April 27, 2010


[Bellow follow two comments today on Kapilvastu and Lumbini inscription: one from Terence Phelps, a researcher and another from Prof. Max Deeg. We very much appreciate their comments to continue this debate in a meaningful way forward. Thank you]

By B. K. Rana

Debating the ‘new and old’ kinds of two Kapilvastus, however, odd enough to exist roughly in 20 miles distance apart; looks not so promising but interesting. We had posted about it yesterday in a question mark title head (?). We also disbelieve it but keeping in view of the growing antagonism among the peoples of two neighbouring countries authorities should find some 'appropriate' solution. It is possible, the remaining Sakyas and their descendants later thought to develop a ‘new settlement with a new Kapilvastu Vihar’ at present Piprahawa or Ganwaria area. But the question again - why in Piprahawa-Ganwaria proper and not in Tilaurakot particular? Did they abominate depositing the relics around Tilaurakot, the spot, where their ancestors had been savagely massacred ?

And, it is not our ‘chestnut again’ and ‘crackpot proposition’ also; but concerning Rhys Davis’ proposition we have posted here in this blog already.  But the story is crystal clear that the historical Kapilvastu, where the Buddha, grew up, spent his youth-age and which he later renounced was destroyed by King Viruddhak. Then where did the surviving Sakyas go to save their lives at the hands of Viruddhak? They fled Kapilvastu and dispersed themselves towards different directions. And some hundred or so years later the Sakya later generations might have developed a new site for Kapilvastu Vihar in Piprahawa – this is not a rare possibility.

Piprahawa until now, has almost 'zero circumstantial evidence' qualifying the royal seat of  Kapilvastu other than the Buddha relics and epigraphy such as: vase inscription and some other sealing(s) inscription(s). The receptacle vase and other sealings are such stuffs which can be easily transported from one place to another. The ‘much-hyped’ Piprahawa Buddha relics and the Ashokan pillars of Nigalihawa and Gotihawa are the evidence to be reconsidered here. Those huge stone pillars can’t be transported from one place to another even at a time of great circumstantial upheaval.

And there is nothing new, as expected, here in this discussion other than some new interpretations or a few new researches and recent publications only. Basically we are debating the same old stuff here of course. But it has now been more publically shared than before. It is something interesting and important also. Thanks to Google.Com and digital advancement of technology!

Should we be debating new stuff ? Then there needs to be some excavations in and around present Tilaurakot, re-evaluation and re-excavation of Sagarahawa (the purported site where the Sakyas were massacred by Viruddhak) and re-excavations of Piprahawa and Ganwaria site also as Max Deeg has proposed which others also have followed. The Buddhist world can’t stand 'confused' only on Kapilvastu with this kind of ‘nostalgic debate’ for long, some 40 - 45 years now, after Ms. Deval Mitra’s Tilaurakot excavation report.

As of the Lumbini inscription you may read below Max Deeg’s comment. For vigadabhi we understand there are different interpretations among the scholars. We have posted here already again (at least 15 names posted). There is no unanimity. But it should not mean an ‘uncouth donkey’ for some thing at a place of veneration.

So here again Max Deeg has another interesting explanation referenced from ‘The Raghuvamsa 9.72. tapasivigadham nadim > ‘ascetics used to take bath in the river’. Did the engraver mean the pond where the Buddha mother, Maya Devi, had taken bath before going into labour ? Or the engraver incorrectly engraved it? But some distinguished ‘native’ epigraphists have also become like ‘non-native’ interpreting it for ‘stone railing’ ! What would have been the use of ‘stone railing’ around or by the pillar at a sacred location at that time ?

Exactly it becomes a non-native interpretation of a language and culture as ‘a machine, an engineer and lay man’ as concerns the ‘sila-vigadabhi-cha’. So controversy persists but this ‘group of letters’ should not explicitly qualify something particular on the Buddha place - Lumbini.

United States of America

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Max Deeg
Date: Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 4:44 AM
To: The Himalayan Voice

As my work has been addressed:

I have published a detailed study of Faxian (in German) where I do not (!!) differ from my conclusion reached in the LIRI publication with regard to the issues Lumbini and Kapilavastu. You have to read and not rely on hearsay. The discussion about the forms of Sakya(muni) is absurd: if you had a slightest idea about Prakrit in general and the Asokan documents in particular you would know that there is dialectal variation in the latter and there is not such a thing as clear cut "Prakrit" versus "Sanskrit" (or even the very muddy expression "Hybrid Sanskrit).

I also very much reject the idea of "native" versus "non-native" interpretation! If you are going in this direction - what's the point for me then to make any statement ? My overall conclusion is: calm down and do your homework (may sound a bit arrogant, but how would a mechanic react when a layperson who has not learnt engineering would always interfere in his work, not listening what he has to say and without really knowing about the basic principles of an engine?)


The Himalayan Voice
Terry Phelps
"Prof. Max Deeg" , "Prof. Sudarshan Raj Tiwari" , "Prof. Shanker Thapa" , Department of Archaeology , Director General Archaeological Survey of India , Charles Allen , Ram B Chherti
Date:     26/04/2010 18:44

On Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 5:52 PM, Terence Phelps  wrote:

Finally, Hans Wolfgang Schumann’s proposition of Tilaurakot - the ’Old Kapilvastu’ and Piprahawa as the ‘New Kapilvastu’ seems to be appropriate (1989). You should be willing to check new publications such as Le Huu Phuoc’s ‘Buddhist Architecture’ just came out this month (April 2010) in which Tilaurakot has been identified as the Old Kapilvastu.

Oh dear, not that old chestnut again! The ‘Two Kapilavastus’ was a crackpot notion first proposed by Rhys Davids well over a century ago, and was further developed by Smith into proposing that Fa-hsien visited the first one (Tilaurakot) whilst Xuanzang visited the second (Piprahwa). Unfortunately, Hoey then retorted that since both pilgrims had reported seeing the same sites anyway, then the idea that they visited two Kapilavastus was ‘a bit thin’. Perhaps you ought to read a few of those pre-World War 1 reports yourselves; if so, you would realise where most of the present dreary stuff derives from. So what’s new ?  Meanwhile, I note that in Epigraphia Indica, vol. 5, Buhler notes of vigadabhi that ‘Literally, it would be not so uncouth as a donkey’ (a ‘translation’ also supported by Fuhrer) and I’m still wondering quite what that might have to do with the Buddha’s birthplace.

Terry Phelps

Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010 13:44:17 -0400
 DeegM1@cardiff.ac.uk; srtiwari@ioe.edu.np; drsthapa5721@yahoo.com; info@doa.gov.np; directorgeneralasi@gmail.com; charles.allen@tiscali.co.uk; rambchhetri@hotmail.com
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