Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura

Tissa, later Devanampiya Tissa was one of the earliest kings of Sri Lanka based at the ancient capital of Anuradhapura from 307 BC to 267 BC. His reign was notable for the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka under the aegis of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The primary source for his reign is the Mahavamsa, which in turn is based on the more ancient Dipavamsa.

Devanampiya Tissa
King of Anuradhapura
King Devanampiya Tissa
Mihintale Stone Statue of King Tissa
Reign307 BC – 267 BC
Died267 BC
HouseHouse of Vijaya


The Sinhalese Royal Family of King Devanampiya Tissa and Prince Uththiya
The Sinhalese Royal Family of King Devanampiya Tissa and Prince Uththiya

Tissa was the second son of Mutasiva of Anuradhapura. The Mahavamsa describes him as being "foremost among all his brothers in virtue and intelligence".[1]

The Mahavamsa mentions an early friendship with Ashoka. Chapter IX of the chronicle mentions that "the two monarchs, Devanampiyatissa and Dhammasoka, already had been friends a long time, though they had never seen each other", Dhammasoka being an alternate name for Ashoka. The chronicle also mentions Tissa sending gifts to the mighty emperor of the Maurya; in reply Ashoka sent not only gifts but also the news that he had converted to Buddhism, and a plea to Tissa to adopt the faith as well. The king does not appear to have done this at the time, instead adopting the name Devānaṃpiya "Beloved of the Gods"[2] and having himself consecrated King of Lanka in a lavish celebration.

Devanampiyatissa is traditionally said to have been succeeded by his younger brothers Uttiya and Mahasiva. His other brother Mahanaga, Prince of Ruhuna was the founder of the Principality of Ruhuna.

Conversion to Buddhism

Mihintale, the traditional location of Devanampiya Tissa's conversion

Emperor Ashoka took a keen interest in the propagation of Buddhism across the known world, and it was decided that his son, Mahinda, would travel to Sri Lanka and attempt to convert the people there. The events surrounding Mahinda's arrival and meeting with the king form one of the most important legends of Sri Lankan history.

According to the Mahavamsa king Devanampiyatissa was out enjoying a hunt with some 40,000 of his soldiers near a mountain called Mihintale. The date for this is traditionally associated with the full moon day of the month of Poson.

Having come to the foot of Missaka, Devanampiyatissa chased a stag into the thicket, and came across Mahinda (referred to with the honorific title Thera); the Mahavamsa has the great king 'terrified' and convinced that the Thera was in fact a 'yakka', or demon. However, Thera Mahinda declared that 'Recluses we are, O great King, disciples of the King of Dhamma (Buddha) Out of compassion for you alone have we come here from Jambudipa'. Devanampiyatissa recalled the news from his friend Ashoka and realised that these are missionaries sent from India. Thera Mahinda went on to preach to the king's company and preside over the king's conversion to Buddhism.

Important religious events

  1. Establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka due to the arrival of Thera Mahinda and his group.
  2. Planting of the Sacred Maha Bodhi (under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment) and the establishment of the Bhikkuni Sasana (order of the Buddhist nuns) due to the arrival of Theri Sangamitta and her group.
  3. Offering of the Mahamegavana to the Buddhist monks where the Maha Vihara monastery was built, which became the centre of Theravada Buddhism.[3]
  4. Construction of Thuparama, the first historical dagaba which enshrined the right collar bone of the Buddha.[4]

Notable locations

Thuparama in Anuradhapura, believed to have been constructed in Devanampiya Tissa's reign

Given the extremely early date of Devanampiyatissa's reign, the dearth of sources, and the impossibility of archeological inquiry due to current political instability, it is difficult to discern what impact this conversion had, in practical terms, on Devanampiyatissa's reign. For example, whilst there are references to a Tissamahavihara and various other temples constructed by the king, none can be reliably located.

What is fairly certain however is that the site of his initial meeting with Thera Mahinda is one of Sri Lanka's most sacred sites today, going by the name Mihintale. The sacred precinct features the Ambasthala, or 'Mango tree stupa', where the Thera Mahinda asked the king a series of riddles to check his capacity for learning [2][3], the cave in which Thera Mahinda lived for over forty years, and the Maha Seya, wherein is contained a relic of the Buddha.

