Culture of Gandhara Civilization

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  • Topic: Gandhara, Afghanistan, Kushan Empire
  • Pages : 10 (3679 words )
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  • Published : February 18, 2012
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Culture of Gandhara Civilization
Gandhara is the region that now comprise of Peshawar valley, Mardan, Swat, Dir, Malakand, and Bajuaur agencies in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Taxila in the Punjab, and up to Jalalabad in Afghanistan. It is in this region that the Gandhara civilization emerged and became the cradle of Buddhism. It was from here that Buddhism spread towards east as far away as Japan and Korea. The intriguing record of Gandhara civilization, discovered in the 20th century, are found in the archeological sites spread over Taxila, Swat and other parts of NWFP. The rock carving and the petro glyphs along the ancient Silk Road (Karakoram Highway) also provide fascinating record of the history of Gandhara. Taxila is the residence of many splendid Buddhist establishments. Taxila, which used to be the main centre of Gandhara, is over 3,000 years old. Taxila had attracted Alexander the great from in 326 BC, with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. Taxila rose to a remarkable level of development when it later came under the Mauryan dynasty of the great Ashoka. During the year 2 BC, Buddhism was adopted as the state religion, which flourished and prevailed for over 1,000 years, until the year 10 AD. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsadda (old Pushkalavati) became three important centers for culture, trade and learning. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh, both in Taxila. Gandhara civilization was the center of spiritual influence and art and learning. A unique art of sculpture originated from here which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara sculptures occupy a prominent place in famous all over the world. Buddhism left a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in Pakistan. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the Gandhara region preserved a lot of the heritage in craft and art. Much of this legacy is visible even today in Pakistan. The very earliest examples of Buddhist Art are aniconic images and were popular in the Sub-continent even after the death of the Buddha. This is because the Buddha himself did not sanction personal worship or the making of images. Some of these early representations of the Buddha include the footprints of the Buddha, which were often created at a place where he was known to have walked. Among the aniconic images, the footprints of the Buddha were found in the Swat valley and, now can be seen in the Swat museum. Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat acquired fame as a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Buddhist tradition holds that the Buddha himself came to Swat during his last reincarnation as the Guatama Buddha and preached to the people here. It is said that the Swat was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. Among the important Buddhist excavation in swat an important one is Butkarha-I, containing the original relics of the Buddha. Among the numerous Buddhist monuments present in Pakistan a few important ones, from historical and religious point of view, are: Dharamarajika Stupa: Dhararaja, a title of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the middle of the 3rd century, erected the Dharamarajika Stupa, the oldest Buddhist monument in Taxila. The Dharamarajika Stupa contained the sacred relics of the Buddha and the silver scroll commemorating the relics. A wealth of gold and silver coins, gems, jewellery and other antiques were discovered here and are housed in the Taxila museum. Takht-i-Bhai: Takht-i-Bhai is another well-known and preserved monument, a Buddhist monastery located on a rocky ridge about 10 miles northeast of Mardan. This structure dates back to two to five century AD and stands 600 feet above the plane. The...
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