Bodhgaya

- Where Prince gained enlightened and became Buddha

Bodhgaya is the epicenter of Buddhism, where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha, the awakened one. After living an ascetic life and starving himself in search of ultimate truth and knowledge for nearly six years, Prince Siddhartha came to a realization that practicing austerities could not lead to the enlightenment, he followed middle path by accepting the bowl of rice milk by Sujata on the full moon night.
After accepting the food, the Prince took a seat under a Banyan tree facing east. Here, he sat with a determination not to get up again until enlightenment was attained. He even conquered all distractions of Devaputra Mara, with his strong concentration. Gradually, he removed final veils of ignorance from his mind and became a Buddha, a fully enlightened being.
Located in East Bihar, Bodhgaya is a Buddhist city centering on the Bodhi Tree, the revered tree under which Prince Siddhartha became Buddha, the enlightened one. The tree epitomizes the belief that ‘There is a Buddha hidden inside everyone. Anyone in the world can become Buddha, the awakened one, by defeating the ignorance by the ultimate power of concentration.’

The other famous Buddhist heritage sites of Bodhgaya are enlisted below –
Mahabodhi Temple: After 250 years of Buddha’s enlightenment, Emperor Ashoka visited the spiritual city of Bodhgaya and constructed the Mahabodhi Temple. The Mahabodhi temple has a 150 feet high tower based on Mauryan architectural aesthetics. The square shaped temple tapers upwards like a slender pyramid till 52 meter. The temple contains the gilded colossal image of the Lord Buddha touching the ground posture as 'bhumisparsha mudra'. The statue is believed to be 1,700 years old facing exactly the east direction where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The walls of Mahabodhi Temple depict the scenes from Buddha’s life and teachings.

The Bodhi Tree: The Bodhi Tree forms the important link to the Buddhist heritage of Bodhgaya. It is an auspicious Banyan tree, the fifth generation plant of the original offshoot, under which Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became Buddha. Under the tree is the Vajrasan - the strong seat or platform on which Siddhartha had sat in meditation. Next to Vajrasan is Buddhapada, where footprints of the Buddha in stone are worshipped. The Chaukramana, Jewel Walk is a path where Buddha walked in deep meditative thought. During a visit to Mahabodhi Temple, devotees, pilgrims and robed monks sit under the shade of Bodhi Tree and relive the journey to enlightenment, which is attainable and achievable by all.

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