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LIGHT OF ASIA:- SARNATH(VARANASI)

India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only. (MARK TWAIN)

GO TO BENARES or Kashi, that most ancient of cities, and give ear to her murmuring. Does she not tell you of her immemorial past-of how she has gone on while empires have decayed, of Buddha who came to her with his new gospel, of the millions who have gone to her through the ages to find peace and solace? Old and hoary, decrepit, dirty, smelly, and yet much alive and full of the strength of ages, is Benares. Full of charm and wonder is Kashi, for in her eyes you can see the past of India, and in the murmur of her waters you can hear the voices of ages long gone by.” (GLIMPSES OF WORLD HISTORY )


SARNATH: GAUTAM BUDDHA GAVE HIS FIRST SERMON HERE

S ARNATH is situated a few kilometers away from the main city (old city) of Varanasi. At present, the increasing population and expansion of the city has made Sarnath a part of itself. The most modern part of Varanasi is being developed near Sarnath and this area will be known as New Kashi. (Varanasi city has been known as Kashi and Banaras in ancient times.) The area around ​​Sarnath is still very open and free from congestion as compared to old Varanasi. Varanasi morning is very famous. (SUBEH-E-BANARAS ) It is a very ancient tradition of Varanasi to take a dip in the holy Ganges at dawn, and then to perform darshan in temples. The day begins with Hindu rituals in the morning, following thousands of years of tradition, the resounding bells of temples, the rush of people to take a holy dip in the Ganges, the sound of holy verses, all these things together give the impression of a different world. Mark Twain has put it very well in words- “I think Banaras is one of the most wonderful places I have ever seen. It has struck me that a westerner feels in Banaras very much as an oriental must feel while he is planted down in the middle of London”. (MARK TWAIN) FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT :- https://nithinks.com/2021/08/07/eight-chapters-of-varanasi-that-everyone-must-read/ Varanasi is the holiest city of Hindus, for this reason, Hindu monks, saints, pandit, priests can be seen everywhere. They can be easily recognized by their saffron clothes. Surprisingly, at a short distance, the nature of the morning changes completely. Sarnath, a few kilometers away from the main Varanasi, has a completely different dawn. Here Buddhist monks from many countries of the world can be seen meditating early in the morning. Hindu monks and Buddhist monks have one thing in common – saffron-colored clothes. Like Buddhist philosophy, Jain philosophy is also an integral part of India’s spiritual tradition. Shreyansnath, The eleventh Tirthankar of Jainism, was also born near Sarnath, so Sarnath has special significance for the followers of Jainism too. There is also a Jain temple of Shreyansnath among the ruins of Buddhism in Sarnath. In spite of so much diversity ideologically and religiously, there is no conflict of any kind – but uniformity. For thousands of years tolerance and equanimity have been the hallmark of Indian culture which can be clearly felt in Sarnath. INDIA HAS BEEN A SHELTER FOR RELIGIOUS DISPLACED PEOPLE FOR CENTURIES. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT :- https://nithinks.com/2020/12/03/hindu-philosophy-and-the-importance-of-peace-9-11-1893-9-112001/ When Jewish temples were being demolished in the Roman Empire, many Jews came and settled in South India. (Centuries later, after the establishment of the Jewish country of Israel, many of these people migrated to Israel, but many people are still residents of India) After the arrival of Islam in its native place Iran, Zoroastrianism was almost wiped out, surprisingly Even today, the largest number of Zoroastrians (Parsi) in the world live in India. (Parsi religion is related to Baby Jesus) After the partition of India, Pakistan became a Muslim nation, today Ahmadiyas and Shia Muslims do not get the rights that Sunni Muslims have, while India is a Hindu majority democratic country, here a large number of Ahmadiya, Shia Muslims reside and they have all the rights which any other Indian has. Millions of Tibetan refugees are living in India after China’s occupation of Tibet. In modern times when words like coexistence, tolerance, fraternity, globalization are used, they have been included in Hindu civilization and philosophy for thousands of years. Anyone can use Sarnath as a magnifying glass to understand India’s thousands of years of culture, civilization, coexistence, tolerance, potential, and respect for all religions and ideologies.


Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon in the deer park at Sarnath—-
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE BUDDHA

Dhamma Chakra Pravartan. FOR THE HAPPINESS OF THE MANY FOR THE WELFARE OF THE MANY

Gautam Buddha made these ancient lines of Rigveda (ancient Hindu scriptures c 1500-1000 BCE) the basis of his teaching. There was a message of Bahujan (People in the majority )Politics has its own dictionaries. At present, some political parties in India interpret this word according to their own will. On the other hand, the Buddha’s messages made a fundamental change in Hinduism, which made Hinduism more acceptable, and rich, while China, Japan found a teacher in the intuitive teachings of the Buddha. One of the oldest living cities in the world, Varanasi, was also called KASHI in ancient times The word Kashi has its origin from the word Kash. It means light. Here light does not signify just light(The one which is made up of photons). Here the word Light is used with a different context meaning “Light of knowledge” FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT :- https://nithinks.com/2020/12/01/dev-deepawali-festival-of-light-city-of-light/ Undoubtedly the teachings of the Buddha further enhanced the prestige of Varanasi. Varanasi has been a city of knowledge while also being an important religious and commercial center since very ancient times. By the pre-Buddha time, the city of Varanasi had seen the climax of its capital of knowledge and was now on a downfall, few other places in India emerged as new temples of knowledge, posing severe challenges to Varanasi. Even after this challenge, Varanasi was one of the main education centers of India, perhaps only then Buddha choose this city for his first sermon.

Why is there so much contradiction in the name of Sarnath? To understand this, one has to understand a little ancient Hindu way of life. (I have seen many tourists getting confused about the name, so I want to make this topic clear here.)

Rishipattan OR Ishipattan:-Many sages(rishi) Hindu monks resided in the forest of Sarnath near Varanasi, Due to the abundance of sages, this place was known as Rishipattan. For this reason, in the ancient Pali language, it was called Ishipattan.

Sarangnath: – In ancient Hindu religious texts, this place is referred to as Sarangnath. The word Sarangnath is derived from a combination of two words. These two words are – Sarang + Nath. Sarang means deer and Nath means lord. Sarnath also has an ancient temple of Lord Shiva which is known as Sarangnath Temple. Many historians believe that due to this Sarangnath Shiva temple, later this place was named Sarnath.

Mrigdav (Deer -Park):- There is also a belief that when Bodhisattva had incarnated in the form of a deer, he had sacrificed his life to save a pregnant deer from the king who came on a hunting expedition. Later influenced by the incident and due to remorse, the king banned deer hunting in this entire area. For this reason, this area came to be known as Mrigdav (Deer -Park). From a scientific point of view, this story doesn’t seem appropriate, but this story is very important from a philosophical point of view. Sacrificing one’s own life for the survival of an organism is probably the biggest example of human sacrifice. This type of story is described in many places in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain literature. A story similar to this is described in the Shiva-Purana, how a hunter sacrificed his life to save a pregnant deer and even today Shivratri, a major festival of Hindus, is celebrated in the memory of this story. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT :- https://nithinks.com/2021/03/14/mahashivratrishiv-barat-and-varanasi/ If anyone wants to see the peak of non-violence, then its divine philosophy can be seen in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain literature. This is because the spirit of non-violence and equanimity is prevailing in our society for thousands of years.

*Some important monuments of Sarnath*

CHAUKHANDI STUPA

CHAUKHANDI STUPA:- Locals call it Sita – Rasoi. Historians believe that this is the place where Buddha first met his five disciples. Built of bricks on a four-sided base,(chaukhandi) this structure is a Buddhist stupa. The height of this stupa is 93 feet from the base. Buddha came to Sarnath after attaining enlightenment at Uruvela. (Bodh -Gaya) The great traveler Hiuen Tsiang also visited this stupa when he came to Sarnath. He has described chaukhandi stupa in great detail in his travelogue. This stupa dates back to the Gupta dynasty. (early 4th century) Presently the structure of Chaukhandi Stupa can be divided into two parts. The first part is the ancient Stupa which was built during the Gupta Empire. There is an octagonal structure on top of this stupa. From a distance, it appears that someone has kept it separately on top of the stupa. There is a stone plate on this octagonal structure, which shows that this Top structure was built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. The Mughal emperor Humayun had rested at this place for one night, in memory of this incident, his son had built this monument here. How can a victorious civilization change the history of a defeated civilization? There are many monuments and temples in India whose foundations represent a Hindu civilization. The ideology of Islam did not originate on the soil of India, it was the ideology of Arabia which had its own rules and regulations.

DHARMARAJIKA STUPA:-

DHARMARAJIKA STUPA:-

Ashoka(268–232 BCE) also built Dharmarajika Stupa at Sarnath. Unfortunately, in 1794, the men of JAGAT SINGH the minister of the Raja of Banaras, dug out and completely demolished this stupa for bricks to build the famous locality of Kashi, Jagatganj (this locality is named after him). This happened unintentionally because they had no idea of ​​its historical importance. According to Mr. Duncan, in this stupa at the depth of 18 cubits, some bones, and gold leaf, pearl grains, and gems were found in a marble box inside a stone vessel, but because of the unawareness of Jagat Singh’s men, they were flown into the Ganges. In 1905, excavations by the Archaeological Department revealed that the Dharmarajika Stupa, built by Ashoka, had a diameter of 44 feet 3 inches. In the 5th or 6th century, a second enclosure was built around the stupa by a second cover, about 16 feet wide, a strong wall was drawn around it and four doors were installed in it. In the 7th century, the circumnavigation path was filled up and stairs were installed to reach the stupa. In the ninth and tenth centuries, there were also some changes. In the twelfth century, the stupa was again covered with cover and this cover was the last cover of this stupa because only after this the Muslims destroyed Sarnath. I would like to make one thing clear here that this entire incident was published in 1799 in the fifth volume of Asiatic Researches published from the Asiatic Society.
JONATHAN DUNCAN referred to this event in his essay (AN ACCOUNT OF THE DISCOVERY OF TWO URNS IN THE VICINITY of BENARES) on pages 131 and 132 in a book published by the Asiatic Society. This incident grabbed the interest of historians towards Sarnath.

MULGANDH KUTI VIHAR

THE HOLY PLACE WHERE LORD BUDDHA USED TO MEDITATE

Mulgandha Kuti Vihar in History:-

The place where Lord Buddha used to meditate during his stay in Sarnath, later a grand temple was built at the same place. This temple came to be known as Mulgandha Kuti Vihar. This holy temple was demolished by Muslim invaders. Presently this holy temple is just a ruin. But even today the ruins of this temple testify to the grandeur of this temple. According to Hiuen Tsiang, the height of this grand temple was 61 meters. The Mulgandha Kuti Vihar temple was built on a square base, each side of this square base was 18.29 meters. The huge, grand form of this temple can be imagined from the thick walls of the base of this temple.
The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsiang was mesmerized by the amazing beauty of this holy temple. He wrote that ” The height of the top of the temple from the ground is about 61 meters. Gold-plated temple, whose steps were made of stone. Inside the temple was a life-size statue of Buddha in the Dharma-Chakra turning posture made of bronze.” It is not a difficult task to draw this conclusion based on the description of the temple by Hiuen Tsiang. After the description of Hiuen Tsiang, there has been a lot of changes in the buildings and place of Sarnath.

NEW MULGANDH KUTI VIHAR:-

The new Mulgandha Kuti Vihar Temple was built in 1931 by the Mahabodhi Society. New Mulgandha Kuti Vihar Temple is situated in a beautiful garden. The main gate of the garden and the main gate of the temple are made in a straight line. Inside the new Mulgandha Kuti Vihar, there is a shining golden-colored statue of Lord Buddha. On seeing this statue, it becomes clear that the presently installed idol in the new Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is a replica of the sandstone statue of Lord Buddha which was found by the archaeologists in Sarnath near the ruins of old Mulgandha Kuti Vihar.

The bright golden color of the statue is reminiscent of Hiuen Tsiang narration. Undoubtedly, every effort has been made to give New Mulgandha Kuti Vihar its true form and also to make it look like the old one. This effort of the Mahabodhi Society is commendable. There is a bell made of copper on the main gate of the vihara (temple), this bell was gifted by the Imperial family of Japan.

I have come from the Eastern Country of Cherry Blossoms to this sacred Land of Lotus Flowers, to offer my humble devotion to our Lord Buddha. This is the greatest privilege I have been looking forward to, for many years.

KOSETSU NOSU THE MAGICIAN OF COLORS FROM JAPAN

MAGIC OF KOSETSU NOSU:- Anyone entering the temple is astonished, by the huge murals on the inner wall of the temple. Very bright colors have been used in making these paintings. All these paintings are based on famous incidents from the life of Lord Buddha. These paintings are made by famous Japanese painter Kosetsu Nosu. He came to India to draw sketches of the Ajanta caves. He used this experience in making murals on the walls of the New Mulgandha Kuti Vihar. Japanese frescoes on such large canvas are rarely seen anywhere else in India

DHAMEKH STUPA (PLACE WHERE GAUTAM BUDDHA GAVE HIS FIRST SERMON TO HIS FIRST FIVE DISCIPLES).

” THEN PLEASE LISTEN , MY FRIENDS. I HAVE FOUND THE GREAT WAY, AND I WILL SHOW IT TO YOU. YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO HEAR MY TEACHING. THIS DHARMA IS NOT THE RESULT OF THINKING. IT IS THE FRUIT OF DIRECT EXPERIENCE . LISTEN SERENELY WITH ALL YOUR AWARENESS”.

Geometric patterns and arts on Dhamekh stupa.

