Monday, June 5, 2023

Makuta Bandhana: Where the Buddha was cremated

The Sahodrāsthān Shrine


Between 1875-80, the most prominent archaeological mound in Kasiā which is near Gorakhpur known as the ‘māthā kunwar kā koṭ’ was excavated by British India official archeologist, A.C.L. Caralleyle. Excavations revealed a 20 ft long sandstone statue of the Buddha in the Mahāparinibbāna (Mahāparinirvāṇa) posture (Carlleyle 1883: 57-58). Discovery of this Buddha statue in Kasiā has led the world to believe that Kasiā is the ancient Kushinagar (Kusinārā), the place where the Buddha attained Mahāparinibbāna (final demise).   In my previous stories, (1) Rampurwā- A compelling case for Kusinārā- I , (2) Rampurwā a compelling case for Kusinārā- Part II, and (3) Evidence suggests Rampurwā as the place of Buddha’s Mahāparinirvāṇa I have tried to demonstrate why Rampurwā (Bihar) and not Kasiā (Uttar Pradesh) could be the site where the Buddha breathed his last. Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang, 7th CE) saw two Ashokan pillars situated in close proximity at the last resting-place of the Buddha. Just as Xuanzang has described, two Ashokan pillars were discovered at Rampurwā in the early 20th century (Sahani 1990: 187).  Rāmpurwā (locally people call it Rampurwā) also fits the distance and direction essentials mentioned by the monk-scholars  Faxian (Fahien, 5th CE) and Xuanzang. These are compelling evidences in the favour of Rampurwā (27° 16' 13'' N. 84° 30' 11'' E) in West Champaran district of Bihar, as the place where the Buddha may have passed away. 

In continuation of my previous stories related to the places associated with the final demise of the Buddha, the present story will discuss why Sahodrāsthān (27° 17' 10'' N. 84° 34' 37'' E) is the most probable location of the Makuta Bandhana, the place where the Buddha was cremated.

The Sources

Our understanding about the months-long last journey of the Buddha and his final resting-place comes from the primary Buddhist sources like the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (hereinafter referred as MS) and the eyewitness accounts of monk-pilgrims like Faxian (China, 5th CE), Xuanzang (China, 7th CE), I-tsing (China, 7th CE) and Hye Ch’o (Korea, 8th CE).  A close examination of the MS and the eyewitness accounts reveal some discordance between the two sources, particularly about the place of cremation of the Buddha. Pali sources suggest the place of final demise and cremation were separated by a considerable distance, but monks-scholars Faxian and Xuanzang have alluded that the two places were  situated in close proximity.

Pali sources maintain the Buddha attained Mahāparinibbāna in the kingdom of Mallas, which was one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas (great kingdoms) during the time of the Buddha. The Malla kingdom was divided into two parts with Pāvā and Kusinārā as their capital cities. The Buddha on his last journey to attain Mahāparinibbāna at Kusinārā stayed at Pāvā. Cunda, a metal worker in  Pāvā, invited the Buddha and the Saṅgha for a meal. The food offered by Chunda was contaminated and the Buddha became unwell after consuming the food. The Buddha became very weak and could barely walk, but he still decided to proceed to Kusinārā. Finally, after walking for a while from Pāvā he decided to make Upavattana, the Sala Grove of Mallas his final resting-place (D.ii.137ff). Upavattana was on the highway from Pāvā to Kusinārā, situated in between Kakutthā and Hiraññavatī rivers. When the Mallas of Kusinārā learnt about the demise of the Buddha they worshiped the body of Buddha for seven days at Upavattana and thereafter carried the body of the Buddha to the city (Kusinārā). The procession carrying the body of Buddha entered into the city from the northern gate and exited the city from the eastern gate. The body of Buddha was kept at the Makuta Bandhana situated outside the eastern gate of the city and was also cremated there (D.ii.160f).  

The Twin Ashokan Pillars of Rampurwā

Locations of Kusinārā, Upavattana and Pāvā 

MS has indicated that the place of final demise and cremation were at two different corners of the Kusinārā city but the MS have not mentioned how far were they separated from each other. The Pali sources mention Kusinārā and Pāvā were three gāvutas away (DA.ii.573). Gāvuta (gavyuti) is the distance at which a cow's call or lowing can be heard. One Gāvuta is approximately 3-4 kms (Wikipedia). So, Kusinārā and Pāvā were about 9-12 kms away from each other. Pali sources mention Upavattana the last resting place of the Buddha was situated SW of Kusinārā (UdA.238). If Upavattana was situated SW of  Kusinārā and the Buddha was moving from Pāvā to Kusinārā by way of Upavattana, Pāvā was arguably situated SW of Kusinārā. We can also safely deduce that the Buddha on his way to  Kusinārā from Pāvā was traveling from south (SW) towards the north (NE) direction. 

