February 21, 2014

Sarnath - Where Lord Buddha first preached...

The Holy city of Varanasi has been a symbol of spiritualism for thousands of years and has been a centre of enlightenment and awakening for many great thinkers and preachers. Almost all the renowned saints/ personalities like Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Kabir, Tulsi Das, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Patanjali,....have been associated with this city in one way or other.

Lord Buddha too started his journey from this placeAfter Lord Buddha has attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to "Sarnath", located 10 kms. from Varanasi. This was the fortunate place where Lord Buddha gave the first teachings of what enlightened the world as "Buddhism".

On reaching Sarnath, the first monument to come our way is the CHAUKHANDI STUPA. Stupa is a huge mound of brick-work whose square edifice is surrounded by an octagonal tower. What a gigantic structure this is...? Construction of such a huge structure with only brick work might not get approval in present times:

The Chaukhandi Stupa is believed to have originally built as a terraced temple during the Gupta period between 4th - 6th Century to mark the site where Lord Buddha and his first disciples met traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath. Later Govardhan, the son of a Raja, modified the stupa to its present shape by building the octagonal tower.

Buddhists worldwide look upon India as the land of the Buddha and a visit to this country means a pilgrimage to those places sacred to the memory of the Enlightened One. Sarnath along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar is amongst the four cities declared sacred by Buddha to his followers. While we were appreciating the peaceful environment here, we found ourselves at the doors of celebrated "Sarnath Temple"


It was the time for praying and thanking the GODs for their benevolence on me and also seeking their blessings for continuing my travels.

The walls of this temple are decorated by life paintings of Lord Buddha.

Lord Buddha is reforming a notorious savage:


This place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon was and still is a Deer Park. In the language of religions, Lord Buddha set in motion the wheel of Law (maha- Dharmachakra Pravartan).

Let’s share the session of Lord Buddha teachings underneath the same tree, which has been the witness of that great session.
Actual place where Lord Buddha gave his first teachings
Those 5 disciples also deserve a mention, names being - Mahanama, Kaundinya, Ashwajit, Bhadridaya and Vappaji.

One of the greatest emperors of ancient India, King Ashoka, who dedicated his life in spreading the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

Originally said to be built by Emperor Ashoka. DHAMEK STUPA (Dharmarajika Stupa) is the most remarkable structure at Sarnath. The Stupa is a huge cylindrical structure, 28 m. in diameter at the base and 43.6 m. in height, built partly of stone and partly of brick. The stone facing the lower part is adorned with delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin.

Adjacent to the Dhamekh Stupa is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira. The top of the main chamber where statue of Lord Mahavira rests is in scripted by a basic reality of life:

Meaning - "Whether he is a king, emperor and used to ride on elephant with great pomp and show, but everyone including him, has to die one day when his turn will come"

Most of the times we keep on living as if we are immortal and will stay on this earth for ever and on the day of our end we realise that we have never lived. However, the truth is that we are just a visitor for a small time in this world. Walls of the temples too are decorated with paintings of various Tirthankars of the Jainism.

Walkover to the back side of the temple and Dhamek Stupa to the Deer park and enjoy:

And deers too..

Sarnath is also sacred to the Jainism as Sarnath is looked as the site of asceticism and death of Sreyansantha the 11th Trithankara. Opposite to this temple is a park dedicated to Lord Mahavira:

Not to forget an exquisite museum dedicated to Lord Buddha, is the oldest site museum by Archaeological survey of India displays grand panorama of Buddhist cultural wealth and the antiques ranging from 3rd Century B.C. - 12th Century A.D. found at Sarnath.

Since photography is "strictly" prohibited inside the temple premises, so I had to content myself with only a picture of the museum building from outside. Some of the notable antiques/ statues are: Abacus, Giant Umbrella, Terracota figurines and Lord Shiva killing demon Andhak; all the antiques are dated around 1st century AD.
The Modern name Sarnath seems to be a contraction of Saraganatha (Lord of deer). Sarnath is an exceedingly tranquil place giving the universal message of peace and harmony to the entire World. With a peaceful mind and a contented soul it was the time to return to Varanasi, however while humming within ourselves:

Buddham saranam gacchami (बुद्धम  शरणम्  गच्छामि ) : I go to the Buddha for refuge
Dhammam saranam gacchami (धम्मम् शरणम्  गच्छामि): I go to the Dhamma for refuge
Sangham saranam gacchami (संघम शरणम्  गच्छामि)    : I go to the Sangha for refuge


Let’s pledge to keep this earth a beautiful place with peaceful co-existence of every soul and form of life, because a life lived for others is truly a life lived.




Reactions:

8 comments:

  1. Bho paji....Aham ch gamishyami...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Though you have not mentioned your name, but I can guess. So Paaji not Aham, "Awam Gamishyavah"

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Nice religious Destination suggestions!!
    Loving these all:)
    Thanks for sharing

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  4. Wonderful images friend! Your images are present the beautiful creation of God. I must visit in this region after complete my us west coast bus tours. My family chooses this tour to enjoy the holidays. Thanks for this great and informative sharing.

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  5. The administrator has provided huge information about buddish temples and museum. It’s a very old religion as I read the history of this. They have some own traditions like others but the way of describing is nice and people can know much about these destinations if they have some interest in temples.

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  6. All the pics are so cute and have attraction in it for the tourist now i am on the tour of US there i take much enjoyment with the families buses from new brunswick to new york bus tour is famous in my family..

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