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Revisiting India's Gautama Buddha Era

A collection of Images with Photo descriptions recalling the Buddha times of India

 

 

Bodh Gaya Bodhgaya Bodhi Tree and Vajrasana

The Place where Siddhartha Gautama attended Enlightenment and became a Buddha

 

BodhGaya is situated about 11 Km to South from Gaya city in Bihar State. Historically the area was called Uruvela and the river Neranjara was flowing near present BodhGaya. Now only a vast sand bed can be seen which once was the path of Neranjara river. Since the time Bosath Gauthama became a Buddha, this place was called BuddhaGaya.

Bosath Gautama renounced the domestic life as a Prince and became an ascetic. Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputra had been the two masters Bosath Gautama obtained mental training on meditation. Mastering those methods were inadequate for the Bosath Gothama for the truth he was seeking.

Leaving them Bosath Gautama with the company of the five Vagga ascetics, carried out rigorous austerities for six years, but with no result of obtaining the ultimate truth of life.

Coming to a conclution that such extremely painful asceticism was unable to deliver the truth he was seeking, he decided to giveup rigorous asceticism and persue meditation in his own.

Coming to Uruwela near Neranjara river, he decided upon finding a suitable place for meditation.

Sujata, daughter of landowner of village Senani near Uruwela ,who brought milk rice to offer the deity of the banyan tree, seeing Bosath Gautama sitting under the tree, offered Bodhisattva Gautama, milk rice, which was the last meal taken by Bosath Gautama for the next 49 days.

Finding a rocky surface under a pipal (Bo) tree , placing some grass on rock he sat to persue his truth seeking mission.

 

It was the Full Moon day and Bosath Gatama while in the meditation gained the knowledge of Pubbenivasanussati-ñana,Cutupapata-ñana and 'Asavakkhaya-ñana and with the enlightenment, became a Buddha.

Even after more than 2600 years, one can still see and worship the most sacred place of Gautama Buddha's enlightenment.

 

Following is a Photo Collection (2004) of Sacred Bodhgaya which all the Buddists cherish for.

 

The Bodhi Tree

Bodh Gaya Bodhi Tree

 

 

The Vajrasana

Bodh Gaya Vajrasana

 

 

Maha Bodhi Temple Buddha Image

Bodh Gaya Maha Bodhi Temple Buddha Image

 

 

Bodh Gaya Temple at Night

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Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

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Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

 

 

 

Sujatha Chetiya and Temple

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Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

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Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya

Sujata Chetiya is at the place, Sujatha's home was earlier situated. Sujata Temple is the place where she offered Milk Rice to Bosath Gautama

 

Bodh Gaya Temple at Morning

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Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya

 

Maha Bodhi Society of India, BodhGaya Founded by Ven. Anagarika Dharmapala

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Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya Bodhgaya Bodhgaya

Excerpts from 'Pali Proper Names -G.P. Malalasekera' is cited below for more information on BodhGaya.

 

Excerpts on Uruvela, Sujata, Neranjara, Bodhi Tree, Ajapala Tree, Mara from Dictionary of Pali Proper Names • G.P. Malalasekera

Sujata. Daughter of Senani, a landowner of the village of Senani near Uruvela. She made a promise to the god of the banyan tree near by that she would offer a meal of milk rice to the god if she gave birth to a son. Her wish was fulfilled, the son was born, and she sent her maid, Punna, to prepare the place for the offering. This was on the very day of the Buddha's Enlightenment, and Punna, finding Gotama sitting under the banyan, thought that he was the tree god present in person to receive the offering. She brought the news to Sujata, who, in great joy, brought the food in a golden bowl and offered it to him.

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Uruvela.-A locality on the banks of the Nerañjara, in the neighbourhood of the Bodhi-tree at Buddhagaya. Here, after leaving Alara and Uddaka, the Bodhisatta practised during six years the most severe penances. His companions were the Pañcavaggiya-monks, who, however, left him when he relaxed the severity of his austerities . The place chosen by the Bodhisatta for his penances was called Sena-nigama.

The Jataka version contains additional particulars. It relates that once the Bodhisatta fainted under his austerities, and the news was conveyed to his father that he was dead. Suddhodana, however, refused to believe this, remembering the prophecy of Kaladevala. When the Bodhisatta decided to take ordinary food again, it was given to him by a girl, Sujata, daughter of Senani of the township of Senani. In the neighbourhood of Uruvela were also the Ajapala Banyan-tree, the Mucalinda-tree and the Rajayatana-tree, where the Buddha spent some time after his Enlightenment, and where various shrines, such as the Animisa-cetiya, the Ratanacankama-cetiya and the Ratanaghara later came into existence.

