Buddhist Meditation Monasteries in Ancient Sri Lanka
Keywords:Architectural Features for Meditation Monastery, Buddhist Art and Architecture, Buddhist Meditation Monastery.
AbstractThis study deals with a specific type of Buddhist architecture found in ancient Sri Lanka. Several groups of ruined structures of this type are found to the west of the city of Anuradhapura, along the modern outer circular road, which made archaeologist to call them —Western Monasteries. The most prominent features of these monastic complexes are the building with two raised platforms, and their positioning on a rock surface, the connecting stone gangway between the two platforms, the moat around the flat forms and lack of decorations and a number of other features. Attempts will be made to explain the characteristics of each feature in this study. Function and the meaning of this monastery type and its individual features are still remaining uncertain. Many scholars have attempted to propose different explanations for this, but due to the weakness of logics behind, these proposals are not promising. So, it is worthwhile to see any correlation between the function and the meaning of this monastery type with asceticism and meditation. For this study, archaeological remains which are in ruined state now, were examined. Some sites were already excavated and conserved. There are large amount of monastery sites which have not been excavated, which give the first-hand information for this study. The chronicles and the canonical literature, particularly the Pali Vinaya (discipline), offer some reference to asceticism, meditation and monastery life in early Buddhist cultures. Help of these literary sources is sought to understand the character of these particular buildings.
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