Sarnath – Varanasi
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Sarnath is located northeast of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dhamma, and it is from this that the world came into existence through the enlightenment of the Buddhist Sangha Kondanna.
Sarnath is located about seven miles northeast of Kashi, which is an ancient pilgrimage of Buddhists, after attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha gave his first sermon at this place,
The temple of Sarang Nath Mahadev ji is situated at the place, here in the month of Sawan a big fair is organized by the Hindus.
History of Sarnath
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The history of Sarnath till about 300 years later when Buddha gave his first sermon (about 533 BC) is unknown.
Because when the excavation was done here, historians have not received any remains of this period in that excavation.
Along with the prosperity of Sarnath, the development of Buddhism is also first seen during the reign of Emperor Ashoka. The Dharma Rajika Stupa, Dhamekh Stupa and Singh Pillar were built at Sarnath by Emperor Ashoka.
During the rule of the successors of Emperor Ashoka, again the development of Sarnath stopped and it started moving towards the bottom.
around BC In the second century AD, a new kingdom, Shunga State was established, but no inscriptions related to this period were found in Sarnath.
Around the first century AD, the Kushan kingdom was established in North India and with this the progress of Buddhism started once again.
When Kanishka ruled here, in the third year of his reign, Bhikkhu Bal came here and established a Bodhisattva statue. During his reign, Kanishka built many viharas and stupas not only in Sarnath but also in different places of India.
Its proudest time in the history of Sarnath, located in Banaras, was the Gupta period. At that time Sarnath used to be the largest and main center of art in North India apart from Mathura.
Hiuen Tsang came to India during the reign of King Harsha. And he described Sarnath as a very prosperous and happy city.
After the reign of Harsha, Sarnath remained under the control of various rulers for several hundred years.
But during the reign of other kings, Sarnath could not get any special achievement. Mahmud Ghaznavi, who was a plunderer and cruel Mughal ruler, attacked Varanasi in (1017 AD), at the time of that attack Ghaznavi inflicted a lot of damage on Sarnath.
After that again in 1026 AD, during the reign of Emperor Mahi pal, two brothers Sthirapal and Basant pal got the temples of Kashi saved by the inspiration of the emperor and along with this Dharmarajika Stupa and Dharma chakra were also saved by them.
When there was the reign of Gahadwal vesh, during her reign, Kumar Devi, the queen of Govindchandra, had built a vihara in Sarnath itself.
It is also seen in the records obtained from the excavation. After this there is no record of Sarnath and after that the glory of Sarnath came to an end.
The work of final excavation under the Sarnath area continued for 5 sessions under the direction of Dayaram Sahni.
The entire area from Dhamek Stupa to the main temple was excavated at that time.
Some monuments have come to light from the excavations here at that time – which are as follows,
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If you go half a mile south from Dhamek Stupa, then this stupa is located here, which is completely different from the remaining monuments of Sarnath.
This is the place where Gautam Buddha first preached to his five disciples and as a memorial to this, this stupa was built.
This stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka.
In the excavation obtained from here, in an article dated 1026 AD from the time of Mahi Pala, it is mentioned that these two brothers Sthirapala and Basant pal had renovated Dharmarajika and Dharmachakra.
Moolgandha Kuti Vihar
This vihara is situated on the north side of Dharmarajika Stupa.
Looking at the carved shells and concave moldings, small pillars and beautiful artistic cuts built on this temple, it is certain that its construction was done around the Gupta period.
On going west from the main temple of Sarnath, an Ashokan stone-pillar has been built, you find three inscriptions mentioned on this pillar.
The first article is of the Ashoka period, which is written in the Brahmi script, the second article we get from the Kushan period.
The third article is from the time of the Gupta period,
Dhamekh Stupa (Dharmachakra Stupa)
This Dhamek Stupa is built like a solid circular tower, the foundation of this stupa was laid during the time of Ashoka’s rule.
Its expansion took place during the Kushan period, but it was fully completed in the Gupta period.
This evidence is confirmed by looking at the decoration of the stones and the signs inscribed on them in the Gupta script.
Sarnath Tourist Places
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It is a Jain pilgrimage and in Jain texts this place has been described as Singhpur.
Sightseeing places located in Sarnath such as Ashoka Pillar, Lord Buddha Temple, Dhamek Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa, State Museum, Jain Temple, Chinese Temple, Moolangadh Kuti and Naveen Vihar, etc. are places of tourist interest.
For those who are interested in antiquities and history, coming here and seeing this place, understanding it will be like increasing your knowledge.
Muhammad Ghori had almost destroyed this place, when the Archaeological Department did excavation work at this place in the year 1905, after that excavation, the attention of the followers of Buddhism and historians went to this place.
Sarnath’s relation to the story of the Bodhisattva
Sarnath is also associated with a story of a Bodhisattva.
The Vodhisattva had saved the life of a pregnant deer by sacrificing his life in one of his previous births, when he was the king of the antelope in Mrigadava.
For this reason this forest came to be known as Sar or Sarang (antelope) – Nath.
How to reach Sarnath;- Varanasi can be easily reached by bus, by rail, and by air, after that you will reach easily with the help of a taxi or an auto rickshaw.
Sarnath Varanasi Map