Scholars trace early history of Gaya

PATNA: The Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute organized two special lectures on Gaya and Bodh Gaya here on Friday under its lecture series ‘Know your Heritage’. Abhishek Kumar Singh of the Department of History, Hamilton College, spoke on ‘Religious Biography and the Sacred Landscape of Early Bodh Gaya’, whereas Matthew R. Sayers of the Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, delivered his lecture on ‘Conjunction of Hindu and Buddhist Traditions at Bodh Gaya’.

Singh in his paper said that Bodh Gaya (a UNESCO world heritage site) is one of the major sacred sites of Buddhist history, being the place of enlightenment of Gautam Buddha. After its emergence in the third century BC as one of the four major sacred centres of Buddhism, Bodh Gaya underwent considerable transformation to become the iconic site of Buddhism.

Sayers in his paper tried to answer the question why did Buddha choose to go to Bodh Gaya to attain enlightenment?

He said a review of the ancestral rites in the Brahminical literature suggests that the concept of ‘shradh’ was still being evolved during the life of Buddha. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that Gaya was a place of pilgrimage associated with ‘shradh’ until the beginning of the Common Era. Gaya finds no mention in the earlier Brahminical literature, he added.

“There is no evidence to suggest that Gaya was associated with ‘shradh’ rituals before Buddha achieved enlightenment at Uruvela,” said Sayers.

KPJRI director Bijoy Kumar Chaudhary, in his welcome address, underlined the fact that the wonder that was Gaya has still not adequately been researched.


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