Great wise men and venerated sages from Sri Lanka and South India united to accomplish greater Tasks.

By Charles.S.Perera

In Tiruchi of the ancient Chola country in South India was found a 51" Buddhist Statute in granite dating back to 10th or 11th Century AD. In Tamil Nadu there were Tamil Buddhists. The Tamil Buddhsits in Tamil Nadu, and Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka had cordial relations. Vennearable Buddhaghosa who translated the Sinhala Commentaries on Buddhist texts and wrote a compendium of the tripitaka came from Tailang in South India.

Ghosa who later became Venerable Buddhaghosa was a great Hindu intellectual who was well versed in the Vedas.

One of the senior monks, Venerable Revata from Sri Lanka, one day heard Sanskrit Vedic Verses sung by a wandering ascetic. Venerable Revata was very impressed by his recitation of Sanskrit stanzas. He called him to his temple, he was Ghosa. Venerable Revata spoke to him about Buddhist Suttas written in Pali. Ghosa who listened to the Venerable Revata reciting verses from the Abhidhamma, took a great liking to it. He wanted to study the original Buddhist texts.

On his request Ghosa was ordained as a monk and given the name Buddhaghosa. Venerable Revata told him that the original manuscripts containing the Sutta discourses of the Budhha, were taken by Venerabla Arahant Mahinda thero to Sri Lanka in the third century BC. These texts along with the commentaries in Sinhala were at Mahavihara in Anuradhapura, in Sri Lanka. Venerable Reveta requested Venerable Buddhaghosa to go to Sri Lanka, and translate the Sinhala Commentaries into Pali and bring them to India for the greater good of the Buddha Sasana.

Thereupon Venerable Buddhaghosa came back to his native Tailang in South India, and proceeded from there by boat to Sri Lanka. On his way, he met in the high seas Venerable Bhuddhadatta who was returning to his home country in Uragapur in the ancient Chola Country in South India. On hearing each others experiences, Venerable Buddhadatta, requested Venerable Buddhaghosa to send him copies of his work in Sri Lanka.

Venerable Buddhaghosa disembarked at the port of Jambukola, in Jaffna, and proceeded from there to Anuradhapura in 5 century AD. Sri Lanka was ruled at the time by King Mahanama. Venerable Buddhaghosa was received at the Maha Vihara in Anuradhapura, by Venerable Sangapala thero.. Venerable Buddhaghosa studied Thervada Buddhist texts under the direction of Venerable Sangapala the Sinhala monk. His permission to translate the Sinhala Commentaries in to Pali was granted after he compiled a compendium of the whole of the teachings of the Buddha in the Tripitaka. Venerable Buddhaghosa included into it all the commentaries in Sinhala to the Tripitaka. It is the Visuddhimagga.

Rohan L.Jayetilleke says in respect of this great encyclopaedic work of the Great Venerable Buddhaghosa from the ancient Tamil Nadu,

" The Visuddhimagga above all is a testimony to the intellectual attainments of Buddhaghosha in knowledge it is encyclopaedic and enshrining a deep insight, is the most valuable contribution of any Indian to the continuation of a Pali Theravada Buddhism, at a time Buddhism was in the vain in India and Sanskrit language had eclipsed Pali, in all spheres of activity both, secular, religious and literary ".

When permission was granted to Venerable Buddhaghosa by the Priests of the Mahavihara to undertake this great task, he took residence at Ganthakara Parivena in the Mahavihara and translated all commentaries including the whole of Abhidhamma from Sinhala to Pali.

Thereafter, the Venerabla Buddhadatta thero, who had taken residence in a Vihara on the Baks of Kaveri River, in South India, on receiving the copies of the manuscripts from Venerable Buddhaghosa, after reading the commentaries to the Abhidhamma, and the Vinaya , wrote Abhidhammavatara, and Vinayavinicca based on Venerable Buddhaghosa's stupendous work.

That was the incomparable relationship the intellectual spiritual Leaders of the ancient Tamil Nadu, had with Sri Lanka and the Sinhala spiritual Leaders.

Let us pray that time would come that South India will have such great men of immeasurable value to establish spiritual and lay relations with equally great men in Sri Lanka.

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