Bodhgaya: MahaBodhi Temple; Final Days

12227658_669371696539242_3836734087721995221_nAfter we came back from Nalanda, we all ( Fred, Sarah, his mother and myself ) went to MahaBodhi temple to pay our respects. Side Pic the idol inside the temple.  Fred’ mother was wearing expensive shoes and we can forgotten to deposit the same in the shoe counter. As we left behind the shoes at the open shoe stand near the temple, I told Fred’s mother not to worry. Nothing is lost from such a holy place and we were right. 10408797_666315300178215_6011010915472759802_n

Soon Fred left for Varanasi with his family and we exchanged pleasantries. I was so happy to meet such an intelligent person and lovely couple and felt a close connection with his mother. Wishing them a safe journey, I continued my regular visit to MahaBodhi temple. Soon a new guy came in to stay in the dorm. I learnt his name was Cameron and he had come from America looking for peace and spirituality to India.

Writing my thoughts of our first interaction (Below Cameroon with Pema from Nepal). Pema is a volunteer who teaches underprivileged children.

IMG_20151031_165603The Dude:Hi how are you feeling? I thought you were not well?

Cameroon: I am fine now Thanks. I had a long journey in train about 30 hrs.

The Dude: Oh man. where did you come from? Cameroon: I came from Dharamsala.

The Dude: Great! Always wanted to go there. You are an American?

Cameroon: Yes from Texas

12196349_665072740302471_5670824346001049288_nThe Dude: Great From the land of George Bush

Cameroon: Haha yes

The Dude: My name is Nish. Bush sure needs a lot of Spiritualism. Would do him good.

We discussed Cameroon’s experience in India and learnt he had come from a similar Tibetan  institute I had never heard about which is quite famous it seems. I was pleasantly pleased to know that he had also done a 10 day Vipassana course of meditation by Goenkaji. We discussed for some time and made plans to go to Mahabodhi temple the next day. I soon learnt that there was a great library in the institute and started spending most of my time reading some good books. 12119028_665079666968445_2891026583342470865_n

IMG_20151031_125446Next day while visiting Mahabodhi temple, we met Amy from Canada who was leaving for Varanasi and we all decided to visit Mahabodhi temple. We spend some time there and I assisted Amy in her endeavor to know about her future by becoming an interpreter with a monk. Not sure why she had the whole episode was taped by Amy and I had a discussion with Cameroon on this later. He told me to forget about it.

IMG_20151025_090915To share an important anecdote. I stayed about two weeks in Bodhgaya and went many times to the temple. It was on the day I stayed till the end of closure of temple i.e. about 9 pm when temple closes. When I came out I could not find my pair of slippers. I looked fervently around and discovered  that really my slippers were gone. I rushed out bare foot and tried to look to buy slippers. Don’t ever wear any footwear or another pair of slippers lying around.   This is wrong on two fronts. You break one of the MOST IMG_20151025_092231IMPORTANT precepts which is to steal and second the person did not leave a note that I could take his/her slippers as an exchange. So no worries. Walk down to nearby roadside vendors and you can buy a pair of slippers for Rs 50-60 which is what I paid. You can also walk barefoot till you place of stay but never take anyone else pair of slippers. It will amount to stealing and it is a really big unwholesome action in the world of Lord Buddha. Although Buddha is not in any of the 33 planes of existence ( Lord Buddha got  liberated)  , Lord Buddha is the teacher of devas and the Supreme Guru, so don’t ever do that and I am very serious on this. Anyways always take flowers when you go to the Mahabodhi temple. You do not go empty handed to Lord Buddha (a small flower basket only costs Rs 10).

