Sarnath is one of the most holy places for the Buddhists. Also popular as the Mrigadava, Migadāya, Rishipattana, Isipatana, Sarnath is a deer park, where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon about Dharma. It is located about 13 kilometers north-east of Varanasi, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is counted by the Buddhists as one of the most famous pilgrimage and religious sites of India. Thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world visit Sarnath to pay homage to lord Buddha.
It is after the attainment of enlightenment at Bodh Gaya that Lord Buddha came to the holy city of Sarnath. The teaching of Dharma started to flow among the Buddhist pilgrims from this very place. It is this holy place, where Buddha met with the five men, whom he told about the “Middle Way” of living, i.e, neither in asceticism and luxury. These five men became his first disciples getting impressed by his teachings.
The teachings of Lord Buddha are not intended for the purpose of debate but for the well being of the human beings. He taught the Four Noble Truths and set the Eight-fold path. The prescribed Eight fold paths are the following:
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
- Right attitude
- Right view
The deer park at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh had a monastic tradition that thrived for more than 1,500 years. It is at this place that the great emperor Asoka constructed the Ashoka Pillar that measures 15.24 meters in height. The pillar has four sided lion heads, which has become the National Emblem of India. You can get to see this at the Sarnath Museum. Here, you can also find displays of rich collection of Buddhist sculptures, images of Buddha and some brilliant specimens of the Buddhist art.
The Dhamekha Stupa is a brilliant piece of structure that has the inscription of the first sermon delivered by Lord Buddha. The stupa was originally constructed by Ashoka. The designs of Swastika are engraved all over the stupa. Thousands of pilgrims and followers of Buddhism visit Sarnath every year.