DHAMEKH STUPA

It is a solid cylindrical structure. It is built of bricks and stones. Its height is 43.6 meters and its diameter is 28 meters. This stupa is built at the exact place where Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon to his first five disciples. The stupa was built by Ashoka in 249 B.C., then at this place, the stupa was rebuilt in 500 C.E. Beautiful artworks and geometry are made on this stupa. 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 of Banaras.(MAHAPARINIBBANA SUTTA)

This ornamentation also reflects the glorious history of textile art of India especially Varanasi. The fame of Varanasi’s textiles is described in pre-Buddha literature (2600 years ago). In those days, Varanasi’s muslin was considered to be the best in the whole India, now those clothes are no longer available, but the design of the clothes of that time can be understood from the decoration made on the stupa. We should never forget that in ancient times the indigo from India was used to dye clothes in Egypt and the Egyptians wrapped their sacred mummies in muslin cloths made from India. Even today, there is a tradition of wearing Banarasi sarees(Banarasi saree is a special type of saree, which is worn by Hindu women on auspicious occasions.) there is a great resemblance between the designs made on Banarasi sarees and the designs made on the stupas.

ASHOKAN PILLAR

1905 Excavation of Sarnath.

ASHOKAN PILLAR

About twenty five hundred years ago, an immortal voice of knowledge was ignited in the holiest city of the world’s oldest religion. In the light of this knowledge, after two hundred years, a great ruler tried to find new ways for the welfare of the subjects and established the world’s first welfare state.
Centuries later, a Chinese traveler, again impressed by the light of this knowledge, traveled to Mrigdav to understand its original form, and on the basis of that travelogue, history came alive again after centuries. Everything is threaded in one thread, India and its history will always be indebted to people like James Prinsep, James Ramson, Alexander Cunningham, Major Kittoe, C. Horne, F. O. Oertal, John Marshall, H. Hargreaves, Daya Ram Sahni. The lower part of a pillar built on a stone base was found during excavations to the west of the Dhamek Stupa in the winter of 1904-5. Soon more parts of this pillar were also found during excavations nearby. Presently the fragmented pieces of the Ashokan pillar are kept safe in a glass showcase. Three articles were mentioned on this pillar. The first article is in the Brahmi script of the Ashoka period, this article shows that Ashoka was determined to stop the division in Buddhism. According to this mandate, “Whoever creates a deity in the Sangh, whether a monk or a nun, will be thrown out of the Sangh “. A few feet away from this pillar, the top part of the pillar (CROWN) “statue of four lions with their backs to the back” was found. The brilliance of this statue not only introduced Indians to the glorious history of India before the Islamic invasion but also opened the doors of endless possibilities of discovery in ancient Indian history.

LION CAPITAL OF ASHOKA

The most famous of the Mauryan sculptures found at Sarnath and the most beautiful from the point of view of art is the Lion Capital[ [The top of the Ashokan pillar]. Its height is seven feet. Its shape is like a full-grown lotus. Four lion figures are made on the abacus. The abacus is kept on top of the bell-shaped vase covered with inverted lotus which is in turn kept on the shaft. Together these four lions are carrying the load of the wheel of Dharma, which is now broken and cannot be seen in the image. The abacus on which the four lions are standing are also having with images of a Taurus, an elephant, a horse a lion, and a twenty-four spoked wheel of the [MORAL- LAW]. There are differences among scholars regarding the shape of these animals. Some scholars believe that all these animals are symbols of various Hindu deities, and their depiction on the Ashokan Pillar concludes that these three Gods and Goddesses had surrendered to the Buddha. Many historians have denied this idea and called it a high flight of imagination. Some scholars consider these animals to be only ornamental. Some historians associate this animal with the life of Gautam Buddha.

ELEPHANT: Elephant is a symbol of the dream of Mayadevi, (mother of Buddha). From this dream, Mayadevi had 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. LION:- Lion symbolizes Gautam Buddha being Shakya Simha.(Lion of a Shakya clan ) HORSE:- The horse is a symbol of the temporary royalty of the Buddha.
TAURUS:- It is the symbol of the birth sign of Buddha. Some historians consider it to be a bull and 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 24 spokes on the spinning wheel symbolize the 24 Pratyay (teachings)of Buddhism. The huge spinning wheel that the four lions were carrying is now in a broken state and cannot be seen on the top of the Lion Capital. The fragments of this Moral Wheel are kept in the Sarnath Museum. There were 32 spokes in this wheel, these thirty-two spokes represent the 32 characteristics of great men, which are described in the Lakhan Sut of the Dighanikaya of Buddhism. There is no doubt that from the point of view of art and workmanship, this column-heading is unmatched in the field of Indian art. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, was a brilliant scholar and well-versed in history. Nehru graduated from Cambridge and returned to India, he was greatly influenced by the discoveries and works related to the ancient history of India. Nehru’s political philosophy is greatly influenced by Gandhi as well as Buddha and Ashoka. Ashoka’s impression on Nehru is evident in the books (GLIMPSES OF WORLD HISTORY, The Discovery of India ) written by Nehru. Nehru named his daughter Indira Priyadarshini. The word Indira means Indu (moon). On the other hand, the word Priyadarshini is the feminine form of Ashoka’s name Priyadarshi. Priyadarshi or Priyadarshini means one who is dear to sight.

After the independence of India, when the matter of choosing the national flag and national emblem came up, Nehru without any hesitation chose the Lion Capital. Similarly, the spinning wheel in the middle of the national flag of India is also taken from this Lion capital of Ashoka(it can be seen in the abacus of the Lion Capital). The national emblem and national flag of any country is not just a monument or a piece of cloth, it is a symbol of that country’s history, culture, struggle, people’s spirit, social fabric developed over the years. In fact, the national emblem and the national flag are the physical evidence of that country.

BUDDHIST MONASTERY

BUDDHIST MONASTERY had progressed a lot during the time of Ashoka. Mrigdava continued to be a major center of Buddhism even further. There was also a Buddhist monastery, in which about 1500 monks and nuns lived, which is described by Hiuen Tsiang. The huge pillar mentioned by Hiuen Tsiang at a distance of some furlong from this monastery is the famous Ashokan Pillar, on which Ashoka’s warning regarding Buddhist monks and nuns is inscribed. Islamic invaders had tried to destroy the Buddhist monastery completely, and they were successful in this, but with the help of modern technology, the ruins of this Buddhist monastery have been discovered again. The ruins of this Buddhist monastery are spread over a wide area. In these ruins, many small stupas, meditative statues of Lord Buddha made on bricks, animals, birds, and geometric art have been made to decorate it. Currently, the Taliban are trying to destroy statues of Buddha , Buddhist monuments, for such Islamic extremists, these Buddhist monasteries are an example that Buddha’s thoughts are immortal and no terrorist ideology can destroy them. For twenty-six hundred years the thoughts of Gautam Buddha, imbued with the public welfare spirit, are as relevant today as they were twenty-six hundred years ago.

Sarnath Museum

Sarnath Museum:- India’s first on-site museum. During the excavation in Sarnath, such a huge amount of historical idols, artifacts, utensils, seals, ornaments, etc. were found that it was a difficult task to take them all the away to a museum and Sarnath also had its own historical importance. For this reason, a grand museum was built at this place. The museum building is a beautiful building made of stone. This museum was designed by James Ramson on the lines of a Buddhist vihara. The construction of this building started in 1904 and was completed in 1910. Within this grand building, more than six thousand objects of historical importance found in Sarnath are kept. These historical objects were found here in the excavations of Alexander Cunningham (1835-36). Major Kittoe ( 1851-52), C. Horne(1865), F. O. Oertal (1904-05), John Marshall (1907), H. Hargreaves (1914-15), and Daya Ram Sahni (1927-32). For those interested in Indian ancient history, this museum is not less than a treasure. I will write a separate post in the future about the items collected in the museum. I have written in detail in this post about the Lion Capital of Ashoka (National Emblem of India) stored in the museum.

BODHI TREE PEACE AND HARMONY IN THE NEXT MILLENNIUM IN LINE WITH BUDDHISM

Bodhi Tree, related to The Bodhi Tree, Sarnath

BODHI TREE AND THE COMPLEX

A Peepal tree was planted here during the inauguration of the new building of Mulgandha Kuti Vihar. Sanghamitra, the daughter of Emperor Ashoka, took the branch of the tree under which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment to Sri Lanka and planted it in Sri Lanka. (Anuradhapura) A Branch of this sacred tree was then brought from Sri Lanka and planted in Sarnath. And so we can say that indirectly this is the same tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment!!!! Now, this is a huge tree. Under this sacred tree, there are huge statues of Mahatma Buddha and his first five disciples.


A HUGE BELL IS INSTALLED AT SOME DISTANCE FROM THE SACRED TREE. I reached the courtyard of the sacred tree around 6 o’clock in the evening. It was evening and almost all the tourists had left. There was a serious, calm atmosphere. The birds were also returning to their homes, I could hear their voice as they were on their way towards home. I also heard some peacocks from time to time, the voices of birds were not creating any disturbance in the atmosphere of peace. I was sitting on the stone steps of Mulgandha Kuti Vihar temple thinking something when a temple employee came to me and said softly “Sir now it is time to close the temple so please vacate this campus.” I agreed and was preparing to leave when I saw some people carrying candles towards the holy tree, I asked the staff and came to know that it is time for the evening worship of the holy tree. I asked the employee can I watch this program? He smiled and said ” Of course”, just take permission from the monks who made this program successful. I moved towards those monks and expressed my wish, they happily granted me permission. After a few moments these monks started the circumambulation of the sacred tree, while doing the circumambulation, also started lighting diyas on the small statues of Buddha around the tree. Now the monks started reciting religious mantras while doing the circumambulation. I could not understand even a single word of this religious mantra, (I understood that the language was something special it didn’t sound like Sanskrit at all, but I was not able to figure out the language itself on my own)later I came to know that the monks were using the Pali language. The original teachings of Buddha are in the Pali language. Pali language was commonly used at the time of Buddha and Sanskrit was the language of the elite people and Brahmanas. Today Pali language is taught in the universities of Varanasi but common people never use it, the Pali language is not used even in the surrounding areas of Sarnath.

The teachings of Lord Buddha at the time of turning of the wheel of Dharma are engraved on a piece of a stone parasol at Sarnath; It contains the four noble truths of Buddhism. The script of the article dates back to the last Kushan period. Stan Kono says that this is the only account of Pali received from North India and it shows that the Pali Tripitaka existed at that time and people in Banaras knew and read it.

It was a wonderful experience to listen Buddha’s teachings in the original language after thousands of years, at the same place where Buddha gave his first sermon. A transcendental experience among images of the Buddha preaching to his first five disciples. (Kaundinya, Vappa, Bhadriya, Mahanaman and Asvajit)
For a moment I felt as if Buddha was giving his first sermon to his disciples, and I am witnessing that moment too.

(MRIGDAV- DEER PARK) :- The old name of Sarnath was also Mrigdav. Here hunting of deer was banned. Keeping this history in mind, a Deer Park has also been developed here. Various types of deer have been kept. Apart from deer, some other animals and birds can also be seen here.

Many temples have been built on this holy place by other Buddhist countries. Undoubtedly these temples are very important from the point of view of tourism and also from the point of view of art. What to say for the tourists who are fond of selfies?

MUST- VISIT TEMPLES IN SARNATH

NICHIGAI SUZAN HORINJI. (Japanese temple)

The original name of this temple built by the Japanese government is NICHIGAI SUZAN HORINJI. The locals know it as, the Japanese temple. This temple has been built on the basis of the famous temple of Kyoto( the cultural capital of Japan). Sandal wood has been used extensively in the construction of this temple. This temple is a symbol of the close relationship between the cultural capital of India(Varanasi) and the cultural capital of Japan(Kyoto ).

The courtyard of the temple is divided into two parts. The main temple is situated in one of the parts of the courtyard. Lord Buddha is shown in a lying posture inside the temple, this statue of Lord Buddha and the roof of the temple are made up of the precious sandal wood. In the second part of the temple courtyard, there is a stupa made of marble. Huge statues of Gautam Buddha in a seated posture are constructed in all the four directions of this stupa. On the basis of these statues, the teachings of Gautam Buddha are inscribed in Japanese, Hindi and English. On the road leading to the stupa, there is a miniature replica of Lion Capital on both sides. A very beautiful archway has also been constructed that leads to the Stupa.

Chinese Temple :-

Tourists are not seen here due to it’s simple look from outside, I liked the calm atmosphere here. This temple was built in 1939. The building of this temple is yellow in color. The architecture of China is reflected in the construction of the temple.

The Chinese temple depicts Hiuen Tsiang’s journey to India.

TIBETAN TEMPLE :-

The Tibetan Temple was built in 1955. There are two lion statues at the entrance of the temple. These lions represent the art of Tibet. The two deer at the main entrance of the Tibetan temple represent the ancient name of Sarnath ~ Mrigdava. On entering the courtyard of the temple, a giant golden-colored statue of Gautam Buddha attracts attention. Gautam Buddha’s statue in a meditative posture is installed in a mirror showcase under the shade of the sacred Peepal tree.
There is a stone-carved stupa here. This stupa shows the gratitude of Tibet towards India. This stupa also tells the story of China’s imperialism and tyranny. China’s attack on Tibet and Dalai Lama‘s exodus to India along with more than ten thousand Tibetan people or the unprovoked death of millions of people due to China’s atrocities on Tibet are all mentioned here.

