Another Lhabab Düchen in Bodhgaya

Another Lhabab Düchen in Bodhgaya November 16, 2014

The temperatures have cooled and life has slowed down significantly here in Bodhgaya over the last week or two. Last Friday was the last day for teaching I’ve since enjoyed a few days of grading, paperwork, catching up with people, and a general, relieved sense of laziness. On Thursday I went out for Lhabab Düchen, one of the most important days of the year in Tibetan Buddhism, and made my way to the Mahabodhi Temple.

On that day it is said that one’s good or bad deeds are multiplied by 10 million times, so one would be smart to engage in as many virtuous activities as one can. And for most Buddhists, one of the great virtuous things one can do is to visit holy places, such as the Mahabodhi Temple, where one can ‘turn one’s mind’ most easily and fully toward the activities and qualities of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Once there, I meditated, said prayers for Thich Nhat Hanh, and did rounds of kora (circumambulation) around the inner and outer circles at the temple. And, as I did last time I was here, on one round I took some photos to share:

1 rickshaw driver
My rickshaw driver and some of the shops en route to the temple from the Burmese Vihar. The ride is set at a fixed price of 10 rupees, or about 20 cents, US, for the 5-10 minute journey.
2 gandhi statue and market
The “Gandhi Chok” (statue), and main marketplace near the temple. Here the fruit sellers had mostly ended their day and were breaking down shop or were gone already. Above them, closer to the temple, are mostly goods-sellers (including shoes, locks, knives and other household/kitchen items) and a number of small shops.

 

3 front steps of the mahabodhi temple
This is the view as one first enters the temple (just passed the second security stop-point). Here one can stay on the outer kora circuit or go down the steps to the inner one.
10 stupa and gate
Moving further into the temple. This is the recreation of a gateway to the temple originally installed by the Emperor Ashoka.
12 redressing the Buddha inside the stupa
The inner sanctum with a 5 foot tall gilded statue in earth-touching mudra. Here he is having his robes changed by a Theravadin monk.
11 first side of the Bodhi tree
Here we’re at the West side of the stupa facing north toward the Bodhi tree (you can see a few leaves in the upper left) and the Diamond Throne (behind the railings), where the Buddha meditated at the time of his awakening.
6 Chinese group facing the Bodhi tree
Directly in front of the Bodhi tree, pictured here, there is a small passageway to this wide open area to the west of the stupa. This is the area used when large gatherings such as the Tibetan Mon lams take place. Here a group of Chinese or Taiwanese are chanting and prostrating toward the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment.
4 Theravadin side of the Bodhi tree
On the other side of the tree and Diamond Throne. Here the Bodhi tree can be seen much more clearly as it reaches out over the meditators. On the left here we see the start of the Jeweled Ambulatory, where the Buddha paced back and forth in the 3rd week after his awakening.
9 Mahabodhi stupa from the south
On the outer pathway facing the stupa from the south; here a monk circumambulates in a middle pathway.
5 East Asian corner women adding gold leaf
Here again the raised platform where the Buddha walked in his 3rd week can be seen in the lower right of the picture. At center is the north-east corner of the stupa where Chinese or Taiwanese women are adding gold leaf to the stupa as an offering.
8 Both stupas
On the outer pathway, facing west-north-west.
7 Second stupa
The stupa and either the Ratnaghar Chaitya (on the right), where the Buddha spent his fourth week – or  this is where the Ajapala Nigrodh Tree was, where the Buddha told some Brahmans that it is by deeds that one is called a Brahman, not by birth, in his fifth week.
13 offerings, flowers and lamps
And last but not least, an offering left inside a small meditation/worship hall on the east side of the stupa. The bowl on the left appears to have the Shaivite triple line, or tripund. This serves as a reminder that the temple is also revered by Hindus, who see the Buddha as the 9th and most recent avatar of Vishnu.

 

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