• Dhauligiri

  • Buddhist Deities, Lalitgiri

  • Votive Stupas of Ratnagiri

  • Door jamb, Ratnagiri

  • Stupa of Udayagiri

About Kalinga Nirvana

Who knew that a prince, who was born to rule the kingdom he inherited or to get enlightened by Brahmin soothsayers, will soon start a search for a perfect bliss and awakening? The child was born in 563 BC in the noble family of King Suddhodana. The father named his son as Siddhartha which means ‘Perfect Wealth’, and expected that a day will come when his throne will be inherited by his newly born son.

All the privileges and pleasures which a royal family can observe were now blessed at the Prince.  Hoping that Prince Siddhartha would never come across poverty and human suffering existing outside the palace gates, the Prince was always kept inside the royal boundaries. The King never allowed Siddhartha to cross the borders of Kapilavastu. However, the curious Siddhartha who was born to get awakened and to wakening up the world could not be kept under any such boundaries for a long time.

The 29-year old Prince started venturing outside the palace, making four independent forays and subsequently totally changing his attitude towards life.  Siddhartha’s first venture encountered him with the first person of advanced age he never had seen before, while his second expedition introduced him with a diseased person for the first time. On his third trip, the young Prince saw a corpse and heard about this phase of life for the first time. And on his fourth outing, he came across a wandering ascetic who had turned away from the accessories of worldly life in order to explore the truth.

This was the time when Prince Siddhartha had decided to shun the worldly trappings and go outside the royal margins in search of truth.  The very next evening, Siddhartha abandoned all the pleasures of royal life to explore the real life, leaving behind his sleeping wife and newly-born son in the palace. At first, Siddhartha wandered northern India to study Brahmanic meditation with Hindu gurus, following several austerities and the acts of self mortification.  However, he ended up these practices as he found them unable to make him find out the existential truths.

His longing for knowledge let him seated at the base of a ficus tree after he vowed not to move from the place until he knew the truth. Focusing his meditation on ‘the nature of mind and body in the present moment’, he shunned all the desires for which he found himself unreliable and unsatisfying. This practice brought the meditating Siddhartha to achieve Bodhchita or ‘Awakened Mind’ that was a profound spiritual rebirth for him.  Finally, he attained the indescribable state of perfect bliss and knowledge, and turned into the Buddha or ‘Awakened One’. The Buddha spent the remaining forty five years of his life as a humble monk. He preached others to make them conscious for what he himself had explored and gave birth to and grew the Buddhist philosophy.

Two merchants of Utkal Tapassu and Bhallika became the first lay disciples of Lord Buddha, as per early Vinaya texts.  Eight handfuls of his hairs were what Buddha gave them, getting rice cake and honey in return from them. Later on, the merchants deposited the heirs in a stupa (Kesa Stupa) in their native place Asitanjana. The excavations done in Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri by Archaeological Survey of India revealed the wealthy Orissa Buddhist Heritage related to the early Christian era of 15th-16th century AD.

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