The Bodhi Tree

Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism subsequently known as Gautama Buddha, is supposed to have attained enlightenment, or Bodhi, under a great and very old Sacred Fig tree in Bodh Gaya (approximately 100 km from Patna in the Indian state of Bihar), also known as Bo (from the Sinhalese Bo). The Bodhi tree is recognized in religious iconography by its heart-shaped leaves, which are generally prominently exhibited. A bodhi tree can take anything from 100 to 3,000 years to reach maturity.

The word “Bodhi Tree” is also used to refer to living trees, particularly the Mahabodhi Temple’s Sacred Fig, which is a direct descendent of the original specimen. This tree is a popular pilgrimage destination, as it is the most important of the four major Buddhist pilgrimage locations. The Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti and the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, are two other sacred Bodhi trees with significant Buddhist history. Both are thought to be descendants of the original Bodhi tree.

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