Contrary to the popular perception that the Buddha died in the immediate vicinity of Kusinārā city, the MS alludes to the fact that Upavattana was situated at a considerable distance from Kusinārā city. As per the MS when the Buddha realised his final demise was near, he requested Ānanda to go to Kusinārā to inform people about this. Many people from Kusinārā including Subhadda visited the ailing Buddha at Upavattana grove. MS suggests the people of Kusinārā  who visited the Buddha did not stay back at Upavattana, but went back to Kusinārā. The Buddha attained Mahāparinibbāna later in the night of the same day.  Next morning Ānanda again went to Kusinārā to announce the final demise of the Buddha to the people. This suggests that the Upavattana grove was situated at a considerable distance from both the capital cities, Kusinārā and Pāvā. Also, there was no population living in the immediate vicinity of the Upavattana. 

Fig.1. Rampurwā,   Kahargaḍī and Sahodrāsthān, Dewarh and the two rivers.

Direction of flow of Kakutthā and Hiraññavatī rivers

The kingdom of Mallas was situated in the Gangetic plains between the Himalayas and the river Ganges. Rivers in the Gangetic plains predominantly emanate from the Himalayas in the north and after touching the plains they mostly travel towards south, southeast or southwesterly direction before finally merging into the Ganges.  Pāvā was situated SW of Kusinārā and the two rivers Kakutthā and Hiraññavatī rivers were situated between the two cities. Pāvā was situated on the western side of Kakutthā, Kusinārā on the eastern side of Hiraññavatī and Upavattana was situated between the two rivers. It is conceivable that both the rivers flowed from the north to the south/SW/SE direction.

The Kingdom of Mallas and the two ‘Cities’ of Xuanzang

Xuanzang has mentioned an ‘old city’ (Watters 2004: II, 25-26) / ‘original city’(Rongxi 1996: 162), which had been the capital (Watters 2004: II, 25-26).  In this ‘old city’, Xuanzang saw a stūpa to mark the house of Cunda, the iron smith who offered the last meal to the Buddha. From the Pali sources we know that Cunda was from Pāvā. Therefore, the ‘old city’ mentioned by Xuanzang is Pāvā. 

Descriptions of Xuanzang suggest there were two cities (capitals) near the final resting-place of the Buddha: there was the city of Chunda (‘old city’/old capital, Pāvā) and another capital (henceforth ‘2nd city’) from where Xuanzang proceeded towards the place where the Buddha attained final nibbāna. Xuanzang traveled 3-4Li NW (1-2 kms) from the capital (i.e. 2nd city) to go to a place from where he crossed Ajitavatī river (Hiraññavatī of Pali sources) to reach the place where the Buddha attained Mahāparinibbāna (Rongxi 1996: 162-163). According to Xuanzang, the place where Buddha died was situated ‘not far’ from the western bank of the river Ajitavatī. It is a fact that Upavattana was North East of Pāvā, situated on the eastern bank of river Kakutthā and western bank of  river Hiraññavatī (Ajitavatī of Xuanzang). Had Xuanzang gone to the final demise place from Pāvā  (i.e. ‘old city’) he should have traveled in the NE direction and crossed the river Kakutthā instead of Hiraññavatī (Ajitavatī) to reach Upavattana as the Buddha did in his last journey. Probably, by the time of Xuanzang, the ‘old capital’ (Pāvā, city where Cunda lived) was abandoned and a nearby place further on its east developed into a (new) city/capital.   

Xuanzang saw many shrines including an Ashokan Pillar at the site of the final demise of the Buddha. After visiting the place where the Buddha passed away, Xuanzang has described another set of shrines including an Ashokan Pillar to mark the place of cremation of the Buddha and distribution of his body relics (Śarira). This 2nd Ashokan Pillar to mark the site of cremation was situated more than three hundred paces across the ‘river’, at the north of the city. Xuanzang has not mentioned if this city situated south of the cremation place is the same city from where Xuanzang arrived at the place of final demise of the Buddha. It is most likely that this ‘city’ situated south of the cremation place is the ‘old city’ i.e. Pāvā. And this unnamed ‘river’ mentioned by Xuanzang is probably the river Kakutthā. Pāvā was situated on the western bank of river Kakutthā. The Buddha in his last journey not only crossed Kakutthā river but also took a bath in it (DA.ii.571).  

