The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Patna is the capital of the northern Indian state of Bihar and is situated on the right bank of the Ganges. During the Buddha’s time it was a village called Pāṭaligāma on the main north-south road and the main crossing place on the river. During the last year of his life, the Buddha passed through the village and was asked by the people to spend the night in the village rest house. He accepted their invitation and the villagers ‘swept the floor, prepared seats, topped up the water pot and filled the oil lamp’ (D.II,84). Two ministers of the king of Māgadha happened to be in Pāṭaligāma, and they invited the Buddha and the monks with him for a meal the next day. After that the Buddha continued his journey and the ministers proclaimed that whichever gate he left the village by would be renamed ‘Gotama Gate’ (Gotamadvāra) and where he crossed the river would be called ‘Gotama Ford’ (Gotamatittha, D.II,89). This was done and the two places retained these names for many centuries. Within a hundred years of the Buddha’s passing, Pāṭaligāma had grown into a large city and renamed Pāṭaliputta, became the capital of the Mauryan Empire and later the seat of King Aśoka.