DESTINATION ENLIGHTENMENT: BUDDHISM AND THE GLOBAL BAZAAR IN BODH GAYA, BIHAR by David Geary B.A., Simon Fraser University, 1999 M.A., Carleton University, 2003 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Anthropology) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) December 2009 © David Geary, 2009 ABSTRACT This dissertation is a historical ethnography that examines the social transformation of Bodh Gaya into a World Heritage site. On June 26, 2002, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya was formally inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As a place of cultural heritage and a monument of “outstanding universal value” this inclusion has reinforced the ancient significance of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment. In this dissertation, I take this recent event as a framing device for my historical and ethnographic analysis that details the varying ways in which Bodh Gaya is constructed out of a particular set of social relations. How do different groups attach meaning to Bodh Gaya's space and negotiate the multiple claims and memories embedded in place? How is Bodh Gaya socially constructed as a global site of memory and how do contests over its spatiality implicate divergent histories, narratives and events? In order to delineate the various historical and spatial meanings that place holds for different groups I examine a set of interrelated transnational processes that are the focus of this dissertation: 1) the emergence of Buddhist monasteries, temples and/or guest houses tied to international pilgrimage; 2) the role of tourism and pilgrimage as a source of economic livelihood for local residents; and 3) the role of state tourism development and urban planning. Based on my analysis of these social constituencies I argue that World Heritage sites, like the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, are important global spaces of convergence where history, memory, narratives and groups are entangled through UNESCO's universal claims. It is for these reasons that it is important to look beyond the universal abstraction and examine the ways in which spaces of global memory are laden with social and cultural meaning that is activated, reproduced and contested through a range of social practices. In this way, World Heritage is not only about the production of authoritative pasts but it is also about creating new meanings and forging new global public spheres across cultural, national and religious difference. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract....................................................................................................................................................ii Table of Contests....................................................................................................................................iii List of Figures .........................................................................................................................................v List of Abbreviations............................................................................................................................vii Acknowledgments................................................................................................................................viii Dedication...............................................................................................................................................ix 1 Introduction: From Hermitage to World Heritage: Buddhism and the Global Bazaar...............................1 1.1 Locating World Heritage and Global Spaces of Universal Value.....................................3 1.1.1 Bodh Gaya as a Multilocal Place...........................................................................6 1.1.2 Bodh Gaya as a Site of Memory............................................................................8 1.1.3 Bodh Gaya as a Site of Global Connection.........................................................10 1.2 Ethnographic Setting: Bodh Gaya's Annual Cycle..........................................................13 1.3 Fieldwork Background and Methodology.......................................................................19 1.4 Overview of Chapters......................................................................................................22 2 Chapter Two: The Light of Asia: A Contested Site of Religious Faith.........................................................25 2.1 Recovering the Past: Convergences among the British Raj, Burmese Missions and the Giri Sect................................................................................27 2.2 Reclaiming the Past: Sir Edwin Arnold, Dharmapala and the Mahabodhi Society........34 2.3 Recasting the Past: Indian National Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Bodh Gaya Temple Act......................................................................................47 2.4 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................55 3 Chapter Three: The Navel of the Earth: Buddhist Pilgrimage and Transnational Religious Networks...................................................................................................................56 3.1 Buddhism and the Nation-State: Pilgrimage and the Return of the Religious Diaspora....................................................................................57 3.1.1 Thailand and Southeast Asian Buddhism............................................................61 3.1.2 Burmese, Vipassana and Western Meditation Instructors...................................62 3.1.3 Mahabodhi Society of India.................................................................................67 3.1.4 Tibetan Refugees and Himalayan Buddhists.......................................................71 3.1.5 Japanese Buddhism..............................................................................................78 3.1.6 East Asian Mahayana Buddhism.........................................................................81 3.1.7 Indian Buddhism..................................................................................................84 3.2 Buddhism and Jungle Raj: Where the Middle way meets the Crooked path..................85 3.2.1 Dacoity and the making of Spiritual Gated Communities...................................87 3.2.2 Commercial and Religious Entanglements..........................................................91 3.2.3 Acquiring Land the Crooked Way.......................................................................96 3.3 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................98 iii 4 Chapter Four: Servitude Revisited: Tourism and the Public Life of the Global Bazaar...........................100 4.1 Bonded Histories and Labor Servitude..........................................................................101 4.1.1 The Bodh Gaya Math and the Consolidation of Power.....................................101 4.1.2 Agrarian Reform and Land Gift Movements.....................................................106 4.1.3 The Bodh Gaya Land Struggle..........................................................................108 4.2 “God is Guest”: Tourism in the Global Bazaar.............................................................116 4.2.1 Bodh Gaya's Global Bazaar...............................................................................117 4.2.2 Tibetan Merchants and the Restaurants.............................................................121 4.2.3 Hoteliers and Japanese Brides...........................................................................130 4.2.4 Touts, 'Friendly Guides' and the Informal Economy of Tourism......................138 4.3 Conclusion.....................................................................................................................145 5 Chapter Five: Genealogies of a Master Plan: Branding Buddhism and Tourism Development in Bihar......................................................................................148 5.1 A Landscape Suitable for Striving: The Master Plan and its Displacements................149 5.1.1 2500th Buddha Jayanti........................................................................................149 5.1.2 Draft Master Plan of 1966.................................................................................150 5.1.3 The Revised Master Plan and Relocation of Taradih Village...........................159 5.2 Branding Bihar: Tourism Development and the Buddhist Circuit................................165 5.2.1 National Park Services and the SPA Tourism Development Plan....................167 5.2.2 OECF and the Japanese Market Survey............................................................171 5.2.3 Destination Enlightenment: Buddhism in a Neoliberal era...............................174 5.3 Conclusion.....................................................................................................................181 6 Chapter Six: Managing Universal Value: The Conditioned Genesis of a World Heritage Site.............183 6.1 “Capturing the Centre”: A Contested Site of Religious Memory Revisited.................184 6.1.1 Ambedkar Buddhists.........................................................................................186 6.1.2 Mahabodhi Society of India...............................................................................191 6.1.3 Local Intelligentsia............................................................................................195 6.2 The Spatial and Aesthetic Politics of a World Heritage site.........................................199 6.2.1 The Mahabodhi Temple Complex: a UNESCO World Heritage site................200 6.2.2 Resurrection of a Master Plan............................................................................204 6.2.3 Resistance to the Master Plan............................................................................211 6.3 Conclusion.....................................................................................................................217 7 Conclusion: The Light of Asia Redux: World Heritage and the Global Public Sphere.........................220 7.1 Bodh Gaya as a Living Religious Heritage Site............................................................222 7.2 A Culture of Peace in the Global Public Sphere...........................................................227 7.3 Light of Asia Redux: Bihar, an Enlightening Experience.............................................233 Bibliography........................................................................................................................................241 iv LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2 Figure 1.3 Figure 1.4 Figure 1.5 Figure 1.6 Figure 1.7 Figure 1.8 Figure 1.9 Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4 Figure 2.5 Figure 2.6 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2 Figure 3.3 Figure 3.4 Figure 3.5 Figure 3.6 Figure 3.7 Figure 3.8 Figure 3.9 Figure 3.10 Figure 3.11 Figure 3.12 Figure 3.13 Figure 3.14 Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6 Figure 4.7 Figure 4.8 Figure 4.9 Figure 4.10 Figure 4.11 Figure 5.1 Figure 5.2 Figure 5.3 Mahabodhi Temple Complex. Author..................................................................................2 Agriculture and irrigation practices for the winter crops. Author......................................13 Gaya-sraddha along the Falgu River adjacent to Vishnupad Temple. Author...................14 Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims. Author................................................................................15 Chhath puja along the Niranjana River. Author.................................................................15 Kathina Dana at the Burmese Vihara. Author....................................................................16 Month long annual eye-camp. Author................................................................................16 Beggars wait outside the Mahabodhi Temple during the Tibetan Monlam. Author..........17 Tibetan Nun at the front entrance of the Mahabodhi Temple. Author...............................18 Photograph of Mahabodhi Temple in 1861. Reproduced from Mitra (1972)..........33 Photograph of Mahabodhi Temple after 1884. Reproduced from Barua (1932)................33 Anagarika Dharmapala next to the vajrasana, 1891. Mahabodhi Society of India............38 The Japanese Image. Mahabodhi Society of India.............................................................38 Anagarika Dharmapala. Mahabodhi Society of India........................................................38 Exhibition held in Teen Murti House, New Delhi during the 2550th Buddha Jayanti.......51 Royal Wat Thai. Author......................................................................................................61 U Nyaneinda, the present Abbot of the Burmese Vihara. Author......................................64 U Nu of Burma before his formal ordination. Mahabodhi Society of India.......................64 Mahabodhi Society Rest House in 1901. Mahabodhi Society of India..............................67 Bhante Pannarama. Mahabodhi Society of India................................................................70 Premadasa’s village of reawakened people. Author...........................................................70 14th Dalai Lama during the Kalachakra. Mahabodhi Society of India................................73 Kalachakra initiation in 1974. Mahabodhi Society of India...............................................73 Front entrance of the new Pal Terger Rigzin Khacho Dargye Ling. Author......................77 Indo Nippon Buddhist Temple. Author..............................................................................79 Unveiling of the Great Buddha Statue. Daijokyo Buddhist Temple..................................81 Vietnamese Buddhist Temple. Author................................................................................82 Root Institute for Cultural Wisdom. Author.......................................................................89 The Harijan Colony next to the Tibetan Karma Temple. Author.......................................95 Bodh Gaya Math. Author..................................................................................................104 Pradeep - leader of the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini (CYSV). Author..................... 110 The ruins of the Math katcheri in the village Gosain Pesra. Author................................112 Gautam lassi corner, Bodh Gaya bazaar. Author..............................................................119 Tibetan Refugee Market. Author......................................................................................122 Mohammad and Loyag Restaurant. Author......................................................................124 Shivanath before the Shiva Hotel Restaurant. Satya Narayana........................................125 Japanese yearning in the global bazaar. Author...............................................................136 Touts and friendly guides wait outside the Mahabodhi Temple. Author.........................140 The proliferation of NGOs and educational charity trusts. Author..................................143 Urban youth in Bodh Gaya. Author..................................................................................145 1966 Draft Master Plan - Existing Land Use. Town Planning Authority.........................152 1966 Draft Master Plan – Proposed Land Use. Town Planning Authority......................154 The boundary wall and remnants of the archaeological site today. Author.....................163 v Figure 5.4 Figure 5.5 Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2 Figure 6.3 Figure 6.4 Figure 6.5 Figure 6.6 Figure 6.7 Figure 7.1 Figure 7.2 India as a world-class spiritual destination. www.incredibleindia.org.............................175 Branding Buddhism through the Incredible !ndia marketing campaign. www.incredibleindia.org..................................................................................................178 The controversial Panchpandav Mandir. Author..............................................................187 Ambedkar Buddhists from Maharashtra protest during the Buddha Purnima. Author...190 The main entrance to the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. Author.....................................197 The UNESCO World Heritage plaque. Author................................................................201 2006 City Development Master Plan for Bodh Gaya. HUDCO.......................................208 Peace march against the destruction of hotels. Author.....................................................213 The Meditation Park. Author............................................................................................215 The Mahabodhi Temple as a living religious heritage site. Author..................................226 The Muslim Mosque to the west of the Mahabodhi Temple. Author...............................240 vi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AIBS ASI BGTA BGTAB BJP BTMC CDP CYSV DMP FPMT GOI GRDA HUDCO IBC ICCROM ICH ICOMOS IMC INC INTACH IOC JBIC JEXIM JMS JNNRUM MAC MSI MSJ NAC NPS OBC OECF RJD RMP SAIL SBJ SC & ST SPA TPA UNESCO WCU WHC - All Indian Bhikkhu Sangha - Archaeological Survey of India - Bodh Gaya Temple Act (1949) - Bodh Gaya Temple Advisory Board - Bharatiya Janata Party - Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee - City Development Plan - Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini - Draft Master Plan - Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition - Government of India - Gaya Regional Development Authority - Housing Urban Development Corporation - International Buddhist Council - International Study for the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property - Intangible Cultural Heritage - International Council of Monuments and Sites - International Meditation Centre - Indian National Congress - Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage - Indian Oil Corporation - Japanese Bank for International Cooperation - Export-Import Bank of Japan - Japanese Market Survey - Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Urban Mission - Mahabodhi Action Committee - Mahabodhi Society of India - Mahabodhi Society Journal - Notified Area Committee - National Park Services - Other Backward Castes - Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund - Rashtriya Janata Dal - Revised Master Plan - Steel Authority of India - Sambodhi Journal - Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes - School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi - Town Planning Authority - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations - World Conservation Union - World Heritage Convention vii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The research for my doctoral dissertation was made possible by the generous support of the University of British Columbia and the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute. I offer my enduring gratitude to all the faculty and staff in the Department of Anthropology at UBC during this time. In particular, I am grateful to my supervisor John Barker who has been my mentor ever since I arrived at the University of British Columbia in 2003. Thank you so much for all your encouragement and guidance through this entire research endeavour. I am also greatly indebted to both Gaston Gordillo and especially Anand Yang for their ongoing support and direction with my research. Other colleagues who have been involved in this dissertation at various stages include: Millie Creighton, Alexia Bloch, Vinay Kamat, Anand Pandian, Simon Coleman, Ian Harris, Katherine Hacker, Robert Pryor, Tara Doyle, Alan Trevithick, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Herb Stovel, Abhishek Singh, Sraman Mukherjee, Jessica Falcone, Jason Rodriguez, Kate Hennessy, Kisha Supernaut and Chris Condin. In India and Bodh Gaya, I would like to thank Prachi from the Shastri Institute in New Delhi, Bulu Imam and family in Hazaribagh, Rohan D’Souza at JNU, INTACH, KP Jayaswal Research Institute, Mahabodhi Society of India, AN Sinha Institute for Social Science, P.C. Roy, Naresh Bannerjee, Dr. Ansari, Ram Swarup Singh, Bano Haruli, Shatum Seth, Ven. Priyapal, Kiran Lama, Seewalee Thero, Ven. Dhammika, Sister Mary, Kailash, Christopher Titmuss, Poonam Thakur, Rick Fendrick and Sachindra Narayan. I am also grateful to all my generous friends, field assistants and informants at Bodh Gaya who have made this research possible. In particular I want to thank Bhalwant Kumar Sinha and his family for their unconditional love and support over the duration of my fieldwork. There are also many family and friends in Vancouver who have offered their encouragement and assistance throughout this endeavour. Thanks to: Arun Fryer, Don Grayston, Evo, Rachel Kreuger, Lisa and Clint Baker, Barb and Dennis McDonald, my wife Erika and last but not least, my parents Angela and Lorne Geary who have supported me through all my years of education. viii DEDICATION To my pa r e n t s , Lo r n e and Ang e l a ix 1. INTRODUCTION: FROM HERMITAGE TO WORLD HERITAGE: BUDDHISM AND THE GLOBAL BAZAAR This dissertation is a historical ethnography that examines the social transformation of Bodh Gaya into a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bodh Gaya is a small town of international significance located in the southern Gaya district of Bihar in north-east India. The global relevance of this place derives from its association with the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, who attained enlightenment here over 2550 years ago.1 According to various Buddhist legends, after abandoning extreme austerities and penance for six years, Siddhartha Gautama decided to settle in a forest grove next to a flowing river with sandy fords. Impressed by the sylvan environment and convenience for getting alms from a nearby village, the future Buddha decided this was a suitable place for striving and congenial to his meditation practice (Dhammika 1996). Under the canopy of a Pipala tree - now known as the Bodhi tree - Gautama sat in sublime contemplation on the nature of suffering and the root of its causes among all sentient beings. Then, on the full moon of vesak, after three days and three nights of concentration, his mind was purified and Gautama was enlightened. Historically, the term Bodh Gaya came into use around the eighteenth century and was primarily adopted to distinguish the sacred site from the larger city of Gaya, a prominent center of Hindu pilgrimage some 7km away (Asher 2008).2 Prior to this, the place of Buddha's enlightenment had various designations including Uruvela, Bodhimanda, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi. Although the forest hermitage where Buddha obtained enlightenment was not a significant site of pilgrimage during the Buddha's life, over the centuries disciples of the Buddha began to visit the place and gradually transformed the site into a living center of Buddhist worship and sacred veneration. Linked to the establishment of Buddhist pilgrimage at Bodh Gaya is the central monument, or Vihara, 1 2 As Tara Doyle (1997: 5) has written in an earlier dissertation, the actual date associated with the Buddha's life presents a number of obstacles due to the fact there are different chronologies from various Buddhists texts. Most of the social actors responsible for the modern reinvention of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha’s enlightenment draw upon the “long chronology” taken from Sri Lankan sources which locate the Buddha's birth between 624 BCE and his death in 544 BCE. The name Bodh Gaya has also be spelled differently at various times such as Boodha Gaya, Buddh Gya, Bauddha Gyah, Bodhi Gaya, Buddha Gaya and BodhGaya (Dhammika 1996: 1). For the purpose of standardization I use Bodh Gaya throughout this dissertation. 1 commonly referred to as the Mahabodhi Temple or “Great Awakening” temple today. Although there is a wide difference of opinion among modern scholars about the origins and date of the Mahabodhi Temple, early archaeological scholarship have traced the first commemorative shrine around the tree (the bodhi-ghara) along with a protective stone railing and diamond throne (referred to as the Vajrasana), to the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the third century BCE (Guha-Thakurta 2004; Asher 2008). As part of Ashoka's campaign to promote the Buddha-Dharma (teachings) in its homeland, the emperor is often credited with helping legitimize the practice of pilgrimage and royal patronage to these sacred sites of Buddhist memory. Over the course of many centuries, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya was embellished and other key sites linked to the spiritual itinerary of its founder also became thriving religious centers of pan-Asian pilgrimage attracting Buddhist royalty, monastics, and lay devotees throughout the Indian subcontinent and beyond (Doyle 1997). The history of Buddhist influence at Bodh Gaya is documented by numerous inscriptions, archaeological findings and travel accounts by pilgrims themselves. Foremost among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the fifth century and Xuanzang in the seventh century. The latter describes the presence of a Ceylonese monastery named the Mahabodhi Sangharama that was built by King Meghavana and Figure 1.1 Mahabodhi Temple Complex housed over a thousand monks to the north gate of the Mahabodhi Temple. During this time, Bodh Gaya was part of the Kingdom of Magadha, and the heart of a powerful Buddhist civilization that endured for many centuries. It was not until the fall of the Pala Dynasty and the growing influence of Muslim rule around the twelfth century that Buddhism became largely extinguished from its land of origins and many of these monuments and pilgrimage centers were destroyed or fell into ruin.3 The recent historical and social transformation of Bodh Gaya from a relatively abandoned site 3 For more critical examination of the existing theories and diverse factors that contributed to the decline of Buddhism at Bodh Gaya and India see Frederick Asher 2008: 14-15. 2 (at least with respect to Buddhist state patronage and pilgrimage activities) into a global destination that attracts millions of Buddhist pilgrims and tourists each year begs the following questions: What happens when a rural town populated by Hindu and Muslim residents becomes deeply enmeshed within the sacred geography of Buddhists around the world? How do transnational processes and conflicting agendas involving pilgrimage, tourism and heritage come to shape the development of Bodh Gaya as an international destination? How do religious, economic and social aspirations intermingle and connect people across national boundaries? Finally, how does Bodh Gaya as a place of universal value compare to other sites within the imagined community of World Heritage? On June 26, 2002, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. As a place of cultural heritage and a monument of “outstanding universal importance,” this inclusion has reinforced the ancient significance of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment (WHC 2002). In this dissertation, I take this recent event as a framing device for my historical and ethnographic analysis that details the varying ways in which Bodh Gaya is constructed out of a particular set of social relations. I argue that World Heritage sites like the Mahabodhi Temple Complex are important global spaces of convergence where history, memory, narratives and groups are entangled through UNESCO's universal claims. In order to delineate the various historical and spatial tensions that underlie the inscription of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex as a World Heritage site I examine a set of interrelated transnational processes that are the focus of this dissertation: 1) the emergence of Buddhist monasteries, temples and/or guest houses tied to international pilgrimage; 2) the role of tourism and pilgrimage as a source of economic livelihood for local residents; and 3) the role of state tourism development and urban planning. Before describing the layout of chapters that form the basis of this historical ethnography, it is important that I discuss some of the broader theoretical issues relevant to this dissertation. In particular, I will assess the comparative and theoretical value of World Heritage as an object of social analysis in relation to anthropological perspectives that include: space and place, memory and global connection. 1.1 Locating World Heritage and Global Spaces of Universal Value The 1972 World Heritage Convention is today one of the leading texts “in terms of influencing management practices and perceptions of heritage across the globe” (Smith 2006: 94).4 At a 4 It is also important to highlight that the World Heritage Convention derives from dialogue and inspiration from earlier authoritative and largely Eurocentric based texts and charters. Prior to the World Heritage Convention of 1972 was the 3 rudimentary level, a World Heritage site can be defined as a cultural or natural site of outstanding universal value. These global spaces of universal value are selected by members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and are protected and conserved by the state parties that have signed the United Nations Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage that was established in November 1972.5 Linked to UNESCO’s constitutional mandate “to build peace in the minds of men,” the World Heritage Convention emerged out of a shared international campaign to safeguard a number of ancient Egyptian sites that were threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1954. This controversial decision to flood the southern Nile valley by the Egyptian government had the potential to destroy a number of monumental sites such as the famous rock temples at Abu Simbel. In response to the building of the Aswan Dam, UNESCO launched a worldwide campaign to protect the ancient sites and eventually led to the reconstruction of both Abu Simbel and the Philae temples on higher grounds. Although the cost of the project reached upwards of US$80 million, with contributions from over 50 countries, the rescue efforts were seen as an international success which helped to initiate a draft convention by UNESCO and the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) to protect what was deemed “the common cultural heritage of humanity.” As part of the nominating process for World Heritage inscription, state parties must first take an inventory of its significant cultural and natural properties. From this Tentative List, countries proceed to select a proposed site that can be placed into a Nomination File and presented and evaluated each year before the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (WCU). These international agencies comprised of heritage professionals and experts evaluate the nominated properties based on a set of selection criteria outlined by UNESCO. The criteria detailed in the 'Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention' is provided below and is one of the main working tools and mechanisms for determining World Heritage status. While the criteria is regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the changing conceptual views 5 Venice Charter, otherwise known as the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites. This treaty comprising of largely European members was drafted in 1964 and is a foundational text for the establishment of an international protocol for the conservation and preservation movements that developed from the 1960s onwards (Smith 2006). UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – is a specialized body of the United Nations that was established on November 16 1945. The purpose of the agency according the constitution is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter. The organization is based in Paris and presently UNESCO has 193 Member States and six Associate Members. The World Heritage programme is one facet of the larger international body. 4 of World Heritage, nominated sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of these ten criteria, 1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; 2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, townplanning or landscape design; 3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared; 4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; 5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; 6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria); 7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance; 8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features; 9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; 10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. (whc.unesco.org 2009) Thus, based on the above criteria, the World Heritage Committee determines whether or not the nominated properties by the state party are inscribed on the World Heritage List. Since the inaugural meeting in 1972, there have been 186 state parties that have ratified the Convention and support the expanding list of properties maintained by the international World Heritage Programme. Central to UNESCO's guiding principles is a shared belief that many cultural and natural sites provide immeasurable benefits to humanity and should be protected and maintained at all costs. In 2009, there are presently 890 properties forming the World Heritage List, which include: 689 cultural, 176 natural, and 25 mixed properties, in 148 countries. To help illuminate some of the underlying transnational processes and anthropological themes linked to World Heritage signification at Bodh Gaya, in this dissertation I draw upon three sets of theoretical concepts: space and place, memory, global connection. 5 1.1.1 Bodh Gaya as a Multilocal Place In recent years there has been a growing critique in anthropology that has challenged the assumed isomorphism of space, place and culture that was part of earlier ethnographic writing (Gupta & Ferguson 1992; 1997). A number of social theorists (Appadurai 1996; Clifford 1997; Gupta & Ferguson 1997; Malkki 1997) have pointed to the disjuncture between the idea of culture as a group of people held together by a system of shared meanings within a fixed territorial space and the complex global and cultural mobilities characteristic of the world today. Rather than take the “premise of discontinuity” and the entity of culture as the basis for cross-cultural comparison, Gupta and Ferguson (1992: 6-8) suggest we need to rethink the production of cultural differences through spatial connections. In recognizing the polyphony of voices that constitute ethnographic fieldwork and in seeking to move beyond the ways in which anthropologists have incarcerated the native within specific spatial and cultural locales (Appadurai 1988), I approach Bodh Gaya through the theoretical lens of space and place (Low & Lawrence-Zuniga 2003). How are places made meaningful and who has the power to make places of spaces? According to Margaret Rodman (1992), she argues that anthropologists need to take a more critical approach to the use of place apart from their creation as locales for ethnographic description. Places are not “inert containers” but are always socially constructed in ways that are “politicized, culturally relative, historically specific, local and multiple” (Rodman 1992: 641). As “contact zones” (Clifford 1997) and unique points of intersection where social meaning is produced, many different stories can be told about places. Attending to the different voices, stories and institutional practices that are part of placemaking is also a “critical element in the construction of agency that subjectivity always entails” (Sivaramkrishnan & Agrawal 2003: 7).6 Therefore, in order to “empower” place in anthropological theory, Rodman (1992: 644) proposes the concept of “multilocality,” suggesting we attend to the multiplicity of inhabitants voices and meanings found in places. This also requires taking seriously the relationships of power that underlie the social construction of place and how “places come into being through praxis, not just through narratives” (Rodman 642). In support of Rodman's analysis, cultural geographer Doreen Massey (1994: 155-156) identifies four main characteristics of place that are relevant to my analysis of Bodh Gaya as a World Heritage site: 1) Places are not static, they are 6 Drawing on Sivaramkrishnan & Agrawal (2003) in this dissertation, I focus on the agency of historically grounded actors, institutional histories and communities of interest at Bodh Gaya. By focusing on these relational stories of place that are grounded in discussions of lived experience it brings to the foreground the ways in which Bodh Gaya, as a World Heritage site, is constructed through overlapping and multiple points of production. 6 processual and conceptualized in terms of social interaction. 2) Places do not have boundaries in the sense of divisions which frame simple enclosures. 3) Places do not have single unique identities, they are full of internal conflicts. 4) And none of these aspects above deny the uniqueness of place – the specificities of place can be continually reproduced. In foregrounding the multiple practices associated with place making at Bodh Gaya, I make a conscious effort to move beyond some of the theoretical limitations within the field of pilgrimage and tourism studies. Rather than seeking to define whether or not Bodh Gaya is a pilgrimage or tourist site for example, I prefer to examine the tensions between these multifaceted social forms as an integral part of place construction itself. The limitations of these theoretical orientations is especially evident within the pilgrimage literature, where Coleman (2002) has argued there have been two dominant constraining metaphors in anthropological studies of pilgrimage: 1) The Turnerian (1978) depiction of anti-structure and communitas, and 2) Eade and Sallnows' (1991) emphasis on the sacred as a contested process at pilgrimage sites.7 Although I am not denying the importance of both communitas and especially contestation in shaping a pilgrimage centre like Bodh Gaya, these models have created intellectual straight jackets that have prevented other forms of analysis. The spatial environment at Bodh Gaya holds a diverse set of meanings and continues to be shaped by a number of complex and overlapping forces that do not reflect clear-cut dichotomies and rigid separations between communitas/ contestation; pilgrimage/tourism; structure/process; sacred/profane; faith/markets; religious virtue/state power. In an effort to expand the field of pilgrimage and tourism studies, I investigate the specific cultural, social, and economic dimensions of pilgrimage and tourism at Bodh Gaya as it interfaces with constructions of place. In the forthcoming chapters I draw upon these anthropological ideas in order to examine the contingency of processes and practices that underlie the social transformation of Bodh Gaya into a World Heritage site. How is Bodh Gaya shaped by various groups, institutions and social actors who have competing visions of what the place should be? What are the consequences of World Heritage 7 According to Turner and Turner (1978), the study of pilgrimage leads towards an understanding of how universal oppositions shape our social worlds, which in turn, also lead us towards the human search for universal truths. Central to their analysis is the concept of communitas that can be employed to analyze Christian cults across time and space and their associated forms of structural change. Pilgrimage practices are described as sharing similarities with rites of passage - as the central framework of ritual and symbolic analysis – characterized by antistructure, liminality and always leading towards communitas (the achievement of communitas is seen as the pilgrim’s fundamental motivation). Thus, pilgrimage is defined as a liminal activity in that it is innovative with a transformative dimension of the social. For Eade Sallnow (1991), the authors propose a new agenda suggesting that pilgrimage be analyzed in terms of contestation. Pilgrimage “is above all an arena for competing religious and secular discourses, for both the official and non-official recovery of religious meanings, for conflict between orthodoxies, sects, and confessional groups, for drives towards consensus and communitas, and for counter-movements towards separateness and division” (2-3). 7 signification in relation to the different communities of interest? Throughout this dissertation I will argue that it is important to pay careful attention to both the “multilocality” and “multivocality” that underlies World Heritage designation and to delineate the historical and spatial meanings that place holds for different people. Bodh Gaya is multilocal in at least three senses which are detailed in chapters three to five: as the “navel of the earth” and a place of pilgrimage for Buddhist groups; as a lived space and source of economic livelihood for local inhabitants; and as a state and governmental object for the implementation of urban and tourism development programs. As I explore in this dissertation, each of these forces mediate the constitution of this particular place at various scales and are central to the spatial politics that derive from World Heritage designation. It is through a historical and ethnographic analysis of these multilocal forces that one can begin to address some of the power differentials and inequalities that are produced within a transnational meeting ground like Bodh Gaya. 1.1.2 Bodh Gaya as a Site of Memory Linked to the critical reassessment of space and place in anthropology is also a renewed interest in theorizing the social role of memory and the ways in which heritage places become the locus of “imaginaries” and central to the production of distinctive cultural pasts (Nora 1989, 1996; Connerton 1991, Urry 1996; Berliner 2005). In drawing attention to the social and cultural significance of memory, according to Berliner (2005: 200-201), the “label “memory” aims to grasp the past we carry, how we are shaped by it and how this past is transmitted. . . [memory is] a synonym for cultural storage of the past: it is the reproduction of the past in the present, this accumulated past which acts on us and makes us act.” As an active cultural process of meaning making that involves both remembering and forgetting, Pierre Nora's (1989; 1996) analysis of “sites of memory” or lieux de mémoire are of particular relevance in this context. According to Nora (1996: xvii), a site of memory “is any significant entity, whether material or non-material in nature, which by dint of human will or the work of time has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of any community.” As foci for the production of cultural and global spaces of memory, this can include temples, ancient monuments, memorials and World Heritage sites. They are symbolic places, according to Nora (1989: 7), “where memory crystallizes and secretes itself.” Central to Pierre Nora's (1989) formulation of sites of memory is a sharp distinction between history and memory. For Nora (1989), sites of memory are a product of modern times and their contemporary importance reflect the need to recall the past to support the 8 present work of forgetting. Implicit in Nora's analysis is a sense that the emergence of sites of memory mirrors the deterioration of the past as living memory (or cultural continuity), a distinction that parallels the differences between orality and literacy. The work of Pierre Nora raises a number of questions relevant to the present analysis of World Heritage designation. How do past memories become invested in the present and what are the consequences of using “distant events as horizons that can inform present action” (Rodman 1992: 644)? How is the memory associated with places made, imagined, contested and enforced? How are particular pasts renewed and activated through international conventions and transnational agendas? The diffusion and intensification of heritage discourse in the twentieth century, according to Smith (2006: 4), reflects the dominance of Western and Eurocentric approaches to the past which naturalized “a range of assumptions about the nature and meaning of heritage.” Central to the dissemination of authoritative definitions of heritage is a persuasive philosophical assumption that there exists an inherent aesthetic and scientific value to the physicality of heritage properties in situ. In other words, according to Smith (2006: 91), monuments are treated as “a 'witness' to history and tradition,” which serves to “anthropomorphize material culture and creates a sense that memory is somehow locked within or embedded in the fabric of a monument or site.” This “authoritative heritage discourse” places emphasis on the idea of material authenticity, freezing the past and making sites more susceptible to all sorts of practices by professionals and experts that include mapping, managing, preserving under national-legislation, international agreements, conventions and charters (Smith 2006).8 As the forthcoming chapters will make clear, heritage and global sites of memory like Bodh Gaya are also inherently contested. Not only does heritage reflect the “preservationist desire” by professionals and experts in the heritage industry, but it is also central to the production and reproduction of social memory in the present. Who decides what constitutes the “official” history of a place and how it is to be regulated and managed? Who decides what pasts and memories should be “preserved” and what is “forgotten”? Rather than viewing history as contained within the landscape or built form itself, the idea of memory switches attention to the ways identity, place and history are actively created and recreated in multiple ways on an ongoing basis (Winter 2007, Smith 2006). In other words, heritage spaces, like Bodh Gaya are not “inherently valuable” due to their physicality but rather reflect the cultural processes and activities that are undertaken to attribute meaning to places of 8 According to Smith (2006: 93) the intertextuality and chain of these texts are also important in that they collectively reinforce the authorizing discourse and existential assumptions about the nature and value of heritage. “The conventions and charters enacted by UNESCO and ICOMOS may be understood as authorizing institutions of heritage, as they define what heritage is, how and why it is significant and how it should be managed and used” (Smith 87). 9 remembrance. In examining the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya as a global site of memory, I am suggesting a critical space for understanding the multiple engagements with World Heritage that incorporate local, national and transnational frames of meaning. Like other contested sites of memory in contemporary India and around the world, there are a number of overlapping histories and competing forms of knowledge that intermingle with the “public remembrances of place” (Guha-Thakurta 2004: 300). In delineating these various appropriations of the site, I link memory with the idea of heritage to “reinforce the idea that heritage is not a passive subject of management and conservation or tourist visitation – but rather an active process engaged with the construction and negotiation of meaning through remembering” (Smith 2006: 66). Not only is heritage applicable to a wide range of social groups but heritage also opens up a new terrain for analyzing the negotiation of values and meanings that intersect with the material past. In seeking to analyze these local, national and transnational webs of significance at Bodh Gaya, I draw upon the concept of global connection. 1.1.3 Bodh Gaya as a Site of Global Connection Like many pilgrimage and tourist destinations that are undergoing rapid social change, the transformation of Bodh Gaya into a World Heritage site can be interpreted as a by-product of globalization resulting from the transnational movement of people, capital, ideas and images that link this urban-rural town with the spiritual event of the Buddha's enlightenment (Appadurai 1996; Brennan 2005).9 However, given the long historical breadth and scope of inter-Asian influence at Bodh Gaya over the centuries, it is tempting to discern that Bodh Gaya has always been a place of global connection and transnational influence. As the “navel of the earth” and the geographic centre of the Buddhist world, the place of enlightenment has long existed in the spiritual itineraries and religious imagination of Buddhist's prior to the history of nation-states. For reasons I explore in this dissertation, since the late nineteenth century and especially in the latter half of the twentieth century, Bodh Gaya has become a place of intensified global connection that revolves around the memory of Buddha’s enlightenment. Within the last few decades there has been a surge of extra-national Buddhist groups 9 Initially the term transnational was defined as the process by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations – familial, economic, social, organizational, religious, and political – across spatial borders linking together their societies of origin and settlement (Basch, L., N. G. Schiller, et al. 1994). Although the literature on transnationalism was primarily used in the context of migration, more recently, it has been broadened to include various themes and issues related to globalization and the complex cultural mobilities that characterize the world today. 10 acquiring land, new networks of international aid and assistance, improved transportation and both tourism and urban development initiatives, all of which have accelerated the profile of Bodh Gaya and India's Buddhist circuit on the global map. Today, Bodh Gaya, like other prominent geographic centres of tourism and pilgrimage, is a social and cultural meeting ground between the local and the global (Brennan 2005). One of the central arguments of this dissertation is that spatial conflict at Bodh Gaya is generated by both the rapid economic development under globalization and the linked conservation demands placed upon the built environment to safeguard a particular vision of the past. At the heart of these spatial conflicts are a wide of range of experiences, both positive and negative, that are associated with the rapid development of Bodh Gaya into a destination and global site of memory. Instead of seeking to resolve debates over whether or not tourism development or World Heritage is exploitative or beneficial to the host societies, for example, in this dissertation, I am interested in unraveling some of the spatial tensions produced between the local and global and map the complex politics of relationships that underlie a site of universal value. Rather than reaffirm the popular distinction between global integrative forces and local reactions, Tsing (2005) proposes the need for a more nuanced ethnographic appreciation of global connection and how it comes to life in “friction.” According to Tsing (2005: ix-x), the term “global” “is not a claim to explain everything in the world at once.”10 Instead, the author approaches the global as a way of thinking about the history of social projects. “First, such projects grow from spatially far-flung collaborations and interconnections. Second, cultural diversity is not banished from these interconnections; it is what makes them – and all their particularities – possible. Cultural diversity brings a creative friction to global connections” (Tsing ix-x). In drawing attention to these ethnographic “zones of awkward engagement” that constitute global connection, one must attend to the overlapping histories and relationships that underlie universal aspirations (Tsing xi). For example, how does UNESCO World Heritage aspire to fill universal dreams and visions of a common humanity? How does World Heritage and the designation of global spaces of universal value translate in particular places and particular times? How do universals offer new spaces of opportunity and creative possibilities that become charged across cultural difference? For Tsing (2005: 1) universals, like the production of World Heritage at Bodh Gaya can be 10 Similarly, the local is not merely the refuge of the particular, the specific, or the different. As Sivaramakrishnan and Agrawal (2003: 12) discuss, the local is not a “site of purity, where difference emerges to haunt tales of global uniformity and homogenization. . . spaces become localities because of how they are situated in particular networks with other people, places and social entities. Localities are produced as nodes in the flows of people and ideas, and are thoroughly constructed.” This also applies to other relational terms with spatial reference such as regional, national and global. 11 approached as an ethnographic object because they are “charged and enacted in the sticky materiality of practical encounters.” Although universals suggest a form of abstraction that is all encompassing and one that transcends locality, according to Tsing (2005: 8), they are always “limited by the practical necessity of mobilizing adherents.” In other words, as a form of aspiration and engagement that connects people across distances and lines of difference, universals also have an important practical utility that is forged in transnational dialogue. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that universals are not politically neutral and the power to inscribe places of World Heritage reflect specific interests and influences. It is for this reason that one must attend to the ways in which universals are engaged in the flow of practice and embedded in specific settings where the “contingency of encounters makes a difference” (Tsing 3). According to Tsing (2005: 7-8), as “unfinished achievements” they can never fulfill their promise of universality but they are nonetheless important social projects that are “effective within particular historical conjunctures that give them content and force.” In the chapters that follow I explore the ethnographic specificities of global connection in Bodh Gaya and the ways in which cultural diversity, overlapping histories and divergent meanings give grip to the universal aspirations of World Heritage. In seeking to examine the “emergent cultural forms” that derive from “global encounters across difference” (Tsing 3), I draw upon the bazaar as an organizing metaphor that foregrounds the messy confluence of social relationships and converging agendas that characterize Bodh Gaya's spatial environment today. Drawing on the bazaar as a metaphorical image also positions the historical ethnography in a way that mediates a broader and diverse set of themes in each chapter but is premised on interaction and connection rather than discrete groups and histories. As stated in the previous theoretical sections, Bodh Gaya is a place of “multilocality” where history, memory, narratives and groups are entangled in the productive friction between the local and global, particular and universal. Attending to Bodh Gaya as a World Heritage site ensnared by the socio-cultural dynamics of the Indian bazaar opens up the possibility of an ethnographic account of global interconnection. To provide an account of this complex ethnographic setting where World Heritage designation was imposed, I provide a thick description of Bodh Gaya's annual cycle below. 1.2 Ethnographic Setting: Bodh Gaya's Annual Cycle 12 In south Bihar, the heat builds up in late February and within two to three months the temperature can escalate to a stifling 40° Celsius. During these hot summer months, the sub tropical climate is dry with heat waves surging eastward from the Rajasthani deserts. The local tharra or “sky juice,” made from fruit of the mahua tree begins to flow more regularly and its popular consumption coincides with the off-season of agricultural labor. Due to the large social demographic of scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward castes (OBC's) (the official Government designation) that dominate the region, for close to two months, Bodh Gaya becomes a thriving market of wedding celebrations and local Melas. Although there are very few Buddhist pilgrims at this time, on the full moon in the second month of the lunar calendar the Buddha Purnima, or vesak, is held. This event which commemorates the birth, enlightenment Nirvana and passing (parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha is typically held in late April or early May. Numerous functions are arranged to honor the memory of the Buddha by the International Buddhist Council (IBC) and the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC). However, for the last decade, it has also been the staging ground for the Dalit Ambedkar Buddhists who arrive in the hundreds primarily from Nagpur in Maharashtra to protest the “Hindu” management of the temple. From mid to late June, the first signs of the monsoon season manifest through violent electrical storms and short intense rain fall. The dramatic arrival of the monsoon rains also signals the most laborious period for peasant farmers and agricultural laborers who provide extensive irrigation practices to support rice paddy cultivation and Figure 1.2 Agriculture and irrigation practices for the winter crops other crops in the forthcoming months. With the marble sandstone in the temple precinct heating up, there are few visitors to Bodh Gaya in the monsoon season except for occasional day-trippers from Gaya and larger groups of domestic Bengali and south Indian pilgrims en route to other holy sites in the north. As the monsoon rains begin to wane, in early September, the nearby Hindu pilgrimage city of Gaya celebrates the annual sraddha or 'ancestral rites' called Pinda- 13 pradana (the offering of balls of food-stuffs). Figure 1.3 Gaya-sraddha along the Falgu River adjacent to Vishnupad Temple Throughout the Gaya region, there are some forty-five different sites carved into the mythic landscape and symbolize the demi-god Gayasur whose enormous prone body comprises the length and breadth of Gaya's sacred ground (Doyle 1997). As a satellite site, Bodh Gaya is situated symbolically at the feet of Gayasur and over a period of eleven days (but often extends much longer) thousands of Vaishnavite pilgrims from all regions of India descend on the auspicious Falgu river and Mahabodhi Temple Complex to offer pitrapash for their recently deceased ancestors. According to many of Bodh Gaya's residents, the beginning of the Buddhist season in early September is kicked off with the arrival of Robert Pryor and his American-based Antioch School Program which takes residence at the Burmese Vihara. This program which began in 1979, involves some thirty to forty American students and five teachers who will receive a 3 ½ month intensive program in Buddhist studies, Hindi language training and meditation traditions. In September, the Sinhala pilgrims from Sri Lanka also begin to arrive in large coordinated groups, initiating the first wave of Buddhist pilgrimage. Accustomed to the warm climate closer to the equator, many of these monks, nuns and lay devotees prefer the months of September and October or February and March. Activities are organized on a large scale by the Mahabodhi Society of India (MSI) which celebrates the annual anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala on September 17th. On this day, pilgrims, visitors and Buddhist sympathizers commemorate the memory of this agitator from Sri Lanka who challenged the feudal lordship of the Bodh Gaya mahanta and his claims to proprietorship over the Mahabodhi Temple in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Flower garlands stretch across the campus and large numbers of lay pilgrims dressed in light white cloth move throughout the township. 14 Following the month of September, a more diverse crowd of international pilgrims and visitors begin to move through the small urban-rural city of Bodh Gaya. Flights from the recently constructed 2002 Gaya International Airport start their regular schedule, providing direct access to the land of enlightenment from Bangkok, Colombo, Rangoon, Kathmandu and recently Bhutan. October often coincides with numerous local festivals and activities tied to the lunar calender and are celebrated with great enthusiasm. There is Dasahra, Durga puja, Dipavali, the Mucharin Mela; and often overlapping with the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan. In Bihar during this time, there is also the famous indigenous Chhath puja where numerous Figure 1.4 Sri Lankan pilgrims village women and families descend to the river after three days of fasting to offer prayer to the ancient solar deity, Surya. As the festivals roar through the town and the Gayatri mantra plays repeatedly throughout the town speakers, the harvest season begins, bringing clouds of small insects, or kira now exiled from the surrounding fields and making their last pilgrimage towards the evening light fixtures. . . If light is provided. 15 As the local Hindu and Muslim festivals wind down by month's end, the great robe offering ceremonies are held by largely Theravada Buddhist groups. Kathina, as it is traditionally called, symbolizes the end of the monsoon retreats and many sanghadanas are held between the different Buddhist schools and monasteries whereby pilgrims and lay devotees offer robes, gifts, feasts and monetary assistance to support the monks and nuns in their noble pursuit. As the Buddhist pilgrimage season takes shape there are more opportunities for visitors, backpackers and practitioners to draw upon a wide Figure 1.5 Chhath puja along the Niranjana River range of continuous teachings and courses in meditation and Buddhist philosophy. As a convenient stopover for travelers along the 'banana pancake trail' from Kolkata to Varanasi, Bodh Gaya provides a refuge for those seeking spiritual solace or temporary Figure 1.6 Kathina Dana at the Burmese Vihara social work. During the winter season, courses are offered at the Goenka-inspired Dhammabodhi Vipassana Centre, the Insight Meditation Centre, Ayang Rinpoche's POWA course, a six month spiritual program offered by the Root Institute for Cultural Wisdom and the popular ten-day Vipassana courses organized by Christopher Titmuss, which has been a regular feature of the Winter season since 1975. In addition to these annual events, each year there is often a new monastery or hotel being inaugurated that attracts various Buddhist patrons, local politicians and curious onlookers. In late October, Mr. Bhansali, a diamond trader from Gujarat, sponsors the annual month-long eye-camp in conjunction with the Samanvay Ashram. During this time, over 22,000 villagers throughout Bihar and neighboring provinces descend on the land of enlightenment to receive free eye operations. Although activities build in the month of October, by November the town is alive with multicolored Buddhist robes and an expanding marketplace that caters to the sacral-commercial interests of the religious diaspora. A dozen caravan style tent-restaurants covered in canopies of plastic tarps along with a Tibetan refugee market materialize north of the main temple. These Tibetan and Bhutanese restaurants, along with a few local entrepreneurs, set up shop for four months and cater to the many respective pilgrims from their home lands. 16 Figure 1.7 Month long annual eye-camp Mohammad's and Om Cafe [not Om Restaurant] are popular meeting spots for largely Western and repeated visitors who take full advantage of the rich dessert menus. On any given night, you can engage in discussions about consciousness, overhear Rinpoche gossip or eavesdrop on the colorful banter of travel tales across India. In recent years, the Siam Restaurant has also enriched the available global cuisine offering Thai food with prawns flown in directly from Bangkok on the weekly flights. With the arrival of the winter season, hundreds of small tour and travel operators begin to spring up alongside the various Himalayan merchants strewn across the public space outside the Mahabodhi Temple. The local shopkeepers from the handicraft emporiums put aside their decks of cards to entice onlookers with their fluency in Japanese and other countries influenced by Buddhism. Outside the main temple is a wide selection of Kashmiri shawls, Thanka paintings, Buddhist statues, malas, CDs, dried Bodhi leaves, postcards, prayer flags, singing bowls and other Buddhist trinkets and souvenirs. Along the footpath to the temple entrance, the chant “Buddham saranam gacchami” (In the Buddha I take refuge) resonates above the crowd. There are steamed momos, sweet jalebi, plenty of chai and refreshing lassis for those interested in sitting back and admiring the divine stew which spills out from the main stupa. During this period of heightened pilgrimage activity, the broadband Internet cafes directly adjacent to the temple are packed with travelers, practitioners and young Tibetan monks who chat on MSN messenger after spending the larger part of the day completing their preliminary practices. Along the footpath, young touts, or rather 'friendly guides' as they call themselves, are eagerly circling in search of conversation, 'sponsorship' or commission from the nearest educational charity trust. Elderly women, children, and beggars inflicted by polio and leprosy begin to descend from the outer villages into the cracks, corners and shadows of the exterior temple grounds. On the west side lane of the Mahabodhi complex there is a prominent stronghold for the downtrodden. They utilize this space to squeeze tin cups and bowls through the walled enclosure in anticipation of some donations from the circumambulating pilgrims. In this galloping global traffic, large tour buses, tractors, horse-carts with airtel advertisements, rickshaw wallahs, motorcycles, wild dogs and dizzied visitors congest around the perimeter. Figure 1.8 Beggars wait outside the Mahābodhi Temple during the Tibetan Monlam 17 With the influx of visitors, Bodh Gaya also serves a thriving shadow economy of alcohol and drugs. Young men from Gaya picnic on Sunday evenings to the international centre to look at foreign women, eat chow mein and drink whiskey in the dark corridors of the restaurants. Through the peak months of December and January many of the pilgrims from the Himalayan regions migrate to Bodh Gaya, escaping the cooler climates by following respected lamas or Rinpoches from the divergent Tibetan schools. Often the Karma pa and the 14th Dalia Lama are the main attractions during this dense period of Tibetan pilgrimage flows. Sighting rumors of Hollywood Buddhist icon Richard Gere tend to circulate in the restaurants. Bodh Gaya has also become a regular forum for the Tantric empowerment practice known as the Kalachakra initiation which began here as early as 1976. During these large ritual assemblages, the Kalachakra grounds on the nearby maidan is no longer a popular cricket ground for the youth, nor a helicopter landing pad for politicians such as Lalu Prasad Yadav. Bodh Gaya has a similar function when a series of Tibetan Monlams or World Peace Prayer Festivals are coordinated. Over these ten day events, the entire Mahabodhi Temple grounds are alive with the droning sounds of repetitive chanting, although occasionally interrupted by the daily Muslim prayers broadcasting from the nearby Mosque. On any given day during the peak season, the main Mahabodhi Temple Complex is a magnet of spiritual cosmopolitanism, plural worship and recreational activities. The global traffic and the transnational vernacular of this UNESCO World Heritage Figure 1.9 Tibetan Nun at the front entrance of the Mahābodhi Temple site becomes the main attraction for many locals and visitors who rest in the shade of the Bodhi tree and compete for falling leaves as sacred souvenirs. By late February, the crowds once again disperse, the tents in the market are removed and things gradually slip into the warm ebb and flow of the off-season. By the time Holi or 'festival of colors' arrives in early March, Bodh Gaya and much of Bihar, for that matter, are absent of Buddhist pilgrims and the next cycle of weddings begin. 18 1.3 Fieldwork Background and Methodology It is evident in the thick description of Bodh Gaya's annual cycle that this is a complex cultural landscape that incorporates a wide variety of stakeholder interests. Prominent groups include: international Buddhists (Theravada and Mahayana); Indian and Ambedkarite Buddhists; Tibetan refugee community; Shaivite ascetics; Gayawal brahmins; Vaishanavite pilgrims; Muslims; local and regional state government officials; urban and tourism development authorities; shopkeepers, merchants and vendors; peasants and agricultural laborers; archaeologists; conservation and heritage experts; social workers and NGOs; and travelers and tourists (both domestic and international). The municipal town (or notified area) of Bodh Gaya is spread roughly over an area of 17 sq. km and extends from the Mahabodhi Temple on a east-west and north-south axis. To the north is the larger city of Gaya and to the south is the National Highway 02 or the Grand Truck Road. Based on the 2001 Indian Census, Bodh Gaya has an estimated population of 30,883 people and includes a high growth rate with the population doubling within the last two decades (CDP 2006). The findings presented in this dissertation derive from fieldwork that was conducted in Bodh Gaya from 2005 to 2007. Over the course of eighteen months, this fieldwork drew upon a range of ethnographic methods including participant observation, archival research, interviews and surveys.11 During this time I lived with an Indian family in the nearby village of Pacchati and developed close relationships with many members of Bodh Gaya's diverse urban community. The seed of this doctoral research project grew out of an earlier Master's thesis in the Department of Anthropology at Carleton University entitled Catering to Consciousness: From Pilgrimage to Dharma Tourism (2003). To research for my Master's thesis, I participated in a pilgrimage-tour called “In the footsteps of the Buddha,” which served as the basis for a case study on the tensions between pilgrimage and tourism among Western Buddhist pilgrims to India. Over three and half weeks, I traveled with a group of North American and European Buddhists to a number of prominent sacred sites linked to the spiritual biography of the Buddha. The pilgrimage-tour was led by Shantum Seth, an Indian Buddhist and Teacher who works in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and brother of prolific Indian writer, Vikram Seth. As part of an itinerary of transformation, our group traversed the north Indian countryside 11 Thoughout this dissertation I have changed the names of many informants or refer to them in general description to protect their anonymity. However, in some cases there are head monks, monastery caretakers, hoteliers and government officials who are readily identifiable actors in Bodh Gaya and therefore remain unchanged. 19 exploring the Buddha's life through the ruins of the past and incorporating his profound insights into our daily practice and meditations. Many of the famous pilgrimage centres that are part of the Buddhist circuit in north India are located in areas of extreme poverty. Although Shantum Seth was a skillful guide in terms of bringing our group into contact with the everyday lives of peasant farmers, local artisans and schools, each night we also had the comfort of residing in four to five-star hotels and enjoying gourmet Indian buffets. In the town of Rajgir, for example, our group stayed at the Indo Hokke Hotel at roughly $128 US a night with air-conditioned rooms and a distinctive Japanese aesthetic that included floors made of teak wood and our own kimono robes. We had access to international channels, Internet, a spa-bath and imported Japanese food and beer to cap the night off before our final meditation of the day. For someone who had held a very Eurocentric and romanticized view of Buddhism as a religion of renunciation, my exposure to this blend of luxury spiritual tourism certainly troubled my theoretical models and left a strong impression that in many ways informs this current project. In addition to this three week pilgrimage-tour that was the focus of my Master's thesis, I spent two months in Bodh Gaya interviewing other Western Buddhist pilgrims and participating in the Kalachakra festival. It was during this time that I became informed about the recent 2002 UNESCO World Heritage designation and some of the underlying spatial tensions and conservation issues that had emerged in light of this new international spotlight. For example, a major concern that had arose during this time was the oil lamp controversy and the role of Tibetan Buddhist ritual activities that were allegedly polluting the Bodhi tree and causing damage to the temple walls and ancient sculptures. Underlying the oil lamp controversy were other tensions surrounding the ritual component of the sacred landscape and the demands for appropriate heritage management and archaeological intervention. By the time I returned to Bodh Gaya in the fall of 2005 to undertake my doctoral fieldwork, these issues had certainly intensified and expanded beyond the walls of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. Within a few weeks of my arriving, it was clear to me that there was plenty of interest in this recent international designation, especially in terms of spatial issues and competing visions of place. Central to the traffic of rumors and heated discussion surrounding World Heritage inscription was the mounting fear that the Mahabodhi Temple Complex was going to be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, only three years after its official entry on the UNESCO list.12 In the bazaar, there 12 There are presently 30 properties which the World Heritage Committee has decided to include on the List of World Heritage in danger in accordance with Article 11 (4) of the Convention. Drawing from the Article 11 (4) the list includes properties of the cultural and natural heritage that are deemed “threatened by serious and specific dangers, such as the threat of disappearance caused by accelerated deterioration, large- scale public or private projects or rapid urban 20 was finger pointing, blaming and accusations of exploitation and corruption everywhere! One of the chief concerns related to the recent World Heritage designation was that the site was allegedly in “desperate need” of a 2 km buffer zone in order to meet the necessary international conservation requirements. However, implicit in the public discourse was another layer to this heritage management and conservation rhetoric which had little to do with safeguarding material culture for future generations. Rather, the spatial consequence of a 2 km buffer zone was seen as a necessary mechanism to “preserve the peace” and curtail the rampant commercialism and unchecked development that was now “encroaching” upon this global site of memory. According to many Buddhist pilgrims and long-term visitors who claimed to have “discovered” Bodh Gaya as early as the sixties and seventies, the town was no longer a refuge of peace and spiritual sanctity but rather a bloated tourist site full of commercial activity and greed. In previous years I was told that one could rest in the shade of the Bodhi tree throughout the day and night without any problems, restrictions or obstructions. The temple complex was like an open-air museum and the bazaar was full of charming local hospitality. This sense of nostalgia and lament for the recent past was accompanied by frustration and growing criticism about the present. The town's entry into the global circuit of mass tourism and international pilgrimage brought rapid development and social change to Bodh Gaya that was not only affecting the spatial environment of the town but more importantly the “peacefulness” that many humble pilgrims were seeking. Unregulated development and new international airstrips had brought a massive explosion of hotels, guest houses, monasteries, seasonal charity trusts and shops, all within close proximity to the Mahabodhi Temple. Slum villages, trash heaps, contaminated pools of dead water, inefficient water and electricity, and regular complaints of noise pollution had increased. Alcohol, drugs and illegal activities were also on the rise and many locals feared it would not be long until sex tourism arrived on the scene. For the first-time visitor to the place of enlightenment, in order to have their moment of peace under the Bodhi tree, they had to wade through aggressive shopkeepers, street vendors, touts, hustlers, pestering youth and swarms of beggars along the footpath. Even the main temple precinct presented challenges. In recent years, it is has not been uncommon for “sly monks” or “beggars-in-robes” to request money and food in their begging bowls only to remove their robes at the end of the tourist or tourist development projects; destruction caused by changes in the use or ownership of the land; major alterations due to unknown causes; abandonment for any reason whatsoever; the outbreak or the threat of an armed conflict; calamities and cataclysms; serious fires, earthquakes, landslides; volcanic eruptions; changes in water level, floods and tidal waves.” If a World Heritage site is deemed to be threatened by the above standards, the committee can add them to the List of World Heritage in Danger and publicize such entries at will. 21 season. There was also talk of golf courses, chair lifts to the nearby Dhungeshwari caves, light and sound shows and other major tourism initiatives that would bring unfathomable contamination to this hallowed site where Buddha obtained enlightenment. Common to all the accusations, rumors and finger-pointing was a general unease surrounding the recent accelerated pace of development at Bodh Gaya from a small rural town in south Bihar into a major global destination. It is the spatial conflicts that are produced and negotiated within a transnational arena of universal significance that I seek to explore in this dissertation. 1.4 Overview of Chapters I begin in chapter two with a historical overview of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex and the modern revival of Buddhist pilgrimage. Spanning the nineteenth and twentieth century, this section describes the reinvention of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment and the disputes over rites of worship and proprietorship of the Mahabodhi Temple up to India's independence. It is during this period that the British colonial state not only gathered information about the history of Buddhism in India but also restored prominent Buddhist sites, such as the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. Throughout this chapter I unravel the converging agendas and contradictions around the regulation of sacred space and religious practice at Bodh Gaya. How does the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya emerge as a symbol of pan-Asian Buddhist unity? And what are the enduring legacies of British colonialism in constructing the “official” memory of the site? Following this historical background, I then proceed in chapter’s three to five, to examine three transnational processes that I argue are central to the social transformation of Bodh Gaya since independence and underpin the contemporary spatial politics of World Heritage designation. In chapter three, I describe and analyze the institutional growth of Buddhist monasteries, temples and/or guest houses that are now in close proximity to the Mahabodhi Temple. Following India's independence from British colonial rule, extra-national Buddhist groups from the religious diaspora have begun to arrive in much greater numbers and linked by expanding transnational networks of pilgrimage and patronage. Among the Buddhist diaspora, Bodh Gaya is above all “the navel of the earth” and a place of pilgrimage and sacred memory. How is the place of Buddha's enlightenment made sacred through certain transnational spatial forms and commemorative activities? How are these Buddhist groups received by local residents and what are some of the moral and ethical dilemmas this 22 entails? In this chapter, I provide a detailed history of the transnational religious processes involved in activating the Buddhist memory of the site and the conflicts and challenges they engender. While many of the monks, nuns and managers tied to the establishment of foreign Buddhists institutions in Bodh Gaya maintain social relations outside of India, there are also those linkages and connections that extend beyond national boundaries even if movement is not available. According to Brennan (2005), “transnational social fields” exist even among those who do not themselves move across borders. In chapter four, I examine Bodh Gaya as a lived space and consider the growing importance of tourism as a source of livelihood and opportunity for social mobility among local residents. Within the last few decades, many of Bodh Gaya's residents have become intertwined with the global flows of traffic and the high seasonality of pilgrimage and tourism throughout the year. Exploring the life histories and bazaar stories of local people helps to illuminate the ways in which Buddhism and the public life of its antiquity fuel the local economy and provide a creative space for empowerment and social change. How do local communities seek beneficial interests from regular contact with global flows? How is the Buddhist memory of the site negotiated by local inhabitants who draw upon and transform these claims into local histories of belonging? In chapter four, I argue that the everyday lives and stories of local residents are an integral part of World Heritage and the ongoing production and negotiation of its meaning in the public sphere. Similarly, as an object of cultural heritage and state control, in chapter five I examine the ways in which the place of enlightenment provides a central resource for national development and future visions of socio-economic prosperity. Following independence, the Bihar State Government has looked to rehabilitate the town of Bodh Gaya and redesign the landscape to ensure the town's international visibility as a growing destination for pilgrimage and tourism. These efforts on behalf of the Bihar State and regional authorities to rehabilitate the site have also led to violent conflicts with local people who live in close proximity to the Mahabodhi Temple. How is international pilgrimage and spiritual tourism linked to certain urban phenomena such as tourism development and beautification? How are state-sponsored development plans and initiatives resisted by local groups? In this chapter I track the “failed” history of a master plan for Bodh Gaya, as well as the different urban agendas initiated by state elites to design a tourist landscape for wider global consumption. Although chapter’s three to five can be read as separate transnational processes, they do not necessarily reflect the interests of discrete actors, groups or communities. The purpose of these three chapters is to provide the ethnographic and historical context for my analysis of the recent World 23 Heritage designation in chapter six. Since the official designation of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex as a World Heritage site in 2002, this recent historical layering has brought to the foreground the politics of space and the contests of meaning among Bodh Gaya's diverse set of publics. It is in this final chapter that the distillation of my research findings and several overlapping themes are brought together to address the contemporary implications of this World Heritage designation. Drawing on the Buddhist concept of the conditioned genesis, I argue that the globalization of Bodh Gaya's heritage landscape was set in motion much earlier than the official designation and that the historical encounters over place are important to understanding the contemporary conflicts. Through an analysis of global connection and the local chains of cause and effect, I examine the ways in which UNESCO's claims of universality can operate in contradictory ways that silence discord but also exacerbate new forms of conflict in relation to the power geometries that underlie the spatial environment. In my conclusion, I review the main arguments of my thesis and discuss the prospects of Buddhism and Bihar's worlding heritage in relation to India's rise as a global superpower. Building on my analysis of the conditioned genesis in chapter six, I argue that World Heritage sites are important ethnographic settings to look for the emergence of a global public sphere and new creative forms of transnational governance that revolve around international campaigns to produce a culture of peace. 24 2. CHAPTER TWO: THE LIGHT OF ASIA : A CONTESTED S ITE OF RELIGIOUS FAITH In this chapter, I examine the modern reinvention of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment. Like many other sacred centres and heritage sites in contemporary India (and throughout the world), the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya can be categorized as a contested space where “conflicts in form of opposition, confrontation, subversion, and/or resistance engage actors whose positions are defined by differential control of resources and access to power” (Low & Lawrence-Zuniga 2003: 18). However, unlike many other living centres of religious worship, Bodh Gaya is unique in that there is a long historical lapse between the earlier centuries of Buddhist pilgrimage and its more recent modern and transnational resuscitation as a global site of memory. The theories that surround the decline of Buddhism in India are many (Gombrich 1988; Harvey 1990; Doyle 1997; Asher 2008). One common explanation is the ascendancy of Islamic groups and the gradual destruction of monasteries and centres of religious faith that accompanied expansion by the Muslim Turks into the Gangetic region.13 Drawing on travel accounts by Chinese pilgrims Faxian (334420 ADE) and Xuanzang (596-664 ADE), other scholars have suggested that the Buddhist Sangha was in decline as early as the fifth century and that later forms of Mahayana Buddhism were absorbed by a resurgence of Hinduism, especially the growth of Bhakti movements.14 What is clear is that, with the fall of the Pala Dynasty and the expansion of Muslim rulers by the twelfth and thirteenth century, the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya was largely deserted and left for ruin. The fall of the north-eastern stronghold of Buddhism, involving the destruction of neighboring Nalanda University in 1198, must 13 14 The Muslim “conquest” of India beginning in the last decades of the twelfth century is the customary explanation for the decline of Buddhism in India. Central to these narratives, according to Asher (2008: 15), is the report in, Tabakat-iNasiri, by Minhaj al-Siraj. In this report, the author describes an organized attack by Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1198 on a fortified city of Bihar that is likely present day Bihar Sharif. Although it is difficult to know the extent to which these “attacks” or “invasions” led to the disappearance of Buddhism from India, they would certainly have impacted the existing monastic system and patronage networks that supported them. The problem with these discourses is that they also perpetuate an image of “marauding Muslims more intent on iconoclastic rampage than on a military engaged in a battle for the control of territory” (Asher 15). It is more likely that a combination of factors and processes over time contributed to the Buddhist disappearance rather than “large-scale desecration” from Muslim rulers. What is clear is that the Mahabodhi Temple was significantly damaged during these incursions or at least neglected over a lengthy period time. When Dharmasvamin, a Tibetan pilgrim, visited Buddha Gaya in 1234 AD he notes that the place was deserted and only four monks were found staying monastery there. Bhakti refers to a devotional love to God. The emergence of this Hindu religious movement allegedly started in southern India and eventually spread north during the later half of the Indian medieval period (800-1700 CE). The main spiritual practice was a loving devotion directed towards a particular form of God, such as Shiva, Vishnu or Rama. 25 have been a major catalyst for the temple's demise as a centre of living religious activity. Although the importance of the place of Buddha's enlightenment remained central to the religious imagination of its followers outside the geographic centre of faith, the decline in royal and lay patronage in Bodh Gaya created an important rupture in historical memory which prefigured the conflicts over heritage and sacred space that followed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During this period of rupture, other histories and identities became intertwined with the place and it became “over the late medieval period more effectively Hindu than Buddhist” (Guha-Thakurta 2004: 282). In examining the political importance of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex during British India, the role of antiquarians, colonial archaeologists and ethnographers are particularly relevant. It was not until the nineteenth century that the site became an important historical and archaeological specimen for the British government and in the process of restoring the ancient site brought the politics of religious identity to the foreground. According to Tara Doyle (1997: 13), Bodh Gaya's “re-invention as a place associated primarily with the Buddha's enlightenment was significantly influenced by Orientalist constructions of knowledge regarding what came to be called 'Buddhism' by the mid-nineteenth century, and that these constructions were integrally linked to both the establishment of and struggles against British-Indian colonial rule.” How are certain historical processes tied to preservation and archaeological practice intertwined with concerns over proprietorship, management and the regulation of faith? How is the history of Bodh Gaya constituted during British India and how does the materiality of this site engage various social actors far removed from the place itself? In examining the different applications of the past and the practices associated with the regulation of sacred space, I organize this chapter into a set of three broad temporal frameworks: recovering the past; reclaiming the past; and recasting the past. Drawing on the existing scholarship on Bodh Gaya and some archival material, I detail the convergences between various groups and outline the prolonged battle for the custody of the central monument. These interactions span the nineteenth and twentieth century, up to the establishment of the Bodh Gaya Temple Act (1949) following Independence in 1947.15 Not only does this historical background underpin the post-colonial and public life of Bodh Gaya since independence, but it also sets the larger context for examining a set of transnational processes that are part of the contemporary spatial politics of World Heritage today. 