Tuesday, December 16, 2014

International Tipitaka Chanting at Bodhagaya

Wangmo Dixey, Executive: LBDFI
One day in Ashoka Buddha Vihar Habib Ganj Bhopal(M.P.), where
Top officials of all India Bhikkhus Sangh
presently,  we used to go for prayer in every Sunday, Ven. Bhante Nagsen, on the end of his discourse, briefed about Bodhgaya's International Tipitaka Chanting programme. 
He told, the International Tipitaka Chanting programme has been going in Bodhgaya since 2006, every year in the month of December. Buddhists monk and lay followers through out the world, specially Buddhist countries are participated this important event. From our country,  hundrends and thousands monks and lay followers are went there to attended this event. 
2 Dec: Dhamma Rally

As,  I was already on a project,  writing a book on Buddhism since last 6 months, the information appeared me as grave concern. While Bhante Nagsen were about to raise from his seat, I shown my intention to accompany with him. He was delighted.

Whenever I made programme, Ratnmanika; my wife remains with me. If your wife is with you, your view to see things become more easy.

There is no direct train from Bhopal to Bodhagaya. Shipra Exp.( 22911) is the only one,  and it is too,  alternate-day running train from Thursday.

 30 Nov. 2014: At about 4.30 Hrs, we caught Shipra Exp. 
from Bhopal.

1 Dec 2014: Our train reached Bodhgaya, sorry 'Gaya' about 01.00 Hrs. having journey period  about 23 Hrs. After passing some time in station, we took Auto in early morning and reached Bodhgaya which about 12 Km away from Gaya city.

 Nyingma monastery was a staying place for Indian Buddhist monks and their accompanied lay followers. But, the whole monastery and its galleries were packed. The Buddhist followers, came from different parts of India, majority from Maharashtra, were taking rest on packed rooms and galleries, here and there.

Buddhist monks for taking lunch
Looking to the Nyingma monastery situation,  we took separate room in Nepali Tamang Buddhist Monastery.

Nyingma monastery was a huge and vast multi-storied building,
but, the gathering was indeed, heavy. The top officials of All Indian Bhikkhus Sangha were unable to handle the issue.

Nyingma is a sect of Mahayana Buddhism incorporates local deities and religious practices in Tibetan peaple. ‘ Nyingma’ literally means ‘ancient’. It's founder was Padmasambhava, who made known Buddhism firstly to Tibetan people. Nyingma maintains the early Tantra teaching 'Vaijrayana'.

International Tipitaka Chanting council -
The Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony Dec. 2-13, 2014 was organized in Bodhgaya by International Tipitaka Chanting council(ITCC). It is saaid, it was firstly, inaugurated in 2006 on the occasion of the 2550th Buddha Jayanti.

The ITCC represents the all Buddhist countries of Theravada thought of school. It is responsible of this event in which thousands Bhikkhus and Buddhist from all over the world, ten countries chant the Teaching of the Buddha under Bodhi Tree of Bodhgaya for ten days from 2 Dec. to 13th every year.

The aim of the Ceremony is to chant sequential sections from the Pali Canon each year that the entire Canon is chanted by the International Sangha under the Bodhi Tree. Every two years a different Tharvadian Sangha organizes the event, which open ceremony on the first day in the presence of dignitaries from India and many other countries.
Break-Fast at Kalchakra Maidan

ITCC Inauguration Ceremony
The Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International . The (LBDFI) is the primary sponsor of an International Tipitaka Chanting ceremony.The Berkeley (California) based LBDFI in association with Nyingma Institute Dharma college and Mangalam Centers perform all its activities.
Preparing Pooja

The aim of it's activities is to bring senior monks in India, to renovate the Buddhist ancient sites of pilgrimage, to give proper
training to Indian monks etc.

Wangmo Dixey presently the Executive Director of LBDFI had came to Bodhgaya to witness this event. LBDFI bears all expenses with support to other ten countries.
Back premises

This year, it was the Cambodian Sangha to lead the 10th annual Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony  along with an International team of volunteers.

Being a Buddhist, it was a great opportunity to me to come here and pay my homage to the Enlightened One; who showed the Middle path to me and the whole world.

Buddha refused the in-scientific 'soul and Rebirth theory' through which a large section of the society remains poor and slaves.

