Places of Buddhist Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage can be done in a modified way by setting up images of the Buddhist holy sites in your home or centre, reading about each place, and doing the appropriate practices as if you were actually in those places.
The holy sites we will visit
- Lumbini—birthplace of the Buddha
- Bodhgaya—site of Buddha’s enlightenment
- Sarnath—first turning of the Wheel of Dharma
- Rajgir—second turning of the Wheel of Dharma
- Shravasti—teachings in the Jetavana Grove
- Sankashya—where Lord Buddha descended from Tushita Heaven
- Nalanda—site of the great monastic university
- Kushinagar—where Buddha entered parinirvana
Allow 30 minutes for each place
- Set your motivation
- Browse the photos
- Read the DB notes by Jeremy Russell (or the shorter random notes)
- Have a look at the map (click for satellite view!!)
- Recite the selected sutra
Suggested timetable for a full day
9.00 – 10.30 am Motivation, Lumbini, Bodhgaya
11.00 – 12.30 pm Sarnath, Rajgir, Shravasti
1.30 – 2.30 pm Sankashya, Nalanda
3.00 – 4.00 pm Kushinagar, dedications
The Benefits of Pilgrimage
Lord Buddha said:
Monks, after my passing away, if all the sons and daughters of good family and the faithful, so long as they live, go to the four holy places, they should go and remember: here at Lumbini the enlightened one was born; here at Bodhgaya he attained enlightenment; here at Sarnath he turned twelve wheels of Dharma; and here at Kushinagar he entered parinirvana.
Monks, after my passing away there will be activities such as circumambulation of these places and prostration to them.
Thus it should be told, for they who have faith in my deeds and awareness of their own will travel to higher states.
After my passing away, the new monks who come and ask of the doctrine should be told of these four places and advised that a pilgrimage to them will help purify their previously accumulated negative karmas, even the five heinous actions.
Maps of the Pilgrimage Area
Prayers to Begin the Pilgrimage
Enhance Your Motivation
Generate the motivation of bodhicitta. As much as possible generate a strong thought of impermanence-death, which allows your mind to become Dharma. Then generate compassion and strong bodhicitta toward sentient beings.
Then think of those you have a karmic responsibility towards, those close to you, those recently deceased, and bring them all along with you on pilgrimage!
Blessing Your Speech
Calling the Guru From Afar
Recite the Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha
To the founder, the endowed transcendent destroyer, the one gone beyond, the foe destroyer, the completely perfected, fully awakened being, perfect in knowledge and in good conduct, Sugata, knower of the world, supreme guide of human beings to be tamed, teacher of gods and human beings; to you, the completely and fully awakened one, the endowed transcendent destroyer, the glorious conqueror, the subduer of the Shakya clan, I prostrate, make offerings, and go for refuge. (3x)
When, O supreme among humans, you were born on this earth, you paced out seven strides then said, “I am supreme in this world.” To you, who were wise then, I prostrate.
With pure bodies, form supremely pure; wisdom ocean, like a golden mountain; fame that blazes in the three worlds, winner of the best—Lord, to you I prostrate.
With the supreme signs, face like spotless moon, colour like gold—to you I prostrate. Dust-free like you, the three worlds are not. Incomparably wise one—to you, I prostrate.
The savior having great compassion, the founder having all understanding, the field of merit with qualities like a vast ocean—to you, the one gone to thusness, I prostrate.
The purity that frees one from attachment, the virtue that frees one from the lower realms, the one path, the sublime pure reality—to the Dharma that pacifies, I prostrate.
Those who are liberated and who also show the path to liberation, the holy field qualified with realizations who are devoted to the moral precepts—to you, the sublime community intending virtue, I prostrate.
Homage to the supreme Buddha! Homage to the Dharma refuge! Homage to the great Sangha! To all three, ever-devout homage!
To all worthy of respect, bowing with bodies as many as all realms’ atoms, in all aspects, with supreme faith I pay homage.
Do not commit any non-virtuous actions, perform only perfect virtuous actions, subdue your mind thoroughly—this is the teaching of the Buddha.
A star, a mirage, the flame of a lamp, an illusion, a drop of dew, or a bubble, a dream, a flash of lightning, a cloud—see conditioned things as such!
Through these merits may sentient beings attain the rank of all seeing, subdue the foe of faults, and be delivered from samsara’s ocean, perturbed by the waves of aging, sickness, and death.