Bodhgaya, India

January 4th 2010
Published: January 13th 2010
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Bodhgaya was incredibly wonderful and equally chaotic. A lot of the chaos surrounded His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit and teachings. He doesn't teach in Bodhgaya often, the last time being in 2003. This is where the Siddhartha Guatama attained enlightenment and is therefore the epicenter of Buddhism. There are temples representing all the major and many minor traditions here. Mahabodhi Temple is the crown gem and a place of pure devotion and serenity. A sapling of the original Bodhi tree was brought back to here from Sri Lanka. This is now a massive old growth fig and it's binomial is fittingly ficus religious.The original nearly suffered death from the King Ashoka's wife who was intensely jealous of his fondness towards it.

The build up to the teachings was intense. Everyday more and more people poured into the city. Last years teachings at this time drew 30,000 people. This year, given that the teachings were in Bodhgaya, I reckon around 50,000 were in attendance. There were well over 20,000 monks from various traditions, but especially the Tibetan traditions of the Gelug and Kagu. The other big group were the Tibetan refugees and pilgrims. China has been issuing more travel visas the last few years and thousands come over to complete a pilgrimage route. Each person gets a private audience with His Holiness, which he does after teaching for 5 or 6 hours on some days! The teachings began at 9am each morning. Everyone was given some hardy Tibetan bread and salty, milk butter tea for breakfast. The tea is definitely an acquired taste that is never acquired by many! The teachings were oral transmissions with some commentary from five texts. This sort of oral passing down of teachings goes back to the beginnings of Buddhism. Attending a teaching in India is much different from seeing the Dalai Lama in the West. The teachings are a lot more heady and it's easy to get lost when listening to the translations, which are via an FM broadcast. But the atmosphere was amazing with 10s of thousands seated beneath a massive system of tents and many more outside in the dusty surroundings. The first day of teachings were rather basic as the Dalai Lama reviewed the four noble truths. This seemed strange giving the vast amount of monks in attendance. The Dalai Lama clarified that this teaching was especially for the Tibetan pilgrims who may have not had access to any teachings given the Chinese governments stance on Tibet and its religion. From day two on it was fast paced and our translator struggled to keep up. I spent more and more time at Mahabodhi Temple. This was easily one of the most holy places I have been. I left a few days early en route to the holy Hindu city of Varanasi. More on that next time.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Butterlamps outside CaveButterlamps outside Cave
Butterlamps outside Cave

This where the Buddha underwent years of penance.
Lama Zopa and Richard GereLama Zopa and Richard Gere
Lama Zopa and Richard Gere

Spreading the Dharma to our feathered friends by walking them around stupas, prayer wheels and chanting mantras.
Sweetest Security Gig Ever!Sweetest Security Gig Ever!
Sweetest Security Gig Ever!

One of many guards at the temple.
Mahabodhi TempleMahabodhi Temple
Mahabodhi Temple

Spot where the Buddha meditated for 2 weeks after reaching enlightenment.
Foreigner Sharing Earbuds with Old Tibetan ManForeigner Sharing Earbuds with Old Tibetan Man
Foreigner Sharing Earbuds with Old Tibetan Man

This was classic! First he wanted his picture taken and then tried his hand at taking a picture. Then he wanted to hear what she was listening to which was the Dalai Lama being translated. By his manner of dress I can assume that this is the old mans first trip out of Tibet. Very cool.

13th January 2010

more than amazing
this has to be a place on the favorite list. incredible, inspiring and unforgettable! i love the glasses, they match your shirt!
13th January 2010

Inspiring people and Pics
The pictures are wonderful. So colorful and the numbers of people is impressive. Glad you are have such a good time. Love Mom and Dad
30th January 2010

sweet pics!...have to go there next time in India..

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