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Books > Art and Architecture > History > Excavations At Piprahwa and Ganwaria (An Old and Rare Book)
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Excavations At Piprahwa and Ganwaria (An Old and Rare Book)
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Excavations At Piprahwa and Ganwaria (An Old and Rare Book)
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Preface

The excavations at Piprahwa-Ganwaria had behind them the cherished ambition of transforming a dream into reality. The lost town of Kapilavastu, where Lord Buddha spent the first twenty-nine years of his life before renouncing the world in quest of emancipation of 'humanity at large had to be located. For the archaeologists it was a subject of avid concern on account of being the native place of Buddha, where his father Suddhodana ruled as the chief of the Sakyas. The religion of Buddhism preached by Buddha flourished in India for about five hundred years and got extinct from the land of its birth sometime in the twelfth century A.D. with such a sweeping impact that even the names of the most important towns associated with it went into oblivion. Kapilavastu happened to be one amongst them.

Engulfed in complete darkness, the scholars made a beginning in the direction of locating Kapilavastu like a wild goose chase. Armed with one clue or the other, they enjoyed the liberty of declaring any place as Kapilavastu. Instead of keeping the doors open for the exact identification of the site, they attempted to justify their stand with all emphasis in a wholesale subjective manner, sometimes delving into wild imaginations, of which details in a limited number of cases have been presented in the book. The identification, however, developed into a lively interest in the closing years of the nineteenth century, when the inscribed Asokan pillar at Lumbini and the inscribed soapstone casket at Piprahwa were brought to light by A. Fuhrer, a German scholar and W.C. Peppe, an English landlord at Birdpur in the years 1896 and 1898 respectively. Inspite of the fact that the inscription on the casket, supported by the distance from Lumbini recorded by the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien, were considered by certain scholars to be adequate enough to proclaim Piprahwa as Kapilavastu, yet the declaration made by A. Fuhrer in 1896 continued to outweigh the balance in favour of Tilaurakot.

It has generally been observed that the Indian scholars are carried away and overwhelmed by the opinion and views of a foreigner, without caring the least to analyse the available evidence and strike at the truth. A. Fuhrer took the privilege of indulging in the activities of greatest intellectual dishonesty to convince the scholars in any manner, so far as the identification of Kapilavastu was concerned. He did not hesitate to wantonly destroy a large number of structures on the banks of a large tank called Sagar in Sagarahwa village near Tilaurakot. In the guise of excavations, seventeen so-called square stupas and a conspicuously large structure, also considered to be a stupa and attached with a monastery, were ransacked right upto the foundation, in search of treasures and reliquaries and above all to corroborate his own identification of Kapilavastu. All these structures were contemplated as the stupas containing the relics of the Sakyas massacred by Vidudabha, the young king of Kosala and son of Prasenajit. Fuhrer did not feel contented enough, but went a step further and made an attempt to associate the names of eighteen Sakyas including Mahanaman with the structures. He went to the extent of getting them inscribed in pre-Asokan characters. The attempt, however, could not reach the desired end. It was fortunately foiled by the well-known historian V.A. Smith, who paid a surprise visit, when the work was in progress. Thus, the forgery was exposed to the public.

Armed with the facts of undesirable activities of A. Fuhrer, V.A. Smith should have been courageous enough to turn down his claims on the identification of Kapilavastu with Tilaurakot outrightly. On the other hand, besides falling in line with Fuhrer, he marched a step further and created the greatest confusion in the identification. Though Smith appears to have been concerned enough to accept Piprahwa as Kapilavastu on the basis of the inscribed casket, he could not gather adequate strength to come out with a statement against Fuhrer. Instead, a new thesis was presented that the Kapilavastu shown to Fa-hien was Piprahwa, whereas the Kapilavastu shown to Hiuen Tsang was Tilaurakot. Smith did not hesitate in making such an unfounded statement, when on his own he was not in favour of it. He deserves all appreciation for not losing any time in expressing his inability in justifying the existence of two Kapilavastu. He came out with the argument and commented, "If I am asked the reason why, in or about A.D. 406, Piprahwa was regarded as representing Kapilavastu, whereas in 635 the city on the Banganga was regarded as representing the same place, I can only reply that I do not know the reason, and plead ignorance concerning events which occurred fifteen hundred years ago is excusable Indeed, it is surprising that the same scholar places on record that, "My identification of the Piprahwa site with the Kapilavastu of Fa-hien rests upon the pilgrims description of his itinerary. Professor Rhys Davids by a wholly independent line of argument arrives at the same conclusion that Kapilavastu is represented by the Piprahwa group of ruins. I am convinced that Professor Rhys Davids' argrument is sound and that the stupa opened by Mr. Peppe' really contained the relics of the Sakya sage, enshrined by his Sakya brethren shortly after his decease and cremation.

Caught in the maelstrom of the dubious statements by an eminent scholar like V.A. Smith, the scholars gave far greater credence to the views of A. Fuhrer. They could never believe the existence of two Kapilavastu with a time gap. Analysing all the evidences with a preconceived notion, the scholars one after the other, presented statements in their own manner corroborating the conclusions drawn by A. Fuhrer without any tangible evidence. The subject was never studied in an open manner.

Once Tilaurakot was accepted as the site of Kapilavastu a complete lull set in the twentieth century. It was not until 1962 that the question was again opened up. D. Mitra (Mrs.) was entrusted with the job of undertaking excavations at certain sites in the Tarai area of Nepal in order to set at rest the long-standing controversy. During the course of her excavations at Tilaurakot, she did not come across any tangible evidence in support of the conclusions drawn by A. Fuhrer. It was, however, not made public till 1972, by which time the author had already marched a step ahead in the direction of locating Kapilavastu precisely by the discovery of the original relics of Buddha solemnised in the stupa at Piprahwa by the Sakyas.

Destiny always reigns supreme in the achievement of any success. Of course, man is not the master of circumstances, but at the same time he has not to act in a slavish manner. He has to get the spindle ready and the Almighty will send the flax. The final identification of Kapilavastu remained waiting for my hands as long as seventy-five years. Had W.C. Peppe or P.C. Mukherjee not remained contended with the massive box encasing the valuable objects found in the stupa at Piprahwa and the site would have been subjected to detailed investigation, the precise location of Kapilavastu would have been settled long back. Complications were further added by J.F. Fleet, who revised his own interpretation of the inscription on the casket.

Opportunities always stand in waiting for those enthusiasts who are prepared to grab them and work in a devoted manner. The crucial moments to identify Kapilavastu flashed before the author of their own accord, when he was posted in the Patna Circle as a Superintending Archaeologist on 28th August 1970. Within two days his attention was arrested by one of the demi-official letters of the then Director General, who used to address such letters to the Branch officers only rarely. In this case the letter was in connection with the preservation of the ancient site of Piprahwa, towards which the attention of my predecessor was invited. While enclosing a copy of the complaint lodged with the Prime Minister of India regarding utter neglect and wanton destruction of the ancient site, my predecessor was requested to take immediate necessary action. The complaint was lodged by the local monk Mahasthavir Dharmakirti, who was stationed at Naugarh, now the district headquarter of Siddharthanagar in Uttar Pradesh. My predecessor, in place of undertaking the work submitted a long list of posts, for which he needed sanction. This was the manner by which the golden opportunity was spilled over and the ball passed on to the other's court. My predecessor was conscious enough that sanction of so many posts at a time was well-nigh impossible. The matter was, there-after, shelved without any correspondence even. Neither the posts were sanctioned nor the work was undertaken.

**Contents and Sample Pages**













Excavations At Piprahwa and Ganwaria (An Old and Rare Book)

Item Code:
NAX426
Cover:
HARDCOVER
Edition:
1996
Language:
English
Size:
11.00 X 8.50 inch
Pages:
503 (124 B/W Illustrations)
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Weight of the Book: 1.82 Kg
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$70.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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Preface

The excavations at Piprahwa-Ganwaria had behind them the cherished ambition of transforming a dream into reality. The lost town of Kapilavastu, where Lord Buddha spent the first twenty-nine years of his life before renouncing the world in quest of emancipation of 'humanity at large had to be located. For the archaeologists it was a subject of avid concern on account of being the native place of Buddha, where his father Suddhodana ruled as the chief of the Sakyas. The religion of Buddhism preached by Buddha flourished in India for about five hundred years and got extinct from the land of its birth sometime in the twelfth century A.D. with such a sweeping impact that even the names of the most important towns associated with it went into oblivion. Kapilavastu happened to be one amongst them.

Engulfed in complete darkness, the scholars made a beginning in the direction of locating Kapilavastu like a wild goose chase. Armed with one clue or the other, they enjoyed the liberty of declaring any place as Kapilavastu. Instead of keeping the doors open for the exact identification of the site, they attempted to justify their stand with all emphasis in a wholesale subjective manner, sometimes delving into wild imaginations, of which details in a limited number of cases have been presented in the book. The identification, however, developed into a lively interest in the closing years of the nineteenth century, when the inscribed Asokan pillar at Lumbini and the inscribed soapstone casket at Piprahwa were brought to light by A. Fuhrer, a German scholar and W.C. Peppe, an English landlord at Birdpur in the years 1896 and 1898 respectively. Inspite of the fact that the inscription on the casket, supported by the distance from Lumbini recorded by the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien, were considered by certain scholars to be adequate enough to proclaim Piprahwa as Kapilavastu, yet the declaration made by A. Fuhrer in 1896 continued to outweigh the balance in favour of Tilaurakot.

