Experts dig deep to trace the origin of Naga Buddha statues

The 1400-year-old Buddha idol was found recently at Banapur in Khurda district of Odisha.

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : Jun 3, 2017, 4:03 am IST

The discovery was made by Prof. Anam Behera of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and his student Dakhineswar Jena.

Bhubaneswar: The recent discovery of Naga Buddha idol from Odisha’s Banapur area has inspired researchers to conduct further studies to establish if this cult of Buddhist sculpture was prevalent in the state or the statues were brought from other parts of the country. The discovery was made by Prof. Anam Behera of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and his student Dakhineswar Jena.

Not only in India, but in countries like Burma, China, Laos and Thailand, many statues are seen where the Buddha is depicted in meditation pose sheltered by a multi-headed snakes, which is depicted in Hindu mythology as Shesh Nag. In Buddhist literature, Buddha idols sheltered by multi-headed snakes are known as the Naga Buddha statues.

According to Prof. Nrusingha Sahoo, a researcher who has discovered many Buddhist sites in Odisha’s Jajpur district, it is yet to be established if the three Naga Buddha statues found in Odisha — two in Ratnagiri of Jajpur district and one in Bolangir district — were made by Odia sculptors or imported from other parts of the country.

“It requires further studies to establish if Naga Buddha statues were built in Odisha also. As far as I know, our researchers have sought the assistance from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Museum for further research on the statue,” says Mr Behera.

Sculpture at Odisha’s Ratnagiri. Naga Buddha Sculpture at Odisha’s Ratnagiri.

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Call for Papers and Essays

We have pleasure to announce that the 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia will be held on 1-3 February, 2018 in Perth, Western Australia.

All Buddhists, scholars and members of the general public interested in Buddhism are invited to present their papers in this coming conference. Researchers across a broad range of disciplines are welcomed as well the submission of pre-formed panel proposals

The main themes 2018

Rituals
Rituals and the Image of Buddha
Silk Road Buddhism
Death of the Buddha

The organizers are open to proposals for contributions on Buddhist history, philosophy, texts as well for proposals on any related theme.

Important Dates

Deadline for Abstract Submission: 25 October, 2017
Deadline for Full Paper Submission: 25 November, 2017

For those who have prepared for certain big task and who are able to put some sort of idea on certain topics, we have a proposal to compose an essay which needs to create a bridge back to the Buddha. Anyone, from any country, is free to apply. Selected essays will be published on the conference website. Topics

Buddha for every home
Buddha versus Jesus
Buddhism is in the way of economy
Buddhist monks – people with weak vitality and mentality
Buddhist cosmology and contemporary astronomy and astrophysics are not brothers
Virtual reality as the modern day Nirvana
Could Buddha turn on a computer?
Is virtual reality beyond our reality or not?
Who reads the teachings of the dead Buddha? Continue reading

Remains of Buddhist stupa reveal more about Vihar


Mid-day.com, By Pallavi Smart | Mumbai | Posted 03-Jun-2017

Scattered remnants of a Buddhist stupa has been found at a site near Vihar Lake

Archeological explorations have never failed to surprise people and this is definitely one of those instances of digging the past and finding something that has left a mark behind. Powai’s Vihar Lake was named after a Buddhist monastery that existed in the area centuries ago, but till date people believed that it got submerged under water. However, Mumbai University archaeology students have finally found scattered remnants of a Buddhist stupa in the area to prove that the monastery was located on a hillock near the lake.

This has been revealed under the Salcette Exploration project of the Mumbai University’s Centre of Extra-Mural Studies in association with Centre for Archaeology. A team of 18 students led by six archeology experts is working at six different sites in the city under the project.

Speaking to mid-day, Archaeologist and Culinary Anthropologist Dr Kurush Dalal said, “When the Vihar Lake came into existence in 1850, hoards of Bohomani coins were found at the site, which hinted at the existence of the monastery. However, people thought that it got lost under the water body over the years. But now we have conclusive proof regarding its existence.”