The other major site associated with Devanampiyatissa's reign is the planting of the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. The tree was yet another of Emperor Ashoka's gifts to the island and was planted within the precincts of Anuradhapura, and is regarded as the oldest human planted tree in the world.

Devanampiyatissa built Tissa Wewa, which covers 550 acres. The embankment alone is 2 miles long and 25 feet high. It is a major irrigation tank even today and is an essential resource for farmers in Anuradhapura.[5]


Devanampiyatissa remains one of early Sri Lanka's most significant monarchs, given that his conversion to Buddhism set the kingdoms of the island down a religious and cultural route quite distinct from that of the subcontinent to the north. Later monarchs were to refer back to Devanampiyatissa's conversion as one of the cornerstones of the Anuradhapuran polity. The city itself remained capital of a powerful kingdom until the early Middle Ages, when it was eventually subsumed under the Chola invasion and then superseded by Polonnaruwa.

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ See, e.g., Keown, Hodge & Tinti (2003), p. 72, entry for 'Devānampiya Tissa,' where it is translated as 'dear to the gods'.
  3. ^ "Further Details".
  4. ^ "Thuparama".
  5. ^ "Tissa Wewa".


  • Keown, Damien, Stephen Hodge & Paola Tinti (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860560-9.

External links

Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura
Born: ? ? Died: ? 267 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Anuradhapura
307 BC–267 BC
Succeeded by
Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya

The Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya was an important mahavihara or large Buddhist monastery for Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was founded by king Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (247–207 BCE) in his capital city of Anuradhapura. The Mahavihara was the place where the Theravada Mahaviharan orthodoxy was established by monks such as Buddhaghosa (4th to 5th century CE) and Dhammapala who wrote commentaries on the Tipitaka and texts such as the Visuddhimagga which are central to Theravada Buddhist doctrine. The monks living at the Mahavihara were referred to as Mahaviharavasins.

In the 5th century, the "Mahavihara" was possibly the most sophisticated university in southern or eastern Asia. Many international scholars visited and learned many disciplines under highly structured instruction.

Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Theravada Buddhism is the State religion of Sri Lanka practiced by 70.2% of the Sri Lanka's population. Buddhism has been given special privileges in the constitution, and it was declared the country's official religion by the second president of Sri Lanka, J.R Jayawardene. Sri Lanka is the traditionally oldest religious Buddhist country where Buddhist Aryan culture is protected and preserved. The island has been a center of Buddhist scholarship and learning since the introduction of Buddhism in the third century BCE producing eminent scholars such as Buddhaghosa and preserving the vast Pāli Canon. Throughout most of its history, Sri Lankan kings have played a major role in the maintenance and revival of the Buddhist institutions of the island. During the 19th century, a modern Buddhist revival took place on the island which promoted Buddhist education and learning. There are around 6,000 Buddhist monasteries on Sri Lanka with approximately 15,000 monks.


Devanampriya, also Devanampiya (Brahmi script: 𑀤𑁂𑀯𑀸𑀦𑀁𑀧𑀺𑀬, Devānaṃpiya), was a Pali honorific epithet used by a few Indian monarchs, but most particularly the Indian Emperor Ashoka (r.269-233 BCE) in his inscriptions (the Edicts of Ashoka). . "Devanampriya" means "Beloved of the Gods". It is often used by Ashoka in conjunction with the title Priyadasi, which means "He who regards others with kindness", "Humane"Prinsep in his study and decipherment of the Edicts of Ashoka had originally identified Devanampriya Priyadasi with the King of Ceylon Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura. However, in 1837, George Turnour discovered Sri Lankan manuscripts (Dipavamsa, or "Island Chronicle" ) associating Piyadasi with Ashoka:

Two hundred and eighteen years after the beatitude of the Buddha, was the inauguration of Piyadassi, .... who, the grandson of Chandragupta, and the son of Bindusara, and was at the time Governor of Ujjayani.

Since then, the association of "Devanampriya Priyadarsin" with Ashoka was confirmed through various inscriptions, and especially confirmed in the Minor Rock Edict inscription discovered in Maski, associating Ashoka with Devanampriya:

[A proclamation] of Devanampriya Asoka.Two and a half years [and somewhat more] (have passed) since I am a Buddha-Sakya.

