Urban Agriculture and Buddhist Concepts for Wellbeing: Anuradhapura Sacred City, Sri Lanka

Urban Agriculture and Buddhist Concepts for Wellbeing: Anuradhapura Sacred City, Sri Lanka

Wasana de Silva

Department of Architecture, University of Moratuwa.

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The first Buddhist city Anuradhapura (377 BCE–1017 CE), continues as a world heritage site. The unbroken relationship with the agriculture and irrigation landscape, apparent in the city, plays a vital role throughout the history, shapes the city and the sacred landscape. This research argues that urban agriculture in Anuradhapura establishes a ‘performing system’ to engage the people with the topography and the city and uplift their body and the mind for wellbeing. It illustrates that this is achieved through a process of dwelling, understanding the orientation of the place, which is a spiritual experience manifest in the landscape, cities and settlements. This research examines how and why urban agriculture engages everyday/urban life with the topography and successfully establishes a healthy and sustainable city for wellbeing. It examines the anthropo-ethnographical and phenomenological experience, the encounters with the topography, agriculture & irrigation and their manifestation in landscape, place, and city, achieving spiritual and sustainable place, and discusses its relevance to wellbeing and healthy city. The research methodology synthesises aspects of phenomenology, philosophy, anthropology, ethnography, landscape research, neuroscience, and Buddhist philosophy. In Anuradhapura sacred city, the everyday life of people has been devoted around large wewa (reservoirs) and vast paddy fields for the sustenance of the city as well as achieving sacred experiences. Through engaging in the laborious life of agriculture in the periphery, they experience the four noble truths and the deeper dimensions of the place, relating to the centre/orientation (physically & non-physically) which shapes the city form affirming the Buddhist sacred city. This engagement evokes embodied agriculture landscape which brings healthy space for human wellbeing


everyday life, embodied agriculture, orientation of the place, urban agriculture, wellbeing in Buddhist city


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