Ay­o­d­hya through the ages

Serv­ing the might­i­est is the re­li­gious place’s bur­den. Ay­o­d­hya too has du­ti­fully served the might­i­est in its many avatars.

Gfiles - - Society - by AMAR­NATH DUBE

AY­O­D­HYA is the Jerusalem of Eastern re­li­gions. This an­cient city is the `Promised Land’ of Ix­vakus. The chil­dren of Ix­vaku es­tab­lished Hin­duism, Bud­dhism and Jain­ism here. The chil­dren of Abra­ham cul­ti­vated Ganga-Ja­muni cul­ture in Ay­o­d­hya. Like Jerusalem, it has wit­nessed many a rise and fall, though Ay­o­d­hya means un­con­quer­able. Serv­ing the might­i­est is the re­li­gious place’s bur­den. Ay­o­d­hya too has du­ti­fully served the might­i­est in its many avatars. Ay­o­d­hya finds no ex­plicit ref­er­ences in the Rig Veda. The city would have been known as `Saryu’ in Vaidik times, claims Dr Mo­han Chan­dra Ti­wari in his ` Ash­tachakra Ay­o­d­hya: Iti­haas aur

Param­para’. His ar­gu­ments are as fol­lows: First, Rig Veda sukts 4.30.18 men­tions a bat­tle on the river­bank of the Saryu. The Apara­jita army of In­dra slew King ` Arn’ and `Chi­trarath’ when they at­tacked the `fort city’. Athar Veda and Bri­h­darnykop­nishad use the syn­onym `Apra­jita’ for Ay­o­d­hya. Se­cond, the in­stances of nam­ing a city based on the river are avail­able. Hariyupiya (Harappa) draws its name from the Rig­vaidik River Hariyupiya. Thus, Rig­vaidik peo­ple knew about the `fort city’ in the Saryu val­ley and would have called it Saryu. How­ever, more re­search is needed to sub­stan­ti­ate these ar­gu­ments. The word Ay­o­d­hya finds ear­li­est ref­er­ence in Athar Veda’s ` Ash­tachakra navd­wara de­vanam pury­o­d­hya’ and in Tait­tiriya Aranyaka. Next ref­er­ence of Ay­o­d­hya comes in Valmiki’s Ra­mayana. Kosal finds ref­er­ences in many Hindu scrip­tures. The Jain scrip­ture Bhag­vatisu­tra iden­ti­fies Kosal as one of the 16 Jan­pads. Aadipu­ran refers to the divi­sion of Kosal into Ut­tar Kosal and Daxin Kosal; the for­mer in­cluded Ay­o­d­hya and Shravasti. Agams lo­cate

Jain scrip­ture Bhag­vatisu­tra iden­ti­fies Kosal as one of the 16 Jan­pad. Aadipu­ran refers the divi­sion of Kosal into Ut­tar Kosal and Daxin Kosal; for­mer in­cluded Ay­o­d­hya and Shravasti

Ay­o­d­hya in mid­dle of Aaryk­hand in the canon­i­cal Jam­bud­vipa­pra­j­napti. Jain tirthankar Rishab­hdev, Shree Ajit­nath, Shree Ab­hi­nan­dan­nath, Shree Su­mati­nath, and Shree Anant­nath were born in Ay­o­d­hya. Jain lit­er­a­ture refers to Ay­o­d­hya as Vinita, Saket, Koshla, Ix­vakub­humi, Ram­puri, and Vishakha in dif­fer­ent con­texts. In Aadipu­ran, Jin­sen writes “Arib­hih Yod­dhumna Shakya-Ay­o­d­hya;” in­vin­ci­ble, hence Ay­o­d­hya. The city had mag­nif­i­cent houses with fly­ing ban­deroles on its rooftop. “Aakaitaih grihe sah vartma