12190000_665578530251892_2560095305494464490_nDhamma Bodhi: There is a Vipassana centre in Bodhgaya in the tradition of Guru Goenkaji and Venerable U Bha Khin . There was a long course going on so no one was allowed to enter the premises. I went there to practise Vipassana in the common meditation hall which sevaks and visitors can visit. It always a pleasant experience to visit any Vipassana center and I have attend and served in so many courses and centers around India. I wanted to attend  a course there but there was no course scheduled matching my itinerary. Always another time. Its been a long time since I attended a Vipassana course.  It was nice to meet the staff at center12063531_665578566918555_5127524629908770297_n who were very polite and pleasant. It is so incredible that Vipassana centers are around the world and in every continent and so popular in Europe. The best part of the course is that it is totally free and based on voluntary donation.

I had planned to go to Bihar School of Yoga since it is situated not very far from Bodhgaya. I had called up the center and they suggested that I fax an application since there was no email facility at Bihar School of Yoga. I would soon realise that fax was a luxury in Bodhgaya. I went almost half day running around Bodhgaya for a fax machine before I realized that the only shop which had a fax machine, which was working was near The Thai temple. (a small medical shop). However even that was not able to connect to the fax number in Bihar School of Yoga. I was wondering what to do next when I figured using my Sherlock gray cells i figured that the best hotel must be have a fax machine. I got to know about a hotel in the vicinity and went there to inquire. They refused to fax in spite of my repeated requests including when I suggested I would pay for the fax. Are you suprised? Well I was not surprisingly…

Middle Path: I soon realised it was much easier to request my parents to fax. It’s the easiest and shortest path. Why did I not figure out before. Mindfulness means to be aware and to be live life in the present. When you are mindful, then you will always be able to think better. I realized I was myself not very mindful otherwise I would have thought about the idea before..Agreeaa with me you blokes who are reading this article. As it turned out my father faxed my message and surprisingly I was refused. Not sure why considering I was told beforehand that there was no course going on and but encouraged to apply since I wanted to cover the yoga school on my blog.

No worries always a next time but will investigate it in detail the reason for refusal later.

Morin, whom I had met in Sivananda ashram was also coming to Bodhgaya and we caught for sometime. We discussed for a couple of hours trying to catch up from our meeting in Sivananada ashram. Morin is from Sweden and take taken a spiritual leave to travel to India again. He appraised me that someone was offering him a job in China as an instructor for English language. Somehow China connection has been suddenly coming out with people I meet, strange coincidence.

For the last few days,  I isolated myself from everyone around the institute to remain focused on self awareness and realization. I knew I will not have much time for isolated spiritual travel going forward for sometime and wanted to make the best use of time at hand. Silence is Golden…Some how I feel for the past one or two months I have been under surveillance as if I can getting tracked..a string of strange occurrences which cannot be explained logically…No worries

IMG_20151101_193647Food: Will discuss a bit about food. I tried Siam Thai Restaurant which is one the main road and met the friendly owner who was a practicing Buddhist. The food was decent although I found it a bit expensive. I had ordered Paneer curry with rice and it was delicious. Later Morin, myself along with another friend visited Mahmood Restaurant. We had ordered North Indian food which was fantastic with very decent proportions. I would recommend both these restaurants. There is also Fujia restaurant which is quite popular and I had frequently visited it last time when I was in Bodhgaya.

10574262_665264296949982_8847043494497641181_nI donated every time I saw beggars around Mahabodhi temple. Some of them were handicapped and genuinely needed help. I gave them money but more important food which is better since money is used by their caretakers. I took out small 12140547_665264263616652_9038938093939530336_nchildren who sell flowers for food. It had started with 4 kids and would soon expand to 23 of them. I took to a chaat stall on the road and offered them aloo chaat plate and Pepsi ( highly desired by children) . I know it was nothing much but atleast I was able to treat them Over the days I stayed in Bodhgaya I exhausted and exceeded my budget of donations and my mother as usual scolded me for my behavior. Lord Buddha had Ten perfections known in Pali as Ten Parmis and one of them is Dana.

