Venenerable Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, better known as Sitagu Sayadaw, originally belongs to Myanmar but he is recognized as an able monk in the Theravada Buddhist community and a community supporter throughout the World. To his own people he is best known for his elaborate and clear Dhamma preaching and on a community level for his water distribution project that delivered clean drinking water to over eight hundred monasteries and eight thousand residents of Sagaing Hills.
During his recent visit to India, he visited the village of Juafardih situated about 2 km west of “Remains of Ancient Nalanda University” on the 21st of April 2010. As we have been discussing about the history of Nalanda and its surroundings in the Nalanda-insatiable in offerings blog, Juafardih is the birth and nirvana place of Mahā Moggallāna, who is considered one of his chief disciple and the left hand of The Buddha in organizing the Sangha and Buddha’s teachings. Xuanzang visited Kulika (birth place of Mahā Moggallāna) in 7th century and left eyewitness account of the place during the time. More details about the village/site are found under the topic: kulika (xuanzang's travelogue) kolitgram (Pali sources)
Juafardih is an integral part of Nalanda’s history and many clues that we encounter while resurrecting the history lead us to Kulika as an important link. To bring text book information out to the real world, a participatory rural appraisal (PRA)
was conducted among the community.
The community participated with vigor and it is the collective awareness that has now placed the site of Juafardih in the main stream and as a site to be developed and has also been included in the new Master Plan of Nalanda.
This site has been in discussion for quite some time and before the initiatives was taken at the grass root level, there were insinuation to include it as a part of the Nalanda circuit, and Chief Minister of Bihar in his visit to Nalanda in December 2009 made it a point to visit the site personally.
Read more about the visit: here
Visit of Ven. Nyanissara is yet another important milestone because it is the future vision that apart from the historic values of the place the current ambience of all such heritage villages which has important significance be conducive for tourists as well as Buddhist on pilgrimage. The Buddhist heritage of Bihar is so vast that government alone can’t bear the expenses to restore it the fullest and at these times the private investment blessed with Dhamma become important to the locals and the Buddhist community spread in rest of the world. Moreover this was an important pilgrimage place centuries ago and involving the Buddhist institutions in its revival should bring the inherent culture into the mainstream.
Dr Ravindra Pant, the Director of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, discussed the possibility of collaboration with Ven. Nyanissara and he was pleased with this idea. Ven. Nyanissara visited the Stupa site at Juafardih and the community there welcomed him. He has shown willingness to take over the site for its restoration and adopt the village for various community welfare programs.
Among the few initial steps to increase the understanding of the site, a chanting event is being planned. As per the Buddhist texts Sāriputta attained Mahaparinirvana on Kartik Poornima (full moon day of Kartik month usually falls in October /November) (SA.iii.181; J.i.391)
and 15days after him, that is, on the new-moon day of Aghan month (November-December) Mahā Moggallāna attained Parinirvana. The event under planning is for special Buddhist Chanting at the sacred Juafardih stupa site where as literatures suggests Maha Moggallana was cremated and his ashes enshrined. Venerable Nyanissara has taken the lead to provide the guidance for the occasion and the hope is that that this chanting becomes an annual event.
The association between Nava Nalanda Mahavihara with Ven. Nyanissara goes long and deep aside from their common roots. On the 27th of October 2008, Nav Nalanda Mahavihara revived its history of special convocation programme after almost 25 years. On this occasion two monks of great eminence Venerable Thick Nhat Hanh and Venerable Ashin Nanissara were conferred honoris Qausa Vidya Varadhi degree of the Mahavihara by His Excellency the Governor of Bihar cum Chancellor of the Mahavihara Sri R.L. Bhatia.