Sacredness



Caves


Stones


Mountains


Trees


Water


BIBLIOGRAPHY


© 1998 (text only) Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe

An exploration of how and why places become invested with SACREDNESS and how the SACRED is embodied or made manifest through ART and ARCHITECTURE


BODH GAYA, INDIA

Bodh Gaya is the birthplace of Buddhism. About 2,500 years ago, Prince Siddhartha Gautama (born in 566 BCE) sat down under a pipal tree (cf. Trees and the Sacred) here and received the enlightenment that would inspire one of the world's great religions. Situated in the Bihar state in northeastern India, about 65 miles south of Bihar's capital of Patna, and 7 miles from the city of Gaya, Bodh Gaya remains the most important Buddhist pilgrimage destination on Earth.

After six fruitless years of seeking the ultimate meaning of life, Siddhartha Gautama sat cross-legged under the pipal tree and entered a deep meditation. During the course of the night he attained enlightenment (Nirvana) and became the Buddha (the Enlightened or Awakened One). The pipal tree, a species of fig, became known as the Bodhi or Bo (Enlightenment) tree. The Buddhe's followers soon recognized the tree as sacred, and it was officially revered by the first great Indian Buddhist empeor Asoka (268-232 BCE), who marked it off with a railing.


Colored flags festoon the Bodhi tree

The pipal tree now at the site is reputedly descended from the original Bodhi Tree. Pilgrims customarily tie scarves to its branches, lay cut flowers and small lamps around its base, and burn incense. Nearby is the vajrasana, the Diamond Throne, a red sandstone slab marking the spot, according to tradition, of the Buddha's meditation. For Buddhist, this spot is the centre of the universe.


Mahabodhi Temple

Bodh Gaya's main attraction is the Mahabodhi Temple, featuring a 150 foot high pyramid spire on site of Siddhartha's original Bodhi Tree, along with a golden image of the Buddha.

Bibliography:


SACRED PLACES is written and produced by Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, Professor, Department of Art History, Sweet Briar College, Virginia, 24595 USA

Lascaux
France

Giza Plateau
Egypt

Stonehenge
England

Newgrange
Ireland

Abu Simbel
Egypt

Delphi
Greece

Athenian Acropolis
Greece

Holy Sepulchre
Israel

Dome of the Rock
Israel

Chartres
France

Lourdes
France

Shrine at Ise
Japan

Bodh Gaya
India

Teotihuacán
Mexico

St. Peter's Basilica
Italy

Mecca
Saudi Arabia

Mosque of Córdoba
Spain

Kata Tjuta
Australia