Sri Saddatissa Monthly Dhamma Talk at Kingsbury Temple
Photographs by Tissa Madawela

Inaugural Dhamma Talk under the Sri Saddatissa Monthly Dhamma Talk programme was held at the Kingsbury temple on the 29th of January. 
Ven. Deegalle Mahinda Thera delivered an illustrated talk on the subject " Sri Pada Pilgrimage, Buddhist Devotions in Ancient and Contemporary Times".
Ven. Mahinda Thera is a scholar and writer who teaches at Bath Spa University. In 2000, he held the Numata Professorship in Buddhist Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He writes both in Sinhala and English.
With the experience Ven. Thera received during a recent pilgrimage to the Sri Pada summit he discussed the difficulty in finding any historical writings in Sinhala to explore the beginning of the mountain becoming a holy place for Buddhists as well as Christians and people of Islam faith. However reports made by British people who were working in then Ceylon, who made the perilous journey to the top are a good source to find information on the condition of the place at that time.

He said that " Sri Pada is first mentioned, as `Samanthakuta' in the Deepawamsa, the earliest Pali chronicle, (4th century), and also in the 5th century chronicle Mahawamsa, where it is stated that the Buddha visited the mountain peak. The chronicle Rajavaliya states that the King Valagamba (1st century BCE) had taken refuge in the forests of Samanala Kanda, against invaders from India, and later returned to Anuradhapura. The Mahawamsa again mentions the visit of King Vijayabahu I (10581114) to the mountain. The famous Chinese pilgrim and Buddhist traveler Fa Hien stayed in Sri Lanka in 41112 CE and mentions Sri Pada although it is not made clear whether he actually visited it.

The Italian merchant Marco Polo in his Travels of 1298 CE noted that Adam's Peak was an important place of pilgrimage but did not mention a footprint in the rock.The Arab traveler Ibn Battuta climbed to the summit of the mountain which he called Sarandīb in 1344 CE. In his description he mentions a stairway and iron stanchions with chains to help the pilgrims. John Davy brother of the noted chemist Sir Humphry Davyvisited the peak in 1817. He recorded observing an oversized foot print carved in stone and ornamented with a single margin of brass and studded with gems.
The first European to ascend the mountain was Lieut. Malcolm in 1816. H.C.P. Bell the British Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon climbed the Peak in 1907. In 1805, Captain Robert Percival who served with the British garrison in Colombo notes: "The iron chains on the rock face of Adam's Peak have the appearance of being planted there at a very distant period. Who placed them there or for what purpose they were set up there it is difficult for any one to know - the beliefs and superstitions of the natives present difficulties. whatever it is, all evidence indicate that the peak was in the limelight long before the recorded history of the island."



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