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Get to Know the Buddhist Holy Lands: Rajgir and Sravasti

5. Teaching the Dharma in Rajgir to deliver sentient beings 

Rajgir was a significant city of the Magadha kingdom during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. King Bimbisāra offered the Kalandaka Veṇuvana in Rajgir to the Buddha, which became the first vihara for the monastics. It was here that the Buddha preached the Sutra on Impermanence and the doctrine of dependent origination. In addition, this was where Venerable Sariputra (who was foremost in wisdom) and Venerable Maudgalyayana (who was foremost in miraculous powers) took refuge in the Buddha.

Rajgir features another venue where the Buddha spread the Dharma –Vulture Peak (also known as Girdhakuta Hill). Numerous important sutras, including the Heart Sutra, Prajnaparamita Sutras, the Lotus Sutra all were preached here by the Buddha. When many practitioners come to this hill, they can't help but shed tears, just as the prodigal son did upon finally returning home after his long journey. 

In order to attend the Buddha's teachings, King Bimbisāra commissioned workers to build a stone stairway from the foot of the hill to the Dharma teaching platform at the top of Vulture Peak. Along the way, many pilgrims could be seen prostrating after every three steps up the hill in gratitude to the Buddha for teaching the true Dharma there. On the Dharma teaching platform, many pilgrims would sit upright in meditation and concentrate on advancing their practice, or they would circumambulate the Buddha three times to pay their respect, and pray that the Buddhadharma would forever remain in this world. Near Rajgir is the Cave of the Seven Leaves (Saptaparna-guha, in Sanskrit), where the First Buddhist Council was held shortly after the Buddha's passing to compile his teachings.

6. Subuding the outer path followers in Sravasti   

"Thus have I heard, at one time the Buddha dwelt at Sravasti, in the Jeta Grove..." This is one of the passages from the sutras that Buddhists are familiar with. Sravasti was the capital of Kosala, the most powerful kingdom in Northern India during the time of the Buddha. Its ruler, King Prasenajit, was one of the Buddha's Dharma-protecting disciples. The Jeta Grove (Jetavana, in Sanskrit) was bought by Elder Sudatta (also known as Anathapindika) from Prince Jeta, as an offering to the Buddha and the monastics. The Buddha spent over twenty years teaching the Dharma here.

The Kosala kingdom, where Sravasti was located, was also an important garrison where many schools of thought and heterodox groups gathered. It was the place where the Buddha spread the Dharma, left behind many precious teachings of Dharma wisdom, and subdued the outer path followers with his miraculous powers. The Gandhakuti in the Jeta Grove, which refers exclusively to the residence of the Buddha, is the most important relic in the Grove, commonly considered as the historical site of the Jetavana-vihāra, and the place where the Buddha first spread the Dharma and dwelt in peace. This was also the place where the Buddha expounded the Amitabha Sutra.

In the Jeta Grove stood an old Bodhi Tree under which, according to legend, the Buddha entered Samadhi. It is said that the tree was planted when the residents of Sravasti begged Ananda to ask the Buddha to leave a memento as a symbol of worship for his disciples while the Buddha was away on his journeys. When the Buddha consented, the disciples humbly requested Venerable Maudgalyayana to use his deva-foot ubiquity (Iddhi-vidhā in Pali)* to bring back a grafting twig of the Bodhi Tree from the Bodhi-manda, which was then planted by Elder Sudatta. In memory of Ananda, the residents of Sravasti named this tree "Ananda Bodhi Tree".

*One of the Six Transcendental Powers in Buddhism, referring to the supernatural power to be at any place at will without any hindrance. 

Pilgrimage to Sacred Sites to Recollect the Saints

Pilgrimage: Following the Footsteps of the Awakened Ones - the Origin of the Holy Sites and the Transformation of the Forms of Pilgrimage

Get to Know the Buddhist Holy Lands: Lumbini and Bodhgaya

Get to Know the Buddhist Holy Lands: Sarnath and Kushinagar

Get to Know the Buddhist Holy Lands: Rajgir and Sravasti

Get to Know the Buddhist Holy Lands: Vaishali and Nalanda

Resource: Issue 368 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 368 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: Cheng-yu Chang 張振郁 
Editing: Venerable Yan Hsiang (演香法師), Keith Brown