Chandikhole: An ancient Buddhist stupa ‘Parabhadi’ here in Jajpur district is on the verge of extinction due to lack of conservation and proper upkeep, a report said.
The historical stupa built in third century AD is the oldest of the ancient Buddhist stupas in the Diamond Triangle in the district. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has not spent a single pie on its maintenance since its discovery for which it is in a state of complete neglect and slowly inching towards extinction, the report added. This is the reason why nothing is known what lies inside the Parabhadi stupa. The mystery that lies underneath could be unraveled if the ASI takes up its excavation works, historians said.
Diamond Triangle is a collection of three Buddhist sites of Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri. The sites belong to the Vajrayan sect of Buddhism, which is popularly known as the Diamond Vehicle, and hence the name Diamond Triangle.
Reports said Odisha has carved a niche for itself in national and international map for presence of several ancient Buddhist shrines in the state. This is the reason for which many national and international Buddhist conferences and seminars have been held in the state. These conferences provide a platform to knowledge seekers and scholars to visit these shrines and explore the history in its totality.
Sources said the Parabhadi Buddhist stupa lies on the Bandareswar hilltop under Barchana block in Jajpur district. The ASI took the Buddhist stupa in its custody in 1994. However, it has not conducted any excavation of the site or worked for its conservation.
The Parabhadi Buddhist stupa was discovered at the same time when historians discovered the world famous Lalitgiri shrine and undertook its excavation in between 1975 and 1982. The ASI had then claimed the necessity for excavation and conservation of Parabhadi Buddhist stupa. Later, the conservation and excavation of Parabhadi Buddhist stupa was forgotten.
Historian and Buddhist researcher Harish Chandra Prusty said the Parabhadi stupa came to knowledge when Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang visited Odisha during his India tour. He visited the site and conducted a review of the ancient stupa. The Parabhadi stupa finds mention in the ‘Si-yu-ki’ book written by the Chinese traveler.
The stupa was 40-ft in height when the ASI took the site in its possession. However, due to constant erosion and for other reasons the height of the stupa has been reduced to 15-ft and is on the verge of extinction due to lack of maintenance.
Historian Prusty said that the Parabhadi stupa is similar to the Buddhist stupas at Sarnath, Sanchi, Nagarjun Kenda and Barbodar in Java. The site might be initially known as Parabodhi but later became Parabhadi as Siddharth Goutam got his enlightenment under Bodhi druma at Bodhgaya and came to be known as Buddha. The researchers call the site as Parabodhi. Two of the main disciples of Goutam Buddha known as Tapsu and Bhalluka took the leading role in construction of the Parabhadi stupa. The Buddhist stupa on Landa hill in Lalitgiri and the Parabhadi stupa are of the same time period, he said.
King Ashoka while working towards spread of Buddhism in the world made efforts to conserve the precious articles of Lord Buddha and stupas of the time. The bone relic of Lord Buddha was discovered from the stupa at Lalitgiri. The relics were stored in three small containers wood, silver and gold. The three containers have been conserved in a bullet proof museum built at Lalitgiri last year.
When contacted, Manas Ranjan Sahu, assistant superintendent of ASI said maintenance of the site has not been taken up due to lack of funds. They will certainly take up excavation and conservation of the site if any budgetary allocation is made in this regard.