Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja and historical journey of India .

Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja are not only the holy festivals of Hindus, but they also reflect the entire ancient “INDIANNESS”
The oldest signs of Hindu civilization are visible in this festival even today.

According to the Hindu calendar, the seasons have been divided into six types.
These are:-
1.SPRING (BASANT) 2. SUMMER (GRISMA)3. MONSOON(VARSHA ) 4. AUTUMN (SHARAD)5. WINTER (HEMANTA )6.WINTER (SHISHIRA)

When spring (BASANT) arrives yellow mustard flowers start appearing all over North India.

yellow mustard flowers

BASANT PANCHMI

Spring is called the king of all seasons. For this reason it is also addressed by the nameBasantraj.

There is neither too much heat nor too much cold in the spring season, the weather is very pleasant. In the spring season new leaves appear on the trees, new buds appear on the flowers, in a nutshell nature can be seen in its most beautiful form.

The festival of Basant Panchami is celebrated in the joy of the arrival of the spring season.

It is customary to wear yellow clothes on Basant Panchami, yellow clothes are probably a symbol of embracing the color of nature, because with the arrival of spring, yellow mustard flowers start appearing all over North India.

In rural areas, it seems as if the mother earth has worn yellow clothes. Mother Saraswati is worshiped on Basant Panchami, for this reason. Basant Panchami is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja Day.

According to the Puranas, Lord Krishna was pleased with Goddess Saraswati and gave her a boon that she would also be worshiped on Vasant Panchami, and since then Saraswati, the goddess of learning, was also worshiped on Vasant Panchami, which continues unabated till date.

Image : Wikimedia

Maharaja Ranjit Singh holding court outside near the Golden Temple in Amritsar with everyone dressed in Basant (yellow)

Image :From Wikimedia Commons

Maharaja Ranjit Singh on horseback with attendants with all dressed in Basant (yellow).

GODDESS SARASWATI

The Veena in the hands of Goddess Saraswati is a symbol of artistry and music. The book in the hands of Goddess Saraswati gives knowledge and the rosary gives the sense of piety and religion. The vehicle flamingo is the symbol of beauty and melodious voice.

GODDESS SARASWATI is considered as the goddess of knowledge .(the goddess of literature, music, arts etc.)

The description of Goddess Saraswati can be found in quite detail in ancient Hindu scriptures. The oldest description of Goddess Saraswati is given in Rigveda, the oldest of all the 4 Vedas.

VEDAS: Vedas are the most ancient religious texts of Hindu religion. There are four Vedas. 1.Rigveda 2.Yajurveda 3.Samaveda 4. Atharvaveda . Rigveda is the most ancient of them (Rigveda was composed around 1700 BC).

BEST OF MOTHERS, THE BEST OF RIVERS , BEST OF GODDESSES , SARASWATI.

RIGVEDA

Best of mothers :- In Hindu religion, the place of mother has always been considered the highest and most worshipable, therefore all Hindu goddesses are depicted and described as mothers.

The Best of Rivers :- In ancient times in India there was a river named Saraswati which was considered the most sacred of all the rivers. It is said that this river disappeared because of drying up around 2600 BC.

Best of Goddesses :- In Hinduism, knowledge has always been considered supreme, so it is natural to give the highest place to the goddess of knowledge.

In two other major branches of Hinduism namely-: Buddhism and Jainism, Goddess Saraswati has been praised with all respect.
Since ancient times, India has always been known as the land of knowledge, this belief got further strength during the time of Buddha. During that time, when foreign students studying in major universities of India returned to their motherland after receiving education, they carried many Indian traditions with them.

Because of this, as Buddhism spread, so did the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. This resulted in the Chinese and the Japanese also worshiping Goddess Saraswati.

OM SARASWATYAI SVAHA  (Sanskrit)

ON SARASOBATEIEI SOWAKA (JAPANESE)

IMAGE : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A sculpture of Benzaiten, Goddess of arts, Saraswati, Hase-dera Temple, Kamakura Japan.

IMAGE : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

1150 CE Hoysaleswara temple Halebidu Karnataka, Dancing Saraswati.

INDIA’S LOST SARASWATI SCRIPT .

The pictographic script found in the Indus Valley Civilizations is also called the Saraswati writing .

Seals found in Saraswati civilization excavation.

The development of Saraswati civilization started about 8000 years ago. According to historians these seals date back to 15oo BC. Some figures are made on these seals and the text is written in Saraswati script, unfortunately historians have not been able to read Saraswati script till date.

THE SARASWATI CIVILIZATION OR INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

This civilization is also known as the Indus Valley Civilization due to the disappearance of the Saraswati River thousands of years ago and due to its present location on the banks of the Indus River.
Historians like B. B. Lal, Dales, Danino, Kenoyer referred to this civilization as Saraswati Valley Civilization due to the fact that more than 60% area of the seven major cities found in Indus Valley Civilization and 80% of the remains found in Mohenjodaro were found on the banks of the lost Saraswati River.

AREA AROUND THE LOST SARASWATI RIVER

THE SARASWATI CIVILIZATION OR Indus Valley Civilization is considered one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. According to research done in recent years, this civilization is at least 8,000 years old. This civilization was spread in the western part of South Asia, which is currently known as Pakistan and Western India.

The Indus Valley Civilization was the most advanced among other contemporary civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China.

Evidence of worship of trees, rivers, earth, animals is also found in some seals found in the Saraswati valley civilization.
It is quite possible that like the river Saraswati, the tradition of seeing and worshiping the Saraswati script as a mother has started from the time of Saraswati civilization itself.

GODDESS SARASWATI WORSHIP IN MODERN TIME

Idol worship was prohibited during the Islamic rule, but this ban was completely removed during the British rule, the tradition of celebrating Saraswati Puja once again gained momentum during the British rule. Another reason for the popularity of Saraswati Puja festival was the establishment of modern educational institutions during the British rule.

Hindus soon adopted the British education system and many educational institutions were also established by rich Hindus, Goddess Saraswati is considered the goddess of knowledge, so gradually the worship of Goddess Saraswati started in educational institutions. After the independence of India, the expansion of Saraswati Puja happened more rapidly which was natural. Presently Saraswati Puja is a festival celebrated in educational institutions across whole India.

The idol of Goddess Saraswati is made from clay and bamboo. Every year a new idol is made on the day of Basant Panchami.

The festival of Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja is banned in Pakistan.

What an irony it is that celebrating Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja is a crime at the place where mostly Saraswati Civilization remains are found, the place where Saraswati river used to flow, where the Saraswati script was born.

After the partition of India-Pakistan, Pakistan became an Islamic country, so Saraswati Puja was banned here, but the tradition of thousands of years of celebrating the festival of Basant Panchami continued till recent years with some changes.

The spring festival in Pakistan was limited to wearing yellow clothes and flying kites, but a few years ago kite flying was also declared un-Islamic, possibly due to Taliban influence.

If viewed with this perspective, Saraswati Puja is not just a Hindu festival, but the history of the entire Hindu religion, and the saga of gradual development of India’s history is stored in itself. Definitely someday historians will succeed in reading Saraswati script and we all will get a chance to get acquainted with many untold, untouched aspects of the Saraswati civilization.

Some interesting stories from Vivekananda’s life

If you want to know India, study Vivekananda.
In him everything is positive and nothing negative. (Romain Rolland, in a letter written to Swami Ashokananda informed that Rabindranath Tagore once told him these words.

NATIONAL YOUTH DAY

Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, January 12th, has been declared as National Youth Day by the Government of India. The Government of India mentioned the significance of this day as follows-

“It was felt that the Philosophy of Swami ji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration to the Indian youth”.

Swami Vivekananda was born in Calcutta on 12th January 1863, according to the Hindu calendar, that day was also the festival of Makar Sankranti.

On hearing the name ‘Swami Vivekananda’, an image of a serious personality emerges in one’s mind. This is also true to some extent, but there is another aspect of Vivekananda’s personality as well, which is Vivekananda’s funny nature.

Sometimes Swamiji used to explain many serious things in a very hilarious and light-hearted manner, I have compiled some such incidents here.

Why did Vivekananda shave without looking in the mirror?

In those days it was not customary to shave at home. Generally, people used to go to the barber shop to shave, everyone had their own favorite barber, but Swami Vivekananda, who lived in Bellur Math in those days, was famous for shaving himself, and that too without using a mirror.

When someone used to discuss this habit of his with Swami ji , he used to tell that he had developed this habit during his stay in America.

Swami ji used to mention an incident that once he went to a barber shop to get his beard shaved during his stay in America, but that barber refused to shave him.

The barber said that he could not shave them because if his white customers came to know that this barber has shaved a black person they would boycott his shop as black people are also shaved here.
After this incident, Swamiji decided to shave himself and this habit of his remained even after he returned to India.

Is playing football more important than reading the Gita?

The Gita is one of the most sacred religious texts of the Hindus. Gita has the same importance among Hindus as Bible among Christians and Quran among Muslims.

Once a strange-looking young man came to Swami Vivekananda and urged that he wanted Swami Ji to explain him the knowledge of Gita in simple language.

Swami Vivekananda looked at the young man carefully and said that young man listen to me carefully “Playing football is more important for you than understanding the knowledge of the Gita”.The young man asked with surprise why so?
Vivekananda smilingly said that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.
To understand the knowledge of Gita, it is necessary to have a healthy mind, and a healthy mind will nurture and cherish only when the body is healthy.

The young man, after listening to Swami ji went back and for 6 months spent his time playing football, exercising, and meditating which thereby resulted in a drastic improvement in his health.

After six months, the young man recovered and came to Swami Vivekananda and once again requested him to preach on Gita. Swami ji did not disappoint the young man this time and explained to him the essence of Gita in quite a detail.

The young man was so impressed by Swami ji’s lecture on Gita that he later founded Gita Prachar Mandal(an organization to explain the teachings of Gita in simple language to the general public) and wrote a poetic version of Gita in Bengali. That young man was none other than Satendra Banerjee.

THE MONK WHO LOVED TEA

CHA ~ TEA

Everyone is aware of Vivekananda’s love for tea. In those days tea was considered a stimulant drink and the consumption of tea was prohibited in monasteries. Swami Vivekananda used to drink about 20 – 25 cups of tea a day. He categorically refused to consider tea as a stimulating and harmful drink, describing it as an invigorating drink. Tea was also considered a beverage for the elite class in India, Swami Vivekananda had a major contribution in the democratization of tea. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT : https://nithinks.com/2021/06/10/a-happily-tea-adict-country/

When swami Vivekananda got angry

Vivekananda very rarely got angry. But once in Varanasi, when people were not paying attention to his words because of his young age, he angrily said that “I shall not return until I burst on society like a bomb shell, and it will follow me like a dog”  

People were stunned to see Swami ji angry, this anger of Swami ji was not a part of his nature but it was a fury born out of the neglect of the elite class.

People who were witnesses to this incident said that Swami Vivekananda was repeatedly urging the enlightened people of Varanasi city to donate to the welfare of the poor, but people were not paying much attention considering him young, so Swami ji could not control his temperament.

My effort in this post was to show some untouched aspects of Vivekananda’s life, if anyone of you has some unique information related to Vivekananda, please share it with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Makar Sankranti: A Glimpse of the Evolution of Hindu History

MAKAR SANKRANTI is one of the most popular ancient festivals of Hindus. There has been no significant change in the way of celebrating the Makarsankranti festival for thousands of years.

Diversity can be seen in this festival due to local food and traditions, but this diversity makes this festival even more attractive and adds to its beauty.

LOHRI

(PIXABAY) FIREWOOD LOHRI CELIBRATION

Makar Sankranti is known as Lohri in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, and Haryana.

THE FESTIVAL OF LOHRI is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti. It is a tradition to celebrate this festival in the open at night on the eve of Makar Sankranti. The family members sit together in a circle around the fire. At this time rewdi, peanuts, lava, etc. are eaten and local folk songs called Dulla Bhati are sung.

SANKRANTI

Makara Sankranti is known as Sankranti in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

“Women celebrating Pongal festival in India”.

PONGAL

In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Pongal. Pongal is the main festival of Tamil Nadu state of South India. It marks the beginning of the Tamil New Year.

IMAGE : UNSPLASH

Making of the famous South Indian dish “Sakkarai Pongal” aka Sweet Pongal made with rice, jaggery, and other condiments to celebrate the Pongal Festival aka “Uzhavar Thirunaal”

On Pongal, there is a tradition of cleaning the entire house, offering dishes made from new crops to Lord Sun, and seeking his blessings.
It is also a festival of new crops, so the tools and animals used in agriculture are also worshiped on this day.

KHICHDI

KHICHDI is A dish in South Asian cuisine made of rice and lentils.

In Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar, Makar Sankranti is also known as Khichdi, because, on this day after morning bath and donation, Khichdi is cooked for lunch. (KHICHDI is A dish in South Asian cuisine made of rice and lentils ). There is also a tradition of flying kites on this day all over central India.

IMAGE UNSPLASH

Foods made with jaggery, lai (made by roasting paddy, millet, Lava etc.) chuda (Flattened rice,) sesame, etc. are consumed in this festival.

IMAGE UNSPLASH

WAR OF KITES ~ KAI PO CHE

As mentioned earlier there is a tradition of kite flying on Makar Sankranti in the whole of Central India, but Gujarat has no match.
On Makarsankranti, kite flying is a sight to behold in the entire state of Gujarat. The whole sky is filled with colorful kites, and the environment echoes with one, and only one sound – Kai Po Che. When a person cuts off another person’s kite. It’s a victory shot.

As night falls, paper lanterns replace the kites. The whole sky is filled with light, and different types of lanterns are seen in the whole sky.

KITE FESTIVAL

The International Kite Festival is also organized on this day on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat , in this kite festival, people from all over the world participate. The kite festival runs for a week.

WHAT IS MEANT BY MAKAR SANKRANTI ?

The origin of the word Makar Sankranti is from the combination of two words Makar and Sankranti.

Makara means Capricorn and Sankranti means entering.

The festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the day the Sun enters Capricorn.
In simple language, this day signifies the advent of the spring season and the end of the winter season.

People taking a dip in the holy Ganges at dawn on Makar Sankranti festival

Its ancient form is the same all over India. Like ancient times, even today people, on Makar Sankranti, bathe in holy rivers, and donate to the poor and needy.
This day is also a symbol of the new crops, so dishes made from the new crops are also cooked in every house, for this reason, it is also called the festival of crops.


Feeding birds on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi on the occasion of Makarsankranti. The local people gave me a piece of interesting information about these birds. These are Siberian birds which migrate to the plains of India every year in winter to escape the extreme cold of Siberia.
And by the end of February, when the outbreak of cold subsides, they again return back to Siberia.

WHY IS MAKAR SANKRANTI ALWAYS CELEBRATED ON JANUARY 14th? (WELL,IT WASN’T ALWAYS.)

In many ancient civilizations, there has been a tradition of depicting the Sun as a deity. Amazingly, both in the Greek and Hindu depictions, Surya(Sun) is shown as a human being riding a chariot. According to the Hindu religion, the chariot of Lord Surya is harnessed by seven horses, perhaps these seven horses represent the seven constituent colors that are present in the sunlight.

At present, Makar Sankranti is celebrated on 14th January for years, so it is a common belief that the festival of Makar Sankranti falls on 14th January, which is incorrect.

According to the Hindu calendar, every year the entry of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn is delayed by 20 minutes, so the date of Makar Sankranti shifts forward by one day in 72 years.

According to Pandit Ganesh Mishra, astrologer of Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U),

Makar Sankranti was celebrated for the first time on January 14th in 1902.

Earlier in the 18th century, the festival of Makar Sankranti was celebrated on 12th and 13th January. At present, due to the leap year, its date falls on 15th January every fourth year. In this way, Makar Sankranti will be celebrated for the last time on January 14th in 2077. 900 years ago, Makar Sankranti was celebrated on January 1st.

HISTORICAL EVIDENCE

The great Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana. Around 627 to 643 CE, Hiuen Tsang lived in India. During this, he described the Makar Sankranti festival in Prayag.

According to Hiuen Tsang, there was great enthusiasm for the 75-day festival of Magha Mela, from the general public to King Harshavardhana. The festival of Magh Mela started on the auspicious day of Makarsankranti

PRAYAG RAJ

MAGHA MELA PRAYAGRAJ :- Even today, on the banks of Sangam in Prayagraj, from the day of Makar Sankranti, a religious fair is organized for 45 days, which is known as Magh Mela.

The great emperor Harshavardhana also took a holy dip at the Sangam bank along with thousands of people and donated all the wealth of his treasury to the poor people. It is said that Harshavardhan donated all his wealth to the poor, even his clothes. This proves that taking a dip in the holy rivers and donating on Makar Sankranti is a tradition that has been going on for thousands of years.

Realizing the power of religion and culture

A man offering prayers after taking a bath in the holy waters of the Ganges.

Following are the holy cities, on the banks of the Ganges, where on the day of Makar Sankranti, the religious importance of donating after taking a bath is very high.
1) Haridwar

2) Hrishikesh

3) PRAYAG

4) VARANASI

5) GANGASAGAR

Rivers provide life to the entire creation with their water, so expressing respect towards them is an integral part of Hindu religious rituals.

Hindu women offering Ganga water to Lord Shiva after taking a dip in the holy Ganges at dawn on Makar Sankranti festival.

Just as Christianity binds the whole of Europe in one thread despite many differences in Europe, in the same way Sanatan Dharma binds the entire Aryavarta in a thread of unique unity. North Indian, South Indian, Punjabi, Marathi, sadhus, saints, and householders, all can be seen together entwined in the spirit of unity.

Tales of Hindu struggle

IMAGE BRITISH LIBRARY

Eve Of The Eclipse Of The Moon, 25th November 1825.  “Benares Illustrated” JAMES PRINSEP

There is an ancient tradition of bathing in the holy Ganges in some ancient festivals of Hindus. On the eve of lunar eclipse, a huge crowd can be seen at Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi, performing rituals after bathing in the Ganges.

 ‘ Conjunctions of the planets, eclipses and Sankrant, or the Sun’s entrance into the zodiacal signs, are accounted the most auspicious moments for bathing in the Ganges…For two or three days previous to such an event, pilgrims and travelling parties…assemble in groups upon the terraces and balconies of the temples and houses near the river. Every vacant spot is put in requisition and hired out by the square foot…the scene bears more the character of a fair (mela)…At the eclipse of the 25th Nov. the crowd was unusually great, and no less than forty lives were lost in the press of bathers at the first glimpse of the moon’s obscured visage. Most of the figures in the view were drawn and finished on the spot…The smoke on the left hand points out the spot on which the dead are burned, a place dedicated to Vishnoo…In the crowd are seen a couple of Missionaries distributing tracts with zeal as ardent, and perhaps as unavailing as that of the poor Suttees themselves…’. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MANIKARNIKA GHAT PLEASE VISIT :- https://nithinks.com/2021/01/18/makar-sankranti-is-an-ancient-hindu-festival-or-the-burden-of-old-tradition/

When the temples of Hindus were being demolished, their religious places were being desecrated, then it was the Sanatani festivals that connected Hindus with their roots. Hindus threw off Islamic imperialism as soon as they got the chance to do so. It can be a matter of surprise for any person that even after facing Islamic imperialism for centuries, the majority of the country’s population is Sanatani.

Will Rahul Gandhi’s long walk revivify congress ?

Will Rahul Gandhi’s plan to repeat what Mahatma did, be successful in 2022?

In a healthy democracy both the ruling party and the opposition have a responsibility to the country and surely the people will judge them in the discharge of that responsibility. ~R VENKATARMAN

Who is responsible for starting padayatras in India?

If we look at the modern history of India, then we come to know thatBIG AND LONG WALKS (PADYATRAS)have been of great importance. The most successful use of which, in politics was done by Mahatma Gandhi.

Indian politics is still largely influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s mannerisms, for Indian politicians leave no stone unturned to show themselves influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas. Undoubtedly, Mahatma Gandhi remains the brightest star in the sky of Indian politics to date.

The biggest question is, can government power be captured from the ruling party by Gandhian methods?

Will Rahul Gandhi’s plan to repeat what Mahatma did, be successful in 2022?

What is meant by Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra?

Bharat jodo literally means unite india .

Congress party is calling this yatra a movement and urging all the people of the country to join this yatra.

When did the Yatra start? Where will it eventually go?


Bharat Jodo Yatra will start from Kanyakumari, the last city of far south India and will go till Sri Nagar in Kashmir. During this, the passengers involved in the journey will cover a distance of about 3570 km in 150 days.

CONGRESS PARTY :-

Congress party is the oldest political party in India. It was founded by an Englishman A. O. Hume. Congress played an important role in India’s freedom struggle. It had influence across the whole nation due to its large no. of members.
Mahatma Gandhi should be credited for transforming Congress from an elite Indian institution to a mass institution.

What is the purpose of Bharat Jodo Yatra according to Congress Party

Congress believes that the present government has proved to be a complete failure on every front.


Congress says that inflation is at the peak, there is no employment, and the divisive forces threaten the nation, in such a situation, the nation needs to be united and make a joint effort, this effort to unite the countrymen on this subject has been named as Bharat Jodo Yatra.

There are conversations taking place which talk about an increase in incidents of violence against minorities and women. Congress says that the policy interventions of the central government are focused only on maximizing profits and increasing their resources for their capitalist friends.
All these allegations are almost the same as in any other democracy of the world, the opposition party always keep accusing the ruling party no matter what.

What did Mahatma Gandhi gain from the BIG WALK ?

The most famous BIG WALK (padyatra) of Mahatma Gandhi was the Dandi march.
Mahatma Gandhi completed the journey of about 400 kilometers from Ahmedabad to Dandi in 24 days.

This trip had two purposes
@symbolic purpose
@ real purpose


Symbolic Purpose: Gandhiji broke the salt law of the British Government.
Actual purpose: – There were also some long term objectives of this Big walk . Some of these are mentioned below:-

  1. Mahatma Gandhi had become a well-known name in every house in India by the 1920’s, he knew that the media around the world would cover his Big walk and there was a possibility of creating an atmosphere against British imperialism infront of the whole nation.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi was also successful in giving a new fresh start to the independent movements all over India.

Congress party will get some benefit from Rahul Gandhi’s padyatra, it seems to be getting some success in connecting with the young voters of the nation, but whether this yatra will be able to leave any noticeable impact in the elections is rather doubtful.

Rahul Gandhi is travelling like a true Hindu to almost all the major temples falling on the route and is also trying to remove the label of Muslim appeasement on himself and the party, while promising the welfare of minorities to woo Muslim voters.

Mahatma Gandhi was completely successful in attracting the attention of the media of the whole world with his Big walk , while the Congress seems to be more or less unsuccessful in attracting the attention of the country as well as the media, the news regarding the Bharat Jodo Yatra rarely come in the headlines. The discussion of Padyatra seems to be limited only to social media.

Mahatma became a well known name of India during his Padyatra while Rahul Gandhi is facing challenges even within his party. Rahul can never be free from familyism, this is both his biggest weakness and strength.

My own belief is that if Rahul Gandhi had done this long walk 10 years ago, he could have achieved better results, it seems likely that Rahul will neither get any advantages from this walk nor will Congress be able to achieve something notice worthy.

Unfortunately, social media has artificialized mass movements in the present times. It is a polemical truth that politics has been simplified by modern technology, but this doesn’t mean one would foolishly expect miracles to happen.
Mahatma Gandhi’s movement was successful because it stood on Gandhi’s strong ideas, there was a unique harmony between Gandhi’s ideas and the ideas of the public, until Rahul succeeds in achieving this harmony, his success will remain questionable.

Bharat Jodo Yatra was organized by the Congress party in all the major cities of the country. One such event happened in Varanasi also, so I decided to have a closer look at the event.

BHARAT JODO YATRA OR CARNIVAL OF SENIOR CITIZENS

After closely watching the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Congress in Varanasi and being a part of this yatra for about 5 kms, I can say one thing for sure, that is, that the Congress party has completely lost its mass base among the youth.

