Mallas Defending the City of Kushinagara

Mallas Defending the City of Kushinagara

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The Mahājanapadas (Sanskrit: great realm , from maha, "great", and janapada "foothold of a people") were sixteen kingdoms or oligarchic republics that existed in Northern ancient India from the sixth to fourth centuries BCE during the second urbanisation period. [2]

The 6th–5th centuries BCE is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history during this period India's first large cities arose after the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization. It was also the time of the rise of sramana movements (including Buddhism and Jainism), which challenged the religious orthodoxy of the Vedic Period.

Two of the Mahājanapadas were most probably ganatantras (oligarchic republics) and others had forms of monarchy. Ancient Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya [3] make frequent reference to sixteen great kingdoms and republics which had developed and flourished in a belt stretching from Gandhara in the northwest to Anga in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. They included parts of the trans-Vindhyan region, [4] and all had developed prior to the rise of Buddhism in India. [5]

Archaeologically, this period has been identified as corresponding in part to the Northern Black Polished Ware culture. [6]

In ancient times, it was known as Kushavati (Jatakas).

It finds mention in epic Ramayan as the city of Kusha the son of Ram, the famous king of Ayodhya.

Kushinagar was a celebrated center of the Malla kingdom of ancient India.

Later, it would be known as Kushinara, one of the most important four holy sites for Buddhists.

At this location, near the Hiranyavati River, Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana (or 'Final Nirvana') after falling ill from eating a meal of a species of mushroom.

Many of the ruined stupas and viharas here date back to 3rd century BCE - 5th century CE when prosperity was at its peak.

The Mauryan emperor Ashoka is known to have contributed to significant construction at this site.

Prior to its rediscovery in the 19th century, there was a silence of more than half a millennium at Kasia. Due to violent invasions, Kushinagar lost its vitality and eventually was neglected.

According to one theory, Kushinagar was the capital of Kosala Kingdom and according to Ramayana it was built by King Kush, son of Rama, protagonist of the epic Ramayana. While according to Buddhist tradition Kushavati was named prior to the king Kush. The naming of Kushwati is believed to be due to abundance of Kush grass found in this region. [4]

According to 2011 Indian Census, Kushinagar had a total population of 22,214, of which 11,502 were males and 10,712 were females. Population within the age group of 0 to 6 years was 2,897. The total number of literates in Kushinagar was 15,150, which constituted 68.2% of the population with male literacy of 73.3% and female literacy of 62.7%. The effective literacy rate of 7+ population of Kushinagar was 78.4%, of which male literacy rate was 84.5% and female literacy rate was 71.9%. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population was 1,117 (5.03%) and 531 (2.39%) respectively. Kushinagar had 3462 households in 2011. [2]

The present Kushinagar is identified with Kusavati (in the pre-Buddha period) and Kushinara (in the post-Buddha period). Kushinara was the capital of Mallas which was one of the sixteen mahajanpads of the 6th century BCE. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta, Harsha, and Pala dynasties.

In the medieval period, Kushinagar had passed under the suzerainty of Kultury Kings. Kushinara continued to be a living city till the 12th century CE and was thereafter lost into oblivion. Padrauna is believed to be ruled over by a Rajput adventurer, Madan Singh, in the 15th century CE.

However, modern Kushinagar came into prominence in the 19th century with archaeological excavations carried out by Alexander Cunningham, the first Archeological Surveyor of India and later followed by C.L. Carlleyle who exposed the main stupa and also discovered a 6.10 meters long statue of reclining Buddha in 1876. Excavations continued in the early twentieth century under J. Ph. Vogel. [5] He conducted archaeological campaigns in 1904–1905, 1905-1906 and 1906–1907, uncovering a wealth of Buddhist materials.

Chandra Swami, a Burmese monk, came to India in 1903 and made Mahaparinirvana Temple into a living shrine.

After independence, Kushinagar remained part of the district of Deoria. On 13 May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh. [6]

In 1896, Waddell suggested that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva. [7] However, according to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, died there, and this is where he was cremated. [8] [9] It is believed that during his last day he walked into the groves of trees near the city and rejoiced at the blossoms of sala trees (Shorea robusta) before laying himself to rest. [10]

Modern scholarship, based on archaeological evidence, believes that the Buddha died in Kushinagar, close to the modern Kasia (Uttar Pradesh). [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Ashoka built a stupa and pilgrimage site to mark Buddha's parinirvana in Kushinagara. [16] The Hindu rulers of the Gupta Empire (fourth to seventh century) helped greatly enlarge the Nirvana stupa and Kushinagar site, building a temple with reclining Buddha. [17] [18] This site was abandoned by Buddhist monks around 1200 CE, who fled to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed during the Islamic rule in India that followed. [19] [20] The British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagara in the late 19th century, and his colleague A. C. L. Carlleyle unearthed the 1,500-year-old Buddha image. [18] [21] [22] The site has since then become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. [8] [23] Archaeological evidence from the 3rd century BCE suggests that the Kushinagara site was an ancient pilgrimage site. [8]

Kushinagar is a nagar palika situated at 53 km east from Gorakhpur on the National Highway-28, lying between latitude 26°45´N and 83°24´E. Gorakhpur is the main railway terminus for Kushinagar while air strip of UP Civil Aviation is situated in Kasia, 2 km away from Kushinagar, currently being developed as an International Airport by Uttar Pradesh Government and Government of India. [24]

The reclining Nirvana statue of the Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Stupa. The statue is 6.10 metres long and is made of monolith red sandstone. It represents the "Dying Buddha" reclining on his right side with his face towards the west. It is placed on a large brick pedestal with stone-posts at the corners. [25]

