Sri Lanka: an illustrious destination for Buddhist heritage tourism

(VIET NAM NEWS) — This year Sri Lanka celebrates its 70th Anniversary of Independence and 48 years of formal diplomatic relations with Viet Nam. Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Viet Nam Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake shared a message with Viet Nam News readers about the mutual co-operation between two countries and the achievements of Sri Lanka in the recent years.

Looking back at Sri Lanka’s progress over the past 70 years, we are proud that the free education and free healthcare systems in the country outshine all others. They have led Sri Lanka to become a country with a high level of human capital, currently ranked 73 in the Human Development Index. Above all, Sri Lankans can be proud of their democratic traditions, having gained universal adult franchise in 1931, for both men and women. On the economic front, Sri Lanka has reached Middle Income Status with per capita GDP of US$ 3,835.

Sri Lanka’s relations with Viet Nam are rooted in the two countries’ affinity for Buddhism and were later nurtured through Sri Lanka’s strong solidarity towards Việt Nam’s struggle against colonialism.

Although Buddha was born in modern-day Nepal and lived in India, it was in Sri Lanka that Theravada Buddhism continuously flourished in its purest form.

According to the Sri Lanka’s historical chronicles, the Buddha visited Sri Lanka three times.
Arboreal: Painting at Kelaniya Temple by neo-classical artist Solias Mendis (1897 –1975). This painting depicts Ven. Sangamitta, arriving in Sri Lanka, with the sapling of the Bodhi Tree, from the original Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya, India, in the third century BC. — Photo courtesy of the embassy

In the third century BC, Emperor Asoka of India sent his own son, Venerable Mahinda, to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. The Mihintale area, where the two met, was later declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the King and is the world’s first wildlife sanctuary. Later, he also planted the Sacred Bo sapling, brought by Venerable Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka. While the original Bodhi Tree disappeared in India, the Sri Maha Bodhi continues to grow in Anuradhapura and is recognised as the world’s oldest tree with a recorded history.