Essay

Discover the Bodhi Tree and Why It’s So Important Throughout the World

In Buddhism, the Bodhi Tree is a highly valued emblem. Bodhi trees are still around today, and many of its devotees attach great religious value to them. Let us explore the significance of the Bodhi Tree on a global scale.

What Is the Bodhi Tree?

For those who follow Buddhism, the sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa), known as the “tree of awakening,” holds great religious significance. Even though the main narrative of Buddhism alludes to a single tree, any sacred fig tree in existence today is regarded as a bodhi tree.

The term “bodhi” refers to awakening or enlightenment, which is the same as nirvana. Every Buddhist aspires to preserve nirvana.

A person has attained nirvana when they are in a state of consciousness where they have transcended the concept of self. A person who has attained nirvana is neither joyful nor in need of material or spiritual goods, nor does they go through pain. The attainment of nirvana liberates a person from death, reincarnation, and any other potential afterlife spiritual recycling.

Why Is the Bodhi Tree So Important Throughout the World?

Because the first Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree, it is revered worldwide. Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha under a sacred fig tree in 500 BCE. Before reaching nirvana, Siddhartha pondered under the original Bodhi Tree for 49 days straight, without stopping or rising.

Currently, 500 million individuals worldwide identify as Buddhists. Though there are sizable Buddhist communities in Japan, the US, and other nations, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia are home to the greatest concentration of adherents. Bodhi tree symbolism has a profound impact on cultures all over the world as a result.

Is the Original Bodhi Tree Still Alive?

No, there is no living Bodhi tree that the Buddha first sat beneath to achieve enlightenment. But since the initial Bodhi Tree’s existence, another Bodhi tree has sprouted at its original location.

The Indian Subcontinent’s queen destroyed the first Bodhi tree in 254 BCE. Her king, Ashoka the Great, was a Buddhist who ruled over a vast territory between 268 and 232 BCE. After ascending to the throne, he disapproved of the complex Hindu customs and encouraged many people to join the Buddha.

Tissarakkha, the queen, was a petty person who took offense with Ashoka taking time to fret over the Bodhi tree. She had it destroyed as a result. She had the tree replanted in the original location after that since she felt guilty.

How Many Bodhi Trees Are There Today?

There are currently at least twelve Bodhi trees that are related to the original Bodhi tree. There are these trees everywhere in the world. In addition to Gautama, other Buddhas are credited with planting Bodhi trees; these include about thirty individuals whose ancient histories may be independently verified.

The Mahabodhi Tree

In the precise location where the first Bodhi tree stood, in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, there stands an old Bodhi tree. This tree, known as the Mahabodhi Tree, has been growing here since about 250 BCE. The current tree and its ancestors stand in the same hallowed location where Gautama attained nirvana, despite the fact that numerous versions of this tree have existed since the one that saw the Buddha’s enlightenment.

The Anandabodhi Tree

At the Jetavana Monastery, Ananda planted a sapling of the original Bodhi tree. It is currently referred to as the Anandabodhi Tree. The majority of devotees think that the Buddha spent a night sitting beneath this tree after it was first planted, having grown from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree.

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree

Another place with a revered bodhi tree is Sri Lanka, where the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is located in Anuradhapura. It is thought that the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree originated from a sapling that was taken from the original Bodhi tree, just as the Anandabodhi Tree. It is the oldest living tree that was planted by humans when it was placed in its current location in 288 BCE.

Progeny of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Anandabodhi, and Mahabodhi Trees

At least nine of the primary Bodhi trees that were propagated from the original Bodhi tree have sent saplings to other areas of the world and grown into distinct trees. Consequently, these saplings produced bodhi trees, which may now be found in Hawaii, other locations in India, Vietnam, California, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and other countries. More have been generated from these trees.

What Is the Lifespan of a Sacred Fig Tree (Ficus religiosa)?

With the right care, sacred fig trees can live for 900–1500 years. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is more than 2250 years old. It is thought that they might live for more than 3,000 years.

Sacred Fig Trees, also known as Bodhi trees, are big, semi-deciduous trees that can reach heights of up to 100 feet. They behave like evergreens in the contiguous United States, except in their native habitat, which has distinct monsoon cycles.

The trunk of the sacredfig tree can reach a height of nine feet, and its branches spread out into a very broad canopy. Because their branches stretch out so widely from the trunk, these trees make excellent shade trees. They are frequently utilized in urban environments and have a rapid rate of growth in their native areas in Asia and India.

What Other Tree Species Exist as Bodhi Trees?

Compared to Siddhartha Gautama, there are more known Buddhas, and some of them attained enlightenment while sitting beneath non-holy fig trees (Ficus religiosa). Other bodhi tree species include the following:

Strangler Fig Trees (Ficus obtusifolia)
Indian Trumpet Trees (Oroxylum indicum)
Cobra Saffrons (Mesua ferrea)
Arjuna Trees (Terminalia arjuna)
Longleaf Indian Pines (Pinus roxburghii)
Kadam Trees (Neolamarckia cadamba)
Giant Thorny Bamboos (Bambusa bambos)
Sacred Garlic Pears (Crateva religiosa)
Champaks (Magnolia champaca)
Indian Pellet Shrubs (Pavetta indica)
Karnikara Trees (Pterospermum acerifolium)
Asna Trees (Terminalia elliptica)
Malacca Trees (Phyllanthus emblica)
Fragrant Padri Trees (Stereospermum chelonoides)
Mango Trees (Mangifera indica)
Sal Trees (Shorea robusta)
Indian Sirises (Albizia lebbeck)
Cluster Fig Trees (Ficus racemosa)
Banyan Fig Trees (Ficus benghalensis)