Amravati: Buddhism (1st BC – 1344 AD)
This sketch of Amravati Stupa is based on archaeological findings kept at British Museum. It is 50m(164feet) in diameter and 27m(68.5f) in height. It is big but biggest is still in Kesariya, Bihar, which has 445.6 feet in diameter and 62f in height. Present Stupa at Amravati is not the actual one.
This relief was carved during 1st century BC. Bodi Tree, throne, Buddhapada(foot print of the Buddha), five disciples and Dharma Wheel(curved inside the foot print)symbolize the first sermon at Saranath, Varanasi.
Slab A: Reverse
Reverse of the same slab was curved centuries later. It depicts detail of the the Stupa itself. These bold and pronounced figures show that it is in keeping with the style of Satavahana period.
Buddha’s Relics (Ash of Buddha) were kept here as is evident from following carvings.
There is evidence that the Amaravati Stupa was still used by worshippers up until 1344 AD. By end of 1700 only mound of rubble was left.
A British colonel named Colin Mackenzie visited the site in 1797.
He, in 1816, found that many pieces of the sculptures carted away for local projects. He sent some of the sculptures to the museum at Calcutta.
In 1845, Sir Walter Elliot began excavating at the site. Remains and Relic are in British Museum, London, Musie Guimet, Germany, National Museum, New Delhi, Indian Museum Calcutta, Government Museum Madras. The rest are on display on the site.
Historical Nagarjuna’s writings were in Sanskrit and not in Pali. Therefore scholars argue that he must have been born as a Brahmin, Hindu, and later converted to Buddhism. That argument is lame.
Nalanda University( 66bc ) taught Sanskrit language, Grammar, logic, math, some semblance of science and Buddhist philosophies. He even became abbot of Nalanda University and eventually left for Amravati. Nalanda University taught every subject matter in Sanskrit language only. Every teacher and student in Nalanda University are Buddhist.
Slab B:Nagarjuna and Relic
Here is a Relief from Amravati Stupa that depicts Nagarjuna(man with serpent above his head) along with others paying obeisance to Buddha’s relic. Buddha’s Relic in pot is seated on the throne.
Fig 1: It is the same slab B with Nagarjuna and Relic zoomed in:
Amravati town is on the bank of river Krishna. It is some 32km away from Guntur city of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is 65km away from Vijayawada City. Google Map location is (16.575759°, 80.356477°).
Amravati Stupa was built around 1st century BC. Above Structure was built over the many centuries. Nagarjuna’s period must fall between any of these king’s of Satavahana; Pulamo, Madanputra Svami Skasen, Gautamiputr and Yajnasri Satavahana.
Archaeological Survey of India.
British Museum, UK.
Image of Buddha transforms according to Nationality which is unfortunate. Buddha must be Buddha, no matter who, where and what culture this image was made in.
Historical figures should not be left to imagination of the craftsman or the artist. It must conform to its original figure.
Authenticity will preserve purity of image.
Image of Nagerjuna suffers the same. Artist and high priest dictates according to his or her visualization. That is wrong.
Nagarjuna Image must be similar to above artefact found in 3rd Century AD.
There is also other unintended danger if artist do not conform to its original shape. For instance, SWAT Valley, Pakistan, Buddhist artefacts resemble more like a Greek figure (big nose; animated facial) due to Greek influence due to invasion and occupation by the Alexander the Great.
Few centuries from now, archaeologist might conclude that Buddha was from Greek as he looks more like a Greek!!