Blogger templates

Buddhist Places in India

Lumbini , the birthplace of the BuddhaLumbini : Birthplace of the Buddha

Lumbini was the birthplace of the Buddha and is now located near the Nepal-India border north of Gorakpur. Immediately before his birth, the bodhisattva was lord of Tushita deva realm. There he had resolved to be reborn for the last time and show the attainment of enlightenment to the world. He had made the five investigations and determined that this southern continent, where men lived for one hundred years, was the most suitable place and, as the royal caste was then most respected and the lineages of King Suddhodana and his Queen Mayadevi were pure, he would be born as their son, a prince of the Shakya dynasty. Placing his crown upon the head of his successor Maitreya, the bodhisattva descended from Tushita to the world of man. During the night of his conception, Queen Mayadevi, who is to be the mother of all the thousand buddhas of this aeon, dreamt of a great white elephant entering her womb. The earth trembled six times. It is said that in the manner of all bodhisattvas in their final birth, he remained sitting cross-legged for the whole time within the womb. Furthermore, all buddhas are born in a forest grove while their mother remains standing.

At the appointed time Queen Mayadevi was visiting the Lumbini Garden some ten miles from the Shakya city of Kapilavastu. Emerging from a bath with her face to the east, she leant her right arm on a sala tree. The bodhisattva was then born from her right side and immediately took seven steps - from which lotus flowers sprang up - in each of the four directions. To each direction he proclaimed as with a lion's roar: "I am the first, the best of all beings, this is my last birth.'' He looked down to predict the defeat of Mara and the benefiting of beings in the lower realms through the power of his teachings. He then looked up to indicate that all the world would come to respect and appreciate his deeds.
The gods Brahma and Indra then received him and together with the four guardian protectors bathed him. At the same time two nagas, Nanda and Upananda, caused water to cascade over him. Later a well was found to have formed there, from which even in Fa Hien's time monks continued to draw water to drink. The young prince was next wrapped in fine muslin and carried with great rejoicing to the king's palace in Kapilavastu.
Many auspicious signs accompanied the bodhisattva's birth. Also, many beings who would play major parts in his life are said to have been born on the same day: Yasodhara, his future wife; Chandaka, the groom who would later help him leave the palace; Kanthaka, the horse that would bear him; the future kings Bimbisara of Magadha and Prasenajit of Koshala; and his protector Vajrapani. The bodhi tree is also said to have sprouted on the day of Buddha's birth.
When Ashoka visited Lumbini two centuries later, his advisor, the sage Upagata, perceived by clairvoyance and described all these events, pointing out their sites to the emperor. Ashoka made many offerings, built an elaborate stupa and erected a pillar surmounted by a horse capital. When Hsuan Chwang saw it, the pillar had already been destroyed by lightning. Nevertheless, when discovered at the end of the last century the inscription which remained on the present ruin was sufficiently legible to clearly identify the site as Lumbini.
The prince, now named Siddhartha, spent his first twenty-nine years in Kapilavastu. There he performed three more of the twelve principal deeds of a buddha. Surpassing all the Shakya youths and even his teachers in all fields of learning, skill and sport, he showed that he had already mastered all the worldly arts.
One day while still a child he was left unattended beneath a tree as his father performed the ceremonial first ploughing of the season. He sat and engaged in his first meditation, attaining such a degree of absorption that five sages flying overhead were halted in mid-flight by the power of it.
Later he was married to Yasodhara and experienced a life of pleasure in the palace amongst the women of the court. Yet despite King Suddhodana's efforts to protect him from unpleasant sights, one day when riding in his chariot through Kapilavastu he happened to see a man feeble with age, another struck down with sickness, and a corpse. He immediately realised the suffering nature of men's lives. Then he saw a monk of holy countenance, and recognized his path and vocation.
It is said that a buddha renounces the world only after seeing these four signs and when a son has been born to him. Accordingly, seven days before Siddhartha would have been crowned as his father's heir, a son, Rahula, was born to Yasodhara. Without further delay Siddhartha told his father of his resolve to leave the transient luxury of worldly life and live as a renunciate in order to discover the causes of true happiness and the end of misery.
Suddhodana was reluctant to let him go. Therefore, riding the horse Kanthaka and accompanied by the groom Chandaka, Prince Siddhartha left Kapilavastu with the aid of the gods. Some distance away he performed the great renunciation, cutting off his hair and donning the robes of an ascetic. He sent Chandaka back to the palace with his jewels and horse, and entered into the homeless life.
Some years later, after attaining enlightenment, Buddha returned briefly to Kapilavastu at his father's invitation. The Buddha and his followers were welcomed and treated well by the king and the people, who listened to his teachings. Five hundred Shakya youths became monks at this time, including Rahula, the Buddha's own son, Nanda, his half brother, and Upali, the barber, who was to later become one of the Buddha's most important disciples.
The splendour of Kapilavastu did not last for long, for the city and many of the Shakya clan were destroyed by the rival king Vaidraka even within the Buddha's lifetime. When the Chinese pilgrims visited the area they found nothing but ruin and desolation and merely a handful of people and monks dwelling there. Yet all the sites of the events mentioned in the early scriptures were pointed out to them, and several of these were still marked by stupas. After this, the area was lost in jungle and earlier in this century, was still only accessible by elephant.
Now only Lumbini, the birthplace itself, has been identified with certainty. Kapilavastu has been but tentatively located. At present these sites are still being explored and some ruins have been unearthed. The remains of Ashoka's pillar can be seen, as well as a shrine of indeterminate age dedicated to Queen Mayadevi. A Nepalese buddhist temple was built in 1956 and a Tibetan monastery of the sakya order was completed in 1975, which, as well as possessing a beautiful and elaborate shrine, is well illustrated within by traditional murals. Here many young monks are studying and practising the Buddha's teachings, thereby both aiding the revival of Lumbini as a place of buddhist practice and preserving the great traditions lost in Tibet.

