Arrival of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka

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The final attempt made by a neighboring state to make war with Guhasiva for the possession of the Tooth relic caused this relic to leave the Indian shores. By this time. Buddhism was enrooted in Sri Lanka, and the island rulers maintained close relations with the Indian states that fostered Buddhism. Apparently, it was for this reason that the Kalinga rulers, under imminent danger of loosing the battle, decided to send the Tooth relic to his friend, the Sri Lankan king. After about eight centuries of its existence in India, the Tooth relic was secretly taken away by Danta and Hemamala, said to be the son-in-law and daughter of Guhasiva. The literary works like Dathavamsa,Daladasirita and the chronicle Mahavamsa, record many and varied vicissitudes that the couple went through en route to Sri Lanka in order to safeguard the relic.

It is recorded that the prince and the princess donned the garb of ascetics and carried the Relic hidden within the coiffure of Hemamala not to be noticed by passers by. A twentieth century wall painting of the well known temple of Kelaniya (about 5 miles east of Colombo), depicts this episode in a classic style executed by a local artist (Solius Mendis). Danta and Hemamala embarked on a ship at the ancient port of Tamralipti located at the mouth of the river Ganges, and reached the shores Sri Lanka at the port of Lankapattana (modern Ilankeiturei) in the Trincomallee District. The Tooth Relic finally reached the Sri Lankan capital, Anuradhapura, and according to the Sinhala text, Dalada Sitia, the Relic was kept in the Megha vihara in the park Mahameghavana. At the time of arrival, the Indian ruler Guhasiva’s friend, king Mahasena had passed away and his son, king Kirti Sri Meghavanna (4th century AC), who himself was a pious Buddhist, had succeeded him.

The Tooth Relic was well received by the king and placed on the throne itself. With much veneration the king had the Tooth Relic enshrined in the edifice called Dhammacakkageha originally built by king Devanmpiyatissa in the 3rd century BC, within the royal enclosure. The king built a special shrine and enshrined the Tooth Relic therein. This shrine has now been identified as the ruined edifice lying almost next to the great refectory known as Mahapali.