Nirvana Chaitya (Main Stupa)

Nirvana Chaitya is located just behind the Main Parinirvana Temple. It was excavated by Carlleyle in the year 1876. During excavations, a copper plate was found, which contained the text of the "Nidana-Sutra" which concluded the statement that plate had been deposited in the Nirvana-Chaitya by one Haribala, who also installed the great Nirvana Statue of Buddha in the temple front. [25]

Ramabhar Stupa, also called a Mukutbandhan-Chaitya, is the cremation place of Buddha. This site is 1.5 km east of the main Nirvana Temple on the Kushinagar-Deoria road. [25]

A colossal statue of Buddha is installed, which is carved out of one block which represents Buddha seated under the "Bodhi Tree" in a pose known as "Bhumi Sparsh Mudra" (Earth touching attitude). The inscription at the base of statue is dateable to the 10th or 11th century CE. [25]

  • Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka Temple: Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka temple is a marvel of Buddhist architectural grandeur of modern times. [25]
  • Wat Thai Temple: It is a huge complex built in a typical Thai-Buddhist architectural fashion. [25]
  • Ruins and brick structures: These are located around the main Nirvana Temple and Main Stupa. These are the remains of various monasteries of different sizes constructed from time to time in the ancient period. [25]
  • Several museums, meditation parks and several other temples based on architecture of various eastern countries.

The Government of Uttar Pradesh has proposed the Kushinagar-Sarnath Buddha Expressway to connect Buddhist pilgrimage towns. The expressway will be around 200 km long and will reduce the travel time between the towns from seven hours to one and a half hours.

Sanchi – Buddham Dhammam Sangham

This gateway has suffered a lot and lost many of its original features. All the uprights which are usually found in between architraves are missing. Ornamentation above the top architrave like tri-ratna motif and dharma-chakra are also missing. The pillars have capital of four pot-bellied yaksha figures standing back-to-back with upraised hands supporting the architraves.

Western Gateway Western Gateway - Panel Information

North Pillar – Front (West) Face

Pleasure Garden Garden of Enjoyment

There are only two panels on this face and both depict similar scenes though the second panel is much deteriorated. The top panel shows four different scenes where people are shown enjoying and merry-making inside a garden. Couples are shown standing below trees and engaged in talks and other amorous activities. One lady is holding a mirror and busy with her makeup while her attendant is busy taking jewelry from the tree branches. Marshall identifies this panel with the paradise of Indra.

North Pillar – South Face

The top panel depicts Sama Jataka story. As per this story, Bodhisattva was born as Sama in his previous birth. His both parents became blind due to a snake bite. Sama was devoted to his parents and was taking good care of them. Once Sama went to fetch water for his parents. But while he was drawing water from a river, he was shot from an arrow of the king of Varanasi. When the king got to know about this, he filled up with remorse and offered his services to the blind parents of Sama. But by the grace of a goddess Sama recovered his life and his parents got back their eyesight.

There are two huts shown in right upper corner which is the abode of Sama and his parents. In left lower corner, Sama is shown with an arrow in his body and the king of Varanasi is in his hunting attire. Upper left corner shows Sama with his parents, his life is recovered and his parents got eyesight, and two Gods in front. Various domestic animals around depicts the common village life of that time.

Muchalinda Jataka and Royal Boat

The panel below depicts a story of Buddha’s life. Buddha spent his fifth week after the enlightenment under the goatherd’s Nyagrodha tree. After it he went to the kingdom of King Muchalinda. But he faced a strong storm on the path and saved by king Muchalinda as he formed an umbrella above Buddha’s head by his hood. King Muchalinda is shown with his retinue. Above him is shown a Bodhi-tree with naga worshippers around it.

The panel below has survived only partially. It depicts a boat consisting a lion shaped head and fish tail. A royal couple is seated under a pavilion in the middle of this boat. Water is shown with wavy lines with lotuses in it. Marshall indentifies this story with the crossing of Ganga by Buddha when he left Rajagriha to visit Vaishali.

South Pillar – Front (West) Face

The top panel depicts Mahakapi Jataka. As per the story, once Bodhisattva was born as a monkey and was the leader of eighty thousand monkeys. He was living near a mango grove on the bank of Ganga near Himalaya region. Brahmadatta, the king of Varanasi, got to know about the delicious mangoes of this mango grove, so he sent his soldiers to get mangoes from this grove. The soldiers surrounded the grove. Bodhisattva monkey tied a bamboo to his waist and crossed the river. But he found that the bamboo was not big enough to make bridge so he stretched his body so that the bridge can be formed and his gang can cross the river. One monkey, Devadatta, was his rival and in jealousy he jumped on Bodhisattva in great force that it broke his heart. The king witnessed this and brought down Bodhisattva in grief. Bodhisattva delivered a sermon to the king.

The mango grove is shown on left and right upper side. Bodhisattva monkey is shown stretched across the river holding on to a tree. Right below this, Bodhisattva is shown seated in front of the king and delivering a sermon. King’s soldiers are shown below the grove.

The panel below depicts Adhyeshana when Brahma and Indra persuade Buddha to preach mankind for the benefit of humanity. Buddha is shown in form of a Bodhi-tree while the gods are shown standing below in adoration.

The panel below also shows a Bodhi-tree with two small trees on either side. Few people, seven in number, are shown standing below. Marshall identifies this with Indra’s visit to Buddha’s hermit.

The panel below shows three lions, one in center and two on sides. Creepers and foliage is shown around the panel.