Explaining it further, journalist and archeology expert Vinayak Parab, who led the work at the site said, “Even though people believed that the structure got lost underwater, the fact that monasteries are usually built on hills, got me thinking. Hence, we started looking for a hillock in the area and found one behind IIT Bombay. Then, we started exploring the site and found scattered remnants of a stupa. Through detailed excavation we found more remains, which helped us prove that the monastery did not get submerged.”

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On first state holiday for Buddhists in city, grand Purnima plans in store

TNN | Updated: May 10, 2017, 11.03 AM IST

KOLKATA: Buddhists in the city have a new reason to rejoice. After decades of appeals and requests to the state government, right through the regime of Congress to Left Front and now Trinamool Congress, this is the first time that a state holiday has been declared on Buddha Purnima on Wednesday. This is the 2561st birth anniversary of Lord Buddha — the biggest annual occasion for those of this faith. The city has a little over 5,000 Buddhists and at least 35 monasteries.

The two oldest Buddhist monastery-cum-congregations are the Mahabodhi Society (established in 1891 by Anagarik Dharmapal, a venerated monk from Sri Lanka), and Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha that was established by Kripasaran Mahasthabir from Chittagong, just a year later. Both have joined hands for a unique celebration that started on Tuesday, also celebrating the 156th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

A light-and-sound show was organized at College Square that wove Tagore creations like ‘Malini’, ‘Chandalika’ and ‘Notir Puja’ — that have Buddha as the central theme. The show, designed by theatre group Rupnagar, will be on for the next seven days. The event saw a large turnout of people from the community in the first public programme in Kolkata to celebrate Buddha Purnima. “Now we look forward to the Centre declaring it a national holiday. A large number of South Asian countries have already done that. India should take a cue from Bangladesh, where the heads of state make arrangements to celebrate with senior monks of different Buddhist orders,” said Bhikshu Bodhipala, head of the Dharmankur Sabha.

Members of the community along with monks in the different monasteries participated in the grand preparations for Buddha Purnima ceremonies. Giant brass statues of Lord Buddha were cleaned up and arrangement of fruits, incense sticks, candles and vegetarian food was made for mass feeding. “We encourage people from all communities to visit our monasteries and be part of our festivities. Buddha’s is a message of peace that we are here to spread,” said Hemendu Bikas Chowdhury, general secretary of the Sabha and vice-president of the Society.

Monks and community members will visit Moghalmari, near Dantan in West Midnapur, on Wednesday morning. This is where a 5th century Buddhist vihara is being gradually unearthed by the state archaeology department. The excavation started in the early part of the last decade and it is assumed it might date back to the post-Gupta period.

“This is an extremely prestigious excavation and would have changed the history of ancient Bengal as we know it. However, it is unfortunate that the excavation has stopped because necessary permissions are not coming from the Archaeological Survey of India. On the occasion on Buddha Purnima, we appeal to the ASI to help start the excavation. It is of great significance to Buddhists and we hope that the work starts soon,” Chowdhury added.

A documentary film on Moghalmari, made by Abhishek Ganguly, will be screened thereafter. The celebrations will end with an all-faiths meet in the city.

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3 years after bifurcation, AP still waits for its share of antiquities

Sulogna Mehta | TNN | Updated: May 18, 2017, 02.23 PM IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when museums are coming up in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, the one in the port city is hit by acute manpower shortage. Moreover, three years have passed since the bifurcation of AP, but thousands of antiquities belonging to AP including lakhs of coins are yet to be divided between the two states and still remains with the State Archaeology Museum in Hyderabad.

“Work is under way to set up a district archaeology museum at Vizianagaram, opposite the joint collector’s bungalow. The building is complete and we are expecting it to be inaugurated within a couple of months,” K Chitti Babu, assistant director of department of archaeology and museums, said, adding that apart from three galleries, the museum will also house a ‘Hall of Fame’ and portraits of eminent personalities and royalties from Vizianagaram.

The galleries will showcase prehistoric and excavated materials from Buddhist sites, bronze sculptures, and coinages belonging to various dynasties including those belonging to the Satavahanas, Romans and colonial era, Chitti Babu said.

