THE GREATNESS OF SRI LANKA
 
THE GREATNESS OF SRI LANKA
“Much to the Alarm of The Post British Historians & the Followers of Their Schools of Thought Must Note That Sri Lankan Pre History Is Old, Ancient & Continuous As The Beginnings of the World & Thus Branches the History & Archaeology. From the Sri Lankan Society & Culture These Fields of Sciences Would Be At a Great Loss If They Try To Pursue & Explore This Science through a Controlled Point of View, As Adopted by More Recent Civilisations or Schools Of Thought”

EPIGRAPHICA ZEYLINICA

The University of Cambridge, England has 274 volumes of 'Epigraphica Zeylanica' with over 3000 inscriptions from Ceylon (that is more inscriptions than the whole of mainland China has, even though Sri Lanka is only 1/2 the size of the (State of New York), including dating back to 6th century BC. Over 2000 of these have been deciphered, indicating the consistent development of the Sinhalese language.

ARCHITECTURE
"The constructive & artistic genius of the Sinhalese race proceeded in the following century (i.e.2nd century B. C. E) to develop the design to an extent not found elsewhere. The most important examples erected in Ceylon are comparable with the greatest pyramids of Egypt. The two largest Dagobas at Anuradhapura surpass in contents, three exceeded in height all but the two enormous pyramids Khufru & Khafra at Gizeh"
(Ancient Ceylon, H. Parker, 262)

LITERATURE
"One of the greatest contributions of the Sinhalese people to the cultural development of South & South East Asia & to world literature is the creation of a historic literature. It is well-known that on the Indian sub continent before the invasion of the Islamic conquerors virtually no historic literature had developed... Sri Lanka tells a different story. In the Dipawansa & Mahawamsa & in various other Sinhalese texts, we are given an account of the political & cultural history of the island from earliest times until the present time"

(Wilhelm Geiger - His Life & Works, Heinz Bechert, 2nd ed)

HISTORICAL CHRONICLES OF SRI LANKA
  • Dipawansa
  • Mahawamsa
  • Culavamsa
  • Thupavansa
  • Rajavaliya
  • Pujavaliya
  • Attana-galu Vihara Vansa
  • Dhatuvansa
  • Elu-Attangaluvansa
  • Elu-Buddha Vansa
  • Maha Bodhivansa
  • Daladavansa
  • Viharavansa
BUDDHIST BHIKKHUS (MONKS)
"Go and talk to the yellow robed and tonsured recluse - not of course through an interpreter, or out of a book of phrases: you must know not only his language but something of Buddhist ideas; and you must speak to him as man to man, not as the wise to the barbarian. You will certainly be courteous; for whatever else a Buddhist Bhikkhus may be, he will be sure to give proof of courtesy and a dignified demeanor. And it will be strange if you do not find a new world of thought and of feeling opening out before you."

(Rhys Davids, Prof of Pali in the University of London at Manchester during 1882-1904)

ANCIENT SINHALESE IRRIGATION
The ingenuity of the Sinhala irrigation engineers is best exemplified by the invention of the "bisokotuwa" which historically mean "queen’s enclosure" indicating "out of bounds". The Bisokotuwa is the same as the sluice gate, which functions in the regulation of the outward flow of water & is therefore essentially an invention made by the Sinhala irrigation engineers more than 2200 years ago, 1000 years before the rest of the world, and are considered to have built the most sophisticated irrigation systems in the world according to British excavation engineers. It has remained essentially unchanged since then. "it was this bisokotuwa invention alone which permitted the Sinhalese to proceed boldly with the construction of reservoirs that still rank among the finest work of its kind in the world" (Parker, 1981) Minneriya tank, was the first great rainwater reservoir ever constructed in the world, if the great lakes of Egypt, which are immense natural hollows into which streams were turned, are not considered. This was built by King Mahasena (276-303 AD) "Neither in the lands of their (i.e. of the Indo-Aryan settlers) origin nor in South India did there develop an irrigation system of the magnitude or the complexity of that which the Sinhalese afterwards constructed in Ceylon; nothing comparable & contemporaneous with the ancient dam, canal & tank system of Ceylon, mingling the water of rivers flowing in different directions is known in continental India" (A Short Account of the History of Irrigation Works, C. W. Nicholas, JRASCB 1960, 43-69)

THE FIRST HOSPITAL IN THE WORLD
The history of medical care began early, for in the fourth century BC King Pandukabhaya (437-366 BCE), in the course of sanitizing the town constructed a Traditional Ayurvedic hospital.   At Mihintale you will witness the Traditional Ayurveda Medicine trough, a ruin of a hospital built in the ninth century AD. In the fourth century AD King Upastissa the second provided quarters & homes for the crippled & the blind.  King Buddhadasa (337-365 AD) himself a physician of great repute, appointed a physician to be in charge of every ten villages. For the maintenance of these physicians, one tenth of the income of the fields was set apart. He also set up refuges for the sick in every village. Physicians were also appointed to look after the animals. King Kasyapa the fifth (914-923 AD) founded a hospital close to the southern gate of Anuradhapura. General Sena in the tenth century is believed to have built a hospital close to the ceremonial street (Mangala Vidiya).

