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Bodh Gaya: A place where Buddha attained enlightenment

By Gaurav Manandhar at
bodh gaya

Bodh Gaya: A place where Buddha attained enlightenment

Bodh Gaya is a Buddhist pilgrimage site located in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. This place is very popular since it is said to be the place where the Buddha obtained Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. As for Buddhist, this pilgrimage site is one of the four major pilgrimage sites related to the life of the Gautama Buddha. The other three pilgrimage sites are Lumbini where he was born, Sarnath where he delivered his first teaching, and Kushinagar where he attained parinirvana.

Historical account of the Buddha and Bodh Gaya

As per records, Buddha was born in 563 BC on the auspicious Baisakhi Purnima. It is recorded that he renounced his family at the age of 29 in 534 BC. The main reason for his renouncement was to find the answers to his questions. He meditated and traveled in search of truth. It is learned that he once completely stopped the food intake with the purpose of attaining the enlightenment. But later he found out that it was impossible to stop the food intake. So he took only the amount that was necessary to keep him alive. Hence after, he practiced Noble Eightfold on his own and then finally he attained enlightenment.

It is learned that the place where he attained enlightenment was Gaya under the Bodhi tree. The Buddha's followers later began to visit this place during the full moon in the month of Baishak. Over time, the place then was popularly known as Bodh Gaya only after 18th century CE. Before that period, the place was popularly known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasanaor Mahabodhi.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex

Mahabodhi Temple

It was learned that Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gara with the purpose to establish a monastery and shrine on the holy site. He gradually made it but was disappeared over time. Even the Bodhi tree presented in the temple complex is the sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka which is itself sapling of the Original Bodhi tree.

Other Buddhist temples

The Buddhist monk, Kittisirimegha of Sri Lanka, erected Sangharama near the Mahabodhi Temple. The purpose of this building was to house the Singhalese monks who pay a visit to Bodh Gaya. This building was constructed with the permission of Samudragupta.

Likewise, several other Buddhist temples and monasteries have been built by the people of different countries in the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. These buildings reflect the architectural style, exterior and interior decoration of their respective countries. It is also recorded that the Chinese temple that was constructed by Chinese Buddhist monks house Buddha Statue that was originally brought from China and is almost 200 years old. Another unique iconography of the Buddha statue is housed by the Thai temple. This Thai Buddha statue is a massive bronze statue of Buddha. There is also a 25 meter Buddha statue located within a garden which has existed there for over 100 years.

Mahabodhi Temple Serial Blasts

On 7 July 2013, the Temple experience a low-intensity bomb blast. This was followed by a series of nine other low-intensity blasts. Due to this blasting, two monks, a Tibetan and a Burmese, were injured. The responsibility was taken by an Islamic terrorist organization. The other two bombs were defused by the police which was under the 80-foot statue of the Buddha and the other near Karmapa Temple. The other three unexploded bombs were also found in the Temple complex. However, these serial blasts did not cause any damage to the temple or the Bodhi tree.

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