Prajñāpāramitā प्रज्ञा पारमिता (A short notes on Prajnaparamita)
Compiled by: Damodar Pradhan Monumental Guide
The Sanskrit word Prajnaparamita literally translated signifies this book as "the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom (Perfect wisdom beyond ordinary limits / Prajna - प्रज्ञा wisdom and paramita पारमिता perfect or perfection) Prajnapramita is a central concept in Mahayana Buddhism and its practiceis believed to be the essential elements of the Bodhisattva Path. The practice of Prajnaparamita is described in the Prajnaparamita Sutras, which vary widely in length and written by different scholars. Tara and Prajnaparamita are both referred as mother of all Buddha, since Buddha is bornfrom wisdom. The Dharma is classified as inferior and superior according to the disciple's grade. In Buddhism the disciples are being classified into four differentstage of human being for example ordinary men; the stage of sainthood; Saint and bodhisattvas. In Buddhism, Dharma is referred to the teaching of Buddha, the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, the three Marks of Existence, and other guidelines. The main motif is to achieve the freedom and liberation from suffering and understand the state of mind torealize the supreme happiness, the natural joy and nirvana. The happinessis classified as Ananda (Joy), Paramanda (Supreme Joy), Virmananda(Absence of Joy), and Sahajanand. (Natural Joy)
The Four Noble Truths are an important principle in Buddhism, classically taught by the Buddha in the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sutra. Four Noble Truths is referred to the state of mind Dukkha (Suffering), Samudaya (the cause of suffering), Nirodha (free from suffering), Marga (away to end suffering). In Buddhism, Dharma is referred to the teaching of Buddha,the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, the three Marks of Existence, and other guidelines. The main motif isto achieve the freedom and liberation from suffering andunderstand the state of mind to realize the supremehappiness, the natural joy and nirvana. The happiness isclassified as Ananda (Joy), Paramanda (Supreme Joy),Virmananda (Absence of Joy), and Sahajanand (Natural Joy). Four Noble Truths is referred to the state of mind Dukkha (Suffering), Samudaya (the cause of suffering), Nirodha (free from suffering), Marga (a way to end suffering). The Four Noble Truths are formulated according to the ancient medical model as follows:-
1) there is an illness 2) The diagnosis – there is a cause of illness 3) There is a possibility of a cure for the illness 4) There is treatment for the illness (The prescription that can relieves the illness) The basic teachings of the Four Noble Truths are: 1) The First Noble Truth: Dukkha
Dukkha usually is translated as suffering. In life, we have illness, poverty,disease, old age and death. We cannot keep what we like and avoid what we do not like. It is universal truth that the happiness we do enjoy is temporary and we do need to suffer.
Suffering can get stopped if we can get rid of the state of mind, desire, cravings or hunger. There is a state of mind free from suffering if we can develop insight into the true nature of phenomena (or reality) and to eradicate greed, feeling of intense dislike, and delusion (a false belief or opinion), get rid of the state of mind, desire, cravings or hunger.
There is a way to end suffering, we must end our cravings. The Noble Eightfold Path is the only noble way that leads to end the suffering (dukkha or carving) and achieve self-awakening. It is also known as the Middle Path or Middle Way. The Eightfold Path
Wisdom brings a clear understanding of the truth about how things really are. This leads craving and desire to end from the mind (detachment) that brings freedom from suffering and the end of suffering brings Supreme Happiness. The Noble Eightfold Path describes the teachings as a formula which is described in simple steps and includes both physical and mental treatment for getting a end of suffering. The goal of the Noble Eightfold Path is to bring a true understanding of the Four Noble Truths and deliver their ultimate Teaching - the end of suffering. The Path develops character and personality by showing the way to live a virtuous life, develop wisdom and finally to attain the highest qualities of a human being and develop the Buddhahood. This is the ultimate goal of the Eightfold Path and all eight ways of practice must be followed in order to attain it. The Path is specifically aimed at developing behavior, mind and knowledge and the eight steps are divided into those three ways of practice that is Good Conduct, Mental Development and Wisdom.
Noble Eightfold Path can only work if a person chooses to apply it to their lives, and takes full responsibility in following the steps. The Noble Eightfold Path is a very systematic and methodical approach to solve the problem of suffering in life, and achieving a state of wisdom, peace and Nirvana. The program first develops character and personality, then develops ethical conduct and restraint which promote concentration. Concentration and mindfulness help make the mind free from ignorance and blossom into wisdom.(Access higher knowledge) Wisdom brings a clear understanding of the truth about how things really are. This leads craving and desire to end from the mind (detachment) that brings freedom from suffering and the end of suffering brings Supreme Happiness.
The Noble Eightfold Path describes the teachings as a formula which is described in simple steps and includes both physical and mental treatment for getting a end of suffering. The goal of the Noble Eightfold Path is to bring a true understanding of the Four Noble Truths and deliver their ultimate Teaching - the end of suffering. The Path develops character and personality by showing the way to live a virtuous life, develop wisdom and finally to attain the highest qualities of a human being and developed the Buddhood. This is the ultimate goal of the Eightfold Path and all eight ways of practice must be followed in order to attain it. The Path is specifically aimed at developing behavior, mind and knowledge and the eight steps are divided into those three ways of practice that is Good Conduct, Mental Development and Wisdom. The way to the end of suffering is to choose middle path by balancing the luxury and hardship, utilizing the minimum requirements to have the livelihood. It is the Noble Eightfold Path that helps to realize happiness by understanding the Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration, Right Attitude and Right View.
It is the Noble Eightfold Path that helps to realize happiness by understanding the Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration, Right Attitude and Right View. Truth is found through the Middle Way by following Eightfold Noble Path as stated below:. 1) Right Viewpoint or right vision or Understanding (samyag-dristi, samma-dristi) Correct thought by avoiding sharp desire - extreme desire to acquire, the wish to harm others and wrong views (thinking as if the actions have no effect or say I have no problem so there is no ways to end suffering etc.) Right view begins with the concept of knowledge with reference to suffering, its origin, the main cause and the solution to get rid of suffering. Birth, aging, sickness, death, sorrow, pain, grief, distress, and something that causes extreme sadness are suffering. Not being able to obtain what one wants is also suffering. Wrong view arising from ignorance, is the precondition for wrong intention, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong.
2) Right Values (samyak-samkalpa, samma- samkalpa) Commitment to mental value or expressing moral approval or moral philosophy correct speech avoid lying, harass speech (while having difference of opinion do not use harsh speech) and idle talk or rumor. 3) Right Speech (Samyag-vac, samma-vacaa) To speak in a truthful way without harming others and to grow worse with unreasonable or wrong logic.
3) Right Speech - (samyag-vac, samma-vacaa) The power of speech is a unique gift of man. It is a power of speech that helps to bring harmony, happiness and wisdom. Without unreasonable or wrong logic and harming others it is reasonable to speak the truth. If it is abused it can bring ignorance, delusion, pain and deceit. Right Speech is about controlling the abuse of speech and to control the words (while having difference of opinion do not use harass speech). It teaches to avoid lies, tale bearing, harsh words and idle talk or rumor and practice speaking truth, gentle words and sensibly and meaningful speech. .To speak in a truthful way without harming others and to grow worse with unreasonable or wrong logic Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. Correctactions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct
4) Right Actions (samyak-karmanta, samma-kammanta) – simple and healthy action, avoid action that would harm others. Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions. (The following last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation) 5) Right Livelihood (samyag-ajiva, samma-ajiva) - profession does not harm in any way oneself nor others, directly orindirectly to understand and develop genuine wisdom.
To understand the Law of Cause and Effect (Not to destroy any life, not to steal or commit adultery) Simple and healthy action, avoid action that would harm others, avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. Right Action is concerned with what we do; avoiding actions that damage ourselves and others. Simple and healthy action, avoid action that would harm others. Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions. Right Livelihood shows the way for a person to choose the best way to become a useful, productive citizen and bring social and economic progress. Buddhist Teachings advise against harmful professions such as trading in weapons, living beings, flesh, intoxicants and poison.
Avoid occupations of soldiering, fishing, hunting, and teach against cunning, cheating and gambling. Understanding and developing profession does not harm in any way oneself nor others. Try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions to understand and develop genuine wisdom. Avoid occupations that bring harm to oneself and others. Understanding and developing profession and genuine wisdom, does not harm in any way oneself nor others, directly or indirectly (to understand and develop genuine wisdom). Profession does not harm in any way oneself nor others, directly or indirectly to understand and develop genuine wisdom.