SRI MAHA BODHI THE OLDEST RECORDED TREE IN THE WORLD  
A sapling of the sacred Bo tree (Pipal – Ficus religiosa) in the shelter of which Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained supreme enlightenment & became Buddha (6th century BC) was brought to Sri Lanka by Buddhist nun Sanghamitta, as a gift from her father Mauryan Buddhist Indian Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century BC. Today, the huge specimen of this Ficus religiosa has no rival to the claim of being the oldest historical tree (i.e. having the longest recorded written history) in the world. It has been protected by an uninterrupted series of Buddhist monks since it was planted.  

THE WORLD'S FIRST MUSEUM

The world's first museum was built in Sri Lanka 2200 years ago. It housed the parts of the ship that brought the Bodhi sapling to Sri Lanka from India in 3rd century BCE. Sri Maha Bodhi (Sacred Bo-Tree).

THE WORLD'S FIRST RECORDED (247 BCE) WILDLIFE AND NATURE RESERVE  
Sri Lanka was the setting - Mihintale being the site - of the world's first recorded (247 BCE) wildlife and nature reserve, established by King Devanapiyatissa, a convert to conservationism deeply influenced as he was by the inspirational message of the Buddha imparted to him by Arahant Mahinda. Further evidence of this deep-rooted concern for wildlife and the commitment to conservation is found in an inscription engraved on a stone slab at Anuradhapura's majestic millennia-old Golden Sand Stupa. The inscription attributed to the 12th Century King Nissankamalla of Polonnaruwa, forbid the capture, killing or commercial trafficking of any animals, birds and fish within a radius of 7gauvas (4 miles) from the city. References to royal protection and preservation of wildlife are extant throughout the Mahawamsa and this traditional care and concern for creatures of the wild continues to this day.

THE OLDEST STEEL PLANT IN THE WORLD
The earliest evidence of steel making in the ancient world, dating back to 300 BC, has been found in the Samanalawewa reservoir area. In comparison, England's first steel making occurred in 1491. The early furnaces were ingeniously powered by natural draught-the monsoon winds-rather than the forced draught (bellow-operated) method employed elsewhere. Recent excavations found the ruins of a steel plant (built circa 300 BC) manned solely by wind power. Sri Lanka did indeed export high quality steel to Persia to make the famed Persian swords.

ELEPHANTS OF ANCIENT LANKA  
The excellence of elephants of Sri Lanka was well known to the Greeks as far as back on 3rd century BCE, in the time of Alexander the Great. Onescritus, an admiral of the fleet of Alexander the great stated elephants of Lanka "are bigger, more fierce & furious for war than those of India" Greek writers Megasthenes (300 BCE) and Aelian (44AD) corroborate this. Sixth century writer Cosmos Indicopleustes says that the elephants from Sri Lanka were highly priced in India for its excellence in war.

THE ANCIENT MARITIME SEA ROUTE (250 BCE)
In Topographia Christiana of the 6th century AD, Sri Lanka is referred to as an important sea trade centre on the Maritime Silk Route. Sri Lanka is also mentioned in The Periplus Maris Erythraei, a guide to trade on the Red Sea & India, written by an author in Alexandria, supposed around 40 AD. The Ancient Maritime Sea Route (250 BCE) extended from Alexandria to China: Alexandria - Nabataean Kingdom - The Red Sea - Himyante Kingdom (Yemen) - The Arabian Sea - Satavahanos Kingdom (India) - Ruhuna Kingdom (Sri Lanka) - Malacca - Don Song Kingdom (Cambodia) - China.

ANCIENT SINHALESE SHIPS
At one time, the Sinhalese ships were the biggest at Shanghai harbour (Chinese records), and history records a time when the representative of the Sinhalese sat on the right hand side seat of Claudius Caesar.

THE ONLY MONUMENT BUILT IN HONOUR OF A FALLEN ENEMY  
Sri Lanka is the only country in the world known to have a monument built in honour of a fallen enemy (2nd century BCE). Tamil invader Elara was killed in the heroic war by the Sinhala prince from Ruhuna who rose to become the hero of the nation. The victorious King Dutugemunu of Lanka decreed that anyone passing the monument pay homage to the dead king, he who, even though an invader. A Sinhalese aristocrat did so at the cost of his life as recent as 1815, while fleeing from the British who were at his heels. The ancient Sinhalese believed neither in being ruled by foreign powers nor the contrary. Whenever there were invaders, they were successfully overthrown, but once the kingdom was won back, these very same invaders were 'allowed to live as they pleased' (ancient inscriptions). The kings even built religious monuments for these very same invaders, some of which exist to this day. The ancient concept of tolerance of the Sinhalese has been inspired by the gentle sway of Buddhism.
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