Rajgir: city of kings and sages

Today we went to the World Peace Stupa on top of the mountain where also Vulture Peak is, but much higher. It was quite a climb, but a stunning view.

The stupa was similar to the one we saw in Vaishali and appears to be initiated by a Japanese Nichiren monk who went for world peace after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The whole terrain bathed in the constant sound of the Japanese big drum. When we entered the Japanese temple there was a monk drumming away while reciting the mantra Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take pictures. But I could manage to make this very short video…


We went and meditated under some trees and Eric explained a lot about what happened in this place. It seems to have been a spiritual center already long before the Buddha came here. There are many caves people used to live and meditate in. Rajgir means city of the king. It was the capital of Magadha, the most powerful kingdom at the time of the Buddha. When the Buddha was still the mendicant, called Gotama, on his search for the end to all suffering, he met king Bimbissara on the road. They sat together and had a conversation about spiritual matters. The King was so impressed by what Gotama uttered that he asked him to stay. He would give him a part of his kingdom. But Gotama said he would continue on his quest for enlightenment, but if he would find the answer to all suffering he promissed to come back. And so he did. King Bimbissara became one of his great supporters, but he was later jailed by his son who wanted to ussurp him. He was forbidden to eat and so he perished. Later his son realised the gravity of his deed and asked to be forgiven and to be accepted in the sangha. The Buddha accepted him, but he still had to deal with the evil karma he had created.

Then we walked to Vulture Peak, where the Buddha meditated and Shariputra had his own meditation cave.

Here the Buddha gave many teachings. Here held up the flower and remained silent, nobody understood except Mahakasyapa. Mahakasyapa smiled and the Buddha recognized him as the most deeply enlightened of all Arahants. He is considered the first Indian patriarch in the Zen tradition. It is also here that Avalokitesvara (or Kuan Yin or Chenrezig) explained the concept of emptiness to Shariputra in what became known as the Heart Sutra. Therefore we read the heart sutra at the exact spot where the Buddha is believed to have sat.

After a lunch in town, we discovered a special event in a huge tent, where the 50 years friendship between Bhutan and India was celebrated. About 2000 Bhutanese monks, nuns and lay people were siting on the floor praying together with the highest lama of Bhutan. We had the Tibetan text they were singing, so we sang happily along. Then we went back to the hotel where we did our own prayers and meditated for 40 minutes with our own lama. Tomorrow we leave at 7 AM in order to join the Bhutanese monks in prayer.