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  • Ramchaura, Hajipur, Vaishali

    Ramchura is situated in Hajipur town in Vaishali district of Bihar.  In ancient times Hajipur was known as Ukkacala . The Buddha is known to have taught only one discourse in at this place, the Cula Goplalaka Sutta, which you can find in The Middle Length Discourses. However Hajipur is also of interest because a portion of Ananda's ashes were enshrined in the town.

    When Ananda knew that his life was drawing to a close he set off from Rajgir and headed north. King Ajatashattru heard about this and, accompanied by his entourage, went after him with the intention of begging him to stay. Meanwhile the people of Vaishali heard that Ananda was coming to their territory and they flocked to the banks of the Ganges to welcome him. When king Ajatasattru caught up with the aged saint his boat had already reached the middle of the river Ganga. The crowds on both banks were imploring him to come to their side. So as not to disappoint either party and to avoid the possibility of conflict Ananda rose into the air and disappeared into a ball of flames. Half his ashes fell on one side of the river, half on the other and stupas were later built over each portion. The stupa built on the south bank of the Ganges has long ago been washed away by the rivers constantly changing course but the one on the northern bank is now a grassy mound with a Hindu temple on it situated in Ramchaura, the western outskirts of Hajipur. The temple on the top of the stupa is called Ramchaura Mandir.

     

    Ananda was born in Kapilavatthu and was the Buddha's cousin and one of his ten principal disciples, being the son of Amitodana, the brother of the Buddha's father, Suddhodana. It was during the Buddha's first trip back to Kapilavatthu after his enlightenment that Ananda, along with his brother Anuruddha and his cousin Devadatta, became a monk. Amongst the Buddha's many disciples, Ananda stood out for having the most retentive memory. Most of the sutras of the Sutta Pitaka are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist council. For that reason, he was known as the Guardian of the Dharma. According to Buddhist tradition, every Buddha in the past and to come will have two chief disciples and one attendant during his ministry. In the case of Gautama Buddha, the pair of disciples were Sariputta and Maudgalyayana and the attendant was Ānanda. In the twentieth year of the Buddha's ministry, he became the Buddha's personal attendant, accompanying him on most of his wanderings and taking the part of interlocutor in many of the recorded dialogues. He is often depicted with the Buddha alongside Mahakashyapa, the first Indian patriarch. While some people develop the qualities that lead to enlightenment through meditation or study, Ananda did it through the love and concern he had for others. The Buddha once said that of all his disciples, Ananda was pre-eminent of those who had heard much Dharma, who had a good memory, who had mastered the sequential order of what he had remembered and who was energetic. The Buddha could not write, indeed, although writing was known at the time, it was little used. Both during his life and for several centuries after his final Nirvana, his words were committed to memory and transmitted from one person to another. Ananda's highly developed memory, plus the fact that he was constantly at the Buddha's side, meant that he, more than any other person, was responsible for preserving and transmitting the Buddha's teachings. In the Zen tradition, Ananda is considered to be the second Indian patriarch.

    The Buddhist canon attributes the inclusion of women in the early Sangha (monastic order) to Ānanda. The Buddha conceded and permitted his step-mother Mahapajapati to be ordained as a bhikkhuni only after Ananda prevailed upon the Buddha to publicly recognize women as being equal to men in possessing the potential for awakening. Following the death of the Buddha, Ananda was criticized by the members of the Sangha for having enabled women to join the monastic order. The story of the ordination of the first Buddhist nuns is one of the most controversial sections of the Pali Canon.

    Because he attended the Buddha personally and often traveled with him, Ānanda overheard and memorized many of the discourses the Buddha delivered to various audiences. Therefore, he is often referred to as the disciple of the Buddha who "heard much". At the First Buddhist Council, convened shortly after the Buddha died, Ananda was called upon to recite many of the discourses that later became the Sutta Pitaka of the Pāli Canon. After the Buddha's final Nirvana five hundred enlightened monks convened a Council at Rajagaha for the purpose of collecting all the Buddha's teachings and committing them to memory so they could be handed down to future generations. Because he knew so much Dharma it was essential that Ananda be present, but he was not yet enlightened. Now that he no longer had to look after the Buddha's needs, he had more time to meditate and so he began to practise with exceptional diligence, hoping that he could attain enlightenment before the Council started. As the time for the Council's commencement got closer, he practised harder and harder. During the evening before the Council he sat meditating, convinced that he would not be able to attain enlightenment by the next morning. So he gave up and decided to lie down and sleep. As his head touched the pillow he became enlightened. Ananda was warmly welcomed at the Council the next day and over the following months he recited thousands of discourses that he had heard, commencing each recitation with the words: 'Thus have I heard' (Evam me sutam). Because of his enormous contributions to the preservation of the Dharma, Ananda was sometimes known as: 'The Keeper of the Dharma Store' (Dharmabhandagarika).

    The Ramchura Temple in Hajipur , Bihar is a Hindu temple dedicated to lord Rama. Foot print of lord Rama is worshiped in this temple . As per local folklore , Mundan ( first head shaving ceremony) of Lord Rama was performed here . Ram Navmi is celebrated here every year and a small fair is also organised here. The temple hence was made on his footprints and this place has great religious value for the Hindu populace. This footprint is at the altitude of 45 mts from ground. Bael (Aegle marmelos) is taken as prashad on the eve of Rama Navami. "Bari Sangat" and "Chhoti Sangat" is also situated near this pious place. During ancient period many Saints, Mahatmas and Yogi used to visit these "Sangats" and offered prayer.

     


    Archaeological objects excavated from Ramchaura are kept at the Patna Museum.

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