Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Asanga, Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna and Nalanda

In book no II of “Life” page no 73
Xuanzang reaches Sakala (modern Sialkot), here he says Vasubandhu Bodhisattva composed treatise Shing-i-tai-lun.

Page no 76
He arrived at Takka kingdom at a city (Modern Lahore), here he stayed for one month studying sutras composed by a disciple of Nagarjuna.
Page no 79 -80
At matipur he again speaks about an event in life of Vasubandhu
Book III page 85
At Ayodhya in a monastery, Xuanzang says Vasubandhu composed treatise and preached for the good of the community. In Ayodhya he speaks about the association of Asanga Bodhisattva with another monastery. Where Asanga ascended to heaven and received Yogasastra from Maitreya Buddha. Here he mentions that these brothers are from Gandhara and are principal composer of sastra in India.

Page 91
At Kaushambi Xuanzang speaks about a monastery where Vasubandhu composed Vidyamatra-siddhi-sastra. And raja Ashok raised stupa by the monastery.

In book III page no 109
Xuanzang speak about abode of Bodhisattva Dharmpala at Nalanda Sangharama.
Book IV page 135
In southern Kosala he visits the monastery where Nagarjuna Bodhisattva dwelt.

From all the references mentioned above we can conclude the following,

1- Birth place of Sariputra is different from the site of Nalanda Monastery.

2- Available evidence disapprove of any association of Noted Acharyas with Birth place of Sariputra and Nalanda monastery as said by lama Taranatha

3- Nalanda Monastic site and Nalanda of Pavarika mango groove can be same or different places or could be in very close vicinity.

4- There is a possibility that there existed a monastery with name of Nalanda near Rajgriha and that had no link with birthplace of Sariputra and Nalanda monastery (as mentioned by Xuanzang and existing remains at Bargaon).

We have literary evidence; the Pali sources have maintained that Nalanda and Nala/Nalak are two different places. The archaeological findings at the site are the biggest evidence which support Xuanzang’s travelogue. And also even the earliest findings doesn’t go before 450 AD and so there almost no scope of any Ashokan contribution to the Nalanda University.
Xuanzang in his travelogue has linked the site with Buddha. He says the site was originally an amra garden and merchants bought it for ten kotis of gold pieces and Buddha preached law here for three months, later a temple was built to mark the place. How ever it is not clear if it was Pavarika mango grove that finds its mention in the Pali texts.

The literature of lama Taranatha is so replete with Myths, dogmas and miracles that it’s difficult to correlate it with known historical facts about Nalanda. V. P Vasil’ev in his introduction to the Russian translation of Taranatha’s “history of Buddhism in india” has said that the account is not a faithful exposition of something unknown. It is also a well accepted fact that lama Taranatha himself never visited India. Taranatha’s work is basically a translation and collection of information from various Biographies. Lama Taranatha had access to authentic works of Ksemendrabhadra, Indradatta and Bhataghati, and it was very prevalent to link their legends with well known personalities. Though he mentions about them but doesn’t give sufficient details on their lives and works.

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