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Buddhist Heritage: Gor Khatir, Ancient Mansions, and Historic Monasteries

September 22, 2023


As stated, I stayed at the Director of Archaeology’s office from July 31 to August 4, 2565, BE. Instead of the government guest house in the military area, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has museums. Due to its sappaya (conducive to resting, meditation, and work purposes) qualities, Dr. Abdul Samad graciously organized this house for me, which was very helpful for my professional and religious practices.

My daily tasks included visiting the historic Buddhist places and paying respects there. I gave those who wanted to learn Dhamma and the fundamentals of meditation at 19.30 hours. Then, it was time for evening chanting at the Peshawar Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist Gandharan artwork and artifacts from the Swat Valley and Peshawar Valley, two KP heritage sites.

Daily Routine in Peshawar

To compose a summary of everything I had seen and learned during the day, I asked to spend the entire night at the museum. Particularly at night, the serene museum had a mystical and optimistic feeling. In the middle of a big hall, I sat alone at a table set aside only for me.

I took a break once I was done writing and meditated there till daybreak. I then left the Peshawar Museum building and returned to the director of archaeology and museums’ office. I did this systematically every night from the first night (31 July 2565 BE) through the third night (2 August 2565 BE). I forgot to write on the final night, August 3, 2565, BE; on August 4, 2565, BE, I returned to my rain retreat home in Taxila.

Dr. Samad invited me to plant a tree in memory of him on August 3 at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Peshawar Museum before we traveled for 20 minutes to another historic place in Peshawar. Some houses are over a hundred years old on the ancient site, along with a Hindu Vihara and an Islamic Mosque that are both still in operation. The excavation uncovered the original base of the Buddhist Maha-Vihara, which is believed to have held the Buddha’s alms bowl and is now on display in Afghanistan’s Kabul Museum. 

Recall that during the time of King Kanishka, the Buddha’s alms bowl was transported from Pataliputra to Purushpura and installed in a spacious Maha-Vihara on the eastern side of Purush-pura. The alms bowl was mentioned by Faxian when he visited the city, suggesting that it was still there more than a thousand years after the Buddha’s death. The ninth Buddhist century, 300–400 years following the Kanishka period (the sixth Buddhist century), is when Faxian’s account was written.

Knowing that the bowl is sacred, as Faxian indicated, is pleasant, but the details were unclear. I have discovered the information below to clarify misunderstandings regarding the Buddha alms bowl and its origin in Purushpura.

“King Kanishka, a member of the Yueh-chi tribe, attacked Pataliputra, the capital of the Magadha Kingdom, when the latter was at war with the Yueh-chi tribe. Having lost, Pataliputra requested a compromise.” As payment, King Kanishka requested three kotis of gold. Pataliputra was unable to abide by his request. Therefore, King Kanishka requested the richest possessions in Pataliputra: The bowl of the Buddha and a learned monk named Asvag-hosa. Both had to be turned over by Pataliputra.

The ministers of King Kanishka questioned “how a monk could be an invaluable asset” when Asvaghosa and the bowl returned.

King Kanishka mandated the six-day starvation of seven horses. He then convened a meeting with the monks, his ministers, servants, and the populace. The monarch ordered Ven. Asvaghosa to deliver a dhamma discourse as soon as those seven horses were placed before them.

Ven gave the dhamma talk. Asvaghosa was exquisite. The horses refused to eat, so the king ordered one of his soldiers to fetch them food. They had tears in their eyes as they stood there hearing the Dhamma.

Even animals, including horses, remained calm and engrossed in Ven. Asavaghosa’s teachings on the Dhamma earned him fame. From then on, he was referred to as Ven. Asvaghosa. (Satien Bhodinanda’s Buddhist History).”

The Buddha’s bowl, which is connected to Ven. Asavaghosa attests to its existence and the fact that it was introduced to the Kushan dynasty’s country. In the second stage of Buddhism, which spanned 400 BCE to 700 BCE, Ven. Asavaghosa was highly significant. We will discuss this study in more detail in the future.

For now, our attention will be on the Buddha’s bowl and the evidence Faxian and his fellow monks provided that it existed at Purushpura.

Even though there were just remnants of the Maha-Vihara, which housed the Buddha’s alms bowl throughout the fifth and sixth centuries of Buddhism, when I learned that it was in Gor Khatri from the director of Peshawar Archaeology & Museums, I was still quite excited to visit on a field trip to the monastery.

