Monday, June 1, 2009

Ajaatsatru Relic stupa

Stupa built by Ajaatsatru over the body relic of Buddha was visited by both the pilgrims. Details given by both the pilgrims differ in terms of direction and distance. Fahien mentions the relic stupa and stupa over the half body of Ananda 300 paces west of West gate of new fort. Xuanzang in his “life” and “travel” puts it east to Venuwan. As per the Fahien details there are indeed two stupas on the west side of western gate, the size of the stupa is big and is most likely to be the relic stupa.. While as per the Xuanzang the stupa is in the east of Venuwan. The area mentioned by Xuanzang as site of Ajaatsatru relic stupa has changed a lot in past and this area is a place of pilgrimage for past so many centuries. It’s very hard to say any such massive structure existed here and a few small mounds do exist in the area but they are too small to be relic stupa mentioned by various sources.

Ajatsatru new fort- 25º0’ 22’’N 85º 25’ 09’’E
Relic stupa- 25º01’ 15’’N 85º 24’ 52’’E

Excavations carried out at west of west gate new-fort in 1905 revealed that the site to be badly disturbed. Mauryan bricks and three concrete terraces were found in the stupa. Nothing conclusive came out from the excavation; according to Fahien the stupa is Ajatsatru relic stupa and further west to it is the stupa over half body relic of Ananda. Contrary to this Xuanzang says it to be ashoka stupa built on relic removed from Ajatsatru stupa. Xuanzang is completely silent on the stupa further west but mentions about an Ashokan pillar which is missing without a trace. Its strange Fahien who visited 200 years before Xuanzang is completely silent on the Ashokan pillar.

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