Sunday, May 8, 2011


Jgaddad Vihara
This remarkable ruin in North Bengal, destroyed, like so many of the extraordinarily numerous Vihara (University, might be the closest explanation) in Bangladesh, in the late 12th Century by Bakhtiar Khiliji, was certainly one of the largest in Bangladesh.
The invaders from Afghanistan, descendants of the troops of Alexander the Great, unfortunately proved no quite as sophisticated as the converts who headed across North Africa and into Europe, apparently having more in common with contemporary Taliban in their attitude to other faiths.
But the ruins of Jagaddad, recorded in earlier times as one of the great Vihara of North India, now lie, largely unexplored, masonry and sculptural pieces scattered around. The valuables have certainly been looted, long ago, though some appear in museums around the country; more probably appear in antique shops around the world.
This site, however, being less explored, has, so far, avoided the fate of others such that have become picnic party destinations for visitors unaware and uncaring of the immense history that surrounds them.
Here, once upon a time, young men from around the known world, from China, Nepal, Tibet, Sumatra, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, even Japan, once travelled to study for the priesthood. And from here, set out again to support the religion, as did the great Atish Dipanker, the Bangladeshi born ‘Second Buddha’, who restored Buddhism in Tibet in the mid 11th Century.
Here, also, the scholar Vidyakara, in the mid 11th Century, gathered his famous anthology of 9th and 10th Century Sanskrit verse; love poems, in the main, including many with erotic topics and Hindu , no doubt much admired and enjoyed by followers of tantric Buddhism, that was probably developed in Bangladesh.
This remote corner of Bangladesh simply adds to the seemingly unending flood of such Buddhist monuments slowly being revealed, year after year.

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