Prajñāpāramitā प्रज्ञा पारमिता
(A short notes on Prajnaparamita)
Bikramshila Mahabihar, Simhakalpanagar
(Bhagwan Bahal, Thamel)
Buddha Era 2552, Nepal Era, 1132, Bikram Era 2068- 2012 A.D
Compiled by: Damodar Pradhan Monumental Guide
Prajñāpāramitā प्रज्ञा पारमिता
The Sanskrit word Prajnaparamita literally translated signifies this book as "the
Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom” (Perfect wisdom beyond ordinary limits / (Prajna -
प्रज्ञा wisdom and paramita - पारमिता perfect or perfection). Prajnaparamita is the central
concept in Mahayana Buddhism and its practice is believed to be the essential elements
of the Bodhisattva Path. The practice of Prajnaparamita is described in the
Prajnaparamita Sutras, which vary widely in length and written by different scholars.
Tara and Prajnaparamita are both referred as mother of all Buddha, since Buddha is
born from wisdom. The Dharma is classified as inferior and superior according to the
disciple's grade. In Buddhism the disciples are being classified into four different stage
of human being for example ordinary men; the stage of sainthood; Saint and
In Buddhism, Dharma is referred to the teaching of Buddha, the Four Noble Truths, the
Eightfold Noble Path, the three Marks of Existence, and other guidelines. The main
motif is to achieve the freedom and liberation from suffering and understand the state
of mind to realize the supreme happiness, the natural joy and nirvana. The happiness is
classified as Ananda (Joy), Paramanda (Supreme Joy), Virmananda (Absence of Joy),
and Sahajanand (Natural Joy).
Four Noble Truths is referred to the state of mind Dukkha (Suffering), Samudaya (the
cause of suffering), Nirodha (free from suffering), Marga (a way to end suffering). The
Four Noble Truths are formulated according to the ancient medical model as follows:-
1) There is an illness
2) The diagnosis – there is a cause of illness.
3) There is a possibility of a cure for the illness.
4) There is treatment for the illness. (The prescription that can relieves the illness)
The First Noble Truth: Dukkha
Dukkha usually is translated as suffering. In life, we have illness, poverty, disease, old
age and death. We cannot keep what we like and avoid what we do not like. The
happiness we do enjoy is temporary and we do suffer is the universal truth
The Second Noble Truth: Samudaya
The cause of suffering is desire & illusions which is mainly because of ignorance.
Wanting life, death, pleasure and things all lead to suffering
The Third Noble Truth: Nirodha
There is a state of mind free from suffering. Suffering can get stopped if we can get rid
of the state of mind, desire, cravings or hunger.
The Fourth Noble Truth: Marga
There is a way to end suffering, we must end our cravings. Eightfold Path is the only
noble way to end craving.
The Eightfold Path
The eightfold Path is the teachings of the Prajnaparami Sutra:
the Trisatika, Pancasatika, Saptasatika, Astasahasrika, Sardhadvisahasrika,
Pancavimsatisahasrika, Astadasasahasrika and Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra
Truth is found through the Middle Way by following Eightfold Noble Path as stated
1) Right Viewpoint (samyag-dristi / samma-dristi) - Realizing the Four Noble Truths.
Correct thought by avoiding sharp desire - extreme desire to acquire, the wish to harm
others and wrong views (thinking as if the actions have no effect or say I have no
problem so there is no ways to end suffering etc.)
2) Right Values (samyak-samkalpa, samma- samkalpa)
Commitment to mental value or expressing moral approval or moral philosophy
correct speech avoid lying, harass speech (while having difference of opinion do not
use harsh speech) and idle talk or rumor.
3) Right Speech (Samyag-vac, samma-vacaa)
To speak in a truthful way without harming others and to grow worse with
unreasonable or wrong logic.Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual
4) Right Actions (samyak-karmanta, samma-kammanta) –simple and healthy action,
avoid action that would harm others.
Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech
5) Right Livelihood (samyag-ajiva, samma-ajiva) - profession does not harm in any
way oneself nor others, directly or indirectly to understand and develop genuine
(The following last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation)
6) Right Effort (samyag- vyayama, samma-vayama)
Correct effort, after the first real step we need joyful belief to continue or make an
effort to improve the belief
7) Right Mindfulness (samyak - smriti, samma - smriti)
Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the "here and now", instead of "there and
Consciousness - Mental ability to see things with clear knowledge or the sense of
one's personal or collective identity.
8) Right Meditation (samyak-samadhi, samma-samadhi)
Correct Concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind where
one reaches enlightenment and the ego get disappear universal emptiness or the
Prajnaparamita Sutra is believed to be the highest form of Buddhist Teaching and is
classified into eight different categories as follows:
the Trisatika, Pancasatika, Saptasatika, Astasahasrika, Sardhadvisahasrika,
Pancavimsatisahasrika, Astadasasahasrika and Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra
1) Trisatika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 300 lines, the Diamond Sūtra or Vajracchedikā
2) Pancasatika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 500 lines
3) Saptasatika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 700 lines, the bodhisattva
Manjushree’s exposition of Prajnaparamita
4) Pardhadvisahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 2500 lines, from the
questions of Bodhisattva Suvikrantavikramin
5) Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 8000 lines
6) Astadasasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 18,000 lines
7) Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra: 25,000 lines
8) Satasahasrika Prajnaparami Sutra: Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra.
According to Joseph Walser Pancavimsatisahasrika (25,000 line) Prajnaparamita Sutra
and Satasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (100,000 lines) have a connection with
Dharmaguptaka sect, while Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sutra (8000 lines) does not
have any sect. ------ Williams, Paul. 2008 Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal
Foundations. In addition to these, there are also other Prajnaparamita Sutra such as the
Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya), which exists in both 14-line and 25-line versions.
Regarding the shorter texts, Edward Conze in his book "The Short Prajnaparamita Texts
- 1973" writes, according to merit the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra are renowned
throughout the world. Both have been translated into many languages and have often
been commented upon.
Additionally, Prajnaparamita Sutra teachings are held by some Tibetan Buddhists to
have been conferred upon Nagarjuna by Nag raja, King of Nagas, who had been
guarding them at the bottom of the ocean. Tantric versions of the Prajnaparamita
literature were produced from the year 500 CE on. Some of the ancient manuscripts are
in the collection of Museums around the world. The following two collections are very
important and authentic, The Heart Sutra (smallest of its kind having only 14 Stanzas in
Sanskrit) is in New York Museum and The Perfection of wisdom (Tibetan Script having
8,000 stanza) from the collection of Royal Library Copenhagen.
There are more Prajnaparamita written in other languages found in many South Asian
Countries Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand,
Vietnam, Java, Sumatra, Bali, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Most of the Scholars
are of the opium that the oldest and authentic manuscript is from Sri Lanka.
The oldest Prajnaparamita manuscript (written during the period of Manipaldeva the
king of Bengal 1020 AD) from the collection of Cambridge University is written in
Ranjana script, highlights the origin of Ranjana Script from India. (From the collection
of Indian Art Museum, Berlin –Dr. Regmi, Dinesh Chandra, Purlekhana Paricaya VS
2048/ 1991 An introduction to Nepalese Paleography - in Nepali -Page 102)
Mahayan Buddhist text including Prajnaparamita are being best presureved in Nepal,
There are many Vihars in and around Kathmandu Valley where they do have some
collections of manuscripts written by different scholars and are displayed during the
holy month GUNLA - August / September. There is more Prajnaparamita manuscript
also in the collection of National Achieve as well in Asha Saphu Kuthi, (Asha Archives)
Kaiser Library and National Library in Kathmandu, Nepal. Most of those collections are
in small version or are of small volume but the one in Vikramshila Mahavihar, Thamel
sounds to be more authentic and has more Stanzas (shlokas) and is nicely written with
real golden ink (dated 344 NS / 1233 AD). Prajnaparamita from Patan, Rudra Varna
Mahavihar is dated 216 NS/ 1105 AD and from Hiranya Varna Mahabihar is dated 336
NS / 1225 AD __ (Hem Raj Sakya and T.R. Vaidya, 1970 Medieval Nepal: Colophons
and inscriptions, Kathmandu page 6).
