In the enclosure of the Sanghārāma was a vihāra about two hundred feet high, strongly built, its roof surmounted by a golden figure of the mango.In the centre of the vihāra was a life-size statue of the Buddha turning the wheel of the Law.
The Migadāya was so-called because deer were allowed to roam about there unmolested.However, the presence of images of Heruka and Tara indicate that Vajrayana Buddhism was (at a later time) also practiced here.Also images of Brahminist gods as Shiva and Brahma were found at the site, and there is still a Jain temple (at Chandrapuri) located very close to the Dhamekh Stupa.In the 7th century by the time Xuanzang visited from China, he found 30 monasteries and 3000 monks living at Sarnath.Sarnath became a major centre of the Sammatiya school of Buddhism, one of the early Buddhist schools.It was also the site of the Buddha's Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it.
Sarnath has been variously known as Mrigadava, Migadāya, Rishipattana and Isipatana throughout its long history. Isipatana is the name used in the Pali Canon, and means the place where holy men (Pali: isi, Sanskrit: rishi) landed.
He is surrounded by five Bhikkhus with shaven heads.
In the background, Vajrapani and other attendants, including probably princes are seen. According to the Udapāna Jātaka (354ff ) there was a very ancient well near Isipatana which, in the Buddha's time, was used by the monks living there.
Buddhism flourished in Sarnath in part because of kings and wealthy merchants based in Varanasi.
By the third century Sarnath had become an important center for the arts, which reached its zenith during the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries CE).
Sarnath is a city located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Varuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh, India.