Ceremony marks 60th anniversary of Indian Bodhi tree gifted to Vietnam.

Source – en.vietnamplus.vn

Hanoi (VNA) – A ceremony was held in Hanoi on December 22 to celebrate the 60th year since then Indian President Rajendra Prasad gifted a Bodhi tree to Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in 1959.

The event was co-held by the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and the Embassy of India at Tran Quoc Pagoda where the tree was planted.

Speaking at the ceremony, head of Tran Quoc Pagoda Venerable Thich Thanh Nha said under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya , Bihar in India, Lord Buddha attained enlightenment thousands of years ago.

His enlightenment conveyed a message of peace and a way to free mankind from sufferings, as well as to breed compassion and wisdom, so the Bodhi tree symbolises Lord Buddha’s wisdom and enlightenment, he said.

Six decades ago, Indian President Rajendra Prasad himself brought a sapling from the revered Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya to present to President Ho Chi Minh on the occasion of his visit to Hanoi. Many high-profile leaders from India have visited Tran Quoc Pagoda to worship Buddha and the Bodhi tree, a symbol of the Vietnam-India friendship.

The celebration aimed to further strengthen the long-standing ties between the two countries and to promote Buddhist doctorines for global peace, prosperity and harmony, he added.

Indian Ambassador Pranay Verma, for his part, said the Bodhi tree at Tran Quoc Pagoda demonstrates the long-standing cultural and civilized connection between India and Vietnam as Buddhism was introduced to Vietnam by India nearly 2,000 years ago. It has contributed to consolidating the two nations’ friendship in recent years, he said.

Bodhi Tree Concerts Brings ‘All Is Calm’ Back To Veterans Museum.

Source – kpbs.org

Bodhi Tree Concerts has smartly placed its production of “All is Calm” between Veteran’s Day and Christmas since the choral opera touches on both themes.

Bodhi Tree Concerts has a mission to perform intentional acts of kindness through music. At a time when America seems polarized, “All is Calm” serves up a story of enemies coming together to find a shared humanity.

“Because the news of the day is pretty rough and we look to these soldiers who were sworn enemies they were killing each other and they could find a common humanity and they found it through singing through music.” said Bodhi Tree Concerts co-founder Diana DuMelle. “And for us as individuals and us as an organization, Bodhi Tree Concerts it’s what we’re founded on, finding enlightenment and understanding through music.”

“All is Calm” recounts the Christmas Truce of 1914 when enemy soldiers were brought together by song in no man’s land during World War I. After partnering with San Diego Opera last December to do the show at the Balboa Theater, this year Bodhi Tree is going solo and returning to a smaller venue.

“We will be returning to our venue for the first two productions of the Veterans Museum,” said singer and co-founder Walter DuMelle. “Much more intimate space holds 150-200 people only, the artists will be feet from the first row of audience. So you will be right there in the trenches with the soldiers. So it’s a very immediate performance venue and there’s an immediate emotional connection to the audience, which we as artists also have to be mindful of because we see their reactions literally right in front of us. When you see a 80-something-year-old vet start to choke up in the middle of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ you do have to check a certain amount of your own emotion at the door realizing that the piece is serving its purpose.”

Bodhi Tree Concerts selects a charity or organization to donate profits to and fittingly money from this show will benefit the Veterans Museum.

“It’s a really special museum,” Diana DuMelle said. “If you haven’t been there I highly recommend it. It’s lovingly cared for and it also has a local lens. It’s the stories and artifacts that come from local families and local veterans, and it’s also run by veterans and most of them are volunteers. And it’s really touching to be there and they welcome us with open arms.”

“All is Calm” opens this weekend at the Veteran’s Museum and then moves to The Village Church for a performance on Nov. 23.

The Buddha of a future age.

Source – dailynews.lk

According to the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta, he will be born, when human beings will live to an age of eighty thousand years, in the city of Ketumati (present Benares), whose king will be the Cakkavatti Sankha. Sankha will live in the fairy palace where once dwelt King Mahapanada, but later he will give the palace away and will himself become a follower of Metteyya Buddha.