Vikramshil Mahavihar, Thambahi
(Bhagwan Bahal, Thamel, Kathmandu)
Vikramshil Mahavihar, Thambahi, Simhakalpanagar is the ancient name of Bhagwan
Bahal, Thamel Kathmandu. Mahavihar signifies it to be a higher teaching institute, same
as a University; Thambahil signifies it to be the monastery of high significance and
pride. Simhakalpanagar denotes it as a separate city or town itself.
Bahi is the old form of Nepalese monastery usually located in a peaceful place far from
the city settlement and are made in a plinth little above the level of the ground and are
constructed in a very simple form. Originally Bahis were designed as a place for
training, perching, copying the religious text; as a teaching institute; boarding for the
students and shelter for the visiting monks. After the introduction of Vajrayan cult a
new kind of monastery known as bahal (with more decoration) were constructed in the
city settlement to accommodate the married monks living together with their family.
(Korn, Wolfgang, The Traditional Archecture of Kathmandu Valley, Ratna Pustak
In this short article I am trying my best effort to high light some facts to make
understand a common reader about this ancient temple complex: lots of investigation
and research need to be conduct to identify its past glory, as we are left with few
Swayambhu Puran is one of the oldest manuscripts narrating the story of the evolution
of Kathmandu Valley. According to the legend, Kathmandu Valley was a titanic lake
surrounded by mountains. Kanakmuni Bodhisattwa is believed to have thrown a lotus
seed in the lake. A big lotus flower with a thousand leaves blossomed in the center of
the lake that attracted visitors from around the globe. Manjushree Bodhisttwa is
believed to have visited this place and meditated in Phulchowki (Phullichho) and
Jamachho (Jatamatroccho). He is believed to have drained the valley by cutting the
edge of the hill with his divine sword. (Chobhar being the only exit for all rivers in
Kathmandu Valley and the black soil found everywhere in Kathmandu Valley does
signify it to be a lake earlier). Manjushree is the Bodhistawa of Divine Wisdom
representing the infinite and eternal intellect of Buddha. Manjushree holds a sword in
his right hand and a book of perfection (Prajnaparamita) in the left hand.
The first historical important evidence of Than Bahi is the visit of Pundit Atisha Shrijana
(NS 982 - 1054 A.D.) who did spend one year studying the Buddhist philosophy during
1041/42 A.D. He was the head pundit (Principal) of Nalanda University and was invited
by the Tibetan king to visit Tibet to teach and revive Buddhism. On his way to Tibet he
spent one year in Nepal (1041 - 42); most of his time was spent in Tham Bahi. He is
believed to have studied the Buddhist philosophy and has written books in Sanskrit.
(But he did not mention the name of Prajnaparamita from Tham Bahi in his travel
The Saharsha Prajnaparamita a rare collection of four volumes of highest Buddhist
manuscript in this temple complex has a close relationship with Manjushree. The
legendary Caravan to Lhasa leaded by Simhala Sarth Baha also does have main
historical significance to its establishment. Some of the travel records made by scholars
from India, Tibet and China also did mention about the glory of this temple during the
11th and 13th century; still lots of real facts are missing.
Dharmashri Mitra, a renowned scholar from Vikramshil Vihar, Nalanda, India is believed
to visit Nepal for advance study in Buddhism and Sanskrit in the early 13th Century. He
did study in Thambahil, which clearly indicates the high importance of Thambhil and the
similarity of the name Vikramshil indicates the name might have been given by him
“Traditional Architecture of Kathmandu Valley" by Wolfgang Korn, Ratna Pustak
Bhandar, 1976 (Text by Purna Harsha Bajracharya).
Recent Archeological excavation in Nalanda got a new light about the existence of
Vikramshil Vihar as one of the old teaching institutions for higher study in Buddhism in
the early first century B.C.
A historical evidence of the restoration of the temple in 408 N.S./1287A .D. by Hari
Singh during the resign of King Parthvendra Malla is being mentioned in the Toran, the
semicircular wood archive kept in the main entrance of the temple. (It did have nice
carvings of the image of Prajnaparamita which was stolen some 40 years ago; a new
Toran is kept now as a replacement). The brick paving and the restoration of the
temple complex in Thambahi was done by Hari Simha during the reign of king
Parthivendra Malla is also mentioned in one of the stone inscription kept in National
Archiev (The stone inscription no.173- Rajvamsi, Sanker Man 2027 VS in Kantipur
Silalekh Suchi published by HMG National Archive p 125).
Almost all Vihars in and around Kathmandu valley are being managed by the
community of priest family either by Bajracharya or Sakya (Gristha Bhishu) family but
this Vihar is exceptional where Pradhan family do control the management to run the
day to day activities as well as various rituals during festivals. Simhala Sarthabaha is
believed to have established Bhagwan Bahal and the entire daily rituals and activities
during the festival are being controlled by the Pradhan family from Thamel, who believe
themselves as the descendants of Simhala Sarthabaha.
We see the Gajus on the rooftops of the religious buildings and temples and chaityas in
the Buddhist temple. Both the Buddhist as well as the Hindu temple has the Gaju (the
pinnacle) and a Kalash (the holy water vase) design but the main shrine of Thambahi
has a chaitya and a metallic mirror on the spire. A banner of white cloth along with a
metallic belt hangs down from the metallic mirror (or chaitya). (Locke, John K., S.J.
Karunamaya 1986 page 474)
The four volume of Saharsha Prajnaparamita manuscript in the collection of Thambahi
is dated Nepal Sambat 344 Margasira Pratipada (1223 AD) is believed to have written
by Jinashri Jnana and started by Manjushree. Jinashri is supposed to get inspired by
Manjushree and found an auspicious moment to start writing the manuscript, but felt
asleep; Manjushree is believed to have started writing the first three pages with his
finger. (The first three pages do have big script different than the remaining page).
When he woke up, found the auspicious moment already passed and was laminating;
Manjushri came forward and instructed him to start writing without any disturbances as
he has already started writing from the auspicious moment. This is a legend but we
have no evidence regarding how long it did took to write all the four volume. The date
NS 344 (1223 AD) might be the date it was completed or the date mentioned by
someone else? King Pratap Mall (1641-1674 AD) and Queen Lalmati after visiting this
temple wrote three stanzas appreciating the holy manuscript Laksavati Prajnaparamita
(NS 780/1658 AD). Pandit Hemraj Sakya in his Nepal Sanskritya Mulukha 1969 (Main
entrance of the culture of Nepal) did mentioned this manuscript as Laksavati
Prajnaparamita; this clearly indicate to have 100,000 stanza.
It is believed that there were in total five volumes of Manuscripts. Tibetans did invade
the temple and looted one volume which was recovered by the army and was deposited
in Hanumandhoka Palace during King Pratap Mall’s period. Some people used to speak
to have seen a manuscript having more similarity in script, being used during rituals in
Sweat Bhairav temple in Hanumandhoka.
It is very interesting facts about numerology in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology that
number nine plays a vital role, this is clearly understood in the layout of the page with
three row containing nine lines totaling twenty seven lines, adding two and seven
makes nine so each and every volume also do have the same count ending with nine.
