During the last decade of the last century was recovered at Lumbini the distinguished Asokan Pillar and the present-day Tilaurakot identified with the ancient Kapilavatthu. This naturally induced interested research scholars to trace Devadaha. From the remark made in the Atthakatha (i.e. commentary) of the Majjhima Nikaya we learn that “the Lumbini Park of Sal (Shorea robusta) wood was situated not far from the town of Devadaha”. That Devadaha was not far from Lumbini is indicated by the Jataka Atthakatha, too, which states that the wood of Lumbini was a pleasure grove common to both the states of Kapilavatthu and Devadaha. Again the Dhammapada Atthakatha explicitly affirms that the river Rohini which flowed between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha demarcated their frontiers. The Atthakatha further states that the distance from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha was 5 yojana. Hence along with its different names such as Koliya, Kol Nagar, Byaghrapatha, Byaghrapur, Ramgram, etc. the position of the river Rohini and the remarks of Hsuan Tsang constitute a substantial base in this context.
It will not be irrelevant here, therefore, to consider the various names by which Devadaha was known during the Budhha’s life-time. According to the Atthakatha of Digha Nikaya Devadaha nagar (i.e. town) was also called Kolnagar. In the Jataka Atthakatha Nidan Devanagar is mentioned as the parental country of Queen Mayadevi and also as the capital of the Koliyas. From the study of various Buddhist works we know that as the new settlement was set up by cuffing down ‘Kol’ trees (i.e. Nauclea cordifolia) it came to be known as ‘Kol-nagar’ or the Koliya Janapad. And because the place was the former haunt of a tiger it was also called Byaghrapatha of Byaghrapur. The sons of the Shakya Princess Amrita of Piya and the former King of Kashi ( Banaras ) who founded this new settlement were called Koliya Kumaras (i.e. boys, especially unmarried). The Koliya boys married the Shakyas girls of Kapilavatthu and eventually came to be known as the ancestors of the Koliya Shakyas wamsha clan, briefly called the Shakya wamsha clan. In Lalitpur even today there is a clan of Shakyas who call themselves Shakyawamshas. They might have come to the valley after the sack of Kapilavatthu and possibly of Devadaha also or even afterwards. According to the Jataka Atthakatha there was in the Koliya state a big wherein both the Shakya and Koliya royal families took baths. This pond was big in size and as a royal bathing place, also came to be of importance. Anybody or anything hi important is often called Dewa and as a living example in this regard we can point our tradition of calling our kings Dewas, which we are following even today. The Atthakatha of the Samyutta Nikaya clearly states that the town was called Devadaha nagar after this lake of Devadaha . One king of this state was also named Devadaha Shakya who ruled over it three generations before Buddha.
The river Rohini, frequently referred to in Buddhist works, originates from the Chure Range , the foothills of the Himalayas and flows through the Nepalese territory to join the Rapti at Gorakhpur , UP, India . Its catchment area extends over Hatikot, the Pokhara Chhap and the Chure Hills below Palpa and its vicinity (Mechi dekhi Mahakali III, p. 942). To the west of the western branch of this river lies the village of Manigram while across its eastern branch spreads the ‘tappa’ (i.e. a sub-division of a district) of Baghaur. Thus all the streams of the catchment area ultimately flow into the main current east of Shantinagar, a village in the Nepalese frontier, before it enters into the Indian Territory .
To the east of the tappa of Baghaur and to the west of the river Mahab, which demarcates the eastern border of the Rupandehi District is located the village Panchayat of Kerwani.
Now Ramgram, too, deserves mention. The Koliyas of Ramagama, one of the eight races, received the bone relics of the Buddha after his cremation. Realizing the risk involved in keeping the bone relics scattered about in several places Mahakassapa, the age disciple of the Buddha, implored King Ajatasattu (491-459 B.C.) to have them securely preserved. Accordingly, the king took out from seven stupas the relics of the Buddha’s bones, leaving behind in each only what little is required for worship. All the bone relics us collected were taken to Rajagaha and there buried under ground, where on was erected stupa. Later on Emperor Asoka (269-247 B.C.), in his turn, took out the bone relics from stone stupa of King Ajatasattu and keeping portions of the same relics inside the domes, built 84,000 stupas. It is written in Buddhist works that King Ajatasattu could not take out relics from the eighth stupa at Ramagama because of its being guarded by ‘nagas’.
