The Vulture Peak

The Vulture Peak, also known as the Holy Eagle Peak or Gādhrakūta, was the Buddha’s favorite retreat in Rajagaha (now Rajgir/Rajagrih). It was the scene for many of his discourses. Rajgir is located in Bihar, India. It is so named because it resembles a sitting vulture with its wings folded.

Vulture Peak Mountain is, by tradition, one of several sites frequented by the Buddha and his community of disciples for both training and retreat. Its location is frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts in the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism and in the Mahayana sutras as the place where the Buddha gave certain sermons. Among the sermons are the Heart Sutra, the Lotus Sutra and the Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra as well as many prajnaparamita sutras. It is explicitly mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, chapter 16, as the Buddha’s pure land:

And when the living have become faithful,
Honest and upright and gentle,
And wholeheartedly want to see the Buddha,
Even at the cost of their own lives,

Then, together with the assembly of monks
I appear on Holy Eagle Peak.

Such are my divine powers.
Throughout countless eons,
I have always lived on Holy Eagle Peak
And in various other places.

When the living witness the end of an eon,
When everything is consumed in a great fire,
This land of mine remains safe and tranquil,
Always filled with human and heavenly beings.

The several rock shelters around the Gijjhakuta, its fine view across the valley, and its peaceful environment made it the perfect place for meditation. Climbing the steps that lead to the top, the pilgrim passes a large cave. This is the Sukarakhata (the Boar’s Grotto) where the Buddha delivered two discourses, the Discourse to Long Nails and the Sukarakhata Sutta.

It was here too that Sariputta attained enlightenment. The Sukarakhata seems to have been formed by excavating the earth from under the huge rock that forms the grotto’s roof, an impression confirmed by legend. According to the Pali commentaries during the time of Kassapa Buddha a boar rooting around under the rock made a small cavity which was later enlarged when monsoon rains washed more earth away. Later, an ascetic discovered the cave and, deciding it would be a good place to live in, built a wall around it, furnished it with a couch, and ‘made it as clean as a golden bowl polished with sand.’

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. Today is Nov. 15th, 2020. We will continue with our Pilgrimage trip. Today, we will clime to the sacred and solemn Vulture Peak where many important sutras were proclaimed by the Buddha, such as the Immeasurable Life Sutra, the Great Prajna Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and so on. Then we will visit Nalanda, the first Buddhist university, once the center of Mahayana Buddhism in India. Then we will go to Xuanzang Memorial which is in memory of Xuanzang Master who made great contribution to Human’s civilization.

We visited the Kalandaka Venuvana Vihara last time which was located in Rajagriha, the capital of Magadha. The Buddha stayed around that area for about 14 years. Normally he lived in Venuvana Vihara, and preached on the Vulture Peak, or Griddhakuta Peak in another name. Now let’s go to the Vulture Peak.

The Vulture Peak we see maybe just a normal hill. However, we live in a multidimensional space, and entering the invisible Vulture Peak needs a pass code.

In Sui Dynasty, when Master Zhizhe was reading the Chapter of the Former Deeds of Medicine King Bodhisattva in the ‘Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra’, he entered into Samadhi and saw that the Dharma assembly on the Vulture Peak was still going on and the Buddha was still there preaching Dharma.

The current Vulture Peak only has the Buddha’s preaching platform left. In the past, right here, the Buddha, together with twelve thousand Bhikshus, spoke the wonderful meaning of Buddha Dharma. So there are sayings like ‘the Sacred Assembly on the Vulture Peak’, ‘all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on the Vulture Peak’.

King Bimbisara ordered to build stone stairs all the way to the top of the hill. Around the top of the hills, there are many stone caves where Bhikshus used to meditate.

Bringing out Bodhicitta is very important in cultivation. There are ten paths laying in front of each of us. Which one do you pick? Making vows is necessary in cultivation. What are your vows? Prepare well your vows before visiting the Vulture Peak. Pronounce your vows there and let the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas know. Sincere vows sure will be blessed.

Also, leave time to meditate, sit quietly, and recite sutras there. The Buddha is there with you.

There are monkeys on the Vulture Peak. See, the monkeys have the cause to stay there all the time while we can only visit there maybe once in this life or several times at the most. They might have been practicing there in their last lives. Is it possible? Now let’s go visit Nalanda.

Nalanda, or Nalanda University, was built in the 5th century. It’s the oldest Buddhist university in India. It’s magnificent. Once it had over 9 million volumes of books. In its peak time, over one thousand scholars gathered here. There were about 1500 teachers and over 1000 people who were proficient in Tripitaka. In the 7th century, it became the center of Mahayana Buddhism in India. It’s also where Master Xuanzang came to study after 4 years on the road

from China. It’s also said that the Buddha once stayed here preaching Dharma for three months, and there was once a Monastery offered by King Bimbisara.

During the 12th century, Nalanda was invaded and robbed by Afghan Legion. It’s said that all the scriptures and manuscripts of great masters were burned and the burning lasted for six months. Many Bhikshus fled aboard after that disaster.

In 1861, Nalanda was excavated by British archaeologists after they studied the ‘Western Regions of the Tang Dynasty’ written by Xuanzang Master.

Nalanda is where Shariputra, the Buddha’s great disciple who was considered No. 1 in wisdom, was born and entered Nirvana. So Shariputra’s relic stupa became a symbol of Nalanda. The stupa has three layers. Its outside appearance has exquisite designs. The stories of the Buddha in Bodhgaya, Rajagriha, and Sanarth were depicted on the stupa in carving. When Shariputra knew that the Buddha was going to enter Nirvana soon, he decided to return to home and enter Nirvana before the Buddha. He also transformed his mother in this place to take refuge in the Buddha. Now let’s take a look at the Xuanzang Memorial.

Xuanzang Memorial was built in 1957. Xuanzang Master was a Chinese monk-scholar who travelled from China to India in the 7th century to study at the N¨¡land¨¡ University. He collected scriptures of the true teachings of the Buddha, and visited the sacred places associated with the Buddha. Xuanzang left detailed manuscripts of the 17 years of his journey on the Silk Route and in India, which became the primary source of information in the 19th century to establish the Indian origin of Buddhism.

We often hear this saying: Buddha Dharma is nothing but Precept, Samadhi, and Wisdom. Among these three, Wisdom is a result; Samadhi is a result, upholding Precept is the cause. Cultivation is nothing but upholding precepts, from coarse precepts to fine precepts, to ultra fine precepts; from upholding the precepts of the body and the mouth, to upholding the precepts of the mind; from upholding the five basic precepts, to upholding hundreds of precepts. Does this make sense to you?

Amitabha! This is today’s sharing. I hope you have enjoyed today’s video. Next time, we’ll visit three stupas, the Ananda Stupa, one of the Buddha’s relic stupa and Kesariya Stupa. Consider subscribing this channel for weekly Dharma talks, meditation session, sutras and mantras. I will see you next time. Bye.