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desolate ruin ? These and a thousand other
questions crowd upon us, and it is strange to how
many of them we can give an answer. The rush-
ing rains of Indian summers have long washed
away most of the soil from the hanging gardens
that once clothed the hillsides, and made the
prospect from the palace to the gates and beyond
them through the pass leading out into the plains
a veritable vision of delight.

But still the artificial terraces of red trap-rock
are smooth and level amidst the out-cropping
masses of natural crags, and still the wanderer
may take his stand on some spot whence Bimbisara
the king was wont to look upon the glories of
his inheritance, or, with difficulty at one or two
points, may trace the way through the old pleas-
ance by which doubtless royal hunting-parties
may have started for the forest-glades. To-day,
it is true, there are no rich woodlands covering
slopes and mountain-tops, as in the royal ages.
Wild undergrowth, dense shrubs, and here and
there a twisted palm growing in a cranny are
all that can stand for the lofty timbers, dense
aisles of the days when the place was a paradise,
a king's garden surrounding a king's palace. And
still at the back of the ruined city, guarding it
from the passes on the south and east, we find
the double walls of enormous thickness.


The square mortice-holes in the face of the rock
out of which the great Sonar Bhandar is hollowed,
give us a clue that enables us to rebuild, mentally,
the ancient city. For these mortice-holes held
the attachments of the wooden ornaments that
formed the front of the cave. Now, between
Bombay and Poona, on the west of India, is
another cave, that of Karli, which though of a
much later date must be of the same style and
period as this, and there the wooden front is still
intact. Moreover, the carvings form a picture,
as Fergusson has pointed out, of an ancient
street, from which we gather that the second
storeys of houses standing in rows were decor-
ated in front with crowded wooden verandahs,
porches, niches, and all sorts of beautiful and
irregular curved corners. That these, further,
were not mere devices of beauty in the case of
the houses, as they were in those of the caves,
we see in the pictures which were carved, prob-
ably in the first or second century A.D., on the
gateways of Sanchi. From these we can gather
an idea of what the palace of Bimbisara and the
homes of his subjects must have been like. The
first storey, then, was massive, sloping inwards
and upwards, loopholed and buttressed at its four
corners by four circular towers. The first storey
only was built of stone, and its parapet was battle-
mented. On the strong terrace provided by the
roof of this fortification were constructed the
family living rooms, which were of wood and


much carved. That it would have been possible,
however, to withdraw the women into the lower
storey in time of war may be seen from buried
ruins at Ujjain, which are shown by the pandas
as part of Vikramaditya's palace, and appear to
have belonged to a fortress of Asoka's time. Here,
built of hard grey stone now black with age we
have what seems to be the inside corner, and
part of the courtyard, of just such a building as
the Sanchi sculptures would lead us to expect
as the dwelling of a king or noble. Outside, the
walls would be almost blind ; inside, they are
honeycombed with many-pillared halls and ver-
andahs, and one room with raised floor that
represents an old Indian form of bedchamber
and bed in one. In times of peace these were,
we may suppose, the quarters assigned to men-
at-arms. The building is of a massiveness that
rivals nature, and there are a few pillars still left
amongst the many that the succeeding sovereigns
decorated in different degrees and different styles
whose simplicity of form enables any observer
that knows Sanchi to feel fairly confident in assign-
ing the building as a whole to the reign of Asoka,
or earlier.

Of such a form, then, though perhaps smaller
and less elaborate, may we suppose the palace
of Rajgir to have been, and in the streets about
it the more plebeian dwellings of the townsfolk
must, though small and comparatively huddled,
have been like unto it. True, their lower storeys


would be built, in all probability, even as the huts
of the Rajgir pilgrims are to this day, of mud
and pebbles, instead of lordly stone. From hillocks
formed of such deposits, anyone may pick out
by the streamside, at various different levels,
bits of old household pottery. But the facings
and tops of the shops and houses were doubt-
less of carved wood, and the front of the cathedral
was a faithful enough reflex of the life of the town.
Through such streets, while the king stood watch-
ing him from the roof of the palace, paced the
Sakya Prince, "a lad in his first youth," ere yet
he was Buddha, and no honour that Bimbisara
could offer would tempt him from that bridal of
Poverty in which alone his mind delighted. " This
life of the household is pain, free only is he who
lives in the open air " ; thinking thus he embraced
the life of the wandering monk.

