It is definitely not a PUNANULA: is only THE NATURAL GRAIN OF THE ROCK
Posted on May 11th, 2017

Dr Sudath Gunasekara 6. May. 2017

Photo by Dr. Achala Gunasekara Rockwell of Alabama university USA.

The above statue is widely accepted as the figure of King Parakramabahu the Great. But it also has been interpreted as a statue of a sage, either Agastya or Pulasthi.    Three reasons are adduced by those who call it a stature of a sage.  First, its proximity to the Pothgul Viharaya; and the other, more importantly a visible ‘Punanula’ that runs diagonally across the left shoulder of the statue from left to right. Thirdly the notion that the object held in the hands is a book.

Both Bell and Paranavitana have interpreted it as a Punanula (a sacred thread).  Probably in keeping with their scholastic traditions they may have wanted to give a more dignified and supra-mundane recognition to the statue and may have described it as that of a sage rather than that of a human. Paranavitana later however has interpreted it as that of Parakramabahu as well.

But as an ordinary observer I see the so-called punanula as the natural grain of the rock. One can see it clearly and also feel it. It is more than obvious to the naked eye.  A closer examination clearly shows that this is the natural grain of the rock. For example on the left side this is seen not on the mid shoulder as it should be but far on the edge of the shoulder. There are no signs of rapping it round the body of the Statue, on either side. This ‘wonderful Punanula’ continuous diagonally as one straight line across the whole length of the rock slab from SW to NE. This argument is further confirmed by the fact that this ‘Punanula’ (sacred thread) is clearly visible running over the object (book) held in the hands of the statue. It could never be visible running over the book; if it was a sacred thread it should run under the object as a thread worn on the body of the person who is holding the object. Therefore I think the idea of a Punanula is either a mistake or an esthetic invention by someone made without a closer examination of the trend line.  All these visible characteristics clearly prove that this is actually the natural grain of the rock. Though this line is more conspicuous than others one can also see many more similar lines all over the statue running in the same direction. Particularly the line visible about 3 inches below the so-called Punanula is the most prominent; these lines are more common below that line.

Furthermore he same pattern could be seen even in other statues both in Anuradhapura and in Polonnaruwa. The most conspicuous of these grains are displayed on the Galviharaya statues in Polonnaruwa. The Standing Buddha being the most prominent among them. Therefore I opine this as the line indicating the natural grain of the rock on which the statue is carved.

.Any student of basic geology who is familiar with the general geological formation and the trend line pattern of this part of the Island will vouch for this argument.

Statue of Parakkramabahu

The fact that this is found on the tank of the Sea of Parakkrama and it is also accepted to have been built during the reign of Parakaramabahu the Great 1 further makes it more probable that it is the Statue of Parakkramabahu the Great and no one else. The fact that the statue depicts a majestic figure with a grave expression also support that this statue represents the colossal figure of the King. . According to Senarath Paranavithana this statue is an embodiment of strength, majesty and dignity

The object held by the hands is also interpreted as that of an ola leaf book may be to prove the original identification of the statue with a sage. There is also another opinion that the object is a yoke” of kingship. I understand that there is another reference to the yoke being used as the symbol of Rroyal authority  mentioned in the Panakaduwa Tamba sannasa where King Vijayabahu of Polonnaruwa handing over a nindagam to his Army Commander after the completion of a war against the enemy. This brings us to a new notion of the yoke (Viyagaha) being used as a mace, the modern symbol of power and authority used in a modern parliament. Also from this one could surmise that the yoke would have been used in ancient Lanka as a symbol of Royal power, on occasions where Royal power is displayed. The yoke an important indigenous tool used in ploughing would have been definitely more appropriate and meaningful for an agricultural society than a modern mace probably adopted from a Yagadawa in the hands of Hanuma the monkey King in the Ramayana.

Naturally the Great King being the greatest tank builder of the Sinhala nation must have caused to erect his statue on the bank of the greatest irrigation feat of ancient Sri Lanka overlooking his pet project, the Parakrama Samudraya, the greatest achievement of Parakramabahu the Great with the yoke held in the hands to depict the authority of royal power he swayed over his Kingdom, Sri Lanka.

Accepting the classical punanula as the natural grain of the rock and the object held in the hands as a yoke in the hand of the King will also support the notion given in the Panakaduwa copper sannasa. That in turn will throw new light on the yoke being identified as the symbol of royal power in ancient Sri Lanka during the time of scribing Panakaduwa Sannasa. If this idea is accepted then we can also send the colonial mace to the museum and replace it with the Parakramabahu yoke as the new Sennkolaya, thereby giving a novel concept to the world on State power without just blindly following the British tradition.

Therefore first I request archeologists to review their old concept and go by reality seen on rock and also to revisit the concept of the yoke as the symbol of state power as mentioned in the Panakaduwa Sannasa.

One Response to “It is definitely not a PUNANULA: is only THE NATURAL GRAIN OF THE ROCK”

  1. helaya Says:

    Sudath, You are right. This is the statue of Great King Parakrambhu, who had exceptional engineering knowledge.

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