Buddha Footprints Found in Andhra Pradesh
A set of stone Buddha footprints (Buddhapada in Sanskrit) found at a newly discovered Buddhist archaeological site in Kadapa District, in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is believed to be the biggest ever identified in southern India. The Buddhapada were reported by Ramakrishna Reddy, a transport conductor for Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corp. (APSRTC), after conducting a survey at the site. The find was subsequently verified by archaeologist Dr. E. Siva Nagi Reddy.
“In the recent survey conducted by Y. Ramakrishna Reddy of APSRTC Proddutor depot and me, we noticed the existence of the biggest Buddhapada slabs so far discovered in entire South India in Naganadhuni Kona,” said Siva, who is also the chief executive of the cultural center in the city of Vijayawada. (Deccan Chronicle)
Naganadhuni Kona is a newly discovered Buddhist site located about 2 miles from Khajipet Village in Mydukur Mandal in Kadapa. The site has been dated to the 2nd century, in the Satavahana Empire, which covered much of India from about 230 BCE–220 CE.
Siva and Ramakrishna have appealed to the Archaeological Survey of India and State Archaeology Department to conduct a detailed survey of the site, urging the authorities to put a stop to indiscriminate digging in the area by treasure hunters and to recover and preserve the Buddha footprints, which are decorated with the Eight Auspicious Symbols.
A remarkably similar find of ancient Buddhapada was reported from Pullur Village, about 9 miles from Mydukur, in 2012 by The Hindu newspaper, which described each footprint as being one square meter (almost 11 square feet) in size. Several other artifacts dated to the 4th century were also discovered at the site, including earthenware vessels, large red bricks, stone pillars, a statue of Sri Venugopala Swami, sculptures of Sri Krishnadevaraya, and six veeragallu (a memorial commemorating the honorable death of a hero in battle). Assistant Director of State Archaeology Department Tavva Obul Reddy, who was involved in the discovery, told The Hindu that villagers in the area believed that the footprints were of the Hindu deity Vishnu. He said local residents had performed a ritual called paada mudrika with water at the footprints whenever they faced drought conditions.
According to historical accounts, Buddhism flourished in Kadapa for nearly 600 years from the 2nd century. Xuanzang (602–64), a Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, and translator, visited Kadapa in the 7th century and recorded the existence of Buddhist monasteries as well as the practice of Jainism.
Buddhapada are one of the earliest symbolic representations of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. They are usually depicted as being of equal length and often bear distinguishing marks, such as a Dhammachakka (Wheel of Dhamma), in the center. They are highly revered by many Buddhists as a reminder that the Buddha was present in the world and left a spiritual path to be followed.