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LAURIYA ARARAJ :SITE OF ASOKAN PILLAR
LAURIYA ARARAJ : SITE OF ASOKAN PILLAR PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 11:33

LAURIYA ARARAJ
SITE OF ASOKAN PILLAR
-Suresh Bhatia

 

The village is about 16 miles west of Motihari on the road to Govindganj. After visiting Lauriya Nandangadh and having observed much of its archaeological evidences at three different sites. I found Lauriya Araraj a big disappointment with only a pillar enclosed by a high wall around it by the Archaeological Survey of India. One wonders why Siddhartha would have visited the village. Was this also a hermitage of a renowned Sage? Or was it a venue of one of the sites where the Buddha preached. Unfortunately Asoka did not do justice to marking the relevance of the site by describing it on the pillar. All he did was to only mention his edicts and nothing else. Some of the edicts have been repeated over and over again as in the case of pillar from Rampurva to Lauriya Araraj. A deeper study of the site and a thorough excavation of the surrounding area could possibly bring to light a new chapter in the antiquarian remains of the site.

As early as in 1784, Mr. Law had contributed a paper to the Asiatic Society of Bengal giving a “Short Account of two pillars to the North of Patna”, but the article was not published and it is not clear whether the pillar at Araraj was one of the two pillars referred to in the paper. In 1834 Hodgson sent a note to James Princep at the Bengal Asiatic Society, Calcutta with a drawing of the pillar, which the latter published with his comments thereon in 1835.

The pillar is situated close to the east of the village and is locally known as Laur or Phallus of Siva and is worshipped by the local inhabitants. It is a single block of polished sandstone 36 and ½ feet in height above the ground with a base diameter of 41.8 inches and the top it measures about 37.6 inches. There must have been several feet of the shaft buried below the ground and the whole would weigh, according to Cunningham, about 40 tons. The pillar must have once been crowned by a capital, containing the image of some animal. Till date it has not been found and the present generation of villagers whom I questioned looked baffled about its existence nor had they heard anything about it from their ancestors.

What appears to be somewhat striking is the situation of the pillar, with no ancient remains of significance or importance in the vicinity, as is to be commonly found in case of the other Asokan pillars elsewhere in Bihar. I do believe that if the surrounding village was to be carefully explored valuable antiquity may yet be found. Taking into consideration that Lauriya Nandangadh and Kolhua have yielded remains of rich historical evidences as such I am optimistic that even here there are possibility of still unearthing its past- and thus making the site more meaningful.

INSCRIPTIONS ON THE PILLAR

The pillar contains the usual first six of the pillar edicts of Asoka in well-preserved and neatly engraved characters.

In addition to the above edicts Cunningham noticed a few ‘flourished’ letters, or marks, of the kind which James Princep called as “shell-shaped characters.”

Scribbling of visitors, one of which refers to the name of “Ruben Burrow” a distinguished mathematician and astronomer and a member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. It is dated which was also the year of Burrow’s death.

 

http://bhpromo.org/webimage/lauriyaararaj.JPG

 

For any further information on the site please email: pilgrims.buddhistheritage [at] gmail.com

Ref: Hodgson and Princep, JASB, 1835, pp. 124-26; Cunningham, ASI, 67-68; Hunter, Statistical Account, XIII, 254; BODG, Champaran, 146. Research and recent observations made by the Author.

Mast head

EXPLORING THE ANCIENT BUDDHIST HERITAGE OF BIHAR

JULY 2009-10

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 September 2009 08:00