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Vadnagar Buddhism Ties

Context:

On the occasion of Buddha Purnima, Prime Minister declared in Lumbini that his birthplace of Vadnagar in Gujarat’s Mehsana district had been a renowned centre for Buddhist learning centuries ago.

Relevance:

GS I- History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Vadnagar’s ties with Buddhism
  2. Places associated with the life of Buddha

Vadnagar’s ties with Buddhism

  • The Gujarat state archaeology department began excavations in Vadnagar, a small town in Mehsana district of north Gujarat, in 2006.
  • In 2014, the excavation work was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and the combined efforts have thrown up Buddhist relics and around 20,000 artefacts, some dating back to the 2nd century.
  • Among these, are an elliptical structure and a circular stupa along with a square memorial stupa of 2×2 metres and 130 centimetres in height with a wall enclosure.
  • It is like a platform which has a chamber in the centre that resembles a pradakshina path
  • Further, bowls said to be used by monks have been found during the excavations, which have a terracotta sealing with inscriptions of namassarvagyaya and a face-shaped pendant with tritatva symbol.
  • Sacred relics of the Buddha were even found in Devni Mori in Aravalli district of Gujarat.

Places associated with the life of Buddha

Astamahasthanas are eight great holy places associated with the life of Buddha.  These include four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha viz. Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagara and four other sites viz. Sravasti, Sankasya, Rajgir and Vaishali.

Lumbini

Lumbini is currently located in Kapilavastu district of Nepal. It is birth place of Buddha. At the time of birth of Buddha, Lumbini was a part of Shakya Janapada, which was a republic.

Bodhgaya

It is located in Bihar on the bank of river Neranjana {this river was known as Uruwela at that time}. It is known for place of enlightment of Buddha.

Sarnath

Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon or Dhammachakraparivartan Sutra. At the time of Buddha, it was a part of Kashi Janapada.

Kushinagar

Kushinara or Kushinagara is located in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh. It is the site of Buddha’s death and mahaparinirvana. At the time of Buddha’s death, it was a capital of Malla janapada.

Sravasti

Sravasti was located in Uttar Pradesh around area of Balrampur in modern Uttar Pradesh. It is closely asscoiated with the life of Buddha because Buddha had spent 24 Chaturmasas {implies 24 years because one year as only one Chaturmasa between Ashadha to Kartika}. Thus, we can say that most of monastic life of Buddha was spent in Shravasti. In Buddha’s times, Shravasti was capital of Kosala Kingdom. Shravasti is also birthplace of Jaina Tirthankar Sambhavanath, and thus is important for Jains also.

Sankasya

It’s current location is Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh. It has some faiths of Buddhism that Buddha after is death descended from heaven here.

Rajgir

Rajgir was the early capital of Magadh Janapada, which was ruled by Bimbisara during Buddha’s time. After the great departure (Mahabhinishkramana), Buddha had first gone to Rajgir. He started begging alms over there and living life of an ascetic. King Bimbisara had offered Buddha his throne which he turned down.

Vaishali

At the time of Buddha, Vaishali was in Vajji Janapada.  After leaving Kapilavastu for renunciation, he came to Vaishali first and had his spiritual training from Allara and Udaka.

-Source: Indian Express

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October 2022
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