Lit candles inside
He said, yes 'Dukkha' is there. But, there is the way to overcome  it. Through Eight-Fold Path, any body can overcome it. Pagya, Karuna and Mudita; he declare the means to live as a human being, leaving the theory of imaginary 'Swarga' and 'Naraka'.

Buddha showed the path of equality, Liberty and  Fraternity to the mankind.
Different countries different tent
He said, 'Do not Kalamas! go by what you have heard, or what is written, or what your teacher or Preacher have said; but when you know yourself Kalamas! that it is good, scientific and lead to the welfare of the people, then go with it.

Buddha said, Be unto your self. You are candle of your path. Who is there to show you the right Path. It's you. You are your own Master.
Bodhi Tree more than 120 years old

Since, I came to know the Buddha, the Enlightened One, his literature and philosophy,  I was eager to come here to see this Mahabodhi Mahavihar, the Bodhi Tree, the Nirnjana river; to which crossing,  Siddharth Gautama came here to get Enlightenment.

I don't know why till this date, I could not come here. Ashoka the great,  as history tell us, was came here on his 10th year of seating the throne. He too, could have come here earlier, but that's history.

The Buddha, Enlightened One
Dignitaries paying Homage
Bodhagaya is the place where Siddhartha Gautama attained the Enlightenment. It should be visited by one who is committed to develop scientific temper, who want to understand the nature of impermanence.

Siddharth Gautama, once was dwelling on this bank of Nirnjana river to find the cause of human suffering. While he was dwelling in search,  he saw, a young pupil holding 'Ekatara'(musical instrument) in hand, was being advised by a blind man, "Don't stretch your string so tighten that it got break or leave loose that sound may not come." Siddhartha jump a while and stressed;  'Yes !  this is the Middle Path'. You need not be tightened to break or let loose that life become without sound.

Siddharth Gautama being seated under a tree taking the support of its stem, went on think over and over. He lasted 7 weeks to make some thoughtful conclusion. And, after 7 weeks, the day comes of Enlightenment.

Seated 7 ft high Buddha statue
2nd Dec 2014:  Event was Dhamma Rally in which Buddhist monks and lay followers coming from India and abroad,  had to participate in groups with their  country's tradition and culture.

We got up early morning at 4.30 Hrs. took bath and came out with white dressed.
White dress is traditional dress required to participate Buddhist rallies and functions. I had Camera to suit and Laptop also to empty it. It is advisable to bring something to empty your packed camera.

Lotus Pond

It was thrilling to see and suit the rally in which different countries Buddhist monks and their lay followers participated  with their different attires and traditions. Buddhist monks and other lay followers were in line along the road of Bodhgaya. The rally was going slowly and slowly towards Kalchakra Maidan.

Inner premises
Some had candle in their hand, some Lotus flower and some had put sacred Tipitaka's Book 'Anguttar Nikaya'  wrapped in shining yellow cloth on their head. They all were chanting Buddha Suttas in their way and tone.

The scene was indeed,  thrilling in the very sacred place of Buddhagaya, where before 563 years B.C; Lord Buddha attained ed the Bodhi and became Samyak-Sambuddha.

Magnificent top with gold crown
 Monk Chanting Tipitaka
The people all over the world of different race, sect and color came here and bow their head to this Master. Their Master was for mankind. He was not for a man or class of society or country. His Dhamma Sasana was for 'Bahujan Hitaya' and 'Bahujan Sukhaya'.

Writer with his wife
Remains of Arhats and Mahatheros
The Dhamma Rally end with Kalachakra Maidan where inauguration ceremony took place. This was the very place for Break-Fast and
Lunch to monks and their lay followers for the whole event's period i. e. Dec 2 to 13, 2014. As per tradition, Buddhist monks don't take their meal normally after 11.00 Hrs.

3rd Dec. 2014:  We had visited this day Mahabodhi Mahavihar.
Sacred Bodhi Tree

Time schedule-
6.00 to 6.45  Break-Fast
7.00 to 9.00  Tipitaka Chanting
9.00 to 9.15  Tea Break
11.00 to 13.00 Lunch
15.00 to 15.15  Tea Break

18.00  Chanting ends
19.00 to 21.00 Dhamma Talk
21.00 to 04.00  Meditation

As per schedule, one day pilgrimage is offered to participants to make visit of local sites say, Rajgir,Nalnada, Sarnath, Vaishali etc. Dhamma-Yatra is also organized under the banner of 'Mahasangha' covering about 13 Km from Jethian to Rajgir where 600 bamboos are to be planted at the Velluvana.

