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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Piprahwa (पिपरावा) is a village near Birdpur in Siddharthnagar district of Uttar Pradesh.


It lies in the heart of the historical Buddha's homeland and is 12 miles from the world heritage site of Lumbini that is believed to be the place of Gautama Buddha's birth. Siddharth Nagar district is a part of Basti division.



  • Piparava (पिपरावा), जिला बस्ती, उ.प्र., (p.559)
  • Pipariya पिपरिया= piparava पिपरावा, (p.559)


Piprahwa is best known for its archaeological site and excavations that suggest that it may have been the burial place of the portion of the Buddha's ashes that were given to his own Shakya clan. A large stupa and the ruins of several monasteries as well as a museum are located within the site. Ancient residential complexes and shrines were uncovered at the adjacent mound of Ganwaria.

Excavation by William Claxton Peppe

A buried stupa was discovered by William Claxton Peppe, a British colonial engineer and landowner of an estate at Piprahwa in January 1898. Following the severe famine that decimated Northern India in 1897, Peppe led a team in excavating a large earthen mound on his land. Having cleared away scrub and jungle, they set to work building a deep trench through the mound. After digging through 18 feet of solid brickwork, they came to a large stone coffer which contained five small vases containing bone fragments, ashes and jewels.[1] On one of the vases was a Brahmi script which was translated by Georg Bühler, a leading European epigraphist of the time, to mean:

Piprahwa vase with relics of the Buddha. The inscription reads ...salilanidhane Budhasa Bhagavate... "Relics of the Buddha Lord"
Sukiti-bhatinaṃ sabhaginikanam sa-puta-dalanam iyaṃ salila-nidhane Budhasa bhagavate sakiyanam[2]

"This relic-shrine of divine Buddha (is the donation) of the Sakya-Sukiti brothers, associated with their sisters, sons, and wives,[3]

This inscription implied that the bone fragments were part of the remains of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.[4] Throughout the following decade or so, epigraphists debated the precise meaning of the inscription. Vincent Smith, William Hoey, Thomas Rhys Davids and Emile Senart all translated the inscription to confirm that these were relics of the Buddha.[5][6] In 1905 John Fleet, a former epigraphist of the Government of India, published a translation that agreed with this interpretation.[7] However, on assuming the role of Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society from Thomas Rhys Davids, Fleet proposed a different reading:[8]

"This is a deposit of relics of the brethen of Sukiti, kinsmen of Buddha the Blessed One, with their sisters, their children and wives."[9]

Handwritten note by discoverer W.C. Péppe to Vincent Arthur Smith about the inscription, 1898

This interpretation was firmly rejected by his contemporaries; following such criticism Fleet wrote: "I now abandon my opinion".[10] Epigraphists of the time subscribed instead to the translation by Auguste Barth:

"This receptacle of relics of the blessed Buddha of the Śākyas (is the pious gift) of the brothers of Sukīrti, jointly with their sisters, with their sons and their wives."[11]

Over a hundred years later, in the 2013 documentary, Bones of the Buddha, epigraphist Harry Falk of Freie Universität Berlin confirmed the original interpretation that the depositors believed these to be the remains of the Buddha himself. Falk translated the inscription as "these are the relics of the Buddha, the Lord" and concluded that the reliquary found at Piprahwa did contain a portion of the ashes of the Buddha and that the inscription is authentic.[12]

In 1997 epigraphist and archaeologist Ahmad Hasan Dani noted the challenges that isolated finds present to paleographical study and to dating materials. He concluded that "the inscription may be confidently dated to the earlier half of the second century B.C." but noted that "The Piprahwa vase, found in the Basti District, U.P. (Uttar Pradesh), has an inscription scratched on the steatite stone in a careless manner. As the inscription refers to the remains of the Buddha, it was originally dated to the pre-Mauryan period, but it has been brought down to the third century B.C. on a comparison with Asokan Brahmi. The style of writing is very poor, and there is nothing in it that speaks of the hand of the Asokan scribes". [13] Dani's dating of the inscription puts it around 250 years after the generally agreed 480 BCE death of the historical Buddha which suggests that the stupa itself was built after the Buddha's lifetime. The time difference is most likely explained by the Emperor Ashoka’s sudden conversion to Buddhism. After slaughtering tens of thousands to secure his kingdom, Ashoka issued a decree to build stupas and redistribute the Buddha’s remains across his kingdom.

The main stupa at Piprahwa, one of the earliest so far discovered in India, was built in three phases. In the 6th-5th century BCE around the time of the death of the Buddha, it was raised by piling up natural earth from the surrounding area. This was in accordance with a request of the Buddha who had asked that he be buried under earth "heaped up as rice is heaped in an alms bowl."[14] Phase II occurred during Ashoka’s rule (and was likely completed after his death around 235 BCE) as part of the Emperor’s mission to "distribute the relics of the exalted one."[15]Ashoka opened up the original stupas containing the relics of the Buddha then restored the stupa and interred a portion of what he had taken. The remaining relics were distributed to other new stupas. At Piprahwa the restoration consisted of filling thick clay over the structure and of building two tiers to reach a height of 4.55m. In phase III, during the Kushan period, the stupa was extensively enlarged and reached a height of 6.35 metres (20.8 ft). The largest structure after the stupa is the Eastern Monastery that measures 45.11m x 41.14m with a courtyard and more than thirty cells around it. The complex includes an additional Southern Monastery, Western Monastery and Northern Monastery.[16]


