The minds and souls of the Buddhist monks are linked up with the Power Supreme. They give the people courage to break outdated customs and traditions besides rejecting the blind faiths. Buddhism yearns for something more than a life of materialism that gives deeper meaning and happiness, they describe it as “spiritual.”
Significance of Buddhism in U.P: Bihar marked Buddha’s realization of truth, while he attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Siddhartha saw the meaninglessness of the material world where nothing lasted for ever. He renounced princely life and went in search of the truth. He put his body and soul through meditational extruder to squeeze out the truth, attained enlightenment and became Buddha to spread the message of love, compassion and equality of all human beings.
After achieving nirvana, Lord Buddha meditated for seven weeks and then moved towards Uttar Pradesh in search of His five fellow ascetics, and delivered before them His first sermon on the ‘middle path’, and laid foundation of the Buddhist Sangha on the land of UP. The next 45 years of the Buddha’s life were spent at different places in Uttar Pradesh.
Buddhism has no God, no eternal soul and has no place for caste system. With Ambedkar’s conversion, all over the country there was an exodus of depressed castes from Hinduism in a very large number and they started asserting Buddhism as their religion. The Buddhists in U.P promote non material spiritual reality, they are down to earth and practical. Buddhism is U.P is seen as the rational, scientific religion.
Buddhist places in U.P:
Sarnath– Is the most venerated places among the Buddhists as it marks the first sermon of the Buddha, also known as ‘Dharmachakra Pravartan’. It was at Sarnath where Lord Buddha after attaining enlightenment, met his first five disciples and preached them the middle path. The three jewels of Buddhism: ‘Buddham Sharnam Gachchhami’, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchhami’, and ‘Shangham Sharanam Gachchhami’ traces their origins to the first sermon of the Buddha.
Kushinagar or Kushinara has been one of the most revering places for the Buddhists. After Buddha’s death, the entire village was turned into a memorial site with stupas, contained the holy relics of the Buddha.
Sankasia– Situated in the central U.P near Farrukhabad, it is believed to be the place where the Buddha descended after giving sermons to his mother. It today houses a temple of the Buddha and Ashokan pillar.
Sravasti– It is believed to have witnessed the presence of the Lord Buddha and His sermons for almost 24 years. The Buddha is believed to have spent this long duration in Jetavana garden, where he performed some miracles.
Buddhist Monuments in U.P:
Dhameka Stupa, Sarnath– Most prominent Buddhist holy structure in U.P, better known as the holy seat of the Buddha.
Ashoka pillar, Sarnath– Commemorates the visit of the Buddhist Indian emperor Ashoka to Sarnath. The pillar also includes the famous lion capital – the National Emblem of India.
Dharmarajika Stupa, Sarnath– One of the holy structures venerated by the Buddhists, it was built by the Indian emperor Ashoka to enshrine the relics of Lord Buddha.
Nirvana Stupa, Khushinagar– The Nirvana stupa, also known as the Rambhar stupa, is a huge brickwork structure (2.74 meters) made on the spot where Lord Buddha was cremated.
Mahaparinirvana temple, Khushinagar– Standing amidst a serene ‘sal’ grove, is dedicated to the ‘mahaprinirvana’ of Lord Buddha. The temple comprises of a long statue of about 6 meters representing a picture of dying Lord Buddha reclining on his right side with his face turned
Devotees come from far off, overcoming all difficulties that obstruct their way, just to pay a visit to these places. They believe that a visit to these places will bring them blessings of their respective god and take away all their miseries. So, if your soul yearns to undertake a pilgrimage, do visit these destinations and feel the spirituality that looms in the air.