How long did buddha meditate under a tree


How the Buddha gained enlightenment

Young Siddhartha renounced all worldly things in search of the ultimate truth and enlightenment, going on to become one of the world’s greatest religious leaders—Gautama Buddha.

By Sonia Mehta

After wandering around for days and nights, Gautama found himself near a large peepul tree.

Something about the tree called out to him. He made a resolution. ‘I shall sit under this tree and meditate upon my questions. And I shall not move until I have my answers. Even if my skin rots and my body decays, I shall not budge till I see the light,’ he decided.

Subscriber Only Stories

View All

Buy at just Rs 108 per month now

He sat in the lotus position, closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing. As the night passed, he went through many different feelings.

Did You Know? Sitting cross-legged in meditation, with the eyes shut, is called the lotus position. It has been named so after the Buddha’s posture.

The Temptation of Mara

(Source: Puffin Books)

First, the evil demon Mara came to him. Mara tried his best to tempt Gautama away from his pursuit. He painted pictures of wealth and beauty. He tried to scare him with awful images of starvation and death. But Gautama remained steadfast, not tempted nor scared. Finally, Mara gave up and went away.

Gautama sat deep in profound meditation. He felt as if he was floating.

Suddenly, he could see the world as if from far, far away. He saw himself. He saw that he had died many times before and that he had been reborn each time. He saw all his past lives. He saw all the things he had done in his lives—the good as well as the bad. And finally, he realized something.

Advertisement

The Enlightenment

(Source: Puffin Books)

Gautama realized that people are born again when they desire things. Specifically, the bad things they do in their former lives cause them to come back to earth in a new life, as if to correct them. But the people who realize this and free themselves of desire—those who want nothing from life—are finally free from the cycle of birth and death. That’s when they reach nirvana, the perfect heaven.

Of course, all this was in Gautama’s mind while his body sat still, which seemed to glow brilliantly from within. At that moment, Gautama had become a Buddha. He had seen the light.

Oh Really? The peepul tree under which Gautama saw the light is called the Bodhi tree. It still stands tall in present-day Bihar, in a place called Bodhgaya. Buddhists from all over the world continue to visit it as it is one of the most holy spots for them.

What Is Nirvana

?

Nirvana, according to Buddhism, is the state in which the mind is at complete peace and the soul is merged with the universe. It is reached when a person’s desires and suffering all go away and they need nor want nothing.

Advertisement

The Next Seven Weeks

For the next seven weeks, the Buddha continued to sit in silence, allowing his mind and spirit to understand what he had just seen.

During the first week, the Buddha was happy and content, feeling true peace for the first time.

OH REALLY? Even now, it is customary for Buddhists to pay homage to the Bodhi tree that canopied the Buddha, as well as the offshoots of the tree.

During the second week, he felt a deep gratitude to the peepul tree that had sheltered him as he’d sought the light.

During the third week, the Buddha saw the devas. Not sure if they were indeed gods, he built a golden bridge in the air and walked across it to the heavens.

During the fourth week, he created a special chamber in which he meditated. His mind and body became so pure that it is said to have radiated bright rays in six different colours—blue, orange, red, white, yellow and a combination of these five colours. These colours stood for purity, confidence, wisdom, the lack of desire and holiness. The five colours together stood for all these qualities.

Did You Know? The Buddhist flag is in these six colours.

Advertisement

During the fifth week, three beautiful girls appeared, who tried their best to distract the Buddha and lure him away from his thoughts. Their names were Raga, Rati and Tanha. But no matter how much they tried, the Buddha remained unmoved.

(Source: Puffin Books)

During the sixth week, the Buddha went to meditate at the foot of the Mucalinda tree. It began to rain and the air was freezing. That’s when an enormous king cobra called Mucalinda appeared and coiled himself around the Buddha seven times. Then he raised his hood and covered the Buddha, keeping him warm and dry.

Advertisement

During the seventh week, two merchants called Tapussa and Bhallika appeared. The Buddha, seated under the Rajayatana tree, had been fasting for forty-nine days by then. They brought rice cakes and honey to help him break his fast. When the Buddha explained what he had experienced, they were entranced. They became his first ordinary followers, and the Buddha gave them a strand of hair from his head as a token.

Oh Really? The strand of hair that the Buddha is said to have given Tapussa and Bhallika is enshrined in a Buddhist pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.

(Excerpted with permission from Junior Lives: Gautama Buddha, authored by Sonia Mehta, published by Puffin India 2018. MRP: Rs. 150.)