SARANGNATH TEMPLE :-

SARANGNATH TEMPLE POND

Many historians believe that due to the ancient temple of Sarangnath, this place got its name as Sarnath. Sarnath or Sarangnath means lord of animals, for this reason, Lord Shiva is also known as Pashupati. It is believed that when the influence of Buddhism was increasing, Adi Guru Shankaracharya established a Shivling wherever he traveled, the ancient temple here also has a Shivling established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. A fair is also held here in the month of Sawan. There is a beautiful ancient pond in front of the Sarangnath temple. The construction of ponds was a common practice with ancient temples in Hinduism. The Sarangnath temple is built on a stone base. On seeing this temple, the picture of Chaukhandi Stupa naturally emerges in the mind. There are stairs to reach the temple. The courtyard of the temple is small but is covered with the shade of banyan, peepal tree. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT:- https://nithinks.com/2021/03/10/dawn-of-civilization-and-shiva-shiva-ganga-varanasi/

Jain Temple :-

Jain Temple

Varanasi has also been a major city for the followers of Jainism. Varanasi has been the birthplace of four out of twenty-four Tirthankaras of Jainism. During the excavation of Sarnath, important sculptures and artifacts related to Jainism were found which are kept in the Sarnath Museum. Shreyansnath was born in the Sarnath region. The jain temple dedicated to Shreyanshnath is in Sarnath. This Jain temple is adjacent to the Dhamek Stupa. The courtyard of this temple is covered with peepal and banyan trees. I found one thing astonishing, many trees of Peepal and Banyan can be seen in Sarnath area, have there been abundance of Peepal and Banyan trees since historical times? These two trees are considered very sacred in Hinduism, Jainism, and also in Buddhism or since the archaeological excavations, these sacred trees have been planted in the campuses of Hindu, Buddhist, Jainism monuments, temples. Perhaps both these reasons are true, but at that point of time, it was very relaxing to see these trees in the courtyard of the temples. Banyan and Peepal trees are huge, due to their spread they protect the entire temple from the scorching heat of the sun, provide natural coolness and they also allow visitors to relax.

Thai Temple

Presently the Thai temple situated in Sarnath is the biggest center of tourist attraction. This is because of the huge statue of Buddha. This temple is situated in a big garden. This temple has been built by the government of Thailand. The architectural influence of Thailand is evident in the construction of the Thai temple. The building of the temple is not grand, but it looks very attractive because it has been constructed in the middle of a large garden. Inside the temple, there is a huge golden-colored statue of Buddha. There are also some other statues in the courtyard of the temple.
As I told earlier the huge statue of Buddha in the courtyard of the temple is the main tourist attraction here. The height of this statue is about 80 feet. This statue was completed in 14 years. It was made when the Taliban tried to destroy an ancient statue of Buddha in Afghanistan.

GULABI TEMPLE ( Vietnamese temple )

The Vietnamese temple is known by the local residents as the Pink Temple (GULABI MANDIR). Perhaps the temple got this name because of its archway. The Vietnamese temple is located in a village about two kilometers away from the main Sarnath. The path to the Vietnamese temple leads through narrow streets of the villages. The weather was pleasant so I decided to visit the Vietnamese temple on foot. (Here in India you will never prefer traveling on foot in summer because of the scorching heat of the Sun which will exhaust you in a very small amount of time) There is also an ancient Maa(MOTHER) Durga temple near the Vietnamese temple. The huge meditative statue of Lord Buddha was visible even from a far distance. The statue of Lord Buddha installed in this temple is seventy feet high. This statue is installed on a square base. An archway has also been constructed, a similar archway is also present in the Japanese temple. This temple is at a short distance from the main Sarnath, but still the number of tourists here is negligible.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the statue of Emperor Ashoka built in the courtyard of the temple. In this statue Emperor Ashoka carries the Lion Capital as a Royal Rod. The credit of spreading the teachings of Buddha all over the world goes to this great Indian emperor. The heart-change and public welfare spirit of this great victorious emperor is still an example for the world. Sarnath is also a witness to the construction work of Emperor Ashoka.

Teachings of Gautam Buddha and Ashoka

DEVANAMPIYENA PIYADASI:- ( THE BELOVED OF THE GODS)

Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousness’s and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honored. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne. (Outline of History )H.G WELLS

Devanampiyena Piyadasi is defined in the Brahmanical Purana as the Raja Ashoka. (THE KING WITHOUT SORROW). One who has no sorrow. Emperor Ashoka has a different place among the great kings of India. Ashoka has got this special place in Indian history not because of a great conqueror but because of the first welfare ruler in the world.

A journey from CHAND -ASHOKA ( Cruel Ashok ) to DHAMMA (One who cares for others) ASHOKA

Ashoka was the king of most parts of monolithic India (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan). Ashoka’s empire extended to the Hindukush Mountains (Afghanistan), the Godavari coast in South India, Bangladesh in the east, Iran in the west. Ashoka was known as Chand Ashoka during this period of his life. Chand Ashoka means cruel Ashoka. Ashoka brutally suppressed his opponents, the opposition arising in the state and the kings of other states during this period of life. 261 BC: Ashoka attacked Kalinga (present-day Orissa province).

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas eight years after his coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died from other causes. After the Kalingas had been conquered, Beloved-of-the-Gods came to feel a strong inclination towards the Dharma, a love for the Dharma and for instruction in Dharma. Now Beloved-of-the-Gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas.

Ashoka’s heart was filled with compassion due to this fierce bloodshed, Ashoka felt defeat in his victory, realizing his mistake, in a way, this was Ashoka’s rebirth, a new journey that was the beginning of the transformation from Chand Ashoka to Dhamma Ashoka. Ashoka now decided to play the role of a father, not a ruler and devoted his entire life to the welfare of the people. He is the only military monarch on record who abandoned warfare after victory.

ASHOKA THE GREAT, BUDDHA’S TEACHING & SARNATH

Emperor Ashoka was not only a conqueror, great ruler, and the father of the world’s first public welfare state, but he also had a keen interest in the construction of buildings, monuments. Many historians believe that Indian art was at its peak during the reign of Ashoka, and after that, it declined. The remains found in the excavation of Sarnath tell a completely different story. An unbroken stream of gradual development is visible in the remains found from Sarnath. The sculptures found from Sarnath show that Indian artists were constantly trying to refine their art. Sarnath progressed a lot during Ashoka’s reign. Many associations of Buddhist monks and nuns were established here during his reign. The Dharmarajika Stupa(which was unintentionally demolished by the men of JAGAT SINGH), Dhamekh Stupa, Ashokan Pillar, Buddhist Monastery and other buildings and monuments at Sarnath are evidence of Ashoka’s interest in construction and architecture.

Korean temple

The priest of the Vietnamese temple informed me about the nearby Korean temple. My next destination was—Korean Temple. The Korean temple is located at a short distance from the Vietnamese temple. On my way to the Korean temple, I saw a big pond. The pond was natural and was not made by anyone. Lotus flowers were abundantly there in the pond. Lotus flowers have great importance in Buddhist philosophy. People accustomed to the modern lifestyle of metropolitan cities, who have seen lotus flowers only in artificial ponds, should stay here for some time. Due to being away from the main Sarnath, the number of tourists remains negligible here too. The main building of the Korean temple is two-storied, in addition, there are some monuments and statues in the temple courtyard.

Who is a True Sanyasi?, What is a Sanyasi’s Dharma according to Swami Vivekananda?

Life introduction

Swami Vivekananda’s Ancestral House – Kolkata . Now this house has been transformed into a museum.

BIRTH:- Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January 1863 in his ancestral house in Gurumohan Street, Kolkata. Swami Vivekananda was born on the day of Makar Sankranti according to the Hindu calendar. Makar Sankranti, one of the most famous and sacred festivals of Hindus, took place on 12 January in 1863. The birthday of Swami Vivekananda is also celebrated as National Youth Day in India. The Government of India mentioned the significance of the day- “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”. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MAKAR-SANKRANTI PLEASE VISIT:- https://nithinks.com/2021/01/18/makar-sankranti-is-an-ancient-hindu-festival-or-the-burden-of-old-tradition/

FAMILY MEMBERS AND SWAMI VIVEKANADA’S OTHER NAMES:- FATHER:- Vishwanath Dutta

Mother:- Bhubaneswari Devi

NAME:- Narendranath Dutta 

Nickname:- Naren 

Childhood name:- Bireshwar (Biley)

Siblings : Haramani , Swarnamayee , Kiranbala ,Jogendrabala , Mahendranath , Bhupendranath

Death:- 4th July 1902, Swami Vivekananda leaves his mortal body.

WHY DOES SWAMI VIVEKANANDA HAVE SO MANY NAMES? 

First image in the slideshow – Vireswar Mahadev temple in Varanasi

Second image in the slideshow – The room in Kolkata in which Swami Vivekananda was born.

Bhubaneswari Devi(Swamiji’s mother) offered her worship to Lord Shiva daily. At the end of her worship, each day she prayed to Shiva while offering pranam, “O Shiva, give me a son on my lap.” she already had a few daughters. But how could she live without a son? So, she offered daily worship to Shiva for a son. She had even asked one of her relatives, who lived in Benares (Varanasi)to offer daily worship to Vireswar Shiva there on her behalf. God heeds to whatever is asked from him with devotion. Bhubaneswari Devi’s wish was also granted. On January 12, 1863, in the early morning, she gave birth to a son. The child was named Vireswar after Vireswar (Shiva) as Bhubaneswari Devi believed that she was granted her son as a boon from the lord. But their family members thought that “Vireswar” was a bit to difficult to be pronounced and used in daily life. So everybody in the house used to call him Biley, which thereby became his Nickname. He was named Narendra Nath Dutt at the annaprasshana ceremony but still he remained Biley for all his family members. (Info source:- Vivekananda for children -publisher: Sri Ramkrishna Math Chennai) For more information about this subject please visit: https://nithinks.com/2019/09/19/bileybanarasvivekanandavaranasi/

How Narendranath Dutt got the name Swami Vivekananda.

Because of Vivekananda’s sweet nature, his guru Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to call him “Anand”. Khetri King Ajit Singh, after meeting Narendra Nath Dutt, found him very meritorious along with his sweet nature, so Raja Ajit Singh started calling him “Vivek + Anand” thus yielding the name Vivekananda. The word swami is commonly used in North India to express reverence for a sadhu. Soon the general public and newspapers also started using this same name to address him. He also participated in the World Religions Conference Chicago 1893 as Swami Vivekananda. For more information about this subject please visit: https://nithinks.com/2020/12/03/hindu-philosophy-and-the-importance-of-peace-9-11-1893-9-112001/

According to Swami Vivekananda: – Sadhus in India can be divided into four-types. (1) Sanyasi (2)Yogi (3) Vairagi (4)Panthi

SANYASI: Sannyasis are often the followers of Shankaracharya and are non-dual.(ADVAIT). Shankaracharya :- A Great philosopher and Hindu religious leader who was born in Kerala in 700 CE(disputed). He was instrumental in providing a solid foundation to Advaita Vedanta. He became a sannyasi at the age of eight. Like Swami Vivekananda, he also died at a very young age. He established four Dhams. These Dhams are considered very holy and sacred even today. Every hindu desired to visit these Dhams at least once his/her life. These four Dhams are as follows

Badrinath:- It is situated in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state.

Dwarka: – It has also been the capital of Shri Krishna during the Mahabharata period. At present, this city is located in the state of Gujarat.

Jagannath Puri:- It is located in the present province of Orissa. Lord Krishna, Balarama, and her sister Subhadra are worshiped here.

Rameshwaram: – It is located in the state of Tamil Nadu, it is believed that while going to Sri Lanka, Shri Ram installed the idol of Lord Shiva and worshiped him here.

YOGI: Yogis are monistic but their special emphasis is on yoga. Due to different practices of yoga, a different category has been added to them. For more information about yoga and yogis please visit. :https://nithinks.com/2021/06/20/yoga-how-tech-yogi-saw-the-light-of-the-future-in-the-brahmastra-of-the-hindu-nationalists/

VAIRAGI : Vairagis are the followers of Ramanuja(born :25 april 1017 CE) and other dualistic masters.

Ramanuja : (Vishisthadwait ) Non- Dualism. He was born in the Tamil Nadu state of South India. Ramanuja believed that Bhakti does not mean worship-recitation, Bhajan-Kirtan. He believed that meditation is the true devotion to God. Ramanujacharya presented Bhakti in an ideal form and also provided a philosophical basis for Bhakti.

PANTHI : Panthis include both duality and non-duality. They established themselves during the Mughal period.

“Sannyasa, in essence, means to love death. Not self-annihilation but rather knowing that death is inevitable, offering oneself, in mind and body, completely, to the good of others”.

The very first duty of a sannyasi is public service. The only goal of a sannyasi is to sacrifice his whole life in the service of others. In ancient Hinduism, very high merits were set for a sannyasi. While becoming a sannyasi, a person has to perform his funeral rituals that take place after his death, with his own hands while he is alive! this is known as Atma-shraddha. By the end of this ritual the sannyasi attains complete freedom from his family, friends, worldly obstacles, after this any kind of worldly attachment is prohibited for him and his only goal is public service. Now no obstacle can stop or frighten him in the way of his public service because he has already conquered the biggest fear, the fear of “DEATH“.

