The LTTE’s brutal attack on Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi


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Jun 19, 2023

The LTTE’s brutal attack on Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

The LTTE hijacked a bus on May 14, 1985 and entered Anuradhapura. As the LTTE cadres entered the main bus station, they opened fire indiscriminately with automatic weapons killing and wounding many

The LTTE hijacked a bus on May 14, 1985 and entered Anuradhapura. As the LTTE cadres entered the main bus station, they opened fire indiscriminately with automatic weapons killing and wounding many civilians who were waiting for buses. The LTTE cadres then drove to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and gunned down Buddhist Bhikkus, Buddhist Bhikkunis and civilians as they were worshiping. Before they withdrew, the LTTE strike force entered the Wilpattu National Park and killed 18 Sinhalese in the forest reserve. The LTTE cadres massacred 146 Sinhalese men, women and children in total, in Anuradhapura.

People born after 1970 have very little or no knowledge at all on the situation of Sri Lanka existing before ending the war. They have no idea about the day-to-day life of an ordinary Sri Lankan by that time. The patriotic parents related the past situation to their children in order to make them realize how lucky they are to live a safe life in this precious land today.

Most of the children today are not interested in finding out the dark days that Sri Lanka had to endure. Details of Sri Lanka's recent history are not available online. Therefore, it needs time, resources and money to find it out. This is the main problem faced by the younger generation. Arrangements should be made for them to learn the recent history of Sri Lanka without any hassle.

The time has come to include the true history of Mother Lanka to the history book of our schoolchildren. Learning the country's history right to the ending of the war should be made compulsory for all schoolchildren. All Sri Lankan citizens should learn the true history of Mother Lanka which has evidence of every single incident.

We should not allow our children to be misled by certain forces who are trying to misinterpret the history of Mother Lanka. The country cannot go forward successfully without people knowing the unbiased history of their country. People, especially the younger generation, make wrong decisions when they are not aware of the true history of their Motherland.

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is located in the Mahamewna Uyana (Park) in the Anuradhapura district. It is the Southern branch from the historical Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Buddha attained Enlightenment. It was planted in 288 BC and is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date.

The other fig trees that surround the sacred tree protect it from storms and animals such as monkeys, bats etc.

In April 2014, the government banned all construction within 500 metres (1,600 ft) of the tree. Only construction that obviously will not harm the tree will be allowed.

Buddhists in Sri Lanka have had a practice of visiting and paying homage to the most sacred Bodhi tree. It is an annual custom for pilgrims from far-away villages to visit the city of Anuradhapura and to pay homage to the Sri Maha Bodhi. The caretaker of this site provides various offerings on a daily basis.

The Buddhists in general have a strong belief that offerings made to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi have produced significant and positive changes in their life. It has also been customary for many Buddhists to make a special vow before the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi for the safe delivery of their babies without malformations and for many other cures. It has also been a long tradition among farmers around Anuradhapura to offer the Sri Maha Bodhi tree the rice prepared from their first paddy harvest.

They strongly believe that such offerings lead to a sustained paddy production with the least suffering from drought as well as pest attacks, including elephant damage.

In the 3rd Century BC, it was brought to Sri Lanka by Sanghamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Asoka and founder of an order of Buddhist Bhikkunis in Sri Lanka. In 288 BC it was planted by King Devanampiya Tissa on a high terrace about 6.5 m (21.3 ft) above the ground in the Mahamewna Uyana and surrounded by railings.

Several ancient kings have contributed to the development of this religious site. King Vasabha (65 - 107 AD) placed four Buddha statues on four sides of the sacred tree. King Voharika Tissa (214 - 236 AD) added metallic statues. King Mahanaga (569 - 571 AD) constructed a water canal around the sacred tree and King Sena 11 (846 - 866 AD) renovated it.

The present wall was constructed by Illupandeniye Aththadassi Thera during the reign of King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (r. 1747-1782), to protect it from wild elephants which might have damaged the tree. The height of the wall is 10 ft (3.0 m); and 5 ft (1.5 m) in thickness; its length from North to South is 388 ft (118.3 m) and from East to West 274 ft (83.5 m).

The first golden fence around the Sacred Tree was constructed by some Buddhist followers in Kandy under the guidance of Ven. Yatirawana Narada Thera in 1969. The iron fence below the above golden fence was created by people of Gonagala under the guidance of Ven. Yagirala Pannananda Thera.

Two statues of Buddha can be seen in the image-house; a stone-standing-statue is on the right side of the stone wall. The cobra-stone is a very rare creation, showing the embossed figure of a cobra. Several monolith heads with plain incisions are in this religious site.

Ruins of an ancient building called Mayura Pirivena (Mayura Monastery) have been found to the south-west of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, and the ruins of a stupa called Dakkina Tupa (Southern Monastery) can be seen nearby.

According to the ancient chronicles in Sri Lanka, some walls and terraces had been built surrounding the sacred tree at some time in the past. Mahavamsa states that King Gotabhaya (249 – 262 AD) built a rubble wall. Deepavamsa reports that a rock-laid terrace and a lattice wall was built by King Keerthi Sri Meghavarna (302 - 330 AD).

During excavation for reconstructing the present wall, the rubble wall with its foundation created by King Gotabhaya, and the rock-laid terrace together with a lattice wall constructed by King Kirthi Sri Meghavarna were found. These were preserved in place, and were opened to the public in January 2010.

The LTTE attack on Sri Dalada Maligawa

On January 25, 1998 (24 years ago), the LTTE exploded a massive truck bomb inside the Temple of the Tooth premises, which was to be the centre of the Independence Day celebrations.

Three suicide LTTE Black Tigers drove an explosive laden truck along the Raja Veediya, firing at soldiers manning road blocks around the place, crashed through the entrance and detonated the bomb around 6:10 am, local time.

Two explosions were heard. The truck contained 300 to 400 kg of high explosives. Sixteen people, including the three attackers and a two-year-old infant were killed in the incident. Over 25 people, including four women, a monk and a police officer were injured. P. W. Withanage, a Professor of Geology also died due to shock after hearing the incident. The powerful attack left most of the buildings within a radius of 5 km damaged, and glass panes broken.

Jaya Sri Maha BodhiThe LTTE attack on Sri Dalada Maligawa