Benares: 2 definitions

Introduction

Benares means something in Buddhism, Pali, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Buddhism

Benares refers to one of the places visited by Dharmapāla during his tour of North India. Anāgārika Dharmapāla (born 1864) was a Ceylonese Buddhist who travelled across India and beyond, spreading Buddhism. According to Bhikkhu Sangharakshita in his Biographical Sketc, “he travelled as a pilgrim, not caring at all for comforts, mixing with the sanyasins, ascetics, Hindu pilgrims, and with passengers of the third and intermediate classes, eating at times the poorest food, sleeping at times in places where the poor sleep and gaining an insight into the characteristics of the poor classes, who are suffering from intense ignorance, superstition and poverty”.

India history and geogprahy

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism

Benares is another name for Bārāṇasī, the capital of Kāsī: one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas of the Majjhimadesa (Middle Country) of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—It was at Benares that the Buddha gave his first discourse on the Dhammacakka or the wheel of Law. The Buddha met an Ājivika named Upaka on his way to Benares to preach the wheel of Law at Isipatana Migadāya. He reached Benares after crossing the Ganges at Prayāga direct from Verañjā. The Buddha spent a great part of his life at Benares. Here he delivered some of the most important discourses and converted many people. Bārāṇasī (mod. Benares) had other names as well, viz. Surundhana, Sudassana, Brahmavaddhana, Pupphavatī, Ramma and Molinī. The extent of the city is mentioned as 12 yojanas whereas Mithilā and Indapatta were each only seven leagues in extent.

Benares was a great centre of industry, trade, etc. There existed trade relations between Benares and Sāvatthī and between Benares and Taxila. The people of Benares used to go to Taxila. We read in the Susīma Jātaka that a certain youth of Benares Went to Taxila, two thousand leagues away from the former, to learn the ‘hatthi-sutta’. We know from the Bhojājāniya Jātaka (No. 23) that ‘all the kings round coveted the kingdom of Benares’.

India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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