Sarnath

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Sarnath is amongst the four holy places associated with the life of Buddha the other three being Lumbini Nepal, BodhGaya Bihar and Kushinagar. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya he gave his first sermon to five companions at Sarnath. In Buddhist literature this is known as Dharma-Chakra-Pravartana i.e. the turning of the wheel of law. Sarnath is also an important place for the Jainas since the 11th Tirthankara died here. You see this stone inscription as you enter the Sarnath complex.

You see the ruins that form part of the Sarnath complex. We were told learned men held discussions here.

Stone inscription of Dhamekh Stupa. It reads ‘‘According to the inscription dated 1029ad recovered from the site its old name was Dharma Chakra Stupa. It perhaps commemorates the spot where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon. In search of the relic casket Alexander Cunnigham bored vertical shaft through its center down to the foundation level and at a depth of 91.4 cms he found a slab with an inscription ‘Ye Dharma Hetu Prabhava Hetu’ written in the Bramhi script of 6-7th century ad. Further he traced out a stupa of Mauryan bricks. However, the present diameter of this sold cylindrical tower is 28.5 mtrs at the base and 33.35 mtrs in height. Its total height is 42.60 mtrs including the foundation structure consisting of a circular stone drum up to the height of 11.20 mtrs from the ground above which rises the cylindrical mass of brick work about 6 metres above the base. Eight niches are provided in eight directions which must have contained images of Buddha. Below them runs a broad course of beautifully carved stones having geometrical designs, swastika, leaf and floral patterns with birds and human figures’.

According to tradition we did a Parikrama around the stupa. You see the Dhamekh Stupa.

As mentioned above the lower portion of the stupa has a broad course of beautifully carved stones having geometrical designs, swastika, leaf and floral patterns with birds and human figures. That is what you see.

This is a board outside This Bodhi Tree and the Complex. Excerpts from the message ‘Emperor Ashoka’s daughter took a branch of the Buddhagaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka and planted it as Anuradhapura. In 1999 the Bodh Tree complex was widened by making space for meditation and Dhamma Sermons with 28 images of previous Buddhas around the Bodhi Tree beginning from Taranankara Buddha to Gautam Buddha, all said to have attained enlightenment under the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree at Buddhagaya’. Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam.

You see the Bodhi Tree with icons of Lord Buddha giving sermons to the first five companions. Inscription title is Dhamma Chakka Pavattana Sutta (The Wheel of Law). The first sermon of the Sakyamuni Buddha delivered at Isipatana Deer Park Sarnath.

Another view of the Bodhi Tree, Lord Buddha with companions.

Various countries have made Buddhist temples inside the complex, each in a distinctive style i.e. unique to their country. You see Mula Gandhakuti Vihara made by a Sri Lankan Buddhist Angarika Dharampala (hope name is right) in 1931. He also started the Mahabodhi Society at Sarnath. Architect & Engr was Rai Saheb Hari Chand. The icon of Lord Buddha is gold plated. Different countries have different icons of Buddha. While I clicked other countries missed clicking Sri Lanka.

You see Japanese Buddhist temple.

You see two icons. The right hand side is Gautama Buddha who is already born. The left hand side is Maitra Buddha who is yet to be born.

You see the Thai Buddhist temple.

You see Gautama Buddha ka icon. The Japanese show a cross legged sitting Buddha while the Thais show him with feet on a lotus.

There is a museum there which houses the famous Ashokan Pillar which we could not see since we landed there on a Saturday when it is closed. You see a board next to fragments of the Ashokan Pillar. Errors or omissions are regretted.