The Abhayagirivasins accepted the doctrinal views introduced by a teacher named Dhammaruci and were known as Dhammarucikas - ‘Those who take pleasure in Dhamma.’ Dhammaruci was a follower of the Vajjiputtaka sect which separated from orthodox Buddhism after the second council. This sect believes in the existence of a puggala - a personal entity - which passes through samsara prior to the attainment of nibbàna and maintains the view that even an Arahant may fall away from the supramundane state.
King Vattagamani Abhaya (29-17 BCE) built the Abhayagiri monastery and donated it to his friend Mahatissa of Kupikkala as a personal gift. Monks of the Mahàvihàra, being dissatisfied with this gift, imposed on Tissa the punismment of expulsion (pabbajanaya kamma) on the grounds of his frequenting the families of laymen. when Tissa’s pupil, known as Bahala-Massu-Tissa (Bushy-bearded Tissa), resented this punishment as unjustifiable the Mahavihara monks imposed on him the act of censure (Ukkepanãya Kamma). Subsequently Bahala-Massu-Tissa left the Mahavihara with five hundred monks and joined his teacher at the Abhayagiri monastery. When Abhayagirivasins welcomed Dhammaruci, a teacher of the Vajjiputtaka sect, they came to be known as Dhammarucikas. Both Mahavihara and Abhayagiri monasteries existed peacefully - in spite of their divergent views - for nearly three centuries after the reign of King Vaññagamani Abhaya. Most of the rulers in Sri Lanka supported both fraternities impartially; but some favoured the Mahavihara and others the newly established Abhayagiri.
The Abhayagiri stupa.
No contemporary adherents.
Buildings of the Abhayagiri monastery are located in Anuradhapura outside the southern gate of the city.