I was being followed at the time by Lady Supatra Masdit, who wrote:

On August 3, 2022, Most Venerable Arayawangso was frequently called “MV” or “MV Father” by Pakistanis, a treasured moniker. At 8:00 a.m., he planted a tree as a memorial after eating in the office of the Director of Archaeology & Museums in Peshawar/KP, where he was staying. 

Planting a Tree in Memory of Dr. Abdul Samad

The idea came from Dr. Abdul Samad. Although it had no similarity to the Bodhi tree, the prepared tree had been called one. It is known as a Java cotton tree in my country. After that, we departed in the van that the Thai Embassy in Pakistan gave after Colonel Adisak Showichen, the Military and Defence Attaché, and his wife, Ms. Hathairath Wareesa-mankhun, organized it to look after MV throughout the three months. A fantastic accomplishment to celebrate!

We arrived in Gor Khatri, an ancient Peshawar neighborhood preserved adequately by the Archaeology and Museums of KP, in about 15-20 minutes. A previous government building, now a Peshawar local government office, is near the ancient site. An old wall with a tower is present in the front. A governor’s office was inside the building, now maintained as a national treasure. 

The historic building’s entryway was sealed up for 30 meters. Like everywhere else, there were renovations, excavations, and efforts to preserve the site’s structure. According to Faxian’s narrative, this was where the Buddha’s bowl was stored, according to the archaeological evidence from Peshawar.

However, disagreement remains on what happened to the Buddha’s bowl as it traveled through time. People need to be made aware of the bowl’s location. Some claimed it was at the Afghan capital of Kabul’s museum. Others argued that it is in the Dusasa Chedi in the Brahman world, while some claimed that the celestial ones had moved it to the Chulamanee Chedi in heaven. Some said that it was located in a historic Buddhist site in India. But none of these are supported by any evidence.

People need to be made aware. Our only source of confirmation is Faxian’s record. In Peshawar, he had seen the bowl. He also discussed the bowl’s spiritual power. I, MV Arayawangso, visited the Maha-Vihara on August 3rd, 2565 BE, to know the location of the Buddha’s bowl, which, according to Faxian’s records, was stored there between 942 and 957 BE. According to the Archaeology & Museum of KP, the Maha-Vihara is located in Gor Khatri, Peshawar.

Visit to Jamal Garhi Maha-Vihara

We must consult the Theravada source to wrap up the tale of the Buddha bowl. The bowl was stored at the Kesariya Stupa in Paisali or Vaishali in the Vajji Kingdom, according to the history following the Buddha’s nirvana. The stupa in India was restored to its former form by the Bihar Archaeology Unit, but information regarding the bowl has yet to be found. In light of the bowl, it might be said that:

“King Kanishka conducted this action in the second century.

From Vaishali to Purushapura, this basin’s capital city.”

It was then transported to Kandahar in Afghanistan. It was recently, or roughly ten years ago, kept in the Kabul Museum. According to Pakistani archaeologists, this assertion needs to be revised. The truth that may be found in the vestiges of civilization in each era and how they relate to Buddhist history can be seen in all of the above, including the item, place, and social geography. Despite a thousand years having gone by, we can still go back in time to learn the truth about them and that they existed. One instance is Gor Khatri in Peshawar. I went on a field trip with MV Aray-awnings and his group to find out for ourselves.

The Director of KP’s Archaeology and Museums invited us to visit a historic market in the Gor Khatri community, one of Pakistan’s cultural treasures currently preserved by the Archaeology & Museum. A mansion may have once been called a wealthy man’s or an affluent Brahmin’s castle. It is being kept in its original state, down to the ancient market district, by the Peshawar Museum. They are worth visiting since they exhibit the traditional way of life in the neighborhood.

We can discover what a wealthy man’s home in Jambudvipa looked like. Each room, every nook, and every crevice of the rich man’s seven-story ancient castle show the lifestyle of an individual, an old community, and a way of life in traditional Jambudvipa. Learning about Buddhism or any other religion in Jambudvipa is quite helpful.

We were scheduled to return to Taxila on August 4, 2022, and I, MV Arayawangso, was invited to ring the Peace Bell, which was placed in October 2019. The purpose of the ritual was to promote peace worldwide and in Pakistan by sending the Dhamma sounds of peace to all living things in all realms. To bring peace to oneself, others, and the country, one must practice the essence of Buddhism, or the heart of the Dhamma peace, before ringing the bell.

The Dhamma Peace’s core principle is to:

1. Avoid all bad behavior

2. Develop wholesomeness

3. Mental cleansing

Chanting of loving-kindness for the good and joy of the populace came next.

