Longhurst the Great Stupa at Nagarjunakonda in Southern India

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    p. 186

    NAGARJ UNAKONDA, or Nagar j una' s hi l l , i s t he name of a bi g r ocky hat - t opped hi l l on t he r i ght bank of t he Kr i shna r i ver i n t he Pal nad t al uk of t he Gunt ur di st r i ct of t he Madr as Presi dency, and 15 mi l es west by nor t h of Macher l a r ai l way st at i on, t he t er mi nus of t he new l i ne f r om Gunt ur opened i n 1931. The hi l l

    st ands i n a val l ey compl et el y shut i n by at r i ng of hi l l s, an of f shoot of t he Nal l amal ai s ( Bl ack Hi l l s) of t he adj oi ni ng Kur nool di st r i ct, on t hr ee si des, wi t h t he Kr i shna, r i ver on t he f our t h or nor t h- west er n si de, where i t f or ms t he boundary bet ween t hi s part of t he Madr as Presi dency and t he Ni zam' s Domi ni ons. The annexed si t e pl an ( Pl at e I ) shows t he geographi cal f eat ures of t he area and t he posi t i ons of t he monument s di scover ed.

    Nagar j unakonda i s about 60 mi l es di st ant f r om Amar avat i as t he cr ow f l i es, but consi der abl y f ur t her by r i ver . I t i s a wi l d and desol at e spot , and bei ng

    shut i n by t he sur r oundi ng r ocky hi l l s i s usual l y ver y hot dur i ng most mont hs of t he year . There i s a r ough car t t r ack f r om Macher l a t o Nagul avaram, a di st ance of 10 mi l es, but t he r emai ni ng 5 mi l es over t he hi l l s and t hr ough t he val l ey t o Nagarj unakonda has t o be per f or med on f oot , as no car t t r af f i c i s

    E GREAT STUPA AT NAGARJUNAKONDA IN SOUTHERN INDIA. http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/long.ht

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    t he l ady i n quest i on i n t he si xth year of t he r ei gn of ki ng Si r i - Vi r t apur i sadat a bet ween t he second and t hi r d cent ur i es A. D. The same r oyal l ady bui l t a monast ery and an apsi dal t empl e cl ose t o t he east ern gat e of t he Gr eat St upa, t he r ui ns of whi ch r emai n. Another i mport ant i nscr i pt i on was f ound engraved on t he st one f l oor of an apsi dal t empl e si t uat ed on a r ocky hi l l about t wo f ur l ongs t o t he east of t he Gr eat St upa, and known l ocal l y as Naharal l abodu. Thi s t empl e and a monast ery st andi ng al ongsi de of i f were

    bui l t by a l ady named Bodhi si r i and dedi cat ed t o t he f r at er ni t i es of Ceyl onese monks set t l ed at Nagar j unakonda. The i nscr i pt i on r el at es t hat t hese Ceyl onese Buddhi st s had convert ed t he peopl e of Kashmi r , Gandhar a, Chi na, Ceyl on, Bengal , Kanara, and ot her pl aces i n I ndi a. The l at t er par t of t he i nscr i pt i on ment i ons ot her pi ous wor ks by Bodhi si r i , i ncl udi ng a pi l l ar ed hal l or mandapa at Kant akasel a, whi ch, as Dr . Vogel poi nt s out i n hi s account of t hese i nscr i pt i ons, must be i dent i cal wi t h "t he empor i umKant i kossul a, " ment i oned by Ptol emy as bei ng si t uat ed "af t er t he mout hs of t he Mai sol os ( Kr i shna) . " The Per i pl us speaks of "t he r egi on of

    Masal i a, " st r et chi ng a l ong way al ong t he coast , " and adds, "a gr eat quant i t y of musl i ns i s made here. " The anci ent name by whi ch t he Kr i shna del t a was known t o t he Gr eeks i s pr eser ved i n t hat of t he seaport of Masul i pat am.

