Kushinagar is a district of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India situated in the easternmost part of the state. It has the administrative headquarters at Ravindra Nagar Dhoos. The district is named such after the town Kushinagar, a Buddhist pilgrimage site where Gautama Buddha attained parinirvana in the 5th century BCE.
Location of Gautama Buddha’s parinirvana. In 1896, Waddell suggested that the site of the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva.However, according to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, died there, and this is where he was cremated. It is believed that during his last day he walked into the groves of trees near the city and rejoiced at the blossoms of sala trees (Shorea robusta) before laying himself to rest.
Ashoka built a stupa and pilgrimage site to mark Buddha’s parinirvana in Kushinagara. The Hindu rulers of the Gupta Empire (fourth to seventh century) helped greatly enlarge the Nirvana stupa and Kushinagar site, building a temple with reclining Buddha. This site was abandoned by Buddhist monks around 1200 CE, who fled to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed during the Islamic rule in India that followed. The British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagara in the late 19th century, and his colleague A. C. L. Carlleyle unearthed the 1,500-year-old Buddha image. The site has since then become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Archaeological evidence from the 3rd century BCE suggests that the Kushinagara site was an ancient pilgrimage site.
The Parinirvana Temple with the Parinirvana Stupa. The reclining Nirvana statue of the Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Stupa. The statue is 6.10 metres long and is made of monolith red sandstone. It represents the “Dying Buddha” reclining on his right side with his face towards the west. It is placed on a large brick pedestal with stone-posts at the corners.
Nirvana Chaitya is located just behind the Main Parinirvana Temple. It was excavated by Carlleyle in the year 1876. During excavations, a copper plate was found, which contained the text of the “Nidana-Sutra” which concluded the statement that plate had been deposited in the Nirvana-Chaitya by one Haribala, who also installed the great Nirvana Statue of Buddha in the temple front.
The following is from Nancy’s sharing:
Hi everyone, welcome to my channel, Rising of Bodhisattvas! This is Nancy, from the International Buddha Dharma Society for Cosmic Law in America. How are you doing! Today is Nov. 28th, and we will be in Kushinagar where the Buddha entered Parinirvana. It’s said that during his last day, the Buddha walked into the groves of trees near Kushinagar. He ordained his last disciple and uttered last words. Rejoiced at the blossoms of sala trees, then he laid himself to rest. Now we will visit the Parinirvana temple and Parinirva stupa where the Buddha entered Nirvana and Ramabhar Stupa where the Buddha was cremated.
Ashoka built a stupa and pilgrimage site to mark the Buddha’s parinirvana in Kushinagar. The site was enlarged by a Hindu ruler later and a temple was built, and a reclining Buddha was enshrined. The site was abandoned when it’s invaded by Muslim army around 1200 CE. All the Buddhist monks left. After that, the site decayed until in late 19th century when British archaeologist, Alexandar Cunningham, rediscovered Kushinagar. The site has then become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
When being excavated, both the reclining Buddha statue and the temple were found scattered into numberless fragments. The statue was reconstructed and the temple was repaired. The 1500 years old Buddha statue is 6.1 meters long, laying on the right side, facing the west. The statue rests on a stone couch. On the front of the couch are three sculptures, probably three great disciples of the Buddha. Again, circumabulate the Buddha statue to pay homage to the Buddha, and then sit along the wall to mediate or recite some sutras. Meet the Buddha in the mind.
Coming out of the temple, walk around on the site. Empty the mind. Time flows back. Maybe you may recall something happened to you right here. Maybe you will meet you in the past. One life after another, our appearance has changed many times, while deep inside, there is always something not changing. Where did you come from? With whom did you come with? Why are you here? Where are you going? Where is your home? Are you in a dream? When are you going to wake up? Are you still going to drift in the sea of transmigration? Have you really truly forgot everything?
Ramabhar Stupa was built on where the Buddha was cremated. The name may come from a nearby pond. It’s a covering bowl stupa made of bricks and mound. It’s 55 feet in height. It’s surrounded by many palm trees. Again, circumambulate the stupa and chant the name of the Buddha to pay homage to the Buddha. Leave time to walk around, meditate or recite some sutras here.
After visiting the Nirvana temple, Nirvana stupa and Ramabhar Stupa, we headed to Lumbini in Nepal. It’s a long road. It took some time to get into Nepal at the border. Driving in the streets, watching the faces of the people, get lost in the time and space.
Amitabha! Thank you everyone for watching this video. Next time, we will be in Nepal, in Lumbini, where the Buddha was born. I will see you next time. Bye!