Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ancient Uddiyana Was The Land Of Buddha and Mahavira Before Patliputra


Ancient Uddiyana was The Land of Buddha and Mahavira (Rajgriha Before Patliputra)

By: Bipin Shah

Swat valley is one of the largest valleys in Malakand Division, in the foothills of Himalayan range. Ancient Suvastu River rises in the Hindu Kush range from where it flows through. The present capital of Swat valley is Saidu Sharif, while Mingora is the main town and commercial center in Pakistan. We know now that swat valley contains many archeological remains of Indo-Aryan people and landscape is dotted with remains of Buddhist stupas built around Pre-Mauryan period. Over the middle ages, the Turkish, Mongols and Islamic hordes have pushed the Hindu, Buddhist inhabitants of valleys out of the areas to other parts of India. In addition to this problem, when the British designed ill conceived partition plan, India lost its heritage. Now, the infusion of Taliban and corresponding rise of the religious extremism, the humanity will be a looser of this great teacher’s home and civilization.

This obscure and forgotten place from the memories of ancient historians may be the first Rajgriha city of Magadha Empire during Jarasangh period and continue to remain so until the death of Mahavira and Buddha. After King Ajatsharu’s death, his son Uddiyana took over but moved the Rajgriha to current Patliputra site in Bihar. This event is described in Jaina’s book-The life of Jaina Elders by Hemachandra (11th Century Gujarati Jaina scholars and head of Kharatara Gachha of Patan of Gujarat).

        Beautiful Swat Valley-The Land Of Ancient Magadha Empire

Even now the Swat valley resembles a paradise on earth and so was appropriate called “the royal garden” from the word of Sanskrit Uddiyana. “Uddiyana” was also known as “the paradise of the dakinis”, as it was reputed for its unique sisterhood of priestesses—ladies dedicated to wisdom and spiritual development. These priestesses were not nuns, and lived in sanctuaries or forest chapels.

This is where in serene surrounding and pre-historic moderate climate religious renaissance of India took place.  The great teachers arose, Siddhartha Gautama and Vardhamana Mahavira, none of them belonged to Main Vedic Kshatriyas clans but still recognized as Kshatriyas Princes from secondary Kshatriyas group. Recognizing the Vedic Brahmin’s dominance and the plight of non-Vedic people living in fringes of Vedic society, they both adopted Shramanic life and spared the message of religious reforms that still exist as a religion of choice for many of us.

  Conflict, Transition during 600 BC when India’s Janapadas were rearranged and relocated.

           A better map of Persian Empire when conquest where completed prior to Alexander’s arrival

If this is where Buddha attained his “Bodhi” (enlightenment) and Mahavira obtained his “Nirvana” the topography, as present in Swat valley perfectly fits the Jaina ad Buddhist texts and Jataka stories. Swat has been a central valley in ancient Uddiyana, where Buddhism prevailed over a millennium. It remained an attractive place for foreign invaders as well as a sacred place for religious activities. The interest taken by the Chinese pilgrims in social, cultural and religious life of this area stands prominent through the history of the sub continent. Various Chinese pilgrims crossed the snowy mountains; the Pamir & Hindu Kush chains to reach this ancient state. Accounts and written records of these pilgrims describe Udiyana, its landscape, social and cultural life. According to Fa-Hian, a Chinese pilgrim in the 5th century AD there were 500 Buddhist monasteries in Swat, all belonging to the Hinayana Schools (Legge 1965:28).  Another Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang recorded 1400 Buddhist monasteries with 18,000 priests during the 7th Century AD. Now, all these monasteries that served as school of learning are desolate and ruined (Beal 1969:120).  During Moslem periods, Sung Yuan, arrived in Uddiyana in 519 AD to seek religious books, took the same route as adopted by Fa-Hian. He mentioned that the Stupas and monasteries were still working with 300 monks in one of them.  He reported 6000 gold images in a monastery of ‘Talo’ probably Butkara-I (M. A. Stein and Tucci). Tibetan Buddhist text mentions Uddiyana as “Organ” or “Urgyan”, which has always been a sacred place of the Tibetans because it was the birthplace of Padmasambhava, the second Buddha and the founder of Tibetan Buddhism (Tucci).


                                                   Loss Of India’s Switzerland
                                            Beautify Lakes As Described In Ancient Texts

                                                                  Stupa and Chaitya

     Green Valley and surrounding Hill Caves for sages, Yogis and Jinas and ruins

 It was once the most celebrated holy lands of the Buddhist piety and excellence. Hundreds of Stupas were erected and decorated with sculptures out of the religious zeal through the centuries. Due to its geographical position, it had an important link with the ancient caravan routes which served as a commercial and cultural medium between China and the West.

