pothgul vihara-polonnaruwa
A Glimpse into the Past


In ancient Buddhist monastic complexes, libraries held a crucial role as repositories of knowledge, scriptures, and manuscripts. These libraries were vital centers for learning and preservation of Buddhist teachings, making them integral components of Buddhist monasteries.

Preservation of Buddhist Scriptures

Pothgul Vihara were dedicated to safeguarding and preserving sacred Buddhist texts, sutras, and commentaries. The scriptures were typically written on palm leaves or treated animal skins, which required careful maintenance to prevent deterioration. Librarians and monks meticulously copied and recopied texts to ensure their longevity.

Scholarly Pursuits & Educational Centers

These libraries were not only repositories of scriptures but also served as centers for scholarly activities. Monks engaged in the study of Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and other academic disciplines. Monasteries often attracted scholars and seekers from far and wide, making these libraries hubs of intellectual and spiritual exchange.

Monastic libraries were not restricted to monks alone; they played a crucial role in educating novices and laypeople in Buddhist teachings. Many monasteries conducted regular classes and discussions in the library premises, fostering a culture of learning and spiritual growth.

Scriptural Preservation Techniques

Libraries used specific techniques to protect scriptures from the ravages of time and climate. Manuscripts were stored in secure cabinets or wooden chests, protecting them from insects and humidity. Monasteries located in regions prone to moisture used specially designed storage areas to minimize damage.

Decline and Resurgence

Unfortunately, with the passage of time and various historical upheavals, many of these ancient libraries faced decline and destruction. Some manuscripts were lost, while others were moved to safer locations. However, there has been a resurgence of interest in preserving and digitizing these ancient texts in recent years.

While there may not be a specific “Library of Pothgul Vihara” documented in historical records, it is possible that Pothgul Vihara, like many other Buddhist monastic complexes, had a library or an area dedicated to preserving and disseminating knowledge during its heyday in the Polonnaruwa period. The absence of specific records may be due to limited historical documentation or the loss of records over time.

In summary, libraries were an essential part of Buddhist monastic life, serving as repositories of knowledge and scriptures, centers of learning, and places for intellectual and spiritual growth. While we may not have detailed information about a specific library at Pothgul Vihara in Polonnaruwa, the broader understanding of the role of libraries in Buddhist monastic complexes sheds light on their importance in preserving and transmitting knowledge during ancient times.

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