For the first time in Bangladesh, such a significant dharmachakra has been found in the excavation of Agrashar Bikrampur Foundation and Oitihya Anweshan. Agrashar Bikrampur Foundation announcing about the latest discovery made at Nateshwar Deul said at a press conference on Saturday, archeological excavation at Nateshwar Deul began in the year 2013-14. Since then, quite a few noteworthy constructions have been revealed through excavation.

Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, executive director of Oitihya Anweshan and a professor of archeology at Jahangirnagar University said during the press conference, from the recently-discovered symbolically significant architecture at Bikrampur’s Nateshwar Deul, the birthplace of Atisa Dipankara Srijnana (980-1053 AD), it appears that a far more prosperous ideology of Buddhist religion and philosophy had flourished in Bikrampur somewhat more than a thousand years ago. In fact, this might have been the very reason behind Atisa Dipankara Srijnana being taken to Tibet by the then Tibetan emperor for the preservation of Buddhism, he added.

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Sufi Mostafizur Rahman also said, “Human relics of the followers of Buddhism used to be buried inside those octagonal stupas that we had found earlier. Those could be referred to as temples as well. There used to be a pair of stupas inside every structure. One of them was termed as ‘Adi Parjaya’ and the other as ‘Parabarti Parjaya’. Earlier, the stupas of the ‘parabarti Parjaya’ type were unearthed during excavation, he added.

Mentioning that the discovery made this time is way more significant than the previous ones, Sufi Mostafizur Rahman said, this time the stupas of the ‘Adi Parjaya’ type has been revealed more. And an eight-spoke dharmachakra, which is compared to the Sun has been found as well. Those eight rods installed inside the wheel reflect the original eightfold path of Buddhism- right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration

The presence of a thousand-year-old chamber or octagonal stupa along with temple on a dharmachakra, set on solid foundation has never been discovered anywhere in the Indian subcontinent, let alone in Bangladesh, said Sufi Mostafizur Rahman.

It was mentioned in the press conference that all the structures excavated out at Nateswar Deul, including central octagonal shrine, the square stupa, symbolic square structures, octagon and circular (zero) shapes inside the memorial chamber of the mound, sharmachakra with eight spokes are symbolic representation of the key principles of Buddhism. There are no other examples of basic Buddhist philosophy being represented in almost every structure like that in Nateshwar Deul.

Abul Monsur, secretary for cultural affairs visited the newly excavated site at around 11 am on Saturday. He was accompanied by Nooh-Ul-Alam, president of Agrashar Bikrampur Foundation, Ratan Chandra Pandit, director general of archeology department, Rumuna Tanzin, Tongibari upazila nirbahi offier, Karuna Thero, superintendent of Atish Dipankar Complex and Jaglul Howlader, Tongibari upazila chairman. Later they all participated in the press conference.

Nooh-Ul-Alam, president of Agrashar Bikrampur Foundation said the latest archeological relics found in Nateshwar Deul are immensely significant in the history of Bangladesh. During the initial three months of the latest excavation, no remarkable archeological artifacts were being found at Nateshwar Deul, from digging at the depth of four to five metres below the surface. Finally, bits of an ancient brick wall started coming out from below the depth of five metres. Protective walls, mound chamber, bricks-walls of the mound kept surfacing after that.

Referring to the idea that three more Stupas like that would be excavated, Ratan Chandra Pandit told Prothom Alo, once the whole site has been discovered, the preservation work will begin. Excavation projects are expensive and time consuming. Experienced manpower is required for this work. It will take several more years for the excavation expedition to conclude. He also said that sightseers have already started visiting the place. He hoped that tourists from home and abroad will come to visit the site in near future.

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