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date, by several hundred years than the vihára erected on the terrace opposite. It was, probably, a quadrangle, encompassing the four sides of the terrace. Nothing remains of it, except the massive transverse wall, with the buttress, and the lower portion of the retaining wall. The amount of stone material expended on the present comparatively small building is exorbitantly great, and furnishes a proof that an edifice of much larger dimensions formerly stood here.
ANCIENT REMAINS, No. XI.
Stone Pillar.--Sone ká Táláo.
Before closing this chapter, we would direct attention to a stone pillar, standing in the midst of a tank between the city of Benares and the Buddhist remains at Sárnáth. The tank is called Sone ká Táláo, or the Golden Tank, and is situated on the opposite side of the river Barná, near the road which branches off from the high road leading to Ghazeepore, and not far from the point of its junction with several other roads. The road is a portion of the Panchkosí, or sacred boundary of Benares. Proceeding along it for somewhat less than a mile, you arrive at the tank, which is to the right of it, and is approached by a strong and well-built ghát, on which are several Buddhist figures, brought, most probably, from Sárnáth. It is three hundred yards in length, and one hundred and forty in breadth. In the midst of it is a round pillar, eighteen feet high, and upwards of nine in circumference, composed of great blocks of stone, cut in quadrants, and put together without cement or mortar. There is no inscription on
the pillar, and there are no mason-marks; so that we have been unable to assign any date, even approximately, to its erection. Its base is always, we believe, surrounded by water; yet it would be worth while to ascertain whether any inscription exists below. We probed it to its foundations, but found no face for an inscription. It is likely that the pillar has somewhat sunk, and that, formerly, the tank was less choked with mud than it is now. In appearance, therefore, the pillar was once higher than at the present time. It was, probably, surmounted, formerly, by a lion, or some other figure; and, on close examination, it is seen to bear marks of great age.
It is necessary to state that the ancient remains which have been thus described are, for the most part, unimposing in appearance. They are, however, none the less interesting on that account. Seeing that Benares is a city of undoubted antiquity, and has ever been famous throughout the long period of Hindu history, it is, perhaps, strange that it does not possess remains of buildings that existed in past ages, of a more striking character. And yet the very fact of the fragmentary nature of its ancient relics may be a strong corroborative proof of its great antiquity; especially when it is remembered that it has been the home of a large population, and the constant resort of pilgrims from all parts of the country, for thousands of years; that it has always taken a prominent part in the religious and political struggles which have visited the land; and that, consequently, it has been exposed, beyond most cities, to the wear and tear of time. I have regarded it as a matter of interest, if not of importance, to
explore these remains, and to give a succinct account of some of them. Opinions may differ as to their date, origin, and interpretation ; but no one, I imagine, cherishing any love for the past, will despise such research, or will characterize as vain and uninstructive the effort that has now been made to throw some light, however dim, on the outer aspects of ancient Benares. The conclusions to which we have come may be challenged; but the labour itself,—and it has been by no means slight, although the results of it are compressed into a small space, — will, I trust, be regarded with approval. If our conjectures be right, we have been able to trace out, in Benares, remains connected with several Buddhist monasteries and temples, and, also, the sites on which they stood.
stood. We cannot, indeed, actually assert that these remains belonged to any of the thirty monasteries which Hiouen Thsang affirms to have existed in the kingdom of Benares in his day ; and yet there is a strong probability that the sites, if not the ruins and scattered remains, of some of them have been indicated in the foregoing pages.
In conclusion, we may remark that we are much inclined to believe that many of the ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples were on a line of road leading from Bakaríyá Kuņd to the Ráj Ghát Fort, in one direction; on a second line, at right angles to this, running from Bakariya Kund to Sárnáth; and, on a third, proceeding from the site of Aurungzeb's mosque, and joining one of the others, or both, possibly, at Bakaríyá Kund; and that, hereabouts, other remains of such buildings, if found at all, will, mostly, be discovered.
Since the above was written, I have visited and examined the lands lying on the banks of the Ganges to the north-east of the river Barná. To my utter astonishment, though, I must confess, not contrary to my anticipation, I found brick and stone debris scattered over the fields for, as far as I could conjecture, five miles or thereabouts.
In many places, the rubbish lies thick upon the ground, choking up the soil; and, to a large extent, the deposit can be traced continuously. Here and there small bits of sculptured stone are visible; and, occasionally, where the broken bricks and stones are in very great abundance, they have been collected into ridges or small mounds. This is especially manifest at the termination of the deposit at a spot called Patharaká Siwán, where, in ancient times, doubtless stood a large fort, of which the foundations may even now be partially traced. Although the fields beyond this point seem to be clear of rubbish, yet, further on, at Muskábád, at the distance of a mile, it recommences, and becomes as thick as in any other place. Perhaps this latter was the site of an outlying town.
But what are we to say of these remains ? They lie immediately on the great river's bank, and never extend from it more than three quarters of a mile. It is, I think, very evident that, all the way from the mouth of the Barná, this bank has been, in the lapse of centuries, considerably cut away. Indeed, I believe that as much as a quarter of a mile may have fallen into the river. In all probability, therefore, the space covered by debris was much broader than it is at present. There
can be no question, however, that here a great city once stood. I have no hesitation in expressing my belief that, judging from the great scantiness of ancient structural remains in the present city of Benares, dating from even the Buddhist period, not to speak of the pre-Buddhist epoch, when, as we know from historical records, Benares was in existence,—the original city of the pre-Buddhist and early Buddhist eras, for the most part, must have occupied this site. Beyond the northern extremity of the remains of the earlier city is a series of mounds, also covered with debris, tending in a north-westerly direction, where formerly forts or towns existed. I think it not unlikely that, in a far distant age, the connexion of the primitive city of Benares with Sárnáth was along the course of these mounds. Sárnáth is spoken of, in the Ceylon records, as though it may have been a city of itself; and there is no doubt that it is referred to, in ancient documents, as a part of Benares. Now, modern Benares is nearly half a mile to the south of the Barná; whereas Sárnáth is out in the country, about three miles to the north of that stream. If we suppose, however, that Benares, in its most remote period, was mainly on the north side of the Barná, likewise ; and if such supposition is corroborated by extensive remains of ancient buildings, in the shape of brick and stone debris, stretching over several miles of country, as already shown, and terminating in mounds lying in the direction of Sárnáth; the proof approaches to demonstration, that, at that early epoch, a union, more or less intimate, existed between Sárnáth and Benares, as stated