Sarnath, situated seven miles northeast of Kashi, is an ancient pilgrimage for Buddhists. After attaining knowledge, Lord Buddha gave his first sermon here, from here he started “turning the wheel of religion”, here is the temple of Sarangnath, Mahadev, here is Sawan In the month of ‘Hindus’ fair is held. This is Jain Tirtha, and in Jain Granth, it is described as Singhpur. Scenic objects of Sarnath Kashi– Ashoka’s four-faced lion pillar, Lord Buddha’s temple, Dhamekh Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa, State Museum, Jain Temple, Chinese Temple, Moolangdhakuti and Naveen Vihar, Muhammad Ghori almost destroyed it, in 1905. The department did excavation work here. At that time, the attention of the followers of Buddhism and historians came to this.
Sarnath Kashi is a famous Buddhist pilgrimage located about 10 km away from Kashi or Varanasi. Previously, there was a dense forest here, and deer hunting was popular. At that time, its name was ‘Rishipattan Mrigaday’. After attaining enlightenment, Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon here.
Many construction works took place here during the time of Emperor Ashoka. The emblem of India with the lion statue is taken from the top of the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath. Even today, the ‘Dhamek Stupa’ here conveys a feeling of Sarnath’s antiquity. Later on, the importance of Sarnath was diminished as a result of foreign invasions and religious tussles. The idol of Sarangnath Mahadev was established in Mrigaya, and the place was named Sarnath.
Its ancient name was Rishipatan (Isipatanaya Mrigadava) (forest of deer). Rishipatan refers to the ‘fall of the sage’, which means the place where one of the Buddhists attained nirvana after knowing Gautam Buddha’s future enlightenment. Nigrosh Rig has also appeared in the Jatakas. The modern name ‘Sarnath’ originated from ‘Sarangnath’ (Nath of deer), i.e. Gautam Buddha.
How to reach Sarnath Kashi
Sarnath is located at a distance of 10 km from Varanasi Cantt station, while Babatpur is 18 km from the airport. Local tourists can easily reach Sarnath via Pandeypur.
Sarnath was known as Rishipatan deer forest
The ancient name of Sarnath was Rishipatan Deer Forest. Muhammad Ghaznavi attacked and destroyed the places of worship of Sarnath in 1017. In the year 1905, the Archaeological Department excavated here. Whatever remains found in the excavation, many items can be seen in the Indian Museum of Kolkata. The remains of the excavation and the tunnel can still be seen near the Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath. During the excavation, Ashoka Pillar and many inscriptions were found here, which are kept in the museum of Sarnath.
Moolgandha Kuti is the temple of Gautam Buddha. Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese traveller who came to India in the seventh century, described it as 200 feet high Moolgandha Kuti Vihar. From the carved shells and small pillars made on this temple, it seems that it must have been built during the Gupta period. Instead of the temple, statues have been made of Gautam Buddha giving initiation to his five disciples.
It is also called Dharmarajika Stupa. Ashoka built it. Unfortunately, in 1794, Jagat Singh’s men dug out its bricks to make Jagatganj, the famous locality of Kashi. At the time of excavation, at a depth of 8.23 meters, some bones and savarna vessels, pearls and gems were found in a marble box, which then people shed in the Ganges.
The Buddhist community highly reveres the Chaikhandi Stupa. There are many signs related to Gautam Buddha here. It is believed that the Chaikhandi Stupa was originally constructed as a terraced temple. The Chaikhandi Stupa is the relict monument of Sarnath. Gautam Buddha met his five disciples at this place. Buddha gave him his first sermon. Buddha told him the Four Noble Truths. That day was the day of Guru Poornima. Buddha had come to Sarnath in 234 BC. In his memory, this stupa was built. There is an octagonal turret on top of this stupa. Humayun also spent a night here.
Connection to the story of the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva 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 Mrigadayavan. That is why this forest was called Saar- or Sarang (antelope)- Nath. According to Rai Bahadur Dayaram Sahni, Shiva has also been called Sarangnath in mythological literature. Because of its proximity to Kashi, the city of Mahadev Shiva, this location became a focus of Shiva worship. The existence of a Shiva temple named Sarnath attests to this truth.
Ashoka Pillar, the national emblem of India
The Sarnath Museum is the oldest site museum of the Archaeological Survey of India. It was established in 1904. This building is in the form of a half monastery in the plan. It has a store of antiquities from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. The lion pillar head of the Mauryan Pillar is present in this museum which is now the national emblem of India. This crown of Ashoka Pillar with four lions was installed on top of Ashoka Pillar around 250 BC. There are four lions in this pillar, but only three are visible from any angle.
Apart from the Buddha statues in several postures, giant standing posture statues of the Bhikkhu Bala Bodhisattva, umbrellas etc., are also on display. The Triratna gallery of the museum houses sculptures of Buddhist deities and some objects. In the Tathagata gallery, Buddha in different postures, Vajrasattva, Bodhisattva Padmapani, Nilkanth Lokeshwar with a poison cup, Maitreya, the most notable statues of Sarnath art style are on display.
Signs and symbols are engraved on the ancient remains found here. These were designed to explain and spread Buddhism. The Ashoka Pillar of 250 BC, taken out during the excavation itself, arouses the most curiosity. At the same time, the Dhamek Stuom built during the Gupta period in Indian history holds many mysteries.