Kukkutarama

Kukkutarama monastery was situated in Patliputra and had support and patronage of Emperor Ashoka. Third Buddhist Coulcil was held in this monastery. In his old age, when stopped by the heir-apparent in making donations, Ashoka had sent the half-apple as his last gift to be divided among the monks of this monastery.  

IMPORTANCE:

  1. Kukkutarama Vihara of Patallputra was at the helm of affairs during Ashoka’s reign.
  2. The doctrinal issues of Pancavatthu (Five-Points) that had caused a split in the monastic establishment was resolved here.
  3. This monastery was the setting of the nine month long Third Buddhist Council held in 17th year of Ashok’s reign. 
  4. In his old age, when stopped by the heir-apparent, Ashoka had sent the half-apple as his last gift to be divided among the monks of this monastery.  

HISTORY:

The origin of Kukkutarama (Rooster’s Park or Cock’s Monastery) is said to be a small monastery built by a lay-supporter Kukkutasethi at the place where Ananada preached discourses while visiting Patligram after death of Lord Buddha1. In due course, this was renovated and expanded greatly by Emperor Ashoka on being inspired by the ideas of Lord Buddha. This was much favoured by the emperor hence it grew to become a large monastic complex soon.  

During Ashoka’s time, the majestic Kukkutarama Sangharama was a very influential monastery situated to the south east of the capital city of Patliputra, the citadel of Buddhism in the olden times. This was the first fruit of Ashoka’s zeal as Buddhist and accommodated a thousand monks2.    

Kukkutarama Vihara of Patallputra was at the helm of affairs during Ashoka’s reign due also to the doctrinal issues of Pancavatthu (Five-Points) pertaining to loss of dignity for the Arhats propounded and introduced to the pupils by an infamous ‘monk’ named Mahadev3,4 who incidentally was ordained and taught at Kukkutarama. This controversy had caused a split in the monastic establishment 3,4,5.

Kukkutarama was the setting of the nine month long third Buddhist Council held in 17th year of Ashok’s reign in Patliputra (in c. 247 BC) under overall supervision of the Emperor to resolve the doctrinal issues.  Over 1000 monks convened under the guidance of Moggaliputta Tissa, removed the divisive elements and Abhidhamma was finalised. Shortly after completion of the Council, Ashoka sent out enlightened messengers to propage Dhamma to Burma and Sri Lanka1.     

In his old age, the Emperor Ashoka had resolved to make large donations to this monastery however when stopped by the heir-apparent to do so he sent the half-apple as his last gift to the Kukkutarama monastery to be divided among the monks2.   

The monastery is also associated with Vitasoka, the younger brother of Ashoka who lived in Kukkutarama monastery after leaving hermit hill monastery2.   

Further, the stories of the legend of Ashoka as these appear in the text Divydvaddna were compiled for the first time at Pataliputra, in the Kukkutarama Monastery6.  

The influence of this monastery declined after Mauryas, especially after the demise of King Ashoka. The Monastery is said to be destroyed by Pushyyamitra. According to Diiyavadana, ”Pushyamitra was bent on rivalling Asoka in power and fame and began to destroy the monasteries built by Ashoka. He first destroyed the Kukkutarama-vihara, situated near Pataliputra; but it was said to be saved by a miracle”7.  

The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang (or Xuan Zang) visited the city of Patliputra in the seventh century AD. As per the travel account left by him, only the foundations of the once celebrated Kukkutarama monastery (Cock Monastery) were surviving at the time of his visit.  Rest of the structure lay in ruins8.  According to accounts left by him, the monastery ‘with a stupa’ was situated in the south-east of the city.  

J.D. Beglar in his report of 1872 had noted a small brick mound in a location south-east of Patna which, according to him, clearly was the ruins of Asoka’s Kukkutarama monastery9.  

L.A. Waddell in his report of 1892 on discovery of ancient city of Patliputra, had observed that ‘’the site of Kukkutarama Monastery may now be occupied by the village of Tulsi Mandi’’ 10.   