30th October 2019: The Peace Bell was installed and rung. 15 September 2022, the peace bell I, MV Arayawangso, also proclaimed: “I flew to Peshawar to ring the Peace Bell and urge people to trust in Dhamma for world peace. Dhamma Peace from my heart and intellect sent a signal that reverberated worldwide. I respectfully and humbly paid homage to the loving-kindness Dhamma. A brave decision was made to bring peace back to Peshawar, the former Purusapu-ra of the Kushan dynasty and the location of Buddha-Dhamma’s hegemony.

The Bell of Peace was rung with the sound of tribute to Dhamma, extending an invitation to all people to come to the civilized land of Lord Buddha.

All of humanity will soon come to admire the Peshawar World Heritage site.

I left Thailand for Peshawar with the utmost respect for Dhamma’s mighty force.”

MV Arayawangso as Goodwill Ambassador

Following the formal ceremony at the Museum of Peshawar to ring the Bell of Peace for the second time, Dr. Abdul Samad, the Director of Archaeology and museums of KP, gave a statement and asked MV Arayawangso to be the Goodwill Ambassador to educate the public about the Gandhara civilization and its historical treasures.

We went on another field excursion to a stunning Buddhist Maha-Vihara, a priceless example of old art. A sign designated the Jamal Garhi Maha-Vihara. We could see that the Jamal Garhi was equally as large as the Takht-i-Bahi as the automobile drew closer to the base of the hill. The mountain was similar in height, standing at 150 meters. The atmosphere could be more pleasant than the Takhti-Bahi. Jamal Garhi Maha-Vihara is accessible and close to a sizable neighborhood. It is known as Jamal Garhi Mardan since Mardan is where it is located.

Around midday on August 4th, 2565 BE, MV led the Jamal Garhi group up the stone steps leading to the Mahavihara. Even though it was sweltering outside, my mind was serene and calm. The stupas and viharas surrounding this Sangharama represent the Maha-Vihara, a renowned Buddhist monastery that existed from Ashoka until Kanishka’s rule of the Kushan empire when Buddhism was at its pinnacle.


We observed MV performing his religious observance at the Sanchi stupa in the cool midday sun. The stupa is located in the center of Jamal Gashi’s Maha-vihara. As we circled the stupa, MV said the energy there was still intact, indicating that it formerly housed the Buddha’s relics. He speculated that the artifacts might still be there deep underground. Then, it was time to return to the rain retreat home in Taxila.

Questions and Answers

Q1. Why is it important to preserve Buddhist heritage in regions like Peshawar, Pakistan?

Ans. Preserving Buddhist heritage helps maintain historical and cultural connections to Buddhism, which played a significant role in the region’s history.

Q2. What was MV Arayawangso’s daily routine during his stay in Peshawar?

Ans. MV Arayawangso’s routine included visiting historic Buddhist sites, teaching Dhamma and meditation, and engaging in evening chanting and reflection.

Q3. What was the significance of planting a tree in memory of Dr. Abdul Samad?

Ans. The tree planting ceremony symbolized the connection between Buddhism and nature and served as a tribute to Dr. Abdul Samad’s support for preserving Buddhist heritage.

Q4. Where did MV Arayawangso visit to explore the quest for the Buddha’s alms bowl?

Ans. MV Arayawangso visited Gor Khatri, an ancient Peshawar neighborhood, to explore the history and archaeological evidence related to the Buddha’s alms bowl.

Q5. What were the contrasting claims about the current location of the Buddha’s alms bowl?

Ans. Some claims suggested the bowl was in the Kabul Museum, the Dusasa Chedi in the Brahman world, the Chulamanee Chedi in heaven, or a historic Buddhist site in India. However, Faxian’s record is considered the primary source.

Q6. What did MV Arayawangso discover during his visit to Jamal Garhi Maha-Vihara?

Ans. MV Arayawangso explored the Jamal Garhi Maha-Vihara, an ancient Buddhist monastery, and speculated about underground relics.

Q7. What role did MV Arayawangso play as a Goodwill Ambassador?

Ans. MV Arayawangso was proposed to educate the public about Gandhara civilization and historical treasures, promoting awareness and preservation efforts.

Q8. Why is preserving and showcasing the Peshawar World Heritage site important?

Ans. Preserving and showcasing the Peshawar World Heritage site helps protect and promote the region’s rich Buddhist history and culture, allowing future generations to connect with their heritage.

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