Rampurwā is the true Kushinagar

It is important to note that two Ashokan Pillars were discovered at Rampurwā in the early 20th century. Archaeological study has confirmed that both the Ashokan pillars of Rampurwā were found at their original places where they were installed in 3rd BCE, meaning thereby that they were not removed from some other place and installed here. Just as the two Ashokan pillars mentioned by Xuanzang were situated between two rivers in close proximity, both the pillars discovered at Rampurwā were 300mts apart and are situated between the rivers Hargoḍā and Pandui. Interestingly the Ashokan pillar site of Rampurwā substantiates the distance and direction provided by Faxian and Xuanzang.  As mentioned earlier, I have written three stories on my blog on why Rampurwā and not Kasiā is the actual place of Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha. 

It is now clear that Upavattana, the last resting place of the Buddha was situated between rivers Kakutthā and Hiraññavatī and Xuanzang saw the two Ashokan pillars at the last resting place situated between two rivers.  Further, the twin Ashokan pillars of Rampurwā are situated between rivers Hargoḍā and Pandui. Therefore, the circumstantial evidence clearly suggests that the present day rivers Hargoḍā and Pandui are the remnants of river Kakutthā and Hiraññavatī of the Buddhist literature.  


Fig 2. Sahodrāsthān mound and  Dewarh.

Where is the cremation site of Makuta Bandhana (ref fig.1 and fig.2)

As per Xuanzang, the city  of Cunda (i.e. Pāvā) was situated south of the place of cremation of the Buddha. I have identified the   Kahargaḍī (27° 15' 11'' N. 84° 28' 38'' E) village situated 2-3 kms southwest of Ashokan Pillar site of Rampurwā as the most probable site of the city i.e. Pāvā, the village of Cunda (Anand 2020). Kahargaḍī is situated on the western bank of Hargoḍā river. According to Pali sources Kusinārā (and Makuta Bandhana) was situated 3 gāvutas away (i.e. 9-12 kms) from Pāvā. If   Kahargaḍī is the site of Pāvā then Kusinārā should be situated 9-12 kms NE from   Kahargaḍī. In my explorations in the NE direction of   Kahargaḍī, I read about the village Dewarh in the District Census Handbook 1961. Dewarh village is situated 10-12 kms as the  crow flies North East of village   Kahargaḍī. Census report mentions an ancient mound in Dewarh village from where an ancient image of Buddha was discovered  in 1950’s (Prasad 1966: xlviii).  I visited the village on 29th July 2021 and again a second time on 17th May 2023. Dewarh is predominantly a village of Thāru tribal people. It is situated on the ancient highway connecting Vaishāli-Kesariyā-Arerāj-Lauriyā Nandangarh- Rampurwā- Bhikhnā Thori. This ancient highway enters the neighbouring country Nepāl at Bhikhnā Thori. Dewarh is situated 7 kms SW of Bhikhnā Thori. At Dewarh, I noticed a very huge ancient mound called Sahodrāsthān   situated North East of the village. The mound has assumed its name from a temple called Sahodrāsthān   situated on its SE slope. There are numerous images of brahmanical deities from the mediaeval period in the Sahodrāsthān   temple and around. Shri Rajendra Prasad, a local social worker informed me that the Sahodrāsthān   temple is the most popular shrine receiving the largest footfall in West Champaran district.  

As per the local legend Sahodrā (Subhadrā) was the sister of lord Krishna of epic Mahābhārata and the temple is dedicated to her. Rajendra ji had a different opinion, he was of the view that the Sahodrāsthān  temple is dedicated to Yasodharā, the wife of the Buddha. Large number of people from the neighbouring country Nepāl also visit Sahodrāsthān   specially on the occasion of the Rāmnavmi festival. Doesn't this sound a little strange, a temple dedicated to the sister of lord Krishna receives maximum visitors on the birthday of lord Rāma of epic Rāmāyana.  I am not surprised by the extreme popularity of shrines like Sahodrāsthān   which are settled on the ancient brick mounds. Many of these brick mounds in Gangetic plains are remains of ancient shrines, mostly Buddhist. In spite of Buddha Dhamma being lost in this land, the sanctity of many of these Buddhist shrines continued assuming new names and traditions. The immense popularity of Sahodrāsthān   shrine is a strong indicator that this was a place of great significance in ancient times.

