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Bihar Buddhist Monasteries
Bihar is the place where 2500 years ago, under the Bodhi Tree of Bodh Gaya, prince Gautama attained enligtenment and became Buddha - 'one who is awake'. Today, this state of India is an important destination for Buddhists around the world. The town of Bodh Gaya, in particular, is one of the four holy places (others three being Kushinagar, Saranath and Lumbini) where Buddhist pilgrims flock in large number to pay their respect to the great Lord who renounced all wordly pleasures to know the truth of life.
In this holy town of the state, apart from the Bodhi Tree and Temple, there are a number of Buddhist Monasteries that make for a worthwhile visit during your Buddhist tour. Most of these monasteries - Japanese Monastery, Thai Monastery, Tibetan Monastery, The Chinese Temple and Monastery and the Buddhist Temple of Bhutan - have been constructed by Buddhist monks in association with the government of their respective countries ( Thailand, Bhutan, China, etc.,). Visiting them will give a glimpse of the influence that Buddhism has had in these countries. Moreover, the architectural variety you will get to see once you vist these monasteries will leave you completely spellbound.
This section provides you detail on all the important Buddhist Monasteries of Bihar. You have details on their location as well as their importance. Also, information on the festivals celebrated in these individual monasteries give you an idea as to what will be the best time to visit the monastery (not to say that other time of year are not good for visiting). Buddhist atttractions around that can be clubbed together to make the visit more fruitful are also given.
In the eras following the 'mahaparinirvana' of Lord Gautam Buddha, His disciples got divided into different sects with vivid thoughts. However, all of them worked towards the same goal - To carry on the teachings of the Buddha, which further led to the foundation of numerous monasteries all around the world, among which the Tibetan monastery in Bodh Gaya, Bihar holds an eminent place.
Established in the year 1938, the Tibetan Mahayana monastery stands across the road from the Maha Bodhi temple complex, the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment in 528 BCE. The monastery houses a huge dharmachakra or the wheel of law, which is 10 meter high metal drum painted in golden and red colour and they say one can be free of all the sins committed, if one spins the wheel three times continuously from left to right. The monastery also consists of an image of Maitreya Buddha, which is believed to be the future incarnation of the Buddha.
Decorated with the Tibetan scriptures, thangkas and other Buddhist symbols and objects, the Tibetan monastery is also a meditation centre and conducts courses based on meditation and the principles of Buddhism. It also shelters the Buddhist tourists who come to visit the holy place of Bodh Gaya.
With a noble cause to spread the philosophies and principles of Buddhism among the masses, the government of Thailand and the Buddhist monks joined their hands and established several monasteries including the one in Bodh Gaya, the land of the Buddha's enlightenment. Established in 1957, the Thai monastery not only presents the colours of the Thai culture and tradition, but at the same time along with its residents - the monks, play a vital role in the spread of the Buddhist ideologies.
The Thai monastery, built typically as per the Thai architecture, houses a Buddhist temple, which further contain images of the Lord Buddha in different forms. These images have also been carved with Buddhist scriptures, while at the same time the Buddhist symbols and other auspicious Buddhist objects can also be found in the monastic temples.
The Thai monastery also organise retreats every year in the month of January. These retreats are mainly held in silence except a few as an exception such as interactive sessions and personal or group meetings. With a maximum capacity of 135 people, these retreats include meditation practices, teachings on awakening, insight meditation or Vipassana(sitting, walking, reclining and eating), instructions on Yoga and interactive session on liberation and daily life issues. The evening talks can be attended by the general public as well, but smoking and other sins are banned for all in retreats at the monastery.
The Buddha's mahaparinirvana brought about many changes in the Sangha. The eras following His death witnessed many changes, the most prominent being the upcoming of different schools of thought into Buddhism - Theravada, Mahayana, Tantrayana and Zen Buddhism. The Japanese monastery, situated in Bodh Gaya, marks the philosophies of the Zen Buddhism and its practices in India.
Basically a firm believer in devotional practices based on meditation, the Japanese monastery of Bodh Gaya conducts individual and group meditation for monks and other people as well. Through meditation, they aim for the purification of one's heart to attain salvation or nirvana.
Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan
The Buddhist monastery of Bhutan, built in Pagoda style, is one of the major monasteries located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Built in collaboration with the Bhutanese government and the Buddhist monks, the monastery is popular with the pilgrims, tourists and the monks due to its well maintained surroundings and its unique structure. The monastery, decorated and carved with ornamental architectural style, hosts a magnificent temple along with a rest house for the Bhutanese monks. The temple inside the monastery has a seven-feet high image of the Lord Buddha, which is further carved with the Buddhist symbols and scriptures. The inner walls of the temple are carved with small figurines depicting the stages of the Buddha's life.
The Buddhist monastery of Bhutan also carries out several tasks from the place. The monks conducts discourse on the Buddha and His teachings, guide individual and group meditation, organise peace prayers and offer prayers at the temple.
The Chinese Temple & Monastery
Built in Chinese architectural style by the Chinese government and the Buddhist monks, the Chinese monastery though a very small structure in Bodh Gaya, is worth visiting. Dedicated to the Lord Buddha, the monastery houses a Chinese temple, which is further an excellent illustration of the amalgamation of the Chinese architecture with religion. The monastery is located near the Maha Bodhi temple complex and is open for the visitors from 7am to 5 pm with lunch in between.
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