Buddhist complex of Anemogram
The Buddhist remains of Anemogram lies about 45 km west of Mingora, on the right bank of river Swat, in the tributary valley of Shamozai.  The site is situated at a place called ‘Sabunkhpa’ towards the South of the village of Nomogram on a raised but more or less terraced ground overlooking the narrow valley towards the East. The two seasons of excavations in 1967 and 1968, have brought to light among three main stupas, in a row from North to South, with a courtyard of 56 votive stupas and the adjoining monastery towards the West of the courtyard of stupas. Besides so many monuments and finds recorded there at, the discovery of the three stupas in one row is significant indeed for such a composition of stupas has been discovered for the first time in the Buddhist sites so far excavated in Gandhara region of Pakistan. 720 A.D., the T'ang Annals state that the Emperor sent ambassadors to Uddiyana to confer the investiture on the new king. Therefore, 720 A.D. must mark the date that King Indrabhuti, the famous adoptive father of Padmasambhava, succeeded to the throne.

Uddiyana played an important role in the history of Buddhism, especially from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism. It is believed to be the homeland of both the Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachings, and is said to be the land where Garab Dorje, Vairotsana, Padmasambhava and Tilopa, amongst others, received the transmissions of Dzogchen. Buddhist texts speak of Uddiyana as a beautifully green and fertile kingdom, inhabited by gentle people often clothed in white, who had great respect for wisdom and learning. It was surrounded by high, rugged mountains, and in the broad valleys were towering white stupas and golden temple roofs. 

Some 400 sites from palaeolithic to medieval time have been explored. Fifty Buddhist sites have been excavated and 100 rock reliefs have been documented. Forty painted rock shelters of Bronze Age to historic period have been documented. But, this has completely stopped due to Taliban activities and Pakistani State’s attitudes towards the “infidel archeology”. 

Dr. Michael Meister, University of Pennsylvania presented a research paper on "Continuities of Architectural Heritage in the Northwestern Regions of Pakistan".

With regard to the origins of the Vajrayana teachings, the tantric scriptures recount that it was King Dza of the kingdom of Zahor who first received the tantras, which landed miraculously on his palace roof. It is believed that Dza is another name for King Indrabodhi of Uddiyana. If this is the case, then the tantrums began to be disseminated in Uddiyana. The first human Dzogchen master, Garab Dorje, was born near Lake Kutras in Uddiyana. His disciple, Manjushrimitra, was Indian and received the teachings in Bodhgaya  and the next lineage holder, Shri Sanghas, came from the Central Asian kingdom of Khotan, but it was in Uddiyana near Lake Dhanakosha that he passed the lineage to Vairotsana. Padmasambhava, who was to introduce Vajrayana and Dzogchen to Tibet was miraculously born on Lake Dhanakosha and raised by the king of Uddiyana.

The Gandhara Buddhist Texts (oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered, from circa first century are attributed to the Dharmagupta school. And some believe that the founder of that Buddhist school was an Indo-Greek named "Dhammarakkhita (in Pali, "protected by the Dharma"), He was one of the missionaries sent by the Mauryan emperor Asoka to proselytize the Buddhist faith. Uddiyana kingdom lay to the north of Peshawar on the Swat River and east to Gandhara region that separated Persian satrapy. The State of Kashmir lay west to Uddiyana but it was extended to the cover a large part of the whole hill-region south of the Hindu-Kush (NW frontier) from Chitral to the Indus, as indeed it is represented in the Map of Vivien de St. Martin (Pelerins Bouddha)  from the extent assigned to it by Hiuen Tsang.
It is regarded by Fa-Hien as the most northerly Province of India, and in his time the food and clothing of the people were similar to those of Gangetic India. This supports the Jaina Text that part of the people moved to Pataliputra in Bihar. It was the native country of Padma Sambhava, one of the chief apostles of Lamaism Hephthalites coin of King Lohana of Uddiyana, 5th century, legend: "Raja Lohana (day) Ditya".

"Hui Zheng [and the others] were sent in the 11th day of the second month of the second Zhengui year (518); he and his companions arrived in Karghalik on the 29th day of the 7th month of the 2nd Zhengui year (519); in the second ten days of the ninth month, they met the king of the Hephthalites; at the beginning of the 11th month, they arrived in Bosi or Boji (southwest of Wakhan); in the second ten days of this same month, they entered Chitral and at the beginning of the 12th month they entered Uddiyana. Then, during the second ten days of the fourth month of the first Chungking year (520), they arrived in Gandhara. They stayed two years in Uddiyana and Gandhara until returning at the beginning of the third Changkiang year (522 ).

Swat valley as beautiful as ever                          Butkara Ruins of Vihara


 Defaced Buddhist carving

                                                                      Defaced Buddha In Meditation

The ancient 'Shamisen Balkh' (36° N 66° E) is the source of the 'legendary' Kingdom of “Shambhala” also known as Shams-i-Bala, Bactra, Zariasta, it was located in the once rich and fertile region of Bactria and encircled by the great Pamir and Caucasus Asia Mountains and the ancient cultures of Tagzig, Uddiyana, Bactria, Kapisa, Olmo Lungring, Zhang-Zhung, Gandhara and Uighur. Viewed as a Sacral/Human Kingdom ("shambhala = elevated candle" ) it was built on the site of a great prehistoric Sun Temple, reached it height in 2400 BC but was still a great city when Marco Polo visited in 1275 AD.


  Buddha In Meditation

           White Hun (Hephthalites King-Lakhana’s Coin

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