Sahodrāsthān   mound is almost circular with a diameter of more than 200mts. Besides the temple, the mound also has shops and houses. The Nandangarh- Bhiknā Thori state highway also runs over the mound on its south side.  The mound is presently around 15-20 ft high from its neighbouring fields but the real height of the mound could be much higher than the existing height. Shri Rajendra ji who  lives in the immediate vicinity of the mound shared how he discovered layers of ancient bricks at the depth of 8ft when he was digging the foundation of his new house. Probably, years of silting has deposited layers of earth around the ancient mound. I measured the size of a few bricks that were kept in the open (i) 8in X 2in X broken, (ii) 7in X 7.5in X 2in.   A brick I discovered after removing a layer of biomass measured  9.5in X  9.5in X 2in. Dr Jalaj Kumar Tiwary, a senior archaeologist from the Archaeological Survey of India based on the size of bricks has argued this structure to be a massive stūpa or fortification from Sunga-Kushān period (1st BCE -2nd CE). 

Sahodrāsthān Mound. A view from the north-west direction.

Clearing biomass to expose the brick. Sahodrāsthān Mound.

 The exposed ancient brick. Sahodrāsthān Mound.

 Exposed ancient brick. Sahodrāsthān Mound.

 Some ancient bricks lying in open in Sahodrāsthān.

    Some structures on the Sahodrāsthān mound .

 Some ancient sculpture at Sahodrāsthān.

Some ancient sculpture at Sahodrāsthān.

Some ancient sculpture at Sahodrāsthān.

Remains of an ancient temple situated north of Dewrah village.

River Pandui, Bhikhnā Thori 

Crossing river Pandui.

 Satrudhan ji, my friend and companion in exploration works. 

With Shri Gauri Shankar Das ji, Priest, Sahodrāsthān.

Shatrudhan ji with Shri Rajendra Ji, Dewrah.

The Dichotomy 

Pali sources and the eyewitness accounts of Faxian and Xuanzang are not on the same page regarding the location of Makuta Bandhana, the place where the Buddha was cremated. Pali sources suggest the place of cremation of the Buddha was situated a little far away from Upavattana, the place of his final demise. Contrary to Pali sources, the eyewitness accounts of the Buddhist monk-pilgrims suggest both the places were situated in juxtaposition. 

There is a dichotomy between the two sources. We have no definitive answer as to why, however, available evidence from literary sources, archaeological studies and field surveys identifies some possibilities.  The question is, what may have happened in the kingdom of Mallas in the intervening period between the Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha (5th BCE) and the visits of Faxian (5th CE) and Xuanzang (7th CE). My finding is that the Kingdom of Mallas was a difficult terrain. Topographical and economical circumstances may have seriously limited the capacity of this region to sustain Buddhist monasteries. One thousand years is a long time. It is very likely, for a lack of monk community, the oral tradition at the places where the Buddha died and cremated got broken and altered.  Let me elaborate on this.

  1. Topographic challenges 

The kingdom of Malla was not rich and prosperous like Campā, Rājagaha, Sāvatthi, Sāketa, Kosāmbi, and Kāsi, the other kingdoms of that time (6th BCE). Ven Ānanda regretted why Buddha chose to attain pārinibbāna at a place that was ‘mean’, ‘uncivilised township in the midst of the jungle’, ‘a mere outpost of the province with wattle-and-daub houses’ (D ii 72). 

Accounts of monk-pilgrims hint that the situation of the kingdom of Mallas was aggravated. In the 5th CE, more than a millennia after the Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha, Faxian noticed the capital had very few people (Beal 1869: 93-94). Two hundred years after the Faxian, Xuanzang noticed towns and villages including the capital of Kushinagara country were in ruins.  Hye C’ho noticed the city (i.e. ancient capital) was desolate and devoid of any inhabitants (Yang, Han-sung, Jan, Yün-hua 1984:39 ) .  

The Journey of Xuanzang to Kusinārā can be singled out as the most daunting journey to any kingdom undertaken by him in his travels in the Indian subcontinent. On his way to Kusinārā, Xuanzang had to negotiate through a ‘great forest’ which had ‘mountain oxen and wild elephants’ and ‘brigands and hunters’. More than a hundred years later, the Korean monk Hye C’ho echoed a similar experience. Hye C’ho also noted the pilgrims visiting Kushinagara often got injured by Rhinoceros and Tigers. 

