Posted by: lrrp | October 7, 2004

‘Vamsa Katha’ a glean into Sabaragamuwa From Sumana Saparamadu

The Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council has published a chronicle of the province titled Sabaragamuwa Vamsa Katha running into three volumes. The chronicle is edited and compiled by Dr. Pandula Endagama, anthropologist and former assistant director of the National Museum, Colombo, with Savimon Uragodawatta as assistant executive editor. The chronicle contains articles by renowned scholars, of the province.

It is for the first time the SP has come out with such piece of literature. HCP Bell’s Kegalla Report of 1904 deals only with a part of the province and is not as extensive as this. The GAs and AGAs of the 19 and early 20 centuries compiled manuals of the districts they were in charge of though they cover many of the subjects included in the Vamsa Katha, they don’t have the amplitude.

The Sabaragamu ‘Vamsa Katha’ is in depth encyclopaedia with statistics, diagrams, illustrations and photographs of places such as Maduwanwela Walauwa, the Bata Domba cave and Waulpana cave.

Pre-history and written history of the province the number of electorates and pradeshiya sabha, the population census of 2001, water falls, rivers, land area crops, temples, Kovils, devala and other places of worship customs and traditions, landmarks, tales and legends, education and health services, are recorded.

The bare enumeration of the contents, conveys an idea of the value of this “Vamsa katha’. Two chapters pay tribute to two scholars who did intensive research on the pre-history and early history of Sabaragamuwa. Dr. P. E. P. Deraniyagala’s research pushed one goes back to 30,000 years BC, and Ven, Kirielle Gnanawimala, scholar and physician, unearthed many facts and facets of Sabaragamuwa’s history.

The ‘Vamsa Katha’ records events of historical, social, religious and political importance. One such event is the Pelmadulla Sangayana of 1864-incidentally the year Anagarika Dharmapala was born. At that time the study of the Dhamma was superficial and adherence to Vinaya rules lax, due to alien rule and occupation of the country. One man saw the immediate need for authoritative texts to bring the Sangha back to the true path, and he organized a council of erudite bhikkhus. He was Iddamalgoda Ratay Mahatthaya, (RM) of the Navadun and Kukule Korala, and Basnayaka Nilame of the Ratnapura Maha Saman Devala.

Another interesting bit of information, I gleaned from this ‘Vamsa Katha’ is the probable location of Diva Guha, one of the “Solosmasthana” or 16 sacred places of worship, where the Buddha is said to have made brief stops on his third visit to the island.

In 1990 Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitree Thero, declared that on topographical and other evidence he was willing to accept Bata Domba Lena, the cave off Kuruwita, as the Diva Guha where in the Buddha rested after visiting the hill of Saman, now Sri Paada Kanda.

Sabaragamuwa ‘Vamsa Katha’ is a mine of information for historians, anthropologists, sociologists, students, writers, and journalists.

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