Aya-chudasa atevasino Balamitrasa dana thabho – Above the panel band – Epigraphia Indica vol II – written in Brahmi, language is Pali – A gift of Balamitra, pupil of Ayachuda (Arya Kshudra), the preacher of dharma (law).

South Pillar – North Face

Enlightenment and Mara's Temptation

The top panel represents the enlightenment of Buddha in form of Bodhi-tree. Below near a lake is an empty pedestal around which 3 figures are standing. Dhavalikar suggests that the middle figure is probably Mara who is trying to tempt Buddha.

The panel below represents Buddha’s preaching to his clansmen, the Shakyas.

The panel below shows a dvarpala who is standing holding a spear in one hand and another hand is akimbo. He wears a broad necklace and various ornaments on his wrists. His robe is falling on his arms and the lower garment reached till his ankles.

Architraves – Front

The top architrave shows three stupa and four trees, representing seven Manushi Buddhas. These trees are Shirisha of Krakuchchhanda, Udumbara of Kanakamuni, Nyagrodha of Kashyapa and Pipal of Shakyamuni. However there is a difference in opinion on the rightmost tree, Dhavalikar suggests that it is Pipal while Marshall suggests it to be Nagapushpa, the tree of Maitreya Buddha.

Architrave - Front Left Terminal

The middle architrave depicts the first sermon delivered in the Mrigadava (Deer Park) at Sarnath. Buddha is represented through dharma-chakra resting over a pedestal. Usually his five earliest pupils are also shown with him in this theme however these cannot be distinguished among the crowd in the present panel.

Architrave - Front Right Terminal

The lowest architrave represents Chhadanta Jataka where elephants are seen worshipping Bodhi-tree standing in the middle of the panel. A better representation of this story is found on the Northern Gateway.

Architraves – Back

Transport of Relics & Siege of Kushinagar

The top architrave depicts the transport of Buddha’s relics. A figure seated on the front elephant is holding a casket above his head. This casket probably consists of Buddha’s relics. The retinue is shown entering into a city which may be Kushinagar where the fight for relics took place. The Mallas of Kushinagar took possession of the bodily relics of Buddha after his funeral. They are shown taking the relics into the city with great pomp and show.

The middle architrave depicts the siege of Kushinagar. A huge army consisting of elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers is shown marching towards the city which is carved on left. The seven claimants for the relics can be seen here and distinguished with flags and emblems they are carrying. The seated figure inside the city may be the King of the Mallas.

Siege of Kushinagar and Defeat of Mara

The lowest architrave has a shrine in the middle. This shrine has a rectangular roof with many chaitya windows in front. The first storey is supported on six pillars, three on either side, with an empty pedestal in middle. A tree emerges out of its roof. Mara’s army is shown on left of the shrine where the grotesque figures are shown falling down. People on right of the shrine are happy on this defeat and are worshiping Buddha.

Inscription –

Kuraraya Nagapiyasa Achhavade sethisa putasa cha Saghasa danam tabho – Epigraphia India vol II – written in Brahmi, language is Pali – The gift of Nagapiya (Nagapriya) in Kurara, Sheth in Achhavada, and of his son Samgha


Allakappa were, in the Buddhist tradition, one of the eight republics, which were the relics of the Buddha after his death, or Parinirvana.
Original power was retained exclusively Mallas of Kusinagara, where Buddha died, but after the war relics, the relics were distributed among eight cities or republics by Drona the Brahmin. Seven other republics or cities Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Ramagrama, PAVA, Kushinagar, and Vethadipa.
People Allakappa was named Bulayas or Bulis. They were located somewhere in Bihar, in the historic part of Buddha, but they are only mentioned in Digha Nikaya.
After receipt of Bulis, the relics were placed in the stupa.

portion of the ashes was enshrined. These eight stupas were located at: Allakappa a settlement of the Bulī people. The precise location of this place is
were spread between eight stupas, in Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa Ramagrama, Pava, Kushinagar, and Vethapida. The Piprahwa stupa also seems
Licchavis of Vaishali to the Sakyas of Kapilavastu to the Bulis of Allakappa to the Koliyas of Ramagrama to the brahmin of Vethadipa to the Mallas
These eight stupas were erected at Rajagriha, Vaisali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa Ramagrama, Vothadvipa, Pava and Kusinara. About two centuries later
were spread between eight stupas, in Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa Ramagrama, Pava, Kushinagar, and Vethapida. The Piprahwa stupa also seems

  • portion of the ashes was enshrined. These eight stupas were located at: Allakappa a settlement of the Bulī people. The precise location of this place is
  • were spread between eight stupas, in Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa Ramagrama, Pava, Kushinagar, and Vethapida. The Piprahwa stupa also seems
  • Licchavis of Vaishali to the Sakyas of Kapilavastu to the Bulis of Allakappa to the Koliyas of Ramagrama to the brahmin of Vethadipa to the Mallas
  • These eight stupas were erected at Rajagriha, Vaisali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa Ramagrama, Vothadvipa, Pava and Kusinara. About two centuries later
  • were spread between eight stupas, in Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa Ramagrama, Pava, Kushinagar, and Vethapida. The Piprahwa stupa also seems

Buddhist legends v. 1 Columbia University Libraries.

The ascetic Allakappa who lived in Himalayas, close to that tree, took the two as part of his family, and when the king Purantappa died, he bestowed his Следующая Войти Настройки. Buddhist Holy Land Locations Kushinagar Relics. Allakappa The Distribution of the Buddhas Relics, by Drona the Brahmin. Allakappa was, in Buddhist tradition, one of the eight republics to whom were given the. Eight Mounds of Buddhas Relics – History Moments. And the Bulis of Allakappa sent a messenger to the Mallas, saying, The Blessed One belonged to the soldier caste, and we too are of the soldier.

