Bihar happened to be the most prolific spot for Lord Buddha. Having a green foliage with banana and mango groves in abundance, as you walk through the grassy land of Vaishali you cannot help but think that you are trotting through an ancient-most page of the history of world’s first political system of confederacy.
Setting foot in Vaishali is virtually boarding a time machine. You feel you have really entered into a machine that has taken you to the bygone days … the days that existed nearly four millenniums ago when a well-developed political system of confederacy functioned in Vaishali, Videha (today’s Mithilanchal) and other parts of North Bihar.
Nearly 3700 years ago when the concept of confederacy was totally alien to the world, the Vajjian confederacy not only thrived but functioned in full swing in northern part of Bihar, including Videha (Mithila). By the 6th century B.C. it had become very powerful in Aryavarta: ancient India.
The Vajjis or Vrijis formed a confederacy consisting of eight republican clans, each having equal status in it. The most powerful among them being Videhans, Lichchhavis, Jnatrikas and Vrijis.
When we look at other parts of the world having confederacy as an independent political system, we find that the concept was not even born 3500 years ago.
The Delian League of Greek city-states introduced the confederacy only in 478 BC. Romans experimented with this system much later. The Socii of Roman Republic formed an alliance or confederacy of different city states in or around 91 B.C. The Old Swiss Confederation came only in 1291 A.D.
Bihar Gave Two Religions to the world
As quiet flows Ganga, so silent lies Mahendru Ghats of Patna. Hardly anybody know that this particular ghat is integrally associated with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and other South Asian nations.
Though divided by thousands of miles, mountains and oceans, Mahendru Ghat shaped the religious and philosophical lives of millions of people there. Named after Mahindra, the son of Emperor Ashoka, it was this particular ghat from where the Buddhist Missions set sail nearly 2300 years ago.
Mahindra and his sister Sanghamitra boarded their respective boats to set sail from the shores of Pataliputra – Patna. Emperor Asoka sent several Buddhist missions to Java, Sumatra, Bali and other places.
One of the major contributions of Bihar to the world is that it offered two practicing faiths to the world: Buddhism and Jainism, two independent religions.
Just imagine when the entire world 2600-years ago were torn with strife and the concept of peaceful coexistence was not even born, Bihar told to the world the eternal values of fraternity, renunciation, Satya, Ahimsa (non-violence) and peace through Jainism and Buddhism. In fact, it was Bihar from where the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam originated.
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When Lord Buddha and Tirthankar Mahavira made Ahimsa (non-violence) the centre-point of their respective religions, the contemporary strife-torn world was not even thought a religion can be based on Ahimsa.
Nearly 2600 years ago, Lord Mahavir was born at Kundalgram or Kundalpur, located near Vaishali. He spent 22-years of his life at this place which was a thriving city in his time but a small urban locality now. You feel very lucky walking along the grassy-muddy patches of the land of Kundalpur as the Lord too had trodden through the same tracts.
Sometimes you really feel sorry for the plants, trees and vegetation of not having tongues. If they had, they would have narrated you those days of the past when Lord Mahavira walked through them. Same would be your feelings on reaching Pawapuri: the city where Mahavira attained his Nirvana or Moksha. Coming here really means all your sins have been washed.
No wonder, Pawapuri was also known as Apapuri or a Sinless Town centuries ago. On the day of cremation of the Lord, thousands of people came to Pawapuri to collect his ash. When there was no ash left, people started collecting the soil…..some digging the soil too.
Just imagine what happened? A pond was created! Today, Jalmandir stands there.
Bihar is also the birthplace of Buddhism, one of the major religions of the world. On reaching Bodhgaya, you really feels that the entire world is present here.
Bodhgaya is the perfect symbol of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. You have Lamas moving around the Bodhi Tree wearing red robes, maroon robes, yellow robes, pink robes and blue robes. You hear innumerable languages of international visitors. Some speak Chinese, some Tibetan, some Japanese, some English, some French and some German.
Again the same question? If only the Bodhi Tree could speak? If it could, it would have narrated you how the story of Prince Siddhartha ended under its cool shade and the saga of Gautama Buddha, the Enlightened One, began.
Lord Buddha’s Middle Path and Bihar
It was Lord Buddha who gave to the world the principle of Middle Path as a philosophy of life. Nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ, this was a completely new theory to the world. What the UN is trying to do today, stop war, Buddha did 2600 years ago.
The Mahabodhi Temple, where the Bodhi Tree stands, was the place where Prince Siddhartha sat on meditation to attain Bodhi or Gyan or supreme enlightenment.
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