I have seen many political rallies, but nowhere have I seen such a tiny number of young people’s presence. The youth was surprisingly absent in the entire rally. I did see few of them but they had come with their fathers and grandfathers, the whole rally seemed like a carnival of senior citizens, this sign is no less than an alarm bell for the Congress, Congress needs to make concerted efforts to extend its reach to the young supporters or Congress will be seen struggling for its existence after a couple more elections.

Why did Buddha choose Kashi(Varanasi) to deliver his first sermon?

“NOW WE HAVE A REAL COMMUNITY ,WHICH WE CALL OUR SANGHA . THE SANGHA IS THE COMMUNITY OF THOSE WHO LIVE IN HARMONY AND AWARENESS. WE MUST TAKE THE SEEDS OF AWAKENING AND SOW THEM IN ALL PLACES.”

Lord Buddha attained enlightenment after years of rigorous meditation under a Peepal tree on the banks of the Niranjana River. Immediately after attaining enlightenment he came to Kashi to deliver his first sermon.

@ Why did Lord Buddha come to Kashi immediately after attaining enlightenment?

@ Why did Lord Buddha choose Kashi to deliver his first sermon?

Some of the principal reasons why Buddha chose Kashi, are as follows.

@ Buddha had come to Kashi many times before and he was well aware of the nature of the people of Kashi.

Kashi was never an unknown city to Buddha.

Even before Gautam Buddha incarnated on Earth, Kashi was a very important city on social, economic and cultural backgrounds.

Many changes in the Hindu religion started from Kashi.
New practices were started by many Chakravarti kings (The title of Chakravarti Samrat was given to those kings who brought epoch-making changes in the society).only after performing Yagya in Kashi, King Prithu is one of the examples of such kings.

According to Hindu beliefs, Prithu was the first king of India and he performed many yagyas in the Sarnath region of Kashi. It is notable that Buddha’s first sermon is also known as Dharma Chakra Parivartan and Buddha was a prince before leaving home.

BUDDHA DIDN’T FIND ANEW RELIGION’, BUDDHISM WAS INSTEAD A MOVEMENT .

Buddha never said that he was the founder of a different religion named Buddhism.

He is never even portrayed as the father of Buddhism in Buddhist literature.

It becomes quite clear from these facts that Buddha was not laying the foundation of any new religion, but was leading a movement against the evil practices of Hinduism. Buddhism was actually a movement against religious evils.

Buddha tried to remove as many evils as he possibly could from Hinduism which had developed along with time in Hinduism.

Preaching Buddha-5th century CE-Sandstone-Sarnath

The only goal of Buddha was the welfare of as many people as possible. About 600 years before the birth of Christ, Buddha had developed these wonderful ideas of everyone’s well being and dedicated his whole life for public welfare.

This was probably the world’s first movement to remove social inequality and injustice.

Buddhism is also considered to be the first missionary religion which was based on the teachings of Buddha and not in opposition to any other religion.

In the past, many movements inspired by the betterment of Hindu religion and the spirit of public welfare, efforts for religious reform had already taken place in Kashi before, and so this might be one of the reason why Buddha chose Kashi for giving his sermon.

CAPITAL OF ALL KNOWLEDGE

SARV VIDYA KI RAJDHANI

Kashi has always been a city of learning. Since ancient times, it has been considered the capital of all knowledge.

Even before the advent of Buddha, some new places of learning had developed or were developing in India and were posing a challenge to Kashi, but still the people of Kashi didn’t lose their love for knowledge and were open to new ideas. This is another reason why Buddha chose Kashi to sow the seeds of his thoughts.

CULTURAL CAPITAL OF INDIA

Kashi is a sacred place for all Hindu cults, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Snake worship, Nag worship, Gandharva worship, Prakriti worship etc. and for this reason people from all places of the country used to gather here in Kashi.
Buddha could have quickly and easily propagated his teachings to all parts of the country through the people who came to Kashi from different parts of the country if he delivered his sermon here . This is another good reason why Buddha chose Kashi for TURNING THE WHEEL OF DHARMA.

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF KASHI

In ancient India, almost all the major routes of North India used to pass through Kashi, not only this, almost all the major cities of India were settled on the banks of the rivers, due to which Kashi was well connected with all means of transport.
When Buddha urged Buddhist monks to go far for the propagation of his teachings, Kashi’s better transportation facility helped Buddhist monks a lot in spreading Buddha’s teachings.

VARANASI AS THE FINANCIAL CAPITAL OF INDIA

The advanced trade of Kashi is mentioned in almost all the literature available before Buddha. All the businesses of that period were flourishing in Kashi. Kashi’s textile business had no match.

Cotton was produced very well in the rural areas of Kashi and the muslin of Kashi was world-famous.

The clothes in which Egyptian mummies were wrapped were made in India only and it is quite possible that they were made right here in Kashi itself.

RAJGHAT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE( archaeological remains dating as old as 800 BCE to 18 century CE.)

A large number of foreign coins and seals have been found in Rajghat, the oldest area of ​​Varanasi. Such a large number of foreign coins is a strong indication that even before Buddha, a large number of foreign traders used to reside in Kashi.

The message of Buddha soon spread beyond the country’s borders through these merchants. The first sermon given to Buddha’s first five disciples in Kashi soon spread to almost entire Asia including China, and Japan.

Foreign traders must have also made a huge contribution in the propagation of the teachings of Buddha. Taking into account all of these facts it becomes quite clear that Kashi was rather an ideal choice for Buddha to deliver his sermon.

CHAUKHANDI STUPA(SQUARE EDIFICE) SARNATH VARANASI

CHAUKHANDI STUPA WAS BUILT TO MARK THE SITE WHERE BUDDHA MET HIS FIRST FIVE DISCIPLES WHILE TRAVELLING FROM GAYA TO SARNATH.

DHARMA IS NOT THE RESULT OF THINKING. IT IS THE FRUIT OF DIRECT EXPERIENCE.

It was at this place that Buddha met his first five disciples and informed them all about his enlightenment and inspired them to follow the path of truth.

Later these five disciples of Buddha~1. Assaji 2. Bhaddiya 3.Kondanna 4. Mahanama 5,Vappa were called Panchvargiya.

Chaukhandi Stupa can be divided into two parts.

1.Ancient stupa (Chaukhandi stupa)

2. Humayun Burj

CHAUKHANDI STUPA

The stupa is square in shape. Because of its four-armed plan structure, it is called Chaukhandi Stupa. It is made of solid bricks placed on three floors.

Like other major Buddhist buildings in Sarnath, this stupa was also built during the reign of Emperor Ashoka (250 BC). Later this stupa was given a grand form during the Gupta period (500CE).

During the excavation, a statue of Buddha and some other statues were found. The famous Chinese traveler XUANZANG also described this stupa. Xuanzang came to Sarnath in 637 AD.

The archaeological excavations conducted in 1835 and 1904-05 brought light to this 93 feet high, brick stupa laid in mud mortar having three diminishing square terraces each about 12feet High and 12ft broad, each terrace is supported by an outer and inner wall with a number of cross walls to strengthen the structure. The outer walls of the terraces are ornamented with a series of niches separated by pilasters.

There is a deep hole, about 5 feet in diameter on the topmost part of Chaukhandi Stupa (which is, also the floor of the Humayun Burj). The hole extends, vertically coming down to the ground. It looks like a tunnel when viewed from above.
This hole was dug by the archaeologist JOHN MARSHAL (1835 AD) during the excavation of Chaukhandi Stupa to see it from inside.

A clear impression of the buildings of the Gupta period can be seen at the base of the stupa.

Humayun Burj

The top part of the Chaukhandi Stupa, known as Humayun Burj was built during the Mughal period. Information regarding the construction of this octagonal building is written on the square stone plate on it’s Northern Doorway. This stone plate can be seen at top in this picture.

There is an octagonal structure(Humayun Burj) on top of the Chaukhandi Stupa, its height is about 23 feet. It was built during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. There is an inscription written in Persian language regarding the construction of Humayun Burj. Which says–

To commemorate the stay of Humayun at the Chaukhandi Stupa, Govardhan, son of Raja Todar Mall, built this octagonal building in 1588 CE during the reign of Akbar.