Death of Jaina and Buddha 3. Rise of Buddhism and Jainism.

The Bulis of Allakappa: It was somewhere between the districts of Sahabad and Muzzafarpur in Bihar. 4. The Kalamas of Kesaputta: Its exact location is not clear​. Allakappa Mili, The Free Encyclopedia. Licchavis of Vaisali Sakkyas of Kapilavatthu Bulis of Allakappa Koliyas of Ramagama Brahmanas of Vethadipa Mallas of Pava and Kusina Moriyas of. Words that match the pattern appa OneLook Dictionary Search. Allakappa, a settlement of the Bulī people. The precise location of this place is not currently known. the​.


Moon came round, Allakappa, seeing no lighl in his friends monastery, knew thai be was dead. Now the Nats son, VeMadlpaka, the moment thai he became a. Allakappa Revolvy. Watch DharKayns clip titled SkT T1 Rene alla Kappa. No alla kappa – Contro labbreviazione compulsiva dei caratteri. And the Bulis of Allakappa heard the news that the Blessed One had died at Kusinara. And the Bulis of Allakappa sent a messenger to the.

Ramagrama Stupa: The One That Got Away! Live History India.

Bulis of Allakappa The Kalamas of kesaputta, The Koliyas of Ramagana, The Mallas of Pava, The Mallas of kusinara, The Moriyas of. Index of Proper Names Access to Insight. The country of Allakappa seems to have a republican form of government, but its importance was not very great. According to the Dhammapada Commentary. Political System at the time of Buddha by Susapien Medium. Allakappa,having discovered the mother and child,took them under his Allakappa taught Udena the various charms he knew for taming. Relics associated with Buddha Steemit. Bulis of Allakappa, Koliyas of Ramgrama, and Brahmin of Vethadipa. LAYING CLAIMS TO THE REMAINS. Every one laid claim to the bones. Mallas wanted all​. Which of the following pairs is not correctly matched? Sakyas. Allakappa. 1. Allakappa. A country near Magadha. When the Bulis of Allakappa heard of the Buddhas death, they sent messengers to the Mallas asking for a.

Allakappa University College & University Facebook.

Allakappa University. College & University. Unofficial Page. Allakappa University. Posts about Allakappa University. There are no stories available. About. Allakappa Spectroom. Notes: Sakiyas of Kapilavastu. IASbaba:Mauryan Age. Allakappa city DN 16 Ambalatthika city DN 16 Ambapali, Ven. Sister ​formerly the courtesan DN 16, Thig 13.1 Ambara ambaravati deva city DN 32. Pava definitions RhymeZone. India. 2. Sites of Relics of Buddha – Ramagrama Nepal, Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu. Allakappa, Vethadipaka, Pava, Kusinara and Pipphalavana India.

Read the eBook Buddhaghoshas parables by Buddhaghosa online.

They claimed one eighth share of the Buddhas relics and raised a thūpa over them in their city of Allakappa (D.ii.167).Their territory was probably near​. Buddhist Pilgrimage Holy Cross. 13. allakappa 14. alpha beta kappa 15. alpha gamma kappa 16. alpha kappa 17. alpha sigma kappa 18. Amanita Mappa 19. anbulla appa 20. anthony​. Mahastupas Relics of the Buddha – Xuanfa Institute. Tag: Allakappa. Stupa: Dome of Light Heritage India June 9, 2017. 0. Read more on… Agriculture Art Buddha Buddhism Celebration Ceremony Cham.

Full text of NewPilgrim from 170321 Internet Archive.

Allakappa, 216 al Lat, 36, 101. Al Maghtas, 85 al Masjid al Aqsa, 124 al Muwatta​, 15 al Sadiq, 56, 75 al Siddiq, 148 al Tabari, 14, 21, 101, 124, 125, 176, 177. The Distribution of the Relics Ancient Buddhist Texts. The otherwise unknown place Allakappa then the Koliyas of Rāmagrāma, that is, the clan of the mother of the Buddha. The standard phrase I. MCQExpress – Nothing Succeeds Like Success. Sumsumara Hill, Bulis of Allakappa, Kalamas of. Kesaputta, Koliyas of Rama ​gama, and Moriyans of. Pipphalivana. Rhys Davis, Buddhist India, p.17 23.

Ancient GK Weebly.

Of Kapilavastu to the Bulis of Allakappa to the Koliyas of Ramagrama to the brahmin of Vethadipa to the Mallas of Pava and to the Mallas of Kushinagar. The Ashes of the Buddha jstor. Allakappa city DN 16. Ambalatthika city DN 16, Ambapali, Ven. Sister ​formerly the courtesan DN 16, Thig XIII.1. Ananda, Ven. aka the. What happened to Gautam Buddhas dead body? Quora. Опубликовано: 25 дек. 2010 г.

GETB 2 Spread of Buddhism.

The ascetic Allakappa who lived in Himalayas, close to that tree, took the two as part of his family, and when the king Purantappa died, he bestowed his. Relic of Lord Buddha Bullis of Allakappa SAEE Society, Begusarai. The people of Allakappa were called the Bulayas or Bulis, they were located somewhere in Bihar, in the historical area of the Buddha, but they are mentioned​.

Art. XIV. Asoka and the Buddha relics Journal of the Royal Asiatic.

