Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ancient Nālandā University: Now a World Heritage Site

Excavated remains of the ancient Nālandā Mahāvihāra (University) has joined the elite group of World Heritage Sites (WHS) that currently includes over 1000 natural and cultural treasures in over 150 countries in the world. Nālandā University was discovered in the year 1862 on the basis of travel accounts of 7th CE Chinese monk scholar, Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang). More than 150 years after its discovery, WHS is not only well deserved but was also long overdue. 
Aerial view of ancient Nālandā University 
The excavated remains of the ancient Nālandā University  are a protected site under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).  International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Non-Government agency that offers advice to UNESCO on WHS has pointed out several weaknesses in the submitted nomination dossier (by ASI) and it even suggested deferring the nomination.   The report claims 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2nd Dhamma Walk (Jeṭhian-Rājgir Buddha trail) & Saṅghadāna

2nd Dhamma Walk along the Jeṭhian-Rājgir Buddha trail organized by Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (NNM) on 13th December saw a huge turnout of the people from the villages of the Jeṭhian Valley. More than 1500 monks and nuns from 10 different countries under the International Tipitaka Chanting Council (ITCC) led the Walk. The 15km walk along the footsteps of the Buddha concluded at Veḷuvana, Rajgir. 

Highlight of the Dhamma Walk was the Saṅghadāna by the community of Jeṭhian. More than 60 monks from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Lao etc walked in the streets of the village Jeṭhian to collect food as Buddha and Saṅgha did in the streets of the villages of the Valley some 2500 years ago. 

Buddhist literature has many references of patronage of King Bimbisāra to the Triple Gem. Bimbisāra offered Veḷuvana, the first monastery to the Buddha on his maiden visit to Rājāgṛiha after his enlightenment. Light of the Buddha Dhamma Foundation International (LBDFI) offered a statue of King Bimbisāra at Veḷuvana. 

Community of Jeṭhian offering Saṅghadāna


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

‘Live-Museum’ of Magadha

What would you call a geographic area where every second village, roughly 600 villages have ancient Buddhist remains?

I call it a Live-museum!

I am talking about the Magadha. Magadha is mentioned in ancient literature (Purāṇa) to have been the first powerful kingdom of ancient India. Legendary Jarāsaṇḍha of epic Mahābhārata fame was the first king who ruled from Rājagṛiha (now Rājgir), the capital of Magadha.   

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2nd Jeṭhian-Rājgir Dhamma Walk- Revitalisation of Jīvaka Mango Grove

Revitalisation of Jīvaka Āmravana (Ambāvana, Mango grove) 
The place in the heart of Rājgir which is today covered with dense bushes was originally the site of Jīvaka mango grove during the time of Buddha (6th BCE). Jīvaka, the famous royal physician got attracted towards the teachings of the Buddha and became a lay disciple. Soon, he realized that he needed to spend more time with the Buddha to listen his sermons and practice more closely under his guidance. He built a monastery in his Ambāvana (mango grove) and offered it to Buddha and Saṅgha (DA.i.133; MA.ii.590). 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Buddha Valley

The picturesque Jeṭhian valley in the heart of Magadha is an ensemble of places with valued cultural heritage relating to the sublime wanderings of the Buddha. The beauty and calmness of this valley enticed Buddha. Chinese monk-scholar Xuanzang (7th CE) who stayed in this valley and studied under monk Jayaṣena for two years has mentioned about many sacred traces of the Buddha’s stay in this valley. The remains of this association of the Buddha with the valley can be found all over the valley. 
The valley is 20 km, running east to west and on an average 4 km wide. Presently, there are more than 50 villages settled in this serene valley and the valley still retains its pristine character with verdant landscape.
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (Deemed University) under its ‘Engaged Buddhism’ initiative is facilitating awareness generation among the people of this sacred valley towards the rich heritage the place is bestowed with.  People living in many villages of this Buddha valley are proud of the legacy that they are a part of. This valley is very sacred and holds a special meaning to Buddhists all over the World who are slowing trickling in. Efforts are now being made to facilitate creation of an ambiance suitable for pilgrims and Buddhist meditation practitioners.
The Buddha Valley                                                                                                                                 @Yves Guichard