The Chinese traveller Hsuan Tsang reached Ramagama in 636-7 A.D. after having traveled more than 500 li (83 miles approx). With regard to Ramagama he has spoken of having seen there a big lake, a stupa and a monastery with a novice (samanera) as its abbot. Of the things he saw he says. It (Ramagama) was sparsely populated. To the east the city was a brick stupa more than 100 feet high. After the nibbana of the Tathagata, the king of this country obtained a share of his relic bones, for which he built this stupa when he had returned home. This stupa often issued a bright light. Beside it was a dragon’s pool and dragon circled around the stupa. Wild elephants always came with flowers and by offering those to the stupa did homage to it Impressed with this incident and also moved by the pitiable condition of the stupa one samanera who had come to visit it alonng with other monks parted with the others and stayed behind, lie built a house and tilled the land to plant flowers and fruit frees in the hot and cold season without feeling tired. The people of the neighboring countries heard about this and donated money to build a monastery and invited the monk to be its abbot. And so the abbot of this monastery has always been a samanera since that time till the present. (The Life of Hsuan Tsang- PRC).
As mentioned above King Ajatasattu could not recover the bone relics from the Ramagama Stupa owing to the intervention of ‘nagas’. Hsuan Tsang has remarked that wild elephant came to offer flowers to it and a dragon coiled itself around it. The word ‘naga’ in Sanskrit may mean snake, elephant or self-controlled monk. That is why both the aforesaid views deserve consideration in this regard.
Regarding the location of Devadaha P.C. Mukherjee has written, “The Rohini river, which falls into the Rapti near Gorakhpur , is mentioned in some of the Buddhist legends as flowing between Kapilavatthu and the other Sakya city, variously named Koli, Devadaha, or Vyaghra pura.. Dr. Hoey reports that the tappa, or sub-division, east of the Baghela is known as Baghaur, and with great probability connects these name Vyaghrapura. I think that the town of Koli ( Devadaha or Vyaghra pura) may be located on the Baghela river, some seventeen or eighteen miles east of Rummindei. The distance eastward from the Lumbini garden to Ramagama Kingdom was nearly 40 miles. The capital will, I think, be found in Nepalese territory near the frontier, with Eastern Longitude 83.49′. Koli (= Dharmpur) is on the frontier, and the name has a Buddhist look. (R.C. Mukherjee, Antiquities in the Terai, Nepal ).
Now let us consider the view mentioned above. First of all we shall take up the river Rohini, which, according to the Dhammapada Atthakatha, flowed between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha, demarcating their frontiers. This river even today issues forth from the Chure Hills south of Palpa and Butwal and runs down from Nepal to India . While it flows north-south within the Nepalese territory its actual distance from Lumbini is approximately 23 or 25 km., i.e. 14 or 15 miles. The eastern branch of this river, locally known as the Baghela Khola, flows 5 or 6 km further east before joining its main current. To the eastern bank of the Baghela Khola lies the Baghaur Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtappa’. This tappa of Baghaur previously belonged to the Pali-Majhkhand area, but was included in the district of Rupandehi along with some other tappas when the whole kingdom was divided in 1962 into 75 districts. It is said that this Baghaur tappa is the ancient Wyaghrapura, popularly pronounced as Byaghrapur and the name Baghaur is a corrupt form of Byaghrapura. As stated earlier both Dr. Hoey and P.C. Mukherjee are of the opinion that the names Baghela and Bahaur are possibly associated with the Byaghrapur of the Buddha’s times. The name of one which flows beside this Baghaur area also seems to be in support of this view. This river is named Kohila Jhang. The word ‘kohila’ appears to have some affinity with koli or Koliya. Just as the name ‘Kaila’ of one of the streams flowing down from the north to Kapilavatthu is said to have been connected with Kapilavatthu, the word ‘kohila’ too is not unlikely have originated from koli or koliya.
As stated above, the distance from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha was five yojana. According to Vijaya Srivastuva 5 yojana is equivalent to 35 mites. Seemingly, this distance of 5 yojana is the distance from Kapilavatthu to the western frontier of the stste of Devadaha, i.e. the western bank of the Rohini River , not up to the lake of Devadaha or the village of Ramgram . The western branch of the Rohini flows nearly 24 or 25 km (i.e 14 or 15 miles) east of Lumbini. Now the actual distance from Kapilavattu, i.e. the present-day Tilaurakot, to Lumbini is 15 or 16 miles and that from Lumbini to the Baghela is 18 or 19 miles. That is to say, the stream of Baghela is actually 35 miles from Tilaurakot. This fact exactly conforms to the statement of the Atthakatha that Devadaha was 5 yojana (i.e. 35 miles) distant from Kapilavatthu. Ramgram itself might have been situated some miles further east, at present represented by the area on the basin of the river Jharahi. Thus the aforesaid remark of P.C. Mukherjee that the ancient Ramgram must lie with Nepalese territory some 40 miles east of Lumbini tallies with actual conditions.
