‘Buddhism thrived in Rajasthan also around the Ashokan era’

by Shoeb Khan, TNN, Jan 31, 2016

JAIPUR, India - Much before the forts and palaces came into existence here, Rajasthan ostensibly had well-defined Buddhist monasteries or complexes at four places - Bhairat in Alwar, Kholvi in Jhalawar, Bandarez in Dausa and Ramgoan in Tonk.

Discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) first director-general Alexander Cunningham in late 18th century, these historical sites today are crying for attention from the state.

Neekee Chaturvedi, a professor at Rajasthan University's History department, presented her research report on these sites at the national conference on 'Revisiting India's Past' held here on Saturday. Chaturvedi claimed that the Buddhist structures came up between 300 AD and 900 AD. This was around and after the period of emperor Ashoka. It signifies that the region that was initially considered to have remained untouched by the wave of Buddhism, was actually a pivotal seat of Buddhist activities, which gradually disappeared over the centuries.

Her study says that the Bairat site, which is 52 miles from Jaipur towards Delhi, has a circular temple, monastery and numerous remnants of pillars of the Ashokan era. The famous Chinese traveler Hiuen-Tsang visited this site and mentioned it in his travelogue.

"The temple is situated on a lower platform and has a circumambulatory path. It is made up of fire-baked bricks that were contemporary with the Ashokan era Pillars. It is among the earliest structures of Buddhist faith and is similar to the furnished modals for numerous rock-cut temples of western and eastern India. It has cells large enough to accommodate just a single monk or nun and are situated in the upper platform," said Chaturvedi.

She emphasised that the Bairat structures have the Bhabru edict, which is a high form of art from Ashokan era and, thus, point to a significant presence of Buddhist monks here in those times. The researcher studied the local folklore too but didn't find any trace of the Buddhism culture, which implied that these activities gradually vanished.

Other important structures are in Jhalawar and areas bordering Tonk spread over in 20-km. The area has a total of 50 caves in multistory structures dating back to 700-900AD. Broadly divided into four cave complexes—Kholvi, Hathyagaud, Binnayaga in Jhalawar and Ramgoan in Tonk—these sites have no mention in any historical textbook, said the researcher. Chaturvedi has studied Indian and Chinese history related to Buddhism.

At Kholvi, ruins of 64 monk cells are located in a big complex that has stupas or meditation halls with circumambulation path. This site has images of Bhudda, the tallest being a 12-feet standing Budda in a preaching posture. A large statue of Buddha and a carving ornate stupa similar to those of Buddhist structures in Cambodia and Laos are the main structures.

Five caves have been discovered at Hatya Guad, five-km from village Pagaria. This site is spread over two hills with a slightly deep valley between the two. Here structures have a vaulted roof and another solid stone pillars. At Binayaga hills, which are 16-km from Hatya Guad, is one cave in the shape of a stupa and the structure of its roof is in the form of a Chaitya similar to the caves at Ajanta. These structures came much after the Ashoka period.

The site at Bhandarez is situated 65-km from Jaipur at Lalsot in Dausa district. Here the ruins of a big complex are situated at a 50-ft height. This site indicates presence of a big Buddhist complex. However, dense human settlement around it has deterred chances of further excavation and exploration here.

"These structures are indicative of the fact that Rajasthan did not remain untouched with the wave of Buddhism. The presence of such elaborate sites reinstate that Buddhism existed here in a developed stage in its early form. The ignorance about these sites can be understood from the fact that it is nowhere listed on a tourist map," said Chaturvedi.

The researcher's interest in these sites developed when she first visited them as a school student. She underlined the need to study the impact on these structures on the cultural practices in the region. So far, she has failed to track any Buddhist family in these areas.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv