BODHI TREE (SARNATH)

WHEN I LOOKED AT THE KINGS OF TREES,” I KNEW THAT EVEN NOW I WAS LOOKING AT THE SELF – EXISTENT MASTER”. (ASHOKA )

Bodhi Tree Complex at Sarnath has been developed in Moolgandha Kuti Vihar courtyard. Inaugurating the Bodhi Tree Complex, Shri Dalai Lama said that the complex is dedicated to the service of humanity.

Why is the Bodhi tree considered the most sacred tree in Buddhism?

Bodhi Tree – Bodhi tree is the peepal tree located in the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya (Uruvela) in Gaya district of Bihar, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in 623 BC.

Buddha also developed many new methods of meditation during the attainment of enlightenment under this peepal tree.

What do the words Budh,Bodhi mean?

According to the Buddhacharita,

The word “Awaken” in Magadhi language is known & pronounced as “BUDDH”. Thus the person who awakes (i.e attains knowledge) is called Buddha. For this reason Prince Siddhartha was called Buddha after attaining enlightenment. The word BODHI shares the same root as the word buddha and also means awakening. Magadhi language is the main language spoken in the Middle East of India.

I took this image from my mobile at a stationery shop in Sarnath

Some symbols have great importance in Buddhism.

LION ,STUPA , BODHI TREE , ELEPHANT , CHAKRA ,etc. Are all symbols that are associated with the life of Buddha. in some or the other way

LION :- LION REPRESENT SHAKYASIMHA, LION OF SHAKYA CLAN.

STUPA :- AFTER THE ADOPTION OF BUDDHISM BY EMPEROR ASHOKA , 84000 STUPAS (Buddhist prayer places) WERE BUILT BY HIM .

BODHI TREE :- PEEPAL TREE UNDER WHICH BUDDHA ATTAINED ENLIGHTENMENT .

ELEPHANT :- RELATES TO SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA ENTERING THE WOMB OF HER MOTHER MAYADEVI IN HER DREAM .

CHAKRA :- (WHEEL OF THE MORAL LAW). DHARMA IN THE FORM OF THE CHAKRA (WHEEL) .

LOTUS :- SACRED FLOWER DESCRIBED IN HINDUISM AND BUDDHISM.

THE GREAT PEEPAL TREE

WHEN I LOOKED AT THE KINGS OF TREES,” I KNEW THAT EVEN NOW I WAS LOOKING AT THE SELF – EXISTENT MASTER”. (ASHOKA )


The Mahabodhi Tree at the Sri Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India.

JOURNEY OF THE BODHI TREE THROUGH SRI LANKA

Anuradhapura  අනුරාධපුරය, r அனுராதபுரம்

ANURADHAPURA :- Anuradhapura is one of the oldest cities of Sri Lanka. It has been the capital of Sri Lanka in ancient times.

Emperor Ashoka, after adopting Buddhism, sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka for the propagation of Buddhism. Sanghamitra took with her a branch of the Bodhi tree, and this branch of the sacred tree was planted in Anuradhapura. The new Bodhi tree which emerged from the branch of the original Bodhi tree is still present in Anuradhapura.

BODHI TREE IS PLANTED IN KASHI (VARANASI).


BODHI TREE SARNATH VARANASI

Why Bodhi Tree was Replanted in Sarnath ?

There is a wonderful story regarding the reason why the Bodhi tree was planted in Sarnath, and it’s as amazing as it’s unbound importance.

After the discovery of many relics of the Buddha period in Sarnath, the attention of the Mahabodhi Society established in Sri Lanka was drawn towards it. This organization was striving for the renewal of all the holy places associated with Buddha and Buddhism.

