Sarnath:

(The place where Buddha set the Dhamma rolling)

Sarnath is located around 10 km from the ancient city of Varanasi and is one of the most important centers of pilgrimage for the Buddhists. It was here where Buddha preached his first sermon and the Dhammacakkra was set rolling through the preaching of Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta.

After attaining enlightenment at Uruvela, Budhha was undecided about teaching Dhamma to others, but on inspiration from Brahma Sahampati he set out to teach the five ascetics who have served him for six years but left him after he abandoned the path of self- mortification. These five ascetics were Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, and Assaji.

Budhha reached the Deer park on a full moon night of Asarha month, and that very night he gave his first sermon, the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, which led to Kondanna attaining the first stage of sainthood. Later all of them attained the Arahantship after the preaching of Anattalakkhana Sutta. In Sarnath Buddha preached the rich man Yash and his 54 followers and they became Arahants. Later Buddha asked all these 60 Arahants to go in different directions with no two Arahants going on the same road, thus establishing the order of monks or Sangha.

Emperor Asoka visited this place in 249 BC and erected several monuments to mark this pilgrimage, including Dhamek Stupa, Dharmarajika Stupa and Asoka Pillar with the lion capital atop, this capital is now India’s national emblem.

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