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Hilltop Buddhist Monastery Uncovered in Eastern India

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

India Buddhist MonasteryBIHAR, INDIA—The Times of India reports that a Mahayana Buddhist monastery dated to about the eleventh or twelfth centuries A.D. has been discovered on a hilltop in eastern India. Anil Kumar of Visva Bharati University said the structure featured interconnected cells, wooden doorframes, and lime-plastered floors decorated with red, green, yellow, white, and black paint. The lintel at the entrance to the monastery’s main sacred area depicts two Bodhisattvas known as Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara. Wooden votive tablets recovered at the site each bear the figure of a person that may represent the Buddha. Kumar said some 500 sculptures have also been documented at the site. The name of the monastery, Srimaddharmaviharik aryabhiksusanghasya, was found written in script dated to about the eighth or ninth centuries A.D. on two burnt clay seals, he added. The large number of metal bangles, and the presence of doors on the cells, suggest that women monks may have lived in the monastery. A woman named Vijayashree Bhadra, who received donations from Mallika Devi, a queen of the Pala Empire, is known to have served as chief monk. To read about another Buddhist monastery where there is evidence for cohabitation of monks and nuns, go to "Early Buddhism in India."

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