(The place where Buddha performed the twin miracles)
Sravasti was the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom and one of the six largest cities in India at the time of Buddha. It was here in Sravasti where Buddha performed the twin miracles. He also spent 25 annual rainy retreats at Jetavana Vihara and Pubbarama, two monasteries just outside the city.
The city is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh and still bears the same name today whilst its ancient name was Savatthi. Buddha spent most of his monastic life in Sravasti and naturally it was the place where he gave most speeches and held numerous sermons that were recorded in the scriptures.
Buddha first visited Sravasti on the invitation of a rich and pious merchant named Sudatta(also called Anathapindika) whom he met in Rajgir. Anathapindika’s aim was to build a Vihara for Buddha and surveyed different places but found a park outside of the city to be the most suitable site. He finally selected the park at the southern edge of the city. The park belonged to Prince Jeta, the son of King Pasenadi. Prince Jeta did not want to hand over the park and thus asked for an exorbitant price. He asked Anathapindika to cover the entire park with gold coins – which to his surprise Anathapindika did. Only the trees remained uncovered which Jeta donated to the Vihara.
The other important monasteries in Sravastiare Pubbarama, donated by the Lady Visakha one of his chief benefactresses, and Rajakaram Vihara, donated by the King Pasenadi.
Sravasti is a major point of interest to Buddhist pilgrims in the Buddhist Circuit because Buddha spent most of his monastic life here and performed the twin miracle. King Asoka visited Sravasti during his pilgrimage in 249 BC and erected two pillars at the eastern gate of Jetavana.
Major Attractions in Sravasti:
(Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites)
- Jetavana Park: Jetavana is one of the most famous and important Buddhist monasteries along the Buddhist circuit. It was the second Arama (park) gifted to Buddha after Veluvana. At the time of Buddha, this monastery was called Jetaanathpindika Arama. Jetavana was the place where Buddha spent most of his rainy retreats, having 19 varsavassa out of a total of 45. The Vihara was built according to a plan sent by Devas from the Tusita heaven and contained sixty large halls and sixty small halls. There are several stupas built-in memory of Buddha’s disciples scattered all over Jetavana.
The important shrines at Jetavana include:
- Gandhkuti (Temple no 2): The Gandkuti was built by Ananthpindiaka for Buddha where he used to reside in Jetavana. This is the largest temple structure in Jetavana. The original Gandhkuti had a wooden structure which was later converted into a brick building. Today, only the foundation and lower walls of the structure survived. A tranquil place that encourages prayers and meditation cherishing the merits of Buddha’s teachings.
- Kosambi Kuti (Temple no 3): Anathpindika had the original Kosambi Kuti built on this site as a meditation room for Buddha. The remains of the well that was used at the time can still be seen. Another important structure is two solid brick terraces (brick plinth) in front of Kosambi Kuti which marks the original site of Buddha’s walking meditations (Cankama ).
- Stupa H: This was possibly where Buddha used to preach to monks and worshipers. It was built and renovated many times over several centuries which signifies the importance of the shrine. It stands just in front of the GandhKuti and is a significant place for prayer and meditation.
- Ananda Bodhi Tree: The Ananda Bodhi Tree was planted near the entrance of Jetavana at the request of Anathapindika. Anathapindika requested for a symbol to be worshipped when Buddha was away from Sravasti after the rainy retreat. Once Buddha came to know about the merchant’s request, he suggested using the sapling from the Bodhi tree and designating it as a symbol of worship. The present bodhi tree is said to be the sapling from the Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka. Buddha added to the sanctity of the Bodhi tree by meditating under the tree for one night at the request of Ananda.
- Anathapindika Stupa or Kachhi Kuti: The Anathapindika (Sudatta) Stupa or the Kachhi Kuti is the most imposing structure at Mahet. It is believed to have been built over the foundations of the house of Anathapindika also known as Sudatta. The ruins of the structure date back to the 1st and 10th century AD.
- Angulimal Stupa or Pakki Kuti: Angulimal Stupa or Pakki Kuti is situated just in front of the Anathpindika Stupa. The stupa is believed to mark the spot where Angulimal was cremated. Angulimal was a famous dacoit who used to wear a necklace made of fingers chopped from the corpse of people he killed. He was salvaged and saved by Buddha while he was trying to kill his mother. This is a structure made of bricks and has a tunnel in-between, which was built during its excavation in the 19th century for drainage of floodwater.
- Orajhar: It is assumed that Buddha performed the twin miracle in Orajhar as well as other famous miracles during the seventh rainy retreat at Sravasti. He performed these miracles to confound the Tirthika heretics. When he performed the twin miracle (Yamaka Patihariya) he emanated flames from the upper part of his body and water from the lower part and alternately from the left and right sides of his body. Buddha also created multiple images of himself which became a popular theme of Buddhist arts. After these miracles, he ascended to the Trayatrimsa heaven to deliver Abhidhamma discourse to his mother. Today, the ruins of a brick stupa are still visible, which possibly have been made by King Asoka, and mark the places of these great miracles.
Sravasti has always remained one of the most important destinations of Buddhist Pilgrimage tours, not just because Buddha performed several miracles but also because Buddha spent most of his monastic life here and delivered several important sermons at Jetavana.
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