Bodhgaya, Bodh Gaya, Bodhgaya Temple, Bodhgaya Temples, Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhi Tree, Site of Buddha's enlightenment, Bodhgaya India, Bodhagaya in India, Bodh Gaya India, Bodhgaya Buddhist Place, Bodhgaya Buddhist Pilgrimage, Bodhgaya Pilgrimage TourBodhgaya : Site of Buddha's enlightenment

Bodhgaya is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. Apart from being a significant archaeological site, it is also a vital Buddhist centre. It's the site where Buddha attained enlightenment. Devout Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to simply absorb the aura of solemn grandeur that surrounds the place. It is a quiet and peaceful place. Buddhists from all over the world flock to Bodhgaya, along with non-Buddhists who come to learn about Buddhism and meditation. The best time to visit is during winter when Tibetan pilgrims come down from Dharamsala. The Dalai Lama also often spends December here.

Location :
Bodh Gaya is located about 13 km from Gaya, 450 km west of Calcutta, and 90 km south of Patna.

Places to See -
Mahabodhi Temple - is the focal point of Bodhgaya. It marks the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment and set out on his life of preaching. It stands adjacent to a descendent of the original Bodhi tree under which Buddha meditated on the excesses of life and formulated his philosophy of a balanced approach to it. There is a red sandstone slab under the tree that is said to be the 'Vajrasan', or diamond throne, on which Buddha sat. This temple is a place of pilgrimage for all Buddhists. Topped by a 50m high pyramid, the ornate structure houses a large gilded image of the Buddha.

Bodhi Tree - The Bodhi tree here is said to be a descendent of the tree under which Budhha attained enlightenment. A sapling of the original bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under was carried by Emperor Ashoka's daughter (Sanghamitta) to Sri Lanka. That tree is at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. A cutting from that tree was planted in Budha Gaya when the original tree died. Under the tree is a red sandstone slab that is said to be the Vajrasana, the diamond throne, that Buddha sat on and attained nirvana. The tree is located behind the temple and is about 80 feet high and about 115 years old.

Monasteries - most countries with a large Buddhist population have a temple or a monastery in Bodhgaya usually built in a representative architectural style. Thus, there is a Thai temple that looks very much like the colourful wats of Thailand. There is a Tibetan temple and monastery that contains a large prayer wheel. The Burmese who had led a campaign to restore the Mahabodhi temple in the 19th century also built their monastery. There is a Japanese temple (Indosan Nipponji) that has a very beautiful image of Buddha brought from Japan. There are also Chinese, Sri Lankan, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Korean, Taiwanese and Bangladeshi monasteries. There is also a Tai Bodhi Khan monastery built by Buddhist tribes from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Vajrasana - Vajrasana, the seat of stability. Buddha supposed to have say in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi Tree, where the Vajrasana, the stone platform is kept.

- This marks the sacred spot of the Buddha's meditative perambulations during the third week after pious enlightenment. It is believed that wherever the Buddha put his feet lotus sprang up.

- It is believed that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the great Mahabodhi Tree out of gratitude, without twinkling his eyes.

- The Buddha spent one week here, where it is believed that five colours came out of his body.

Archaeological Museum - here has a small collection of Buddha figures, and pillars that were discovered in the area.
Other Places -
The Mohanta's Monastery, located right next to the Mahabodhi Temple, is a Shaivite monastery. It is said that Adi Sankaracharya spent days here in a heated debate with buddhist philosophers.

At the Tibetan Mahayana Monastery (1938) there is a large Dharma Chakra, or wheel of law. It is believed that you will be freed of sin if you spin this wheel three times in succession from left to right. It is a 10m high metal drum painted gold and red.

Budha bathed in the nearby Niranjana (now called Lilanja) River after attaining enlightenment. The Niranjana River is about 250m east of the temple. Prince Siddharta crossed this river to reach the Bodhi tree.