[A year and] somewhat more (has passed) [since] I have visited the Samgha and have shown zeal.

Those gods who formerly had been unmingled (with men) in Jambudvipa, have how become mingled (with them).

This object can be reached even by a lowly (person) who is devoted to morality.

One must not think thus, — (viz.) that only an exalted (person) may reach this.

Both the lowly and the exalted must be told : "If you act thus, this matter (will be) prosperous and of long duration, and will thus progress to one and a half.

Historical UsageDevānaṃpiya may refer to:

Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (died 267 BCE), ruler of Sri Lanka based at the ancient capital of Anuradhapura from 307 to 267 BC

Ashoka (ca. 304–232 BCE), Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty

Dasharatha Maurya (ca. 232 to 224 BCE), grandson of Ashoka, in his Barabar caves inscriptions, in the form "Devanampiya Dasaratha".

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Dilith Jayaweera

Dillenia retusa

Dillenia suffruticosa

Dillenia triquetra

Dilli Haat

Dillon du Preez


Dilruk Laurence

Dilruwan Perera

Dilshan Abeysinghe

Dilshan Munaweera

Dilshan Sanjeewa

Dilshan Vitharana

Dilshan de Soysa

Dilum Amunugama

Dilup Gabadamudalige

Dilupa Perera



Dimbula Athletic & Cricket Club


Dimbulagala Divisional Secretariat

Dimbulagala Raja Maha Vihara




Dimitri Mascarenhas

Dimitri Ratnayake

Dimorphocalyx glabellus

Dimuth Karunaratne

Dimuth Warapitiya

Dimuthu Bandara Abayakoon

Dimuthu Naveendra

Dina Astita

Dinakaran attack case

Dinakshie Priyasad


Dinanath Puthenchery


Dinapur Cantonment


Dindigul (state assembly constituency)

Dindigul Thalappakatti Restaurant

Dinesh Abeywickrama

Dinesh Chandimal

Dinesh Chandra Sinha

Dinesh Daminda

Dinesh Fernando

Dinesh Gunawardena

Dinesh Kanagaratnam

Dinesh Kumara

Dinesh Lalinda

Dinesh Lalintha

Dinesh Nandan Sahay

Dinesh Palipana

Dinesh Priyantha

Dinesh Saparamadu

Dinesh Subasinghe

Dinesh Subasinghe discography

Dinesh Weerawansa

Dinesh de Zoysa

Dineth Thimodya

Dingiri Banda Wijetunga

Dingiri Bandara Welagedara

Dinidu Marage



Dinuk Wijeratne

Dinuk Wikramanayaka

Dinuka Hettiarachchi

Dinuka Karunaratne

Dinusha Fernando

Diocese of Colombo

Diogo de Melo

Diogo de Melo Coutinho

Diogo de Melo de Castro

Diopsiulus ceylonicus

Diopsiulus greeni

Diopsiulus madaraszi

Dioscorea alata

Dioscorea oppositifolia

Diospyros acuminata

Diospyros atrata

Diospyros attenuata

Diospyros candolleana

Diospyros chaetocarpa

Diospyros ferrea

Diospyros hirsuta

Diospyros insignis

Diospyros melanoxylon

Diospyros montana

Diospyros oocarpa

Diospyros oppositifolia

Diospyros ovalifolia

Diospyros quaesita

Diospyros racemosa

Diospyros thwaitesii

Diospyros walkeri

Dipa Ma


Dipika Chanmugam

Diplodiscus verrucosus

Diplospora erythrospora

Diplothele halyi

Dipoena sertata


Dipterocarpus hispidus

Dipti Saravanamuttu

Director General of Sri Lanka Coast Guard

Director's Special (film)

Director's Special (whisky)

Directorate of Military Intelligence (Sri Lanka)

Dirk Nannes

Dirty Picture: Silk Sakkath Maga

Disability in Sri Lanka

Disce aut discede

Discospermum sphaerocarpum

Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention

Dish TV Sri Lanka

Disnaka Manoj

Disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa



Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka

District Administration, Rangamati

District Courts of Sri Lanka

Districts of Sri Lanka


Divisional Secretariats of Sri Lanka

Divisions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam


Divulapitiya Divisional Secretariat

Divulapitiya Electoral District


Divurum Bodhi Viharaya

Divya Padmini

Divya S. Menon


Dixy Chicken

Diya Yata Gindara



Diyaluma Falls

Diyaminauclea zeylanica



Diyatalawa Garrison

Diyatha Uyana

Diyawadana Nilame

Diyawanna Lake

Djay Adx

Doce (sweet)

