Bodh Gaya, a place located in south of Patna. The sacred place is situated in the Indian state of Bihar. It is considered as the most sacred place in Buddhism. A place where, Prince Siddhartha Gautam, while meditating beneath the Bodhi tree attained enlightenment. It was after attaining enlightenment he became ‘Buddha’.
History of The Bodhi Tree
According to the Buddhist Traditions, Prince Siddhartha Gautam, after years of severe austerity and fasting by accepting milk and honey from young women. He sat beneath the tree popular today as ‘Bodhi tree’ vowed not to move until he attain enlightenment.
It was after strong concentration and meditation since 49-days, fighting with Mara (illusion) he gained enlightenment. It was after this Siddhartha was called as Gautam Buddha. He remained seated in meditation for weeks after enlightenment and practiced walking meditation for a week.
The Bodhi tree is not just considered sacred, but due to its close association with enlightenment, the place is considered as the goal of all Buddhist. The sacred tree holds symbolic significance. As per the Buddhist, the Bodhi Tree is at the centre of the world and a site for all Buddhists to attain enlightenment.
In the early days, before Buddha image was used, tree image was symbol. The tree image was used to represent Buddha. People visiting this place also take leaves or seeds of the tree to their home or monasteries. The tree is not only considered sacred in India, but also around the world. Even today, it is expected to plant Bodhi Tree in every Buddhist Monastery to mark the presence of Buddha’s teaching ‘Dharma’.
The tree is a favourite place to meditate and contemplate teaching of Buddha. Several people believe in hanging prayer flag as a part of offering to the sacred site.
What to See At Bodhi Tree?
The Bodhi Tree is Ficus Religiosa or Holy fig tree as per Botanist, a tree which is a species of fig belongs to Moraceae family. The leaves of the tree are in cordate in shape and extended at tip. As per the researchers, the tree is not exactly one which he meditated for 2500 years ago, but a direct descendant.
In 3rd century- BC, in Sri Lanka, Asoka’s daughter Sanghamitta, bought a branch of the Bodhi tree and planted the branch in Anuradhapura. Even today, the tree exists. But according to few tales, it is been said, that Asoka’s wife destroyed the original Bodhi Tree. She destroyed the tree out on jealousy, over the time spent by the emperor with tree. As per such tales, the tree was destroyed in the 7th century. Several people believe in the fact that the original tree was replanted using the shoot from the Sri-Lanka’s tree itself!
Patna – Bodhi Tree
The path on which Buddha walked after gaining enlightenment, is marked as ‘Jewel Walk’ by Chankramanar. It is lined by 19-lotus and situated in the north side of the Mahabodhi temple. A place called ‘Animeschalochana Stupa’ is a site in which Buddha in 3rd week contemplated the Bodhi tree.
The surrounding of Bodh Gaya has attracted several yogis, sages and meditators from around the world. Several great figures like Buddhajnana, Vimalamitra, Atisha, Nagarjuna and Padmasambhava lived and meditated beneath the Bodhi tree.