Sarnath : First turning of the Wheel of Dharma

Sarnath, Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath Stupa, Stupa of Sarnath, Stupa in Sarnath, Sarnath in India, India Sarnath, Sarnath tour, Tour to Sarnath
All the 1,000 buddhas of this aeon, after demonstrating the attainment of enlightenment at Vajrasana, proceed to Sarnath to give the first turning of the wheel of Dharma. In like manner, Shakyamuni walked from Bodhgaya to Sarnath in order to meet the five ascetics who had left him earlier. Coming to the Ganges, he crossed it in one step, where King Ashoka later made Pataliputra his capital city. He entered Benares early one morning, made his alms round, bathed, ate his meal and, leaving by the east gate of the city, walked northwards to Rishipatana Mrigadava, the rishi's Deer Park.
There are many legends about the origin of this name. Fa Hien says that the rishi was a pratyeka buddha who had dwelt there but, on hearing that the son of King Suddhodana was about to become a supreme buddha, entered nirvana. Others mention 500 pratyeka buddhas and Hsuan Chwang mentions a stupa marking the site of their nirvana.

The name Deer Park derives from an occasion in one of Shakyamuni's former lives as a bodhisattva, when he was leading a herd of deer. After much indiscriminate plundering of the herd by a local king, an agreement was made with him that one of their number would be offered only when necessary. The turn came of a doe, who was shortly to give birth and wished to delay until then. The bodhisattva offered himself in her stead, which so impressed the king that he not only resolved to refrain from killing deer in future but gave the park to them as their own.
At this place the five ascetics had resumed their austere practices. When they saw the Buddha approaching, thinking him still to be the Gautama who had forsaken their path, they decided not to welcome him. Yet, as he neared they found themselves involuntarily rising and paying respect. Proclaiming that he was the Buddha, Shakyamuni assured them that the goal had been attained. Hsuan Chwang saw a large, dome-shaped stupa on this spot, where a large mound, probably its remains, surmounted by a muslim monument now, stands a short distance south of the park.
During the first watch of the night the Buddha was silent, during the second he made a little conversation and at the third began the teaching. At the spot where all the buddhas first turn the wheel, 1,000 thrones appeared. Shakyamuni circumambulated those of the three previous buddhas and sat upon the fourth. Light radiated from his body, illuminating the 3,000 worlds, and the earth trembled. Brahma offered him a 1,000-spoked golden wheel, and Indra and other gods also made offerings, all imploring the Buddha to teach.
Thus, inviting the gods and all who wished to hear, and saying that he spoke not for the purpose of debate but in order to help living beings gain control of their minds, Shakyamuni began the first turning of the wheel of Dharma. He taught the middle way, that avoids the extremes of pleasure and austerity, the four noble truths, and the eightfold path. Kaundmya was the first of the five ascetics to understand and realize the teaching; Ashvajit was the last. All eventually became arhants.
The teachings included in the collection known as the first turning of the wheel, which began here, extended over a period of seven years. Other teachings, such as those on the Vinaya and on the practice of close placement of mindfulness, were given elsewhere, but the wheel was turned twelve times at Sarnath.
From the time of the Buddha, monastic tradition flourished for over 1,500 years on the site of the Deer Park. Amongst the many ruins, archaeologists have found traces dating from as early as the third century B.C., and the existing inscription of Ashoka's pillar, dating from that time, implies that a monastery was already established during Ashoka's reign. Fa Hien speaks of two monasteries with monks in residence, while two centuries later Hsuan Chwang describes a mahavihara encompassing eight divisions. This contained a great temple with ornate balconies, over one hundred niches containing gilt images in its walls, and a statue of the Buddha in the teaching posture.
The last monastery constructed before the muslim invasion, the Dharmachakra-jina vihara, was the largest of all. It was built by Kumaradevi, queen of King Govindachandra, who ruled in Benares from 1114-1154. Here a surviving fragment of stone inscription records that in 1058 a monk presented a gift copy of the Prajna-paramita Sutra to the monastery: evidence of mahayana activity at that time. The discovery in the area of ancient statues of Heruka and Arya Tara shows that vajrayana was also practised there.
Formerly, two great stupas adorned the site. Only the Dhamekha remains, assigned by its inscription to the sixth century. The Dharmarajika stupa built by Ashoka, some say upon the very place of the teaching, was pulled down in the eighteenth century by Jagat Singh, who consigned the casket of relics contained within it to the Ganges river. Hsuan Chwang describes that Ashoka's pillar, which stood in front of the stupa, was so highly polished that it constantly reflected the stupa's statue of the Buddha.
Benares, which was the second city to reappear following the last destruction of the world, was also a site of the previous buddha's manifestations. Kashyapa, the third buddha of this aeon, built a monastery near Deer Park, where he ordained the brahmin boy, Jotipala, an earlier incarnation of Shakyamuni. Hsuan Chwang records stupas and an artificial platform at the places where several previous buddhas had walked and sat in meditation.
Deer Park was also the location of Shakyamuni's deeds as a bodhisattva in former lives. Hsuan Chwang mentions a number of stupas commemorating these near the monastery: one where the bodhisattva offered himself as the deer; another where, as a six-tusked elephant, he offered his tusks to a deceitful hunter; and a third where the bodhisattva had been a bird, with Maudgalyayana and Sariputra as a monkey and an elephant.
Another stupa commemorated the occasion when Indra manifested as a hungry old man and asked a fox, an ape and a hare (the Buddha in a former life) for food. The fox brought fish, the ape brought fruit, but the bodhisattva hare, having nothing else to offer, threw himself on a fire and offered his roasted body. Indra was so moved by this act that he took the hare and placed him in the moon. Many people in central Asia still refer to the moon as the hare sign, or worship the hare in the moon.
Today the actual site of the Buddha's teaching at Sarnath and the several ruins in the area have been enclosed in a pleasant park. Nearby, a well-planned museum houses a number of unearthed statues, many barely damaged, as well as several other findings from the site. The museum's entrance is dominated by the famous lion capital from Ashoka's pillar (an indication of the Indian Government's renewed interest in Buddhism), has been adopted as the national emblem. The wheel design on its base has become the central figure of India's flag.
Adjacent to the park is the Mahabodhi Society's Mulaghandaluti Temple, an imposing building containing certain relics of the Buddha. Close by is the Society's sangharama and a library possessing a rare collection of buddhist literature. Also in the vicinity are Burmese, Chinese and Tibetan temples, as well as a Tibetan monastery and the Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, where two hundred young monks practise and study the many aspects of the Buddha's teaching, aspiring to qualify for the degree of acharya. There is also a Tibetan printing press, The Pleasure of Elegant Sayings, which over the last decade has published more than thirty Tibetan texts of buddhist treatises, otherwise hard to find. Thus the wheel of Dharma that Shakyamuni first turned at Sarnath continues to revolve.