The Mallas of Kushinagar Ajaatasattu, the ruler of Magadha the Licchavis of Ves​±li the S±kyas of Kapilavatthu the Buliyas of Allakappa the Koliyas of. 1. the ancient civilization of india. Sn 1.10 Allakappa city DN 16 Ambalatthika city DN 16 Ambapali, Ven. Sister formerly the courtesan DN 16, Thig 13.1 Ambara ambaravati deva city ​. Allakappa Visually. Allakappa was, in Buddhist tradition, one of the eight republics to whom were given the relics of the Buddha upon his death, or Parinirvana. Initially, the relics.

Buddhas funeral was: pots, brahmin names, and potters Indology.

The exact positions of Pipphalivana, Allakappa, and Vethadīpa are not known. One of the more interesting things this map brings out is that Sāvatthī and. Annexure One. Продолжительность: 2:11. Definitions for: allakappa SuttaCentral. A fortnight later Allakappa saw no fire on the mountain and knew that his comrade was dead. As soon as ever Vethadipaka was reborn, he surveyed his own.

Subhash Kak on Twitter: An old puzzle. The etymology of Allakappa.

1. To Ajātasattu, king of Magadha. 2. To the Licchavis of Vesālī. 3. To the Sakyas of Kapilavastu. 4. To the Bulis of Allakappa. 5. To the Koliyas of Rāmagāma. 6. Bulī Pali Dictionary. The etymology of Allakappa, which was one of the eight republics that received the relics of the Buddha upon his death, has confused scholars. Four Places of Buddhist Pilgrimage in India thezensite. 1. Rajgir, the Magadhan Ajatasatru of Videhi Stupa known. 2. Veshali, the Licchavi Stupa known. 3. Allakappa, the Bulis Stupa unknown. 4. Ramagama, the. Home The Mallas of Kusinara and Pava. Rajagraha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa, Ramagrama, Vethadipa, Pava, Kushinagar, Pippalvina. 29. Stupa, Viharas and Chaitya are part of. Study These​. Quiz Jatin Vermas IAS Academy. Of Kapilavastu to the Bulis of Allakappa to the Koliyas of Ramagrama to the brahmin of Vethadipa to the Mallas of Pava and to the Mallas of Kushinagar.

Ramagrama Stupa: The One That Got Away!

In 260 BCE, Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (r. 269 – 232 BCE) decided to open up all the great stupas that had been built to preserve the bodily (sharirika) remains of the Buddha and redistribute them among a much larger number of stupas. According to Buddhist texts, he built 84,000 new stupas with these relics. Of all the stupas built on the remains of the Buddha, the only one he did not open was the Ramagrama Stupa, also known as the Stupa of the Nagas. This is the story of the Ramagrama Stupa in Nepal.

When the Buddha died at Kushinagar (in present-day Uttar Pradesh) around 485 BCE, his mortal remains were cremated at the site. Kushinagar, then known as Kushavati, was the capital city of the Mahajanapada of the Mallas. The Mallas tried to keep all the mortal remains of the Buddha for themselves. But the cremation of the Buddha was delayed as the monks waited for one of his oldest disciples, Mahakassapa, to arrive. By the time Mahakassapa reached Kushinagar, news of the Buddha’s passing had reached far and wide, and seven clans arrived with armies in tow for their share of his relics.

There was a showdown that almost led to an all-out war. Finally, it was decided that the mortal remains of the Buddha would be shared, and a Brahmana called Drona divided them into ten portions. Eight portions of his bones, one portion of his ashes and the broken potsherd used by Drona became the most important relics of the Buddha. Some texts say there were only eight portions.

Stupas were built over eight sets of relics. They are: At Allakappa by the Bulis (location unknown) Kapilavastu (modern-day Piprawaha in Uttar Pradesh, according to some scholars) by the Shakyas at Kushinagar by the Mallas at Pava (modern-day Fazilnagar about 15 km from Kushinagar) at Rajagriha (the Maghadan capital, now in Bihar) by Ajatashatru at Vaishali (in present-day Bihar), the capital of the Vajjians at Ramagrama, a city of the Koliya kingdom (in modern-day Nepal) and at Vethadipa (location unknown) by the Vethadipa Brahmanas to whom Drona belonged.

These sites became the most revered sites of pilgrimage along with Lumbini (where the Buddha was born) Bodh Gaya (where he attained enlightenment) and Sarnath (where he preached his first sermon in the Deer Park). Ramagrama was the capital city of the Koliyas and was also known as Koliyanagara.

The legend of Ramagrama is perhaps the most interesting of all of these stupas. Around 260 BCE, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka opened up all the stupas bearing the bodily remains of the Buddha and redistributed them into the stupas that he built. Buddhist tradition says that Ashoka built 84,000 stupas and distributed among them all the relics he had removed from the original ones. The number, of course, is an exaggeration and is more mystically important than anything else, but we do know that many stupas were built in the Mauryan era and that Ashoka was responsible for them.

Interestingly, there is a twist in the tale. According to Buddhist tradition, Ashoka opened all the stupas and retrieved the relics from them with the exception of the Ramagrama Stupa, which was fiercely defended by the Nagas, mythical beings that are half-human and half-serpent. He then let them keep their stupa intact. Another version of the story says that when Ashoka arrived at Ramagrama, he was faced down by the king of the Nagas, who were protecting the stupa. Ashoka then agreed not to harm the stupa and returned empty handed.

The Ramagrama Stupa was well known in antiquity and Chinese monks, Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang, visited it, according to their memoirs in the 5th and 7th centuries CE, respectively. The story is also mentioned in the Asokavadana, a part of the Divyavadana, a Sri Lankan Buddhist text, dated 1st-2nd century CE. It tells us that Ashoka was rebuffed by the king of the Nagas, who protected the Ramagrama Stupa, and returned empty handed.

