Ambastala Dágoba (Sela Chethiya)
Ambastale Dagaba or Sela Chaitya stands tall and incomparable on the Ambastala plateau against the blue skies of the Mihintale region. The unique feature of the ‘dagaba’ is the presence of two concentric circles rising into the sky to form octagonal pillars. The pillars once supported a roof. And, this circular structure sets this particular ‘stupa/chedi’ apart from the rest in the same region. Archaeologists use the term ‘vatadageya’ (circular relic house) to describe this type of edifice. And, Sri Lanka’s most prominent archaeologist, Paranavitana, says that King Kanittha Tissa, a prominent leader of the 2nd century A.F. commissioned the Ambastale Dagaba. Ancient literature calls the edifice a cétiyaghara. In the following century, King Gotabhaya renovated it. But, the circular shrine had been built much earlier.
But, apart from the special features, what makes this site so revered?
As legend has it, Ambastale Dagaba marks the spot where the Sage Mahinda is better known as Arahant Mahinda Thero, first met King Dévanampiya Tissa. The sage then proceeded to engage the King in conversation and delivered his first sermon, ‘Cula Hatthipadopama Sutta’. This meeting features in legend and even historical chronicles as the turning point of Buddhism’s role in Sri Lanka’s history. Incidentally, Ambastala translates as the plateau of mangoes. And the Arahant Mahinda Thero is said to have stood on a mango grove when he first addressed the King.
References & External Links
Wikipedia - Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA)
Professor T.G.Kulathunga (2004). "4". Lankave Stupaya(Stupa of Sri lanka) (in Sinhala) (first ed.)