Sarnath: the place the Buddha set the Dharma wheel in motion

Today we arrived in a Tibetan monastery with its own austere guesthouse. It is in Sarnath, the place where the Buddha gave his first teaching to his 5 former comrades on the path. It is known as the first turning of the wheel of the Dharma. The monastery we are staying is of Trangu Rinpoche a high ranking lama also known as the official teacher of the Karmapa (who is considered to be a reincarnation of the bodhisattva compassion Avalokitesvara). It is only 10 minutes walking from the park known as Deer Park. They still have deer there.

The Buddha went there to meet his companions on the path. At first they didn’t want to know him, because he had turned his back on asceticism. But his physiognomy was so strikingand impressing that they had to listen to him and he taught them the 4 noble truths. 1. There is suffering. 2. Suffering has a cause. 3. Suffering can be overcome. 4. The way out of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path.

The 5 ascetics acheived arhantship upon hearing this teaching. King Ashoka erected a Pilar on this site some 250 years later to commemorate this important event. He also started the stupa there.

In the centuries afterwards many stupas and monasteries were erected here.

It is still a place where you can feel the quiteness the Buddha must have felt here. So we found our spot easily to do our prayers and meditation.

In the afternoon we visited the archeological museum right beside the park. There we saw many Buddha statues from different periods. But the star exhibit is of course the four headed lion statue that was on top of the Ashoka pilar. This is now the central figure on the flag of India.