15 In particular this chapter draws upon the recent publication of Alan Trevithick's (2006) The Revival of Buddhist Pilgrimage at Bodh Gaya and Tara Doyle's (1997) unpublished Phd Dissertation entitled Bodh Gaya: Journeys to the Diamond Throne and the Feet of Gayasur. Additional archival research was carried out in 2006 at the British Library, London Indian Office. 26 2.1 Recovering the Past: Convergences among the British Raj, Burmese Missions and the Giri Sect As the Mughal rulers of India were being replaced by the new British colonial regime in the mid-nineteenth century, a central question occupied the early “discovery” of Bodh Gaya and its significance as the place of Buddha's enlightenment: “how to allocate the sacred space at Bodh Gaya”? (Trevithick 2006: 17). A number of scholars (Doyle 1997, Trevithick 2006; Guha-Thakurta 2004) have shown that the difficulty lay in the overlapping histories and competing religious claims to sacred property that came to define Bodh Gaya's space. On the one hand, for a period of at least six hundred years, Bodh Gaya was a Buddhist site located in an area of “Hindu” India, where no Buddhists were resident and very few Buddhists ever visited (Doyle 1997). On the other hand, in spite of the long historical lapse in pilgrimage activity by Buddhists to Bodh Gaya, the memory of the temple and its association with the central event in the life of the Buddha continued to be held by Buddhists around the world. This is evident by “virtue of the central position awarded to the Buddha's enlightenment” (Doyle 1997: 60) found among numerous Buddhist texts, scriptures and among the artistic reproduction and diffusion of Mahabodhi Temple replicas and models such as in Burma, Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, and Thailand (Guy 1991, Asher 2008). Therefore, despite the virtual disappearance of a Buddhist institutional presence at the place of enlightenment, many Buddhist groups continued to venerate Bodh Gaya from a distance. According to Tara Doyle (1997: 60), “the fact remains that as the numbers of Buddhist pilgrims and patrons dwindled, both from inside India and abroad, the physical site both diminished and was Hinduized.” Central to this process was a Shaivite ascetic named Gosain Ghamandi Giri who settled in the deserted site around the year 1590 (a date assigned by the ascetic group themselves).16 As Asher (2008: 16-17) has noted, this was by no means a forceful takeover of the temple, but rather the likely occupation of an abandoned sacred site: “after all, conflicts over religious space often have roots not so much in forceful appropriation of the monuments of another faith but rather in the reuse of a site with longstanding sanctity, even if it was sanctity for another faith.” Although I discuss the social history of the Bodh Gaya Math in chapter four, what is important to highlight at this juncture is that for over 400 years a lineage of Giri mahantas (abbots) have made Bodh Gaya the corporate headquarters for the 16 The Shaiva renunciates who settled in Bodh Gaya trace their lineage to the eighth-century philosopher Shankaracharya. According to Asher (2009: 17), the first Shavaite ascetic Gosain Ghamandi Giri likely settled in Bodh Gaya due to the sanctity of the site, “even if its Buddhist affiliation was buried under debris and erased from the memory of any living person.” 27 Shaivite sect, wielding strong regional influence as a religious monastery and a powerful Zamindar (landlord). The institution’s role as a landowner is evident in the eighteenth century when the Giri sect received a rent-free grant of four villages by Emperor Shah Alam (1759-1806), including the one on which the ruins of the Mahabodhi Temple lay. Over time, as Guha-Thakurta (2004: 282-284) describes, the “legitimacy of the Giris at the site came to be supported by a powerful repertoire of myths that linked the two neighboring holy sites of Gaya and Buddha Gaya to a complex Hindu cosmology, assimilating the figure of the Buddha, the bodhi tree, and various Buddhist votive objects within its own pantheon and rituals.” Among Hindus, the ruins of the Mahabodhi Temple and surrounding objects became a monument to “Buddha Dev”, an incarnation of the god Vishnu and a popular site in the network of Hindu pilgrimage linked to the larger circuit of ancestor worship or Gaya-sraddha, in neighboring Gaya city (Doyle 1997).17 According to Trevithick’s (2006: 4-6) analysis, the “Hindu appropriation of the Mahabodhi Temple depended not only on claims of a purely proprietary sort, but also on an encompassing ideological apparatus” that absorbed Buddhist elements as a “subordinate segment of a greater Hindu tradition.” Adding to this complex dynamic is the central place of the new British rulers and the early ethnographers and antiquarians who held the site in high “archaeological esteem” (Trevithick 1).18 In recent years, a number of studies have examined the romantic pursuits and explorations of British civil servants tramping through the Indian subcontinent in search of its hidden past and detailing their admiration for India's ancient ruins (Allen 1999; 2004; Almond 1988; Lopaz 1995). The early stages of Bodh Gaya's modern reinvention occurred in a geo-political context greatly influenced by British imperial interests in South Asia, where issues of power and knowledge accompanied Orientalist constructions of religious identity (Doyle 1997; King 1999; Ludden 1996; Said 1979). As part of the filtering of the Orient into Western consciousness, India became defined by its religion and the essence of Buddhism and India’s past greatness was located in the past. Thus, ever since the first inscription was translated at Bodh Gaya from a European scholar named Charles Wilkens in 1788, the British were “confronted with questions that involved competing claims to the sacred space at Bodh Gaya, and 17 18 According to Trevithick (2006) there has been and continues to be concurrent Hindu/Buddhist worship of both Vedic gods and Buddhist Bodhisattvas. “The main Buddhist view is that a circumambulation of the Bodhi-tree is a sacred commemoration of the Buddha's Enlightenment” and for Hindus, pilgrims visit Bodh Gaya to make offerings of rice cakes to their ancestors as part of the Gaya sraddha (Trevithick 5). Although Gaya is the main pilgrimage centre for these ancestor rites, the bodhi tree and other sites in the vicinity of Bodh Gaya are considered part of the forty-five recommended sites in the Gaya-mahatmya narratives (Doyle 1997). Not only was the site held in high archaeological esteem but from the from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Bodh Gaya was also visited by a number of travelers, surveyors and artists such as William and Thomas Daniell who painted the ruins of the Mahabodhi Temple in 1790. 28 competing versions of sacred history” (Trevithick 2006: 8). According to Trevithick (2006: 9), the first “epigraphical probe into Bodh Gaya had produced evidence of religious 'confusion,'” that inspired efforts on behalf of the Government of Bengal to conduct a complete ethnographic survey of the area. As Trevithick (2006: 10) comments, “this is but one example among many of the British Indian anxiety that religious groups be kept separate, definable, bounded, and easily managed.” Commissioned by the directors of the East India Company, as part of the newly expanding Bengal Presidency, Francis Hamilton-Buchanan (1762-1829) was the first British-Indian government surveyor to undertake a significant mission to the area. Hamilton-Buchanan stands as a key figure in the early stages of European constructions of the “religion of Bouddha” and of an ancient Buddhist civilization in India (Almond 1988). Through his descriptive reports and detailed diary, Buchanan highlights the decrepit condition of the ancient temple in Bodh Gaya and indicates that there was no sign of Buddhist worship in the area except for the aid of his tour guide, an unnamed Sannyasin renunciate who had allegedly converted to Buddhism some years prior by Burmese pilgrims.19 Although Buchanan describes the populace in Bodh Gaya as “Hindoo,” he nonetheless was one of the first European surveyors to see and represent “Buddha Gaya” “as originally, and therefore essentially, a Buddhist place” (Doyle 1997: 80). Most of Buchanan's account of the region relay his encounters with elite religious authorities such as members of the Bodh Gaya Math, or among the Gayawal Brahmins from the nearby city of Gaya. This town, Buchanan notes, is reminiscent of his home in Scotland, and a “centre of stubborn orthodoxy” (Trevithick 2006: 10). Although fragments of communication and pictorial reports continued to pass through Calcutta, relaying the decrepit condition of Bodh Gaya's central monument, it was not until 1847 “that 'English gentlemen' began to consider organizing the removal of antiquities in the manner we may think of as early modern archaeology” (Trevithick 11). As the newly appointed 'Archaeological Enquirer', Captain Markham Kittoe was one of the first 'English gentlemen' to generate archaeological interest at Bodh Gaya and helped to establish a degree of institutional independence from the more distinguished Orientalism of the Asiatic Society. Although Bodh Gaya was slated to be a key property of Kittoe's early antiquarian investigations, due to his poor health, he was unable to carry out any comprehensive archaeological field study on the Mahabodhi Temple (Trevithick 2006). It was not until the midcentury that Major-General Sir Alexander Cunningham (1814-1893), the so-called “father” of Indian 19 According to Doyle (1997), the Burmese pilgrims, who Buchanan refers too, were high ranking officials deputed by King Bodawpaya in 1807. For more on Buchanan’s account of the Gaya region see James, John (1934), (Ed.) An Account of the Districts of Bihar and Patna in 1811-1812. Patna: Bihar and Orissa Research Society. 29 archaeology and close associate of Orientalist James Prinsep (1799-1840), proposed to establish of a more thorough survey of Indian antiquities at Bodh Gaya.20 As I mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, the early establishment of modern archaeology by “enlightened” European scholars is closely intertwined with the largely unexplored field of Indian Buddhist studies and the newly formed British Imperial Government following the “Great Mutiny” of 1857 (Trevithick 2006; Doyle 1997; King 1999).21 In light of the growing antiHindu sentiment that was exacerbated by the Indian uprising, it is no surprise that India's “classical” Buddhist “civilization” was a central preoccupation of early British archaeologists “who asserted that the vitality and greatness of India's classical Buddhist period was being manifested, once again, under the aegis of the new British Raj” (Doyle 1997: 93). Furthermore, according to Doyle (1997: 93), the investigation of “a “dead” religion, and the sites associated with it, would in no way compromise the British government's purportedly neutral stance vis a vis India's living religious communities” namely, Hindus and Muslims. For this purpose, in 1861, the newly retired Alexander Cunningham sent a memorandum to the Viceroy, Lord Canning, requesting a detailed investigation of the ancient Buddhist remains, now based on a corpus of scholarly material and translations, including the famous narratives of Chinese travelers Faxian and Xuanzang. Lord Canning's response to the memorandum was that “it would not be to our credit, as an enlightened ruling power,” to allow the neglect of Indian antiquity to continue (Trevithick 2006: 28). With the support and sanctioning of the Viceroy, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was formally established and Cunningham appointed the first Director General. The first project undertaken by the ASI under Cunningham’s Directorship was a survey and fieldtrip to the Hindu pilgrimage town of Gaya and the smaller satellite town of Bodh Gaya in the winter of 1861-1862. Although Cunningham’s initial authorized survey was in effect an “elaborated inventory of Indian antiquities,” a number of excavations followed by his assistants Major Mead, R.L. Mitra, and J.D. Beglar (Trevithick 29). The succession of archaeological surveys at the prominent Buddhist site not 20 21 Major-General Sir Alexander Cunningham (1814-1893) began his Indian career as a 2nd Lt. in the Bengal Engineers and retired in 1846. Prior to his interest in the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya he had undertaken archaeological research at the great stupa of Sanchi in 1851, and helped unearth the relics of Sariputta and Moggallana (two of the chief disciples of the Buddha). This is certainly one of the most significant events in the early British “discovery” of Buddhism in India. The Great Mutiny or Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company's army on 10 May, 1857, in the town of Meerut. This upheaval soon erupted into other civilian rebellions that traversed the upper Gangetic plain and central India. The rebellion was seen as a considerable threat to the East India Company in that region, and it was contained only with the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858. The rebellion is also known as India's First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857 and the Sepoy Mutiny. 30 only yielded significant treasures but also brought to the foreground the extent to which Hindus had assimilated the Buddhist imagery into their own ritual practices. For example, Major Mead indicates that Hindus had literally appropriated the surrounding Buddhist objects seeing the stupas as “ready made Lingams” (Trevithick 30). This concern about the Hindu absorption of Buddhist iconography was also shared by Rajendralala Mitra, who wrote five years after Mead about the ease with which the Buddhist stupa functioned as a Shaivite Lingam. So, at a very concrete level, according to Trevithick (2006: 31), “important symbols of the two faiths were interchanged with great facility.” In the context of these early authorized surveys by Cunningham and his assistants, the main objective was an accurate historical description of the ruins. At that stage, the preservation of artifacts and antiquities were of little concern to the British colonial government and the goal of restoring ancient monuments was far beyond the desired expenditure of the British imperial government (Trevithick 2006).22 As Guha-Thakurta (2004: 288) notes, “in its earliest forms, then, colonial archaeology can be seen to have accelerated rather than stalled the process of decay. . . [and] it was not until the 1870s that archaeology shifted to a new concern with reconstruction and preservation, with ways of restoring history and meaning” to this dilapidated site of “unreadable rubble.” These changes in archaeological method were initiated by Cunningham when he was recalled from London in 1871. From this point forward, there was a marked shift towards the preservation of ancient monuments as “historical specimens” and the ruins of the Mahabodhi Temple were deemed a monument worthy of restoration due to its association with significant events and by virtue of its “beauty and grandeur” alone (Trevithick 2006: 33). However, it is important to note, that the commitment to this project by the British government “did not arise simply out of a shift in archaeological policy, but was triggered by the intervention of the Burmese mission . . . charged by King Mindon Min with the task of restoring the temple” (Trevithick 33). By the end of the eighteenth century, Burmese kings had once again begun to renew their interest in the sacred geography of the Buddha, bringing their Theravada views of royal patronage into conflict with British constructions of knowledge about India's lost religion (Doyle 1997, Dhammika 1996, Trevithick 2006).23 As in the past, delegations of Burmese Buddhists had made repeated visits to 22 23 According to Trevithick (2006) Cunningham himself took a large collection of images and artifacts to England after the disbanding of the first archaeological survey in 1865. In fact, as the author (2006) suggests, “such a practice was designed into the survey. . . [and] the haphazard looting of the past had achieved some degree of organization” even after the formal establishment of the Archaeological Survey of India. In other words, “the destruction of the archaeological value of sites, as we currently recognize such value, continued unapace” (Trevithick 32). [see also Leoshko 1996]. For more on the historical relationship between Burmese royal missions and the importance of restoring the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya see Doyle (1997) 31 Bodh Gaya in 1795, 1811, 1823, 1833 and 1867 with the intent of restoring the temple as a form of ritual merit-making and to bolster their own government's political prestige (Doyle 1997). These dispatches by the king of Burma resonated with Hamilton-Buchanan's findings in 1811 when he was informed that Burmese Buddhists had been inquiring about the condition of the site. The pressure to undertake restorative action and retain control over the archaeological process at Bodh Gaya had its roots in the Winter of 1874, when the British Government of India received communication from the king of Burma, Mindon Min (1853-1878) requesting to send a mission to Bodh Gaya because: “it is His Majesty's wish to repair the enclosures of the Great Bodi tree, which from a long site of existence must have fallen into decay” (Trevithick 2006: 19). According to Trevithick (2006), the dispatch by Mindon Min was to be the last of a long line of Theravada Buddhist kings to initiate a mission to Bodh Gaya in the tradition of royal patronage (see also Tambiah 1976 and Doyle 1997).24 Although the British authorities decided to facilitate the Burmese request, there were stipulations made by the colonial government that nothing should be done to “offend the prejudices of the Hindoos,” in particular, the most salient group of “Hindoos” at Bodh Gaya, the Giri Sect (Trevithick 2006: 34). Drawing on Trevithick's analysis of these negotiations, it must be noted that as far back as the late medieval period, the Giris at Bodh Gaya had managed to establish themselves in a manner that satisfied both Mughal rulers and the British Raj. Although the Giri's eventually became rival opponents to the robust Buddhist claims of the Mahabodhi Society (discussed in the next section), prior to this, the Bodh Gaya mahant appears to have benefited from the arrangements of visiting Burmese Buddhist's to the sacred site. With the permission of the mahant, the Burmese began their restoration work in 1877 and continued for about six months until the activities came to the attention of the Government of Bengal. From an archaeological point of view, the “Burmese workmen were making a mess of the old temple at Buddha Gaya” (Trevithick 36). Shortly after this notification, the Government of Bengal deputed Rajendralala Mitra of the ASI to report on the authenticity of the Burmese restoration efforts. In his report, Mitra notes that they were working “energetically and piously,” but according to “no systematic or traditional plan. . . They are ignorant of the true history of their faith and perfectly innocent of archaeology and history, and the mischief they have done by their misdirected zeal has been serious” 24 According to Tara Doyle (1997) there was practically no contact or royal missions sent to Bodh Gaya following the fifteenth century up until the early nineteenth century. The primary reason for this lapse in pilgrimage activity was due to the political upheaval in Burma after the fall of the Pagan kingdom in the thirteenth century. It was not until the rule of Ba-Daw-Pa-Ya from 1782-1819 that Burmese contact was made with Bodh Gaya once again. The last effort to restore the temple was by King Mindon Min, who ruled the Kingdom of Pagan for 25 years from 1853-1878. 32 (Trevithick 36-37). In light of this intervention with the Burmese mission and the deterioration of Anglo-Burmese relations following the death of Mindon Min, the British Government of India decided to apply the “appropriate” archaeological techniques and take up the task of restoring the Mahabodhi Temple itself. This was the first time that British government felt the need to “assert its monopoly over the restoration of the site and define its own arena of jurisdiction. For the first time at Bodh Gaya, the traditional religious practices associated with the renovation of a sacred monument found themselves at odds with a modern historical and archaeological view of restoration” (Guha-Thakurta 2004: 288-289). Figure 2.1 Photograph of Mahabodhi Temple in 1861 Source: Reproduced from Mitra (1972) Figure 2.2 Photograph of Mahabodhi Temple after 1884 Source: Reproduced from Barua (1934) For this purpose, Sir Ashley Eden, the Lt. Governor of Bengal appointed Alexander Cunningham and assistant J.D. Beglar the extensive task of restoring the ancient temple. The restoration of the Mahabodhi Temple began in 1880 and was completed in 1884 at a cost of 200,000 Rp. (approx. US$ 4,600) (World Heritage Application 2000: 14). This project was both lengthy, costly and a contentious venture due to the fact that Beglar had rebuilt part of the Mahabodhi Temple based on a stone model found at the site that depicted the bodhi tree, the railing, and the throne (Guha33 Thakurta 2004; Trevithick 2006). According to a report by Cunningham, it was restored on the basis of a stone model “found amongst the ruins from which the whole design of the building as it existed in medieval times could be traced with tolerable completeness” (World Heritage Application 2000: 14). To a large extent, the restoration of the Mahabodhi Temple as a unique testimony to the ancient history of Buddhism in India was also a “reconstruction” conjured and constituted by the early application of archaeological science and strongly influenced by the Orientalist constructions of Buddhism (Leoshko 1996). As a natural consequence of having repaired and restored the Temple at enormous costs, the British Government of India also sought to take greater responsibility for the maintenance of the site by placing the building and its grounds under the government supervision of the Public Works Department. In concluding this section, I want to emphasize that prior to the Burmese mission that served as a catalyst for archaeological intervention by the British authorities, there appears to have been no friction or recorded grievances caused by the foreign Buddhists, such as the Burmese who continued to reside in the Mahant's residential compound. So, at this very early point in the modern recovery and reinvention of Bodh Gaya's ancient past, “Hindus” and “Buddhists” appear to have had no series conflicts (Trevithick 2006: 39). As Trevithick (2006: 40) points out, cooperation among the British, the Burmese, and the Giris towards the recovery of Bodh Gaya's ancient past “created a complex new reality” into which Sinhalese pilgrim, Anagarika Dharmapala and the Mahabodhi Society would soon enter. 2.2 Reclaiming the Past: Sir Edwin Arnold, Dharmapala and the Mahabodhi Society The first person to raise the question of the “restoration of the Buddha Gaya Temple to the Buddhists,” was Sir Edwin Arnold, the celebrated author of Light of Asia.25 Since the 1879 publication of this “Victorian Buddhist epic” and poetic rendition of the life of Buddha, Edwin Arnold had acquired a worldwide reputation as “a kind of patron-saint of Buddhism” (Almond 1988, GuhaThakurta 2004). In January 1886 Edwin Arnold decided to make a pilgrimage to the town of Bodh Gaya and pay homage to the Buddha at the recently restored Mahabodhi Temple by the British Government of India. Although disturbed by the desecration of Buddhist images by Brahman priests at 25 The Light of Asia, subtitled The Great Renunciation, is a highly acclaimed ‘biblicized’ Buddhist epic that was first published in London in 1879. This poetic account chronicles the life of the Buddha and became one of the most widely read English texts ever published on Buddhism (Trevithick 2006). 34 the hallowed site, it was his reception among Buddhist clergy in Ceylon that convinced him of the need to reclaim the sacred property of the Mahabodhi Temple for the world Buddhist community. When Edwin Arnold returned to London, he decided to write a provocative plea in the Daily Telegraph (1893) requesting that the British Government acquire the temple and hand it over to the Buddhists. The descriptive and romantic account of his pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya is entitled East and West: A Splendid Opportunity and deserves to be quoted at length as an exemplary passage of Arnold's universalizing aspirations and Orientalist invocations of Buddhism that helped to propel demands for the “forgotten site” onto the world stage. I would to-day, in these columns, respectfully invite the vast and intelligent British public to forget, for a little while, home weather and home politics, and to accompany me, in fancy, to a sunny corner of their empire, where there centres far more important questions, for the future of religion and civilisation, than any relating to parish councils or parish pumps. I will, by their leave, tell them of beautiful scenes under warm skies; of a temple fairer and more stately, as well as more ancient, than almost any existing fane; and will also show them how the Indian Government of Her Majesty, supported by their own enlightened opinion, might, through an easy and blameless act of administrative sympathy, render four hundred millions of Asiatics for ever the friends and grateful admirers of England. . . . . . It is here! Beyond the little village of mud huts and the open space where dogs and children and cattle bask together in the dust, beyond the Mahunt's College, and yonder great fig tree which has split with its roots that wall, twelve feet thick, built before England had even been discovered, nestles an abrupt hollow in the surface, symmetrical and well-kept, and full of stone images, terraces, balustrades, and shrines. . . Yet more sacred . . . is the Maha Bodhi tree – in the opinion of superstitious votaries the very original Bodhi tree, miraculously preserved – but more rationally that which replaces and represents the ever memorable shade under which the inspired Siddhartha sat at the moment when he attained sambodhi, the supreme light of his gentle wisdom. . . And, beyond all doubt, this is the spot, most dear and divine, and precious beyond every other place on earth, to all the four hundred million Buddhists in China, Japan, Mongolia, Assam, Cambodia, Siam, Burma, Arakan, Nepaul, Thibet, and Ceylon. This is the authentic site, and this the successor-tree, by many unbrokenly cherished generations. . . . . .I think there never was an idea which took root and spread so far and fast as that thrown out thus in the sunny temple-court at Panadurè, amid the waving taliputs. Like those tropical plants which can almost be seen to grow, the suggestion quickly became a universal aspiration, first in Ceylon and next in other Buddhist countries. I was entreated to lay the plan before the Oriental authorities, which I did. I wrote to Sir Author Gordon, Governor of Ceylon, in these words: “I suggest a Governmental Act, which would be historically just, which would win the love and gratitude of all Buddhist populations, and would reflect enduring honour upon English administration. The temple and enclosure at Buddha-Gaya are, as you know, the most sacred spots in all the world for the Buddhists. . . . . . To rectify this sad neglect, and to make the temple, what is should be, the living and learned centre of purified Buddhism, money was not, and is not, lacking. . . Asia did not abandon its 35 new desire. . . Went at last to the then Indian Secretary of State, Lord Cross – always intelligent, kindly and receptive – and once more pleaded for the great restoration “Do you wish, Lord Cross,” I asked, “to have four hundred millions of Eastern peoples blessing your name night and day, and to be for ever remembered in Asia, like Alexander or Asoka, or Akbar the Great?” “God bless my soul, yes” answered the Minister; “how is that to be done?”. . . I was astonished and rejoiced to find how firmly the desire of this restoration had taken root, and how enkindled with the hope of it Ceylon, Siam, Burmah, and Japan had become. The Maha Bodhi Society, established to carry out the scheme, was constituted. Thus is this new and great idea spreading, and the world will not be very much older, I think, before Buddhism by this gateway goes back to its own land, and India becomes the natural centre of Buddhistic Asia. Some people who will ask, why should the British public take any concern in such a movement? . . . Apart from the immense historical, religious and social importance of Buddhism in Asia, here is an opportunity for the Government of India to gratify and concilate half the continent by the easiest and least costly exercise of good-will. Buddhism would return to the place of its birth, to elevate, to spiritualise, to help and enrich the population. It would be a new Asiatic crusade, triumphant without tears, or tyranny, or blood; and the Queen's administration would have the glory and benefit of it. . . The Hindu of Madras, a leading native journal, writes: “If there is anything in the intellectual and moral legacies of our forefathers of which we may feel proud, it is that sublime, pure and simple conception of a religious and moral system which the world owes to Buddha. Educated Hindoos cannot hesitate in helping Buddhism to find a commanding and permanent footing once more in their midst, and to live in mutually purifying amity with our Hinduism itself. Here is indeed, for an enlightened British Indian Minister, “a splendid opportunity.”26 As evident in Sir Edwin Arnold’s provocative plea, Bodh Gaya presented “a splendid opportunity,” that would bestow honor upon English administration and unite some “four hundred millions of Asiatics.” Although this patron-saint of Buddhism is a central figure in the modern reinvention of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment, it was the self-fashioned Sinhalese Buddhist convert, Anagarika Dharmapala, who first launched a concerted transnational campaign to reclaim the sacred grounds through the formation of the Mahabodhi Society. As Guha-Thakurta (2004: 286) describes, Dharmapala is an “exemplary specimen of a colonial Sinhalese intellectual, a product of a curious mix of missionary education, Theosophical initiations, and occult mysticism” who was “reborn” to “Buddhism in the 1880s through the route of European Orientalism and Theosophy and made the Buddhist “recovery” of Bodh Gaya the lone cause of his later life.” Born into a wealthy family in Colombo in 1864, the young English-speaking Don David Hewavitarne (who changed his name to Dharmapala around 1889) had taken interest in the 26 This account by Sir Edwin Arnold was reproduced in the appendix of ‘History of Maha-Bodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya’ (1900) by Anagarika Dharmapala. Printed by K.P. Mokkerjee and Co. Calcutta. London India Office, British Library. 36 Theosophical Society through its leading proponents H.P. Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott.27 As an enthusiastic young supporter, in 1884 Dharmapala accompanied Colonel Olcott on a trip to Japan that was intended to establish new outposts for the Theosophical Society and to popularize the Buddhist Catechism that they had been working on (Trevithick 2006: 58). During their visit, the two Theosophical Ambassadors carried a letter in Sanskrit from the prominent Ceylonese Buddhist monk, Ven. Sumangala Nayaka Mahathera, which contained words of good wishes addressed to the Chief Priests of Japan. This was one of the first acts of communication which had passed between a Southern Buddhist and Northern Buddhist branch for centuries. In the process it convinced Dharmapala and Olcott that they were now playing a leading role in the revival of modern Buddhism.28 While in Japan, Dharmapala fell ill, and while resting in his quarters, he read the popular text Light of Asia produced by Sir Edwin Arnold. In the word's of Dharmapala, rather than any canonical source: “The idea of restoring the Buddhist Jerusalem into Buddhist hands originated with Sir Edwin Arnold after having visited the sacred spot in 1886. It was he who gave me the impulse to visit the shrine, and since 1891 I have done all I could to make the Buddhists of all lands interested in the scheme of restoration” (Trevithick 2006: 59). As Trevithick (2006: 68) notes, it was the popularized and “ecumenical thrust of Arnold's proposal” which styled the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya as the symbolic centre of faith for “a million oriental congregations” that inspired Dharmapala's quest to reclaim the sacred space. Underlying this assumption was the belief that a culturally diverse and geographically scattered World Buddhist community would respond in a united fashion. 27 28 The Theosophical Society was founded in New York in 1875 with the objective of investigating mediumistic phenomena and advancing the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy (Greek: theo - of Gods, sophia – wisdom). Two of the main founders of the organization were Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907) and Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) who moved to India and helped establish the International Headquarters at Adyar, Madras (Chennai). It was held by the Theosophists that all religions were both true in their inner teachings and problematic or imperfect in their external conventional manifestations. It was in India, that they became interested in studying Eastern religions, such as Buddhism. By modern Buddhism I am referring to ways in which leading theosophists such as Olcott and Blavatsky looked to unite different forms of Asian Buddhism through their publication of the “Buddhist Catechism” and based on a return to the “authentic” teachings of the Buddha. For theosophists and other Orientalist scholars during the late nineteenth century, the Buddha’s experience of enlightenment was seen as compatible to many of the ideals of European enlightenment such as reason, empiricism, science, universalism and so forth. The essence of the Buddha’s original teachings derived from the translation of Buddhist texts and philosophy, not in the current ritual adaptations and religious orthodoxy. Linked to modern Buddhism is Obeyesekere’s notion of “Protestant Buddhism” that refers to the Buddhist reform movement in Ceylon which was strongly influenced by “modern” values of the British colonialists, incorporating elements of Protestant Christianity, while at the same time representing a modern Buddhist revival and protest against the domination of the British and Protestant missionaries. For more see Gombrich and Obeyesekere (1990). 37 Figure 2.3 Anagarika Dharmapala next to the Vajrasana, 1891 Source: Mahabodhi Society of India Figure: 2.4 The Japanese image Source: Mahabodhi Society of India Figure: 2.5 Anagarika Dharmapala Source: Mahabodhi Society of India 38 Moved by Sir Edwin Arnold's eloquent plea, Dharmapala and his friend, the Japanese Shingon priest Kozen Gunaratana, made a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya on January 22, 1891 with the aim of seeing the neglected condition of the famous Buddhist shrines in India. That afternoon, Dharmapala sat in contemplation adjacent to the Vajrasana and was visibly moved by the ruinous state of the Mahabodhi Temple as the geographical centre of Buddhist faith. According to Trevithick's (2006: 42) biographical study, from this point forward, Dharmapala “experienced a sense of mission that would structure the remainder of his life.” In Dharmapala's own words: “As soon as I touched with my forehead the Vajrasana, a sudden impulse came to my mind to stop here and take care of this sacred spot, so sacred that nothing in the world is equal to this place where Prince Sakya Sinha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree.”29 Over the course of his six week visit to Bodh Gaya, Dharmapala also discovered that the situation was more complex, especially due to the fact that the ruins of the Mahabodhi Temple appeared to be in the custody of the Giri sect. This prompted him to record in his diary that: “a powerful Buddhist's eloquent voice is needed to show the knavery of the selfish bigoted Brahman priests” (Trevithick 42). With this diary entry, Dharmapala began his transnational campaign for Buddhist control of the Mahabodhi Temple with the ultimate goal of reclaiming sacred ground for the world Buddhist community. It is also important to note, that at this early stage of Buddhist mobilization for the cause, “neither Arnold nor Dharmapala knew the extent to which the temple was embedded in a system of longstanding local and regional relationships, at a concrete social level, and neither did they appreciate the extent to which the Buddha, and Buddhism itself, were encompassed, culturally and ideologically, by Hindu practices and ideas” (Trevithick 70). Thus, the program of reclaiming Buddhist sacred ground was by no means an easy task, especially given the ambivalence and “religious confusion” that involved overlapping ritual behavior at the site. Drawing a comparison with Ayodhya, Guha-Thakurta (2004: 286) suggests that “Bodh Gaya, too, emerges as a space of religious harmony and coexistence, unmarked by any overt signs of strife between Hindu and – in this case – Buddhist worshipers, until the intrusion of a reinvented modern-day form of the competing religion of Buddhism.” In contrast, then, to the Burmese Buddhist team who maintained close relations with the Giri Mahant at Bodh Gaya over the course of their restorative efforts, the coming of Dharmapala is indicative of the modern reclamation of the site which espoused clearly defined religious boundaries over rites of worship and 29 In other words, when Dharmapala first arrived in Bodh Gaya, he had not, up to this point, developed any anti-Hindu sentiment. Rather, as a 'chela' or student of Master Koot Hoomi (one of the Masters of Wisdom from the teachings of Theosophy), Dharmapala was an advocate of occult science and spiritual pluralism rather than a Sinhalese Buddhist. 39 proprietorship of the temple grounds. Building on a network of theosophical contacts among the Bengal High Society and the Ceylonese Buddhist community, Dharmapala made his aspirations concrete with the establishment of a Maha Bodhi Society on May 31, 1891 (referred to hereafter as the Mahabodhi Society of India). The High Priest of Ceylon, Sumangala Hekkuduwe was elected President; Theosophist Colonel Olcott was named Director and Dharmapala himself, became General Secretary. The main objective of the society was “to make known to all nations the sublime teachings of the Arya Dharma of Buddha Sakya Muni, and to rescue, restore and re-establish as the religious centre of this movement, the holy place Buddha Gaya, where our Lord attained supreme wisdom” (Trevithick 2006: 82). From the outset, Dharmapala had made explicit his ecumenical and transnational ambitions: “The society representing Buddhism in general, and not any single aspect of it, shall preserve absolute neutrality with respect to doctrines and dogmas taught by sections and sects among Buddhists. It is not lawful for anybody, whether a member or not, to attempt to make it responsible, as a body, for his own views” (Trevithick 82). Despite this new platform of Buddhist solidarity, efforts to reclaim the Mahabodhi Temple for the world Buddhist community proved to be an extremely complicated and challenging endeavor for Dharmapala. First and foremost, there was the misguided conduct of Hindu pilgrims who were not acting appropriately and that the Giri Sect should not have jurisdiction over a Buddhist temple. Having struggled to acquire land for the Mahabodhi Society in Bodh Gaya and not having any established rights to access the temple, Dharmapala set out on a urgent mission to build Buddhist networks, request financial support to purchase the temple and sow discontent against the Hindu control of the central monument of Buddhist faith. At the outset of Dharmapala's campaign, the government of Bengal had not established any formal rights of proprietorship concerning the temple, nor had they envisioned doing so (Trevithick 84). Although the government of Bengal did not reject the notion that there may be some body capable of expressing the aspirations of the Buddhist communities, there was also concern that the activities of “outsiders” might exacerbate existing religious tensions. With regards to the purchase offer proposed by the Mahabodhi Society, the policy of the government up to this point had been: “that if the Buddhists want to put in a priest of their own, they must buy the Mahant out, with the goodwill of the Hindu community” (Trevithick 84). Dharmapala continued to press the British government to intervene and assure the sale of the Mahabodhi Temple to the Buddhist community. However, there was little support or backing by the Collectorate and Bengal who were content to steer clear of any religious 40 discord. Nor did the Mahant appear to have any interest in selling the temple itself. Thus, as a means of garnering wider public attention to the demands of the Mahabodhi Society, Dharmapala decided to stage a 'International Buddhist Conference' on October 31, 1891, and recruited a handful of Buddhists for this event.30 Although this event was a relatively small gathering, the International Conference did set in motion a series of negotiations between Bengal's Lieutenant-Governor Elliott, The Collector of Gaya, G. A. Grierson and the Bodh Gaya Mahant. The conclusions derived from the state negotiations were that formal government jurisdiction, or private ownership by extra-national Buddhists would be unwise at this juncture because it was likely that the “Hindu community would object if any definite project were started for making it over to unknown strangers from Ceylon or Burma” (Trevithick 86). Dismayed by the lack of support, Dharmapala continued to sharpen the distinctions between Buddhist and Hindu traditions over the course of his religious galvanizing. According to Trevithick (2006: 88), this divisive shift away from the philosophical base of “theosophical piety” also led to confrontations with Colonel Olcott, who continued to see the Mahabodhi Society and Dharmapala's cause as merely a branch of the larger organization. After the formal establishment of the Mahabodhi Society in 1891, Dharmapala continued to publicize the goals of the organization and mobilize support for the temple campaign through the staging of several ceremonial and commemorative events in Bodh Gaya and beyond. Central to Dharmapala's lobbying efforts was the establishment of the Mahabodhi Society headquarters in Calcutta and as editor of the newly inaugurated Mahabodhi Society Journal (MSJ). Through his journal writing, Dharmapala set out, in a style reminiscent of Sir Edward Arnold, to compare Bodh Gaya with other religious centres of world faith such as Mecca and Jerusalem. By linking Bodh Gaya with a global network of world pilgrimage centres this would help elevate the Buddhist memory of the site and anchor its symbolic geography in a central sacred place. As Trevithick (2006: 87) points out, although it is difficult to assess the influence of this kind of formula among a pan-Asian Buddhist community, it “functioned more to re-awaken, or perhaps to invent, such sentiments” in the first place. A key turning point in the transnational career of Dharmapala was his participation in the famous 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where he accepted an invitation as a “representative of the Southern Buddhist Church” (Trevithick 95). The reception of his talk, entitled The World's Debt to 30 Although the International Buddhist Conference was a relatively small gathering, it was attended by new members of the Mahabodhi Bodhi Society including Y. Ato, C. Tokugawa and Kozen Gunaratana of Japan, delegates from Sri Lanka, China and the Chittagong region. The Japanese delegates announced in the conference that the authorities of the Nishi Nonganji Temple were prepared to purchase the Mahabodhi Temple by paying an adequate price to the local Mahant. As will become apparent in the forthcoming chapters, the financial relationship between Japanese Buddhists and the Mahabodhi Society continues to this day. 41 Buddha, greatly bolstered his confidence and later commented in his diary that “some likened me to Christ!!!” (Trevithick 98). As Trevithick explains, this excursion to the United States not only redefined Dharmapala's self image as an international figure, but it also marked the beginning of a certain financial independence for the Mahabodhi Society, which led to increased strains among his larger Theosophical network. Central to this process was his encounter with a wealthy Hawaiian philanthropist named Mary E. Foster, who contributed a huge source of financial support to his various projects while en route to India through the Pacific.31 In addition to this lucrative stop in Hawaii, Dharmapala visited Japan and Thailand, “propagandizing for the 'great cause'” before arriving back in India in the Spring of 1894 “with something of an international reputation, a new sense of purpose and possibility, and an independent source of financial support for his new society” (Trevithick 99). While in Japan, the Kozen Gunaratna's family gifted Dharmapala with a seven-hundred year old Buddha statue that, it was hoped, could be installed in the abandoned upper-level chamber of the Mahabodhi Temple. Although his initial attempt to install the Japanese image was revoked by the Mahant's supporters and the District Magistrate, D. J. Macpherson, Dharmapala kept the image at the Theosophical Rest house at Gaya for a more opportune time. That day was February 25, 1895, when Dharmapala was moved by a deep revelation to install the Buddha statue in the early morning. 31 One of Mary E Foster’s legacies is the ‘Foster Botanical Garden’ in Honolulu which is the oldest Botanical Garden in Hawaii and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among other things, the garden contains a Sacred Fig via a cutting from Anuradhapura, which is a clone descendant of the Bodhi tree. 42 Despite his validating authority to establish the seven-hundred year old image at the Mahabodhi Temple, Dharmapala set out for Bodh Gaya accompanied by two Sinhalese monks and a lay pilgrim N.S. De Silva. It must be emphasized that at this point, Hindu priests and worshipers at Bodh Gaya had never seriously questioned the site's Buddhist past. However, with the installation of the Japanese image of the Buddha that early morning, Dharmapala was met with violent resistance from the Mahant's men who deemed the act offensive to the Hindus. This confrontation surrounding the installation of the Buddha image set in motion a longstanding legal contest that both polarized and concretized Buddhist and Hindu demands over rights of worship and proprietorship of the temple that continued up until the mid-twentieth century. Throughout his life, Dharmapala referred to these legal proceedings as the “Great Case” in an effort to galvanize support for the Mahabodhi Society and his historical mission as self-acclaimed leader of the international Buddhist campaign. In the middle of this dispute was the British colonial government, now pressed with the difficult and discomforting task of managing sacred space and competing forms of religious practice. Throughout the long duration of the “Great Case” that is explored in detail by Trevithick (2006), the specific legal situation at Bodh Gaya had remained largely undefined. The proprietorship of the temple was best characterized as “dual custodianship,” shared between the Mahant and to some extent, the British Government, whose claims it was believed “had existed ever since its restoration was undertaken” (Trevithick 121). The “Great Case” went through a series of appeals, which made transparent the challenges on behalf of the British Indian secular state in terms of “regulating, guaranteeing, or delimiting religious rights” (Trevithick 131). As Trevithick explains, ever since the 1858 proclamation by Queen Victoria announcing transfer of power from the East India Company to the Crown, it “contained a strong and explicit promise to refrain from interference in religious matters” (Trevithick 132). In seeking a stance of religious neutrality, the extensive legal deliberations by the British government had in many ways strengthened the general impression that the Mahant was the actual owner of the Mahabodhi Temple and its sacred property. At the same time, it was acknowledged that Buddhists should have some right of worship and access to the temple, although the British government was reluctant to place the property of the temple in the hands of an extra-national body. For Dharmapala and the Mahabodhi Society, the “Great Case” was in many ways a great failure. In light of the prolonged legal battle, Dharmapala was forced to pay upwards of 22,500 Rupees in legal fees and lost significant credibility as a representative body and transnational voice for pan-Asian Buddhism in India. According to Trevithick (2006: 135), this financial burden reflected poorly on his 43 Buddhist ecumenical ambitions in India and it was not until after the first World War that he managed to mobilize sufficient funds to open an additional Buddhist Vihara in both Sarnath and Calcutta. Despite Dharmapala’s shortcomings, the preservation and reclamation of Buddhist heritage received another boost under the new policies of Viceroy Lord Curzon and his attempt to place the temple within the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904. Along the lines of many Orientalist scholars before him, Lord Curzon held a strong sense of history and the place of the British Empire within it. According to Allen (2002: 6), Lord Curzon had once declared that “the sacredness of India haunts me like a passion” and as Viceroy of India between 1899 and 1904 he set out to preserve, protect and enhance India's past greatness. Through the preservation of India’s rich cultural heritage, ancient monuments and artifacts could serve as emblems of Indian “civilization” that could be “held in trust against the neglect and depredation of a heedless population” (Trevithick 2006: 144). In terms of Bodh Gaya, Lord Curzon first became aware of its contested character on a trip to Mandalay, Burma. When visiting the Kuthodaw Pagoda on November 29, 1901 he received a petition from Burmese Buddhists expressing concern over the “fate of presents” sent by King Mindon “to the Temple,” which had been allegedly appropriated by the Mahant (Trevithick 145). When Curzon became informed on the legal disputes and the competing claims of proprietorship over the Mahabodhi Temple, he sought to address the situation directly and in favor of Buddhist demands for the site. For this purpose, Lord Curzon visited Bodh Gaya in 1903 and took it upon himself to quiz the Mahant directly about his religious association with the Mahabodhi Temple. Although this meeting between Lord Curzon and the Mahant was not recorded in any extensive form, it is clear that the visit strengthened the Viceroy's conviction that the temple belonged to the Buddhists (Trevithick 2006). Although failing to reach any grounds from which to devalue the Mahant's claims of ownership, a Commission was later formed under Lord Curzon that took up the issue of religious legitimacy over Bodh Gaya’s sacred space. Having collected and examined the available evidence, it was recommended by the Commissioners that more “Government supervision is needed” to regulate and oversee appropriate religious conduct at the Mahabodhi Temple. It was also advised that a supervisory board of “five respectable gentlemen” excluding non-Indians and Buddhists due to their sectarian influence, be established (Trevithick 158).32 Despite the Viceroy’s active intervention to 32 In a 1903 memorandum on Bodh Gaya produced by lieutenant governor of Bengal, J. A. Bourdillon to the viceroy Lord Curzon it states: 1) the temple was undoubtedly Buddhist and ought to be made over to the Buddhists; 2) true Hindu worship has never been conducted here” and orthodox Hindus did not consider it to be a Hindu temple; 3) the mahant should be induced to surrender ownership of the temple and its grounds in return for a payment by the Mahabodhi Society; 4) should the mahant remain obdurate, the government should consider “securing the ancient shrine for the state” under the preservation of Ancient Monuments Bill; and 5) once acquired the property should vest in the Bengal 44 establish a new form of state management and amicable negotiations over the controversial Mahabodhi Temple, in the end, the Mahant, Krishna Dayal Giri, refused to accept the new terms and once again the issue was dropped back to the level of regional administration. One of the benefits derived by the sympathetic British Government under Lord Curzon was that Dharmapala was finally able to obtain some land in Bodh Gaya for the construction of a Mahabodhi Society Rest House. While this was regarded as a major achievement for Dharmapala, complicated matters of custodianship and rites of worship continued to strain the reputation of the Society. As an example of the competing visions of Hindu-Buddhist relations over the site, the arrival of Japanese pilgrim Okakura Kakuzō in 1903 provides an illuminating case. Okakura Kakuzō was a friend of Hindu reformer Vivekananda and brought to Bodh Gaya an alternative vision of place, one based on Hindu-Buddhist cooperation and a broad appeal to “common origins” rather than the politics of confrontation among two opposing religions.33 Shortly after his arrival, the Japanese pilgrim entered into negotiations with the Mahant over a grant of land in Bodh Gaya for the construction of a rest house where an old Japanese priest could be stationed “until the first batch of pilgrims could be sent along” (Trevithick 171). Unlike the fierce opposition held between the Mahant and Dharmapala, the prospect of “a distinguished representative of Japan” was encouraged by the Mahant who was more than willing to cooperate with his request for land (Trevithick 171). As Trevithick (2006: 171) points out, although the British Government could not legally prevent the transfer of land to “an Asiatic alien,” in light of the extensive legal proceedings and in response to the commission's report, Bengal had two main concerns: “1) that foreign influence in the area might exacerbate existing tensions and 2) that within the “Buddhist Community” itself, dangerous rivalries obtained.” In an effort to avoid further international complications, the Bengal Government denied the building permit for the rest house offering the following statement: “Government is not satisfied that there is any necessity for another resthouse at [Bodh] Gaya and, moreover is of the opinion that the multiplication of interest there is undesirable” (Trevithick 172). As a result, the arrival of Okakura Kakuzō marked an important transition for the British government who finally, after years of legal and public contests, sought to distance itself from the local entanglements at Bodh Gaya and the direct administration of religious affairs. Following the 33 government and its administration be entrusted to a mixed committee of “officials and nonofficial Buddhists” (quoted in Guha-Thakurta, 2004: 295) Kakuzo Okakura was an art historian and philosopher who helped to popularize Asian ideas. Prior to his trip, as Reschauer (1980) describes (in Trevithick 2006: 168), Okakrua had “declared sententiously and quite inaccurately” that “Asia is one.” As a kind of Japanese variant of the Orientalist project according to Trevithick (2006: 168), Okakura was able to build friendly relations with many prominent Hindus such as the Tagore family and the popular Vedantic activist Vivekananda, who had been Dharmapala's more famous rival at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. 45 case of Okakura Kakuzō, there was only one final step taken by the British authorities to place the disputed Mahabodhi Temple within its government jurisdiction. This involved reclaiming the temple in terms of its archaeological value. In light of the second partition of Bengal, in 1911 Bodh Gaya was geographically situated within the newly created provincial government of Bihar and Orissa. As part of an inventory of properties deemed worthy of the Ancient Monuments Act of 1904, an officer, J.F. Blakiston, provided a list to the provincial authorities in Patna on September 11, 1914 recognizing “Bodh Gaya and everything within the compound, Gaya” to be protected (Trevithick 173). According to Trevithick (2006: 174): in the context of the previous forty years' experience at the site, the inclusion of Bodh Gaya in Mr. Blakistons's list made little sense. Since the Burmese restoration project, three GovernorGenerals of India, and three Lieutenant-Governors of Bengal had considered proposed changes in the management of the Mahabodhi temple. In each case, it had been determined that Government had no grounds to take executive action, and in each case the wisdom of this determination had been enhanced by the fear of negative Hindu reaction. At both provincial and central levels, and in spite of occasionally very strong sentiments for change, the government had demonstrated an inability to establish a new configuration of rights. In response to the inventory by the Archaeological Survey of Bihar and Orissa, the Commissioner of Patna, A.W. Oldham accepted the enlisted properties as falling under the Act “except the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya and the images, sculptures, carvings, inscriptions, etc, within the compound of the temple” (Trevithick 174). I wish to highlight this decision by the Commissioner of Patna, because this was the final retraction by a British Indian authority to affect a new form of control and management over the contested site of memory at Bodh Gaya. The discourse used by the executive makes clear that: “the District Magistrate of Gaya very properly points out that to declare the Mahabodhi Temple and its surroundings to be a protected monument under the act might give rise to serious complications. Things had much better be left as they are at Bodh Gaya at present” (Trevithick 174). In this section, I have explored the transnational claims and universal aspirations of Sir Edwin Arnold and Dharmapala to reclaim the sacred grounds of Bodh Gaya for the world Buddhist community. In outlining the various disputes over proprietorship and rites of worship at the Mahabodhi Temple, including the “Great Case,” I have also discussed the ambivalence and political oscillations of the British Government of India in seeking to reconcile religious meaning at Bodh Gaya. From this point forward, questions surrounding management and proprietorship in Bodh Gaya were no longer 46 addressed by the British Government in India. Upholding a position of religious neutrality that had become disengaged from the administration of temple affairs, all the regional authorities could do was ensure that peace was maintained in the area. However, over the next thirty years, up until India's Independence, the demands for the Mahabodhi Temple by Buddhist groups was far from silent. In the context of an emerging Indian nationalist movement, the place of Buddhism and Buddhists became an important subject of discussion within the Indian legislative bodies and political organizations. As Trevithick (2006: 175) indicates, this arena required the development of a new language for Dharmapala and his supporters, one that was “not confrontational, but ameliorative” in terms of negotiation with the Indian politicians. 