Vaishali:

(The place where monkey offered honey to Buddha)

The ancient city of Vaishali is of great significance to Buddhists on their pilgrimage because it is not merely the place where one of the four major miracles was performed by Buddha, but here Buddha also gave his last sermon before his parinibbana.

During Buddha’s lifetime, Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian confederacy with eight clans (of which the Licchavis and Videhans were the most important). The city was protected by three walls and governed by 7707 kings (representatives of the people).

Vaishali had a very long association with Buddha. When leaving Kapilvastu in search of enlightenment, Siddhartha first reached Vaishali and received training from Udraka and Alara Kalama. After his enlightenment, the Buddha visited Vaishali at the request of Mahali, the Licchavi prince, as Vaishali was suffering from drought and plague, causing many people to die. As soon as Buddha reached the Vijjian territory a thunderstorm developed and heavy rain poured down onto the city which cleansed the inhabitants and their homes. In Vaishali, Buddha preached Ratna Sutta and ordered Ananda to recite it within three walls of Vaishali for protection.

It was here in Vaishali that a monkey took Buddha’s alms bowl and returned it after filling it with honey as its offering to Buddha; this is considered as one of the four great miracles in Buddha’s life. A group of monkeys also dug a tank for the use of Buddha in Vaishali. Buddha also allowed women to enter the order of monks for the first time on the request of Ananda and thus Bhikkuni Sangha was established in Vaishali. The ruins of the first monastery of nuns can be seen on the south-western side of the Asokan Pillar.

Buddha spent his last rainy retreat and announced his eminent parinibbana in Vaishali. It was at Kutagarshala Vihar that the Buddha delivered his final discourse; a stupa built by Asoka in Kolhua marks that event. Vaishali is also known for Amrapali who was the city courtesan and became a disciple of Buddha. She donated her mango grove to the Sangha. Around one hundred years after Buddha’s parinibbana, Vaishali hosted the second Buddhist council under the patronship of King Kalasoka of Magadh.

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