Kushinagar
Town
Ramabhar Stupa was built over a portion of the Buddha
Ramabhar Stupa was built over a portion of the Buddha's ashes on the spot where he was cremated by the ancient Malla people.
Kushinagar is located in Uttar Pradesh
Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh
Kushinagar is located in India
Kushinagar
Kushinagar
Kushinagar (India)
Coordinates: 26°44′28″N 83°53′17″E / 26.741°N 83.888°E / 26.741; 83.888Coordinates: 26°44′28″N 83°53′17″E / 26.741°N 83.888°E / 26.741; 83.888
Country India
StateUttar Pradesh
DistrictKushinagar
Government
 • TypeNagar Palika
 • D.M.S. Rajalingam[1]
 • A.D.MBindhvasani Rai
 • MPVijay Kumar Dubey (BJP)
Population
 (2011)[2]
 • Total22,214
Language
 • OfficialHindi[3]
 • RegionalBhojpuri
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Vehicle registrationUP-57
Websitekushinagar.nic.in

Kushinagar (Hindustani: Kushinagar or Kuśīnagar; Pali: Kusinārā; Sanskrit: Kuśinagara) is a town in the Kushinagar district in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is an important and popular Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha attained parinirvana.

Etymology

According to Buddhist tradition Kushavati was named prior to the king Kush. The naming of Kushwati is believed to be due to abundance of Kush grass found in this region.[4]

Demographics

According to the 2011 Census of India, Kushinagar had 3462 households and a total population of 22,214, of which 11,502 were males and 10,712 were females. The population within the age group of 0 to 6 years was 2,897. The total number of literate people in Kushinagar was 15,150, which constituted 68.2% of the population with male literacy of 73.3% and female literacy of 62.7%. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population was 1,117 (5.03%) and 531 (2.39%) respectively.[2]

History

Siege of Kushinagar the capital of the Mallakas by seven Mahajanapadas’ chiefs and their armies for the posthumous possession of relics of Buddha in 4th century BCE. Depiction of the battle Sanchi stupa railing, 1st century BCE.
Siege of Kushinagar the capital of the Mallakas by seven Mahajanapadas’ chiefs and their armies for the posthumous possession of relics of Buddha in 4th century BCE. Depiction of the battle Sanchi stupa railing, 1st century BCE.

The present Kushinagar is identified with Kusavati (in the pre-Buddha period) and Kushinara (in the post-Buddha period). It was the capital of one of the two Malla republics. The two Malla republics comprised one of the sixteen mahajanpads (oligarchic republics) of India in the 6th century BCE. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta, Harsha, and Pala dynasties.

During the medieval period, Kushinagar was under the suzerainty of Kalachuri kings.[citation needed] The city was largely abandoned after the Islamic invasions of the 12th century, although the region was ruled over by a Rajput king named Madan Singh in the 15th century.

Conjectural reconstruction of the main gate of Kusinagara circa 500 BCE adapted from this relief at Sanchi
Conjectural reconstruction of the main gate of Kusinagara circa 500 BCE adapted from this relief at Sanchi

Modern Kushinagar came into prominence when Alexander Cunningham performed archaelogical excavations at Matha Kuar shrine and Ramabhar stupa in 1861-1862. Archibald Carlleyle exposed the Mahaparinirvana stupa and also discovered a 6.10 meters long reclining Buddha statue in 1876. In 1901, a Burmese monk named Sayadaw U Chandramani applied to the English Governor of India, seeking his permission to allow pilgrims to worship the reclining Buddha image in Kushinagar. Excavations continued in the early twentieth century under J. Ph. Vogel.[5] He conducted archaeological campaigns in 1904–1905, 1905-1906 and 1906–1907, uncovering a wealth of Buddhist materials.

After independence, Kushinagar remained a part of the district of Deoria. On 13 May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh.[6]

Location of Gautama Buddha's death and parinirvana

In 1896, Laurence Waddell suggested that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva.[7] However, according to the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, where he walked into a grove of sala trees and laid himself to rest. There, he died and was cremated on the seventh day after his death. The accumulated body of archaeological evidence and the historical record both support the assertion that the Buddha died and was cremated in Kushinagar.[8][9][10][11][12]

Archaeological evidence from the 3rd century BCE suggests that Kushinagar was an ancient pilgrimage site.[13] For example, Ashoka built a stupa and placed a pillar to mark Buddha's attained parinirvana in Kushinagar.[14] The Hindu rulers of the Gupta Empire (fourth to seventh century) enlarged the stupa and constructed a temple containing a reclining Buddha statue.[15][16] This site was abandoned by Buddhist monks around 1200 CE, who fled to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed during the Islamic rule in India that followed.[17][18] British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagar in the late 19th century, and his colleague Archibald Carlleyle unearthed the 1,500-year-old reclining Buddha statue.[16][19][20] The site has since then become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.[13][21]

Geography

Map of Kushinagar in relation to other Eight Great Places Buddhist pilgrimage sites and notable nearby cities
Map of Kushinagar in relation to other Eight Great Places Buddhist pilgrimage sites and notable nearby cities

Kushinagar is a nagar palika, located 53 km east of Gorakhpur on National Highway 27. The city is served by Kushinagar International Airport, while the main railway terminus is located in Gorakhpur.

