The Buddha and the Mahabodhi Temple Bodhgaya, Bihar, 2500 years old India

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India:The
Main Temple, Bodh Gaya-Mahabodhi Temple,
 Bodh Gaya, where Siddartha Gauthama, the Buddha  attained  enlightenment, is located 96 km from Patna, Bihar north India. Also known as ''The Mahabodhi Temple''- the great Awakening Temple - also called Mahabodhi Mahaveera or The Great Stupa, is  being visited by  thousands of people, particularly Buddhists  every  day. Boda Gaya  is the most sacred place for Buddhists  world over. The holy Bhodi tree is located on the western side of the temple.  Emperor Askoka in the 3rd century BC set up Vajrasana - seat of enlightenment  and built  the stupa for the worship of the Buddha. This very ancient and unique temple entirely made of bricks is a UNESCO recognized  World  Heritage site. In  the main sanctum sanctorum there is a gold painted colossal Buddha statue  built by the Pala kings of Bengal. Here  the Buddha  is seen in a sitting posture with his right hand  touching the earth. It  is known as the 'Bhumisparsa' mudra'. While in this unique posture  that the Buddha achieved the supreme enlightenment. Buddhists  believe the stupa is the navel of the universe.

Monks in prayer for peace .Bodh Gaya-Mahabodhi Temple,
 Buddhism is one of the largest religions with 300 million people around the world, mostly in SE Asia. The word comes from 'budhi' (in Sanskrit)' to awaken'. Way back 2500 ago, it was founded by Siddhartha Gauthama, known as the Buddha at the young age of 35.

Around 530 BC Siddartha Gauthama, a young prince at a tender age was preoccupied with the suffering of scores of people and wanted to get down to the root cause of it. He renounced every thing in life, his princely status, family and the luxurious princely life. Having put an end to materialistic life, his mind had begun to focus on spiritual life.Hence he chose the path of renunciation.  He wandered around the banks of  Phalgu river, near Gaya, and at last chose a comfortable place under the peepul tree (Ficus religiosa or Sacred Fig). He meditated for three days and three nights under the tree and on Vaisak Purnima, in the month of May, he attained enlightenment. The tree was later known as the Bodhi tree. Inside the Mahabodhi temple, built by the great emperor Ashoka in 260 BC, there are many  centuries old smaller stupas and  Buddha statues. There is a place here where the great Buddha  did meditation upon getting enlightenment. There is  a  tall central tower - 180 feet high with smaller towers around it. 

The  other important  places in the temple are: 

Vairasena - seat of enlightenment - a  throne  made  of soapstone by Emperor Ashoka'.

Animesha - here the Buddha  spent his second week of meditation in standing posture,  while  grazing at the Bodhi tree.

Cankamana - the third week of meditation was spent by walking.

Ratnahara - the fourth week of meditation. Only here Buddha experienced six rays of light coming off his body.

Ajapala Nikrodha - fifth week of meditation.  Here he gave a discourse on his spiritual experience.  

Muchalinda sarovar - Lord Buddha spent the sixth week of his meditation at this spot. In the middle of  medidating, a severe thunderstorm  brought in heavy rain  and Lord Buddha became  wet. It is believed, the snake king of the Lake called Muchalinda protected the Buddha from the rains and winds with his hood.

Rajayatna Tree: As Lord Buddha sat under the tree here meditating, two merchants from Burma took refuge with him and became his first disciples.

Gaya is well connected by train and roads. One may find accommodation in monasteries run by Buddhists' groups. Buddha Jayanth is celebrated in the month of May. Ideal season is September through January.

It will be a great experience to visit the birth place of Buddha, a remarkable religious leader, who would have been a great king and enjoyed the trappings of a royal life, had he not renounced and shunned the materialistic life. Hence, he is being revered and worshiped by people world over. 

Tit Bits:

 01. During the early Muslim period  Muhammad bin Qasim and others, later in the 12 the century during the invasion of Muslim-Turk armies, Buddism declined and the Mahabodhi temple fell into ruins.

02. Between 8th and 12 th century during the Palas dynasty, Buddhism flourished. After the Hindu Sena dynasty, Buddhism saw the decline.

03. The credit goes to the 11th and 19th century Burmese rulers, who took so much responsibility to restore the ruined Mahabodhi temple back to original shape.

04. Based on the original model of the temple at Bodh Gaya in 13th century the Burmese built a Mahabodhi temple called ''Mahabodhi Temple, Bagan''.

05. Special credit must go to the British rulers who got down to restoration work in 1880s  under the direction of Sir Alexander Cunningham. In 1885, Sir Edwin Arnold asked the Buddhists world over to restore the Mahabodhi temple.

06. In 2013, the upper part of the temple was gold-plated, a gift from the devotees of Thailand and its ruler.

07. A low-intensity explosion on the early morning of 7th July, 2013 caused panic and outrage. Fortunately it was a minor incident.  It is strognly believed that Islamist jihadi group Indian Mujahideen was responsible for the bombings.

Buddhists seek control over Mahabodhi temple management IANS. March 28, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2008.

"The Controversial Bodhgaya Temple (Amendment) Bill 2013". Retrieved 1 October 2013.