Ashoka's heritage lies neglected | india | Hindustan Times
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Ashoka's heritage lies neglected

WHAT SHOULD have found its pride of place at a museum as a heritage of Ashoka's period, is gathering dust in a small murky cottage at Pan Guradia village under Budhni Tehsil about 50 km from here.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2006 13:44 IST
M Haider

WHAT SHOULD have found its pride of place at a museum as a heritage of Ashoka's period, is gathering dust in a small murky cottage at Pan Guradia village under Budhni Tehsil about 50 km from here.

The rare pieces of art and history include stone Hermika (umbrella) and Yashti (pillar that supports the umbrella) donated by Emperor Askoka's daughter Sangmitra for the main Stupa of Upnith Vihar situated near the caves of Saru Maru.

Enshrined in the 21 Stupas of Upnik Vihar are the remains of Sariputta and Maha Mogliana, the two famous disciples of Gautam Budh. This fact has lent reverence to the place.

The Yashti is also seen lying near the damaged Hermika. Inscribed on this beautiful and still intact pillar is a script in Brahmi language that bears names of three devotees Pusa, Dhramrishika and Arha.

Sangmitra along with these devotees had visited the Saru Maru caves from Kauramak and got the umbrella erected on the main Stupa.

Known Indologist Dr Shyam Sunder Saxena, who worked under the guidance of Dr V S Wakanker on the-pre history period of the Bhopal State, said that Ashoka the Great built the Saru Maru Caves for the Buddhist monks to meditate there. Ashoka also visited these caves.

An inscription on a wall of the caves as deciphered by Saxena indicates that Ashoka visited Upnik Vihar two years, five months and six days after his coronation at Ujjain. He also instructed Kumar Shava, the then Raja of Malwa, to maintain the place well.

According to Dr Saxena, out of 21 Stupas built near the Saru Maru Caves, only nine, discovered in 1976, exist now.

The outer walls of the Saru Maru Caves have paintings similar to Bhim Bethka and of the same age (Mesolithic). Direct exposure to natural elements has faded their colour.

The Hermika and Yashti are lying neglected, vulnerable to damage and theft in a small room of about 10x6 feet, some 3 km from the caves in the house of Bhim Bahadur, who claims to be a Chowkidar of Archeology Department.

Strangely, he has a visitors' book containing entries from some visitors.