The Anagatavamsa gives further particulars. Metteyya will be born in a very eminent brahmin family and his personal name will be Ajita. Metteyya is evidently the name of his gotta [caste]. For eight thousand years he will live the household life in four palaces. Sirivaddha, Vaddhamana, Siddhattha and Candaka – his chief wife being Candamukhi and his son Brahmavaddhana. Having seen the four signs while on his way to the park, he will be dissatisfied with household life and will spend one week in practising austerities. Then he will leave home, travelling in his palace and accompanied by a fourfold army, at the head of which will be eighty-four thousand brahmins and eighty-four thousand Khattiya maidens.

Among his followers will be Isidatta and Pūrana, two brothers, Jatimitta, Vijaya, Suddhika and Suddhana, Sangha and Sangha, Saddhara, Sudatta, Yasavati and Visakha, each with eighty-four thousand companions. Together they will leave the household and arrive on the same day at the Bodhi tree. After the Enlightenment, the Buddha will preach in Nagavana and King Sankha will, later, ordain himself under him. Metteyya’s father will be Subrahma, chaplain to King Sankha, and his mother Brahmavati. His chief disciples will be Asoka and Brahmadeva among monks, and Paduma and Sumana among nuns. Siha will be his personal attendant and his chief patrons Sumana, Sangha, Yasavati and Sangha. His Bodhi will be the Naga tree. After the Buddha’s death, his teachings will continue for one hundred and eighty thousand years.

According to the Mahavamsa, Kakavannatissa and Viharamahadevi, father and mother of Dutthagamani, will be Metteyya’s parents, Dutthagamani himself will be his chief disciple and Saddhatissa his second disciple, while Prince Sali will be his son.

At present, the future Buddha is living in the Tusita deva-world. There is a tradition that Natha is the name of the future Buddha in the deva world.

The worship of the Bodhisatta Metteyya seems to have been popular in ancient Ceylon, and Dhatusena adorned an image of him with all the equipment of a king and ordained a guard for it within the radius of seven yojanas.

Dappula I made a statue in honour of the future Buddha fifteen cubits high. It is believed that Metteyya spends his time in the deva-world, preaching the Dhamma to the assembled gods, and, in emulation of his example, King Kassapa V. used to recite the Abhidhamma in the assemblies of the monks. Parakkamabahu I. had three statues built in honour of Metteyya, while Kittisirirajasiha erected one in the Rajata-vihara and another in the cave above it. It is the wish of all Buddhists that they meet Metteyya Buddha, listen to his preaching and attain to Nibbana under him.

Yasa’s initiation

Yasa was a man with great wealth inherited from his father. He had all riches around him, such as music and female company. That night he went to sleep listening to music and feeling the female company. He woke up early in the morning and saw the appalling scene of tired women sleeping here and there. Yasa was greatly frustrated.

The Buddha had a lengthy talk with the young man on generosity, morality, the futility of sensual pleasures and the benefit of renunciation. Yasa could slowly collect his wits and his mind became stable. He had the rare privilege of being a monk straight away when the Buddha called him as ‘Come here, monk’. He became a Sotapanna.

He was the sixth to be a monk as well as an arahant. He is believed to have lived in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in northern India.

The Buddha and his six arahants visited the home of Yasa the following day. Yasa’s mother and his former wife thus became the first two female lay disciples. Upon hearing of Yasa’s ordination, four of his closest friends, Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji and Gavampati followed him into the sangha and they too became arahants. Within two months, a further fifty of Yasa’s friends had joined the Sangha and attained arahantship, bringing the total number of arahants to sixty.

This Yasa should not be mistaken with the namesake monk who played a pivotal role in the Second Buddhist Council, which took place 100 years following the Buddha’s death.

How could Yasa get a chance to become the first Arahant monk after five ascetics? Saddharmaratnavaliya has an interesting account:

Yasa had done a good deal of merits in a time of a certain Buddha. He and his friends were all born on earth in a time when no Buddha was in existence. Still, they did merits such as cremating the poor and needy and those who had no kinsmen.

Yasa’s retinue

Yasa’s family found him to be missing. His father got into the street to locate him but met only the Buddha. He was impressed by the sermon of the Buddha, and became a disciple; he attained Sotapanna too. The scriptures say Yasa’s father became the Buddha’s first lay disciple. He was more than happy to hear of his son’s spiritual achievement and invited the monk community to his home.