Buddha had mentioned that it doesn’t matter the amount of money you donate as long as you donate it with compassion and selfless attachment. I have always felt so bad when I did not have enough money to donate since I am not working and people have always felt that I excessively donate. Countless disciples and visitors visit Mahabodhi temple every day but I observed very few people donate either food or cash even. Lord Buddha has embodiment of compassion, so sad every few of them have learnt anything from Buddha. (Pic of a lady donating apples to underprivileged people, a rare sight near Mahabodhi temple).  Very sad that 12112154_666265623516516_6477868265715223993_n

So what’s the Middle Path for donation: Keep donating there is no end although Buddha has given a sutta is how to earn merits by donating and to whom you should donate. Heard of Anathapindika, the foremost lay disciple of Lord Buddha whose charity is unmatched in history. Heard of Karna, the legendary Indian King. Furthermore I will not earn the merit of Dana. I had borrowed the money from my father so I truly cannot donate something which I have not earned. So who gets the merits of my Dana. Well of course my father and to an extend my mother. What so you don’t get anything? Does it matter? What do you say Dude? Of course not it’s not important. In the end nature will surely reward me something but that’s not important. What’s important to see the smile of a small kid when you give him an apple or a piece of chocolate. It’s always better to give fruits because it better for health. Wow you learnt something here..Gotcha you

12193587_665578803585198_7653958846563017170_nI remember one instance when I was looking for a Tuk Tuk back from MahaBodhi temple to my institute where I was residing. He quote only Rs 15 and it was pretty late at night. Usually people ask between Rs 30-40. I was touched and paid him the market rate, shook his hand and took a photo with him. Great Guy..Fantastic integrity. (Side pic The Dude with honest tuk tuk driver)…Salute to honest man

During one of my visits in MahaBodhi temple, I met two elderly ladies from Burma who had come to Mahabodhi temple to donate to monks. They request me to take a11037555_665265993616479_5272385532052254244_n group photograph and I surely obliged. Had been along time since someone wanted to take a photo with me. I shall be forever grateful to Burma or Myanmar for protecting the words of Lord Buddha and to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Laos, where Theravada Buddhism remained & flourished. This past few decades has again seen the rise of Theravada tradition in Buddhism with Venerable Ajahn Chah from Thailand, an Arahant leading the way followed by his disciples especially Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sumedho and of 12140060_1150229911672547_3798996679450500500_ocourse Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi ( side pic), an American monk ordained in Sri Lankan tradition and the world’s leading translator of words of Lord Buddha in English and Venerable Nyanaponika Thera among many others. Bhikkhu Bodhi is one of the most prominent and enlightened monks in the world today ( side pic). Vipassana is the Burmese movement in the tradition of Venerable U Ba Khin  in a non sectarian way already covered previously in this website. (Please refer Vipassana: Tribute to Guru Goenkaji). And of course I bow down to the very popular Ven. Thích Nhất Hạnh, a monk from the Mahayana tradition  who has written some great books. Thank You…Thank You…Much Appreciated, Forever & Eternally Grateful…

One of the greatest deeds is to bring the words of Buddha to the world and to keep the tradition of his Mindfulness in the purest form.I seriously wished that I meet my life companion from one of the above mentioned countries although you never know what happens.

IMG_20151025_120259I remember a great man who that said…women can be a force of nature…you never know whom you meet and what connection you have with them from your previous lives…I know I had met a couple of them in my life, an Indian and a Chinese origin girl in Shanghai. I also met the most perfect women who was a Chinese girl but then she was already with someone. I remember one night I was struck by an electricity when I briefly met a French woman. I gave her my visiting card but never heard back. I actually lost my mobile so just maybe maybe she called. But then logically my visiting card had my email also so na ha, she never called…But maybe she did and never bothered to put an email. Na but keep trying Dude to console yourself…Anyways I am destined for something much higher so no worries…Like what? Find The Middle Path..Bring light in this dark world…Give water to the thirsty people…Give them knowledge…Truth..But then I had experienced something in Shanghai which was not from this world…Something which came from India…Take a break and have a Kit Kat…

12189590_665263976950014_5841369273393884140_nI went again to Nalanda this time I opted for Bus since it was the cheapest form of transport. Sadly there is no direct bus from Bodhgaya to Nalanda, I had to travel to Gaya and then catch a bus which takes  about 3 hrs to reach Nalanda. Try to avoid it if you can as it is very exhaustive or try to leave as early as possible since the last bus from Nalanda is around 6 pm. Try to leave Nalanda by 5 pm or you can also opt to stay in Rajgir which is about 10 km from Nalanda.

