Sarnath – Where the Buddha gave his first sermon

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Not far from Varanasi, in a quiet little village, away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, is a place where Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, gave his first sermon. There is something about Buddhism, its temples, statues, the sight of monks in their different coloured robes, that makes me feel at home and I am instantly filled with a sense of inner peace in these surroundings. As we approached the stupa, the actual spot where the sermon took place, built by the Emperor Ashoka who spread Buddhism throughout Asia, we passed a group of female Buddhists from Sri Lanka on their way to sit and meditate in the grounds of this spiritual place. There are many Buddhists temples surrounding the area, Tibetan, Thai, Cambodian, but hidden amongst them all is also a Digamber Jain temple. As we entered we were greeted by a devotee responsible for guarding the temple who kindly provided us with information about this branch of Jainism. It was interesting to learn about this religion as it is a subject I know little about. He provided a list of comparisons between Jainism and Buddhism and there at the bottom of the list was something that brought out the feminist in me, an occurrence that seemed to happen frequently in India. Digamber Jains, unlike Buddhist’s, believe that women cannot attain Moksha. As a female we are destined to be continually reborn into the cycle of death and rebirth, liberation isn’t possible for a woman. Whilst I respect all belief systems and cultures, that niggling frustration was bubbling away inside me again. Will there ever be a time when women are truly equal to men? Across all religions, cultures, countries, careers? Maybe that’s why Buddhism provides me with inner peace, because in Buddhism inner peace is attainable to me, despite the fact that I was born with a womb.

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2 thoughts on “Sarnath – Where the Buddha gave his first sermon”

  1. Hooked every time I read one of your blogs, I don’t want them to end!
    Looking forward to reading more of you adventures!

    Like

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