Small steel bowls filled with water
During this international event, the role of 'All India Bhikkhus Sangha' was not appearing enthusiastic what one can expect.

Whether the issue of  accommodation or making 'I Card' or decency during Break-Fast/Lunch in Kalachakra Maidan or in Mahabodhi Temple Tripitaka Chanting.
Entrance of Mahavihara
Tipitaka Chanting

The Indian Bhikkhu Sangha is very large compare to other countries. Their followers are also large. Then, why should be it's condition so pathetic ? 

Indian Bhikkhus Sangha is failure to pay it's responsibility what's required.

Looking to the greater number of participants, the executives of LBDFI and ITCC were repeatedly going to make their inconvenience to cope-up the things, specially, to manage accommodation and meal of Indian lay followers.

A new standing Buddha statue

The authority had to announce that,  henceforth, they will only  manage the meal and accommodation of Indian Bhikkhus but not their accompanied lay followers.

They made clear that henceforth, the Indian Bhikkhus Sangha will take care of.

Lay followers on Tipitaka Chanting

Group of Buddhist paying homage
The Indian Bhikkhus Sangha have to leave the habit of keeping open mouth with others.

All the Hindu Sadhu-Saints are with BJP, what is the stand of all Indian Bhikkhus Sangha ?
Dhamma Rally
It is totally wrong that politics and religion never to be mixed. In fact, these are two sides of a coin. Muslims, Christians and Sikh know very well. Now, it is time of All India Bhikkhus Sangha. 

I think, there seems 2 to 3 Bhikkhu Sanghas in All India based. Politics is every where. But, politics is also in Hindu Sadhu-Saints. They came on one platform when it required. Is it with Bhikkhus Sangha ?

Dhamma Rally
To keep neat and clean
I was talking about the visit of Mahabodhi Vihara. In the vast premise of Buddha Mahavihara, participants of different countries had made their temporary tents on different places.
They were chanting Tipitaka with their ways. Each tent had
different sitting arrangement and decoration. Their way of Chanting were different. Their voice and tunes were different. The whole premise was appearing so happy and colorful with different flowers dressing and people's costume that one could not think to leave all these things even after 22 O'clock.

The participants countries were (1)Thailand (2) Laos PDR(3) Vietnam(4) Nepal(5) Myanmar(6) Cambodia(7) Bangladesh(8) India (9) Shri Lanka(10) Indonesia, who had joined ITCC this year.

Paying Homage in a net-cab.

The Light of Buddhadharma Foundation of International had printed and distributed the Book of 'Suttapitaka Anguttara Nikaya- Part II' in Roman, Thai, Vietnamese, Devanagari, Shri Lankan, Burmese and Cambodian languages, free of cost.

Flowers decoration
Nalanda was once,  the  famous and international recognized university in which thousand and thousand students of abroad and India were studying. The professors and lecturers were teaching the Suttas of Tipitaka to them. Now, it is  the time to trained the Indian Bhikkhus by LBDFI Foundation in Bodhgaya. What a change ?

As we read in News Paper, Government of India is going to re-state  the old status of Nalanda. It would be interesting to see,  how it will take the shape in the BJP rule ?

Tipitaka Chanting
A way of paying homage
A few months back, I came to know with a Corporate body of Taiwan printing and distributing Buddhist literature free of cost. I was thrilled to see two bundle of books on my door. I had simply sent a request through email . My salute to this Corporate body for their commitment to Dhamma.
A Buddhist lady paying homage

Huge amounts of falling seeds and leaves were cleaned by volunteers. You know, birds are very fond to these seeds. These seeds and leaves  were also fond to visitors. From the ancient time, there was a tradition to bring these seeds/leaves while return. Once, it was the highest honor to present these seeds/leaves as a gift to the Buddhist King or Emperor. 

In Mahavihar premises, in hide  small stupas, some practitioners were  deep in their 'Dyana/Samadhi', some were performing special exercise on long wooden slabs.

Perhaps, this was the way to pay their homage.
Said 'Pancha Pandavas'

Mahabodhi Vihar is under Hindu managment-
Everybody know that Bodhgaya  Mahabodhi Viahr is Buddhist serene. But, this is surprising that it's managment is under Hindu management committee.

Anagarika Dhammapala of shri Lankan Buddhist monk visited Bodhgaya in 1891 and made known to the international Buddhist world that the Mahabodhi Vihar is in a very bad condition, going to deteriorate day by day. Hindu Pandas are witnessing this decaying but they have nothing to do with this. That is not their business.
He asked Indian Government to do something to stop this decaying. Further, he urged state Government to hand over Mahabodhi Vihar to Buddhist monks committee.

He argud that if,
Sikkh Gurudwara Prabandhak committee manages the Golden temple and other Gurudwaras,  all
Animeshlocan temple
Animeshlocan temple inner side
Churches and
Mosques are being managed by Cristian and Muslims communities, Then, why Mahabodhi Vihar is going to managed by Hindus ?

Bodhgaya Mahbodhi Vihara is the sacred place of Buddhist communities all over the world.

He made his effort but not getting proper response, he filed suit also in Court. His tremendous effort which reflect his personality may be seen in Mahabodhi Society's Bhavan, Bodhgaya premises.

Then, came Bhadant Arya Nagarjuna Surai Sasai of Japan origin. Taking support of Indian Buddhist and Baba Sahab Ambedkar's followers, he widen its canvas and succeeded to turn it
Tipitaka for Chanting
Mahabodhi Vihar Liberation Movement. During his tenure, 'Mahabodhi Vihar Liberation Movement' gained wide approach and publicity. A 'long March' and 'Hunger Strike' were sucessful agitations in Delhi.  A suit was also filed in Supreme Court during his time.

But, After running 3-4 years movement, Indian Government appointed him as a Member of Minority commission. In Nov. 2014 mid,  a bad news was spread about his critical health. But, now he is okay. His present residence is Nagpur (M.S.) Indora Buddha Vihar.
Main Entrance
New clean toilet for visitors
Presently, a 9 member committee is a management body with 5 Hindu and 4 Buddhist members. Majority remains with Hindu. Nomination of Buddhist members are in the hand of state Government of Bihar. There is a Law who govern this 9
member's committee. Some years back, Supreme Court in tune of Hindu fundamentalist, had said in a judgement; Hindu is not a religion. It is a culture of this land. Now, what would be the fate of Mahabodhi Vihara, it is totally in hand of Supreme Court.

A 'Shiv Ling' and 'Pancha Pandvas' are placed in two small temples, just front of Mahabodhi Vihara. A Panda is there to take care of. The 'Pancha Pandavas' are Buddha statues. In years back, these Pancha Pandavas were wrapped in cloths. But, now their faces are

The Hindu Panda is settled there in 16th or 17th centuries and began to worship scattered Buddha statues as Hindu deities.  He and his successors were the very culprits who had started day by day the Mahabodhivihara as their own property.

Sujata Garha:  4rth Dec. 2014

Sujata garh stupa
Bhante Nagsen advised us to make visit of Sujatagarh and Prag cave during Bodhgaya visit. He gave us brief idea about means of travel and location. So, we took Auto and reached there. Sujatagarh is located on the right bank of the river Niranjana, village  Bakraur hardly 12 Km way from Bodhgaya.

Road has been made good looking to foreign tourists. About the poor condition of road, some where I had read.

Niranjana river
Just walking distance from Sujata temple, there is big Stupa (dia approx. 65 M and height 11 M). in memory of Sujata. A banyan tree on its top-mid, reflect sacred Bodhi Tree feeling to visitors.

Every Buddhist know Sujata. Buddha before attaining His Enlightenment, came to this place  and was offered Kheer(cooked sweet milk-rice) by Sujata, daughter of that village chief named Senani.

