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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Discovery of ancient sculpture of Mahāparinirvāṇa Buddha

Tangible remains of the Buddhist past are scattered all over in the villages of Bihar. Most of these remains are still undocumented and unknown to the world. Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (NNM) has made this initiative to  photo document such undocumented heritage. The objective also is to facilitate awareness generation towards the significance of all such places locally and worldwide.

Recently the team from NNM has discovered a set of villages, 20 kms east of Bodhgaya, settled over ancient remains of some ancient Buddhist Monastery. The ancient remains (mound) of the monastery and temples is scattered in a large area on the South and West side of the Maher Hill. In the South-East end of the mound are the remains of an ancient temple with two images of Matreya Buddha. Both the images are from Pala period (8th-12th CE).

Towards its west are remains of yet another ancient temple. The main sculpture of the temple has been removed among it lies a 5ft X 3ft image Mahāparinirvāṇa Buddha from ancient times. This huge image at this place indicates that there was a Mahāparinirvāṇa temple here.

NNM team is doing its best to facilitate awareness generation towards the sanctity and importance of the place among the local community and also the stakeholders worldwide.

The idea is to revive the sanctity of the scared place. We hope some Buddhist institutions contributes towards the revitalisation of the place.

Dr. D Lama with the custodians of the Heritage 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Restoration of religious sanctity of Griddhakūṭa Vihāra (Vulture's Peak, Rājgir)

Sculpture of the Buddha recovered from Griddhakūṭa (Vulture's Peak) and currently kept at Nalanda Museum

In the year 1871 Broadley on the basis of the description of Chinese monk-scholar Venrerable Xuanzang (7th CE) identified the Deoghāṭ hill (The Buddhistic Remains of Bihar, A. M. Broadley, p.38) south of Vipulā hill (Rājgir) as Griddhakūṭa (Vulture’s Peak).. Very few antiquities were discovered at the Griddhakūṭa and most prominent among those few was the 91cm, red sandstone image of the Buddha in preaching mudrā (posture)from Gupta period (5-6th CE). This was the only large stone sculpture (See Fig-1) found at the site and most probably the same image that was mentioned by Venerable Xuanzang.

Considering the situation at that time the rich antiquities recovered from Griddhakūṭa were removed to Nalanda Museum (See Fig-2) for safety and display reasons. Griddhakūṭa and many such sacred sites became meaningless archaeological sites sans the images of the Buddha and Buddhist deities that originally belonged to these places. Griddhakūṭa is now a very popular pilgrimage destination for the followers of the teachings of the Buddha all over the world. Griddhakūṭa now receives more than 5 lacs pilgrims each year. It will be in interest of all the stakeholders to restore this ancient image with necessary security precautions and without compromising the archaeological significance of the Griddhakūṭa in order to revive the religious sanctity of the Place. This will facilitate restoration of the religious sanctity of Griddhakūṭa to next level and will send a very positive message all over the world and will facilitate the growth of the pilgrimage.
Fig:1- The antiquities from Griddhakūṭa (RAJGIR by M H Kuraishi, Revised by A. Ghosh, Published by The DG, ASI, New Delhi, PP- 33)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Vandalisation of Buddha's Statue at Mustafapur (Nalanda)

A rare, four feet sculpture of Buddha from Pala period (8th 12th CE) at village Mustafapur was lost in a wanton act of vandalisation. In an unsuccessful bid to remove the sculpture from the temple in the village the miscreants have destroyed the face of the image. Ironically, the village is situated just 1km north of the world famous Ancient Nalanda University.

The Damaged sculpture of the Buddha