31st October 2014 – Bodhgaya, India
The long ride is nearing an end, and my body seems to be most welcoming. The fatigue had set in a little bit, I don’t mind to admit. Around a sacred tree, I sat for minutes, and tried to count the seconds. Enlightenment comes to those who seek it, not those who expect it.
Bodhgaya is a very sacred place for the Buddhists, because this small village-town houses the Bodhi tree, which is where Buddha is said to have received his enlightenment.
So, after a morning of lazying around and visiting some monasteries, I spent the better half of the day in the Mahabodhi temple where the Bodhi tree is located. The Mahabodhi temple allows photography, but does not allow you to carry a mobile phone with you, so you have to deposit them for free at the entrance. And throughout the temple complex, expect to find Buddhists from all corners of the world hunched in prayer.
But the most serene and devotional place in the temple, would be right under the Bodhi tree. According to legend, Buddha spent a whole week here, after receiving his enlightenment, simply staring at the tree in wonder and bewildered about the truth he had just gained. History has it that the Indian King Ashoka, who converted to Buddhism after the bloody battle of Kalinga, was so enamoured with this tree, that it even made his wife jealous. In a fit of jealousy, she killed the tree using poisonous thorns, but the tree grew again. And its saps were collected and sent to far-off places, to keep the Buddhist philosophy alive and diversified. So, there are also other mini-bodhi trees in Sravasti (India), and in Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka)
I spent a good 10 minutes sitting around near the Mahabodhi, hoping for some divine enlightenment on how to proceed with my trip. Today, there was nothing forthcoming.