There was a recent article in the New Yorker (Walking the Path of the Buddha in a Neglected Corner of India | The New Yorker) which spotlights Deepak Anand who “for the past twelve years, has analyzed historical texts and used G.P.S. technology to chart what he says are the pathways walked by the Buddha.”
The article is interesting but I’ve found Deepak’s blog to be even more so: http://nalanda-insatiableinoffering.blogspot.com/
Deepak Anand has posted a lot of fascinating stuff on his blog since my OP however, I thought this most recent post re. the location of the Mahāparinirvāṇa is REALLY interesting.
Wow, thanks so much, this is fascinating! I missed this post when it first came along, but I’ll be following up with some more of his writings.
I’m not competent to assess his findings, but I really appreciate his careful handling of evidence, and telling us the human and material context. There’s a lot of fascinating details, like how the local villagers have only been there a few generations. We would tend to assume that there is a long folk tradition, but that isn’t always the case. When I was in Bodhgaya, I heard the same thing, that many of the local villages are in fact recent arrivals, but tourists think they’ve been there forever.
Unlike we armchair scholars happy to opine from our comfy desks, he gets out there and does the hard work in the fields and the rain. That’s how understanding is advanced, not by fancy theories.
I don’t think most people understand how little archeological work has really been done in India. There’s never been a proper dig in Patna, for example. As this article shows, the original scholars doubted the identification, but subsequently no-one followed it up, for a hundred years.
Certain American postmodern academics might use this as a reason to dismiss the very possibility of knowledge, while conspiracy theorists would fill in the gaps with their feverish imaginations. Deepak sees this for what it is, an opportunity to deepen understanding by actually doing the work.
Wow!! That is indeed mind-blowing stuff! Thanks for sharing!