Chapter

Return to the Centre of the World

in The Holy Land Reborn

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226356488
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226356501 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226356501.003.0007
Return to the Centre of the World

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The ancient site of the Vajrāsana at Bodh Gayā, accepted by Buddhists as the precise spot of the Buddha's enlightenment and the place that the inhabitants of Tibet regarded as the very center of the world, remained completely lost to Tibetan worshippers for centuries. Following the final decline and even material destruction of Buddhist culture throughout the Middle Ganges and other regions of India during the thirteenth century, some 450 years went by before pilgrims from the high plateau ventured back to the area which had once been ancient Magadha. In the mid-eighteenth century, a Tibetan pilgrim by the name of Garshapa Sonam Rabgye returned to Bodh Gayā on a unique journey of religious exploration. This chapter examines Sonam Rabgye's journey back to the heart of his Buddhist holy land and nearby holy sites. It suggests that a Tibetan return to the Middle Ganges region at this time was largely stimulated by contacts with Nepal but also enabled by the particular ethos and practice style of one lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, the Drukpa branch of the Kagyüpa school.

Keywords: India; Tibet; Bodh Gayā; Buddhism; holy sites; Buddha; pilgrims; Garshapa Sonam Rabgye; Middle Ganges; Kagyüpa school

Chapter.  10996 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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