The construction work of the new grand Mulgandha-Kuti Vihar temple at Sarnath was completed in 1931 by the Mahabodhi Society. Meanwhile, Angarika Dharmapala, the founder of the Mahabodhi Society, replanted a branch of the Bodhi tree from Anuradhapura Sri Lanka(remember that this tree was itself a replantation of the original Bodhi tree!!!) in the courtyard of the Mulgandha Kuti Vihara temple. Presently it has grown into a huge tree which is technically the same tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

BODHI TREE AND THE COMPLEX

IN 1999, THE BODHI TREE COMPLEX WAS WIDENED BY MAKING SPACE FOR MEDITATION AND DHAMMA SERMONS WITH TWENTY EIGHT IMAGES OF PREVIOUS BUDDHAS’ AROUND THE BODHI TREE BEGINNING FROM TARANANKARA BUDDHA TO GAUTAMA BUDDHA, ALL SAID TO HAVE BEING ATTAINED ENLIGHTENMENT UNDER THE SRI MAHA BODHI TREE AT BUDDHAGAYA AND PREACHED THEIR FIRST SERMONS AT ISIPATANA-DEER PARK, SARNATH.A GRANITE PLATE INSCRIBED WITH THE DHAMMA CHAKKA PAVATTANA SUTTA,THE FIRST SERMON OF THE SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA WAS ALSO ERECTED. THE ENTIRE BODHI COMPLEX CONSTRUCTED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE HUMANITY AND TO GENERATIONS TO COME IN NEXT MILLENNIUM WAS DECLARED OPEN ON 17TH DECEMBER,1999 BY THE XIV TH HIS HOLINESSTHE DALAI LAMA WITH A MESSAGE TO THE WORLD TO RESTORE AND PROMOTE PEACE AND HARMONY IN THE NEXT MILLENNIUM IN LINE WITH BUDDHISM.

Bodhi Tree Complex images


Bodhi Tree Complex Entrance Gate


A HUGE BELL IS INSTALLED AT A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THE SACRED TREE.


THE RETAINING WALL AROUND THE BODHI TREE AND THE IMAGES OF THE SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA PREACHING HIS FIRST SERMON TO HIS FIRST FIVE DISCIPLES. THIS STRUCTURE WASERECTED IN 1989 WITH THE KIND ASSISTANCE – OF MAYANMAR BUDDHIST DEVOTEES.

KASHI, FOR IN HER EYES YOU CAN SEE THE PAST OF INDIA , AND IN THE MURMUR OF HER WATERS YOU CAN HEAR THE VOICES OF AGES LONG GONE BY .

If you are in Sarnath then do your best to stay here in the evening.

I reached the courtyard of the sacred tree around 6 o’clock in the evening. Almost all the tourists had left as it was slowly turning dark. I must say, there was, a seriously calm atmosphere. The birds were also returning to their nests, I could hear their voice as they were on their way towards home. I also heard some peacocks from time to time, the voices of birds were not creating any sort disturbance in the atmosphere of peace.

I was sitting on the stone steps of Mulgandha Kuti Vihar temple thinking something when a temple employee came towards me and said softly “Sir now it is time to close the temple so please vacate this campus.”

I agreed and was preparing to leave when I saw some people carrying candles towards the holy tree, I asked the staff and came to know that it is time for the evening worship of the holy tree.

I asked the employee can I watch this program? He smiled and said ” Of course”.Just take permission from the monks who organised this program. I moved towards those monks and expressed my wish, they happily granted me the permission I seeked.

After a few moments these monks started the circumambulation of the sacred tree, while doing the circumambulation, they also started lighting diyas on the small statues of Buddha around the tree. Now the monks started reciting religious mantras while doing the circumambulation.

I could not understand even a single word of this religious mantra, (I understood that the language was something special it didn’t sound like Sanskrit at all, but I was not able to figure out the language itself on my own) later I came to know that the monks were using the Pali language.

The original teachings of Buddha are in the Pali language. Pali language was commonly used at the time of Buddha and Sanskrit was the language of the elite people and Brahmanas. Today Pali language is taught in the universities of Varanasi but common people never use it, Pali language is not used even in the surrounding areas of Sarnath.

It was a wonderful experience to listen to Buddha’s teachings in the original language after thousands of years, at the same place where Buddha gave his first sermon.

I must say that it was a transcendental experience.
For a moment I felt as if Buddha was giving his first sermon to his disciples, and I am witnessing that moment too.

Author: nitinsingh

Postgraduate in International relations. Experience in writing in various journals, from BBC WORLD NEWS SERVICE to India's one of the oldest hindi daily. I like to write on international relations, religion, religious conflict. Social media has bridged the distance between writing and reading. Now writing is not just the expression of one's own thought, but also knowing the expression of people on various subject.

2 thoughts on “BODHI TREE (SARNATH)”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: