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Kesariya: Where the Buddha taught the famous Kalama Sutta



One of the Buddha's most celebrated discourses is the Kalama Sutta in which he advised that his teachings be accepted only after careful scrutiny and reflection. For a translation of the discourse get The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry: Kalama Sutta, Wheel No 8. This discourse was delivered to the Kalama people while the Buddha was staying in their chief town, Kessaputta.

According to legend, in the last year of the Buddha's life when he left Vesali on his way to Kusinara a large group of Vijjians followed him and refused to leave him. When they finally got to Kessaputta the Buddha urged the throng to return to their homes and they reluctantly agreed. To console them he gave them his begging bowl. Later, a stupa was built on the site of this incident. The later history of the famous bowl relic is to be found in Middle Land Middle Way. Both Fa-hian and Hiuen Tsiang visited this stupa and left short accounts of it. Today Kessaputta is represented by the small town of Kesariya about 55 kilometres north-west of Vesali. The stupa rises in five huge terraces each of a different shape so that from above it would look like a giant mandala. In each terrace are niches enshrining life size statues of the Buddha.

The stupa is still undergoing excavation and restoration. Cunningham measured it and found it to be 1400 feet in circumference and 51 feet high and estimated that its dome would have originally been about 70 feet high. Concerning his further findings he wrote, "The excavations have disclosed the walls of a small temple 10 feet square, and the head and shoulders of a colossal figure of the Buddha, with the usual crisp curly hair". To get to Kesariya from Vesali return to the main Muzaffarpur - Motihari road and turn off at Pipra. Don't take the Chakia road, it looks shorter but it is virtually impassable.

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