Open Learning Buddhist Studies
Bodhgaya News
Founded: March 15 2002
Last updated: Tuesday, May 6, 2003

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March 2003 Stories

Bodhgaya's sacred Mahabodhi in danger
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti, 16 March 2003, (Sunday Leader). The sacred Bodhi at the world's most venerated and significant Buddhist site of pilgrimage, Bodhgaya is dying with officials concerned turning a blind eye. Located on the banks of the Neranjana River in sacred Bodhgaya in Southern Bihar, the Bodhi tree is infested with mill bugs that are sucking its sap. full story Also see Radio Australia and

Sacred Buddhist tree nears death By: Amlan Home Chowdhury March 11, 2003 ( Bodhgaya: The Mahabodhi tree, worshipped by Buddhists as the one under which Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment to become Lord Buddha, is inching towards its death. Insects called mealybugs threaten to eat into and kill this living legend. Link to full story on ChaloMumbai website

World’s highest Buddha statue project in Kushi Nagar starts: Lucknow Jan 24, 03 (UP Goverment Website) The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms. Mayawati has said here today that the State government would soon provide land for installation of world’s highest statue of Mahatma Buddha in Kushi Nagar district by the Maitreya Project. She said that the expenses on the installation of the statue and other works would be borne by the Maitreya. She assured the officers of the Maitreya Project that the Government would extend all possible cooperation to it and remove all hurdles coming in the way. She directed the concerning officers to hold discussions with the officers of the Maitreya Project to finalise an agreement for installation of the statue. link to full story [this is a bit late appearing here but I just noticed it]

BodhgayaNews One Year Old Today
Melbourne, Saturday, 15 March, 2003. (Peter Friedlander). Today marks one year of the Bodhgaya news website. Its been quite an eventful year as well in Bodhgaya: the Maitreya Statue Project seems to have relocated to Kushinagar; World Heritage Listing has brought new attention to Bodhgaya; the Dalai Lama attracted thousands of people to a great Kalacakra Puja and the Ambedkarite monks attracted widespread attention to their claim to the temple. One way or another its fair to say that a years local events clearly show how fast things are changing in Bodhgaya. How much the hardships and travails of the local people have been changed by these developments is much harder to say, but it doesn't seem from following the local news that much has really changed in this regard. A couple of notes on the website itself, I have renewed my website subscription and hope to continue the site for another year. Over the last year there have been over 37,057 requests to view pages on the site, thats an average of about a hundred pages a day. Another way to look at it is that the visits have come from some 7,734 or so unique hosts, which is roughly equivalent to the number of different visitors to the site. So thanks to all of you who visited and please do keep on visiting as I hope to continue to provide a similar perspective on Bodhgaya news during the coming year again.

Site of where Buddha spent his time after his enlightenment just a memory Bodhgaya 10 March (Dainik Jagran). A mere two kilometres from the international tourist site of Bodhgaya the remains at Mocharim of the ancient Muchalinda tank and the Rajayatana Tree bear the brunt of neglect. It was on this site that Gautama Buddha spent some of the time immediately after his enlightenment.
In the modern era the Muchalinda tank is the site of encroachments by the villagers, a refuse dump and a place to tie up animals. According to historians and Buddhists it was on this site that the Buddha spent the sixth week after his enlightenment. Here the Serpant King Muchalinda protected him from wind and stormy rain. Along with this he spent the seventh week at the nearby Rajayatana tree. It was on this site that tradition says the two Burmese pilgrims Tapusa and Bhalluka met him. These two businesmen offered him rice and laddu and honey. After which Buddha offered them a hair from his head and taught them the Buddha Dharma.
Today thousands of Buddhists come from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Taiwan, Singapore and countless other countries to see the site of the Muchalinda tank and the Rajayatana tree. Villager Subhash Kumar Singh says that there is also a possiblity for an increase in visitor numbers. However, the tank needs to be cleaned, cleared from encroachments, and an access road needs to be constructed. It is the case that Muchalinda village is on the road to the Southern Terrorist affected districts which is only a rough track and is at the junction of highways two and 83. However due to the dreadful state of the road the villagers have to face much difficulty, how then can foreign pilgrims negotiate the track? It is said the former Gaya Magistrate S. M. Raju payed some attention to this road. After the election the villagers appealed the new local MP, Ramji Manjhi. But the local representatives and administration have not paid any attention. This important Buddhist period site today remains neglected.

Travelers Bothered by Encroachments and Dirt in Station Compound Gaya, 10 March (Dainik Jagran). Gaya, which is now famed on the international map, has a railway station which in several respects appears neglected. The ordinary traveler everyday has to face uncontrolled parking and widespread filth in the station compound area. This could be due to the lack of care of the railway administration, or their lack of morale. The scene clearly shows that in their eyes there are no such thing as facilities for passengers here.
Who is to be blamed for the lack of order in the station compound? It is difficult to say. The unauthorized parking of vehicles has been going on for ages in the compound whilst the railway administration has several times taken steps to remove illegal structures from the area, but no permanent solution has been possible. In order to free the area from this local problem the administration has planned a Tempo and Rickshaw stand. For this considerable expense has also been made by the railway, but once again only the same has appeared the same old difficult straits (literally: three leaves of the Butea frondosa tree). People now openly piss on the site of this proposed stand. [see story from February 1998 Turned into a Urinal] There is nobody to stop them or even bothering to watch. The station entrances and exits are the victims of encroachment by pan stalls. Travelers have to ford floods of filth every other day at the exit. Every day passengers can be seen holding handkerchiefs over their noses and cursing the railway administration as they negotiate this obstacle.

Rail and Aviation Ministers Visit Mahabodhi Temple, call for train from Gaya to Chennai Bodhgaya, 10 March (Dainik Jagran). The Railway Minister Nitish Kumar said that consideration would be given to the call for a train from Gaya to Chennai. Mr Kumar visited the Mahabodhi Temple on Sunday night. He was accompanied by Shah Nawaz Hussain the Civil Aviation Minister.
Mr Kalicaran Yadav the secretary of the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee called on the minister to consider the calls for trains from Gaya to Chennai and from Gauhati to Gaya. Mr Kumar ordered that Mr Yadav be supplied with data about rail traffic. He assured Mr Yadav that the ministry would consider the matter sympathetically. Prior to this the District Magistrate head of and Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee Brajesh Mehotra had presented souvenirs of the temple to the Ministers. Mr Mehotra told the ministers about the HARK system being installed in the temple compound and told them about the history of the ancient temple. Through the HARK system the history of the temple would be told in foreign languages. Monk in charge Bodhipal presented khatas (Hindi: khada) to both ministers as symbols of peace and faith. [note: HARF is an acronym, please visit for more details, care of Sanjay Gupta or NIIT, thanks]


February 2003 Stories
January 2003 Stories
December 2002 Stories
November 2002 Stories
October 2002 Stories
September 2002 Stories
August 2002 Stories
July 2002 Stories
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May 2002 Stories
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March 2002 Stories
Archived stories from 1998-2000

Related Links

Hindi Dailies
Dainik Jagran
Prabhat Khabar
English Dailies
The Times of India
Hindustan Times
Link to Papers

Monastery Sites
Mahabodhi Temple
Maitreya Project
Shechen Monastery
Vietnamese Monastery

Other Sites
Ambedkar Website
Sasai Shurai Website
Battling for the Buddha: William Dalrymple
Antioch Education Abroad
Mahabodhi Temple Page [at]
at Buddhanet
of Bodhgaya by Ven. S. Dhammika
of Gaya District

Other Sites:
Early Indian Census Reports

Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation

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Some of my sketches of India from the 70s and 80s

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.