The truth about Kanheri Caves' monks

Mar 30, 2012, 11:28 IST | Ruchika Kher

If Kanheri Caves, the largest Buddhist establishment in Western India has always fascinated you, here's your chance to learn about these ancient structures from eminent archeologist Dr MK Dhavalikar, who will speak on the subject in the city, today

Padma Shri recipient Dr MK Dhavalikar, who has authored books such as The Aryans: Myth and Archaeology, Archaeology of Western India and Historical Archaeology of India among others, will be apprising people about different structures and varied aspects of the lives of monks, who lived in Kanheri Caves.

What will be the broader points about Kanheri Caves that you will touch upon during the lecture?

Kanheri was occupied for over a thousand years from the second century AD and contains beautiful sculptures and numerous inscriptions. Here we also find evidences of a smooth transition from the Hinayana to Mahayana to Vajrayana, the three most important Buddhist sects. In the lecture, I will talk about a new type of vihara (Buddhist monastery) that was introduced at Kanheri, which is not found elsewhere. I will touch upon points like why was the need to do so? Whether it was due to the religious needs of the monks? and so on. I will also stress that the monks of different faiths lived here amicably and the reasons for that.

What are the most fascinating facts about Kanheri Caves?

There are many fascinating facts. Some of them are that Kanheri viharas were like independent cottages at hill resorts allowing privacy to monks. Then there are unique iconographical forms at Kanheri such as the eleven-headed Avalokitesvara (Bodhisattva, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas), which is the only of its kind in India, and the Dashabali Buddha, which is very rare. They are supported by textual data. Another interesting fact is that adequate arrangement for water supply was made at Kanheri where large tanks were dug on hilltop and even a dam was built.

Do you think that archeologist activities need more impetus in India? Which is your next book?

Yes. In the western world archaeology is now a scientific discipline with many new techniques that even we must introduce. Also we should have a few more institutes of archaeology, solely devoted to research and training and the subject should be introduced in undergraduate classes. My latest book is Socio-Economic Archaeology of India, which is being published by Archeological Survey of India.

On: Today, 5.30 pm

At: Seminar Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, 159/61, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort.

Call: 22844484

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