Rajgir, Rajgir India, Rajgir in India, India Rajgir, Temple of Rajgir, Rajgir Travel, Travel to Rajgir, Rajgir Tour, Rajgir Tours, Rajgir Buddhist Place, Buddhist Place Rajgir, Rajgir India Buddhist Place Rajgir: Second turning of the Wheel of Dharma

When Gautama the ascetic first visited Rajgir on his way to Bodhgaya he was met by King Bimbisara. The king was so impressed by the bodhisattva that he tried every means to persuade him to stay. Failing in this, he received a promise that Gautama would return to Rajgir after his enlightenment. Accordingly, after teaching in Sarnath, the Buddha travelled to Rajgir, the royal capital of Magadha, followed by over a thousand monks of the new order. King Bimbisara welcomed them all and offered the Veluvana Bamboo Grove. This was to be the first property of the Order and one of the Buddha's favourite residences. The site was ideal for a monastic order, being not too near the city, calm by day and night, free from biting insects and having mild air and tanks of cool water. Thus it was suited to the practice of meditation, and here Shakyamuni passed the first rainy season retreat following his enlightenment. He was to return to this place for several rainy season retreats later in his life. When Hsuan Chwang visited Rajgir he saw a monastery and the Kalanda tank, where Shakyamuni bathed and which still exists. Close to this stood an Ashoka Stupa and a pillar surmounted by an elephant. Not far away King Ajatasatru had built two stupas, one over the portion of the Buddha's relics that he had received, the other over half of Ananda's body. Later Ashoka unearthed the first of these to obtain relics for his 84,000 stupas.

