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Page last updated on 8 May, 2017

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Sīhagiri, Sīhapabbata, Sīhācala

A rocky fortress in the Malaya district of Sri Lanka. Now Sīgiri, about thirty-eight miles south east of Anurādhapura (Cv.Trs.i.42, n.1). Perhaps the rock itself resembled the form of a recumbent lion, especially the forepart of his body.

When Kassapa I had slain his father, he took refuge there, clearing the land about the rock, surrounding it with a wall, and building a staircase to it in the form of a lion. Kassapa and his retinue lived in the fortress until he was defeated by his brother Moggallāna, and then killed himself (Cv.xxxix.2 f). Mention is made of several vihāras on Sīhagiri, among them being Dalha and Dāṭhākoṇḍañña, which Moggallāna I gave to the Dhammaruci and Sāgalika schools. Cv.xxxix.41. Perhaps the fortress was originally a centre of the Dhammarucikas, and Kassapa may have borrowed from them the idea of making use of it.

King Saṅghatissa, his son, and his minister, were executed on Sīhagiri, at the command of Moggallāna III, (Cv.xliv.32 f) and later Moggallāna himself was slain there by Silāmeghavaṇṇa (Cv.xliv.60).

The rock is now famous for its frescoes, which are very similar to those of Ajantā.

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