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History of Buddhism in Gujarat

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Item Code: NAL187
Author: M. S. Moray
Publisher: Saraswati Pustak Bhandar, Ahmedabad‎
Language: English
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 9788192298504
Pages: 166 (12 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 310 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Shri M. S. Moray’s ‘History of Buddhism In Gujarat’ is an authentic book on the advent and progress of Buddhism in Gujarat through the ancient and medieval periods of Indian history.

In a short span of seven chapters along with an epilogue and an appendix, spread over 128 pages, the auther has presented the results of his a sincere and arduous efforts to highlight the achievements of the Buddhist faith across the Gujarat region from the Pre-Mauryan days till the end of the 13th century A.D.

The author has made every attempt to make his work authentic. Compre-hensive and lucid by drawing upon all the literary, historical, epigraphical and archeological sources available to him and spared no pains to carry out independent, personal investigations to augment the in formation obtained from other sources.

In order to put the subject-matter of the book in a proper perspective as also to make the narration easy to comprehend, the auther has given at the outset, a complete historical sketch of the political and social conditions of Gujarat during the entire period of nearly 1800 years of the arrival and spread of Buddhism in Gujarat. While giving a detailed account of the political influence that Buddhism came to acquire during the different eras-particularly in the Maitraka era-in the history of Gujarat, the author has not forgotten to emphasize the cultural impact of Buddhism on the social scene in Gujarat. Buddhism in Gujarat resulted in the setting up numerous rock-cut and pillarcut edicts, various Stupas and Viharas and other monuments all over Gujarat. As Buddhism lays much store by education, it established several monasteries and libraries, the foremost among them being the world-famous Valabhi University, which resembled the ancient Nalanda University in many respects. Literary activities were going on apace during the Maitraka period and the Post-Maitraka period as a result of which great works on Buddhist religion and philosophy were composed by monks as well as eminent authors.

An additional feature of this book is that it contains a complete English translation of the fourteen edicts of Emperor Asoka by way an appendix.

A very useful Index of names as well as a bibliography of works utilised by the auther of this book are given at the end of the book, which enhance the value of the book.


I take it as a happy privilege to write a few words by way of introduction to this book under the caption ‘History of Buddhism in Gujarat’. It would not be out of tune to mention that similar books have already been published in Hindi dealing with the origin and development of Buddhism in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Hence it was natural that there should have been a book like this to deal with the history of Buddhism in Gujarat. Shree M. S. Moray, the worthy writer of this book, deserves much appreciation for undertaking this task. In fact, there should be an active attempt to produce such books in all those provinces where Buddhism prevailed at any passage of time. Indeed the meritorious author deserves much appreciation and punnanumodana for his worthy task.

The whole book is divided in seven chapters culminating in appendix. The first chapter deals with the general history of Gujarat from remote times upto 1300 A.D. Giving the present set up and emergence of this state, the author illustrates the early period in the light of pauranic documents which is very interesting. The state came under the influence of Maurya king in 305 B.C. If followed dynasties like Guptas, Maitrakas, Chavdas, Parmars, Chavdas, Parmars, Chalukyas, Vaghelas etc. who ruled the state before it passed on finally in the hands of the Muslim invaders towards the end of the thirteenth century A.D.

The second chapter is devoted to the topic of the ‘Advent of Buddhism in Gujarat’. Citing various authentic allusions from Pali canons it has been clearly shown that Buddhism got foothold in Gujarat even in the life period of Tathagata Himself. There Purna of Sunaparanta, Vaddha There, and Vaddhamata are the primary links connecting with the contemporary Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha of the Lord Buddha. On its most part Buddhism was carried to this Western part through traders who frequented their caravan upto distant regions. Even at that time Gujarat had given an excellent and ready response to the great teachings of Buddha, the Compossionate One.

The third chapter describe the discovery of the Buddha’s bone-relics in Gujarat. Emperor Asoka, while pursuing his great Dhamma-vijaya, had set up 84000 stupas scattered throughout his empire, including Gujarat. These Stupas, as Buddhist literature endorses, contained the sacred relics of the Lord Buddha. In early sixties of this century, excavation was initiated by the M.S. University of Baroda in Devnimori of Sabarkantha district and quite a good number of viharas, Stupas, Caityas alongwith 27 images of the Buddha were discovered. It was in these stupas, that the sacred bone-relics of the Buddha were also traced out to thr great joy of the explorers.

