Varanasi, one of the oldest and continuously inhabited cities in the world is known also as Banaras or Kashi and incorporates the different school of thoughts, religions which makes it the centre of attraction among people across the globe.
One side it is known as the prominent city for followers of Hindu religion and on the other hand it is known also as the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon (dhamma chakkra parivartan) in 528 BC. It is one of the holy cities of Jainism, and one of the epicentres of the Bhakti movement (a current dating back to Hindu medieval times very close to Sufi Islam, ed.) Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, visited Varanasi in 1507 and was inspired by the city. The three Tirthankars of Jain religion were also born at this place. Thus Varanasi holds equally high place among followers of Hindu and other religions.
Varanasi has been the birthplace and work place for Sant Kabir , Sant Raidas and Sen Nai, opposing sectarian thinking, communalism and casteism. They established the dignity of labour with spiritualism. Maulana Alvi brought here the world famous Banarsi silk artisan saree work that now has a Bollywood celebrity as its brand ambassador. Banaras has been home to several great personalities from the field of art, culture, music and literature.
A poet-saint, reformer and philosopher Tulsidas ' doctrine has been described as an assimilation and reconciliation of the diverse tenets and cultures of Hinduism taught reconciliation. Munshi Premchand , an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature was famous for both his Hindi and Urdu writings. Great author Bhartendu Harishchandra, Jai Shankar Prasad, Dr Shyam Sunderdas and Acharya Ramchandra Shukla have had Baranas as their home.
The city has had four Bharat Ratna(the highest civilian award of the Republic of India) recipients too. The Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan , Lal Bahadur Shastri the second prime minister of India, Pt Ravi Shankar the renowned Sitar player and Bhagwan Das an Indian Theosophist who was allied with the Hindustani Culture Society and was active in opposing rioting as a form of protest. For a time he served in the Central Legislative Assembly of British India. As an advocate for national freedom from the British rule, he was often in danger of reprisals from the Colonial government. He was the fourth recipient of India's highest civilian award. He established the Kashi Vidyapeeth in association with Mahatma Gandhi.
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