At Kesariya (Kessaputta), in the neighborhood of Vaishali, the Blessed One said to Ananda: “Eat your food to satisfy your hunger, and drink to satisfy you thirst, Satisfy the necessities of life like the butterfly that sips the flower, without destroying its fragrance or its texture.
After his last discourse at Vaishali the Buddha set out for Kushinagar, but he Lichchhavis kept following him. The Buddha addressed the assembly of monks at Mahavana Kutagarasala and reminded them that his whole teachings consisted of the thirty-seven Bodhipakshiya dhamma classified under seven groups. According to historical records, after these final teachings the Buddha left Vaishali and then crossed the villages of Bhandagama, Hatthigama and Jambugama and took rest at a place called Kessaputta. When people started following him during his last journey to Kushinagar, he handed over his alms-bowl to the people at Kessaputta (or Kakutta) and asked them to go back. As a mark of respect to the Buddha, his followers then built a small stupa with mud at Kesariya. To commemorate the Buddha’s stay, Emperor Ashoka also built a stupa at kesariya. In due course of time, during the Maurya, Sunga and Kushana periods, it became a brick stupa with several additions and enlargements. In the 6th century CE, during the Gupta period, it was further enlarged and embellished with hundreds of sculptures.
According to Jataka stories Buddha ruled this place as a Chakravartin Raja in his previous birth. Similarly, it was during one of his visits to Kesaputta that Buddha gave one of his most important discourses, the celebrated Kessaputtiya Sutta, popularly known as Kalama Sutta. Kesariya stupa is believed to have been built to honor the place where Buddha had spent the last days of his journey, before attaining Nirvana. It is said that on his last journey to Pawa, Buddha handed over his begging bowl to the following Lichhivis, people of Vaishali and requested them to go back to Vaishali. To venerate the end life of Buddha, the Lichhivis are said to have built this stupa. While formerly, it was only a mud stupa, it gained its present structure in the Maurya, Sunga and Kushana period. Huien Tsang mentions having seen the grand Stupa in Kia-shi-po-lo (Kesariya) but it was deserted and vegetation had overgrown.
In the 1998 excavation, the place around the stupa was found to house significant items, like Islamic coins, arrow heads, copper and terracotta items, earthen lamps, decorated bricks, etc. A number of images of Buddha, in ‘Bhoomi Sparsh Mudra’ and other sitting postures, were also found.
Kesariya (kesaputta) is in East Champaran district in the Indian state of Bihar
115 km by road North of Patna
60 km by road North of Vaishali
120 km by road East of Kushinagar