Far away from Rajgir, in the north of Rajputana,
we have Amber and Jaipur, a couple of cities which
every visitor to India tries to see. Of these, Amber
is situated in the highlands, and Jaipur out in the
plain, Amber being, of course, very much the older
of the two. It is in fact an old Indian doctrine that
no city should occupy the same ground for more
than a thousand years. It is supposed that a potent
means of avoiding pestilence and other ills is then
to move out and occupy a new space. In accord-
ance with this canon the new city of Jaipur was
laid out. And when all was finished, the Maharaja

moved into the new town with all his people.



Now this history of Amber and Jaipur, enacted
in modern India and still fresh in the memory of
the Rajput people, is our guide to much in the
history of Old Rajgir. For in the lifetime of Buddha,
the son of Bimbisara that tragic king, Ajatasatru,
across whose path falls the red shadow of a father's
murder ! found that the time had come to move
the city of kings, and he accordingly built a new
city with walls and gates like the last but out in
the open plain. And there the grass-covered ruin
lies to this day, to the west of the present village,
the grave of a city, the memorial of New Rajgir.

Bimbisara was the king of Magadha in the days
of the Great Renunciation. Ajatasatru was king
at the death of Buddha. But we know, from the
fact of the desertion of their highland stronghold
and its rebuilding outside, that for five hundred
years at least before their time there had been a
city on the site of Old Rajgir.

Nor need we think that the city thus built was
only a palace and its appurtenances. The fact that
it actually became the new centre of population,
forming the direct ancestor of the present village,
shows itself two hundred years later, when the great
Asoka, desiring to build fitting memorials to Him
whom the emperor delighted to honour, chose its
north-western corner, on the left hand of the main
gateway, whereat to place a stupa and Asokan pillar
with an inscription. As the edicts carved by Asoka
on rocks and pillars have the character of proclama-
tions, it follows that the rocks and pillars themselves


partake somewhat of the nature of the modern
journal, inasmuch as they were the means adopted
to publish the royal will, and hence a position could
never be selected for them at a distance from in-
habited cities. The inscribed pillar at Sarnath was
placed at the door or in the courtyard of a monas-
tery. And similarly the inscribed pillars, whose
fragments have been found at Pataliputra, were
erected in the interior or on the site of the old jail
as an act of imperial penance.

We may take it, then, that Old Rajgir was really
deserted at about the time of Bimbisara's successor,
and, if it was afterwards used as a royal residence,
was so used at intervals, as Amber is now. Such
then was the city, already ancient, through which
Buddha himself has passed time and again and
where He was held by all as an honourable guest.
Across these fields and up and down these streets,
now ruined, or within the massive cathedral-cave
of Sonar Bhandar, there echo to this hour the
immortal reverberations of Buddha's voice.

Why did He come this way at all ? Was it for
the sake of the learned men who forgather in the
neighbourhood of capitals ? Was the famous uni-
versity of Nalanda of after-ages already perhaps
a university, where one might come in the sure
hope of finding all the wisdom of the age ? It
would seem as if, any way, He passed this spot
with treasure already in the heart, needing only
long years of brooding thought to fuse his whole
Self in its realisation. Unless he was sure of the


truth before He reached here, He could not have
gone, sure and straight as an arrow from the bow,
to the unfrequented forest of bel-trees, with its cave
overhanging the river, and its great tree between
the farms and ponds, where now the humble village
of Bodh-Gaya stands.


FROM Patna on the east to Benares on the west,
stretch in the month of January fields of white
poppies all abloom. In this Holy Land of the
Buddhist nations blossoms to-day this flower of
death. The earth where it grows was made sacred
long ago by the feet of Buddha. At the site of the
ancient Pataliputra, almost where Bankipore stands
to-day, He entered the kingdom of Magadha. For
ages they called the river crossing Gautama's Ferry,
and told how on his last journey north He stood
and watched the building of the first of its fortifica-
tions, foretelling the future greatness of the capital.
In remote villages one constantly comes upon
images of Buddha, worshipped inside or outside
the temples of Brahman priests. In any field the
peasant ploughing may turn up a relic or a frag-
ment of carved stone. And under trees and bushes
along the high-road one notes the three little heaps
of mud standing side by side, that indicate a shrine
of Jaganath the Lord of the Universe, name and
symbol of Buddha himself. They have forgotten
Him maybe, yet remember His memory, these
simple worshippers of the Behari villages. To far
distant lands, and to scriptures written in a long-



forgotten tongue, the modern organisation of
scholarship has to go, to bring back to them the
knowledge of Him whom under obscure names
they worship to this day, in the very countryside
where He lived and taught. A vague tradition of
Infinite Mercy is all that remains amongst the un-
learned of that wondrous personality. But this,
after two thousand years, they cherish still. He
belongs in a special degree to this peasantry of
Magadha. There runs in their veins the blood of
those whom He patted on the head as children.
He taught them the dignity of man. He called
upon them, as upon the proudest of his peers, to
renounce, and find peace in the annihilation of Self.
To Gautama Buddha the peasant of Behar owes his
place in Hinduism. By him he was nationalised.

Even in those stories of Buddha which remain
to us it is explicitly stated that He sought amongst
all existing solutions for the truth. This is the
meaning of his travelling with the five ascetics and
torturing the body with fasts. The first effort of a
new thinker must always be to recapitulate existing
systems and sound them to their depths. The Prince
Gautama in the year 590 B.C., in the populous
districts of the Sakya kingdom, awakening suddenly
to the sense of his own infinite compassion, and to
the career of a world-thinker, feels an overpower-
ing need to meet with the scholars of his age, and
makes his way therefore towards the neighbour-
hood of Rajgir in the kingdom of Magadha. From
purely geographical considerations, we can see


that there was doubtless another culture-centre,
even so early as the age in question, at Taxila,
in the extreme north-west. Indeed, towards the
end of the life of Buddha himself, we are told of
a lad who went there from Magadha as European
students of the Middle Ages to Cordova to study

It is also easy to infer that the learning which
could be acquired at Taxila was somewhat cosmo-
politan in its character. The knowledge of herbs
is a comparative science, and Taxila was on the
high-road to Persepolis and Babylon, as well as to
China and Nineveh. It was the doorway of India,
or at least the university which had grown up
beside that doorway ; and that it was known as
such among other nations is shown by the fact
that Alexander came that way in 326 B.C. For
the purchase of foreign stuffs, for knowledge of the
geography that lay beyond her own border, for
foreign news and foreign learning, possibly even
for secular science as a whole, India had no centre
like Taxila.

It follows with equal clearness that for the head-
quarters of a strictly national culture one would
look nearer to the valley of the Ganges. Even the
least organised of systems will somewhere have its
central ganglion, and the fact that the Indian gang-
ion lay two centuries later in Magadha, is proved
by the retirement of Chandra Gupta to Pataliputra
after his defeat of the Greeks.

It was evidently not absurd with the means then


at the disposal of the crown to look from that
distance to mobilise armies on the frontier. But
if military plans could be carried out so far from
their base as this, then we cannot object that
Magadha was too remote to be the religious centre
of the whole. Benares and Baidyanath are still
left at its two extremes to tell us of the spiritual
energy of its great period. The miracle that puzzles
the imagination of historians the sudden inception
in the sixth century B.C. of religions of conscience
in place of religions of power is, rightly viewed, no
miracle at all. These religions themselves were
always there ; it was only their organisation that
began with the date named.

The events of history follow sequences as rigid
as the laws of physics. Buddha was the first of
the faith-organisers, and first in India of nation-
builders. But Buddha could not rise and do his
work until the atmosphere about him had reached
a certain saturation-point in respect to those ideas
which the Upanishads preach. The founders of
religions never create the ideas they enforce.
With deep insight they measure their relative values,
they enumerate and regiment them ; and by the
supreme appeal of their own personality they give
them a force and vitality unsuspected. But the
ideas themselves were already latent in the minds
of their audience. Had it not been so, the preacher
would have gone uncomprehended. Through how
many centuries had this process of democratising
the culture of the Upanishads gone on ? Only by


flashes and side-gleams, as it were, can we gather
even the faintest idea.

