Buddhist Monastery Found in Bharatpur

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    • In the recent excavations, the Structural Complex of the Buddhist Monastery was found in the continuation of large Stupa, Black and Red ware pottery, and Sculptures discovered from excavation done 50 years ago at the same site in West Bengal.

    About

    • An extended Monastery complex was found in an excavation done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in West Bengal’s Paschim Bardhaman district.
    • The outer wall of the monastery, containing nine layers of brick and a small circular structure has been revealed.
    • Buddhism in West Bengal: The region was a bastion of the ancient Buddhist Mauryan and Pala empires when the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools flourished. South-Eastern Bengal was ruled by the medieval Buddhist Kingdom of Mrauk U during the 16th and 17th centuries.

    Significance of Excavation 

    • The site was initially excavated fifty years ago between 1972 and 1975 when archaeologists from ASI found a Buddhist Stupa at the site.
    • Excavations can help in finding the spread of Buddhism in the South West Bengal region.
    • The discovery is also significant since black and red ware pottery from the chalcolithic age makes the village settlement on river Damodar possible. 
    • The complex makes the site religious while the settlement makes the site secular in nature.
    • The stupa found is large compared to stupas found from other Buddhist sites in the state like Karnasubarna in Murshidabad, Moghalamari in Paschim Medinipur, and Jagjivanpur in Malda where smaller votive stupas were found.

    Buddhist Monastery

    • A monastery is a community of men or women (monks or nuns), who have chosen to withdraw from society, forming a new community devoted to religious practice.
    • In Buddhism monks or nuns pray on behalf of the people. The monastery typically becomes the spiritual focus of the nearest town or village.
    • The goal is to achieve Moksha, which is freedom or release from attachment to ego or the material world, an end to samsara, to realize nirvana (liberation), which is to be released into the infinite state of oneness with everything.

    Stupa Architecture 

    • The central structure consists of a hemispherical dome on a base, with a relic chamber deep within. The dome symbolizes, among other things, the dome of heaven enclosing the earth. 
    • It is surmounted by a squared railing (harmika) that can be said to represent the world mountain.

    Black and Red ware Pottery 

    • These are distinct pottery characterized by two surface colours, black on the interior and outer rim and red on the exterior.
    • This colour combination was produced by inverted firing. It is sandwiched between OCP and Painted Grey Ware.

    Source: The Hindu