Rajgir—second turning of the Wheel of Dharma Part-03

    • Rajgir, Bihar, India

Rajgir—second turning of the Wheel of Dharma Part-03

Continue from part-02

The final journey of Buddha's life, which ended with the mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar began at Rajgir. Shortly after this, the First Council—an assembly of 500 monks presided over by Mahakashyapa—met under the patronage of Ajatasatru in the Shrataparna Cave, a short distance southwest of Veluvana Bamboo Park, and compiled the Buddha's teachings into a collection known as the Sthaviranikaya. A stupa once marked the spot where, with great exertion, Ananda achieved arhantship on the night before the council in order that he might attend.

Ashoka later erected a stupa in honour of this First Council at the place a distance west of Shrataparna Cave where at the same time the mahasanghikas, regarded by some as proto-mahayanists, compiled their canon. According to Nagarjuna, an assembly of bodhisattvas also met on Vimalasvabhava Mountain, located to the south of Rajgir, and compiled the mahayana scriptures. Nagarjuna states that Samantabhadra presided over this meeting, while Vajrapani recited the Sutras, Maitreya the Vinaya and Manjushri the Abhidharma.

The sites of many of these events may still be found in and around Rajgir, which is also a flourishing pilgrimage centre of hindus and jains. A Burmese temple offers resting facilities for pilgrims and there is a new Japanese temple near the remains of Ajatasatru's stupas. Vulture's Peak retains a quiet peace, but just as Pa Hien warned of lions and tigers at certain places of pilgrimage during his lifetime, here present pilgrims should beware of bandits.

The Ratna Girl Hill above the Vulture's Peak is now crowned by the beautiful Vishwa-Shanti Stupa, built recently by Japanese buddhists. On four sides golden statues of the Buddha depict his four great actions: birth, enlightenment, teaching and passing away. In a nearby temple, Japanese monks continue their strident practice of resounding sutra and drum.

Lastly, one may remember that the Buddha sent the sixteen arhants to various parts of the world to safeguard his doctrine, and one of them, Kshudrapanthaka came to and still resides on Vulture's Peak.

~ The End ~

 

 

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