Buddha Vihar - A Modern Monument in a Historic Place

Throughout history, Gulbarga has enjoyed importance for various reasons. Pre-historic relics have been found during excavations in the district. Sannathi is one such place which was one of the Buddhist centers of learning and place of pilgrimage, like Amaravati or Sanchi during the Mauryan rule. King Ashoka sent his own son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra as emissaries to spread the word of Buddhism in the region. It is also interesting to note that Kanaganahalli, a village near Sannathi is named after Kanakamuni, one of the Panchdhyani Buddhas. The ruins of a Buddhist Stupa has been excavated in the village by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Sannathi reveals the great history of Buddhism in South India. Archaeologists found five statues of the Buddha in a sitting posture and two statues of the Buddha in the standing posture in Sannathi. It was for the first time that so many statues of the Buddha were found at the same place in the nation's archaeological history. A stone sculpture presenting the last days of Buddha was also found here. We also find the statues of eight kings of the Shatavahana dynasty, who were followers of Buddhisml and the narratives of Jataka Tales. All the sculptures fiund here date back from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD and throw light on the influence of Buddhism during the ancient times of this region. One of Ashoka;s inscriptions, which is the 13th and the 14th mammoth stone, carries the king's noble intentions - "The people of the kingdom are my children; the welfare of the state is my concern." Sannathi is also regarded by historians as one of the places for the study of Buddhist art.

There are two great and holy places in Gulbarga city - the Temple of Saint Sharana Basaveshwara and the Dargah of the Sufi saint Khwaja Bande Nawaz. The addition of the Buddha Vihar to the city will connect the ancient spiritual tradition to the modern world. The Vihara is the centre of attraction to a large number of devotees and Buddhist scholars not only from India but also from other countries.

Buddhism in Modern India

Buddhism flourished not only in India but also in many Asian countries because of the efforts of Indian rulers like Ashoka and Harshavardhana. However, the influence of Buddhism in India witnessed a steady decline over centuries. The revival and redefinition of Buddhism in modern India can be credited to Babasaheb Ambedkar. He contributed greatly to the revival of Buddhism by embracing the teachings of Buddha along with 5 Lakh supporters on 14th October, 1956.

Babasaheb's embracing Buddhism was a culmination of decades of research and learning about the Dhamma. He made clear arguments about his reasons to believe that Buddhism can emancipate the human race from its sorrows and establish a society where all are equal and help eradicate the exploitation of the depressed classes.

Sri Mallikarjun Kharge, the founder of the Siddhartha Vihar Trust under whose aegis the Buddha Vihar has been built, also believes that the philosophies of Buddha and Ambedkar can take the world in a new direction and help create a society where exploitation does not exist.

(C) MMXI Siddhartha Vihar Trust