(The following last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation)
Correct effort, after the first real step we need joyful belief to continue or make an effort to improve the belief. Right Effort is earnestly doing one's best in the right direction which is fourfold;
1. Avoid evil and unwholesome states of mind from arising 2. Overcome evil and unwholesome states of mind already present 3. Cause good and wholesome states of mind not yet present to arise 4. Develop and perfect such states of mind already present Try again and again to make an effort to improve the belief (to continue a joyful belief-Perseverance) (The following last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation) 7) Right Mindfulness - Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the "here and now", instead of "there and then". Consciousness- Mental ability to see things with clear knowledge or the sense of one's personal or collective identity.
Right Mindfulness focuses us on the truth about what is happening in the body, mental feelings and thoughts etc. Right Concentration is a development of this attention, enabling to develop the mind that brings the strengths and freedoms including the clarity of mind and calmness to stay on the path of Good Conduct. Mental ability to see things with clear knowledge or the sense of one's personal or collective identity or awareness, try to be aware of the "here and now" instead of "there and then". Correct concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind (universal emptiness) or the Natural Joy. 8) Right Meditation -(samyak-samadhi, samma-samadhi)
Correct Concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind (universal emptiness) where one reaches enlightenment and the ego get disappear universal emptiness or the Natural Joy. To make the mind steady and calm in order to realise the true nature of things. The practice of developing Right View is to distinguishing between right and wrong, good and bad that leads to a complete understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Right View is free from delusion and ignorance and moves very easily into deep wisdom, clear sight and the ego gets disappear which leads to the stage of enlightenment and the ego gets disappear.
The Trisatika, Pancasatika, Saptasatika, Astasahasrika, Sardhadvisahasrika, Pancavimsatisahasrika, Astadasasahasrika and Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra.
1) Trisatika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 300 lines, the Diamond Sūtra or Vajracchedikā Prajnaparamita Sutra 2) Pancasatika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 500 lines 3) Saptasatika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 700 lines, the bodhisattva Manjushree’s exposition of Prajnaparamita 4) Pardhadvisahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 2500 lines, from the questions of Bodhisattva Suvikrantavikramin 5) Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 8000 lines 6) Astadasasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 18,000 lines 7) Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 25,000lines 8) Satasahasrika Prajnaparami Sutra: Maha PrajnaparamitaSutra.
According to Joseph Walser Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (25,000line) and Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (100,000 lines) have a connection with Dharmaguptaka sect, while Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (8000 lines) does not have any sect. ------ Williams, Paul. 2008, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. Prajnaparamita has been the subject of controversy since long and scholars are not able to trace its origin. The Chinese traveler Faxian described images of Prajnaparamita in India as early as 400 BC, but all known existent images date from 800 or later. Buddhist scholars agree that Prajnaparamita sutras represent the earliest layer of Mahayana sutra literature. Diamond Sutra (300 stanzas) also known as Vajrachedika Prajnaparamita Sutra is widely used and is also popularly known as “portable editions” of Prajnaparamita.
The circulations of the Prajnaparamita Sutra involved in three phases:
a) memorization of the basic text b) systematic updating c) interpretations that made the text live for succeeding generation.
1) 100 B.C. to 100 A. D. – Basic text elaboration: this period is characterized by the formation and composition of the basic text. The oldest text in this period is the Astashasrika Sutra or the Prajnaparamita in Eight Thousand Verses.
a) Shatasahasrika (100,000 line) b) Panchavimshasrika Sutra (25,000 lines) c) Ashtadashashasrika Sutra (18,000 lines).
3) 300 A.D to 500 A.D – This period is characterized by the restatement of the basic ideas in short sutras and verified summaries. The Diamond Sutra (300 stanzas) also known as Vajrachedika Prajnaparamita Sutra and the Hridaya Prajna-paramita Sutra (Heart Sutra with 14 and 25 verses ) belong to this period. 4) 500 AD to 1200 A.D. - This period is characterized by the influence of the tantras, evidences of magical elements in the sutras and their usage. Adhyardhashatika Prajnaparamita Sutra (150 verses).
Hsuan-tsang, the Chinese scholar after completing his study (645 A.D.) in India brought with him some of the manuscript and started translating them into Chinese language. He also translated “The Great Prajnaparamita Text (worked between 659 and 663).
It is a collection of the sixteen sermons:-Dharmadeshana (meetings) in four different places, a) Vulture Peak, b) in Anathapindada’s Park at Sravasti, c) in Paranirmitavasavartin the abode of Gods and d) at the Snowy Heron Pond in the Bamboo Park near Rajgrha.
Most of the manuscripts are in Sanskrit and are being originated and copied in Nepal. B.H. Hodgson collected Prajnaparamita from Nepal (1830 – 1840) written in Sanskrit, was the first collection of its kind brought to Europe.
Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita having Eight Thousand Verse is believed to be the oldest form of Prajnaparamita which is has been translated into Chinese language in 100 B.C. (Edward, Conze: The Composition of the Astashasrika Prajnaparamita, Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies:– University of London Volume 14- No.2, 1952).
In addition to these, there are also other Prajnaparamita Sutra such as the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya), which exists in both14-line and 25-line versions. Regarding the shorter texts, Edward Conze in his book "The Short Prajnaparamita Texts -1973" writes, according to merit the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra are renowned throughout the world. Both have been translated into many languages and have often been commented upon. Additionally, Prajnaparamita Sutra teachings are held by some Tibetan Buddhists to have been conferred upon Nagarjuna by Nag raja, King of Nagas, who had been guarding them at the bottom of the ocean. Tantric versions of the Prajnaparamita literature were produced from the year 500 CE on. Some of the ancient manuscripts are in the collection of Museums around the world.
The following two collections are very important and authentic, The Heart Sutra (smallest of its kind having only 14 Stanzas in Sanskrit) is in New York Museum and The Perfection of wisdom (Tibetan Script having 8,000 stanza) from the collection of Royal Library Copenhagen. There are more Prajnaparamita written in other languages found in many South Asian Countries Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Java, Sumatra, Bali, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Most of the Scholars are of the opium that the oldest and authentic manuscript is from Sri Lanka. The oldest Prajnaparamita manuscript (written during the period of Manipaldeva the king of Bengal 1020 AD) from the collection of Cambridge University is written in Ranjana script, highlights the origin of Ranjana Script from India. (From the collection of Indian Art Museum, Berlin –Dr. Regmi, Dinesh Chandra, Purlekhana Paricaya VS 2048/ 1991, An introduction to Nepalese Paleography - in Nepali - Page 102) Conclusion:-
Tantric versions of the Prajnaparamita literature were believed to have been in practiced as early as 500 AD. Images of Prajnaparamita deity are found throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and Tibet. .The oldest image of Prajnaparamita found until to-day is the stone sculpture from Singosari, East Java kept in the Pusat Museum that belong to thirteenth Century (13th Century). (Credit: Courtesy of the Rijks museum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, Netherland) She is usually represented in yellow or white colour, with one head and two arms (sometimes more), the hands in the teaching gesture (dharmachakra - mudra) holding a Lotus and a book. The image found in Nepal has four hand holding rosary, sword (to clean ignorance), thunderbolt (symbolizing the emptiness- vajra), or bowl (renunciation of material goods being a prerequisite to obtain wisdom). In Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism, she is described as the female consort of Adi-Buddha (first Buddha).
Prajnaparamita teachings are held by some Tibetan Buddhists to have been conferred upon Nagarjuna by Nag raja, King of Nagas, who had been guarding them at the bottom of the ocean. Tantric versions of the Prajñāpāramitā literature were produced from the year 500 CE. Some of the ancient manuscripts are in the collection of Museums around the world. The following two collections are very important and authentic, The Heart Sutra (smallest of its kind having only 14 Stanza in Sanskrit) is in New York Museum and the Perfection of wisdom in Tibetan Script (having 8,000 stanzas / shloka) from Copenhagen Royal Library.
There are Prajnaparamita also written in other languages found in many South Asian Countries, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China, Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Bali, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, but most of the Scholars do believe the one from Sri Lanka is the oldest and is called the authentic collection as it is written in Pali script. (Pali is the oldest script among other used in Buddhist Text). In addition to these, there is also other Prajnaparamita sutras such as the Heart Sutra (PrajnaparamitaHridaya), which exists in both 14-line and 25-line versions. Regarding the shorter texts, Edward Conze in his book "The Short Prajnaparamita Texts - 1973" writes, according to merit the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra are renowned throughout the world. Both have been translated into many languages and have often been commented upon.
The oldest Prajnaparamita manuscript (written during the period of Manipaldeva the king of Bengal 1020 AD) from the collection of Cambridge University is written in Ranjana script, highlights the origin of Ranjana Script from India. (From the collection of Indian Art Museum, Berlin –Dr. Regmi, Dinesh Chandra, Purlekhana Paricaya VS 2048/ 1991 An introduction to Nepalese Paleography - in Nepali -Page 102).