2.3 Recasting the Past: Indian National Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Bodh Gaya Temple Act As I examined in the previous section, ever since the second partition of Bengal in 1911, Bodh Gaya and the claims of Buddhist groups became reconfigured as part of the provincial jurisdiction of the Government of Bihar and Orissa. Although at that time the British colonial authorities sought to distance themselves from religious matters, the foreign and Indian Buddhists claims for the Mahabodhi Temple found a sympathetic base among “secular” and “liberal” Hindus from the emerging Indian National Congress and the All-Indian Hindu Mahasabha. As Guha-Thakurta (2004: 288) explains, ever since the Mahabodhi Temple entered a “global map of demands and devotions, Bodh Gaya also found itself at the centre of a new national configuration.” Therefore, it is important to see at this stage how the modern discourse surrounding religious identity and the management of sacred space became embedded in a larger Indian national context that required a strategy of “mutual interest and cooperation” (Trevithick 2006: 178). Although Dharmapala continued to editorialize for complete control of the central monument of Buddhist faith, over time, he also began to see the wisdom of lobbying for peaceful resolution based on Hindu-Buddhist unity over the shared Mahabodhi Temple grounds (Trevithick 178). The Bodh Gaya question first came before an Indian nationalist representative body at a Gaya session of the Bihar Provincial Conference of the Indian National Congress in 1922. Under the chairperson Nanda Kishore Lal, the Mahabodhi Society's chief legal advisor proposed a legislative solution based on a “discourse of mutuality” which supported “Hindu-Buddhist veneration of a 47 common sacred ground” (Trevithick 178). In order to mobilize support among the popular Indian nationalists, Dharmapala had written to Mahatma Gandhi on a number of occasions, seeking his intervention and support for the cause. While in prison, following the violent outbreak at Chauri Chaura, Gandhi eventually replied to the Mahabodhi Society's repeated lobbying efforts but “seemed content to register sympathy and to blame the impasses on the inequities of British India” (Trevithick 179). Published in the Mahabodhi Journal, in Gandhi’s own words, “much as I should like to help you, it is not possible for me to do anything directly at the present moment. The question you raise can be solved in a moment when India comes into her own” (Trevithick 179). Gandhi's sympathetic statement and foretelling became a reality when two years after independence the Bodh Gaya Temple Act was formulated in 1949. However, prior to this point, the Mahabodhi Temple issue and the discourse of mutual cooperation continued to be shaped and structured by a number of public forums among the Indian National Congress (INC). Although the Mahabodhi Temple case remained a relatively marginal issue within the INC meetings, an important turning point was the Cocanada Conference, held in Andhra Pradesh in 1923. During the meeting, congress members were approached by a number of Burmese Buddhist delegates who insisted that a committee be formed to investigate the situation at Bodh Gaya. To this effect, a resolution was reached and the respected Bihari lawyer and the future first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, was given the task of spearheading the committee. Other members of the committee included Braj Kishore Prasad, Dr. Kashi Prasad Jaiswal, Ceylonese Buddhist, Gunasinha and Damodar Das, who later converted to Buddhism and became Bhikkhu Rahul Sankrityayana (Prasad 1957: 232). Although the committee appointed under Rajendra Prasad had not yet convened, during the joint-session of the All-Indian Congress and the All-India Hindu Mahasabha held at Begaum in 1924 the question of Bodh Gaya was once again pressed by a special Buddhist delegation dispatched by the Mahabodhi Society (Trevithick 2006). Similar to previous forums, most of the members of the INC were sympathetic to the Buddhist demands, but like the Government of Bengal some years earlier, they raised concerns about the “multiplication of interests” and argued that “international complications might arise if the temple were given over to Buddhists of foreign nationality” (Trevithick 2006: 180; Prasad 1957: 232). Having for all purposes abandoned the plight of reclaiming exclusive control of the temple, the Buddhist delegation at Belgaum was able to garner much conservative Hindu support by drawing on two sensitive issues: cow-killing and beef-eating (Trevithick 2006). As a result of their skillful negotiation around these issues, the Buddhist delegation was able to gain consensus from the participants in 48 support of guaranteed access for the Buddhists under a system of joint control. Although the shape that joint control would take in the context of the Mahabodhi Temple remained undetermined, the Begaum Conference helped to expand the support base of national elites that now included both the Indian National Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha (Trevithick 183). 34 In the years that followed, the Bodh Gaya question continued to circulate through Dharmapala’s editorializing and was raised during a number of public meetings held by the Hindu Mahasabha and the Indian National Congress throughout the country. However, due to the growing significance of the Indian National struggle, direct action on the case was often postponed. Dharmapala continued to work throughout his life for the Bodh Gaya cause, but in the latter part of his career, his efforts began to shift towards improving the Mahabodhi Society's properties in Sarnath, another prominent Buddhist pilgrimage site. As a result of a heart disease linked to rheumatism, Dharmapala fell ill in 1928 and shortly thereafter left India for treatment in Europe. It was not until 1931 that Dharmapala returned to India and Sarnath, where he took formal ordination as Sri Devamitta DhammaPala on July 31st and participated in the opening ceremonies for the newly constructed Mulagandhakuti Vihara on November 11th that same year. Wishing to die as a full member of the Sangha, he received the Upasampada or higher ordination on January 16, 1933 and passed away in Sarnath on April 29, 1933. Prior to his death, Dharmapala vowed to continue fighting for the Mahabodhi Temple in his next birth. After his demise, Dharmapala was succeeded by his trusted assistant Devapriya Valinsinha, who remained General Secretary for the next thirty five years.35 Although the passing of Dharmapala was a significant loss for the Bodh Gaya cause, informal discussions, negotiations, and petitions continued in the context of the Indian Legislative body from the Mahabodhi Society under Devapriya Valinsinha and Burmese members of the Legislative Assembly (Trevithick 2006). Throughout these petitions, it appears that the British Government of India and 34 35 In his autobiography, Rajendra Prasad's (1957: 233) states that the Hindu Mahasabha adopted a resolution recommending the management of the temple by a joint committee of Hindus and Buddhists: “We recommend that the management of the Buddha Gaya temple should be handed over to a joint committee of Hindus and Buddhists and that religious ceremonies in the temple should be performed according to Buddhist rites, without depriving Hindus of the right to worship and offer puja there.” When the committee met with the Mahant directly, they tried to persuade him of their proposal, assuring reasonable compensation from the loss of income derived from pilgrims. The Mahant noted however, that the annual income is insignificant (roughly 2000 Rp), compared to the income generated from the Math, which amounted to several lakhs of rupees. More importantly, the temple bestowed great honor for the Mahant because it “commanded great respect in India and abroad” and was therefore, reluctant to relinquish it (Prasad 233). Devapriya Valinsinha was born in a village near Kandy in Sri Lanka on February 10, 1904. After studies in Colombo at the expense of Dharmapala, he came to Calcutta in 1917, where he passed his BA from the Presidency College in 1926. As the most devoted and trusted assistant of Dharmapala, he was appointed General Secretary and Treasurer of the MSI. He would later serve as one of four Buddhist members nominated for the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee that was first constituted in 1953, a position he held until his death. He died in Colombo in 1968. 49 associated national political organizations were more than inclined to see the matter drop to a provincial level. Overtime, other voices began to emerge in the public arena that held national persuasion in terms of their “Indian” identification rather than distinctly “Buddhist” religious views. Once Rajendra Prasad's committee was formed, he amassed a collection of testimonials and opinions regarding the Bodh Gaya question from a diverse set of Hindus and Buddhist sectarian groups. According to Trevithick (2006: 193), one of the more intriguing documents was a set of letters received from June to December 1937, from two Buddhists, Anagarika Suhrit Ranjan Roy, a Bengali, and Vincent de Silva, a Sinhalese, both joint secretaries of an ad-hoc organization entitled “The Buddha Gaya Defense League.” With support by Buddhists from Burma and Chittagong, along with many Indians, the organization was preparing to launch a Satyagraha demanding Buddhist control of the temple. The issue was deemed to be important to all of India, as Bodh Gaya was described as “the emblem of the greatest civilization in India, nay, of the whole East” (Trevithick 193). Apologizing for the committees neglect of the issue, Prasad decided to place his report before the All-India Congress at Delhi on March 6, 1937 with the aim of resolving the contentious issue in an appropriate and swift manner. Although the satyagraha was never launched there was a growing opinion among its adherents that if the temple should be made over to “foreigners,” a “grave injustice will be done to the Indian Buddhists. . . from Chittagong, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Kashmir” (Trevithick 195). Despite efforts from the Bodh Gaya Defense League to campaign for Buddhist control of the temple, the implementation of a bill transferring ownership to a joint-committee continued to be blocked in the legislative assemblies and never came to be debated seriously until after independence. However, as a small and ill-defined group, according to Trevithick (2006), they were able to affect the thinking of other prominent leaders in terms of a distinct “Indian solution” to the Mahabodhi Temple case. With the end of the second world war and India's formal independence from British colonial rule on the horizon, the Mahabodhi Society, which have always regarded itself as the “prime mover in the campaign to recover the temple” once again began to mobilize Hindu support for the cause (Trevithick 196). In a conference sponsored by the Mahabodhi Society at the Birla Temple in Patna in 1946, chairperson Rajendra Prasad, now President of the Constituent Assembly and Jagatnarayan Lal, President of the Bihar Provincial Hindu Mahasabha, expressed that “the Buddhists should be given some measure of control over the temple” (Trevithick 198). Although the Giri Mahant continued to reject any principal of joint-control over the temple following independence, increasingly the terms of debate became more intense, with international pressure mounting from India's central role in the post- 50 colonial non-alignment movement. As leader of the Indian National Congress and the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru had for long, held a personal interest in the Buddha and the central place of Buddhist civilization within the new national biography of India. Throughout his life, Nehru's reverence and admiration for the memory of the Buddha grew. In his two famous books Autobiography (1936) and The Discovery of India (1946), the influence of Buddhism on the civilization of India is evident through his elaborate synthesis of historical events. The Buddha, echoing many Orientalist scholars before him, was revered as a “great social reformer” in the spirit of Sir Edwin Arnold's invocation from the Light of Asia. In his Autobiography Nehru writes: “The Buddha story attracted me even in early boyhood and I was drawn to the young Siddhartha who, after inner struggle and pain and torment, was to develop into the Buddha. Edwin Arnold's The Light of Asia became one of my favorite books. In the later years when I traveled about a great deal in my province, I liked to visit many places connected with the Buddha legend, sometimes making a detour for the purpose” (Samtani MSJ 1965: 70). Not only did Jawaharlal Nehru develop a keen interest in Indian Buddhist heritage but he also visited numerous Buddhist countries throughout his life. In particular, in his Selected Works, one can discern that Nehru held a strong attraction to Ceylon, which has symbolic ties to India linked by the journey of the Bodhi tree branch to Anuradhapura as early as 288 BCE. On a trip with his family to Ceylon prior to independence, he wrote in his autobiography that the Buddha has “always had a great appeal for me. It is difficult for me to analyse this appeal, but it is not a religious appeal, and I am not interested in dogmas that have grown up around Buddhism. It is the personality that has drawn me. So also the personality of Christ attracted me” (Samtani, MSJ 71). When describing his encounter with Buddhist monks in Ceylon, he also noted that the “the dominant expression of almost all of them was one of peace and calm, a strange detachment from the cares of the world. . . Life seemed to be for them a smooth flowing river moving slowly to the great ocean” (Samtani, MSJ 71). Although Nehru was drawn to the noble life of the Buddhist mendicant he also had his reservations: “I looked at them with some envy, with just a faint yearning for a haven, but I knew well enough that my lot was a different one cast in storms and tempests. There was to be no haven for me, for the tempests within me were as stormy as those outside” (Samtani, MSJ 71). 51 Figure 2.6 An exhibition held in Teen Murti House, New Delhi during the 2550th Buddha Jayanti Anniversary, 2006-2007 Given Nehru’s homage to the memory of the Buddha and his universal message of peace, it does not come as a surprise that following India's independence on August 15, 1947, a number of Buddhist symbols were adopted as national emblems and crests of the Government of India. The strategic use of prominent Buddhist icons like the Dharma Wheel and the Lion-capital from the Ashokan Pillar at Sarnath not only signified India’s inter-Asian cultural power as the birthplace of this great world religion but also provided a “neutral symbol” for navigating through the volatile HinduMuslim divide, especially in the aftermath of the Partition (Doyle 1997; Zelliot 1992). Throughout his career as Prime Minister (1947-1964), Nehru frequently recited the Buddha's teachings and Emperor Ashoka's compassionate ideals as examples for a secular path of progress and national prosperity. To this effect, Buddhism also found an important place in Nehru's expression of national foreign policy. His role as leader of the non-alignment movement and his refusal to align with any specific power block was in many ways the post-colonial expression of the “middle way.” As Prime Minister of a newly independent country, he declared his foreign policy based on the five rules of conduct or Panchasila, which is a Buddhist term, calling for peaceful co-existence between people, nations and ideologies. In the speeches and letters to neighboring Buddhist countries, Nehru often evokes the “message of the Buddha,” whose path of righteousness and spirit of transnational solidarity was as vital today as it was 2,000 years ago. As an example of Nehru's vision of India as a centre of inter-Asian 52 cultural power within the new post-colonial world order, he writes: If a nation is to be great, she cannot afford to have any barriers between her and the outside world or between different sections of her own people. If such barriers do exist, such a nation cannot influence the world nor can she take advantage of the experiences and discoveries of each others countries. After a continuous study of the history of India, I have noticed that whenever the nation has been at the peak of her greatness there have been few barriers between her and other nations. At such times her influence has spread far beyond her frontiers as ancient monuments at places like Angkor in Siam proved. India's strength had been cultural and did not arise from military strength. Her great men, too, like Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi belonged to the world (Nehru Selected Works, Vol. 8, 5: 5). Given the universal and worlding aspirations of India by the mid-century, the unresolved Bodh Gaya question became an important and strategic means of mediating foreign policy within the region. With India as a favored location for pan-Asian conferences, the first Prime Minister was now anxious that neighboring Asian countries, including Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ceylon, and Burma should look to India as a friend. For this purpose, Nehru wrote in a letter to his Principal Private Secretary on February 15, 1949 that “it would be desirable to give a certain international character to this temple. . . [that] would have no executive authority or power but will nevertheless be helpful and will be a graceful gesture to the Buddhist world (Nehru Selected Works Vol. 9, 10: 110). Although in many ways, Nehru envisioned himself as the modern incarnation of Ashoka and looked upon the Buddha as the “greatest son of India,” still the ultimate legislative solution had to be resolved at the provincial level (Nehru Selected Works Vol. 33, 2: 24). For this purpose, the Prime Minister of Bihar, S.K. Sinha (later designated as Chief Minister), introduced a bill in the Bihar Legislative Assembly for a joint management scheme. This Draft Bill reflects decades of conflicting claims over Bodh Gaya's sacred property and builds directly on the groundwork of Rajendra Prasad's testimonials and report. Ultimately, the Draft Bill outlines a joint administration of the Mahabodhi Temple comprised of an equal number of Hindu and Buddhist representatives that are elected by the state government. Although direct government control became effectively nominal, the bill does ensure that the District Magistrate of Gaya would serve as the ex officio chairperson, which in reality tips the balance of power toward a Hindu majority (Guha-Thakurta 2004). Furthermore, the proposed legislature also ensured (as it still does today) “that Buddhist membership of the committee would be restricted by and large to “Indian Buddhists,” keeping at bay not only the Mahabodhi Society but also the surging presence of Asian Buddhists at the site (Guha-Thakurta 297-298).36 Not surprisingly, when 36 Although Rajendra Prasad is one of the chief architects of the Draft Bill, in his autobiography he states: “I hold and believe that justice and fairness require that the management of the temple should be entrusted to the Buddhists, but as 53 the amendment was passed and the bill circulated for public comment in 1948, the Mahabodhi Society were opposed to the legislature and pressed for a number of changes. In order to satisfy the demands of the Mahabodhi Society, S.K. Sinha made a few amendments to the bill including, along the lines of Nehru's request, the establishment of a separate “advisory board” to be appointed by the Bihar state government but, importantly, to be comprised of a majority of Buddhists “who may not all be Indians” (Trevithick 2006: 200). The Bill, entitled the Bodh Gaya Temple Act (Bihar XVII of 1949), was eventually passed on June 19, 1949 with its purpose “to make provision for the better management of the Bodh Gaya Temple and the properties appertaining thereto.”37 Although the Mahabodhi Society under Devapriya Valinsinha eventually accepted the new Bodh Gaya Temple Act, the Mahant Harihar Giri (1932-1958) remained distressed by the fact that the temple would no longer be in his possession. Shortly after the passing of the new provincial legislature, the Mahant petitioned to the Supreme Court declaring the Act a violation of the Constitution of India (Doyle 1997; Ahir 1994). The Mahant even succeeded in obtaining an injunction from the Magistrate of Gaya, preventing the Government from taking over the Mahabodhi Temple and entrusting its management to a Committee in accordance with the 1949 Act. As a result of these obstructive tactics, for nearly three years, the Government of Bihar was blocked from taking the temple and entrusting its management to a committee as envisaged in the Act. These actions had infuriated Nehru who went as far as threatening the Mahant that if he did not give up the temple he would “look quite closely” at the amount of land then owned by the Math (Doyle 1997: 181). Thus, it was only towards the end of 1952 that the first Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee was finally constituted with the following representatives: the five Hindu members were the Chairperson, K.N. Sinha; Kumar Ganga Nand Singh, R.L. Nandakeolyar; Brij Kishore Narain Singh; and Mahant Harihar Giri. The four Buddhist members included Devapriya Valinsinha of the MSI; Jinaratana Bhikkhu of Assam; Bhikkhu Jagadish Kashyap; and Dr. Arabinda Barua. The first Superintendent of the Mahabodhi Temple was Anagarika Munindra from the Chittagong region. The actual ceremony which transferred jurisdiction of the Mahabodhi Temple from the Mahant Harihar Giri to the new management board took place during the Buddha Purnima day on May 28 37 Hindus also look upon Lord Buddha as one of the incarnations they should also be represented” (234). This committee, formally called the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), operates under a set of bylaws that were adopted on February 26 1957. It consists of a chairperson and eight members. The Act specifies that all members of the Committee shall be Indians and that among the eight, four shall be Buddhists and four Hindus (normally including the mahant). The Chairperson, the ninth member, is the District Magistrate of Gaya District, so long as the district magistrate is a Hindu; whenever the district magistrate of Gaya is a non-Hindu, “the State Government shall nominate a Hindu” to serve as chairperson of the Committee. 54 1953.38 As Trevithick (2006: 201-202) points out, in many ways the ritual ceremony serves as a sort of mnemonic device that encapsulates many of the underlying issues that characterized the dispute prior to the transfer of power to a joint-committee. Drawing over 5000 people, the ceremony began with a procession of Buddhists monks and laypeople from the Mahabodhi Rest House to the temple grounds led by a contingent of trumpet-playing Tibetans and followed by Ceylonese, Burmese, Cambodian and Indian Buddhists. Presiding over the ceremony was the Governor of Bihar, Sr. R.R. Diwaker, and Dr. S.K. Sinha, the Chief Minister of Bihar. In his presidential remarks the Chief Minister recalled the glory the Buddha had bestowed on the land of Bihar and hoped that Buddhists from all over the world would come in large numbers to revive the dry fountain of Buddhist culture and restore the link between India and the world. There were Sanskrit Hymns offered by disciples of the Mahant, the recitation of Buddhist suttras in Pali, hymns to Vishnu and a number of messages of congratulations read out by prominent foreign and Indian dignitaries. Following the official declaration presented by the Mahant to the new Chairperson of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), a Hindu employee of the Bihar Education Department brought the celebration to an end with extracts from Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia. 2.4 Conclusion In this chapter I have outlined the various terms of dispute over the Mahabodhi Temple's sacred property that spanned the nineteenth and twentieth century. As Tara Doyle (1997) indicates, this ceremonial transfer marked the conclusion of some three centuries of Math Jurisdiction over the Mahabodhi Temple and the commencement of increased Buddhist and Bihar State influence over its management and development. The changes that have taken place since that time are the basis of this historical ethnography. Drawing on previous scholarship, especially Trevithick (2006), in this chapter I have contextualized the ways in which concerns over “foreign influence” and “international complications” deriving from Buddhist claims to sacred space were at the heart of the modern reinvention of this contested site of memory. As will become evident throughout this dissertation, there are many themes and issues presented in this background chapter that resonate in the post 1953 38 The first formal meeting of the BTMC was held at Gaya on April 26, 1953. Some important decisions that were made included: the appointment of a caretaker or superintendent to look after the affairs of the temple; the appointment of two Buddhist Bhikkhus to conduct worship in the temple (one of whom was to be maintained by the MSI); the placing of a charity box inside the temple to facilitate offerings; and to arrange a thorough cleaning of the temple and surrounding area. 55 period. At the same time, there are also significant changes and discontinuities that I seek to bring out in the set of chapters that follow. What are the various historical and spatial tensions that have arisen over claims to sacred property in Bodh Gaya since 1953? How is the resource of heritage negotiated through complex postcolonial and transnational frames? Central to these questions are a set of processes tied to the deepening transnational effects on the site and its culmination with the 2002 designation of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex as a UNESCO World Heritage site. While disputes over rites to worship and the politics of religious identity continue to coalesce under the surface of this contested site of memory there are other important relationships and spatial commitments surrounding pilgrimage, tourism and heritage that I now turn too. 56 3. CHAPTER THREE THE NAVEL OF THE EARTH: BUDDHIST P ILGRIMAGE AND TRANSNATIONAL RELIGIOUS NETWORKS Pasts become meaningful and usable only when they are activated by the contemporary desires of individuals and communities, and, most powerfully, by the will of the nations (Guha-Thakurta 2004: xvii) In the last chapter, I described the inaugural ceremony transferring jurisdiction of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex to a joint Hindu-Buddhist administration under the Bodh Gaya Temple Act (1949). This event marked a historical turning point in the transformation of Bodh Gaya's spatial environment from a contested site of religious faith under British colonial rule, to a centre of international Buddhist pilgrimage within a post-colonial national order. Although the legal stipulations outlined by the Bodh Gaya Temple Act have remained a point of contention among many Buddhist followers and sympathizers, it does signal an important historical shift towards increasing Buddhist influence over the Mahabodhi Temple and its surroundings (Doyle 1997). As I examined in the previous chapter, central to the modern reinvention of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment has been the influence of Buddhist missionaries and transnational religious movements like the Mahabodhi Society of India (MSI) that have played an integral role in mobilizing pan-Asian Buddhist support to reclaim sacred ground. Just a year prior to his death, Anagarika Dharmapala wrote in his diary that at Bodh Gaya, “Burmese, Japanese, Chinese, Siamese [and] Tibetans should have cottages built for each country” (Trevithick 2006: 205). Following Dharmapala's expiration, this prophetic statement has become a concrete reality. At Bodh Gaya today, there are over forty Buddhist institutions that include monasteries, temples, and/or quest houses with many representing the unique aesthetic and architectural styles of different Buddhist countries.39 Many of these opulent and lavish religious landmarks, like the new Karmapa Monastery or the older Royal Wat Thai, present a pronounced spatial and visual counterpoint to the impoverished rural landscape that surrounds them. In this chapter, I examine the relationship between Buddhist pilgrimage and the construction of monasteries, temples and/or guest houses at Bodh Gaya that grew out of the 1956 Buddha Jayanti 39 The intensification of religious forms of globalization is not isolated to Bodh Gaya, but also reflects a growing pattern among other prominent sites of religious memory such as the Buddhist pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath, Kusinagara, Sravasti, Rajgir and so forth. 