This does not happen if we have eight lines with three rows even though nine lines with
four rows do fulfill these criteria but the size do not look nice. The size of the page is
rectangular nine inches by eighteen inches written in real golden ink, which looks like a
print rather than a hand written manuscript as the character looks uniform and looking
at the nice and bright prints, it is hard to believe it being written long ago.
There are 54,864 total lines in the four Volumes, (27 lines in one page - nine lines in
three rows) four volume containing 2032 page (517 pages in Vol.1, 506 in Vol. II, 512
in Vol. III and 497 in Vol. IV). We have no idea regarding the total number of pages in
the missing volume kept in Hanuman Dhoka. If we guess 500 pages in the missing
volume it will add 13,500 lines making total 68,364 lines.
During GUNLAA, the Buddhist holy months (ninth months of Lunar Calendar) the four
volumes are given to the Bajracharya of four renowned Vihars of Kathmandu to recite
from top to bottom and are paid for doing so. During the last day of the display of the
manuscript the National (Royal) Kumari from Hanumandhoka is being carried on a
chariot to Thambhil for viewing the manuscript and the head Priest from Hanuman
dhoka used to recite few lines from the first page and the last page in the presence of
Kumari marking the end of reciting of the holy manuscript Prajnaparamita.
This used to be the only time when the manuscript is able to be view by public. (Now a
day’s one can easily see it on paying fee that is used for the temple expenses). Many
devotees from China, Tibet, India, Sikkim and Bhutan come visit Thambhi to pay to
view and pay respect to this holy manuscript as it is believed to have written by the
Devine lord of learning Manjushree.
The four volume of Saharsha Prajnaparamita manuscript in the collection dated Nepal
Sambat 344 Margasira Pratipada (1223 A.D.) is believed to have written by Jinashri
Jnana and started by Manjushree. Jinashri is supposed to get inspired by Manjushree
and found an auspicious moment to start writing the manuscript, but felt asleep.
Manjushree is believed to have started writing the first three pages with his fingers.
(The first three pages do have big scripts different than the remaining pages). When he
woke up, found the auspicious moment already passed and was laminating; Manjushri
came forward and instructed him to start writing without any disturbances as he has
already started from the auspicious moment.
This is a legend and we have no evidence regarding how long it took to write all the
four volumes. The date N.S. 344 (1223 A.D.) might be the date it was completed or the
date mentioned by someone else? King Pratap Malla (1641-1674) and Queen Lalmati
after visiting this temple wrote three stanzas appreciating the holy manuscript Laksavati
Prajnaparamita (N.S. 780, 1658 A.D.). During GUNLAA, the Buddhist holy month (the
ninth month of the Lunar Calendar) the four volumes are given to the Bajracharyas of
four renowned Vihars of Kathmandu to recite from the top to bottom and are paid for
doing so. This used to be the only time when the manuscript is able to be view by the
general public. (Now-adays one can easily see it on paying a certain fee that is used for
the temple expenses). During the last day of the display of the manuscript, the National
(Royal) Kumari from Hanuman Dhoka is being carried on a chariot to Thambhil for
viewing the manuscript and the Head Priest from Hanuman Dhoka used to recite a few
lines from the first page and the last page in the presence of Kumari marking the end of
reciting the holy manuscript Prajnaparamita.
Pandit Hem Raj Sakya in his Nepal Sanskritya Mulukha 1969 (Main Entrance of the
Culture of Nepal) did mention this manuscript as Laksavati Prajnaparamita. This
signifies to have 100,000 stanzas. We have no idea regarding the total number of pages
in the missing volume kept in Hanuman Dhoka. Tibetans did invade the temple and
looted one volume which was recovered by the army and was deposited back in
Hanuman Dhoka Palace during King Pratap Malla's period. Some people used to speak
to have seen a manuscript having more similarity in scripts, being used during the
rituals in Swet Bhairav Temple in Hanuman Dhoka; but there is no record in Hanuman
Dhoka regarding this manuscript.
There are 54,864 total lines in the Four Volumes, (27 lines in one page - nine lines in
three rows) four volumes containing 2,032 pages (517 pages in Vol.1, 506 in Vol. II,
512 in Vol. III and 497 in Vol. IV). If we guess 500 pages in the missing volume it will
add 13,500 lines making a total of 68,364 lines.
It is a very interesting fact about numerology in both Hindu and Buddhist mythologies
that number nine plays a vital role. This is clearly understood in the layout of the page
with three rows containing nine lines totaling twenty-seven lines, adding two and seven
makes nine; so each and every volume also does have the same count ending with
nine. This does not happen if we have eight lines with three rows even though nine
lines with four rows do fulfill these criteria as. The size does not look nice. The size of
the page is rectangular, nine inches by eighteen inches written in real golden ink, which
looks like a print rather than a hand written manuscript as the characters look uniform
and looking at the nice and bright prints, it is hard to believe being written long ago.
Manjushree - Legandary or Historical?
In the first chapter of Kalachakra Tantra, the main religious Text of Mahayan Buddhism,
it is mentioned that 600 years after Buddha a great scholar Manjushree will be born to
get a new renaissance of Buddhist thoughts, clearly indicates Manjushree to belong to
the First century AD, (Boudha Darshan by Baldev Upaddhaya published by Sharada
Mandir Kashi 2003 page 454 – 55. Same quote is also given in Maryada No. 13 pages
69 - 71).
The Buddhist text Saddharma Pundarika, is also written by a Buddhist Monk named
Manjushree during the first century (Legendary History of Kathmandu by John Luck
page 412) and Late Bhuvan Lal Pradhan also did mentioned the legendary Manjushree
belong to the first century in the article “Manjushree Legendary or historical” published
in Nepali (Gorkhapatra 2048/2/11).
The holy Satashasrika Prajnaparamita (100,000 verses 12 volumes in the Tibetan
language) has been translated in ninth century by Jianshree Mitra, Subrenbodieg and
Tibetan Monk Ye-Se-sde, (Bibliotheca Indica 1902-1913). This clearly indicates
Jianshree to belong to the ninth century signifying his teacher Manjushree also to
belong to this period. Edward Conze in his book "The Prajnaparamita Literature" did
mention Jianmitra to have translated this text in Tibetan language during the early 9th
The date mentioned at the end of the manuscript from Bhagwan Bahal (344 NS / 1223
AD), being written by Jianshri indicates another historical Manjushree to belong to the
thirteen century (Jianshri was the deciple of Manjushree).
There is some confusion regarding the legendary and three historical Manjushree: a
scholar and Monk from India (1st Century), Teacher of Jianmitra (Jinashri 9th Century),
teacher of Jinashri (from the Prajna- paramita manuscript written in the 13th Century)
and The legendary Manjushree from Mahachin (China).The date 1223 AD/ 344 NS
mentioned at the end of the Prajnaparamita manuscript from Vikramshila Mahavihar
indicates another historical Manjushree (a monk from Nalanda University, India) the
teacher of Jinashri to belong to the 13th century. Jinashri is believed to have inspired
from his teacher and found an auspicious moment to start writing the manuscript. He
felt asleep by the time and Manjushri is believed to start writing the first three pages
with his finger. (The first three pages do have big script different than the remaining
page). When he woke up, found the auspicious moment already passed so was
laminating; Manjushri came forward and instructed him to start writing without any
disturbances as he has already started writing from the auspicious moment. This is a
legend but we have no evidence regarding how long it did took to write all the four
volume. The date 1223 AD / 344 NS mentioned at the end of the manuscript might be
the date it was completed or the date mentioned by someone else? King Pratap Mall
and Queen Lalmati after visiting this temple (NS 780 / 1658 AD) during the festival did
wrote three stanzas appreciating the holy manuscript Laksavati Prajnaparamita
(Meaning 100,000 Stanza -- Pundit Hem Raj Sakya, Nepal Sanskritya Mulukha 1969
(Main entrance of the culture of Nepal). We have no idea regarding the total page in
the missing volume.
The Jataka Tales (Stories of the Buddha's Former Births)
In Gunakarandavyuha, the story of Avalokiteswara Boddhisttava as a flying white horse
(Balaha) help rescue a group of merchant from the captivity of the she-globins
(Rakshasis) is narrated. In the story it is mentioned that Sinhala, son of Sinha, a
merchant of the capital of Sinhakalpa was the leader of the group of five hundred
merchants. They were rescued by five hundred young and beautiful ladies from
Tamradip after they encountered an accident in the ocean.
Valahasa Jataka (The story of the flying horse)
At the time, the Bodhisattva had come in to the world as a flying horse able to fly
through the air from Himalaya he flew through the air until he come to Ceylon. These
he passed over the ponds and tanks of Ceylon, and eat the paddy that grew wild there.
As he passed on, thus he thrice uttered human speech filled with mercy- "Who wants to
go home?" The traders heard his saying, and cried - "We are going home, master!"
joints their hands, and raising them respectfully to their foreheads. "Then climb up on
my back" said the Boddhisttva, Thereat some of them climbed up, some laid hold of his
tail, and some remained standing, with respectful salute. Then the Boddhisattva took up
even those who stood still saluting him, and conveyed all of them, even two hundred
and fifty, to their own country, and set down each in his own place, and then he went
back to his place of dwelling. And the she-globin, when other men come to the place,
slew those two hundred and fifty who were left, and devoured them.
Jataka (Buddhist Birth Stories - Jataka Tales), the story of the previous birth of Buddha
is the oldest, most complete, and most important collection of folklore which contains a
record of the everyday life, and everyday thoughts of the people. (The Commentarial
Introduction entitled Nidana Katha - The Story of the linage, Translated from Pali text
by Prof. V. Fausboll).
The Jatakas so constituted were carried to Ceylon in the Pali language, when Buddhism
was first introduced into that island (a date that is not quite certain, but may be taken
provisionally as about 250 B.C.); and the whole tales were translated into the
Singhalese language. Mahinda, the son of Asoka (in some text he is called on as the
brother of Asoka), is believed to have collected 550 Jataka stories in Pali (the twenty-
two Nipitaks) which were composed by the time of the council of Patna (held in about
250 BC). A Jataka Book is also found in the Anguttara Nikdya and in the Saddharma
The memoirs of Fah-hian (Faxian 399-414 AD), the famous Chinese traveler who visited
Abhayagiri in Sri Lanka during 412 AD recorded 500 representations of Bodhisatta in
The Jataka Atthavannand (547 tales) belong to the third or fourth century BC is retold
into its present form in Ceylon in the fifth century AD in the Pali text is edited by Prof.
Fausboll of Copenhagen in 1877-96. This Pali Text is the oldest collection of the Jataka
Tales has been translated into English language by Edward Cowell (Cambridge 1895-
The 547 Jatakas do not include the Mahagovinda Jataka, which is mentioned in several
early texts such as Nidana-katha and the Jatakakatha. Similarly some stories are
repeated with the same name or with another, thus, the number of Jataka stories could
also be more or a little less.
In all Jatakas from India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the story
of the rescue of five hundred merchants from the captive of Rakshasi by White Flying
Horse, as the Devine Lord Avalokiteswara, is mentioned and the story ends with the
only member, the leader able to get back home safely leaving behind all other members
under the captive of the Rakshasi but nothing is mentioned about the Leader of the
The story of the flying white horse is illustrated on the bas-reliefs of the temple of Boro-
Boedoer in Java (Leemans, Borro-Boudour, page 389, Leide, 1874) and on one side of a
pillar in a Buddhist railing at Mathura, is a flying horse with people clinging to it
(Anderson, Catalogue of the Indian Museum, page 189) from The Goblin City
(Valahassa Jataka by Francis & Thomas page 189). The story of the horse Balaha was
immortalized in stone at the Angkor monument of Neak Pean during the 12th century
CE. (See Khmer Mythology by Vittorio Roveda, p. 65)
One painting from Ajanta cave shows the pastimes of Prince Simhala’s journey to Sri
Lanka. He is shipwrecked along with his men on an island on which ogresses appear as
beautiful women, but who eat their victims. The princes escape on a flying horse, then
later returns to the island and conquer it and established Buddhism. (Behl, Benoy K:
The Ajanta Caves). Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang visited India in the seventh century A.
D. and stayed here for fifteen years (629-645 AD), did not mention about Ajanta cave.
In 1819 British officers of the Madras Army made a discovery of this magnificent site.
They named it Ajanta after the name of the nearest village. After a gap of twenty-five
years, James Fergusson presented a paper at the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain
and Ireland in 1843, highlighting its importance in term of Buddhism. This is the first
scholarly study of the site which drew the global attention. (Jamkhedkar, Ajanta:
The Valahassa Jataka Tales (Jataka Story: the Flying White Horse)
The Pali Jatakas, Divyavadana (heavenly stories) and the sixteenth-century Sanskrit text
Gunakdrandavyiha narrates the story of Avalokitesvara as The Flying White Horse to
help rescue the five hundred merchants from the captivity of the Raksasi the Valahassa
Jataka. The horse is represented as an incarnation of the Avalokitesvara in the
Karandavyuha Sutra. The flying white horse is called Balaha in Jataka, the stories of
Buddha’s previous life. Simhsarthabahu is mentioned as one of the previous lives of
Buddha in the 16th chapter of Gunakarandavyaha. In one of the Jataka Story the name
of the leader of the group of merchant is mentioned as Simhala, who was the only
member to get back to the other shore. (The Jataka: Stories of the Buddha's Former
Births -The Goblin City page 164/165, edited by E. B. Cowell, vol. 1 - 3. published in
The Aśvarāja story relates the adventures of a caravan of merchants shipwrecked on an
island of demonizes and rescued by a flying horse, the asvarsa, and ‘king of horses’.
The Simhala story continues this narrative to include the chief merchant, Simhala, being
followed home by demons, who tries to get him back before seducing and eating the
king. Simhala is crowned king and invades the island.
“The Valahassa Jataka” - Some of the different sources related to the legendary story of
the Avalokiteswora help rescue the group of five hundred merchants from the
Cannibalistic demons (man eating Rakshasis - the she-goblins).
1) Valahassa Jataka from the Japanese Literature.
The Valahassa Jataka, as it is known in Pali, was transmitted across Asia from India to
Japan. A Japanese scroll painting belonging to the 13th century illustrating the
Valahassa Jataka is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the tale is
known as Kannon-kyo (Kannon Sutra) in Japanese literature. In the tale the name of
the island is mentioned as Ceylon and a city of Cannibalistic demon. The name of the
country of the five hundred merchant and the name of the leader are not mentioned.
In this tale the five hundred merchant are called on as the disciples of Sakyamuni and
the white flying horse as Bodhisattva. (The Flying White Horse: Transmission of the
Valāhassa Jātaka Imagery from India to Japan by Julia Meech-Pekarik, Published by:
Artibus Asiae Publishers Volume 43 n. 1-2 1981, page 111- 128)
2) “The Valahassa Jataka” - Indonesian version (Avadana Jataka)
Once upon a time, there was on the island of Lanka a goblin town called Sirisavatthu,
the home of she-goblins. We find the story of a group of five hundred shipwrecked
traders being rescued by five hundred she-goblins disguised as pretty nice looking
young ladies. The chief of the traders got noticed the ladies as man eater goblins so
he did request all member to flee from the city (Ceylon). Two hundred fifty members
followed the chief and they were being helped by the white flying horse to cross the
ocean. This is how the Jataka story ends with the rescue help made to the group of
merchants by the flying white horse Balaha as one of the Buddha’s previous life. The
same story is repeated by E J Thomas in his book Jataka Tales (No. 196, The Goblin
City page 164-166 published by Cambridge University Press in 1916 and in The
Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha, Valahassa Jataka-196 by C.B.
3) The Valahassa Jataka - Tibetan version
In the history of Tibet called Rgyal-rabs-gsal-vai-me-lon (The mirror illustrating the
lineage of the kings) Valahassa Jataka is mentioned in the sixth chapter. This was
composed in the early 17th century with the narrative description of the animistic life
in Tibet from an ape and a rakshasi and the description of the linage of the ruling
king ending Sronbtsan sgam-po and the further history of the country to the time of
the writer. (A Jataka-Tale from the Tibetan: by H. Wenzel pp.503 -511 punlished in
1888). Singhala is mentioned as the name of the island and the the group of five
hundred merchants from India were being rescued from the Rakshasis by Lord
Avalokitecvara in the form of flying horse Balaha.
4) “Valahassa Jatakaya”
(the birth story of the Flying Horse) from Pali (Ceylon)
At Kelanimulla ferry, in 1952 a large, very well made dugout boat was found (now in
the Colombo Museum) that has been radio carbon dated to 2300BP ± 100, which is
380 – 480 BC: which makes it very close to the time of Vijaya’s arrival (on the date of
the Buddha’s paribbana on 543 BC). At this time the sea-levels had not settled down
to today’s level: it was yet fluctuating, as we saw in Part 2. From the location it was
found (Kelaniya) and the skill of the maker, one can say that Kalyani was occupied by
a technologically advanced people. At Kelaniya, archaeological excavations have
brought to light pottery named “black and red ware” which can be dated to.
This country has been known both for its copper deposits (perhaps that is the origin
of “Tambapanni”) and iron: in fact it has been said that we did not have a copper or
bronze age, but that we went straight from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. Hence the
reference to an “iron city” is intriguing. In fact, the slag heaps found in uncountable
numbers all over the country is proof of a long-established industry which lasted into
the 19th century, if not later
It is fascinating to try one’s hands at this type of detective work. But the purpose of
this story is to find out who, were our first settlers, how did they come, and who did
they meet here. The stories are there, but they are only stories. But scientific data is
also there – and that data is probably more reliable. All that I can safely say, is that
the settlers who came by sea along the western Indian coast were merchants: that
they knew of our gems and therefore called this country “Ratnadweepa”; and they
met an advanced people who knew how to mine and work in iron and copper, had
the means of accessing the interior of the country by boat, lived in ‘cities’ and traded
with Indian merchants. The Reality is therefore a long way from the fantasy land of
“Let it be noted that in Sanskrit ‘sinhala’ has the meaning of ‘bark’, ‘Cassia bark.
Now, this is a plant found in southern China and Indo China. Its bark is often used
as a substitute for ‘cinnamomum verum’ (also called ‘cinnamomum zeylanica’) which
is native to Sri Lanka.
Could it have been possible that Cinnamon – in addition to Gems, Copper and Iron –
was another thing that brought the Indian merchants here: just as it brought the
Europeans here two thousand years later?
5) A Jataka-Tale (Dukanipata: No. 196) - Translated from the Pali Literature
In the Valáhassa Játaka (No.196) the island Tambannidípa and Sirísavatthu is
mentioned as a Yakkha city peopled by Yakkhinís who used to eat human flesh.
Avalokiteswara, the divine lord is believed to get rescue the group of five hundred
merchant in the form of a white flying horse. (The Jataka, Vol. II: Book II. translated
from Pali. by W.H.D. Rouse, 1895, No. 196 Valahassa Jataka Page 90-92). Same
story is mentioned in Jataka: The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by
C.B. Varma and A Jataka-Tale from the Tibetan by H. Wenzel (The Journal of the
Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland pp. 503--511)
6) Goblin City (The Flying White Horse)
In the Jataka: Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, Ceylon is mentioned as the
Goblin City and the leader of the group of merchant is mentioned as Simhala who
was the only member able to get back to the other shore (The Jataka: Stories of the
Buddha's Former Births edited by E. B. Cowell, volumes 1 - 3. First published in
1895-1907 under the title - THE Goblin City page 164/166)
7) Jataka Story from Ajanta Cave (cave no.17 and 19)
Cave 17 has the largest number of paintings and murals than any of the other caves.
The mural paintings in Cave no. 17 of Ajanta Cave mention the story of Bhalaha horse
as a form of Avalokiteswara helping the group of merchants from the Rakshisis. Among
the finest are a vast panel depicting Simhala’s shipwreck and encounter with a man-
eating ogress (“Simhala Avadana”). (The Cave Temples of India by James Fergusson
and James Burgess 1895 and Ajanta and Ellora: Cave Temples of Ancient India
Pushpesh Pant). The Ajanta caves are dated from the beginning of the Christian era, or
earlier to the seventh century.
8) Hiouen Tsang’s version of Simhala Avadana
It relates a story of the colonization of this country - which is called “Ratnadweepa”, as
it is in Hiouen Tsang’s version - by “Sinhala”, the son of Simha, a Merchant Prince who
comes with 500 merchants in search of gems. He comes here, and meets a group of
beautiful women who live in an iron city called Sirisavatthu. They are, in fact,
cannibalistic Yakkhinis who can change their form, and they prey on shipwrecked sailors
and merchants. Sinhala’s ship is wrecked and he is saved by the Yakkhinis who present
themselves as the widows of other merchants who have sailed on trading missions
many years ago and are “presumed dead”. Simhala believes the story and ‘marries’ the
chief Yakkhini, but finds out who they are and manages to escape with two hundred
and fifty of his men who believe him, with the help of a magical flying horse. His ‘wife’
follows him to his kingdom and presents herself, as the woman wronged by his son, to
Simha’s father. He believes her and gives her shelter. For his pains, she devours him
and his whole household that night and returns to Ratnadweepa, where she kills and
eats the 250 men who had not heeded Simha’s call. Simhala succeeds his father as king
and invades Ratnadweepa by sea, bringing an army complete with war elephants, by
9) Simhalasarthabahu Avadana
Professor Todd Lewis of the college of Holy Cross in Masattuetse, USA also published a
paper on the localization of Simhalasartha bahu Avadana did mention Simhasarthabahu
as the leader of the five hundred merchants in Newar-Tibetan Trade and the
Domestication of Simhalasarthabahu Avadāna. (Chicago Journal- History of Religion
volume 33 no.2, November 1993 page 135-160)
In Simhala Avadana it is mentioned about the birth of a son named Simhala to a
wealthy merchant Simhaka, during the period of king Simhakesari from Simhakalpa.
Simhala was selected as the leader of the group of five hundred merchants who were
on a sea-voyage. The abode of rakshas is mentioned as Tamradvipa and Simhala was
able to escape from the island on a magic white horse living behind all other members
under the captive of the Rakshasis.
In Popular Buddhist Texts From Nepal: Narratives and Rituals in a Newar Merchant
Community (Columbia University: Ph.D. Dissertation, 1984), Todd Lewis mentiones the
name of the leader of the group of the merchant leading to Lhasa as Simhala
Sarthabaha, son of the Merchant Simhalasartha Baha from the town of Simhakalpa in
Professor Todd Lewis in his article published in the Journal of Religion mention about a
stupa in Lhasa known as Simsharthabahu Chorten and a shrine in Jokhang dedicated to
his wife' that newar traders honor as the form of Jatika Ajima (Newar-Tibetan Trade
and the Domestication of Simhalasarthabahu Avadan - source History of Religions,
Vol.33 No. 2, page 150, published by the University of Chicago Press 1993).
The adventure of the Merchant Simhala is also mentioned by Professor Siegfried
Lienhard with a description of a long scroll Painting 11.44 meter long and 0.55 meter
wide with 80 frames each with the legend / story of Simshartha Bahu (Text in Nepali
Script & the language Newari) from the collection of Museum of Indian Art, Berlin.
Professor Siegfried Lienhard also did mention about this Scroll painting in his paper “A
Nepalese painted Scroll Illustrating the Simhalavadan” (Nepalica 4 Sankt 49-53 Editors
Prof. N. Gulschow & A. Micheals - Sankt. Augustine Wissen-schaflaverlage VGH, p 51-
53). Published in the Heritage of Kathmandu Valley: - proceedings of an International.
Conference in Lubec June 1985).
Simhala (Simhala Sartha Baha) was the name of the legendary founder and first king of
the island. (Buddhism in Tibet: by Schlagintweit, Emil Leipzig, London, 1863). The
Sanskrit version of the Simhala story is mentioned in the Gunakdrandavyuh as found in
Y.Iwamoto, Bukkyo Setsuwa Kenkyu Josetsu (Kyoto: Hozokan, 1967, pp. 247-94, A.K.
Ramanujan, "Who Needs Folklore? The Relevance of Oral Traditions to South Asian
Studies: "South Asia Occasional Papers (University of Hawaii Vol.1, 1990).
The Legendary Story of the Lhasa Caravan
A copy of wall hanging (Poubha, Wilampau, Thangka painting, Scroll painting) narrating
the story of the legendary caravan to Lhasa is being displayed in the main courtyard of
Bhagwan Bahal during the festival of the holy month Gunlaa, the ninth months
according to the Nepali Lunar Calendar narrates the legendary story of the Lhasa
Voyage, being leaded by Simhala Sarthabaha. Simha Sarthabaha is believed to have
established Bhagwan Bahal and the entire daily rituals and activities during the festival
are being controlled by the Pradhan family from Thamel, who believe themselves as the
descendants of Simhala Sarthabaha.
According to the legend (a non-historical or unverified story), a group of five hundred
young businessmen left for a caravan to Lhasa. The group did select Simhala, a
merchant with rich knowledge, as their leader. Being selected as the leader of the
group of merchant he got the new name Simhala Sarthabaha. (Sarthabaha meaning the
leader of the group of merchant) While crossing the River Bhramputra, they
encountered an accident and were being rescued by five hundred young and
exceptionally beautiful ladies. All members of the caravan were busy doing business
and enjoying with the young ladies as their wife, so they did not thought of returning
back home. Simhsarthabahu used to worship the family God Avalokiteshvara
(Karunamaya) daily. One day Simha Sartha Baha was given the divine sight of Lord
Avalokiteshwar (Karunamaya) while in meditation and worship. In the dream Lord
Avalokiteshwar told him that they are being under the captive of the she-devils (the
man eater) and told him to leave the city as soon as possible as it is a bewitched island.
He was instructed to go to the northern side of the city to check a big compound
surrounded by tall walls like a well, where they used to throw the human skeletons
after eating the flesh. Avalokiteshvara also did promise to help them cross the river as a
flying white horse. He went there and was able to climb a tree, and saw lots of human
skeletons behind the tall wall, where they were forbidden to visit. He got convinced
himself about the dream after visiting the northern side of the city. He made the plan to
get an escape from the evil eyes of the damsels whom they mistakenly thought of their
beloved wives. He was able to get convinced his friends about the instruction of the
divine Lord and made a plan to live the bewitched land.
They left their home in the middle of the night when their wives were fast asleep and
came close to the River. Simhal Sarthabahu did worship the divine Lord and a flying
white horse appeared. The horse instructed all them to get a ride and warned them not
to look behind while crossing the river and enchant the holy Triratna Mantra. While they
were crossing the river, all ladies woke up and could not find the young merchants
sleeping next to them. They started flying over the river and laminating and requesting
them to return back home. Hearing the kind hearted voice of their wives (the she-devil)
all members except Simhala Sarthabaha looked behind and were taken back to the
other side of the river. Simhala Sarthabaha was the only person who did not look
behind, so was able to get back home leaving behind all his friends under the captive of
Simhala Sarthabaha was the only person who did not look behind, and did not forget to
enchant the Mantra of Triratna, so was able to get back home leaving behind all his
friends under the captive of the wretched women. The chief devil disguised as a young
and exceptionally beautiful lady followed Simhsarthabaha and came to the court with a
baby on her lap claiming herself to be the wife of Simhsarthabaha. Simhsarthabaha did
try to convince the king about the she-devil and denied to accept them as his wife and
son. The king then kept her in the palace as he was attracted with the exceptional
beauty of the lady. In the middle of the night she called all her companions and started
killing the members of the Royal family and the staff. Next day the palace door did not
open so Simhsarthabaha entered the palace climbing through a ladder. He was no more
able to find anybody but the human skeleton scattered all over the palace court yard.
As all Royal family members along with the staff were killed and eaten by the she
devils, He found the human skeletons scattered around the palace and saw the she
devils sleeping around the courtyard. With the Devin sword he is believed to have killed
all the Dankinis except his wife who did beg pardon for her life.
Simhala Sartha Baha was nominated as the leader of the community as all members of
the Royal family were killed by the she-divil. This is how he got a new name Garud
literally meaning army chief and later on was able to become the king and called
Garudjuju. (Pradhan, Bhuban Lal, 2047, Kathmandu Upatyeka ka Chirka Mirka Page
72). Simhal Sarth Bahu donated land and is believed to have established Thambahi in
his home town; with the wealth he earned from Lhasa (the traders usually bring Gold
from Tibet). He was able to win victory over the bewitched island and was also able to
introduce Buddhism there. Later on with his spiritual power and intellectual knowledge,
he gained popularity as a form of Divine God – Dipankara Garud Bhagwan. His wife also
is honored as a divine god Ajima, the proctector Goddess (Jatika Ajima).
After being pardoned from her life she is being ordered to make a solemn vow to
protect the entire community and in return she also made a proposal to protect the
community least there be no opening in the roof top of the buildings. Even today the
Pradhans from the locality do not have open rooftops in their houses. She was then
asked which portion of the rice she wants to have- the first, middle or the last. She
spoke to have the first one thinking herself as senior so this is how she got the sticky
water (Jati). This is how even today the sticky water (Jati) is being poured to the image
of Jatikwa Ajima, before reaching the rice bowl to Garud Bhagwan. The main image of
Bhagwan Bahal which is known as Garujuju or Garud Bhagwan, is believed to be the
image of Simhalsarthbahu. Pradhan from Thambahi do not visit Lhasa because they
belive themselve as the descendant of Simhal sarthbahu, they are scared of being
attracted by the she devils as a revenge.
The ninth month of the lunar calendar (it starts from the dark moon night of the
Festival of Lights) so called GUNLAA is being celebrated as the holy month by the
Newar Buddhist community in Kathmandu Valley. During this festival antiques, images
of Dipankar and different God and Goddess, traditional clothing’s Paubha Painting
(Wilampau, scroll painting Thanka painting) are displayed in the courtyard of Buddhist
shrines - Baha and Bahi and is called Baidyah Boayagu. During this festival a copy of
wall hanging narrating the legendary story of the Voyage to Lhasa, leaded by
Simhasarthbahu is displayed in the main court of Thambahi.
Professor Siegfried Lenard did published an article introducing a painting 11.44 meter
long and 0.55 meter wide with 80 frames each with legend story text in Nepali script
and the language Newari illustrating the Simhalavadan from the collection of The
Museum of Indisan Art, Berlin (Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley: Preceding of an
International Conference in Lubek, June 1985 edited by Niels Gutschow and Ayiel
Michaels. Nepalica 4 Sankt, 1987 s 49-53)
Garuda Bhagwan (Garudjuju)
Some of the early texts as well as in the poem from Kalidasa in the early 11th century,
Sartha Baha is used to identify the leader of the group of merchants. This is how
Simhala the leader of the Caravan got a new name Simhala Sartha Baha (also called as
Simhsarth Bahu). The main image of Bhagwan Bahal known as Garujuju or Garud
Bhagwan, is believed to be the image of Simhala Sarthabaha. After all royal family
being killed, he became the leader or say chief of the Army so got a new name Garuda
(the chief of the Army who is able to handle the war) and once he became the king
(Juju) called Garudjuju. (Some notes on the cultural identity of Kathmandu valley in
Nepali Kathmandu Upatyakaka kehi sanskritic chhirka mirka 2047 by Pradhan, Bhuvan
Lal - page 72).
In Newar Buddhist traditions Ajima is known as child eating carnivorous Rakhishi being
converted to Buddhism by Lord Buddha and given the duty to take care of the children.
Most of the prominent Newar viharas have temples dedicated to her (Ajima). The small
shrine outside the Bikramshila Mahavihar, is dedicated to the raksasi wife of Simhala
Sarthabaha known as Jatika Ajima. But the story popular among Pradhan, a Newar
Buddhist family from Thambahi is different than the Jataka Tales. The Poubha
(Wilampau, Thangka, and Scroll painting) being displayed in the main court of Thamel,
during the holy months of Gunlaa narrates the legendary story of the Voyage to Lhasa,
being leaded by Simhala Sartha Baha. The hero of the story is regarded as a
bodhisattva and a large gilded image of him is enshrined in one of the Kathmandu's
oldest Buddhist temples (Vikramasila Maha vihara), dating back to the eleventh century.
(Puma Harsha Bajracarya," Than Bahil: An Ancient Centre for Sanskrit Study, Indologica
Taurinensia 7, 1979: 62-64).
Simhal Sarth Bahu is mentioned as one of the previous life of Buddha in the 16th
chapter of Gunakarandavyaha. In one of the Bansabali (chronological history) from
Kaiser Library the story of Lhasa caravan was mentioned during the reign of King
Gunakamadeva (NS 107-110/ 987-990 AD) and in some writings it is mentioned as to
belong to the period of Singhketu descendent of Gunakamadeva.
Atisa (982-1054 AD) was a renowned scholar from Vikramshila Vihar (India) was invited
by the Tibetan King to revive and teach Buddhism in Tibet. He spent a year (1041/42
AD) in Nepal before visiting Tibet and spent most of his time in Thambahi, did not
mention about Garud Bhagwan and the holy manuscript Saharshaprajnaparamita (NS
344 /1223 AD) from Thambahi. In the travel record of Atisa it is mentioned that the
white stupa inside Thambahi along with the five stupa in the northern side of
Kathmandu valley was constructed by him.
(Lord Atisha in Nepal - The Thambahi & the five stupas foundations according to the
Bromston itenery, Journal of Nepal Research Centre Vol. X 1997 pp 27-54, Atisa's
Journey to Tibet by Lopez, Don Jr.(edited) 1997 and Atisha's Arrival in Nepal by Hubert
The monastery in Itubahal is believed to have remolded by Bhashkardeva (NS 165-167
/ 1045-1047 AD) and later on got renovated by Kesh Chandra brother-in-law of
Simhsarthabahu (Bhaskardevasanskarit Kesh Chandra krita parabrata Mahavihar from
the stone inscription of Itumbahal).
We can thus conclude that Simhal Sarthabaha belong to a period after Bhashkar deva
(NS 165-167 / 1045-1047 AD) or after Kalidasa (early 11th century) and Atisha Dipankar
Sreejana (NS 982 / 1054 A.D.)
Simhal Sarthbahu is believed to have established Bhagwan Bahal and the entire daily
rituals and activities during the festival are being controlled by the Pradhan family from
Thambhi, who believe themselves as the descendents of Simhal Sarthbaha. They do not
visit Lhasa as they were scared of getting revenge by the she-devil from Lhasa.
Both Simhsarthabaha and his wife are given equal honor as the form of diven God by
the Tibetan people. There is a chorten (Temple) in Zhugong near Lhasa called Simhla
Sarthbaha Chorten and a shrine of his wife in Jokhang that contain the image of his
wife. (Newar Tibetain Trade and the Domestication page 152). Tibetan people call him
the Jewel Trader Bhagwan -Tsongpon Norbu Sangpo (Chhong Nurbu Saange, Chhong
meaning merchant, Tsongpon meaning Leader of Traders; Nurbu meaning Jewel and
Saange or Sangpo meaning Bhagwan).
The Story of the Horse-King and the Merchant Simhala, in Buddhist Texts by Naomi
Once upon a time a wealthy merchant named Simhaka used to live in the capital city of
Simhakalpa ruled by king Simha kesari. When his wife gave birth to a beautiful son, he
named him Simhala. After finishing his education, he asked his father for permission to
go away on a sea-voyage. Simhaka was afraid of losing his beloved son and was not
willing to send him for the voyage. Simhala left Simhakalpa in the company of five
hundred merchants. They all took with them abundant merchandise. After visiting many
places they able to sale all their goods and made huge profits. On their way back they
reached a place called Tamradvipa. This place was the abode of rakshasis. On seeing
the merchants, all the rakshasis took beautiful female forms and entertained the
merchants. Each rakshasi took one of his friends home, fed him, made love to him and
they lived as husband and wife. When all his friends were thus drugged to sleep, the
rakshasis devoured them. The rakshasi entrusted with the task of devouring Simhala
fled when he took out his sword. Simhala then escaped from the island on a magic
From Tamradvipa, Simhala came to Jambudvipa. The rakshasi in the form of a very
beautiful young lady followed him. She met a merchant from Madhya Desa. She
promptly fell at his feet and said I am the daughter of the king of Tamradvipa and was
married to Simhala. While crossing the ocean the ship encountered an accident. He left
me as he thought me to be inauspicious. The merchant was impressed by her story and
promised to help her. He blamed Simhala for not accepting the innocent girl. Simhala
then told him that she was a rakshasi. From Jambudvipa Simhala returned to
Simhakalpa. The rakshasi followed him there also. She came to the house of Simhala
with a very handsome child, greatly resembling Simhala. She told Simhala's father the
same old story. When Simhala came back home, his parents requested him to forgive
his wife. Simhala then revealed the true nature of the innocent young girl. After being
denied by Simhala, the rakshasi went to the palace claming her as the wife of Simhala
and the child as his son. The king of Simhakalpa, Simhakesari ordered Simhala to
accept her as his wife. Simhala told the king who she was and requested him to expel
her. But the king was attracted by her beauty and kept her in the palace. During diner
the rakshasi mixed sleeping doses everyone including the king felt asleep. She then
invited her rakshasi friends to come and join in the feast. She told them that they
should stop claim over Simhala instead of giving them one, she was giving them so
may. The rakshasis entered the palace and started killing the king and his family. In the
morning people saw vulture’s rooming around the place. Simhala entered the palace
climbing through a ladder. Then he searched the entire palace but could not find none
of the royal family members as all were killed by the rakshasi. The ministers and the
people decided to offer the crown to Simhala. The crown was then offered to Simhala
who accepted it on the condition that the people would obey him without question. On
assuming the throne, he raised a powerful army and invaded Tamradvipa. When king
Simhala with his army marched upon Tamradvipa, the rakshasis surrendered to him and
agreed to leave the island. The island was then colonized by Simhala and was called
Simhaladvipa after him.
