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Buddha in Kalinga - varnamvarnam
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Buddha in Kalinga

The only time Kalinga gets mentioned in ancient history is during the episode where emperor Asoka had a change of heart following the bloody war. The standard line in history books is that Asoka became a Buddhist after the war and then embarked on a mission to globalize Buddhism.

In fact Asoka was associated with Buddhism much before the Kalinga war, according to Dipavamsa. In an early edict Asoka wrote, “I have been a lay Buddhist for more than two and half years, but for a year I did not exert myself well”. Also it is not clear why Asoka had a change of heart after the Kalinga war for he was involved with many wars. It is possible that there was no more territory to conquer and he used the opportunity to craft a pacifist policy which made it easier to manage people [8].

Another fact that does not get mentioned in history books is the association of Buddha with Kalinga. Huen Tsang, during his travels in in 6th century AD saw ten stupas which mentioned Buddha’s travel to Kalinga and now those stupas have been discovered in an archaeological excavation.

The discovery includes 10 Ashoka stupas, a fort which housed the royal headquarters of the Kalinga State and remains of the Ashoka period dating back to the third Century B.C, say Dr. Rout and authorities of the institute.

Excavations have already been carried out at four of the stupas located at Tarapur, Deuli and Kayama in Jajpur, according to Debaraj Pradhan, director of the excavation project and secretary of the institute. Work will be taken up at the other stupas soon. The first discovery of an Ashoka stupa was made at nearby Langudi Hill.

`In the course of the excavation that started in December 2004, we unearthed square stupas made of latrine blocks, burnt bricks, railing pillars and cross-bars, Besides, pottery and terracotta remains of the Ashoka period have been discovered in these hills,” Mr. Pradhan said.

The discovery of several inscriptions at Radhanagar village and other corroborative evidence clearly proved that the place was Toshali, royal headquarters of Kalinga during the time of Ashoka. Although scholars tried to identify Toshali with Sisupalgarh near Bhubaneswar, no inscriptional evidence was found so far, Mr. Pradhan said.

Mr. Pradhan said the research and excavation might also lead to the discovery of the exact venue of the Kalinga war. Till now it was said the war was fought on the banks of the Daya on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. But the current excavation and survey gave indications that the war might have been fought at Yudha Meruda, which comes under the Korei block near Dharmasala.[Stupas, inscription indicate Lord Buddha’s visit to Kalinga]


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