When Gautama Buddha visited Sri Lanka for the second occasion to settle the dispute among Nagas led by their kings, Chulodara and Mahodara, the ruler of the Kelaniya Kingdom, Naga King Maniakkhika who had gone there to support his nephew, Mahodara embraced Buddhism having listened to the Dharma from the Enlightened One. He invited Buddha to visit his kingdom, Kelaniya. Buddha accepted that invitation and during the eighth year after the Enlightenment He visited Sri Lanka for the third time. On this occasion God Sumana Saman made an invitation to the Buddha to visit his abode at Samantha Kuta or Samanala Kanda in the central hills of Sri Lanka. According to the Mahawansa Buddha had proceeded to Samantha Kuta from Kelaniya with supernatural power through the air. It is believed that this mountain is protected by God Sumana Saman. Devotees too are protected by him.
Beliefs of various religious groups
Christians claim that the famous footprint found at the summit of Sri Pada is Adam’s foot print. Italian priest Giovanni de Marignolli who visited Sri Lanka in 1348 with some others had climbed Sri Pada during his stay in Sri Lanka for four months. He said that Sri Pada is located close to paradise and adds that Adam had to stay on the mountain top for four months as a punishment for insubordination. He further said that Adam and Eve were kept separate for the same offence. It is said that in order to express his repentance Adam had stood on one foot on the peak. Thus Christians believe that the foot print on the rock is the one which was embedded when Adam stood on one foot. There are some Christians who believe that this is the foot print of St. Thomas.
Hindus believe that this is the foot print of God Siva who is the most formidable deity. He is also called Nadaraja who is fond of dancing. He dances on one foot and it is believed that his foot print is embedded there. Hence, they call this peak “Sivanoli Padam” meaning the foot print illuminated by deity Siva. Hindus maintained the Sri Pada Maluwa–the court yard–for nearly 150 years. Even today Sri Pada is illuminated according to Hindu rites.
Muslims believe that it is the foot print of Prophet Adam Aliahis Salam. Prophet Adam is the first prophet in Islam. According to the belief of Muslims this prophet had placed his foot print on this peak. Hence Sri Pada is also called Bawadam Malai.
Sri Pada which is a picturesque mountain peak variously known as Sri Pada, Sivanoli Padam, Bawadam Malai Samanala Kanda, Samantha Kuta and Adam’s Peak is popular throughout the world as a sacred mountain common to many religious groups.
Samanala is the butterfly in Sinhalese. During a certain season of the year butterflies fly towards this mountain in great numbers. Hence Sri Pada is also called Samanala Kanda. It is believed that these butterflies are those on pilgrimage to Sri Pada.
Pa Piyum, Pada Padma and Pa Kamal
There are many Buddha foot prints painted or engraved by painters and sculptors. In Sri Pada it is like a lotus flower and hence it is called “Pa Piyum”, “Pada Padma”and “Pa Kamal” meaning feet of lotus. Buddha’s feet were different from those of celestial beings and human beings as He is the Eminent One and the Exalted One.
Detis Maha Purusha Lakshana
Since Buddha is the Exalted One, the Eminent One without a superior, it is said that there are thirty-two auspicious marks on His body, “Detis Maha Purusha Lakshana” These marks are there to indicate that Buddha is “Devati Deva” –God of Gods and Brahmati Brahma- Brahma of Brahmins.
Sri Pada as described in “Narasiha Gatha”
There is a belief that there are one hundred and eight auspicious marks on Buddha’s feet. Mention is made about some of them in Naraseeha gatha recited by Queen Yasodhara to describe the personality of the Enlightened One to her son Rahula.
Auspicious marks in Siripatula – Buddha’s feet are described in the book titled “Mangala Lakuna” which is used in Pansala education. According to this book and another book titled “Himagata vannana” there are twenty-four auspicious marks. Mention is made about marks on Buddha’s feet by venerable Professor, Bellanwila Wimalaratana Maha Thera in his books titled “Budu Pilimaya Mudra Saha Asana” and “Buddha Maha Purusha Sankalpaya”. These auspicious marks are found only on the body of the Exalted One, Buddha, who is passionless and free from evil desires.
Yantatta Yonaka Pura
According to Mahawansa Buddha had placed His footprint at Yonakapure, “Yonakagara Lasanda Maha Dhamma Rakkhita Thera Thinsa Sahassani Bhikku Adaya.” Professor Gunapala Malalasekera was of the opinion that Yonakapura mentioned in Pali books is Ayodya, a country under the rule of Greeks somewhere during the eleventh century B C. It is supposed to be a country situated near Afghanistan. A Buddha statue, which is supposed to be the tallest in the world and found in a mountain range near Afghanistan substantiates this view.
Galpottawala Sri Padastana Viharaya
The Sri Pada pilgrimage season commenced on Unduwap Full Moon Poya Day. On this day the image of God Sumana Saman was carried to the top of the Adam’s Peak in a procession from Galpottawala Sri Padsatana Viharaya at Pelmadulla. The image is taken back to this temple when the season ends on Vesak Full Moon Poya Day. During the whole of the off season the image is housed at Galpottawala Viharaya. Because of this reason this temple is called Sri Pada Pansala. Since the pansala had been constructed by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe the place is also called Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe Raja Maha Viharaya.
Sri Pada pilgrim season
Pilgrims climb this mountain only during the period from December to May. It is believed that the period from May to December is confined to the celestial beings led by God Sumana Saman. However, it is to be taken for granted that pilgrims avoid climbing the mountain during this part of the year because it is the rainy season. Although the place is reserved for celestial beings during one half of the year, the oil lamp called Dolosmaha Pahana is kept lit throughout the year. As mentioned earlier Sri Pada is not confined to a particular religion. For many the excursion to Sri Pada is a religious pilgrimage but for many others it is a pleasure trip.
By Gamini Jayasinghe