Interreligious nothing under a tree
Bodh Gaya Travel Blog› entry 4 of 8 › view all entries
The next morning I was certainly not well, but feeling better at least. The hotel was too expensive to stay long and quite gloomy at that, so I decided to check out the temples around, since some of them had options to stay (this is where the guide book comes in). I tried for the Bhutanese temple at first, but the temple proved as inaccessible as the country because I was met by a guard who spat a stern ‘full’ at me and that was that. The Tibetan temple was in the next street and there I ran into a really friendly monk, who took me to the caretaker, who got me a bare but clean and really friendly room. The temple area was lovely! Very quiet except for a few of the young monks playing around at times, but that was fun to watch. The prayer area was beautifully painted and in a little building behind it was a huge prayer wheel. I felt instantly at home, which in itself seemed to cure the rest of my stomach problems. The next three days I woke up every morning to the sound of monks chanting and the vibrating sound of those really long Tibetan horns playing, with drums in the background.
So, after settling in, it was time to head to the main site of Bodhgaya, the boddhitree and surrounding complex. The Boddhi tree is the three under which the Buddha sat when he attained enlightenment. Pilgrims, monks and tourist from all over the world come to look, worship and meditate. It was truly an amazing place. Hundreds and hundreds of people flood through the place everyday and still it was so peaceful and tranquil as if there was nobody around. Yet there were groups everywhere chanting and having prayer sessions, monks making prostrations and day trippers taking pictures.
All the major Buddhist countries have built a temple in the town, each in there specific architecture ( I mentioned the Bhutanese and the Tibetan, but there was also a Thai, Japanese, Burmese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Cambodian, Indonesian and another Tibetan temple). All those temples have their own residential monks, and then there are more monks and nuns from all over the world that just com down for a visit. It was really nice to see all those different nationalities of monks and nuns and try to spot who’s who by the robes. The Theravada Buddhists are all in shades of saffron ranging from really darkish ochre (mostly from the Cambodian and Burmese) to glow-in-the-dark-neon orange (mostly the Thai) and everything in between (the rest), with the women dressed in white. There were the maroon clad Tibetan, Bhutanese and Nepalese, the black robed Japanese (Zen), the grey wearing Korean, and the Chinese dressed in coffee.
Each was doing its own kind of practice as well. Some groups held prayer sessions, many people meditated and many (mostly the Tibetan monks though) were doing prostrations on specially designed wooden boards. It is quite a common practice in
Tour groups of worshipers from all over the world came and went, and most brought large amounts of donations for the monks, like boxes full of juice packets or cases of fruit. These were then distributed by the monks to everyone sitting around, including non-monks like me. Once this enormous group of Koreans came who distributed hundred dollar bills, causing quite some giggles amongst the monks. It was a bit weird. Sadly the Korean tourists were passing the bills out themselves and did only include the monks (darn, darn, darn!!!).
On one of my roaming through the park I was overlooking the scenes from a sort of fly-over when I suddenly hear a loud ‘ Nihou’ in my left ear.
After three days of sitting in the park and basically doing nothing but watching and reading, my stomach problem had all cleared up, and ever since a monk gave my three beads when he heard me cough (yeah on top of the whole stomach thing the Delhi cold was still there and had progressed to a nasty cough), motioning that those would surely cure me (I still wear them) my cough had disappeared as well. I did not feel so calm and well rested in, well, years and the thought of leaving Bodhgaya almost brought me to tears. I could have stayed surely, but there is more to see in