Mahayan Buddhist text including Prajnaparamita are being best presureved in Nepal,There are many Vihars in and around Kathmandu Valley where they do have some collections of manuscripts written by different scholars and are displayed during the holy month GUNLA - August / September. There is more Prajnaparamita manuscript also in the collection of National Achieve as well in Asha Saphu Kuthi, (Asha Archives) Kaiser Library and National Library in Kathmandu, Nepal. Most of those collections are in small version or are of small volume but the one in Vikramshila Mahavihar, Thamel sounds to be more authentic and has more Stanzas (shlokas) and is nicely written with real golden ink (dated 344 NS / 1233 AD). Prajnaparamita from Patan, Rudra Varna Mahavihar is dated 216 NS/ 1105 AD and from Hiranya Varna Mahabihar is dated 336 NS / 1225 AD _ (Hem Raj Sakya and T. R. Vaidya, 1970 Medieval Nepal: Colophonsand inscriptions, Kathmandu page 6)
Vikramshil Mahavihar, Thambahi
Vikramshil Mahavihar, Thambahi, Simhakalpanagar is the ancient name of Bhagwan Bahal, Thamel Kathmandu Mahavihar signifies it to be a higher teaching institute, sameas a University; Thambahil signifies it to be the monastery of high significance and pride. Simhakalpanagar denotes it as a separate city or town itself. Bahi is the old form of Nepalese monastery usually located in a peaceful place far from the city settlement and are made ina plinth little above the level of the ground and are constructed in a very simple form. Originally Bahis were designed as a place for training, perching, copying the religious text; as a teaching institute; boarding for the students and shelter for the visiting monks. After theintroduction of Vajrayan cult a new kind of monastery known as bahal (with more decoration) were constructed in the city settlement to accommodate the married monks living together with their family. (Korn, Wolfgang, The Traditional Archecture of Kathmandu Valley, Ratna Pustak Bhandar, Kathmandu). In this short article I am trying my best effort to high lightsome facts to make understand a common reader about this ancient temple complex: lots of investigation and researchneed to be conduct to identify its past glory, as we are leftwith few documents.
Swayambhu Puran is one of the oldest manuscripts narratingthe story of the evolution of Kathmandu Valley. According to the legend, Kathmandu Valley was a titanic lake surrounded by mountains. Kanakmuni Bodhisattwa is believed to have thrown a lotus seed in the lake. A big lotus flower with a thousand leaves blossomed in the center of the lake that attracted visitors from around the globe. Manjushree Bodhisttwa is believed to have visited this place and meditated in Phulchowki(Phullichho) and Jamachho (Jatamatroccho). He is believed to have drained the valley by cutting the edge of the hill with his divine sword. (Chobhar being the only exit for all rivers in Kathmandu Valley and the black soil found everywhere in Kathmandu Valley does signify it to be a lake earlier). Manjushree is the Bodhistawa of Divine Wisdom representing the infinite and eternal intellect of Buddha. Manjushree holds a sword in his right hand and a book of perfection (Prajna-paramita) in the left hand.
The first historical important evidence of Than Bahi is the visit of Pundit Atisha Shrijana (NS 982 - 1054 AD) who did spend one year studying the Buddhist philosophy during 1041/42 AD. He was the head pundit (Principal) of Nalanda University and was invited by the Tibetan king to visit Tibet to teach and revive Buddhism. On his way to Tibet he spent one year in Nepal (1041 - 42); most of his time was spent in Tham Bahi. He is believed to have studied the Buddhist philosophy and has written books in Sanskrit. (But he did not mention the name of Prajnaparamita from Tham Bahi in his travel account). The Saharsha Prajnaparamita a rare collection of four volumes of highest Buddhist manuscript in this temple complex has aclose relationship with Manjushree.
The legendary Caravan to Lhasa leaded by Simhala Sarth Baha also does have main historical significance to its establishment. Some of the travel records made by scholars from India, Tibet and China also did mention about the glory of this temple during the 11th and13th century; still lots of real facts are missing. Dharmashri Mitra, a renowned scholar from Vikramshil Vihar, Nalanda, India is believed to visit Nepal for advance study in Buddhism and Sanskrit in the early 13th Century. He did study in Thambahil, which clearly indicates the high importance of Thambhil and the similarity of the name Vikramshil indicates the name might have been given by him“Traditional Architecture of Kathmandu Valley" by Wolfgang Korn, Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1976 (Text by Purna Harsha Bajracharya).
Recent Archeological excavation in Nalanda got a new light about the existence of Vikramshil Vihar as one of the old teaching institutions for higher study in Buddhism in the early first century B.C. A historical evidence of the restoration of the temple in 408 NS/1287 AD by Hari Singh during the resign of King Parthvendra Malla is being mentioned in the Toran, the semicircular wood archive kept in the main entrance of the temple. (It did have nice carvings of the image of Prajnaparamita which was stolen some 40 years ago; a new Toran is kept now as a replacement).
The brick paving and the restoration of the temple complex in Thambahi was done by Hari Simha during the reign of king Parthivendra Malla is also mentioned in one of the stone inscription kept in National Archiev (The stone inscription no.173- Rajvamsi, Sanker Man 2027 VS in Kantipur Silalekh Suchi published by HMG National Archive p.125). Almost all Vihars in and around Kathmandu valley are being managed by the community of priest family either by Bajracharya or Sakya (Gristha Bhishu) family but this Vihar is exceptional where Pradhan family do control the management to run the day to day activities as well as various rituals during festivals.
Simhala Sarthabaha is believed to have established Bhagwan Bahal and the entire daily rituals and activities during the festival are being controlled by the Pradhan family from Thamel, who believe themselves as the descendants of Simhala Sarthabaha. We see the Gajus on the rooftops of the religious buildings and temples and chaityas in the Buddhist temple. Both the Buddhist as well as the Hindu temple has the Gaju (the pinnacle) and a Kalash (the holy water vase) design but the main shrine of Thambahi has a chaitya and a metallic mirror on the spire. A banner of white cloth along with a metallic belt hangs down from the metallic mirror (or chaitya). (Locke, John K., S.J. Karunamaya 1986 page 474)
The four volume of Saharsha Prajnaparamita manuscript in the collection of Thambahi is dated Nepal Sambat 344 Margasira Pratipada (1223 AD) is believed to have written by Jinashri Jnana and started by Manjushree. Jinashri is supposed to get inspired by Manjushree and found an auspicious moment to start writing the manuscript, but felt asleep; Manjushree is believed to have started writing the first three pages with his finger. (The first three pages do have big script different than the remaining page). When he woke up, found the auspicious moment already passed and was laminating; Manjushri came forward and instructed him to start writing without any disturbances as he has already started writing from the auspicious moment. This is a legend but we have no evidence regarding how long it did take to write all the four volume.
The date NS 344 (1223 AD) might be the date it was completed or the date mentioned by someone else?
King Pratap Mall (1641-1674 AD) and Queen Lalmati after visiting this temple wrote three stanzas appreciating the holy manuscript Laksavati Prajnaparamita (NS 780/1658 AD). Pandit Hemraj Sakya in his Nepal Sanskritya Mulukha 1969 (Main entrance of the culture of Nepal in Nepal Bhasha) did mentioned this manuscript as Laksavati Prajnaparamita; this clearly indicate to have 100,000 stanza. It is believed that there were in total five volumes of Manuscripts. Tibetans did invade the temple and looted one volume which was recovered by the army and was deposited in Hanumandhoka Palace during King Pratap Mall’s period. Some people used to speak to have seen a manuscript having more similarity in script, being used during rituals in Sweat Bhairav temple in Hanumandhoka. It is very interesting facts about numerology in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology that number nine plays a vital role, this is clearly understood in the layout of the page with three row containing nine lines totaling twenty seven lines, adding two and seven makes nine so each and every volume also do have the same count ending with nine.
This does not happen if we have eight lines with three rows even though nine lines with four rows do fulfill these criteria but the size do not look nice. The size of the page is rectangular nine inches by eighteen inches written in real golden ink, which looks like aprint rather than a hand written manuscript as the character looks uniform and looking at the nice and bright prints, it is hard to believe it being written long ago. There are 54,864 total lines in the four Volumes, (27 lines in one page - nine lines in three rows) four volume containing 2032 page (517 pages in Vol.1, 506 in Vol. II, 512 in Vol.III and 497 in Vol. IV). We have no idea regarding the total number of pages in the missing volume kept in Hanuman Dhoka. If we guess 500 pages in the missing volume it will add 13,500 lines making total 68,364 lines.
