Wednesday 2 May 2012: Sri Lankan Moonstone ...
....or Sandakada pahana in Sinhalese
A few years ago we went to Sri Lanka and caught the tail end of the late monsoon. We explored temples and ancient ruins in barefeet as good pilgrims do, and in fact it was the best way with the amount of water we encountered. The down side was that most temple ruins house stray dogs and monkeys, so you can imagine the state of the puddles around the place.
This semi circular wooden carving is a replica of the moonstones which sit at the entrance of many Buddhist temples. It always seems a shame to walk on them, they are so elaborate. The whole carving is said to represent Samsara or one complete cycle of birth, life and death. From the outside, the outer flames surround the whole thing, the suffering of life. Then comes the band of animals - elephant, lion, horse and bull - representing life during Samsara. [In some interpretations they are said to represent the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism] The band of foliage called liyavel represents wordly desires, and the swans the distinction between good and bad. Finally the centre is the half lotus, the achievement of nirvana, the ultimate peace after many incarnations.
Sri Lanka is a country where often different beliefs exist side by side, and it's interesting to see the Hindu bull included here. In later periods, it was left out; as the vehicle of Shiva, it would be disrespectful to trample on it.
The carving is just a touristy thing, but I respect what it represents and all the experiences we had that trip.
Should add, to give perspective, the carving is 3feet across, not the easiest thing to bring back on the plane:)