The Life of Buddha

There is some debate about the exact date of birth of Gautama Buddha, but general consensus seems to put it at around 500 to 400 B.C. He was born as Prince Gautama Siddharta into a royal warrior family in what was northern India (now Nepal). At the time of his birth, astrologers predicted he would either become a great king or a spiritual saviour depending on which path he chose in life. Gautama’s father wanted him to become a great king and the young prince was restricted to life within the palace grounds living a pampered and sheltered existence. During this time he would have worn heavy jewels and precious stones in his ears and this is why many Buddha images depict him with elongated earlobes. Although Gautama married and became a father, he later went against his father’s authority by leaving the palace. In the outside world he encountered the suffering of the people. He went on to live a life of self-denial and self-mortification in an attempt to find out why pain and suffering was intrinsic to human life.

The Middle Way

Gautama wandered the countryside for a number of years without coming any closer to the answer. Eventually he realised that the body needed to be physically fit to train the mind in order to attain enlightenment. Just as following a path of decadence was not the way forward, nor was following a path of self-imposed deprivation. Instead, he would follow the ‘Middle Way; neither over-indulgent nor too austere.

Enlightenment

Gautama sat down beside a riverside bodhi tree and assuming the cross-legged lotus position, he began to meditate. For 49 days he contemplated the causes of suffering. As he meditated, Mara (the Evil One) tried to distract him by sending temptation his way. Mara was finally subdued when Gautama summoned the earth goddess, Mae Thoranee, by pointing the fingers of his right hand at the ground. This gesture is known as Bhumisparsa Mudra and can be seen on many statues and depictions of Buddha in Thailand. The earth goddess was able to wring her hair and produce floods of water which defeated Mara and her minions.

With temptation defeated, Gautama attained enlightenment and by doing so became a Buddha. He was 35-years-old. The bodhi tree (or bo tree) now has special significance for Buddhists and can often be seen inside the grounds of a Thai wat.

Dharma

The Buddha preached his first sermon at a deer park in India. His Dharma (doctrine or teachings) were characterised as a wheel and this symbol is known as Dharmachakra, the Wheel of Doctrine (or Wheel of Life, Wheel of Law). This symbol can be seen on Thai religious flags and Thai temples often have depictions of deer (as statues or on murals) to commemorate the place where the Buddha’s first sermon was made. In Thailand, the preaching of this first sermon is commemorated on Asahna Bucha Day in July.

The spontaneous gathering of over 1,000 followers to hear the Buddha speak is commemorated by another Thai public holiday, Makha Bucha Day, in February.

The Buddha’s Preaching’s

For over 40 years the Buddha travelled the region of India and preached and performed miracles gathering followers as he did so. During this time he temporarily returned to his father’s palace and was reunited with his wife and child.

Nirvana

The Buddha died at the age of 80 by the banks of a river at Kusinari in India. Lying on his side with his head propped up by his hand and a serene expression, the Buddha passed into Nirvana. This moment is captured in the image of the Reclining Buddha which can be seen in many statues throughout Thailand, most famously at Wat Po in Bangkok. Nirvana is a blissful state with no suffering and no reincarnation.

Visakha Bucha

Buddhists believe that the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and entered Nirvana on the same date and this is commemorated on the day of the full moon in the sixth lunar month (usually May but sometimes June) and is known as Visakha Bucha Day.

Sources:
Buddhanet.net – Buddhism in a nutshell
BBC – Religion & Ethics

Sacred Buddha Tree

Buddhists greatly revere the place of Bodh Gaya, which is located a hundred kilometers from Panta in India. There, the aristocratic offspring of Siddhartha Guatama was in a state of meditation under the Bodhi tree. Having attained enlightenment, he became a Buddha.

From historical religious documents, one can learn that at the beginning of the 4th century BC. Siddhartha Guatama saw the suffering of the world. He wanted to get rid of them, freeing his soul. Even in his youth, he followed the teachings of Hinduism, which were of ancient origin. For training, the prince looked for spiritual mentors, asked them and used a variety of yoga and meditation practices. This went on for 7 years, three of which were distinguished by an extremely ascetic existence. But the goal of enlightenment Siddhartha failed to achieve.

Then the prince went to the ancient protected forests of Uruvela, which are located in northern India. There he wanted to descend into infinity and fully know it. In this he was guided by ghostly dreams. Siddhartha followed the footprints left by the Buddhas of the three previous periods, Kanakamuni, Krakuchanda and Kashyapa. They happened to achieve enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree.

The young prince also sat under the Sacred Tree. The prince sank to the ground, crouching beside her. The young man wanted her to see the many and varied embodiments of goodness that brought him to this place of enlightenment.

Siddhartha's decision was not to get up until the very moment he had attained enlightenment. He knew that his body might shrivel, his bones and muscles might decay, but he was still determined not to leave the Tree. The young man longed to comprehend Enlightenment, for the achievement of which several time periods had to pass.