It has generally been observed that the Indian scholars are carried away and overwhelmed by the opinion and views of a foreigner, without caring the least to analyse the available evidence and strike at the truth. A. Fuhrer took the privilege of indulging in the activities of greatest intellectual dishonesty to convince the scholars in any manner, so far as the identification of Kapilavastu was concerned. He did not hesitate to wantonly destroy a large number of structures on the banks of a large tank called Sagar in Sagarahwa village near Tilaurakot. In the guise of excavations, seventeen so-called square stupas and a conspicuously large structure, also considered to be a stupa and attached with a monastery, were ransacked right upto the foundation, in search of treasures and reliquaries and above all to corroborate his own identification of Kapilavastu. All these structures were contemplated as the stupas containing the relics of the Sakyas massacred by Vidudabha, the young king of Kosala and son of Prasenajit. Fuhrer did not feel contented enough, but went a step further and made an attempt to associate the names of eighteen Sakyas including Mahanaman with the structures. He went to the extent of getting them inscribed in pre-Asokan characters. The attempt, however, could not reach the desired end. It was fortunately foiled by the well-known historian V.A. Smith, who paid a surprise visit, when the work was in progress. Thus, the forgery was exposed to the public.

Armed with the facts of undesirable activities of A. Fuhrer, V.A. Smith should have been courageous enough to turn down his claims on the identification of Kapilavastu with Tilaurakot outrightly. On the other hand, besides falling in line with Fuhrer, he marched a step further and created the greatest confusion in the identification. Though Smith appears to have been concerned enough to accept Piprahwa as Kapilavastu on the basis of the inscribed casket, he could not gather adequate strength to come out with a statement against Fuhrer. Instead, a new thesis was presented that the Kapilavastu shown to Fa-hien was Piprahwa, whereas the Kapilavastu shown to Hiuen Tsang was Tilaurakot. Smith did not hesitate in making such an unfounded statement, when on his own he was not in favour of it. He deserves all appreciation for not losing any time in expressing his inability in justifying the existence of two Kapilavastu. He came out with the argument and commented, "If I am asked the reason why, in or about A.D. 406, Piprahwa was regarded as representing Kapilavastu, whereas in 635 the city on the Banganga was regarded as representing the same place, I can only reply that I do not know the reason, and plead ignorance concerning events which occurred fifteen hundred years ago is excusable Indeed, it is surprising that the same scholar places on record that, "My identification of the Piprahwa site with the Kapilavastu of Fa-hien rests upon the pilgrims description of his itinerary. Professor Rhys Davids by a wholly independent line of argument arrives at the same conclusion that Kapilavastu is represented by the Piprahwa group of ruins. I am convinced that Professor Rhys Davids' argrument is sound and that the stupa opened by Mr. Peppe' really contained the relics of the Sakya sage, enshrined by his Sakya brethren shortly after his decease and cremation.

Caught in the maelstrom of the dubious statements by an eminent scholar like V.A. Smith, the scholars gave far greater credence to the views of A. Fuhrer. They could never believe the existence of two Kapilavastu with a time gap. Analysing all the evidences with a preconceived notion, the scholars one after the other, presented statements in their own manner corroborating the conclusions drawn by A. Fuhrer without any tangible evidence. The subject was never studied in an open manner.

Once Tilaurakot was accepted as the site of Kapilavastu a complete lull set in the twentieth century. It was not until 1962 that the question was again opened up. D. Mitra (Mrs.) was entrusted with the job of undertaking excavations at certain sites in the Tarai area of Nepal in order to set at rest the long-standing controversy. During the course of her excavations at Tilaurakot, she did not come across any tangible evidence in support of the conclusions drawn by A. Fuhrer. It was, however, not made public till 1972, by which time the author had already marched a step ahead in the direction of locating Kapilavastu precisely by the discovery of the original relics of Buddha solemnised in the stupa at Piprahwa by the Sakyas.

Destiny always reigns supreme in the achievement of any success. Of course, man is not the master of circumstances, but at the same time he has not to act in a slavish manner. He has to get the spindle ready and the Almighty will send the flax. The final identification of Kapilavastu remained waiting for my hands as long as seventy-five years. Had W.C. Peppe or P.C. Mukherjee not remained contended with the massive box encasing the valuable objects found in the stupa at Piprahwa and the site would have been subjected to detailed investigation, the precise location of Kapilavastu would have been settled long back. Complications were further added by J.F. Fleet, who revised his own interpretation of the inscription on the casket.

Opportunities always stand in waiting for those enthusiasts who are prepared to grab them and work in a devoted manner. The crucial moments to identify Kapilavastu flashed before the author of their own accord, when he was posted in the Patna Circle as a Superintending Archaeologist on 28th August 1970. Within two days his attention was arrested by one of the demi-official letters of the then Director General, who used to address such letters to the Branch officers only rarely. In this case the letter was in connection with the preservation of the ancient site of Piprahwa, towards which the attention of my predecessor was invited. While enclosing a copy of the complaint lodged with the Prime Minister of India regarding utter neglect and wanton destruction of the ancient site, my predecessor was requested to take immediate necessary action. The complaint was lodged by the local monk Mahasthavir Dharmakirti, who was stationed at Naugarh, now the district headquarter of Siddharthanagar in Uttar Pradesh. My predecessor, in place of undertaking the work submitted a long list of posts, for which he needed sanction. This was the manner by which the golden opportunity was spilled over and the ball passed on to the other's court. My predecessor was conscious enough that sanction of so many posts at a time was well-nigh impossible. The matter was, there-after, shelved without any correspondence even. Neither the posts were sanctioned nor the work was undertaken.

**Contents and Sample Pages**













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