Prime Minister Narendra Modi being shown the map at the exhibition depicting Xuanzang’s pilgrimage by Deepak Anand. Also seen are Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Director-cum- Vice Chancellor of the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Dr Ravindra Panth.
An exhibition, ‘Chetiya Carika-the Dhamma Pilgrimage’, was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on the occasion of ‘Global Hindu-Buddhism Initiative’, held at Bodh Gaya on September 5.
The focus of the exhibition was to showcase the pilgrimage legacy of Xuanzang and to highlight this part of the Buddhist circuit that remains untapped. Buddhism was lost in the land of its origin, Bihar, in the 13th century.
Orientalists, till the publication of the travelogues of 7th CE Chinese monk-scholar Xuanzang, believed that the images of the Buddha, with large earlobes and lips and twisted curly hair, were of African origin.
It was only in mid 19th CE when travelogues of 5th CE Chinese monk-scholar Faxian and Xuanzang were translated from Chinese to European languages. These revealed the origin of Buddhism in India and existence of an elaborate Buddhist pilgrimage “in the Footsteps of the Buddha”. Many British explorers, including Cunningham, worked hard to decipher the works of Xuanzang.
All the prominent Buddhist pilgrimage sites, including the now popular Nalanda, Sarnath, Vaishali, Sravati, Lumbini, etc., were identified on the basis of Xuanzang’s accounts.
The highlight of the exhibition was a detailed map showing the entire pilgrimage route of Xuanzang. The map was prepared on the basis of the ‘Biography’ and the ‘Journey to the West’, the two works of Xuanzang. Exhibits included photographs, books, art and handicrafts.