While Prince Siddhartha was in a state of prostration under the Sacred Tree, the Dark Lord of Death came to him. He wanted to distract him from his efforts. Appearing from the darkness, Mara shook the earth. He called his army of demons, who tried to prevent Siddhartha from reaching Enlightenment. The demons created illusions around the prince, Siddhartha managed to destroy them during the sacred battle.

Siddhartha was not seduced by the beautiful daughters of the Lord of Death, nor by the terrible demons who wanted to eat him. With his power of compassion, he was able to turn Mara's weapons into flowers. After that, the Dark Lord of Death and his retinue disappeared. Three days later, Siddhartha's wish came true - he became the Buddha ("Enlightened One").

After that, the Buddha visited 7 holy places in the area. There, for a whole week, he also fell into a state of meditation. He needed to reflect on his experience. The next week, the Buddha spent standing under the Sacred Bodhi Tree, not leaving a single step from it. Now this place is marked by the Animishlocha Stupa, and nearby is the Mahabothi temple complex. An ancient legend says that lotus flowers bloomed all along the path of the Buddha. Now this path is called Ratnachakarma or the Precious Path.

After days of endless meditation at the urging of the god Indra, the Buddha began to talk about the great truths he realized. He spoke of them for the first time in Isipatan. This sermon is called "Setting the Wheel of Truth in Motion." It consists of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the hallmark of Buddhism. After that, the Buddha wandered for 45 years in the Ganges valley. He taught the truths to simple peasants and to the nobility.

Emperor Ashoka ruled in 250 BC. One day he visited Bodh Gaya. There the emperor founded a monastery and a temple. This event happened 250 years after Buddha's enlightenment. In the temple, a Diamond Throne was built on the site of Siddhartha's meditations. Replaced the Temple of Ashoka in the 2nd century. The Mahabodhi temple was built in its place. It has been restored several times.

Once Ashoka's wife, Queen Tissarakha cut down a Bodhi tree without permission out of jealousy of her husband. Ashoka spent quite a lot of time around him. But the Sacred Tree grew again. By order of the ruler around it was fenced with a high wall. Some time later, the Daughter of Ashoka, who became a nun, took the cut tree to Sri Lanka. There, the Sri Lankan king Devanampiyatissa planted him in the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura. This tree still grows there today.

The real tree in Bodhgaya was destroyed by the ruler Pushpyamitra in the 2nd century BC. Then he zealously pursued Buddhism. The descendant of this tree was again destroyed at the beginning of the 7th century by the ruler Sasanka. The tree that now grows in Bodh Gaya was planted in 1881 by a British scientist at the site of a man who died of old age a few years earlier. Both now and in ancient times, the surroundings of Bodh Gaya were loved by sages, yogis and meditators. Many great personalities have meditated under the Sacred Buddha Tree.

Botanically, the Bodhi tree is classified as a variety of figs from the Moraceae family. Its leaves are somewhat unusual. They have a heart-shaped shape with a characteristic elongation at the end, a kind of tailed tip. Of course, the tree that exists today is not the one that grew 2500 years ago, but it may be a direct descendant of it. The fact that the Bodhi tree is directly associated with the Buddha and enlightenment, it is sacred to all Buddhists. It has great symbolic meaning.

Many believers consider it to be the center of the world and the place of all the buddhas where they attain enlightenment. Often his image was used in Buddhist art even before the image of the Buddha. Enlightenment was depicted with the Bodhi tree. Pilgrims took with them the leaves and seeds of the Sacred Tree to monasteries and homes. All sacred trees in India and nearby countries are most likely the direct descendants of the Bodhi Tree.

Buddhists have a tradition of planting a bodhi tree in every Buddhist temple since ancient times. This symbolizes the presence of dharma - Buddhist teachings. When pilgrims visit the Bodhi Tree, they decorate its branches with prayer flags and leave offerings underneath.

The tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment

The main romance of traveling lies in the fact that you find yourself inside the real film itself - there is no usual home, work, family, there is not a single link to the present in the direct sense of the word.
Bright pictures alternate every day, forming a film of life, in which you hone your skills as an observer and director. Imagination goes beyond the usual and the world is seen completely different.
A world where the impossible and unthinkable is more than possible and real...

We continue to get acquainted with the sights of Northern India and the city of Bodhgaya.
Today I will go to meditation in the footsteps of the Buddha, under the very tree under which everything happened...


Zen Garden - Kokin Gumi - Buddhist Meditation Music

Pipal, Sacred Ficus or Bodhi/Buddha tree is the name given to the most sacred tree that has ever adorned the Earth. Mighty, decomposed, in the shadow of which more than 2600 years ago, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, spiritual teacher and founder of the teachings of Buddhism, reached the state of enlightenment.

1.

