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Showing posts from February, 2008

A Pilgrimage Special: Cradle of Buddhism

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One of the attractions in Bodhgaya is the Daibutus or the Great Buddha erected by the Japanese. Here, one can find an eighty feet high Buddha seated on a lotus. It has been said that since Asoka's first visit in 259 BC, Bodhgaya had become the cradle of Buddhism without intermission for more than 1500 years until the Buddhist viharas and shrines were devastated by Muslims in the 13th century. The flow of pilgrims halted and Anagarika Dharmapala had in fact attributed to the extinction of Buddhism in India to Muslims. Anyway, in 1956 which marked the 2500th anniversary of Buddhism, there was a resurgence of activity at Bodhgaya. A number of foreign temples and monasteries sprang up and today, Bodhgaya undoubtedly, became again an important focal point to Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world.

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The Daibutus...


Malaysian pilgrims in Bodhgaya...


Other temples and monasteries built by foreign countries...





A Pilgrimage Special: Tell Tale Signboards

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It is interesting walking around the compound of the magnificent Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya. There's a Pipal tree or Bodhi tree behind the temple which Buddhists truly revered. Lord Buddha sat, meditated and attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree and the exact spot where He sat is now marked by a red sandstone and it is located between the tree and the temple .The tree was not the original tree of course but it was believed to be a sapling of it. Nevertheless, that did not stop pilgrims from picking up whatever leaves that fall from the tree for souvenir. The spot where Lord Buddha sat is called the Vajrasana or Diamond Throne and it is fenced up and one could only peep into it. After attaining Buddhahood on the full-moon night of Wesak, Lord Buddha had spent the first week there, meditating. The next six weeks were spent at different spots in the temple ground and when you walk around the compound, you would be able to find some tell tale signboards...

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A Brief history of …

A Pilgrimage Special: Dana at Maha Bodhi Society

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I would remember Bodhgaya too as the first place where we performed dana to the monks.Dānain Sanskrit or Pali , means generosity or giving. In Buddhism, it also refers to the practice of cultivating generosity. Early the next morning after arriving at Bodhgaya, we were ushered to Maha Bodhi Society which was founded by Anagarika Dharmapala. In 1891 Anagarika Dharmapala had visited the Mahabodhi Temple, where Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment . He was shocked to find the temple in the hands of a Saivite priest. He vowed to fight for the temple so that it would be cared by the Buddhists themselves and as a first step, hadset up Maha Bodhi Society. It was there where we served some monks breakfast...
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Attending a prayer session at the Maha Bodhi Society...




Serving the monks breakfast...


A Pilgrimage Special: Twilight at Bodhgaya

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During Buddha's time,Bodhgaya was called Uruvela. It is here that the famous Mahabodhi Temple stands. King Asoka was said to be the first to build a temple here and henceforth, it became a place of focus for Buddhist pilgrims for more than 1500 years until the 13th century when the Buddhist viharas and shrines were devastated by Muslims. When a Tibetan pilgrim, Dharmasvamin visited Bodhgaya in 1234 AD, only four monks were left in the vihara and one said that all have fled in fear of the Turushka soldiery. As Buddhism further declined in India, the Burmese came in to rescue the decaying Mahabodhi Temple. That was during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Mahabodhi Temple was again forgotten thereafter and a wandering Hindu ascetic, Mahant Gosain Giri, later took control of the temple and since 1590 AD, the temple was under Hindu control. In 1861, Cunningham found the Mahant and the followers indulging in non-Buddhist ceremonies there and Sir Edwin, author of The Light of Asia, o…

Happy Valentine's Day

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Happy Valentine Day! Go somewhere with someone!

A Pilgrimage Special: A Respite From Pilgrimage Activities

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Bodhgaya in Bihar state is about 105 km by road from Patna. Crossing the Phalgu River into the dilapidated looking town, we were told that Lord Buddha had walked across the river to the site of his enlightenment. The river at that moment looked like it could be walked on but in India, during the wet rainy season, the water could rise and the river could well burst at its seam. We had reached Bodhgaya just before night and the sky was dimming slowly. It turned dark when we reached Hotel Sujata and there we were given a grand welcome. For the frist time, we were garlanded with marigolds and offered a welcome drink. After washing up, we had dinner and our leader forbade anyone to leave the dinner table after that. Oh! There was going to be a surprise birthday party for five lovely ladies born in December. How thoughtful! 
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A Garland for Each Pilgrim...


A Sumptuous Dinner...
A Birthday Cake...
For Five Lovely December Ladies...

A Pilgrimage Special: Enlightened in Bodhgaya

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Just before we entered Bodhgaya, the place of Buddhas enlightenment, our leader and fellow pilgrim had cautioned us: Beware of charlatans when you visit the Mahabodhi Temple. Seemingly holy men would approached you and take you to certain part of the premises to pray and pay too for this and that! It seemed that the last time our leader visited the historical temple, she saw a holy man taking out the donation box at night to count the daily takings. Well, how holy could that holy man be, she wondered and that made us wondered too. Mahabodhi Temple visibly ,is a Buddhist temple. Little Buddha statues adorned a 52 m high pyramidal tower and this Unesco heritage site,was excavated by Cunningham in 1872. The archaeologist suggested that there were three periods in its construction, beginning from the third century BC when King Asoka constructed the Bodhi Shrine. There is a colossal gilded image of Buddha from the 10th century AD in the main shrine and at one time, the statue was wastin…

Beatles Special: Across The Universe

Happy Chinese New Year!

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