Thursday, August 16, 2012

Securing the Ancient Antiquities of the Buddhavana

Villages of Bihar are filled with the remnant from ancient Buddhist past. Many times the local community, who are the custodians of these tangible remains, are unaware of the value and significance of these pieces from a 2500 year old cultural movement.
For the last couple of years we have been making an effort towards documenting the Buddhist heritage of Bihar and generating awareness among the local community towards this priceless heritage.
We recently identified the Village of Ayer with the Buddhavana mentioned by the 7th century CE Chinese monk-scholar, Venerable Xuanzang.
The village by the Buddhavana has many ancient sculptures vouching for the significance of the place. We realised and planned our short and long term objectives with this sacred place. Our first short term objective is to generate awareness towards the sanctity of the place and its gradual revival as part of the Buddhist pilgrimage.
Secondly, our most important activity was in securing the ancient pieces of sculptures lying in the village with the community. With a collective effort of the village community and our team consisting of Venerable Panniyalinkara, Venerable Dhammajyoti, Dr. Lalan Kumar Jha, Dr. Arun Kumar and myself, we secured most of the antiquities. We prepared a name-wise list of the contributory with photographic documentation to encourage more participation by the villagers. The sculptures collected shall be kept in lock and Key at safe place till a museum comes up at the place.

Children from village collecting the broken brick piecies from the hill and arranging it over the ancient stupa

Children with the new "Stupa"
Ven. Panniyalinkara offering Buddhist flags to be put all over the Buddhavana hill

Planting the Bodhi Tree at the mouth of sacred "Buddha Cave"
Community offering the ancient sculptures to be kept at safe place
Women bringing  sculptures lying at their homes
total collected sculpture from the village to be kept at safe place to avoid theft

Next, we have a long-term objective to revive the tradition of pilgrimage to this place. We hope that this village site will once again receive the pilgrimage as it received it 1000 years ago

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