Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Pali: bodhi) under what became known as the Bodhi Tree. Since antiquity, Bodh Gaya has remained the object of pilgrimage and veneration for both Hindus and Buddhists.
For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Great Buddha Statue
(2015) [A 1]
|• City||20.2 km2 (7.8 sq mi)|
|• Regional planning||83.78 km2 (32.35 sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
Traditionally, Buddha was born in 563 BC in what is now Nepal on the following auspicious Baisakhi purnima. As Siddhartha, he renounced his family at the age of 29 in 534 BC and travelled and meditated in search of truth. After practicing self-mortification for six years at Urubela (Buddhagaya) in Gaya, he gave up that practice because it did not give him Vimukthi. Then he discovered Noble Eight-fold path without help from anyone and practiced it, then he attained Buddhatva or enlightenment. Enlightenment is a state of being completely free from lust (raga), hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha). By gaining enlightenment, you enter Nirvana, in which the final stage is Parinirvana.
At this place, the Buddha was abandoned by the five men who had been his companions of earlier austerities. All they saw was an ordinary man; they mocked his well-nourished appearance. "Here comes the mendicant Gautama," they said, "who has turned away from asceticism. He is certainly not worth our respect." When they reminded him of his former vows, the Buddha replied, "Austerities only confuse the mind. In the exhaustion and mental stupor to which they lead, one can no longer understand the ordinary things of life, still less the truth that lies beyond the senses. I have given up extremes of either luxury or asceticism. I have discovered the Middle Way". This is the path which is neither easy (a rich prince) nor hard (living in austere conditions practicing self-denial). Hearing this, the five ascetics became the Buddha's first disciples in Deer Park, Sarnath, 13 km n.e. of Benares.
The disciples of Gautama Siddhartha began to visit the place during the full moon in the month of Vaisakh (April–May), as per the Hindu calendar. Over time, the place became known as Bodh Gaya, the day of enlightenment as Buddha Purnima, and the tree as the Bodhi Tree.
The history of Bodh Gaya is documented by many inscriptions and pilgrimage accounts. Foremost among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the 5th century and Xuanzang in the 7th century. The area was at the heart of a Buddhist civilization for centuries, until it was conquered by Turkic armies in the 13th century. The place-name, Bodh Gaya, did not come into use until the 18th century CE. Historically, it was known as Uruvela, Sambodhi (Saṃ+bodhi, “Complete Enlightenment” in Ashoka's Major Rock Edict No.8), Vajrasana (the "Diamond Throne" of the Buddha) or Mahabodhi ("Great Enlightenment"). The main monastery of Bodh Gaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vihāra (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple.
The complex, located about 110 kilometres from Patna, at , contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the Vajrasana or "diamond throne" and the holy Bodhi tree. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grown from a what is claimed to be a sapling of the original Bodhi tree.
In approximately 250 BCE, about 200 years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment, Buddhist Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya in order to establish a monastery and shrine on the holy site, which have today disappeared.
Representations of this early temple are found at Sanchi, on the toraṇas of Stūpa I, dating from around 25 BCE, and on a relief carving from the stupa railing at Bhārhut, from the early Shunga period (c. 185–c. 73 BCE). The present pyramidal temple was built at the time of the Gupta Empire, circa the 6th century CE.
Kittisirimegha of Sri Lanka, a contemporary of Samudragupta, erected with the permission of Samudragupta, a Sanghārāma near the Mahabodhi Temple, chiefly for the use of the Singhalese monks who went to worship the Bodhi tree. The circumstances in connection with the Sanghārāma are given by Xuanzang (Beal, op. cit., 133ff) who gives a description of it as seen by himself. It was probably here that Buddhaghosa met the Elder Revata who persuaded him to come to Ceylon.
