Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Where did Mahāpajāpatī Gotami attained nirvāṇa?

Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (Mahāprājāpati Gautmī) was foster mother of Gautama Buddha. She was younger sister of Mahāmāyā (mother of Buddha). King Suddhodhana married both the sisters, and when Mahāmāyā died, seven days after the birth of the Buddha, Pajāpati looked after the Buddha and nursed him. 

After King Suddhodhana, father of the Buddha, died, Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī, foster mother of the Buddha, along with 500 Sākyan women, met the Buddha during his visit to Kapilavatthu (Kapilavstu) and expressed a willingness to join the Saṅgha. The Buddha’s response was ‘no’ (AA.i.186). Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī along with the 500 Sākyan women, who were firm with their resolve to get ordained, traveled to Kūtāgārasālā (Vaiśālī), where the Buddha along with the Saṅgha was residing. They again approached the Buddha with the same request and received the same answer as before. Disheartened but still hoping to find a solution, they approached Ānanda. Ānanda, at his persuasive best, answered all the queries of the Buddha who finally consented to the Bhikkhunī order with some additional vinaya rules for the Bhikkhunīs(Vin.ii.253ff). 
Nirvāṇa of Mahāprajāpatī Gotamī 
When Gotamī learnt about the impending parinirvāṇa of the Buddha. She met the Buddha and told, ‘I cannot bear that you quit this world while I am living. I want to die before you.’ Having returned to their monastery, she along with many other nuns sat down to meditate. Immediately Prajāpatī lifted herself in sky, exhibited all the gifts of ṛṣi, traversing in space at will, and emitting rays of light. Her followers did the same. Finally all of them passed from ecstasy into nirvāṇa. It is said that the marvels which attended her cremation rites were second only to those of the Buddha. (Cited from Mahāprajāpatī-Parinirvāṇa-Sūtra)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rampurwā a compelling case for Kuśinārā- Part II

A Pillar buried in the ground in a slanting position, showing a portion of capital was reported by Mr. Carlleyle in 1877 at Rampurwā (Carylleyle 2000: 51).  About 850 ft south of the Pillar  he saw two large ‘stūpa’ mounds (20ft and 15ft high) and a shattered stump of stone pillar exactly between the two mounds (Fig. 2 & 3). After excavation at the North Pillar, he discovered Ashokan inscriptions on the Pillar.
Carylleyle noted that the Rampurwā Ashokan Pillar along with the three other pillars of Bakhrā (Vaiśālī), Laoriya ara-raj (Arerāj), Laoriya-navandangarh (Nandangaṛh) looked like a representation of the ancient Magadha-Nipāl highway. Caryllyle expected to find a couple of more Ashokan Pillars further north in Himalayan valleys along the ancient trade routes (Fig-1). 
 ‘Rampurwa pillar was exactly on the ancient road leading into Nipāl. From thence there are three passes leading across the second range of hills, called the Sidra Range, into Nipā, namely the western pass, a central pass, and an eastern one. The Western pass is called the Churiya Ghati. The central pass is called the Thori Ghati, and runs along the Kudi Nadi. The eastern pass is called Goramasaon’ (Caryllyle 2000: 55).

In 1880-81 Alexander Cunningham inspected the site and shared same opinion as Carylleyle;
‘......... perhaps the pillars were placed to mark out a high road into Nepal, or they might, with equal probability, have been arranged to commemorate some great march!’(Cunningham, Garrick 2000: 112).

Cunningham opened the two mounds but didn’t share much information except a fragment of ‘Lingam’ that he found at depth of 6ft. Cunningham most probably didn’t find anything interesting to further continue the excavation or visit the site again.

Fig.1- Ashokan Pillars along the river Ganak

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Restoration and Development of Griddhakūṭa Vihāra (Vulture's Peak), Rajgir

During his stay at Rājagriha, Buddha frequented Griddhakūṭa and in due course a vihāra was erected there for Buddha and the Saṅgha.  As mentioned in Buddhist texts, king Bimbisāra constructed a road to the Griddhakūṭa hill for Buddha’s counsel. Chinese monk-scholar Faxian wrote that he saw the ‘hall’, where Buddha used to preach law, in a pitiful shape with only its foundations left (Beal 2005: 115). Writing two centuries later, Xuanzang described a ‘magnificent brick hall’ on the Griddhakūṭa peak (Beal 1969). In the 13th century, Tibetan monk-scholar Dharmaswāmin saw ‘in ruins’ (Reorich 1959: 87-88) the temple where the Buddha preached. In spite of good or bad situations of the physical structure of the temple, the pilgrimage to Griddhakūṭa continued from the time of Buddha to when the pilgrimage ‘in the footsteps of the Buddha’ came to its ebb around the 13th -14th centuries. 
The religious value of the stūpas and chatiya-s are sustained only by their physical renewal from time to time. In the 3rd millennium, the link between the sacred places and the community of followers of Buddhist teachings and traditions is getting stronger once again. Each year millions of devotees from all over the world come for a pilgrimage to the Griddhakūṭa. Seeing this development, it may be considered that now is the right time to undertake the restoration of the Griddhakūṭa vihāra.

Griddhakūṭa vihāra is ‘museumized’ and is treated as archaeological monument.

An aerial view of the remains of the sacred Griddhakūṭa vihāra (Vulture's peak).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jeṭhian-Rājgir Dhamma Walk along the Buddha trail

We are glad that Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda in collaboration with Light of Buddha Dhamma Foundation International (LBDFI), International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), Mahabodhi Society of India and Sarvodaya Group has successfully completed the Jeṭhian-Rājgir Dhamma Walk along the Buddha trail. More than 1500 venerable monks, nuns and lay people walked the 13 km Buddha trail from Jeṭhian to Veḷuvana, Rājgir.  The Walk was led by the more than 600 venerable monks and nuns from 15 countries under the banner of International Tipitaka Chanting Council (ITCC).
The venue at the village Jeṭhian

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jeṭhian–Rājgir Heritage Walk, 13th December, 2014

Date: 13th December, 2014
Time: 12.30 pm
Starting point: Supatiṭṭha Cetiya, Jeṭhian 
Ending point: Veḷuvana (Bamboo groove), Rājgir
  •  An important highlight of the Event is plantation of 700 Bamboo saplings of different varieties by Mahāsaṇgha of ITCC at Veḷuvana (Bamboo groove), Rājgir, the ending point of the Walk.