Family background (There was a tradition of becoming Sanyasi in the Dutta family)

Vivekananda’s mother was a pious woman and his father Biswanath Dutt also had a special interest in Hinduism. Vivekananda’s ancestors also had unwavering faith in the Hindu religion and culture. Vivekananda’s grandfather’s was Durgaprasad. Durgaprasad ji had great reverence among the sadhus and sanyasis. Later he renounced worldly attachment and became a sannyasi himself. It is believed that one night he left the house and no one ever saw him again. The life of Swami Vivekananda was also deeply influenced by the eminent sannyasis, yogis, sadhus of that time. A clear impression of the teachings of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Pavahari Baba, Tailang Swami is visible in the literature of Vivekananda. In those days social, economic, and religious changes were taking place rapidly in Bengal. Old beliefs were falling apart, a new society was being born, it was the time of Bengal’s renaissance. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who studied from the Presidency College of Kolkata(the same college from where Vivekananda studied), created a stir in the gentleman society of Kolkata by writing a wonderful book “Anand Math”. This book was based on a historical incident of the Sanyasi rebellion. Instilled in the spirit of sannyasis sacrificing everything for their motherland, for their religion, this book soon became popular all over India. Later on, this book became as holy as the Bible for Hindu nationalists. And what to say about the popularity of Vande Mataram, a poem which was mentioned in this book. Later on, this poem became so popular that it came to be known as the national song of India. For more information about Anand Math and the sanyasi rebellion please visit: https://nithinks.com/2021/08/12/sachindra-nath-sanyal-a-great-forgotten-freedom-fighter/

We do not consider anyone else as a mother – we believe only in the motherland. (Anand Math)

Most famous image of Swami Vivekananda.
Swamiji’s portrait photographed by Thomas Harrison, at his studio in Central Music Hall, Chicago. Seven such ‘Chicago style cabinet card photographs known as the Harrison series were taken in September 1893 during the World’s Parliament of Religions. Coloured posters based on this photograph were printed by a lithographic company and displayed all over Chicago
. source: THE MONK AS MAN (SANKAR)

Contribution of Swami Vivekananda to Sanyas Ideology

Hinduism does not consider any one person, idea, or book as paramount. Hinduism has a gradual history of thousands of years. Various philosophers, sannyasis, scholars in different periods added different ideas to it over time. Twenty-six hundred years ago, BUDDHA while giving a public welfare sermon said, “Don’t follow my teachings in a permanent manner. When I told them, the circumstances were different, take your own decision according to the time and circumstances that you are subject to.” Due to Islamic imperialism and then the British Raj, for centuries, there were no changes in the Acharya Samhita (CODE OF CONDUCT)of the sannyasis there were also no changes in their functioning, due to the lack of necessary changes over time, the sanyasi class was getting cut off from the common people, becoming irrelevant in the society. In such circumstances, Swami Vivekananda came like a breeze of fresh air, he tried to oppose and change the things of the sannyasi society which have become irrelevant in the modern times.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN? BY BECOMING A MONK, HAVE I BECOME DEVIOD OF FEELING??

Swami Vivekananda had a lifelong attachment with Varanasi, the holy city of Hindus, the city of his beloved Lord Shiva. Elaborating this topic of how Vivekananda is linked to Varanasi in this post would be totally bizarre as it is a vast topic for discussion. I have written a separate post on this topic so if you want to read more on this topic please visit https://nithinks.com/2020/07/05/the-unknown-life-of-swami-vivekananda/

Swami Gambhirananda (Eleventh President of Ramakrishna Mission and a famous scholar) once mentioned an incident and told that during his stay in Kashi, once Swamiji got very upset after hearing about the death of someone close to him. Pramada Das Mitra saw Swamiji weeping. Seeing this, he said, “Does it suit a sannyasi to be distressed like this?, Do worldly attachments and weakness of human nature befit a sannyasin”? Hearing this Swamiji replied “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? BY BECOMING A MONK, HAVE I BECOME DEVIOD OF FEELING”?? A true sanyasi’s heart is more tender and affectionate than that of an ordinary man. It must be more tender and affectionate than an ordinary man, to understand others feelings and help them in the way they want. We are, after all, humans.

 AND THEN CAME THE FIERY DECLARATION, ‘I DO NOT ACCEPT THAT FORM OF SANYAS WHICH EXPECTS ME TO HAVE A HEART OF STONE!’   The details of this event are given in Sankar’s book THE MONK AS MAN.

First Image in the slideshow – When Swami Vivekananda came to Varanasi in 1888 he stayed in the house of Pramada Das Mitra this is a postcard written by Swami Vivekananda in his own handwriting mentioning the same.

Second image in the slideshow – Bengali Dyhodi, Pramada Das Mitra’s ancestral house in Varanasi.

Third image in the slideshow – An Imaginative painting made by Kripa, one of my fellow painter, describing how Gopal Lal Villa might have looked in 1902 when Swami Vivekananda stayed there when he visited Varanasi for the last time before leaving his body.

Last Image in the slideshow – How Gopal Lal Villa looks at present.

Who was Pramada Das Mitra ? Pramada Mitra was a friend of Swami Vivekananda. He lived in Varanasi. Swami Vivekananda stayed at Pramada Das’s house many times when he was in Varanasi. Pramada Dasa was a distinguished scholar of Hinduism. He had a very firm grip on Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages. He translated Gita from Sanskrit to English and also the British national anthem English to Sanskrit. He also taught Sanskrit to Swami ji during his stay in Varanasi. Pramada Das Mitra remained a friend of Swamiji for his whole lifetime. A few days before his death, Swami Vivekananda visited Benares for the last time in 1902 and this time he stayed at Gopal Lal Villa, the garden house of Raja Kali Krishna Thakur. By this time Pramada Das had passed away and his son Kalidas Mitra had come to Gopal Lal Villa to meet Swamiji.

Vedas teach morality, the first words are, Let the mother be your God” and that she is. When we talk of woman in India, our idea of women is mother. The value of women consists in their being mothers of the human race. That is the idea of the Hindu. TAITTRIYA UPANISHAD 1.11

THE MOTHER IS THE GOD IN OUR FAMILY. THE IDEA IS THAT THE ONLY REAL LOVE THAT WE SEE IN THE WORLD, THE MOST UNSELFISH LOVE.

Vivekananda’s mother – Bhubaneswari Devi Ji

Swamiji always remained in touch with his mother. Even after becoming a sannyasi, Swamiji handled all his responsibilities. After the death of his father, Swamiji carried the financial responsibilities of the family on his shoulders, helped his siblings, and never let his mother feel lonely. Swami Vivekananda had mentioned on many occasions that “whatever I am today is because of my mother”.

READ THE VEDAS AND UPANISHADS, AND DRINK TEA –NO HARM IN IT!

A tea shop located near one of the Ghats in Varanasi

Today it may seem surprising that at one point in time there was a ban on drinking tea for sanyasis. Drinking tea and making tea was prohibited in many Hindu monasteries. This was for the reason that any kind of intoxicant or stimulating food is prohibited for sannyasis and tea was considered an agitating drink at that time, but Vivekananda changed this tradition. Swami ji used to make tea in the monastery and all the sannyasis used to drink tea with pleasure. In the Ghats of Varanasi, where rituals related to the Hindu religion take place all the time, tea shops are plentiful and at any point in time, a crowd of Hindu devotees can easily be seen at the tea shops. Not only this, the people who come to attend the funeral of the dead person can be seen drinking tea at the cremation Ghat Manikarnika, Harishchandra, whenever I see people involved in religious rituals and funerals, drinking tea at the Ghat of Varanasi. I think that if a young sannyasi had not got tea recognized in Hindu monasteries, would it have been possible for so many tea shops to exist in Varanasi on the Ghat. With the ease with which Hindu ascetics are seen enjoying tea, no doubt they have to be deprived of this divine drink. If you want to read more about how Swamiji contributed in making tea one of the most popular beverage in India and about how tea slowly got famous in India please visit : https://nithinks.com/2021/06/10/a-happily-tea-adict-country/

Swami Vivekananda was a versatile character. He contributed in many fields. In the same way, he had influenced people of different thinking from different countries. Swamiji has been a source of inspiration to people like Nikolai Tesla, Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi. My effort here was just to introduce the reader to how swamiji left his immpression on sannyas and ascetics. I have written this post based on what I saw during my stay in Kolkata, places associated with Swamiji in Varanasi and based on what I came to know from the family members of Pramada Das Mitra.


Vivekananda’s three stories that can change your life.

“Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”

Swami Vivekananda

IN THE DARK AGES OF THE ISLAMIC RULE, except for a few exceptions, hardly any unique work was created in the field of economics, painting or literature in India. Islam is an anti-artism religion (Islam demands complete dedication, as a result, even today music, art, painting are banned in radical Islamic countries, or art is discouraged from the side of the ruling class). Surprisingly, India remained associated with its pre-Mughal period because of Hindu folk literature. With the help of this ancient Hindu folk literature, a common Hindu not only remained aware of the fundamental elements of his culture and religion but also took inspiration from this ancient literature in solving the problems of daily life. How was this possible? This became possible due to the storytelling art of Hindu sages. This unique art kept the common man in one thread.
The great saint of modern times, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, played a great role in the Bengal renaissance by telling short inspirational stories.
Many such short stories are archived in the famous book THE GOSPEL OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA written on the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He took the help of ancient, intuitive, tales to bring welfare ideas to the common people.

Sri Ramakrishna

Swami Vivekananda, the great disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, who himself was a sanyasi, was also a great storyteller. Swami Vivekananda was a forerunner of the Hindu renaissance and a multi-faceted personality. Swami Vivekananda was the first person who introduced the countries of the West to Vedanta literature, Hindu philosophy and yoga. He tried to remove the absurdity and superstitions from the Hindu religion. Above all Swamiji made people realize that the Hindu civilization was one of the richest, rich in culture, rich in traditions, rich in art forms, rich in every aspect that anyone could probably think of. Unfortunately, Swamiji died at a very young age. He had a total life span of thirty-nine years, five months and twenty-four days.

“TO THE HUNGRY RELIGION COMES IN THE FORM OF BREAD”

Vivekananda believed “Service to the poor is the biggest religion”. This was a revolutionary initiative in those days, no one had ever taken such an initiative before. Daridra Narayan:- Swami Vivekananda urged people to see God only in the poor. Swamiji said that serving the poor, trying to solve their problems is like serving God. Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s idea of ​​”service to the poor”. Later on, Mahatma Gandhi further publicized and spread the idea of ​​service to the poor.

Swami Vivekananda as a Narrator:-

Swami Vivekananda told the stories of ancient Hindu literature, he also told stories related to some of the true events of his difficult life to the people in a very interesting way. These inspirational stories and Swamiji’s life experiences are relatable even today.

an eighteenth-century Hindu monk

“In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart. ”

Pavahari Baba:- There is a town named ‘Ghazipur’ which is situated at a distance of about 75 km from the famous Hindu city of Varanasi. A sadhu resided in this city, who was famous by the name of Pavahari Baba. Pavahari Baba used to reside in a pit made underground. He ate very little and spent most of his time meditating. He just had two vessels which he used for cooking and eating food and this was probably the only property(if you could possibly call it one) that he possessed. His philosophy of life was based on the belief that God is omnipresent. He considered all human beings, animals and birds as God. Once a thief came to his abode (pit). Knowing that Pavahari Baba was asleep, the thief took one of his pots and carefully came out of the pit. Suddenly Pavahari Baba woke up. Seeing that the thief was carrying one of his utensils, Pavahari Baba ran after him. When the thief saw that Pavahari Baba was chasing him, the thief started running too, but when the nearby locals saw that Pavahari Baba was chasing someone, they caught the thief for him. ( Pavahari Baba had quite a great reputation in the society so the people always tried to help him whenever it was possible). In no time, Pavahari Baba was also there. And to the people’s surprise, Pavhari Baba also gave his second vessel to the thief and said, “God why did you leave it, please take it too”. People were astonished by this act of Pavahari Baba. They wanted to know the reason for this from him, He said “I used to think that I have completely given up Maya, I have no attachment to any mortal thing, but now when I think about it I am realizing that I have become attached to these two utensils. God wanted to remove Maya from me through a thief. So by the will of God, I have got rid of this Maya as well.

Note: – Swami Vivekananda’s disciple Margaret Elizabeth Noble (Sister Nivedita) while referring to Pavahari Baba, wrote that if Swamiji was influenced by a person in his life after his guru Ramakrishna Paramhansa, then that person was Pavahari Baba.

WHAT IS MAYA???

Once Narada Muni asked Lord Krishna “What is Maya please explain it to me”.
Lord Krishna asked Narada Muni to follow him. After walking a long distance together they reached a desert. It was very hot there. Lord Krishna told Narada Muni that he was very thirsty and due to tiredness, he was unable to walk anymore, so Narada Muni decided to go to a nearby village and bring some water for him. Knocking on the door of a house, he asked for drinkable water. While he was waiting for the house owner to bring the water, he saw a beautiful girl in that house who was the daughter of that house owner. He became so engrossed while talking to that girl that he completely forgot that he came there, just to ask for some water for his master Lord Krishna and that he is waiting for him to return. After talking to that beautiful girl throughout the day, Narada Muni asked the girl’s father for her hand. Taking the permission of the girl’s father, he married that girl. Time passed. His father-in-law had now passed away. Narada Muni was also the father of three boys now. He felt that he was leading a happy life.

Once there was a flood in that village. Narada Muni decided to leave the village with his family to escape the ravages of floods. With one of his hands he held her wife’s hand, with the other he held two of his boys and made the third one sit on his shoulders. Narada Muni entered the floodwater intending to quickly cross the flood but unfortunately, because of the strong current of the water, his wife and children started flowing away from him. Soon Narada Muni’s wife and children disappeared from his sight. He too got washed away in the strong currents of the flood. Narada muni went far ahead while flowing in the strong current of the flood. When the flow of water subsided, Narada Muni found himself on the bank of a calm river. The moment he realized that his family wasn’t there with him, and remembered what happened, Narada Muni started crying. Just then, he heard a whisper in his ears. “It’s been half an hour Narada, you didn’t bring water.” Narad Muni was stunned to hear this. Half an Hour! Only half an hour had passed! According to him, twelve years have passed by, and all these events happened just in a time interval of half an hour. THIS IS WHAT MAYA IS.

VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY

“The one theme of the Vedanta philosophy is THE SEARCH AFTER UNITY. The Hindu mind does not care for the particular; it is always after the general, Nyay (justice), the universal. “what is it that by knowing which everything else is to be known.” That is the one search.”