The fourth chapter explains the progress of Buddhism in Gujarat during the period form 270 B.C. to 470 A.D. Though Buddhism had penetrated in Gujarat even in the lifetime of Tathagata, yet it gained tremendous boost during 41 years of reign of Emperor Asoka ranging from 273 B.C. to 232 B.C. Due to remorse generated by the ghastly Kalinga war the Candasoka emerged as Dhammasoka and plunged wholeheartedly for the upliftment and development of Buddhism. Besides constructing 84000 stupas he raised huge rock and pillar edicts at important places. The emperor appointed special officers for propagation of the Dhamma and enthusiastically patronised the third council (Sangiti) in Pataliputra under presidentship of the great Moggaliputta Tissa. The greatest thing he did was to send the Dhammadoota missions to Kashmir, Gandhar, Himalayan regions, Burma, Sri Lanka, Yavana countries and to Aparantaka which included Gujarat. Yona Dhammarakkhita, alongwith others, was sent to propagate Buddhism to this Western region. The role of Pingalaka, Arya Sudarsana etc. have also been rightly explored in this chapter.

After the downfall of the Mauryan Empire followed the Greeks, Partho-Scythians, Satvahanas, Bodhi dynasty, Ksatrapas and Saka rulers. More or less these rulers supported and contributed largely for the progress of Buddhism. During this period several rock-cut and other monuments emerged throughout Gujarat. However, most of them have perished with the passage of time. The rest, in any way, have not been fully excavated. However, during this period Buddhism flourished as the predominant religion in Gujarat as elsewhere in India.

The fifth chapter refers to the Maitraka period ranging from 470 A.D. to 789 A.D. From various sources the learned author has shown that Maitraka kings were originally Buddhists and that Buddhism reached the height of its glory during this period. In those days Valabhi and Malva flourished rapidly. The Maitrakas gave huge grants for the various Buddhistic establishments through Mahathero Buddhadasa, Buddharuci, Sthiramati, Dhammagupta and other renowned superiors of the Sangha. It was during this period that the great Chinese scholar, Hiuen Tsang visited Gujarat in the year 641 A.D. His records, abundantly quoted in this chapter, are testimony for intensive and extensive penetration of Buddhism in Gujarat. It also shows Thera Dhammgupta’s visit to China and his literary work there. Sammatiya school of Hinayana was a dominating seat at that time. One finds a galaxy of scholarly Buddhist followers during this period. There were 280 Sangharamas and 13,300 Bhikkhus in Gujarat including Malva. Citing many such references the auther genuinely concludes saying that Maitraka period was the glorious period of Buddhism in Gujarat and the Valabhi Buddhist University was the crown of this glory.

The sixth chapter deals with the situation in the post-Maitraka era from the year 789 A.D. to 1300 A.D.

In the year 789 A.D. Valabhi was completely destroyed by the Arab Tajjikas eliminating the Maitraka dynasty. With this begins the rapid decline of Buddhism in the region of Gujarat. But even in this dwindling condition a number of great pioneers of Dhamma are seen. The first and the foremost of them is Acarya Santideva who flourished in the eighth century A.D. To his credit stand the world-reputed treatises like Siksasamuccaya, Bodhicaryavatara etc.—a landmark in Buddhist Sanskrit literature. This chapter elaborately deals about it. Mention is made of great logician Dharmakriti, Pandita Puranavajra and several others. Till towards the end of the ninth century Buddhism somehow flourished. Thereafter, it started losing its ground as elsewhere in India.

The seventh chapter is the concluding part of the book. The able author shows that history of Buddhism in Gujarat spread over nearly 1800 years, but it remained as a dominant religion from first century A.D. to eighth century A.D. Quite a large number of Indian Buddhists had gone to China and Tibet to translate Buddhist Sanskrit books into their language, numbering in thousands.

Buddhist monks and lay followers, throughout these centuries, created unique history in the field of missionary activity, in establishing massive universities, in developing art and architecture and in devising educational systems to penetrate in general masses. Those factors have been revealed which were instrumental for the rapid spread of Buddhism. Further mention has been made of those causes too which made Buddhism to disappear from the country of its birth. The massacring of monks, the lack of royal patronage and the aggressive policy by Hindu priesthood in the from of persecution, false propaganda, boycott etc. rooted out Buddhism from this country. The details of the same are worth reading in this book.

