Sakya Muni, the Buddha, came here from Gaya in the 6th century B.C. (from which time some of the remains may date), in order to establish his religion, which shows that the place was even then a great centre.
It divides the province into two almost equal portions; north of the river lie the districts of Saran, Champaran, Tirhoot, Purnea, and part of Monghyr and Bhagalpur, and south of it are Shahabad, Patna, Gaya, the Santal parganas, and the rest of Monghyr and Bhagalpur.
The province of Behar corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Magadha, which comprised the country now included in the districts rof Patna, Gaya and Shahabad, south of the Ganges.
The origin of this kingdom, famous alike in the political and religious history of India, is lost in the mists of antiquity; and though the Brahmanical Puranas give lists of its rulers extending back to remote ages before the Christian era, the first authentic dynasty is that of the Saisunaga, founded by Sisunaga (c. 600 B.C.), whose capital was at Rajagaha (Rajgir) in the hills near Gaya; and the first king of this dynasty of whom anything is known was Bimbisara (c. 528 B.C.), who by conquests and matrimonial alliances laid the foundations of the greatness of the kingdom.
The four ancient sacred resorts are Kapilavastu, Gaya, Benares and Kusinagara.
The Pali Text Society is still publishing two volumes a year; and the Russian Academy has inaugurated a series to contain the most important of the Sanskrit works still buried in MS. We have also now accessible in Pali fourteen volumes of the commentaries of the great 5th- century scholars in south India and Ceylon, most of them the works either of Buddhaghosa of Budh Gaya, or of Dhammapala of Kancipura (the ancient name of Conjeeveram).
In Gaya a peculiar cap made of tal leaves is worn in rainy weather, called ghunga.
The remainder which call for separate mention are Lahat Datu on Darvel Bay on the east coast; Kudat on Marudu Bay and Jesselton on Gaya Bay on the west coast.
Terminating as it usually does with the feeding and feeing of a greater or less number of Brahmans and the feasting of members of the performers' own caste, the Sraddha, especially its first performance, is often a matter of very considerable expense; and more than ordinary benefit to the deceased is supposed to accrue from it when it takes place at a spot of recognized sanctity, such as one of the great places of pilgrimage like Prayaga (Allahabad, where the three sacred rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, meet), Mathura, and especially Gaya and Kasi (Benares).
The pilgrim next entered on a circuit of the most famous sites of Buddhist and of ancient Indian history, such as Ajodhya, Prayaga (Allahabad), Kausambhi, Sravasti, Kapilavastu, the birth-place of Sakya, Kusinagara, his death-place, Pataliputra (Patna, the Palibothra of the Greeks), Gaya, Rajagriha and Nalanda, the most famous and learned monastery and college in India, adorned by the gifts of successive kings, of the splendour of which he gives a vivid description, and of which traces have recently been recovered.
The province of Bengal, therefore, now consists of the thirty-three British districts of Burdwan, Birbhum, Bankura, Midnapore, Hugh, Howrah, Twenty-four Parganas, Calcutta, Nadia, Murshidabad, Jessore, Khulna, Patna, Gaya, Shahabad, Saran, Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Monghyr, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Santal Parganas, Cuttack, Balasore, Angul and Khondmals, Puri, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Palamau, Manbhum, Singhbum and Sambalpur, and the native states of Sikkim and the tributary states of Orissa and Chota Nagpur.