By Shyamal Sinha
The Mahabodhi temple complex is one of India’s most prominent religious and spiritual centers as well as a prime tourist attraction for foreign visitors. Located in Bihar’s Bodhgaya, the Mahabodhi temple attracts visitors all year round mainly due to its association with Gautam Buddha.
Built by emperor Ashoka in 260 BC, the Mahabodhi temple complex is one of the first Buddhist temples to be built entirely on brick. Being one of the eastern India’s oldest brick structures, its architecture has been widely appreciated.
The Dalai Lama made a pilgrimage to Mahabodhi temple before concluding his 17-day long visit to Bodh Gaya on Wednesday. Thousands of pilgrims packed the streets to catch a glimpse of the Buddhist leader who is scheduled to depart for Delhi.
In Bodh Gaya, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a series of Buddhist teachings to underscore the essence of Buddha dharma and encouraged devotees to observe ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence in their conduct, ‘karuna’ or compassion as their motivation and dependent arising as their view of reality.
On 19 December, His Holiness inaugurated the First Conference of Scholars of Different Traditions on Jé Tsongkhapa’s ‘Essence of True Eloquence’ organised by Kirti Monastery and laid the foundation stone for the prospective Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Nalanda Academy.
On 21 December, he met with members of an Inter-Faith Forum from Gaya, comprising Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs and Brahmakumaris at his local residence Gaden Phelgyeling.
Next day, His Holiness inaugurated an International Seminar on the Tipitaka / Tripitaka organized by the Buddhist Thai-Bharat Society, the Dalai Lama Trust and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), Sarnath.
His Holiness gave two-day teachings on ‘The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ and ‘Commentary on Valid Cognition’ on 24 and 25 December.
On 26, 28 and 30 December, His Holiness gave empowerments on Solitary Hero Yamantaka, ‘Manjushri Cycle of Teachings’ and on White Heruka.
Finally, on 31 December, His Holiness presided over a long life prayer offering made in his honour by the Central Tibetan Administration, Namgyal Monastery and the Shelkar Ngashap.