Bodh Gaya (once Uruvela village) is the place where, 2500 years ago, in the 6th century BC, a young ascetic, Siddhartha, attained enlightenment to become the Buddha, and found Buddhism, one of the world's oldest religions. Born into the ruling family of the Sakyas, Siddhartha had renounced his royal heritage, and since then had faced many hardships in his search for Truth. He came to Bodh Gaya looking for a quiet retreat where he could meditate upon the causes for human suffering.
Siddhartha spread Kusha grass beneath the Bodhi or Bo tree (Pipal tree, botanical name Ficus religiosia) and sat cross-legged facing the east with a vow to get up only if he attained supreme knowledge. For 7 weeks, Mara, the temptor, assaulted him with his weapons of flood, fire, thunder and lightening. Then Mara's three beautiful daughters tried to allure him, but in vain. Siddhartha entered deeper states of contemplation. His quest finally ended at dawn on Vaisakha Poornima, the full moon day in April-May, when the kind daughter of the village chief of Senani, Sujata, brought him a bowl of kheer (sweet thickened milk). It is said that the gods had infused the kheer with ambrosia. Siddhartha attained Samma Sambodhi, the Enlightenment that he had been seeking for so long. He was no more a seeker … he had become the Buddha.
As the place of the Buddha's Enlightenment, Bodh Gaya is the spiritual home of Buddhists. Located in Bihar, 115kms from Patna, the land is rich and fertile, dotted with green fields and watered by the river Phalgu - the same ancient Niranjana river where the Buddha bathed after attaining enlightenment. A range of low forested hills silhouette the small hamlets flanking the glistening, sandy banks of the river. Monks and nuns rub shoulders with tourists and believers from all over the world. An all-pervading calm envelops the town, giving visitors a sense of peace.
Chalcollithic Age (1100-600BCE)
During this period there was already settled agriculture, hunting and fishing in Bodh Gaya. People were living in reed and bamboo or wattle and daub buildings and were skilled in making pottery, stone implements, arrow heads, fish hooks, etc. The pottery of his period is referred to as Black and Red ware, and features decorations in slips on red and black surfaces. The presence of rice husk impressions in pottery indicates that rice was already being cultivated in this area at this time as well as cereals. They did not use iron implements but were familiar with copper and there is evidence for the smelting of copper goods in Bodh Gaya. (Ansari, A.Q, 1990, Archaeological Remains of Bodh Gaya, Ramanand Vidya Bhawan, Delhi, pp: 44-51)
Iron age (600-200 BCE)
This period is marked in archaeological excavations not only by the introduction of iron implements but by the adoption of new techniques in pottery making which produced a kind of pottery called Northern Black Polished Pottery (NBP), a remarkable mirror like light ceramic. This era also saw the introduction of coin age which is found in excavations from this period.
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