In the steps of Buddha: Rajgir / YarSaGyo

Wheel marks on stone at Rajgir / YarZaGyo

court of king Bimbisara / BeinMaTharRa of Rajgir / YarSaGyo

wheel marks of Rajgir / YarZaGyo

On the morning after reaching the Anawmar nadi / river and sending back the HsanDha minister to Kapilavastu, Prince Siddhatha / TheikDatTha cut his hair and entered monkhood on the bank of the AhNawMar. He then went on his journey and reached Rajgir / YarSaGyo after about a week. There, king Bimisara / Beinmathara offered him half his country and tried to prevent him from going further, but the future Buddha refused, saying that he was trying to be Buddha. King Bimisara requested the monk to come to Rajgir first after becoming Buddha.

The wheel marks near Rajgir / YarSaGyo are well defined and made on rock. Many carts must have traveled over the road for many years to make this deep marks on stone (like the cart marks on stone bricks at the entrance of one historical city in China; I have also seen on tv, the mule footholes on stone steps on the India-China trade road in Upper Myanmar).

However, Tibetan legend says that while king Bimbisara / BeinMaTharRa and his retinue went to pay homage to the Buddha, the wheel of the chariot, in which the king was seated, sank into the ground. The print of the wheel is still seen on the way to Bodhgaya from Gridhakuta.

Rajgir (Hindi: राजगीर, Urdu: راجگیر) is a city and a notified area in Nalanda district in the Indian state of Bihar. The city of Rajgir (ancient Rājagṛha; Pali: Rājagaha) was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire. Its date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have been found in the city.

It is also mentioned in Buddhist and Jain scriptures, which give a series of place-names, but without geographical context. The attempt to locate these places is based largely on reference to them and to other locations in the works of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, particularly Faxian and Xuanzang. It is on the basis of Xuanzang in particular that the site is divided into Old and New Rajgir. The former lies within a valley and is surrounded by low-lying hills. It is defined by an earthen embankment (the Inner Fortification), with which is associated the Outer Fortification, a complex of cyclopean walls that runs (with large breaks) along the crest of the hills. New Rajgir is defined by another, larger, embankment outside the northern entrance of the valley and next to the modern town.

It is sacred to the memory of the founders of both the religions: Buddhism and Jainism and associated with both the historical Buddha and Mahavira.

It was here that Gautama Buddha spent several months meditating, and preaching at Griddhkuta, (‘Hill of the Vultures’). He also delivered some of his famous sermons and converted King Bimbisara of Magadha and countless others to his religion.On one of the hills is the Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa. Lord Mahavira spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda, spending chaturmas (i.e. 4 months of the rainy season) at a single place in Rajgir (Rajgruhi) and the rest in the places in the vicinity. It was the capital of his favourite shishya (follower) king Shrenik. Thus Rajgir is a very important religious place for Jains also.

Rajgir is also famous for its association with Shishunaga Kings Bimbisara and Ajatashatru. Ajatashatru kept his father Bimbsara in captivitiy here. The sources do not agree which of the Buddha‘s royal contemporaries, Bimbisara and Ajatashatru, was responsible for its construction. Ajatashatru is also credited with moving the capital to Pataliputra (modern Patna).

The city was in a valley surrounded by seven hills: Vaibhara, Ratna, Saila, Sona, Udaya, Chhatha, and Vipula.

Rajgir has also developed as a health and winter resort due to its warm water ponds. These baths are said to contain some medicinal properties that help in the cure of many skin diseases. The Saptparni cave is also the source of the Rajgir Hot Water Springs that have curative properties and are sacred to the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Another attraction of the region is the ropeway that leads uphill to the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda) and monasteries built by Japanese devotees of the Buddha on top of the Ratnagiri Hills.

In the Account of Chinese monk Fa-Hien’s travels in India and Ceylon A.D. 399-414 in search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline, Fa-Hien wrote about Rajagriha / YarSaGyo:

Chapter XXIII

Leaving the city (new Rajagriha / YarZaGyo built by king Ajatasatru / AhZarTaThat) by the south gate, and proceding south 4 li, one enters a valley, and comes to a circular space formed by 5 hills, which stand all around it, and have the appearance of the suburban wall of a city. Here was the old city of king Bimisara; from east to west about 5 or 6 li, and from north to south 7 or 8. It was here that Sariputtra and Maudgalyayana first saw Upasena; that Nirgrantha made a pit of fire and poisoned the rice, and then invited Buddha to eat with him; that Ajaratasatru made a black elephant intoxicated with liquor, wishing him to injure Buddha; and that at the north-east corner of the city in a large curving space Jivaka built a Vihara in the garden of Ambapali, and invited Buddha with His 1250 disciples to it, that he might there make his offerings to support them. These places are still there as of old, but inside the city, all is emptiness and desolation; no man dwells in it.

Griddhkuta, / Gizzagote Taung (‘Hill of the Vultures’), and Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa will be posted separately later although they are in Rajgir / Yarsagyo

wheel marks of Rajgir / YarSaGyo


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2 Responses to “In the steps of Buddha: Rajgir / YarSaGyo”

  1. Kyaw Kyaw Says:

    did you reach the Griddhguka hill?

    • nyiwin Says:

      yes, KK, I got there
      as I am going along Buddha’s footsteps (more or less), it will be posted later (although I had posted posted Bimisara’s jail this time) with Rajgir / YarSaGyo

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