National Geographic : 1966 Apr
Stream of the faithful, their raised hands cupping lotus blossoms, flows humbly before the huge figure of the Buddha, reclining in the attitude of entering nirvana, the state of eternal happiness. The standing figure may be that of the living Buddha or his disciple Ananda, his grief forever etched in stone. The shrine survives amid the ruins of Polonnaruwa, majestic Mohotty's words sent my eyes searching his face and body for puncture scars. Not a mark could I find. Suddenly, drums pound a faster rhythm, and the villagers crowd closer as ten dancers, thrashing their heads violently from side to side, whirl around the courtyard. The dancers kneel, and Mohotty rubs their cheeks, arms, and chests with sacred ash. They stare with glazed, half-closed eyes, 484 bodies motionless, as Mohotty forces skewers through each man's cheeks. Not a drop of blood seeps from the wounds, nor is there any expression of pain. Mohotty Submits to Steel and Fire Then steel pierces Mohotty's own cheeks; needles drive into his arms from shoulder to wrist; tiny arrowheads sink into his chest and stomach; spiked clogs are lashed to his feet.