Doctor Innocent aanu

Doctor Krishna

Doctor Love (film)



Dodanga cristata

Dodanga lobipennis

Dodangaslanda Electoral District

Dodangoda Divisional Secretariat




Dodda Balakoti Reddy

Doddahundi nishidhi inscription

Doddarange Gowda

Doddmane Hudga


Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol

Dohan river


Dokka Manikya Vara Prasad


Dolar Mahmud

Dolichognatha neitneri

Dolls (2013 film)

Dolomedes karschi


Dolosbage Bazaar

Dolphin Beach Resort


Doluwa Divisional Secretariat







Dominic Jeeva

Dominic Vendargon

Dominick Chilcott

Dominicus Corea

Dominion of Ceylon

Dommie Jayawardena

Dompe Divisional Secretariat

Dompe Electoral District

Don (2007 film)

Don Anurasiri

Don Baron Jayatilaka

Don Bosco Academy, Patna

Don Bosco SC

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Don't Stop Dreaming

Dona Catherina of Kandy

Dona Indralatha

Donald Dissanayake

Donald Hewagama

Donald Obeyesekere

Donald Perera

Donald R. Toussaint

Donald Rutnam

Donald Smith (cricketer, born 1923)

Donatius Victoria


Dondra Head Lighthouse

Doni (film)

Doni Sagali

Donoughmore Commission

Donoughmore Constitution

Doo Daruwo

Doodh pati chai



Dooland Buultjens

Doora saridaru

Doorada Betta

Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam

Doovili Ella Falls


Dorababu Pendem


Dorakada Marawa




Dore (film)

Doreen Cooper

Doreen Sansoni

Doreen Young Wickremasinghe

Doric Bungalow

Doric de Souza

Dorla people

Dornhorst Memorial Prize

Dorothy Cayley

Dorstenia indica


Dosa plaza

Double Decker (2011 film)

Double Mooring Thana

Double Seven (soft drink)

Double ka meetha

Doubles (2011 film)

Doug Bollinger

Douglas Devananda

Douglas Dias Jayasinha

Douglas Liyanage

Douglas Meerwald

Douglas St. Clive Budd Jansze

Douglas Walatara




Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (film)

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Setu

Dr. Harisankar (singer)

Dr. Khastagir Government Girls' High School

Dr. M. G. R. Home and Higher Secondary School for the Speech and Hearing Impaired

Dr. M.G.R. Educational and Research Institute

Dr. MGR-Janaki College of Arts and Science for Women

Dr. Nawariyan

Dr. Patient

Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar

Dracula 2012

Drago Štambuk

Dragon (Kalapugama short story)

Drama (2012 film)

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Dravida Peravai

Dravidar Kazhagam

Dravidian Linguistics Association

Dravidian University

Dravidian folk religion

Dravidian languages

Dravidian parties

Dravidian people

Dravidian studies

Dravido-Korean languages


Drepanosticta adami

Drepanosticta austeni

Drepanosticta brincki

Drepanosticta digna

Drepanosticta fraseri

Drepanosticta hilaris

Drepanosticta lankanensis

Drepanosticta montana

Drepanosticta nietneri

Drepanosticta sinhalensis

Drepanosticta starmuehlneri

Drepanosticta submontana

Drepanosticta subtropica

Drepanosticta tropica

Drepanosticta walli




Driver Hanumanthu

Driving licence in Sri Lanka

Drona 2010

Dronamraju Satyanarayana

Drypetes sepiaria

Duarte de Eça

Dubai (2001 film)

Dubai Babu

Dudde Doddappa

Dude, Where's the Party?