TWO BIRDS were sitting on a tree. Both had golden wings. The bird which was sitting on the top branch was calm, majestic and engrossed in itself. The bird which was sitting on the lower branch seemed very playful. The bird sitting on the lower branch sometimes ate bitter fruits, sometimes sweet. On eating a bitter fruit, she became calm and after eating a sweet one, she became happy and playful once again. For a while she got only bitter fruits to eat, so she calmed down and looked at the bird sitting on the top branch, but soon she forgot about that bird. And was once again back in business eating the fruits bitter and sweet. She ate a bitter one once again and looked at the bird above which was not affected by the bitter and sweet fruits. While eating fruits, the bird sitting on the lower branch hopped onto the branches above her and because of this at one point in time, she reached the same branch where that calm and serious-natured bird was sitting. But what did she see? There was no bird there, the bird was astonished to see this but after thinking about this for some time she realized that the calm and serious bird was just a reflection of her good qualities.

“TALK TO YOURSELF AT LEAST ONCE IN A DAY, OTHERWISE YOU MAY MISS A MEETING WITH AN EXCELLENT PERSON IN THIS WORLD.”

Have Historical Temples been destroyed in the construction of The Kashi Vishwanath Dham?

ARTIST:- WHITE GEORGE FRANCIS (1829) ‘Tuthera Bazaar (THATHERI BAZAR) Benares Crowded street of Benares. We can get a rough idea of how the streets of Banaras might have looked when Bernier and Tavernier came to visit Banaras.

TWO FAMOUS FRENCH TRAVELERS FRANCOIS BERNIER and TAVERNIER came to Varanasi between 1660 and 1665. There statements revealed the way of life in Varanasi around the 1660s. The description of Bernier and Tavernier shows that even in the 17th century, Varanasi was a major city from trade and religious point of view. While Bernier was amazed by the grandeur of the city, Tavernier condemns the city’s narrow, slippery streets. Tavernier also wrote that the crowded environment around the temples was not at all suitable for bullock carts and horse carts.


PUNDA or Panda ~ a person who performs rituals at places like rivers, Ghats, especially at places of pilgrimage, etc.

BENARES (KASHI,VARANASI) VISHWANATH TEMPLE & MAHATMA GANDHI

BENARES. I ARRIVED THERE IN THE MORNING a panda. (a person who performs rituals at places like rivers, Ghats, especially at places of pilgrimage, etc.) Numerous Brahmans surrounded me, as soon as I got out of the train, and I selected one who struck me to be comparatively cleaner and better than the rest. It proved to be a good choice. There was a cow in the courtyard of his house and an upper storey where I was given a lodging. I did not want to have any food without ablution in the Ganges in the proper orthodox manner. The panda made preparations for it. I had told him beforehand that on no account could I give him more than a rupee and four annas as Dakshina, and that he should therefore keep this in mind while making the preparations. The panda readily assented. ‘Be the pilgrim rich or poor,’ said he, ‘the service is the same in every case. But the amount of Dakshina we receive depends upon the will and the ability of the pilgrim.’ I did not find that the panda at all abridged the usual formalities in my case. The puja was over at twelve o’clock, and I went to the Kashi Vishvanath temple for darshan. I WAS DEEPLY PAINED BY WHAT I SAW THERE. When practicing as a barrister in Bombay in 1891, I had the occasion to attend a lecture on ‘Pilgrimage to Kashi’ in the Prarthana Samaj hall. I was therefore prepared for some measure of disappointment. But the actual disappointment was greater than I had bargained for. The approach was through a narrow and slippery lane. Quiet there was none. The swarming flies and the noise made by the shopkeepers and pilgrims were perfectly insufferable. Where one expected an atmosphere of meditation and communion, it was conspicuous by its absence. One had to seek that atmosphere in oneself. I did observe devout sisters, who were absorbed in meditation, entirely unconscious of the environment. But for this, the authorities of the temple could scarcely claim any credit. The authorities should be responsible for creating and maintaining about the temple a pure, sweet, and serene atmosphere, physical as well as moral. Instead of this, I found a Bazaar where cunning shopkeepers were selling sweets and toys of the latest fashion. When I reached the temple, I was greeted at the entrance by a stinking mass of rotten flowers. The floor was paved with fine marble, which was however broken by some devotee innocent of aesthetic taste, who had set it with rupees serving as an excellent receptacle for dirt.


BENARES HOLY COW FLOWERS FAIR (FROM JOURNEY TO INDIA )

Vishwanath Gali (outer wall of Vishwanath temple) painting by Jan Ciągliński-1907 (Museum: National Museum in Warsaw)
The problems that Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1902 can be seen in this famous painting. There is a crowd of devotees in a narrow street adjacent to the temple, some people are selling flowers in this narrow street.

The above paragraph is the way in which Mahatama Gandhi has expressed Varanasi and Vishwanath temple in his bookThe story of my experiments with truth.’ Gandhiji mentioned this bitter experience of his in Varanasi before he got into politics and became popular. This is probably the agony of most of the common visitors of Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. Gandhi’s experience very well reflects the compulsion of millions of Hindus who were torn between 5000 years old religion and medieval convenience in Varanasi.


In almost all religious festivals of Hindus, Ganga bath at the Ghat of Banaras and Shiva Darshan in Vishwanath temple is prominent. In all such religious festivals, a large number of people bathe in the Ganges and visit Vishwanath temple, due to which the streets leading to the temple are littered with people.

My Experience as a Banarasi Citizen:- I am a devout Hindu, but unlike others, I am not interested in religious activities instead I am more interested in the historical importance of temples. Like any other visitor, I have also seen all these problems, the noisy environment near the temple, the loud noise of the shopkeepers, the visitors, the suffocating atmosphere due to the limited space. All the major religious festivals of Banaras are associated with the tradition of bathing in the Ganges and darshan in temples, as a result, the situation becomes worse during festivals. Waiting in queues for hours to enter the temple, cumbersome, complicated, and boring procedures were an integral part of the darshan process.

Why are the streets leading to the temple narrow, crowded and slippery.

The oldest remains of Varanasi city were found in the Rajghat area which shows that the city extended from Rajghat to Assi Ghat. Since ancient times, the area adjacent to the Ganges has been considered the most sacred as the Ganges river itself is considered sacred, due to which a whole series of temples are located in this limited area. For this reason, this ancient area of ​​​​the city has been a densely populated area for centuries. In addition to the local citizens, the devotees, and the people associated with various occupations also add up to the multitude due to which there is always a large crowd in the narrow streets of Varanasi. Ok, so this answers the question “Why the streets are narrow and crowded ?” now the third part. “Why are they slippery?”

After a holy bath in the Ganges, devotees visit the Vishwanath temple for Shiva Darshan, a tradition that has been going on for thousands of years.
At the time of the darshan of Lord Shiva, Gangajal(Ganges water), flowers are offered to him.
Due to this tradition, many shops adjoining the temple sell flowers and Gangajal in small earthen pots. Devotees can enter the temple premises only barefoot. Generally, the devotees take off their shoes at the same shop from where the devotees get Gangajal and flowers. In exchange of this service, the devotees give some money to the shopkeeper according to their will and reverence(there are no fixed charges for such services related to god). The narrow lanes leading to the temples become slippery as the Ganges water spills due to wambles made by the devotees as they enter the temple.

Vishwanath Temple Corridor Project

PM Modi inaugurates Kashi Vishwanath Dham(Credits: PMO India )

The project of expansion of the Vishwanath temple by the Government of India was welcomed by all sections. With the expansion of the temple, the centuries-old problem of “congestion” of the visitors was finally resolved, while the possibility of expansion of religious tourism in Varanasi was also strengthened. Since ancient times, many people get employment in Varanasi with the help of temples, and religious activities, while others though not visible directly get employment through temples, and religious activities in an indirect way. Inaugurating the new courtyard of Vishwanath temple, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi told that earlier the area of ​​the temple courtyard was three thousand square feet and now it has been extended to five lakh square feet. A new pathway has also been created from Ganga Ghat to the temple, now devotees can easily take a bath in the Ganges and have Lord Shiva’s Darshan at the Vishwanath Temple. Varanasi is not only a major city for Hindus but also for Buddhism and Jainism. After attaining enlightenment, Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon here in Sarnath, Varanasi has been the birthplace of four out of the twenty-four Tirthankaras of Jainism. Every year lakhs of devotees from all over the world come here to Varanasi. The age-old Shiva Darshan tradition of Varanasi has now improved further and more devotees than before can easily carry out the tradition of Ganga Snan and Shiva Darshan without any hassle. The creation of new employment is also hidden in the expansion of the ancient temple. It is expected that with the expansion of the Vishwanath temple, the number of devotees will increase and the tourist industry of Varanasi will also get a huge boost.

The Prime Minister said the invaders attacked this city, tried to destroy it. The city is witness to the history of Aurangzeb’s atrocities and his terror. Who tried to change civilization by the sword, Who tried to crush the culture with fanaticism. But the soil of this country is different from the rest of the world. If there is an Aurangzeb, said the Prime Minister, Shivaji is also there. If any Salar Masood comes, then brave warriors like King Suheldev make him taste the might of India’s unity. And even during the British era, the people of Kashi knew what happened to Hastings, said Shri Modi.

GLIMPSES OF VARANASI HISTORY:- The process of converting temples into mosques, which started with the conquest of Varanasi by Ghori and Qutubuddin Aibak, continued for almost 500 years. The struggle of Hindus to get back their temples also continued with it. Hindus built new temples whenever they got a chance, these temples were then demolished again by the Mughal rulers. The process of temple construction and temple demolition came to a standstill in Akbar’s reign, but the construction of new temples gained its full flow during the reign of the Marathas.

The temple of Kashi Vishwanath was demolished by Aurangzeb in 1669 and a mosque was built at that place. Vishwanath temple was then rebuilt near this place by Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1777. Varanasi has been the holiest city for Hindus in the whole India, with the reconstruction of the Vishwanath temple, Hindu devotees started visiting Varanasi once again. During that time, due to the devotees coming from different places across the country to Varanasi, the pandits of that particular place also came and settled in Varanasi. These pandits not only used to get the religious work done for the devotees coming from their respective areas, but they also used to make arrangements for the accommodation of the devotees at their own homes. It was the dream of every affluent Hindu to build a temple in Varanasi. Such people got great prestige in society. Small temples were built near Vishwanath temple in Varanasi by the princely states, rich people from every corner of the country. Priests were appointed in the temple. Many Pandits of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bengal, Nepal came and settled in Varanasi, many Pandits who were natives of Varanasi were also appointed in such temples because the Pandits of Varanasi had a great reputation. The number of local pandits, pandas, priests who performed religious rituals in Varanasi was already quite large, due to the settlement of non-native pandits, this number grew even larger. It was a normal process in those days, pilgrims coming from all over the country would stay here, bathing in the Ganges and visiting the temple, the pandits getting the religious activities done, arranging food for the devotees, etc. In other words, taking full care of them, in return a sum (Dakshina) was given to them by the devotees, this Dakshina was the means of the employment of such pandits. Later, due to the development of new and faster means of transport, the religious journey of Varanasi, whose tour took months to get completed, became just a matter of a few days. Travelers tired of long journeys (bullock cart or on foot) used to rest for a few days in Varanasi and were refreshed to return home back again. The development of railways changed the modalities of the age-old tradition to a jiffy. There was a huge increase in the number of Hindu visitors, but the number of devotees staying in the city started decreasing day by day. Due to the paucity of time in the modern lifestyle, it was not possible for the devotees to devote much time to religious rituals and due to the development of hotels, dharamshalas, devotees had many options to stay in the city and not just one. Such changing circumstances had limited the sources of income of the Pandits of Varanasi to a great extent.
When Mahatma Gandhi came to Banaras (1902), he found such pandits at the railway station searching for devotees who would stay at his residence and perform religious rituals so that the pandits could earn some income. which he has described. This shows how the railways had influenced the religious practices, prevailing beliefs of India till 1902. (The first train in India ran in 1853)


From this picture, the situation can be understood that how the construction work has been done on the temples. Temple buildings are hidden inside houses (Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Many such small temples of Banaras were built by the people and handed over to the Pandits, which later became the private property of the Pandits. There are many cases pending in the courts of Varanasi regarding such properties and the general public has no clue about the management of these temples. The succeeding generations of Pandits converted those temples they had got into guest houses for accommodation. Temples were hidden within the boundary walls of the houses, not only this but the new buildings were also sometimes constructed adjacent to some temples. Many times when I passed by from such areas, I was curious to know about these temples, by looking at the walls of the houses and seeing their peaks. Some of these temples were wonderful as they had beautiful art engraved on them and were worth seeing. Most of the time I used to wonder “How were these temples inside the houses ?” My knowledge was only limited to books and the books were silent on this subject. I got the answer to this question from one of my seniors whose name I can mention ~ “Dinesh Bhaiya”, my photographer friend from the early days of journalism, who also had his ancestral home in that area. Dinesh Bhaiya’s knowledge about Varanasi was amazing, this was the reason why I also used to call him the pantomath of Varanasi, a great photographer, above all a great person. Unfortunately, he passed away a few months back, I always feel his absence, especially while writing a blog post on Varanasi.

At the time of the expansion of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, all these temples were taken inside the new courtyard of the temple under the corridor. 314 buildings were purchased by the administration by paying reasonable amounts for the respective buildings, there were temples inside 40 such buildings, these were accommodated inside the building through encroachment, it was a complicated process to get back such temples but it was possible with the cooperation of the people.

Varanasi is the holiest city of Hindus and the sentiments of all Hindus are attached to this city. This fact was used by some political parties for their petty political gains. They described the action of breaking the encroachment of temples as demolition of temples. Surprisingly, the media of the country and abroad was divided into two parts.

  1. Local media(Vernacular media)
  2. National & International media

During the removal of the structural encroachment of temples, the debris of the buildings that encroached upon the temples was being posted by the leftist media with captions as “temple demolition”.