    I n t he same i nscr i pt i on ( F of Dr . Vogel ' s l i st ) , t he name of t he anci ent ci t y t hat once exi st ed i n t he Nagar j unakonda val l ey i s gi ven as Vi j ayapur i , and t he hi l l now known as Naharal l abodu, on whi ch Bodhi si r i erect ed t he t empl e and monast ery f or t he Ceyl onese monks, i s cal l ed t he Lesser Dhammagi r i si t uat ed on Sr i par vat a. The hi l l i n quest i on i s an of f shoot of t he surr oundi ng Nal l amal ai s of t he adj oi ni ng Kur nool

    di st r i ct. These hi l l s ext end i n a sout h- west er l y di r ecti on al l al ong t he r i ver i nt o t he Kur nool di st r i ct , wher e, on t he t op of a wooded hi l l some 50 mi l es sout h- west of Nagar j unakonda and f aci ng t he r i ver , st ands t he f amous Sr i sai l am t empl e sacred t o Si va and a gr eat pl ace of pi l gr i mage i n t he spr i ng, when a bi g annual f est i val i s hel d t her e. I t t hus seems f r om t hi s i nscr i pt i on t hat i n ear l y t i mes t he Nal l amal ai s wer e known as Sr i parvata. Thi s i s an i nt er est i ng poi nt , because t her e i s an anci ent t r adi t i on pr eser ved i n Ti bet t hat t he f amous Buddhi st di vi ne Nagar j una ended hi s days i n a monast ery on Sr i par vat a i n Sout her n I ndi a. I f t hi s monast er y i s

    t he same as t he r ui ned one on t he Lesser Dhammagi r i , i f woul d f ol l ow t hat t he associ at i on of Nagar j una wi t h t hi s l ocal i t y has been pr eser ved up t o t he present day i n t he name Nagar j unakonda ( Nagar j una' s Hi l l ) .

    The f act t hat a monast ery and a t empl e were bui l t speci al l y f or t he benef i t of Ceyl onese, monks shows t hat ver y cor di al r el at i ons must have exi st ed bet ween t he Andhr a, Buddhi st s and t hei r co- r el i gi oni st s i n Ceyl on at t hat per i od. The exi st ence of such r el at i ons can be r eadi l y account ed f or by t he sea- bor ne t r ade whi ch was car r i ed on bet ween t he por t s of Ceyl on and t he great empor i um Kant akasel a of

    t he Kr i shna del t a. I t was no doubt t hi s t r ade whi ch was mai nl y r esponsi bl e f or t he f l our i shi ng st at e of Buddhi sm i n t hi s par t of Sout her n I ndi a, whi ch enabl ed t he Buddhi st merchant s and t hei r r oyal mast ers t o r ai se monument s of such magni f i cence as

    E GREAT STUPA AT NAGARJUNAKONDA IN SOUTHERN INDIA. http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/long.ht

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    t hose at Nagar j unakonda and Amaravat i . As Dr . Vogel ment i ons, t he decl i ne of Buddhi sm i n t he l ower Kr i shna val l ey may have had other causes besi des t he gener al wane of t hat r el i gi on al l over I ndi a, t her e may have been economi c f act or s at work, such as t he decl i ne of t he sea- bor ne t r ade wi t h t he West , whi ch had caused vast quant i t i es of Roman gol d t o pour i nto Sout her n I ndi a. There was al so t he conquest of t he sout h by t he Gupt a Emper or Samudr a Gupt a and t he r i se of powerf ul dynast i es devot ed t o Br ahmani sm, l i ke t he

    Pal l ava dynasty i n t he Sout h and t he Chal ukya i n t he West .

    The r ui ned bui l di ngs di scover ed, r epr esent t he r emai ns of st upas, monaster i es, apsi dal t empl es and a pal ace. They wer e al l bui l t of l ar ge br i cks measur i ng 20' x 10' x 3" , t he same di mensi ons as t he br i cks r ecent l y f ound at Bul andi bagh near Pat na i n Bi har, t he anci ent si t e of Pat al i put r a. I t i s str ange t hat at t wo si t es so f ar di st ant bot h shoul d yi el d l ar ge br i cks of t he same di mensi ons. The pi l l ar s, f l oor s, st atues and i mport ant scul ptures were execut ed