IMG_20151029_151754I got seriously ill and was bedridden for two days. I met the doctor in the institute who comes everyday to the in house medical dispensary which provides free treatment to the underprivileged people  in Bodhgaya. He was a very nice person very friendly and affable. I like his attitude and he comforted me and gave me medicines. I had very low blood pressure, fever and cough. I had suffered extreme dehydration. I wished him best and shared my loving kindness for he was involved in such a noble cause. Fred had introduced me to Maya, a French volunteer who volunteered as a clinic project administrator in the medical discrepancy. She was a very nice and warm lady who genuinely cared for people and I was very pleased to meet her. I am very happy that people like her come to India and selflessly serve in  social causes.

12196285_666327646843647_1276222322408826309_nBy the time I was bed ridden, a meditation course had started which Cameroon and Morin had joined the course.  I could not wish them best when I parted although Cameroon and myself exchanged pleasantries. I sincerely wished him luck in his endeavour. I was happy to see young people coming from America for spiritual enlightenment During our course of discussion I had discovered how people12195808_668389076637504_3440870367034758168_n had been misled around the world around the meaning of Spirituality. People think being religious means being spiritual. Spiritualism and religion were two separate things altogether. You could be religious and no way spiritual while you could also be religious and spiritual. You could believe or worship any God or Goddess and be miles away from spirituality while many people believe in PopeFrancisQuote-thumbnail-e1427820093264No GOD and ARE very spiritual. So what is spirituality apart from peace, wellbeing and happiness. Spiritualism is way of living, living a peaceful and compassionate life. Living a moral life backed by brotherhood, goodness and compassion.

Spiritual person is a good person as enunciated by Pope Francis. Ask yourself do you need to believe in anyone to be a good human being.

Let’s discuss a bit about The Middle Path  

Many people get confused on words of Lord Buddha since they have not been appraised about the right meanings of words.

Lord Buddha has given Five Precepts for Lay Disciples to observe. One of them is to refrain from killing which means Intentional Killing.

IMG_20151102_164623_BURST5During the time of Lord Buddha some observed killing to be a sin while Lord Buddha said it was intentional killing. To debate with Lord Buddha, a very learned prince came earnestly. In order to meet Buddha who was at that point dwelling in a forest, the prince walked through the forest. As he approached Buddha, Buddha called him out and reading his thoughts said hello prince you come with a question. The price bowed down and asked the question which was bothering him. Buddha was known to answer questions by counter questioning the prince. He said  Prince have you counted the number of ants you have killed while you were walking to meet me. The Prince was surprised by this question and said he genuinely had not aware of this since he had to walk across thick grass. Buddha smiled and said now you have the answer for yourself. So what is intentional killing? Intentional Killing is when you take an object capable of killing and raise it with the aim of killing the  living being. You generate a mental volition and strike the living being with the aim of killing the living being and succeed in killing. Now you know killing is a stretch while intentional killing is The Middle Path. So is eating non vegetarian food is a violation of the precepts. Actually no, certainly not directly but then indirectly in a way it is violating something which Buddha said. Stating that it is much better that you avoid Non vegetarian food for your own benefit…

Read my upcoming book for reasons…

I knew I would all my life come to Bodhgaya and wanted to visit with my parents next time I visit Bodhgaya. I left with a very heavy heart and will share my final report on Bodhgaya: An Afterthought and Bihar: A New Perspective  

I am very thankful to some of the monks and people I met on my way to Bodh Gaya and in Bodh Gaya.

Much Appreciated, Forever & Eternally Grateful… 

So why is there so misery in this world? Why do bad things happen to people who are good and spiritual? Is there some problem with the order of this Universe? Why…