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Hajipur: Where Ananda's ashes were enshrined

In ancient times after crossing the Ganges at Patna the first village one came to the other side was Ukkacala, now called Hajipur. The Buddha is known to have taught only one discourse in at this place, the Cula Goplalaka Sutta, which you can find in The Middle Length Discourses. However Hajipur is also of interest because a portion of Ananda's ashes were enshrined in the town. Ananda acted as the Buddha's personal attendant for twenty years and outlived him by several decades. When he knew that his life was drawing to a close he set off from Rajgir and headed north. King Ajatasattu heard this and, accompanied by his entourage, went after him with the intention of begging him to stay. Meanwhile the people of Vesali heard that Ananda was coming to their territory and they flocked to the banks of the Ganges to welcome him.

When Ajatasattu caught up with the aged saint his boat had already reached the middle of the river. The crowds on both banks were imploring him to come to their side. So as not to disappoint either party and to avoid the possibility of conflict Ananda rose into the air and disappeared into a ball of flames. Half his ashes fell on one side of the river, half on the other and stupas were later built over each portion. The stupa built on the south bank of the Ganges has long ago been washed away by the rivers constantly changing course but the one on the northern bank is now a grassy mound with a Hindu temple on it situated in the western outskirts of Hajipur. Go to the centre of town and ask for the way to Ramchaura. The temple on the top of the stupa is called Ramchaura Mandir. Hajipur is 10 kilometres across the Ganges from Patna.

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