SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Gunawardana, Ranaweera Appuhamillage Leslie Herbert (1965) The history of the Buddhist Sangha in Ceylon from the reign of Sena I to the invasion of Magha. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (30MB) | Preview


The period of about four centuries from the reign of Sena I to the invasion of Magha is significant in the history of Buddhism in Ceylon primarily for the changes it brought in the organization of title sangha. In the ninth and the tenth centuries, the three nikayas of the Sinhalese sangha, which grouped monasteries spread over various parts of the Island under the leadership of three monasteries at the capital, reached the highest stage of their organizational development. As an institution owning extensive agricultural resources, the monastery of this period occupied an important position in Sinhalese economic organization. The immunities acquired in the ninth and the tenth centuries increased its income and extended its control over its tenants. The elaborate administrative system, devised for the new responsibilities of the monastery, was a vital factor which strengthened the cohesion of the nikaya. The loss of property by the monasteries during the period of Cola rule and again in the period between the death of Vijayabahu I and the accession of Parakkamabahu I affected the organization of the nikava; and its disintegration led to a new grouping of the sangha based on eight fraternities. The unification of the sangha in the reign of Parakkamabahu I was achieved by bringing these eight fraternities under a common leadership: it did not involve the suppression of the Abhayagiri and the Jetavana nikayas as has been hitherto supposed. Throughout the period under study, the sangha occupied an important position in Sinhalese society as its literati; as intermediaries in cultural contact with foreign lands; and as functionaries in the ceremonial and cultic practices of the laity. The reforms in the reign of Parakkamabahu I gave an impetus to the activities of the sangha. which is particularly evident in the literary works produced during the subsequent period and in the expansion of Sinhalese Theravada in South East Asia. They also created, for the first time in the history of the Island, a unified organization of the sangha.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item