Buddha, Bodh Gaya and the Bodhi Tree

M G SinghStarred Page By M G Singh, 5th Jun 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Philosophy>Eastern

Bodh Gaya is the holiest place for Budhists who flock to this place from all over the world. Its worth a visiit

The Buddha


The Buddha was born a Hindu prince in Bihar in the 5/6 century BC. As per mythology he attained Nirvana at a place near Gaya in Bihar. This place is called Bodh-Gaya and is approximately 15 kilometers from Gaya. It is the most important pilgrimage center in India for Buddhists, as this is the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment.

Bodh Gaya


Bodh-Gaya is a part of the city of Gaya. This place contains the banyan tree under which the Buddha mediated and attained enlightenment (Bodh). The banyan tree under which the Buddha observed penance and mediated is known as the Bodhi tree .The fame of Bodh-Gaya has now spread all over the world and Buddhists from Burma, China, Tibet, Japan, South East Asia and Ceylon visit this place.
It is the holiest place for Buddhists and thousands come to pay their respects to the Buddha. Bodh-Gaya has a number of Buddhist temples. The most important temple is the Mahabodhi temple. This temple commemorates the place where the Buddha undertook penance and achieved nirvana. It is the holiest shrine in Buddhism and in some ways can be considered the Mecca of Buddhism.

Mahabodhi Temple


The temple is a large sprawling temple with a high spire. Its walls are decorated with carvings which depict the life of Buddha and the famous incidents in his life. In the center of the temple the sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful idol of Buddha in a meditating pose. Devotees from all over the world worship at this shrine. Close to the temple is a museum which houses bronze and gold statues of Buddha from ages.
Bodh –Gaya houses some more temples. Another famous temple is the shrine of Animesh Lochan Chaitya. This shrine commemorates the place where the Bodhi tree was seen by Buddha. There is a third Buddhist temple Chankraman also at Bodh-Gaya. This shrine is located at the place where the Buddha paced up and down when he was in a state of indecision as to what step to take after he had attained nirvana.

Bodh Tree


Bodh –Gaya also is home to the famous Bodhi tree which is located on the banks of the river Neeraj Jana. Bodh Gaya has a history of 2600 years and many times it was razed by Muslim conquerors. For centuries the place was uncared and in poor condition as Buddhism had spread to other lands, but became extinct in India. But in the 20th century the place has been renovated and Buddhist shrines restored and new temples constructed. The Mahabodhi temple is recognized as a world heritage site in the list issued by UNESCO on 26 June 2002.

Last Word

The history of Bodh-Gaya is well documented and one of the foremost accounts is by two Chinese pilgrims Faxian and Xuanzang in the 5th and 7th century AD.
Gaya can be easily reached from Calcutta by overnight train. One can fly down from Calcutta or Delhi to Patna which is the nearest airport and take a taxi or bus to Gaya 78 miles away.

Tags

Bodhi Tree, Buddha, Buddhism, India, India And Buddha

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author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
5th Jun 2014 (#)

Wonderful as history, religion, or a travel guide. You are a wealth of information. Well done!

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Thank you Phyl. Sweet of you to comment

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
5th Jun 2014 (#)

yes this is wonderful Madan..many thanks...

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Carolina

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
6th Jun 2014 (#)

Great post. Fascinating history Madan. Thank you.

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Steve

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
6th Jun 2014 (#)

You have covered the topic so well Madan giving us snippets of all relevant information, thanks - siva

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Welcome comment Siva

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author avatar pohtiongho
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks for the great post. Please also read what I have recorded.
The Collapse of Buddhism in India
Muhammad Bakhtiyar plundered and killed monks at Nalanda University in 1198 AD. A Persian historian recorded this incident from an eye-witness in 1243 CE. The destruction of the university took several months because the books needed time to burn. That was the largest collection of books even by our standard today.
All the monks captured were either burned alive or beheaded. The nuns were either raped and killed or taken as sex slaves. The handful of monks who escaped the massacre fled with their Buddhist scriptures to secluded monesteries far away or traveled by ships to Burma. They were also found in Chittagong, and the south-eastern corner of Bangladesh. Some trekked north across the Himalayas to Nepal or Tibet.
With the collapse of Buddhism in India, Buddhist shrines and monuments were either plundered, destroyed or left to ruin. The Buddhist Temples were converted to Hindu temples.
For some time, a few monks were still hiding near the ruined Nalanda. A Tibetan named Dharmaswamin confirmed that in 1235 CE, an old monk Rahula Sribhadra was teaching Sanskrit grammar to seventy pupils. A lay disciple, Jayadeva supported him and his pupils. While the Tibetan pilgrim was there, the Turkish soldiers came in for another raid to hunt down and kill any monk who dared to remain. These soldiers also ransacked the ruins hoping to find buried treasures.
As the impending raid was confirmed, all the pupils left except one who stayed back to assist the old monk. He carried his master to a safe hiding place. The fully armed soldiers arrived and were ready for an assault, but found that place empty. They left. The Tibetan pupil completed his studies and with the consent of his teacher, returned to Tibet.
The extermination of Buddhist monks was a fatal blow to the Sangha in India as the laity were forced to convert to Islam or Hinduism. Hinduism and Jainism later were subjected to the same persecution but their priests were not so easily recognized to be targeted for killing.

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author avatar pohtiongho
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Foot note:
In 1199 CE, Muhammad Bakhtiyar, a Turkish Muslim marauder, after conquering India, and killing all the monks he could find in The International University, and burning down all buildings there, was on his way to invade Tibet when bad weather conditions forced him to retreat. He and his army perished while trying to cross a river, because of sudden flood.
In Asia, especially at the mountainous regions, some of the river water level may be very low. But during the monsoon season, if you happen to be caught during a thunder storm and torrential rain, within an hour the water level can rise many meters.
The above account was recorded from a Tibetan.

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author avatar M G Singh
7th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks for a very informative comment. However Buddhism had collapsed in India much before the period you mention as it could not face the Brahaminical cult after the demise of Ashoka

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author avatar Carol
7th Jun 2014 (#)

This is lovely Madan, well done

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author avatar WOGIAM
7th Jun 2014 (#)

I have learnt some facts on Budaism from your article, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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author avatar M G Singh
8th Jun 2014 (#)

THANKS WOGIAM

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author avatar M G Singh
8th Jun 2014 (#)

Thsnk you Carol

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
8th Jun 2014 (#)

Interesting read.

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author avatar LOVERME
9th Jun 2014 (#)

worth a visit of composed silence and tranquility that prevailed over 2500 years ago ....
and still does so
good work urs madan ji

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author avatar n.c.radomes
15th Jun 2014 (#)

Indeed the article is informative, well-aided with appropriate pictures. I feel awed looking at the pictures, especially at the ornamental trees. At Bodh Gaya where the statue of Buddha is, are the trees both sides banyan?

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