Indikatusaya, the Date-Thorn Stupa
he ruins found here are of a monastery well protected by a stone prakara. There are two Stupas. The larger is called the Indikatusaya and it is built on a raised stone paved square platform with a stairway flanked by balustrades and plain moonstone.
Each side of the platform is about 40 feet. The raised platform is about 5 1/2 feet from ground level. The diameter of the Stupa is about 20 feet and is partly covered with dressed granite stone. This Stupa can be compared with similar structures found in Anuradhapura like the Kujjatissa and Vijayarama Cetiyas.
The restoration work of the Indikatusaya was resumed by the Department of Archaeology in 1923. The Mahayanistic character of the Indikatusaya is confirmed by the absence of relics of the dead and the discovery of copper plaques with Sanskrit Mahayana texts written in Sinhalese characters of the 8th and 9th centuries.
These monuments at Mihintale belong to a latter period. They are the work of the Mahayanists in Sri Lanka. Depositing dharma dhatu the doctrinal relics instead of Saririka dhatu or the bodily relics of Buddha in the Stupas was the order of the day among the Mahayanists.
The Sinhalese literary work of the 14th century Saddarmaratnakaraya also refers to this type of Cetiyas where doctrinal books are deposited as dharma caityas.
The buildings found in the vicinity are the ruins of an ancient monastery encircled by a separate prakara. Among the other ruins are the remains of two ponds and five image houses – may be for the five Buddhas or Tathagatas of the Mahayanists raised on a platform with entrances guarded by Naga stones with plain moonstones.
These features remind us of a Mahayana monastery of the 7th or 8th century at Mihintale.
The sixty eight caves
The sixty eight caves prepared by King Devanampiyatissa as dwellings for Bhikkhus headed by Mahinda Mahathera as Cetiyapabbata mountain are situated around the Kantaka Cetiya.
The Mahavamsa account given above also confirms this. The inscriptions engraved above the drip ledges of these caves tell us that they were given to all the Bhikkhus of the four quarters including those absent on the occasion of the offering made by King Devanampiyatissa, his consort, brother and sisters-in-law and other members of the family as well as dignitaries and ordinary people – designated as devotees irrespective of their social status. Some of the inscriptions read as follows:
1. Parumaka – Naga – puta – Asaliya – lene agata – anagata – catu – disika – sagaya.
The Cave of Asali, son of the chief Naga (is given) to the Sangha of the four quarters, present and absent.
2. Guta – putaha parumaka, puraha lene Agata = gata catu-disa – sagasa.
The Cave of the Chief Pura, son of Gutta, is given to the Sangha, to all that are come.
3. Manapadasane Tisabutiya.
(The Cave named) Manapadassana of Tissabhuti. These cave dwellings reveal the very simple and detached life led by the early Buddhist Bhikkhus having seen and worshipped the Kantaka Cetiya, let us now climb down the flight of steps on the eastern side.