Lakeshore City

Buddhism in Northern Jambudvipa and Archaeological Discoveries

September 22, 2023


I conducted more extensive research into the history of Buddhism and signs of civilization during the rain retreat in Taxil1. Jambudvipa’s northern regions, particularly Gandhara. During the Buddha’s lifetime, two prominent royal family members joined the Buddhist Order: King Pukkusati of Taxila and Kukkutavati’s King Mahakappina.

The Pali scriptures state that Mahakappina’s father was the ruler of Paccanta-janapada’s Kukkutavati kingdom in his success. After his father’s death, he ascended to the throne and changed his name between Mahakappina and Kappina. Anoja-Devi, his spouse, was the Madra Kingdom’s Sgala King’s daughter.

King Mahakappina’s Renunciation

Mahakappina had a keen intellect. He was very interested in renunciation and the Path to Liberation. He once ran upon some Savatthi traders in a park while he and his 1,000 ministers were there. Inquiring about the news from Savatthi, he asked to see them. They informed him that Mahakappina was temporarily overcome with joy upon hearing this. He questioned the traders three more times after regaining consciousness. They recited their responses twice. The king instructed a court official to write a letter to his queen pleading with her to give the traders 300,000 kahapanas (coins) as compensation. He abdicated, handing the throne over to the queen. King and his advisors decided to join the Order. 

The horse voyage was difficult, crossing three rivers (the Aravaccha, the Nilavahana, and the Chandrabhaga) and a jungle and mountains. The Swat River in Pakistan could be the Aravaccha River in the region from northern Gandhara to Kosala.

In Pakistan, the Nilavahana River might be the Indus. The Chenab River in Pakistan’s Punjab could be the Chandrabhaga River. All three rivers were vast and deep, necessitating the use of a massive raft that would be hard to come by.

“King Mahakappina prayed to the Triple Gem, giving up the world to devote his life to it and, using its power, changing a river’s characteristics from a river to something else.”

Buddha’s Visit and Teachings

He and his 1,000 ministers could travel across the river’s surface on horseback without their hooves becoming wet. He crossed the other two rivers in the same manner. The Blessed One inspected the sentient beings with his holy vision early in the morning. He made the 120 yojanas (16 X 120 = 1920 km) solo journey to see Mahakapina and his 1,000 ministers out of compassion. He was sitting beneath a large banyan tree by the Chandrabhaga River, exuding the Buddha aura and acting like an emperor receiving the village leader and his troops. Mahakappina and his officials bowed before the Buddha and sat to one side.

The “nupubbikath” (Gradual Discourse) was presented by the Blessed One. After achieving Sotapatti Fruition, they all asked to join the Order. The Blessed One ordained them by uttering the phrase Ehi bhikkhu upasampada.

Meanwhile, Queen Anoja and the wives of the 1,000 ministers wanted to follow suit after hearing the story from the Savatthi traders. They used the same method their husbands used to cross the rivers. Under the banyan tree by the Chandrabhaga River, they paid tribute to the Buddha, who then gave the “nupubbikath” lecture. They all acquired Sotapatti Fruition towards the end of the talk. At that moment, Ven. Mahakappina and 1,000 other bhikkhus listened to the same Dhamma and obtained Arahantship.

According to the Buddha (Bhikkuovadakanam 3), Mahakappina was the foremost of those who taught the monks. There is proof that Buddhism expanded across Jambudvipa, according to studies of the bhikkhus who lived there during the Buddha’s lifetime. Even though the Buddha may not have visited all of those locations4, tales of him, his Dhamma, and the Sangha were transmitted by monks and lay followers, particularly by traders traveling on inter-kingdom trade routes like the Silk Road, which connected China and Southeast Asia with Europe. 

Connection to Traders and the Silk Road

Under the One Belt One Road (OBOR) program, the Chinese government has restored the Silk Road, connecting numerous nations, as shown in Pakistan’s current state. King Pukkusati’s name was referenced in the Tripitaka in addition to the Mahakappina narrative. King Pukkusati oversaw Taxila, according to the Dhtuvibhaga sutta. His tale mirrored that of Mahakappina.

A connection between the tale of Pukkusati and King Bimbisara of Rajagaha was made6. The two kings established an online friendship known as Adittha-sahàya. Through the traders from Taxila, they allied.

The narrative of Pukkusati and the Dhamma teachings for advancing a higher level of insight meditation practice are discussed in the Dhtuvibhaga-sutta of the Tripitaka. Buddhists frequently choose to study this subject. A person has six elements, twelve sense bases (ayatanas), eighteen mental inquiries (manopavicara), and four determinations (adhitthana), according to an analysis of their qualities. (See Vibhaga Sutta, Tripitaka Volume 16, Suttapiaka Volume 8, Samyutta Nikaya, and Nidana Vagga for more details.)