Some what counter to this fact seems to run the remark of Hsuan Tsang who has said that he reached Ramagama after having walked more than 500 li (or 83 miles) Kapilavatthu. We shall review this as well. It is worth noting here that though the route of Hsuan Tsang was somewhat straight from Changan, the eastern capital, wherefrom he started his famous journey up to Kapiso, Gandhar and Kashmir, the north. Western points of India , he came a very circuitous way especially from Kashmir to Bodh Gaya. His way to Nalanda-Rajagaha, etc. was extremely zigzagged. In the region of Kapilavatthu, Lumbini and Devadaha he seems to have visited every stupa, every monument and every spot of religious significance, at one time going far south of his main route, at another time far north. Hence the Kapilavatthu-Devadaha distance of more than 83 miles (i.e. 500 li) which he has stated is evidently not the straightway between Kapilavatthu and Ramagama, but the distance of the whole circuitous route he took while touring the region. This fact is clear from his travel accounts given in his life. That is why his statement does not adversely affect the reasoning and conclusion arrived at above.
Now let us turn to some objective reasoning. In the western bank of the river Mahali which flows along the borders of the present day Rupandehi and Nawal Parasi Districts is situated the area of the Kerwani Village Panchayat and in the eastern bank are situated the Parasi Bazar, the Parasi village and further east flows the river Jharahi. The region between the Rohini and Jharahi which previously belonged to Palhi Majhikhand have, according to the redistribution of districts in 1962, come to be partly included in Rupandehi and partly in Nawal Parasi. The area of the village Panchayat lies to the east of the Baghur tappa situated on the eastern bank of the Rohini. This area abounds with ancient mitts buried underground. Wrecks and ruins are even now lying here uncared for in the midst of wild bushes. Adjoining villages, too, contain remains of stupas, images and so an. Again, it was in this area of Parasi that Dr. Hoey during his tour of the region in 1898 recovered a well carved stone capital 3 1/2 or 4 ft. in diameter on the bank of the Jharahi, nearly two miles south-east of the Parasi Bazar and 5 or 6 miles north of the village of Parasi. The presence of the capital is an indication of some Asokan Pillar having existed in the nearby area. It is highly probable that Emperor Ashoka set up a pillar in Ramagama, i.e. Devadaha. In as much as stupas and pillars were set up in Kapilavatthu, Lumbini and other places associated with the incidents of Buddhas life there is every likelihood that here also Emperor Asoka might have raised some stupa and pillar and even probably a monastery. The mound of ruins beside the bank of Jharahi existing even now Looks almost decisively to have been the stupa of Ramagama which Hsuan Tsang has referred to as quoted above The abundance of ruins and remains in Bahgaur, Kerwani and part of Parasi is a sure indication that the ancient state of Koliya or Devadaha must have been located in this region. The distance between Kapilavatthu and Devadaha, as mentioned in the Atthakatha is exactly in conformity with the present-day actual distance between Tilaurakot and this region. The river Rohini, flowing between Lumbini and this region even today stands as an eye-witness to the case. The statements of Dr. Hoey and P.C. Mukherjee to the effect that the region covered by the Baghela, the eastern branch of the Rohini and the Baghaur tappa situated on its eastern bank is the ancient Byaghrapur (i.e. the Koliya or Devadaha state) is verity attested by actual facts. Their views also support my argument. Last but not the least, what have said in this regard is further string there by what Hsuan Tsang has written about Ramagama.
On the basis of evidences and arguments I have put forward above it can be conclusively asserted that the aforesaid region comprising at present the Baghaur tappa, Kerwani and part of Parasi represented the ancient state of Koliya. The undertaking of a careful exploration and scientific excavation as early as possible is strongly recommended. Just as layers after layers of the remains of ancient civilizations were traced at Tilaurakot during the 1972-73 excavation, it will not be surprising if this region, too, reveals several layers of antiquities of different ages. Possibly this region contains brick-polished grey ware and associated red ware too. Moreover, it was further east of the region that Stone Age weapons such as hand-axe, cleavers, choppers, etc. were recovered during the 1968-69 exploration. When an excavation of this region is undertaken evidences to identify it with the ancient state of Koliya are most likely to be traced.
Bhuwan Lal Pradhan