07 July 2013

Terror Attack on World Heritage Monument



It was shocking to wake up on Sunday with the news of the serial bomb blasts at Bodhgaya. There were nine blasts that occurred in the morning between 5 AM and 6 AM. This was a terror attack in and around ‘Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodhgaya’, a World Heritage shrine. Though it was learnt through news media that this attack could not affect the main structure of the Mahabodhi Temple, but the Bodhi tree is partially damaged.

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One of the holiest Buddhist shrines, it was under this sacred pipal or Bodhi tree, where Siddhartha Gautam attained enlightenment and became Buddha, the Apostle of Peace. It is said in the Parinibbana Sutta that Lord Buddha himself identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, Enlightenment, First Discourse, and death. The position of the original Bodhi tree is marked by a platform in the temple ground and the tree that stands is believed to be a direct descendant.


In 2002, UNESCO designated the Mahabodhi Temple Complex as the World Heritage. In its justification for inclusion in the World Heritage list, UNESCO states:

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodh Gaya has direct association with the life of the Lord Buddha, being the place where He attained the supreme and perfect insight. The site of the Mahabodhi Temple provides exceptional records for the events associated with the life of Buddha and subsequent worship, particularly since Emperor Asoka built the first temple, the balustrades, and the memorial column. The present Temple is one of the earliest and most imposing structures built entirely in brick from the late Gupta period. The sculpted stone balustrades are an outstanding early example of sculptural reliefs in stone. The grand 50m high Mahabodhi Temple of the 5th-6th centuries is of immense importance, being one of the earliest temple constructions existing in the Indian sub-continent and one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India, has had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries. It is one of the few representations of the architectural genius of the Indian people in constructing fully developed brick temples in that era. 

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Let us hope and pray that this one of the holiest shrines of utmost importance will remain safe and secure for many future generations.

- Pradeep Kumar Mallik – Patna

email : mallikphila@gmail.com


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