Bodhgaya e Sarnath
Bodh Gaya Travel Blog› entry 20 of 28 › view all entries
Actually, popular religions in India are Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism, but here was born also the one that had widespread in eastern Asia, from Tibet to Japan: Buddhism.
In the VI century BC prince Siddharta Gautama, an Indian, became enlightened here, in this flatland named Bihar, after seven years of meditation in a cave. Some century later, when Muslim conquerors came, every other form of religion was lost and now here there are pilgrims from these countries where Buddhism was appreciated and still is the main religion: you can find monasteries of Japan, Bhutan, Thailand, Nepal and many others.
It’s sarcastic that a religion appreciated in western countries, as Buddhism is, that we identify with the Far East and with almond-eyes people, has his cradle in the melting pot that India is.
Now these monks in coloured vest from the Indian-pacific area have their sacred places managed by Indians that, as in the rest of their country, are begging, crying, pushing for everyone that magically is where they were born, and they don’t wonder why. They just have the take his money.
Fortunately, despite this usual mess, Bodhgaya is really a holy place, and you can fell it deep inside. The garden where the stupa (a pyramid or bell shaped sanctuary in Buddhism) stands is full of pilgrims and monks, doing their ritual dives, praying and meditating in contemplation. I’ve seen a lot of “holy” places in my life, millions of Catholics churches included Saint Peter in Rome, I saw pope John Paul II and I was touched by him (!!! At the time I was going to a school managed by nouns, and in that context that meant such a blessing...), the last was the Golden Temple in Amritsar, but none of this places irradiate as peace and compassion as Bodhgaya does.
Another sacred place, 5 hours form here and close to Varanasi is Sarnath, where the Buddha had is first speech. Sacred for Buddhists, rentable for rickshaw drivers and hotel and restaurant managers, that can take some money from the walking wallets that we are.