Was Buddhism brought to Sri Lanka before Arahant Mahinda?

Was Buddhism in Sri Lanka before Arahant Mahinda (son of Dharmasoka) brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka?
In the following video in the Sinhalese language, Ven Gotama said that Buddhism was there before Arahant Mahinda brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
If yes who first brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka?
Is there any support for these two claims?
PS: Sri Lankans celebrate the visit of Arahant Mahinda to Sri Lanka in June every year.

There is no historical basis to support these claims.


Isn’t there some support for Arahant Mahinda comming to Sri Lanka?


Was there Buddhism before the advent of Mahinda Thera?


Oh, yes. That story is told in the Mahavamsa/Dipavamsa, as well as the Samantapasadika and its Chinese correlate the Sudassanavinayavibhasa.

Generally speaking, for Sri Lankan history, we have a fairly robust story from the time of Mahinda and Dutthagamini. From then on the chronicles are quite detailed and specific and can be matched well with the archaeological evidence. However, before that time (ie. pre-Ashoka) they are purely mythological (the story of Vijaya and so on). There may be some historical kernel in there, but it is hard to pin down.

Now, on the one hand, one might suspect that the story of Mahinda is a little too neat, and Buddhism is more likely to have gradually arrived. On the other hand, there is nothing particularly unusual or unlikely about the idea that a religion is introduced primarily by a charismatic teacher. The overriding principle, from a historical point of view, is simply that one should not lightly abandon one of the few reliable pieces of information that we have.

So while it is possible that a certain incursion of Buddhism happened pre-Ashoka, that could only be established by a confident and confirmed dating of new evidence in the archeological record. And such a thing has not happened. (Source: a conversation with a Sri Lankan archaeologist on this exact topic a few weeks ago.) There are a few findings that some people suggest may indicate an earlier date for Buddhism and for writing. However such claims are frequently made and just as frequently debunked. Until they are independently confirmed by professional archaeologists they should be treated as speculation.


Thanks for the article, but it’s just treating legend as history. There’s nothing there.


Wonderful story telling by Ven. Anandajoti ellustrated with beautful pictures.
Wheter this story was true or false it should be protected.
This is the legends of Sri Lanka. People love this story evn though it contains so many contradictions.
There are many interesting story telling by Ven. Anandajoti in the Youtube.

I have closed this thread because I cannot see that it belongs here. It seems to be about Sri Lankan history/myth.

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