During GUNLAA, the Buddhist holy months (ninth months of the Lunar Calendar) the four volumes are given to the Bajracharya of four renowned Vihars of Kathmandu to recite from top to bottom and are paid for doing so. During the last day of the display of the manuscript the National (Royal) Kumari from Hanumandhoka is being carried on a chariot to Thambhil for viewing the manuscript and the head Priest from Hanumandhoka used to recite few lines from the first page and the last page in the presence of Kumari marking the end of reciting of the holy manuscript Prajnaparamita. This used to be the only time when the manuscript is able to be view by public. (Now a day’s one can easily see it on paying certain fee that is used for the temple expenses). Many devotees from China, Tibet, India, Sikkim and Bhutan come visit Thambhi to view the holy Manuscript which is believed to have written by the Devin Lord lord of learning Manjushree. Manjushree - Legandary or Historical?
In the first chapter of Kalachakra Tantra, the main religiousText of Mahayan Buddhism, it is mentioned that 600 years after Buddha a great scholar Manjushree will be born to get anew renaissance of Buddhist thoughts, clearly indicates Manjushree to belong to the First century AD, (Boudha Darshan by Baldev Upaddhaya published by Sharada Mandir Kashi 2003 page 454 – 55). Same quote is also given in Maryada No. 13 pages 69 - 71). The Buddhist text Saddharma Pundarika, is also written by a Buddhist Monk named Manjushree during the first century (Legendary History of Kathmandu by John Luck page 412) and Late Bhuvan Lal Pradhan also did mentioned the legendary Manjushree belong to the first century in the article “Manjushree Legendary or historical” published in Nepali (Gorkhapatra 2048/2/11).
The holy Satashasrika Prajnaparamita (100,000 verses 12 volumes in the Tibetan language) has been translated in ninth century by Jianshree Mitra, Subrenbodieg and Tibetan Monk Ye-Se-sde, (Bibliotheca Indica 1902-1913). This clearly indicates Jianshree to belong to the ninth century signifying his teacher Manjushree also to belong to this period. Edward Conze in his book "The Prajnaparamita Literature" did mention Jianmitra to have translated this text in Tibetan language during the early 9th century. The date mentioned at the end of the manuscript from Bhagwan Bahal (344 NS / 1223 AD), being written by Jianshri indicates another historical Manjushree to belong to the thirteen century (Jianshri was the deciple of Manjushree). There is some confusion regarding the legendary and threehistorical Manjushree: a scholar and Monk from India (1st Century), Teacher of Jianmitra (Jinashri 9thCentury), teacherof Jinashri (from the Prajnaparamita manuscript written in the 13th Century) and The legendary Manjushree from Mahachin (China). The date 1223 AD/ 344 NS mentioned at the end of the Prajnaparamita manuscript from Vikramshila Mahavihar indicates another historical Manjushree (a monk from Nalanda University, India) the teacher of Jinashri to belong to the 13th century.
Jinashri is believed to have inspired from his teacher and found an auspicious moment to start writing the manuscript. He felt asleep by the time and Manjushri is believed to start writing the first three pages with his finger. (The first three pages do have big script different than the remaining page). When he woke up, found the auspicious moment already passed so was laminating; Manjushri came forward and instructed him to start writing without any disturbances as he has already started writing from the auspicious moment. This is a legend but we have no evidence regarding how long it did take to write all the four volume. The date 1223 AD / 344 NS mentioned at the end ofthe manuscript might be the date it was completed or the date mentioned by someone else? King Pratap Mall and Queen Lalmati after visiting this temple (NS 780 / 1658 AD) during the festival did wrote three stanzas appreciating the holy manuscript Laksavati Prajnaparamita (Meaning 100,000 Stanza-- Pundit Hem Raj Sakya, Nepal Sanskritya Mulukha 1969 (Main entrance of the culture of Nepal in Nepal Bhasha). We have no idea regarding the total number of page in the missing volume. Jataka (Buddhist Birth Stories - Jataka Tales),
Jataka, the story of the previous birth of Buddha is the oldest, most complete, and most important collection of folklore which contains a record of the everyday life, and everyday thoughts of the people. (The Commentarial Introduction entitled Nidana Katha- The Story of the linage, Translated from Pali text by Prof.V. Fausboll).
The Jatakas so constituted were carried to Ceylon in the Pali language, when Buddhism was first introduced into that island (a date that is not quite certain, but may be taken provisionally as about 250 BC); and the whole tales were translated into the Singhalese language. Mahinda, the son of Asoka (in some text he is called on as the brother of Asoka), is believed to have collected 550 Jataka stories in Pali (the twenty-two Nipitaks) which were composed by the time of the council of Patna (held in about 250 BC).
A Jataka Book is also found in the Anguttara Nikdya and in the Saddharma Pundarika. The memoirs of Fah-hian (Faxian 399-414 AD), the famous Chinese traveler who visited Abhayagiri in Sri Lanka during 412 AD recorded 500 representations of Bodhisatta insuccessive births.The Jataka Atthavannand (547 tales) belong to the third or fourth century BC is retold into its present form in Ceylon in the fifth century AD in the Pali text is edited by Prof. Fausboll of Copenhagen in 1877-96. This Pali Text is the oldest collection of the Jataka Tales has been translated into English language by Edward Cowell (Cambridge 1895-1907). The 547 Jatakas do not include the Mahagovinda Jataka, which is mentioned in several early texts such as Nidana-katha and the Jatakakatha. Similarly some stories are repeated with the same name or with another, thus, the number of Jataka stories could also be more or a little less.
In all Jatakas from India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan,Vietnam, Indonesia, the story of the rescue of five hundred merchants from the captive of Rakshasi by White Flying Horse, as the Devine Lord Avalokiteswara, is mentioned and the story ends with the only member, the leader able to get back home safely leaving behind all other members under the captive of the Rakshasi but nothing is mentioned about the Leader of the Legendary Caravan. The story of the flying white horse is illustrated on the bas-reliefs of the temple of Boro-Boedoer in Java (Leemans,Borro-Boudour, page 389, Leide, 1874) and on one side of a pillar in a Buddhist railing at Mathura, is a flying horse with people clinging to it (Anderson, Catalogue of the Indian Museum, page 189) from The Goblin City (Valahassa Jataka by Francis & Thomas page 189).
The story of the horse Balaha was immortalized in stone at the Angkor monument of Neak Pean during the 12th century CE. (See Khmer Mythology by Vittorio Roveda, p. 65) One painting from Ajanta cave shows the past time of Prince Simhala’s journey to Sri Lanka. He is shipwrecked along with his men on an island on which ogresses appear as beautiful women, but who eat their victims. The princes escape on a flying horse, then later returns to the island and conquer it and established Buddhism. (Behl, Benoy K: The Ajanta Caves). Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang visited India in the seventh century AD and stayed here for fifteen years (629-645 AD), did not mention about Ajanta cave. In 1819 British officers of the Madras Army made a discovery of this magnificent site. They named it Ajanta after the name of the nearest village. After a gap of twenty-five years, James Fergusson presented a paper at the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1843, highlighting its importance in term of Buddhism. This is the first scholarly study of the site which drew the global attention. (Jamkhedkar, Ajanta:Monumental Legacy)
The Pali Jatakas, Divyavadana (heavenly stories) and the sixteenth-century Sanskrit text Gunakdrandavyiha narrates the story of Avalokitesvara as The Flying White Horse to help rescue the five hundred merchants from the captivity of the Raksasi the Valahassa Jataka. The horse is represented as an incarnation of the Avalokitesvara in the Karandavyuha Sutra. The flying white horse is called Balaha in Jataka, the stories of Buddha’s previous life. Simhsarthabaha is mentioned as one of the previous lives of Buddha in the 16th chapter of Gunakarandavyaha. In one of the Jataka Story the name of the leader of the group of merchant is mentioned as Simhala, who was the only member to get back to the other shore.(The Jataka: Stories of the Buddha's Former Births -The Goblin City page 164/165, edited by E. B. Cowell, vol. 1 - 3. published in 1895-1907).
The Aśvarāja story relates the adventures of a caravan of merchants shipwrecked on an island of demonizes and rescued by a flying horse, the asvarsa, and ‘king of horses’. The Simhala story continues this narrative to include the chief merchant, Simhala, being followed home by demons, who tries to get him back before seducing and eating the king. Simhalais crowned king and invades the island. “The Valahassa Jataka” - Some of the different sources related to the legendary story of the Avalokiteswora help rescue the group of five hundred merchants from the Cannibalistic demons (man eating Rakshasis - the she-goblins). 1) Valahassa Jataka from the Japanese Literature.
