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The Buddhist Landscape of Varanasi (Sacred Landscapes of South and Southeast Asia)

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About the Book Lord Buddha came to Sarnath, where he delivered his first Sermon, and paved a stable foundation for Buddhism. Scriptures obviously became the most holy place and a famous Buddhist Pilgrimage. As a result, a large Buddhist landscape came up with Mrigadaya (Sarnath) at the centre. The western side of it was occupied by the learned and wise occupied by the learned and wise immigrants, the residents of Rishipattana. There are a number of unanswered questions related to the ...
About the Book

Lord Buddha came to Sarnath, where he delivered his first Sermon, and paved a stable foundation for Buddhism. Scriptures obviously became the most holy place and a famous Buddhist Pilgrimage. As a result, a large Buddhist landscape came up with Mrigadaya (Sarnath) at the centre. The western side of it was occupied by the learned and wise occupied by the learned and wise immigrants, the residents of Rishipattana.

There are a number of unanswered questions related to the Buddhist landscape of Varanasi, e.g. why did the lord chose to deliver his First Sermon at sarnath, also, when Varanasi was the famous city, why was periphery selected by him? The nature and successive growth of the landscape created around the place of First Sermon also is obscure. The old and recent archaeological investigations carried out in the vicinity of Sarnath have brought to light evidence which provide answers to some of the above questions, and also outline the chronology and growth of this Buddhist landscape.

The present volume is aimed at reaching a larger section of the Society, which is interested in Buddhism and Buddhist sites. Although archaeological and other scientific data has been utilised technical jargon has been avoided. The work is also aimed to promote such specialised attempts in the historical studies, when interpretation of archaeological findings of a holy place is envisaged in its geo-cultural totality.

 

About the Author

An archaeologist and a teacher of repute, Professor Vidula Jayaswal, after superannuation from the Banaras Hindu University, where she served for more than four decades, is presently occupying the prestigious Prof. R.C Sharma Chair of Archaeology and Art History, at Jnana-Pravaha, Centre for Cultural Studies & Research, Varanasi. She has also served Archaeological Survey of India as Deputy Superintending Archaeologist for a short period. Recipient of Various scholarships and fellowships, she received specialized training in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Berkeley.

Professor Jayaswal has not only carried out a number of archaeological and ethnological field studies, but has also been prompt in publishing the results. Author of over a dozen and a half books and research monographs, and about 70 research articles, Professor Jayaswal is known for her original contribution in Indian prehistory, ethnoarchaeology and interpretation of archaeology remains of the Historical Period of the Middle Ganga Plain. Besides, she could also infuse scientific temper to the middle Ganga plain. Besides, she could also infuse scientific temper to the study of archaeology, through some major projects financed by department of Science & Technology (Government of India), of which she has been the Principal investigator and Coordinator. Her important publications include The Palaeohistory of India Paisra The Stone Age Settlement of Bihar; the Kushan Clay Art; An Ethno archaeological View of Indian Terracottas; Royal temples of Gupta Period and Ancient Varanasi: An Archaeological Perspective. She has also edited the volumes Glory of the Kushans: Pecent Discoveries & Interpretations; Varanasi: Myths and Scientific Studies; Ancient Ceramic: Historical Inquiries and Scientific Approaches and Status of Prehistoric Studies in the Twenty first Century in Indian.

 

Preface

Lord Buddha came to Sarnath, where he delivered his first Sermon, and paved a stable foundation for Buddhism. The place of the Sermon the Mrigadaya of Buddhist scriptures, obviously became the most holy place and a famous Buddhist pilgrimage. As a result a large Buddhist landscape came up with Mrigadaya (Sarnath) at the centre. The western side of it was occupied by the learned and wise immigrats, the residents of Rishipattan.

There are a number of unanswered questions related to the Budd landscape of Varanasi, e.g. why did the lord choose to deliver his firs Sermon at Sarnath? Also when Varanasi selected famous city, the nature and successive growth of the Landscape created around the place of First Sermon also is obscure. The old and recent archaeological investigations carried out in the vicinity of sarnath have brought to light evidence which Provide answers to some of the above questions, and also outline the chronology and growth of this Buddhist landscape.

The present volume is aimed at reaching a larger section of the society, which is interested in Buddhism and Buddhist sites. Although archaeological and other scientific data has been utilised, technical jargon has been avoided. The work is also aimed to promote such specialised attempts in the historical studies, when interpretation of archaeological findings of a holy place is envisaged in its geo cultural totality.

An archaeologist and a teacher of repute Professor Vidula Jayaswal, after superannuation from the Banaras Hindu University, where she served for more than four decades, is presently occupying the prestigious Prof. R.C. Sharma Chair of Archaeology and art History, at Jnana-Pravaha, Centre for Cultural Studies & Research, Varnanasi. She has also served Archaeological Survey of India as Deputy Superintending Archaeologist for a short Period. Recipient of various scholarships and fellowships, she received specialized training in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Berkeley.

Professor Jayaswal has not only carried out a number of archaeological and ethnological field studies, but has also been prompt in publishing the results. Author of over a dozen and a half books and research monographs, and about 70 research articles, Professor Jayaswal is Known is known for her original contribution in Indian prehistor, ethnoarchaeology and interpretation of archaeological remains of the Historical Period of the Middle Ganga Plain. Besides, she could also infuse scientific temper to the study of archaeology, through some major projects financed by the ford Foundation (USA), and the Department of Science & Technology (Government of India) of which she has been the Principal Investigator and Coordinator. Her important Publications include – The palaeohistory of India; Paisra: The stone Age Settlement of Bihar; The Kushan Clay Art; an ethno archaeological view of Indian Terracottas; Royal Temples of Gupta period and Ancient Varanasi: An Archaeological Perspective. She has also edited the volume Glory of the Kushans: Recent Discoveries & Interpretations; Varanasi: Myths and Scientific Studies ancient Ceramic: historical Inquiries and Scientific Approaches and status of Prehistoric Studies in the Twenty first Century in India.

