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Bodh Gaya : Buddha's Enlightenment Place

Bodh Gaya : Main Temple

Serene and quiet this tiny little village, holiest among holy places is Bodhgaya, Where the quest of Prince Siddharth was fulfilled after years of seeking the truth and the saga of Buddha began. He attained the supreme enlightenment and became 'The Buddha', the enlightened one. Thus Buddhism was born here under the Peepal Tree. The Prince had been wandering in search of supreme peace for long six years hither and thither. But it was at Bodhgaya only where his holy mission was achieved. Bodhgaya has naturally developed into the most sacred spot for Buddhists from all over the world, especially the affluent south East Asia.

Lying in sylvan solitude this sacred place is situated on the bank of river Niranjana (Modern Falgu). It is 13 km. from Gaya town. Gaya is an important Centre of 'Hindu Pilgrimage' where people go to offer oblations for the salvation of their dead forefathers.

The Mahabodhi Temple stands east to the Bodhi Tree. Its architectural effect is superb. its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid, till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. The total height of the temple is 170 feet and on the top of the temple are Chatras which symbolize sovereignty of religion. Four towers on its four corners rise gracefully giving the holy structure a poise and balance. This sacred edifice is like a grand banner unfurled by time to proclaim to the world the pious efforts of the Buddha to solve the knots of human miseries to ascend above worldly problems and to attain transcendental peace through wisdom, good conduct and disciplined life. Inside the temple in the main sanctum, on an altar, is a colossal image of Buddha in a sitting posture touching the earth by his right hand. In this posture the Buddha accomplished the supreme enlightenment. The statue is of black stone but it has been gilded by the devotees. The entire courtyard of the temple is studded with a large number of varieties of stupas--votive, decorative, memorative. These stupas are of all sizes built during the past 2500 years ago. Most of them are extremely elegant in structural beauty.

Bodhi Tree

At the western side of the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya stands the large and historic Bodhi Tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha, then known as Gautama, attained enlightenment some 2540 years ago. Gautama, had been practicing austerities for six years in the area of the Niranjana River near Bodhgaya. Finally understanding that this could not lead to realization, he abandoned his austerities and in the nearby village of Senani (now also known as Sujata) the Brahmin girl Sujata offered him milk-rice. Strengthened by this, he took some kusha grass for a mat and sat under the pipal tree facing east. He resolved not to rise until he attained enlightenment. As he sat in deep meditation, Mara, Lord of Illusion, symbolising the delusions of one's own mind, tried tirelessly to distract him from his purpose. Gautama then touched the earth, calling it to bear witness to the countless lifetimes of virtue that led him to this place of enlightenment. The earth shook confirming the truth of his words. Mara unleashed his army of demons to distract and tempt Gautama from his purpose, but Gautama triumphed over the inner obstacles and the power of his compassion transformed the demons' weapons into flowers.

The Barabar and Nagarjuni Hills are situated about 41 km. from Bodhgaya (25 kms north of Gaya) and contain, in all, seven rock-cut caves of which four are in the Barabar hills. Barabar Caves is an important achaeological site. The caves carved out from solid rocks bear details of the life of Buddha.
Two of the caves, dedicated by Ashoka to Ajivika monks, are in the form of a plain rectangular outer hall. At one end of which is an inner chamber with carved wall and over hanging caves. The Karan Chaupa cave - the entire interior of the cave, excluding the platform, bears a high polish. The entrance is in 'Egyptian form'.

 

His mind was utterly subdued. For seven days after the enlightenment, Buddha continued to meditate under the tree without moving from his seat. Another week passed in walking meditation, and for a third the Buddha contemplated under the Bodhi Tree. The earliest records on the tree are in the 'Kalingabodhi Jataka', which gives a vivid description of the tree and the surrounding area prior to the enlightenment, and the 'Asokavadana', which relates the story of King Ashoka's (3rd century B.C) conversion to Buddhism. His subsequent worship under the sacred tree apparently angered his queen to the point where she ordered the tree to be felled. Ashoka then piled up earth around the stump and poured milk on its roots.

The Sudama cave - The cave entrance is in 'Egyptian form' and consists of two chambers.
The Lomas Rishi cave - The entrance is in 'Egyptian form and only walls of the outer rooms are polished.

The Visva Zopri cave - consists of an outer apartment, bearing the high polish on its walls and flat roof. On the right hand wall, is an inscription record.

Where to Stay : There are two bungalows-- Hotel sidhartha Vihar and Hotal Buddha Vihar of Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation. Other private hotels are also available. Indian Tourism Development Coroporation has Hotel Bodhgaya Ashok (Tel: 0631-400790).

 

The tree miraculously revived and grew to a height of 37-metres. He then surrounded the tree with a stone wall some three-meters high for its protection. Ashoka's daughter Sangamitta, a Buddhist nun, took a shoot of the tree to Sri Lanka where the King, Devanampiyatissa, planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura. The fourth direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree still flourishes today and is the oldest continually documented tree in the world.His mind was utterly subdued. For seven days after the enlightenment, Buddha continued to meditate under the tree without moving from his seat. Another week passed in walking meditation, and for a third the Buddha contemplated under the Bodhi Tree. The earliest records on the tree are in the 'Kalingabodhi Jataka', which gives a vivid description of the tree and the surrounding area prior to the enlightenment, and the 'Asokavadana', which relates the story of King Ashoka's (3rd century B.C) conversion to Buddhism. His subsequent worship under the sacred tree apparently angered his queen to the point where she ordered the tree to be felled. Ashoka then piled up earth around the stump and poured milk on its roots. The tree miraculously revived and grew to a height of 37-metres. He then surrounded the tree with a stone wall some three-meters high for its protection. Ashoka's daughter Sangamitta, a Buddhist nun, took a shoot of the tree to Sri Lanka where the King, Devanampiyatissa, planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura. The fourth direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree still flourishes today and is the oldest continually documented tree in the world.

Barabar Cave

 

How to reach:

Air : The Patna airport is 112 Kms.

Rail : The nearest Railway station is Gaya 16 Kms.

Road: Bodhgaya is connected by road to Gaya. 16 Kms to the Delhi-Calcutta Highway junction (on Grand Trunk Road). Dobhi 22 Kms and Patna 105 Kms (via Jehanabad) or 181 Kms (Via Rajgir).

Bihar State Tourism Development Coporation Operates daily deluxe coach service to and from Bodhgaya from its head Quarter i.e. Tourist Bhawan, Beer Chand Patel Path Patna 800001 Tel : 0612-225411 FAX :0612-236218

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