The Valahassa Jataka, as it is known in Pali, was transmitted across Asia from India to Japan. A Japanese scroll painting belonging to the 13th century illustrating the Valahassa Jataka is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the tale is known as Kannon-kyo (Kannon Sutra) in Japanese literature. In the tale the name of the island is mentioned as Ceylon and a city of Cannibalistic demon. The name of the country of the five hundred merchant and the name of the leader are not mentioned. In this tale the five hundred merchant are called on as the disciples of Sakyamuni and the white flying horse as Bodhisattva. (The Flying White Horse: Transmission of the Valāhassa Jātaka Imagery from India to Japan by Julia Meech-Pekarik, Published by: Artibus Asiae Publishers Volume 43 n. 1-2 1981, page 111- 128)
Once upon a time, there was on the island of Lanka a goblin town called Sirisavatthu, the home of she-goblins. We find the story of a group of five hundred shipwrecked traders being rescued by five hundred she-goblins disguised as pretty nice looking young ladies. The chief of the traders got noticed the ladies as man eater goblins so he did request all member to flee from the city (Ceylon). Two hundred fifty members followed the chief and they were being helped by the white flying horse to cross the ocean. This is how the Jataka story ends with the rescue help made to the group of merchants by the flying white horse Balaha as one of theBuddha’s previous life. The same story is repeated by E J Thomas in his book Jataka Tales (No. 196, The Goblin City page 164-166 published by Cambridge University Press in 1916 and in The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha, Valahassa Jataka-196 by C.B. Varma)
In the history of Tibet called Rgyal-rabs-gsal-vai-me-lon (The mirror illustrating the lineage of the kings) Valahassa Jataka is mentioned in the sixth chapter. This was composed in the early 17th century with the narrative description of the animistic life in Tibet from an ape and a rakshasi and the description of the linage of the ruling king ending Sronbtsan sgam-po and the further history of the country to the time of the writer. (A Jataka-Tale from the Tibetan: by H. Wenzel pp.503 -511 published in 1888). Singhala is mentioned as the name of the island and the the group of five hundred merchants from India were being rescued from the Rakshasis by Lord Avalokitecvara in the form of flying horse Balaha. 4) Valahassa Jatakaya (the birth story of the Flying Horse from Pali)
At Kelanimulla ferry, in 1952 a large, very well made dugout boat was found (now in the Colombo Museum) that has been radio carbon dated to 2300BP ± 100, which is 380– 480 BC: which makes it very close to the time of Vijaya’s arrival (on the date of the Buddha’s paribbana on 543 BC). From the location it was found, one can say that Kalyani was occupied by a technologically advanced people. Archaeological excavations in Kelaniya brought to light “black and red ware” pottery that has also been dated 3rd century BC. Sri Lanka has been known both for its copper deposits (perhaps that is the origin of “Tambapanni”) and iron: infact it has been said that they did not have a copper or bronze age, but that it went straight from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. In fact, the slag heaps found in uncountable numbers all over the country is proof of a long-established industry which lasted until the 19th century, if not later.
The settlers who came by sea along the western Indian coast were searching for the precious gems, so did they gave the name “Ratnadweepa” for this country ; and they met an advanced people who knew how to mine and work in iron and copper, had the means of accessing the interior of the country by boat, lived in ‘cities’ and traded with Indian merchants. Sinhala signify bark in Sanskrit literature, ‘Cassia bark. (‘cinnamomum cassia’) is often used as a substitute for ‘cinnamomum verum’ (also called ‘cinnamomum zeylanica’), which is native to Sri Lanka. Simhala the name given to this island may have been possible because of Cinnamon – in addition to Gems, Copper and Iron, brought the Indian merchants to this island: just as it brought the Europeans here two thousand years later? The Reality is therefore a long way from the fantasy land of the legends. Simhala, Ratnadweepa, Iron City, and Tambapanni (Tamradwipa) are the different name given to Ceylon by traders since the early begning of 3rd century BC.
5) A Jataka-Tale (Dukanipata: No. 196)
(Translated from the Pali Literature)
In the Valáhassa Játaka (No.196) the island Tambannidípa and Sirísavatthu is mentioned as a Yakkha city peopled by Yakkhinís who used to eat human flesh. Avalokiteswara, the divine lord is believed to get rescue the group of five hundred merchant in the form of a white flying horse. (The Jataka, Vol. II: Book II. translated from Pali. by W.H.D. Rouse, 1895, No. 196 Valahassa Jataka Page 90-92). Same story is mentioned in Jataka: The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by
C.B. Varma and A Jataka-Tale from the Tibetan by H. Wenzel (The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland pp.503--511)
6) Goblin City (The Flying White Horse)
In the Jataka: Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, Ceylon is mentioned as the Goblin City and the leader of the group of merchant is mentioned as Simhala who was the only member able to get back to the other shore (The Jataka: Stories of the Buddha's Former Births edited by E. B. Cowell, volumes 1 - 3. First published in 1895-1907 under the title - THE Goblin City page 164/166)
Cave 17 has the largest number of paintings and murals than any of the other caves. The mural paintings in Cave no. 17 of Ajanta Cave mention the story of Bhalaha horse as a form of Avalokiteswara help rescue the group of merchants from the Rakshisis. Among the finest are a vast panel depicting Simhala’s shipwreck and encounter with a man-eating ogress (“Simhala Avadana”). (The Cave Temples of India by James Fergusson and James Burgess 1895 and Ajanta and Ellora:Cave Temples of Ancient India Pushpesh Pant). The Ajanta caves are dated from the beginning of the Christian era, or earlier to the seventh century.
According to Hiouen Tsang, the Chinese Monk who did spent 15 years studing Buddhism in India during 7th Century (629-645AD), Sinhala, the son of Simha, a Merchant Prince who comes with 500 merchants in search of gems meets a group of beautiful women who live in an iron city called Sirisavatthu. They are, in fact, cannibalistic Yakkhinis who can change their form, and they prey on ship wrecked sailors and merchants. Sinhala’s ship is wrecked and he is saved by the Yakkhinis who present themselves as the widows of other merchants who have sailed on trading missions many years ago and are presumed dead.
Simhala believes the story and marries the chief Yakkhini, but finds out who they are and manages to escape with two hundred and fifty of his men who believe him, with the help of a magical flying horse. His wife follows him to his kingdom and presents herself, as the woman wronged by his son, to Simha’s father. He believes her and gives her shelter. For his pains, she devours him and his whole household that night and returns to Ratnadweepa, where she kills and eats the 250 men who had not heeded Simha’s call. Simhala succeeds his father as king and invades Ratnadweepa by sea, bringing an army complete with war elephants, by ship.
Once upon a time, in the island of Ceylon (Tamradwipa, Tambapani), there is a town called Sirisavatthu inhabited by the yakhsa women. Five hundred merchants shipwrecked near the town of yaksha woman were rescued by five hundred yakhsa and they were living as husband and wife. Later in the evening, when their husband was asleep, the yakhsa went to the house of torture, where they kep several men and prey on them. When the head Yakhsa came back the leader merchant noticed her body cold so he thought her to be a yakhsa. Next morning he spoke to his friends to flee because they were being under the captive of the yakhsa. Two hundred merchant followed their leader and were helped by white flying horse to cross the ocean. The story ends with the story of Bodhisattva born into the world as a white horse, flying from Himalayas to Ceylon and two hundred and fifty merchant as the disciple of the Buddha.
10) Simhalasarthabahu Avadana
Professor Todd Lewis of the college of Holy Cross in Masattuetse, USA also published a paper on the localization of Simhalasartha bahu Avadana did mention Simhasarthabaha as the leader of the five hundred merchants in Newar-Tibetan Trade and the Domestication of Simhalasarthabaha Avadāna. (Chicago Journal- History of Religion volume 33 no.2, November 1993 page 135-160)
In Simhala Avadana it is mentioned about the birth of a son named Simhala to a wealthy merchant Simhaka, during the period of king Simhakesari from Simhakalpa. Simhala was selected as the leader of the group of five hundred merchants who were on a sea-voyage. The encountered an accident in the middle of the ocean and are being rescued by the maneating demonse disguised as young ladies. The abode of rakshasis is mentioned as Tamradvipa and Simhala was able to escape from the island on a magic white horse living behind all other members under the captive of the Rakshasis.
In Popular Buddhist Texts From Nepal: Narratives and Ritualsin a Newar Merchant Community. (Columbia University: Ph.D. Dissertation, 1984) Todd Lewis mentions the name of the leader of the group of the merchant leading to Lhasa as Simhala, son of the Merchant Simhaka from the town of Simhakalpa in Jambudvipa. Professor Todd Lewis in his article published in the Journal of Religion mention about a stupa in Lhasa known as Simsharthabahu Chorten and a shrine in Jokhang dedicated to his wife that newar traders honor as the form of Jatika Ajima (Newar-Tibetan Trade and the Domestication of Simhalasarthabahu Avadan - source History of Religions, Vol.33 No. 2, page 150, published by the University of Chicago Press 1993).
The adventure of the Merchant Simhala is also mentioned by Professor Siegfried Lienhard with a description of a long scroll Painting 11.44 meter long and 0.55 meter wide with 80 frames each with the legend / story of Simshartha Bahu (Text in Nepali Script & the language Newari) from the collection of Museum of Indian Art, Berlin.
