TOOTH RELIC OF GAUTAMA BUDDHA
The Tooth Relic of our Gotama Buddha which is in Kandy, Sri Lanka is highly venerated by all Buddhists all over the world.
According to legend, when our Gotama Buddha died (mahä Parinibbhäna) in the 543 BC, his left canine tooth was given to King Brahmadatte of Kalinga Desha (present day state of Orissa) for veneration, after the cremation at Kushinagar, India. It became a royal possession in Kalinga Desha and was kept in the city of Dantapuri (present day Puri).
A belief grew that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a divine right to rule that land. Wars were fought to take possession of the relic. 800 years after the Buddha’s death, in the 4th century BCE, the tooth came into the possession of King Guhaseeva. The wrath of the Brahmins and their followers, made many kings from other lands that supported them, come into war with King Guhaseeva.
This made King Guhaseeva to send the tooth relic to Sri Lanka secretly in the possession of his daughter Princess Hemamala & her husband Prince Dantha since our Gotama Buddha had declared that his religion would be safe in Sri Lanka for 5000 years. Princess Hemamala hid the relic in her hair ornament and the royal couple set sail to Sri Lanka disguised as Brahmins in order to evade capture. They landed at the Port of Lankapattana in the East of Sri Lanka. King Keerthi Sri Meghawarna, who ruled the country at the time warmly welcomed the couple and received the Sacred Tooth Relic with great veneration.
He built a beautiful palace within the royal palace complex and enshrined the relic in it.
When the Capital of Sri Lanka was shifted from place to place due to various reasons, the Sacred Tooth Relic too was shifted into new places. King Wimaladharmasooriya in 1592, brought it to its final resting place in Kandy building a special palace for it. King Narendrasingha (1707 – 1739) enlarged it to the present day structure and King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha (1798 – 1815) built the octagon along with the Kandy Lake.
The Sacred Tooth Relic came to be regarded as a symbolic representation of the living Buddha and it is on this basis that there grew up a series of offerings, rituals, and ceremonies. These are conducted under the supervision of the two Mahanayake Theros of Malwatte & Asgiriya Chapters, and Diyawadana Nilame of the Temple of the tooth relic.