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[17] ने लेख किया है ...पिपरावा या पिपरहवा या पिपरिया (AS, p.559), यह ज़िला बस्ती, उत्तर प्रदेश में नौगढ़ रेलवे स्टेशन से 13 मील उत्तर में नेपाल की सीमा के निकट बौद्धकालीन स्थान है। यहाँ बर्डपुर रियासत के ज़मींदार पीपी साहब को 1898 ई. में एक स्तूप के भीतर से बुद्ध की अस्थि-भस्म का एक प्रस्तर-कलश प्राप्त हुआ था, जिस पर पाँचवीं शती ई. पू. की ब्राह्मीलिपि में एक सुन्दर अभिलेख अंकित है, जो इस प्रकार है-'इयं सलिलनिधने बुधसभगवते सकियनं सुकितिभतिनं सभागिणकिनं सपुत दलनम्'--- अर्थात् भगवान बुद्ध के भस्मावशेष पर यह स्मारक शाक्यवंशीय सुकिति भाइयों-बहनों, बालकों और स्त्रियों ने स्थापित किया। जिस स्तूप में यह सन्निहित था, उसका व्यास 116 फुट और ऊँचाई 21 फुट थी। इसकी ईटों का परिमाप 16 इंच×10 इंच है। यह परिमाण मौर्यकालीन ईटों का है। बौद्ध किंवदन्ती है कि इस स्तूप का निर्माण शाक्यों के द्वारा किया गया था। उन्होंने गौतम बुद्ध का शरीरान्त होने पर भस्म का आठवाँ भाग प्राप्त कर उसे एक प्रस्तर भांड में रख कर एक स्तूप के अन्दर सुरक्षित कर दिया था। कुछ विद्वानों के विचार में ये अवशेष बुद्ध के निर्वाण के प्रायः सौ वर्ष पश्चात् स्तूप में निहित किए गए थे। यह सम्भव जान पड़ता है कि गौतम बुद्ध के पिता शुद्धोदन की राजधानी कपिलवस्तु पिपरावा के समीप ही स्थित थी। कई विद्वानों का मत है कि, बुद्ध के समकालीन मौर्य वंशीय क्षत्रियों की राजधानी 'पिप्पलिवाहन', पिपरावा के स्थान पर बसी हुई थी और पिपरावा, पिप्पलि का ही रूपान्तर है। स्तूप के कुछ अवशेष तथा भस्मकलश लखनऊ के संग्रहालय में सुरक्षित हैं।

पिप्पलिवन = पिप्पलिवाहन

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[18] ने लेख किया है ... पिप्पलिवन (AS, p.560) बुद्ध के समकालीन मौर्य वंशीय क्षत्रियों की राजधानी था। सम्भवत: युवानच्वांग द्वारा उल्लिखित न्यग्रोधवन यही है (देखें वाटर्स 2, पृष्ठ 23-24). फ़ाह्यान ने यहाँ के स्तूप की स्थिति कुशीनगर से 12 योजन पश्चिम की ओर बताई है। पिप्पलिवन भारतीय इतिहास में मौर्य वंश के राजाओं के लिए प्रसिद्ध रहा है। पिप्पलिवन को पहले पिप्पलिवाहन भी कहा जाता था।

इतिहास में पिप्पलिवन (पीपल वनों) के निवासी आदिम क्षत्रिय मौर्य जाति में चंद्रगुप्त और अशोक जैसे महान् सम्राट हुए। मौर्य, शाक्य-कोलियों के सहोदर वंशज माने गये हैं। कुछ विद्वानों का मत है कि ज़िला बस्ती, उत्तर प्रदेश में स्थित 'पिपरिया' या 'पिपरावा' नामक स्थान ही पिप्पलिवन है। यहीं के प्राचीन ढूह में से एक मृदभांड प्राप्त हुआ था, जिसके ब्राह्मी अभिलेख से ज्ञात होता है कि उसमें बुद्ध के भस्मावशेष निहित थे।

बौद्ध साहित्य की कथाओं से सूचित होता है कि बुद्ध के परिनिर्वाण के पश्चात् उनकी अस्थि-भस्म को आठ भागों में बाँट दिया गया था। प्रत्येक भाग को लेकर उसको एक महास्तूप में सुरक्षित किया गया था। इस प्रकार के आठ स्तूप बनवाए गये थे। इनमें से अंगार स्तूप पिप्पलिवन में था।

External links


  1. Peppe, WC (July 1898), "The Piprahwa Stupa, containing relics of Buddha", With a note by V.A. Smith. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Article XXIII): 573–88
  2. Fleet, J. F. (1907), "The Inscription on the Piprahwa Vase", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: pp. 129-130.
  3. Bühler, Georg (April 1898), "Preliminary note on a recently discovered Sakya inscription", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Correspondence: Note 14): p. 388.
  4. Peppe 1898, pp. 584–85.
  5. Senart, Emile (1906). "Note sur l'inscription de Piprahwa". Journal Asiatique (Jan–Feb): 132–136.
  6. Hoey, William (24 February 1898). "Piprahwa inscription". The Pioneer.
  7. Fleet, John (October 1905). "Notes on three Buddhist Inscriptions". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
  8. Fleet, John (1906). The inscription on the Priprawa vase. Journal Of The Royal Asiatic Society Of Great Britain And Ireland For-1906. pp. 149-.
  9. Peppe 1898, pp. 573–88.
  10. Allen, Charles. The Buddha and Dr. Fuhrer. p. 212.
  11. Barth, Auguste (October 1906). "The inscription on the Piprahwa vase". Journal des Savants. 36: 124.
  12. Secrets of the Dead.
  13. Dani, AH (1997), Indian Palaeography (3rd ed.), New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, p. 56, ISBN 978-8121500289
  14. Allen, Charles. The Buddha and Dr. Fuhrer. p. 9.
  15. Strong, John. Ashokavadana.
  16. Archaeological Survey of India 2015.
  17. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.559
  18. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.560