    p. 188

    i n whi t e or gr ey l i mestone r esembl i ng mar bl e. No other st one was used, and i t was br ought t o t he si t e by means of t he r i ver and l anded at a st one- bui l t whar f t hat st i l l r emai ns ( see Pl at e I , 12) . The whar f i s about 250 f eet i n l engt h, 50 f eet wi de and 6 f eet i n hei ght al ong t he r i ver f r ont and at bot h ends. Thr ee r ows of br oken st one pi l l ar s extendi ng f r om end t o end show t hat i t was or i gi nal l y pr ovi ded wi t h a wooden r oof , pr obabl y t hatched. I t seems t o have ser ved as a ki nd of Cust oms House, wi t h a r ow of shops or godowns on ei t her si de. Her e, t he Kr i shna i s

    more t han hal f a mi l e wi de, wi t h numerous sandbanks and huge r ocks i n i t s bed, but dur i ng t he r ai ns i t i s a ver y l ar ge r i ver and navi gabl e f or count r y cr af t r i ght down t o t he sea.

    On pl an and i n const r uct i on, t he Andhr a st upas di f f er f r om t hose f ound i n t he Nor t h. They ar e bui l t i n t he f or m of a wheel wi t h hub, spokes and t i r e al l compl ete and execut ed i n br i ckwork ( see pl an of st upa On Pl at e I I I ) . The open spaces between t he r adi at i ng wal l s wer e f i l l ed up wi t h eart h, and t he dome or br i ck casi ng bui l t over t he st r uct ur e. As no t r aces of st r uct ur al st one t ees have been di scover ed i n

    Souther n I ndi a, we may presume that t hey were bui l t of br i ck and pl ast er and decor at ed wi t h t he r ai l ornament i n t he l at t er materi al . The st upas were cover ed wi t h chunam, or f i ne shel l - l i me pl ast er , f r om t op t o bot t om, ant i t he moul di ng and other ornament at i on was usual l y execut ed i n st ucco or pl ast er . The dome r est ed on a ci r cul ar pl at f or m or dr um f r om 2 t o 5 f eet i n hei ght accor di ng t o t he si ze of t he monument . On t op of t he drum was a nar r ow pat h enci r cl i ng t he f oot of t he dome, and on each of t he f our si des, f aci ng t he car di nal poi nt s, was a r ect angul ar pl at f orm r esembl i ng an al t ar and t he same hei ght as t he dr um. I n t he i nscri pt i ons t hese pl at f or ms are descr i bed as ayaka- pl at f or ms, because

    t hey usual l y suppor t ed a gr oup of f i ve st one pi l l ar s, cal l ed ayaka- khambhas ( ayaka- pi l l ar s) . The pr eci se meani ng of t he word ayaka i s not known, but i t i s used much as we use t he wor d ' al t ar . ' From t he has- r el i ef r epr esent at i ons of st upas r ecover ed f r om

    E GREAT STUPA AT NAGARJUNAKONDA IN SOUTHERN INDIA. http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/long.ht

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    t he Nagar j unakonda and Amaravat i st upas t he ayaka- pl at f or m appear s as an al t ar , on whi ch pi ous - donor s ar e por t r ayed deposi t i ng t hei r of f er i ngs of f r ui t and f l ower s. Al l Andhr a st upas had t hose pl at f or ms, but onl y t hose bel ongi ng t o l ar ge and i mpor t ant monument s were pr ovi ded wi t h pi l l ars. As each gr oup consi st ed of f i ve pi l l ar s, t he t ot al number of pi l l ars f or each st upa so decorated was t went y. The i nscr i pt i ons show t hat t hese pi l l ar s r epr esent gi f t s made t o t he st upa i n honour of t he

    Buddha and t o t he mer i t of t he pi ous donor s who provi ded t he money f or t he work; hut no i nf ormat i on i s gi ven as t o t he meani ng or symbol i sm of the pi l l ar s.

