A large extended family of Wayist-Hindus with ancient ties to our tradition occupy ancestral land several km outside Sarnath (where Gautama Buddha gave his 1st sermon). Jean and Adele had the privilege to stay with them for a while, learning whatever possible, imparting whatever teaching and blessings were receivable. This video blog is simply a record of some of the events and places we lived. The reason for this expose it to whet the appetite of those who would join us for workshops in Varanasi.
Varanasi is in Northern India (also known as Benares or Kashi). It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is not only the spiritual capital of India, but also the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism. Additionally, it played a significant role in the development of Buddhism.
Buddha is said to have founded Buddhism in Varanasi around 528 BC when he gave his first sermon at Sarnath, a nearby village. The city continued to grow in its religious significance.
Varanasi is a heap of mismatched temples and narrow steps located on the Ganges’ crescent-shaped western bank, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It is a city of scholars, home to one of Asia’s largest universities. It is a city of temples, including the gold-plated Vishwanath sacred to Shiva; the Bharat Mata, or Mother India, temple that boasts a huge three-dimensional relief map of the Indian subcontinent carved out of marble; and the hundreds of small temples that dot the waterways and alleys.
It is also a city of legends. Varanasi strains under its own myths, which are contradictory, obscure and impossible to prove.
“The history of Varanasi is a puzzle [that] has to be solved by a group of scholars together,” says Bhanu Shankar Mehta, who has lived in Varanasi for more than 80 years and lectures on its history. “You must put all the mythological and historical and proto-history together.”
Our host family opens the video for us…