Monday, December 26, 2011

Experts see Buddha history under mound

The Telegraph


Patna, Dec. 1: Archaeologists seem to have discovered one more missing link in the journey of Gautam Buddha from Patliputra to Bodhgaya.

A team of historians and archaeologists of Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti, a registered society working under the state art, culture and youth affairs department, recently spotted a mound at Nadauna village in Masaurhi sub-division of Patna district, which it believes is atop a Buddhist stupa that dates back to the 3rd century BC.

Based on their findings, the archaeologists have reac-hed to the conclusion that Nadauna was frequented by Buddha during his journey between Patliputra (capital of erstwhile Magadh) and Bodhgaya. They also believe that the buried stupa might have been built to embody relics of Buddha kept inside it.

Though the archaeologists are considering this mound at Nadauna as a highly significant historical discovery, they also seem apprehensive about further excavation works at the site because of the dense human settlement in the area. The villagers, on the other hand, are ready to extend all possible help for further excavation of the mound, so as to register the name of their village in the history books.

The site was discovered by a group of dedicated archaeologists and historians during a heritage expedition in the Patna-Bodhgaya-Rajgir region while observing heritage awareness week from November 19 to 25.

The first halt of the group was at Bhagvanganj village in Masaurhi where a huge mound, believed to have a Buddhist stupa underneath, was discovered in the 1980s.

During a heritage awareness meeting at Bhagvanganj on November 20, residents of neighbouring Nadauna informed the group about another huge mound at their village. Nadauna and Bhagvanganj villages are situated at a distance of around 1.5km.

Bijoy Kumar Chaudhary, executive director of the Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti, told The Telegraph: “We went for an exploration of the mound at Nadauna after the locals informed us about it. During the exploration and documentation of the mound, we discovered burnt bricks, a platform-like structure and the spherical shape of the mound similar to that of a stupa. The bricks were measured and their dimensions indicated that they might belong to Kushan times (first century-third century AD). Buddha is believed to have passed through Nadauna village while travelling between Bodhgaya and Patliputra, before and after attaining enlightenment. Also, historical hypothesis is that after Buddha attained nirvana in Kushinagar, a Brahmin named Drone carried his holy ashes in a vessel and distributed at eight different kingdoms and republics. All such factors indicate that the mound at Nadauna might have a stupa underneath it, which would have been built to commemorate the significance of this place.”

B.P. Sinha, a retired deputy superintendent of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), echoed the claim of Bijoy. “The findings during our recent expedition to Nadauna village indicate the presence of a stupa belonging to the Kushan period underneath a mound in the village. I believe that the stupa might have been built to commemorate a part of relics of Buddha kept there, while they were being taken from Kushinagar to Rajgir. During the documentation of the mound, we found bricks measuring 38x24cm were used for building the stupa. The discovery of this stupa is a historical event but the future course of its study through excavations might hit rough waters due to the dense human settlement all around the site. However, all such issues can be resolved if the government is willing to do so.”

Bihar Virasat Vikas Samiti has already initiated steps for underlining the historical significance of this mound. “The excavation work at Nadauna might face the obstacle of dense human settlement but we are preparing a report based on the exploration and documentation of the mound. The report would be sent to the ASI and the state art, culture and youth affairs department, which would look into the matter,” said Bijoy.

The Patna chapter of ASI is ready to scrutinise the findings at Nadauna village. “Though I have not personally visited Nadauna but we will check all existing exploration reports of Masaurhi sub-division prepared by the ASI in order to find out whether it has been earlier discovered or not. Accordingly, a team would be sent to Nadauna to inspect the credibility of the mound and its internal composition. If sufficient evidences support the archaeological significance of this site, then we might recommend to the ASI headquarters to declare it as a centrally protected site and order its further excavation,” said S.K. Manjul, the superintending archaeologist at Patna chapter of ASI.

There are around 150 families in Nadauna. The mound is spread over 16 cottah. The villagers are ready to extend every possible support to the archaeologists. “Most of the land covered by this mound is already free of encroachment. Moreover, we are also ready to extend every possible support for the excavation of the mound. Even if some houses would be required to be demolished during the excavation work, the villagers would not refrain from it,” said Kaushal Kumar Sharma, a resident of Nadauna

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