Sunday, January 17, 2010

Junagadh City Caves History Buddhism News Saurashtra Gujarat India

Buddha was here, says Lankan scholar.

While M S University's department of archaeology and ancient history may have grabbed global attention with its possession of Lord Buddha's relics, but few might know that in his lifetime Lord Buddha had visited Gujarat. This startling piece of information was given by professor Anura Manatunga from Sri Lanka, who presented his paper "Buddhism in Gujarat: Some supplementary evidences from Sri Lanka".

"There are two references in Sri Lankan sources about Lord Buddha's visit to the state during his lifetime. As per first reference in Mahavamsa, which is a revered chronicle of Sri Lanka, Buddha visited Sunnapparantaka Janapad (part of Gujarat) along with 500 monks on the invitation of great monk Sunnapparantaka in his ninth year after he became Buddha. It is further stated that he preached Buddha dharma at Chandanshala of Muhalu Ashram, also in Gujarat," said Manatunga, who is the director of Centre for Asian Studies in University of Kelaniya.

He added, "The text adds that from Sunnapparantaka, he left for Narmada River on an invitation of a Nag King of Narmada and set up sacred footprints of Buddha at the mouth of Narmada River. The second source says that public society of traders of Sunnapparantaka Janapad is one of the 24 societies which had been preached by Lord Buddha during his lifetime. One can infer that these places refer to Gujarat as apparantaka' which means west-end of the country. In Indian context, it only points towards the state," added Manatunga.

Quoting more evidences from Mahavamsa, Manatunga explains that their country was colonised by a prince Vijaya along with 700 followers hailing from Lata country that was a part of Gujarat. "It is mentioned that prince Vijaya came to Sri Lanka on the same day when Buddha died. His successor king S L Panduvasadeva too came from Lata. It can be inferred that Sri Lanka has a strong Gujarat connection and influence," said professor Manatunga.

The Sri Lankan researcher also said that Buddhism too finds a strong presence in state with ancient Sri Lankan inscriptions revealing that a chief named Mala had gone from Bharuch to Sri Lanka where he constructed and donated a cave to Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. "There is another inscription from Junagadh City that refers to a construction of two-cell cave by two Sri Lankan brothers Buddha Mitra and Buddha Rakshita. They were described as sons of horse traders who lived in Bharuch having migrated from Sri Lanka," he said.

"Sources also enumerate instances of presence of many viharas and monasteries in Saurashtra Janapad, which was described as a wealthiest of all Janapad's of the country," said Manatunga.

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