Bodh Gaya in the North Indian state of Bihar has long been recognized as the place where the Buddha achieved enlightenment. This book brings together the recent work of twelve scholars from a variety of disciplines - anthropology, art history, history, and religion – to highlight their various findings and perspectives on different facets of Bodh Gaya’s past and present.
Through an engaging and critical overview of the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, the book discusses the dynamic and contested nature of this site, and looks at the tensions with the on-going efforts to define the place according to particular histories or identities. It addresses many aspects of Bodh Gaya, from speculation about why the Buddha chose to sit beneath a tree in Bodh Gaya, to the contemporary struggles over tourism development, education and non-government organizations, to bring to the foreground the site's longevity, reinvention and current complexity as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. The book is a useful contribution for students and scholars of Buddhism and South Asian Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Multiple Lives of Bodh Gaya: Defining Views and Changing Perspectives David Geary, Matthew R. Sayers, and Abhishek Singh Amar Part 1: Empowering the Landscape of the Buddha 1. Gaya-Bodh Gaya: The Origins of a Pilgrimage Complex Matthew R. Sayers 2. Sacred Bodh Gaya : The Buddhaksetra of Gotama Buddha Abhishek Singh Amar 3. The Changing Landscape at Bodh Gaya Janice Leoshko 4. Bodh Gaya and the Issue of Originality in Art Frederick M. Asher Part 2: Monumental Conjectures: Rebirths and Retellings 5. Established Usage and Absolute Freedom of Religion at Bodh Gaya: 1861–1915 Alan Trevithick 6. Queen Victoria Beneath the Bodhi Tree: Anagarika Dharmapala as Anti-Imperialist and Victorian Noel Salmond 7. Bodh Gaya in the 1950s: Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahant Giri, and Anagarika Munindra C. Robert Pryor 8. "Why Cause Unnecessary Confusion?": Re-inscribing the Mahabodhi Temple’s Holy Places Tara Doyle Part 3: Universal Dreams and Local Departures 9. World Heritage in the Shadow of Zamindari David Geary 10. Maitreya, or The Love of Buddhism: The Non-Event of a Bodh Gaya’s Giant Statue Jessica Marie Falcone 11. Universal Education and Social Transformation in Bodh Gaya Kory Goldberg 12. NGOs, Corruption, and Reciprocity in the Land of Buddha’s Enlightenment Jason Rodriguez
David Geary is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Oxford, UK. His research interests include religion, diaspora and transnationalism, international development and the politics of World Heritage in South Asia.
Matthew R. Sayers teaches religion at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, USA. His research focuses on the rituals of ancestor worship in the transition from Vedic to Classical expressions of Indian religiosity, focusing particularly on the ritual of śrāddha.
Abhishek Singh Amar works in the Department of Religious Studies at Hamilton College, USA. His research interests include archaeological history of Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions in pre-modern India.