The war that would reshape the culture and society of South | Milaap

The war that would reshape the culture and society of South and East Asia for the next 2300 years

Kalinga war has a significant importance not only in Indian history but also in the history of Buddhism. It was in the middle of the war that the Ashoka in the pursuit of gaining victory over the eastern state of Kalinga, realized the damage that is caused by the war to people, economy and society. There is no other example in the history of the world where an emperor would abandon violence for the rest of his life and would adopt the middle path of Buddha for the world peace. I consider myself fortunate to have visited the place recently. Dhauli , a small place in the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar, is almost at a distance of 15 kilometers from the city center. Along the road to dhauli one witnesses a lot of art sculpture shops. The work of these sculpturists provides a reflection of magnificient architecture and designs of Orissa temples and shrines from 8th century to 14th century. As one reaches closer to Dhauli, one observes that there is very less population in the area around. There is a small mountain in the area called dhauligiri which is famous for the Japanese pagoda that is situated at the top of the mountain. [caption id="attachment_5900" align="alignnone" width="500"]Japanese pagoda/ Vishwa Shanti Stupa Japanese pagoda/ Vishwa Shanti Stupa[/caption]There is a very interesting story behind the Pagora. The pagora has been built at the top of the mountain where emperor Ashoka had come for rest in the midst of the great war. After seeing the bloodshed in the Kalinga war from the top of the mountain, he pondered over his strategy of expansion and renounced violence for the rest of his life. So the place has significant Buddhist importance as Ashoka adopted the Buddhism after the event and went on to build 84,000 Buddhist monasteries in his life and had the message of peace sent to faraway places such as Greece and Egypt.[caption id="attachment_5901" align="alignnone" width="500"]A typical Buddha statue inside the Pagoda A typical Buddha statue inside the Pagoda[/caption]Seven hundred years ago Mahabhikshu Nichiren of Japan had made a prophecy that 2500 years after the demise of Lord Buddha, Buddhism will return to the land of its origin (India). According to this prophecy, founder of Nipponzan Myohoji  (new religious movement that emerged from the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism) Fuji Guruji came down to India in 1930 from Mount Minobu (original holy place of Nischiren sect in Japan). He also took part in the India’s freedom struggle and worked very closely with Mahatama Gandhi and Pandit Nehru.  He later went on to lay the foundation of the first shanti stupa in modern India in Rajgir, Bihar. The Dhauli stupa is the second stupa to be built in the league. Behind the shanti stupa is a Hindu temple, built almost at the same elevation as the Stupa is. The temple is newly built one and has no relevance to the historical events.[caption id="attachment_5899" align="alignnone" width="500"]Buddha's conception in the dream of his mother Maya in which white elephant entered her womb Buddha's conception in the dream of his mother Maya in which white elephant entered her womb[/caption]Just at a distance of less than a kilometer from the Stupa are the well-known eleven edicts of Ashoka in the language of Magadhi Prakrita. Magadhi Prakrita is also considered as the early form of Brahmi. Just above the rock edict is one of the rarest type of Buddha statue in the form of an elephant. The statue was made in the reign of Ashoka and depicts conception of Buddha as per the dream of his mother Maya in which a white elephant entered her womb. At the base of the mountain flows the river Daya about which it is said the river was flooded with the blood of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the Kalinga war and enabled Ashoka to realize the magnituted of the horrors associate with the war.[caption id="attachment_5902" align="alignnone" width="605"]Daya river and the green fields around (The battle-ground of Kalinga) Daya river and the green fields around (The battle-ground of Kalinga)[/caption]