It is partly the good and partly the bad fortune
of Buddhistic movements in India that, from their
association with an overwhelming individualised
religious idea, they appear to us as a sudden inven-
tion of the human mind in such and such a year.
We do not sufficiently realise that they, together
with all the words and symbols associated with
them, must have been taken from a pre-existent
stock of customs and expressions already long
familiar to the people amongst whom Buddhism
grew up. We imagine the great Chandra Gupta to
have been the first monarch in India of an organ-
ised empire, but the words of Buddha himself,
" They build the stupa over a Chakravarti Raja a
suzerain monarch at a place where four roads
meet," show that the people of that early period
were familiar enough with the drama of the rise
and fall of empires, and that the miracle of
Chandra Gupta's retirement to Pataliputra, thence
to rule as far as the Punjab and the Indian Ocean,
was in fact no miracle at all, since the India of his
time was long used to the centralised organisation
of roads, ddks, and supplies, and to the maintenance
of order and discipline.

The peculiar significance of Behar in the comity
of the Indian peoples rises out of its position on
the frontier-line between two opposing spiritual
influences. To this day it is the meeting-place of
Hinduistic and Mussulman civilisations. Sikh and


Arya Somaji and Hindusthani Rajput pour down the
waterway of the Ganges, to go no farther east than
the twin-cities of Patna and Bankipore, and these
stand face to face with the unified and Sanskritic
civilisation of Lower Bengal. All sorts of modified
institutions, representing mutual assimilation, arise
along the border-line. Costume, language, manners,
and habits of life are all full of this compromise.
The old standard of culture, which even yet is not
wholly dead, along a line stretching from Patna
through Benares to Lucknow, required of the high-
est] classes of Hindus the study of Persian as well
as Sanskrit, and one of the most liberal and courtly
types of gentlehood that the world has seen was
moulded thus.

The fertile country of Bengal, closely settled and
cultivated, organised round the monarchy of Gour,
and claiming a definite relation to Benares and
Kanauj as the sources of its culture, cannot, at any
time within the historical period, have been sus-
ceptible of chaotic invasion or colonisation. The
drift of unorganised races could never pass through
Behar, which must always have been and remains
to the present the most cosmopolitan province of
India. It has doubtless been this close contiguity
of highly-diversified elements within her boundaries
that has so often made Behar the birthplace of
towering political geniuses. The great Chandra
Gupta, his grandson Asoka, the whole of the Gupta
dynasty, Shere Shah, and finally Guru Govind
Singh, are more than a fair share of the critical


personalities of Indian history for one compara-
tively small district to have produced. Each of
the great Beharis has been an organiser. Not one
has been a blind force, or the tool of others. Each
has consciously surveyed and comprehended con-
temporary conditions, and known how to unify
them in himself, and to give them a final irresistible
impulsion in a true direction.



LIKE the curves and columns of some great organ
runs the line of stone arches and colonnades along
the hillside that faces to the sunrise in the glen of
Ajanta. Twenty-six caves there are in all, making
one long level line, overhung by the rounded ridge
of dark-blue stone that was undoubtedly chipped
into shape and bareness long long ago to empha-
size that balanced uniformity which gives to this
ancient abbey so much of its solemnity and beauty.
As we first see the caves, from the boulder-strewn
stream some hundreds of feet away, they appear

1 Chaitya Building used by Buddhist monks for united worship ;
strictly comparable to Christian churches, which resemble it to an
extraordinary degree even now. The differences between nave and
aisles are exactly the same. A dagoba occupied the place of the altar.
Ajanta has four chaityas.

Vihara A Buddhist monastery. At first these consisted of a
central space of irregular shape, with small cells opening into it.
Afterwards it becomes a quadrangle or main court with a great
sanctuary on its longest side containing an image of Buddha, pillared
aisles, verandah, and cells, as in the earlier examples. There are
twenty-two riharas, many unfinished, at Ajanta.

