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). 

In 12th CE, new political circumstances in Magadha (Bihar) were not conducive for the growth and survival of Buddhism. As a result, all the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage places and monasteries including the Jīvaka Mango grove got abandoned and subsequently reduced to ruins. 

After a gap of more than 1000 years, efforts are now being made to revitalize the sanctity of many of the sacred places associated with the Buddha in Bihar. After the revitalization of Jethian-Rajgir Buddha path this year, we are working towards the revitalization of the Jīvaka mango grove. 
Site of Jīvaka mango grove (presently forest)
The revitalization: 
At the time of the Buddha this place was a Mango grove, therefore, the basic element of the revitalization is to recreate the Mango grove by planting mango trees. Added to that some basic facilities for the devotees who wish to practice meditation and offer prayers at this sacred place are also being worked upon.

It is proposed to hold the the 2nd Jeṭhian-Rājgir Dhamma Walk on 13th December, 2015 and it shall conclude here. Venerable monks and nuns from 13 countries shall plant 100 saplings of Mango trees and offer prayers at the place.

Representative of HH Dalai Lama, Shri N Dorjee ji, Dr R. Panth, and others for site inspection at Jivaka's place
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has expressed his desire to offer a stupa in Rājgir. Representatives of His Holiness and member secretary, Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, Shri Nangzey Dorjee visited us to finalise the location. We have convinced him to offer the stūpa at Jīvaka Mango Grove.
Places associated with the Buddha are places of worship and cannot be treated as an archaeological site. We hope to facilitate revitalization of this and many more sites associated with the sublime wandering of the Buddha. 
See pictures from the 1st Jeṭhian-Rājgir Dhamma Walk

How do we know about location of Jīvaka mango groove? 
7th CE Chinese monk-scholar Xuanzang in his pilgrimage to sacred spots associated with the Buddha in India also visited the remains of the Jīvaka monastery in Rajagriha. According to Xuanzang, the Jīvaka’s monastery was on way to Griddhākuta (Vulture's peak) and on the NE corner of the Palace City (Watters 2004: II 150).  Excavations in 1953-55 by D R Patil and later in 1958 by A. C Banerjee revealed elliptical structures at the SE side of the Palace City wall. The archaeological finds suggest these structures were of some communal nature probably some monastery (Patil 2006: 448). The location of the discovery of the ancient ‘Monastic’ remains is in same location where Xuanzang saw remains of the Jivaka monastery (Watters 2004: II 150).

Sanctity of Jīvaka Mango Grove:

   Jīvaka was the royal physician in the court of King Bimbisāra. Bimbisāra introduced Jīvaka to the Buddha. Buddha gave some very important sermons at Jīvaka mango grove which includes;

   1. Jīvaka Sutta- The Buddha gave the conditions under which monks and nuns can eat meat and in the second he defined a lay disciple as one who has taken the Three Refuges and who observes the five percepts (M.i,368f).

    2. Sāmaññaphala Sutta- When King Ajatasattu asked Jīvaka where he could go for religious discussions; Jīvaka brought him to see the Buddha at his mango grove. Although the king had killed his father under the evil advice of Devadatta, King Ajatasattu became a distinguished lay follower of the Buddha. 

   3.When Devadatta threw down a rock splinter at Vulture’s peak (Griddhakūṭa) and injured the Buddha's foot, he was first brought at Jīvaka mango grove for first aid (DhA.ii.164).

      D. R.; 2006, The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar, K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, (1st Edition: 1963). 
     Watters, Thomas; 2004, On Yuan Chwang’s Travels in India, (Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids and S.W.    Bushell), Reprinted in LPP 2004, Low Price Publications, Delhi. (First published by Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1904-05), ISBN: 81-7536-344-4.

Abbreviations of Bibliography: 
Source of Pāli references:
 P.T.S.    Means published by the Pāli Text Society.
SHB.     Means published in the Simon Hewavitarne Bequest Series (Colombo).

D.          Digha Nikāya, 3 vols. (P.T.S.).
DA.       Sumangala Vilāsinī, 3 vols. (P.T.S.).
DhA.    Dhammapadatthakathā, 5 vols. (P.T.S.).
J.           Jātaka, ed. Fausboll, 5 vols
M.          Majjhima Nikāya, 3 vols. (P.T.S.).
MA.     Papañca Sūdanī, Majjhima Commentary, 2 vols. (Aluvihāa Series, Colombo).

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