All posts tagged: Monastery

The 80 ft Buddha Statue

In the Land of Enlightenment: Bodhgaya

My guide picked up a leaf that fell from the Banyan tree and handed it over to me. The very tree (albeit descendant) under which Gautama became the Buddha. The value we ascribe to things is proportional to your beliefs only. I remember that when I was a kid there used to be a bottle of water my mom had collected from Ganges and it was held very reverentially. I used to look at it with starry eyes, as if the object in front had some mystical powers. This time during my visit to Ganges, I couldn’t help but think of it only as a polluted water source. Bodhgaya, a mere 15 kms away from Gaya is the city if Enlightenment. While Gaya is out and out a Hindu pilgrims place, Bodhgaya is a Buddhist centre + secular tourist destination. You see school children on tour, monks, foreigners, and the whole spectrum in Boddh Gaya. Bihar’s first world heritage site (2nd being Nalanda), the current temple at the site is largely a modern construct. The …

Nalan-da: Give Knowledge- At the ruins of the ancient university

It is said that the fire that engulfed Nalanda raged for six months. Such was the size of the university and the books that it contained. The mammoth structure was built of wood and bricks and both were burnt to the ground. As I stood at the ruins, I could see the burnt mark over the bricks. Such was the heat, that some of the bricks had even melted. However, the story of Nalanda is not be remembered for the attack that it had to suffer. All things great will come to and end. We should rather be proud if such an institution that existed in the place and try to answet pertinent questions that it poses to our present society. Nalanda is a portmanteau of two words. Nalin means lotus, which is a symbol of knowledge in Buddhism and Hinduism. Da means to give. This Nalanda is the place where knowledge was given. The present ruins are only a shadow of what was present during the glory days. It is said that the majority …

Mixed Emotions: Land of Dawnlit Mountains- Arunachal Pradesh

“You replace my car. I don’t want anything else” the owner of the Maruti Alto said. My driver was helpless. He kept negotiating. The next offer was even more ludicrous. “You can keep my car. Leave your car to me” The owner of the alto was telling this genuinely. It was an offer and not a joke. This was part of the conversation that we had with some Arunachalis while we were returning to Assam. Our car was involved in an accident and the other party started coming up with these kind of demands. The public which had gathered also supported this same line of arguments. In any other part of India, it would have simply gone to litigation and payment of accidental damage by the insurance company. Not in Arunachal. We were advised not to involve the police because once the tribe gets involved they back off from the situation apparently. I don’t know this experience of mine is the norm in Arunachal, however this lack of law and order and the concept of …