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Moghalmari Monastries

Mains-GS1- History, Art and culture.

1.  A study of inscriptions on clay tablets has been recovered from recent excavations at Moghalmari, West Bengal. Moghalmari is a Buddhist monastic site of the early medieval period.

2. The study has confirmed the presence of two monasteries

a) Mugalayikaviharika

b) Yajnapindikamahavihara

About the study

1. The inscriptions, which show the presence of Monastries, are in Sanskrit and the script is a transitional phase between later north Indian Brahmi and early Siddhamatrika.

Siddhamatrika script

- The study of the scripts of ancient languages is called Palaeography. In the late sixth century C E., Gupta Brahmi evolved into a script known as Siddhamatrika.

- This script has also been used in terracotta seals found at Nalanda belonging to ninth century CE.

- It is ancestral to the Assamese alphabets, Bengali alphabet, Maithili alphabet, and the Tibetan alphabet.

2. The name of the first monastery ‘Yajnapindikamahavihara’ etymologically means a place of sacrificial offering’.

3. Name of other monastery is ‘Mugalayikaviharika’ which bears a phonetic resemblance to the modern name of the site ‘Moghalmari’.

4. The monasteries at Moghalmari date from 6th century CE and were functional till the 12th century CE. Moghalmari is said to trace its name to a medieval battle between the Mughals and Pathans.

5. The presence of two monasteries dating to the same period within a single compound is unique in eastern India.

6. Along with it, Inscribed seals were found during the excavations. These seals contain a set of letters accompanied by the deer-Dharmachakra symbols.

Xuan Zang’s travels

1. Archaeologists and historians point out that famous Chinese traveller Xuanzang who visited India in the 7th century CE.

Xuanzang

- He was a Chinese Buddhist scholar and traveller. He was more widely identified as Huan Tsang.

- He was world-famous for his sixteen-year pilgrimage to India and career as a translator of Buddhist scriptures.

- It is believed that Xuanzang travelled along the Silk Road to reach India.

- He has given such a detailed description of the political, social, religious and economic life of India during Harsha period.

2. The account referred to the existence of ‘ten monasteries’ within the limits of Tamralipti (modern-day Tamluk). However, he did not refer to any specific name or location.

3. At present, at least two of these monasteries are identified, Buddhist monasteries have a definite hierarchy,

a) Mahavihara

b) Vihara

c) Viharika.

4. The study of the inscribed seals suggests that the monastery was called Mugalayikaviharika.

Source- The Hindu