very fine joints. I was informed that there is a tradition that this also is only a shell, and that inside it there is a still smaller dagaba; but no reliance can be placed on such tales when they are unsupported by the authority of any of the historical works.
In any attempt to explain this method of building the dāgaba
The actual thickness as measured by me was 19 feet 11 inches.