This tree still exists, or rather its direct descendant.
The original Sri Mahabodhi Tree, as the Buddhists call it, was the favorite tree of Emperor Ashoka the Great, who reigned in 269- 232 years. BC, about a century after the death of the Buddha. The tree was revered by the emperor with special attention and care.
Ashoka's wife, in a fit of furious jealousy for the tree(!), which takes so much attention from her husband, poured poison into the root of the tree, which directly led to his death.

2.

Fortunately, shortly before this incident, Ashoka's daughter took one of the young shoots of the tree to Sri Lanka, where it grows to this day. The shoot of this already Sri Lankan descendant was brought back to India some time later, and planted in the place of the original tree. Here is a series of rebirths of one tree.

3.

Under this tree, the Buddha spent the first week after enlightenment, literally numb with surprise and awe.
The symbolism of the Buddha and the Bodhi tree or "World Tree" is this.
"Bodhi" - means "transcendental wisdom" or awakening. The roots of the tree go deep into the ground, and the branches rise high in the sky, thus the tree harmoniously unites 2 opposites - heaven and earth.
Like a tree, the Buddha combines human and divine nature.

4.

There is a tree at the back of the Mahabodhi temple. Here is also the main place for meditation.

5.

Pilgrims bring flowers, fruits, water, sweets and incense as offerings

6.

There are more lotuses here than in any body of water!

7.

Everything inside rejoices and rejoices about such an abundance of living beauty around.

8.

Mystical incense smoke, beautiful flowers, burning candles, serene images of Buddhas and unhurried pilgrims form a kind of symbiosis, creating a single image of a Buddhist paradise...

9.

The central slab in the tree enclosure is covered with sheets of gold leaf.

10.

It is believed that if you touch this stone with your head, you will receive the blessing of the Buddha himself.

11.

12.

View from the opposite side

13.

Among pilgrims, as well as among tourists, there is a kind of "hunt" for leaves.
Despite the measured rhythm of the place, the moment when a leaf breaks off a tree can be compared to the "Start" signal at the Olympic Games. People in a swift whirlwind, competing in a race, are trying to catch a precious piece of eternity... Not a single leaf reaches the ground.

Watching this moment, awareness comes and sense of humor goes off scale. You begin to smile patronizingly and understandingly with the mysterious smile of the Buddha, as if in that moment you have known the truth.
We are all people striving for divine perfection, generously endowed with human weaknesses.
We are "humans", and therefore nothing human is alien to us

14.

A week after enlightenment, the Buddha went to another tree.
Lotus blossomed where he set foot

15.

Each of these "footprints" is marked with stone lotuses.
Near the temple you can find the footprint of the Buddha. By their size, you can easily determine the approximate height of a person. Figuratively speaking, one can imagine how great a person was with such a footprint.

17.

18.

Prayers come from everywhere...they have a clear rhythm and purpose...they literally saturate the air, along with the fragrant aromas of the lotus

19.

A flow of energy of such force, directed towards the goal of "Achieve Enlightenment", is unlikely to be found anywhere else on Earth.

20.

Among the pilgrims there are also those who make a kora around the temple (roundabout) with prostrations.
The practice of prostration is one of the forms of psycho-physical Buddhist practice, when a person makes a full bow.
In the process of prostrations, one visualizes the great teachers of Buddhism, Buddhas, Bothisattvas and protectors thus prostrating before them. In this process, the mind calms down, the body and soul are cleansed.
Prostrations in Bodh Gaya have been the goal of many Buddhist pilgrims for many centuries, who strive to do one hundred thousand prostrations here.

21.

Here you can meet pilgrims from all over the globe.
Pictured above are Tibetan and Japanese women. All are united by one desire - one goal.

22.

Acupuncture (acupuncture) is also practiced here.
Acupuncturists will offer you to use needles to create an influx of energy to certain places so that your meditation goes well.
More than 2600 years have passed, but despite this, enlightenment is thirsty here just as much.

23.

Everyone longs to experience what the Buddha experienced in this very place.
I was no exception - the thirst for knowledge and new experience, as well as considerable curiosity, brought me here.

24.

One thing is for sure, time flows differently here. I spent about 30 minutes in meditation, but it felt like an eternity.
At the very beginning, she was thrown into a fever, the flow of thoughts accelerated significantly, tears appeared in her eyes, and there was a feeling as if she had returned home after countless years of wandering. Deep emotions were also accompanied by internal visual images of light and fire.
I immediately remembered the words of the Buddha: "Thousands of candles can be lit from one burning candle", it seems that Jesus had something on the same topic.
I have been practicing meditation for several years, but this is the first time I have experienced such deep sensations.

25.

No matter what various teachings and spiritual leaders tell us, everyone has their own path and everyone has their own unique feelings. The main thing is to follow this path without imposing your views on anyone. Otherwise, we run the risk of waking up one day in a monotonous world where everything is the same :)

On this optimistic note, I say goodbye to you until next time.


Learn more