On Sunday, as many as 67 heritage enthusiasts gathered at Bavikonda, a sacred Buddhist site in Vizag, to take part in the full moon meditation, organised by Heritage Narrator Jayshree Hatangadi. Aimed at acknowledging the significance of the full moon in the Buddhist calendar, the meditation session lasted for about two hours, with participants sharing their experiences of various meditative methods.
“The Full Moon is one of the most sacred times in the Buddhist calendar, Siddarth Gautama, known as Buddha, was born on a full moon, his renunciation was on a full moon, he became enlightened on a full moon, he left his human form attained Parinibbana (Pali) on a full moon night. It is an auspicious period filled with an abundance of spiritual energy, that brings transformation,” shared Heritage Narrator Jayshree Hatangadi.
After a 35-minute site walk, the participants sat in a semicircle facing the Mahastupa Chaitya on the huge Vedika. The meditation session, led by Mrs Hatangadi, was started with chants of ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachami’. The ‘Vipassana Theravada’ meditation followed next with participants being educated about the Theravada style of mindfulness.
“The full moon was definitely celebrated at Bavikonda by monks, visitors, villagers around the site 2000+ years ago. Marking the occasion, we decided to assemble heritage enthusiasts in Vizag to relive those special moments. The session, even though just 120 minutes long, proved to be a special one. We felt we were connected together. As the glorious orange moon rose through the sky, we certainly bridged the past with the present,” Mrs Hatangadi added.
Bavikonda is one of the early Buddhist centres of Theravada Style with influences of Sailya Sect during 1st/2nd Century AD. Located about 16 km from Vizag, this place has acquired its name due to its wells created to collect rainwater for drinking at this Buddhist establishment. On-site there are many findings like a stone stupa; circular Chaityagruha (an early Buddhist feature); later apsidal Chaitya (Roman Basilica influence); Ayyaka platforms (N Indian influence), a congregation hall, viharas, kitchen-cum-store complex. Roman coins, satavahana coins and pottery dating back to 3rd century BC and 2nd Century A.D. were recovered here. But more significantly, Buddha padas, Chattra pieces, Bhrami letters engraved on pottery, stucco figurines were found here.
Bavikonda is considered by many to be one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist centres in Asia. With a series of hills cleverly carved into stupas, this site is very similar to Borobudur, Indonesia. During the conservation work of Mahachaitya five receptacles containing six silver and gold caskets were recovered from the inner brick course of the anda at diagonal points exactly facing the ayaka platforms. One casket is supposed to be carrying Buddha’s relics (presently in Hyderabad Museum).