Dalai Lama to meditate at Nagarjuna caves on January 14
The Dalai Lama will meditate in the historic Nagarjuna caves near the banks of river Mahanadi at Sirpur on January 14. During his three-day visit to Chhattisgarh from January 13, to attend an international peace conference at Ravishankar Shukla University, the Tibetan spiritual leader will also inaugurate a seminar on Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna and his writings.
During his previous visit to Sirpur caves in 2013, he had promised to return and meditate at the Nagarjuna caves, located around 15 kilometres away from Sirpur in Mahasamund district on the banks of Mahanadi. As Dalai Lama considers Nagarjuna to be his master, he decided to meditate in the cave where his master did during the Satvahana rule.
Nagarjuna visited this place in second century BC after which many famous monks and Buddhists also visited the caves. Literary evidence shows that Buddha also meditated in one of the caves here in 6th century BC.
The cave is more than 200 metres deep on the hill called Shivha-Dhurva which has many caves of various sizes. This region has a sculptured gate and remains of old palaces of Sarabhpuriya's reign during 5th century. Evidence has been found in a travelogue written by Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang who visited Sirpur in 639 AD. "Later, a Buddh-vihar (Budh-monastry) was constructed by the Buddhists at this place where a Buddha idol is sitting in a meditating pose."
More recently the local Gond people have set up an idol of Devi in the caves. Initially they protested about the Buddhist monk meditating in their territory where they now worship their goddess but relented after being convinced about Dalai's motive of simply meditating at the same spot as his master Nagarjuna.