| Sripali Vaiamon
Everyone should be assured a religion worthy of one’s confidence but yet attention also should be paid to identify truths out of myths. Religion is for the man. Not man for the religion. However, whenever you arrive at the manifestation of your faith, in your religious domain you must have a confidence that you possess a mighty psychological force within you as a powerful turbine which could be activated and when activate as a wish, pray or solicitor eventually you will achieve what you intended.That could be an achievement!Your goal!
If I cite one or two strong examples, say, the existence of God Kataragama according to a yarn it started like this: The Cupid, Anangaya, was serving under the God Shiva. When he reached the age of retirement Shive asked what he needs from him as a gift. He contemplated for a moment and hold his palm towards Shiva and pleaded, Lord, when I hold my palm like this, if you can make it red hot and with it if I touch anything burn immediately, I would be very happy.”
“O that is simple! Just hold your hand towards me and think what you desire. I’ll start meditating! When it becomes red your request has been granted.”
“Thank you Lord!” and he held his palm towards Shiva, and Shiva closed his eyes and started meditating. His palm gradually became red. When it was totaly red, he jumped upon Shiva and he noticed the danger and started running.
Vishnu saw this calamity and immediately created a beautiful woman on a swing in a bi road just before he comes to the spot. Because Vishnu is well aware that Shiva is a nymphomaniac. When Shiva saw this damsel he completely forget why he is running and approached her, praised about her beauty and asked whether she likes to marry him. She gave an affirmative answer but asks to obtain mother’s permission. He agreed and ran to mother and returned immediately. Then she had a child on her lap. Then she asked now she is with a child and asks mother she is agreeable to marry her with a child. He went and got the permission again .When he reaches her she had two kids. Again he has to go. But when he returns she had three. He had to follow the same process and when it was six she accompanied her with siblings to his mother, Parwathi. Parwathi welcomed them, but damsel disappeared.Parwathi finds very difficult to manage with these incorrigible kids. They were so stubborn. She grabbed all the six in one hand and uttered, let all the six of you become one and only one person. Alas! They became one but with six heads and twelve hands. This is a birth story of the god Katharagama.
Could any intellectual believe whether a god, human or even an animal could there be with six heads and twele hands! Isn’t that incredible! The very sketch should make the devotees flabbergasted if they are intelligent enough to judge. It never happened. But mind you thousands of Buddhist devotees even academics who pay homage offer Puja with various eatable plus big amount of money to the Kapuwa of the Katharagama shrine to get fulfilled their wishes. When I was small I have noticed devotees used to keep one cent coin on a piece of cloth and tie a Baare.They entrust everything God to settle for them. They will have full confidence. Now of course God may need more money. That’s why they keep big amount in the Pooja tray. However their beliefs strongly entrenched in their minds that God could bestow what they ask for! Isn’t it precarious! In almost every Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, this Hindu God acquired a prominent place, perhaps a seperate shrine. Although Buddhism follows an Anathma concept while Hinduism strictly adheres to Athma Vada.Could most of the devotees basically differentiate this concept? I have my doubt!
From the Islamic point of view the story of the KABA is another mystery.
When Abrham,the Patriarch of Islam,Christianity and Judaism was strolling along with his son Ishmeal (Genesis 16-17) in the desert, he saw in a distance a huge rock shinning due to bright sun light.
Ishmael said as you are tired you can sit on it. When they came closer they noticed there is a sort of a foot print. Abraham immediately worshipped and proclaimed that this stone has fallen from the heaven and this foot print is that of Adam. The man created by the God Allah. He etched his foot print also on it and collected various materials from surrounding and covered it like a dome. He called it Kaba.Thereafter it has been constructed several times.Now it is big dome in Mecca.Prophet Mohammed made a ruling that it could be worshipped only by those who have faith in Islam. Although Christians and Jews have close connection to both Adam and Abraham, they have no right to pay homage. This is also purely a magnanimous belief of Islamic world. Millions used to proceed from distant countries to pay their homage. They have full confidence that their God will grant them with redemption.
Similarly in Sri Lanka the Adams’ peak or Sri Pada or Sivanoli Padam or BabaAdamalai based on religious beliefs.
Dr.Waldemar C.Sailor, the author of The World of the Buddha’s Foot Print, who spent nearly 25 years to study the artefacts, says some reflects a particular time and place in culture. According to him Buddha’s Foot Prints have been constructed or carved with innumerable symbols, Dhamma Chakka etc. in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India (Sanchi), Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and SRI LANKA.
Belief of the Sri Lankan devotees is that the Buddha arrived with 500 Arahath Bhikkus to Kelaniya, in his imaginary third trip and the God Saman, the custodian of mount Samonala came over and pleaded Buddha to implant his Foot Prints on the peak for devotees to pay homage.
