Bodhi Tree

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Bodhi Tree: Ficus religiosa
Enlarge picture
Under this Bodhi Tree in India, Gautama Buddha is said to have meditated until he had fully realized the philosophy that is the foundation of Buddhism. Getty Images.

Bodhi Tree (India)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Bodhi Tree, a large fig tree located in Bodhgaya, India, is honored by Buddhists as the originating location of their faith. As the story goes, Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, had been engaged in various austerities in his search for enlightenment. After several years of such exercises, he realized their futility and changed his focus. He sat under a tree vowing not to rise until he attained his goal. Here he engaged in various mental disciplines and subdued his mind. He followed his enlightenment with seven days of sitting meditation, seven days of walking meditation, and then seven more days under the tree. In 623 BCE, Gautama emerged from this period as the Buddha, the Enlightened One, ready to deliver his teachings to his close disciples.

Over the next centuries, the most famous incident concerning the tree relates to the conversion of King Asoka (third century BCE) to Buddhism. He subsequently found his way to Bodhgaya to meditate by the tree. As the story goes, his angry wife had the tree cut down. Asoka responded by having the tree stump covered with dirt, over which he poured milk. The tree miraculously revived. He later had a stone wall built around the tree’s trunk to protect it.

Sangamitta, Asoka’s daughter and a Buddhist nun, took a cutting from a shoot of the tree to Sri Lanka, where the king, Devanampiyatissa, planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in the old capital of Anuradhapura. This tree, derived from the original tree, is now the oldest continually documented tree in the world.

A century after Asoka, the original Bodhi Tree was destroyed by King Puspyamitra (second century BCE), although an offshoot of the tree was planted in its place. Then in 600 CE, King Sesanka, a zealous Hindu, destroyed the tree again. A new tree was planted in 620 by King Purnavarma. Little was heard of the tree for many centuries following Buddhism’s destruction in India in the twelfth century. In the nineteenth century, British archeologist Alexander Cunningham visited Bodhgaya on several occasions and documented the destruction of the tree as it was then constituted. Already weakened by rot, in 1876 the last remnant of the tree was destroyed in a storm. Several people had collected the seeds, and in 1881 Cunningham planted a new Bodhi Tree that stands today. That tree is the fourth in lineage from the original tree. With the support of the British colonial authorities, he began a restoration of Bodhgaya.

At the time Cunningham replanted the Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya had fallen into highly partisan Hindu ownership. In the 1890s, Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933), a Sri Lankan Buddhist, founded the Maha Bodhi Society for the expressed purpose of raising the money to buy back the Bodhgaya and return it to Buddhist control. That campaign had a partial victory in 1949, when a new temple management committee took control of the site. It is still the case that a majority of the committee and its chairperson must be Hindus, but Buddhists participate. In 2002, the temple at Bodhgaya was named a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Today, a number of Buddhist temples around the world have Bodhi Trees growing in or adjacent to them, all of which are believed to be offshoots of the one from Sri Lanka.


Dharmapala, Anagarika. The Arya Dharma of Sakya Muni, Gautama Buddha; or, The Ethics of Self Discipline. 1917. Reprint, Calcutta: Maha Bodhi Book Agency, 1989
Nissanka, H. S. S. Maha Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka: The Oldest Historical Tree in the World. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1996.
References in periodicals archive ?
The one thing he can't add, however, is the enveloping, peaceful ambience of a visit to the Bodhi Tree itself.
The Bodhi tree on the side of the temple is said to have grown from a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya.
LONG before Newcastle Univeristy scientist Professor Sugata Mitra took up the mantle as one of the world's most radical thinkers and became the inspiration for a hit Hollywood film, the Indian-born professor could be found standing quietly in contemplation under the dappled shade of the Bodhi Tree.
One day he sat under a bodhi tree and prayed to God for understanding.
Buddha had attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree located just behind the Mahabodhi temple in the 6th century BC, after which the site became known as the Land of Peace.
A small cylinder containing explosives has been found under the Bodhi tree, thought to be a descendant of the one that the Buddha sat under when he achieved enlightenment, according to tradition.
Fortunately, there was no damage to the Bodhi Tree or the main temple structure.
Among those who study the art of sacred numerology (according to Bodhi Tree Los Angeles) it is believed that by it's very definition, the number 3 is defined as the root number that attracts blessings where as the the number 2 according to sacred numerology has a root meaning of division in the affairs of man.
He has set his sights on New Age guru Dr Sinja for his own selfish purposes, but Dr Sinja is on to him and Jack's life comes unglued after a magical Bodhi tree mysteriously appears in his backyard.
Clint Chartrand, sales manager and dealer principal; Young Entrepreneur (under 30), Bodhi Tree Hot Yoga Studio--Jenny Wong, owner; Business of the Year (1-5 employees), Great White Electrical Services--Jeremy Wilson, owner; Business of the Year (6-49 employees), Pick of the Crop; Business of the Year (50+ employees), Imerys Talc--Mike Francoeur, Canadian operations manager; Non-Profit Organization Award, Downtown Timmins BIA--Noella Rinaldo, executive director; Environmental Excellence Award, Porcupine Gold Mines--Laszlo Gotz, environmental manager; Aboriginal Partnership Award, Detour Gold Corp.
But what sets Anuradhapura apart from other Buddhist sites is the Sri Maha Bodhi tree.
On the western side of the temple stands the Bodhi Tree, said to be a direct descendent of the very same tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment more than 2500 years ago.