Patna

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Patna District Map

Patna (पटना) is city and district of Bihar, India. Patna is the capital of Bihar state.

Location

The modern city of Patna is situated on the southern bank of the Ganges.The city also straddles the rivers Sone, Gandak and Punpun.

Origin of name

There are several theories regarding the source of the modern name Patna :

  • It is etymologically derived from Patan (पातन), the name of the Hindu goddess, Patan Devi.[1] Patan Devi Mandir is still situated in old Patna near gulzarbagh mandi & another patna devi mandir is situated near takht shree harmandar sahib patna city.
  • Many believe Patna derived its name from Patli, a tree variety that was found in abundance in the historic city.[2]
  • The place appears in Chinese traveller Fa Hien's records as Pa-lin-fou.[3]

Various names of Patna

The city has been known by various names during its more than 2,000 years of existence[4]:

  • Pataligrama - Legend describes the origin of Patna to a mythological King Putraka who created Patna by magic for his queen Patali, literally "trumpet flower", which gives it its ancient name Pataligrama. It is said that in honour of the queen's first-born, the city was named Pataliputra. Gram is Sanskrit for village and Putra means son. Legend also says that the Emerald Buddha was created in Patna (then Pataliputra) by Nagasena in 43 BCE.[5]
  • Pataliputra - The etymology of Pataliputra is unclear. "Putra" means son, and "pāţali" is a species of rice or the plant Bignonia suaveolens.[6] One traditional etymology[7] holds that the city was named after the plant.[8] Another tradition says that Pāṭaliputra means the son of Pāṭali, who was the daughter of Raja Sudarshan.[9] As it was known as Pāṭali-grama ("Pāṭali village") originally, some scholars believe that Pāṭaliputra is a transformation of Pāṭalipura, "Pāṭali town".[10]
  • Palibothra - The name the Greeks slightly altered to Palibothra on the authority of Megasthenes
  • Kusumapura,
  • Kusumdhwaja,
  • Pushpapuram,
  • Padmavati,
  • Azimabad,
  • Patna.

Sub-Divisions

Patna district comprises 6 Sub-divisions:

Blocks: Patna Sadar, Phulwari sharif, Sampatchak, Fatuha, Khusrupur, Daniyawaan,Bakhtiyarpur, Barh, Belchi, Athmalgola, Mokama, Pandarak, Ghoswari, Bihta, Maner, Danapur, Naubatpur, Masaurhi, Dhanarua, Punpun.

History

Patna is One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world.[11]

Patna was founded in 490 BCE by the king of Magadha. Ancient Patna, known as Pataliputra, was the capital of the Magadha Empire under the Haryanka, Nanda, Mauryan, Sunga, Gupta and Pala. Pataliputra was a seat of learning and fine arts. Its population during the Maurya period (around 300 BCE) was about 400,000.[12]

Patna became significant around the year 490 BCE when Ajatashatru, the king of Magadha, wanted to shift his capital from the hilly Rajagrha to a more strategically located place to combat the Licchavis of Vaishali.[13] He chose the site on the bank of the Ganges and fortified the area. Gautama Buddha passed through this place in the last year of his life. He prophesied a great future for this place, but at the same time, he predicted its ruin from flood, fire and feud.[14]

Mauryan empire - Megasthenes, the Indo-Greek historian and ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, gave one of the earliest account of the city. He wrote that the city was situated on the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Arennovoas (Sonabhadra — Hiranyawah) and was 14 kilometres long and 2.82 kilometres wide.[15][16]

Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India, described the city as the greatest city on earth during its heyday.[17]

The Sungas ultimately retained control of Pataliputra and ruled for almost 100 years. The Sungas were then followed by the Kanvas and eventually the Guptas.[18]

A number of Chinese travellers came to India in pursuit of knowledge and recorded their observations about Pataliputra in their travelogues, including those of a Chinese Buddhist Fa Hien, who visited India between 399 and 414 CE, and stayed here for many months translating Buddhist texts.[19]

In the years that followed, many dynasties ruled the Indian subcontinent from the city, including those of the Gupta empire and the Pala kings. With the disintegration of the Gupta empire, Patna passed through uncertain times. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar in the 12th century and destroyed many ancient seats of learning, and Patna lost its prestige as the political and cultural center of India.[20]

Visit by Fahian

James Legge[21] writes that Having crossed the river, and descended south for a yojana, (the travellers) came to the town of Pataliputtra,1 in the kingdom of Magadha, the city where king Asoka2 ruled. The royal palace and halls in the midst of the city, which exist now as of old, were all made by spirits which he employed, and which piled up the stones, reared the walls and gates, and executed the elegant carving and inlaid sculpture-work — in a way which no human hands of this world could accomplish.

