The Moonstones and Guardstones at the foot of the stairs leading to the main entrance of the Shrine Hall were officially inaugurated by Ven. Dr K Sri Dhammananda Maha Nayaka Thera on 6 June 2001. Donated by Mr & Mrs Lim Ah Swan, the moonstone symbolically gives a better understanding of the Dhamma, while the Guardstones, flanking both sides of the moonstone, are specific to Singhalese art and always found in pairs, guarding the entrances to the temples, dagobas, palaces and important buildings. Another moonstone can be found at the Bodhi Tree.
Significance of the Moonstone
The semi-circular moonstone, a common architectural feature in many temples in Sri Lanka, is called Sandakada Pahana in Singhala and symbolises Samsara, the endless cycle of birth and the pains associated with it. The first outer band of the moonstone is formed by a ring of fire representing material desires.
In the subsequent band, sculptures of four animals and rows of flowers on it symbolise the four vital phases of existence: Birth, Decay, Ill-Health and Death represented by the elephant, bull, lion and horse respectively. Each time a person walks across the moonstone before walking up the stairs into the temple, the person can mindfully visualise the symbolic crossing from the mundane world to reach a higher plane, to transcend Samsaric existence and away from Birth, Decay, Ill-Health and Death. The moonstone serves as a constant reminder of the purpose of entering the temple.
At the heart of the moonstone is a lotus with petals to represent the crossing beyond desires which are conducted, within the sanctity of the temple grounds.
Significance of the Guardstones
The human form in the Guardstones is a representation of the Naga (Cobra) King appearing as a celestial prince and the body standing with a slight curve to imitate the movement of the cobra. In one hand he holds a flower pot of plenty (punkalasa) and in the other a sprouting branch of prosperity, complete with leaves, buds and flowers.
The one installed at Mangala Vihara represented the Naga King with a five-hooded cobra over its head (represented in the sculpture as a 5-ring headdress), others have seven or nine.
The two dwarfs, Sankha (conch shells) and Padma (lotus) have been diminished to two minor figures at the feet of the Naga King. Their head dresses take the shape of the lotus and conch shells