(69) Visit Gion Seisha, one of the eight great Buddhist sites in India - famous for the "Voice of the Bell at Gion Seisha" in the Tale of the Heike

Third Indian Expedition - Journey to Places Related to Buddha

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (69)
Visit Gion Seisha, one of the eight great Buddhist sites in India - famous for the "Voice of the Bell of Gion Seisha" in the Tale of the Heike

The day after my visit to Sankasha, I set out for Gion Seisha, a place famous in "The Tale of the Heike. The Gion Seisha is the place where "the sound of the bell of the Gion Seisha echoes the impermanence of all things".

It took more than eight hours by car from Sankasha to Gion Seisho. I had experienced long-distance travel many times in Sri Lanka, but long-distance travel in India is still tough.

The road from the highway exit to Gion Seisha is basically a field. As was the case with Sankasha, the Buddhist sites are almost entirely in the countryside, with the exception of Buddhagaya. The road to the Buddhist sites is a test of endurance. You have to be prepared for the fact that you will be constantly looking at the same scenery as you go.

Now, we have arrived at the Gion Seisha area. As one would expect, there are many stores and buildings in this area, including some that are frequented by tourists.

This is the entrance to Gion Seisha. Beyond this gate is the Gion Seisho, where Buddha lived.

Now, before I tell you what is going on inside Gion Seisha, let me tell you about the origin of this place.

This Gion Seisha is a monastery that was created when a great merchant named Sudatta donated land to the Buddha. Sudatta was a merchant from Shravasti, the capital of Kosala, who first met Buddha in Magadha. The story of the donation of the Gion Seisho is also an extremely important event in the Buddhist canon. I have previously written about this episode in(21) Sudatta's donation of the Gion Shozya - "The Voice of the Bell of the Gion Shozya" from here. Support of a Buddhist Order by a Great Merchant."I spoke about this in an article in the "The

As the head of a large cult, Buddha visited the country of Magadha. The Order stayed for a while in the vicinity of the capital, Wangsha Castle, with a donation from King Bimbisara.

At that time, a merchant heard a rumor of Buddha's sojourn and came to visit him. It was Sudatta.

He was a great merchant of Shravasti, the capital of Kosala, a country as big as Magadha, and was known as a man of charity, "a man who feeds the lonely....

When Sudatta met Buddha, he was shocked. Like King Bimbisara, he was deeply impressed by Buddha's wonderful teachings and luminous appearance. After all, the radiance of the inner self is reflected in one's appearance and behavior.

I knew that He is as wonderful as they say. He teaches to save people from suffering. If so, I would like to be of help to him.

With this in mind, Sudatta immediately offered Buddha an invitation to visit Shravasti, the capital of his own country, Kosala.

Buddha readily agrees.

Later, when the Buddha visited the area, Sudatta donated the Gion Shouzya for the Buddha. Thus, the name of Sudatta, a great merchant, was engraved in history as a great supporter of Buddha's cult.

Now, although the Gion Shouzya was thus donated to the Buddha Order, this was not the land originally owned by Sudatta.

Since Sudatta was a wealthy merchant, he probably owned a lot of land. However, if he were to donate land to Buddha, it would have to be, as Bimbisara, King of Magadha, put it, "not too far from the city, not too close, not too noisy, quiet, and suitable for meditation. This explains why Bimbisara, a great merchant of the city, did not have an affordable land.

So Sudatta, who had returned to his own country, hurriedly looked around for land and found the perfect place. He found the perfect place and said, "Let's use this place for Lord Buddha's cult! I am sure they will be comfortable here!" The place was a perfect fit for the cult. Sudhatta was elated, but soon came to know the fact to his dismay. He found out that this place was in the "Jeta Forest" owned by Prince Jeta of the Kosala Kingdom.

If the land is owned by merchants or farmers, how can we acquire land owned by royalty...

Distressed, Sudatta asks Prince Jeta to give up this land to him.

Prince, please give me this forest. I want to build a monastery here."

I said, "Wait, wait, wait, of course not. I'm not going to give in here."

No, I'll take care of that!"

'Even if you were to lay gold all over this property, I wouldn't give it up.

"...you just said, 'Even if I laid gold on this property,' right?"

What does it matter?

Did you hear that, ladies and gentlemen? The Crown Prince has just determined the value of this property. The value of this property is 'a lot of gold,' he said. I will take him up on his offer and do so from now on."

'No, no, wait a minute. I don't have any..."

'No. If you refuse, I will buy this forest, even if I have to appeal to the law. Well then!"

