Let us become nobler

Sanskrit word 'Arya' or 'Aryam' stands for nobility. Let us implore everyone to become noble, the Arya or Aryam. Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews, communists or capitalists, rich or poor, clever or dumb, weak, meek or bully. Uncomfortable perhaps are they with other, threatening peace. Ray of hope for the world is ‘include-all’ ideas of ancient Indian wisdom popularly known as Hinduism. Only they knew how to celebrate individuality of each person. Aryas respect ideas of others, respect way of worship of others, help others and become a noble citizen of this wide and varied world. Idea behind this blog is to bring out those ideas and help each of us become better than what we are. 'N' in the 'Aryan', by the way, was a mistake made by colonial 'experts' who wanted to underplay and undermine the culture and religion of those who they clandestinely enslaved.





Saturday, June 18, 2016

24- Kailash, Kathmandu and Kashi – A story of Shiva and me.


(A decade ago after a trip to Tibet, Nepal and India, I wrote down my impressions. It was not meant to be a book, however after it was read by some, it was suggested that if it gets published, interested persons can use it. However I thought (and still think) that the narration was more of a personal quest into Bhagavan Shiva and that it may not interest a wider audience. Therefore instead of commercially publishing it, I thought of placing it on a website of Publishing house Harper Collins’s website known as Authonomy.com. It remained on their website for people to review my narration for many years. However, last year, when Harper Collins shutdown Authonomy.com and I realized that some people still wanted to read my account, I decided to place all 26 chapters of that travelogue on this blog. Reader views and comments are welcome)

Chapter-24.   Indian National  Emblems: Ashok Chakra and 4 - Lions

 

Last town we visited on this trail was Saranath. From its history the independent India has received its national emblem of the Ashok-Pillar-Lions and its flag, the 24-spoked-wheel. Ashok (304 BC-232 BC) was a king from Mauryan Dynasty who ruled over almost entire south Asia, from Iran to Assam. After a particularly bloody war with Kalinga (Orissa) king, he vowed to renounce violence. He followed Bhagavan Buddha’s teaching. Historians have found him to be among the great kings, not so much for the territory he controlled but his welfare measures for his subjects. His rock edicts and pillars are inscribed with his laws that were meant for noble living. ‘Ashok Pillar’ of Saranath is made from stones and atop stood monument, ‘Lion-Capital’; the four lions standing back to back with a Chakra (wheel) at its base.   It was here that Bhagavan Buddha gave his first discourse to first five pupils. In here stands the Ashok Pillar of about 2,300 year’s antiquity. At one time thousands of deer freely roamed about here protected by Jains and Buddhist kings, known for their non-violence, earning its original name ‘Sarang-Nath’. ‘Saranath’ is corrupted version of the old name. Sarang means Peacock and Sarang-Nath, ‘protector of Peacocks. Even at present, Saranath and surrounding area is a government notified park. Due to presence of deer, this place is a protected deer sanctury.

Sacred to Buddhists and Jains


 

Saranath is a small town, just 12 km from Varanasi. A thick brickwork pillar like ‘Dharmekh’ Stupa marks exact location where Bhagavan Buddha’s five childhood friends, turned his disciples received first sermon from him. Town has old ruins of the monasteries and temples that were ransacked by Turkic Muslim invaders. There are temples, monasteries, meditation centers and memorials near the Stupa. Its museum houses the Indian national emblem that was once atop Ashok Pillar before being ransacked. Town is sacred also for Jains, being birthplace of Shri Chandra Prabhu the 8th Tirthankar as well of Shri Shyeyansh Nath, the 11th Tirthankar. This small town therefore receives several Indian as well as foreign pilgrims from Japan, Korea, China, Tibet, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Many of them have their own hostels and places of worship that are managed by them. In one of the monasteries, we found a large map that shows the route Chinese pilgrim Hue-en-Tsang took thousands of years ago. Not only did he visit Bodhagaya, Nalanda, Pataliputra etc, he visited Srinagar in Kashmir,,Kalinga (Orissa), Ujjain, and Nashik; in far south up to Tamilnadu’s Kanchipuram; in west till Gujarat’s Kachchh, Saurashtra and Vallabhipur; in north west (through Pakistan) till Uzbekistan’s Samarkand and Tashkent; in north till Kazakhstan’s Bishkek until he returned to China.  Hue-en-Tsang was a great traveler, our Kailash-Kathmandu-Kashi trip was nothing compared to what he had done. We saluted him there and headed home after bidding good be to Saranath,

 

As compared to my last trip to Uttar Pradesh many years ago, I found that many aspects had changed.  Population appeared to have been increased, bottled water and fancy factory packed snack items is now more common, houses under construction have swelled, mosques are more visible, roads and bridges are being constructed and people in general are busier. The roads are a shade better and it did not feel as dusty as what it used to be. Amenities have increased and the pilgrimages have become more comfortable. Business seems brisk, tourists are plenty, telephone and internet is available everywhere. But also, that everything has become dearer, hotels rates are very high, and one feels that no more it would be easy for poor to undertake pilgrimage in near future.

 

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