Indrasala Cave

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Visit of Indra to the Indrasala cave. The Buddha is symbolized by his throne in the cave (Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, circa 150 BCE).
The Visit of Indra to the Buddha in the Indrasaila cave. The Buddha is symbolized by his throne. Wild animal are depicted around the cave (Stupa 1 Northern Gateway, Sanchi. 1st century BCE/CE).

The Indrasala Cave, also called Indrasila Guha or Indrasaila Cave, is a cave site mentioned in Buddhist texts. It is stated in Buddhist mythology to be the cave where Buddha lived for a while, and gave the sermon called the Sakkapañha Sutta to deity Indra. This Sutta is found as chapter II.21 of Dīgha Nikāya.[1]


In the Sakkapañha Sutta sermon, the Buddha addresses Sakra (also known as Indra) accompanied by Pancasikha (also known as Kubera).[2] After some harp-playing by Pancasikha, Indra asks 42 questions to the Buddha, which he answers. The teachings in this Indrasala Cave Sutta is, in part, the basis for the Theravada tradition of punna (earning merit) and varam (favor).[1]


Buddhist texts mention the Indrasala Cave to be in the Vediya or Vediyaka mountain, to the north of Ambasanda, near Rajagrha.[3]

Many scholars, since the 19th century, attempted to identify this hill and the location of the Indrasala Cave where Buddha lived.[4] Alexander Cunningham believed it to be in modern Giryak.[5]

However, the actual location is on the solitary hill in Parbati village (also known as Parwati or Parwatipur) in Nawada,[6] which is situated north to the village of Apsarh (modern-day Ambasanda[7]).


Numerous depictions of the scene are known, the earliest being those of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, circa 150 BCE.[citation needed] In a Gandhara artwork dated to 89 CE, the scene "Visit to the Indrasala Cave" is depicted with Indra identifiable with his elephant seated to the right, the Buddha is shown living in a cave by the wavy rocky landscape with wild animals above.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b John Ross Carter (1993). On Understanding Buddhists: Essays on the Theravada Tradition in Sri Lanka. State University of New York Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7914-1413-2.; For one Theravada tradition translation of D II.21, Upalavanna Archived 2010-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b Harle, James C. (1994). The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent. Yale University Press. pp. 78–79. ISBN 0300062176.
  3. ^ G. P. Malalasekera (1937). Dictionary Of Pali Proper Names Vol II - N to H.
  4. ^ Sir Alexander Cunningham; Great Britain. India Office (1879). The Stûpa of Bharhut: A Buddhist Monument Ornamented with Numerous Sculptures Illustrative of Buddhist Legend and History in Third Century B.C. W.H. Allen and Company. pp. 88–89.
  5. ^ Prajñā-bhāratī. K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute. 1982. p. 61.
  6. ^ Prajñā-bhāratī. K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute. 1982. p. 62.
  7. ^ Parishad, Bihar Purāvid (1977). The Journal of the Bihar Purävid Parishad.