Courtesy - The Island by Walter Wijenayake
Today is the Full Moon Poya Day of Bak, in the Buddhist year 2555.
In accordance with the text of the great chronicle Mahavamsa, the Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha arrived at Nagadeepa in Sri Lanka for the second time on the Amavaka Poya Day of the month of Bak (April) 2595 years ago to settle a dispute between two Naga Kings – Mahodara and Chulodara, uncle and nephew who were about to wage war with each other, over a gem studed throne.
His first visit was to Mahiyangana on the bank of Mahaveli, and His third and the last visit was to Kelaniya.
At the time when Vijaya ruled of thiscountry, the Northern part of the country was inhabited by the tribe Nagas and the whole peninsula was known as Nagadeepa. However, the name is now confined to an island off the mainland – Nagadeepa as well as Nainativu where the ancient Viharaya still stands.
On that particular Amawaka Poya Day, in the morning hours when the Buddha was spending the time in Jethavanaramaya came to known with his iddi (super normal powers) that a war between two Kings in Nagadeepa was imminent. This caused him to arrive in the Nagadeepa. When the Buddha descended on the battle field, the battle gongs had been already sounded and the war drums were being heard.
On seeing the Blessed One, the two rival factions who were poised for combat were suddenly taken aback and immediately laid down their arms and worshipped him, when they became calm and quiet, the Buddha preached to them the message of Mettha - loving kindness, that hatred does not cease by hatred, that by love alone does hatred cease.
On hearing the discourse the Naga warriors and armies prostrated themselves before the Buddha and offered Him their priceless gem studded seat. The Buddha accepted it, gave it back to the Naga tribes and returned to Jethavanaramaya. At the place where the Buddha preached, a Stupa had been later built as a memorial to his visit. This is the place where the present Nagadeepa Chethiya stands.
Since the construction of the Viharaya in Nagadeepa, there have been constructed a large number of Viharayas and Chethiyas being scattered all over the country. Out of all these, there are sixteen special places of worship by the Buddhists, Nagadeepa counts the second in the row.
In the stanza appended below montions all the sixteen palces considerd as most sacred.
Mahiyanganan – Nagadeepan – Kalyanan – Padalanchanan
Divaguhan - Deegavapi – Chethiyancha – Muthiyanganan
Tissa Maha Viharancha – Bodin Marichavattiyan
Swarna Mali Maha Chetiya – Thuparama Bhayagirin – Jethavanan – Selachetiyan – tata Kacharagamakan
Ethe Solassatanhani – Aham vadami sabbada.