Some 30km northwest of Golden Dambulla Rock Temple, the village of Aukana located close to the large ancient Kala Wewa rain water reservoir, is home to the most perfectly preserved ancient statue in Sri Lanka. This 12m Buddha statue is widely believed to have been constructed in the 5th century during the reign of King Dhatusena, and under his orders. However, another theory is that it was done by an individual named Barana. There is another standing statue of the Buddha, quite similar to the Avukana statue, at Sasseruwa located close to Aukana. According to legend, the two statues are the result of a competition between a stone sculpting guru (master) and gola (pupil). The story goes that the master constructed the Avukana statue, while the pupil made the statue at Sasseruwa. The first to complete his statue had to notify it to the other by ringing a bell. The master managed to complete his statue first, and won the competition. This is said to be the reason that the Sasseruwa statue is in an unfinished state. The Aukana statue is considered to be the better of the two, and similarities between them have led historians to believe that the story is actually true. The hand of the Buddha faces the viewer sideways in what is known as the “Ashisha Mudra” or the “posture of blessing” is carved out of a rock boulder. Unlike other great statues in the island which are carved in "Abhaya Mudra" (Have no fear), The delicate and skillful carving of the Buddha's robe humanizes and chastely reveals the underlying form of his body, while the face's impassive expression projects an aura of spiritual supremacy. It is said that the degree of alignment of the statue is such that raindrop on the nose would drop straight down to small depression carved between the toes. Aukana Buddha statue is a masterpiece of a colossal Buddha Statue by an unknown sculptor: the serene expression of the statue, the gracefully carved robe with neat pleats brings in delicateness that could hardly be moulded into a living rock. Aukana Buddha is a magnificent image. His expression is serene & from his curled hair there sprouts the flame called siraspata signifying the power of supreme enlightenment. Although the statue is large & stands straight up with feet firmly planted on the lotus stone pedestal, the body retains a graceful quality enhanced by beautifully flowing drapery clinging to the body.
The impassive expression of the face reflects the supreme spirituality. The perfect & elegant 12m-high standing Buddha is adored all over the island to such an extent, that several full scale copies have been erected in the island: Colombo, Dondra, Ratnapura, and Trincomalee. The statue was erected in the same period as those at Polonnaruwa's Gal Vihara & Lankathilaka Vihara as well as Buduruwagala & Maligawila all of which emphasis on Buddha's superhuman, transcend powers.
The whole of cultured world was horrified at the savagery & barbarity inflicted upon the colossal Bamian Buddha statues carved from the cliffs that dominate the dusty plains in the heart of Hindu Kush which have watched serenely for 15 centuries as the fortunes of the city beneath them waned from Silk Road metropolis to remote Afghan backwater.
In honor of the destroyed & in defiance of intolerant, China quietly goes with its own form of defiance: in their territory, carving, sculpting, erecting two statues similar in every conceivable way, to the two Buddha Statues destroyed by Taliban. In the ancient times Bamiyan, the region where Mahayana Buddhism originated, was known as Vokkana or Avakana. Do we have a clue to the name Aukana? In Sinhalese there is no such word as Aukana meaning sun eating as erroneously proclaimed.
The best time to see the magnificent statue is at the crack of dawn when the first rays of sun light up the east-facing statue's finely carved features.
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