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Buddhist pilgrimage

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The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.

Pilgrims, Tsurphu 1993

Pilgrims, Tsurphu Gompa, Tibet, 1993

Places where Buddha lived

Four main pilgrimage sites

Gautama Buddha is said to have identified four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers, saying that they would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency. These are:[1]

The Eight Great Places

Pilgrimage to
Buddha's
Holy Sites
Dharma Wheel
The Four Main Sites
Lumbini · Bodh Gaya
Sarnath · Kushinagar
Four Additional Sites
Sravasti · Rajgir
Sankissa · Vaishali
Other Sites
Patna · Gaya · Kosambi
Kapilavastu · Devadaha
Kesariya · Pava
Nalanda · Vikramshila · Varanasi
Later Sites
Sanchi · Mathura

Ellora · Ajanta
Ratnagiri · Udayagiri
Bharhut · Barabar Caves

In the later commentarial tradition, four other sites are also raised to a special status because Buddha had performed a certain miracle there. These four places, partly through the inclusion in this list of commentarial origin, became important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in ancient India, as the Attha-mahathanani (Pali for 'The Eight Great Places'). It is important to note, however, that some of these events do not occur in the Tipitaka and are thus purely commentarial.

The first four of the Eight Great Places are identical to the places mentioned by Buddha:

The last four are places where a certain miraculous event is reported to have occurred:

  • Sravasti: Place of the Twin Miracle, showing his supernatural abilities in performance of miracles. Sravasti is also the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India.
  • Rajgir: Place of the subduing of Nalagiri, the angry elephant, through friendliness. Rajgir was another major city of ancient India.
  • Sankasia: Place of the descending to earth from Tusita heaven (after a stay of 3 months teaching his mother the Abhidhamma).
  • Vaishali: Place of receiving an offering of honey from a monkey. Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republic of ancient India.

Other sites

Some other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of Gautama Buddha are: Pataliputta, Nalanda,Vikramshila, Gaya, Kapilavastu, Kosambi, Amaravati, Nagarjuna Konda, Sanchi, Varanasi, Kesariya, Devadaha, Pava and Mathura. Most of these places are located in the Gangetic plain.

Famous pilgrims

A few influential historical Buddhist pilgrims are:

Other pilgrimage places

Other famous places for Buddhist pilgrimage in various countries include:

Elderly Pilgrim, Tsurphu 1993

Elderly pilgrim, Tsurphu Gompa, Tibet, 1993

Notes

  1. The Buddha mentions these four pilgrimage sites in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. See, for instance, Thanissaro (1998)[1] and Vajira & Story (1998)[2].

External links

[*[3]] Along the Path: The Meditator's Companion to the Buddha's Land


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