Sankisya, the place where the Buddha came down from Tushita

By Matthieu Ricard on February 19, 2011

From Shravasti, our pilgrimage proceeded to the long journey to Sankisya (called Sankassa in the scriptures, or Sankasya) the place where the Buddha is said to have returned to earth, after preaching the Abhidhamma in Tushita Heaven and teaching his deceased mother.

Until recently, Sankisya was rarely visited, since it lies in very remote area famously infested with bandit, including the notorious Phoolan Devi, known as the « Bandit Queen ».

In fact, when we reached at night after a 13 hours drive, the whole country side was dark and silent, with a few houses here and there, partly in ruins, and the less daring of us felt a little bit uneasy!

It is said that the descent of the Buddha took place on the 22nd day of the 9th month of the lunar calendar on three ladders coming down from Mt Meru to the earth: on the right was a ladder of gold for the celestial beings (devas); on the left a silver ladder for Brahma and his retinue; and in the middle a ladder of jewels for the Buddha. The assembled people covered the earth for thirty leagues round. Shariputra was the first to welcome the Buddha, who then gave a sermon.

A shrine was erected on the spot where the Buddha's right foot first touched the ground.. When the Chinese pilgrims, Hiouen Thsang and Fa Hien visited the place, they found three ladders, which had been built of brick and stone by the ancients, to commemorate the Buddha's descent, but the ladders were nearly sunk in the earth.

There are only ruins today, but a small Ashoka Pillar marks the place.

Around the new stupa built according to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's wishes, we have build a small place where visitor can stay. There is also two large Burmese and Korean Temples.