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THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM 29

the appointment of public censors, or guardians
of morality.

In his reference to the obtaining of "true en-
lightenment'' Asoka records himself a non-mon-
astic disciple of the great monastic order of the
day. Nearly three hundred years have elapsed
since the passing of the Blessed One, and in the
history of the Begging Friars whom He inaugu-
rated there has been heretofore no event like this,
of the receiving of the imperial penitent into the
lay-ranks served by them. Their task of nation-
making is slowly but surely going forward never-
theless. In the light of the Gospel of Nirvana
the Aryan Faith is steadily denning and con-
solidating itself. The Vedic gods have dropped
out of common reference. The religious ideas of
the Upanishads are being democratised by the
very labours of the Begging Friars in spreading
those of Buddha, and are coming to be regarded
popularly as a recognised body of doctrine char-
acteristic of the Aryan folk. Vague racial super-
stitions about "snakes and trees and sacred springs
are tending more and more to be intellectually
organised and regimented round the central figure
of Brahma, the creator and ordainer of Brahmanic
thinkers.

Thus the higher philosophical conceptions of
the higher race are being asserted as the out-
standing peaks and summits of the Hinduistic
faith, and the current notions of the populace are
finding their place gradually in the body of that



3 o FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

faith, coming by degrees into organic continuity
with the lofty abstractions of the Upanishads. In
other words, the making of Hinduism has begun.

The whole is fermented and energised by the
memory of the Great Life, ended only three
centuries agone, of which the yellow-clad brethren
are earnest and token. Had Buddha founded a
church, recognising social rites, receiving the new-
born, solemnising marriage, and giving benediction
to the passing soul, his personal teachings would
have formed to this hour a distinguishable half-
antagonistic strain in the organ-music of Hinduism.
But he founded only an order. And its only
function was to preach the Gospel and give
individual souls the message of Nirvana. For
marriage and blessing, men must go to the
Brahmans : the sons of Buddha could not be
maintainers of the social polity, since in his eyes
it had been the social nexus itself which had con-
stituted that World, that Maya, from which it was
the mission of the Truth to set men free.

The work of the monk, then, as a witness to the
eternal verities, was in no rivalry to the more
civic function of the Brahmanic priesthood. And
this is the fact which finds expression in the
relation of the monkhood to the Indian cities of
the Asokan era. The Brahman is a citizen-priest,
living in a city. The Buddhist is a monk, living
in an abbey. In all lands the .monk has memorial-
ised himself by buildings instead of by posterity.
In India these have been largely carved, as at



THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM 31

Mahavellipore in the south, or excavated, as at
Ellora and elsewhere, instead of built. But the
sentiment is the same. In place of a single
monastery with its chapel or cathedral, we find
here a number of independent cells or groups
of cells, and frequently a whole series of cathedral
shrines. Apparently a given spot has remained
a monastic centre during generation after genera-
tion. Dynasties and revolutions might come and
go, but this would remain, untouched by any cir-
cumstance save the inevitable shifting of population
and the final decay of its own spiritual fire.

In its decoration the abbey would reflect the art
of the current epoch. In culture it would act as a
university. In ideals it represented the super-
social, or extra-civic conception of the spiritual
equality and fraternity of all men. Its inmates
were vowed to religious celibacy. And we may
take it that the place of the abbey would always be at
a certain distance from a city whose government was
in sympathy with it.

Thus the city of Dhauli, under the Emperor
Asoka and succeeding worshippers of Buddha, had
Khandagiri at seven miles' distance as its royal
abbey. The civic power was represented at Gaya :
the monastic at Bodh-Gaya. Benares was the seat
of Brahmans : Sarnath of monks. Elephanta was
the cathedral-temple of a king's capital, 1 but
Kenheri, on another island a few miles away,
offers to us the corresponding monastery.