Rampurwā, Dewarh and its surroundings until fifty years ago was a forest territory teeming with wild animals like tiger, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Valmiki Tiger Reserve park 5 kms north of Rampurwā still has wild tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and other wild animals who occasionally stray into neighbouring villages. 

Most of the locals whom I met during my surveys in this area told me they were migrants. Their  forefathers were brought here from far off districts to transform the impenetrable forest into arable land. Before the migrants started arriving here in the early 20th century, this forest was very sparsely populated with a handful of villages of Thāru tribals. Life of the people living here was very difficult because of dense forest coupled with numerous rivers and rivulets crossing the landscape made movement of people and agriculture produce onerous. Life became a little easier only recently after the Government developed bridges, roads, railways, embankments and water channels. 

II. Absence of living monk communities

Faxian has recorded numerous shrines to mark the events related to the Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha. Similarly, Xuanzang in his descriptions has mentioned two Ashokan Pillars, a 200 ft Ashokan stūpa and a large brick temple with an image of the reclining Buddha among numerous other shrines to mark events related to the Mahāparinibbāna and the cremation, spread out in a large area. Contrary to Xuanzang, Hye C’ho mentions just one stūpa. This stūpa was to mark the place where the Buddha attained nibbāna. Hye C’ho is oblivious of the two Ashokan pillars and the temple with a reclining image of the Buddha mentioned by his predecessor, Xuanzang. Also, this nibbāna stūpa mentioned by Hye C’ho was isolated on all sides. This could mean that at the time of Hye C’ho, the numerous shrines in the immediate vicinity of the place of final demise of the Buddha mentioned by Xuanzang were either lost for lack of maintenance or were no longer accessible because they were reclaimed by the dense forest.  

Another important thing to note in the descriptions of monk-pilgrims is the absence of the living community of monks (Saṅghārāma) at the final-resting place of the Buddha. Faxian noticed a ‘resident congregation of priests’ (Beal 1869: 94). Probably, a group of  priest caretakers of the Mahāparinibbāna shrine.  Families of these caretakers were among the few inhabitants that lived in City situated south of Mahāparinibbāna site (Pāvā, ‘old city’ of Xuanzang).

Xuanzang in his travels in the Indian Subcontinent has consistently provided a summary of the number of monasteries, monk communities and their tradition in every single kingdom he visited. But, the ‘country of Kushinagara’ is an exception. In his introduction to the Kushinagara kingdom Xuanzang has not mentioned a word about monasteries or monk communities. Probably, there were no monasteries in the Kusinārā kingdom, including at the site of the final demise of the Buddha. But there were some caretaker(s) who explained to Xuanzang various shrines of significance. Descriptions of Hye C’ho reveal a very  grim situation of the site. Hye C’ho noticed the site of Mahāparinibbāna  was at mercy of a ‘dhyāna master’. The dhyāna master kept the place clean.  Provision and support to this dhyāna master came from a monastery (named ‘Bandhana’) situated 30Li SE ( approximately 8-10kms). Point to be noted here is that the monk community was around 8-10 kms from the exact place where the Buddha attained nibbāna. This is the biggest indicator that the immediate vicinity of the Mahāparinibbāna site was geographically an inhospitable place. This could be for multiple reasons. (i) Either the number of people living in the neighbourhood were very less or (ii) they were not prosperous enough to  support a lone dhyāna master (iii) and also the floodplain was not suitable for setting up and sustaining a monastery. 

The Ashokan pillar site of Rampurwā is a low-lying, flood-prone area sandwiched between two perennial rivers, Hargoḍā and Pandui. These two rivers are approximately 2-3 kms apart and many rivulets and water streams flow in between the two rivers. Shri Shatrudhan Chaurasiya ji, my local host and companion in my explorations shared with me how the area between the two rivers gets submerged in knee-deep water during the monsoons. 

We should remember the fact that the Buddha wished to attain parinibbāna in Kusinārā but due to the circumstances he was compelled to choose Upavattana grove as his final resting place. Markers were developed to mark important events related to Mahāparinibbāna including the Ashokan Pillars but these shrines were never easy to sustain because of difficult and inhospitable geographical conditions. The two Ashokan pillars of Rampurwā when discovered in the late 19th century, were buried in the ground in a slanting position. Excavation of both Pillars in 1907-08 revealed the brick base of the pillars buried more than 7 ft below the surface (Sahani 1990). Excavation also exposed layers of sand and earth over the fallen pillars. Studies suggest the twin pillar site  being an ancient river bed and the river flowed over the pillar site for centuries, and at least twice in the last one thousand years or so. 

