Saman (deity) - Beliefs

Beliefs

God Saman is the tutelary deity of the mountain wilderness, whose divine eye is supposed to cast upon Deraniyagala, Boltumbe, Ellakkala, Nivitigala and the mountain Benasamanalagala. He is regarded as the chief deity of the area surrounding the sacred mountain as well as of the Saparagamuva country in general.

The Theravada Buddhists of Sri Lanka later made god Saman the guardian of their land and their religion. With the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, Saman was identified as Samantabhadra, one of the four principal bodhisattvas of Mahayana. Like Samantabhadra, Saman is usually depicted crowned and bejewelled, holding a lotus in his right hand and accompanied by a white elephant. At Weligama, an ancient port on Sri Lanka's south coast, there is a 12 ft high statue which some believe is the figure of Samantabhadra carved out of a huge moss-covered bolder. This statue is now called Kushtarajagala. It is thought that the Pilgrims from India and northern Sri Lanka disembarking at Weligama were greeted by this bodhisattva figure as they set out on the long trek to Sri Pada.

God Maha Sumana Saman is depicted in human form accompanied by a white elephant, the ancient bulldozer of Lanka, the great noble beast of royal and Buddhist significance, in the background of Sri Pada (Adam's Peak). The resplendent god, a divine being in every sense of the word, holds a red lotus, a flower of Sinhalese Buddhist significance. His noble elephant too holds a red lotus.

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