1st Edition

The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya Constructing Sacred Placeness, Deconstructing the ‘Great Case’ of 1895

By Nikhil Joshi Copyright 2020
    492 Pages
    by Routledge

    492 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume investigates the historic and ethnographic accounts of the ongoing religious contestations over the status of the Mahābodhi Temple complex in Bodhgayā (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002) and its surrounding landscape to critically analyse the working and construction of sacredness. It endeavours to make a ground-up assessment of ways in which human participants in the past and present respond to and interact with the Mahābodhi Temple and its surroundings.
    The volume argues that sacredness goes beyond scriptural texts and archaeological remains. The Mahābodhi Temple is complex and its surround­ing landscape is a ‘living’ heritage, which has been produced socially and constitutes differential densities of human involvement, attachment, and experience. Its significance lies mainly in the active interaction between religious architecture within its dynamic ritual settings. This endless con­testation of sacredness and its meaning should not be seen as the ‘death’ of the Mahābodhi Temple; on the contrary, it illustrates the vitality of the ongoing debate on the meaning, understanding, and use of the sacred in the Indian context.

    Please note: Taylor & Francis does not sell or distribute the Hardback in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

    List of Illustrations. Foreword. Acknowledgements.
    1. The ‘Living’ Humanized Sacred Place: An Introduction 2. The Origins and History of the Mahābodhi Temple 3. Constructing Sacred Placeness: Rituals Around the Bodhi Tree 4. Divergence, Convergence: Hindu-Buddhist Encounters 5. Anagarika Dharmapāla: A Modern Political Activist and Defender of the Dharma 6. Deconstructing the Great Case 7. The Two Faces of Bodhgayā: Sacred to Buddhists and Hindus
    Appendices. Appendix 1: The Bodh Gaya Temple Act, 1949. Appendix 2: The Budh-Gaya Temple Case. Appendix 3: Letter from Mr. Beglar to the Mahant of Buddha-Gaya Math. Appendix 4: Excerpts of the Court Judgement.
    Bibliography. Further Reading. Index.


    Nikhil Joshi is a Research Fellow in the Department of Architecture at National University of Singapore. Educated at the University of Pune, University of York, and National University of Singapore, he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, UK, and recipient of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Lethaby Scholarship, UK.