Professor Siegfried Lienhard also did mention about this Scroll painting in his paper “A Nepalese painted Scroll Illustrating the Simhalavadan” (Nepalica 4 Sankt 49-53 Editors Prof. N.Gulschow & A. Micheals - Sankt. Augustine Wissen- schaflaverlage VGH, p 51-53). Published in the Heritage of Kathmandu Valley- proceedings of an International Conference in Lubec June 1985). The Sanskrit version of the Simhala story is mentioned in the Gunakdrandavyuh is found in Y.Iwamoto, Bukkyo Setsuwa Kenkyu Josetsu (Kyoto: Hozokan, 1967, pp. 247-94, A.K.Ramanujan, "Who Needs Folklore? The Relevance of Oral Traditions to South Asian Studies: "South Asia Occasional Papers (University of Hawaii Vol.1, 1990). Simhala (Simhala Sartha Baha) was the name of the legendary founder and first king of the island. (Buddhism in Tibet: by Schlagintweit, Emil Leipzig, London, 1863).
11) Dr. Naomi Appleton:
a) Seduced by Sansara saved by a flying horse: A study of the Asvarajaand Simhala Stories (M.Phil. Thesis Cardiff University 2004) b) The story of the Horse king and the Merchant Simhala inBuddhist text - Buddhist studies Review 23/2 - 2006 page 187-201 c) Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism (D. Phil. Thesis Oxford University 2008)
Once upon a time a wealthy merchant named Simhaka used to live in the capital city of Simhakalpa ruled by King Simhakesari. When his wife gave birth to a beautiful son, he named him Simhala. After finishing his education, he asked his father for permission to go away on a sea-voyage. Simhaka was afraid of losing his beloved son and was not willing to send him for the voyage. Sihala left Simhakalpa with company of five hundred merchants. They all took with them abundant merchandise. After visiting many places they able to sale all their goods and made huge profits, on their way back home they reached a place called Tamradvipa, this place was the abode of rakshasis. Each rakshasi took one of his friends home, fed him, made love to him and they lived as husband and wife. When all his friends were thus drugged to sleep, the rakshasis devoured them. The rakshasi entrusted with the task of devouring Simhala fled when he took out his sword. Simhala then escaped from the island on a magic white horse.
From Tamradvipa, Simhala came to Jambudvipa. The rakshasi in the form of a very beautiful young lady followed him. She met a merchant from Madhya Desa. She promptly fell at his feet and said I am the daughter of the king of Tamradvipa and was married to Simhala. While crossing the ocean the ship encountered an accident. He left me as he thought me to be inauspicious. The merchant was impressed by her story and promised to help her. He blamed Simhala for not accepting the innocent girl. Simhala then told him that she was a rakshasi. From Jambudvipa Simhala returned to Simhakalpa. The rakshasi followed him there also. She came to the house of Simhala with a very handsome child, greatly resembling Simhala. She told Simhala's father the same old story. When Simhala came back home, his parents requested him to forgive his wife. Simhala then revealed the true nature of the innocent young girl. After being denied by Simhala, the rakshasi went to the palace claming her as the wife of Simhala and the child as his son. The king of Simhakalpa, Simhakesari ordered Simhala to accept her as his wife. Simhala did try to convince the king that she is a man eater and denied to accept them as his wife and son. Simhala told the king who she was and requested him to expel her. The king then kept her in the palace as he was attracted with the exceptional beauty of the lady.
During diner the rakshasi mixed sleeping doses every one including the king felt asleep. She then invited her rakshasi friends to come and join in the feast. She told them that they should stop claim over Simhala instead of giving them one, she was giving them so may. The rakshasis entered the palace and started killing the king and his family. In the morning people saw vulture’s rooming around the place. Simhala entered the palace climbing through a ladder. Then he searched the entire palace but could not find none of the royal family members as all were killed by the rakshasi. He was no more able to find any one but the human skeleton scattered all over the palace court yard. He found the human skeletons scattered around the palace and saw the she devils sleeping around the courtyard. With the Devin sword he is believed to have killed all the Dankinis except his wife who did beg pardon for her life. After being pardoned from her life she is being ordered to make a solemn vow to protect the entire community and in return she also made aproposal to protect the community least there be no opening in the roof top of the buildings.
This is why even today the Pradhans from this locality do not have open roof-tops in their houses. She was then asked which portion of the rice she wants to have- the first, middle or the last. She spoke to have the first one thinking herself as senior so this is how she got the sticky water (Jati). This is how even today the sticky water (Jati) is being poured to the image of Jatika Ajima, before reaching the rice bowl to Garud Bhagwan. Simhala Sarthabaha was nominated as the leader of the community as all members of the Royal family were killed by the she devil. This is how he got a new name Garud literally meaning army chief and later on was able to become the king and called Garudjuju. (Pradhan, Bhuban Lal, 2047, Kathmandu Upatyeka ka Chirka Mirka Page 82) The ministers and the people decided to offer the crown to Simhala. The crown was then offered to Simhala who accepted it on the condition that the people would obey him without question. On assuming the throne, he raised a powerful army and invaded Tamradvipa. When king Simhala with his army marched upon Tamradvipa, the rakshasis surrendered to him and agreed to leave the island. The island was then colonized by Simhala and was called Simhaladvipa after him.
Simhala Sarthabaha donated land and is believed to have established Thambahi in his home town; with the wealth he earned from Lhasa (the traders usually bring Gold from Tibet). Later on being the chief of the army was able to become the king and got coroneted to the thrown so he was called Garud juju. Later on with his spiritual power and intellectual knowledge, he gained popularity as a form of Divine God –Dipankara Garud Bhagwan. His wife also is honored as a divine god Ajima, the protector Goddess (Jatika Ajima). The main image of Bhagwan Bahal which is known as Garujuju or Garud Bhagwan, is believed to be the image of Simhala Sarthabaha. Even today Pradhans from Thambahi who believe themselves as the descendant of Simhala Sarthabaha, do not visit Lhasa because they are scared of being attracted by the she devils as an revenge.
The Legendary Story of the Lhasa Caravan
A copy of wall hanging (Poubha, Wilampau, Thangka painting, Scroll painting) narrating the story of the legendary caravan to Lhasa is being displayed in the main courtyard of Bhagwan Bahal during the festival of the holy month Gunlaa, the ninth months according to the Nepali Lunar Calendar narrates the legendary story of the Lhasa Voyage, being leaded by Simhala Sarthabaha. Simhala Sarthabaha is believed to have established Bhagwan Bahal and the entire daily rituals and activities during the festival are being controlled by the Pradhan family from Thamel, who believe themselves as the descendants of Simhala Sarthabaha. According to the legend (a non-historical or unverified story), a group of five hundred young businessmen left for a caravan to Lhasa. The group did select Simhala, a merchant with rich knowledge, as their leader.
Being selected as the leader of the group of merchant he got the new name Simhala Sarthabaha. (Sarthabaha meaning the leader of the group of merchant) They encountered an accident while crossing the River Bhramputra, and were being rescued by five hundred young and exceptionally beautiful ladies. All members of the caravan were busy doing business and enjoying with the young ladies as their wife, so they did not thought of returning back home. Simhala Sarthabaha used to worship the family God Avalokiteshvara (Karunamaya) daily. One day Simhala Sarthabaha was given the divine sight of Lord Avalokiteshwar (Karunamaya) while in meditation and worship.
In the dream Lord Avalokiteshwar told him that they are under the captive of the she-devils (the man eater) and told him to leave the city as soon as possible as it is a bewitched island. He was instructed to go to the northern side of the city to check a big compound surrounded by tall walls like a well, where they used to throw the human skeletons after eating the flesh. Avalokiteshvara also did promise to help them cross the river as a flying white horse. He went there and was able to climb a tree, and saw lots of human skeletons behind the tall wall, where they were forbidden to visit. He got convinced himself about the dream after visiting the northern side of the city. He made the plan to get an escape from the evil eyes of the damsels whom they mistakenly thought of their beloved wives. He was able to get convinced his friends about the instruction of the divine Lord and made a plan to live the bewitched land. They left their home in the middle of the night when their wives were fast asleep and came close to the River.
Simhal Sarthabahu did worship the divine Lord and a flying white horse appeared. The horse instructed all them to get a ride and warned them not to look behind while crossing the river and enchant the holy Triratna Mantra. While they were crossing the river, all ladies woke up and could not find the young merchants sleeping next to them. They started flying over the river and laminating and requesting them to returnback home. Hearing the kind hearted voice of their wives (the she-devil) all members except Simhala Sarthabaha looked behind and were taken back to the other side of the river. Simhala Sarthabaha was the only person who did not look behind, and did not forget to enchant the Mantra of Triratna, so was able to get back home leaving behind all his friends under the captive of the wretched women. The chief devil disguised as a exceptionally beautiful lady followed Simhla Sarthabaha and came to the court with a baby on her lap claiming herself to be the wife of Simhala Sarthabaha. Simhala Sarthabaha did try to convince the king about the she-devil and denied to accept them as his wife and son.
