Friday, July 12, 2013

'The frog' - Batathota Lena, Kuruwita, Sri Lanka.

Inside the cave called 'Batathota Lena' is a pond holding some of the constantly dripping water from the roof. Inside the pond is a large figure of a frog. I met a planter managing a tea estate bordering this cave, about twelve years back. He related to me the following story.
This cave is claimed by some as to have been the site of a visit by Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka (500 BC) and named in the chronicles as the 'Bhagawa Lena'. The name of the planter was Mr.Welihinne. He had been paying visits to this cave in the days when it had been abandoned. He had been struck by th constant sound of a croaking  frog during his visits to this cave. He being a Buddhist was worried about the state of this cave. He claims that one day in his dreams a frog had appeared and transformed itself into a beautiful maiden and told him a tale of woe going back to historical times.
 It was during the time of the reign of King Nissanka Malla. "Nissanka Malla (Sinhala, නිස්සංක මල්ල), also known as Kirti Nissanka and Kalinga Lokesvara was a king of Sri Lanka who ruled the country from 1187 to 1196.[1] He is known for his architectural constructions such as the Nissanka Lata Mandapaya, Hatadage and Rankot Vihara, as well as for the refurbishment of old temples and irrigation tanks".(Wikipedia). He had paid a visit to Sri Pada - Adam's Peak and made a stone engraving marking his visit. He had identified the 'Batathota Lena' as the 'Bhagawa Lena' mentioned in the chronicles. This was by the fact that the shadow of the peak of Sri Pada fell on the entrance to this cave at sunrise.
He had stayed in the cave and entrusted the restoration of the cave to one of his commanders. One of the King's sons stayed behind along with some females of the royal entourage who were accommodated in a neighboring cave called 'Sthree Lena' - Women's cave.
An entanglement of one of the young girls had occured with the king's son. The commander had come to know of this. He had sent the Prince back to King Nissanka Malla. The commander had brought the young girl to this cave, tortured her and sexually abused her. The girl had subsequently committed suicide. She had been reborn as a frog, and was constantly croaking, in this cave. She was actively preventing any rebuilding of the holy site by her supernatural powers. She requested the sympathetic Mr. Welihinna to do some deeds of merit to help her overcome her past 'akusala kamma' of taking her own life. Her progress in the cycle of samsara could be this help. Mr. Welihinna much moved by this dream had organized various religious ceremonies in the cave and had installed a statue of a frog in this cave. He claimed that after these actions the croaking sound of the frog has stopped. Day by day this site is growing in popularity and is being developed as a pilgrim site at a rapid pace.
To reach this site you have to come to Kuruwita about 80Kms on the Colombo - Rathnapura road. You take the road to Erathna - Sri Pada. About 10 Kims further you have to take a left hand turn to go to this site. It is beautiful country to travel in.

Monday, July 8, 2013

'Kusala kamma' - doing an act of earning merit, Batathota Lena, Kuruwita, Sri Lanka.

Pile of gravel used in building with empty cans to carry the gravel placed at the bottom of the climb.

Pilgrims carrying the gravel up the stairway.

The climb.

Labouring on.
Acts 'earning merit' done during a pilgrimage is part of any religious journey. 'Batathota Lena' is of difficult access. Carrying gravel up the steep climb to be used in building sites close to the sacred cave, is encouraged by the temple authorities.