cunningham mahabodhi the great buddhist temple under the bodhi tree

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  • Cornell University Library

    NA6008.B8C971892Mahabodhi, or the great Buddhist temple

    3 1924 008 747 788

  • &*y Cornell UniversityLibrary

    The original of this book is inthe Cornell University Library.

    There are no known copyright restrictions inthe United States on the use of the text.






    Major-General Sir A. CUNNINGHAM, K.E., K.C.I.E., C.S.L

    The Buddhists look upon the Bo Tree as most Christians look upon the Cross.Rhys Davids.Life of Gautama.

    The Bodhi Tree, thenceforward in all yearsNever to fade, and ever to he keptIn homage of the world, beneath whose leavesIt was ordained that truth should come to Buddh.

    Edwin Abnold.Light of Asia.Slowly the Prince advanced,beneath his tread,At every step th' expectant world shook,Until he rested 'neath the Bodhi Tree

    At once the trembling universe was stillAcknowledging the thronement of its lord.

    A. C.

    LONDON:W. H. ALLEN & Co., Limited, 13, WATERLOO PLACE, S.W.

    $ttWfe|m to t|e ittMa (Bice.1892.



    Historical Notices


    Temple of Asoka

    III.Buddha's WalkIV.

    Railing of Asoka's Temple


    Inscriptions of Asoka's Railing


    Great Temple of Mahabodhi

    VII.Additions and Restorations


    Bodhi Tree, or Bodhi-drtjmaIX.

    Toran Gateway


    Monuments in Court-yard


    Monuments Outside the Walls


    Monastery of Mahabodhi Sangharama

    XIII.Votive Stupas


    Seals with Figures and Inscriptions


    Sculptures -

    XVI.Inscriptions, General Review of

    XVII. Indo-Scythian and Gupta

    XVIII. Medieval

    XIX. Chinese

    XX. Burmese

    XXI. of Asoka-balla

    XXII. Pavement Slabs

    Appendix A.

    Arches and Vaults


    Ground Plan of Temple




    Map of Country around Mahabodhi.


    Remains of. Asoka's Temple.


    Bhabhut Basbeliep of Asoka's Temple.


    Pillae of Asoka's Canopied Walk.


    Photogbaphs of Buddha's Walks.

    VI.Inner Vajrasan Throne.VII.

    Views of Stone RailingInside andOutside.


    Medallions of Railing PillarsScenes.


    Do. Ornaments.


    Inscriptions on Railing and VajrasanThbone.


    Plan of Gbeat Temple with successiveAdditions.


    View of Backwall of Temple with itsAdditions.

    XIIIEnd View of Outer Vajbasan Thbone.XIV.

    First AdditionNew Statue on Vaj-rasan Thbone.


    North Side of Central Addition, de-tached bt Roots of Tree.

    XVI.- -Model of Temple, and View of Re-stored Temple.


    View of Toran Entrance.


    Plan of Monuments in Courtyard.


    View of Monuments in Court-yard.


    Plan of Great Monastery.


    Outer Wall and Staircase of GreatMonastery.


    Small Relics from the VajrasanThrones.


    Votive Stupas, Monolith, Basrelief,and Medieval.

    XXIV.Seals of Terracotta, with Figuresand Inscriptions.


    Statue dedicated by Raja Tukamala,in S. 64=A.D. 142.


    Sculptures Buddha, Dharma, andSangha.


    Inscription Indo Scythian onCoping of Railing.


    InscriptionMedieval of Pala RajasAND ASOKA-BALLA.


    InscriptionOn Burmese Umbrella.XXX.



    Indian ArchesFront View.


    In 1878, when Dr. Bajendra Lala Mitra published his -work on the Temple ofBuddha Gaya, the only excavations which had then been made were the trenches dug

    by Major Meade in 1863 at my suggestion, and the subsequent surface clearances bythe Burmese. The former had exposed the foundation lines of the original Buddhist

    Bailing, which once surrounded the Temple, while the latter had brought to light

    several small Temples, besides many votive Stupas and Buddhist Statues.

    I visited Buddha Gaya in 1879 for the express purpose of seeing what had been

    done by the Burmese. Their clearances had not been carried deep enough to expose

    the more ancient monuments which still existed on or near the original level of the

    ground on which the Temple was built. The clearances also had not been made with

    any discrimination. Everything was removed as it became exposed ; and thus many

    of the hemispherical domes of the rows of early votive Stupas were thrown down.

    Fortunately they were not carried away, and when the great clearance of the ruins

    was subsequently made by Mr. Beglar, many of these stone hemispheres were restoredto their original Stupas, the remains of which had not been disturbed.

    The ruinous state of the Temple at this time was thus described by a correspondent

    of the "Calcutta Englishman" newspaper:"I found the Temple in the following" condition : The whole of the plinth and lower mouldings buried under accumulations" of rubbish; the floor of the sanctum, and of the great hall in front 4 feet lower" than the level of a rough stone floor laid by the Burmese, who had partially cleared" away the heaps of rubbish in front, the great hall roofless ; the half-hall, or porch of" the second storey, roofless ; the whole of the front of the Temple above the level of" the third chamber fallen, disclosing a great triangular gap, about 20 feet high and.

  • vi PREFACE.

    " 12 feet wide at base ; the stairs leading up from lowest floor, or ground floor or

    " terrace, from which the tower springs, roofless ; the whole of the facade of the

    " platform to the East a mound of ruins ; the whole south facade of platform ruinous," but retaining here and there portions of original work ; the entire West face of the

    " platform of the Temple buried under rubbish, which itself was held up by a

    " revetment wall 32 feet high of plain brick and mortar, unplastered, and looking for

    " all the world like a dilapidated jail wall. The holy tree at the apex of a series of

    " a circle of steps, which stood on the rubbish so held up by the revetment aforesaid,

    " and the entire north wall above the then ground level a plain blank wall of mud and" and brickbats, which was even then leaning outwards. A massive new well-plastered" staircase [is] stuck on the Bast front or main facade at its north-east angle to

    " give access to the terrace of the upper chamber, and to the holy tree

    " The entire West face of main tower peeled off, including the half of the upper

    " pinnacle, the rest of pinnacle overhanging. The entire North face of tower, except

    " the upper portion, peeled off; the Bast face in fair order above the great triangular

    " gap already noticed ; the South face in fairish order, the terrace or platform

    " extensively cracked in all directions, the corbelled work in the third chamber,

    " interior, overhanging in a most dangerous condition, the chamber at the same time' being inaccessible."

    Such was the state of the Great Buddhist Temple in 1880, when Sir Ashley Bden,

    the Lieut.-Governor of Bengal, appointed Mr. J. D. Beglar to make a thorough repair

    of the whole building. The work was begun during the course of the year -with a

    further clearance of the accumulated rubbish, which had become absolutely necessary,

    as every year the interior of the Temple was turned into a small tank by the catchment

    of rain water from the outside. During this clearance the different additions made to

    the outside were revealed. At the same time the interior pavement, which had become

    very uneven, was taken up to be relaid ; and this work brought to light the numerous

    alterations which had been made at different times to the inside of the Temple.

    In February 1881 I paid another visit to the Temple, and I was present when

    the discovery of Relics was made under the front of the Yajrasan Throne. As thediscoveries that were made during these excavations are described in detail in the

    following pages, I will here only state the principal conclusions which I was constrained

    to adopt on their evidence.

    B.C. 250.The first, and perhaps the most interesting, discovery was the remains

    of the original Temple of Asoka, with the polished Vajrasan Throne, exactly asportrayed in the Bharhut Basrelief with the view of the Bodhi Tree of Sakya-muni.


    Close by, on the north side of the Temple, was found the remains of the cloistered

    walk, with its 22 pillared bases still in situ, each marked with a letter of the Indian

    alphabet of Asoka from a to the cerebral t. One shaft was also found marked with

    the Asoka letter a.

    But the most important discovery was the fact that the present Temple is built

    exactly over the remains of Asoka's Temple, so that the original Vajrasan Thronestill retains its old position of Buddha's seat, and the reputed centre of the


    A.D. 140.-The age of the present Great Temple is shown by the presence of a

    gold coin of the Indo-Scythian King Huvishka, amongst the EelicS deposited in front

    of the Throne, along with some silver punch-marked coins. The date of Huvishka is

    how known as covering a large portion of the first half of the 2nd century A.D.

    The same age is declared by