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The ruins of ancient Sravasti include Saheth-Maheth and the nearby Orajhar, Panahiajhar, and Kharahuwanjhar. In the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Sravasti is a prosperous city in the kingdom of Kosala. Panini in his Ashtadhyayi mentions Kosala, as does Pali Buddhist literature. In the Puranas, Sravasti is the capital of North Kosala. The city is said to be named for the legendary king Sravasta of solar race who founded the city. In the 6th century BCE, during the reign of Prasenajit, the city rose to fame due to its association with the Buddha and Mahavira. The Buddha spent 24 rainy seasons here after his disciple Sudatta Anathapindika built a monastery for him at Jetavana. When challenged by a rival sect, he is also said to have performed the Great Miracle of Sravasti. Conversion of a robber, Angulimala, to the Buddha's path is another local episode of this period.
Sravasti was not only the capital of a powerful kingdom but also a hotbed of philosophical inquiry, where many schools of thought had already established themselves before the Buddha. Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara, had a great following here; even king Prasenajit was initially one of his votaries. Sravasti is believed to be the birthplace of two more Tirthankars—Sambhavanath and Chandra Prabha. Ajivika guru, Gosal Mankhaliputra, was born here and had ardent local admirers (the Buddha not among them). Ashoka visited Sravasti and erected two pillars on the eastern gate of Jetavana and built a stupa in the vicinity. During the time of Kushans, Buddhism gained from royal patronage. Sravasti was mentioned by travelers Fa-hien and Hiuen Tsang. Its ruins were uncovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1863.
[—Adapted from ASI's brochure on Sravasti.]
Miscellaneous sights around the ruins
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