The king then kept her in the palace as he was attracted with the exceptional beauty of the lady. In the middle of the night she called all her companions and started killing the members of the Royal family and the staff. Next day the palace door did not open so Simhala Sarthabaha entered the palace climbing through a ladder. He was no more able to find anybody but the human skeleton scattered all over the palace court yard. As all Royal family members along with the staff were killed and eaten by the she devils, he was coronated to the thron. Simhal Sarthbahu is believed to have established Bhagwan Bahal. Pradhan family from Thambhi, who believe themselves as the descendents of Simhal Sarthbaha, do not visit Lhasa as they were scared of getting revenge by the she-devil from Lhasa. Both Simhsarthabaha and his wife are given equal honor asthe form of diven God by the Tibetan people. There is a chorten (Temple) in Zhugong near Lhasa called Simhla Sarthbaha Chorten and a shrine of his wife in Jokhang that contain the image of his wife. (Newar Tibetain Trade and the Domestication page 152). Tibetan people call him the Jewel Trader Bhagwan -Tsongpon Norbu Sangpo (Chhong Nurbu Saange, Chhong meaning merchant, Tsongpon meaning Leaderof Traders; Nurbu meaning Jewel and Saange or Sangpo meaning Bhagwan). Baidyo Boayagu
The ninth months of Lunar calendar (The calendar starts from the dark moon night of Festival of light) so called GUNLAA is being celebrated as the holy month by the Newar Buddhist community in Kathmandu Valley. During this festival antiques, Images of Dipankar, images of different God and Goddess, Paubha paintings (Thanka painting, scroll painting, Wilampau), traditional clothing‘s are displayed in the courtyard of Buddhist shrines -Baha and Bahi and is called Baidyah Boayagu. A copy of ancient wall hanging being displayed in the main court of Thamel, during the holy months of Gunlaa narrates the legendary story of the Voyage to Lhasa, being leaded by SimhalaSarthabaha. Professor Siegfried Linhard did published an article introducing a painting 11.44meter long and 0.55 meter wide with 80 frames each with legend storytext in Nepali script and the language Newari illustrating the Simhalaavadan from the collection of The Museum of Indisan Art, Berlin (Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley: Preceding of an Int‘l Conference in Lubek, June 1985 edited by Niels Gutschow and Ayiel Michaels. Nepalica 4 Sankt, 1987page 49-53).Professor Todd Lewis also published a paper on the localization of Simhalasarthabahu Avadana - Chicago Journal, History of Religion volume33 no.2, November 1993, page 135-160 (Tib-Trade and Domestication of Simhalsarth Avadan) Simhala Sarthabaha
Some of the early texts as well as in the poem from Kalidasa in the early 11th century, Sarthabaha is used to identify the leader of the group of merchants. This is how Simhala the leader of the Caravan got a new name Simhala Sartha Baha (also called as Simhsarth Bahu). The main image of Bhagwan Bahal known as Garujuju or Garud Bhagwan, is believed to be the image of Simhala Sarthabaha. After all royal family being killed, he became the leader or say chief of the Army so got a new name Garuda and once he became the king again called Garudjuju. (Garuda meaning the chief of the Army who is able to handle the war and Juju the king see Pradhan, BhuvanLal, Kathmandu Upatyakaka kehi sanskritic chhirka mirka 2047,- somenotes on the culture identity of Kathmandu valley in Nepali p. 72)
In Newar Buddhist traditions Ajima is known as child eating carnivorous Rakhishi being converted to Buddhism by Lord Buddha and is given the duty to take care of the children. Most of the prominent Newar viharas have temples dedicated to her (Ajima). The small shrine outside the Bikramshila Mahavihar, Thambahi is dedicated to the raksasi wife of Simhala Sarthabaha known as Jatika Ajima. But the story popular among Pradhan, a Newar Buddhist family from Thambahi is different than the Jataka Tales. The Poubha (Wilampau, Thangka painting, and Scroll painting) being displayed in the main court of Thamel, during the holy months of Gunlaa narrates the legendary story of the Voyage to Lhasa, being led by Simhala Sarthabaha. The hero of the story is regarded as a bodhisattva and a large gilded image of him is enshrined in one of the Kathmandu's oldest Buddhist temples in Thambahi, dating back to the 11th century. (Puma Harsha Bajracarya, Than Bahil: An Ancient Centre for Sanskrit Study, Indologica Taurinensia 7, 1979: 62-64). Garuda Bhagwan (Garudjuju)
The main image of Bhagwan Bahal known as Garujuju or Garud Bhagwan, is believed to be the image of Simhala Sarthabaha. After all royal familybeing killed, he became the leader or say chief of the Army so got a new name Garuda (the chief of the Army who is able to handle the war) and once he became the king (Juju) called Garudjuju. (Some notes on the cultural identity of Kathmandu valley inNepali Kathmandu Upatyakaka kehi sanskritic chhirka mirka 2047 by Pradhan, BhuvanLal - page 72). In Newar Buddhist traditions Ajima is known as child eating carnivorous Rakhishi being converted to Buddhism by Lord Buddha and given the duty to take care of the children. Most of the prominent Newar viharas have temples dedicated to her (Ajima). The small shrine outside the Bikramshila Mahavihar, is dedicated to the raksasi wife of Simhala Sarthabaha known as Jatika Ajima. But the story popular among Pradhan, a Newar Buddhist family from Thambahi is different than the Jataka Tales.
The Poubha(Wilampau, Thangka, and Scroll painting) being displayed in the main court of Thamel,during the holy months of Gunlaa narrates the legendary story of the Voyage to Lhasa, being leaded by Simhala Sarthabaha. The hero of the story is regarded as a Bodhisattva and a large gilded image of him is enshrined in one of the Kathmandu's oldest Buddhist temples (Vikramasila Maha vihara), dating back to the eleventh century. (Puma Harsha Bajracarya," Than Bahil: An Ancient Centre for Sanskrit Study, Indologica Taurinensia 7, 1979: 62-64) Simhal Sarthbahu is mentioned as one of the previous life of Buddha in the 16th chapter of
Gunakarandavyaha. In one of the Bansabali (chronological history) from Kaiser Library the story of Lhasa caravan was mentioned during the reign of King Gunakamadeva (NS 107-110/ 987-990 AD) and in some writings it is mentioned as tobelong to the period of Singhketu descendent of Gunakamadeva. Atisa (982-1054 AD) was a renowned scholar from Vikramshila Vihar (India) was invited by the Tibetan King to revive and teach Buddhism in Tibet. He spent a year (1041/42 AD) in Nepal before visiting Tibet and spent most of his time in Thambahi, did not mention about Garud Bhagwan and the holy manuscript Saharsha Prajnaparamita (NS 344 /1223 AD) from Thambahi. In the travel record of Atisa it is mentioned that the white stupa inside Thambahi along with the five stupa in the northern side of Kathmandu valley was constructed by him. (Lord Atisha in Nepal - The Thambahi & the five stupas foundations according to the Bromston itenery, Journal of Nepal Research Centre Vol. X 1997 pp 27-54, Atisa's Journey to Tibet by Lopez, Don Jr.(edited) 1997 and Atisha's Arrival in Nepal by HubertDecleer).
The monastery in Itubahal is believed to have remolded by Bhashkardeva (NS 165-167 / 1045-1047 AD) and later on got renovated by Kesh Chandra brother-in-law of Simhsarthabahu (Bhaskardeva sanskarit Kesh Chandra krita parabrata Mahavihar from the stone inscription of Itumbahal). We can thus conclude that Simhal Sarthabaha belong to a period after Bhashkar deva(NS 165-167 / 1045-1047 AD) or after Kalidasa (early 11th century) and Atisha Dipankar Sreejana (NS 982 / 1054 A.D.) Simhala (Simhala Sarthabaha) was the name of the legendary founder and first king of the tamradwipa island named after him as Simhaladwip. (Buddhism in Tibet by Schlagintweit, Emil Leipzig, London 1863). The Sanskrit version of the Simhala story is mentioned in the Gunakdrandavyuh as found in Y.Iwamoto, Bukkyo Setsuwa Kenkyu Josetsu (Kyoto: Hozokan, 1967, pp. 247-94, A.K. Ramanujan, "Who Needs Folklore? The Relevance of Oral Traditions to South Asian Studies, "South Asia Occasional Papers (University of Hawaii Vol.1, 1990).
