On the trail of Buddha’s disciples
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The country may be busy celebrating the 2550th year of Buddha's Mahaparinirvana, but grey areas abound on how Buddhism spread across the globe after the first sermon at Sarnath.
Which is why the state's archaeology department has finally decided to track the route taken by Buddha's disciples—Kumar Jeev, Kashyap and Matang— to spread his message of peace and harmony.
The project, titled "The Buddha Sandesh Yatra", will span 11 countries. Beginning from Sarnath, the team will travel to Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Afganistan, Pakistan and Tibet.
"We have managed to prepare a map. And we even have a tentative route ready in case there is a problem with Route 1," said Dr Rakesh Tiwari, director of UP State Archaeology Department (SAD).
Dr Tiwari, who has conceptualised the project, said: "Whatever we know about Buddhism's reach and the trade and cultural relations it facilitated, is through the accounts of travellers like Fa Hein and Huen Tsang. But how many of us are aware that after the first sermon at
Sarnath, several of Buddha's disciples, which included prime disciples like Kumar Jeev, Matang and Kashyap, went across the world following his instructions to spread the message of peace.''
The team will also interact with university teachers and researchers in these countries and look for publications on Buddhist sites and culture brought out there.
In course of the journey, the team will also try to promote cultural ties using the message of Buddha. "There are evidences of wonderful cultural relations with countries like Swarndeep (Burma), Cambu Desh (Cambodia) and Champa Desh (Vietnam) in ancient India and we want to rekindle the flame of relationship with these countries," he said.
The 12-member archaeologists team will capture the highlights of their journey on film. "We still do not have much information about many sites and this project will be the first attempt to document them not only in writing, but also on film. We have already submitted the proposal to the state government for funds," Dr Tiwari said.
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