1 And Elephanta is of considerably later date.



32 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

From these examples and from what we can see
to have been their inevitableness, we might expect
that any important city of the Buddhistic period
would be likely to occur in connection with a
monastic centre some few miles distant. Now it
is possible to determine the positions of a great
many such cities on grounds entirely a priori. It
is clear, for instance, that whatever geographical
considerations might make Benares great would
also act at the same time to distinguish Allahabad.
By a similar induction, Mathura on the Jumna
and Hardwar on the Ganges might also be ex-
pected to furnish proof of ancient greatness. Now
outside Prayag we have to the present time, as a
haunt of sadhus, the spot known as Nirvanikal.
And in the vicinity of Hardwar, is there not Hrish-
ikesh ? The caves of Ellora have near them the
town of Roza. But this we must regard as a sort
of Mohammedan priory, inasmuch as its popula-
tion consists mainly of religious beggars (of course
not celibate) living about the tomb of Aurangzebe.
The neighbouring capital that supported the youth
of Ellora was probably at Deogiri, now called
Daulatabad.

It is the broken links in the chain, however, that
fascinate us most in the light of this historical
generalisation. What was the city, and what the
state, that made Ajanta possible ? What was the
city that corresponded to the dharmsala at Sanchi ?
What was the city, and what the abbey, in the
case of Amravati ?



THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM 33

Undoubtedly a fashion once started in such
strength under Buddha-worshipping sovereigns and
commonwealths would tend to be imitated in later
ages when the system of ideas that we know as
Hinduism had come more definitely into vogue.
It is also possible that when the Buddhistic orders
failed or died out their places were sometimes
taken, in the ancient maths and foundations, by
Jain religious. Something of this sort appears at
least to have happened at Sarnath and possibly at
Khandagiri also. But the whole history of the
relations between Brahmans, Buddhists, and Jains
wants working out from an Asiatic and not Euro-
pean point of view, if many pages of history are to
become clear to us.

One question of great interest that arises in this
connection, is, What of this parallelism in the case
of Pataliputra ? Going back to Rajgir, we see the
early ancestral capital of the Nanda kings con-
fronted, at least in later ages, by Nalanda, the
historic university of Bengal, to which Hiouen
Tsang owed so much. But what of Pataliputra
itself ? Can we suppose that the imperial seat had
no official ashrama of piety and learning in its
vicinity ? Yet if it had, and if perhaps the " Five
Pahars" mark the site of this religious college,
what was the situation of the capital in regard
to it?

Again we find place and occasion, by means of
this generalisation, for more definite consideration
than was hitherto possible of Indian culture and



34 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

civilisation at various epochs. What were the
various functions performed by these great extra-
civic priories ? No Englishman has reason to be
prouder of Oxford than the Hindu of Ajanta. The
eternal antithesis of Europe between " town and
gown " was never a source of rioting and disorder
in the East, only because from the beginning they
were recognised by universal consent as distinct
entities, whose separateness of interests demanded
a certain geographical distance. What was the life
lived in these royal abbeys, whose foundations
date back in so many cases notably Bodh-Gaya,
Sarnath, Dhauli, and Sanchi even earlier than
the reign of Asoka himself ? They were a symbol
of democracy to the eyes of the whole community,
of the right of every man to the highest spiritual
career. It is not conceivable that they should
have been entirely without influence on the educa-
tion of youth. But undoubtedly their main value
intellectually lay in their character of what we
should now call post-graduate universities.

Here must have been carried on such researches
as were recorded, in the lapse of centuries, by
Patanjali, in his Yoga Aphorisms, one of the most
extraordinary documents of ancient science known
to the world. Here must have been the home of
that learning which made the golden age of the
Guptas possible, between 300 and 500 A.D. We
must think too of the international relations of
these ancient monastic colleges. Fa Hian (400 A.D.)
and Hiouen Tsang (650 A.D.) were not the only



THE CITIES OF BUDDHISM 35

eastern ^students who came in the ages that
followed the Christian era to drink of the springs
of Indian learning. They were a couple whose
books of travels happen to have become famous.
But they were two out of a great procession of
pilgrim-scholars. And it was to the abbeys that
such came. It was from these abbeys, again, that
the missions proceeded to foreign countries. No
nation was ever evangelised by a single teacher.
The word Patrick in Irish, it is said, means pray-
ing-man, and the vaunted saint is thus, beyond
a doubt, either a member or a personification of
a whole race of Christian preachers who carried
Baptism and the Cross to early Ireland. Similarly
Mahinda, Nagarjuna, and Bodhidharmma in the
twelfth century, were not the isolated figures painted
by history as we know it. They were merely con-
spicuous elements in a whole stream of mission-
ary effort, that radiated from the quiet abbeys and
monasteries of India in its great ages towards the
worlds of east and west. Christianity itself, it has
been often suggested, may have been one of the
later fruits of such a mission, as preached in
Persia and Syria.

