In News:  The mahastupa of the 2,000-year-old Buddhist heritage site of Thotlakonda, reconstructed in

2016 by the state archaeology department, has collapsed during the recent torrential rainfall.

Key facts:

  • Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex is situated near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • It was under the influence of Kalinga which was in turn an important source of dissemination of Buddhism to Sri Lanka and other parts of the world.  
  • The excavations have established the existence of a Hinayana Buddhist complex which flourished 2000 years ago.
  • The excavations reveal Satavahana dynasty lead and Roman silver coins indicating foreign trade; terracotta tiles, stucco decorative pieces, sculptured panels, miniature stupa models in stone, and Buddha footprints.
  • The excavations also yielded twelve inscriptions in the Brahmi script.


Schools of Buddhism: 

  • Mahayana:
    • The term Mahayana is a Sanskrit word which literally means "Great Vehicle".
    • It is one of the two main schools of Buddhism.
    • It believes in the heavenliness of Buddha and Idol worship of Buddha and Bodhisattvas embodying Buddha Nature.
    • It originated in northern India and Kashmir and then spread east into Central Asia, East Asia and some areas of Southeast Asia.
    • Prevalent in China, Korea, Tibet and Japan.
  • Hinayana
    • Literal meaning Lesser vehicle
    • It believes in the original teaching of Buddha. It does not believe in Idol worship and tries to attain individual salvation through self discipline and meditation.
    • Theravada is a Hinayana sect.
  • Theravada
    • It is the most ancient branch of extant Buddhism today.
    • It remains closest to the original teachings of the Buddha.
    • Theravada Buddhism developed in Sri Lanka and subsequently spread to the rest of Southeast Asia.
    • Prevalent in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.
  • Vajrayana
    • Developed around 900 CE in India, Vajrayana means “The Vehicle of the Thunderbolt”, also known as tantric Buddhism.
    • It is grounded on esoteric elements and a very complex set of rituals compared with the rest of the Buddhist schools.


Satavahana Dynasty:

  • Timeline - From 230 B.C to 220 A.D
  • Region -  It extended from Dharanikota and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh to Prathistan and Junnar in Maharashtra
  • The Satavahana started off as the vassals of Mauryan Empire and after their decline emerged as the independent empire in south India.
  • They were early issuers of Indian state coinage struck with images of their rulers. 
  • They formed a cultural bridge and played a vital role in trade and the transfer of ideas and culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India.