Simhala Sarthabaha is believed to have established Bhagwan Bahal and the entire daily rituals and activities during the festival are being controlled by the Pradhan family from Thambhi, who believe themselves as the descendents of Simhal Sarthbaha. They do not visit Lhasa as they were scared of getting revenge by the she-devil from Lhasa. Both Simhala Sarthabaha and his wife are given equal honor as the form of diven God bythe Tibetan people. There is a chorten (Temple) in Zhugong near Lhasa called Simhla Sarthbaha Chorten and a shrine of his wife in Jokhang that contain the image of hiswife. (Newar Tibetain Trade and the Domestication page 152). Tibetan people call himthe Jewel Trader Bhagwan -Tsongpon Norbu Sangpo (Chhong Nurbu Saange, Chhongmeaning merchant, Tsongpon meaning Leader of Traders; Nurbu meaning Jewel andSaange or Sangpo meaning Bhagwan).
The Jataka Tale definitely speak of the story of the Divine Lord Avalokiteshwora as a white flying horse and the help rescue of the five hundred merchants but the name of the Globin City populated by the man eating ogresses is still not clear – Is it Lhasa or Ceylon (Sri Lanka)? Gunakarandavyuha and Simhala Sarthabaha Avadan and the legendary story narrated in the scroll painting from Thambahi along with the image of Garuda Bhagwan has a strong support to identify the name of the Globin City to be Lhasa not Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Simhala Sarthabaha as the leader of the legendary Lhasa voyage. Professor Todd Lewis of the college of Holy Cross in Massachusetts, USA also published a paper on the localization of Simhala Sarthabaha Avadana, the legendary story of Lhasa Caravan being leaded by Simhala Sarthabaha. (Tibet Trade and Domestication of Simhalasarth Avadan Chicago Journal, History of Religion, volume 33 no. 2, 1993, page 135-160)
Atisa the renowned scholar from Vikramshila Vihar did spent one year (1041/42 AD) in Nepal before departing to Tibet, most of his time was spent in Thambahi but he did not mentioned about Garud Bhagwan nor the Holy Sahashra Prajnaparamita manuscript from Bikramshila Mahabihar, Thambahi. The monastery in Itubahal is believed to have established by Bhashkardeva (NS 165-167 / 1045-1047 AD) and later on got renovated by Kesh Chandra brother in law of Simhala Sarthabaha (Bhaskardeva sanskarita Kesh Chandra krita parabrata Mahavihar from the stone inscription of Itumbahal) We can thus conclude that Simhala Sarthabaha belong to late 11th Century a period after Kalidasa (early 11th century) or Atisa (1041 AD) and Bhashkardeva. (1047 AD).
Reference books ( for further studies) Anderson, Mary M. 1971 The Festival of Nepal Rupa Publication, Delhi Bajracharya, Badriratna, 1986 Buddhism in Nepal, Kathmandu Bhikhu Sudarshan Simshartha Bahu wa Kabir Kumar ya bakhan Chattopadhyaya, Alka 1967 Atisha and Tibet, Motilal Banarasidas, India Conze, Edward, 1970 Buddhist Thoughts in India, University of Michigan Press Preliminary Note on Prajnaparamita Manuscript Journal of Royal Asiatic Society Dass, Sarat Chandra, 1893 Indian Pundits in the land of Snow
David J Kalupahana A History of Buddhist Philosophy, University of Hawaiil, Honolulu. David N Gellner, 2005 Rebuilding Buddhism The Thervad Movement in 20th Century David N Gellner, Niels Gutschow Bijaya Basukala (Illustrator) The Nepalese Caitya David Snellgrove, 1987 Indo Tibetan Buddhism Deba Priya Barma Atisha Dipankar Srijana: Eye of Asia Kesar Lal 2007 Legends of Kathmandu Valley
Locke, John K. S. ---- Karunamaya: The cult of Avaloketesvara 1980 ---- Buddhist Monasteries of Nepal: A survey of the Baha and Bahis of Kathmandu Valley ---- Legendary History of Kathmandu
Lienhard Snegfried, 1988 Nepalese Manuscripts Newari / Sanskrit Lopez, Don Jr. (edit) 1997 Atisha’s Journey to Tibet Malalasekera, G P (Editor) 1963 Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Ceylon Pal, Pratapaditya, 1974 The Arts of Nepal Paul, Williams, 1989 Mahayana Buddhism in Nepal Regmi Dilli Raman Inscription of Ancient Buddhism Ram, Dr. Rajendra History of Nepal Sakya Hem Raj,
Dr. Shrestha, Uma editor, Newa Vijnana Journal of Newar Studies, University of Calgary Vaidya, Karunakar 1986 Buddhist tradition and Culture of Kathmandu Valley Vajracharya, Dhana Vajra, 1973 Lichhavikalin Abhilekh. INAS Kathmandu Vajracharya, Gautam, 1987 Heritage of Kathmandu Valley Vajracharya, Ratna B. NS 1095/1974 AD Gurumandalarachana va Prajnaparamitaya artha sahitam (in Nepal Bhasha) Lalitapur Vajracharya,Ratna Kaji, Yen Deya Chaitya Wright, Daniel ed. 1983 (1st edition 1877) Nepal - History of the Country & People Yoshizaki Kasjumi
Study of Saddharmamala, 1979
Books related to Prajnaparamita (The Korean Buddhist Canon: A descriptive Catalogue edited by R. Lanceaster, 1979) Adhyardhasatika Pranjaparamita Translated in many languages are in the collection of Libraries around the globe. Astadasasahasrika Pranjaparamita 1927 18,000 lines 3 Volume edited by Bidya- binoda (Memoirs of the Archeological Survey of India No.32 & 69) Astadasasahasrika Pranjaparamita 1082 NS Jogmuni Bajracharya
Astasaharika Pranjaparamita 1888 R. Mittras in the Bibliotheca Indicia Vol. 1 Dasasahasrika Pranjaparamita 1941 (translated from Tibetan) S Konow, OSLO Patashashrik Pranjaparamita Hsuan-Tsang (602-664 AD) describes about Satashriska Prajnaparamita with 100,000 lines (India visit 629-45). Pancavimsatishasrika Pranjaparamita 1934 edited by N Dutta 25,000 lines Perfect Wisdom (Heart Sutra 14 lines) is the shortest form of Prajaparamita Text Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 lines written in Tibetan script, translated by E Conze Pranjaparamita Bhabanopadesh 1040 Ratnakarshanti Teacher of Atisa Dipankar Pranjaparamita Rdaya Sutra (Heart Sutra) edited by E Conze
Pranjaparamita Rdaya Sutra (Heart Sutra) edited by M Muller, Oxford 1912 Pranjaparamita Sutra The Perfection of Wisdom (25,000 lines) CambridgeUniversity Preliminary note on Pranjaparamita Manuscript E. Conze, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society Vol. 82 (Issue 1-2 page 32-36, 2011) Satashasrika Pranjaparamita 100,000 verses translated from Pali in the Tibetan language during 9th century by Subrenbodieg, Tibetan Monk Ye-Se-sde and Jian Shree Mitra - deciple of Manjushree (Bibliotheca Indica 1902-1913) The Composition of the Astasahasrika Pranjaparamita 2008 -- Edward Conze (Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies Vol. 14 Issue 2 / 251-262) Hsuan Tsang describes about The Perfection of Wisdom with 100,000 lines during his visit to India and Nepal 659-663 AD The Prajnaparamita Literature 1960 Edward Conze, Manton, The Hague Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita 1881 edited by M Muller Oxford
1) Buddhist birth-stories; Jataka tales translated from Pali Text (Jataka Thavannana -The oldest collection of Jataka Folklor by V. Fausböll's edited and translated into english by T.W. Rhys Davids 1880, London)
6) Jatakamala by J. S. Speyer
9) JatakaTales by Ellen C Babbill.
14) 365 Jataka Tales & other Stories
3) Ajanta, S Vinekar MD, N.Brunswick, NJ Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer counties
5) Ajanta Monumental Legancy by A P Jainkhedkar
6) Guide to the Ajanta Paintings
Ven. Tsering, a Kopan monk who has been tirelessly working on this project, has now completed the first volume of the Prajnaparamita and is 3/4 of the way finishing the second volume, of the Prajnaparamita! Ven. Tsering is writing out the 100,000 verses of the Prajnaparamita (12 volumes) and has been working on this for the last 10 years. Lama Zopa Rinpoche is extremely pleased with the quality and dedication of his work. Writing the Prajna-paramita and Sanghata Sutra is a project of Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition Inc. USA. Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the founder chairperson of FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition Inc. USA) and the Int'l head quarter is located in California, USA.
1840 – 414st Ave. 102-217 P.O. Box 295 Capitol, CA 95010 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bipin Kapali Chikanmugal has been awarded Satya-Hera award for his research work on Simhasarthabahu.
Prajnaparamita restoration and rewriting Project: Young artisans from Patan busy getting the restoration of the century old manuscript and rewriting a new one for the daily rituals as the old one is badly damaged.