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and of the great city which once flourished round about Sarnath, it is curious to note that there is only one modern temple. Strangely enough, this is not Buddhist. The missionaries of Asoka spread the Buddhist faith far and wide beyond his dominions, into the countries of Eastern Asia, where it still counts many millions of followers, but in India itself it hardly exists now


as a separate creed. This solitary temple, close to the great stupa of Dhamek, belongs to the Jains, a sect founded by a teacher contemporary with Buddha, which still flourishes in northern India, and has many noble shrines, ancient and modern.

It is only within recent years that the history of this sect has been made clear to Europeans through the researches of Professors Jacobi, Bühler, Dr. Hoernle, and others. The founder, Mahavira, “the Great Hero", was a contemporary of Buddha. Like him, BENARES, THE SACRED CITY . he was a Kshatriya of noble birth. His father,

Siddartha, was the head of his clan in a petty state, the capital of which was Vaisâli, about twenty-seven miles north of the modern Patna. Mahavira was born about 599 B.C., his mother being the daughter of Cetâkâ, the king.

On the death of his father, which happened when Mahavira was thirty years old, he, like his great contemporary, left his home and family and adopted a purely religious life, first entering the order of Paresnâth, the orthodox monastic order of his clan, and afterwards, like so many other religious devotees at that time, becoming a wandering Bhiksu, preaching new doctrines and establishing a new religious order. He imposed upon his followers the rule of absolute nudity, a rule which afterwards led to the two great divisions of the Jain sect being named the Svêtâmbaras, “the white clothed”, and the Digambaras, the unclothed”. The name of the Jains is derived from the title of Jina, or “spiritual conqueror”, which was given to Mahavira by his followers.

The Jains hold the same tenets as the Buddhists regarding the sacredness of all life, but differ from them in accepting the orthodox Hindu view of selfmortification by bodily penances. They believe in the separate existence of the soul, which the Buddhists deny, and worship twenty-four saints, or Tirthankars, who have finished the cycles of human existences. Mahavira, their teacher, is considered the twenty. fourth.

Jainism is the only one of the early Indian monastic orders which has handed down almost intact its tenets and organization to the present day. The con


57 stitution of the order recognized as members, not only the monks and nuns who took the vows, but it also admitted as lay brothers and sisters all who supported the religious institutions of the Jain community. When the Buddhist religious houses declined in influence, the looseness of the ties which attached their lay adherents to them caused the latter to revert easily to their traditional spiritual leaders. The whole organization thus gradually broke to pieces. The Jains, on the other hand, being a much more homogeneous body, survived the period of the Brahmin supremacy and the persecution of Muhammadan rule. They have maintained their institutions intact for over two thousand years, while Buddhism, as a distinct sect, gradually disappeared from India and became merged in the various Vaishnavite sects which grew into prominence about the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.



As Benares never played an important part in the strife between the ancient kingdoms of northern India, it is extremely difficult to ascertain any precise details of its history from the time of the preaching of Buddha down to the rise of modern Hinduism. We only know that the Kosâla kingdom, which had absorbed the Kâsi clan, the first Aryan settlers at Benares, was, about B.C. 300, itself absorbed by the great empire of Magadha, which had its capital at Pâtaliputra, the modern Patna. Asoka, the third emperor of the Magadha dynasty, became a member of the Buddhist order, or Sangha, made Buddhism the state religion, and sent missionaries to Kashmir, the Himalayan regions, Afghanistan, Burma, southern India, and Ceylon. He built magnificent stupas and monasteries at Sarnath and many other places. It is probable that Benares itself greatly diminished in importance during the Buddhist supremacy, as the followers of Buddha naturally esteemed most sacred the Deer-park and the places in the neighbourhood of Sarnath, hallowed by the associations of their great teacher.

The legends of Divodâs, as recorded in the Kâsikhanda, the mythical history of Benares by an unknown Brahmin writer, probably refer to the occupa


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