Friday, 15 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 64

KANHERI

...I came back to Calcutta still full of this experience which had affected me so deeply. When I told Swami Sadananda the story of the finding of the deserted island with the 109 caves, and explained how Swamiji at Thousand Islands had described the place, he said. "Yes, Swamiji in his wanderings in western India before he went to America, found these caves. The place stirred him deeply", for it seems that he had a memory of a previous life in which he lived there. At that time, the place was unknown and forgotten. He hoped that some day he might acquire it and make it one of the centres for the work which he was planning for the future. Later, in my wanderings in western India. I too found it, and now you! We have all lived there in the past!" In later years when he was in a position in which he might have acquired it, it was no longer available, for the government had taken it over. Now there is a caretaker at the place. A road has been built, the jungle cut down, and picnic panics may frequently be seen there.

Kanheri is on the island of Salsette, about twenty miles north of Bombay. It is in reality a part of the mainland, from which it is separated by a small stream. The ocean surrounds it on the other three sides. In the early years of the Christian era this island was inhabited by monastic members of the Buddhist Order. The great Chaitya Hall is said to have been dedicated by the celebrated Buddhaghosa in the year A.D. 4. There is an inscription to this effect in the entrance. At that time it must have been one of the great Buddhist centres. Buddhaghosa left Kanheri for Ceylon, and from there went to Burma where he introduced Buddhism. He was the great preacher of that age, remarkable for his eloquence and his power as a missionary. His great work. which has come down to modern times, is the Mahamarga — the Great Way.