King Asoka had a younger brother who had attained to be an Arhat, and resided on Gridhra-kuta3 hill, finding his delight in solitude and quiet. The king, who sincerely reverenced him, wished and begged him (to come and live) in his family, where he could supply all his wants. The other, however, through his delight in the stillness of the mountain, was unwilling to accept the invitation, on which the king said to him, “Only accept my invitation, and I will make a hill for you inside the city.” Accordingly, he provided the materials of a feast, called to him the spirits, and announced to them, “To-morrow you will all receive my invitation; but as there are no mats for you to sit on, let each one bring (his own seat).” Next day the spirits came, each one bringing with him a great rock, (like) a wall, four or five paces square, (for a seat). When their sitting was over, the king made them form a hill with the large stones piled on one another, and also at the foot of the hill, with five large square stones, to make an apartment, which might be more than thirty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and more than ten cubits high.

In this city there had resided a great Brahman,4 named Radha-sami,5 a professor of the mahayana, of clear discernment and much wisdom, who understood everything, living by himself in spotless purity. The king of the country honoured and reverenced him, and served him as his teacher. If he went to inquire for and greet him, the king did not presume to sit down alongside of him; and if, in his love and reverence, he took hold of his hand, as soon as he let it go, the Brahman made haste to pour water on it and wash it. He might be more than fifty years old, and all the kingdom looked up to him. By means of this one man, the Law of Buddha was widely made known, and the followers of other doctrines did not find it in their power to persecute the body of monks in any way.

By the side of the tope of Asoka, there has been made a mahayana monastery, very grand and beautiful; there is also a hinayana one; the two together containing six or seven hundred monks. The rules of demeanour and the scholastic arrangements6 in them are worthy of observation.

Shamans of the highest virtue from all quarters, and students, inquirers wishing to find out truth and the grounds of it, all resort to these monasteries. There also resides in this monastery a Brahman teacher, whose name also is Manjusri,7 whom the Shamans of greatest virtue in the kingdom, and the mahayana Bhikshus honour and look up to.

The cities and towns of this country are the greatest of all in the Middle Kingdom. The inhabitants are rich and prosperous, and vie with one another in the practice of benevolence and righteousness. Every year on the eighth day of the second month they celebrate a procession of images. They make a four-wheeled car, and on it erect a structure of four storeys by means of bamboos tied together. This is supported by a king-post, with poles and lances slanting from it, and is rather more than twenty cubits high, having the shape of a tope. White and silk-like cloth of hair8 is wrapped all round it, which is then painted in various colours. They make figures of devas, with gold, silver, and lapis lazuli grandly blended and having silken streamers and canopies hung out over them. On the four sides are niches, with a Buddha seated in each, and a Bodhisattva standing in attendance on him. There may be twenty cars, all grand and imposing, but each one different from the others. On the day mentioned, the monks and laity within the borders all come together; they have singers and skilful musicians; they pay their devotion with flowers and incense. The Brahmans come and invite the Buddhas to enter the city. These do so in order, and remain two nights in it. All through the night they keep lamps burning, have skilful music, and present offerings. This is the practice in all the other kingdoms as well. The Heads of the Vaisya families in them establish in the cities houses for dispensing charity and medicines. All the poor and destitute in the country, orphans, widowers, and childless men, maimed people and cripples, and all who are diseased, go to those houses, and are provided with every kind of help, and doctors examine their diseases. They get the food and medicines which their cases require, and are made to feel at ease; and when they are better, they go away of themselves.

When king Asoka destroyed the seven topes, (intending) to make eighty-four thousand,9 the first which he made was the great tope, more than three le to the south of this city. In front of this there is a footprint of Buddha, where a vihara has been built. The door of it faces the north, and on the south of it there is a stone pillar, fourteen or fifteen cubits in circumference, and more than thirty cubits high, on which there is an inscription, saying, “Asoka gave the jambudvipa to the general body of all the monks, and then redeemed it from them with money. This he did three times.”10 North from the tope 300 or 400 paces, king Asoka built the city of Ne-le.11 In it there is a stone pillar, which also is more than thirty feet high, with a lion on the top of it. On the pillar there is an inscription recording the things which led to the building of Ne-le, with the number of the year, the day, and the month.


1 The modern Patna, lat. 25d 28s N., lon. 85d 15s E. The Sanskrit name means “The city of flowers.” It is the Indian Florence.

2 See chap. x, note 3. Asoka transferred his court from Rajagriha to Pataliputtra, and there, in the eighteenth year of his reign, he convoked the third Great Synod — according, at least, to southern Buddhism. It must have been held a few years before B.C. 250; Eitel says in 246.

3 “The Vulture-hill;” so called because Mara, according to Buddhist tradition, once assumed the form of a vulture on it to interrupt the meditation of Ananda; or, more probably, because it was a resort of vultures. It was near Rajagriha, the earlier capital of Asoka, so that Fa-hien connects a legend of it with his account of Patna. It abounded in caverns, and was famous as a resort of ascetics.

4 A Brahman by cast, but a Buddhist in faith.

5 So, by the help of Julien’s “Methode,” I transliterate the Chinese characters {.} {.} {.} {.}. Beal gives Radhasvami, his Chinese text having a {.} between {.} and {.}. I suppose the name was Radhasvami or Radhasami.

6 {.} {.}, the names of two kinds of schools, often occurring in the Li Ki and Mencius. Why should there not have been schools in those monasteries in India as there were in China? Fa-hien himself grew up with other boys in a monastery, and no doubt had to “go to school.” And the next sentence shows us there might be schools for more advanced students as well as for the Sramaneras.

7 See chap. xvi, note 22. It is perhaps with reference to the famous Bodhisattva that the Brahman here is said to be “also” named Manjusri.

8? Cashmere cloth.

9 See chap. xxiii, note 3.

10 We wish that we had more particulars of this great transaction, and that we knew what value in money Asoka set on the whole world. It is to be observed that he gave it to the monks, and did not receive it from them. Their right was from him, and he bought it back. He was the only “Power” that was.

11 We know nothing more of Ne-le. It could only have been a small place; an outpost for the defence of Pataliputtra.

Tej Ram Sharma on Pataliputra

Tej Ram Sharma[22] describes as under:

(8) Pataliputra (पाटलिपुत्र) (No. 7, L. 12; No. 6, L. 4; No. 1, L. 14) :

It is the same as modern Patna situated to the south of the river Ganga. Inscription No. 7 refers to Pataliputra. Inscription No. 6 mentions Virasena, the child of Kutsa, the minister for peace and war under Chandragupta II, who knew the meanings of the words, and logic, and (the ways of) mankind, who was a poet and who belonged to (the city of) Pataliputra. Inscription No. 1 mentions a city named Puspa where Samudragupta enjoyed playfully while he was young. Apparently, the city was the Gupta capital. We also find the word Pataliputa (Pataliputra) used by Asoka, in his rock edicts. The city was also known as Kusumapura due to the abundance of flowers. Its name Puspapura is also met with in the Raghuvamsa. It is mentioned in the Mudraraksasa as well. The Kathasaritsagaraof Somadeva 296 (llth century) describes it as a place of both wealth and education though generally there is a fight between Sri (Laksmi) and Sarasvati.

The Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara (A.D. 900) mentions a tradition that there were assemblies of scholars called brahma- sabhas, organised by kings, which examined poets like Kalidasa, Bharṭrmaṇṭha, Amara, Rupa, Aryasura, Bhāravi and Candragupta in Viśālā (Ujjaini) and where such great masters of grammar as Upavarsa, Panini, Pingala, Vyaḍi, Vararūci and Patanjali were examined in Pataliputra and attained fame.

