Piprahwa is a village near Birdpur in Siddharthnagar district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Kalanamak rice, a scented and spicy variety of rice is grown in this area, it lies in the heart of the historical Buddha's homeland and is 12 miles from the world heritage site of Lumbini, believed to be the place of Gautama Buddha's birth. Piprahwa is best known for its archaeological site and excavations that suggest that it may have been the burial place of the portion of the Buddha's ashes that were given to his own Shakya clan. A large stupa and the ruins of several monasteries as well as a museum are located within the site. Ancient residential complexes and shrines were uncovered at the adjacent mound of Ganwaria. A buried stupa was discovered by William Claxton Peppe, a British colonial engineer and landowner of an estate at Piprahwa in January 1898. Following the severe famine that decimated Northern India in 1897, Peppe led a team in excavating a large earthen mound on his land. Having cleared away scrub and jungle, they set to work building a deep trench through the mound.
After digging through 18 feet of solid brickwork, they came to a large stone coffer which contained five small vases containing bone fragments and jewels. On one of the vases was a Brahmi script, translated by Georg Bühler, a leading European epigraphist of the time, to mean: Sukiti-bhatinaṃ sabhaginikanam sa-puta-dalanam iyaṃ salila-nidhane Budhasa bhagavate sakiyanam "This relic-shrine of divine Buddha of the Sakya-Sukiti brothers, associated with their sisters and wives, This inscription implied that the bone fragments were part of the remains of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Throughout the following decade or so, epigraphists debated the precise meaning of the inscription. Vincent Smith, William Hoey, Thomas Rhys Davids and Emile Senart all translated the inscription to confirm that these were relics of the Buddha. In 1905 John Fleet, a former epigraphist of the Government of India, published a translation that agreed with this interpretation. However, on assuming the role of Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society from Thomas Rhys Davids, Fleet proposed a different reading:"This is a deposit of relics of the brethen of Sukiti, kinsmen of Buddha the Blessed One, with their sisters, their children and wives."
This interpretation was rejected by his contemporaries. Epigraphists of the time subscribed instead to the translation by Auguste Barth: "This receptacle of relics of the blessed Buddha of the Śākyas of the brothers of Sukīrti, jointly with their sisters, with their sons and their wives."Over a hundred years in the 2013 documentary, Bones of the Buddha, epigraphist Harry Falk of Freie Universität Berlin confirmed the original interpretation that the depositors believed these to be the remains of the Buddha himself. Falk translated the inscription as "these are the relics of the Buddha, the Lord" and concluded that the reliquary found at Piprahwa did contain a portion of the ashes of the Buddha and that the inscription is authentic. In 1997 epigraphist and archaeologist Ahmad Hasan Dani noted the challenges that isolated finds present to paleographical study and to dating materials, he concluded that "the inscription may be confidently dated to the earlier half of the second century B. C." but noted that "The Piprahwa vase, found in the Basti District, U.
P. has an inscription scratched on the steatite stone in a careless manner. As the inscription refers to the remains of the Buddha, it was dated to the pre-Mauryan period, but it has been brought down to the third century B. C. on a comparison with Asokan Brahmi. The style of writing is poor, there is nothing in it that speaks of the hand of the Asokan scribes". Dani's dating of the inscription puts it around 250 years after the agreed 480 BCE death of the historical Buddha which suggests that the stupa itself was built after the Buddha's lifetime; the time difference is most explained by the Emperor Ashoka’s sudden conversion to Buddhism. After slaughtering tens of thousands to secure his kingdom, Ashoka issued a decree to build stupas and redistribute the Buddha’s remains across his kingdom; the main stupa at Piprahwa, one of the earliest so far discovered in India, was built in three phases. In the 6th-5th century BCE around the time of the death of the Buddha, it was raised by piling up natural earth from the surrounding area.
This was in accordance with a request of the Buddha who had asked that he be buried under earth "heaped up as rice is heaped in an alms bowl." Phase II occurred during Ashoka’s rule as part of the Emperor’s mission to "distribute the relics of the exalted one." Ashoka opened up the original stupas containing the relics of the Buddha restored the stupa and interred a portion of what he had taken. The remaining relics were distributed to other new stupas. At Piprahwa the restoration consisted of filling thick clay over the structure and of building two tiers to reach a height of 4.55m. In phase III, during the Kushan period, the stupa was extensively enlarged and reached a height of 6.35 metres. The largest structure after the stupa is the Eastern Monastery that measures 45.11m x 41.14m with a courtyard and more than thirty cells around it. The complex includes Western Monastery and Northern Monastery. Although there was some initial uncertainty about the translation, there is no record of any challenge to the authenticity of the find at the time.
However, in introducing the discovery to the members of the Royal Asiatic Society in April 1900, its secretary, Thomas Rhys Davids, stressed that'The hypothesis of for
Varanasi known as Benares, Banaras, or Kashi, is a city on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India, 320 kilometres south-east of the state capital, 121 kilometres east of Allahabad. A major religious hub in India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, played an important role in the development of Buddhism and Ravidassia. Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur and Delhi, is served by Varanasi Junction railway station and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport. Varanasi is one of 72 districts in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At the time of the 2011 census, there were 1329 villages in this district; the main native languages of Varanasi are Bhojpuri. Varanasi grew as an important industrial centre, famous for its muslin and silk fabrics, ivory works, sculpture. Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism here around 528 BCE when he gave his first sermon, "The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma", at nearby Sarnath.
The city's religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi. During the Muslim rule through Middle Ages, the city continued as an important centre of Hindu devotion, pilgrimage and poetry which further contributed to its reputation as a centre of cultural importance and religious education. Tulsidas wrote his epic poem on Rama's life called Ram Charit Manas in Varanasi. Several other major figures of the Bhakti movement were born in Varanasi, including Kabir and Ravidas. Guru Nanak visited Varanasi for Maha Shivaratri in 1507, a trip that played a large role in the founding of Sikhism. In the 16th century, Varanasi experienced a cultural revival under the Mughal emperor Akbar who patronised the city, built two large temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, though much of modern Varanasi was built during the 18th century, by the Maratha and Brahmin kings; the Kingdom of Benares was given official status by the Mughals in 1737, continued as a dynasty-governed area until Indian independence in 1947.
The city is governed by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam and is represented in the Parliament of India by the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, who won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 by a huge margin. Silk weaving and crafts and tourism employ a significant number of the local population, as do the Diesel Locomotive Works and Bharat Heavy Electricals. Varanasi Hospital was established in 1964. Varanasi has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years, is associated with the Ganges. Hindus believe; the city is known worldwide for its many ghats, embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. Of particular note are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, the last two being where Hindus cremate their dead and the Hindu genealogy registers at Varanasi are kept here; the Ramnagar Fort, near the eastern bank of the Ganges, was built in the 18th century in the Mughal style of architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, scenic pavilions.
Among the estimated 23,000 temples in Varanasi are Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Shiva, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, the Durga Temple. The Kashi Naresh is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi, an essential part of all religious celebrations. An educational and musical centre, many prominent Indian philosophers, poets and musicians live or have lived in the city, it was the place where the Benares gharana form of Hindustani classical music was developed. One of Asia's largest residential universities is Banaras Hindu University; the Hindi-language nationalist newspaper, Aj, was first published in 1920. Traditional etymology links "Varanasi" to the names of two Ganges tributaries forming the city's borders: Varuna, still flowing in northern Varanasi, Assi, today a small stream in the southern part of the city, near Assi Ghat; the old city is located on the north shores of the Ganges, bounded by Assi. In the Rigveda, an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, the city is referred to as Kāśī from the Sanskrit verbal root kaś- "to shine", making Varanasi known as "City of Light", the "luminous city as an eminent seat of learning".
The name was used by pilgrims dating from Buddha's days. Hindu religious texts use many epithets to refer to Varanasi, such as Kāśikā, Avimukta, Ānandavana, Rudravāsa. According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Shiva, one of three principal deities along with Brahma and Vishnu. During a fight between Brahma and Shiva, one of Brahma's five heads was torn off by Shiva; as was the custom, the victor carried the slain adversary's head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy, a sign of his own bravery. A bridle was put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma's head, kept it with him at all times; when he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva's hand and disappeared in the ground. Varanasi is therefore considered an holy site; the Pandavas, the protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to atone for their sin of fratricide and Brāhmana
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire existing from the mid-to-late 3rd century CE to 543 CE. At its zenith, from 319 to 543 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent; this period is called the Golden Age of India by some historians. The ruling dynasty of the empire was founded by the king Sri Gupta; the 5th-century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa credits the Guptas with having conquered about twenty-one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasikas, the Hunas, the Kambojas, tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras and others. The high points of this period are the great cultural developments which took place during the reigns of Samudragupta I, Chandragupta II and Kumaragupta I. Many of the literary sources, such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, were canonised during this period; the Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields. Science and political administration reached new heights during the Gupta era.
The period gave rise to achievements in architecture and painting that "set standards of form and taste determined the whole subsequent course of art, not only in India but far beyond her borders". Strong trade ties made the region an important cultural centre and established the region as a base that would influence nearby kingdoms and regions in Burma, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia; the Puranas, earlier long poems on a variety of subjects, are thought to have been committed to written texts around this period. The empire died out because of many factors such as substantial loss of territory and imperial authority caused by their own erstwhile feudatories, as well as the invasion by the Huna peoples from Central Asia. After the collapse of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century, India was again ruled by numerous regional kingdoms. Many theories debating the homeland of the early Guptas were put forth by scholars and it was assumed to be uncertain. According to one theory, they originated in the present-day eastern Uttar Pradesh, where most of the inscriptions and coins of the early Gupta kings have been discovered.
The proponents of this theory argue that according to the Puranas, the territory of the early Gupta kings included Prayaga and other areas in the Ganges basin. Another prominent theory locates the Gupta homeland in the present-day Bengal region, based on the account of the 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk Yijing. According to Yijing, king Che-li-ki-to built a temple for Chinese pilgrims near Mi-li-kia-si-kia-po-no. Yijing states that this temple was located more than 40 yojanas east of Nalanda, which would mean it was situated somewhere in the modern Bengal region. Another proposal is that the early Gupta kingdom extended from Prayaga in the west to northern Bengal in the east.. Latest research confirms that the Gupta Empire originated in the Kannauj district of U. P; the earliest gold coins of the King and Queen on Couch Type are only found in this district. The Gupta records do not mention the dynasty's varna; some historians, such as A. S. Altekar, have theorized that they were of Vaishya origin, as some ancient Indian texts prescribe the name "Gupta" for the members of the Vaishya varna.
Critics of this theory point out that the suffix Gupta features in the names of several non-Vaishyas before as well as during the Gupta period, the dynastic name "Gupta" may have derived from the name of the family's first king Gupta. Some scholars, such as S. R. Goyal, theorize that the Guptas were Brahmanas, because they had matrimonial relations with Brahmanas, but others reject this evidence as inconclusive. Based on the Pune and Riddhapur inscriptions of the Gupta princess Prabhavati-gupta, some scholars believe that the name of her paternal gotra was "Dharana", but an alternative reading of these inscriptions suggests that Dharana was the gotra of her mother Kuberanaga.. Dr. Chhabra pointed to the presence of the crescent standard on these early Gupta coins as an indication that the Gupta kings may have been Chandravamśa Kshatriya — who traced their origins from the moon or Soma or Chandra; the Gupta royal inscriptions do not list any caste affiliations for the Gupta kings, however on the coins of the Archer-Quiver Type, we can see the king with the yajñopavītam, the sacred thread across his chest as it flows from over the left shoulder.
This Upanayana thread ceremony was performed within the Brahmin and the Kshatriya castes and is considered a rite of passage for the start of the education process for the young student at the feet of his guru This sacred thread can be seen draped across the left shoulder of the King Chandragupta I in the coin below. It is important to note here that thisyajñopavītam thread is not seen on any coins struck after Chandragupta I. Gupta is the earliest known king of the dynasty: different historians variously date the beginning of his reign from mid-to-late 3rd century CE. "Che-li-ki-to", the name of a king mentioned by the 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk Yijing, is believed to be a transcription of "Shri-Gupta", "Shri" being an honorific prefix. According to Yijing, this king built a temple for Chinese Buddhist pilgrims near "Mi-li-kia-si-kia-po-no". In the Allahabad Pillar inscription and his successor Ghatotkacha are described as Maharaja, while the next king Chandragupta I is called a Mahar
Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Buddhist and Jain monuments, artwork, dating from the 600-1000 CE period. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva; the Kailasha temple excavation features sculptures depicting the gods and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public; these consist of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves, with each group representing deities and mythologies that were prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion. They were built in proximity to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India.
