Srāvastī or Sāvatthī ( Chinese: 舍衛 ), a city of ancient India, was one of the six largest cities in India during Gautama Buddha’s lifetime. Sravasti (ancient Savatthi), the capital of Kosala Mahajanapada , was the biggest town in the Gangetic plains during the Buddha's lifetime. Sravasti was host to the Master for 25 years during the annual vassavasa (rain retreat) when the Sangha congregated at one place.
During the time of Sakyamuni, Sudatta, a rich and pious merchant, lived in Sravasti. While on a visit to Rajgir, he heard the Buddha's sermon and decided to become the Lord's disciple. But he was caught in dilemma and asked the Lord whether he could become a follower without forsaking worldly life. To his query, the Master replied that it was enough that he followed his vocation in a righteous manner.
According to the epic Ramayana, Sravasti was a new city created for Lava (the son of Raghava Rama). Rama divided his Kosala Kingdom into two parts and installed his son Lava at Sravasti and another son Kusha at Kushavati, another town in Kosala. According to the Mahabharata, the origin of Sravasti lies with the legendary king Shravasta. According to Buddhist tradition, the city was called Savatthi because the sage Savattha lived there.
Sudatta invited the Lord to Sravasti and began to look for a suitable place to blind a vihara. A beautiful park at the southern edge of Sravasti attracted his attention. The park belonged to Jeta, son of the king of Sravati, Prasenjit. Jeta demanded that Sudatta cover the entire park with gold coins. Sudatta painstakingly paved every inch of the land with gold. Then Jeta said that since the trees were left uncovered they belonged to him. But finally, he had a change of heart and donated valuable wood to build the Vihara. The park came to be known as Jetavana Vihara after Prince Jeta's donations to the Sangha.
One of the most beautiful spots in Jetavana is under the Anandabodhi tree. An eternal witness to the vicissitudes of history, this sacred tree was brought as a cutting from the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, which itself grew from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya.
Sudatta came to be known as Anathapindika (the incomparable alms giver). He built a magnificent, seven-storied vihara whose grandeur was commented upon by Chinese travellers several centuries later. Jetavana continues to attract pilgrims from all over the world who come here to pray and meditate in its serene atmosphere.
The ruins of Anandakuti and Gandhakuti exude an aure of sacredness because it was here that the Lord stayed during his many visits to Jetavana Vihara. In Sravasti, the Master expounded a major part of the Tripitakas.
It was also in Sravasti that the Lord performed the only miracle of his life in response to a challenge from six non-believers. The Lord levitated on a thousand petalled lotuses, causing fire and water to leap out of his body and multiplied his person in the air.
Close to Jetavana are the Sri Lanka, Chinese, Myanmarese (Burmese) and Thai monasteries and temples. Also worth seeing is the park with a large bell donated by Japanese pilgrims.
Mahet, to the north of Jetavana, was once a heavily fortified city. All that remains are two stupas known locally as Pakki Kuti and Kachchi Kuti; the latter identified as Sudatta's Stupa.
Pakki Kuti is said to be Angulimala's Stupa. Angulimala (literally, necklace of fingers) was a dreaded dacoit who wore a necklace of fingers that were chopped from his victims. One day in a fit of brutal rage he tried to kill his own mother. It was at this moment that the Lord met Angulimala and Sakyamuni's enlightening words had a calming effect on his stone heart. Angulimala decided to give up his evil ways and follow the path of the Lord.
Less than a kilometre away are the ruins of a medieval Jain temple, revered by the Jains as the birthplace of the third Jain Tirthankara, Swayambunatha.
Sankissa is the place where the Buddha descended from heaven along with Lord Brahma and Devraj Indra after giving a discourse his mother, Mayadevi. Emperor Ashoka erected a pillar with an elephant capital to mark this holy spot.
Sankissa is identified with the present village of Basantpur in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Situated on the banks of river Kali, Sankissa is most easily accessible form Agra which 175 kms away on the Agra-Mainpuri road. The nearest railhead is Pakhna, which is 11.5 kms away.
Location and Transport
Situated in Gonda district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, called Sahet-Mahet. The most convenient way to reach Sravasti is via Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, which is well connected by air and rail to all parts of India.
Lucknow vis Bahraich - 151 kms
Kapilavastu via Naugarh - 147 kms
Varanasi via Lucknow - 401 kms
Balrampur - 19 kms
Lucknow - 151 kms