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A major ancient monastic complex in Anurādhapura.Sri Lanka.also known as Uttaravihāra. Founded by King Vaṭṭagāmaṇi Abhaya in the 1st century bce it consisted of a monastery (vihāra) and a stūpa.but the latter alone is now standing. According to tradition, when the king was fleeing from the Tamils, he came upon the Nigaṇṭha Giri, a Jain (see Jainism) ascetic who made insulting remarks about him. The king vowed that if he were returned to the throne he would build a Buddhist monastery on the spot. He fulfilled his vow, and the name of the monastery was a combination of his own name and that of the Nigaṇṭha. It is unlikely that Abhayagiri was important for a century or two after its foundation. Unlike the Mahāvihāra.or ‘Great Monastery’, erected earlier during the reign of King Devānaṃpiya Tissa (247–207 bce) in the same city and given to the Saṃgha.the Abhayagiri was given to an individual monk. As a result, according to much later sources on which too much reliance should not be placed, a conflict developed between the monks of the Mahāvihāra and the monks of Abhayagiri, allegedly focusing on the issue of whether monks could receive gold or silver, meaning wealth in general, but actually reflecting a struggle for control of Buddhism on the island. Though for quite a long time the fraternities of the two monasteries seem to have lived side by side in amity, when the Abhayagiri monks openly adopted an alternative canonical literature (the heretical Vaitulya Piṭaka) the animosity between the monks of the two establishments became very bitter and resulted in the heretical books being burnt and the destruction of the Mahāvihāra building. The two communities developed into separate schools, not to be united again for more than a millennium. Mahāvihāra residents were known as the Theriya school (Theriya Nikāya), while Abhayagiri residents were referred to as the Dhammaruci school (see Dhammaruci Nikāya). In 1165 a council was held at Anurādhapura and reconciliation between rival schools was achieved. In contrast to the above account from the medieval chronicles, there is no actual evidence of any active conflict between the two institutions after the 3rd century ce. When Anurādhapura was abandoned around the 13th century, the history of Abhayagiri essentially ceased.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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