Sankassa

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27°20′02″N 79°16′16″E / 27.334°N 79.271°E / 27.334; 79.271

Sankassa (also Sankasia, Sankissa and Sankasya) was an ancient city in India. The city came into prominence at the time of Gautama Buddha. According to a Buddhist source, it was thirty leagues from Savatthi.[1] After the Gautama Buddha's Mahaparinirvana (passing away) king Ashoka developed this place and installed one of his famous Pillars of Ashoka in the city, from which the elephant capital survives. He also built a stupa and a temple commemorating the visit of the Buddha. This temple exist even today and the ruins of the stupa are also present as a temple of Vishari Devi. It is said that the name Visahari Devi is given to the mother of the Buddha. Currently it has ruins of old monasteries and Buddhist monuments. It is rarely visited by pilgrims since it is difficult to go to, and there are not many facilities. After a long time Alexander Cunningham (British) discovered the place in 1842. Eighty-seven years later Sir Anagarika Dharmapala (Sri Lanka) came here on spiritual quest. In 1957 Panditha Madabawita Wijesoma Thero (Sri Lanka) came to 'Sankassa' for few years and started a Buddhist school (Wijesoma Widyalaya) for poor people.

Sankassa is now identified with Sankissa Basantapura on the north bank of the Ikkhumati river (Kalinadi), between Kampil and Kannauj, twenty-three miles west of Fatehgarh, twenty-five south of Kaimganj and forty-five north of Kannauj, in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh state of India.

Ancient Buddhist events at Sankassa[edit]

Sankassa received its fame from statements and claims recorded in the ancient commentaries to the Tipitaka. However, in the Tipitaka itself the events that are supposed to have occurred at Sankassa are not mentioned at all.

It was at Sankassa that (according to the commentaries) the Buddha returned to earth, after preaching the Abhidhamma Pitaka in Tavatimsa, following the performance of the Twin Miracle under the Gandamba tree. As the time approached for the Buddha to leave Távatimsa , Moggallana (Anuruddha, according to SNA.ii.570; cf. Vsm., p. 391) announced his coming return to the multitude, who had been waiting at Savatthi, fed by Culla Anathapindika, while Moggallana expounded the Dhamma. They then made their way to Sankassa. The descent of the Buddha took place on the day of the Mahapavarana festival. Sakka provides three ladders for the Buddha's descent from Sineru to the earth: on the right was a ladder of gold for the gods; on the left a silver ladder for Maha Brahma and his retinue; and in the middle a ladder of jewels for the Buddha. The assembled people covered the earth for thirty leagues round. There was a clear view of the nine Brahma worlds above and of Avici (a hell) below. The Buddha was accompanied by Pañcasikha, Mátali, Mahá Brahmá and Suyáma. Sariputta was the first to welcome him (followed by Uppalavanna,[2] and the Buddha preached the Law, starting with what was within the comprehension even of a puthujjana, and ending with what only a Buddha could understand.

On this occasion was preached the Parosahassa Játaka to proclaim to the multitude the unparalleled wisdom of Sáriputta.[3] It is said that the Buddha's descent to Sankassa had provided opportunity for Moggallána to show his eminence in iddhi, Anuruddha in dibbacakkhu, and Punna in skill in preaching, and the Buddha wished to give Sariputta a chance of shining in his wisdom .[4] He therefore asked of Sáriputta questions which no one else could answer. The opening words of the Sáriputta Sutta are supposed to refer to this descent from Tusita.

The site of the city gate of Sankassa is one of the "unchangeable" spots of the world (avijahitatthanam). All Buddhas descend at that spot to the world of men after preaching the Abhidhamma.[5] From Sankassa the Buddha went to Jetavana.[6]

A shrine was erected on the spot where the Buddha's right foot first touched the ground at Sankassa.[7] When the Chinese pilgrims, Hiouen Thsang and Fa Hien, visited the place, they found three ladders, which had been built of brick and stone by the ancients, to commemorate the Buddha's descent, but the ladders were nearly sunk in the earth.[8]

There was, in the Buddha's time, a deer park at Sankassa where Suhemanta Thera heard the Buddha preach.[9] During the Vajjiputta controversy, Revata Thera, on his way from Soreyya to Sahajati, went through Sankassa. The road he took passed through Sankassa, Kannakujja, Udumbara and Aggalapura.[10]

PaliKanon[edit]

Sankassa A city, thirty leagues from Sāvatthi (DhA.iii.224).

