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Diva Guha Rajamaha Viharaya
Journey to the beautiful Batathota Cave Temple or Diva Guha Rajamaha Viharaya
According to the history, Lord Buddha visited Samanala Kanda and established the Sri Pada emblem during the second visit to Kelaniya. The place where he spent the day with five hundred Arahants on this journey is called the Diva Guha(Day Cave).
Travel Story by Nilakshi Bandara.
There are various beliefs about this cave. Some believe that it is a rock cave located on the slopes of the Sri Pada hill. Some believe that this is the Batathota cave located on the Kuruvita Erathna road.
You will find Kuruvita town on Colombo- Ratnapura main road at a distance of 87 km. This is a densely forested area at the foot of the Sri Pada Range. From Erathna road you have to walk for about a kilometer and climb a steep hill with hundreds of steps to reach the Batatota Cave Temple.
This is a difficult journey. Recently, with the help of philanthropists, the stairs have been widened and the stairs from the foot to the temple are covered with a roof. It is a very convenient for pilgrims during the rainy season.
At the top of the hill there is a cave temple with a capacity of five hundred people and a flat ground. The stone pool at the entrance of the cave is amazing. A large 18 cubit sleeping statue of Buddha is in the cave. The specialty of this Buddha statue is that the feet of this Buddha are pointing towards Sri Pada Hill while the other Buddha statues in the area have been erected with the head facing towards it.
Historians say that this statue was created in a way the Buddha lie down and look at the top of the Sri Pada. Other Buddha statues and statues of Arahants are carved in the cave. This statue is made of a special type of clay.
The cave is about 150 feet long, 67 feet wide and 50 feet high. Near this cave there are stone caves like Sthripura and Dahaiya caves where people lived 30,000 years ago.
Former Commissioner of Archeology Dr. PEP Deraniyagala and Shiran Deraniyagala have also uncovered information about these human settlements. There are legends about King Maha Ravana, God Sumana Saman, Emperor Alexander the Great, King Walagamba, King Nissankamalla and King Rajasinghe.
Legend records reveal the story that King Nissanka Malla, who ruled Ceylon from 1178 to 1207, spent several days in this cave on his way to Samanthakoota Parvatha in search of the Sri Pada. Inside, the king tortured and killed a princess named Rathnamali who lived in the area due to a matter of gossip. It is also believed that she was a princess from Antakpura.
The princess, enraged by the incident, was born a demon named “Khantamari” and lived for 712 years, preying on all the lay clergy who came to the cave.Some of the devotees who were possessed by Khantamari demon had said about this. In order to get rid of this spirit, the demon has said that a dwelling should be built for him within 40 feet of the cave and perform a ritual and give alms, and then the spirit will be bone as a goddess and protect the pilgrims.
For hundreds of years, the ancient stone temple of Batatota was considered as a Diva Guhawa(Diva Cave) and was worshiped by the people. In 1995, The Most Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitriya Thero who visited to examine this Cave Temple and said it could be Divaa Guha or Bhagawa Cave.
According to Ananda Thero’s explanation , a dagoba called “Paligu Mini Seya” has been built in the cave to treasure the relics to pay homage to the ghost. In addition to this, 100 eightfold offerings ( Atapirikaras) were offered to the Kirivehera in Kataragama and hundreds of monks had come to give alms. At the same time, hundreds of monks had come to this place and preached the Rathana Sutra.
While preaching the Rathana Sutra, the demon possessed one of the young women who was there and the young woman said that she was no longer a demon and she had become a goddess because of her good behavior. She had given a promise to protect the pilgrims asking to plant a Nuga tree for her to stay.
Thereafter, a Nuga tree was planted in the area and a group of Dasasil mothers went in a procession to pay homage to the ghost and offer Atapirikara to the sleeping Buddha statue.
These eightfold offerings (Atapirikaras) can still be seen even today at the foot of the Buddha statue . At the same time the aboriginal people were called and the Kirikoraha ceremony was held. This cave temple is also mentioned in the book “Sabaragamu Dharshana” written by Ven. Kiriella Thero.
To the right of the cave are two small temples dedicated to Lord Sumana and Lord Vishnu.There is a statue of a large frog in the water filled rock pool which is called Manduka.There is a legend about this too. After worship commenced , a frog was trampled to death by a pilgrim. Then a large number of frogs came to the place from time to time. Considering this as a curse,a statue of a frog was built in the pool. The frog can be seen in the middle of the pond..
Currently, the Chief Incumbent of the temple runs an English medium Pirivena for about 50 young novice monks.
We visited Batathota and heard many interesting legends. We thank Mr. Jaliyagoda who works in the office of the Rajamaha Vihara for giving information about this.
Many thanks to my mother, Lecturer Kumari Tennakoon, who encouraged me to make this journey a success, and to Sister Sandamini Aloysius, a student in the Department of Mass Media at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
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