Kelaniya – the 3rd venue of Lord Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka
Kelaniya was first mentioned as the venue of the 2nd journey by Buddha to Lanka, 8 years after Buddha’s enlightenment along with 500 arahaths and Samiddhi Sumana divine. His visit to Kelaniya is on the invitation of Naga King Maniakkhitha.
It is important to realize that the arahaths were cared for by Naga Gods/Goddesses and not simply the Naga tribes. They had special powers and intellect. It was thereafter that Buddha began his sermon. This very venue is where the Kelaniya seya was eventually erected. There have been occasions where the temple has been attacked, but it has been re-erected enshrining the sacred relics of Buddha. The kelaniya royal lineage and kataragama royal lineage are the same. King Devanampiyatissa’s brother Maha Naga king’s son was Yatalatissa. Yatalatissa’s son was Gotabaya. Gotabaya killed 10 of his brothers who were linked to the Kataragama royal lineage. They all belonged to the Sakkya clan, just like Buddha. To amend this crime & karma, King Gotabaya erected 1000 viharas, on each side of the Mahaweli river. King Gotabaya’s son became King Kavantissa & married Vihara Maha Devi, daughter of King Kelanitissa. She belonged to the Ruhuna family. The marriage sealed the link of Ruhuna & Kelaniya. A crime committed by King Kelanitissa resulted in the first tsunami that took place in Lanka. There is some controversy as to the the prevalence of name similar to Kelani in the East, where the tsunami took place. There is also mention of a Kelinigrama during the Polonnaruwa era under King Parakramabahu.
From Kelniya, Buddha travelled to present Sri Pada. It is said that he travelled to some 18 sites during this 3rd visit to Lanka.