BUDDHA GAYA – The place of The Buddha’s Enlightenment – Part 4

In the 10th cent CE, the Mahabodhi Mahavihara kept on receiving Buddhist monks from Srilanka, China and Tibet. In 964 CE, more than 300 Chinese monks travelled from China to visit the Mahabodhi Mahavihar. The Chinese Emperor Tai Tsung (976-997 CE) donated a stupa to be erected under the Bodhi tree.

On the top of the stairs that leads to the north side of terrace of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara is a huge statue flanked by Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya. The three inscriptions mention donation by monk Viryendra who hailed from the present Bengal. This was donated probably in the early 10th century CE.

Between 1035 to 1079 CE, the Burmese King made extensive repairs of the Buddhagaya Mahabodhi Mahavihara.

The earliest Chinese inscription is seen on a carved stone showing the seven Buddhas belonging to the 10th century CE. This stone is at present displayed in the Indian Museum.

In 1011 CE, Dipankara Srijana, known as Atisa, one of the greatest Buddhist masters was ordained as a monk at Buddhagaya. He studied Vinaya for two years under Silaraksita of the Matavihara before leaving for Sumatra Island where he stayed there for 12 years and returned back to Buddhagaya.

King Kyanzittha’s donation inscription

In the 11th century CE, the Mahabodhi Mahavihara required further repairs. King Kyanzittha of Pagan, Burma (1084-1113 CE) sent shiploads of jewels, gold and other precious stones for the repairs. An inscription dated 11th century CE records it.

Around 1230 CE, King Asokavalla of Sivalik hills, built a monastery on the advice of his teachers – Pandit Mushala and Chattopadi. Another monastery was built by Purushottamasingha, the king of Kama in memory of his daughter’s deceased son. The construction of this monastery was supervised by monk Dharmarakshita. The inscriptions found by Sir Cunningham states so.

The Buddha image on the north side terrace of Mahabodhi Mahavihar donated by monk Virendra

It is widely believed that the Buddhagaya’s Mahabodhi Mahavihara and adjoining monasteries were destroyed by the Muslim invasion around 1199. There is no evidence to support this. On the contrary, when Dharmasvamin, a Tibetan monk arrived at Buddhagaya in 1234 CE, he found 300 Srilankan monks at the Mahabodhi Monastery. There is no doubt that Buddhagaya endured two attacks by the Muslims; however the monks continued their study.

Another inscription dated 1262 CE, confirms donation for repairs by the Srilankan King Jayasena and also donated some land to monk Mangalsvamin.

In 1298, King Dharmasena of Burma arranged for the repairs of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara.

In 1471, King Dhammacetiya of Burma sent monks and masons along with artists to repair the temple and make offerings under the Bodhi tree.

The last epigraphical record of Srilanka

The last Indian Buddhist monk to visit Buddhagaya was Buddhagupta in the 16th century CE. Around same time, Srilankan monk Dharmadivakara visited Buddhagaya.

Atul Bhosekar

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