SAARC Tourism
Sri Lanka

Buddhism in Sri Lanka

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Buddhism in Sri LankaBuddhism in Sri Lanka harks back to 2nd century BC. The religion was introduced in Sri Lanka in 2nd century BC by Mahendra, the son of renowned Indian Emperor Ashoka.. He visited Sri Lanka during the reign of Sri Lanka's King Devanampiyatissa. A sapling of the Bodhi Tree, under which Buddha achieved enlightenment, was also brought to the country. It was planted at Anuradhapura, today placed as the most sacred town in the island. It is held in high regard by the Buddhists.

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Contribution of Sri Lankan Monks
During the 1st century AD, the Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka penned down the Tripitaka or the , the three baskets of the Teachings, known as the Pali scriptures. They also contributed significantly in spreading Buddhism to South-east Asia.

Arrival of the Europeans caused the decline of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. However the monks showed spectacular resilience. The monks and lay community brought about a major revival. Movement of Buddhist revival progressed with growing feeling of nationalism.

Branches of Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Buddhism in Sri Lanka has two major sects - Theravada and Hinyana. However most Sri Lankans are the followers of Theravada school. Theravada itself can be segregated into three different sects.

Siyam Nikaya: official line of monastic line broke in the 18th century since the monks were unaware of the Pali tradition. For ordaining Sinhalese novice monks, the Kandyan ruler invited the Theravada monks from Thailand. The reformed sect later came to be known as Siyam Nikaya.

Amarapura Nikaya: Upper castes in Sri Lankan society dominated the monastic community. As a reaction people of rising low-country castes initiated this sect.

Ramanna Nikaya: There were disputes among the Lankan Buddhists regarding the doctrine and the practice of meditation.

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