From Uruvela the Buddha went to Isipatana, but after, he had made sixty-one arahants and sent them out on tour to preach the Doctrine, he returned to Uruvela, to the Kappasikavanasanda and converted the Bhaddavaggiya. At Uruvela dwelt also the Tebhatika-Jatilas: Uruvela-Kassapa, Nadi-Kassapa and Gaya-Kassapa, who all became followers of the Buddha .

According to the Ceylon Chronicles , it was while spending the rainy season at Uruvela, waiting for the time when the Kassapa brothers should be ripe for conversion, that the Buddha, on the full-moon day of Phussa, in the ninth month after the Enlightenment, paid his first visit to Ceylon.

Mention is made of several temptations of the Buddha while he dwelt at Uruvela, apart from the supreme contest with Mara, under the Bodhi-tree. Once Mara came to him in the darkness of the night in the guise of a terrifying elephant, trying to frighten him. On another dark night when the rain was falling drop by drop, Mara came to the Buddha and assumed various wondrous shapes, beautiful and ugly. Another time Mara tried to fill the Buddha's mind with doubt as to whether he had really broken away from all fetters and won complete Enlightenment . Seven years after the Buddha's Renunciation, Mara made one more attempt to make the Buddha discontented with his lonely lot and it was then, when Mara had gone away discomfited, that Mars's three daughters, Tanha, Rati and Raga, made a final effort to draw the Buddha away from his purpose .

It was at Uruvela, too, that the Buddha had misgivings in his own mind as to the usefulness of preaching the Doctrine which he had realised, to a world blinded by passions and prejudices. The Brahma Sahampati thereupon entreated the Buddha not to give way to such diffidence . It is recorded that either on this very occasion or quite soon after, the thought arose in the Buddha's mind that the sole method of winning Nibbana was to cultivate the four satipatthanas and that Sahampati visited the Blessed One and confirmed his view. A different version occurs elsewhere , where the thought which arose in the Buddha's mind referred to the five controlling faculties (saddhindriya, etc.), and Brahma tells the Buddha that in the time of Kassapa he had been a monk named Sahaka and that then he had practised these five faculties.

The name Uruvela is explained as meaning a great sandbank (maha vela, mahanto valikarasi). A story is told which furnishes an alternative explanation: Before the Buddha's appearance in the world, ten thousand ascetics lived in this locality, and they decided among themselves that if any evil thought arose in the mind of any one of them, he should carry a basket of sand to a certain spot. The sand so collected eventually formed a great bank . In the Divyavadana , the place is called Uruvilva. The Mahavastu mentions four villages as being in Uruvela: Praskandaka, Balakalpa, Ujjangala and Jangala.

Gotama took the bowl to the river bank, bathed at the Suppatitthita ford and ate the food. This was his only meal for forty nine days. Nine girls are mentioned as giving food to the Buddha during his austerities. , where two are given, Nanda and Nandabala.

Sujata's meal was considered one of the most important of those offered to the Buddha, and the Devas, therefore, added to it divine flavours.

Yasa was Sujata's son, and when he attained arahantship his father, who had come in search of him, became the Buddha's follower and invited him to a meal. The Buddha accepted the invitation and went with Yasa to the house. The Buddha preached at the end of the meal, and both Sujata and Yasa's wife became sotapannas. On that day Sujata took the threefold formula of Refuge. She thus became foremost among lay women who had taken the threefold formula (aggam upasikanam pathamam saranam gacchantinam) . She had made an earnest resolve to attain this eminence in the time of Padumuttara Buddha. .

 

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Nerañjara

A river. After the Enlightenment, the Buddha lived under the Ajapala Nigrodha at Uruvela, on the banks of this river. There Mara tempted him, and, later, Brahma persuaded him to preach the Dhamma.

 

The Commentaries say that when the Buddha, having realized the futility of austerities, left the Pañcavaggiyas, he retired to Uruvela, on the banks of the Nerañjara, and there, just before the Enlightenment, Sujata gave him a meal of milk rice, taking him to be a god. Before eating the food, he bathed in the ford called Suppatittha. Under the bed of the river lay the abode of the Naga king, Kala. There was a sala grove on the banks, where the Buddha spent the afternoon previous to the night of the Enlightenment.

