As the site for the Buddha's enlightenment, Bodh Gaya is significant for Buddhists throughout the world. It is one of the four sites connected with his life (Birth, Enlightenment, Teaching, and Death) that tradition recommends that Buddhists visit, and Buddhists of every kind have tried to establish a presence here..
This particular temple is built in the Thai style, and reflects Thai architectural canons.
All images July 2011
||This image shows the interior of the Thai temple. The form of the Buddha image and the decorations surrounding it reflect the Thai aesthetic and are immediately recognizable.|
|This image shows the Burmese temple, which in
its pagoda style is clearly related to the Thai style.
The Burmese were among the first Asian Buddhists to take an interest in Bodh Gaya--the Burmese king sent workmen and money in the 1870s to renovate the Mahabodhi Temple, though the British were reluctant to let them do so (since they wanted to do this themselves). Given this early presence it is surprising that the Burmese temple is much farther from the Mahabodhi temple than any of the others, as well as being in an out of the way place. Sadly, this temple was not open, so we couldn't see the inside.
|This image shows one of the Tibetan temples; the temple area is on the second floor.|
|Here's an image from the interior of the Tibetan temple, which shows several aspects commonly associated with Tibetan iconography--the serene and even pastoral background, with the clouds and flowers and animals, and the striking and powerful imagery of the figure in the foreground (one of the powerful Buddhas whose intensity can shock one into enlightenment.|
|This image shows the Nepali temple--built in a pagoda style like the Bhutan temple next door, but with painted and gilt leaf decorations rather than the Bhutan temple's carved and painted wood panels. Note the two deer over the main entrance holding up a wheel--a reference to the Buddha's First Sermon ("Turning the Wheel of Dharma") preached in the Deer Park at Sarnath.|
|Here's a detail from the Bhutan Buddhist temple's lush architectural detail--intricately carved and colorfully painted.|
|Here's a roof decoration from the interior of the Bhutan temple, an elaborately painted mandala (symbolic diagram). There were many more of them scattered throughout the building, and the walls had the same sort of rich decorations. Bhutan is culturally Tibetan, and its art and aesthetic canons clearly show its relationship to Tibetan Buddhism.|
|This image shows the Chinese temple.|
|This image shows the interior of the Japanese temple (the sun was so bright it was hard to get a good shot of the exterior). The tatami mates, sparse furnishings, carved wood paneling all reflect the Japanese aesthetic.|
||Though image shows the Nichiren Shu
temple--small, architecturally unremarkable, and clearly recently
constructed (rebar is visible sticking up from the roof, which usually means
that the builders plan to add a second floor sometime.
The Nichiren sect is a worldwide Buddhist organization founded in in Japan by Nichiren (d. 1282), who claimed that his practice was the only true Buddhism. The group's presence here points to the symbolic importance of Bodh Gaya as a validating location.
This grove and garden were next door to the Japanese temple, and this meditating Buddha is modeled on the image of the Great Buddha in Kamakura Japan (though the Japanese Buddha is cast metal, and this is stone or concrete. This Buddha image is surrounded by his most famous disciples sitting in a semicircle around him (they were much smaller than the Buddha image, to show their comparative insignificance, and were thus hidden by the statue and the trees).
These pages are in progress.
Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 10 August 2011