The Manjusrimulakalpa (A.D. 800) mentions Pataliputra as Nandanagara. This work refers to king Nanda, his learned Council of brahmana philosophers and to his intimacy with Panini. "After him (Surasena) there will be king Nanda


Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 231


at Puspa city. In the capital of the Magadha residents there will be brahmana controversialists and the king will be surroun- ded by them. The king will give them riches. His minister was a Buddhist brahmana, Vararuci, who was of high soul, kind and good. His great friend was a brahmana, Panini by name".

The Kasika records two divisions of Pataliputra :

1. Purva-Pataliputra (eastern on the Ganga)

2. Apara-Pataliputra (western on the Sona)

Patanjali mentions the western Pataliputra. A citizen of Pataliputra was called Pataliputraka.

The city is named as Palibothra by Megasthenes, the Ambassador of Seleucus Nicatorat the court of King Chandragupta Maurya. The Pala inscriptions refer to it by the name Srinagara.

The termination 'Putra' in Pataliputra is difficult to explain. We find it being used with 'Brahman' to denote the river 'Brahmaputra'. As regards places-names we find the mention of Satiya puta (Satiya-putra) and Kerala-puta (Kerala putra) in Asokan Rock-edicts.

The name Pataliputra is taken to mean "the son (putra) of Pāṭali, i. e. the trumpet flower. The words Puspapura and Kusumapura also mean 'a city of flowers'. The word 'Srinagara' means 'a beautiful city'. Because of the abundance of flowers the city may have looked beautiful. It was known by other names also, viz., Puspapura, Puspapuri and Kusumapura. According to Yuan-Chwang, it had been called Kusumapura (K' u-su-mo-pu-lo) on account of the numerous flowers (kusuma) in the royal enclosure. Later its glory was replaced by that of Kanyakubja which came to be known as Kusumapura.

The meaning of 'Pataliputra' is explained in the legendary origin of the city. According to the legend : there was a brahmana of high talent and singular learning. Many flocked to him to receive instruction. One day all his students went out on a tour of observation. One of them looked very sad. When asked, he told that his life was waning without any company. In a joke his friends made the Patali tree, under which they were standing, his father-in-law : in other words he was to marry the daughter of the tree, or a Patali flower


232 Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions


(Bignonia Suaveolens). As the Sun was about to set, all - the students proposed to return home but the young student fascinated by love stayed there fearlessly. Accidentally, next day he was married with the young daughter of an old couple. After a year his wife gave birth to a son. He declined to stay there fearing the exposure to wind and weather. But the old man (the father of the wife) constructed a house for him and made him stay there. When the old capital of Kusumapura was changed, this town was chosen, and "as the genie built the mansion for the youth the country was named as Pataliputrapura (the city of the son of the Patali tree)."

It is not unlikely that originally the name of the city was Pataliputrapura and that later suffix Pura was dropped.

The Buddhist literature informs us that Pataliputra was originally a village known as Pataligama. Ajatasatru is said to have fortified it in order to check the attacks of the Licchavis who often harassed its inhabitants. The Buddha on his way from Rajagrha to Vaisali, passed through this village on his last journey and is said to have predicted that the village was destined to become a great city.

The Vayu-Purana attributes the real foundation of Pataliputra to Raja Ajata-Satru's grandson, Udaya or Udayasva.

It was he who first removed the capital from Rajagrha to Pataliputra (during the last part of the 6th century B. c.)

Pataliputra had closely been associated with multifarious political and cultural activities right from the fifth century B.C. to the later part of the sixth century A.D. It had the honour to be the capital of the Saisunagas, the Nandas, the Mauryas and the great Imperial Guptas uptil the Huna invasion in the 6th century A.D. when it was ruined. Harsavardhana (7th century A. D.) made no attempt to restore it. Sasanka Narendragupta destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries at Pataliputra. Dharmapala, the most powerful of the Pala kings of Bengal and Bihar, tried to restore its glory.

Coming to medieval times, we find that it remained deserted for a number of centuries. It was Sher Shah, who, in about A. D. 1541 occupied it again as a royal city and built a fort there. It then came into importance under its modern name Patna (from Skt. Pattana) i. e. the town or city. It is even now


Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 233


the capital of Bihar.