It was a mountain of 7353 ft. high in the thick jungle. Very laborious for young and old to climb even after cutting over 2000 steps.Tissa Devendra demonstrated in one of his documents an experience of a party of pilgrims exquisitely. Sinhalese villagers, including children and their grandparents set out on a pilgrimage and when they reached almost the peak where there were chains, they hang on to the chains like that of a living rosary. Then a storm sprang up suddenly and the chains were swinging fiercely from side to side. But they still hung on though they dared not to move in either direction up or down. Then came a tremendous gust like the breath of an angry god, the chains were swing so far to one side that they hung no longer over the pilgrims path, but clear above a frightful fall into a valley far below.
Presently chains have been disconnected but steps are there and calamity of that nature may not happen. Can anyone imagine compassionate Buddha would have obliged god Saman to implant his foot prints on such a high mountain to undergo immense difficulties for devotees to pay homage. Unimaginable!
The author of Mahavansa more than the Deepavansa has elaborated the Buddha’s visits in highly impressive mode. Ancient kings have totaly accepted whatever included in the chronicles and uneducated devotees never disagreeable with the kings. Up to now they follow with great faith and their intuition is so high. However I do not wish to slur their insight. To be frank in almost all major and minor religious conceptions in the world plenty of unbelievable mysteries engulfed in most credible patterns and never wish to shun them openly. Perhaps they may have received some kind of efficacies, directly or indirectly.
The concept of foot prints undoubtedly originated in Afganistan.The sailors and traders who sailed via Lanka to Java, according to history, sojourned in the Island in Mahathitha (Mannar) and collected commodities such as ivory, precious stones, cinnamon etc.During their leisure time may have come out with stories about their countries. Primitive people who collected their stories with great enthusiasam, related generation after generation.Undountedly Mahavansa author coined and elaborated it with as an exciting story to impress the Buddhist devotees but for the sake of intelligentsia he enected a clause, “For the serene joy of pious”. Otherwise relevant to his elaborations, not a single word has been express anywhere in the Tri Pitaka or in discourses Buddha preached during his life time to say he visited the Island and preached his doctrine to various personalities. This itself contradicts with the introduction of Buddhism by Rev.Maha Mahinda which has been accepted as a great historical event in the annal of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Learned Buddhist scholars of very high capacity such as Sir Baron Jayathilake, Dr.G.P.Mallasekara. Dr.Senarath Pranavithana and host of others have made negative comments on the elaborated visits.
Buddha`s Foot Prints were first constructed in Bacteria, the modern Afaganistan.It was then under General Menander around 155BC who involved in Milindapanna (a propound debate).
Buddhism spreaded rapidly from Bacteria because of the Silk Route.The first Buddhist statue was built in Gandara. Present Kandahar.Bacterians built massive Buddha images in the Bhamiyan mountain range, the tallest was 55 meters, carved in the sandstone in the cliff, in 554 AD. These were demolished by dynamiting and using canons by Talibans in March 2001, where UN or UNESCO never counteracted strongly to avoid the destruction of priceless gigantic statues.
However, Buddha`s foot prints have been carved on the peak which is 5 feet 11 inches and it is only a representation.Not a pictorial equivalent as such. Original Foot Prints in Bacteria had an array of symbols including Dhamma Chakka unlike the one on the Peak of Samanola where only a few symbols have been carved.I climbed eight times during my school days.
For Buddhists it is Sri Pada, Christians, Adam`s Peak, Hindus, Sivanoli Padam, Muslims, Baba Adamallai.All are making pilgrimage .There is not only devotion but unbelievable unity among all the communities.That is really great according to the philosophy of the present day policy of the Government.Unity among all the ethnic communities is paramount to live peacefully in the Island.
When I was in Germany in 1971 and 72, I made two trips by the cable car to Alps (Zugspitze), once from Oberammgau where a Passion play stages in an outdoor stage of the Passion Theatre, once in ten years. Through the acquired experience I contributed an article to Sri Lanka Guardian published on May 19, 2012, where I proposed to install from Hatton to the peak a cable car service, so that those who find difficult to climb will definitely utilize the comfortable rail cars.Quick, safe and convenient. According to modern engineering capability a solid flat form could be built 15 to 20 meters below the peak where a vegetarian restaurant minus liquor, restrooms, and souvenir shops could be commissioned. Moreover for this type of pilgrimage truism is not really an essential factor. This could be a pleasurable trip which gives utmost satisfaction although it is presently really tiresome... From the tourist point of view my suggestion will bring good revenue to the country. Even a private entrepreneur could undertake the project with government authorization. Hope it will be a reality soon.