Way to your heart

The Sacred Temple of Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka

Temple of the Tooth, Kandy © Koshy Koshy
Temple of the Tooth, Kandy © Koshy Koshy
21 JAN 2015
by

The soul of every country lives through its culture, its tradition and also through its history. The soul of Sri Lanka and its pure sense of Buddhism lies in the ancient scared city, Kandy.

Before setting foot to Sri Lanka I did a little bit of research back in my country about Sri Lanka. What I came to know on the base of my research and from the natives’ conversations that Kandy was the largest city after Colombo and located in mountainous and thickly forested interior of the island. They call it "the second capital of Sri Lanka". Actually, it was the last capital of the province at the time of ancient King's era. It still has numerous signs of heritages and touches of royalty even if the kings are gone. This city is resembling the last heritages of ancient kingdoms and hosting the precious relic of the tooth of Buddha.

It was an honor for me to visit the city, to get acquainted with its flavor of royalty, religion, mystical mythologies and grand history. Sri Lankans reckon Kandy as the most pure, ancient and religious city among the whole country. And within the soul their remains the core of the soul of entire Sri Lanka, The temple of Tooth Relic. Yes, The Royal Kandy City is also the home of the famous Temple of Tooth Relic and I had the honor to visit that sacred place.

We were staying in the Hotel Mahaweli Reach and when we left our hotel to visit Temple of Tooth Relic the evening was already heading. A calm and grayish evening with occasional blow of Kandian eastern breeze seemed to purify our soul already.

According to Sri Lankan Tradition no one is allowed to visit the temple or enter in its premises with sleeveless, excessive colorful dress, three-quarter or half-pants or any kind of hats on. It is a mean to show honor to the holiness of the temple by appearing with long-sleeve, light-color, sober outfits, and everyone is bound to enter the premise of the temple barefooted.

It was not a very long way from Hotel Mahaweli Reach and when we set our bare feet on the black-pitched road, the sun was already gone; Just the timid heat on the ground was left as its last reminiscence and the reddish glow in the atmosphere. The gorgeous temple and the palace came visible within our eyesight in a very short time. Hundreds of people from different corners of the world come to visit the Temple of Tooth Relic and to show their devotion to Lord Buddha. The scared temple is situated in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses The Relic of the Tooth of Buddha. Since the ancient times, the relic has played a vital role in local politics. It is believed by the natives that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Though it is all tales and myths now.

But the faith is not lost yet. It grows and nurtures within their soul and belief. The Monks conducts worship on a daily basis in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the Sacred Relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers, called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among people who came to visit.

We had the opportunity to attend the evening ritual and were fortunate to see the opening ceremony of the gate of the inner chamber which held the most sacred tooth relic of Buddha. Another very touchy myth I came to know from a native while wandering in the temple premises. It was about the statue which was built on the way to the temple and it was the monument of the first Child National Hero of Sri Lanka. The story was about a little boy, a prince of ancient kingdom.

He was one of the continental princes of Sri Lanka. His father became victim of a misconception that he had sided with British Government in order to take the ruling position of the kingdom. The rumors speeded as fast as the wind storm. Conspiracy evolved against the King and his entire family. As an inevitable consequence, his whole family was ordered to be executed.

The attacked the palace eventually. And the queen was killed excruciatingly by the assassins. They tied up with a giant stone around her neck and threw her into the water. She died there. The assassins started searching for the princes.

In the absence of their father and having their mother already killed, they became absolutely helpless. They hid behind the royal couch shivering with extreme fear.

One of them was eleven year old and the other one was of nine. They had no other way to escape or to avoid this terrible fate.

The younger one of the two princes, who was yet to know about heroism, sacrifice and death, looking to his elder brother suddenly he, found something within himself. The moment calmed him down, and a wisdom known by none, comprehended by none aroused his consciousness. He had nothing to do but still he did the best thing he could have done when every other way was closed. He kept his hands firmly around his brother’s arm which was terrible shaking with fear, and said,
"Don't worry brother. I will show you how to face death"

And the moment was not far behind when the assassins came looking for them. He unveiled himself in front of the assassins, and sacrificed his life with such an honor that no word is yet discovered to express his heroism. It was a terrible story, having even more terrible implications.

Standing in the very temple which happened to preserve Lord Buddha’s tooth relic, reminded me of one of the Buddha’s quote. “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.”- Buddha

This whole visit was a resurrection of the soul. It was something I could never forget that how the total immersion of faith and soul could bring out realization, enlightenment and peace.

Every believer offered prayer to Buddha by lighting oil lamp and offering flowers and beetle leaves. The whole scenario was peaceful and mind-soothing surrounded by such an environment that whenever I took a long breathe, the essence of purity touched my spirit and calmed it down I felt each and every moment individually which I spent there. Visiting such a place was a sort of meditation that enriches your soul, teaches you to think in an unorthodox way leaving behind all the materialistic consumption; It was a moment that opens up your insight and gently indicates to peer deep within your mind and makes you capable of judging; not the world or any other person, but you, and only yourself; which makes you feel absolutely free.

It was nothing, still it was everything.

When I left the temple, I just had one thing in my mind, said by Buddha himself : "The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart"