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Shravasti District

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About the Shravasti district
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Brief About Shravasti District
Shravasti, the northeastern town of Uttar Pradesh, is located near river Rapti. This town is closely associated with the life of Lord Buddha.
 It is being said that the mythological king  Sravast founded this town. Shravasti was the capital of Kosala Kingdom during 6th century BC to 6th century AD. This prosperous trading center was well known for its religious associations. The 'Sobhanath' temple is believed to be the birthplace of Jain Tirthankar 'Sambhavanath' making Shravasti an important center for the Jainas.
 As mentioned in the ‘Bruhatkalpa’ and various kalpas of the fourteenth century the name of the city was ‘Mahid’. There are subsequent mentions showing that the name of this city was ‘Sahet-Mahet’. It is   also mentioned that a vast fort covered this city in which there were many temples having idols of Devkulikas.

Buddha is believed to have spent 24 monsoons in this city. Age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples near the village of "Sahet-Mahet" establish Buddha's association with Shravasti. ]

Moreover, Shravasti is the holy land of all the four Kalyanakas – Chayan, Birth, Diksa and Attainment of omniscience of Bhagawan Samabhavanath.

Today a great rampart of earth and brick surrounds this city. During excavation in ‘Sahet-Mahet’ near Shravasti City, many ancient idols and inscriptions were found. They are now kept in museums of Mathura and Lucknow. At present, the archaeological department of the Indian Govt. is doing excavation to perform allied   research.

History
The ancient city of Shravasti, venerated by Buddhist and Jains alike, is at present a collection of ruins called SAHET - MAHET. This twin name is applied to two distinct groups of remains, Sahet and Mahet.Sahet isthe site of the famous Buddhist monastery known as JETAVANA VIHAR, which lay outside the limits of the Shravasti city. The latter is identified with modern Mahet. The ruins at Sahet consist mainly of plinths and foundation of monasteries and stupas, all Buddhist. The other site i.e., Mahet situated at about 500m from the site denotes the ancient city proper.

Very little is known of the city of Shravasti until  it rose to fame owing to its association with Buddha and Mahavira in sixth century B.C.

At the time of Buddha, Presanajit was the king of Shravasti.The site of Sahet is said to be the park of prince Jeta, son of Presanajit, hence named Jetavan. Sudatta (also known as Ananthapindika), a wealthy merchant of Shravasti, bought this park from prince Jeta by paying enough  gold pieces that could cover the park. This episode is found in a sculpture of second century B.C.  A Jetavana scene is also found on an early Amaravati stele. The earliest structural activities at Sahet are attributed  mainly to Suddatta, Prince Jeta and his father King Presanajit.

In the third rainy season after his enlightenment, Lord Buddha visited Jetavana and since then he regularly made his sojourn to the monastery spending here 24 rainy seasons in all.

One of the interesting episodes in an off-told story of Buddha at Shravasti was the conversion of a robber named Angulimala.

After the age of Buddha and Mahavira, the history of Shravasti is obscure till we come to the period of Ashoka in the third century B.C. .The material prosperity of Shravasti was at its height during  Ashoka's period. Ashoka is credited with the erection of two pillars, each 21m high, in addition to the construction of several monasteries and stupas. The monasteries and shrines of Jetavana were renovated during the early centuries of the Christian era under the patronage of Kushanas. During the period of Gupthas, the Buddhist establishment at Jetavana was prosperous as before.

In the early fifth century FA-HIEN visited this   place.

In the reign of king Harsha (AD 606 - 647) Hiuen - Tsang visited Shravasti and found it a wild ruin. There is evidence to show that some Buddhist establishments survived in Jetavana down to the middle of the Twelfth century  mainly due to the patronage of the Gahadavala kings of Kannauj. The history of Shravasti thereafter is quite unknown.

The ruins of Shravasti remaind long forgottenuntil they were brought to light and identified with Shravasti by Alexander Cunninghum in 1863. Successive excavations have yielded the remains of several stupas, temples and monsteries,etc.

Shravasti  is a newly created district of Uttar Pradesh (India) carved out from districts of Gonda and Bahraich . Besides these two districts, Shravasti shares its border with district Balrampur. Bhinga, the District Headquarter of Shrawasti,   is approximately 150 k.m away from the state capital, Lucknow.

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