Yasa’s family members, mother and wife, became first female disciples and his closest friends, Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji and Gavampati became monks. This was followed by another batch of fifty friends, who all became Arhaths ultimately. Now the monk community consisted of sixty-one altogether. The Buddha knew it was the right time to propagate the teaching now.

Go forth, O monks, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit and happiness of gods and men. Two must not take the same path. Teach the Dhamma which is excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle and excellent in the end, both in spirit and letter. Proclaim the holy life, perfect and pure.

President Kovind Embarks On 7-Day Visit To Philippines, Japan

Source: businessworld.in

President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday departed for an official seven-day visit to the Philippines and Japan with an aim to expand the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The highlights of the visit would be the President attending the enthronement ceremony of new Japanese Emperor Naruhito and unveiling the bust of Mahatama Gandhi at the Center of peace education at a college in Philippines’ capital Manila. Kovind will arrive in Manila on the first leg of the tour. The five-day-long visit has been organised at the invitation of Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and will carry forward the high-level engagements between the two countries.

The relations of New Delhi with Manila have been friendly. The economic relationship between the two countries has been growing and trade stands at USD 2.3 billion dollars.

Kovind will receive a ceremonial guard of honour at Malacanang Palace. The President will lay a wreath at a memorial of Jose Rizal, who is the national hero of the Philippines.

The one-to-one talks between Kovind and Duterte will be followed by delegation-level talks.

The President will address the plenary meetings of Indo-Philippine business conclave and fourth ASEAN India business summit.

Kovind will also unveil the bust of Mahatama Gandhi at the Centre of peace education at Marian College in Manila. He will interact with the Indian community on the penultimate day of his visit to the Philippines.

The President will head to Tokyo on October 21. He will attend various ceremonies related to the Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement and also take part in a banquet hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The ceremony will be attended by leaders from all parts of the world.

Along with participating in a community event, the President will visit a Buddhist temple and plant a sapling from the sacred Bodhi Tree in Gaya to highlight India and Japan’s historical and cultural linkages based on Buddhism.

Kovind will take one of the superfast trains to visit the Kakegawa city on the forenoon of October 23. He will participate in the foundation laying ceremony of ‘shoni seto’ which is to be developed as a temple and a place for meditation and yoga to highlight Indian culture.

President Ram Nath Kovind to be in Japan for emperor’s enthronement

Source: thehindu.com

President Ram Nath Kovind will join Britain’s Prince Charles, Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan and leaders of several Asian countries in attending the enthronement ceremony of Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito on October 22. Mr. Kovind, who leaves on Thursday for a four-day state visit in the Philippines, will travel to Tokyo on October 21.

According to officials, about 80 world leaders are expected at the ceremony and banquets, which will be held over two days. Royal families of the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Saudi Arabia are also among the invitees due to attend.

Mr. Kovind will also visit a Buddhist Temple in Tokyo to plant a Bodhi tree as well as travel to the city of Kakegawa, about 230 km away, to inaugurate an Indian cultural and yoga centre there, funded by a Japanese citizen of Indian origin.

“President Kovind’s visit underlines the deep traditional and civilisational bonds between India and Japan, and shared heritage of Buddhism,” said MEA Secretary (East) Vijay Singh, briefing the media. “His participation in the enthronement ceremony signifies the high importance India attaches to Japan,” Ms. Singh added. No bilateral talks are expected during Mr. Kovind’s visit, although he will attend both the court banquet hosted by Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, and a state banquet hosted by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.

In the Philippines, bilateral talks during Mr. Kovind’s State visit will focus on the joint challenge of terrorism. Indian and Philippines officials will hold a joint working group on terrorism, with a focus on fighting urban terrorism, narco-terrorism, and work on information-sharing on terror groups. India had donated $500,000 to the Philippines for the reconstruction of Marawi city, which had been destroyed during a siege in May 2017 by a terror group claiming allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in which more than 1,000 people were killed, and the two sides will discuss strengthening counter terror cooperation, officials said.

President Ram Nath Kovind to Embark on 7-day Visit to Philippines, Japan from Thursday

Source:

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a seven-day visit to the Philippines and Japan beginning on Thursday with an aim to expand bilateral cooperation, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Monday.

