Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh is described as a serene and calm city. It is only 10 kms north east of Varnasi. Sarnath of Uttar Pradesh is also known by different names as Mrigadava, Migadaya, Rishipattana, and Isipatana. Buddha has mentioned to his folowers that Sarnath or Isipatana is a must place for his folowers to visit. Sarnath is a geographically important place in thelife of Buddha as this was the place where he gave his first sermon. It is said that after Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to Sarnath.
It is at the deer park of Sarnath that Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma. It is here that the Buddhist Sangha came into existence. Emperor Ashoka visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.
the sanghThe history of Sarnath is actually the history of Buddha. Five weeks after his enlightenment Buddha went to Sarnath. While travelling to Sarnath, Gautama Buddha had to cross the Ganges. The sermon that Buddha gave at Sarnath is called Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. The sangha was also established here. The eminent members of the Sangha resided at Sarnath. According to the Udapana Jataka there was a very ancient well near Isipatana( Sarnath) which, in the Buddha`s time, was used by the monks living there. Huen Tsang, the Chinese traveler found fifteen hundred monks studying the Hinayana at Isipatana.
It is said that King Ashoka build a stone stupa here. The Divy. (389-94) mentions Asoka as intimating to Upagupta his desire to visit the places connected with the Buddha`s activities, and to erect thupas there. In the front of it is a stone pillar that marks the spot where Buddha preached his first sermon.
Buddhism flourished in Sarnath as a result of the kings and merchants of Varnasi. During the 3rd century Sarnath was renowned as a center for arts. It reached the zenith during the Gupta period. During the 7th century when Hiuen Tsiang visited Sarnath, he founded 30 monasteries. Sarnath was the centre of the Sammatiya school of Buddhism. At the end of 12th century, Sarnath was plundered by the Turks.
Monuments of Saranth
Chaukhandi Stupa is the first monument one encounters as one enters Sarnath. It is said to have built by King Ashoka.
Dhamek Stupa is the remarkable structure at Sarnath , Uttar Pradesh. It is built partly of stone and partly of brick. The stone facing the lower part is adorned with delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin.
Mulagandha Kuti Vihar , Uttar Pradesh is a modern temple that has been erected by the Mahabodhi Society. It has excellent paintings by Kosetsu Nosu. Thistemple is among the brick ruins of Sarnath. Sarnath Museum comprises of numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images.The other monuments are the Dharmrajika Stup, magnificent Lion capital, India`s National Emblem at Sarnath museum etc.