It was a very cryptic and forceful negotiation, but this was how Sudatta took the first step toward purchasing the property. The prince probably did not think that he would really bring enough gold to fill the entire property.

But the Taishi's prospects were naive! His resolve was genuine.

Sudatta loaded the carts with gold coins and began to spread them one after another in the Jetha forest. When the Prince saw this, he was indeed chilled.

'Oh come on, you can't be that serious about it! All right, all right! You are so wonderful that you would go that far. Good! Then I will donate this land to Lord Buddha!"

To this offer, Sudatta responds with surprise.

No, that is not necessary. I will buy it from you and donate it.

Taishi was surprised at this. "I didn't expect it to be that good...!" He was taken aback.

Thus, Sudatta was able to pay the gold coins and donate them to the Order of Buddha as promised.

(21) Sudatta's donation of the Gion Shozya - "The Voice of the Bell of the Gion Shozya" from here. Support of a Buddhist Order by a Great Merchant.".

Perhaps it is because of these dramatic stories that Gion Seisha became famous.

Incidentally, Gionjeongsijo is located near the Nepalese border, and is also close to Kapilavastu, where Buddha was born and raised. This geographical location was one of the reasons why the Kosala nation effectively belonged to the land of Buddha's birth.

I entered Gion Seisha. The inside is like a large park.

Many monastery ruins remain on this large site, but most of them were added after the death of the Buddha. Many of these monasteries were added after the death of the Buddha.

The place where people are gathered in front of you is the monastery built for Buddha. It was built with the donation by Sudatta, and this is where Buddha lived.

In front of the remains sat a group of monks dressed in orange robes, probably ordained Southeast Asian monks.

I also came to this monastery, but decided to wait because there was already a visitor ahead of me. A group, probably from Southeast Asia. After the leading monk read sutras, he seemed to be giving a sermon here. After a while, there was no sign of movement, so I decided to visit the monastery again later.

lime tree

There was a large linden tree on the grounds, where monks in orange robes were also meditating.

A short distance away from the area lined with monasteries, we came to a path lined with trees. I got goose bumps thinking that the Buddha and his disciples also walked here. There is an atmosphere that does not remind me of the passage of time.

And recent excavations have uncovered a pond where the Buddhas would have bathed. The pond is now maintained as shown here. Although people do not seem to come this far from the monastery, this pond is the one that has left the greatest impression on me. I still remember that I felt a thrill in my heart that I did not feel at other Buddhist sites. For some reason, it was here that I strongly felt that Buddha was here. It was a strange feeling for me that I was attracted to this place, not the building for Buddha or the Bodhi tree.

Excavation scene near the pond

Manual excavation is still continuing here, but the Indian government does not have a large budget for research on Buddhist sites, so there are still many places that remain untouched. The photo above is just one example of a site that has been slightly excavated. In India, Buddhists are a very small minority. And since the current Modi administration is strongly supporting Hinduism, this situation is not likely to change anytime soon. (Although infrastructure is being developed to attract tourists.)

However, even if other countries were to do the work, it would take a huge budget and a lot of time and effort to excavate the site. The reality is that the research is being carried out in the form of a joint project by each country. The situation is difficult, but we can only hope for further progress.

Gion Seisha is a large place. If you walk slowly, time will fly by. The quiet and relaxing atmosphere of this place is very comfortable. No wonder Buddha spent so much time here. This is the ideal environment for a monastery.

Now, we have returned to Buddha's monastery and they are still there.

It has been almost an hour and they are still there. Isn't that too long indeed...?

The guide tried to take me inside, saying, "Don't worry about it, come on in," but I couldn't do such a thing. They would stare at me as I approached. How could I calmly pay my respects under their gaze, as if they were telling me to get out of their way? I am not an Indian. I am not an Indian. I can't just step forward like that. I said, "Okay, okay, don't worry about it. I cannot go there.

Groups from Southeast Asia were sure to meet at the Buddhist sites that followed. And wherever we went, the situation was usually like this.

We will talk about this again at some point.

Despite this little accident, Gion Seisha is still a wonderful place where one can feel the atmosphere of Buddha's reign. Among the many Buddhist sites, this one became my favorite. It was a wonderful experience to be able to take a leisurely stroll while thinking about how the Buddha and his disciples must have walked here.

Incidentally, the famous beginning of "The Tale of the Heike", "The Voice of the Bell at Gion Seisha", actually did not have a bell here. It is said that there was no custom of ringing such a bell in the time of Buddha, and it did not exist after that. The existence of this bell must have reflected the image of the Japanese people at that time. And it is quite an interesting story that this image continues to this day.

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