    The chi ef scenes por t r ayed i n t he scul pt ur es r ecover ed f r om t hese Andhr a st upas r epr esent t he f i ve gr eat ' mi r acl es, ' or chi ef event s i n t he l i f e of t he Buddha, namel y, t he Nat i vi t y, Renunci at i on, Sambodhi , Fi r st Sermon, and t he Buddha' s Deat h. These f i ve i nci dent s ar e por t r ayed over and over agai n, ei t her as beaut i f ul l y execut ed bas- r el i ef scenes, or el se as mere convent i onal symbol s, such as a t r ee, wheel and

    st upa. I n t hi s f orm t hey are f ound engr aved on some of t he bases of t he ayaka- pi l l ar s bel ongi ng t o t he Amar avat i St upa now i n t he Madras Museum; and I di scover ed at Nagar j unakonda f our bases of ayaka- pi l l ar s each or nament ed wi t h a bas- r el i ef r epr esent at i on of t he ' Fi r st Ser mon. ' The pr esence of t hese symbol s car ved on t he bases of t he pi l l ars seems t o i ndi cat e t hat t hey wer e set up t o commemorate t he f i ve great mi r acl es; j ust as we know Asoka erect ed pi l l ar s t o mar k t he sacred spot s where t hese event s are sai d t o have occur r ed i n Nepal and Bi har . As i t was i mpossi bl e f or t hose l i vi ng i n t he Kr i shna di st r i ct t o er ect t he pi l l ar s an t he aot ual spot s i n Nor t her n I ndi a, t hey seem t o have hi t upon

    t he i dea of convent i onsl i si ng t he pi l l ar s i nt o gr oups of f i ve f or t he sake of conveni ence, so t hat t he events coul d be commemorated l ocal l y, and al so, per haps, wi t h a vi ew t o addi ng t o t he spl endour and i mpor t ance of t he st upas, as i n t he case of the Amaravat i Stupa, wher e t he st one casi ng t o t he dome, t he ayaka- pl at f or ms and pi l l ar s, and t he st one r ai l i ng, were al l added t o t he monument i n t he second or t hi r d cent ur y A. D. Thi s we know f r om t he i nscr i pt i ons bel ongi ng t o t hat monument . I n ear l i er t i mes t he ayaka- pi l l ars were unknown, and t hey onl y occur i n t he Andhr a st upas of t hat per i od.

    p. 189

    The pl at f or ms and pi l l ar s var y i n si ze and hei ght accor di ng t o t he di mensi ons of t he st upa t o whi ch t hey bel ong. The pi l l ar s var y f r om 10 t o 30 f eet i n hei ght , wi t h squar e bases and oct agonal shaf t s. The t ops are r ound, showi ng t hat t hey coul d not have suppor t ed capi t al s or any ot her ki nd of or nament s. I n some of t he bas- r el i ef pi ctur es of st upas, t he pi l l ar s ar e shown crowned wi t h t r i sul a or nament s, t he cent r e pi l l ar of t en wi t h a mi ni at ur e st upa as capi t al . Thi s i s i ncor r ect and pur el y decor at i ve, as t hey never suppor t ed anyt hi ng and coul d not do so as

    t he t ops were r ound, so t hat any ornament pl aced t her e woul d f al l i mmedi at el y t o t he gr ound. I n t hi s case t he or nament s mer el y i ndi cat e t hat t he pi l l ar s wer e dedi cat ed t o t he Buddha, and t he i nscr i pt i ons conf i rm thi s .

    E GREAT STUPA AT NAGARJUNAKONDA IN SOUTHERN INDIA. http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/long.ht

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    I n t he scul pt ur es t wo ki nds of st upas ar e depi ct ed- - one a pl ai n br i ck and pl ast er st r uct ur e l i ke t he st upas of t he Asokan age; and t he ot her i s s i mi l ar i n al l r espects, except t hat t he br i ck sur f ace i s f aced wi t h r i chl y car ved st one sl abs embedded i n mort ar . Thi s st one casi ng was appl i ed onl y t o t he f ace of t he dr um, ayaka- pl at f orms and l ower por t i on of t he dome. The upper port i on of t he domes of al l Andhr a st upas was execut ed i n br i ck and

    pl ast er and decor at ed wi t h a char act er i st i c gar l and ornament enci r cl i ng t he dome. Thi s ornament al ways appear s i n t he has- r el i ef r epr esent at i ons of st upas, and i s i n t he f or m of a br oad f est oon decor at ed wi t h bi g l ot us medal l i ons execut ed i n pl ast er .

    The st one casi ng was appl i ed onl y t o t he base of t he dome, as i t i s obvi ous t hat f l at st one sl abs coul d not be f i xed t o t he cur ved sur f ace of t he upper por t i on of t he dome. I n or der t o do t h...

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