One of Sri Lanka’s most famous Buddhist statues is the rock-cut recumbent Buddha of the Gal Vihara in Polonnaruwa. Not many tourists know, that there are two more reclining Buddhas from the same period, one in Thantirimale to the northwest of Anuradhapura, another one near Bakamuna, 27 km southeast of the famous Kandalama Heritence Hotel. The latter is the smallest and not well-preserved. It has never been as elaborate as the reclining Buddha of the Gal Vihara. But all three Buddhas share one characteristic that’s remarkable. In contrast to later reclining Buddhas which are usually sleeping Buddhas, all three rock-cut Buddhas from the 12th or 13th century depict the passing-away of the Buddha. This is the moment of his final Nirvana, the Pali term is Parinibbana. This emphasis on both the highest state any being can reach and the death of the Buddha as a purely human instead of a supernatural being is a symbol of Theravada Buddhism, which became predominant due to the reforms of the Buddhist Sangha in the Polonnaruwa period. Earlier monumental Buddha sculptures in Sri Lanka, those of the Anuradhapura period, had been Mahayanist, they depicted a superhuman Buddha.
Find more about the rarely visited archaeological site of Bakamuna here...
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,