All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu & Buddhist caves, the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals and the wealthy of the region. Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, its location on an ancient South Asian trade route made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region, it is 29 kilometres north-west of Aurangabad, about 300 kilometres east-northeast of Mumbai. Today, the Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, are a major tourist attraction in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. Ellora called Verul or Elura, is the short form of the ancient name Elapura; the older form of the name has been found in ancient references such as the Baroda inscription of 812 CE which mentions "the greatness of this edifice" and that "this great edifice was built on a hill by Krishnaraja at Elapura".
The edifice in the inscription being the Kailasa temple. In the Indian tradition, each cave has a suffix Guha, Lena or Leni, meaning cave; the Ellora caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra about 29 kilometres northwest from the city of Aurangabad, 300 kilometres east-northeast from Mumbai, about 100 kilometres west from the Ajanta Caves. Ellora occupies a flat rocky region of the Western Ghats, where ancient volcanic activity in this area had created multilayered basalt formations, known as the Deccan Traps; the volcanic activity that formed the west-facing cliff, which houses the Ellora caves, occurred during the Cretaceous period. The resulting vertical face made access to many layers of rock formations easier, enabling architects to pick basalt with finer grains for more detailed sculpting; the construction at Ellora has been studied since British colonial rule. Officers of the British Colonial Army stumbled on the cave complex of Ajanta during a tiger hunt in 1819. At that time, the caves, which had once served Buddhist monks as a monastery and temple, had been abandoned for a millennium.
However, the overlapping styles between the Buddhist and Jaina caves has made it difficult to establish agreement concerning the chronology of their construction. The disputes concern: one, whether the Buddhist or Hindu caves were carved first and, the relative dating of caves within a particular tradition; the broad consensus that has emerged is based on comparing the carving styles, at Ellora, to other cave temples in the Deccan region that have been dated, textual records of various dynasties, epigraphical evidence found at various archaeological sites near Ellora and elsewhere in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Geri Hockfield Malandra, other scholars, has stated that the Ellora caves had three important building periods: an early Hindu period, a Buddhist phase and a Hindu, Jain, phase; the earliest caves may have been built during the Traikutakas and Vakataka dynasties, the latter being known for sponsoring the Ajanta caves. However, it is considered that some of the earliest caves, such as Cave 29, were built by the Shiva-inspired Kalachuri dynasty, while the Buddhist caves were built by the Chalukya dynasty.
The Hindu caves and early Jaina caves were built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty, while the last Jaina caves were built by the Yadava dynasty, which had sponsored other Jaina cave temples. These caves are located on the southern side and were built either between 630-700 CE, or 600-730 CE, it was thought that the Buddhist caves were the earliest structures that were created between the fifth and eighth centuries, with caves 1-5 in the first phase and 6-12 in the phase, but modern scholarship now considers the construction of Hindu caves to have been before the Buddhist caves. The earliest Buddhist cave is Cave 6 5, 2, 3, 5, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 9, with caves 11 and 12 known as Do Thal and Tin Thal being the last. Eleven out of the twelve Buddhist caves consist of viharas, or monasteries with prayer halls: large, multi-storeyed buildings carved into the mountain face, including living quarters, sleeping quarters and other rooms; the monastery caves have shrines including carvings of Gautama Buddha and saints.
In some of these caves, sculptors have endeavoured to give the stone the look of wood. Caves 5, 10, 11 and
Kushinagar is a pilgrimage town in the Kushinagar district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death, it is an international Buddhist pilgrimage centre. The followers of Buddhism from Asian countries, wish to visit this place at least once in their lifetime. According to one theory, Kushvati was the capital of Kosala Kingdom and according to Ramayana it was built by King Kush, son of Rama, protagonist of the epic Ramayana. While according to Buddhist tradition Kushavati was named prior to the king Kush; the naming of Kushwati is believed to be due to abundance of Kush grass found in this region. As of 2011 India census, Kushinagar had a population of 22,214, with 3462 households. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Kushinagar has an average literacy rate of 78.43%, higher than the national average of 74%, male literacy is 85%, female literacy is 72%. In Kushinagar, 11% of the population is under 10 years of age.
