Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Gadget Monk + The Original Tree

The Train Station
Last month I posted numerous pictures of the sacred Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India. That tree, planted at the spot where the Buddha woke up, is actually a descendent of a tree in Sri Lanka called Sri Maha Bodhi. This tree happens to be about an hour away from Islander, in Anuradhapura.

Sri Maha Bodhi
The left-most trunk--the one supported by the golden poles-- is the oldest and only remaining branch of the original Bodhi Tree brought to Sri Lanka in 288 BC. It is the tree with the oldest recorded history in the world. (The other branches are new off-shoots or grown from cuttings.)

It is so holy, that three tiers protect it from pilgrims. (As you can see, I'm on the lowest wrung.) I was accompanied by the Venerable ManjuSri Thera, who was able to go to the top because he happened to be friends with a monk who was sweeping at the time. (In the picture below, he is the orange spot meditating in the right hand corner.)

And here he is in the flesh, the last in a row of men representing the Buddhas of our age.

We stopped for lunch in Mihintale, at a gorgeous grove filled with ruins called Kaludiya Pokuna or "Black Water Pool". 
I immediately loved this place! Huge granite boulders still bear the marks of walls built to house the many monks who practiced here. You could imagine them bathing in the lake amidst stupas and the countless turtles that still live there. 

A bit of a techie, ManjuSri Thera keeps his SLR lens cap in his shoes during our picnic. 

With Anil, our gracious driver.

Exploring nearby caves. To the right of the entrance, you can see the ditch that collected rainwater for this hilltop hermitage.

ManjuSri deduced that this was the site of a reclining Buddha once upon a time. You can still see the remnants of his legs and the shrine form on the wall. Sadly, this site has been pillaged by thieves searching for treasure.

(All photos with me in them were taken by MajuSri Thera.)

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