(35) Visiting Nagadeepa Island, the Holy Island of Buddha's Arrival - A Sacred Buddhist site off the coast of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka

Naga Deepa Island Buddhist Columns & Dharma Talks

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (35)
Visiting Nagadeepa Island, the Holy Island of Buddha's Arrival - Buddhist Holy Land off the coast of Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka

After touring the city of Jaffna with the civil war on my mind, I headed to my next destination, Naga Deepa Island.

The island of Nagadeepa is believed in Sri Lankan Buddhist lore to be a sacred site where Buddha came to the island. Although the historical facts are difficult to ascertain, it is still a sacred site of great importance in the Sinhalese context.

To reach Naga Deepa Island, one drives about an hour from Jaffna and then takes a ferry to the island.

The road trip was very scenic as it was along the northern coast of Sri Lanka.

And I still realize that northern Sri Lanka has many Hindu temples.

In the suburbs of Jaffna, there are ruins of a group of stupas called Kantharodi, which were built about 2,000 years ago, and although I could sense that Buddhism once existed in this area, I realized that Hinduism is still the main religion in this region. This area is just a stone's throw from India. There was a lot of exchange with the Indian mainland.

Well, we arrived at the boat landing. From here, we walked straight to the sea to find the ferry.

Hmm? Where's the ferry? Has it arrived yet?

Oh! So this is it! So this is the ferry!

It is quite different from what I had imagined, but we are now going to board this ship.

The interior of the ship is as shown here. It is quite cramped.

The boat departed from the port and proceeded at a leisurely pace, arriving safely at Naga Deepa Island.

According to the guide, this was still quite empty on this day. Usually, there is a huge line just to get on the boat, and during the festival, the line becomes extremely long. I could understand how popular this place is as a pilgrimage site for Sinhalese people.

At a quick glance, it looked like a drifting ship, but this was tasteful.

The guide laughed and said. Ueda-san is lucky! When it rains, this boat leaks, and it's amazing!" He said.

.......a development that we definitely want to avoid.

Now, we have arrived at Naga Deepa Island. The white gate in front already belongs to the Naga Deepa Monastery.

When you pass through the gate, the temple grounds are right there across the road.

Just outside the gate is a statue of Buddha protected by the Dragon King (Naga).

As some of you may have noticed, the name Naga Deepa means "Island of the Naga (Dragon King).

The reason for the name is based on the legend that when Buddha arrived on the island, the Naga tribes were fighting with each other, but Buddha made peace with them and brought Buddhism here.

Therefore, statues of Naga and Buddha, the symbols of the island, are enshrined everywhere.

This relationship between Naga and Buddha also overlaps with episodes in the Buddhist biography.

The Life of Buddha (Shakyamuni) as Seen from Local Photographs] ⑾Days of Buddha's Meditation and Brahmanic Convocation: Did Buddha Hesitate in Preaching to the People? Persuasion by the Indian God Brahman?"As I told you in the article of "The Buddha's Meditation", after his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, Buddha was enjoying his condition and indulging in meditation alone as usual.

But then suddenly it began to rain heavily and a cold wind began to blow. However, Buddha was in a deep state of meditation, so he did not mind such bad weather at all.

However, feeling sorry for Buddha who was exposed to the wind and rain, a giant cobra named Dragon King Muchalinda came under Buddha's protection. He wrapped himself around Buddha and gently protected him from the wind and rain.

It may be that this folklore has been further transformed and newly rooted in the Sri Lankan way on this island of Nagadipa.

The entrance to the temple is also a snake, a snake. The somewhat charming faces of the snakes make me smile a little.

The precincts of the temple are lined with white-colored chedis and monasteries. The size of the temple is modest, giving the impression of compactness.

In the hall just after entering the temple, a group of monks in orange robes were chanting sutras. They seemed to be a pilgrimage group. I was told that if you visit such a holy place even once in your life, you will feel happy that you have done something good.

Now, let us now enter the main hall.

A colorful reclining Buddha lay in the hall.

And beyond the lace, the main Buddha statue was enshrined.

The ceiling paintings and murals are obviously new. The figures depicted in the photo on the right may be people associated with this temple.

The ceiling painting above the main image is also indescribable.

I came here and I thought to myself. 'Oh, so this is the place too.' ...

This is another place that has rapidly emerged as a sacred place in recent years. It may be true that this place has a long history of being a sacred place, but unfortunately, there is no historical continuity. Therefore, I cannot intuit that this is a sacred place. To be able to do so, I must have the cultural code of the Sinhalese people. I, who have only the cultural code of a Japanese, cannot possibly understand the significance of this place. I have no context here. Again, I am keenly aware of how each context influences religious sensibilities.

The significance of having such a sacred place in northern Sri Lanka, which has a large Tamil population, is great.

During the civil war, this was not a place where Sinhalese could come. This is not surprising since it is located right next to Jaffna, one of the hardest hit areas of the war. It was a great experience for me to be able to visit this holy place in the middle of the ethnic conflict.

After leaving the Naga Deepa temple, we walked to the Hindu Naga Poojani Ambal temple. The return boat leaves from right in front of this temple.

It takes about 10 minutes to get there. The brightly colored architecture and carvings immediately identify it as a Hindu temple. The contrast with the white Nagadeepa temple is striking.

It is interesting to note that even in Hindu temples, Naga statues come to the center. As Naga worship was popular in India, it is likely that it was also practiced here regardless of whether it was Buddhist or Hindu.

The main gate of this temple is especially huge and its structure is very South Indian. The main gate is especially huge and its structure is very South Indian.

The elephant's upholstered appearance made me smile. I laughed and thought that it was typical of India.

Now, let's head back to Jaffna.

This was not the end of the day's itinerary. Next stop was the landing site where Sangamitta Nun brought the Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya. This is the northernmost point of Sri Lanka, a place that tourists rarely visit. What kind of place is it?

Next Article.

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