57 celebrations. In order to delineate the historical and spatial tensions that underlie the UNESCO World Heritage designation I explore the emerging forms of transnational Buddhism that have played an integral role in elevating the Buddhist memory of the site and transforming the physical and cultural landscape.40 How is the place of Buddha's enlightenment made sacred through certain transnational religious networks and spatial forms? What are the aims and objectives of these religious centres in relation to pilgrimage, patronage and place memory? Finally, what strategies are employed by foreign Buddhist groups to build a spiritual community and negotiate the complex cultural and religious forms of difference? In the first section, I provide a historical and descriptive overview of the different national and regional networks of Buddhist institutions at Bodh Gaya. Drawing on interviews, surveys and historical material, I provide details on prominent religious figures, specific institutions and events that have shaped the globalization of Buddhism at Bodh Gaya within the last fifty years.41 Spatially, these monastic and architectural developments are also significant because this projects an image and presence of Buddhism over the surrounding geography. In describing the proliferation of foreign Buddhist institutions at Bodh Gaya it is important to note that these religious centres and their caretakers have not escaped criticism, especially in recent decades as a result of competing local interests. In the second half of the chapter I examine the spatial politics of land acquisition under Jungle Raj and the moral and ethical quandaries they entail. 3.1 Buddhism and the Nation-State: Pilgrimage and the Return of the Religious Diaspora Among the diverse streams of Buddhism that form the religious diaspora, Bodh Gaya is regarded as the navel of the earth: a place of pilgrimage and site of sacred reverence due to the significance of Buddha's enlightenment over 2550 years ago. Although transnationalism and the flow of people, ideas, and goods across regional and nation-state boundaries are often regarded as a recent historical phenomenon, pilgrimage and religious movement have always been central to the practice of 40 41 In using the term “transnational Buddhism” I am referring to religious migrants who “live their lives across borders and maintain their ties to home, even when their countries of origin and settlement are geographically distant” (Basch, L., N. G. Schiller, et al. 1992.: ix). Rather than using “traditionalist” and “modernist” frameworks to approach Buddhism I am interested in examining the role of Buddhist diasporic communities and the global dissemination and exchange of Buddhist ideas, practices, teachers and images that converge on Bodh Gaya's sacred space. For more on the developmental periods, regional histories and analytical perspectives of global Buddhism, see Martin Baumann: http://www.globalbuddhism.org/ Vol 2, 2001. Most of the information collected in this chapter derives from interviews and surveys with the head monks and caretakers of various monasteries in Bodh Gaya. There were also a number of supplementary data gathered through articles and publications by the monasteries themselves, along with local Buddhist journals such as the Mahabodhi Society, Sambodhi and Prajna. 58 Buddhism. From the initial renunciation at the Sakya kingdom in Kapalivastu, to his final Nirvana in Kusinagara, the Buddha placed movement at the core of his spiritual life. According to the various textual versions of the Mahaparinirvana (“Great Final Enlightenment”) Sutra, the Buddha encouraged his disciples to undertake pilgrimage and visit the places associated with the pivotal events in his spiritual life: Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Isipatana (Sarnath) and Kusinagara. Ananda, there are four places the sight of which will arouse strong emotion in those with faith. Which four? 'Here the Tathagata was born', this is the first place. 'Here the Tathagata attained Enlightenment', this is the second place. 'Here the Tathagata set in motion the Wheel of the Dhamma', this is the third place. 'Here the Tathagata attained final Nirvana without remainder', this is the fourth place. The monk or nun, layman or laywoman, who has faith should visit these places. And anyone who dies while making a pilgrimage to these places with a devout heart will, at the breaking up of the body, be reborn in heaven.42 In the centuries following Buddha's Nirvana, ardent devotees and disciples have crossed regional, cultural and large geographical boundaries, enlarging the global scope of Buddhism and reinforcing the religions sacred ties to the Indian subcontinent. Among those sites of memory sanctioned by the Buddha, Bodh Gaya is certainly the most important destination for pilgrimage. Although the modern reinvention of Bodh Gaya as the place of Buddha's enlightenment began in the nineteenth and twentieth century, it is important to highlight that the claims of international Buddhists today also reflect a much deeper historical pattern in the Indian subcontinent. Bodh Gaya's historical and sacred significance is one that is supplemented by a long history of epigraphical and literary sources which bears testimony to the site's importance as a centre of pilgrimage, art, learning and cultural interchange over the centuries.43 Since the time of Emperor Asoka (304 - 232 BCE), there had been an institutional presence of Buddhist followers at this geographical centre of faith. The establishment of Viharas and Sangharamas that grew in the shadow of the Mahabodhi Temple was integral to the maintenance of the central shrine, the propagation of Buddhist teachings, and the economic life of the surrounding villages.44 In fact, many establishments were also borne out of royal 42 43 44 This version of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra was reproduced from Dhammika (1996: 3). For more on Bodh Gaya and earlier narrative accounts of pilgrimage traffic since the time of the Ashoka see Dhammika (1996) Navel of the Earth” The History and Significance of Bodh Gaya. Also Aitken (1995) Meeting the Buddha: On Pilgrimage in Buddhist India. The Sanskrit and Pali term Viharas and Sangharama refer to a place of worship or a Buddhist monastery. According to Dhammika (1996: 47-49), these dwellings were likely seasonal abodes for wandering monks during the rainy season but over the centuries they became important centres of royal patronage and religious practice. The economic function of these monasteries are often overlooked and the cost of repairs and endowments must have been extensive. According to Dhammika, some of the monks at Bodh Gaya were likely involved in the management of property as they were in religious matters. Although the basis of Bodh Gaya's wealth was likely generated through donations, like in other parts of north-east India, many of the monasteries would have held land grants or villages provided by Kings. According to 59 patronage as acts of merit and served to accommodate visiting pilgrims and guests coming from abroad. For example, the famous Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang describes staying at a huge monastery founded by King Meghavanna of Sri Lanka in the fourth century, which is believed to have existed in Bodh Gaya for over nine hundred years.45 It is the re-emergence of these Buddhist centres and their global connections in the twentieth and early twenty-first century that is the focus of the section that follows. In the post-independence period, international interest in India's Buddhist geography grew substantially in the early fifties and culminated in the nation-wide celebration of the 2500th Buddha Jayanti, held in 1956. This commemorative event, marking the birth, enlightenment and Parinirvana of the Buddha, was a historical landmark for the revival of Buddhism at Bodh Gaya and helped to revitalize key inter-Asian links to the sacred geography.46 The main lobbying force behind the event was the Mahabodhi Society which looked for co-operation from both the Indian state and their international network of supporters across a wide spectrum of the Buddhist world. Although the Buddha Jayanti was a year long event, the celebrations reached its zenith over the course of three days on May 22-25, 1956. During this period, thousands of international Buddhists, foreign dignitaries and local people converged on Bodh Gaya's sacred space to honor the memory of the Buddha within its newfound national context (Doyle 1997). As a largescale nationwide program, this event helped to reinforce the idea that Bodh Gaya was the centre of the Buddhist world within a wider international arena.47 45 46 47 Dhammika, these reports are especially common during the Gupta period. According to Dhammika's (1996: 25) analysis, during the early decades of the 4th Century the Mahabodhi monastery was established in Bodh Gaya. The monastery is linked to the younger brother of King Meghavanna of Sri Lanka (304-332 ADE), a monk of royal birth, who embarked on pilgrimage to India and complained about ill treatment by other monasteries en route to Bodh Gaya. In light of these events he sent an envoy to the King Samudragupta of India with a gift of jewels and seeking permission to build monasteries at all the sacred places for the convenience of Buddhist pilgrims. Furthermore, according to Xuanzang’s account of the Mahabodhi Monastery, at the front entrance was inscribed a copper plate where Meghavanna proclaimed the establishment's policy of hospitality: “To help all without distinction is the highest teachings of all the Buddhas, to exercise mercy as occasion offers is the illustrious doctrine of former saints” (Dhammika 26) Although there is little consensus among historians and Buddhist schools around the specific date of the birth, enlightenment and Parinirvana of the Buddha, among Theravada Buddhists this date is often associated with vesak, a full moon which falls in late April or May. Some of the nationwide activities included: physical improvements made at Buddhist sites, the publication of dozens of government sponsored books and pamphlets on Buddhism and Buddhist Places (such as the book, entitled 2500 Years of Buddhism, produced by the Publications division of the Government of India Information and Broadcasting Ministry), the broadcasting of numerous features, talks, and dramas about Buddhism by All India Radio, the convening of an International Buddhist Conference, the erection of the Buddha Jayanti Monument in Delhi, the issuing of a commemorative stamp, the making of a government sponsored film on the Life of Buddha, publication of the complete Pali Tripitaka in a number of Indian languages, and the organization of thousands of Buddha Jayanti cultural events and cultural progammes on the life and teachings of the Buddha. For more on the Buddha Jayanti events see Doyle 1997: 204. 60 In addition to the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations, 1956 was significant for two other important reasons. Firstly, there was the establishment of the Government constituted Bodh Gaya Temple Advisory Board (BGTAB) consisting of a Buddhist majority [“who may not all be of Indian citizenship”] that provided an important transnational link for the representation of Buddhists from different nations.48 As I examined in the previous chapter, the establishment of an advisory board that could provide international advocacy was closely aligned with Nehru's national vision of India at the centre of a new post-colonial world order. The second event was the conversion of the untouchable leader Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891-1956) to the Buddhist faith on October 14th in Nagpur, Maharashtra. On this special occasion, Ambedkar embraced the Three Refuges and Five Precepts and then proceeded to convert an estimated half million of ex-untouchable followers. According to Doyle's (1997: 207) analysis, Ambedkar “self-consciously waited until the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha's Parinirvana to stage this diksa ceremony, and that his timing lent tremendous symbolic weight and visibility to the controversial act.” Although it is beyond the scope of this dissertation to examine the legacy of Ambedkar's highly symbolic conversion to Buddhism, it is sufficient to say that the Dalit political leader had also hoped to revive and reinvent Buddhism as a living religion throughout its native land.49 In the sections that follow, I provide a detailed survey of the transnational histories and regional networks of Buddhist institutions that have acquired land at Bodh Gaya following the landmark 1956 Buddha Jayanti year. 3.1.1 Thailand and Southeast Asian Buddhism In the wake of international success generated from the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations, the 48 49 The first meeting of the BGTAB was held on March 17th 1956 although it was not until 1959 that the Governor of Bihar formally established the rules and regulations of the advisory board. The primary task of the BGTAB is to advise the Indian government on the development aspects of the temple and Bodh Gaya in general. Based on the regulation, the BGTAB is to consist of no less than 20 members of which two thirds should be Buddhist with at least half of them foreign citizens. All the members of the Board are appointed by the Government of Bihar and the BGTAB usually meets every two years. The first BGTAB meeting was composed of the following members: District Magistrate of Gaya; U. On Pe, Burma; Bhikkhu Amritanand, Nepal; Maharaj Kumar of Sikkim; Devapriya. Valisinha, Mahabodhi Society of India; Ponn Sanpheach, Cambodia; Edwin Wijayratne, Ceylon; Director General of the ASI; Commissioner of Patna Division; Ex-Officio members: Dr. P. L. Vaidya, Director of Mithila Sanksrit Institute; Mr. N. C. Barua, Calcutta; Mr. Kosho Othami, Japan; Mr. Caopuch, China. For more on the BGTAB Board rules and meetings see Barua (1981) and Bannerjee (1996). Ambedkar had explicitly rejected Hinduism and Hindu philosophy based on caste inequalities. Shortly after his mass conversion, Ambedkar traveled to Kathmandu in Nepal to attend the Fourth World Buddhist Conference. He then undertook pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinagaraa before expiring that same year. Ambedkar passed away on December 6, 1956, although his legacy continues (see chapter six). 61 King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, was one of the first royal dignitaries in the post-independence era to acquire land in Bodh Gaya for the construction of a temple and rest house. Under direction from the Prime Minister of India, a large plot of land was gifted to the Royal Government by the Government of Bihar in 1957. The Royal Wat Thai became the first Buddhist monastery and temple in Bodh Gaya to be built under the jurisdiction of a foreign head of state. To celebrate the growing cultural exchange program between India and Thailand, a golden Buddha image was also installed in the Royal Wat Thai on May 3rd 1967 as a donation from the Prime Minister of Thailand, Thanom Kittikachorn. Special transportation provisions were made to ensure the safe arrival of the golden Buddha image, which was flown from Bangkok to Bodh Gaya on a special U.S. Military aircraft. Following a set of ritual rounds and puja at the Mahabodhi Temple the image was installed in the temple, where a message sent by the King of Thailand was read: “Let the installation of the Buddha image in the birth place of Lord Buddha and at the exact place where he attained Enlightenment symbolize the international friendship between India and Thailand.”50 Figure 3.1 Royal Wat Thai As a result of generous funding from the Government of Thailand, in the early 1970s, the Royal Wat Thai received a significant makeover and was re-modeled after the famous Marble Temple in Bangkok: Wat Benchamabopit Dusitwanaram. I begin this section with the Royal Wat Thai because in 50 The image is 3.60 meters in height and cost upwards of 10,000 lakh. From the nearby Gaya aerodrome, the image was taken to Bodh Gaya in a procession led by the Head Monk Para Deb Visuddhimoli and a team of forty five guests from Thailand that included the mother-in-law of the Thai Prime Minister. For more details on the event see the Mahabodhi Society Journals. 62 many ways it served as a key benchmark for other national expressions of Buddhist architecture and aesthetic design that followed in its aftermath. With its sloping curved roof covered in golden tiles, the beautifully adorned Royal Wat Thai was the only Thai Buddhist institution in Bodh Gaya in the late twentieth century. It was not until the commencement of direct international flights from Bangkok to Gaya in 2002 that helped initiate a recent surge in Thai Buddhist pilgrimage activities and a growing number of religious centres from Southeast Asia. One of these institutions is the Wat Pa Buddha Gaya, located directly south of the Mahabodhi Temple. The name Wat Pa derives from its close association with Payap-Parutai Shinawatra, the younger brother of the now deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The head monk is Dr. Bhudiyano, who is part of the Buddhist Thai Bharat Society under the Forest Monk tradition. In 2004, the Wat Niranjana was also established under the directorship of head monk Phrarajpipatanatorn, or otherwise known as, Luang Por Thavorn.51 This educated Thai monk has two honorary degrees from California and New York, as well as a large global network of supporters, including a prominent monastery and temple based in Austin, Texas. Lastly, three other Southeast Asian Buddhist centres that have acquired land in recent years that include: the Cambodian Buddhist Monastery (2003); the Thai Bodhi Kham (2004) and the Wat Thai Magadh Vipassana Centre (2006).52 3.1.2 Burmese, Vipassana and Western Meditation Instructors Another distinguished guest at Bodh Gaya during the 1956 Buddha Jayanti celebrations was the first Prime Minister of the new Democratic Republic of Burma, U Nu (1905-1997).53 As a leading Burmese nationalist and political figure in the post-colonial era, the arrival of U Nu provides another example of the continuing importance of pilgrimage and royal patronage by distinguished leaders of this neighboring Theravada country. During U Nu's visit to the place of enlightenment, he came into 51 52 53 Luang Por Thavorn was born on March 4, 1952 in Nonesilaloeng, a small village in the Kalasin Province, Northeast of Thailand. He was ordained as a Buddhist novice at the Pordaeng Temple, located at Amphur Yangtalad in Kalasin Province. Thai Bodhi Kham was first established in 1979 when land was purchased in village Miya Bigha (Siddhartha Nagar) by the late Dr. Dhamma Wansa. However, it was not until 2004 that the organization was formally registered. Since 1979 the Thai Bodhi Kham has been run by Buddhist disciples of Dr. Dhamma Wansa from the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh. U Nu was a devout Buddhist and popular political leader of Burma. He had the Kaba Aye (World Peace) pagoda and the Maha Pasana Guha (Great Cave) built in 1952 in preparation for the Sixth Buddhist Council that he convened and hosted in 1954-1956 as prime minister. The council concluded in 1956 which coincided with the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations. On August 29, 1961 U Nu was also instrumental in declaring Buddhism as the official state religion in the Parliament. However, this constitutional amendment became largely ineffective when Ne Win took over power in March 1962. 63 contact with Acharya Anagarika Munindra (1915-2003), a Bengali Buddhist from the Chittagong region, and the first superintendent of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) from 1953-1957. After meeting the superintendent, the Prime Minister invited Anagarika Munindra to visit Burma for the purpose of receiving instruction in Vipassana meditation from the famous Mahasi Sayadaw at Thathana Yeikta in Rangoon (Pryor 2005). Shortly after the Prime Minister's request, Munindra relinquished his position on the BTMC and departed for Burma in early 1957 where he spent nearly ten years at the Mahasi Sayadaw's meditation centre in Rangoon. According to Pryor (2005: 8) “his visit was facilitated through a government project organized by U Nu to sponsor foreigners who wanted to learn Vipassana meditation in Burma.” A program that was “an integral part of U Nu's emphasis on the government sponsorship of Buddhism which included the Sixth Buddhist Council in Rangoon in 1954” (Pryor 8). It was not until 1966 that Munindra returned to India and Bodh Gaya, where he embarked on a lifetime of meditation instruction and teaching. The return of Anagarika Munindra and the Vipassana meditation tradition had a tremendous effect on the Burmese monastery at Bodh Gaya and abroad. In the previous chapter, I described the significance of the Burmese mission and restoration work that began in 1877. Growing out of these arrangements with the Bodh Gaya Mahant was the construction of a Burmese Rest House that was built 80 yards west of the Mahabodhi Temple under King Mindon Min's delegation. Although the rest house was later demolished in preparation for the Buddha Jayanti celebrations in 1956, a second Burmese Vihara was established in 1936 by Ven. Nandamala.54 Located on the Gaya riverside road, this has been the main Burmese Buddhist centre throughout the latter part of the twentieth century. However, during the military coup d'état led by Military General Ne Win in 1962, Burma was largely closed off to foreigners and many of the Burmese monks abroad were ordered back (Pryor 2005).55 Despite the military imposed travel restrictions, the Burmese Monastery found new forms of financial and spiritual support in the late 1960s, when it became a central institution in the revitalization of the Vipassana movement, especially among western travelers, hippies and meditation enthusiasts seeking training and 54 55 The Burmese Vihara was built on land acquired by the Tekari Raj and is located along the Niranjana and north of the Police station. According to the present Abbott of the Burmese Vihara, U. Nyaneinda, the first Abbott of the new Vihara was U. Nandumala who stayed for two months. Following this it was U. Dhammetsara who remained in Bodh Gaya for seven years up until 1943. He was replaced by U. Otiama until 1966, and from 1966 to 1976 the main Abbott was U. Tilawka. Although Burma underwent a radical militarization of the state after 1962, Burmese state leaders continued to undertake pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya. In 1968 for example, Military General Ne Win, along with his wife and a party of twenty members, visited Bodh Gaya on March 22. In exile from Burma, U Nu also returned to Bodh Gaya for one week in mid-November 1974 with his son and son-in-law. During his visit they were ordained as Samanera (novices) under the Bodhi tree and he also offered a donation 15,000 Rs to the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee as part of the Kathina Civara Dana Ceremony. 64 basic accommodations. Ever since Munindra returned from Burma to Bodh Gaya, he was an active meditation teacher offering personal instruction at both the Burmese Vihara and the Samanvay Ashram.56 With his kind and gentle demeanor, Munindraji (as he was often called) was able to make the teachings and practical guidance accessible to a growing number of Western Buddhist followers. According to Robert Pryor (2005), from 1966 to 1969, Anagarika Munindra was the only English speaking Vipassana teacher available in India and many of his students from Europe and America such as Surya Ram Das, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, have gone on to become popular western Buddhist teachers. Fig. 3.2 U Nyaneinda, the present Abbot of the Burmese Vihara Fig. 3.3 U Nu of Burma before his formal ordination under the Bodhi Tree Source: Mahabodhi Society of India Following in the footsteps of Munindra was Satya Narain Goenka. Although of Indian descent, S. N. Goenka was born in Burma in 1924 and received formal training in Vipassana from the teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899-1971) beginning in 1955.57 After fourteen years of training, beginning in 56 57 The Samanvay Ashram was founded in 1954 by Dwarko Sundrani and Vinoba Bhave (see chapter four). It is a charitable trust that works towards the betterment of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Bodh Gaya region. The ashram is based on Gandhian values and is a centre for research and training in education and development. Goenka is a central figure in the global diffusion of the Vipassana movement and has taught tens of thousands of people throughout the world. The Vipassana technique that S.N. Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is believed to be traced back to the Buddha. His approach is entirely non-sectarian and regards the Dhamma – not Buddhism – as the 65 1955, Goenka returned to India in 1969 and began leading ten-day Vipassana meditation courses and camps throughout the country. In Bodh Gaya, Goenka's first meditation camp took place at the Samanvay Ashram on August 4th 1970 and continued to offer several ten-day courses over the winter season at both the Ashram and the Burmese Vihara. These informal courses were taught on the roof of the building or under large tents and could draw upwards of 200 participants. However, by the midseventies, S.N. Goenka no longer came to Bodh Gaya and Munindra provided his last retreat in the 1977-78 winter season. According to Tara Doyle, this was “an end of an era for westerners” but the gap was eventually filled through different channels of meditation instruction.58 One teacher in particular is Dr. Rashtrapal Bhikkhu, a Barua Buddhist from the Chittagong region who established the International Meditation Centre (IMC) in the early seventies and is today one of the senior monks in Bodh Gaya.59 There were also a number of influential western practitioners and teachers that became an established part of the winter season in Bodh Gaya form the mid-seventies onwards.60 One of these instructors is Christopher Titmuss and the insight meditation group which has been leading popular ten-day retreats based out of the Royal Wat Thai every January and February since 1975.61 There is also the prominent Antioch Buddhist Studies Program which began in 1979. 58 59 60 61 way to liberation. The main Dhammagiri Institute/Vipassana International Academy was founded by Satya Narain Goenka in 1974 in Igatpuri near Bombay. Personal Interview, March 09, 2007. Rashtrapal became an ordained monk in 1953. Over the years he has gained a reputation as a scholar of Buddhism, especially the Pali Canon and meditation practice. Rashtrapal acquired five acres of private land for the IMC just opposite the Magadh University in 1975. In 1990 the IMC shifted locations opposite the Royal Wat Thai and offers accommodation and teachings for pilgrims, especially the many Bangladeshi Barua and Indian Buddhists who visit throughout the year. Rashtrapal is also known for the annual Kathina Civara Dana ceremonies that he organized in 1971 and today draws some 3000 - 4000 Buddhists from eastern India and Bangladesh. In 1984 he was nominated as one of the 4 Buddhist members of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee and was an active member over the tenure period of (1984-1994). Recently two hundred articles on Buddhism were published in a collective volume entitled The vision and the writings of the Venerable Rashtrapal Mahathera. Other prominent Western teachers during this time include Mr. Michael Kewlay who held retreats for three months for Westerners beginning in the month of December and used to be held at the Government of Bihar Hotel and at the Old International Meditation Centre. In 1986 Buddhist teacher Andrew Cohen also visited Bodh Gaya and participated in a Vipassana retreat held by Christopher Titmuss. After a life-transforming encounter with Indian master of Advaita Vedanta H.W.L. Poonja, Cohen began to teach under the guidance of his guru (with whom he later parted ways philosophically). Since that time Cohen had been offering meditation retreats in Bodh Gaya that were held in tents at the Tourist Bungalow for mainly American and Europeans from 1990 until 1996 before shifting to Rishikesh. Christopher Titmuss is a senior Dharma teacher in the West who became an ordained Buddhist monk (Ven. Kitti Subho) in the Vipassana tradition of Thailand. In 1974 he provided his first retreat in Dharamsala and thereafter began regular Insight Meditation retreats during the Winter season at the Thai Temple in Bodh Gaya. He is the author of numerous books and has been influential in the global spread of Vipassana and Insight Meditation. He is the founder and director of the Dharma Facilitators Programme and the Living Dharma programme, an online mentor programme for Dharma practitioners. Throughout the year he gives retreats, participates in pilgrimages (yatras) and leads Dharma gatherings. In addition to his retreats at Bodh Gaya he has been an active member of the Prajna Vihar School and the Bodh Gaya Social Forum with Sister Mary through which he has organized a number of peace demonstrations. Christopher is also a member of the international advisory council of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and co-founder of Gaia House, an international retreat centre in Devon, England where he is based. 