It was there that the Buddha returned to earth, after preaching the Abhidhamma Pitaka in Tāvatimsa, following the performance of the Twin Miracle under the Gandamba tree. As the time approached for the Buddha to leave Tāvatimsa , Moggallāna (Anuruddha, according to SNA.ii.570; cf. Vsm., p.391) announced his coming return to the multitude, who had been waiting at Sāvatthi, fed by Culla Anāthapindika, while Moggallāna expounded the Dhamma. They then made their way to Sankassa.

The descent of the Buddha took place on the day of the Mahāpavārana festival. Sakka provides three ladders for the Buddha's descent from Sineru. to the earth: on the right was a ladder of gold for the gods; on the left a silver ladder for Mahā Brahmā and his retinue; and in the middle a ladder of jewels for the Buddha. The assembled people covered the earth for thirty leagues round. There was a clear view of the nine Brahma worlds above and of Avīci below. The Buddha was accompanied by Pañcasikha, Mātali, Mahā Brahmā and Suyāma. Sāriputta was the first to welcome him (followed by Uppalavannā, SNA.ii.570), and the Buddha preached the Law, starting with what was within the comprehension even of a puthujjana, and ending with what only a Buddha could understand.

On this occasion was preached the Parosahassa Jātaka to proclaim to the multitude the unparalleled wisdom of Sāriputta (DhA.iii.224ff.; see also SNA.ii.570). It is said' that the Buddha's descent to Sankassa had provided opportunity for Moggallāna to show his eminence in iddhi, Anuruddha in dibbacakkhu, and Punna in skill in preaching, and the Buddha wished to give Sāriputta a chance of shining in his wisdom. (Ibid., loc. cit.; J.iv.266; see also Jhānasodhana, Sarabhamiga, and Candābha Jātakas). He therefore asked of Sāriputta questions which no one else could answer. The opening words of the Sāriputta Sutta are supposed to refer to this descent from Tusita (sic).

The site of the city gate of Sankassa is one of the "unchangeable" spots of the world (avijahitatthānam). All Buddhas descend at that spot to the world of men after preaching the Abhidhamma (BuA.106, 247; MA.i.371, etc.). From Sankassa the Buddha went to Jetavana (J.i.193).

A shrine was erected on the spot where the Buddha's right foot first touched the ground at Sankassa (DhA.iii.227). When the Chinese pilgrims, Hiouen Thsang and Fa Hien, visited the place, they found three ladders, which had been built of brick and stone by the ancients, to commemorate the Buddha's descent, but the ladders were nearly sunk in the earth. (Beal, op. cit., i.203; Fa Hien, p.24).

There was, in the Buddha's time, a deer park at Sankassa where Suhemanta Thera heard the Buddha preach (ThagA.i.212). During the Vajjiputta controversy, Revata Thera, on his way from Soreyya to Sahājāti, went through Sankassa. The road he took passed through Sankassa, Kannakujja, Udumbarā and Aggālapura (Vin.ii.299f).

Sankassa is now identified with Sankissa Basantapura on the north bank of the Ikkhumatī (Kālīnadī), between Atranji and Kanoj, twenty-three miles west of Fatehgarh and forty-five north of Kanoj.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dhammapada Atthakatha,iii.224
  2. ^ SNA.ii.570
  3. ^ DhA.iii.224ff.; see also SNA.ii.570
  4. ^ Ibid., loc. cit.; J.iv.266; see also Jhánasodhana, Sarabhamiga, and Candábha Játakas
  5. ^ BuA.106, 247; MA.i.371, etc.
  6. ^ (J.i.193)
  7. ^ DhA.iii.227
  8. ^ Beal, op. cit., i.203; Fa Hien, p.24
  9. ^ ThagA.i.212
  10. ^ Vin.ii.299f

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