Fa Hien tells us an interesting version of the story. He says it was guarded by a dragon, which took Ashoka into his palace and showed him all the offerings made to the stupa and said, “If you are able with your offerings to exceed these, I will not contend with you.” Ashoka knew he could never make the same and thereupon returned from Ramagrama.

Fa Hien tells us that the stupa later fell into disuse, and when a wandering monk arrived here, he was amazed to see a herd of elephants bringing water and clearing debris. The monk was so amazed and yet so saddened by the disused state of the stupa premises that he renounced his monkhood and became a shramana so that he could take care of the premises. This seems to imply that the stupa had been abandoned by the time Fa Hien visited it.

Hiuen Tsang says that the 100-foot-tall stupa of Ramagrama lies in a forested country, which is not well populated. To the east of the city, he says, lies the stupa, beside which is the Naga tank. According to Hiuen Tsang, the Naga frequently changes his appearance into that of a man and encircles the tower. He goes on to say that wild elephants bearing flowers in their trunks constantly come to make religious offerings. He says there is a Buddhist vihara (monastery) adjacent to the stupa and retells the story of the lone monk told by Fa Hien.

After the time of Hiuen Tsang, the Ramagrama Stupa receded into obscurity and its location was lost. Both Alexander Cunningham, the first Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, and ACL Carlleyle, a famous British archaeologist who worked in India in the 19th century, searched for it in vain. The search received fresh impetus only after the discovery of Lumbini, the place of the Buddha’s birth, in 1896. Many archaeologists were soon hot on the trail of the Ramagrama Stupa based on the directions provided by the Chinese visitors. One of the foremost experts on Hiuen Tsang, Buddhist and Chinese scholar T Watters, wrote that it was time to discard the contemplations of Cunningham and Carlleyle and to head into new research.

Interestingly, the stupa site had already been visited by Dr Hoey in the 1890s but he had failed to make the link with Ramagrama. P C Mukherjee had also written that the search should take place in the Eastern Terai, north of Gorakhpur, but he never followed it up. Prof S B Deo, of the Deccan College, was here at Parasi (as it was then known) and recorded a tall mound in 1964 (at Deoria village). Finally, in 1974, it was Babukrishna Rijal of the Department of Archaeology, Nepal, who visited the site and was convinced of its affiliation and identity. He boldly declared that it could be none other than the Stupa of Ramagrama.

Rijal proved this by triangulating the site using the distances mentioned by Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang with other known sites like Lumbini. Rijal’s analysis was so convincing that the Government of Nepal accepted it and made the site a part of the Lumbini Development Trust. The site lies on an island in the middle of the Jharahi River. This was not always the case and, at some point in the past, the river flowed in a loop which flooded and created a parallel course around the area of the stupa and the monastery adjacent to it.

In 1997, the Department of Archaeology in Nepal conducted a geophysical survey and discovered a monastic complex barely 4 m north-west of the stupa mound. In 1999, preliminary excavations and clearance work were undertaken. In the first season itself, the excavator, Sukra Sagar Shreshtha, was convinced they had found the monastery that Fa Hien had written about.

Today, what remains of the Ramagrama Stupa lies in the Ramagrama Municipality in Parasi District of Nepal, not far from the Indian border. It is approximately 86 km North-Northwest of Kushinagar, where the Buddha died and attained Mahaparinirvana. It is a small structure and agrees with the ‘sramanera’ description of Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang. Interestingly, there were much older deposits seen under the monastery. This agreed with the abandonment and subsequent reuse of the site. A huge flood deposit was also seen overlying and interspersing the archaeological horizons.

In 2000 and 2001, there were two more seasons of excavations. The stupa mound was partially cleared, a pradakshina patha (circumambulatory path) was noticed around it, as was a massive prayer platform adjacent to the stupa. Moulded bricks from the stupa were also recovered.

The monastic complex is 13.5 x 13.5 m square. It has 2.4 m wide rooms with a courtyard of 4.8 m. There is a small votive stupa in the centre of the courtyard. Interestingly, it post-dates the complex and seems to have been unexpectedly and coincidentally placed right in the middle of the monastery’s remains as there is a clear flood deposit between it and the monastery levels. Also, it seems to be made up of salvaged bricks. A Kushana copper coin was recovered from a corner of the monastery, thus giving us a possible datum for the existence of the monastery.

The lower-most levels have yielded a fine Grey Ware and Black and Red Ware, and have been tentatively dated 5th-3rd centuries BCE. A very clear Pre-Mauryan/Mauryan horizon has been identified for the stupa by the excavator, based on brick sizes dated at Lumbini to these levels, followed by what he calls a Kushana/Gupta horizon. The stupa was clearly damaged by floods and then rebuilt.

The story of the Ramagrama Stupa doesn’t end here. The story now shifts to Sri Lanka. The most revered of all the stupas in Sri Lanka is the Maha Stupa, Ruwanwelisaya, at Anuradhapura, built by King Dutugamini (161-137 BCE). According to the Buddhist scriptures of Sri Lanka, the Ramagrama Stupa had been given double its share of relics, which were destined for Sri Lanka. It had been predetermined by the Buddha that these relics would one day be enshrined in the Ruwanwelisaya on a pre-appointed day in the future by a King named Dutugamini.

The Sangha thus ordered the arhanta (one who is advanced on the path to Enlightenment but is yet to attain Buddhahood) under training called Sonuttara, who had been equipped with the six paranormal abilities to go to the Naga-loka (the kingdom of the Nagas), which was below the seas, to recover the artifacts. The legend goes on to tell us that the stupa at Ramagrama was inundated in a flood and the reliquary was washed into the Bay of Bengal, where the Nagas enshrined it under the seas in their city of Naga-loka, in a special stupa and venerated the same.

