The Manjusri Vasthu Vidya Sastra
is a manuscript of the 5th or 6th century CE that gives the basis on which Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...
are constructed. It contains detailed information concerning plans, structures and the auspicious placement of particular elements.
The text of the Manjusri Vasthu Vidya Sastra
is in Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...
but written in Sinhala script. Words such as "navadada" for nine indicate that the text is in Sinhala as well.
E. W. Marasinghe dates the manuscript to the 5th or 6th century CE at the latest. It is exclusively about Buddhist monasteries and is clearly from the Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...
school. The text shows much originality and there is nothing similar in the existing Indian treatises, which deal only with Hindu
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...
The elements of Sri Lankan monasteries may appear to be randomly placed because they differ in layout. The text gives 12 different arama
layouts, with two alternatives for each, totalling 24 layouts in all. Each layout is contained within a grid. The layouts carry names like hastiarama
, and padmarama
. Pabbata Vihara
monasteries followed the hastiarama
model. There are different layouts for different settings depending on whether the monastery is in a town, village, royal park, near a river, by the sea, in the middle of a forest, by a highway and so on. There is provision for placing the entrances north, south, east, or west, but there were conditions for this. In each layout, not only the religious buildings, but also the assembly hall, flower pavilion, dancing hall, hospital, refectory and kitchen had specific positions which fitted into certain sequences. Monasteries therefore had a very "architectural layout". The various buildings were placed in relation to each other, though on different levels.
There were specifications for nearly everything. The Manjusri
text advised on site selection, discussed soil properties and gave procedures for soil testing. It suggested suitable trees for each monastic layout. It gave advice on the preparation and application of glues, pigments and pastes, and on the carving of elephants and horses, indicating the correct proportions of these animals. It even gave instructions on how to obtain measurements using the plumb line. There were auspicious
An auspice is literally "one who looks at birds", a diviner who reads omens from the observed flight of birds...
times, auspicious materials and auspicious lengths. There were rituals relating to certain important stages in the construction. The first brick was to be laid by the architect, suitably clothed, facing east. The doors should open inward for good results. If images were incorrectly placed, the patron’s life and health would be affected.