William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By William Henry Seward; Olive Risley Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII.
BENARES.

The Sacred City of the Hindoos.--The Cradle of Buddhism.--Sarnath.--Remarkable Towers.--The Holy River.--The Ghauts.--Singular Architecture.--The Mosques and their Minarets.--A Picturesque Scene on the River-Bank.--Siva and Doorga.-- Manufacture of Idols.--Kincob.--Magnificence of Benares.

March 16th.--Our experience here in the sacred city of the Hindoos is like that of the visitor at Jerusalem. There he expects to find most prominent the monuments of the Jews. Here we expect to find most prominent the monuments of the Hindoos. At Jerusalem, the monument which first attracts attention is not the Temple of Solomon, but the Mosque of Omar; and here, the object which first attracts our attention is not a temple of Vishnu, but, Sarnath, a suburb of the city, the cradle of Buddhism. Buddha, according to the traditions, was a prince. He renounced royal state, wealth, family, friends, every thing, and repaired to Sarnath. Here in seclusion, and in the practice of severest asceticism, he continued through five years; and it resulted in his conviction that he had become perfectly incarnate of the Supreme God; perfectly purified; the delegated savior of his nation and of mankind. Here, his teachings began nearly twenty-four hundred years ago; hence, according to the faith of his disciples, the light of divine truth, which he dispenses, has radiated through the East, until it has exerted its saving influence over one-fourth of the human race, and it is to continue to radiate until it shall pervade the earth. But the fortunes of Buddhism in the region where it originated have not

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