The Mahavamsa, a very important Sri Lankan Buddhist text dated to the 5th century CE, says that Sonuttara visited the palace of the Naga King, Mahakala, and asked him for the relics which had once been enshrined in Ramagrama. Mahakala was unwilling to part with them and asked his nephew Vasuladatta to hide them.

Sonuttara, through his magic prowess, knew this, and when Mahakala told him he might take the relics if he could find them, Sonuttara, with the help of his paranormal powers, took the relics casket from Vasuladatta, unknown to him, and brought it back with him to Anuradhapura, so that the relics could be enshrined in the Maha Stupa there. Chapter 29 of the Mahavamsa lists the visit of numerous delegations from various parts of India, and a delegation of 30,000 monks from Alexandria of the Caucasus (modern-day Bagram in Afghanistan), led by the Indo-Greek monk Mahadharmaraksita.

The Thupavamsa, a text composed in the 13th century CE, tells us that the reliquary was placed on a golden throne, crafted by Vishwakarma, artificer of the gods, and was brought to Anuradhapura by Indra himself. Brahma offered his invisible umbrella of sovereignty, and even Mahakala, the Naga king, came there to attend the consecration. As Dutugamini carried the relics to the relics chamber, they flew off his head and the Buddha was momentarily recreated. He then performed the miracle of Shravasti.

The Mahavamsa then tells us that Dutugamini died sadly before the Maha Stupa was completed. But, as he lay on his deathbed, he was told it had been completed, to make him feel better. To everyone’s surprise, he demanded to be taken there, so his brother Tissa draped the construction site in a white cloth so that with his hazy eyes close to death, Dutugamini would see the stupa complete. He breathed his last here and ascended to the Tushita heaven.

The Sri Lankan is tale is greatly intriguing. When we take the story in toto, the relics travel from Kushinagar to Ramagrama from Ramagrama to Naga-loka and from there to Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This links Sri Lankan Buddhism very firmly to the Buddha and his sharirika remains. The matter of great interest here is that the story of the flood is something that was known to the Buddhists as was the probable loss of the relics due to the stupa being swept away by the flood. They understood the geography of Northern India and linked the Jharahi and its course with the eventual emptying into the Bay of Bengal and thus into the mythological realms of the Nagas.

Though the story of the flood is not well represented, what we can ascertain is that there were repeated floods at Ramagrama and this is clearly seen in the excavations where flood deposits are encountered between the Mauryan and Kushana/Gupta levels. Thus it appears that the possible loss of the relics was known and accepted, if not necessarily talked about.

The possible loss of the Ramagrama reliquary gives the Sri Lankan school the perfect way to ‘acquire’ the original relics of the Buddha in a way that is above suspicion. It is also a way in which no stupa is destroyed in the process. It also rather obliquely shows how Dutugamini managed to do something that even the great Ashoka had been unable to do – securing the Buddha’s relics from the Ramagrama Stupa and enshrining them in a stupa – thus gaining him much merit.

The Ramagrama Stupa is today a very important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Nepal and is revered as the only original stupa built over the bodily relics of the Buddha which still contains his untouched relics. In Sri Lanka, these ‘same relics’ are greatly revered and the Ruwanwelisaya is one of the 16 great sites of Buddhist pilgrimage in the island nation and is one of the greatest attractions at Anuradhapura, if not the greatest. Pilgrims from all over the world come here to revere the relics of the Buddha and to pay homage to King Dutugamini for his most meritorious act.

Day 2: 18-Nov-2018

Kushinagar Museum

Approx 50 meters before Wat Thai temple lies Kushinagar Museum showcasing the history of Kushinagar and Buddha. There are antiquities, items from excavations, different Buddha images as well as items from different dynasties such as coins, sculptures, statues, etc., which served in the time of Buddha.

The admission charge was just INR 5 (in 2019 for Indians, and INR 500 for foreigners). However, if you’re interested in doing photography inside, you need to pay 120 INR more.

The museum is managed by the state government and is closed on Monday. Outside the museum, a rock garden is constructed under Japanese supervision and is now a place of rest of all the visitors to this museum.

People who have a flair for archaeology and history, should not miss this place.

Vietnam-Chinese Buddhist Temple

As the name includes the term ‘Chinese’ in it, you must have pictured how traditional Chinese architectures generally are. Dragons reflect a good fortune and considered to be a prosperous sign in their tradition, and it was, therefore, no wonder to see the structures of dragons on the temple.

Situated just next to Golden Stupa, and in front of the office of Archaeological Survey of India, this Buddhist temple was yet another place that gave us chills down the spine. It’s a marvelous architecture, as well as give feels of being in China. The temple is a two-floor building consisting of different images of Lord Buddha!

The Miniatures

One of the most amusing things we discovered was the miniatures of 8 important Buddhist places which was situated just next to the Vietnam-Chinese temple. It was accessible through the temple only and was a mini imitation of Buddhist places just like Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas and 7 Wonders in Kota.

We asked the gatekeeper (who was from New York to our surprise) and he told us that some people are unable to visit these important places altogether, so we made this place to make it easier for them.

There are imitations of Ellora caves, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Shravasti, Nirvana temple, etc., And all these miniatures are just next to each other giving you the ease of visiting them. From childhood to adulthood, every stage of Buddha’s life and the associated sites are depicted well in this area!

In the Footsteps of the Buddha

When a young prince of the Sakya tribe, raised amid luxury, was faced with the realities of life – sorrow, sickness and death – he decided he wouldn’t look away. Instead, Siddhartha Gautama (571 – 485 BCE) set off on a quest, determined to answer the questions: What was the true meaning of life, and how could one escape suffering and the bonds of karma?

