She alights FROM THE SKY AT GIRIHANDUSEYA
The only other documented case of this nature in the country concerns a bhikkhu named Maha Tissa of PannagallaVehera who alighted upon the terrace of the Great Shrine at Anuradhapura in like manner, again with the Enlightened One as object. It is to be observed that the above two instances are not examples of a concomitant supernatural faculty of the fourth absorption or a fruit of the path, but rapturous elation experienced by intense focus on the Foremost Being in the world, the Buddha
Ayoung crown prince in his thirty fifth year having abandoned the regal life six years before, attains t he highest state of mental and spiritual development ever possible by a living being, whether human or divine. The Universe with all its world systems (sahashrilōkadhātu) inanimate as it is, trembles and shakes as if unable to bear this extraordinary event. A Sammā Sambuddha has made His appearance on earth after almost an eternity. He is Gōthama by clan. All beings of high, low and middle orders rejoice in exultation. The Enlightened Being having achieved his samsaric ambition remains in meditation in the vicinity of the Bōdhi tree solely surviving on the meal provided by the nobleman’s wife Sujatha forty nine days before. He then on the fiftieth day embarks on a voyage on foot carrying a message with Him that is to transform the lives of millions of men and gods for the next five thousand years.
Two merchant brothers by the names of Thapassu and Balluka the township of Uthkalā in Northern India leading a long line of caravans carrying their merchandise become the first humans to encounter the Noble One upon His enlightenment. By no means is it an accidental meeting but the fruition of an earnest wish made in the presence of Piyamathurā Buddha a hundred thousand kalpas before, that they be blessed with the opportunity of offering the very first meal to a future Buddha.
The wish having come true the brothers joyously make an offering of cereals and honey to the newly Enlightened One. They become the very first lay disciples of the Buddha and Dhamma and worshipfully request a memento to pay homage to Him for the rest of their lives. The Noble One strokes His head with His right hand and offers a lock of blue black hair that appears on it, which is accepted by the
Subsequent monarchs of Lanka improve upon the stupa, thereafter named Girihanduseya aka Nithupathpana, making it a magnificent white edifice glistening in the glow of the full moon.The surrounding view from the stupa terrace is breathtaking.To the North East one sees Yan Oya down below meandering its way to the sea several miles beyond and to the South of the oya is Pulmodai, containing deposi
brothers with reverential gratitude. Thapassu and Balluka being also seafarers trading their wares on foreign lands arrive in Thambapanni as this country was then known, bringing with them as they did when visiting each foreign land, two strands of their priceless possession. Arriving at “Galwarāya” the estuary port at the mouth of the Yan Oya at Thiriyaya, they conclude the customs formalities, sail inland through the Yan Oya and come ashore to place the hallowed casket on an exquisitely picturesque hillock around two hundred feet high known as Girikanda. They then inform the Yakka chieftain who rules the area of the matter. The first stupa in honour of the twenty eighth Perfect Being in the Great Pantheon is thus born and acquires a pre-eminent place in the realm of the impressive Buddhist narrative. It gains enormous significance by being also the first and perhaps the only monument in the world to encompass organic matter of the living Gautama Buddha. The historic event is etched for all posterity in the famed stone inscription of Thiriyaya. Thapassu in later life becomes a streamwinner. Balluka enters robes and succeeds in bringing life’s long journey to a close.
Subsequent monarchs of Lanka improve upon the stupa, thereafter named Girihandusēya aka Nithupathpāna, making it a magnificent white edifice glistening in the glow of the full moon. The surrounding view from the stupa terrace is breathtaking. To the North East one sees Yan Oya down below meandering its way to the sea several miles beyond and to the South of the oya is Pulmodai, containing deposits of the black mineral ilmenite. The ancient Sinhala name for Pulmodaiwas Vaththakāla literally meaning black sand, and the following fascinating occurrence takes place in the village of Vaththakāla. The father and mother in this family of Vaththakāla get ready to visit the beautiful cētiyaand tell their daughter who is with child that she should stay back because the journey is too arduous for her and that they would transmit merit they acquire to her as well. She accedes to the parents’ request and later when they are gone, steps out on to the garden and sees the ākāsacētiya resplendent in moonlight, encircled by thousands of burning lamps, circumambulated by the four communities after offering their flowers and perfumes and she also hears the sound of the massed recital by the community of bhikkhus. She thinks, “how lucky are they to be able to go to the cētiya and wander around such a shrine terrace and listen to such sweet preaching of the Dhamma!” The shrine appears to her like a mound of pearls, and imbued with an unprecedented feeling of happiness she springs up into the air, alights on the shrine terrace, pays homage to the inspiring stupa and keeps listening to the sublime dhamma being preached. Sometime later the parents appear and blurt out “which road did you come by?” Says she “I came through the air, not by road.”
“My dear, those whose cankers are destroyed come through the air, how did you come?” and she states “As I stood staring at the shrine in moonlight a strong sense of happiness overcame me with the Enlightened One as object, I then knew not whether I was sitting or standing but only that I sprang up in the air with the sign that I had grasped and I came to rest on the shrine terrace”. This spellbinding episode is famously portrayed in the monumental work Visuddhi Magga of Bhadantācāriya Buddhagōsha on the topic of earth kasina concentration, authored during the reign of King Mahanama. The only other
documented case of this nature in the country concerns a bhikkhu named Maha Tissa of PannagallaVehera who alighted upon the terrace of the Great Shrine at Anuradhapura in like manner, again with the Enlightened One as object. It is to be observed that the above two instances are not examples of a concomitant supernatural faculty of the fourth absorption or a fruit of the path, but rapturous elation experienced by intense focus on the Foremost Being in the world, the Buddha. The phenomenon of levitation experienced by the two devotees is one of the five known states of spiritual happiness, they being in order Kuddaka Peethi, Khanika Pethi, Okkanthika Peethi, Ubbega Peethi and Erana Peethi.
It is clear however, manifested miracles logically do not represent an important aspect of the Buddhist dispensation. In fact, it is on record that consequent to disciple Pindola Bhāradwāja Thero performing an astounding miracle in the presence of a vast gathering, the Buddha prevailed upon His disciples to refrain from engaging in such acts in the future in no uncertain terms, since miracles and creations are not the genre of Buddha dhamma. Nirvana is perceived within, miracles are performed without. Miracles are mundane, Nirvana is super mundane.
Nonetheless, the Girihandusēya event evokes much admiration amongst the present-day followers of a marvellous doctrine that appeals irresistibly to the intellect, is devoid of mysterious and divine orders and revelations, is scrupulously explicit by nature, is open to whatever scrutiny, and is to be verified entirely by oneself on treading the disclosed path sedulously and not polemically, whence all skepticism, doubt and delusion is banished forever with nothing to be accomplished further – a singular expression of “ehipassiko”.
“Noble Lord, pray liberate me from my doubts”
“Dhōthaka, I am unable to liberate anyone in this world from his doubts. You have to surmount the flood-like sense desires by yourself, comprehending the supreme law”