Pragbodhi Cave-

Pragbodhi Cave
Hindu deities, how and why there ?
Coming out from Pragbodhi Cave
After visiting Sujatagarh, we  proceeded to Pragbodhi Cave. Pragbodhi Cave is situated in a mountain called 'Dungeshwari mountain' . There is a series of Hills along Falgu river. Dungeshwari is one of them. It is approx. 10 Km away from Bodhgaya. Niranjana, in which Buddha thrown his begging bowl in testing of his Enlightenment, joining with river Mohana here become Falgu, later goes to Ganga.

 It is the site where Siddharth Gotama spent 6 years in meditation before attaining Enlightenment.

A skeleton like golden statue of Buddha in Vajrasana, is in that cave.  In the same cave, two Hindu deities are placed there. A Hindu Panda is there to take care.

We spent 5 minutes sitting there. In such a long time, how Buddha had spent here, the thought was flashing in my mind.

Out side of that Cave, there is another cave having golden Buddha statue of about 6 ' tall. A Tibetan temple is also there below the Praga Cave. Indian and more foreigners are continue visiting these sites.

Dungeshwari Hills
Beggars; a big hurdle before Indian tourism- Indian beggars is a big problem to keep safe yourself during visiting these sites. They begs you, and even snatch you. I have seen beggars in Netherlands and Brussels like European countries. They sit in squares,  public places and tried to attracted the tourist playing some trick or musical instruments. But, Indian beggars?

A visitor's report is here: "Rows of woman and young squatting along two sides of the
Beggars rushing towards tourists
Golden Buddha Statue in other cave
sloping ridge towards Dungeshwari cave, desperately looking for alms. The terrified condition of the way leading to temple is beyond imagination and further, pilgrimage visitors have to face problem with those local teenagers who stopped your vehicles and demanded for big donation."
He comments- "the land is flat and fertile. We wondered why people here still prefer to beg and rob ?"

Bodhgaya; a place of International Buddhist Temples - Being a place of Enlightenment of Lord Buddha, Bodhgaya is a place of international worship, specially of Buddhist communities. Every Buddhist country have their temple-cum- residence; called Sangharama(Monastery).

By this international presence, some changes may be seen in Bodhgaya's people. There are battery run Auto which produce no sound and pollution. In Mahabodhi vihara entrance, no shoes theft is reported. But the venders can be seen luring foreigners to sell their 'Rudraksh Malas' and other Mantra-Jantras.  

Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Diwas-
6 Dec. 2014 Rally
6 Dec.Tribute by LBDFI
Wangmo Dixey, Excecutive Director

It was the great feeling, Baba Saheb Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Diwas was happed to here. Thanks to Bhadant Anagarik Dhammapala who brought the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Vihara on  international focus. Now, it was Baba Sahab Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar who once again re-planted the sacred Bodhi Tree in the very land of Lord Buddha.

Dr. Baba sahab Ambedkar not only embraced Buddhism with his 7 laces of followers but he succeeded to introduced the rule of Dhamma-Sasana in Indian Constitution.

6 Dec. 2014 Ambedkar Maidan
Followers of Baba Saheb Ambedkar
Maharashtra was once again the leading group to show the path to the 10 thousands of people to hold a candle in their hands and walk slowly and slowly toward Ambedkar Maidan along the road of Bodhgaya.

People of Bodhgaya and all over the Buddhist countries whether Buddhist monks or lay followers were standstill to see this white dressed Rally just early morning in the dip fog,  happened to that day. However, it was the coldest day in Bodhgaya, but every participants, whether young  or aged, all were shouting;  Baba Saheb Ambedkar- Amar Rahe, Amar Rahe !
Grand statue of Baba Saheb Ambedkar
Buddhist Monks and Followers

The Rally was ended in Ambedkar Maidan where Buddhist Monks and lay followers both together were assembled so closely, so tightly that only one tall statue of Dr. Ambedkar was appearing in that Maidan, having stretched his right hand towards Indian Parliament; saying - O' my people ! wake up and raise your voice with your full strength that you are under Bodhi Tree  and henceforth, no body could dare to uproot this sacred Bodhi Tree once again.
Salute by Samata Sainik Dal
6 Dec. tribute at Ambedkar Maidan

The voice was reflecting from 10 Buddhist countries who witnessed that day in Bodhgaya. The Excecutive Director of LBDFI, Wangmo  Dixey, came in Ambedkar maidan with other executives and mixed her voice extending good wishes to Indian Buddhist.

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