July 15, 2024

COX’S BAZAR: Believed to be a web site visited by Gautama Buddha, Rangkut Banasram within the forest of Cox’s Bazar is the oldest monastery in Bangladesh, and a reminder of the nation’s wealthy Buddhist previous.

Solely round 1 million individuals profess Buddhism in Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim nation of 170 million. Most of them reside within the nation’s coastal southeast the place, as legend has it, Buddha had himself chosen to develop into a educating heart.

It was circa 600 B.C. as Buddha was on the best way from India to Arakan, now in Myanmar, when he and his fundamental disciple, Ananda Bhikkhu, visited the place the place centuries later the monastery was constructed.

“Gautama Buddha rested right here on the Rangkut hill for one night time. Throughout that go to, Buddha stated {that a} pagoda can be constructed right here with a bone coming from his chest,” the monastery’s caretaker, Jyoti Sen Mahathero, advised Arab Information.

The go to didn’t instantly yield a foothold for the brand new faith, however Buddha’s prophecy was fulfilled below the reign of Ashoka the Nice, the third Mauryan Emperor of Magadha, whose empire coated a big a part of the Indian subcontinent.

A statue of the emperor Ashoka the Nice within the Rangkut Monastery complicated in Ramu, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Dec. 29, 2023. (AN photograph)

“In 268 B.C., Emperor Ashoka began constructing 84,000 pagodas in several elements of this area, marking 84,000 speeches of Buddha. The Rangkut Banasram is considered one of them,” Mahathero stated.

“On the high of the pagoda, a chunk of Buddha’s chest bone was put in at the moment.”

Situated roughly 12 km from Cox’s Bazar, the monastery stands on a hillock, flanked by one other 17 hills.

The identify, in line with Mahathero, derived from Sanskrit and Arakanese, which had been dominant languages within the area at the moment.

“The bone of the chest is being known as as rang, the phrase kut means hilltop. Because the monastery preserves the chest bone of Buddha, this monastery is known as because the Rangkut Monastery, which implies a hilltop with the chest bone of Buddha,” he added.

The monastery was additionally on the path of Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese language Buddhist monk and traveler often known as Xuanzang, who visited the positioning within the seventh century.

An enormous banyan tree close to the doorway to the complicated is believed to be his.

“It’s 1,400 years previous. There are sayings that Tsang had planted this banyan tree,” Mahathero stated.

“On this connection, the Chinese language Embassy helped us a few years again to boost a statue of Tsang.”

A girl performs Buddhist rituals on the Rangkut Monastery complicated in Cox’s Bazar, Bangaldesh, on Dec. 29, 2023. (AN photograph)

Round 50 monks at present reside within the monastery, however throughout its instances of glory, a whole lot of them flocked to Rangkut, which was a serious instructional heart.

“It’s the oldest monastery on this area, and the enterprise and cultural actions of this space had been developed on this area centering this monastery,” Mahathero added.

“That is the oldest monastery in Bangladesh, too.”

The Rangkut Monastery just isn’t the one one within the broader coastal area of Chittagong, the place Buddhism was once the principle faith till the final century, and a collection of makes an attempt at demographic engineering throughout British colonial rule and after the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

“Round 150 Buddhist constructions are located in several elements of Cox’s Bazar district,” Mahathero stated.

“There are round 50,000 Buddhists on this district space, whereas the district’s inhabitants is round 600,000. Buddhists had been the vast majority of the inhabitants right here 100 years in the past.”