Three explanations are given of the name:

(1) Its waters are pleasant (nelam jalam assa ti = nelañjala, the r being substituted for the l);
(2) it has blue water (nila jalaya ti vattabbe Nerañjaraya ti vuttam);
(3) it is just simply the name of the river.

Nadi Kassapa's hermitage was on the bank of the Nerañjara

Nerañjara is identified with the modern Nilajana, with its source in Hazaribagh, which, together with the Mohana, unites to form the river Phalgu.

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Ajapala-nigrodha

A banyan tree which is famous in Buddhist literature. It was in Uruvela, on the banks of the Nerañjara, near the Bodhi tree, and a week after the Enlightenment the Buddha went there and spent a week cross-legged at the foot of the tree. There he met the Huhunkajatika Brahmin ). Two weeks later he went there again from the Rajayatana . It was then that the Brahma Sahampati appeared to him and persuaded him to preach the doctrine, in spite of the difficulty of the task . This was immediately after the meal offered by Tapassu and Bhalluka, so says the Majjhima Atthakatha . When the Buddha wishes to have someone as his teacher, Sahampati appears again and suggests to him that the Dhamma be considered his teacher .

By Ajapala-nigrodha it was, too, that, immediately after the Enlightenment, Mara tried to persuade the Buddha to die at once . Several other conversations held here with Mara are recorded in the Samyutta .

Here, also, the Buddha spent some time before the Enlightenment, and it was here that Sujata offered him a meal of milk-rice .

Here, in the fifth week after the Enlightenment, Mara's daughters tried to tempt the Buddha

Several etymologies are suggested for the name:

(a) in its shadow goatherds (ajapala) rest;
(b) old brahmins, incapable of reciting the Vedas, live here in dwellings protected by walls and ramparts (this derivation being as follows: na japanti ti =ajapa, mantanam anajjhayaka=ajapa, alenti ariyanti nivasam etthati=Ajapalo ti);
(c) it shelters the goats that seek its shade at midday .

The northern Buddhists say that the tree was planted by a shepherd boy, during the Bodhisatta's six years' penance, to shelter him

The Brahma Sutta and the Magga Sutta , both on the four satipatthana, and another Brahma Sutta on the five indriyani, were concerning thoughts that occurred to the Buddha on various occasions at the foot of this tree, when he sat there soon after the Enlightenment. On all these occasions Brahma Sahampati appeared to him and confirmed his thoughts. Several old brahmins, advanced in years, visited the Buddha during this period and questioned him as to whether it were true that he did not pay respect to age. To them he preached the four Thera-karana dhamma.

 

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Bodhirukka

The generic name given to the tree under which a Buddha attains Enlightenment . The tree is different in the case of each Buddha. Thus,

for Gotama and also for Kondañña it was an asvattha;
for Dipankara a sirisa;
for Mangala, Sumana, Revata and Sobhita a naga;
for Anomadassi an ajjuna;
for Paduma and Narada a mahasona;
for Padumuttara a salala;
for Sumedha a nimba;
for Sujata a bamboo;
for Piyadassi a kakudha;
for Atthadassi a campaka;
for Dhammadassi a bimbajala;
for Siddhattha a kanikara;
for Tissa an asana;
for Phussa an amanda;
for Vipassi a patali;
for Sikhi a pundarika;
for Vessabhu a sala;
for Kakusandha a sirisa;
for Konagamma an udumbara;
for Kassapa a banyan .

The site of the Bodhi tree is the same for all Buddhas, and it forms the navel of the earth (puthuvinabhi). No other place can support the weight of the Buddha's attainment.

When no Bodhi tree grows, the Bodhimanda (ground round the Bodhi-tree), for a distance of one royal karisa, is devoid of all plants, even of any blade of grass, and is quite smooth, spread with sand like a silver plate, while all around it are grass, creepers and trees. None can travel in the air immediately above it, not even Sakka

When the world is destroyed at the end of a kappa, the Bodhimanda is the last spot to disappear; when the world emerges into existence again, it is the first to appear. A lotus springs there bringing it into view and if during the kappa thus begun a Buddha will be born, the lotus puts forth flowers, according to the number of Buddhas .

