This stupa is symbol of world peace

Thousands of Buddhists gather in Rajgir to offer prayers

This stupa is symbol of world peace

A little over 100 km from Patna, the renowned Buddhist site Rajgir reverberated on October 25 with chants by thousands of monks from Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Singapore and Myanmar. The occasion was celebration of 44th anniversary of Vishwa Shanti Stupa (World peace pagoda).

Constructed atop the Ratnagiri Hill, the world’s highest peace pagoda was conceptualised by renowned Buddhist monk Nipponzan Myohoji and built by Japanese monk Fujii Guruji. Noted architect and artist Upendra Maharthi was the man
behind its astounding design and architecture.

The first Buddhist Council, immediately after the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, was convened at this place which presently is called Rajgir. It was at the Gridhakuta, the hill of the vultures, where Buddha made Mauryan king Bimbisara convert to Buddhism.
Barely 14 km from Nalanda, the picturesque Rajgir is also known as Panchpahari as it is surrounded by five holy hills. The lush green forest cover adds to its scenic beauty. Here the two rock-cut caves were the favourite retreats of the Buddha and it was on this hill that he preached two of his most famous sermo­ns after attaining enlightenment.

The legend has it that the ancient city Rajagriha existed even before Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The capital of the great Magadh empire, Rajagriha was fortified by stone wall which exists partially. The natural fortification by five hills and some of the caves were believed to be Buddha’s favourite abode for meditation.

There is a ropeway which helps the tourists reach the Vishwa Shanti Stupa atop Ratnagiri Hill at an altitude of 400 m above the sea level. The 2,200-foot-long ropeway, which is maintained by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC), was presented to the State by Fujji Guruji as the symbol of Indo-Japanese friendship.

Built completely with marble, the stupa comprises four golden statues of Lord Buddha with each representing his life periods of birth, enlightenment, preaching and death. The other way to reach this “stupa” is a serpentine staircase. A temple is also situated near this stupa called the “Nipponzan Myohoji”.

Rajgir was originally known as Rajagriha which literally means the “House of the king” or “Royal house”. The word “Raj-gir”, if translated, means “royal mountain”. Rajagriha was the ancient capital city of the Magadh rulers until the 5th century BC when Ajatashatru moved the capital to Pataliputra (which is now known as Patna).

Rajgir has been mentioned in the epic Mahabharata too. One of the Magadh king Jarasandha, who never shared a cordial relation with the Pandava brothers, was defeated by Lord Krishna 17 times. The 18th time Krishna left the
battlefield without fighting. As a consequence, Krishna is also called ranachorh (one who has left the battlefield).

Mahabharata also recounts a wrestling match between Bhima and Jarasandha. Jarasandha was invincible as his body could rejoin any dismembered limbs.
According to the legend, Bhim split Jarasandha into two and threw the two halves facing opposite to each other so that they could not join.

In memory of the Magadh king, there is a famous Jarasandha’s Akhara (where wrestling is practised).

Rajgir is sacred to memory of the founders of both the religions: Buddhism as well as Jainism. It was here that Gautam Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching at Gridhakuta (hill of the vultures).

He also delivered many of his famous sermons and made Magadh king Bimbisara convert to Buddhism. On one of the hills is the Saptparni cave where the first Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa.

Lord Mahavira too spent 14 years of his life at Rajgir and nearby areas, spending chaturmas (four months during monsoon) at a single place in Rajgir and the rest in the places in the vicinity. It was the capital of his favourite shishya (follower) king Shrenik. Rajgir is, therefore, an important religious place for Jains too.

Not only as a place of worship, Rajgir has also come up as health and winter
resort with its warm water ponds. These ponds are said to contain some medicinal properties which help in the cure of many skin diseases.

In 1965, the then President Dr Radha Krishnan had laid the foundation stone for this stupa, which was eventually inaugurated by President V V Giri on October 25, 1969.
Since then, every year, the event is organised on October 25 by Rajgir
Buddha Vihara Society to remember the sacred “Lotus Sutra”, a message of peace and brotherhood preached thousands of years ago by Lord Buddha atop the
Gridhakuta hill.

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