Shakyamuni Buddha discovered the truth of overcoming suffering and bringing happiness to the individual, family and society. Before he died, the Buddha suggested that it would be of great benefit to those who are interested in his teachings to make a pilgrimage to the places associated with his life.
This 12 days journey will begin in New Delhi on the 25th of November after which we fly to Varanasi. Thereafter, we travel by our own private coach to Sarnath, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda/Rajgir, Vaishali, Kushinagar Lumbini and Sravasti. From Sravasti we go to Lucknow and fly to Delhi. We will be back in Delhi on the 6th of December. The tour will end at 7pm on December 6, 2013 in New Delhi. You should book your departure flight late night on 6th December or early morning of 7th December 2013.
For those who take the Agra Option, we travel by train from Lucknow to Agra on the 6th of December to visit the Taj Mahal will return to Delhi on 7th of December. Departure flights should be booked on late night of 7th of December or early morning fight on 8th December 2013.
In Delhi, we will visit the place where Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, lived and died. This is a wonderful place to begin the pilgrimage. Gandhi personified a unique way of politics where it became an exercise of ethical living. He was a man open to all cultures and religions but with deep faith in his own.
Our journey will take us across the plains of the River Ganges to Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, and the Deer Park at Sarnath, where he gave his first teachings. We will visit his favorite meditation places such as Vulture Peak in Rajgir, the Jeta Grove at Sravasti (where he spent 24 rainy season retreats), and Kushinagar, where he passed away. We will also visit Lumbini, where he was born, and the palace at Kapilavastu, where hespent his childhood. Aside from visiting the places where the Buddha lived, we will visit monasteries, temples and shrines. The trip includes visits to homes of locals in cities and villages, a gentle 8-kilometer walk to the Dungasiri Mountain (Mahakala Cave) where the Buddha practiced his austerities. We would meet environmental and social activists and visit the homes of both the homes of the poor and the privileged to get a sense of contemporary India. We would combine this with the underpinnings of the Buddha's teachings, and some of the places he lived and visited so we can examine what we are witnessing and experiencing both from an external and internal perspective.
In Varanasi we will also take a boat ride on the Ganges at sunrise.
The pilgrimage is an unforgettable opportunity to explore areas that few tourists visit and to see and experience aspects of contemporary Indian life that, in many ways, have not changed since the time of the Buddha. We invite you to join other practitioners on a transformative journey that will allow you to touch an ancient culture and civilization, and experience the life of the Buddha through the places he lived and taught. Join us on this journey through a fascinating and mysterious India – as we walk in the footsteps of the Buddha.
India is very diverse in culture, language and environment. The Buddha lived and traveled along the Indo-Gangetic plains in Northern India. Besides New Delhi, the pilgrimage visits two states of northern India, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
India’s cities stand in large contrast to her villages and have their own interesting (if seemingly chaotic) lifestyle. Varanasi and Bodh Gaya are both significant pilgrimage sites, having their own distinct character and personality. In these places we get a closer view of how modern and traditional India co-exist. Kushinagar, Sravasti and Rajgir are smaller towns and relatively quiet, giving the pilgrims the opportunity to absorb the nuances of the local culture and society.
Dharmacharya Shantum Seth, an ordained dharma teacher, has been leading pilgrimages “In the Footsteps of the Buddha” since 1988, when he organized the pilgrimage for his teacher, Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Shantum graduated in Development Studies, with his thesis in Gandhian Economics and has been an advisor to the United Nations on volunteering, peace, and social development issues for more than 15 years. He has co-authored books such as Walking with the Buddha and been a consultant for films like BBC-Discovery’s Life of the Buddha and BBC-PBS’s The Story of India.
At each pilgrimage site along the way, Shantum will tell stories of the Buddha’s life and give teachings to help us understand the Buddha as a human being, the drama of his life and the significance of what he taught. We will schedule time for daily sitting and walking meditation, regular discussions, and contemplative time for ourselves. The creation of a traveling sangha will be an important aspect of this trip, giving the journey a greater cohesiveness and building a sense of support for those seeking to deepen their practice.
DAILY SCHEDULE & SPECIAL EXCURSIONS
Our retreat schedule will include daily sitting and walking meditation, often starting with a morning meditation at one of the Buddhist sites. This will be followed by breakfast at the hotel, after which we’ll visit one of the Buddhist sites listed below in the itinerary. Shantum will offer a detailed talk on that site in the context of the Buddha’s life and teachings, and what was happening in the area many centuries ago. Pilgrims will have some time at the site itself, after which we will go to lunch. We’ll rest after lunch or we may visit another site, go to a village, school, visit a teacher or institute, meet with environmental activists, etc. We return to the hotel by evening in time for dinner and usually end with a group discussion on the day. On the days we travel, the itinerary will vary slightly, and there will be some flexibility depending on the size, needs, and interest of the group.
Sall Pilgrimage: 25th November to 6th December 2013 (12 days)
Agra Option for Sall Pilgrimage: 6th December to 7th December 2013 (1 day)
Caves Option for Sall Pilgrimage: 8th December to 10th December 2013 (3 days)
25th November to 6th December 2013 (12 days)
November 25th: Delhi - Varanasi by air
November 26th: Varanasi - Sarnath - Varanasi
November 27th: Varanasi - Bodhgaya
November 28th: Bodhgaya
November 29th: Bodhgaya - Rajgir
November 30th: Rajgir
December 1st: Rajgir - Vaishali
December 2nd: Vaishali - Kushinagar
December 3rd: Kushinagar - Lumbini
December 4th: Lumbini
December 5th: Lumbini - Sravasti
December 6th: Sravasti - Lucknow by road and Lucknow - Delhi by air. Departure
December 6th: Lucknow - Agra by train
December 7th: Agra - Delhi. Agra Journey ends.
December 8th: Delhi - Aurangabad by air
December 9th: Aurangabad
December 10th: Aurangabad - Delhi by air. Departure