Here, in these lovely retreats for they are all
placed in the midst of natural beauty was elabo-
rated the thought and learning, the power of quiet
contemplation, and the marvellous energy of art
and literary tradition, that have made India as we
know her to-day. Here were dreamed those dreams
which, reflected in society, became the social ideals



36 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

of the ages in which we live. And here was de-
monstrated the great law that will be expressed
again and again in history, whenever the glory of
India rises to one of its supreme moments, the law
of the antithesis between city and university, be-
tween samaj and religious orders, between the life
of affairs and the life of thought. Antithetic as
they are, however, these are nevertheless comple-
mentary. Spirituality brings glory in its train.
The monastic life reacts to make civic strength.



RAJGIR: AN ANCIENT BABYLON

UP, up, up. The long array of steps seems endless,
as we climb the steep hillside to reach the dwelling
that has been lent us for a few weeks' habitation ;
and, after all, when we come upon it, it is nothing but
a nest of robber-barons, this old manor-house of the
Rajas of Annwa. A nest of robber-barons, truly,
perched half-way up the mountain and concealed
from sight, and yet with a wide stretch of country
well in its own purview. Curiously small and unfor-
tified to Western thinking, it consists of two parts
a court on the inside guarded against intrusion and
crowned with wide terrace-roofs ; and without, a
few rooms ranged about two sides of an open
square. Its feudal and mediaeval character lends
the building an interest which its undeniable beauty
well sustains. But far beyond either of these- con-
siderations is the exciting fact that we are to keep
house for twenty-one days in a spot where for a
period of from twenty-five to thirty centuries there
has been continuously a human habitation. For
the great staircase by which we have climbed the
rugged hillside is undoubtedly constructed over
the foundations of the ancient walls of Rajgir, and
the earliest predecessor of the Barons of Annwa

37



38 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

must have chosen for his family stronghold to
develop one of the buttresses of the guardroom
of the selfsame walls, occurring on a small plateau.
Below us lies the floor of the winding pass with the
stream that forms a moat at the foot of our moun-
tain-stairway. In front a great curving staircase,
constituting what our modern railway companies
would call a loop of the fort, protects those temples
and hot springs of Rajgir which still form the
objective of a yearly Hindu pilgrimage. And out
in the open, a stone's throw away as it seems in
this clear plain atmosphere, but really perhaps a
mile by the road, is the modern village of Rajgir,
anciently Raja-Griha, the city or dwelling-place of
kings.

Already the villagers are showing us friendly
attentions. The servant who has come with us
was born a few miles away, and his womenfolk
are arriving with our first meal in hospitable readi-
ness. The peasant-guard have established them-
selves in the outer rooms for our protection, and a
small boy of the neighbourhood is clamouring to be
taken on as an attendant. It is as if we were guests
of Semiramis in Nineveh of old ! It is like pitching
our tent on the ruins of Babylon, and entering into
friendly relations with lineal descendants of the
ancient inhabitants !

How beautiful is ,the country that lies stretched
before us ! Outward from the mouth of our twist-
ing pass, at Christmas time or thereabouts, it will
be covered in the green of rice and other crops,



RAJGIR: AN ANCIENT BABYLON 39

with every here and there a field of white opium-
poppies in full bloom. But now, at the change of
the season in October, we see here fields as patches
of many-coloured earth purple and brown and
red and we remember the words of Buddha, half
laughing doubtless yet full of affectionate memory
and tenderness, of one who said to a disciple in a
much-patched garment that he reminded him of
the ricefields about Rajgir.