Tourism

Parinirvana Temple
The Parinirvana Temple with the Parinirvana Stupa, Kushinagar
The Parinirvana Temple with the Parinirvana Stupa, Kushinagar

The statue of the reclining Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Temple. The statue is 6.10 metres long and is made of a single block of red sandstone. It represents the Buddha in the position he was in when he died and attained parinirvana — reclining on his right side with his head to the north, feet to the south, and face towards the west. It is situated on a large brick platform with stone posts at the corners.[22]

Parinirvana Stupa

The Parinirvana Stupa (Nirvana Chaitya) is located just behind the Parinirvana Temple. It was excavated by Carlleyle in the year 1876. During excavations, a copper plate was found, which contained the text of the Nidana Sutra and the statement that plate had been deposited in the Nirvana Chaitya by one Haribala, who also installed the reclining Buddha statue in the temple.[22]

Ramabhar Stupa

Ramabhar Stupa (also called Mukutbandhan Chaitya) is the cremation place of Buddha. This site is 1.5 km east of the Parinirvana Temple on the Kushinagar-Deoria road.[22]

Matha Kuar Shrine

This shrine contains a large statue of Buddha, carved out of one block of stone, which represents the Buddha seated under the Bodhi Tree in a pose known as bhumi sparsh mudra (Earth-touching attitude). The inscription at the base of statue dates to the 10th or 11th century CE.[22]

Other major places

The Government of Uttar Pradesh has proposed the Kushinagar-Sarnath Buddha Expressway to connect these two Buddhist pilgrimage towns. The expressway will be around 200 km long and will greatly reduce the travel time between the towns.

Government and politics

Stupa ruins in Kushinagar.
Stupa ruins in Kushinagar.

Kushinagar comes under Kushinagar Lok Sabha constituency for Indian general elections. The Member of Parliament from this constituency is Vijay Kumar Dubey of Bharatiya Janata Party who was elected in the 2019 Indian general election.

As of 2019, the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Kushinagar Assembly constituency is Rajnikant Mani Tripathi of Bharatiya Janata Party.

Notable people

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ "S. Rajalingam (IAS) - District Kushinagar, Government of Uttar Pradesh - India". kushinagar.nic.in. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Census of India: Kushinagar". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  3. ^ "52nd Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India" (PDF). nclm.nic.in. Ministry of Minority Affairs. p. 49. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  4. ^ "History". Kushinagar District. 20 November 2017.
  5. ^ Vogel J Ph. (1950). "Some Buddhist Monasteries in Ancient India". Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1: 27–32.
  6. ^ "Kushinagar History". kushinagar.nic.in. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  7. ^ "A Tibetan Guide-book to the Lost Sites of the Buddha's Birth and Death", L. A. Waddell. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1896, p. 279.
  8. ^ United Nations (2003). Promotion of Buddhist Tourism Circuits in Selected Asian Countries. United Nations Publications. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-92-1-120386-8.
  9. ^ Kevin Trainor (2004). Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide. Oxford University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-19-517398-7.
  10. ^ Elizabeth Lyons; Heather Peters; Chʻeng-mei Chang (1985). Buddhism: History and Diversity of a Great Tradition. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-934718-76-9.
  11. ^ Fred S. Kleiner (2009). Gardner's Art through the Ages: Non-Western Perspectives. Cengage. pp. 13, 31. ISBN 978-0-495-57367-8.
  12. ^ Huntington, John C (1986), "Sowing the Seeds of the Lotus" (PDF), Orientations, September 1986: 47, archived from the original (PDF) on 28 November 2014
  13. ^ a b Lars Fogelin (2015). An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism. Oxford University Press. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-19-994822-2.
  14. ^ Akira Hirakawa; Paul Groner (1993). A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 101. ISBN 978-81-208-0955-0.
  15. ^ Gina Barns (1995). "An Introduction to Buddhist Archaeology". World Archaeology. 27 (2): 166–168. doi:10.1080/00438243.1995.9980301.
  16. ^ a b Robert Stoddard (2010). "The Geography of Buddhist Pilgrimage in Asia". Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art. Yale University Press. 178: 3–4.
  17. ^ Richard H. Robinson; Sandra Ann Wawrytko; Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu (1996). The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction. Thomson. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-534-20718-2.
  18. ^ Mark Juergensmeyer; Wade Clark Roof (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-4522-6656-5.
  19. ^ Asher, Frederick (2009). "From place to sight: locations of the Buddha´s life". Artibus Asiae. 69 (2): 244.
  20. ^ Himanshu Prabha Ray (2014). The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation. Routledge. pp. 74–75, 86. ISBN 978-1-317-56006-7.
  21. ^ Lars Fogelin (2006). Archaeology of Early Buddhism. AltaMira Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-0-7591-1444-9.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "Places in Kushinagar". kushinager.nic.in. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  23. ^ "उपेक्षित है मल्लों की कुल देवी का स्थान". Dainik Jagran (in Hindi). Retrieved 10 September 2021.

Further reading