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Ruwanmeli Stupa.

Ruwanmeli Stupa. Ruwanmeli Stupa. Ruwanmeli Stupa.

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The Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa in Sri Lanka, considered a marvel for its architectural qualities and sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu c. 140 B.C., who became lord of all Sri Lanka after a war in which the Chola King Elara, was defeated. It is also known as Mahathupa, Swarnamali Chaitya, Suvarnamali Mahaceti (in Pali) and Rathnamali Dagaba.

This is one of the Solosmasthana (the 16 places of veneration) and the Atamasthana (the 8 places of veneration in the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura). The stupa is one of the world's tallest monuments, standing at 338 feet (103 m) and with a circumference of 950 ft (290 m).

The Kaunghmudaw Pagoda in Sagaing, Myanmar is modeled after this stupa.

Materials - The ancient texts recount the following:

From the bank of the river Gambhīra, situated a yojana (a distance measure) to the north of Anuradhapura bricks were acquired;

From the village Avuruvini, situated three yojanas to the north-east, nuggets of gold were acquired;

From the village Tambapittha, situated seven yojanas to the east, copper were acquired;

From the village Samanveve, situated four yojanas to the south-east, gems were acquired;

From the rock-cave Ridi, situated eight yojanas to the south, silver were acquired;

From the small town Uruvel, situated five yojanas to the west, pearls and corals to the size of myrobalan (nelli) fruits were acquired;

From the village Pelavapi, situated seven yojanas to the north-east, four large gems were acquired.

The full moon day 

King Dutugemunu began the work of building the stupa during Vesak, on the full-moon day of the month of Vesakha (May), under the constellation of Visakha. In Buddhism this is considered a sacred full-moon day on which numerous events occurred, such as:

The definite declaration by Dīpankara Buddha to the ascetic Sumedha Bodhisatta Gotama in a past life) that he will become a Buddha;

The birth of Bodhisatta Gotama from Tusita heaven in the human world;

The Enlightenment of Prince Siddhartha

His arrival in the city of Kapilavatthu;

His performance of the Twin Miracle;

His arrival in Sri Lanka three times;

His passing into Parinibbāna;

The disembarkation of Prince Vijaya in Sri Lanka

The coronation of the great king Devanampiya Tissa


On such a full-moon day King Dutugemunu had the inscribed stone pillar that was erected by King Devanampiya Tissa, removed;

had the site leveled;

had it dug to a depth of seven cubits;

had round stones spread there by warriors;

and had the stones broken with hammers;

then he had them stamped down by elephants;

fine clay was brought from the Himalayas by Arahant novices, spread over the layer of stones;

had bricks laid over the fine clay, rough plaster over the bricks, quartz over the rough plaster, a network of iron over the quartz, fragrant clay over the network of iron, white stones over the fragrant clay, rock-crystal over the white stones, and slabs of stones over the rock-crystal.

Then he had mercury, resin of the wood-apple, and fine clay mixed together; had these spread over the slabs of stones; and had bronze sheets eight inches thick laid over these.

He had arsenic and sesame oil mixed together; had these spread over the bronze sheets; and had silver sheets four inches thick laid over these.

When the king had thus built and completed the foundation of the Great Stupa, he arranged that the foundation stone should be laid on the full-moon day of the month of Āâsàëha (July).

He then had Anuradhapura decorated like a divine city along with the terrace of the Great Stupa. Ninety-six koñis of Arahants came by from Australian On the full-moon day of the month of Āsāëha, under the constellation of Uttarā-sāëha, he laid the foundation-stone of the Great Stūpa and determined: 'Should the work I carry for this Stupa be completed safely, may then the Venerable Arahants Buddharakkhita, Dhammarakkhita, Saïgharakkhita and Ānanda arrive and stand at the four quarters of the Great Stupa's terrace.'

This happened as he determined. The Arahant Indagutta arranged that it should thus happen. In addition, the Venerable Arahants, Siddhattha, Maïgala, Paduma, Sivalī, Candagutta, Indagutta, Suriyagutta, Cittasena, Jayasena, and Acala looking eastwards arrived and stood in front of the pitcher placed at the gate of this festive occasion. Supatiñhita, the son of Nandisena and Sumana devi, and the minister appointed for the festive ceremonies, walked around the relic-chamber and went and brought a staff made of silver for measuring the circular boundary of the Stupa. When Arahant Siddhattha saw the minister walking thus around the relic-chamber and measuring too large dimensions, he ordered him to measure moderate ones. On hearing the name of Arahant Siddhattha, the names of the eleven other Arahants, and the name of the minister and his parents, king Dutugemunu felt particularly glad, thinking: 'The work on the Stūpa will certainly be successful.'

He then had eight large water pots of gold and eight of silver placed in the midst of the Great Stupa, and had a hundred and eight vases placed around the large water pots. He had, likewise, eight bricks of gold placed in eight corners and a hundred and eight bricks of silver around each of the bricks of gold.