It remains a less-understood fact that Buddhism was a prominent faith in the older Andhradesa for nearly a millennium. This part of the state was home to, as many as, nine of the 18 sects of Indian Buddhism. Today, residing in a place that boasts of 200 Buddhist sites, we get past a set of five-fabulous quick facts that rather surprises us about our roots.
Here are some interesting facts surrounding the Buddhist Existence in Andhra.
Acharya Buddhagosha hailed from Guntur!
Acharya Buddhagosha, the scholar who propagated the theory and practice of Theravada, a phase of Buddhism was born in Kotanemalipuri, a village close to the Dhanyakataka-Amaravati stretch in Guntur district in the Krishna valley. He spent his later years in Sri Lanka popularising Theravada, whose influences in the form of the Buddhist symbols like the Dharmachakra, the Bodhi Tree and Vajrasana can still be felt in parts of Andhra Pradesh. His most significant contribution happens to be Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification), a manual for practitioners of meditation.
The 5-pillared Stupas in Amaravati represent Buddha’s life!
The unique features that make the Stupas in Andhradesa (present Andhra Pradesh) stand out are the ayaka platforms (extending from the drums of the gateways) built in four cardinal directions. The five ayaka pillars represent five significant events of Buddha’s life including Birth, Renunciation, Enlightenment, Dharamachakra Pravartana and Mahaparinirvana, as visible in Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda.
Dhanyakataka was the capital city of the Satavahana Kingdom!
The Satavahanas, whose dynasty lasted nearly four-and-a-half centuries, had chosen Dharanikota (the present Dhanyakataka) as their capital city. One of the most prominent Buddhist Centres around, the kings, during their regime had spread the Amaravati-style of sculpture to the south-eastern sides of Asia too. Hieun Tsang, a famous Chinese Buddhist monk has apparently visited this centre around 640 A.D.
A Buddhist university at Anupu had a 1000-seater open-air theatre!
Anupu, situated on the right bank of the Krishna river housed a Buddhist university besides an amphi-theatre and a Hariti-dedicated-temple in the third century A.D. They were restored well in time, brick by brick and the result is nothing short of astonishing. At a time where we boast of technological advancement on a daily basis, this open-air-theatre with a thousand-seater capacity enjoys an excellent acoustics arrangement. The fishermen use a nearby stream as an anchoring point for their boats too.
Dantapuram in Srikakulam is named after Buddha’s tooth!
Situated in the Sarbhujali Mandal of Srikakulam district, Dantapuram earned the name from its connections with the tooth-relic of Lord Buddha. Apparently, after the death of Buddha, his canine tooth was raised as a stupa by the-then king of Kalinga, Brahmadatta who also transformed it, as a place of worship. Known to be one of the earliest Buddhist sites of Andhra Pradesh, the tooth-relic has been believed to be taken to Kandy,Sri Lanka, as per Srilankan tradition.