One such another octagonal building is located near Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi which is known as Sabz Burj.

When Humayun had conquered the fort of Chunar, he had camped in Banaras for a few days, perhaps then only he might have come here.

In the documents of Mughal era, this place has been mentioned as Humayun Burj.

A painting for Mr. Colin Mackenzie in 1814 by a painter named Sheikh Abdullah.

In this painting Humayun Burj, the top of Chaukhandi Stupa can be seen at some distance from Dhamekh Stupa. DHAMEKH STUPA: The larger stupa in the image is the Dhamekh Stupa. Dhamekh Stupa was built on the sacred spot where Buddha delivered his first sermon.

During that time there was no information regarding the history of Chaukhandi Stupa. The structure built in the Gupta period was completely buried under layers of soil for centuries and only the octagonal building built in the Mughal period was visible at its top.

In 1835, to understand the history related to this building, and to get some important articles related to Buddhism, John Marshall dug a vertical hole in this building as I had already mentioned above.

Mr. F.O.Oertel gets the credit for introducing the world to the grand form of the Chaukhandi Stupa hidden in the mud under the octagonal Mughal building.
It is quite clear from the above painting that the actual Chaukhandi Stupa was completely hidden under the soil .

The memories related to Sarnath and Buddha’s teachings remained in the minds of the people of Banaras till the fourteenth century, but after that they were forgotten under Islamic rule. The pre-Islamic history of India was shrouded in ignorance and darkness for a long time.

At the end of the seventeenth century a sense of interest and curiosity about the pre-Islamic history of India aroused within some Britishers . Soon many British intellectuals, including people of all kinds, orientalists, linguists, archaeologists, historians, engineers, started doing serious work on the pre-Islamic period of the Indian subcontinent.

Soon, by the end of the eighteenth century, the ancient history of India appeared before the world in a gleaming form. The discovery of this glorious past later became the backbone of India’s nationalist movement.

Whisper of History

In 2019, Chaukhandi Stupa was accorded the status of a monument of national importance.

Presently it is a well preserved building. Chaukhandi Stupa is situated in a very beautiful garden. At a distance of about 800 meters from the main Sarnath complex , tourists also rarely come here. The serene atmosphere here is made on sight. If you are interested in ancient Indian history, then this place is no less than a jewel for you.

Even if you do not want to look at Chaukhandi Stupa from the subtle point of view of history, you can sit here comfortably for some time, which is no less than a boon in today’s run-of-the-mill life.
The Chaukhandi Stupa is flanked by rows of large trees where meditating is undoubtedly a supernatural experience.
While meditating in this calm environment under the sunlight filtered through the leaves of trees, it seems that the old times want to tell their history to by whispering it in your ears.

SARNATH : TURNING THE WHEEL OF DHARMA .

BUDDHA DID NOT ATTACK CASTE DIRECTLY , YET IN HIS OWN ORDER HE DID NOT RECOGNIZE IT , AND THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT HIS WHOLE ATTITUDE AND ACTIVITY WEAKENED THE CASTE SYSTEM .

Most of the historical buildings in the world were built in the memory of monumental events.

One of the most important event in the history of India was the incarnation of Lord Buddha as a human being on Earth.

Buddha’s first teachings also came to be known as Dharmachakra Parivartan which means change of time i.e. an epochal change i.e. acceptance of new beliefs in place of old beliefs.

Buddha’s sermons, which were given two and a half thousand years ago, were based on experience and showed the middle path as the way to attain knowledge and salvation, his teachings were inspired by the spirit of public welfare, which talked about Bahujan Hitaya-Bahujan Sukhaya, “For the happiness of the many, for the welfare of the many.”

The people soon attained self-realization and a new age of knowledge was ushered in.

After attaining enlightenment under a Peepal tree on the banks of the Niranjana River (now Falgu River) in Gaya, Lord Buddha proceeded to Varanasi (Kashi)where he spent a long time, he gave his first sermon, founded the Sangha. Sarnath witnessed many important events during Buddha’s stay at Sarnath.

Years later, Emperor Ashoka(250 BC) built grand stupas, temples, pillars at places that were witness to important events. Fortunately, some of these buildings are still present even after seeing many ups and downs in history.

CHAUKHANDI STUPA

The place in Sarnath where Buddha had his first meeting with his first five disciples. In memory of this important event, a grand stupa was built here by Emperor Ashoka.(250 BC) the stupa was given a more grand form in the Gupta period (from approximately 319 to 467 CE.

TURNING THE WHEEL OF DHARMA

According to Buddhist literature:-

Assaji was sitting meditating in Sarnath, when he saw a monk coming towards him, when he came closer Assaji realized that the monk was none other than Buddha. Assaji immediately informed his four other friends about Buddha’s arrival at Sarnath.

Bhaddiya reminded all the friends that Siddhartha had left the path of enlightenment. Bhaddiya told friends that Siddhartha ate rice, drank milk and spent time with the children of the village in Bodh Gaya, he really let us down so we all should not even greet him formally. Everyone agreed with Bhaddiya.

But when Buddha came closer towards them something magical happened!!!!!
The radiance of his face and the sign of enlightenment overwhelmed everyone.

Kondanna ran and took his alms bowl from the Buddha.

Mahamana gave a vessel full of water to Buddha so that he could wash his hands and feet and get rid of the fatigue of the journey.
Bhaddiya moved a stool towards him and requested Buddha to sit on that stool.

Vappa fanned Buddha with a fan made of palm leaves.

Assaji stood to one side ,not knowing what to do .

Buddha washed his hands and feet, Assaji gave him another vessel full of cold water.

Buddha said with a slight smile on his face.

“I have found the path of liberation and I will show the path of liberation to all of you brothers”.

The five looked at each other with suspicious hearts. Assaji said Gautam you left the path of knowledge midway, like a normal human being you ate rice, drank milk and spent time with village children then how come you were able to attain knowledge? Buddha briefly narrated the incident of his enlightenment.

Soon the Buddha and his five disciples went to a flat plain of land a little further from the place they met as they found that area suitable for discussion.

On that piece of flat land Buddha gave his first sermon to his five disciples, a huge stupa was built on that piece of land by Emperor Ashoka in the memory of Lord Buddha’s first sermon, this stupa came to be known as Dhamekh Stupa and it is still present in Sarnath.

DHAMEKH STUPA

The first sermon was given by Lord Buddha to his first five disciples at this place. This Sermon is known as Dharma Chakra Pravartan. In memory of this great event, a huge stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka (250 BC)at this place, which is today known as Dhamekh Stupa.

” There are two extremes that a person on the path should avoid. One is to plunge oneself into sensual pleasures, and the other is to practice austerities which deprive the body of its needs. Both of these extremes lead to failure.”

MIDDLE PATH

The path which avoids both extremes and has the capacity to lead one to understanding, liberation, and peace is the Noble Eightfold Path.

1. right understanding

2.right thought

3.right speech

4.right action

5. right livelihood

6. right effort

7.right mindfulness

8.right concentration.

FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

1.Existence of suffering .

2.Cause of suffering.

3.Cessation of suffering.

4.Path which leads to the cessation of suffering.

EXISTENCE OF SUFFERING

The first is the existence of suffering. Birth, old age, sickness, and death are suffering. Sadness, anger, jealousy, worry, anxiety, fear, and despair are suffering. Separation from loved ones is suffering. Association with those you hate is suffering. Desire, attachment, and clinging to the five aggregates are suffering.

CAUSE OF SUFFERING

Because of ignorance, people cannot see the truth about life, and they become caught in the flames of desire, anger, jealousy, grief, worry, fear, and despair.

CESSATION OF SUFFERING

Understanding the truth of life brings about the cessation of every grief and sorrow and gives rise to peace and joy.

PATH WHICH LEADS TO THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING .

The fourth truth is the path which leads to the cessation of suffering.

MULGANDH KUTI VIHAR

MULGANDH KUTI VIHAR (MAIN SHRIEN)

A grand temple was built by Emperor Ashoka(250BC) at the place where Lord Buddha used to meditate during his stay in Sarnath, later the Muslim invaders looted the property of the temple which was decorated with golden idols and destroyed the temple.(1194CE) Now only the remains of this temple are left.

