Blog Entry #34: Where the Buddha Taught: Sarnath
Friday, October 15, 2011
Today was full of surprises. The first came on our flight from Delhi to Varanasi. As we neared our destination, Pat said, “Dan, look out the window.” And there they were: the Himalayas, snow-capped and shining in the sun to the north. Headwaters of the Ganges River, Mother Ganga, and rooftop to the world. The Himalayas!!
|"Stupa" in Sarnath, site of the Buddha's 1st Sermon|
I also had not realized that just a few miles northeast of Varanasi lies Sarnath – the site of the Buddha’s first sermon known as dharma chakra pravartana, “The Turning of the Wheel.” And that was where we headed after another sumptuous meal at the Radisson Hotel where we would lodge that night.
Much better versed in Buddhism than I am in Hinduism, I found myself very emotional at visiting this ancient site – considered one of the 4 holiest sites in the “Buddha circuit” – where Siddhartha Gautama, the first Buddha, was born, reached enlightenment, taught, and died.
|Hindustan Motors Ambassador in entourage of President of Myanmar|
Our visit to Sarnath coincided with a visit by the President of Myanmar (Burma), and so we found ourselves stopped on the side of the road as a motorcade of Hindustan Motors “Ambassadors” went by. The museum we had hoped to visit was closed as the President went through, as were the grounds of the large Dhamek stupa, site of the Buddha’s first sermon, so we could only look on from a distance as the Burmese delegation passed through. Nevertheless it was moving to see several Buddhists both praying and meditating on the grounds of the stupa deer park, and to think back 2500 years to the time of the Buddha here.
|Delegation of President of Myanmar at Stupa site in Sarnath|
|Buddhist Stupa & Entrance to Jain Temple in Sarnath|
|Entrance to Jain Temple in Sarnath|
|Altar in Jain Temple|
|Sign in Jain Temple listing the 24 Tirthankaras|
|Tibetan Buddhist Monk entering Monastery in Sarnath|
|Water Buffalo cow pies drying on wall|
|Water buffalo and cow pies drying on wall in Sarnath|