Pillar at Sarnath
In the twentieth year of his reign,
Ashoka undertook his second pilgrimage with his daughter and Upagupta.
This we learn from his inscriptions. During thispilgrimage he visited the
ruins of Vaishali and the places where Buddha used to rest. From Vaishali
Ashoka traveled east and came to Ramagrama. He visited the stoopa at Ramagrama
built by a king who had collected and preserved the sacred bones of Buddha
after his death. Later he also visited Lumbini, Kapilavastu, Shravanti,
Gaya and other holy places. Wherever he went he caused pillars and stoopas
to be erected in memory of his visit. They remind us even today of the
visit of Ashoka to those holy places.
There is one such memorial pillar at
Sarnath. On the top of a stone pillar about fifty feet high there are beautifully
carved figures of four standing lions. The figures of four standing lions.
The figures of four standing lions. The figures of the lions are now to
be seen in the official emblem of the government of free India, and the
Ashoka Chakra adorns the national flag of India. In this way the government
of India has paid a deserving tribute to the ideal king, Ashoka. But unfortunately
the pillar at Sarnath is broken and mutilated. So we can see only fragments
of the pillar. Of the eighty-four thousand stoopas said to have been built
by Ashoka, the stoopa at Sanchi is both famous and splendid. To this day
this fifty-four feet stoopa stands on a high pedestal and forms a semicircle.
Besides these stoopas and pillars, Ashoka built cave dwellings, rest houses
and Buddha Viharas in large numbers. They not only proclaim Ashoka's teachings
but also are examples of the splendid architecture of those days.