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Buddhist Circuit in India
 

Buddhism is a set of principles or philosophy based on the teachings of Lord Buddha, who was born in 563 BCE at Lumbini, Nepal. Basically, Buddhism preaches the path of practice and spiritual development, thus, leading an insight into the truth of life. With its realistic base, Buddhism today is one of the major religions of the countries of Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan and southeast Asia.

   
 
The main objective of Buddhism is to end the suffering of cyclic existence or 'samsara' by awakening a being to the realisation of the truth and the achievement of liberation. According to the Buddhist doctrine, there is only one way to reach the destination of reality - One should purify and train the mind and heart and act as per the laws of Karma to purify the soul.
   
 
The Buddhist Circuits are the places of all high significance holy sites of Buddhism; where Lord Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment, preached first Sermon and reached Nirvana. Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar are the primary pilgrimage places of Buddhist Circuits associated with the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha. There are numerous other sites where the Buddha and the saints that followed traveled during his life after his transformation, which are held in deep veneration. Visitors can travel through this Buddhist Circuit today, to savor the splendid beauty and great appeal of Buddhism.
   
 
The greatest impetus to Buddha’s teachings came from the Indian King Ashoka who went on a great pilgrimage visiting the important sites that are directly associated with his life. Primary amongst these holy places are Lumbini in Nepal, and Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar in India. There are other places of lesser significance. Amongst these are Buddha’s monsoon retreats of Vaishali, Rajgir and Sravastii in India, and his early home at Tilaurakot in Kapilavastu Nepal.
   
 
Lumbini: Lumbini in southern Nepal is where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Prince Siddhartha. It is just a short distance from the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu. Pilgrimages focus on the sacred garden which contains the site of the birth, the Mayadevi temple, the Pashkarni pond and the Ashoka pillar. Designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, the sacred garden of Lumbini is a World Heritage Site with monasteries from many Buddhist nations. It is recognised as a supreme pilgrimage site and symbol of world peace.
   
 

Bodhgaya: It was in Bodhgaya in Bihar, India that Prince Siddhartha found Enlightenment (nirvana) under the bodhi tree after meditating for 49 days. No longer a bodhisattva (mentor), he became Lord Buddha, the Enlightened One. Primary points of homage are the Mahabodhi Temple, the Vajrasan throne donated by King Ashoka, the holy Bodhi Tree, the Animeshlochana chaitya, the Ratnachankramana, the Ratnagaraha, the Ajapala Nigrodha Tree, the Muchhalinda Lake and the Rajyatna Tree. The spiritual home of all Buddhists, devotees from many Buddhist countries have built temples around the complex in their characteristic architectural styles. Bodhgaya today is a vibrant and inspiring tourist attraction.

 
 
Sarnath: Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath after achieving enlightenment, about 10 km from the ancient holy city of Varanasi. The sermon, setting in motion the wheel of the teaching (dharamchakrapravartna) revealed to his followers the 4 noble truths, the concept of the 3 jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha via the 8 fold path, for inner peace and enlightenment. It was here that the Buddha established his first disciples (sangha) to promote his new doctrine. The splendid Dhamekha Stupa at Sarnath was originally erected by King Ashoka, as was the famous lion capital pillar, now the proud symbol of India.
   
 
Kushinagar: At Kushinagar close to Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India en route to Kapilavastu, Lord Buddha fell ill and left this world in 543 BC. His mortal remains were preserved in eight commemorative chortens, and then further distributed by King Ashoka into 84,000 stupas across his kingdom and beyond. Important places to see here are the Mukatanabandhana stupa and the Gupta period reclining Buddha statue in red sandstone.
   
 
 
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