A quarter of a mile behind us the hills open out
into a circle, and here lie the ruins of the ancient
city of kings wonderfully clear and distinct in
every part of them. We almost might trace out
the very lines of the bazaars. With regard to
streets and roads, it sounds dangerously near truism
to say that they retain their positions with little
change from age to age, yet I do not know that
the fact has been much noted. Here in Rajgir at
any rate, where hundreds of cows and buffaloes,
sheep and goats, are driven daily by the herds to
and from the ancient ruins, many of the main
roadways remain much as they must have been in
the dim past. Here, for instance, is the thoroughfare
that ran through the city, with traces at a certain
point near the centre of the palace walls, bastions,
and gateways ; and here beyond the palace are
the outlines of the royal pleasure-grounds, with
their wonderfully engineered ornamental waters
intact to this day. All through this little mountain-
arena and the pass that leads to it, indeed, there
has been an extraordinary amount of hydraulic



4 o FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

engineering. It would seem as if the fame of the
hot springs must have been the original cause of
the royal settlement in this natural fortress, and
the artificial development of its streams the main
occupation of the kingly line thereafter. Even now
below our own walled and moated manor lies an
empty tank that two thousand years ago most
likely held lotuses in a park. Even now the river
that runs through the valley, though naturally one,
is divided in parts into two and even three streams,
forming a network that is enough to show us the
attention that must have been paid in ancient India
to the problems of irrigation, in order to give birth
to so marvellous a degree of hydraulic science.
Far away in Central India is a monumental building,
of an age some two hundred years later than that
of Old Rajgir, which shows by its ornamental
cascades the same engineering genius, and the
same royal idea of beauty and magnificence as we
find here. Well may the Indian people glory in
the ancestry which already lived in this splendour,
while that of Northern and Western Europe went
clad in painted woad.

There can be a few places in the world so old
as Rajgir, about which so much is definitely known
and so much safely to be inferred. It was in all
probability about the year 590 B.C. in a world
in which Babylon and Phoenicia and Egypt and
Sheba were of all facts most living and important
it was about the year 596 B.C. that there came
along the road leading into the valley yonder, one



.




BUDDHA AND THE LAME KID.

Front Wiitcr-colour bv Xtiiniu Lai Bose.



RAJGIR: AN ANCIENT BABYLON 41

whose very form was radiant with feeling and
thought, that lifted him above the common world
into that consciousness that makes history.

It may have been early morning when He came.
For the books say that the great company of goats
was being led up at that moment for the royal
sacrifice ; fixed, it may have been, for about the
hour of noon. Or it may have been about the time
of cowdust, on the eve of the festival, and the
herdsmen may have intended to stable their goats
for that night outside the palace. In any case
He came, some say carrying on his shoulder a lame
kid, followed by the patter of thousands of little
hoofs. He came, moreover, in a passion of pity.
A veritable storm of compassion had broken loose
within him on behalf of these, the helpless (l little
brothers " of humanity, who were caught like man
himself in the net of pain and pleasure, of life and
death ; bewildered like man by love and sorrow,
but who unlike man for want of speech could
neither express their perplexity nor form a con-
ception of release. Surely they crowded round
Him, and rubbed themselves against Him again
and again, the gentle, wondering, four-footed
things ! For the animals are strangely susceptible
to the influence of a silent love that has no designs
on their life or freedom. All the legends of the
world tell us that they catch the hush of Christmas
Eve, respond to the eager questioning of the Child
Dhruva, and understand that unmeasured yearning
to protect them which may be read in the eyes of



42 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

the Lord Buddha on the road that goes up to the
palace of Rajgir.

We had been some time in the place before we
noticed that it was on one particular islet in the
river below us that the village deathfires might
so often be seen at evening. It was a very ancient
custom in India to burn the dead by the stream-
side just outside the town. But this sandbank
was far away from the village. Hardly could they
have chosen a point less easily accessible. Ah,
yes ! certainly there was the explanation ; the
burning ghdt of these peasants in the twentieth
century must be still where their ancestors had
chosen it, in the fifth, in the first aye, even for
centuries before that maybe immediately without
the city of Old Rajgir. It takes a peculiar angle
of vision, and perhaps a peculiar mood of passivity,
to see the trees turn into a forest when the exist-
ence of such was previously unsuspected. So
I shall not attempt to guess how many more
evenings elapsed before, as we went along the
roadway on the far side of the burning ghdt, one
of us noted the broken steps and the entwined
tamarind and &?-trees that marked the old-time
ghdt of Rajgir. Nor do I know how many more
days went by before there came to some one of
us the flash of insight that led us finally to dis-
cover that the mass of fallen masonry close by
was that very ancient gateway of the city through
which Buddha himself with the goats must have
passed, and brought to our notice the dome-like



RAJGIR: AN ANCIENT BABYLON 43

head of an old stupa lying in the dust a few
feet away.