Several Buddhist temples and monasteries have been built by the people of Bhutan, China, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam in a wide area around the Mahabodhi Temple. These buildings reflect the architectural style, exterior and interior decoration of their respective countries. The statue of Buddha in the Chinese temple is 200 years old and was brought from China. Japan's Nippon temple is shaped like a pagoda. The Myanmar (Burmese) temple is also pagoda shaped and is reminiscent of Bagan. The Thai temple has a typical sloping, curved roof covered with golden tiles. Inside, the temple holds a massive bronze statue of Buddha. Next to the Thai temple is 25-metre statue of Buddha located within a garden which has existed there for over 100 years.
Across the Phalgu river is the Sujata Stupa, in the village of Bakraur. The stupa was dedicated to the milkmaid Sujata, who is said to have fed Gautama Buddha milk and rice as he was sitting under a Banyan tree, ending his seven years of fasting and ascetism, and allowing him to attain illumination through the Middle Way. The stupa was built in the 2nd century BCE as confirmed by finds of black polished wares and punch-marked coins in the attending monastery.
On 7 July 2013, at around 05:15, a low intensity bomb blast took place in the 2500-year-old Mahabodhi Temple complex. This was followed by a series of nine low intensity blasts which resulted in two monks being injured; one was Tibetan and the other Burmese. These blasts were carried out by an Islamic terrorist organization. The serial blasts did not cause any damage to the temple or the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Two other bombs, one under the 80-foot statue of the Buddha and the other near Karmapa Temple were defused by the police. Investigation of the blast was given to NIA (National Investigating Agency). Three unexploded bombs were also found in the Temple complex.
As per the 2001 census, Bodh Gaya had a population of 30,883. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Bodh Gaya has an average literacy rate of 51%, lower than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 63% and female literacy of 38%. 8% of the population is under 6 years of age.
On 7 July 2013 a series of ten bombs exploded in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bodh Gaya, India. Five people, including two Buddhist monks, were injured by the blasts. Three other devices were defused by bomb-disposal squads at a number of locations in Gaya.The temple itself and the Bodhi Tree (where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment) were undamaged. However, the Archaeological Survey of India confirmed damage to new structures in the temple complex. International figures, including the Dalai Lama, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, condemned the attacks. On 4 November 2013, the National Investigation Agency announced that the Islamic terrorist group Indian Mujahideen was responsible for the bombings.On 1 June 2018, a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court of Patna sentenced life imprisonment for 5 prime accused in this case.Bodhgaya inscription of Mahanaman
The Bodh Gayā inscription of Mahānāman is an epigraphic record documenting the construction of a temple by the Sri Lankan monk Mahānāman at Bodh Gaya in the late sixth century.Bodhi Tree
The Bodhi Tree (Sanskrit: बोधि), also known as Bo (from Sinhalese: Bo), "peepal tree", "Araḷi mara" (Kannada:ಅರಳಿ ಮರ) or "arasa maram" (Tamil:அரசமரம்)(Devanagari: पीपल क पेड़), was a large and ancient sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa) located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher who became known as the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment or Bodhi. In religious iconography, the Bodhi Tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which are usually prominently displayed.
The term "Bodhi Tree" is also widely applied to existing trees, particularly the sacred fig (Ficus religiosa) growing at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, which is often cited as a direct descendant of the original specimen planted in 288 BCE. This tree is a frequent destination for pilgrims, being the most important of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
Other holy bodhi trees which have a great significance in the history of Buddhism are the Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti and the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Both are believed to have been propagated from the original Bodhi Tree.Buddhist pilgrimage sites
The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.Gaya, India
Gaya is of historical significance and is one of the major tourist attractions of the state of Bihar. Gaya is 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. It is the state's second-largest city, with a population of 470,839, and is the headquarters of Gaya district and Magadh division. The city is surrounded on three sides by small, rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila, and Brahmayoni), with the Phalgu River on its fourth (eastern) side.
Gaya is sanctified in the Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist religions. Gaya district is mentioned in the great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is the place where Rama, with Sita and Lakshmana, came to offer pind-daan for their father, Dasharath, and continues to be a major Hindu pilgrimage site for the pind-daan ritual. Bodh Gaya, where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, and is one of the four holy sites of Buddhism. The Mahabodhi Temple complex at Bodh Gaya is a World Heritage site.Gossain Ghamandi Gir
Gossain Ghamandi Gir is the name of a Hindu Saivite monk of a Shankara lineage who is said to have founded a Saivite monastery in Bodhgaya in approximately 1590 CE.
