Sigiriya and Its Significance: A Mahayana-Theravada Buddhist Monastery

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The monumental complex of Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in the central province of Sri Lanka and traditionally has been deemed to be the capital and site of the palace of Kassapa I, 5th-6th century AD. Drawing on archaeological, literary, religious and cultural evidence from Sigiriya, and from Sri Lanka and India in general, Raja de Silva presents a brand new theory on the identity and function of the site. Casting doubt on earlier interpretations of the site as a palace or fortress, he suggests that Sigiriya was never the abode of a God King', but was a long-standing monastery built several centuries before the time of Kassapa. The paintings for which Sigiriya has long been famous are reinterpreted, not as ladies from Kassapa's court, but as representations of Tara, the most important goddess in Mahayana Buddhism to whom the building was dedicated.

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The literary record
Archaeological evidence
Literary light on ancient viharas

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