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Bodh Gaya The Place of the Buddha’s Enlightenment

Buddha Statue at Bodh Gaya

  • Although born in wealth as a prince from Nepal, Siddhartha Gautama eventually left his life of luxury to find enlightenment. Along the way, he tried various methods to find inner peace and constantly failed. However, he realized that the way to spiritual liberation was located someplace in between luxury and poverty. For years after leaving his father’s lavish palace he neglected his body and undertook many ascetic practices such as mortifying his own body to detach himself. In the city of Gaya, he realized that his body was necessary as was his mind. He wandered outside the city to a banyan tree and sat in meditation. That night, he realized the truth of the universe and became omniscient. With his newfound power, he became the Buddha and began the world religion. 

Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya

  • The location of that tree became one of the holiest places in all of Buddhism, along with the Buddha’s place of birth, his first sermon, the location of his descent from heaven, and the spot of his death. Bodh Gaya, named after his enlightenment (bodh comes from the word Bodhi meaning intellect) is now a small town outside the larger urban center of Gaya. Today, thousands of pilgrims flock to the site from all over the world. Since the Buddha’s enlightenment nearly 2,500 years ago, many structures were built to commemorate that act.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya