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Ancient Buddhist monastery found in Jharkhand

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    1st Mar, 2021

Context

The Archaeological Survey of India has unearthed a Buddhist monastery, believed to be at least 900 years old, buried under a mound in a village situated in a hilly area of Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.

About

Key-findings

  • The findings are made in Burhani village near Juljul Pahar of Sitagarhi Hills located around 12 km from district headquarters
  • The monastery is believed to be at least 900 years old.
  • The sculptures each stand two to three feet tall.
  • As per the evidence found at the current site, it appeared that the structures had been built during the Pala period.
  • Following findings have been made:
    • Four statues of deity Tara in Varad Mudra
      • Varad Mudra is the gesture of hand showing dispensing of boons
  • Tara is known as a deity in Hinduism and a female bodhisattva—central figures who delay personal enlightenment in order to offer earthbound worshippers salvation—or Buddha in different Buddhist traditions.
  • Six statues of the Buddha in Bhumisparsa Mudra
    • Bhumisparsa Mudra is the gesture of hand showing five fingers of right hand towards the earth symbolising the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Other important Mudras

Mudras

Symbol

Dhyana Mudra

The gesture of absolute balance, of meditation. The hands are relaxed in the lap, and the tips of the thumbs and fingers are touch each other.

Abhaya Mudra

Gesture of reassurance, blessing and protection

Dharmachakra Mudra

The gesture of teaching, usually interpreted as turning the Wheel of Law. The hands are held level with the heart, the thumbs and index fingers form circles.

Vitarka Mudra (Intellectual argument discussion)

The circle formed by the thumb and index finger is the sign of the Wheel of Law.

Tarjani Mudra (Threat warning)

The extended index finger is pointed at the opponent.

Jnana Mudra (Teaching)

The hand is held at chest level and the thumb and index finger again form the Wheel of Law

 

Karana Mudra

Gesture with which demons are expelled

Uttarabodhi Mudra (The gesture of Supreme Enlightment)

Two hands placed together above the head with the index fingers together and the other finger interwined.

Role of Pala Dynasty in Buddhism

  • The Pala Dynasty ruled the regions of Bengal and Bihar between the 8th and 11th centuries.
  • It supported the establishment of Buddhist institutions, including monasteries, while also permitting the flourishing of Hinduism, the majority religion of the area.

Importance of the findings 

  • The findings assume significance since the monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, 10 km from Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon.
  • Furthermore, the presence of statues of deity Tara shows possible proliferation of Vajrayana form of Buddhism in this region.
  • Vajrayana is a form of Tantric Buddhism, which flourished in India from 6th to 11th century.
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