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Have the copies of original Tipitaka written in Aluvihara Sri Lanka now been lost?

It appears that the Tipitaka used in Sri Lanka an import from Thailand or Myanmar.

I ask because in this essay, The original Alu Vihara manuscript does not exist, Ven. Sujato writes,

The original text copied 2,000 years has long vanished in the mists of history. Manuscripts in Sri Lanka generally do not last longer than a few hundred years, and presumably it would have been re-copied multiple times. The Alu Vihara, it seems, remained a center for preserving manuscripts. Sadly, though, the old library was destroyed, along with any manuscripts, during the Matale rebellion of 1848 4. So we shall never know exactly what was in it at that time.

We do know, however, that the Sri Lankan Sangha requested that manuscripts be imported from Myanmar and Thailand during the colonial period ...

... Despite all this, it is a common belief among Sri Lankans that the Alu Vihara original Tipitaka still exists.

... and later, presumably referring to a deleted post,

Just in case anyone is wondering, the above post is exactly the kind of conspiracy theory I am trying to dispel.


So -- are "copies of the original" lost? What is the "evidence" on that subject?

  • Don't take it personal, Upasaka Sarath. Modern monks use of alms is usually not much of gratitude. What for, to deprive people of what they love and feel inspired. Simply foolish this provokings of the tradition and old. – Samana Johann Jun 13 at 9:01
  • How ever, important to have and maintain Noble Ones and Arahats in Sri Lanka. Having such, having Dhamma next. – Samana Johann Jun 13 at 9:08
  • It looks as if this question would also be on-topic on History.SE or Skeptics.SE (and that Ven Sujato finds that many people will say it does exist, but without evidence). Given this site's policy about Questions asking for an answer to a controversy, perhaps we should rephrase this question, to follow the question-format used on Skeptics.SE, i.e. "Person X says Y -- what evidence is there that Y is or isn't true?" – ChrisW Jun 13 at 9:57
  • I rephrased it slightly -- I hope it's still the question which you wanted to ask? – ChrisW Jun 13 at 10:06
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    Thanks Chris.-) – SarathW Jun 13 at 10:09
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I am not an active participant of this forum anymore, but in seeing this OP, I just could not be without expanding on the question that I just asked. The writing of the Tripitaka, Theravāda Pāli Canon, was performed at the cave temple “Alu Lena” and not at the cave temple called Aluvihare in Matale area in Sri Lanka. Tripitaka was committed to writing by 500 monks in the first century BC. The Cave temple in Aluvihare cannot even hold 50 monks, leave aside 500. It is just not spacious enough. But whereas in “Alulena”, this cave is spacious enough to accommodate 500 monks and it is well illuminated by the sunlight.

Before the introduction of paper, palm leaf was the main raw material used for writing and painting for several centuries, and palm trees are abundant in and around “Alulena”. Anyway to your question proper… The sacred Buddha Dhamma preached by Gautama Buddha 2600 years ago is secured and well preserved only in the Tripitaka Canons which were written in the present-day Sri Lanka. Today this original Tripitaka written in Sri Lanka is found in the British Museum. The present Neville Collection in the UK has 2000 manuscripts. The first of these were taken by George Turner and the second lot by Hugh Nevill of the British Civil Service.

![Now we have a copy of the original scriptures with us. ]1

  • Samana Johann... Now we have a copy of the original scriptures with us. We have already started going thru it. It is a big break thru. something that the officials in Sri Lanka could not do since the 1950s. BTW... I do not want to discuss this at length (do not want to see this moved to Chat. – Saptha Visuddhi Jun 19 at 3:54

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