In the case of Gotama Buddha, his Bodhi tree sprang up on the day he was born . After his Enlightenment, he spent a whole week in front of it, standing with unblinking eyes, gazing at it with gratitude. A shrine was later erected on the spot where he so stood, and was called the Animisalocana cetiya. The spot was used as a shrine even in the lifetime of the Buddha, the only shrine that could be so used. While the Buddha was yet alive, in order that people might make their offerings in the name of the Buddha when he was away on pilgrimage, he sanctioned the planting of a seed from the Bodhi tree in Gaya in front of the gateway of Jetavana. For this purpose Moggallana took a fruit from a tree at Gaya as it dropped from its stalk, before it reached the ground. It was planted in a golden jar by Anathapindika with great pomp and ceremony. A sapling immediately sprouted forth, fifty cubits high, and in order to consecrate it the Buddha spent one night under it, wrapt in meditation. This tree, because it was planted under the direction of Ananda, came to be known as the Ananda Bodhi .

According to the Ceylon Chronicles , branches from the Bodhi trees of all the Buddhas born during this kappa were planted in Ceylon on the spot where the sacred Bodhi tree stands today in Anuradhapura. The branch of Kakusandha's tree was brought by a nun called Rucananda, Konagamana's by Kantakananda (or Kanakadatta), and Kassapa's by Sudhamma. Asoka was most diligent in paying homage to the Bodhi tree, and held a festival every year in its honour in the month of Kattika . His queen, Tissarakkha was jealous of the Tree, and three years after she became queen (i.e., in the nineteenth year of Asoka's reign), she caused the tree to be killed by means of mandu thorns . The tree, however, grew again, and a great monastery was attached to the Bodhimanda. Among those present at the foundation of the Maha Thupa are mentioned thirty thousand monks, from this Vihara, led by Cittagutta

Kittisirimegha of Ceylon, contemporary of Samudragupta, erected with the permission of Samudragupta, a Sangharama near the Mahabodhi-vihara, chiefly for the use of the Singhalese monks who went to worship the Bodhi tree. The circumstances in connection with the Sangharama are given by Hiouen Thsang 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.

In the twelfth year of Asoka's reign the right branch of the Bodhi tree was brought by Sanghamitta to Anuradhapura and placed by Devanampiyatissa in the Mahameghavana. The Buddha, on his death bed, had resolved five things, one being that the branch which should be taken to Ceylon should detach itself . From Gaya, the branch was taken to Pataliputta, thence to Tamalitti, where it was placed in a ship and taken to Jambukola, across the sea; finally it arrived at Anuradhapura, staying on the way at Tivakka. Those who assisted the king at the ceremony of the planting of the Tree were the nobles of Kajaragama and of Candanagama and of Tivakka. From the seeds of a fruit which grew on the tree sprang eight saplings, which were planted respectively

at Jambukola,
in the village of Tivakka,
at Thuparama,
at Issaramanarama,
in the court of the Pathamacetiya,
in Cetiyagiri,
in Kajaragama and
in Candanagama

Thirty-two other saplings, from four other fruits, were planted here and there at a distance of one yojana. Ceremonies were instituted in honour of the Tree, the supervision of which was given over to Bodhaharakula, at the head of which were the eight ministers of Asoka who, led by Bodhigutta and Sumitta , were sent as escorts of the Tree. Revenues were provided for these celebrations.

Later, King Dhatusena built a Bodhighara or roof over the Tree while Silakala made daily offerings at the shrine , and Kittisirimegha had the Bodhighara covered with tin plates Mahanaga had the roof of the Bodhighara gilded, built a trench round the courtyard and set up Buddha images in the image house. Aggabodhi I. erected a stone terrace round the Tree and placed, at the bottom of it, an oil pit to receive the oil for illuminations on festival days. Aggabodhi II. had a well dug for the use of pilgrims

Aggabodhi VII found the Bodhighara in ruins and had it rebuilt, Mahinda II instituted a regular offering in its honour, and Udaya III gave a village near Anuradhapura to the service of the Bodhi tree.

 

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Uruvela-Kassapa

One of three brothers, the Tebhatika-Jatilas, living at Uruvela. He lived on the banks of the Nerañjara with five hundred disciples. Further down the river lived his brothers Nadi-Kassapa with three hundred disciples and Gaya-Kassapa with two hundred.

