Photographer's Note

The fist rays of the suns light was filtering trough the sacred Bhodi tree as I walked around the inner courts of the Mahabodi temple. I saw this young monk sitting all alone in meditation. He was seated a few meters away from the spot beneath the Mahabodi tree, where the Buddha sat on the night of his enlightenment; the holy of hollies of the Buddhist pilgrim. I watched him for a while, his eyes fixed on the tree and he remained motionless. He was clearly a serious mediator (maybe he had sat there all night) because he had a bottle of water and a warm blanked folded beside him. After watching a while, from a safe distance, so as not to disturb him, I made a ‘garp’, that is the triple prostration that is made to a monk one wishes to respect especially. Then I quietly slipped a donation into the folds of his blanket (as a way of sharing in his merit) and crept away.

My heart went out to him, so young and seemingly so serious. I imagined that he, and many like him, will be teaching the dharma of the Buddha to future generations, long after I have gone. . I remember the words of the scripture that “As long as young people come forward to take on the robe, the teaching of the Buddha will never be lost to the world.” Bless him!

The stone palisade behind the figure is that erected by the Buddhist Emperor Asoka, in the 4th century BC. It has stood up well, for nearly two and a half thousand years, despite the destruction that followed the Muslim invasion of 1199, which destroyed all the Buddhist monasteries and temples, and the centuries of Hindu abuse and neglect that followed. The temple was returned, only partially, to Buddhist control in 1953.

The symbols show in the roundels on the palisade are; the horse, which is probably Chakravartin’s horse. In Hinduism it symbolized the righteous ruller, but in early Buddhism it came to symbolize a Buddha who’s teaching are absolutely true throughout the entire universe. The horse was perfectly white and had a flowing tail. It symbolized speed and movement and communication.

The Lotus, of course, is present in all Buddhist symbolism. It signifies wisdom, and the perfectly opened lotus, as shown here, symbolizes enlightenment, or fully awakened wisdom.

The figure with the lop-sided hat, I was told is a Bodhisattva, or a sort of Buddhist saint, who clearly had a cult in the early years of Buddhism. I am, as yet, unable to find out what was the name.

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Additional Photos by kevin o'sheehan (kevinos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1023 W: 173 N: 1802] (7517)
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