Local media(Vernacular media): -Firstly the local media was publishing the news of the encroachment of the temples but as most of the people in the city were aware of it, so in the efforts of publishing something new and sensational and also because of media’s own cut-throat competition, the local media started publishing fake stories about such temples. Suddenly the temples built in the 18th and 19th century were stated to be thousands of years old, the people living in the houses where such temples were situated, were declared to be criminals by the local media for hiding the temples. The media suddenly took the role of the judiciary, they started presenting history in a distorted way, there was, as if, a competition in the local media about which newspaper can publish the maximum amount of fake news on this topic and thereby create the maximum possible amount of sensation so that to result in an increment in their sales.

National Media:-
The national and the international media were engaged in a different game, especially the left side. In the Soviet Union, the leftists who have justified the destruction of churches seized church property, and plundered church gold suddenly became messiah, protecting temples to spread their propaganda and fake news. The images in which the structural encroachments of the temples were being broken down were being shared with captions that the temples are being broken down. Trick photography has been an old weapon of the Red Terrorists. Soon the big guns of the media also started analyzing the incident in their own way. Even the Washington Post and the New York Times didn’t take long to catch up to this phenomenon. Soon they also started writing long articles on the demolition of old temples. What surprised me the most was the fact that many sites for Travel And Tourism were also mentioning this fake news.


Thanks to social media and citizen journalism for sharing the truth, it was because of them that this propaganda didn’t take long to get exposed.
Today the new courtyard of Vishwanath temple is complete and all these temples are not only preserved but are also in a much better condition than before. Many media groups and people are of the view that the antiquity of the city is being destroyed in this effort to beautify the city and I think this kind of view is incorrect. Varanasi is an eternal city, this city is still in its original form as it was thousands of years ago, it has naturally accepted the changes over time so it is pointless to say that its antiquity and archaism are being destroyed.

Prime Minister added that this whole new complex of Vishwanath Dham is not just a grand building. This is a symbol of the Sanatan culture of our India. It is a symbol of our spiritual soul. This is a symbol of India’s antiquity, traditions, India’s energy and dynamism. The Prime Minister said “when one comes here, they will see not only faith but will also feel the glory of the past here. How antiquity and novelty come alive together. How the inspirations of the ancient are giving direction to the future, We are witnessing this very vividly in Vishwanath Dham complex “.


THE SEARCH FOR HINDUS LOST TEMPLES IN THE CITY OF TEMPLES(VARANASI) .


These pillars date back to 8th- 9th century or perhaps even earlier. These pillars of the grand temple are now a part of the mosque.

BELOW IS A PARAGRAPH FROM TAJUL MASSIR FIRST OFFICIAL HISTORY (SULTAN CHRONICLE) OF THE DELHI SULTANATE. WRITTEN IN PERSIAN BY SADRUDDIN HASAN NIZAMI

He purged by his sword the land of Hind (INDIA) from the filth of infidelity… and the impurity of idol-worship, and left not one temple standing… When he arrived at Mirat (Meerut) all the idol temples were converted into mosques. He then marched and encamped under the fort of Delhi. The city and its vicinity were freed from idols and idol-worship, and in the sanctuaries, mosques were raised by the worshippers of one God. The royal army proceeded towards Benares,(VARANASI) which is the Centre of the country of Hind, and here they destroyed nearly one thousand temples. The temples were converted into mosques and abodes of goodness, and the ejaculations of bead-counters and voices of summoners to prayer ascended to high heaven, and the very name of idolatry was annihilated.

ISLAMIC IDEOLOGY WAS LIKE A tremendous storm of destruction for Varanasi, which was the center of many religions like Hindu, Buddhist, Jain … The land where Mahatma Buddha had preached non-violence, peace, public welfare to the world, was facing immense destruction from the havoc of an ideology that emanated from Arabia. Countless temples were demolished by Muslim invaders, all over India, some of the most prominent Hindu temples, which were destroyed by Muslim invaders, were later rebuilt. But many temples are still mosques and remain unchanged.
Temples in Varanasi, the holiest city of Hindus, were demolished for the first time in 1193-94. The Hindus had to struggle a long time to get their temples back. Surprisingly, many of the temples that were demolished in 1193-94 and from whose rubble the mosques were built on the same site are still reminiscent of Islamic imperialism. After independence, the history of India was no longer independent. Nehruvian, Marxist fake historians wrote a fake history of India, the whole game of historiography in India was inspired by the political-history writings of Communist historians of the Soviet Union. All the civilizations of the world have seen defeat, cruelty, blood, tears, and learned from their mistakes.
AFTER INDEPENDENCE, BOGUS MARXIST HISTORIANS DISTANCED INDIANS FROM THE NATURAL ART OF MAN’S LEARNING FROM MISTAKES, WHICH WE ALSO CALL EXPERIENCE.

History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” GEORGE ORWELL

There are many such mosques, dargahs in Banaras(Varanasi) which have been built from the ruins of the temple. But in this post I decided to focus on the region around Rajghat for a couple of reasons listed below.

RAJGHAT AREA

  1. Varanasi is not only the holiest city of Hindus, but it also ranks among the oldest cities in the world, the oldest signs of this ancient city are found in the Rajghat area, undoubtedly the most famous, sacred and ancient temples of Hindus must have existed in this area.
  2. When Qutbuddin Aibak and, Sahabuddin Ghori conquered Banaras in 1194, the king of Banaras was Jaichand. Many such temples fall in the Rajghat area, which had immense reverence for Jaichand.

JAICHAND’S KINGDOM

WHO WAS JAICHAND? Jaichand was a powerful Gaharwar Rajput king of eastern Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Bihar. Jaichand’s father was Vijaychandra and grandfather was Govindchandra. Even today, a large population of Gaharwar Rajputs is found in Varanasi and nearby towns. Unfortunately, Jaichand is counted amongst the most traitor kings of India and it is believed that Jaichand had an old enmity with another famous Indian king of that time, Prithviraj Chauhan. It is considered that Mohammed Ghauri was invited to India by Jaichand to humiliate and to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan. There is no evidence on this subject, but no doubt these things have ruined the reputation of Jaichand.

In the present world scenario, it becomes necessary to unveil the false history and learn from experience. In recent times, it is necessary to know the history of these temples to understand the incidents like the unprovoked killing of Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan the destruction of a large number of Hindu temples, the rise of Islamic extremism in West Bengal.

A Knowledge of History, even of the darkest past, can be quite useful, even for the future. (Anatoly Markusha, Miracles on wheels)


Rajghat:- Here the remains dating back to 2000 BC have been found in excavations.

RAJGHAT :- THE CROSSROAD OF HISTORY.

According to Hindu ancient scriptures, the ancient city of Varanasi was settled at the present Rajghat place. In recent years many ancient remains of Varanasi city have been found in various excavations near Rajghat. Surprisingly, many times the temples mentioned in the ancient scriptures have been confirmed on the basis of the remains found here. The city of Varanasi is named after the Varuna and Asi rivers, Varuna and Asi thus Varanasi. Close to Rajghat, the Varuna river confluences with the Ganges, the most major and important river of Varanasi. Some ancient Hindu temples which are now mosques or have been rebuilt are located near Raj Ghat. Rajghat comes in the oldest area of Varanasi, this is also one of the reasons why I chose this area for my research.

72 PILLARED MOSQUE


In 1194 CE this temple was demolished and a mosque was built over it. Even today, these pillars of the temple seem to convey the story of the destruction of temples and the massacre of Hindus.

72 PILLARED MOSQUE:- There is a mosque near Raj Ghat which is known as the 72 pillared mosque. The structure of this mosque is completely different from the normal ones. There is a hall inside this mosque, which is about 150 FEET LONG AND 25 FEET WIDE . There are 72 very beautiful pillars in this hall, the geometric art made on these pillars is worth seeing. These pillars date back to the Gaharwar kingdom or perhaps even earlier. All the pillars are made of sandstone. Paintwork has been done on all the pillars. For this reason, the beauty of the age-old ancient art engraved on it looks diminished. For the conquering religion, the defeated religion and civilization has no meaning, according to Islamic theology, idol worship is a serious crime and this temple had to bear the punishment for this crime, The Muslims around the mosque were very humble and were also eager to help me, but they were prejudiced, they had their own arguments. They all agreed that the pillars of the mosque were ancient but they all believed that the Islamic artists who came with Qutubuddin Aibak and Ghori had built them. Some had philosophical arguments, they were adamant that the pillars of the mosque were built by jinns. (Supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian religious systems). When they realized that I was Hindu, they gave a suspicious expression. I even had to resort to a little lie to click the photos of the interior of this mosque.

ELEVENTH CENTUARY BANARAS(VARANASI) & ADI KESHAV :-

Adi means ancient, The word Keshav is synonymous with Lord Vishnu. Adi Keshav means the ancient temple of Lord Vishnu. It is known from the Gaharwal inscriptions that the temple of Adi Keshav at Adi Keshav Ghat has a great reputation.


VARUNA SANGAM GHAT OR ADI KESHAV GHAT

ADI KESHAV GHAT:- ACCORDING TO HINDU RELIGIOUS TEXTS The importance of Adi Keshav Ghat has been mentioned in Kashi Khanda, Matsya Purana and Linga Purana. This ghat is also known as Varuna Sangam Ghat. According to Kashi Khanda after being advised by Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu put his first step in Kashi at this ghat After he washed his foot he left a foot impression on the ghat where he installed a Statue of his own. This site is also known as Padodak Tirtha. It is believed that a holy dip at this spot helps to free the devotees from the circle of life and death. Bhudevi, Sridevi and Keshavaditya are also worshipped at this temple. The temple of Adi Keshav has a Sabha mandap and a Garbha Griha. This place has been mentioned in the writings of Chandradev, Madanpal, Govindchand, and Jaichand.


ADI KESHAV TEMPLE

This ghat exists even today at the confluence of the rivers Varuna and Ganga. Adi Keshav Temple is built near this Ghat. It is known from a copper plate inscription from Chandravati that is dated back to 1100 A.D that Chandradeva (King of Chandravati) donated gold and silver, with thousand seals, at the Adi Keshav temple and donated thirty-two villages as Brahmadeya(land gifted to Brahamanas) to five hundred brahmins. According to Kamauli copper plate inscription, in 1168 AD, after taking a bath at Adikeshwar Ghat, with the permission of his father Vijaychand, Jaichand took initiation in the service of Krishna devotion and donated a village to Prahraj Sharma on the occasion. The second copper plate inscription about Jaichand also shows that he was a devotee of Adikeshav. An inscription by Govindchand also reveals some Shaiva and Vaishnava temples of the Gahadwal-era. After bathing in the Ganges in Banaras, he donated a house situated in the city of Banaras to the great Dayin Sharma. All these historical details show that the Adi Keshav temple was an ancient temple, this temple had a great reputation and the ruler of this area at that time – Jaichand, had a deep attachment to it.

The most ancient remains of the Adi Keshav Temple.

Adi Keshav temple was demolished in the Islamic invasion of 1194. Hindus in Varanasi tried to get back their temples as soon as they got the right opportunity, but there is no evidence whether or not this temple was reconstructed, the reason why it wasn’t reconstructed is possibly because Jaichand was associated with it and he is considered as a traitor. Or perhaps over a period of time, due to the increase in the number of Shiva-temples in Varanasi, the importance of this temple decreased as it was dedicated to Lord Vishnu not Shiva. Or maybe due to the increase in the population of the city in other areas, the popularity of this temple was affected. It is difficult to say anything about this temple as there are no historical documents available on this subject. Then afterwards this temple was rebuilt in 1807 by Sindhia of Gwalior. At present, the lowest part of the temple seems to be ancient, and from it’s appearance, it appears to be built in Gaharwar era. The upper part of the temple, built-in 1807, maybe important from the point of view of reverence, but the ancient art of temples is missing in this temple.

LAKKAD SHA MOSQUE AND MAJAR :-

Near Bhainsa Sur Ghat, there is Lakkar Shah Mazar and Masjid. This mazar is adjacent to the main road and is built at a height of 15-20 feet. From seeing it, it seems that this tomb is built on the ruins of a Hindu temple.
On top of the platform made of stone, it seems that someone has placed a separate tomb and a building built above the tomb.
Looking at this tomb, it seems that this small building has been constructed in three different periods.

  1. The base seems to be the remains of an ancient temple, 15 feet in height and about 30 feet in length and width. Such bases are commonly found in ancient Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas.
  2. The tomb may have been built on the ruins of this temple in the 12th – thirteenth century.
  3. Seeing the domed building reflecting Islamic architecture style above the tomb, it appears that this structure was built in the Mughal period. Hindu temple pillars can clearly be seen in this Islamic structure at the four corners and at the entrance.

SHARIABAD :- After the Hindus got defeated in 1194, new localities of muslims were built here, and during this time many mosques, dargahs, and graveyards were also built. Almost all these dargahs, Islamic cemeteries, and mosques were built by demolishing Hindu temples. In those days this area was known as Shariabad. During the Mughal period, this area was known as Baag-Badshah.

BATTLE FOR SOULS:-

The fundamental principle of Islam, “destruction of idolatry”, was hindering conversion, as a result, thousands of Sufis adopted a new path of jihad —- these Sufis talked of unity instead of Hindu and Islam contradiction. JEHAD FI-SABILILIAH is not the exclusive domain of the professional soldier, nor it is restricted to the application of military force alone. A Sufi musical Kauwali was developed by mixing Islamic verses with Hindu mantras.
These Sufis converted the graveyards of Islamic warriors into a new shrine. Many supernatural tales were created about these Islamic warriors, surprisingly these were the Islamic warriors who were responsible for the massacre of Hindus, the biggest enemies of idolaters. This package of jihad became popular very quickly and played a major role in the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. Many such tombs, graveyards came into existence in the Rajghat area between 12th-13th century.
Presently some of the main MAJARS (TOMB) are:-

1.Rauja Chandan Shahid
2.Rauja Ajgaib Shahid
3..Rauja Palang Shahid RAUJA means shrine or tomb. It is also known as Maqbara,majar,Dargah.
SHAHID means Muslim martyr.

RAUJA CHANDAN SHAHID

RAUJA CHANDAN SHAHID :- This tomb is located at Rajghat on the opposite side of Adi-Keshava Temple. Undoubtedly there must have been an ancient temple here, presently a mosque, Chandan Shahid tomb and some tombs in open ground can be found here. Both Hindu and Muslim devotees can be seen at the mazar. The tomb is full of Islamic culture and traditions. The mosque, the tomb are all painted in holy Islamic colors. [GREEN] Some calendars are hung on the outer wall of the mausoleum, with photographs of Mecca-Medina and some with verses of the Qur’an covered in glass frames, the whole atmosphere was medieval. When I tried to enter a room in Chandan Shahid tomb, a young boy stopped me and requested me to put the Islamic cap on my head. When I asked the reason for this, he said that this is the tradition here. He had some Islamic caps which he kept for the visitors who were not wearing one. Inside the Mazar, the pillars of the room were all green. I also smelled some kind of Itra (Islamic perfume) there which was literally disgusting. It still makes me shiver whenever I think of it’s smell.

RAUJA AJGAIB SHAHID There is a mosque, a holy tomb built on the rear side of the mosque and a hall possibly the buildings of this place have been repaired and rebuilt so many times that there is no trace of the pre-Islamic invasion. Only a few stone stairs are visible which look old, which are attached to the platform, just on this basis it is impossible to say anything about it’s history.

RAUJA PALANG SHAHID :- IN THE SHADOW OF THE SWORD


These pillars which seem to be a part of a temple became a part of the tomb(MAZAR) in 1194 CE


This pillar of the tomb does have some kind of ancient Hindu deity’s art made over it but it’s impossible to tell anything about the art or the deity because of the thick layers of paint on it.

There is another major tomb in front of Ajgaiz Shahid on the Grand Trunk Road itself, this mazar is known as Palang Shahid. This place was an old cemetery, the description of this cemetery is also in the Banaras Gazetteers. The boundary wall of the cemetery is new. When entering through the main gate, there is a graveyard, when walking further into the graveyard there are three buildings and some more graves built on a square stone platform. These three buildings are-:

  1. A mosque
  2. A tomb with a dome shaped roof.(Note that this tomb is not of Palang Shahid.)
  3. The main Tomb of Palang Shahid . This tomb is situated right in the middle of the square stone platform. Modern tiles are installed on the tomb. This tomb has four pillars and a square shaped roof which has the dome built over it. The four pillars and the square roof built on these pillars is a pre-Islamic structure. If we take a look only at the four pillars and the square shaped roof over it, ignoring the domed structure and the tomb, it seems to be the CHAUKI of an ancient Hindu temple. It appears that the tomb and the dome built on top of the square roof are not the part of the original structure but have been separately placed over it. CHAUKI or CHOWKI :-In all Hindu temples, this type of structure is found near the main entrance of the temple, which is called Chauki (square seat).

Beautiful geometric designs and some figures are engraved on the four ornate pillars of the Chauki .These figures might be of Hindu deities. These figures aren’t very clearly visible because of the thick coats of paint above them. Another thing that caught my attention was the poster on this mazar. On the poster there was a sword with a picture of Mecca and the fundamental principles of Islam were written. THERE IS NO GOD EXCEPT ALLAH, MUHAMMAD IS THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH.

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

JUST BELOW THE LANTERN- LIES THE DARKNESS

Learning nothing from history has somehow become the destiny of India.

Vasanta College for Women is adjacent to Adi Keshav Temple in Rajghat area. This college was established in 1913 by Annie Besant. Annie Besant was a British woman who was influenced by Hindu religion culture, she had a major role in introducing the western countries to Hindu religion and culture. She was also a major contributor to India’s freedom struggle and social movements.
In Rajghat area, I visited the ruins of many ancient temples, tombs, mosques, graveyards, etc., near Keshav temple, along my way I crossed Vasanta College for Women, I talked to the girls there and asked to know their views. I tried this many times but I got disappointed in every single one of my attempt. To my great surprise, these graduating students didn’t knew anything about the history of the ancient temple adjacent to the wall of their college, nearby madarasas, dargahs. Only a few girls had went to the Adi Keshav temple and they too had a religious outlook not historical. They had no idea about the history of Islamic conversion, they had no idea about this dreadful period of Islamic imperialism history.

No one had even seen Chandan Shaheed Mazar, everyone had the same opinion about it – it is a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity, When I asked them how? They immediately threw the answer as “We don’t know” .

This selective way of looking at history is a product of Nehruvians.
Completely political, completely devoted to the family, in the present world when there is a conflict between Islam and other religions, how much will this ostrich attitude help us? Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon here in Varanasi (Sarnath), barely five kilometers from Rajghat. After attaining enlightenment in Gaya, Buddha had entered Varanasi through this historical route Uttar Path, whose teachings in Sarnath based on peace and non-violence, two and a half thousand years ago were known as Dhamma Chakra Parivartan. The Buddha’s knowledge, the holy land of Sarnath, were completely destroyed by the havoc created by Islamic imperialism in 1194. India lost much of its knowledge of Buddha. (Centuries later, some British historians discovered some Buddha relics in the excavation of Sarnath, and India got a chance to get acquainted with the thoughts of Buddha again.)
The reason why Hindus were defeated was because they had very limited knowledge outside there geographical area, this ignorance is prevalent in Hindu society even today. Only the future will tell for how long a civilization that has not learned anything and still not ready to learn anything from its experiences will survive.

ASHOKAN PILLAR, IT’S HISTORY AND IMPORTANCE.

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), passport 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.

ASHOKA RAJA – THE KING WITHOUT SORROW

Why is Emperor Ashoka counted among the greatest rulers of not only India but the world?

Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousness’s and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honored. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne. (Outline of History )H.G WELLS

EMPEROR ASHOKA IS PROBABLY THE FIRST EMPEROR IN HUMAN HISTORY TO ESTABLISH A PUBLIC WELFARE STATE. About 2260 years ago from today, Emperor Ashoka established the whole India as a nation and succeeded in establishing non-violence, and moral force as the most essential element of state building. Fortunately, the words and deeds of Ashoka are still present among us. According to Charles Allen :- ” some seven edict rocks, eleven edict pillars, another nineteen more modest sites bearing what are usually referred to as the Minor Rock Edicts and perhaps a dozen more inscriptions in various forms that can be attributed to Ashoka.”

He was always ready for public business “at all times and at all places, whether I am dining or in the ladies’ apartments, in my bedroom or in my closet, in my carriage or in my palace gardens, the official reporters should keep me constantly informed of the people’s business”. If any difficulty arose, a report was to be made to him immediately “at any hour and at any place”, for, as he says,” work I must for the commonweal”.


SARNATH (VARANASI 1904-5) The treasure of ancient Indian history can clearly be seen in this picture. If you have been to the Sarnath archaeological site museum try to find out some of the objects you saw there in this picture.(Hint: Can you find the huge stone” CHATHRI” in this image.) There are many such objects in this image. Try to find out them yourself.

OLD MULGANDH KUTI VIHAR. THIS IS THE SAME SITE WHERE THE HISTORICAL OBJECTS ARE KEPT IN THE ABOVE BLACK AND WHITE IMAGE.

SARNATH :- PROCESS OF REDISCOVERY

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. Afterwards Sarnath was completely destroyed by the Muslim invaders.

XUANZANG :- Xuanzang (HIUEN TSANG) a famous Chinese traveler who visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana. Hiuen Tsang spent about fifteen years of his life in India. In the year 637 CE, Hiuen Tsang visited Sarnath. The memoirs of his visit to India, and the description of India during Harshavardhana’s reign, were described by Hiuen Tsang in his book Si-Yu-Ki. The description of the major monuments, temples, Buddhist monasteries, stupas, Ashokan Pillar of Sarnath by Hiuen Tsang was the source of inspiration for the archaeologists of Sarnath excavation to find something new and interesting.
The Lion Capital was found during the excavation between 1904-05 in Sarnath. The ancient wall of Mulgandha Kuti Vihar can also be seen at the excavation site. The statue of Buddha meditating adjacent to the wall of the temple of Mulgandha Kuti Vihar is also clearly visible. The Mulgandha Kuti Vihar Temple was built at the place where Gautam Buddha used to meditate during his stay at Sarnath. Fragments of the Ashokan Pillar can also be seen a few feet away from the wall of the temple. It seems that a woman is cleaning a pillar that has been found during excavation, who has covered herself with a cloth to avoid the scorching heat of the sun. Presently Buddha’s meditating statue, Lion Capital and a lot of other things that were found during the excavations are preserved at the Sarnath archaeological site museum.

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

The Ashokan pillar built during the reign of Emperor Ashoka can be mainly divided into five parts. 1. Shaft 2. Bell shaped vase covered with inverted lotus 3. Abacus 4. Capital 5. Wheel

Pillar :-

A few feet away from Mulgandha Kuti Vihar in Sarnath, the pillar was found in a fragmented form. The total height of the pillar is assumed to be 45 feet and it is made of sandstone. The lower part of the pillar was built on a stone base. Apart from Ashoka’s inscriptions Kushan period and Gupta period inscriptions are also carved on this pillar. Ashoka’s warning is in Brahmi script.
This Ashokan Pillar at Sarnath was a monument to the event of turning the wheel of Dharma, and it was established during the reign of Emperor Ashoka to maintain the integrity of the Dharma Sangha. The Ashokan period inscription on the pillar shows that Emperor Ashoka was not very happy about the divisive forces that were arising within Buddhist Sanghas. And for this reason, in this very inscription, Emperor Ashoka has warned the monks, nuns who try to divide Buddhism and the Buddhist Sangha.

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

THE SCRIPT OF THE TEXT IS BRAMHI AND THE LANGUAGE IS PRAKRIT. Even in this warning of 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 Hiuen Tsang, 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 Hiuen Tsang. Presently the remains of this ancient Buddhist monastery are spread over a wide area around the Ashokan Pillar.

Lion Capital preserved in the Museum of Sarnath

Bell shaped vase covered with inverted lotus :- Lotus flowers are found all over India. Since ancient times, 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, 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 lotus flower in Indian culture, it also has the distinction of being the national flower of India.

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.

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 of Hindus, Buddhists, 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, 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 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.

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. The well-structured venison and mane of these lions are shown very beautifully.
THE FOUR LIONS ARE SYMBOLS OF BUDDHIST MONKS PROCLAIMING BUDDHA’S TEACHINGS IN ALL FOUR DIRECTIONS.

THE THIRTY TWO SPOKED WHEEL :-

DETAILS OF WHEEL OF THE LION CAPITAL

This wheel (The symbol of the 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 cms. In diameter, drilled into the stone between 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 are indicative of 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 art works.

My last post that I wrote about Sarnath was the longest post that I ever wrote in my whole carrier and still it was not enough to write about every single thing in detail this is not surprising considering the fact that Sarnath is such a huge place to learn and discover about history. One such important thing that I was unable to write about in detail was the the Lion Capital and the Ashokan pillar that is why I decided to write this post. If you want to read more about Sarnath and its history please take a look at my last post about Sarnath where I have tried to describe Sarnath as a whole and have also written about some places that you might want to visit if you are coming to Sarnath. I am mentioning the link below you can read it from there. https://nithinks.com/2021/10/27/light-of-asia-sarnathvaranasi/

DUSSEHRA: Our Ancestors Turned a Festival into a People’s War Against Imperialism

DUSSEHRA (VIJAYADASHMI) BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF ISLAM

The month of October is known as the month of festivals in Hindus. Many festivals of Hindus fall in this month. One such major Hindu festival is Dussehra or Vijaydashshmi. India is a country with different types of climate, regional variation, food and drink, for this reason fundamental similarities and traditional differences are seen in every Hindu festival. Dussehra or Vijayadashami is also no exception to this. There are various reasons, traditions and ways of celebrating this festival among the Hindus. According to Hindu religion, Lord Vishnu incarnated as the prince of Ayodhya on earth to liberate people from the tyranny of demons. It is a tradition to celebrate Dussehra to commemorate the day on which Lord Rama killed Ravana, the king of demons. According to another story related to this festival, Goddess Durga killed Mahishasura after nine nights and ten days of war, the festival of Dussehra is celebrated to commemorate the nine-night war of Mother Durga and the victory of the tenth day.
Navratri is celebrated in the memory of the nine days of struggle of Maa Durga. Many people also observe a fast for nine days in remembrance of this day of struggle and to show their reverence and gratitude to Goddess Durga. This festival is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil and tyranny. There has also been a tradition of weapon worship on this day since ancient times. People have such belief that this is an auspicious and victory day, so it is considered an auspicious day for starting any new work (in relation to business, shop or for imparting alphabet knowledge to children). Remembering the victory of Lord Rama in Dussehra. While burning the effigy of Ravana is also organized on this day.

Sita Mata (mother Sita) with her two sons, Luv and Kusha

Sita is typical of India— the idealized India. The question is not whether she ever lived, whether the story is history or not, we know that the ideal is there. (SWAMI VIVEKANANDA)

RAMA, THE ANCIENT IDOL OF THE HEROIC AGES the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, the ideal father, and, above all, the ideals all, the ideal king, this Rama has been presented before us by the great saint Valmiki.

HE WHO WAS SHRI RAMA, whose stream of love flowed with resistless might even to the Chandala (the outcaste); Oh, who ever was engaged in doing good to the world though superhuman by nature, whose renown there is none to equal in the three worlds, Sita’s beloved, whose body of Knowledge Supreme was covered by devotion sweet in the form of Sita.

