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Title: Valivita Saranankara and the revival of Buddhism in Ceylon
Author: Wachissara, Kotagama
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1961
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The intention of this thesis is to make a critical examination of the life of Valivita Saranankara and the revival of Buddhism during his time. As a background to the main theme, a short account of the political history of the Kandyan Kingdom (1473-1815 A.C.) is given. The most striking phenomenon of this period is the rapid decline of the Buddhist Order in spite of the efforts made by Vikramabahu I and Vimaladharmasurya I and II to revive it. The degeneration of both Fraternities, Gramavasa Vanavasa, was so great that the upasampada, twice introduced from Arakan, disappeared and subsequently there remained only a group of immoral monks. The causes for this decline - the political unrest, hostilities of Rajasimha I, the Roman Catholic influence, the caste system and the social upheaval caused by the Tamil immigrants who introduced various cults and occult practices - are discussed hero in detail. Although Valivita Saranankara's life is generally known through the Sangarajavata and the Sangharajasadhucariya, many facts hitherto unknown about his life have been revealed here with the aid of reliable manuscripts and historical documents. Whereas the biographies of Saranankara, mentioned above glorify his personality, here in this thesis, it is critically examined. The death of Gascon and of Saranankara's teacher, and the role played by Gonzalvez in connection with that incident, not clearly understood up to now, have been explained in detail. The cultural relation between Slam and Ceylon is also discussed as it was at this time that the Upasampada was re-introduced by the Siamese monks headed by Upali Thera, at the request of Saranankara. The religious and literary revival brought about by Saranankara and his chief disciples, how it spread throughout Ceylon and how far he was successful in his attempts to wipe out the rigid caste system, cults and occult practices and bring about a complete social and religious reformation, have been finally dealt with.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral