Page:Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol 34, Part 1.djvu/10

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[No. 1,
Description of the Buddhist Ruins at Balcariya Kuml.


Buddhists confessedly were, they would not have left their most sacred city, and one of their most ancient, without some irrefragable proofs in colunm or cornice, of their residence there prior to the Buddhist reform- ation. In the present state of ignorance respecting the archaeological remains in Benares, it would be hazarding too strong a conjecture that no such proofs actually exist; but this much may be said, that the probability of their existence is exceedingly small.

As the habits of the Buddhists on this point were, as just observed, so contrary to the practice of the Hindus, we are inclined to believe that a strict investigation instituted in places where Buddhism was once famous and powelful, would in most cases bring to light certain relics which they have left behind them. New discoveries of Buddhist remains are continually being made in various parts of Northern India, every instance of which is a fresh illustration of our conviction that Bud- dhism has preserved the footprints of itself in all places wheresoever it eminently flourished. That it existed in Benares during many centuries and was the dominant faith professed there, casting into the shade the elder creed, and asserting proudly its triumph over it, admits not of the smallest doubt. It is therefore highly interesting to inquire, what Buddhist remains are yet traceable in the city, whereby its historical position as one of the chief seats of Buddhism may be tested. Strange to say, until very recently, few or no remains in the city proper had been discovered, but the reason of this, we fully believe, was, that they had never been sought after. It is true, extensive ruins have been found at Sarnath, and have been frequently described, but these are three miles distant from the present city, although it is possible, and indeed probable, that they were once Situated in, or were adjacent to the ancient city itself.

Now While the hope of finding any buildings of the early Buddhist period in Benares might be pr0n0unced too sanguine, yet, on the other hand, he would betray a singular ignorance of the massiveness and durability of Buddhist architecture, who should venture to assert that it was otherwise than exceedingly likely that portions of buildings of the later Buddhist period were still existing, waiting to be discovered. Even as late as the seventh ccntury, A. 1)., when Hinduism had regained much of its ancient prestige and influence, at the time that Hwan Thsang Visited Benares, there were then in the city, according to the