The occupants of the monastery were of the Giri order, one of the ten Dashanami monastic orders founded by Shankara.
However, the Bodh Gaya Giri sect, for which the monastery was headquarters, "has had since its establishment no strong institutional or administrative links with any other ascetic organization".
According to the Encyclopedia of Monasticism,
Gossain Ghamandi Gir's followers built a small monastery at Bodh Gaya in the early part of the 17th century that has since been continuously occupied by a lineage of Saiva priests. This monastery's status is relatively minor within the Saiva monastic system - according to oral tradition is ranked 36th among the 52 major Saivite maths - but it has served as an important anchor for Hindu pilgrims who visit Bodh Gaya in conjunction with visits to nearby Gaya (a major Hindu tirtha).... an active Saiva monastic presence still exists at Bodh Gaha.
Gossain Ghamandi Gir is reported to have been the first mahanth (abbot) of the monastery. The following succession of abbots for the monastery through the 1890s was listed in 1893 by Grierson:
(1) Ghamandi Gir (1590-1615)(2) Chaitanya Gir (1615-1642)
(3) Mahadeva Gir (1642-1682)
(4) Lala Gir (1682-?)
(5) Keshav Gir (?-1748)
(6) Raghav Gir (1748-1769)
(7) Ram Hit Gir (1769-1806)
(8) Balak Gir (1806-1820)
(9) Siv Gir (1820-1846)
(10) Bhaipati Gir (1846-1867)
(11) Hem Narayan Gir (1867-1891)
(12) Krishna Dayal Gir (1891-now living [sic])
According to Trevitich,
What perhaps most distinguishes the Bodh Gaya Giris from the more "orthodox" Dasanami orders is the method they employ in electing their Mahants. Among the more "pure" sects, a new Mahant is chosen by a nominating board, theoretically answerable to the entire body of monks. The head of this board is chosen at the Kumbh Mela - a great gathering of ascetics held every six years.... The Mahants of Bodh Gaya are not elected in this manner.... At the death of the Mahant, the "general body of disciples" nominated, at Bodh Gaya, five electors.... It must immediately be said, however, that... general Hindu opinion, as indexed by newspaper articles and by public statements from religious leaders, was that the Giris were unambiguously "sanatan" or orthodox.Great Buddha (Bodh Gaya)
The Giant Buddha statue is one of the many stops in the Buddhist pilgrimage and tourist routes in Bodhgaya, Bihar (India). The statue is 19.507 m (64.00 ft) high in meditation pose or dhyana mudra seated on a lotus in open air. It took seven years to complete with the help of 12,000 masons. It is a mix of sandstone blocks and red granite. It is possibly the largest built in India and was consecrated on 18 November 1989 by the's 14th Dalai Lama. The foundation stone for the statue was placed in 1982.Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya
The Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya (IIM-BG) is an autonomous public business school in Bodh Gaya, Bihar in India. Established 2015, it is the 16th Indian Institute of Management (IIM). The institution is being mentored by Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.Indrasala Cave
The Indasala Cave, also called Indrasila Guha or Indrasaila Cave, is a cave site mentioned in Buddhist texts. It is stated in Buddhist mythology to be the cave where Buddha lived for a while, and gave the sermon called the Sakkapañha Sutta to deity Indra. This Sutta is found as chapter II.21 of Digha Nikaya. In this sermon, the Buddha addresses Sakya (also known as Indra) accompanied by Pancasikha (also known as Kubera). After some harp-playing by Pancasikha, Indra asks 42 questions to the Buddha, which he answers. The teachings in this Indrasala Cave Sutta is, in part, the basis for the Theravada tradition of "punna (earning merit) and varam (favor).