III. Broken tradition

During the times of the Buddha Pāvā and Kusinārā were part of a trade route connecting Shrāvasti-Kapilavastu-Vaishāli (Vin.ii.159f, SN.vss.1011 13).  More than one thousand years later the situation was extremely disparate. Xuanzang negotiated the road which was not only through the forest teeming with wild animals but was also ‘rough and dangerous with perilous obstacles all along the way’. Just as Xuanzang, a hundred years after him, Hye C’ho risked his life to pay pilgrimage to the place where the Buddha attained Mahāparinibbāna. Probably, the Kingdom of Mallas by the time of Xuanzang or even much before, was kind of cut off from the world.  

Archaeological studies of ancient Buddhist sites in the Indian subcontinent have indicated a close link between the trade, commerce and the sustenance of Buddhist centres. Accounts of Faxian, Xuanzang and Hye C’ho have indicated there were no resident monk community at the most sacred site of Mahāparinibbāna. The sacred site devoid of resident Saṅgha and the neighbouring villages and cities in ruins, sans people took its toll on the oral tradition of the place.  As per the MS, the Mallas dedicated two stūpas to enshrine the body relics of Buddha, one at Pāvā and the second at Kusinārā. None of our pilgrims have anything to say about the Malla’s share of body relics of the Buddha. 

I am convinced that by the time of the arrival of Faxian, the oral tradition at the Mahāparinibbāna site may not be continuous and unbroken. This seems the only possible explanation for the mismatch between the primary source, the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta and the eyewitness accounts of Faxian, Xuanzang and Hye C’ho. This also explains the inconsistent and conflicting descriptions of the three pilgrims. 

Ancient bricks on the  outermost layers of Sahodrāsthān mound are from 1st BCE - 2nd CE. It is quite conceivable Makuta Bandhana for some unknown reasons was abandoned by the Buddhist Saṅgha sometime near 2nd-3rd CE. Sahodarāsthan is situated further north of Rampurwā, towards the  hill and denser forest. It is plausible, while Makuta Bandhana (i.e. Sahodrāsthān  ) was totally abandoned and the tradition completely dried out, some continual tradition survived just 8 kms SW at Upavattana (i.e. Rampurwā). 

We have a similar story from the ancient Kapilavastu kingdom. Excavation of a prominent mound in Piprāhwā in 1898 revealed it to be stūpa over the Shākyan’s share of body relics of the Buddha. Faxian and Xuanzang who visited Kapilavastu Palace City and Lumibni were totally oblivious about this very important relic stūpa situated just 15 kms away. Studies reveal that while tradition was still lingering at Lumbini and the Palace City during the visit of Faxian and Xuanzang, the relic stūpa site was abandoned by the end of 2nd CE and was cut off from the local oral tradition (Anand 2017). 

Faxian and Xuanzang, both the pilgrims have placed the sites of final demise and cremation in proximity of each other. Probably, the 2nd Ashokan Pillar of Rampurwā which Xuanzang states to be the site of cremation was installed to mark some other major event, but in later centuries, after the  Makuta Bandhana got abandoned, the story of cremation and relic distribution  moved to Upavattana (i.e. Rampurwā).  

There are chances that even after Makuta Bandhana was abandoned by the Saṅgha around 3rd CE, the sanctity of the site continued in some form including some tenuous Buddhist tradition.  Image of the Buddha discovered at Sahodrāsthān confirms this. With little or no Buddhists around, the site gradually took on new brahmanical nomenclature (Sahodrāsthān  ). Remains of a brahmanical temple and sculptures in Dewarh village is an undeniable proof of this. 

Findings at Rampurwā,   Kahargaḍī and Sahodrāsthān   (Dewarh)  make it a persuasive case but a definitive answer may only be provided by a systematic, scientific exploration and archaeological study by competent people.

Story chronicled by Surinder M Talwar.


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Abbreviations of Bibliography:


Source of Pāli references:

P.T.S. Means published by the Pāli Text Society.


D.      Digha Nikāya, 3 vols. (P.T.S.).

DA.     Sumangala Vilāsinī, 3 vols. (P.T.S.).

SN        Sutta Nipāta (P.T.S.).

UdA. Udāna Commentary (P.T.S.).

Vin.    Vinaya Piṭaka, 5 vols., ed. Oldenberg (Williams and Norgate).


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