Dagoba A stupa or tope erected over the ashes or relics of a great
teacher. An open-air stupa is the Sanchi Tope. There are dagobas
within all the four chaityas at Ajanta. Evidently the form was




like a succession of pillared verandahs, broken
once near the middle, and culminating in the
distance in the tall arched fronts of great chaitya-
halls. It is thus that we first become aware of
Caves Ten and Twenty-six, and are affected by
their severity and regularity as if by music. In
reality, Nine and Nineteen are also chaityas. But
both are slightly masked by masses of rock, and
only Ten and Twenty-six stand out in this first view.
How lonely and remote is this glen in which we
find them ! It lies crescent-shaped among its hills,
so that the view from each monastery-cave seems
closed upon itself. The torrent that runs through
it enters, as a great cascade, at the northern end,
and leaves this rocky ravine without giving a hint
of a world without, where twistings and windings
are to bring it to a wider stream. Such are the
sites that have ever seemed ideal to the monk.
The murmur of running waters and the voices of
the waterfalls make to his ear a perpetual plain-
song, in unison with the intoning of ancient
psalters and the chanting of texts. In the circling
path of the sunlight measured against the green,
its first rays at dawn and its last at cowdust, are
signals for ringing of bells and lighting of lamps,
for processions, and incense, and sprinkling of
holy water. The quivering of leaves through the
tropical day speaks of coolness and shadow, the
environment of learning ; and the solitude of
nature promises remoteness from the world, the
only possible environment of holiness. Such must


Ajanta have seemed to the handful of monks who
took up their abode in its natural caverns, perhaps
a couple of centuries before Asoka. The rough
path by which they could climb to their eagle's
nests of dwellings was soon hewn by their patient
hands into simple stairs. But even these were
reached, from the north, only after arduous travel
over the boulders by the stream side. A perfect
site for a monstery. It is difficult to imagine that
amongst the scarped and rugged hillsides of Khan-
desh there could have been found another vale at
once so lonely and so beautiful.

Twenty-six caves there are in all ; numbered, in
the unemotional fashion of official surveys, in
serial order from north to south. In reality, how-
ever, they fall according to their ages into some
four main groups. The first of these, containing
Caves Eight to Thirteen, lies to the left of the
stairs by which one reaches the monastery terrace.
One arrives on that level between Six and Seven,
and the first seven numbers form the third of the
periods. Caves Fourteen to Nineteen constitute
the second period ; and Twenty to Twenty-six the
fourth. Thus :

13, 12, ii, 10, 9, 8 : Period I.

19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14: Period II.

7> 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, i : Period III.

26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20: Period IV.

Not that all the caves of any single group were
undertaken at once. In each period there is a



progression. Sixteen and Seventeen have inscrip-
tions which, it is said, render them the heart of
the matter ; for they were built during or soon after
the lifetime of the great Gupta, Maharaja Deva
(Chandragupta II. Vikramaditya, A.D. 375 to 413),
by a sovereign who had married his daughter.
And Caves Five to One were probably undertaken
immediately after.

In any case, it is the first group, Caves Eight
to Thirteen, that for hundreds of years formed the
whole glory of Ajanta. Eight and Thirteen may
probably have been natural caverns occupied ten-
tatively long before the time of Asoka by a hand-
ful of monks. Those were days in which kings,
rich cities, and great landowners could scarcely
perform a work of greater merit than hewing out
caves for the residence of monks. In course of
time, therefore, these natural recesses in the rock
(which we imagine to have been the motive and
starting-point) were transformed into simple monas-
teries by first enlarging the centre and then cutting
tiny cells, each with its two stone beds and low
doorway, round the space, which thus acted as
quadrangle or courtyard. Number Thirteen has, in
addition to these, a small earthen verandah in
front. Number Eight has not even this. It seems
probable that the occupation began from two
points more or less simultaneously, and afterwards
worked inwards, for how else are we to explain
the fact that Nine and Ten, standing side by side,
are both chaityas ?


We imagine too that the first settlement was
early, when faith was strong, and the living impress

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