Nagarjunakonda

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India >> Andhra Pradesh >> Nagarjunakonda >> History of Nagarjunakonda

History of Nagarjunakonda

The history of Nagarjunakonda city is mentioned in Hindu as well as Buddhist scholasticism and tradition. It was named after the Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna and was ruled by the Ikshvaku clan, the successors of the Satavahanas.

It was the capital of the Ikshvaku dynasty, between 225 and 325 AD and during the earlier part of this period, Nagarjunakonda comprised of 30 Buddhist viharas or settlements. Extensive excavations by the archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have yielded inscriptions and artefacts documenting the scholarly pursuits undertaken during this period.

The inscriptions describe Nagarjuna as a proponent of Shunyata or the void, a metaphysical concept wherein the acquisition of a mental state of nothingness has been extolled and considered to be the path for achieving Nirvana or salvation. They also document the ascension of the second Ikshvaku ruler, Virupasadutta, who has been described as a Buddhist.

According to the historic records of Nagarjunakonda was the largest Buddhist centre in South India and the sects from Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Orissa and China were represented here. The footprint outside the Mahaviharavasin monastery is believed to be that of Gautama Buddha.

The dynasty declined after the death of the last Ikshvaku ruler, Rudrapurusa and excavations commissioned between 1926 and 1934 by the British unearthed numerous stupas and Chaitya Viharas in Nagarjunakonda and by 1956, more than a hundred sacred relics belonging to the region had been dug out.


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