66 Robert Pryor is the founder and director of this successful American based study-abroad program that begins each year in early September and runs for four months. Building on this legacy of BurmeseWestern infusion, the educational program is based out of the Burmese Vihara and American students receive four months of intensive training in Buddhist philosophy, history, contemporary Buddhist culture, meditation traditions and Hindi language. Over the course of the last thirty years, the head monk of the Burmese Monastery, U. Nyaneinda has also been instrumental in building these global connections and is today one of the senior Buddhist monks at Bodh Gaya. As Tara Doyle (1997) has examined, ever since U Nyaneinda arrived in 1976 at the age of 31, he has been active in the “Buddhification” of Bodh Gaya's landscape with his combined efforts in erecting images and Buddhist structures and also served as an authority for land brokerage for incoming Buddhist organizations abroad.62 I examine issues of land acquisition in more detail in the second part of this chapter. Thus, despite the isolationist policies and foreign restrictions following the Military coup in 1962, the Burmese Monastery at Bodh Gaya has been a transnational meeting ground between the East and West. In recent decades there have also been a growing number of Burmese pilgrims and state officials now returning to Bodh Gaya. As part of the new face of Myanmar foreign policy, on April 1, 1990, there was a “Good will Mission” to India by a twenty member Myanmar Delegation.63 During their stay in Bodh Gaya, the group met with a number of professors at the nearby Magadh University and set up a program of mutual co-operation in the form of exchange of scholars, and the sending of students between India and Myanmar.64 As a result of the changing diplomatic relations, by the mid 1990s, Burmese pilgrims and students began to arrive in much larger numbers each year. This has also spawned a host of new Burmese institutions including: the Great Holy Land Monastery (1998); Myanmar Monk-Students' Welfare Association of India (1999) and the Mahabodhi Meditation Centre (2004). Linked to the earlier influence of S.N. Goenka is also the recently established Dhamma Bodhi Vipassana Centre (1994).65 62 63 64 65 As Doyle (1997) has examined, through the joint efforts with a sculptor from Burma over a half-dozen Buddhist images have been erected in the surrounding landscape that reflect popular legends and stories of the Buddha's biographical life. Since 1989, the military government in Burma officially changed the English translation of many colonial-era names, including the name of the country, to “Myanmar.” Although I do not have any information on the number of Indian students who have gone to Myanmar as part of this program, according to Dr. Tulku, the head of the Buddhist studies Department of Magadh University, since the early nineties, a percentage of foreign monks have been enrolled in the Buddhist studies program at Bodh Gaya. These students are largely from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Tripura, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Sri Lanka. They are doing graduate studies in MA and PhD and have sixty five seats limited to Buddhists. Personal Interview March 6, 2007. Although S.N. Goenka was central to the revitalization of Vipassana in the early seventies, it was not until the nineties that he formally established a Vipassana Meditation centre in Bodh Gaya. These centres are not necessarily defined as a Theravada organization, but the Vipassana teachings are based on the tradition of the late Burmese Sayagyi 67 3.1.3 Mahabodhi Society of India In the last chapter, I discussed the central role of Anagarika Dharmapala in reclaiming sacred ground at Bodh Gaya. Ever since the Mahabodhi Society Rest House was established in 1901, this Buddhist centre, with its ecumenical thrust, has been at the heart of pilgrimage activities at Bodh Gaya.66 The building itself reflects the British colonial architecture at the turn of the twentieth century with its covered verandah and arched entrance ways (Asher 2008). Given the close proximity to the Mahabodhi Temple and the main bus loop, the Mahabodhi Society of India (MSI) has served a dual purpose as both a watch-tower and a magnet for international visitors providing information to tourists and pilgrims. The successor to Dharmapala was Devapriya Valisingh who was instrumental in the formation of the Bodh Gaya Temple Act (1949), the demands for a separate Bodh Gaya Temple Advisory Board (BGTAB), and Figure 3.4 Mahabodhi Society Rest House in 1901 Source: Mahābodhi Society of India the success of the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations. Another important figure in the development of Buddhism at Bodh Gaya is the soft spoken and mild-mannered monk known as Bhante Pannarama. With the help of his assistant, Dediyawala Wimala Thero, Bhante arrived in Bodh Gaya in 1968 and took over the Buddha Gaya centre of the Mahabodhi Society from 1970 to 1994.67 Over the course of his management, Pannarama 66 67 U Ba Khin. The acquisition of land at Bodh Gaya was continuously blocked by the Mahant until the year 1900, when the Mahabodhi Society appealed to the District Board to sanction the construction of a Guest House and Vihara. The then District Magistrate, Mr. C.A. Oldham, was sympathetic to the Buddhist claims and helped to forward the proposal to the Government of Bengal. Later that year, the MSI were formally granted land rights in 1900 and the Society deposited 15000/- RS for the construction of the Vihara which was completed in 1901 (Ram Swarup Singh 1991: 69-70). Pannarama Mahathera was born Don George Liyanarachi in April 21, 1926 at Bulathasinhala village in Kalutare district of Sri Lanka. He was ordained a Samanera (novice) during his childhood days and obtained higher ordination (upasampada) under the D. Saddhatissa at the age of twenty, in 1946. There he received the Sangha name Pannarama, which translates “the monastery of wisdom.” Pannarama first arrived in India from Sri Lanka on January 5th 1961. After serving as an assistant monk in charge at the Madras Centre of the Mahabodhi Society he moved to the Naugarh Centre 68 helped to redefine the MSI as a centre of learning and culture through the propagation of Buddhist activities, seminars, symposiums and literature. Pannarama also worked with the local population and encouraged numerous philanthropic projects, especially among the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes from the neighboring villages. In an account of his arrival at Bodh Gaya, Pannarama was surprised that not a single Indian could recite the Trisarana (three refugees) and Pancasila (five precepts). More than two decades have passed since I had come to this place in 1970. That time only with a sense of veneration to this holiest Buddhist spot I started living here, worrying very little about other things. In course of time I felt that besides chanting Sutras, bowing to the Bo-tree, etc. individual religious routine something must be done for Buddhist reawakening in the surrounding area. Ven. Dharmapala's vow reminded me that the place of which every inch seems to have been sanctified by the Lord Buddha's feet, must have Buddhistic air in and around (MSJ Centenary Volume 1991). Over nearly twenty five years, Pannarama and his assistant worked tirelessly to make the basic tenets of Buddhism intelligible to local youths and students (Fiske 1976: 131). As a result of his ongoing efforts, for the first time in the history of modern Bodh Gaya, three local youths, R.B. Prasad, Ram Swarup Singh (past BTMC member), and Hari Manji (now senior officer of the ASI) were initiated into Buddhism on the memorable occasion of Buddha Purnima Day in 1971 (MSJ 1971). This was followed by other waves of Buddhist conversion from 1972 onwards that helped to cultivate that “Buddhistic air” in Bodh Gaya and position the Mahabodhi Society at the centre of cultural activities. As the oldest Buddhist organization in Bodh Gaya and India, the Mahabodhi Society celebrated its centenary anniversary in 1991, releasing a special souvenir entitled “100 Years of the Maha Bodhi Society” (also released in Hindi), which accompanied numerous celebrations at all the Buddhist sites. The celebrations began in Bodh Gaya on September 23rd (the anniversary date of Dharmapala) in which a sculptured gilded bust of the late founder was installed and unveiled before the High Commission of Sri Lanka, Mr. H. E. Neville Kanakaaratne.68 A second set of events was also held on December 8-9, with various programs including a large procession to the Mahabodhi Temple, the inauguration of a homeopathy charitable dispensary and clinic, the inauguration of the Maha Bodhi Vidyapith (school) in 68 in the Basti district of Uttar Pradesh – known today as Siddharthanagar which borders Nepal. After five years as the head of the centre, he served a brief period at the Sarnath centre before taking over the BuddhaGaya centre following the sudden demise Nandasara in 1968. [Published by the Ven. B Pannarama Nagrick Abhidnandan Samaroh Samiti 1994, Mahabodhi Society]. The bust was designed and sculpted in Sri Lanka by M. Wipulasara Maha Thera, General Secretary of the Mahbodhi Society of India at that time. All expenses incurred for the making of the bust were donated by R. Premadasa, President of Sri Lanka. 69 Siddhartha Nagar village, a two day cultural program, a public meeting and a seminar entitled “Buddha Gaya and the Buddha World.” Perhaps the most influential foreign dignitary at Bodh Gaya during this time was the President of Sri Lanka, Ranasinghe Premadasa. With Sri Lanka in the throes of civil war the president decided to visit India and the Buddhist pilgrimage sites prior to the seventh SAARC Summit (seven-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) which was held on April 10-11 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Within a period of seven months between 1992-1993, Premadasa visited Bodh Gaya on three occasions, each of which led to important religious and social developments. As homage to the Buddha, he provided two invaluable offerings to the Mahabodhi Temple Complex: the golden railings (Ran Veta) around the Bodhi tree and the gold plated canopy (Ran Viyana) that now rests above the Vajrasana (diamond throne). In light of his warm public reception at Bodh Gaya, the President of Sri Lanka also announced plans for the construction of 100 concrete houses and a community hall for scheduled caste families living in nearby Mastipur village. After four months of work commissioned by the Ministry of Housing and Construction in Sri Lanka, the President himself handed over the keys to each of the villagers on April 13 1993. On the decrepit foundation stone in front of the community hall today, it reads: “BuddhaGayagama - the village of Reawakened people.” This was the second village of scheduled castes in Bodh Gaya to be renamed by international Buddhist patrons.69 Sadly, President Premadasa returned to Sri Lanka shortly after the SAARC Summit and was assassinated by an alleged LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) suicide bomber as part of the May Day padayatra at Armour Street, in Colombo in 1993. In the early nineties, the health of Pannarama begun to deteriorate and in 1994 he departed to Sri Lanka for six weeks of medical treatment. In recognition of his twenty five years of service at Bodh Gaya, a group of local residents held a public felicitation ceremony on May 15 1994, where he was given a “scroll of honor.” The function brought together a large number of local residents, university scholars and international monks who came forward to thank and register their reverence for Bhante Pannarama. As noted in the Sambodhi Journal (SBJ): “The one common point which emerged from the speeches was that nobility and simplicity reigns supreme in Bhante's personality. He is the best propagator of harmony, peace and goodwill” (SBJ 1994: 48). Pannarama replied in his laconic speech, echoing the words of Dharmapala: “Though I was born in Sri Lanka, BuddhaGaya is the dearest to me, 69 Previously, the village Miya Bigha was the site of a massive conversion in the mid seventies. Through coordinated efforts of the Mahabodhi Society, Japanese, Royal Wat Thai and other Buddhist centres the village of schedule castes is now referred to as Siddhartha Nagar. 70 I will love to be reborn here if I get rebirth.” Shortly after leaving Bodh Gaya, Pannarama died the following year on May 18 1995 in Colombo. Figure 3.5 Bhante Pannarama Source: Mahabodhi Society of India Figure 3.6 Stone tablet from Premadasa’s village of reawakened people Bhante Pannarama was replaced by the controversial Maitipe Vimalasara Thero. As part of my analysis of World Heritage designation in chapter six I examine some of the recent developments pertaining to Mahabodhi Society at Bodh Gaya. At this point it is sufficient to say that from the midnineties to 2002, Vimalasara emerged as a key spokesperson and leader for the international Buddhist community at Bodh Gaya during a period of heightened tension between Indian and foreign Buddhist factions over management of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. As a means of uniting the growing expatriate community of Buddhists at Bodh Gaya, Vimalasara was instrumental in establishing the International Buddhist Council (IBC) and was appointed General Secretary.70 Thus, for over one hundred years, the Mahabodhi Society has been active throughout the Indian subcontinent as an ecumenical and transnational organization rather than a distinctly Sinhalese Buddhist institution. This 70 Previously there was an earlier organization of international Buddhist members called the World Buddhist Federation that was under the direction of Magadha University Professor Tulku. 71 is part of the reason why it has remained a centre of power and influence throughout the twentieth century. 3.1.4 Tibetan Refugees and Himalayan Buddhists So far I have described some of the Theravada Buddhist developments that grew out of the year long Buddha Jayanti celebrations in 1956. For a number of foreign dignitaries and Buddhist leaders from the religious diaspora, this was the first time visit to the place of Buddha's enlightenment. Another special guest that was invited by the Mahabodhi Society was the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Although the Chinese authorities had initially refused to allow the Dalai Lama to depart from Lhasa to the Buddhist site in India, Jawaharlal Nehru intervened on behalf of the Mahabodhi Society and ensured the Chinese that his visit would not threaten Sino-Indian relations. Thus, despite mounting pressure from the People's Liberation Army and the growing instability in the Tibetan plateau, the 14th Dalai Lama arrived at Delhi's Palam airport on December 25th.71 In the company of the Panchen Lama and the Maharaja of Sikkim, the Tibetan leaders proceeded on pilgrimage to a number of Buddhist sites including Bodh Gaya on December 27th. A public ceremony was held under the Bodhi tree in which the two respected teachers delivered sermons and conducted pujas to a large audience. At the age of twenty one this was the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Bodh Gaya but certainly not the last. As Toni Huber (2008) recently examined in The Holy Land Reborn, Tibetans have long maintained a ritual relationship with India, particularly by way of pilgrimage. In his analysis of the changing Tibetan constructions of India's sacred geography over the centuries, Huber concludes by describing the contemporary articulations of India among those Tibetans who live in exile in their Buddhist holy land. Since the plight of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959, more than 150,000 Tibetan refugees have fled to India over the last fifty years and the impact of this refugee community on Bodh Gaya has been tremendous.72 According to Tara Doyle's (1997: 350-351) analysis, there are five 71 72 In 1956, the Maharaj of Sikkim arrived in Lhasa with a letter from the President of the Mahabodhi Society requesting the participation of the Dalai Lama to attend the 2500th Budha Jayanti. In Dalai Lama’s (1991: 123) biography Freedom in Exile he writes: “I was ecstatic. For us Tibetans, India is Aryabhumi, the Land of the Holy. All my life I had longed to make a pilgrimage there: it was the place that I most wanted to visit.” The Dalai Lama departed Lhasa at the end of November in 1956 with a small entourage including the Panchen Lama and Lobsang Samten. They traveled to Gangtok in Sikkim and later to New Delhi where he met with Prime Minister Nehru and the President of India, Rajendra Prasad. In exile, the 14th Dalai Lama returned to Bodh Gaya in the winter of 1960. There he met a large deputation of Tibetan refugees undertaking pilgrimage. In his own words (1991: 172): “A very moving moment followed when their leaders came to me and pledged their lives in the continuing struggle for a free Tibet. After that, for the first time in this life, I ordained a group of 162 young Tibetan novices as bhiksus. I felt greatly privileged to be able to do this at the 72 reasons why the Tibetan Community have been drawn to Bodh Gaya: 1) The majority of some 100,000 Tibetans refugees are settled in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, making travel to Bodh Gaya relatively easy. 2) Many of these Tibetans also in engage in seasonal work and are often free during the winter months. 3) The presence of large numbers of pilgrims and tourists in Bodh Gaya attract many Tibetans who make their living as merchants running shops and/or restaurants. 4) Performance of pilgrimage, especially to Bodh Gaya has become central to many Tibetans' religiosity. 5) Bodh Gaya has become “a meeting place for the diaspora community - a place where they can gather socially, reunite with Tibetans who have recently fled their homeland, receive teachings from their religious leaders, build monasteries (there are over half-a-dozen Tibetan gompas in Bodh Gaya), and begin to construct a new cultural and religious identity outside Tibet” (Doyle 351). Since 1959, the influence of the Tibetan refugees and Himalayan Buddhist groups has been immense, but the earliest Tibetan Buddhist gompa at Bodh Gaya predates the exiled community some three decades earlier.73 In 1934 a small Tibetan Temple from the Gelug sect was constructed to the east of the Mahabodhi Society under the patronage of famous Lama Kanpo-Ngawang Samten of Ladakh. However due to the lack of financial support and resources in Bodh Gaya, the first head monk Lobsang Samten later gifted the Tibetan Temple to the religious leader of the Gelug school, the 14th Dalai Lama on May 2nd 1947. Since that time, the temple and monastery has served as the main headquarters for the Dalai Lama whenever he arrives in Bodh Gaya.74 Also, from an administrative point of view, the Gelugpa Tibetan Monastery is now an appendage of the Namgyal Private Monastery in Dharamsala 73 74 Tibetan monastery which stands within sight of the Mahabodhi Temple.” A gompa is a Tibetan term that is used in the Himalayan region to describe a centre of learning, monastery or university. Under the patronage of the Dalai Lama the first Abbott to stay at the monastery was a senior monk named ''Dhamgto Rinpoche.' The successor to Dhamgto Rinpoche was 'Ling Rinpoche' and followed by 'Tara Rinpoche'. The Gaden Phel Gay Ling Tibetan Mahayana Monastery (as it is formally called today) was completed in 1952 and the large Mahayana Rest House was opened in 1986. 73 where the 14th Dalai Lama resides in exile. Figure 3.7 14th Dalai Lama during the Kalachakra Source: Mahabodhi Society of India Figure 3.8 Kalachakra ceremonies in 1974 Source: Mahabodhi Society of India The first major ceremony involving a large religious assemblage of Tibetan devotees was the Kalachakra empowerment initiation held in December 1974.75 Often described as a complex and 75 Kalachakra is a Sanskrit term that means “time-wheel” or “time-cycles” and refers both to a Tantric deity (Tib. yidam) of Vajrayana Buddhism and to the philosophies and meditation practices contained within the Kalachakra Tantra and its many commentaries. The 14th Dalai Lama is regarded as the most prominent Kalachakra lineage holder alive today, having performed over thirty initiations around the world. See also Werner Herzog's Documentary entitled “Wheel of Time” (2003). 74 advanced form of Vajrayana Tantric practice, the Kalachakra initiation has become an important ritual medium for the public revitalization of Tibetan culture and religion in exile. Although many attendees follow the commitments and engage in the initiation practice, for others, especially those lay pilgrims coming to Bodh Gaya from the Himalayan regions, the initiation has become an opportunity to receive blessings from the enlightened teachers. The 1974 Kalachakra empowerment initiation brought an estimated 100,000 Tibetan Buddhists together and was situated on a podium directly in front of the Gelug Tibetan Monastery and Mahabodhi Society. Since the 1974 Kalachakra puja, the 14th Dalai Lama, and other prominent incarnate Lamas from the Tibetan diaspora, have used Bodh Gaya's sacred space more frequently during the winter season. In the month of December 1985, these large religious gatherings reached a new level when the Dalai Lama held his second Kalachakra initiation ceremony at Bodh Gaya. This historic event brought double the number of attendees from the previous decade and was followed by a rare Monlam Chenmo that involved both the 14th Dalai Lama and other renowned Rinpoches from various Tibetan lineages. With more than 200,000 in attendance, from over thirty one countries, this became the largest Kalachakra initiation ever performed by any Dalai Lama in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Given the carrying capacity of this small rural town and the sudden influx of large numbers of Himalayan Buddhists, the event also generated some controversy between local and state authorities. Prior to the Kalachakra puja, the Government of Bihar had deployed a number of state agents to collect a five-rupee tax on the main road into Bodh Gaya. Tara Doyle (1997: 352) writes that the understanding among the Bihar government officials and the Tibetan refugee community was that these funds were to be spent providing basic facilities such as electricity, drinking water, latrines and cooking oil. However, from the viewpoint of those Buddhist pilgrims who participated in the gathering, these services were neglected at the time of the ceremony. The vast tent city of devotees gradually transformed into a gigantic open sewer; both clean water and cooking fuel were almost impossible to find. Although the event was likely a lucrative venture for both state and district authorities, the neglect of basic amenities left many sick, including the Dalai Lama. According to one eye witness that I interviewed: “the locals provided only four toilets so the Tibetans petitioned. . . Shit was all around the river bank, so we began to bury it. There was not even a place for the flies to land. As a result, the Tibetans came and departed swiftly and this led to enormous resentment among the villagers.” The foul and putrid conditions of the town continued for months after and even overlapped with a Lonely Planet writer who had this to say about the place of enlightenment: “Bodh Gaya is small and quiet but, if you 75 are not planning a longer study stay, a day is quite sufficient to see everything. Apart from the stupa and various monasteries Bodh Gaya is just a grubby little dump with an enormous population of flies” (Lonely Planet 1985: 307). The second incident deriving from the 1985 Kalachakra ceremony was the confrontation between Tibetan refugees, the Government of Bihar and local authorities concerning the public use of religious structures. Prior to the Tibetan gathering, a large dais and stage platform was constructed on the nearby maidan where the Dalai Lama could deliver his religious sermons to a large audience. Under specific orders by the state, the religious structure was to be removed at the ceremonies conclusion.76 However, instead of dismantling the large podium an image of the Buddha was installed by devotees to delay the process. This event spawned violent demonstrations by many local residents against the Tibetan community and regional authorities arguing that if all the public spaces were devoted to religious functions, there would be no space for local congregations and meetings. The severity of the incident was not resolved; these matters were also taken up in New Delhi (Banerjee 2000). As a result of the bitter disputes and tension between the Tibetan refugee community and both local and state authorities the Dalai Lama temporarily stopped giving teachings at Bodh Gaya and shifted his base to the Central Higher Institute of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath (Doyle 1997). Despite the 14th Dalai Lama’s temporary disassociation with Bodh Gaya as a result of the incident, there were other prominent teachers who have re-connected with the sacred space at Bodh Gaya and forged key transnational alliances abroad. One of the more influential and controversial Tibetan leaders at Bodh Gaya since the late eighties is Tarthang Tulku. Previously, Tarthang Tulku had sponsored the occasional puja in Bodh Gaya, all of which were financed by his California Berkeleybased Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Centre (TNMC) and led by Nyingma teachers living in India, Bhutan, and Nepal (Doyle 1997). After spending twenty one years in the United States, Tarthang Tulku decided to return to India and in 1989 began organizing the annual Nyingma Monlam Chenmo or the “Great Prayer Festival for World Peace.”77 According to Doyle (1997: 357), “the Monlam 76 77 Previously, there was another small podium erected in front of the Mahabodhi Society during the first Kalachakra ceremony in 1975 which also served as the main centre for security arrangements whenever there had been large religious congregations. According to Doyle (1997: 353-354) Tarthang Tulku is a Nyingma teacher who fled Tibet during the Chinese occupation in 1959. In India he has taught Tibetan at the Sanskrit University in Benares up until 1968 and then settled in Berkeley, California in 1969. Within four years he founded the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Centre (the first Vajrayana practice community in America), Dharma Publications (a press that produces books, prints, and a magazine, all focusing on Tibetan Buddhism), the Tibetan Aid Project (designed to support Tibetan refugees and rebuild monasteries in India and Tibet), and the Nyingma Institute (the purpose of which is to perpetuate “the transmission of the psychological, philosophical, and experiential insights of the Nyingma lineage” to North American academics, psychologists, and the general public). 76 Chenmo in Tibet was a tremendously popular, monastic New Year's festival, one inaugurated in 1409 by the Gelugpa patriarch, Tsongkhapa, and subsequently held each year in Lhasa, where it attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.” Until 1959, it was organized by the Gelugpas, who have traditionally been the more powerful political and religious group in the region (Doyle 1997). Thus, prior to Tarthang Tulku's invention, according to Doyle (1997: 357), the Monlam Chenmo had never been a Nyingma festival, nor was it ever performed in Bodh Gaya. With support from his California based Dharma Publications and the Tibetan Aid project, Tarthang Tulku's mega-puja has been growing each year and continues to provide free food and texts to all the participants.78 Modeled after the success of Tarthang Tulku's invention, Bodh Gaya and other Buddhist sites in India have recently become the staging grounds for other prominent Rinpoches and lineages such as Gelugpas, Kagyus, and Sakyas to emulate this Monlam and unite their own disparate followers scattered throughout the Indian subcontinent. For example, in 2002, a Kagyu Monlam Chenmo prayer was also offered in Bodh Gaya for the first time. The gathering brought over 7,000 Buddhist monks from different sub-schools, including seventeen incarnate lamas to the town. The Monlam was led by the 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorji and since then, has become an annual event. Directly following the Kagyu Monlam, in 2002, was the third Kalachakra initiation held in Bodh Gaya, an event that was attended by 150,000 devotees from over a hundred different countries. Given the elevated importance of Bodh Gaya's sacred space among the Tibetan diaspora, other teachings and sponsored events are now part of Bodh Gaya's annual ritual cycle. Some of these regular events include the popular sixmonth spiritual program at the Root Institute for Cultural Wisdom under the directorship of Lama Zopa, the Schechen Monastery seminar series, lectures by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche as part of the Antioch Program, and HE Choeje Ayang Rinpoche who has been teaching a ten-day Phowa course since 1996.79 It is also worth noting that in recent years the legacy of Tarthang Tulku has also been passed on to one of his younger siblings. In 2006, the daughter of Tarthang Tulku, Wangmo Dixey, and her husband from the California based Light of Buddha Dharma Foundation have been sponsoring annual Tripitaka Chanting ceremonies under the Bodhi tree in conjunction with the Mahabodhi Society 78 79 According to Tarthang Tulku (quoted in Doyle 1997) doing prayers in a power place where not just Sakyamuni, but all Buddhas are enlightened adds to the accumulation of merit which serves to generate positive power and energy. Doing prayers, virtuous acts and meditations are seen as particularly efficacious at the navel of earth and so is multiplied 100,000 times. Choej
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Destination enlightenment : buddhism and the global bazaar in Bodh Gaya, Bihar Geary, David 2009
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