2600 years ago, Prince Siddhartha got enlightened under a peepal tree after six years of enduring pain by meditation at Bodh Gaya. Today every Buddhist aspires to visit the site to pay homage to the enlightened one and to follow the path towards enlightenment, yet only the lucky and fortunate ones fulfill their wish. For many Bhutanese, they toil the entire summer to save some amounts for their pilgrimage in chilly winters while for others their sons and daughters doing service sponsor their aging parents to visit the sacred place. Bodh Gaya is a pilgrimage destination for all the Buddhists around the world.
The ultimate apex as viewed from the lower realms via colourful paths amid mystical haze.
This winter starting 31st December 2011 to 10th January 2012, a special prayer and teaching programme is being conferred by his holiness the Dalai Lama. The 32nd Kalachakra Empowerment 2012 is being attended by over two lakh people from across the world majority being the Tibetans, and I was one lucky few to have witnessed the special ceremony though not for the entire duration.
Having learnt that Dalai Lama is preaching in Bodh Gaya, which is some 7 hours journey by train from my college, I planned to visit the holy site and booked the tickets though I was quite sure that accommodation would be a problem out there. So on the evening of 4th January, we proceeded towards Bodh Gaya. The train reached us Gaya junction at 3:30 am so after waiting for half an hour at the station fearing the looters at night, and at 4.00am we took an auto heading to Bodh Gaya, which reached us at 4:30 am. Bodh Gaya was in deep silence if not for the devoted pedestrians on the way towards the Mahabodhi temple. We waited for the dawn to crack so that we can look for a room for lodging but it was more of an impossibility and expensive if available unlike on other occasions.
Finally, we could get a local residence at a reasonable rate, and then after taking rest for a while and taking a breakfast, the purpose of our visit began by circumambulation of the Maha Bodhi Temple, reciting the Badza Guru, and then listening to the preaching’s of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which is in Tibetan medium. Nevertheless, owing to the advancement in technology, the preaching is being aired live in various languages including Dzongkha.
HHDL, as prophesied accepted to live 113 years.
The teachings of Dalai Lama, as per the translation made by a Bhutanese Khenpo, mainly deal about how to live a peaceful life by practicing dharma. He said that it is only through the practice of true Buddhism, the obscurity of our mind can be cleared and that in this materialistic world, no wealth can buy an ounce of happiness but by practicing dharma and taking refuge in the three jewels of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama taught the devotees for ten days mainly covering five important texts to reach the message to the people in simplest form but if not for those sitting in the tent where his holiness was seated, others outside the kalachakra ground might not have received the messages completely. This is due to the excessive heat during the day and numerous distractions from the crowds moving up and down, doing business, playing games, chitchatting etc. I could listen to the teachings with full concentration only for one day from the four days that I spent there but could get a copy of the texts for the entire preliminary teaching, which contains inscriptions in Tibetan and its equivalent translation in English.
If looked from a religious perspective, my trip was a virtuous one because since my landing on the soil of enlightenment, negative thoughts tends to disperse and thoughts of cognition develop in me which reminds me of the negative karma which we will endure if we tend to affiliate our thoughts and actions towards negativity.
From the recreational point of view, it was a wonderful experience visit the holy sites of Rajgir and Nalanda, visiting the various temples from various Buddhist countries thus relishing the mind which is otherwise occupied by the daily mundane of college routine.
And if fate is to be considered, I could meet some of my high school teachers who after quite a year and meet friends from the colleges in Kolkata and Allahabad. Such a meeting in a holy site, though it seems a mere coincidence but it’s an indication of continuity of my previous fate and hence I prayed for the further continuity of good fate, fate for my mind to adhere more towards religion.
The Five Texts that were deliberated by HHDL is as follows;
1. A hymn to [the Buddha], the World Transcendent by Master Nagarjuna,
2. The Second volume of the Sages of Meditation by Master Kamalashila,
3. The Eight Verses on Mind Training by Geshe Langri Thangpa Dorje Senge,
4. The Thirty Seven Practices of Bodhisattavas by Bodhisatava Thongmey Zangpo,
5. The jewel lamp: Verses in Praise of Bodhichitta by Khunnu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen.