the bodhi tree

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the bodhi tree overview

#7 of 9 Places To Visit in Bodh Gaya
the bodhi tree
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Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya, Bihar
visit duration
1 hour onwards

about the bodhi tree

Close to the western end of the complex is the ‘centre of the Buddhist universe’. To the knots of the faithful who come to meditate beneath it, this arboreal sprawl symbolises the potential for each human being to realise ‘the Buddha within’ by living a life of moderation. The Bodhi Tree you see today is less than 130 years old and is believed to be the fifth descendant of the original Bodhi Tree. The 25 centuries old history of the tree and its offshoots makes for an interesting botanical biography.

Three centuries after the Buddha’s mahaparinirvana, or passing, the venerated tree became the object of Emperor Ashoka’s chief queen Tisyaraksita’s jealousy; she had a spell cast upon it. Chinese scholar Fa Hien, who recorded his impressions of his wanderings in India in the 5th century CE, said that Tisyaraksita, incensed by Ashoka’s excessive interest in the tree, tried to destroy it. The emperor’s daughter Sanghamitra had earlier carried a sapling from this tree to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, and a cutting from that tree was brought back to Bodh Gaya when the mother tree died. Today, the Bodhi Tree stands as a vibrant symbol of an ancient religion that is taking root in newer regions and reaching out to ever larger numbers.

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