The Bodhi Tree ("Tree of Awakening," also known as the Bo Tree) in Bodhgaya is a direct descendent of the tree under which Siddharta Gautama is attained enlightenment.
After 49 days of meditation, it was here that Siddharta Guatama became the Buddha, the "Enlightened One."
History of Bodhi Tree
According to Buddhist tradition, Siddharta Gautama finally abandoned years of rigorous fasting and asceticism by accepting milk and honey from a young woman. He then sat down beneath the Bodhi Tree and vowed not to move until he attained enlightenment.
After 49 days of concentrated meditation and several battles with Mara (illusion), Siddharta became the Buddha, the "Enlightened One." The Buddha remained seated in meditation for a week after his enlightenment, then practiced walking meditation nearby for another week.
What to See at Bodhi Tree
The Bodhi Tree is known to botanists as Ficus religiosa (holy fig), a species of fig in the Moraceae family. The leaves of the tree are somewhat unusual, being cordate in shape with a distinctive extended (or caudate) tip.
The Bodhi Tree that exists today is not the exact one that shaded the Buddha's meditation 2,500 years ago, but it may well be a direct descendent.
In the 3rd century BC, Emperor Asoka's daughter Sanghamitta brought a branch of the Bodhi Tree to Sri Lanka and planted it in Anuradhapura, where it still grows today. According to one tradition, Asoka's wife destroyed the original Bodhi Tree out of jealousy over the time the emperor spent there.
Other accounts have the tree destroyed in the 7th century. But most reports agree that the original tree was destroyed and replanted using a shoot from the Sri Lanka tree.
The path the Buddha walked after his enlightenment is marked by Chankramanar, the "Jewel Walk," lined with 19 lotuses and located on the north side of the Mahabodhi Temple.
In the third week, the Buddha contemplated the Bodhi Tree from a site nearby, which is marked by the Animeschalochana Stupa.
Video of the Bodhi Tree
Because of its close association with enlightenment, which is the goal of all Buddhists, the tree has great sacred and symbolic significance. According to some Buddhists, the Bodhi Tree is the center of the world and the site at which all Buddhas (enlightened ones) attain enlightenment.
In early Buddhist art, before the Buddha image was used, the image of a tree was one of the symbols used to represent him.
Early pilgrims took leaves and seeds of the Bodhi Tree back to their monasteries and homes, and sacred trees throughout India and nearby countries are likely descendents of the Bodhi Tree. Still today, it is customary to plant a Bodhi Tree in every Buddhist monastery to symbolize the presence of the dharma (Buddhist teachings).
At Bodhgaya, the Bodhi Tree is a favorite place for pilgrims to meditate and contemplate the Buddha's teachings. Many also hang prayer flags or leave offerings at the sacred site.
Quick Facts on Bodhi Tree
|Names:||Bodhivrksa (Sanskrit) · Bodhi Tree · Bodhirukkha · ficus religiosa|
|Dates:||6th-5th C BCE|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||24.696033° N, 84.991066° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Bodhi Tree|
- Dharma Data: Bodhi Tree - BuddhaNet Buddhist Studies
- Mahabodhi Mahavihara Buddhagaya Temple - official website of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee
- Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya - UNESCO World Heritage List
- 360° Interactive Panorama of Mahabodhi Temple - World Heritage Tour
- Journey to Bodh-Gaya - Bamboo in the Wind
- Photos of Bodhi Tree - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Bodhi Tree, India
Below is a location map and aerial view of Bodhi Tree. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.