With no physiscal trace of the Kukkutarama Monastery of Patliputra left now, the story of Kukkutarama is a classic example of the euphemism ‘gone with the wind’

But Kukkutarama still survives, for example, in the form of Kukkutarama Sutta of Sri Lankan tradition.


Time-line of Kukkutarama Monastery of Patliputra 

c. 480 BC : Kukkutasethi:  
The monastery was originally built by a lay-supporter Kukkutasethi at the place where Ananada preached discourses while visiting Patligram after death of Lord Buddha. 

 c. 260 BC – 250 BC : Emperor Ashoka:  
Developed to a grand scale by the Emperor Ashoka.  
The majestic Kukkutarama Sanghariina was a very influential monastery during Ashoka’s time  

c. 247 BC : Emperor Ashoka & Moggaliputta Tissa:  
The third Buddhist Council held in 17th year of Ashok’s reign in Kukkutarama Monastery of Patliputra under overall supervision of the Emperor Ashoka. to resolve the doctrinal issues of Pancavatthu (Five-Points) under the guidance of Moggaliputta Tissa.  

c. 180 BC : Pushyyamitra Sunga:  
After demise of Emperor Ashoka, Kukkutarama Vihara was allegedly destroyed by Pushyyamitra Sunga but the monastery was said to be saved by a miracle.  

7th Century AD : Hiuen Tsiang (or Xuan Zang): 
At the time of his visit to the city of Patliputra, only the foundations of the once celebrated Kukkutarama monastery were surviving, rest of the structure lay in ruins. 

7th Century AD18th Century AD : The Era of Great Cultural Paralysis

1872 AD : J.D. Beglar:  
He noted a small brick mound in a location south-east of Patna which, according to him, clearly was the ruins of Kukkutarama monastery.  

1892 AD : L.A. Waddell:  
In his report on discovery of ancient city of Patliputra, had observed that ‘’the site of Kukkutarama Monastery may now be occupied by the village of Tulsi Mandi.  

No development in post-independence India  

2021  : Umesh Prasad:
As on 08 December 2021, the exact location could not be ascertained. Unfortunately, no one in modern day Patna seems to know anything about the legendry Kukkutarama Monastery of Patliputra.  

ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDS

none

 

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION:   

With no trace left, the Monanstery seems to be completely vanished now. No exact location could be ascertained as on 09 Decemebr 2021.

Country   India   
State   Bihar   
District   Patna
Sub-division   ?
Block   ?
Village   ? Tulsi Mandi
Postal Code   ?
Coordinates ?
Google map link  ?
  

GOOGLE MAP: 

Not Available

REFERENCES: 

  1. Along the Path: The Meditator’s Companion to the Buddha’s Land. By Kory Goldberg, Michelle Decary 2012. Pages 197-198.  
  1. Rulers of India: Asoka the Buddhist Emperor of India  
    by VA Smith | pdf file | Asoka, the Buddhist emperor of India 
  1. An Asian Story of the Oedipus Type by Victor A. Mair. Asian Folklore Studies. Vol. 45, No. 1 (1986), pp. 19-32 (14 pages). 
  1. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. By Bibhuti Baruah 
  1. Samghabheda and Nikyabheda : A critical study of the schism, origin and formation of sects and sectarianism in early Buddhism. By LC Bhikkhu 
  1. Asoka and Buddhism–A Reexamination by AL Basham. 
  1. Indigenous States Of Northern India (circa 200 B.c. To 320 A.d.). by Bela Lahiri 1974 | pdf file | page 33 
  1. The Decline of Pātaliputra with Special Reference to Geograhical Factors. by Rajeshwar Prasad Singh page 57 
  1. Report Of A Tours Through The Bengal Provinces Of Patna, Gaya, Mongir, And Bhagalpur,…by by Beglar, J. D. | page 51 | 
  1. Discovery of the exact site of Asoka’s classic capital by Waddell, L.A. | pdf file pp 13-14.  

BIBLIOGRAPHY:  

SELECTED VIDEOS

Kukkutarama Sutta (in Sinhala) by Ven Thalalle Chandakiththi Thero

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Umesh Prasad
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