In the same continuation the intelligent auther has cited ample and dependable examples to show that the present community of the so-called Scheduled Castes are no other than the descendent of the previous Buddhist followers. Now it is proper time for all such communities to recognise their real identity. The book concludes with an appendix giving English translation of Emperor Asoka’s rock –edicts at Girnar.

Such a book, as this one, is the first of its kind so far as Gujarat is concerned. Shree Morayji has taken great pains to go through various books and documents to deduce material for this book. And I feel much inclined to say that he has achieved his goal. Wherever possible, useful information has also been given place in these chapters. This book has great religious significance for Buddhists everywhere, particularly of Gujarat. The author has rendered a real service by writing this book. His dedication for the cause of Dhamma is unique.

May Shree M.S. Moray continue to be blessed under Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

May all beings be happy.


To avoid all evil, to cultivate good and to cleanse one’s mind is the essence of Buddhism. Buddhism gives more emphasis on the practice of the Dhamma in everyday life rather than having merely a theoretical knowledge of it. According to Buddhism character building is the first and the foremost important step for the progress of the individual for his ultimate goal of achieving the enlightenment. Without Sila, Samadhi cannot be attained, and without Sila and Samadhi, Prajna’ will have no meaning. Such type of teaching alone can stop out present day downhill journey. It is, therefore, essential that the teachings of the Buddha should be imbibed in our children right from their early school days so that once again we will attain the glory which we had attained about thousand five hundred years ago. Our strength will automatically emanate from our strong moral character. India will once again achieve the ‘zenith of frontiers’ so that others will seek inspiration from it.

Gujarat has reached this ‘zenith of frontiers’ during the Buddhist period. People from far off regions used to come to Gujarat for taking inspiration and for learning the right ways of living and the right ways of thinking from its Valabhi University. With a view to bring awareness of this fact, an attempt has been made here to write the ‘ History of Buddhism in Gujarat’. All the available historical, epigraphic and archaeological sources have been used in the work. The spellings, used in it, as far as possible are the same as used in various Pali, Sanskrit and English works. It is not claimed to be an exhaustive book on the subject. A lot more research needs to be done in this sphere. I am sure, with more Archaeological discoveries, more light will be thrown on the history of Buddhism in Gujarat.

I am extremely grateful to Venerable Bhadanta Jnanajagatji, Superintendent of the Buddha Gaya Temple, who, inspite of his physical uneasiness and busy schedule, found time to go through the manuscript of this book write the ‘introduction;. I am also thankful to Principal P.L. Gadgil of the Fergusson College, Pune and Dr. S.N. Chowdhari of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History of M.S. University of Baroda for supplying me rare books on the subject. M.S. University of Baroda has very graciously allowed me to use blocks of certain historical pictures in this book. My friend K.C. Makwana accompanied me on my study tours of different caves and archaeological sites in Gujarat. Shri J.G. Chauhan gave me all the assistance to enable me to see places around Junagadh. My friend M.H. Raval of the Archaeological Department of Gujarat has vary minutely gone through the manuscript of this book and encouraged me from time to time by rendering all possible help. The –staff of the libraries of Gujarat Vidyapith and B.J. Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad was very kind and helpful to me. I am thankful to all of them. A special mention must be made of my friend M. D. Madan who was associated with this book right from the beginning. If he had not encouraged me from time to time, probably this book would have remained uncompleted. He had done the labourious work of preparing index and also of proof reading. I am very grateful to him for all the help he has given to me in getting this book published. Sarvasri Ashwinbhai, Rohitbhai and Hirabhai of Saraswati Pustak Bhandar very readily accepted this book for printing and publication and brought it out in a very short time. I am indeed indebted to them for this.


IHistory of Gujarat (upto 1300 A.D.)1
IIAdvent of Buddhism in Gujarat18
IIIDiscovery of Gautama Buddha's bone-relics in Gujarat32
IVProgress of Buddhism in Gujarat (270 B.C. To 470 A.D.)49
VMaitraka Period (470 A.D. to 789 A.D.)69
VIPost-Maitraka Period (upto 1300 A.D.)91

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