Buddha in Varanasi / Benares
Varanasi also commonly known as Benares or Banaras is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, regarded as holy by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of India.
Buddha in Varanasi - Unfortunately, we have few details of his sojourn at Benares / Varanasi. The Lalita-vistara, which up to this period has been our chief authority, ends with the Buddha's discourses to his five disciples. The other Sutras, which are not, like the lalita-vistara, regular biographies of Sakya-muni, tell us little about the contests he must have sustained against the Brahmans at Varanasi. At this moment of his life, after having seen the slow elaboration of his ideas, it would have been interesting to know his first successes and rebuffs. We must, however, dispense with this information, interesting as it would necessarily be, till the publication of some other Sutras may bring it to our knowledge. We do not find in any of those hitherto published, on the sequel of the Buddha's career, so complete an account as that contained in the Lalita-vistara. Most of the Sutras relate only one of the acts of his life, one of his sermons; not one of them gives an account of his life. It is, however, thanks to the materials they furnish, possible to reconstruct and complete it. The probability of its truth will be as great, the order in which the facts are related will alone be less certain. The principal events of the Buddha's life are somewhat confusedly told by them, and it will be difficult for us to state, with desirable exactness, the chronological order in which the events occurred.
It appears probable that Sakya-muni's sojourn in Varanasi, was not of long duration? although he made there several other converts. The greater part of the Sutras mention him as dwelling in Magadha at Rajagriha, or at Sravasti in Kosala, north of the Ganges. In those two kingdoms he spent nearly all the remainder of his life, which lasted forty years longer The kings of those two countries protected him, and both embraced the Buddhist faith. Bimbisara was king of Magadha, and we have seen what favour he showed Siddhartha, when the young prince was beginning his religious apostleship. This benevolence never failed during the whole of his long reign, and the Buddha took pleasure in residing at Rajagriha, which was situated nearly in the centre of the kingdom, and in visiting from thence the surrounding countries. All these places must have been beloved by him, as in later times they became sacred to his votaries. Bodhimanda and Uruvela were not far off; six or seven miles off rose the mountain called the Vulture's Peak (Gridhrakuta parvata); one of its summits, if we are to believe Hiouen-Thsang, recalled from a distance the shape of that bird. The Buddha found pleasure in wandering about this mountain, so rich in grand and picturesque scenery, shaded by magnificent trees, and fresh with sparkling springs. It was there that, surrounded by his disciples, he taught the Lotus of the Good Law, the Mahdpradjna-Pdramita Sutra, and many other Sutras.
At the entrance of the city, on the north side, was a superb vihara, where the Buddha often resided; it was called Kalantaka or Kalanta vejuvana, that is the bamboo grove of Kalanta. According to Hiouen-Thsang's account, Kalanta was a rich merchant, who had first given his garden to the Brahmans, but after hearing the sublime Law regretted his gift, and took it away from them. He caused a magnificent house to be built there, and offered it to the Buddha. It was there that the Buddha converted several of his most distinguished disciples -; Sariputra, Moggallana and Katyayana; it was also at this house that the first Council was held after his death.
Buddha in Varanasi / Benares
Text adapted from 'The Buddha and His Religion'
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Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is a Japanese Buddhist
chant based upon the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin (Feb 16, 1222 – Oct
13, 1282) a Buddhist monk who lived during the Kamakura period (1185–1333)
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Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō as the essential practice of the teaching.
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