Southern Route dispersal of humans from Africa

By some 70,000 years ago, a part of the bearers of mitochondrial haplogroup L3 migrated from East Africa into the Near East. It has been estimated that from a population of 2,000 to 5,000 individuals in Africa, only a small group, possibly as few as 150 to 1,000 people, crossed the Red Sea.[23][24] The group that crossed the Red Sea travelled along the coastal route around Arabia and Persia to India, which appears to be the first major settling point.[25]

Alistair Moffat[26] writes.... By the time brands of people had moved along the coastal rim of Arabia and reached the Persian Gulf (which may have been a delta of the Tigris and Euphrates river system rather than a body of seawater), some carried on eastwards while others split off and travelled into what became the Fertile Crescent. Archaeological finds in Indian subcontinent confirm the recent African origin of the migrants. Stone tools from digs at Patna in western India, Jwalapuram in south-east India and Batadomba Lena in Sri Lanka are very similar in form and sophistication to those found in South Africa. The letter were discovered in the Blombos Caves on the Indian Ocean coast and at the Klasies River near the Cape. They were made by the southern migrants from Central Africa, people who probably carried the mtDNA of the earliest branches from mitochondrial Eve.

References

  1. Choudhoury, P. C. Roy. "Patan Devi". Hindubooks.org. Dharma Universe.
  2. "Patna losing floral wealth to concrete jungle". The Times of India. 15 October 2014.
  3. Choudhoury, P. C. Roy. "Patan Devi". Hindubooks.org. Dharma Universe.
  4. "History of Patna". National Informatics Centre. Government of Bihar. 10 January 2002.
  5. Fyfe, Ryan. "The Emerald Buddha"
  6. Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Pāṭali, [1] (a junior synonym of Stereospermum colais [2])
  7. Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, p.677
  8. Folklore, Vol. 19, No. 3 (September 30, 1908), pp. 349–350
  9. The Calcutta Review Vol LXXVI (1883), p.218
  10. Language, Vol. 4, No. 2 (June , 1928), pp. 101–105
  11. "Populations of Largest Cities in PMNs from 2000BC to 1988AD".
  12. O'Malley, L. S. S. (2005). James, J. F. W., ed. History of Magadha. Delhi: Veena Publication. p. 23. ISBN 978-81-89224-01-1.
  13. "Attractions, history of Patna". Ganges Cruises.
  14. The Son of Man: Saoshyant — George Barclay, Jr. - Google Books.
  15. Megasthenes. "Of the city Pataliputra Indika, Book II, Frag. XXV, Strab. XV. i. 35-36,--p. 702. Frag XXVI.Arr. Ind. 10. Of Pataliputra". Indika
  16. Smith, Sir William, ed. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 3. Boston: Little, Brown. p. 704.
  17. "History — Ancient History in depth: The Story of India: South India". BBC. 5 November 2009
  18. Wojtilla, Gyula (2000). "Did the Indo-Greeks occupy Pataliputra?". Acta Antiqua (Akadémiai Kiadó) 40: 495–504. doi:10.1556/AAnt.40.2000.1-4.46. ISSN 0044-5975.
  19. Pataliputra Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms by Fa Hein, tr. by James Legge, Chapter XXVII,
  20. BAGHAKOLE - NCAP ncap.res.in.
  21. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms/Chapter 27
  22. Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions/Place-Names and their Suffixes,pp.231-233
  23. Zhivotovsky; Rosenberg, NA; Feldman, MW; et al. (2003). "Features of Evolution and Expansion of Modern Humans, Inferred from Genomewide Microsatellite Markers". American Journal of Human Genetics. 72 (5): 1171–86.
  24. Stix, Gary (2008). "The Migration History of Humans: DNA Study Traces Human Origins Across the Continents".
  25. Metspalu M, Kivisild T, Metspalu E, Parik J, Hudjashov G, Kaldma K, Serk P, Karmin M, Behar DM, Gilbert MT, Endicott P, Mastana S, Papiha SS, Skorecki K, Torroni A, Villems R (August 2004). "Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in south and southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans". BMC Genet. 5: 26. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-26. PMC 516768 Freely accessible. PMID 15339343.
  26. Alistair Moffat: The British: A Genetic Journey, Birlinn, 2013,ISBN:9781780270753, p.37