It wasn’t a mission most would have chosen for themselves. In order to fulfill it, he had to step away from his family, its riches, and the little mountain kingdom he would have inherited from his father, Suddhodhana, King of Kapilavastu. In the course of his quest, the erstwhile prince achieved enlightenment under a peepal tree and became the Buddha, or Enlightened One, founder of Buddhism, one of the world’s great faiths.

The path he preached was one of introspection, simplicity, balance, compassion and love. It was a unique idea, especially at the time, based on the principle that we are all equal, with an equal ability to seek enlightenment ourselves. The idea spread like wildfire, finding tens of thousands of takers across the Indian sub-continent and through South Asia, from Assam to Afghanistan and Kashmir to Sri Lanka, then beyond, to China, Korea, Japan, Central Asia and Mongolia.

Travelling from his birthplace in Lumbini, in present-day Nepal, through northern India – the peepal tree is in Bodh Gaya, Bihar his first sermon was preached in Sarnath, just outside present-day Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (UP) – the Buddha preached and lived his teachings. He was 80 when he passed away, achieving parinirvana or the ultimate state of nirvana, while in Kushinagar, UP.

At the time, his attendant and disciple, Ananda, asked how the Buddha’s disciples might best pay him their respects following his death. The Buddha is said to have responded, “There are four places, Ananda, that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.” They were Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar.

As we follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, take a look at how all four sites have been revered for thousands of years, visited by sages, pilgrims and emperors and how many were also lost for centuries, and recently rediscovered.

Lumbini: Birthplace of the Buddha

It is believed that Siddhartha Gautama’s mother, Maya Devi or Maha Maya, gave birth to him under a tree in the vana or garden of Lumbini, while on her way from the kingdom of Kapilavastu to her parents’ kingdom of Devadaha.

The site is now in the Rupandehi district of Nepal, about 125 km from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The oldest remaining monument here is a pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka (r. 269 – 232 BCE), who famously converted to Buddhism, sickened by the carnage he was responsible for in the Battle of Kalinga in 261 BCE. Several centuries later, Chinese travellers, many of them Buddhist monks, visited too and left behind records describing the spot where the Buddha was born. Chief among these were Hiuen Tsang and Fa-Hien.

A series of excavations at Lumbini has revealed the remains of many stupas, monasteries and temples, dating back several centuries. There is also a shrine here, called the Maya Devi Temple, named after the Buddha’s mother. Lumbini remains one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the world.

Discover Lumbini and all that it has to offer.

Bodh Gaya: Seat of Enlightenment

For seven weeks, Siddhartha Gautama meditated under a tree in what was then the town of Gaya in Bihar. It is where he is believed to attained enlightenment, his knowledge of the meaning of life and the path to nirvana.

Gaya became Bodh Gaya – and the tree became known as the Bodhi tree. The Mahabodhi Temple stands here, a testament to that history. Around the temple and within the complex are other sacred spots where the Buddha meditated after attaining enlightenment.

Bodh Gaya now houses Buddhist temples and monasteries representing all the major schools of the religion, and representatives from all the nations where Buddhism is followed.

Read about Bodh Gaya and the interesting tale of its rediscovery.

Sarnath: Where the Buddha First Preached

Near the confluence of the Ganga and Varuna Rivers in Uttar Pradesh is Sarnath, where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.

Buddhist texts tell us that the five men who accompanied the Buddha on his journey of asceticism had abandoned him by this point, and had settled in Sarnath. Upon gaining enlightenment, the Buddha felt they should be the first to know what he had learned. So he travelled to Sarnath and gave his first sermon, known as the Dharmacakrapravartana Sutra, or the ‘turning of the wheel of law’.

According to Buddhist literature, the Buddha also laid the foundation of his sangha or order of monks at Sarnath. Many historians believe the Buddha chose Sarnath due to its proximity to Varanasi, which was already a centre of great learning at the time.

Today the site also houses the Ashoka Pillar with lion capital and crowning Dharmachakra that is now India’s national emblem.

Find out more about the ancient city of Sarnath.

Kushinagar and the Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana

“Everything decays, strive for your goal with diligence.” These are believed to have been the Buddha’s last words, said to his disciple Ananda, at Kushinagar in UP. At the time of the Buddha’s death, the place was called Kushavati. It was the capital of the tribal kingdom of the Mallas and had also been one of the capitals of the ancient kingdom of Kosala in epic literature.

According to Buddhist scripture, the Buddha had been ailing for a few days after a hearty meal that had disagreed with him seriously. Having entrusted his last words and instructions to the disciple Ananda, he lay down on his right side, placed his right hand under his head and passed silently from this world.

The site of Kushavati / Kushinagar was rediscovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham, the first Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, during his surveys of Uttar Pradesh. Today, a massive brick stupa stands at the site in Kushinagar where the Buddha was cremated, and adjacent to it are the remains of the famous and the Parinarvana Temple dating to the Gupta Era (4th to 6th century CE).

See also (Relevant definitions)

Search found 2 books and stories containing Kushinagari, Kuśinagarī, Kushi-nagari, Kuśi-nagarī, Kusinagari, Kusi-nagari, Kuśīnagarī (plurals include: Kushinagaris, Kuśinagarīs, nagaris, nagarīs, Kusinagaris, Kuśīnagarīs). You can also click to the full overview containing English textual excerpts. Below are direct links for the most relevant articles:

Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra (by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön)

The Miracle of Ādumā < [Part 2 - The Eight Recollections according to the Abhidharma]

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