Dudley Lincoln Steinwall

Dudley Senanayake

Dudley Senanayake Maha Vidyalaya

Dudley de Silva

Duggirala Gopalakrishnayya

Duhulu Malak

Duilong River

Duke and Sons

Duke's Lemonade

Duke's Mangola

Dukhan Ram


Dulanga Lakmal

Dulani Anuradha

Dulanjana Mendis

Dulanjana Seneviratne

Dulash Udayanga

Duleeka Marapana

Duleep De Chickera

Duleep Mendis

Duleep Wijesekera

Dulhazra Safari Park

Dulip Gayan

Dulip Liyanage

Dulip Samaraweera

Dulith Herath

Dull-blue flycatcher

Dullas Alahapperuma





Dum (2016 film)

Dum Aloo


Dumidu Hettiarachchi

Dumila Dedunu

Duminda Dissanayake

Duminda Perera

Duminda Silva

Duminda Wijeweera


Dumpa Mary Vijayakumari


Duncan White


Dunesh Gankanda

Dunhinda Falls

Dunil Abeydeera

Duniya (2007 film)


Dunsinane Falls






Dunuwila Megodagama

Duplicate (2009 film)

Durai (director)

Durai Chandrasekaran

Durai Govindarajan

Durai Murugan

Durai Ramasamy

Durai Vaiyapuri

Durai. Manivel

Duraiappa stadium mass grave


Durdans Hospital


Durgabai Deshmukh


Durgi (film)

Durio ceylanicus

Durio rosayroanus

Duruwa language


Dushan Vimukthi

Dushmantha Chameera

Dushmantha Mithrapala

Dushy Ranetunge

Dushyanth Weeraman

Dusky leaf-nosed bat

Dusky palm squirrel

Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon

Dutch Burghers

Dutch Ceylon

Dutch East India Company coinage

Dutch Reformed Church, Kalpitiya

Dutch Reformed Church, Matara

Dutch–Portuguese War

Duttaphrynus atukoralei

Duttaphrynus kotagamai

Duttaphrynus melanostictus

Duttaphrynus noellerti

Duttaphrynus scaber


Duvindu Tillakaratne

Duvvuri Venkata Ramana Shastri

Duvvuru Ramireddy

Duwana Muwan

Duya, Mon

Dvora-class fast patrol boat

Dwarf gulper shark

Dwayne Bravo


Dwivedula Visalakshi


Dysoxylum championii

List of Buddhists

This is a list of notable Buddhists, encompassing all the major branches of the religion (i.e. in Buddhism), and including interdenominational and eclectic Buddhist practitioners. This list includes both formal teachers of Buddhism, and people notable in other areas who are publicly Buddhist or who have espoused Buddhism.

Mahinda (Buddhist monk)

Mahinda (born as Mahendra Maurya) was a Buddhist monk depicted in Buddhist sources as bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka. He was the first-born son of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka from his wife Devi and the elder brother of Sanghamitra.

Ashoka named his child Mahendra, meaning "Great Indra", bearing a militaristic Vedic title. Yet Mahendra became a Buddhist monk due to his family's patronage, relinquishing his title as a prince. Mahinda was sent as a Buddhist missionary to the Anuradhapura Kingdom in Sri Lanka. Mahinda obtained the title of an arhat and resided at Mihintale. He played an important role in proliferating Buddhism throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Nature reserve

A nature reserve (also known as natural reserve, bioreserve, natural/nature preserve, or natural/nature conserve) is a protected area of importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research. Nature reserves may be designated by government institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions, regardless of nationality. Nature reserves fall into different IUCN categories depending on the level of protection afforded by local laws. Normally it is more strictly protected than a nature park.

Principality of Ruhuna

The Principality of Ruhuna, also referred to as the Kingdom of Ruhuna, is a region of present-day Southern and Eastern Sri Lanka. It was the center of a flourishing civilization and the cultural and economic centers of ancient Sri Lanka. Magama, Tissamaharama and Mahanagakula (now called as Ambalantota), were established here.Ruhuna was founded around 200 BC by Prince Mahanaga, brother to Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura, after a personal dispute. This region played a vital role in building the nation as well in the establishment of Buddhist culture.

The area identified with Ruhuna in ancient times is mainly the Southern Province, a large part of the Uva Province and small parts of, Sabaragamuwa & Eastern Provinces.