This is the place where Buddha met Yash for the first time.
Once a young man named Yash came to meet Buddha. Introducing himself to Buddha, Yash told that he is the son of the richest businessman of the city. Yash told his problem to Buddha that till date he had spent his life in fun and enjoyment but he didn’t get mental peace.

Buddha explained to Yash that “Life is full of sorrows, both mind and body are doomed to be destroyed by being immersed in lust. If you give up lust and lead a simple life, you will attain mental piece.”

Yash was deeply impressed by the magical words of Buddha and charismatic personality, he soon became a disciple of Buddha. Soon many prominent and wealthy families of Varanasi converted to Buddhism. Impressed by the simplicity of Buddhism, from the king to the poor, from the violent bandit to the common man, everyone started accepting the teachings of Buddhism.

REFERENCE BOOKS

  1. OLD PATH WHITE CLOUDS
  2. BUDDHACHARIT

ASHOKAN PILLAR, LION CAPITAL, ITS HISTORY, AND IMPORTANCE.

Four lions standing back to back, with mouths wide open, their tongue sticking out, and their teeth seem to be as pointed as spears, the claws are protruding from their paws.
The well-formed veins and mane of these four lions look very beautiful. These lions roaring in all four directions are undoubtedly a symbol of strength, power, and royalty. To a large extent, it is possible that the warning of Emperor Ashoka in the context of people trying to divide Buddhism is inscribed on the top of the pillar and these four lions are an attempt to embody the warning and make the warning relatively more effective. From the structure of the eyes of the four lions, it appears that the circular structure of these eyes must have been studded with precious stones.

What is the meaning of Ashoka Pillar Sarnath?

The pillar in Sarnath on which the warning given by Emperor Ashoka to the divisive forces in Buddhism is inscribed is called the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath.

Where is Sarnath situated and what is it famous for?

Sarnath is situated at a distance of about 12 km from the main city of Varanasi. Lord Buddha gave his first sermon here in Sarnath. DHAMMA CHAKRA PARIVARTAN (TURNING THE WHEEL OF DHARMA).

Buddhist monasteries, temples, pillars, and some stupas were built here by Emperor Ashoka during his reign. Afterward, Sarnath was completely destroyed by the Muslim invaders.

What is meant by Lion Capital?

LION CAPITAL:- The top (crown) of the Ashoka pillar found at Sarnath is known as the Lion Capital. This is a figure with four lions. After the independence, FOUR-FACED LION (LION CAPITAL) was adopted as THE EMBLEM OF INDIA.

THE LION CAPITAL was excavated from SARNATH, and this was a part of ASHOKAN PILLAR The emblem of India reflects India’s traditions, glorious history, and heritage. Undoubtedly, this statue of four lions is a unique example of ancient sculpture in India.

It can be seen as the emblem of the Government of India on all the major buildings, medals of honor,(Param Veer Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, Ashok Chakra), passports, etc. It can also be seen on the currencies issued by the Government of India, present slightly above the bottom right corner of each note beside its value.

As per our convenience, we can divide the Ashoka Pillar into three main parts.

1 PILLAR

2. LION CAPITAL

3. 32 SPOKE WHEEL

ASHOKAN PILLAR :- CONJECTURAL VIEW OF LION CAPITAL WITH PILLAR AND CHAKRA


A schematic reconstruction of the lion capital of Ashoka at Sarnath using the measurements and estimate of the excavator F. O. Oertel (Reports of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1904-1905), published in 1908, and pictures of a replica at Wat Umong

ASHOKA PILLAR IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

During the archaeological excavations at Sarnath in 1905, Mr.F.O. Oertal found the remains of a square temple on the west side of the Dhamekh Stupa.

Broken pieces of the Ashoka pillar were found a few feet away from the main wall of this temple.

These square room-like structures were the ruins of the huge Mulagandha Kuti Vihara temple. The Mulgandha Kuti Vihar Temple was built at the place where Gautam Buddha used to meditate during his stay at Sarnath.

One part of the Pillar was embedded in its base. Other broken parts of the pillar were also found near it. The Ashoka Pillar is made of sandstone found in Chunar, some distance away from Varanasi.

There are no joints or fixes anywhere in the pillar, so the pillar must have been cut from a huge piece of stone. combining all the broken pieces of the Ashoka Pillar received at present, its length is 17.5 feet. This shows that a large part of the column is missing.

KUSHAN AND GUPTA PERIOD INSCRIPTIONS ON THE ASHOKA PILLAR .

Kushan( second century A.D.) and Early Gupta period (300AD) inscriptions.

The Ashoka column also bears two other inscriptions of later dates.

One of them which continues, as it were, the last line of the Ashoka inscription is dated in the reign of a certain RajaAsvaghosha in the fortieth year of the era of Kanishka.

The other inscription which is assignable to theearly Gupta period, that is circa 300 A. D., was recorded by the teachers of the Sammitiya sect, to which a reference has been made above. Ashoka’s warning have been inscribed in Brahmi script.

THE ASHOKAN PERIOD INSCRIPTION

The Ashokan period inscription on the pillar shows that Emperor Ashoka was not very happy about the divisive forces arising within Buddhist Sanghas. And for this reason, in this very inscription, Emperor Ashoka has warned the monks, and nuns who try to divide Buddhism and the Buddhist Sangha.

Whoever creates a deity in the Sangha, whether a monk or nun, will be forcibly put on white clothes and thrown out of the Sangha.

Emperor Ashoka’s warning to those who tried to divide the union.

THE TEXT IS IN BRAMHI AND THE LANGUAGE IS PRAKRIT. Pali was the vernacular language in those days. And so the warning was provided in this language itself so that the maximum no. of people can understand it.

Even in this warning given by Emperor Ashoka, there is no glimpse of violence from anywhere, this warning shows the extent to which Ashoka had assimilated the Buddha’s teachings of non-violence.

According to the Chinese traveler XUANZANG there was a huge Buddhist monastery at this place, about 1500 Buddhist monks and nuns resided in this monastery, perhaps this is why Ashoka has written this inscription for this monastery at Sarnath mentioned by Xuanzang . Presently the remains of this ancient Buddhist monastery are spread over a wide area around the Ashokan Pillar.

LION CAPITAL

Lion Capital can be mainly divided into three parts.

A. Bell-shaped vase covered with inverted lotus.

B. Abacus

C. Capital

A STONE PILLAR MORE THAN SEVENTY FEET TALL , WHICH IS SMOOTH AS JADE AND AS REFLECTIVE AS A MIRROR . (XUANZANG)

During his visit to India, between 627 AD to 643 AD, XUANZANG came to Sarnath (also known as MRIGDAV, ISHIPATTAN) and was astonished by the grandeur of the Ashoka Pillar.

Lion Capital preserved in the Museum of Sarnath

A. Bell-shaped vase covered with inverted lotus

Bell-shaped vase covered with inverted lotus:- Lotus flowers are found all over India. Since ancient times, the lotus flower has been given special importance in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain religious texts.

The images of Gautam Buddha found at Sarnath and other places in India depict Lord Buddha sitting, standing, meditating, and preaching on a lotus flower as well as it is also a sign of the womb of Buddha’s mother Mayadevi. Seeing the importance of the lotus flower in Indian culture, it also has the distinction of being the national flower of India.

B. ABACUS:-

The abacus structure bears living replicas of four animals and four wheels with 24 spokes. These animals are lion, Bull, Horse, and Elephant.

A wheel with 24 spokes is shown after each animal. There are different opinions among historians regarding the figures of animals built on the abacus.

If you look closer at the center of the Ashoka chakra (the 24-spoked wheel on the abacus, shown in the above image) you will find that it looks peculiarly rough and eroded relative to the surrounding regions which are extremely smooth and polished. Daya Ram Sahni believed that this was done intentionally. He believed that there probably would have been precious stones placed in the center of the four Ashoka chakras.

The centers were made rough so that the stone sticks better and more firmly at place.

MR BELL believed that the four animals built on the abacus are symbols of the animals living on the four corners of the ANOTATTA lake.

DAYARAM SAHNI also got a glimpse of the Anotatta lake in these animals.

ANOTATTA LAKE:- This lake is located in the Himalayas and according to Buddhist scriptures is the focal point of the world. Many historians consider that the present Mansarovar lake is the one that is referred to as the Anotatta lake in some places.

The rivers Ganges, Vankshu, Indus, and Sita are believed to be originating from this lake. This lake is considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains.

BRIJ WASI LAL. :- According to B.B Lal, (Renowned archaeologist of India) the Rakshastal near Mansarovar Lake, also known as Ravantal, was known as Anotatta Sarovar in ancient times. The Sutlej river originates from the Rakshastal or Ravanatal.

DR. BLOCKH:- He believed that these four animals are symbols of INDRA, SHIVA, SURYA, and DURGA From the depiction of these animals on the Ashokan pillar, he concluded that these three Gods and Goddesses had accepted the greatness of Gautam Buddha and had come under his shelter.

DR. FOGEL:- He believed that all these animals are just ornamentation, and they have been used on the abacus of Ashokan Pillar only from the point of view of art.

MANSAROVAR (WIKIPEDIA)

B. MAJUMDAR:- The most detailed, practical explanation of the animals carved on the Ashoka Pillar has been given by Majumdar, which also seems to be the most appropriate one. According to him, the lotus is not only a sacred flower described in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist religions, as well as it is a sign of the womb of Buddha’s mother Mayadevi. Similarly, the four animals engraved on the abacus, and the 24 spoked wheels represent major events in the life of the Buddha.

ELEPHANT:- Elephant is a symbol of the dream of Mayadevi, (mother of Buddha).

From this dream, Mayadevi realized the arrival of Buddha in her womb. According to this story, Maya Devi, the mother of Buddha, had a dream before he was born. In the dream, Mayadevi saw a white elephant, which is entering her womb from the right side with a white lotus in her trunk.

The queen discussed the dream with the king. The king mentioned this incident to all the astrologers in his court, and wanted to know more about this dream, all the astrologers unanimously called this dream auspicious and something very special.

GALLOPING HORSE:- The horse is a symbol of the temporary royalty of the Buddha.

LION(THE ONE ON ABACUS):- A lion with a twitching tail, Lion symbolizes Gautam Buddha being Shakya Simha. (Lion of a Shakya clan )

TAURUS

TAURUS:- It is the symbol of the birth sign of Buddha. Some historians associate it with ancient plowing and seed sowing. (Here it symbolizes the planting of new ideas by the Buddha).

TWENTY -FOUR SPOKED WHEEL

Twenty-four spoked wheel of the MORAL LAW. The twenty -four spokes on the spinning wheel symbolize the twenty four Pratyay (teachings) of Buddhism. The spinning wheel in the middle of the national flag of India is also taken from here.

It is known as ASHOKA CHAKRA because it was built on the Ashokan Pillar. Note that these four, twenty-four-spoked wheels are the ones that are made on the abacus facing the four directions and not the 32-spoked wheel at the top.

Also note that the 32-spoked wheel cannot be seen on the actual lion capital which is kept in the Sarnath archeological site museum because it was found broken, though its fragmented pieces might be seen which are kept in such a manner to illustrate how it might have looked and this is also the reason why the 32 spoked wheel might sometimes be seen in the replicas of the capital.

C.THE LION CAPITAL

The famous four addorsed lions. The figure of four lions is built on top of the abacus. These four lions are standing with their backs to their backs.

The jaws of these lions are open and the tongue is sticking out and their teeth seem to be as pointed as spears, the claws are protruding from their paws. The well-structured venison and mane of these lions are shown very beautifully.

From the structure of the eyes of the four lions, it appears that the circular structure of these eyes must have been studded with precious stones.

To a large extent, it is possible that the warning of Emperor Ashoka in the context of people trying to divide Buddhism is inscribed on the top of the pillar and these four lions are an attempt to embody and make the same warning effective.
THE FOUR LIONS ARE SYMBOLS OF BUDDHIST MONKS PROCLAIMING BUDDHA’S TEACHINGS IN ALL FOUR DIRECTIONS.

Lion capital with 32 spokes wheel, only a few fragments of this wheel were found in the excavations at Sarnath which are preserved in the Sarnath Museum.

THE THIRTY-TWO SPOKED WHEEL


Remains of 32 spoke wheel in Sarnath Museum

DETAILS OF THE TOP WHEEL OF THE LION CAPITAL

This wheel (The symbol of Buddhist law), originally adorned the ‘Lion Capital as a crowning member, supported on a short stone shaft. The stone shaft was not discovered from excavation but the thickness can be estimated from the mortice hole, 20.5 cm. In diameter, drilled into the stone between the heads of the four seated lions.

Four fragments of the rim portion of the wheel and spoke remains were found. The total number of spokes was presumably 32. These 32 spokes perhaps indicate the 32 chief signs of a Great Man (Mahapurusha Lakshana) as described in the Buddhist text Lakkhan sutta of Dighnikaya.

I personally believe that the Ashokan Pillar found in Sarnath is not only the national symbol of India, but the it is the embodiment of the entire heritage of India. Ashokan Pillar is a symbol of Buddha’s teachings, Ashoka’s welfare state, and a symbol of India’s civilization and its gradual development. Even from the point of view of ancient Indian sculpture, the Ashokan Pillar is incomparable among all the ancient artworks.

20 UNKNOWN FACTS ABOUT BUDDHA .

Buddha condemned also the metaphysical and theological outlook , miracles , revelations , and dealings with the supernatural .

Ikshvaku was a famous dynasty in ancient India, Gautam Buddha was born in this dynasty. Like the Royal dynasty of Japan, the Ikshvaku dynasty is also believed to be originated from the Sun.

2. Buddha’s actual name was Siddhartha which means skillful in everything.

3. Buddha’s father Shuddhodana was a king. Buddha’s birth mother was Mahamaya. Lord Buddha’s wife was Yashodhara and his son was Rahul.  Lord Buddha lovingly called his wife by the name Gopa.

4. According to Buddhist literature Buddha was born on the full moon day of Vaisakhi, he also attained his enlightenment on this day and finally died also on this same day of the year.

5. Buddha attained enlightenment under a Peepal tree on the banks of the Niranjana River (the old name of Falgu river) in Uruvela village of Gaya. After attaining enlightenment, Prince Siddhartha was called Buddha, and the Peepal tree under which he attained enlightenment came to be known as the Bodhi Tree.

6. Prince Siddhartha was given the title of Buddha after attaining enlightenment by Nalaka, a fourteen-year-old boy from Uruvela village.

7. The Peepal tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment still stands tall in Bodh Gaya. A branch of this tree was replanted by the daughter of Emperor Ashoka ~ Sanghamitra in Anuradhapura(Sri Lanka) and that tree is also still there.

8. Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment at Sarnath (place in Varanasi). In those days Sarnath was known as MRIGDAAV( Deer Park).

9. The name of the first sermon which Lord Buddha gave to his first five disciples at Sarnath was DHARMA CHAKRA PRAVARTAN (turning the wheel of moral law) this is sometimes referred to as DHAMMA CHAKKA PAVATTAN in Pali language as the consonant ‘r’ is often omitted in Pali.

10Kondanna became the first disciple of the Buddha. The other four disciples of the Buddha were Vappa, Bhadiya, Mahanama, and Assaji. Buddha had given his first sermon to these five disciples. Later on, these five were called Panchvargiya.

11. Buddha was against discrimination of any kind and did not believe in the superiority of caste.

12 . Clement of Alexandria(200 AD ) was the first person in Europe to use the name Buddha.

13. Currently Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world.

14. Buddha died in 544 BC, earlier modern historians did not agree with this date and cited 487 BC but now historians have accepted the date mentioned in ancient literature is correct.

15. Some Buddhist literature predicts the rebirth of the Buddha and it is believed that the Buddha will appear on earth next time with the name of Maitreyi Buddha.

16. In those days, Varanasi (Kashi) was not only a big center of religion but also business, Varanasi had no match in clothes made of muslin, even Lord Buddha used to wear clothes made of silk from Varanasi till the end of his life.

