Bodh Gaya – The abode of enlightenment
Strolling Through the bank of ancient Niranjana (Falgu) river, the first thing that arrested my eyes happen to be the riot of colours. Some monks wearing yellow robes, other Buddhist pilgrims wearing maroon and the tourist donning sundry other colours added brilliance to this holy river.
Come winter this abode of enlightenment really blooms like garden of flowers where all hues of colours and shades add sublime beauty to this ancient place. The most important chapter of Buddhism it was this Falgu river where Siddharta used to bathe regularly. Besides it was this river where he had thrown the bowl of kheer (Rice pudding) given to him by the village lass Sujata. Soon after eating this kheer Siddharta had attained his enlightenment.
Leaving the banks of Phalgu as I started moving towards the Mahabodhi Temple, the sound of the Buddhist holy mantra “Buddham Sharnam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchani’ entered into my ears. In and around the Mahabodhi Temple a large number of little shops selling cassettes and CD’s of religious songs and various other items related to Buddhism really create a divine ambience to it.
This holy mantra really transformed my thought process. It took me to the ancient past when this holy words in Pali language beaconed thousands of people from the Tibet (roof of the world), china and other places of South East Asia to this land where Siddharta became Sakya Muni after attaining his Sambhodhi (enlightenment).
Braving hailstorms and very adverse climatic conditions, the foreigners had set foot to Bodh Gaya. Even the Chinese scholar Hiuen Tsiang and Fa Hian had endangered their lives for the sake of these words that says “We take shelter to Buddha’s lotus feet, we belong to Dhamma (Dharma) and we belong to Sangha (Monasteries)” and this holy tradition continues. Bodh Gaya is the supreme pilgrimage of Buddhism.
A flight of steps led me to the inner courtyard of Mahabodhi Temple. On looking at this 170 ft high shrine anybody would praise the nameless ancient masons who had created this architectural wonder centuries ago. This truncated pyramidal shape temple dates back to the 2nd century A.D. This is the oldest and most venerable of all Buddhist shrine. Hiuen Tsiang and Fa Hian had profusely praised the architectural cum sculptural art of this temple.
In the courtyard, I found a large number of monks moving around barefoot, others deeply meditating without even noticing my presence. Tranquility prevailed everywhere. I had a feeling of boarding in a time machine and entering into the time of Emperor Ashoka, who revived Buddhism. In the premises of Temple the multi coloured flags were fluttering to mutely tell the universe that peace should prevail over anarchy. In his days (2550 Year ago) Buddha also had pleaded against war and fought to establish peace. Looking at the Mahabodhi tree lies near the shrine one really feels that Bodhgaya continues to remain a living page of history. Under this peepal (Bunyan) tree Siddharta attained enlightenment. He became Taltagat the great.
This Mahabodhi tree still appears to be radiating an aura of abiding serenity, spiritual solitude and peace. It is believed that the original Bodhi tree sprang up on the day of Siddharta’s birth.
Bodhgaya may be lying thousands of kilometers away from South East Asia yet it offers the look of typical Asiatic nations (Buddhist countries). The temples, Chaitya and monasteries of various Buddhist nations are built in architectural and sculptural style of those countries of South East Asia. They reflect the very essence of ancient Java, Sumatra, Bali Anuradhapuram (Sri Lanka) and other pockets where Buddhism was carried in 3rd BC by Sanghmitra and Mahindra daughter and son of Emperor Ashoka. Really Bodhgaya appears to be a replica of South East Asia.
The Sun had already set. I could not resists the temptation of witnessing the Arti (showing of lamp) carried out in the Mahabodhi Temple by the devout Lama’s, Monks and others who consider Shakya Muni their supreme solace. Hurriedly I walked to the premises of the shrine to find hundreds of butter lamps and candles lighting there to create a divine atmosphere. The statues of Buddha attained serene glow due to the light of those lamps and candles. The holy sight arrested me. I stood still against a ancient wall. A group of monks were slowly moving with lamps in their hand and chanting “Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham sharanam Gachchami” in their leaps.
After experiencing this enlightening of Buddhism in its purest essence, that too at the spot of its birth, I started walking towards the hotel through the series of kiosks. The tourists and shop keepers were bargaining with each other. Why to blame them? They are all mundane creatures. After leaving the crowded market place as a moved to the hotel nearby, suddenly “Buddham Sharnam Gachchami…………….” Echoed in my ears. Really how different is the mundane world with the realm of spirituality.