After the independence of India, Mahatma Gandhi envisioned ideal India in the form of Ram Rajya. Mahatma Gandhi’s political philosophy was also completely based on the ideal conception of Ram’s Maryada Purushottam.

AYODHYA NAGRI (JAIN TEMPLE )

BY POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE I do not mean an imitation to the British House of commons, or the soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have systems suited to their genius. We must have ours suited to ours. What that can be is more than I can tell. I have described it as Ramarajya i.e., sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority.

BY RAMARAJYA I do not mean Hindu Raj. I mean by Ramarajya Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God. For me Rama and Rahim are one and the same deity. I acknowledge no other God but the one God of truth and righteousness. Whether Rama of my imagination ever lived or not on this earth, the ancient ideal of Ramarajya is undoubtedly one of true democracy in which the meanest citizen could be sure of swift justice without an elaborate and costly procedure. Even the dog is described by the poet to have received justice under Ramarajya.

GOSWAMI TULSIDAS

Dussehra and Ramlila:- The drama based on the life of Lord Shri Ram has been staged in India for centuries. But this stage was based on the Ramayana composed by Valmiki, and its language was Sanskrit which was limited to the elite class. When the holy places, places of worship of Hindus were being vandalized by the Mughal invaders, a voice of public consciousness emerged from Varanasi, the holiest pilgrimage site of Hindus. The name of this voice was Goswami Tulsidas. A new sense of hope among Hindus was created by Tulsi Das. The defeated civilization arose again, with a renewed vigor. Tulsi Das ji did not do anything new, he did the real democratization of the story of Lord Shri Ram, settled in the public mind of India. During this process he interpreted the Ramayana in a new form. Goswami Tulsidas ji wrote the story of Ramayana in his book Ramcharitmanas in the language of common people called Awadhi. Along with this, Tulsidas ji started the staging of Ram Katha on the basis of Ramcharitmanas in the holy city of Hindus in Varanasi. Soon Ram Katha was staged on the basis of Ramcharitmanas composed by Goswami Tulsidas ji at many places in Varanasi. This unique way of protecting Hindu religion, culture and tradition was the invention of Tulsidas ji himself. Soon Ramlila staging took the form of a movement all over North India. A natural, fundamental people’s movement. By turning every Hindu into a Hindu temple, Tulsidas gave a befitting reply to the idol-breakers. Consider your body to be worshipable because even God once took birth in it. Despite facing many atrocities, Tulsidas’s Rama had an ideal in front of the Hindus which prepared them to face internal and external problems in their lives. It was a blessing in Akbar’s rule, the rest of the time was worse. Here two examples can be used to understand the situation at that time.

KASHI VISHWANATH After seeing this diagram, is there anything left to say on this subject?
A living drawing of one of the holiest temples of the Hindus, Kashi-Viswanath by James Prinsep in 1831
Demolishing this holy temple of Hindus, a mosque was built here by the Mughal king Aurangzeb from its rubble. The ruins of the demolished temple can be seen in this drawing.

“It had been brought to the notice of His Majesty [Shah Jahan] that during the late reign many idol temples had been begun, but remained unfinished, at Benares, (Varanasi)the great stronghold of infidelity. The infidels were now desirous of completing them. His Majesty, the Defender of the Faith, gave orders that at Benares and through out all his dominions in every place, all temples that had been begun should be cast down. It was now [1042 AH. 1632 A.D.] reported from the province of Allahabad that seventy-six temples had been destroyed in the district of Benares.” Badshah-nama, pg. 449

The 3d December 1632. (Mohun ca Sarae [Mohan Sarai], 4 Course), Att our comeinge forth of Bunaroz [Benares], wee sawe a man hanginge by the heeles on a tree. His offence was this. This Kinge [Shah Jahan] had commaunded that all Hindooe Churches made in his tyme should bee demolished, and for that purpose sent his firmaen [farmän] to this Governour”, whoe sent his Couzin, with other principall men in Comission, to see it executed on one lately built. A Rashpoote [rajput] hearing of it, hid himselfe, and with a Comptee [kamthä, kanthi], or longe bowe provided for that purpose, seeinge his tyme, shott amongst them, killed the Gouvernours Couzin, and 3 or 4 more of the Cheifest, which was done on the suddaine. But being quickly found and sett upon, with his Jemdar [jamdhar) or dagger killed one or 2 more, and then was slaine himself and his body hanged on the tree as aforesaid. (THE TRAVELS of PETER MUNDY page 178)

(HAR -HAR MAHADEV RAJA -RAMCHANDRA KI JAI )

Famous Ramlilas of Varanasi

RAMLEELA OF RAMNAGAR :- Sketch of Ramlila of Ramnagar in Banaras by James Prinsep in 1831. In this sketch, the Maharaja of Banaras is watching Ramlila sitting on an elephant. Huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnad can be seen in the sketch.

Some interesting facts about Ramnagar Ramlila:-

The king of Varanasi, who is known as (Kashi-Naresh), started staging Ramlila in Ramnagar about 200 years ago. Ramlila is being staged uninterruptedly even today. Ramlila of Ramnagar is recognized as a cultural heritage by UNESCO, due to its unique traditions. Every day Ramlila begins with the proclamation of Raja Ramchandra ki Jai with Har Har Mahadev.
. Even in today’s modern era, Ramlila is staged on the basis of traditions 200 years ago.
. Mic, artificial light (electricity) is not used in the staging of entire Ramlila, instead traditional light source is used.
. The role of Ravana is being performed generation after generation by the people of the same family since the beginning of Ramlila.
. Preparations for staging Ramlila start months in advance. The selection of the characters is done by the committee.
. The most important thing about Ramlila of Ramnagar – Ramlila of Ramnagar is not held at any one place, different events of Ramayana are staged at different places. Ramlila of Ramnagar is organized for 31 days. On the basis of Ramcharitmanas composed by Tulsidas, different places and days are fixed for staging different events. . The sadhus, saints or common people that come to see Ramlila of Ramnagar, are known as Manas.

CHETGANJ NAK-KATTIYA:-

An old locality in Varanasi is named Chetganj after the name of Raja Chet Singh of Varanasi. A fair is organized in this locality, in which Ramayana events are displayed sequentially. First of all, Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, cuts the nose of (Amaryadit )Suparnakha. In this fair, voice is also raised against social evils, problems. Before independence, the revolutionaries also tried secretly in this fair to make people aware and increase public consciousness. The great revolutionary Chandrashekhar Azad also used to participate in this fair with his friends. Various types of tableaux are also displayed in the fair. A crowd of up to one lakh(hundred thousand) gathers to see this fair, that is why it is also called Lakkhi Mela.

NAATI IMLI BHARAT MILAP :-Naati Imli Bharat Milap mela is about 478 years old. After completing 14 years of exile, Lord Rama came to his homeland Ayodhya. After years, the four brothers met each other, this is probably one of the most emotional incidents of Ramayana. The enthusiasm of the people watching this episode has not decreased ever since the past 478 years. Varanasi is known as the city of Shiva, but at the time of Dussehra it turns into the city of Lord Rama, thus any person who wants to know the soul of India, wants to see the thousands of years old culture of India, Wants to feel India, wants to see a glimpse of the struggle of Hindus against imperialism,
Such a person who wants to feel the sanctity of the name of Lord Rama, must at least once in his life witness the Ramlila and Dussehra of Varanasi. The centuries-long Ramlila of Varanasi has been affected for two years due to the outbreak of Corona epidemic. Pray to God that soon the entire human race gets freedom from this wrath.

Kolkata Durga Puja and Bengali Literature

In India, the mother is the Centre of the family and our highest ideal. To us, she is representative of God, as God himself is the mother of the universe.

For what is a nation? What is our mother country? it is not a piece of earth, Nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind .it is a mighty Shakti, composed of the shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into Unity. The Shakti we call India Bhawani Bharti is the living unity of three hundred million, people but she is inactively imprisoned in the magic circle of the tamas the self-indulgent inertia and ignorance of her sons to get rid of tamas we have but to wake the Brahma within. (Sri Aurobindo) For more information about this subject please visit :- https://nithinks.com/2021/01/18/makar-sankranti-is-an-ancient-hindu-festival-or-the-burden-of-old-tradition/

On hearing the name of Kolkata city, some names immediately come to mind – Rasgulla, Fish, Sweets, Dhoti Kurta, umbrella, Howrah bridge Durga Puja etc.

Now that I have been to Kolkata many times, there is no doubt that the city of Kolkata is like my second home, my favorite city. My first visit to Kolkata was by accident. There was no fixed program. My cousin was leaving for Kolkata and he wanted me to come with him but informed me a few days before leaving. I got to know some information about Steamers, Park-street, and the Museum of Kolkata from my father who had been to Kolkata, he also suggested me to go to these places.
I just knew about the Literary Kolkata before I went there. I have an inclination towards Bengali literature since childhood. Of course I have inherited it. My grandfather was a lawyer and he also loved literature. The first Bengali literature book I read as a child was PRATHAM PRATISHRUTI written by Ashapurandevi, this book was in my grandfather’s library ( that hard bound version of Pratham pratishruti is still stuck in my head to this date) During summer vacations we went to our grandpa’s house and were always looking for something to read . Pratham pratishruti book was in my grandfather’s library, I took it to read, I think I was probably too young to understand that book at that time, I didn’t liked it after reading a few pages I gave it to my elder sister to read. (I turned my attention to some more simple and entertaining books in Grandpa’s library to spend the summer holidays) Amazing! The book became my sister’s favorite book. To this day this is my sister’s one of the favorite book and she must have read it countless times. My sister has lived in Denmark for the past eight years and she has a more recent version of Pratham pratishruti there, but she still loves to read that old bound version whenever she comes to India.

(VARANASI DURGA TEMPLE) The Durga Temple in Varanasi, built in the 18th century by a Bengali maharani and is stained red with ochre.

Journey from Mini Bengal (Varanasi )to West Bengal:- The largest number of Bengalis live in a city outside the state of West Bengal …… in Varanasi. Varanasi is called Mini Bengal because of the majority of Bengalis here. I caught a train from Mughal Sarai in Varanasi to Kolkata at night, so firstly I immediately went to my berth and slept. When I woke up in the morning, I saw the first sight of Bengal from the window of the train. With the pond, lotus flowers, and the greenery, it seemed that there was some geographical change. The train stopped for a while at the MEM SAHAB KA BAITHAK KHANA then I got down to take a walk. Surprisingly many people were smoking. Smoking is prohibited inside the train and at the railway station. (Bengali people’s love for smoking is obvious) When I asked a smoker about this, he laughed and said that “It is a small railway station, so no one pays attention, yes if it would have been a big station, of course by now I would have been fined”. We stayed at my maternal uncle’s place in Kolkata, my maternal uncle used to work in ITC and had retired on his own volition. As I told earlier this was my first visit to Kolkata and also an opportunity to see Durga Puja in Kolkata.

Kolkata and Durga Puja: – Durga Puja is a major festival of Bengalis, but now Durga Puja of Bengal is celebrated all over India. Kolkata was the capital of the British Raj for a long time, for this reason, Western education was first staged there, many Bengalis got Western education and were appointed in the railway and postal department and all over India from Bengal to Peshawar, from Jammu to Rameswaram. After leaving Bengal, Bengali people spread all over India. These people also took their customs with them. Today the Bengali version of Durga Puja can be seen all over the country. What is the difference between Durga Puja of Kolkata and Durga Puja of other places??? I will explain this on the basis of my experience in Durga Puja . A wide variation can be seen in the ways of celebrating Durga Puja in Bengal and Durga Puja in other places in India. The key to this diversity is hidden in history. In other parts of India, Durga Puja is purely a religious festival, with special emphasis on religious rituals and religious activities. Even in food and beverages, according to Hindu tradition, non-vegetarian dishes are strictly prohibited during the holy nine days of Navratri, many people fast for the holy nine days, and sacrificing daily food items and passing on fruits only. At the same time, Durga Puja in Bengal is a religious festival as well as a joyful festival, full of fun, enthusiasm.


Historical reasons: – During the Mughal rule, Durga-worship was forbidden in Bengal for a long time, because according to Islamic rituals, idol worship is anti-Islamic. After the victory of Britain’s East India Company in Bengal, Hindu landlords asked the officials of the East India Company for permission to install Durga Puja and Durga idols, British officials not only allowed idol installation and worship, but many British officers also Participated in the celebration of Durga Puja. Navakrishna Dev, the richest man of that time, organized Durga Puja and made Robert Clive the chief guest of the celebration, Robert Clive along with his chief officers participated in this worship with great enthusiasm.
Not only this, like a faithful Hindu, he also brought lotus flowers to offer at the feet of Goddess Durga. Now it was Navakrishnadeva’s turn to take on the responsibility of a good host. Non-vegetarian dishes and wine were presented in honor of the British officers, which were common at English parties of the time. This incident later took the form of a custom. In this way, in the Durga Puja of Kolkata, along with religious traditions, amalgamation of fun also started.
Another difference between Durga Puja in Kolkata and Durga Puja at other places is the pandal. ( A pandal in India is a fabricated structure, either temporary or permanent, that is used at many places such as either outside a building or in an open area such as along a public road).
Undoubtedly, the pandals of Kolkata are much bigger than any other Durga Puja pandal of any other place. In fact, the grand form of Durga Puja as seen in Kolkata cannot be seen anywhere else. Bengali life and Bengali culture can be seen in the pandal of Durga Puja. Each pandal has a theme, the whole pandal is based on this theme and inside there is a grand statue of Maa Durga. Durga Puja takes place every year, the idol of Maa Durga is almost the same, but the theme of the pandal changes every year. The children and the youth have the most enthusiasm and curiosity for the pandal. KHICHDI :-There is another difference – that of Prasad. In Kolkata’s Durga Puja pandal, khichdi is available in the prasad, delicious khichdi. This Khichdi is different from Khichdi of North India.