This Dhamma essence is crucial for practitioners hoping to comprehend the Four Noble Truths and achieve liberation (nirvana). King Pukkusati reportedly fled Taxila after hearing the letter delivered by King Bimbisara via the traders, according to Dhtuvibhaga-sutta. With the use of his divine eye, the Blessed One could see that Pukkusati had abandoned his royal lands—which extended over 100 yojanas in Taxila—dedicated himself to the Buddha, and walked 192 yojanas from Taxila to Rajagaha. This merit was enormous. The Buddha believed that he would perish without any means of protection and be unable to reach the third stage of samannaphala, or Anagami Fruition, if he did not travel to teach Pukkusati.

Pukkusati also only had one night to live because his karma from the past would kill him. That morning, the Blessed One departed for Rjagaha8 from Jetavana7. After his alms tour and lunch, he journeyed 45 yojanas (from Savatthi to Rajagaha). Around dusk, he came to Pukkusati’s abode, the shed of a potter named Bhaggava.

The former renunciated Pukkusati believed that Rajagaha was where the Buddha was located. The Blessed One was in Savatthi, but he learned that much later. He decided to stay in the potter’s shed—a refuge for visitors who couldn’t find a place to stay—as it was growing late, and he was fatigued after the long trek.

To assist Pukkusati before he passed away, the Blessed One remained in the same shed when he arrived. After midnight, Pukkusati was able to hear the Dhamma. Pukkusati enjoyed the Dhamma when the lesson was over and gained Anagami Fruition. “Now, monk, you should remember my brief Dhatuvibhanga (Analysis of the Properties),” the Buddha said to him.

Pukkusati, who had no idea who the Buddha was, knelt at the Blessed One’s feet after the sutta and begged for pardon for an earlier verbal offense he had committed. He asked for the Buddha’s ordination. The Blessed One rejoiced. However, before being ordained as a bhikkhu, Pukkusati had to locate an alms bowl and a robe. None of these things were present in Pukkusati. He said goodbye to the Buddha and left to look for them. When he was attacked, a cow killed me. He had already earned Anagami at the time of Fruition. The two tales prove that Buddhism was connected to the northern areas of Jambudvipa’s civilization and permeated it, even in places without evidence of the Buddha’s visit.

These two stories greatly influence our understanding of the monarchs’ governing responsibilities and their use of traders as a tool to implement their foreign policy. This tremendously benefited the nation’s security, development, and government. Some of the traders were court representatives who were tasked with looking for news from other kingdoms. Diplomacy is quite fascinating and worth studying.

The fact that the Buddha visited the bank of the Chandrabhaga River, now the Chenab River in Punjab, Pakistan, is another key piece of evidence. It’s lovely to know this.

There are numerous ethnic groups present in Jambudvipa, which has a large population. To acquire the necessary information to apply to the present, one must conduct more thorough research to comprehend the significance of each heritage site. For instance, the northern regions—the entryway to Jambudvipa—were influenced by the Aryans and Indo-Europeans. Intermarriage, a multiracial population, and the reform of religious and cultural institutions were all affected by this.

The accounts of the monk’s Ven. Mahakappina, Ven. Pukkhusati, Queen Khema, and Queen Anoja supported the association of Buddhism with the northern region, whose residents belonged to a distinct race from those of the southern part. Studying the history of the people, their communities, ethnic cultures and traditions, occupations, modes of life, and geographical places is intriguing since it teaches us to understand these facets of civilization.

Remember the tale of Mahakappina, the ruler of monarchy, with Kukkutavati as its capital encompassing a 300 yojanas-sized region, which was near Himavanta-pages, at the Aparanta-janapada border of Jambudvipa. His spouse, Anoja Devi, originated in the Madra Kingdom’s Sgala. Also present was Khema Devi, Queen Bimbisara’s wife from the Madra Kingdom of Sgala. Both were daughters of Madra’s monarch, and Sagala served as its capital. 

Archaeological Discoveries in Bhamala

One of the most significant Buddhist archaeological sites is in Bhamala in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province’s district, Haripur, close to the Khanpur Dam. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO) designated the stupa in the style of Kashmiri cruciform architecture. In 1980, along with other well-known structures in the area, the Taxila’s ancient valley. Sir John Marshall initially investigated the Bhamala stupa in 1930-31. However, due to Sir Marshal focusing his study efforts at the renowned site of Sirkap, the site needed to be thoroughly explored.

Scientific archaeological excavations at the site of the Bhamala stupa started in 2012–2013, over 80 years after they had stopped. A Hazara University (HU) team, working with the University of Wisconsin (UoW) in the United States, oversaw the excavation. The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, conducted additional field excavations and research at the Bhamala stupa site from 2014 to 2016 due to the site’s archaeological significance. Director of Archaeology KP, Dr. Abdul Samad, formerly an Assistant Professor at the Department of Archaeology at the HU in Mansehra, oversaw both research projects. On the dig at Bhamala, he collaborated closely with Professor Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, a renowned expert on Gandhara and Harappa.

The excavations have uncovered numerous significant archaeological objects and important structural remains. Terracotta and stucco sculptures, money, and iron and copper artifacts were discovered during the excavation. A secondary stupa, chapels, and a second main cruciform stupa with numerous stucco carvings around it were also found.