Passing through the gate and standing at the
opening of the theatre-like valley, we find that the
river which flows out of the city as one, is made
up of two streams which between them encircle
the royal city as a moat, even within its girdle of
mountains and its enclosing walls. They join at
this point. Leaving unexplored that which flows
towards us from the left part of the garden of
Ambapali, the Indian Mary Magdalene, and past
the abodes of many of the characters who figure
in the narrative of Buddha's life, we may turn to
that branch which comes to us from the right.

A world of discoveries awaits us here ! The
path leads us across to the water, but this is easily
forded by stepping-stones which may still be
detected as fragments of an ancient bathing
ghdt. Evidently bathing and the bathing-^*?/
were as prominent in the Indian civilisation
twenty-five centuries ago as they are to-day. Then
the road follows the streamside at a distance of
some fifty yards more or less from the line of
mountains on the right. About midway through
the city the face of this mountain is pierced by
a great cave, known to-day to the peasants of the
countryside as the Sonar Bhandar or Golden
Treasury. The interior of this cave is polished,
not carved. There stands in it, as if some party
of robbers had been interrupted in an attempt
to carry it away, the earliest stupa I have ever



44 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

seen. The outside is half concealed by shrubs
and creepers. But even now the mortice-holes
remain that show where the carved wooden orna-
ments were once attached. And even now as we
stand at the entrance we see in the distance, in
the middle of the city, the tower that Fa Hian
noted as still intact and visible in the year A.D.
404, crowning a small stupa or well to the east
of the palace.

This cave then was the cathedral of Old Rajgir.
Here Buddha must have rested or meditated or
taught ; and there must, suggested some member
of our party, have been a roadway connecting it
directly with the palace. Acting on this clue, we
proceeded to brush aside the wild growths and
explore the line between the two. Outside the
cave we found a level floor of ancient asphalt,
a sort of Venetian Plaza de San Marco as it were.
This was evidently the town square. We read a
reference in one of the old Chinese suttas of a
certain place in Rajgir as the place where the
peacocks were fed. "The place where the pea-
cocks were fed " ; how our minds had lingered
over the words when we first read them! And
now here we stand. For undoubtedly just as the
pigeons are fed outside St. Paul's, so on this
asphalt plaza, before the cathedral entrance in an
Eastern city, it fitted the royal dignity and bounty
that peacocks should be daily given grain.

The asphalt runs down to the river and across
it. For the water still flows under the ancient



RAJGIR: AN ANCIENT BABYLON 45

bridge, and we can walk on it though its level is
somewhat sunken. Easily, then, we make our
way to the royal mansion, clearly marked as this
is at its four corners by the foundations of four
bastion towers. But turning again to the bridge,
we find an unbroken line of this same asphalt
running along the bank by the way we have come,
though sooth to say we might never have noticed
it if we had not been tracing it out from the con-
spicuous mass.

Was this, the river-front opposite to the palace,
protected by the steep hills behind, and running
from the town plaza to the bathing ghtit beyond,
and across this to the city gates was this the
High Street of the ancient town ? Every now
and again, as day after day we pace brooding up
and down the distance, every now and again we
come upon some hitherto unnoticed mass of
masonry or mason's tool-marks. Here are a
couple of blocks lying on their sides, as if to form
a seat in a river-wall. Here again traces of steps
or fallen ornaments. At one place on the opposite
bank, deeply sunk between masses of earth and
vegetation, there runs down to the riverside a
small ravine that would now pass as a gully if the
pavement or ancient asphalt did not prove it in
days before Pompeii and Herculaneum were born
to have been a street.

What were the houses like that looked down
upon these footways ? What was the life that was
lived in them ? How long had the place been



46 FOOTFALLS OF INDIAN HISTORY

a city ? How long did it continue to be one ?
What were the surroundings in the height of its
glory of this abode of kings, now an austere and


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