Venue of Buddha's Enlightenment
Buddhagaya, about 12 km South to the City of Gaya in Bihar, is one of
the most sacred places for the six billion of Buddhists all over the
world. It was here that Prince Siddhartha attained Enlightenment, the
highest state of Samadhi in which the mind is awakened and illuminated.
The wisdom of the Buddha's Enlightenment was acquired by ridding the two
hindrances passion and illusory conceptions.
In Theravada Buddhism, Enlightenment means liberation from Samsara,
the cycle of birth and rebirth. According to Mahayanism, Enlightenment
means, achieving Buddhahood. Buddhagaya was what Mecca and Medina are to
Muslims or Bethlehem is to Christians, perhaps even more.
According to Digha Nikaya - Maha Parinibbana Sutta, the Buddha
uttered about the four places of pilgrimage every Buddhist should visit
They are Lumbini - the birth place of the Buddha, where the Great
Master Thatagata became fully Enlightened in the unsurpassed, supreme
Enlightenment, Buddhagaya, the place where Gautama Buddha set rolling
the Wheel of the Dhamma - Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta, Saranath
Isipatana Migadaya and finally where the Blessed One, passed away into
the state of Nibbana, in which no element of clinging remains, Kusinara.
The Buddha told Ananda Thera, his attendant that whoever should die
on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in confidence, at the
breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in the realm of
Buddhagaya is about 105 kms from Patna in the state of Bihar, India.
This is one of the most visited Buddhist pilgrimage centres of the
This most sacred Buddhist temple of Buddhagaya has a tower of 55 m or
180 feet. The present temple was restored around 1880. The Buddha
attained Supreme Buddhahood under the Bodhi tree in 588 BCE, on the
Vesak Full Moon Poya Day.
In the Ariyapariyasena Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha explained
this serene picturesque, wonderful place, where He attained Buddhahood -
the Buddhagaya in the 6th century in the following manner.
“I wandered by stages in the Maghadhan country. Eventually I arrived
at Senani Gama near Uruvela. Here, I saw a very peaceful environment, a
delightful grove, with crystal clear water flowing Neranjana river with
pleasant smooth banks and a nearby a village for alms. I decided this
will serve for my striving.”
It was on this place - Gaya, later titled as Buddagaya, Light of the
World - the Compassionate One attained the imperturbability Nibbana or
Nirvana - total extinction of desire and suffering, state of liberation.
After Prince Siddhartha, the ascetic, become the Omniscient One
(knowing everything) after achieving the Bliss of Nibbana - deathless
state, Gautama Buddha uttered this joyful stanza.
“Anekajatisansarang Sandhavissang Anivvsang, Gahakarakang Gavesanto
Dukka Jati Punappunang. Gahakara! Dithosi Puna Gehana Na Kahasi. Savva
Te Phangsuka Magga - Gahakutang Visangkhi Tang, Vinasakha Rangana
Cittang Tanhanana Khayamajjhaga.”
(I travelled through many births in this world and tried to find the
builder of this house. It is sorrowful to be born again and again. Oh
builder of the house! I have seen you, you will not build a house ever
again. All your rafters are broken roof-top is shattered. My mind has
transcended mental states. The desires have been destroyed.)
The most significant sacred object at Buddhagaya, at the back of the
Maha Bodhi Temple Tower in a stone enclosure, is the Bodhi Tree -
Jayasrimaha Bodhiya, under whose benign shade, Prince Siddhartha
attained the Bliss of Supreme Enlightenment.
His power of concentration was so much that Prince Siddhartha, who
was destined to be the Greatest Emperor of India, changed the course of
his life and the course of history of India to search the truth and
liberation, under a firm resolution.
“Let my skin veins; bones remain; let the flesh and blood of this
body dry up; never will I abandon this seat without reaching the state
Like the Blessed One - the Buddha, the Bodhi - is majestic, serene
and cool. When we sit in its shade we feel the calmness and coolness.
You feel that you are in a “World of emancipation,” which words cannot
This most venerated tree in the world, descendant of the original
tree, (It was said that a vicious queen destroyed the original tree) a
branch of which was taken to Sri Lanka by Arahat Sanghamitta, the sister
of Arahat Mahinda, son of the Great Emperor Ashoka (273 - 232 BCE).
Millions of Sri Lankans still venerate the sapling of the Bodhi -
Anuradhapura Jaya Shrimaha Bodhi, one of the greatest assets of the
Indian archaeologist Cunnigham, took a seed from the original tree
before it withered in 1871, and planted it in its place in 1880.
However, it is believed that the tree at Gaya is an off-shoot from the
The Maha Bodhi temple, contains a magnificent Buddha statue. The
original one was supposed to have been erected by Emperor Ashoka.
Buddhists believe that Vajrasana, (The Diamond Throne) has unusual
geometrical patterns. On either side of the temple, there are niches
containing two beautiful statues.
When you circumambulate towards the north, keeping the sacred object
on your right, you can witness the Ratanalankamana Cheitiya. The other
important places found here are Mahanama Shrine, built by a Sri Lankan
bhikkhu and Mucalinda Lake.
After Enlightenment the Buddha's first lesson was the value of paying
gratitude. He thanked and venerated the Bodhi Tree which helped him to
attain Buddhahood. Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), the Buddhist
propagandist joined the Theosophical Society inspired by H.P. Blavatsky.
He became a homeless wanderer, proceeded to India, started the Mahabodhi
Society, fought a legal battle with Hindu Mahanta, care-taker of
Buddhagaya and won. Today Buddhists all over the world are fortunate
that Dharmapala opened the door for Buddhists to worship the sacred
Buddhist places in India.