The Visit of The Thatagatha (Lord Buddha)
Mahiyangana, Nagadeepa and Kelaniya (550 BC): Having paid homage to Samma Sambuddha, I will recite Mahavamsa. Our Conqueror met Sambuddha Deepankara, in older times and paid homage to him. There our conqueror resolved to become a Buddha to rid world from evil. Our conqueror paid homage to twenty-four Sambuddhas during different life times.
They are, Sambuddha Deepankara, Sambuddha Kondanna, Sambuddha Mangala, Sambuddha Sumana, Sambuddha Revatha, Sambuddha Sobitha, Sambuddha Anomadassi, Sambuddha Paduma, Sambuddha Narada, Sambuddha Padumattara, Sambuddha Sumedha, Sambuddha Sujatha, Sambuddha Piyadassi, Sambuddha Atthadasi, Sambuddha Dhammadassi, Sambuddha Siddhattha, Sambuddha Tissa, Sambuddha Phussa, Sambuddha Vipassi, Sambuddha Sikhi, Sambuddha Vessabhu, Sambuddha Kakusanda, Sambuddha Konagama, Sambuddha Kassapa.
Then our Conqueror fulfilled ten Parami Dharmas and reached enlightenment.
The great sage attained Buddhahood on the full moon day of the month of Vesakha under a Bodhi tree.
After attaining Buddhahood, our conqueror went to Varanasi to explain Dharma to sixty hearers.
Explaining Dharma to Jatilas: From Varanasi, conqueror went to the township of Uruvela and explained Dharma to Jatilas led by Kassapa.
Visit to Mahiyangana
Nine months after attaining Buddhahood, our Conqueror visited Lanka on Durutu (January) Full Moon Day (1 B.E. or 528 B.C.).
There was a great meeting of Yakkas (devils) in the town of Mahiyangana (Mahanaga Garden), where Mahiyangana Thupa was built later times. Buddha arrived and struck terror to the hearts of Yakkas by rain, storm and darkness. Buddha preached them, that he would release them from fear.
(Author’s Note: Mahiyangana is the very first town of Lanka to be mentioned in Mahavamsa)
On this visit the Buddha not only won the Yaksas and Raksas (Clans) to Buddhism but also succeeded in getting the Naga Clan King Maniakkhika of Kelaniya, who came to Mahiyangana to meet the Buddha, to embrace Buddhism.
God Sumana’s Request: Deva Clan Prince Mahasumana
God Sumana of Samanthakuta (Sri Pada Mountain) requested a personal item from Buddha to worship. Then our Conqueror passed his hand over his head and gave God Sumana handful of hair. God Sumana built a seven cubit high Chetiya (10 feet) in Mahiyangana and placed the hair inside the Chetiya.
History of Mahiyangana Thupa:
After the Parinibbana of The Buddha (When Sambuddha passing away), a Thera (Buddhist monk) named Sarabu, a disciple of Sariputta brought the collarbone (from the funeral pyre ) of the conqueror(Buddha) to Lanka and placed it inside the Mahiyangana Thupa. Then it was transformed to be the Mahiyangana Cetiya. The height of the Thupa was increased to 30 cubits (45 feet) by son of King Devanampiya Tissa’s brother. Later King Dutugamunu raised the height of the Chetiya to eighty cubits. (120 feet).
(Author’s Note: As per Mahavamsa, Mahiyangana Chetiya is the oldest Chetiya in Sri Lanka. God Sumana is today known as “Sumana Saman Devi”. God Sumana is not a Hindu god. He could probably been a deity of pre Buddhist Lanka. Buddha’s visits to Lanka are noted only in Mahavamsa. These visits are not mentioned in Tripitaka).
Conqueror’s Second Visit (Nagadeepa)
The second visit was in the fifth year of Supreme Enlightenment (5 B.E. or 523 B.C.), two Nagas (Naga Clan) in Lanka, Chulodhara and Mahodhara (uncle and nephew) were about to go to war over a Jewelled throne in Nagadeepa (Present day Jaffna), At this time, a god named Samiddhasumana brought Thathagatha (Buddha) to Nagadeepa. Seeing Buddha, nagas stopped the war and paid homage to the Buddha.
Chulodhara and Mahodhara settled the dispute and handed over the custody of the Jewelled throne to Naga King Maniakkhika of Kelaniya.
On this visit the Buddha was accompanied by Samiddhasumana (Samiddhi Sumana), a representative of Persian Emperor Darius, who came to be referred to as Sakka (Sakra), the King of Kings of the Deva clan: Samiddhi Sumana brought with him a tree Jetavanarama, which was also presented to Maniakkhika who in turn constructed a Cetiya covering the Jewelled throne in Kelaniya and also planted the “Na” Tree on which precincts is Kelani Viharaya built.
Conqueror’s Third Visit (Kelaniya in 9 B.E.)
Maniakkika, Naga King of Kelaniya invited Buddha to Kelaniya on the eighth year after attaining Buddhahood. Buddha accepted Maniakkika’s invitation and visited Kelaniya in 9 B.E. (519/520 B.C.) there he preached Dharma to Nagas.
500 of his followers also arrived, who settled down in Lanka did not return to India with the Buddha.
Visit to Samanthakuta: (Samanalakanda)
From Kelaniya, Buddha visited Samanthakuta and placed his foot imprint on the invitation of Prince named Sumanasaman, as the Buddha left his foot prints in Narmada and Saccabaddha, in India.
The Sumanakuta, after the arrival of the colonialists they began to call the mountain Adams Peak. Sumana Saman was appointed the lay guardian of Sumanakuta, by the Buddha. It is this Sumanasaman who is now being considered the Guardian Deity of Samanala Kanda and referred to as Saman Deviyo(God).
From Samanthakuta, Buddha visited the place where Dighavapi Chetiya was built later times. From Dighavapi, Buddha visited Mahaveghanarama in Anuradhapura. Buddha meditated at the place where sacred Bodhi tree was planted during later times. From there Buddha visited the place where Mahathupa (Ruwanvali Saaya) was built during later times. Then he visited the place where Thuparama and Sela Chetiya were built during later times.
(Author’s Note: According to Mahavamsa Lord Buddha visited following places – Mahiyangana, Nagadeepa. Kelaniya, Samanthakuta, Dighavapi, Mahaveghanarama, Ruwanvali Saaya, Thuparama, Sela Chetiya).
(Later tradition added following places to the list – Mutiyangana, Tissamaharama and Kataragama, Mirisavati, Jethavana, Abayagiri and Kirivehera. Later tradition removed Mahaveghanarama from the list and added Divaguha to make it sixteen. Mahavamsa says, Buddha stayed a night at the foot of Samanthakuta and according to the tradition, Divaguha is the place where he stayed. Divaguha is not yet identified positively. These sixteen places are known as Solosmasthana and considered to be visited by Lord Buddha).
Deva Clan Princes Visala Mahasen, Samanibhara and Mahaghosa, were appointed lay guardians of these places of worship by the Buddha. Accordingly, Kataragama Deviyo to Buddhists is not Hindu God Skanda, but Mahaghosa, who functioned as the lay guardian of the place of worship and came to be regarded as a Deity due to his fearless and valuable services he rendered to places of worship.
There is a famous Pali poem indicating these sixteen holy places of Sri Lanka:
Mahiyanganam Nagadeepam Kalyanam Padalanchanam Divaguham Dighavapi Cetiyam Mutiyanganam Tissa Maha Viharancha Bodhim Marichavattiyam Suwarnamali Maha Cetiyam Thuparama Bhayagirim Jetavanam Sela Cetiyam Tatha Kacharagamakam Ethe Solosmasthani Aham Vandami Sabbada (I worship these sixteen holy places).
There was a King named Mahasammatha at the beginning of this age. After Mahasammatha, many thousands of Kings reigned. Then King Okkaka, originated from this Mahasammatha dynasty. After Okkaka, Okkakamuka reigned. Then Nipuna, Chandramuka… and finally Suddhodhana reigned. Prince Siddhartha was born to Suddhodhana and Maya.
(Author’s Note: Later, Sinhalese Kings claimed that they also are descendants of the Mahasammatha dynasty. See inscriptions of King Nissanka Malla, Mahinda IV and Parakramabahu).