Schedule Caste constitutes 5.03% while Schedule Tribe were 2.39% of total population in Kushinagar Nagar Panchayat. The present Kushinagar is identified with Kushinara. Kushinara was the capital of Mallas, one of the sixteen mahajanpads of the 6th Century BCE. Since it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Kushana, Gupta and Pala dynasties. In the medieval period, Kushinagar had passed under the suzerainty of Kultury Kings. Kushinara continued to be a living city till the 12th century CE and was thereafter lost into oblivion. Padrauna is believed to be ruled over by a Rajput adventurer, Madan Singh, in the 15th century CE. However, modern Kushinagar came into prominence in the 19th century with archeological excavations carried out by Alexander Cunningham, the first Archeological Surveyor of India and followed by C. L. Carlleyle who exposed the main stupa and discovered a 6.10 meters long statue of reclining Buddha in 1876. Excavations continued in the early twentieth century under J. Ph. Vogel.
He conducted archaeological campaigns in 1904-5, 1905-6 and 1906-7, uncovering a wealth of Buddhist materials. Chandra Swami, a Burmese monk, came to India in 1903 and made Mahaparinirvana Temple into a living shrine. After independence, Kushinagar remained part of the district of Deoria. On 13 May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh. In 1896, Waddell suggested that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva. However, according to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, died there and wherein he was cremated, it is believed that during his last day he walked into the groves of tress near the city and rejoiced at the blossoms of sala trees before laying himself to rest. Modern scholarship, based on archaeological evidence, believes that the Buddha died in Kushinagar, close to the modern Kasia. Ashoka built a pilgrimage site to mark Buddha's parinirvana in Kushinagara; the Hindu rulers of the Gupta Empire helped enlarge the Nirvana stupa and Kushinagar site, building a temple with reclining Buddha.
This site was abandoned by Buddhist monks around 1200 CE, who fled to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed over the Islamic rule in India that followed. The British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagara in the late 19th century, his colleague A. C. L. Carlleyle unearthed the 1,500-year-old Buddha image; the site has since become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Archaeological evidence from the 3rd century BCE suggests that the Kushinagara site was an ancient pilgrimage site. Kushinagar is a nagar palika situated at 53 km east from Gorakhpur on the National Highway-28, lying between latitude 26°45´N and 83°24´E. Gorakhpur is the main railway terminus for Kushinagar while air strip of UP Civil Aviation is situated in Kasia, 5 km away from Kushinagar being developed as an International Airport by Uttar Pradesh Government and Government of India. Parinirvana Stupa The reclining Nirvana statue of the Buddha is inside the Parinirvana Stupa.
The statue is made of monolith red-sand stone. It represents the "Dying Buddha" reclining on his right side with his face towards the west, it is placed on a large brick pedestal with stone-posts at the corners. Nirvana Chaitya Nirvana Chaitya is located just behind the Main Parinirvana Temple, it was excavated by Carlleyle in the year 1876. During excavations, a copper plate was found, which contained the text of the "Nidana-Sutra" which concluded the statement that plate had been deposited in the Nirvana-Chaitya by one Haribala, who installed the great Nirvana Statue of Buddha in the temple front. Ramabhar Stupa Ramabhar Stupa called a Mukutbandhan-Chaitya, is the cremation place of Buddha; this site is 1.5 km east of the main Nirvana Temple on the Kushinagar-Deoria road. Matha Kuar Shrine A colossal statue of Lord Buddha is installed, carved out of one block which represents Buddha seated under the "Bodhi Tree" in a pose known as "Bhumi Sparsh Mudra"; the inscription at the base of statue is datable to the 10th or 11th century A.
