Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sanchi - The end of suffering

Suffering, sadness, struggle and heartburn may arise from any quarter. They don’t tell us in advance that they are coming. There is no preparedness we can ever have for them.

For an Emperor fighting his battle of Kalinga, Ashoka would have never imagined that he would undergo such a change of heart, when he saw the battle field strewn with the renascence of bloody bodies. It was a moment of awakening that gave rise to his conversion to Buddhism and the building of Sanchi, which today is a world heritage site.

Sanchi, known as Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota Sri Parvata in ancient times, has Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (circa 3rd century BC) to 12th century AD.

Emperor Ashoka (circa 273 -236 BC) created a few of the monuments here, like Mahastupa, the monolithic pillar with the characteristic polish and a monastery atop the hill at the insistence of his queen who was from Vidisha. During the Sunga times, many edifices were raised in the surrounding hills as well. In the 1st century B.C, the Andhra-Satavahanas, who had extended their sway over the eastern Malwa, built elaborately the gateways to the stupas. From 2nd to 4th century AD, Sanchi and Vidisha were under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the Guptas. From 14th century onwards Sanchi remained forgotten till in 1818, General Taylor rediscovered the site.

It is a few great Englishmen, Captain Johnson (1822), General A. Cunningham and Captain F C Maisay (1851), Major Cole (1881) and Sir John Marshall (1912 – 1919) who explored and excavated and conserved the monuments. Thanks to these few brave and dedicated men, we as Indians see and rejoice in what might be called - a symbol of the end of suffering for Emperor Ashoka and his turning to Buddhism.

This post will never be complete without reference to what Buddha said with regard to suffering:

View more pictures:

: All pictures from my web album may be used without my permission but I request you to please credit me for them, as well as quote my blog:
Getting there:

Sanchi is in Raisen district 45kms northeast of Bhopal. Vidisha which was the capital of ancient Akara region is about 10km northeast of Sanchi
Single auto: Rs 100 from Vidisha but you can get off at Sanchi station and walk right out and take an Autorickshaw at Rs 30 to the Stupa.
You can reach Vidisha from Bhopal by train ( Rs 33 for general compartment which I strongly dissuade travelers. Book your ticket in advance with reservation to avoid being crushed by fellow homo-sapiens.

Return the same way or even by bus Rs 25

Entry: Indians: Rs 10; non-Indians: Rs 100

Where to stay:

MP Tourism Gateway Cafeteria Tel: 07482-266743, 266906 Tariff: Rs 200 per bed per person. Rs 400 for full room. The beds are bunks, one below and one on top. The rooms have an attached bath. Meals, veg and non-veg are available on request and can range from Rs 50 – 300

Maha Bodhi Society of Srilanka
Tel 07482-266699, 266739 Website: Tariff: Rs 100 – 1500.


Mridula said...

The place looks quite captivating. I should head there one day.

Julia Dutta said...

Immediately I should think Mridula :)

Anonymous said...

I say: Life is a pre-written story And we have to play our part no matter we like it or not. The sufferings is because we are unable to to know ourselves. The day we are suffering ends maybe.

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Hobo,
Only when we Know our Selves perhaps, but suffering is life as he says, more because of our attachment to things and ourselves, our egos too, like Ashoka - ego to conquer!
Thanks Hobo for dropping by

Unknown said...

usually i avoid long posts....but this one i can't ... i have been to Sanci....and Bhopal....too.....its a great trip. Being in Sanchi it self gives such a peaceful feeling.......

and i believe life can be anything or nothing....just a matter of how you make it.....

great being here....hope to come again and again......

Anonymous said...

But without EGO man will be GOD dont you think so.
The question: Is EGO important?

Amrita said...

Oh I wish the beastly terrorists and cold blooded Maoists would have a change of heart like Ashoka.

I remember reading about Sanchi in my history lessons and there were b/w photos of the stupas in our books, specially the 2nd one.

Amrita said...

Dear Hobo, I think differently .
Life is not a pre-written story. We are not puppets on a chain. Life is a series of choices.

Suffering entered the world because man rejected God and fell into sin.
We suffer because of own wrong choices, wrong doings of others and because of the permissible will of God when He uses suffering to draw us close to Himself.

Julia Dutta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia Dutta said...

Strangely, only this morning I was reading from Rajayoga, a book published by Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh. Sivananda Swami says there that Ego comes about in man, because of ignorance of true Knowledge. Knowledge here means, knowledge of the fact that: Aham Brahmasami ( I am Brahma). For a Hindu it might be ok to say that, but let us say, other religions may have great objection to that statement. He says that our ego as mine, I, me arise, because, we separate ourselves from the Brahman we actually are.

Hobo, if you are only twenty something, either you must not think too deeply on these matters, or if you are, then your Spiritual journey has begun. Welcome onboard!

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Amrita,
Thank you for dropping here. You know what? I went to my first Church service in Bhopal at campion School, just before I left for Sanchi. And the service was all about suffering. You know I have been going thru a great deal in the last few days....the words of the priest and yours to Hobo - "Suffering entered the world because man rejected God and fell into sin.
We suffer because of own wrong choices, wrong doings of others and because of the permissible will of God when He uses suffering to draw us close to Himself", were the same and I felt so lifted. Then I went and saw how transformation can happen, but to tell you the truth, it needs God's grace to make that happen. Alas! the Maoists seem hellishly inclined :(

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Hitesh,
Welcome to my blog :)) I am happy you came. Yes, Sanchi is really good especially if you sit under a tree and watch the world go by. I wonder if you saw the other pictures on my Picassa webalbum: there are some pictures like that. It is peaceful, also because you are "above" the humdrum of life.
many thanks for visiting my post,

Abhijit said...

Lovely images and the info, Julia! This reminds me of those 10 peaceful days I spent at Dhammagiri - Igatpuri! Also, this place looks like a paradise for photographers :-)

Durgasankar Mandal said...

Amrita I see took both a Christian stand, and a romantic stand when she seeks to explain the entry of sin and that man has choice. I understand that.

A Hindu monotheistic (vendantist) would not recognize a sin, however. To him or her, sin does not exist only God does. As Vivekananda put it famously, it is a libel to call man a sinner.

whereas Hobo took the stand of the Ajivika philosphers that sprouted during the time of Gautama the Buddha. Goshala Maskariputra who was a direct disciple of Mahavira propagated the philosophy.

So, while we say we are thinking, are we really? We are merely repeating what has been uttered long long ago, and put forward as hypotheses.

Durgasankar Mandal said...

This is a kind of revelation. I had known that it was only Asoka (276 - 232 BC) who built the Sanchi. Then Pushyamitra Sunga Raged it to ground during his persecution of the Buddhists (185 - 151 BC) after he usurped the throne killing Bihradratha. His son Agnimitra Sunga and following emperors rebuilt it. Let me study the Indian neo classical history a bit more before I visit this place with family.

Well, wonderful depiction. Very helpful is the travel information.

Julia Dutta said...

Thanks Durga for your continued support.

Anu said...

Have you felt the energy at the Sanchi stupa, it kind of elevates you and this is true for most of the ancient temples too...