Unable to resist the temptation of enjoying the cool breeze of the light sunny day of the land loved most by Lord Buddha, I sat beneath a mango tree. The ruins of India’s first republican form of government lay very near me. The bright rays of sun were filtering through the leaves of mango tree.
The young owner of the small roadside dhaba named after Amrapali, narrates to me about this mango orchard once belong to the famous court dancer of Vaishali in whose mango orchard Buddha had come to take meal along with his disciples.
Nothing remains to be seen now. However every thing appeared very live . So live that it seems there hardly is a gap of 2550 years between the present phase and past one. Suddenly I felt Amrapali herself is standing before me while halting for a moment in her busy time of preparing food for Lord Buddha. The pride of feeding the Lord clearly reflected through her eyes.
The capital of the Lichchavi republic, Vaishali was very dear to Buddha. He created a ‘Bhikchu Sangh’ ( order of hermits) on the basis of the ‘Vajjisangh’ or as per Lichchavi tradition . Several times he came to Vaishali and delivered sermons at ‘kutgarshala’ to the people. He spent two rainy seasons at Vaishali and form the association of female monks also . Several laws of ‘Vinay’ were formulated here, and several people were converted here to Buddhism. In the Buddhist literature Vaishali deserves special status in which court dancer Amrapali also occupies a central place.
The last time when Lord Buddha came to Vaishali he was eighty – it was here that he had announced of taking ‘Mahaparinirvana’ meaning end of his mundane life. That was the day of Purnima (full moon) in the month of Magha. The ‘Mahaparinirvana sutta’ deals about it at length. The court dancer had come to know that Buddha was staying in her Mango orchard- The present one.She went their immediately along with her concerts. Amarpali paid her tributes to Lord, listen the discourses. Moved by it, she urged Buddha with folded hands that the Lord should accept her invitation for food. The Lord mutely approved of it. Lichchavis of Vaishali, also aware of the Lord arrival, came to the mango grove in chariots where they met Amarpali too. She told them of Buddhas approval to be her guest next day. Though not believing her fully, yet Lichchavis urged her to take substantial money from them to allow them to cook food for the Lord. They got an emphatic ‘no’ from her. She was not ready to bargain the great opportunity for the entire Vaishali republic so proud she was. On seeing the Lord coming to Amrapali’s house the Lichchavis people urged him to accept their food also. But he said no as he had agreed to received the invitation of harlot Amrapali. Buddha relished the very testy food prepared by Amrapali. At the end of the meal she said she is donating the mango grove to ‘Bhikchu Sangh’. The Lord accepted.
This is the same very mango grove, but hardly any remains are here. The ancestral house of Amrapali lay some where near this ambara chowk of present day vaishali. A sign board of archaeological department of Bihar also stand here confirming this fact.
Truly writer – thinker Nirmal Verma aptly said “ I think very often how sad is the city that has no ruins of the ancient past Living there is as harrowing as meeting a man who has lost his memory –has no past.” Little realizing the importance of ancient ruins, people of Vaishali destroyed them one by one, ironically Indian democracy was born in this semi-rural patch of land. Vaishali is the birth place of Indian republicanism. Even Ashoka Stamba also majestically stands at Kolhua village near here . It is known as ‘ Lion Capitol ‘ – insignia of Government of India. It was erected around 269-232 BC.
It is in this backdrop that a dome shaped catches your eyes: the Vishwa Shanti Stupa wearing an absolute milky white coating. This 131 feets (in height) was raise in the memory of Lord Buddha. It is 6 feet higher than the Shanti Stupa of Rajgir. Niponjan Myojhee organization of Japan is credited with erecting it .
Lord Buddha followed this pattern to form his Sangha or order of the monks. The Mahaparinirvana sutta – a major Buddhist literature says Vaishali played a very important role in the life of Lord Buddha who spent 488-487 BC phase here.
Getting there: -
By Air – Nearest airport is Patna, connected to Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Ranchi and Lucknow.
By Rail – Nearest railhead is Hajipur.
By Road – Patna – 55 k.m. Muzaffarpur – 36 k.m. and Hajipur – 35 k.m.
Accommodation – It is best to spend night in Patna and make a day trip to Vaishali since there are no good hotel facilities.