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0241 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 241 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Sec. i]


place of discovery merely to obviate further search by the travellers. Not having been able

to ascertain either from the published accounts or by my inquiries at Khotan the names of

those who supplied the relics, I had no means of following up the matter further. I hence fear that, as in the case of so many remains acquired through native agency in this region, the question as to the true origin of the Dutreuil de Rhins MS. must ever remain undecided.

The uncertainty about this find cannot detract from the archaeological interest of the site ; for every feature proves the identity of the latter with the Mount Gogrnga or Gogirsa of our

Chinese and Tibetan records. The position occupied by the present Mazâr of Kohmâri, on

the top of a hill rising precipitously above the bank of the Kara-lash just where it reaches the

Khotan oasis, agrees accurately with all topographical indications in the notices of the Hsi yü-chi and other texts above quoted. The south-westerly bearing from the Khotan capital which Hsüan-tsang mentions for Mount Gogrnga, coupled with the fact that this capital is plainly described by successive notices of the Chinese Annals as situated between the Yurung-kash and the Kara-kâsh, necessarily places the sacred hill by the banks of the latter. The short distance from the capital, 20 li, named by the Hsi yü-chi shows unmistakably that the hill must have been at the very edge of the oasis. Now there is no eminence on the banks of the Kara-lash lower down than Kohmâri, nor, for a considerable distance higher up, any which comes quite close to the river bank and rises precipitously above it. From Popuna downwards to its debouchure at Ujat the river is flanked either by cultivated flats or else by gravel slopes of a very easy gradient, except just at Kohmari.

The existence in the steep scarp of this hill, i.e. in the very position described by Local

Hsüan-tsang, of a cave venerated to the present day as the abode of a saint completes the worship


evidence in conclusive fashion. In the narrow fissure running into the rock from the upper on Kohmari. story of the cave we may safely recognize the passage which in the legend related to the pilgrim is represented as having been blocked by fallen rocks and thus having hidden the Arhat 17. The tenacity of local worship is proved once more by the tradition which has substituted for Gomasâlagandha, the Buddhist saint once worshipped here, a Muhammadan martyr of the Faith. The alleged resting-place of the latter on the top of the ridge, between two small hillocks, may well occupy the place of the convent and Caitya which, according to the testimony of the Hsi yü-chi and Sûryagarbha-sutra, we must suppose to have stood on Mount Gogrriga.

The shrine and cave of Kohmari still form a favourite place of pilgrimage for the faithful of Khotan, and the well-fed, contented look of its Shaikhs shows that their income derived from pious offerings is substantial. The intercession of holy ` Mahéb Khôjam' is believed to be particularly efficacious when the low state of the rivers makes the cultivators of certain tracts fear inadequate irrigation and consequent failure of crops. On this account quasi-official recognition, in the form of a liberal offering from the Amban Pan Darin, was said to have

been recently accorded to the shrine.   Is it possible that this belief in a connexion between
worship at Kohmari and the supply of flood-water in the rivers had its distant origin in the

Kohmari identified with Mt. Gosrnga.

" It is scarcely necessary to point out that it was manifestly the existence of such a natural fissure, suggesting access to some mysterious inner space impassable beyond a short distance, which originated the legend. We meet with a similar piece of folklore in Hsüan-tsang's account of the sacred cave near Yastivana in the vicinity of ancient Rajagrha or Râjgir in South Bihar, which I have identified

with the Râjpind cave close to the present Jethian (see my ` Notes on an archaeological tour in South Bihar', Ind. Ant., rgot, p. 65). A high fissure running upwards from a corner of this cave was supposed to have once given access to the magic city of the A suras (comp. Mémoires de H.-Th., ii. pp. 14 sq.).