The legend is generally believed to be mythical. Some scholars, since the 19th century, have attempted to identify the location of the cave that may reflect one of the places the Buddha lived. One such location is in modern Giryak, Bihar. It has also been identified with a location on the Vediyaka hill near Rajagrha.Numerous depictions of the scene are known, the earliest being those of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, circa 150 BCE. In a Gandhara artwork dated to 89 CE, the scene "Visit to the Indrasala Cave" is depicted with Indra identifiable with his elephant seated to the right, the Buddha is shown living in a cave by the wavy rocky landscape with wild animals above.Lilajan River
The Lilājan River (also known by its Sanskrit name: Nairañjanā) is a river that flows through the Chatra and Gaya districts in the Indian states of Jharkhand and Bihar. It is also referred to as the Nilanjan, Niranjan or Falgu River.Magadh University
Magadh University is in Bodh Gaya, Bihar India. It is recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The university is now governed by the Bihar State University Act 1976. It provides facilities for higher learning and research in the faculties of science, social sciences, humanities and commerce. With 44 constituent colleges, 24 PG departments and 85 affiliated colleges, Magadh University is the largest university of Bihar.Maha Bodhi Society
The Maha Bodhi Society is a South Asian Buddhist society founded by the Sri Lankan Buddhist leader Anagarika Dharmapala and the British journalist and poet Sir Edwin Arnold. The organization's self-stated initial efforts were for the resuscitation of Buddhism in India, and restoring the ancient Buddhist shrines at Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinara.Although some Indians had remained culturally Buddhist for centuries after the decline of Buddhist philosophy, they did not self-identify as "Buddhist". The Maha Bodhi Society renewed interest in Buddhism, and spawned the Ladakh Buddhist Association, All Assam Buddhist Association, and Himalayan Buddhist Society, as well as laying the grounds for the Dalit Buddhist movement.Mahabodhi Temple
The Mahabodhi Temple (literally: "Great Awakening Temple"), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient, but much rebuilt and restored, Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, marking the location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. Bodh Gaya (in Gaya district) is about 96 km (60 mi) from Patna, Bihar state, India.
The site contains a descendant of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha gained enlightenment, and has been a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus and Buddhists for well over two thousand years, and some elements probably date to the period of Ashoka (died c.232 BCE). What is now visible on the ground essentially dates from the 7th century CE, or perhaps somewhat earlier, as well as several major restorations since the 19th century. But the structure now may well incorporate large parts of earlier work, possibly from the 2nd or 3rd century CE.Many of the oldest sculptural elements have been moved to the museum beside the temple, and some, such as the carved stone railing wall around the main structure, have been replaced by replicas. The main temple's survival is especially impressive, as it was mostly made of brick covered with stucco, materials that are much less durable than stone. But this means that very little of the original sculptural decoration has survived.The temple complex includes two large straight-sided shikhara towers, the largest over 55 metres (180 feet) high. This is a stylistic feature that has continued in Jain and Hindu temples to the present day, and influenced Buddhist architecture in other countries, in forms like the pagoda.Paraiya
Paraiya is a block in Gaya district of Bihar state, India. The Paraiya Block headquarters is Paraiya Khurd town, part of the Magadh division. It is located 17 km west of the district headquarters in Gaya, and 109 km north of the state capital Patna.
Paraiya block is bounded by Guraru block to the west, Konch block to the east, and Tekari Block to the north. Bodh Gaya, Rafiganj, and Sherghati are nearby cities.
Paraiya consists of 151 villages and 9 panchayats. Malahi Chak is the smallest village; Solara, the largest. Bodh Gaya, Chatra, Kakolat, Bihar Sharif, and Koderma are nearby tourist destinations.Sujata Stupa
Sujata Stupa, also Sujata Kuti stupa or Sujata Garh, is a Buddhist stupa located in the village of Senanigrama (Bakraur) slightly east of Bodh Gaya in the state of Bihar, India. It lies directly across the Phalgu River from the town of Bodh Gaya, where Gautama Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. It is a walk of about 20 minutes, from Bodh Gaya to Sujata Stupa. It was initially built in the 2nd century BCE as confirmed by finds of Dark Grey polished wares and a punch-marked coin in the monastery nearby.The stupa was dedicated to the milkmaid Sujata, from the village of Bakraur, who is said to have fed Gautama Buddha milk and rice at this spot as he was sitting under a Banyan tree, thereby ending his seven years of fasting and ascetism, and allowing him to attain illumination through the Middle Way.