Sinhalese monarchy

The Sinhalese monarchy has its origins in the settlement of North Indian Indo-Aryan immigrants to the island of Sri Lanka. The Landing of Vijay as described in the traditional chronicles of the island, the Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa and Culavamsa, and later chronicles, recount the date of the establishment of the first Sinhala Kingdom in 543 BC when Prince Vijaya (543–505 BC), an Indian Prince, and 700 of his followers landed on the island of Sri Lanka and established the Kingdom of Tambapanni. In Sinhalese mythology, Prince Vijaya and followers are told to be the progenitors of the Sinhalese people. However according to the story in the Divyavadana, the immigrants were probably not led by a scion of a royal house in India, as told in the romantic legend, but rather may have been groups of adventurous and pioneering merchants exploring new lands.The Sinhalese monarch was the head of state of the Sinhala Kingdom. Anachronistically referred to as the Kings of Sri Lanka, the monarch held absolute power and succession was hereditary. The monarchy comprised the reigning monarch, his or her family, and the royal household which supports and facilitates the monarch in the exercise of his royal duties and prerogatives. The monarchy existed for over 2300 years. Tambapanni and its successive kingdoms were situated in what is presently Sri Lanka. The monarchy ended with Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy in 1815 after generations of European influences and upheaval in the royal court.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (UK: , US: (listen); Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා Śrī Laṃkā; Tamil: இலங்கை Ilaṅkai), officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.

Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. It has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC. Its geographic location and deep harbours made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road.Sri Lanka was known from the beginning of British colonial rule as Ceylon (, US also ). A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century to obtain political independence, which was granted in 1948; the country became a republic and adopted its current name in 1972. Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a 26-year civil war, which ended decisively when the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.The current constitution stipulates the political system as a republic and a unitary state governed by a semi-presidential system. It has had a long history of international engagement, as a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Along with the Maldives, Sri Lanka is one of only two South Asian countries rated "high" on the Human Development Index (HDI), with its HDI rating and per capita income the highest among South Asian nations. The Sri Lankan constitution accords Buddhism the "foremost place", although it does not identify it as a state religion. Buddhism is given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution.The island is home to many cultures, languages and ethnicities. The majority of the population are from the Sinhalese ethnicity, while a large minority of Tamils have also played an influential role in the island's history. Moors, Burghers, Malays, Chinese, and the indigenous Vedda are also established groups on the island.


A stupa (Sanskrit: "heap") is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics (such as śarīra – typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns) that is used as a place of meditation. A related architectural term is a chaitya, which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa.

In Buddhism, circumambulation or pradakhshina has been an important ritual and devotional practice since the earliest times, and stupas always have a pradakhshina path around them.

Stupas in Sri Lanka

Stupas, also called dagobas and cetiyas, are considered an outstanding type of architectural creation of ancient Sri Lanka. Under the influence of Buddhism, there were several changes in the field of architecture in Sri Lanka. The stupa commands a prominent place among these changes. The Stupa is also known by synonymous names such as Chaithya, Dagaba, Thupa, Seya and Vehera. Stupas designed and constructed in Sri Lanka are the largest brick structures known to the pre-modern world.After Rev. Mahinda thero introduced Buddhism during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura (307–267 BCE), in the Sri Lanka’s ancient sacred capital of Anuradhapura, the king built the Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya, a mahavihara, after dedicating the Nandana and Mahamega royal pleasure gardens to the Maha Sangha. The earliest monument found in Sri Lanka is the Stupa, which is described as a hemispherical dome surmounted with a spire (kota).

Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara in Mahiyangana, Uva Province is regarded as the first stupa of ancient Sri LankaThe first historical stupa constructed after the arrival of Mahinda in Sri Lanka is Thuparamaya, which was built during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa. Afterwards many stupas were built, some colossal stupas, biggest of which is Jetavanaramaya.


