Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Its principles are based primarily on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known popularly as the Buddha (meaning ‘the Enlightened one’). Born into a family of Kings, Siddhartha renounced his material pleasures in search for a higher meaning in life. He wandered far and wide in the Indian subcontinent before he became Lord Buddha. His principles on which the religion was founded were shaped by four places namely:
- Lumbini – Buddha’s birthplace
- Bodh Gaya – the site of his englightenment
- Sarnath – the site where Buddha delivered his first discourse
- Kushi Nagar – his place of death
In fact, the Buddhist text Parinibbana Sutta says that Buddha himself identified these four places before coming into this world.
Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas in modern day Nepal, Lumbini is the place where Queen Mayadevi is said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama. Legend says that the Queen visited Lumbini during her pregnancy and was enthralled by its natural grandeur. Once when she was standing in a garden she felt labour pains, caught hold of a branch of the nearby sal tree for support and delivered the baby.
A temple was erected in honour of the Queen and she was worshiped as a Goddess in the past. In 294 BC, the great Mauryan emperor Ashoka visited Lumbini and constructed a stone pillar and four stupas as symbol of Buddhism. Though it had suffered serious neglect for many centuries, Lumbini is today a very popular tourist spot.
Perhaps the most sacred Buddhist site, The North Indian town of Bodh Gaya is the place where Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became Buddha. Enlightenment is a state where one has a profound wisdom about the universal truths that guide mankind. Siddhartha is said to have undergone a rigorous six-year long penance in Bodh Gaya before he finally became awakened.
A huge temple complex known as the Maha Bodhi defines the town’s landscape today. Millions of tourists from all around the world visit Bodh Gaya year after year. You can also read our exclusive article about Bodh Gaya to know how this quaint Indian town became the birthplace of Buddhism.
Located a stone’s throw away from the holy Indian city of Varanasi, Sarnath is fortunate to have played host to Buddha’s first ever sermon known as Dhammacakkhapavathana Sutta. After becoming enlightened in Bodh Gaya, Buddha went to Sarnath to impart his learnings to his former companions and make them enlightened as well. This event marked the founding of the Sangha, the first community of Buddhist monks.
The Dharmekh Stupa marks the spot where Buddha delivered his first sermon. The 2200 year old magnificent structure is 128 feet tall and one of the few Buddhist relics to have survived the ravages of time.
It was in Kushi Nagar that Gautama Buddha breathed his last and attained Parinirvana (meaning salvation). It was also here that Buddha preached his final sermon. His body was cremated here and a ceremony was held in his honour after his death. The Parinirvana temple and the Rambhar stupa are remnants of the town’s tryst with the saint.
Omalaya offers a unique tour package known as Buddha’s path that retraces the journey of this great saint across the various cities.Tags: India, Religion, Spirituality, Buddhism, Buddha, Nepal