na-Saketa,” that’s why Saket. Ay­o­d­hya was called Vinita since ` Ay­o­d­hyavasi’ were hum­ble. Vi­mal­suri in Paum­chariy writes Ku­ber founded Ay­o­d­hya after the destruc­tion of Kalpvrik­sha. The sta­ple food of its in­hab­i­tants was sug­ar­cane ( Iakh or Ixu), hence clan was named Ix­vaku and place be­came Ix­ub­humi. Since na­tives of Ay­o­d­hya were skilled ( kushal), Kosal was an apt name. Kosal is counted as a Ma­ha­jan­pad of Jam­bud­weep in Agut­tarnikay of Bud­dhist scrip­ture Suttpi­tak. Lo­hichh­sut and Aga­jj­sut of Dirgh­nikay men­tion that King Prasen­jit ruled Kosal in Bud­dha’s time. His cap­i­tal was Shravasti. Dhamm­padt­tha katha nar­rates a story that King Prasen­jit re­quested Bim­bisar to send a trader for pro­mot­ing trades in Kosal. Bim­bisar per­suaded Dhanan­jay Seth of Ma­gadh to set­tle in Kosal. On his way, Dhanan­jay Seth made night halt in Kosal at a place seven yo­jans from Shrawasti. He stayed back there; the place was Saket. Chi­nese trav­eller Fahien called Ay­o­d­hya as Sha-chi, Saket in Chi­nese. Hi­uen Tsang used Pisokia, Vishakha in Chi­nese for Ay­o­d­hya. Let’s con­tinue the story of Dhanan­jay Seth. His daugh­ter Vishakha founded a Pur­varam in Saket where Bud­dha stayed for 16 years. Saket thus be­came Vishakha.

AY­O­D­HYA was at­tacked in 190 BC. Yug­pu­ranand Patan­jali’s com­men­tary on Panini ( Aruna

dya­vanah­sake­tam) nar­rates the at­tack. A coup d’etat by Pushyami­tra Sunga led to the fall of the Mau­ryan Em­pire and rise of Hin­duism. Now Deva and Datta Kings ruled Ay­o­d­hya, till con­quered by the Kushana King Kan­ishka. Gup­tas suc­ceeded Kushana, and brought back the glory of Ay­o­d­hya, shift­ing the cap­i­tal from Patal­ipu­tra to Ay­o­d­hya. The Gupta Em­pire dur­ing Narasimh­agupta’s reign suc­cumbed to Huns at­tack. Ay­o­d­hya went again to ob­scu­rity. Ay­o­d­hya re­gained its splen­dor un­der the Delhi Sul­tanate in 1226 AD when Nasir-ud-din Mah­mud, el­dest son of Il­tut­mish and Gover­nor, made it the cap­i­tal of Oudh. Ay­o­d­hya re­mained a provin­cial cap­i­tal un­der the Mughals. Dur­ing this pe­riod, Is­lam reg­is­tered its pres­ence in Ay­o­d­hya and myths were rewrit­ten. The tombs of Tob and Seth, sons of Prophet Adam, and tomb of Prophet Noah were dis­cov­ered. Ay­o­d­hya be­came Maqqa Mi­nor. Oudh grad­u­ally came un­der the Nawabs in the 18th cen­tury. Sa­dat Khan, a na­tive of Iran re­ceived Subadar­ship of Oudh in 1732. He stayed chiefly in Ay­o­d­hya and used to visit nearby Ke­o­rah jun­gle for shoot­ing. He planned a city in this jun­gle, Faiz­abad. His suc­ces­sor Saf­dar Jung founded Faiz­abad in the real sense and shifted his court there. His suc­ces­sor Shuja-ud-Daula beau­ti­fied Faiz­abad. In 1775, his suc­ces­sor Asaf-ud-Daula shifted the cap­i­tal of Awadh from Faiz­abad to Luc­know, push­ing Faiz­abad to path of ob­scu­rity. In 1856, Bri­tish an­nexed the prov­ince of Oudh, and Faiz­abad be­came the chief town of the district of the same name. Faiz­abad was con­sti­tuted a mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 1869 and was united with Ay­o­d­hya for this pur­pose. Faiz­abad, mean­ing a city that re­ceived fame, be­come fa­mous re­cently when the State Gov­ern­ment of Ut­tar Pradesh pro­posed re­nam­ing it as Ay­o­d­hya. The re­nam­ing was cel­e­brated as re­claim­ing of the `Promised Land’. A cy­cle thus got com­pleted giv­ing cue for the be­gin­ning of a next cy­cle.

(The writer is a civil ser­vant from 2001 batch. Born and brought up in Ay­o­d­hya, he is cur­rently posted as Di­rec­tor in Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, New Delhi)

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