VEN. ELLAWALA MEDHANANDA Part 4
Posted on June 2nd, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

REVISED 26.6.20

Medhananda did not hold back his archaeological findings, hoping some day to put it all into one magnificent book. He wanted to communicate his findings to the public as soon as possible.  Therefore he wrote up his archaeological findings in newspapers and periodicals as soon as he could.

For each exploration he gave directions of how to get there,    described the  geography and history of the place, and then listed  the structures and objects found, such as the remains of Buddha statues, stupa, pilimage, siripatul, and  displaced objects  such as columns, bricks and of course, the inscriptions found there, the main focus of all  Medhananda explorations.

The first recorded newspaper    article was in Silumina” on 7.4.1960. He continued to write for newspapers and his biography (2008) lists a contribution to Lankadeepa” on 26.9.2007.  Medhananda biographer has managed to collect and list 636 contributions to newspaper and magazines, dating from 1960- 2007, but this is an incomplete list.  Medhananda is still writing.

I have collected a lot of little known information after spending 15 years on archaeological explorations, said Medhananda, ‘assak mullaka nara   avidimin’.  They were published in Budusarana”, Davasa”, Divaina” and Lankadeepa’. Divaina” had a weekly column written by me, encouraged and supported by Divaina editor Edmund Ranasinghe. Medhananda wrote to “Divaina” for four years, with special focus on the Buddhist   remains in north and east.

Some of these writings had an immediate impact.      Medhananda wrote an article on Muhudu Maha Vihara in Pottuvil to the Sinhala newspapers and thereafter the Archeological Department took over the place. His writings to periodicals such as‘Sastrodaya’” and Rasavahini” also had an impact. 

Medhananda has written 43 books as at 2008. Medhananda’s most significant books are Nagenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala Bauddha Urumaya” and ‘Magama rajadhaniya’. His book ‘Nagenahira palata ha uturu palate Sinhala Bauddha Urumaya won the State Literary award in 2005. It has gone into 5 reprints. His book on king Valagamba was published by the Department of Cultural Affairs. 

Mahagama rajadhaniya” was first   published in 1970. I first wrote on Ruhuna to Sastrodaya and then Rasavahini magazines, said Medhananda .  They were well received. So I thought of writing this book,. He has been supported in this by fellow bhikkhus. In the book he thanks Napawela Soratha, Kiriella Gnanawimala, Mapote Chandajothi, for their help and encouragement.  Medhananda revised his views on the   Mahagama kings   when he discovered more inscriptions. He published a revised version in 2012.

Medhananda’s book Sangavunu aithihasika puda bim” was first published 1999, second edition 2014. In this book Medhananda described the unknown viharas across the island, explored by him. He gave the history of these viharas, the archaeological remains found there, the significance of these remains and the content of the inscriptions found there.

In his introduction to ‘Sangavunu aithihasika puda bim”, Medhananda said, I have explored and examined the Buddhist remains in various difficult places (dushkara) and have   written on them giving description and history of the places. I have written thousands of these accounts. I have been asked by many to collect them into a book. 10% of the royalties from this book will go for bank deposits for children, he added.

He also wrote    ‘Aprakata brahmi lipi ha pura vastu,’ ‘Kavantissa rajatuma ha Vihara maha Devi,” “Dutugemunu maha rajatuma, and ‘ Dutugemunu rajatumage dasa maha yodayo”, followed by Aithihasika Digavapiya”, and Aitihasika Situlpawwa’. He wrote several books about Buddhist remains in north and east. Two of these books are, ‘Utura negenhira hela bodu urumaya,” and   Nagenahira palate vinasayata yana pura vastu” 

Medhananda has contributed to ‘Uva vansa katava,’ and ‘Uva Vihara Vansaya’, both published by Uva Provincial Council and ‘Mahaweli vansaya’, published by Mahaweli Ministry.

Medhananda has visited and written up the history of several forest monasteries, such as   Buddhangala, Budugallena, Karandahela, Kudimbigala, Malayadikanda,   Nimalava, Piyangala, Ritigala, Samangala   and Tarulengala.    The booklets were given to the temples to sell.

Some of these histories were written at the request of the chief priest of the temple. Ven. Tambugala Anandasiri, when he was at Kudimbigala vihara, requested Medhananda to come there and write a historical account of Kudimbigala. Others were explored and written up on Medhananda own initiative.

In 1978 he went to Piyangala, wrote about it, gave the book to Piyangala to sell, and also arranged for Piyangala monastery to get dana regularly. Budugallena had not been studied before, said Medhananda.  Medhananda’s book on Buddhangala went into 10 reprints.  Tarulenhela monastery is the old Habutagala vihara built by Kavantissa, said Medhananda.   (continued)

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