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Notes on Places in the Province of Behar, supposed to be those
described by Chy-Fa-Hian, the Chinese Buddhist Priest, who made a pilgrimage to India, at the close of the fourth century A. D.; by Captain M. KITTOE, 6th Regiment, N. I.
In my former notes on the Viharas of Magadha or Behar, I expressed my desire to examine Rajagriha, Burgaon, Behar and Pawapuri. I have lately been enabled to pay a hurried visit to several of these places, which I was induced to do more particularly, after perusal of extracts from Remusat's translation of the Travels of Chy-Fa-Hian, [made at the close of the fourth century of the Christian era] obligingly furnished by our co-Secretary, Mr. J. W. Laidlay : these extracts are here given for ready reference.
Had I had full leisure and the season been more favourable, I should, no doubt, have been able to have made a better harvest of information than I have by such a hurried trip, with a burning sun and oppressive heat, which forbade much roaming about the rocks and jungles ; indeed, as it is, I suffered severely.
It would have been better could I have taken Patna, (Pa-lian-fou, Pataliputra) as my starting point, and from thence have followed in the very
tract of Fa-Hian to “the little hill of the isolated rock," but unable to do this, I sent a trust-worthy servant to Behar and have perused Buchanan's notice of the same place and its curiosities; also to another spot held sacred by the Jains called Pawapúri lying between that and Girryek. The remainder of the route I have traced myself.
“ Chap. XXVII. Departing from thence (Pataliputra, Pa-lian-fou) towards the south-east nine yeou yans bring you to “ the little hill of the isolated rock.” Now assuming the yeou yan to be the 2199 "yoyun" or “jojun” of the Sanscrit, which is equal to four ain or kos, our pilgrim will have travelled thirty-six miles in a south-easterly direction, as near as can be that of Behar; no intermediate spot is mentioned, nor can I hear of any which could have attracted his particular attention ; he describes the place (Behar ?) as the “ little hill of the isolated rock." “On the top of this rock is a stone building, facing towards the south: Foé being seated there, the king of heaven, Chy (Indra), made the celestial musicians Pant che play on the khin, *
* A kind of lyre.
in honor of him. The king of heaven Chy questioned Foé regard ing the forty-two things, drawing every one of them with his finger upon the stone : the traces of these drawings remain there still. In this place there is also a Seng-kia-lan, (monastery.)”
Now, first of all, as to the “isolated rock” and the “ monastery,” these two remarkable objects are surely not to be mistaken! As to the first, there is a bare rock near the site of the fort of Behar, on which is placed a durgah or shrine of a Muhammadan saint, as well as traces of other buildings; there is no tradition concerning its being held sacred by Hindus or Jains, that I could learn, though Behar itself is venerated by the latter : however, the very fact of a “Sheheed's durgah” or shrine of a Muhammadan martyr would strengthen my belief, that some sanctity was attached to the site at the time of the fall of the Moslem there enshrined, such being invariably the case in all parts of India. I, therefore, presume, that this is the “ little hill of the isolated rock," and the “Seng-kia-lan” or monastery was the great Vihara from which Behar takes its name, the site of it being now occupied by the ruins of Sher Shah's fort.
Buchanan (see Montgomery Martin's compilation) vol. I. p. 92, adds, that there is also a large conical mound called a punzawa (brickkiln) a name given as we shall see to other mounds of the same kind which were undoubtedly Dehgopes or Chaityas : I would refer my readers for more ample details to the above named work: other hills are also named.
I have taken much pains to ascertain, whether Behar anciently bore any other name than simply Vihar, but have been unsuccessful, though I am inclined to think it must have, so greatly have the names of places changed, and so many cities have been razed to the ground, that the locality must ever be a difficult point to decide, nothing indeed except such circumstantial records, as our Chinese traveller affords, could help us out of the difficulty ; in this light, for one, then, are his travels valuable, and tracing his track may not be a profitless undertaking.
We must now leave Behar and proceed to the South West.
“ Thence proceeding to the S. W. for one yeou yan you come to the hamlet of Na-lo. This is the place where Ché-li-foe (Sariputra) was born, and here he entered nirvana, They have here built a tower, which still exists."
It is somewhat difficult to follow the track here and to fix Na-lo, for in a south-westerly direction, taking a wide range of that quarter of the compass, we have several places sites of Jain and Budhist relics ; first of all, farthest east is Pawapùri” held sacred up to this time by the Jains, being the spot where Mahivira Swami died : his “churun” or feet marks are placed in the centre of a large tank on an island which is approached by an embankment and bridge, this and other expensive works, would seem from an inscription, (of which I annex a copy) to have been executed about 500 years ago, by rich merchants of the Sarawne east: there are no remains here which would indicate the previous existence of a tower or chaitya, though from Mahavira dying at this place, I should be inclined to think, that it must have been one of sanctity belonging to the Buddhists and Jains, which latter are. I believe, merely a heretical offset. The distance from Behar is three coss, which is less than one yojun.
The next place, further to the west of south is the village of Girryek, and the hill of that name on the top of which is an ancient tower called Jarasindh-ka-bytuki, and attributed to that monarch. There are many ruins of gigantic works here, among which is a causeway leading from the Panchanné rivulet up the hill to the tower, a description of which
may be found in Buchanan, vol. I. p. 79, and in the Journal A. S. vol. VIII. p. 353—there is also the site of a large town on the eastern side of the river close to the modern village of Girryek. I am scarcely inclined to suppose this place to be Na-lo, on account of its being so close to the“ Gridhra-kuta” and Buddha's cave, together with other remarkable features of the place which would have hardly been overlooked, and it seems strange that the pilgrim should have gone so far out of his way (on to Rajagriha) to return to the “Gridhra-kuta” caves; the direction of Rajagriha, however, is westerly, and so far answers to our traveller's bearings.
Another spot, six miles in a more westerly direction, is that called “Burgaon,” where there are several high tumuli, also many fine sculptures, numerous large tanks and wells, the ruins are most extensive; the ancient name of this town was Kündilpur, and is mentioned in the Bhagavut, and in the Jain books, it is nearly due north of Rajagriha, about 7 miles. I can again hardly think that such a place could have escaped the notice of so observant a person as Fa-Ilian. In the