Samadhi Buddha Statue – Anuradhapura


The Samadhi Buddha statue at Anuradhapura is among the best-preserved figures in the country. It is famous for setting the bar against which all other statues of its kind are found. In age, the Samadhi Buddha statue records back to either the 3rd or 4th Centuries AD, albeit its producer and advocate are unknown. The park of Mahamewna, though, escorted back to the 3rd Century BC and was amongst the most advanced generous gardens in the nation, sponsored by King Mutasiva. The present Samadhi Buddha statue reveals him in a state of thoughtful consideration, one hand on top of the other on his seat in a dhyana mudra, a gesture of peace. His feet are joined in the veerasana pose. In sum, this is a giant statue, seven feet three inches high. As it is heavily restored, it is thought by many to have slightly lost its initial value. Particularly in the nose, this had to be revised with cement after being destroyed during the 19th Century.

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The Ancient Marvel of Samadhi Statue

The Samadhi Statue was discovered in its current location in 1886, having fallen to the ground with damage to its nose. Efforts were made to erect it and reconstruct the nose, but unfortunately, the reconstruction proved unsuccessful. In 1914, the statue suffered damage again at the hands of treasure hunters. However, it was restored once more, although the visible traces of these restoration attempts are still evident today.

The eyes of the statue are hollow, suggesting they were initially adorned with crystal or precious stones. Excavations in the area unveiled four figures surrounding a Bodhi tree, which once thrived in this sacred space. During excavations in 1960, remnants of the Bodhighara (Bodhi tree) were discovered, along with an Asanagala and a Sri Pathul gala. Out of the four seated images, only the one facing north has survived, while fragments of another can be found on the pedestal facing south. It is quite possible that the other two statues were relocated to another temple later.

The Exquisite Features of the Samadhi Statue

Carved from a single rock, the Samadhi Statue showcases a thin body-hugging robe without any visible folds, covering only the left shoulder. The right leg is positioned over the left leg, with the soles of the feet facing upwards in the Veerasana Posture. Notably, there is no Urna Roma (the bright dot) on the forehead of the Buddha, but the hair is meticulously carved in snail-like curls.

Interestingly, the statue reveals different facial expressions when viewed from different angles. Observing the face's profile from the left evokes a slight sadness, while a slightly smiling face emerges from the right. However, when viewed from the front, the mug displays neutral features, creating a captivating and enigmatic presence.

The Preservation Challenges and Restoration Attempts

In the present day, the Samadhi Statue is covered by a concrete structure, which, unfortunately, detracts from its natural beauty. Even the nose reconstruction carried out in previous restorations has resulted in an artificial appearance that fails to capture the original essence of the statue. Nevertheless, the Samadhi Statue continues to stand as a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship of the ancient era.

The Bodhisattva Image House and Its Historical Significance

Adjacent to the Samadhi Statue lies the ruins of an image house known as the Bodhisattva Image House. According to the Maha Vamsa, the extraordinary chronicle of Sri Lanka, King Dhatusena (459-477) constructed an image house for the Maithree Bodhisattva to the left of the Abhayagiriya Bodhi Tree Shrine, adorning it with royal garments. The remains in this area are believed to be the remnants of the image house built by King Dhatusena. An ancient limestone Bodhisattva image among the ruins was unearthed, dating back to the 5th century, providing further insight into Anuradhapura's rich historical and cultural heritage.

The Samadhi Buddha Statue in Anuradhapura is a magnificent testament to the artistic brilliance and spiritual significance of the ancient Anuradhapura era. Despite its challenges throughout history, including damages and unsuccessful restoration attempts, the statue remains a cherished symbol of Sri Lanka's rich cultural heritage. Visitors to this sacred site can still marvel at the remarkable craftsmanship and profound beauty that emanates from this revered statue.


Q1: What is the significance of the Samadhi Buddha Statue? The Samadhi Buddha Statue holds significant historical and artistic importance. It is considered one of the greatest works of sculptural art from the early Anuradhapura era and showcases exquisite craftsmanship.

Q2: How tall is the Samadhi Buddha Statue? The Samadhi Statue stands at a height of 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 meters), making it an impressive sight.

Q3: What material was used to create the Samadhi Statue? The statue is carved from dolomite marble, giving it a unique and captivating appearance.

Q4: What restoration attempts have been made on the Samadhi Statue? The Samadhi Statue has undergone several restoration attempts throughout history, including the nose reconstruction. However, these attempts have not succeeded entirely, resulting in visible imperfections.

Q5: What is the significance of the Bodhisattva Image House near the Samadhi Statue? The Bodhisattva Image House is believed to have been built by King Dhatusena and holds historical importance. In addition, the ruins of the image house and the discovery of an ancient limestone Bodhisattva image provide insights into the region's rich cultural heritage.



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