The Dude recently came back from his small spiritual trip in Bihar, India.
The following is the story of his journey… Following Footsteps of Buddha
When Buddha was sick and before he took his parinirvana i.e. ( when he left his physical body he had his final Nibbana which is known as Parinirvana in Kushinagar, India), Buddha was asked by his disciples where they should go and pay homage going forward. Although Buddha never encouraged any rites and ritual, he did say that four places should be very important for anyone following footsteps of Buddha.
Lumbini, Nepal: The birthplace of Buddha
Bodhgaya, Bihar, India : Buddha got his Enlightenment here
Sarnath, UP, India : Buddha preached his first sermon
Kushinagar, UP, India where Buddha took his Parinirvana i.e. left his physical body
The other important places are Nalanda, Rajgir, Sravasti and Sanchi.
Out of the above four mentioned places the most supreme is Bodhgaya, the mother of all holy places in the world.
I recently toured for my second visit to Bodhgaya. My original plan was to stay for 3-4 days for blessings for my career as an author as well as for global peace. There is only one direct train from Pune to Gaya ( about 12 kms from Bodhgaya.
I decided to take a train from Mumbai to Gaya. I will cover details of my journey later separately.
People can reach Gaya by plane or train from anywhere in India. Then they can hire a shared TUK TUK to Bodhgaya for Rs 25-Rs 30 or reserve a Tuk Tuk for Rs 150. Do not pay anything more since this is the rate which everyone pays unless you arrive very late (rate from Railway Station).
There are many options for visitors for places to stay around the Mahabodhi temple. There are about 16 monasteries from Thailand, Mahabodhi society right next to temple, A Japanese monastery as well as Korean And Chinese monastery. It is not easy to stay in these monasteries if you are an Indian apart from the Mahabodhi society which requires a prior booking. There are some good as well as reasonable hotels and I had taken a room near the temple last time I had arrived in Bodhgaya for Rs 400 per night which included an attached toilet.
I decided to stay in Root Institute, a NGO influenced by Tibetan tradition. Initially I was very reluctant since I follow Buddha’s teachings in non-sectarian manner as a Vipassana meditator in Goenkaji tradition and I am also influenced by Theravada tradition in Buddhism (which follows only words of Buddha). However the place was nice since it was a bit distant from the road so it was very quiet, surrounded by trees and very conducive for meditation. I wanted to meet people from around the world so I opted for dormitory and the good part was that no one told me to read or try Tibetan meditation. I would later discover they have a fantastic library which included books of every Buddhist tradition incl. books and documentaries on Vipassana in tradition of Goenkaji. I would meet two fantastic people and I will discuss about them in detail. (Please refer to Root Institute website for all details)
Bodh Gaya’s Mahabodhi temple which is a huge temple complex which includes Bodhi tree under which Buddha got Enlightened apart from gardens and relics of Buddha. The temple was originally built by Ashoka, the great Indian emperor who has made 83000 stupas with relics of Buddha and spread teachings of Buddha around the world.
It takes Rs 5 by a shared Tuk Tuk to reach MahaBodhi temple from where I was staying.
I had reached very late at night the day I had arrived and decided to sleep and leave for Mahabodhi temple the first thing after breakfast.
The temple is huge with a statue of Buddha while on the right hand side towards the back of the temple is MahaBodhi tree. Under this tree Buddha attained Enlightenment about 2500 years ago. Below pic one of the first words of Buddha to Supreme Brahma.
Mahabodhi temple opens at 5am and closes at 9pm. The chantings starts at 5.30am and the whole day monks from different traditions chant including Theravada tradition ( Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, Laos and India), and Mahayana Tradition
MahaBodhi Tree: Mother of All Trees in this Universe…The Holy Tree
Under Mahabodhi tree many people practise mindfulness, samadhi ( concentration), chant or offer their prayers. It is the focal point ununder which all the lay disciples, monks or visitors sit and pay respect.
Some pictures of monks chanting or practising self awareness.
On the side the place where Buddha spent the third week walking for 7 days after getting Enlightened..
Some photos of places around the temple.
The temple has small stupas which has relics of disciples of Buddha.More photos and videos uploaded on Facebook
To be continued…