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Vārāṇasī

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Vārāṇasī, often anglicized as Benares, is Hinduism's mosts sacred city. Its name is derived from the fact that the ancient city was originally situated between two small tributaries of the Ganges, the Varna and the Asi. To die in Vārāṇasī or to bathe in the Ganges there is the goal of every devote Hindu. In the Tipiṭaka Vārāṇasī is called Kasi, the city's oldest name, or Bārānasī (D.II,146). The city has long been a centre of religious learning, culture and trade, especially trade in luxury goods. The Buddha said that before he renounced the world he only wore clothes made from Kasi cloth and used sandalwood from Kasi (A.I,145). Numerous Jātaka stories are set in Vārāṇasī or are said to have taken place when 'Brahmadatta was king of Bārāṇasī'. Archeological investigations have shown that there was a Buddhist presence in Vārāṇasī in ancient times but it was always overshadowed by Hinduism. Isipatana, where the Buddha preached his first and second discourses and now called Sārnāth, is just beyond Vārāṇasī's outer suburbs.

Source

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