Perhaps the most important event of the Buddha's first visit to Rajgir was the conversion of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana. The story of their conversion is as follows. Ashvajit, last of the five ascetics to be converted by Buddha, was making his alms round one morning and happened to meet Sariputra. Sariputra was greatly impressed by the monk's noble and subdued demeanor, and asked him what teachings he followed. Sariputra immediately attained arhantship, and when he repeated what he had heard to his friend Maudgalyayana, he also instantly achieved the same. Later, stupas were erected at the places associated with these events. The two left their teacher Sanjaya and came with 500 of their former followers to meet the Buddha. Buddha welcomed both as his chief disciples, Sariputra having the greater intelligence, Maudgalyayana wielding the greatest miraculous powers. Both were born near Rajgir and later, retiring to their respective villages, entered nirvana before the Buddha did. During his stay in Rajgir, Shakyamuni received two significant invitations: one from his father King Suddhodana, the other from a wealthy merchant who wanted him to spend the next rainy season in Shravasti. Accepting both, the Buddha returned briefly to Kapilavastu and sent Sariputra to Shravasti to prepare for his visit there. Shakyamuni later visited Rajgir on a number of occasions. On several of these, attempts were made on his life. Once a lay follower of the nirgrantha jains concealed a fire-pit in front of his house and invited the Buddha to a meal of poisoned food. However, the pit changed into a lotus pond with a flower bridge and the Buddha proved that one freed of all inner poisons could not be harmed by external means. At another time he predicted the birth of a son to the wife of a jain, who in defiance killed her. But as her body was being burnt, the child came forth from amidst the flames. Stupas marking these places were later seen by the Chinese pilgrims.
King Ajatasatru, who had usurped his father Bimbisara's throne and allowed him to die in prison, came under the evil influence of Shakyamuni's jealous cousin Devadatta, who had tried to force the Buddha to permit him to lead the Order. Failing to achieve this, Devadatta invited the young king to harm the Buddha. Professional assassins were hired for this purpose, yet in the end they fell at the Buddha's feet in devotion. The king then let loose a maddened elephant from his palace, but the animal, affected by the Buddha's presence, fell on its knees out of homage to him. It is also in Rajgir that a young boy later to be reborn as the great king Ashoka came to him and offered him a handful of sand, wishing it were gold. Yet the most important of all associations of the Buddha with Rajgir is that with Vulture's Peak, a small mountain just outside the city. Here, sixteen years after his enlightenment, he set forth the second turning of the wheel of Dharma to an assembly of 5,000 monks, nuns and laity, as well as innumerable bodhisattvas. This collection of teachings, which extended over twelve years, includes the Saddharmapundarika Sutra and the Surangama Samadhi Sutra, as well as many Prajna-paramita Sutras, which, as the Buddha himself told Ananda, contain the very essence of all his teachings. Mahakashyapa recorded these latter teachings and Shakyamuni placed them in the custody of the nagas until such time as men were ready to receive them. The Buddha's respect for Mahakashyapa was such that when they first met, the two exchanged cloaks. The great disciple now resides within the Gurupada Mountain near Bodhgaya. Here he awaits Maitreya, upon whom he will place the cloak of Shakyamuni.
When the Chinese pilgrims visited Vulture's Peak they found the summit green and bare. Fa Hien mentions a cave and Hsuan Chwang a hall slightly below it, where the Buddha is said to have sat and preached. Here also he once reached through the mountain with his hand to calm Ananda, whose meditation was being disturbed by Mara in the form of a vulture. Before the cave were the walking and sitting places of the previous buddhas, and a stupa where the Saddharmapundarika Sutra was taught.
King Bimbisara built a causeway leading up to the hill. At the foot of the hill was Amaravana, the mango grove offered to the Buddha by the physician Jivaka. The remains of what was once a monastery may still be seen here. According to Hsuan Chwang, at one time on Vulture's Peak there was a monastery occupied by many meditators and several arhants. The final journey of Buddha's life, which ended with the mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar began at Rajgir. Shortly after this, the First Council-an assembly of 500 monks presided over by Mahakashyapa-met under the patronage of Ajatasatru in the Shrataparna Cave, a short distance southwest of Veluvana Bamboo Park, and compiled the Buddha's teachings into a collection known as the Sthaviranikaya. A stupa once marked the spot where, with great exertion, Ananda achieved arhantship on the night before the council in order that he might attend. Ashoka later erected a stupa in honour of this First Council at the place a distance west of Shrataparna Cave where at the same time the mahasanghikas, regarded by some as proto-mahayanists, compiled their canon. According to Nagarjuna, an assembly of bodhisattvas also met on Vimalasvabhava Mountain, located to the south of Rajgir, and compiled the mahayana scriptures. Nagarjuna states that Samantabhadra presided over this meeting, while Vajrapani recited the Sutras, Maitreya the Vinaya and Manjushri the Abhidharma.
Today, Rajgir is a picturesque and serene place, visited by pilgrims from all over the globe. It has also gained recognition as a health resort due to its hot springs and healthy climate.
Places to See -
Shanti Stupa - located on top of the Ratnagiri hill, 3kms from the hot springs is reached by a chair-lift.
Ruins - the main sites include parts of the ruined city, caves and places associated with Ajatashatru and his father Bhimbisara like Ajatashatru's Fort
Griddhakuta - or the 'hills of Vultures' was one of Buddha's favourite places where he delivered some of his most famous sermons and converted King Bhimbisara of the Magadha Kingdom and countless others to creed.
Saptparni Cave - located on one of the hills is where the first Buddhist council was held immediately after Buddha attained nirvana. The Cave is also the source of Rajgir's hot water springs that have curative properties and is sacred to Hindus. There is also a Burmese temple, an interesting Jain exhibition and a modern Japanese temple.

 Sravasti : Teachings in the Jetavana Grove

Sravasti, Sravasti India, Sravasti in India, India Sravasti, Sravasti Temple, Sravasti Tour, Sravasti Travel, Sravasti Tourism, Sravasti Travel Guide, India Sravasti Tour Sravasti is one of the eight most important pilgrimages of Buddhists. While Lord Buddha walked from Kapilavastu in Nepal to Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, renounced the world and attained mahaparinirvana, he left behind a trail of footsteps which are revered till today. Sravasti is one such place. According to legend, it is here where Buddha confounded his critics by making them witness a miraculous million-fold self manifestation seated on a thousand-petalled lotus, as fire and water emanated from his body. The prophet of peace is also said to have spent 25 rainy seasons here, teaching people the essence of his gentle creed.
The religious character of Sravasti derives also from the fact that Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, visited the town frequently. Apart from this, the city also finds mention in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata as a prosperous city of the Kosala Kingdom. The mythological king Sravasta, is said to have founded it.
Excavations at Sravasti have also revealed two pillars raised here by Emperor Ashoka, the great Indian King who was largely responsible for spreading the word of Buddhism. The pillars, which lie at the eastern gate of Jetavana, mark Ashoka's pilgrimage to the city.
Essentially a temple town, Sravasti will take one back in time, bring somewhat closer to the soul of a civilization which has been there, for five thousand years, or more.
Excursions (Shravasti)  Devi Patan Temple : 28 Km. One of the most important Shaktipeeth in the entire region, it is revered by Hindu devotees of India and Nepal.
Shobhanath Temple : The `Shobhanath' temple is believed to be the birth place of Jain tirthankar 'Sambhavanath', making Shravasti an important centre for the Jains.

