According to one theory, Kushwati was capital of Kosala Kingdom and according to Ramayana it was built by King Kush, son of Rama, protagonist of the epic Ramayana. While according to Buddhist tradition Kushawati was named prior to the king Kush. The naming of Kushwati is believed to be due to abundance of Kush grass found in this region.
As of 2011 India census, Kushinagar had a population of 22,214, with 3462 households. Males constitute 52% (11,502 Men) of the population and females 48% (10,712 Women). Kushinagar has an average literacy rate of 78.43%, higher than the national average of 74%, male literacy is 85%, and female literacy is 72%. In Kushinagar, 11% of the population is under 10 years of age. Schedule Caste (SC) constitutes 5.03% while Schedule Tribe (ST) were 2.39% of total population in Kushinagar Nagar Panchayat.
The present Kushinagar is identified with Kushawati( in pre-Buddha period ) and Kushinara (in Buddha period). Kushinara was the capital of Mallas which was one of the sixteen mahajanpads of the 6th Century B.C. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta and Harsha dynasties.
In medieval period, Kushinagar had passed under the suzerainty of Kultury Kings. Kushinara continued to be a living city till the 12th Century A.D. and was thereafter lost into oblivion. Padrauna is believed to be ruled over by a Rajput adventurer, Madan Singh in the 15th century A.D.
However, modern Kushinagar came into prominence in the 19th Century with archeological excavations carried out by Alexander Cunningham, the first Archeological Surveyor of India and later followed by C.L. Carlleyle who exposed the main stupa and also discovered a 6.10 meters long statue of reclining Buddha, in 1876 A.D. Chandra Swami, a Burmeses Monk, came to India in 1903 and made “Mahaparinirvana Temple” into a living shrine.
After independence, Kushinagar remained the part of district Deoria. On 13 May 1994, it came into being as a new district of Uttar Pradesh.
Location of Gautama Buddha’s Death and Parinirvana
In 1896, Waddell suggested that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva. However, according to Maha-parinirvana Sutta, the Buddha made his journey to Kushinagar, died there and wherein he was cremated. Modern scholarship, based on archaeological evidence, believes that the Buddha died in Kushinagar, close to the modern Kasia (Uttar Pradesh).
Ashoka built a stupa and pilgrimage site to mark Buddha’s parinirvana in Kushinagara.The Hindu kings of Gupta dynasty period (4th to 7th century CE) helped greatly enlarge the Nirvana stupa and Kushinagar site, building a temple with reclining Buddha.This site was abandoned by Buddhist monks around 1200 CE, who flee to escape the invading Muslim army, after which the site decayed over the Islamic rule in India that followed.The British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham rediscovered Kushinagara in late 19th-century and his colleague A. C. L. Carlleyle unearthed the 1,500 year old Buddha image.The site has since then become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.Archaeological evidence from the 3rd century BCE suggests that the Kushinagara site was an ancient pilgrimage site.
Kushinagar is situated at 53 km east from Gorakhpur on the National Highway -28, lies between latitude 26° 45´ N and 83° 24´ E. Gorakhpur is the main railway terminus for Kushinagar while air strip of U.P. Civil Aviation is available in Kasia, 5 km. from Kushinagar.
Government and Politics
Stupa ruins in Kushinagar.
Kushinagar comes under Kushi Nagar (Lok Sabha constituency) for Indian general elections. Current Member of Parliament from this constituency is Rajesh Pandey of Bharatiya Janata Party who defeated R. P. N. Singh of Indian National Congress in Indian general elections, 2014.
Current Member of legislative assembly(MLA) from Kushinagar Assembly constituency is Brahma Shankar Tripathi of Samajwadi Party who is also minister in Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Notable People From Kushinagar
- Sachchidananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’ (सच्चिदानंद हीरानंद वात्स्यायन ‘अज्ञेय’) was a notable Indian Hindi Writer.
- Ram Nagina Mishra was a former Loksabha M.P. from Kushinagar.
- Baleshwar Yadav was a former Loksabha M.P. from Kushinagar.
- Rajesh Pandey is a member of 16th Loksabha from Kushi Nagar (Lok Sabha constituency) and also served as a Member of Legislative Council in Uttar Pradesh.
- R. P. N. Singh was former member of parliament from Kushi Nagar (Lok Sabha constituency) from Indian National Congress. He also served as Minister of State for Road and Transport, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas in Dr. Manmohan Singh Cabinet. He was also member of many parliamentary committees.