chapter  1
16 Pages

Gaya–Bodh Gaya: the origins of a pilgrimage complex


The pilgrimage sites of Gaya and Bodh Gaya, though ostensibly sacred places for two different religions, have a long, shared history. In this chapter I examine the earliest available evidence of these two sites in order to better understand the place they held in the Indian imagination during the life of the Buddha. I intend to bring the history of the Hindu traditions of śrāddha to bear on the history of Gaya and Bodh Gaya in order to answer a deceptively simple question: Why did the Buddha choose to go to Bodh Gaya to strive for enlightenment?