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Monday, 03 October 2016 19:54

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At the western side of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh gaya, there is a large and pious pipal tree (Bodhi tree) under which Lord Buddha, then known as Gautoma, attained enlightenment for some 2500 years ago...
At the western side of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh gaya, there is a large and pious pipal tree (Bodhi tree) under which Lord Buddha, then known as Gautoma, attained enlightenment for some 2500 years ago. Lord Gautoma, had been practicing austerities for six years in the area of the Niranjana river near Bodhgaya. Finally understanding that this could not lead to realization, he abandoned his austerities and in the nearby village of Senani (now also known as Sujata) the Brahmin girl Sujata offered him milk rice. Strengthened by this, he took some kusha grass for a mat and sat under the pipal tree facing east. He resolved not to rise until he attained enlightenment.

As he sat in deep meditation, Mara, Lord of Illusion, symbolizing the delusions of one's own mind tried tirelessly to distract him from his purpose.Gautoma then touched the earth, calling it to bear witness to the countless lifetimes of virtue that led him to this place of enlightenment. The earth shook confirming the truth of his words. Mara unleashed his army of demons to distract and tempt him from his purpose, but Gautoma triumphed over the inner obstacles and the power of his compassion transformed the demons' weapons into flowers. His mind was utterly subdued. For seven days after the enlightenment, Buddha continued to meditate under the tree without moving from his seat. Another week passed in walking meditation, and for a third the Buddha contemplated under the Bodhi tree. Thus, from that day that papal tree has been recognized as an adored Bodhi tree in Buddhism.

After the Lord Buddha, the Bodhi Tree became a symbol of the Buddhas presence and a place of adoration. On the back of the main temple situated to the west (see picture) there is an ancient pipal tree Ficus religiosa or Bodhi tree. It was under this tree that Gautama sat for enlightenment. The present tree is considered only as the descendant of the original tree.

There is a tradition that Ashokas wife had it secretly cut down because she became jealous of the time Ashoka spent there. But it grew again and a protective wall was also built at the time. Many sacred trees in India and other countries are originally raised from seeds brought from the ancient Bodhc Gaya tree. A shoot of the original Bodhi tree was taken to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, daughter of Ashoka, where the Lankan king Devanampiyatissa planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura where it still flourishes today. While the Vajrasana was the specific site of the enlightenment, the Bodhi tree, closely linked to the Buddha's accomplishment, became a central focus of devotion early in the history of the Sangha. Pilgrims sought the Bodhi Tree's seeds and leaves as blessings for their monasteries andhomes.
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