Maheth: Identified with the remains of the city, Maheth covers an area of about 400 acres. Excavations have exposed the massive gates of the city, ramparts and also the ruins of other structures, which stand testimony to the prosperity of ancient Sravasti. The Sobhanath Temple is located here. Pakki Kuti and Kacchi Kuti were probably Buddhist shrines, before they were converted into Brahmanical temples.

Saheth: Known primarily as the site of the Jetavana monastery, Saheth covers an area of 32 acres. Lying about a quarter of a mile to the south - west of Maheth, it became an important place of pilgrimage, adorned with numerous shrines, stupas and monasteries. The stupas belong mostly to the Kushana period, while the temples are in the Gupta style.

Sankashya: Lord Buddha descended from Tushita Heaven Sankashya: Lord Buddha descended from Tushita Heaven

The most westward and perhaps most obscure of the eight places of pilgrimage is Sankashya, whose name may derive from a stupa built there by Kashyapa Buddha's father and dedicated to his son. This is the last of the four places common to the buddhas of this world. Some say that during his forty-first year Shakyamuni went up from Shravasti to the Tushita Heaven and passed the rainy season retreat teaching Abhidharma to his mother, Queen Mayadevi, who had died seven days after Buddha's birth and been reborn as a male god in Tushita. The same happens to the mothers of all the buddhas, and they too later go to teach them, afterwards descending to Sankashya. Seven days before his descent the Buddha set aside his invisibility. Anuruddha perceived him by his divine sight and urged Maudgalyayana to go and greet him. The great disciple did so, telling the Buddha that the Order longed to see him. This was the time Prasenajit's statue was made. Shakyamuni replied that in seven days he would return to the world. A great assembly of the kings and people of the eight kingdoms gathered. As the Buddha descended, a flight of gold stairs appeared, down which he came. He was accompanied on the right by Brahma, who, holding a white chowny, descended on a crystal staircase, while to the left Indra came down a flight of silver stairs, holding a jewelled umbrella. A great host of gods followed. 
The Buddha bathed immediately after his descent, and later a bathing house and stupa were built to mark the site. Stupas were also raised at the spot where he cut his hair and nails, and where he entered samadhi. The Chinese pilgrims describe further stupas and a chankramana where Shakyamuni and the previous buddhas had walked and sat in meditation. The three flights of stairs disappeared into the ground, but for seven steps of each, which remained above. When Ashoka came here later he had men dig into the earth around the protrusions in order to discover their depth. Although they reached the level of water, they could not find the stairs' end. With increased faith, Ashoka then built a temple over them with a standing image of the Buddha above the middle flight. Behind this temple he erected a great pillar surmounted by an elephant capital. Because the tail and trunk had been destroyed, both Chinese pilgrims mistook this for a lion.
Hsuan Chwang tells that the original stairs had existed until a few centuries before his visit, when they disappeared. Various kings built replicas of ornamented brick and stone, with a temple containing images of Shakyamuni, Brahma and Indra above them. These were within the walls of a monastery, which he describes as excellently ornamented and having many fine images. He further says that some hundreds of monks dwelt there and that the community had lay followers. Two centuries earlier Fa Hien found roughly 1,000 monks and nuns living here pursuing their studies, some hinayana and some mahayana. Both pilgrims tell stories of a white-eared dragon who lived close to the monastery, caring for it and the surrounding area. Fa Hien especially remarks on the abundant produce of the land and the prosperity and happiness of the people.
Little seems to be known about Sankashya after the Chinese accounts. In 1862 General Cunningham identified the spot as being located outside an obscure village west of Farruhabad, above Kanpur, on the Ganges. Not much of the ancient glory of the place remains today. Within a deserted, fenced area stands a large mound topped by the crumbling ruins of a Hindu shrine, in which the former image has been replaced by a small representation of the Buddha. The elephant capital of Ashoka's pillar has been remounted on a ten-foot high pillar beneath a stone canopy. Another small shrine nearby contains a statue of Buddha. The surrounding grounds appear as if they might contain the ruined foundations of former buildings, but if any excavation has ever been done it is buried once more. This is the only one of the eight places of pilgrimage where today there is no temple, monastery or even a solitary monk. Perhaps the wildness of the area is the cause. With or without a dragon's aid, it may be hoped that this will change.

Nalanda : Site of the great monastic universityNalanda, Nalanda India, Nalanda in India, India Nalanda, Nalanda University, Nalanda Tour, Nalanda Buddhist Place, Buddhist Pligrimage Nalanda, Nalanda Pilgrimage Tour,

Nalanda is one of the greatest centers of learning in the ancient times. It is located in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. A small village now, Nalanda is situated around 72 km off Patna, the capital of Bihar and is part of the Buddhist Circuit that also includes Bodh Gaya and Rajgir. The village has a good network of roads that connects it to the other cities of the state. Nalanda is one of the places distinguished as having been blessed by the presence of the Buddha, it later became particularly renowned as the site of the great monastic university of the same name, which was to become the crown jewel of the development of Buddhism in India. The name may derive from one of Shakyamuni's former births, when he was a king whose capital was here. Nalanda was one of his epithets meaning "insatiable in giving."
The ancient Buddhist University of Nalanda was founded in the fifth century AD. Nalanda is well known as an ancient seat of learning. However, today this ancient university lies in ruins. The place not only has the remains of the great university but also many monasteries, temples, and viharas built by different kings. Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous center of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries AD. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied. The university found patrons in Gupta, Kushan, and Pal kings in successive centuries. Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples and monasteries here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. The university remained in prominence till 12 century AD when the Afghans attacked Bengal and burnt down this great University.
A large number of ancient Buddhist establishments, stupas, chaityas, temples and monastery sites have been excavated and they show that this was one of the most important Buddhist centres of worship and culture.Regarding the historicity of Nalanda, we read in Jaina texts that Mahavira Vardhamana spent as many as fourteen rainy seasons in Nalanda.
Places to see -
Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex - The total area of the excavation of Nalanda University Ruins is about 14 hectares. All the buildings are of the red brick built in Kushana style of architecture and divided by a central walkway that goes south to north. The monasteries or viharas are to the east and the temple or chaityas to the west of the central alley.
Nalanda Archaeological Museum - Nalanda Archaeological Museum is opposite to the entrance of the ruins of the university. The museum is small yet has a valuable collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and a number of intact statues of the Lord Buddha found in the area. Two large terracotta jars belonging to the 1st century AD are intact and exhibited in a shaded enclosure behind the museum. The other items in the museum include the copper plates, stone inscriptions, coins, pottery and samples of burnt rice of 12th century AD.
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara - Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is an institute devoted to the study and research of Pali Literature and Buddhism. It is a new institute, where students from foreign countries also come to study.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall - A new construction in memory of the great Chinese traveler, Hieun Tsang.
Silao - In between Nalanda and Rajgir, there is a village namely Silao where a very popular local sweet "KHAJA" is prepared.
Surajpur Baragaon - The lake with its temple of Surya, the Sun God , is a pilgrim destination twice a year in "Vaishakha" (April-May) and in "Kartika" (October-November) during the Chhath Puja or Sun worship.

Kushinagar : Where Buddha entered mahaparinirvanaKushinagar : Where Buddha entered mahaparinirvana