“The President’s visit to the two countries reaffirms India’s commitment to strengthen its bilateral ties based on traditional bonds of friendship and mutual understanding,” it said.

The president’s first destination will be the Philippines where he will hold restricted and delegation level talks with his Filipino counterpart Rodrigo Roa Duterte in Manila and attend business and community events during his stay from October 17-20.

“The state visit is taking place on the occasion of 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries,” the MEA said.

From the Philippines, the president will leave for Japan on October 21 for a three-day visit.

He is visiting Japan to attend the Enthronement ceremony of the Emperor of Japan Naruhito, the MEA said.

In Japan, the MEA said the president will attend various ceremonies related to the Emperor’s enthronement and also a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Along with participating in a community event, the president will visit a Buddhist temple and plant a sapling from the sacred Bodhi Tree in Gaya to highlight India and Japan’s historical and cultural linkages based on Buddhism,” the MEA said.

Faith and Values: To aid the environment, Buddhism teaches us to see interdependence between nature and living

Source: spokesman.com

This week’s column comes from Spokane Faith and Values’ Ask a Buddhist series.

“Does Buddhism contain any practices or chants to help the environment? Are there any texts that tell us how to interact with the environment? Are there any Buddhas that have a strong connection to the Earth?”

We can see from Buddhist scriptures that the Buddha, the Enlightened One, and his disciples lived in close harmony with the environment. The Buddha was born at the foot of a tree. He also attained realizations sitting under the Bodhi Tree, and he passed away under a tree. The Buddha taught that planting and nurturing trees are virtuous acts.

In the Vinaya – the code of behavior for monks and nuns – the Buddha advises that monastics should not cut trees, leaves and flowers, nor disturb the forest. He set guidelines for not fouling grasses or rivers. Modern-day environmentalists try to observe similar guidelines.

The Buddha’s heart instruction is to work for the benefit of all living beings and to cease harming them. To do this, he advises his disciples to live simply, with compassion, kindness and – as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama expresses it – “Universal Responsibility,” an attitude based on love, compassion and clear awareness that cares for all living beings. In order to live with universal responsibility for the welfare of all beings, we must care for the environment in which they live.

There is not a specific Buddha of ecology besides Buddha Shakyamuni. Some teachers turn to the Medicine Buddha or Avalokiteshvara – Buddha of Compassion, who appears in several different forms – for support on environmental concerns.

In addition, there are numerous meditation and mind-training practices we can do to support a healthy environment.

One technique to increase love and compassion and develop our capacity for universal responsibility is the taking and giving meditation – tonglen in Tibetan. In this practice, we imagine willingly taking on the suffering of others to counter our own self-absorption and imagine giving all our happiness and well-being to others to expand our love and generosity. This helps us to live more harmoniously with others and with our environment.

Another important practice is to develop an understanding of the interdependence between nature and living beings. We depend totally on the kindness of others; we wouldn’t survive without other sentient beings. By getting familiar with the reasoning of dependent arising, we develop a more realistic view about our existence and develop strong compassion and loving-kindness.

We can also see an interdependent relationship between our negative emotions and how we relate to our environment. For example, in order to gain material wealth and satisfy our sensual desires, we pollute the environment – the earth, water, and air. Therefore, Buddha teaches us to reduce our afflictive emotions and to be satisfied with what we have.

We also dedicate the positive energy – merit – from our meditation practice for the happiness of living beings, and that clearly involves having a clean and healthy environment. For this to come about, we also dedicate that people’s minds turn to have greater care and awareness for the environment, and for their – and our own – love, compassion, and skill to grow limitlessly.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists) and His Holiness the 17th Karmapa himself (the spiritual guide of the Tibetan Kagyu tradition) are strong advocates for environmental protection. So too is Vietnamese Master Thich Nhat Hanh. The Karmapa regularly incorporates environmental topics into his teachings and life’s work. He established the Khoryug movement and organizes annual conferences to encourage Buddhist communities and monasteries in the Himalayan region to act in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.

