Sarnath, located near the holy city of Varanasi, is not only regarded as a holy place of Buddhism but also as a famous tourist destination to visit. Every year, a lot of tourists pay a visit to this amazing place.
There are some facts that make this place even more attractive. Here are some of those:
The name of this place Sarnath comes from Saranganath. The meaning of this term is The Lord of the Deer. This name is derived from a story. Bodhisattva was a deer. One day a king came to hunt a doe. Bodhisattva offered his own life asked the king not to kill the doe. The king got moved by this incident. Then he decided to build a deer park in the honor of Bodhisattva.
Sarnath has multiple other names like Mrigadava and Isiaptana. The latter term is more important and has a story related to it. It is said that when lord Buddha was born, the gods came down to the earth to announce this holy event to 500 holy men. These men rose up to the sky and disappeared. Then their relics fell down to the earth. Isi means holy men in the Pali language. This is the reason why this land is recognized as the place where holy men fell to earth.
Holy Buddhist Site
Sarnath is one of the four major holy Buddhist sites as was sanctioned by lord Buddha himself. When Gautam Buddha reached his enlightenment, he decided to come to Sarnath. In the deer park of Sarnath, Buddha taught and preached Dharma for the first time. This is the reason why this place is regarded as one of the holiest places on the earth.
While staying in Sarnath, Buddha delivered a number of important and significant discourses known as the Suttas in Pali. The first discourse was Dhammacakkhapavathana Sutta. Other significant Suttas were Anattalakhana Sutta, Saccavibhanga Sutta, Pañca Sutta, Rathakāra Sutta, Samaya Sutta, Katuviya Sutta, Dhammadinna Sutta etc.
The Dhamekh Stupa is the most massive structure in Sarnath. It was built in the 500 AD. Historic records suggest that the structure was originally 300 feet high. Currently, the stupa is 128 feet in height and 93 feet in diameter.
Several other Stupas
There are several other stupas that were either built to commemorate the activities of Buddha in Sarnath or were built before the reign of king Ashoka. Dharmarajika Stupa is a pre-Ashokan stupa. But, only the foundations of this structure remain as of now. Chaukhandi Stupa was built to commemorate the place where lord Buddha met with his disciples for the first time.
Buddha spent his first rainy season in Sarnath at the Mulagandhakuti Vihara. He spent the whole season in meditation inside this place.
The Ashoka Pillar
The Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath is one of the remaining 19 pillars built by king Ashoka during his reign. The stambh has four lions sitting back to back. Power, courage, confidence and pride are represented by these four lions. The stambh also has illustrated figures of a horse and a bull. There is a wheel known as the Ashoka chakra at the center-bottom of the stambh. This pillar has immense national importance for India. The stambh is the national emblem of India. The Ashoka chakra is also the national symbol in the Indian national flag.
Sarnath Archaeological Museum
Sarnath Archaeological Museum reserves many historically significant sculptures like the Ashoka stambh. It also includes a huge number of art pieces that represent Indian Buddhist art culture. There are about 300 images that represent this art genre.
The Successor or Representative of the Bodhi Tree
We can find a Bodhi tree in Sarnath. This tree was grown from a cutting of the original Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained his enlightenment. Anagarika Dharmapala brought the cutting to Sarnath and planted it. It now represents the original Bodhi tree of Bodhgaya.
Sarnath has received international importance from several Asian communities and countries. There are six national temples that were built by different communities of Asia. It was a place of importance in the period of its zenith and it is a place of immense importance and attraction still now.Tags:
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