D. Other major places Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka Temple: Indo-Japan-Sri Lanka temple is a marvel of Buddhist architectural grandeur of modern times. Wat Thai Temple: It is a huge complex built in a typical Thai-Buddhist architectural fashion. Ruins and brick structures: These are located around the main Nirvana Temple and Main Stupa; these are the remains of various monasteries of differ
Bihar is state in eastern India. It is the thirteenth-largest Indian state, with an area of 94,163 km2; the third-largest state by population, it is contiguous with Uttar Pradesh to its west, Nepal to the north, the northern part of West Bengal to the east, with Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is split by the river Ganges. Three main regions converge in the state: Magadh and Bhojpur. On 15 November 2000, southern Bihar was ceded to form the new state of Jharkhand. Only 11.3% of the population of Bihar lives in urban areas, the lowest in India after Himachal Pradesh. Additionally 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, giving Bihar the highest proportion of young people of any Indian state. In ancient and classical India, the area, now Bihar was considered a centre of power and culture. From Magadha arose India's first empire, the Maurya empire, as well as one of the world's most adhered-to religions, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.
Another region of Bihar is Mithila, an early centre of learning and the centre of the Videha kingdom. Since the late 1970s, Bihar has lagged far behind other Indian states in terms of social and economic development. Many economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the policies of the central government, such as the Freight equalisation policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism, the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company; the state government has, made significant strides in developing the state. Improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, a reduction in crime and corruption; the name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word vihāra, meaning "abode". The region encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods.
Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabaqat-i Nasiri that in 1198 Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town identified with the word known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km away from Bodh Gaya. Chirand, on the northern bank of the Ganga River, in Saran district, has an archaeological record from the Neolithic age. Regions of Bihar—such as Magadha and Anga—are mentioned in religious texts and epics of ancient India. Mithila gained prominence after establishment of the Videha Kingdom in Āryāvarta. During the late Vedic period, Videha became one of the major political and cultural centers of South Asia, along with Kuru and Pañcāla; the kings of the Videha Kingdom were called Janakas. Sita, a daughter of one of the Janaks of Mithila is mentioned as the consort of Lord Rama, in the Hindu epic, written by Valmiki; the Videha Kingdom became incorporated into the Vajji confederacy which had its capital in the city of Vaishali, in Mithila. Vajji had a republican form of government. Based on the information found in texts pertaining to Jainism and Buddhism, Vajji was established as a republic by the 6th century BCE, before the birth of Gautama Buddha in 563 BCE, making it the first known republic in India.
The region of modern-day southwestern Bihar called Magadha remained the centre of power and culture in India for 1000 years. The Haryanka dynasty, founded in 684 BC, ruled Magadha from the city of Rajgriha; the two well-known kings from this dynasty were Bimbisara and his son Ajatashatru, who imprisoned his father to ascend the throne. Ajatashatru founded the city of Pataliputra which became the capital of Magadha, he conquered the Vajji. The Haryanka dynasty was followed by the Shishunaga dynasty; the Nanda Dynasty ruled a vast tract stretching from Bengal to Punjab. The Nanda dynasty was replaced by India's first empire; the Maurya Empire and the religion of Buddhism arose in the region. The Mauryan Empire, which originated from Magadha in 325 BC, was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, born in Magadha, it had its capital at Pataliputra. The Mauryan emperor, born in Pataliputra is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of the world; the Gupta Empire, which originated in Magadha in 240 AD, is referred as the Golden Age of India in science, astronomy, commerce and Indian philosophy.
Bihar and Bengal was invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century. Buddhism in Magadha went into decline due to the invasion of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila were destroyed, it was claimed. D. N. Jha suggests, that these incidents were the result of Buddhist-Brahmin skirmishes in a fight for supremacy. After fall of Pala Empire, Chero dynasty ruled some parts of Bihar from 12th century to 16th century till Mughal rule. In 1540, the great Pathan chieftain, Sher Shah Suri, from Sasaram, took northern India from the Mughals, defeating the Mughal army of Emperor Humayun. Sher Shah declared Delhi his capital. From the 11th century to the 20th century, Mithila was ruled by various indigenous dynasties; the first of these were the Karnatas, followed by the Oinwar dynasty and Raj Darbhanga. It was during this period that the capital of Mithila was shi