The stupa was originally adorned with a pillar of Ashoka, which was quarried in part for building material in the 1800s, then placed at the Gol Pather intersection of Gaya, and finally moved to Bodh Gaya in 1956.The stupa was an integral part of the original landscape at Bodh Gaya, and it was reinforced and enlarged several times over the centuries.The Archaeological Survey of India made excavations in 1973-74 and 2001-06. A plaque found in the excavation has an inscription from the 8th-9th century CE that reads "Devapala Rajasya Sujata Griha", Devapala being interpreted as the 9th century Pala dynasty king, hence meaning "Sujata House, of King Devapala". This suggests that the last phase of construction of the stupa dates to Devapala in the 9th century CE, to commemorate the house where Sujata lived.Before the discovery of this inscription, it was thought that this stupa had been dedicated to "Gandha-hasti", the "Perfumed elephant", and was therefore named "Gandha-hasti stupa". This interpretation was based on a description made by the 7th century Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang (in 大唐西域記: Buddhist Records of the Western World) who recounted that when he crossed the river (Niranjana) and went to Bakraur, he encountered a stupa and a stone column at the place where Gandha-hasti used to dwell (referring to the place where the Buddha, in a previous life, was reborn as the offspring of a Perfumed elephant).Thatta Thattaha Maha Bawdi Pagoda
Thatta Thattaha Maha Bawdi Pagoda (Burmese: သတ္တသတ္တာဟ မဟာဗောဓိစေတီတော်; Pali: Sattasattāhamahābodhi Cetiya) is a Buddhist temple on Udayaraṃsi hillock in Pobbathiri Township, Naypyidaw Union Territory, Myanmar (Burma). The pagoda is a replica of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India. The replica is 162 feet (49 m) tall.
The buddhābhiṣeka ritual of the pagoda's main Buddha image was held on 13 May 2014.The complex also houses replicas of key locations in Gautama Buddha's life (သံဝေဇနိယလေးဌာန), including his birth, his enlightenment, his preaching and his death, built for worshippers who have difficulties making a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya.Vajrasana, Bodh Gaya
The Vajrasana (IAST: vajrāsana; diamond throne) is a throne in the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. It is thought to have been placed by Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire between 250-233 BCE, at the location where the Buddha had reached enlightenment some 200 years earlier.The vajrasana is the bodhimanda (bodhimaṇḍa; seat or platform of enlightenment) of Gautama Buddha. Being the site where Gautama Buddha achieved liberation, Tibetan texts also use the term vajrasana to refer to Bodh Gaya itself.The empty throne, not just at Bodh Gaya, was a focus of devotion in early Buddhism, treated as a cetiya or symbolic relic. It was not intended to be occupied, but operated as a symbol of the missing Buddha. Ancient images show devotees kneeling in prayer before it, as they still do.Veer Kunwar Singh University
Veer Kunwar Singh University, named after the well known national hero and distinguished freedom fighter of 1857, was established on 22 October 1992 with its headquarters at Arrah, under the Bihar University Act 1976 [as amendment Act 9 of 1992].
It is in the list of recognized Universities under Section 2(f) of the U.G.C. Act. All its 17 constituent colleges and one affiliated college are receiving financial assistance from U.G.C. by virtue of being Constituent/Affiliated Colleges of erstwhile Magadh University, Bodh-Gaya, Bihar.Vihara Buddhagaya Watugong
Vihara Buddhagaya Watugong also known as Vihara Buddhagaya (in English Vihara Bodh Gaya Watugong and Vihara Bodh Gaya respectively) is a Buddhist temple located in Semarang, Indonesia.
Topics in Buddhism
Cities and towns in Magadh Division
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in other Divisions
Tourist sites in Bihar