IndiGo set to fly to Vietnam

Source: ttrweekly.com

HO CHI MINH CITY, 13 September 2019: India’s low-cost airline IndiGo confirmed this week the launch of a new service between Kolkata and Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, effective 18 October.

Tour operators in both cities welcomed the news. Indian tour operators are keen to sell tour packages to Vietnam’s commercial capital that is famous for its shopping, food and entertainment. The destination is seen, as a potential competitor to Bangkok and a direct route will introduce lower fares and shorten flight times.

Travel firms in Ho Chi Minh City see a market for outbound Buddhist pilgrimage tours as Kolkata is the main gateway to Bodh Gaya.

One of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, it marks the site where the Buddha attained enlightenment beneath a sacred Bodhi Tree. The nearest airport is at Gaya served by domestic flights from Kolkata.

According to Airlineroute timetable information IndiGo will fly the route daily using an Airbus A320.

The flight will depart Kolkata at 1030 and arrive in Ho Chi Minh City at 1550. The return flight will depart HCMC at 1650 and arrive in Kolkata at 1915.

A report earlier in the year by Network Thoughts said the airline announced it would also launch services from Kolkata to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital also in October.

The online aviation site said airline market breakdown between the two countries shows that based on available seats, the top route is Delhi – Ho Chi Minh City, followed by Mumbai – Ho Chi Minh City and Delhi – Hanoi.

Tracing Buddha 7-week journey at Mahabodhi Temple Complex after attaining nirvana

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya is a pertinent pilgrimage site for the Buddhists and for all the followers of Gautam Buddha. A remarkable prince and sage, Buddha toiled throughout his life to spiritually uplift as many people as he could. Although there are a few places related to his life journey, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex is a special site. It was constructed at the behest of Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century, and later, it was renovated and expanded by the kings of the Gupta dynasty.

Timeline of Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

The temple is one of the most prominent temples in India. The significant events that occurred on its timeline are as under:

531 BC – Buddha attained the perfect state of enlightenment while being seated in meditation under a Bodhi tree at the site of Mahabodhi Temple Complex.

260 BC – Emperor Asoka visited the site of Bodhi tree to worship it, and made the first temple for honouring Gautam Buddha.

Gautam Buddha attainted enlightenment or nirvana and spent a span of seven weeks after that across various spots where the Mahabodhi Temple stands today. From battling the inner and external demons during his meditation to fiercely resisting the various temptations that came his way, Buddha covered great milestones in his inner sacred journey at different parts of the Mahabodhi temple. Ahead, we throw some light on the seven weeks he spent post nirvana.

Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya

The Bodhi Tree is the most illustrious site situated to the west of the main temple. It is believed to the direct descendant of the Bodhi Tree underneath which the Buddha stayed for the first week after attaining enlightenment.

Prayer Hall

Buddha spent his second week at the prayer hall, also known as Animeshlochan Chaitya. It can be found towards the north of the central path on a raised platform.

Jewelled Ambulatory

This jewelled ambulatory is also called Ratnachakrama. It is famous for being the site where the Buddha spent the third week of his internal journey walking eighteen steps back and forward. It is located near the north wall of the main temple.

Ratnaghar Chaitya

Located towards the north-east near the enclosure, Ratnaghar Chaitya is the place where the Buddha spent his fourth week.

Ajapala Nigrodh Tree

During his fifth week, the Buddha was meditating under Ajapala Nigrodh Tree and answered the questions posed by the Brahmins.

Lotus Pond

The sixth week was spent by Gautam Buddha at the Lotus pond situated outside the enclosure to the south of the temple complex.

Rajyatana Tree

Buddha was here during his seventh week of meditation. A tree has been planted to mark this site. It is located towards the south-east of the temple.

The Main Temple at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya is a masterpiece that showcases the best of Buddhism architectural creativity. Whether you are a Buddhist or not, you will find this place interesting to visit. So visit it and be blessed with one of the most sacred religious places in India.


HERITAGE: THE TREE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Source:-dawn.com

Archaeologists may find history on the ocean floor, inside caves and buried underground. But it is also interesting to see how a living tree has shaped human history.

