The Jetavananarama was a Buddhist monastery during the mid and late Anuradhapura period. Actually, it was the latest of the three giant temples of Anuradhapura, which were also the three largest religious institutions and, apart from the king, the most important land holders with areas of agriculture distributed all over the ancient Sinhalese kingdom. In contrast to the other two pivotal monasteries of Anuradhapura, viz. Mahavihara and Abhayagiri, the youngest one, Jetavanarama, was built in a systematical and symmmetrical ground plan, with the stupa on a wide courtyard in the very centre of a rectangle of other ceremonial buildings and monks‘ resdidential quarters
With a total height of 122 m and covering 23,3 hectare, the Jetavanarama Dagoba from the 4th century AD is the largest ancient stupa, and with almost 100 million bricks, it’s also the world’s largest construction built of baked stone.
The Jetavanarama of Anuradhapura is not to be confused with the Jetavana monastery in India, which is situated just outside the ancient city of Savatthi (Srvasthi). The Jetavana in northern India was the place where the Buddha gave the majority of his teachings and discourses.
The foundation of the Jetavanarama in Aniradhapura was the result of sectarian differences between Buddhist monks and even of a sacrilige. According to Buddhist monastic rules incorporated in the Vinaya part of the Holy Scriptures, a consecretad territory of a Buddhist monastery can not be rededicated without the consent of the monks inhabiting it. The Jetavanarama was founded on parts of the temple land of the older Mahavihara, which was expropriated against the resistence of the Mahavihara monks and without proper ceremonies as a result of a conflict between King Mahasena and the clergy of the Mahavihara.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka