Michigan Bihar - Friends of Bihar and Jharkhand in Michigan
Booklet traces Xuanzang’s pilgrimage route in Bihar
To protect, preserve and promote the Buddhist heritage of Bihar, the state government has brought out a 76-page colour pictographic booklet entitled “A journey through Bihar to Vihara” based on the famous Chinese scholar Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to Bihar. This booklet is mainly aimed at throwing light on the ancient pilgrimage route taken by the Chinese traveller. The department of art, culture and youth affairs and Nav Nalanda Mahavihara, a deemed university, have jointly prepared the booklet, which includes details about the places falling on the route, their photographs and maps. Xuanzang, a 27-year-old monk, had set out on a momentous journey to India in 629 CE to learn about the true teachings of Lord Buddha. He travelled more than 3,000 miles to reach India, the booklet says. In Bihar, he made pilgrimages to places associated with the life and events of Buddha and his important disciples.
The Chinese scholar also studied at many monasteries located at places which fall in the present-day Bihar. In his travelogue, he provided remarkable insights into the arduous nature of the pilgrimage route connecting China to India through Silk route.
Deepak Anand, who has written the text of the booklet, said, “This book is a tribute to the momentous journey undertaken by Xuanzang. It is also an effort to showcase the exact sites or other places associated with his pilgrimage throughout Bihar.”
Xuanzang, who visited Magadh region in 636 CE, in his travelogue referred to the area as a conglomerate of more than 50 ‘Viharas’ spread throughout the region Students often ventured from one ‘Vihara’ to another to gain knowledge on particular subjects.
The introduction of the booklet says that Bihar is currently witnessing a renaissance in almost all spheres of life. The booklet starts with the details of a place, Rampurva, where two Ashokan pillars and two stone mounds were discovered during 19th century. This place falls along the path taken by Xuanzang as he made pilgrimage from Lumbini in Nepal to Kusinagar. Having been removed from their places of origin, these highly-polished, 50-feet-high pillars were adorned with a lion and a bull capital. The lion capital is now on display at Kolkata museum and the bull capital adorns the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
The booklet gives details of several places including Lauriya Nandangarh, Kesariya, Chechar, Vaishali, Fatehpur, Barabar hill, Telhara, Nalanda, Rajgir, Jethuli and Bodh Gaya.