Buddhist Pilgrimage (new edition 2009) by Bro. Chan Khoon San — free download
This is the third edition of Buddhist Pilgrimage since it was first published in 2002. It comes with a new cover design and contains many new topics and fresh information on several Buddhist sites. An error concerning the religious history of the Matha Kuar shrine in Kushinagar has been rectified. Since 2002, the author has revisited the Buddhist circuit seven times and travelled to many new Buddhist heritage sites, notably the Ananda Stupa in Hajipur; Pava near Kusinara; Lauriya Nandangarh in northern Bihar; Kosambi in Allahabad; Ramagama and Devadaha in Nepal; Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh; the Ajanta Caves in Ajanta; and Diksha Bhumi in Nagpur, Maharashtra. A chance remark he heard about the Buddha’s alms bowl still existing in Afghanistan prompted the author to carry out a research of its whereabouts after the Buddha had donated it to the Licchavis before his Parinibbana. The result is a new article entitled ‘The Journey of the Buddha’s Alms Bowl’ in PART III, 5, page 153. Among the colour plates, I have included some rare Buddhist sites in Northern Pakistan. Although the light of Dhamma no longer shines in that country, yet it possesses some of the most beautiful Buddhist relics from its glorious past.
The idea of a pilgrimage originated from the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago! Before he passed into Mahaparinibbana, the Buddha advised pious disciples to visit four holy places the sight of which will arouse faith and religious urgency after He was gone, namely: Lumbini, Buddhagaya, Sarnath and Kusinara. The pious disciple should visit these places and look upon them with feelings of reverence, reflecting on the particular event of the Buddha’s life connected with each place. Since the Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha, these four shrines of Buddhism have become the focal points for pious disciples to rally around and seek inspiration. By the time of King Asoka, four more places, namely: Savatthi, Sankasia, Rajagaha and Vesali, that were closely associated with the Buddha and scenes of His principal miracles, were added to the pilgrimage itinerary. Together, they make the Eight Great Places of Pilgrimage.
The aim of this book is to share my experience and knowledge with fellow Buddhists about the benefits of undertaking a pilgrimage to the Eight Great Places with the correct mental attitude. In Buddhism, understanding plays the key role in one’s spiritual progress. So, for the intending pilgrim, it is imperative to understand that a pilgrimage is essentially a spiritual journey in veneration of the Blessed One. This act of veneration purifies one’s thoughts, speech and action and through it, many noble qualities can be developed. Part I of this book discusses these mental aspects. A book on Buddhist Pilgrimage would not be complete without reference to the famous pilgrims of old, namely: King Asoka and the Chinese pilgrims, whose faith and fortitude are an inspiration to all who follow their footsteps. The downfall of Buddhism and the devastation of Buddhist shrines at the end of the 12th century AD followed by six centuries of oblivion, which was the darkest period of Buddhism are retold in this book. Finally, the restoration of the Buddhist shrines and the revival of Buddhism in India are described to enable the reader to appreciate the efforts of the great men who have dedicated their lives to this noble cause. In particular, the invaluable contributions of four great pioneers, namely: Sir Alexander Cunningham, Anagarika Dharmapala, Venerable Sayadaw U Chandramani of Kushinagar and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar are described in their biographies.
Parts II & III of this book trace the history and religious significance of each of the Eight Great Places and the objects of interest that can be found there. Part IV describes other important shrines along the pilgrimage route that pilgrims should also visit if there is sufficient time. A notable example is Sanchi. Although the Buddha did not visit Sanchi, it is a very important Buddhist centre because relics of the Chief Disciples and the Arahants of the Third Buddhist Council responsible for propagating the Buddha Sasana beyond the borders of India were discovered there. In fact, Ven. Mahinda who founded the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka, stayed one month at Sanchi in a vihara built by his mother Devi, before embarking on his Dhamma mission to the island.
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