Lord Buddha came to Sarnath and delivered his first sermon, and paved a stable foundation for Buddhism. Following of his preaching grew, generation by generation century and over millennia, undisrupted. The place of the first Sermon, the Mrigadaya of Buddhist scriptures, obviously became the most holy place, and a famous Buddhist pilgrimage. Buzzing with multifaceted activities of pilgrims, donors artisans, and supporting communities for more than one and a half millennium, the boundaries of this sacred place kept expanding beyond its nucleus. As aresult, a large Buddhist landscape came up with Mrigadaya at the centre. The western side of it was occupied by the learned and wise immigrants, the residents of rishipattana. While, the small villages to its east were supporting the Buddhist establishment in various ways, including supplying of stone carvings and icons to adorn the monuments it is possible to say so because a chain of ancient workshop sites have been identified and excavated in the vicinity and a dense concentration of structures at sarnath.

The Buddhist landscape of Varanasi has a long (6th century BCE- till this date) and chequered history. But its origin is vague its growth little known, and its shrinkage sudden. In fact for some centuries the place was abundant, as accumulate a thick cover of earth, burying the ruins of yester centuries. This forgotten pilgrimage was discovered by non archaeological activities, accidentally. Jagat singh, the builder of Varanasi, probed the area the intention to obtain building material from this deserted Buddhist site. As a result, Sarnath caught the attention of archaeologists, who soon brought to light the remnants of its glorious part. Remembrance of the pilgrimage by a number of modern Buddhist organisations has partly revived the religious landscape of sarnath, in terms of building temples, monasteries, educational and social institutions. Revival of this pilgrimage naturally attracts a large number of devotees and tourists. As in the past Sarnath, the heritage site of international repute, is gaining momentum though donations in modern times.

There are a number of unanswered questions related to the Buddhist landscape of Varanasi, e.g. why did the lord chose to deliver his first Sermon at Sarnath? Also, when Varanasi was the famous city. Why was periphery selected by him? The nature and successive growth of the landscape created around the place of first Sermon also is obscure. The old an recent archaeological investigations carried out in the vicinity of Sarnath have brought to light evidence which provide answers to some of the above questions, and also outline the chronology and growth of this Buddhist landscape identification of Rishipattana, for instance was possible after the excavation of Aktha site, which is located in the civinity of Sarnath. Similarly the chain of supporting rural settlements on the esast and south east of Sarnath, when exposed, demarcated the eastern boundaries of this landscape. this area was meeting the requirements of the pilgrimage.

It may be confessed that the theme of the present monograph emerged from a number of short articles, which were presented by me in national and international seminars on Buddhist art, archaeology and culture. This gave me the opportunity to develop a number of facets of the theme, such as correlation of jataka stories and archeological remains of Varanasi, Buddhist archaeology of Varanasi and Mauryan columns, sacred landscape of Varanasi, and contribution of donors the Buddhist landscape, etc. All these fragmentary attempts are woven together along with additions of other important aspects which were essential for the reconstruction of Buddhist landscape of Varanasi in the present volume.

The book is aimed at reaching a larger section of society, which is interested in Buddhism and Buddhist sites. Although archaeological and other scientific data has been utilised, technical jargon has been avoided. The work is also aimed to promote such specialised attempts in the historical studies, when interpretation of archaeological findings of a holy place is envisaged in its geo-cultural totality.

I shall be failing in my duty if I do not mention the support and help received from individuals and institutions in the preparation of this manuscript.

Dr. Meera Sharma has not only helped me with literary references, but she has also been working with me on some important themes. Conclusions of our joint studies, like the one on Vedic ritual objects, have helped interpretation of archaeological contexts of Aktha, the RIshipattana. Shri Ajai Kumar Chakrawal has prepared line drawing illustrations and Shri Samrat Chakrawal has prepared line drawing illustrations and Shri Samrat Chakravarti took some photographs for this manuscript. Some of the Photographs were obtained from the photo archives of Archaeological Survey of India, Janpath, New Delhi. Views of recent digs were provided by Dr. B.R. Mani, director of Excavation sarnath (2014) and Additional director General, Archaeological Survey of India. While the other photographs of Sarnath were exposed by me with the Permission of the Archaeological Survey of India. A few pictures of Buddha images are taken from the collection of American institute of Indian Studies. The staff of the library of Jnana-Pravaha, the Centre for Cultural Studies and Research, Samnaghat, Varanasi, extended all possible support in finding and acquiring the required publications.

 

Contents

 

  Preface v
  List of Illustrations xi
1 Backdrop: Political and Cultural 1
2 Aktha: The Rishipattana 21
3 Sarnath: The Mrigadaya 53
4 Donors and Donations 121
5 Sculpturing Workshops and the Sarnath School of Art 149
6 The Intangible Boundaries Drawn by the Jatakas 177
7 The Buddhist landscape of Varanasi : Origin, Growth and Shrinkage 195
  Bibliography 203
  Index 211
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Item Code: NAK569 Author: Vidula Jayaswal Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2015 Publisher: Aryan Books International ISBN: 9788173055416 Language: English Size: 9.5 inch x 7.0 inch Pages: 230 (Throughout B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 630 gms
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