“The museum will require funds worth Rs 22-24 lakh, which is being released in a phased manner. There has also been a proposal to set up another museum in the old Dutch building in Srikakulam,” he added. However, the museum in the port city has acute staff shortage. “We need at least 20-25 employees including night tourist guides, administrative and clerical staff and attendants,” Chitti Babu said and referred to another problem faced by the archaeology museums in AP.

“Thousands of objet d’art excavated or found in AP have not been divided region-wise and hence they cannot be displayed in the state archaeology museums. After bifurcation, a committee was supposed to be constituted for dividing the antiquities between the two states and proposal was sent to the government from the archaeology department to constitute this body, but still it has not materialised,” he added.

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Anthology to bring history of Ghantasala to light

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A smiling Buddha idol found in Ghantasala in 2014.

The Hindu
T. Appala Naidu
APRIL 27, 2017 00:00 IST

It will be released at Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9

An anthology will be brought out by the State government on Ghantasala, a prosperous sea-borne trade centre where Buddhism flourished between the 1st century and B.C and 3rd century A.D. Marking Buddha Pournami to be celebrated on May 9, the Tourism Department in support of Buddhist monks and Krishna-district based historians will release the anthology, chronicling the rise and fall of the Buddhist site, which was first reported by renowned Archaeologist Boswell (1870-71).

According to available literature, a mound (112 meters dia and 23 feet height) in Ghantasala was first excavated by archaeologist Alexander Rae, bringing the structural remnant of a Mahachaitya to light. Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad on Wednesday told The Hindu that the anthology on the Ghantasala village and its Buddhist connection would be released at the Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9.

Historians, archaeologists, epigraphists and others including academicians who shared their association with the Buddhist site will contribute their work to the anthology. Narratives on the limestone panels, coins, antiquities and sculptural panels found here during the early excavations would be documented. Presently, the village has two locations — Museum and mound — which attract the visitors from across the globe.

Conservation

A smiling Buddha statue which was sighted by the locals in an agricultural field was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India in 2014 while a Buddha stone foot was collected from a mound and being conserved in the village.

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Karumadikuttan beckons pilgrims, tourists

R.Ramabhadran Pillai ALAPPUZHA MAY 06, 2017 06:36 IST

Kerala Buddhist Council is organising Buddha Purnima celebrations at Ambalappuzha

Karumadi, a sleepy village in Ambalappuzha, will resound with chants of Buddhist monks on May 10. A number of Buddhists will gather on the premises of a pilgrim centre where a statue, known as Karumadikuttan, has been installed.

The three-ft high black granite statue, in a sitting posture, has its left half missing. The statue has been considered by historians as part of the remnants of Buddhist culture that existed in the area centuries ago. Recognised as that of Lord Buddha, the statue is believed to be of the period between 10th and 12th century.

The statue was found from Karumadi Thodu, a stream, and was installed at the present location by Robert Bristow, a British engineer in 1930s, according to historians.

The left side of the statue is believed to have been damaged in an attack by an elephant. Though a part of the missing section was recovered from the neighbourhood, there was disapproval on affixing the same on the statue. Dalai Lama visited the site in 1965.

The site was renovated by the government two years ago. The site is at present under the Department of Archaeology.

The Kerala Buddhist Council is organising this year’s State-level Buddha Purnima celebrations in association with the department at the venue, N.Haridas Bodh, organising secretary, said.

Kerala has at least a lakh Buddhist followers, with 20 ‘sanghams’ in various districts, he says. “Buddhist monks from different States and a large number of Buddhists will assemble at the place. Chantings, meditation, and discourses will be organised as part of the celebrations,” he said.

The place is a tourist itinerary and hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists visit the place, said Karumadi Murali, former vice-president of the Ambalappuzha Block panchayat, the chief of a committee formed to renovate the pilgrim centre.

“The 10-cent site is inadequate to contain the increasing flow of tourists. A proposal to hand over more than one acre of poramboke land adjoining the site to the Department of Archaeology is pending with the authorities,” he said.Karumadikuttan beckons pilgrims, tourists

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