The Buddha visited Uruvela-Kassapa and took lodging for the night where the sacred fire was kept, in spite of Kassapa's warning that the spot was inhabited by a fierce Naga. The Buddha, by his magical powers, overcame, first this Naga and then another, both of whom vomited fire and smoke. Kassapa being pleased with this exhibition of iddhi-power, undertook to provide the Buddha with his daily food. Meanwhile the Buddha stayed in a grove near by, waiting for the time when Kassapa should be ready for conversion. Here he was visited by the Four Regent Gods, Sakka, Brahma and others. The Buddha spent the whole rainy season there, performing, in all, three thousand five hundred miracles of various kinds, reading the thoughts of Kassapa, splitting firewood for the ascetics' sacrifices, heating stoves for them to use after bathing in the cold weather, etc. Still Kassapa persisted in the thought, "The great ascetic is of great magic power, but he is not an arahant like me." Finally the Buddha decided to startle him by declaring that he was not an arahant, neither did the way he followed lead to arahantship. Thereupon Kassapa owned defeat and reverently asked for ordination. The Buddha asked him to consult with his pupils, and they cut off their hair and threw it with their sacrificial utensils into the river and were all ordained. Nadi-Kassapa and Gaya-Kassapa came to inquire what had happened, and they, too, were ordained with their pupils. At Gayasisa the Buddha preached to them the Fire Sermon (aditta-pariyaya), and they all attained arahantship.

From Gayasisa the Buddha went to Rajagaha with the Kassapas and their pupils, and in the presence of Bimbisara and the assembled populace Uruvela-Kassapa declared his allegiance to the Buddha.

Later, in the assembly of monks, Uruvela-Kassapa was declared to be the chief of those who had large followings . Six verses attributed to him are found in the Theragatha, wherein he reviews his achievement and relates how he was won over by the Buddha.

In the time of Padumuttara Buddha he was a householder, and having seen the Buddha declare a monk to be the best of them with large followings, wished for himself to be so honoured in a future life, and did many works of merit towards that end.

Later, he was born in the family of Phussa Buddha as his younger step-brother, his father being Mahinda.. He had two other brothers. The three quelled a frontier disturbance and, as a reward, obtained the right to entertain the Buddha for three months. They appointed three of their ministers to make all the arrangements and they themselves observed the ten precepts. The three ministers so appointed were, in this age, Bimbisara, Visakha and Ratthapala.

Having sojourned among gods and men, the three brothers, in their last birth, were born in a brahmin family, the name of which was Kassapa. They learnt the three Vedas and left the household life .

According to the Maha-Narada-Kassapa Jataka, Uruvela-Kassapa was once born as Angati, king of Mithila in the Videha country. He listened to the teachings of a false teacher called Guna and gave himself up to pleasure, till he was saved by his wise daughter Ruja, with the help of the Brahma Narada, who was the Bodhisatta.

Uruvela-Kassapa was so called partly to distinguish him from other Kassapas and partly because he was ordained at Uruvela. At first he had one thousand followers, and after he was ordained by the Buddha all his followers stayed with him and each of them ordained a great number of others, so that their company became very numerous .

The scene of the conversion of Uruvela-Kassapa is sculptured in Sanchi. According to Tibetan sources, Kassapa was one hundred and twenty years old at the time of his conversion .

Hiouen Thsang found a stupa erected on the spot where the Buddha converted Kassapa

Belatthasisa was a disciple of Uruvela-Kassapa and joined his teacher when the latter was converted. Senaka Thera was Kassapa's sister's son . Vacchapala was among those who joined the Order, after having seen Kassapa pay homage to the Buddha at Rajagaha .

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Bodh Gaya - Buddhagaya

 

Bodhgaya Temple at Night

Sujata Chetiya and Temple

Bodhgaya Temple at Morning

BodhGaya Temple Buddha Image

Bodhi Tree and Vajrasana

Stone carved Buddha Images

Stone carved Buddha Foot Print or Siri Patula

Chakkamana

Muchalinda Lake

Ajapala Nigrodha Tree

Maha Bodhi Society

Excerpt from Dictionary of Pali Proper Names • G.P. Malalasekera

 

 


Buddhist Pilgrimages

Varanasi - Benares

Rajgir - Rajagaha

Kushinagar - Kusinara

Bodh Gaya - Buddhagaya




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