 I USED ONLY THE SANDALWOOD, THAT WAS BROUGHT FROM KASHI ONLY AND NO OTHER PLACE. MY DRESS WAS OF KASHI CLOTH, AND MY TUNIC UNDERROLE AND CLOAK WERE ALSO FROM KASHI. (BUDDHA –JATAKA TALE)

The dead body of Buddha was also wrapped with cloth made in Banaras.(MAHAPARINIBBANA SUTTA)

17. After the body of Lord Buddha was cremated, his ashes were placed in eight golden urns and sent to Ajatashatru of Magadha, Lichchavi of Vaishali, Shakya of Kapilavastu, Malla of Kushinagar, Bullij of Allakappa, Malla of Pava, Koliya of Ramgram and a Brahmin of Vethadipa.

This was done with the intention that after the construction of grand stupas at these places, these golden urns would be installed inside those stupas.

18. Some famous disciples of Buddha are:-

Sariputra, Ananda, Maudglyan, Upali, Suniti, Anuruddha, Anathpindak, Bimbasar, Prasenjit, Ajatshatru, Jeevak, Mahakashyap .

19. The Sutta Pitaka is one of the three parts of the Tripitaka. In this, all the major disciples of Lord Buddha have been described in detail.

Anand’s name has been mentioned the most in the Sutta Pitaka and his prodigious talent has also been described. Ananda had spent more time with Buddha than any of his other disciples. He had heard most of Buddha’s teachings and had memorized them, so after Buddha’s Mahanirvana, with the consent of all the monks, the burden of world welfare was put on his(Anand’s) shoulders.

20 . Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and died all on the day of Vaishakhi Purnima itself so this day is considered very sacred and this day is celebrated with great enthusiasm and in the commemoration of Lord Buddha.

20 interesting Facts About Ashoka Pillar Sarnath, (Lion Capital)

Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath gives a wonderful opportunity to understand ancient Indian history, every person who wants to understand Indian history must see this divine artwork at least once in their lifetime.

PRE REQUISITE KNOWLEDGE:

The Ashoka Pillar is divided into three major parts.
1.The Pillar.
2.The Lion Capital.
3.The 32 spoked wheel.

This diagram gives us a rough idea of ​​what the pillar might have looked like when XUANZANG visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana.

SARNATH

The place where Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples in 600 BC.

Emperor Ashoka built this pillar at that place around 250 BC.

Chinese traveler XUANZANG came to Sarnath in the seventh century AD. XUANZANG‘s memoirs show that even after 900 years of the pillar’s establishment, he was astonished by its magnificence and construction.

The fragments of the Ashoka Pillar preserved in a glass show case at Sarnath.

A. PILLAR

1. When was the Ashoka Pillar built?

The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath was built around 250 BC.

2. What was the purpose of establishing the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath?

Emperor Ashoka was concerned about the divisive elements in Buddhism and about the monks and nuns at the monasteries who wanted to divide Buddhism.

He got the pillar established here to warn such people. Emperor Ashoka’s warning can still be seen clearly on the divided part of the pillar.

3. In which language is the warning of Emperor Ashoka written in?

The warning of Emperor Ashoka on the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath is written in Prakrit language and the script is Brahmi.

4. When and how was the Ashoka Pillar, Lion Capital and the 32 spoked wheel discovered?

During the excavation of Sarnath in 1904-1905, fragments of Ashoka Pillar, Lion Capital and 32 spoke wheel were found near Mulgandha Kuti Vihar temple in the west direction from Dhamek Stupa.

Lion Capital found in the archaeological excavation of Sarnath in 1905. The broken part of the pillar can be clearly seen where Emperor Ashoka’s warning is inscribed.

5. Who discovered the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath?

Archaeological excavations of Sarnath in 1904–1905 were led by Mr. Ortel, so the discovery of the pillar, the Lion Capital and the 32-pointed wheel is attributed to Mr. F. O. Ortel.

6. What is the Ashoka Pillar made of?

The Ashoka Pillar is made of sandstone from Chunar (located at a distance of about 40 km from Varanasi).

7. Is the description of Ashoka Pillar found in history?

The famous Chinese traveler XUANZANG came to India during the reign of Harshavardhana.

During his visit to India, between 627 AD to 643 AD, XUANZANG came to Sarnath (also known as MRIGDAV, ISHIPATTAN) and was astonished by the grandeur of the Ashoka Pillar. XUANZANG was most impressed by the brilliance of Lion Capital, it is surprising that Lion Capital is still as bright and gorgeous today as it was back then.
XUANZANG WROTE——

………. IN FRONT OF IT, IS ERECTED A STONE PILLAR MORE THAN SEVENTY FEET TALL , WHICH IS SMOOTH AS JADE AND AS REFLECTIVE AS A MIRROR .

Lion Capital at Sarnath Museum.

B.LION CAPITAL

The most beautiful part of the Ashoka Pillar is the Lion Capital.
The Lion Capital (the top part of the Ashoka Pillar) is about 7 feet high.

8. Where is the Lion Capital currently kept?

Presently the Lion Capital (the top part of the Ashoka Pillar) is preserved in the archaeological museum at Sarnath, Varanasi.

9. What does the 4 Asiatic lions of the Lion Capital roaring in all four directions symbolize?

The four Asiatic lions proclaim Buddha’s teachings in all four directions with their backs to their backs symbolize the spread of Buddha’s teachings.

10. Why are the four lions shown in an aggressive posture in Lion Capital?

Warnings are always given in harsh words, so that everybody obeys them, the pillar on which this Lion Capital is situated has a clear warning of Emperor Ashoka engraved on it, so the four lions are also shown in an aggressive posture just to make the warnings a little more effective and also to express the power of Emperor Ashoka, if the instructions are not obeyed.

11.When was the Lion Capital accepted as the National Emblem of India?

The Lion Capital was adopted as the national emblem of India on 26 January 1950.

12. Why did the committee chose Lion Capital as the national symbol of India?

After the independence of India, we have adopted the spirit of peace, non-violence, coexistence, prominently in the internal policies of the country, the Lion Capital reflected these policies and commitment of the country.

India’s foreign policy is also based on the efforts of world peace, and the spirit of cooperation with all nations, so it will not be an exaggeration to say that Lion Capital India is a tableau of thousands of years of moral development of the country, so after independence, Lion Capital was accepted as the national emblem of India as it deserved to be, with its mightiness and magnificence.

13. How is the Lion Capital a symbol of India’s glorious history and culture.

Lion Capital is a unique specimen of sculpture and it has been a witness to the most important events in the history of India, it is a priceless work showing the natural development of Indian history.

14. Which animals are depicted on the abacus at the base of the Lion Capital?

A lion with twitching tail, a bull, a galloping horse and an elephant are depicted on the abacus at the base of the Lion Capital.

15. How many wheels are there on the abacus?

There are four wheels with 24 spokes on the abacus. Each wheel is located between the figures of two animals.

16. What do the animals on the Lion Capital represent?

The lion represents sakyasimha , lion of the shakya clan , The elephant signifies shakyamuni entering the womb, the womb of his mother mayadevi in her dream, the horse, is a symbol of temportal royality, The Bull is a symbol of Buddha’s birth sign Taurus.

17. What do the four wheels with 24 spokes engraved between the animals on the abacus symbolize?

The wheel with 24 spokes represents the twenty-four teachings of Buddhism. This is the same wheel which can be seen at the center of our national flag.

C. WHEEL OF THE MORAL LAW

18. Where is the thirty-two spoked wheel kept at present?

Unfortunately only the ruins of 32 spoke wheel were found in the archaeological excavation of Sarnath in 1905, these remains are presently preserved in the museum of Sarnath.

19. What does the wheel with 32 spokes represent?

The wheel with 32 spokes represents the 32 characteristics of great men,(MAHAPURUSH LAKSHAN ) whose description is found in the Buddha literature.

20.How does the Ashoka Pillar reflect the tendencies of the artists of that period?

The Ashoka Pillar is also an example of the transition from wood to stone art by the sculptors of that period.

For detailed information on Ashoka Pillar please visit: https://nithinks.com/2021/11/22/ashokan-pillar-its-history-and-importance/