In the subcontinent, particularly in India, the Peepal (ficus Religiosa or Banyan) tree is known as the Bodhi or wisdom tree. Men of legend and faith, Lord Buddha and King Ashoka, have sat under it in meditation. Mahatma Gautama attained Buddhahood (enlightenment) sitting under the shade of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in India and hence it is known as the Mahabodhi tree or the tree of great awakening.

A direct linear descendant of the Mahabodhi tree was presented to President Ayub Khan when he visited Sri Lanka in December 1963. Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, then the foreign minister of Pakistan planted the sapling in a simple ceremony on January 18, 1964, in the Taxila Museum.

“We have failed to receive the boon we should have from the Mahabodhi tree here in Pakistan,” laments Dr Saifur Rehman Dar, celebrated author, archaeologist and former Director General Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) Punjab. At the time of the plantation of this living relic of Gautama Buddha in Taxila, Dar was the museum curator.

Buddhists have great reverence for all religious relics such as the bodily remains of the Buddha, left over after his cremation. They erected stupas over the remains. The Dharmarajika Stupa in Taxila is one of the eight erected by Ashoka to contain the remains of the Sakya Muni.

It is in the same tradition that the Bodhi tree is revered. Since it is a living plant, it is said to be a living connection to Mahatama Budha and the event of his finding enlightenment sitting under it. It is believed that the Buddha sat meditating under the tree for seven weeks without food or water. And after attaining enlightenment, Buddha spent seven days standing in front of the tree gazing at it with gratitude. Buddhists consider the tree as an individual in its own right and it is venerated and approached with piety.

In fact, the original Mahabodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India was killed thrice in recorded history. The first time was around 230 BC, when Tissarakkha, the jealous second wife of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka the Great, destroyed it with poisonous Mandu Thorns.

According to the seventh-century Chinese traveller Xuanzang, who wrote of the tree in detail, the tree was again cut down in the second century BC by King Pushyamitra Sunga, a violent ruler and persecutor of Buddhist beliefs. The last time was in 600 CE by King Shashanka, when Budhism went into decline and survived only outside India in Tibet, China, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Far East and Japan.

There is considerable doubt whether the present tree in the Sri Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, is really a scion of the original tree. Indeed, the present Mahabodhi tree, planted at the original location in 1881 by British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham — after the earlier one was destroyed in a storm in 1876 — likely represents the successor of a long line of substitutions.

Fortunately, Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s son Mahindra, and a Buddhist nun Sanghamitta Maha Theri — said to be Ashoka’s daughter and accordingly called a princess — had brought the southern branch of the original Mahabodhi tree from Bodh Gaya to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka in 236 BC. According to Buddhist sources, the Buddha had resolved five things on his death bed; one being that the branch that detaches itself from the tree should be taken to Sri Lanka for propagation. This tree lives on and is called the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. The Mahabodhi tree in the Taxila Museum is a plant cloned from the Sri Mahabodhi tree and is the closest authentic link to the living Buddha.

It is, however, unfortunate that the Mahabodhi tree in Taxila has been neglected and starved of sunshine. Surrounded by tall trees in the backyard of the Taxila Museum, it has grown tall and lanky like a reed. Dar suggests the DOAM should consult experts to ensure the Mahabodhi tree is nourished to good health. “It is a national treasure and will go a long way in attracting more Buddhist tourists to Taxila and Gandhara,” he says.

The current curator Taxila Museum, Mohammad Nasir Khan, says the impression that the Bodhi tree has been forgotten is incorrect. “Recently, we had the cement removed from around the Bodhi tree so that it has only soil around its roots and the trunk. A safety enclosure has also been constructed round it to keep it safe from being vandalised or accidently damaged by visitors to the museum.”

The executive director of the Centre for Culture and Development Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar believes that the DOAM should form a committee of experts to ensure care for the Mahabodhi tree in Taxila. “They should try to root cuttings from it, rather than have a significant cultural marker of Buddhism grow in isolation in the backyard of the museum,” he says. Tarar has been working to promote a revival of Gandhara art, culture and scholarship in Pakistan to attract religious tourism from abroad. He is also rallying support to use the Taxila Mahabodhi tree for scion wood (a technique used for grafting) to establish Mahabodhi trees at all the important Buddhist sites across the greater Gandhara region, starting from the Buddhist temple in Islamabad.