Bodh-Gaya: Ein internationales Zentrum des Buddhismus in nicht-buddhistischer Umgebung

  • Rainer Knopf (Author)

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Nowadays Bodh-Gaya, which is held by Buddhist tradition to be the place of the Buddha's enlightenment, is an international centre of Buddhism. This fact is not as self-evident as it seems. The place was a sacred place of Buddhism at least from the third century BC probably until the twelfth century Summaries 395 AD, when it became deserted by Buddhists as a consequence of the decline of Buddhism in India. Later Bodh-Gaya was included in the pilgrimage route of the Sraddha ceremony that is performed by Hindus for deceased family members in and around the nearby town Gaya. Probably in 1590 a Saivite Hindu monastery was established at Bodh-Gaya. Later on this monastery became wealthy due to a Jarman of a Mughal emperor. When the Buddhist revivalist Dharmapala came to Bodh-Gaya from Ceylon in 1891, he decided to make the place a living Buddhist centre again. He and his supporters soon came into conflict with the chief monk of the Hindu monastery, the so-called "mahant", who considered himself the owner of the Buddhist main temple in Bodh-Gaya. This conflict lasted for nearly sixty years and was dissolved through the so-called Bodh Gaya Temple Act in 1949, that provided for a joint Hindu-Buddhist management committee of the temple. Since then the place has become a lively international Buddhist centre that housed about 27 Buddhist temples, monasteries and institutions in February 1998. In 1992 a movement, almost exclusively backed by Ambedkar Buddhists, aimed at gaining complete control over the Mahabodhi Temple for the Buddhists. Out of this movement a radical group established itself, the "All India Mahabodhi Mahavihara Liberation Action Committee", whose leader is a Japanese monk called Surai Sasai. By means of a motorized procession, demonstrations and hunger strikes the "Action Committee" achieved the participation of its leaders in the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee. But the ultimate goal of handing over the temple management to an all-Buddhist committee has not yet been reached and the further development remains to be seen.