Tamraparni (Tamil/Sanskrit) is an ancient name of the river proximal to Tirunelveli of South India and Puttalam of North Western Sri Lanka and the name by which the entire island of Sri Lanka itself was known in the ancient world, with use dating to before the 6th century BC. A toponym, the adjective "Tamraparniyan" is eponymous with the socio-economic and cultural history of this area and its people, primarily connected by the Vedic- Siddhar sage Agastya, a highly influential linguist, medicine-maker and royal Hindu spiritual guru and poet established in proto era Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. Movement of people across the Gulf of Mannar during the early Pandyan and Anuradhapura periods, between this Tirunelveli river of Pothigai, Kalputti of Puttalam, Northwest Sri Lanka, Manthai, Adam's Peak, Trincomalee of Northeast Sri Lanka and across the Indian Ocean via Java and Sumatra of Indonesia - in emulation of Agastya and his acolytes - led to the shared application of the name for the closely connected region and its Hindu-Buddhist culture, by the time of Vajrabodhi up until the late medieval period. The success of Tamraparniyan civilization is owed in large part to the impact of the Tamraparniyan sea route and this exchange is captured in literature and epigraphy from before the common era. Its legacy is observed most strikingly in the present day in philosophical and spiritual discourse, alchemy, astronomy, law, worship, architecture, the arts, jewellery and couture, place names, irrigation and agriculture, metallurgy, cuisine, language, script, science and medicinal practices of the region. This huge impact of Agastya's research and teachings, earning him the title "Tamir Muni" - a godfather sage of Tamraparnism - has led traditions and lineages across the continent to claim descent from him, although his family and acolytes were some of the earliest architects of Hinduism in Sri Lanka. Robert Caldwell, who states "Tamraparni" to be Sri Lanka's oldest known historical name, dates Agastya to at least the 7th - 6th century BC based on the Pandyans rule in the region at the advent of Vijaya, with Buddhist, Vedic and Tamil literature dating him earlier, to the neolithic age. Tamraparniyan spirituality transformed societies across ancient India, to Greece in the west, China in the North to Indonesia in the East. Tamraparni is a rendering of the original Tamil name Tān Poruṇai of the Sangam period, "the cool toddy palm-wine" river.


Theravāda (; Pāli, lit. "School of the Elders") is the oldest of Buddhism's extant schools. Theravadins have preserved their version of the Gautama Buddha's teaching in the Pāli Canon. The Pāli Canon is the only complete Buddhist canon surviving in a classical Indian language, Pāli, which serves as the school's sacred language and lingua franca. It contains a recension derived from the Tamrashatiya school.For over a millennium, theravādins have endeavored to preserve the dhamma as recorded in their school's texts. In contrast to Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna, Theravāda tends to be conservative in matters of doctrine and monastic discipline. Meditation practice was reintroduced in the 19th century and has since become popular with the laity in both traditionally Theravāda countries and in the west.Theravāda Buddhism developed as a distinct school of early Buddhism in Sri Lanka and subsequently spread to the rest of Southeast Asia. It is the dominant religion in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand and is practiced by minorities in India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and Vietnam. In addition, the diaspora of all of these groups as well as converts around the world practice Theravāda Buddhism. Contemporary expressions include Buddhist modernism, the Vipassana movement and the Thai Forest Tradition.

Timeline of Buddhism

The purpose of this timeline is to give a detailed account of Buddhism from the birth of Gautama Buddha to the present.

Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara

The Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple in Tissamaharama, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It was one of the four major Buddhist monasteries established in Sri Lanka, after the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera to the country. The site of the Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara was consecrated by Lord Buddha himself, who spent some time in meditation there with 500 arhats (individuals who have reached enlightenment), during his third visit to the island. Tissamaharama monastery had been recognized as a pre-eminent Buddhist educational center of the southern Sri Lanka from the 3rd century B.C. to the 11th century A.D. The Tissamaharama Dagoba which is situated in the premises of the monastery is one of the largest stupas in Sri Lanka. The present chief incumbent of Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara is Ven. Devalegama Dhammasena Nayaka Thera.

House of Vijaya
(477 BC–237 BC, 215 BC–205 BC)
Chola invaders
(237 BC–215 BC, 205 BC–161 BC)
House of Vijaya
(161 BC–103 BC)
The Five Dravidians
(103 BC–89 BC)
House of Vijaya
(89 BC–66 AD)
House of Lambakanna I
The Six Dravidians
House of Moriya
House of Lambakanna II
Kingdom of Tambapanni
(543 BC–505 BC)
Kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara
(505 BC–377 BC)
Kingdom of Anuradhapura
(377 BC–237 BC)
(215 BC–205 BC)
(161 BC–103 BC)
(89 BC–66 AD)

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