The most notable find was a 14-meter-long reclining Buddha (Parinirvana), which is thought to be the biggest in the entire world. Numerous terracotta sculptures of worshippers and mourners were also found inside the Parinirvana chamber. The enormous Buddha statue, made of dressed Kanjur stone blocks, is situated on a stone platform inside a long mourning chamber and, like other huge reclining Buddha images recorded from Afghanistan and Tajikistan, faces the main stupa.


Charcoal and burned wood from the terracotta sculpture surrounding the enormous Parinirvana figure were radiocarbons dated. According to laboratory findings, Parinirvana was created in the third century CE. This indicates that the earliest representation of Parinirvana Buddha is the gigantic image from Bhamala. It appears to have existed before the vast Parinirvana photos that have been made public thus far. Bamiyan and Tappa Sardar in Afghanistan, Adzihna Tepe in Tajikistan, Daunghaung in China, and the Chui Valley in Kirghizstan are all older than the Bhamala site. It is also the sole known instance of the Parinirvana Buddha in Kanjur stone.

Questions and Answers

Q1. Who were the prominent royal family members who joined the Buddhist Order during the Buddha’s lifetime?

Ans. King Pukkusati of Taxila and King Mahakappina of Kukkutavati.

Q2.What was the catalyst for King Mahakappina’s renunciation, and how did he and his ministers join the Order?

Ans. King Mahakappina’s interest in renunciation and the Path to Liberation led to his decision to join the Order. After meeting Savatthi traders and hearing about the Buddha, he and his 1,000 ministers decided to give up their worldly roles and follow the Dhamma.

Q3. How did King Mahakappina and his ministers cross the challenging rivers during their journey to see the Buddha?

Ans. King Mahakappina prayed to the Triple Gem, and with the power of the Dhamma, he transformed the rivers’ characteristics, allowing them to travel across the surface on horseback without getting wet.

Q4. What teachings did the Buddha impart to King Mahakappina and his ministers, and what significant events occurred during this encounter?

Ans. The Buddha delivered the “nupubbikath” (Gradual Discourse) and ordained King Mahakappina and his ministers, who attained Sotapatti Fruition. Later, Queen Anoja and the ministers’ wives followed suit.

Q5. How did traders contribute to the spread of Buddhism across different regions, and what historical context does the One Belt One Road (OBOR) program have concerning this?

Ans. Traders played a vital role in transmitting the tales and teachings of the Buddha. The OBOR program, reminiscent of ancient trade routes, connects nations and promotes cultural exchanges, similar to the traders of the past.

Q6. What is the significance of the Dhtuvibhaga-sutta, and what concepts are essential for practitioners seeking liberation?

Ans. The Dhtuvibhaga-sutta discusses essential elements like sense bases and mental inquiries. Understanding these concepts is crucial for comprehending the Four Noble Truths and achieving liberation.

Q7. How did King Pukkusati’s journey to meet the Buddha unfold, and what was the Buddha’s role in facilitating his path to enlightenment?

Ans. King Pukkusati, inspired by a letter from King Bimbisara, journeyed to meet the Buddha. The Buddha stayed in the same shed as Pukkusati to assist him in hearing the Dhamma, which ultimately led to Pukkusati’s attainment of Anagami Fruition.

Q8. What evidence supports the connection of Buddhism with the northern regions of Jambudvipa, and how did monarchs utilize traders in diplomacy and foreign policy?

Ans. The stories of King Mahakappina King Pukkusati and their interactions with traders provide evidence of Buddhism’s presence in the northern areas. Monarchs leveraged traders as a tool for implementing foreign policy and diplomacy.

Q9. What significant archaeological discoveries were made in Bhamala, and what is the significance of the reclining Buddha found there?

Ans. Bhamala yielded terracotta sculptures, stucco carvings, and structural remains. The discovery of a 14-meter-long reclining Buddha believed to be the world’s largest, is particularly noteworthy.

Q10. How did radiocarbon dating contribute to understanding the age of the Parinirvana Buddha in Bhamala, and what does this discovery reveal about the spread of Buddhism in different regions?

Ans. Radiocarbon dating helped determine that the Parinirvana Buddha in Bhamala dates back to the third century CE, potentially making it the earliest known representation of such an image. This discovery highlights the spread of Buddhism across various regions.

Our Featured Article:

Read More: Hiking Trails at Lakeshore Club to Explore Nature’s Beauty

Don’t miss the chance to invest with Lakeshore! Secure your investment today by investing your financial investment with Lakeshore in the following available options like Lakeshore CityLakeshore Club, and Lakeshore Farms.

For More updates, please Contact +92 335 7775253 or visit our website

Lakeshore City is the upcoming elite lifestyle at Khanpur Dam. Offering no parallel amenities for the members and owners of distinguished farmhouses. 

Become Part of Luxurious Lifestyle

Contact: 0335 7775253

Posted in Lakeshore City
Write a comment
Our Blogs

Our Blogs