Filed in Travel

Vaisali: First Stop To Enlightenment

Beauty and impermanence beneath the mango trees

Allan Hunt Badiner

Wisdom Collection

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“Pleasant is Vaisali,” the Buddha reportedly remarked to his attendant Ananda. “Pleasant are its shrines and gardens.” The first thing you notice about Vaisali, Siddhartha’s first stop on his quest for enlightenment, are the trees, tall and with immense parasol foliage. They bestow a sense of peace and majesty upon this lovely village north of the Ganges. Indeed, during the time of the Buddha, Vaisali was renowned as one of the most beautiful cities in India, counting among its many charms hundreds of lotus ponds and ten square miles of broad lanes lined with mango and banana trees. The trees of Vaisali are memorialized in an image carved almost two thousand years ago on the great stupa at Sanchi, three hundred miles to the south. In the carving, a monkey offers honey to Shakyamuni Buddha under these very same mango trees, rooted in soil that nourished the foundations of democracy as well as Buddhism.

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