Leaving Varanasi was bitter-sweet. Far to hectic for now. We traveled to Sarnath, 7 kilometers out of the city looking for space, and space we found. Parks, temples and a wonderful Jain family to play host. Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his message of the middle way to nirvana after achieving enlightenment in Bodhgaya. The town is dotted with temples representing most buddhist countries in Asia, making it one of the four most important buddhist pilgrimage sights on earth.
The peace and space was exactly what we required after a week-long of indian city’s. Budgies, rabbits and crocodiles. Staying with a Jain family means alcohol and smoking are strictly prohibited. This has proved to be a great thing and my liver and kidneys have thanked me greatly for the break from the hard work. Detox. Dr. Jain, head of the household seems to be greatly respected throughout the town, due to setting up several schools for underprivileged children. Jains don’t belive in harming any animal so the home cooked food was perfect. Some of the best i have eaten in India. Home grown squash subzi, green beans picked from the village, chutney’s made from fruit picked in the morning and served with dinner. Aubergine bhaji, guava jam, roti and a potent mixture of fresh green chili, ginger, garlic and salt – all ground together on a stone, i think.
I was invited to visit one of the schools where i held six short art classes for groups of children aged four to ten. A lovely experience – thanks to my interpreter, Tripty. I drew animals at the children’s request, did portraits and encouraged the little individuals to draw. We were even treated to some impromptu singing and dancing and an outdoor exercise session with could only be described as military style yoga? Overall Sarnath was calm and insightful.
Next is a train north-west to New Jalpalguri – the step of point to Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Himalaya.
Upon leaving Sarnath i wrote in Mr. Jain’s comment book. I thanked him for his kindness and congratulated him on doing something so worth while with his life, something one day i hope to do myself.