Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adam's Peak-සමනළ කන්ඳ

Adam's Peak-සමනළ කන්ඳ

This is not the highest mountain of Sri Lanka, the striking pyramid of Adam's Peak (7,360 ft) is certainly the most remarkable. A depression in the rocky summit resembles a huge footprint, which has been venerated as a sacred sigh from remote antiquity. This was identified by Buddhists as the Buddha's footprint, by Hindus as that of Shiva, and by Muslims as Adam's. Later the Portuguese attributed it to St. Thomas the Apostle.

The Mahawamsa tells how the sacred footprint was imprinted by the departing Buddha on his third visit to Lanka, but the site did not become an object of regular Buddhist pilgrimage until the Polonnaruwa period, when Vijayabahu I built resting houses for pilgrims and King Nissankamalla himself, in the year 1201, climbed to the top and worshipped the spot.

The Muslim tradition of a footprint of Adam, first of the prophets, goes back to gnostic sources as early as the Mahawamsa itself. According to the legend, Adam was hurled from Paradise for his disobedience and stood in penance for a thousand years on one foot at the top of Adam's Peak, after which he was reunited with Eve on Mt. Arafat overlooking Mecca. By the ninth century, this footprint was consequently considered one of the most sacred sites in the world...........

The legend of සමනළ කන්ඳ

An ancient pilgrimage, which has long attracted thousands of pilgrims from perhaps all faiths, is the pilgrimage to the sacred mountain, Sri Pada, popularly known in English as Adam's Peak. It is a conical mountain 7,360 feet (2,243 meters) high, soaring clear above the surrounding mountain ranges. According to a legend, when the Buddha visited Ceylon he planted one foot on the north of the royal city and the other on Sumana-kuta (Adam's Peak) fifteen yojanas, or about hundred miles distant.

According to another legend the Buddha is believed to have left the print of his left foot on Adam's Peak, and then, in one stride, strode across to Siam, (now Thailand) where he left the impression of his right foot. It is called Phra Sat, and its appearance is supposed to be like that of the foot print on Adam's Peak and of similar size.

General Sir A. Cunningham, in his account of the Bharhut Stupa, which dates from the second century B.C., says:

"Footprints of Buddha were most probably an object of reverence from a very early period -- certainly before the building of the Bharut Stupa -- as they are represented in two separate sculptures there. In the sculpture the foot­prints are placed on a throne or altar, canopied by an umbrella hung with gar­lands. A royal personage is kneeling before the altar, and reverently touching the footprints with his hands. The second example is in the bas-relief repre­senting the visit of Ajata-satru to Buddha. Here, as in all other Bharut sculp­tures, Buddha does not appear in person, his presence being marked by his two footprints. The wheel symbol is duly marked on both' (p. 112. abridged).

Sun Raise at the සමනළ කන්ඳ

When they reach the peak they crowd inside the enclosure and upon the steps outside, facing the east with their hands held together in an attitude of adoration awaiting the emergence of the sun. They watch intently the changing colours or the sky prior to sunrise and just as the tip of the sun appears, the pilgrims cry out uproariously, "Sadhu, sadhu, sa!" bending their heads in worship, while a heavy bell is loudly rung. This is of course reminiscent of sun worship.

Shortly after this, the Brahmin priest brings boiled rice from a group of buildings beneath the steps. As he passes the pilgrims touch the covering of the bowl in which the rice is carried. Thus everyone participates in the ritual act that is to follow. The priest approaches the rock and places the food upon it as an offering. This points to a time when food was offered to the sun god. Many Hindu pilgrims carry heavy loads of food for the use of the temple while often large quantities of rice are carried on the head of a pilgrim. These gifts of food are handed over to the officiating priest.

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