Kushinagar, (Kushinara of Yore), is a revered place for Buddhist pilgrims, 55 kms away from Gorakhpur. Last of the places of pilgrimage is Kushinagar, where Shakyamuni entered mahaparinirvana. This was the furthest he had reached on his final journey, which retraced much of the road he had walked when many years before he had left Kapilavastu. When he reached his eighty-first year, Buddha gave his last major teaching - the subject was the thirty-seven wings of enlightenment - and left Vulture's Peak with Ananda to journey north. After sleeping at Nalanda he crossed the Ganges for the last time at the place where Patna now stands and came to the village of Beluva. Here the Buddha was taken ill, but he suppressed the sickness and continued to Vaisali. This was a city where Shakyamuni had often stayed in the beautiful parks that had been offered to him. It was also the principal location of the third turning of the wheel of Dharma. While staying at Vaisali, Buddha thrice mentioned to Ananda a buddha's ability to remain alive until the end of the aeon. Failing to understand the significance of this Ananda said nothing and went to meditate nearby. Shakyamuni then rejected prolonging his own life-span. When Ananda learned of this later he implored the Buddha to live longer but he was refused, for his request had come too late.
Coming to Pava, the blacksmith's son Kunda offered him a meal which included meat. It is said that all the buddhas of this world eat a meal containing meat on the eve of their passing away. Buddha accepted, but directed that no one else should partake of the food. Later it was learned that the meat was bad. He told Ananda that the merit created by offering an enlightened one his last meal is equal to that of offering food to him just prior to his enlightenment.
Between Pava and Kushinagar the Buddha rested near a village through which a caravan had just passed. The owner of the caravan, a Malla nobleman, came and talked to the Buddha. Deeply moved by Shakyamuni's teachings, he offered the Buddha two pieces of shining gold cloth. However, their lustre was completely outshone by Shakyamuni's radiance. It is said that a buddha's complexion becomes prodigiously brilliant on both the eve of his enlightenment and the eve of his decease.
The next day, when they arrived at the banks of the Hiranyavati river south of Kushinagar, the Buddha suggested that they should go to the caravan leader's sala grove. There, between two pairs of unusually tall trees, Shakyamuni lay down on his right side in the lion posture with his head to the north. Ananda asked if Rajgir or Shravasti, both great cities, would perhaps be more fitting places for his passing. The Buddha replied that in an earlier life as a bodhisattva king this had been Kushavati his capital, and at that time there had been no fairer nor more glorious city.
The noblemen of Kushinagar, informed of the Buddha's impending death, came to pay him respect. Among them was Subhadra, an 120-year-old brahmin who was much respected, but whom Ananda had turned away from the monkhood three times. However, the Buddha called the brahmin to his side, answered his questions concerning the six erroneous doctrines, and revealed to him the truth of the buddhist teaching. Subhadra asked to join the Sangha and was thus the last monk to be ordained by Shakyamuni. Subhadra then sat nearby in meditation, swiftly attained arhantship and entered parinirvana shortly before Shakyamuni.
As the third watch of the night approached, the Buddha asked his disciples thrice if there were any remaining perplexities concerning the doctrine or the discipline. Receiving silence, he gave them the famous exhortation: "Impermanence is inherent in all things. Work out your own salvation with diligence." Then, passing through the meditative absorptions, Shakyamuni Buddha entered mahaparinirvana. The earth shook, stars shot from the heavens, the sky in the ten directions burst forth in flames and the air was filled with celestial music. The master's body was washed and robed once more, then wrapped in a thousand shrouds and placed in a casket of precious substances.
For seven days, offerings were made by gods and men, after which, amidst flowers and incense, the casket was carried to the place of cremation in great procession. Some legends say that the Mallas offered their cremation hall for the purpose. A pyre of sweetly scented wood and fragrant oils had been built but, as had been foretold, it would not burn until Mahakashyapa arrived. When the great disciple eventually arrived, made prostrations and paid his respects, the pyre burst into flames spontaneously.
After the cremation had been completed the ashes were examined for relics. Only a skull bone, teeth and the inner and outer shrouds remained. The Mallas of Kushinagar first thought themselves most fortunate to have received all the relics of the Buddha's body. However, representatives of the other eight countries that constituted ancient India also came forth to claim them. To avert a conflict, the brahmin Drona suggested an equal, eightfold division of the relics between them. Some accounts state that in fact Shakyamuni's remains were first divided into three portions - one each for the gods, nagas and men - and that the portion given to humans was then subdivided into eight. The eight peoples each took their share to their own countries and the eight great stupas were built over them. In time these relics were again subdivided after Ashoka had decided to build 84,000 stupas. Today they are contained in various stupas scattered across Asia.
In later times Fa Hien found monasteries at Kushinagar, but when Hsuan Chwang came, the site was almost deserted. Hsuan Chwang did see an Ashoka stupa marking Kunda's house, the site of Buddha's last meal. Commemorating the mahaparinirvana was a large brick temple containing a recumbent statue of Buddha. Beside this was a partly ruined Ashoka stupa and a pillar with an inscription describing the event. Two more stupas commemorated former lives of the Buddha at the place. Both Chinese pilgrims mention a stupa where Shakyamuni's protector Vajrapani threw down his sceptre in dismay after Buddha's death, and some distance away a stupa at the place of cremation and another built by Ashoka where the relics were divided.
Kushinagar was rediscovered and identified before the end of the last century. Excavations have revealed that a monastic tradition flourished here for a long time. The remains of ten different monasteries dating from the fourth to the eleventh centuries have been found. Most of these ruins are now enclosed in a park, in the midst of which stands a modern shrine housing a large recumbent figure of the Buddha. This statue was originally made in Mathura and installed at Kushinagar by the monk Haribhadra during the reign of King Kumaragupta (415-56 CE), the alleged founder of Nalanda Monastery. When discovered late in the last century the statue was broken but it has now been restored. Behind this shrine is a large stupa dating from the Gupta age. This was restored early in this century by the Burmese. Not far away a small temple built on the Buddha's last resting place in front of the sala grove has also been restored. Some distance east a large stupa, now called Ramabhar, remains at the place of the cremation.
On one side of the park a former Chinese temple has been reopened as an international meditation centre. Next to it stands a large Burmese temple. On the south side of the park is a small Tibetan monastery with stupas in the Tibetan style beside it. Thus also at Kushinagar one can see dharmic activities alive even today.
The visiting sites of Kushinagar fall in three categories : The Mahaparinirvana Temple, commemorating the place of the great decease with a reclining statue of Lord Buddha, Mata Kunwar Shrine contains a 10th Century blue schist image of Buddha and; Rambhar Stupa, which is supposedly the spot where Lord Buddha was cremated and his relics divided into eight equal parts. Apart from this, a Chinese Temple, a Buddhist Temple, a Tibetan Temple and the Indo-Japan-Srilanka Buddhist Center hold significant religious value for pilgrims. 
Kushinagar is 55 km away from Gorakhpur. Gorakhpur is a district of Uttar Pradesh and well connected to all major cities by rail. One can also take the road, if so desired. Gorakhpur is connected to all major cities of Uttar Pradesh by road. 

1 comment:

  1. nice share buddhist place in india..... if you find car for rent please click and book online..... Visit Car hire for agra