A garland of Gold to you the listener
A garland of flowers to you the story teller
Now may these stories go to the heaven?
And when it is time to retell them
Comeback immediately again!
The traditional closing of the Nepali story telling.
Reference books (for further studies)
Anderson, Mary M. 1971 The Festival of Nepal Rupa Publication, Delhi
Bajracharya, Badriratna, 1986 Buddhism in Nepal, Kathmandu
Bhikhu Sudarshan Simshartha Bahu wa Kabir Kumar ya bakhan
Chattopadhyaya, Alka 1967 Atisha and Tibet, Motilal Banarasidas, India
Conze, Edward,, 1970 Buddhist Thoughts in India, University of Michigan Press
Preliminary Note on Prajnaparamita Manuscript Journal of Royal Asiatic Society
Dass, Sarat Chandra, 1893 Indian Pundits in the land of Snow, Asiatic Society of
David J Kalupahana A History of Buddhist Philosophy, University of Hawaiil,
David N Gellner 2005 Rebuilding Buddhism The Thervad Movement in 20th
David N Gellner, Niels Gutschow Bijaya Basukala (Illustrator) The
David Snellgrove, 1987 Indo Tibetan Buddhism
Deba Priya Barma Atisha Dipankar Srijana: Eye of Asia
Kesar Lal 2007 Legends of Kathmandu Valley
Legge, James (1815-1897) in association with Max Muller prepared the
Monumental Scared books of the East Series 50 volume published between
1879 and 1891.
Locke, John K. S. 1980 Karunamaya: The cult of Avaloketesvara
----- Buddhist Monasteries of Nepal: A survey of the
Baha and Bahis of Kathmandu Valley
----- Legendary History of Kathmandu
Lienhard Snegfried, 1988 Nepalese Manuscripts Newari / Sanskrit
Lopez, Don Jr. (edit) 1997 Atisha’s Journey to Tibet
Malalasekera, G P (Editor) 1963 Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Ceylon
Pal, Pratapaditya, 1974 The Arts of Nepal
Paul, Williams, 1989 Mahayana Buddhism
Ram, Dr. Rajendra History of Buddhism in Nepal
Regmi Dilli Raman Inscription of Ancient Nepal
Sakya Hem Raj, 1969 Nepal Sanskritya Mulukha-Main entrance of Nepalese
------- Syambhu Maha Chaitya, 1098 N S
Dr. Shrestha, Uma editor, Newa Vijnana Journal of Newar Studies University of
Vaidya, Karunakar 1986 Buddhist tradition and Culture of Kathmandu Valley
Vajracharya, Dhana Vajra, 1973 Lichhavikalin Abhilekh. INAS Kathmandu
Vajracharya, Gautam, 1987 Heritage of Kathmandu Valley
Vajracharya, Ratna B. NS 1095/1974 AD
Gurumandalarachana va Prajnaparamitaya artha sahitam (in Nepal Bhasha) Lalitapur
Vajracharya,Ratna Kaji, Yen Deya Chaitya
Wright, Daniel ed. 1983 (1st edition 1877) Nepal - History of the Country & People
Yoshizaki Kasjumi 1979 Study of Saddharmamala
------- Kathmandu Valley as a Water Pot, Kurokami Library, Kumamoto, Japan
Books related to Prajnaparamita
(The Korean Buddhist Canon: A descriptive Catalogue edited by R. Lanceaster,
Adhyardhasatika Pranjaparamita Translated in many languages are in the
collection of Libraries around the globe.
Astadasasahasrika Pranjaparamita 1927 18,000 lines 3 Volume edited by Bidya-
(Memoirs of the Archeological Survey of India No.32 & 69)
Astadasasahasrika Pranjaparamita 1082 NS Jogmuni Bajracharya
Astasaharika Pranjaparamita 1888 R. Mittras in the Bibliotheca Indicia Vol. 1
Dasasahasrika Pranjaparamita 1941 (translated from Tibetan) S Konow,
Patashashrik Pranjaparamita Hsuan-Tsang (602 - 664 AD) describes about
Satashriska Prajnaparamita with 100,000 lines (India visit 629-45).
Pancavimsatishasrika Pranjaparamita 1934 edited by N Dutta 25,000 lines
Perfect Wisdom (Heart Sutra 14 lines) is the shortest form of Prajaparamita
Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 lines written in Tibetan script, translated by E
Pranjaparamita Bhabanopadesh 1040 Ratnakarshanti Teacher of Atisa
Pranjaparamita Rdaya Sutra (Heart Sutra) edited by E Conze
Pranjaparamita Rdaya Sutra (Heart Sutra) edited by M Muller, Oxford 1912
Pranjaparamita Sutra The Perfection of Wisdom (25,000 lines) Cambridge
Preliminary note on Pranjaparamita Manuscript E. Conze, Journal of Royal
Asiatic Society Vol. 82 (Issue 1-2 page 32-36, 2011)
Satashasrika Pranjaparamita 100,000 verses translated from Pali in the
Tibetan language during 9th century by Subrenbodieg, Tibetan Monk Ye-
Se-sde and Jian Shree Mitra - disciple of Manjushree (Bibliotheca Indica
The Composition of the Astasahasrika Pranjaparamita -- Edward Conze
(Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies Vol. 14 Issue 2 /
251-262 page, 24 Dec. 2008)
Hsuan Tsang describes about The Perfection of Wisdom with 100,000 lines during
his visit to India and Nepal 659-663 AD
The Prajnaparamita Literature 1960 Edward Conze, Manton, The Hague
Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita 1881 edited by M Muller Oxford
Books related to Jataka Stories
1) Buddhist birth-stories; Jataka tales translated from Pali text
(Jataka Thavannana -The oldest collection of Jataka Folklor by V. Fausböll's
edited and translated into english by T.W. Rhys Davids 1880, London
2) A Jataka Tale from the Chinese translation by Samuel Bell 1880
3) The Jataka or the stories of the Buddha's former births in 6 Volumes by
Professor Cowell, Edward Byles, (Valahassa Jataka) Pali text Society
4) The Ocean of Story C H Tawney's translation of Katha Sarit Sagar (The Ocean of
Stream of Story by Somdev)
5) Jataka: A Tale -Tell vision of Buddhism by Professor E B Cowell
6) Jatakamala by J. S. Speyer
7) Jataka (six volumes): translation by Bhadanta Ananda ausalyayana.
8) Ancient Tales of Wisdom - Jataka Tales H. T. Francis, M.A. and E. J. Thomas,
9) Jataka Tales: by Ellen C Babbill.
10) The Jataka Tales of Anterior Births of Gotama Buddha Oxford
11) Jataka: The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
12) Stories of Buddha: being selection from the Jataka translated and edited by
Caroline A F Rhys Davids 1989
13) The Jataka Story in Japan 1999 Anita Khanna
14) 365 Jataka Tales & other Stories
Books related to Ajanta (for further study)
1) The Ajanta Caves: Ancient Paintings of Buddhist India by Benoy K. Behl
2) Ajanta Caves: History and Mystery P.C. Ramakrishna
3) Ajanta, S Vinekar MD, N.Brunswick NJ, Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer counties
4) Ajanta and Ellora: Cave Temples of Ancient India Pushpesh Pant
5) Ajanta Monumental Ligancy by A P Jainkhedkar
6) Guide to the Ajanta Paintings
Bipin Kapali Chikanmugal has been awarded Satya-Hera award for his research work on
Prajnaparamita restoration and rewriting Project: Young artisans from Patan busy
getting the restoration of the century old manuscript and rewriting a new one for the
daily rituals as the old one is badly damaged.