Mahabodhi Tree

The Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa) also known as Pipul (Peepal) or Ashwattha trees (The Botanical Classification of the Pipal or Bo Tree is : Division - Magnoliophyta; Class - Magnoliopsida; Order - Urticales; Family - Moraceae).,  which are sacred to Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. According to Buddhist belief, Siddharta Gautama meditated under this tree, mentioned as Ashwattha in the Tipitaka, when he achieved Nirvana. The word 'Ashvattha' is derived from the Sanskrit roots 'Shwa' meaning tomorrow, 'a' indicating negation, and 'tha' meaning "one that stands or remains". (The Hindu philosopher Shankaracharya interprets the name to indicate "One which does not remain the same tomorrow", such as the universe itself.)

The present Bodhi Tree is probably the fifth succession of the original tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment. The tree is located behind the temple and is about 80 feet high and about 115 years old. Vajrasana, the seat of stability, is a stone platform on which the Buddha is supposed to have sat in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi tree. A sapling of the original bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under was carried by Emperor Ashoka's daughter (Sanghamitta) to Sri Lanka. That tree is at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. A cutting from that tree was planted in Budha Gaya when the original tree died. Under the tree is a red sandstone slab that is said to be the Vajrasana, the diamond throne, that Buddha sat on and attained nirvana.
Another sacred specimen, also propagated from the original Bodhi tree, is the Sri Maha Bodhi in Sri Lanka, planted in 288 BC, making it the oldest verified specimen of any angiosperm.


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