Open Learning Buddhist Studies
Bodhgaya News
Founded: March 15 2002
Last updated: May 31, 2010

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PaintedWorlds: Pictures by Peter Friedlander
19 May 2010. Peter Friedlander. Only very tangentally related to Bodhgaya I am afraid, but I recently gave a talk about my painting and sketching activities over the years which does include mentions of Bodhgaya and India so I thought I would post a link to it here. The presentation is here in the form of six YouTube clips.

image of desert
image of banaras
image of woman and galaxy
Overland to India in 1977
Part 1
From Cambridge to Varanasi

Part 2
Singapore and beyond

image of jain goddess
image of lake in Madison
image of science lab
Part 3
Q&A part 1
Part 4
Q&A part 2

[From: J. C. Oman, Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1905.] Melbourne, 26 November. A fascinating account of a visit to Bodhgaya undertaken soon after the restoration of the temple in the 1880s.
"If it were possible to ascertain, by any means, what particular spot on earth is the most sacred in the opinion of mankind, there is reason to think that the majority of votes would be given in favour of Buddh Gaya, which is held in high veneration by both Buddhists and Hindus. Such a spot is certainly worth a visit. Leaving the busy town of Bankipore one afternoon in April, I travelled some fifty-seven miles to Gaya, by the branch railway, over a level uninteresting looking country, unredeemed in its drear monotony except by picturesque groups of slender palm..." more

Buddha Gayá Guide for 1881
Melbourne, 26 November. Read from the guide to Bodhgaya for 1881 by Edward Eastwick published by John Murray in London in the guide to the Presidency of Bengal.
Buddha Gayá.—The distance of this place from Gayá is 7 m. For the first 5 m. the road is good, but un­shaded by trees. The traveller will pass, on his right, the prison of Gayá, After 5m. he will turn tothe left, and go for 2 m. along a country road, where the many ruts and inequalities oblige carriage-horses to walk. The temple of Buddha Gayá is built in a hollow, which diminishes its apparent height. It is also shut in by small houses. more

Buddhism and Mysticism in Indian tradition
(This is a version of a brief presentation I made on a meditation retreat at Wat Buddha Dhamma near Sydney during early November 2003)
Melbourne, 21 November. First, in Australia we begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Dharug people, who came before us in this land. I would also like to start by recalling the guru as is often done in the Indian tradition as the Guru came before us and showed us the way, as the traditional owners of the land do. Tulsidas, the author of the Ramcaritmanas, composed a lovely couplet on this theme.

Shri guru carana raja saroja, nija man mukheru sudhari,
barnu shri raghuvir bimal jas, jo dayaku phal cari.
Everyday I polish the mirror of my mind,
with the dust of the lotus feet of my teacher.
I reflect on the brilliant deeds of Lord Ram,
The giver of the four fruits of life.

Buddhism is normally said to have died out in India in around the 12th century. But the spirit of the teachings lived on in medieval India to be reborn in the present day into a flourishing tradition once again. Consider for instance the sentiment in this couplet by Gorakhnath, the 12th century yogi who was the organiser of the Nath tradition of Shaivite Yogis, yet it is clearly in line with spirit of Buddhist teachings.

basti na sunyam sunyam na basti, agam agocar aisa.
gagan-sikhar mahim balak bolai, taka nam dharuge kaisa.
Neither emptiness nor form, neither form nor emptiness,
beyond conception, beyond perception, such is its nature.
Its in the summit of the sky, its in a child's cry,
How could a name be given to it?

Or consider this couplet by the famous medieval mystic Kabir, on the nature of true pilgrimage and starting right here and now in this body.

man mathura dil dwarka, kaya kashi jane.
dasvam dvar dehura, tame joti pahchane.

Know the body to be Banaras,
the mind to be Mathura and the heart to be Dwarka.
Know the tenth door [the mind] to be the temple,
That is where to recognise the light.

Another favourite couplet of mine by Kabir also talks of the way that the notion of looking in and out starts right here, in a way that recalls to me the teachings on meditation of the Buddhist traditition.

bund samane sagar me, jane sab koi.
sagar samane bund me, jane birla koi.
Everybody knows,
There are countless drops of water in every ocean.
But few are those though who realise,
There are countless oceans in very drop of water.

Kabir's teachings also emphasised that the notion of the oneness of all religious communities in their essence which seems very in line with the teachings that the dhamma runs through all things without regard to community.

hindu kahe ram ram, turk kahe alah alah.
yogi kahe alakh alakh, kabir ka svami rahayo samaye.
Hindus say, Ram! Ram!, Muslims say, Allah! Allah!
Yogis say, Alakh! Alakh!, Kabir's Lord is immanent in all.

The next couplet is the first I ever learned by Kabir, back in the 1970s and despite the way its really just a simple saying, its still very true and has somehow always stuck in my mind.

tinka kabahu na nindie, jo pav tale hoi.
kabahu ura ankhom pare pir ghaneri hoi.
Never criticise even a blade of grass,
Though its under your foot,
If if ever flew up and got in your eye,
Then the pain would be intense.

[Apologies if I mangled the originals, they were as I recalled them from memory on retreat.]

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

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


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