Surya (Sun God) worship
Surya Deva (Sun God) worship appears to have been popular in ancient Sri Lanka - among the Anuradhapura kings as well as the Kataragama Kshatriya kings of southern Sri Lanka.
The Buddha himself has extolled his Kshatriya Surya Vamsa ancestry (ie. that he is a descendant of the Solar Dynasty Kshatriya Caste) in the Atanatiya Sutta, Upakkilesa Sutta, Phena Sutta and several other Suttas) and the worship of Buddha statues was in itself a homage to the Sun God. When Solar Dynasty (Surya wamsa) rule was strong the Surya wamsa king himself appears to have been worshiped by the public as the Sun God. Later, the King appears to have also projected himself as a future Buddha (Bodhisatva) and strengthened the cult of divine royalty. H. W. Codrington refers to a ola document he found in the Colombo museum bound with the Rajavamsa text. In it the king refers to himself as Surya maharaja - Sun God (EZ IV p 12)
Above: A large statue in Weligama, Sri Lanka, known as Kustaraja. Sri Lankan historians say this east facing image is of a Bodhisatva (future Buddha). No one has dared to suggest that it is a king in Surya Deva (Sun God) form.
Left: A Surya Deva (Sun God ) image from UP, India.Note the similarity with the above Kustaraja Statue
Similar statues in Sri Lanka are routinely and promptly (mis) identified as Bodhisattvas.
Right: Sun God from Konark Sun Temple, India.
When similar statues are found in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Archaeologists replace the broken hands with cement hands in a praying pose (as illustrated below) and the statues are irresponsibly named after some king.
Left: Two statues found elsewhere but now relocated to the Ruvanveliseya. The broken hands have been replaced with cement hands in a praying pose and the statues have been arbitrarily caled Dutugemunu and Bhatikabaya
Left: Another relocated statue. This has been brought to the Kiri Vehera in Kataragama. The broken arms have as usual been remolded in a uncharacteristic pose.
Right: A Statue of Surya Deva, damaged head and body badly repaired and relocated to the Ruvanveli Seya and displayed as Maitreya, the future Buddha.
Left: Another giant statue from southern Sri Lanka. This is from Dambegoda. The hand gestures have been spared the praying cement treatment but It is called a Bohdisatva.
Are these all really Bodhisatvas ? Or are there a deliberate attempts to erase all traces of Sri Lanka's ancient Kshatriya Surya Vamsa, Solar Dynasty rule and Sun God worship ?
Left. a trinity from Buduruwagala.
Natha, Avalokitheswara and Surya are thought by some to be names given to the same god during different dynasties.
Right: A statue from Suriyagoda Vihara, Kandy, although this to is called a Bodhisattva as usual, it too could very well be Surya Deva.
Some of these statues could even be Indra the god of the Kshatriyas (warriors). See Indra.
The Natha Devale in Kandy too has a similar statue with a broken arm within it’s inner chamber. This Devale is considered the oldest building in Kandy and this Devale takes precedence over all 4 Devales. Former kings conducted their pre-ascension ceremonies here. The rituals such as distributing anointing portions for the Sri Lankan Solar New Year are to date the responsibility of this Devale.
The Sri Lankan New year celebrated in April too was historically a festival in honour of the Sun God. However it has now been given a new twist as a harvest festival ! The rise of the cultivator caste in Sri Lanka during the past century may be the reason for this twist.
Kshatriya Maha Sabha, Sri Lanka