Social Scientist. v 26, no. 304-305 (Sept-Oct 1998) p. 26.


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K. M. SHRIMALI*

A Future for the Past?**

"Then the Blessed One, after having resided at Rajagriha as long as he thought fit, went forth to Kapilavatthu. Wandering from place to place he came to Kapilavatthu. There the Blessed One dwelt in the Saketa country, near Kapilavatthu, in the Nigrodharama (Banyan grove). And in the afternoon the Blessed One, having put on his under-robes, took his alms bowl and with his civara on went to the residence of the Saketa Suddhodhana (his father). Having gone there, he sat down on a seat laid out for him.

"Then the princess who was the mother of Rahula, said to young Rahula: gacchhassu> dayajjam yachahi (" This is your father, Rahula; go and ask him for your inheritance').

"Then the young Rahula went to the place where the Blessed One was; having approached him, he stationed himself before the Blessed One and said: sukhate, samana, chaya fti ('Your shadow, Samana, is a place of bliss'). The Blessed One rose from his seat and went away, and the young Rahula followed the Blessed One from behind and said: ^Dayajjam me, samana, delhi; dayajjam me, samaria, dehi (vGive me my inheritance, Samana; give me my inheritance, Samana'). The Blessed One said to the venerable Sariputta: Well, Sariputta confer the pabajja ordination on young Rahula."1

This is one of the most poignant passages in the early Pali canonical literature. It helps us to grapple with the terminological problems inherent in the formulation of the subject of the Symposium. How far can we take heritage, patrimony, legacy, cultural property2 as

* Professor of History, University of Delhi

** Paper read at the Symposium: The Present and the Cultural Heritage of India, Indian History Congress Session, Patiala, 1998.

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 9 - 10, Sept. - Oct. 1998



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